Monmouth ACTS celebrates Breastfeeding Awareness Month with events for families

Monmouth ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services), a public-private partnership initiated by the Monmouth County commissioners to better serve residents, will celebrate World and National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August by sponsoring several events for families to increase awareness of the importance and benefits of breastfeeding.

“According to La Leche League, breastfeeding is an instinctual and natural act, but it is also an art that is learned day by day,” said Colleen Nelson, co-chair of Monmouth ACTS Early Childhood Success Hub.

“To reach their breastfeeding goals, mothers need worksite accommodations, consistent and collaborative breastfeeding education and services, and support from family, friends, lactation consultants, peer counselors and other breastfeeding champions along the way. We are excited to spread awareness and bring these helpful events to the community during Breastfeeding Awareness Month,” Nelson said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that only 27.7% of infants born in New Jersey in 2017 were exclusively breastfed through 6 months of age, according to a press release from Monmouth ACTS.

The U.S. Healthy Families 2030 goal for the nation is to increase the percentage of infants who are breastfed exclusively – meaning breast milk only, and no solid food, water, or other liquids – through 6 months of age to a target of 42.4%.

Monmouth ACTS’ leadership is eager to support education and services that can help Monmouth County mothers reach that goal, since studies show a mother’s breast milk is the perfect food for her baby, according to the press release.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, breast milk contains all the nutrients, antioxidants, enzymes and antibodies a baby needs, and breastfeeding can reduce the risk for childhood illnesses including colds, asthma, ear infections, pneumonia, diabetes, leukemia and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Additionally, the Office of the Surgeon General has found that breastfed infants are less likely to become obese in the future, and mothers who breastfeed have less risk to develop breast and ovarian cancers, according to the press release.

“I am excited to see Monmouth County government and community agency partners work together in the spirit of Monmouth ACTS to host workshops on this important topic,” said Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley.

“These workshops, called ‘You Can Be A Breastfeeding Champion,’ will highlight champions including mothers who are breastfeeding now or have in the past, resource people such as lactation consultants or counselors, and even family members and friends,” Kiley said.

The workshops will allow attendees to ask questions and hear testimonies from local breastfeeding mothers like Jacquelyn Shriver, who is currently breastfeeding her 9-month-old daughter and also breastfed her son until he was 11 months old.

“Breastfeeding is like a new job,” Jacquelyn said. “It’s hard in the beginning. It gets easier with practice and you don’t dare quit because you will miss out on all the rewards.”

Workshop Schedule:

• “Be a Breastfeeding Champion,” virtual event, Aug. 12, 5-6:30 p.m.

• Monmouth County Council for Young Children (CCYC) breastfeeding event co-hosted by Neighborhood Connections to Health, Aug. 17, 4-5:30 p.m. at Veterans Park in Freehold Borough.

• Monmouth CCYC breastfeeding event co-hosted by Bradley Beach Library, Aug. 18, 3-4:30 p.m. on the Bradley Beach Library lawn.

• Breastfeeding event, Aug. 20, noon, at the Community Affairs and Resource Center farmers market in Asbury Park.

• Breastfeeding event, Aug. 26, noon, at the Community Affairs and Resource Center in Lakewood

For more information, contact Kelly Noah at kelly.noah@vnahg.org or Raquel Murphy at Raquel.murphy@vnahg.org

Participating community partners include Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, Monmouth and Ocean County Councils for Young Children, Community Affairs and Resource Center, Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Bradley Beach Library, Child Care Resources, Neighborhood Connections to Health Coalition, Nurse Family Partnership, Children’s Home Society and Hackensack Meridian Family Health Center, according to the press release.