PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 15, 2023

Kaitlan Baston, MD, MSc, DFASAM
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey Department of Health Honors National Breastfeeding Month

Highlights Accomplishments Made on the Statewide Breastfeeding Strategic Plan

TRENTON – In honor of National Breastfeeding Month, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) is highlighting the progress made in implementing the Statewide Breastfeeding Strategic Plan. National Breastfeeding Awareness Month shines a light on the important policy work being done across the country to accommodate lactating mothers and parents. To commemorate the month-long national recognition, Governor Murphy proclaimed August 2023 Breastfeeding Month in New Jersey.

 “New Jersey's Breastfeeding Strategic Plan helps build support for increasing breastfeeding statewide, which will in turn support the health of both breastfeeding parents and babies," said New Jersey Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Kaitlan Baston. "The health benefits of breastfeeding for both the parent and the infant are well recognized and a key step in addressing New Jersey’s inequities in outcomes. Part of this year’s $3.5 million grant funding under the Healthy Women, Healthy Families initiative will go toward breastfeeding education and support for nontraditional groups including, fathers, grandparents, partners, siblings, and pregnant teens.”

“As we celebrate National Breastfeeding Month, we recognize that -- while breastfeeding may not always be possible or the choice for every new mother -- it can provide important health and emotional benefits for both moms and babies,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Supporting mothers who choose to breastfeed through all of its accompanying challenges and joys is an essential part of our effort to solve New Jersey’s maternal health crisis. I am incredibly proud of the progress we have made on this front through our Statewide Breastfeeding Strategic Plan and look forward to continuing this essential work.”

In January 2021, the First Lady unveiled the Nurture NJ Maternal and Infant Health Strategic Plan – a blueprint to reduce New Jersey’s maternal mortality rate by 50 percent over five years and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes. Included in the plan were recommendations to advance breastfeeding policies in the state, which resulted in the Statewide Breastfeeding Strategic Plan being launched in September 2022.

The Statewide Breastfeeding Strategic Plan identified 8 “Goals,” 27 “Strategies,” and over 75 “Objectives” to increase breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity in New Jersey. To date, several objectives in the Plan have been completed, including:

  • improving convenience and flexibility for families by transitioning statewide delivery of WIC benefits from paper vouchers to Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards;
  • expanding texting capabilities to all WIC local agencies for more efficient distribution of public information and administrative communications to participants; 
  • including WIC breastfeeding counseling and support groups in services that can be delivered remotely through texting, telephone, or videoconferencing services;
  • ensuring that WIC local agency facilities have installed physical safety redesign and social distancing features and have sufficient PPE to protect all WIC local agency employees, including breastfeeding staff, when in-person client contact is needed during public health and other emergencies;
  • expanding the role of the statewide WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator to include increased outreach to state healthcare provider organizations, nutrition programs, and other maternal child health partners; and
  • increasing staffing within DOH to support implementation of the Breastfeeding Strategic Plan.

In achieving these objectives, five of the 16 NJ WIC agencies have received the WIC Gold Award from USDA for providing exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support. Additionally, four agencies applied for and received the 2023 National WIC Association AHEAD 2.0: Strengthening and Diversifying the WIC IBCLC Workforce Subgrant. This competitive subgrant creates a pipeline for breastfeeding peer counselors and designated breastfeeding experts by supporting their educational journey to becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

The Murphy Administration remains committed to this work, having invested $400,000 in the recently signed FY2024 budget to advance the work of the Breastfeeding Strategic Plan agenda.

Last Reviewed: 8/15/2023