For Immediate Release: August 1, 2022
Deb Kitzmiller │ Brattleboro Office of Local Health802-251-2102
Ashley Follensbee │ White River Junction Office of Local Health
Jackie Lindamood │ Springfield Office of Local Health
Vermont Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week
Events in southern Vermont and elsewhere being held in support of infant health
BURLINGTON, VT– As part of World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7, the Brattleboro, Springfield and White River Junction communities will come together to honor breastfeeding, chestfeeding and lactation. The annual global celebration will highlight this year’s theme of “Step up for Breastfeeding — Educate and Support,” emphasizing the idea that we need to restore support systems to pre-pandemic levels and strengthen their capacity.
The Vermont Department of Health supports and encourages breastfeeding because of its important health benefits for both the person who is lactating and the baby. For adults, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and postpartum depression. In addition to the important nutrition and growth benefits, babies who breastfeed have improved cognitive development and a reduced risk for chronic diseases. Breastfed babies also have a reduced risk of severe lower respiratory disease, ear infections and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death syndrome (SUID). Breastfeeding also offers important bonding opportunities for both.
“World Breastfeeding Week is a perfect time for us to show people how and why breastfeeding and chestfeeding can be the easy and healthy choice,” said Deb Kitzmiller, a public health nurse with the department’s Brattleboro Local Health Office. “As part of this year’s focus, we also wanted to spotlight the important role Vermont employers have in supporting their lactating employees.”
Vermont is a leader in breastfeeding initiation, with 91.5% of babies in the state receiving human milk shortly after birth, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. However, by the age of 6 months, the rate of babies who are exclusively breastfed drops to 36.8%. This coincides with the time many parents return to the workforce – which Kitzmiller said shows just how important employer support for breastfeeding friendly policies in the workplace is to people being able to make this healthy choice for their babies.
“Supportive work policies allow people the time and space to continue pumping and providing human milk to their babies,” said Kitzmiller. “In addition to the significant health aspects, becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Employer provides tangible benefits for businesses as well.”
Data shows policies that support new parents in the workplace can benefit employers through decreased turnover, greater productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher morale and staff loyalty, as well as through lower health care costs (average annual savings is $400/breastfed baby).
Employers can join the celebration by signing on to be a Breastfeeding Friendly Employer. Visit healthvermont.gov/breastfeeding-friendly-employers to find out more about the program, and how your business can apply to be designated as a Breastfeeding Friendly Employer.
Here’s what is planned for World Breastfeeding Week (Aug. 1-7):
Three “The Big Let Down” events (formerly called “The Big Latch On”)
Join us to meet other breastfeeding/lactating parents to LATCH ON and LET DOWN! Participants will automatically be entered to win prizes. Bring your questions, as lactation experts will be available.
- A virtual event on Friday, Aug. 5 from 1 – 2 p.m.
- In-person event at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction on Saturday Aug. 6 from 10 – 11:00 a.m.
- In person event at Winston Prouty in Brattleboro on Sunday, Aug. 7 from 10 – 11:30 a.m.
For more information and to register, go to: https://forms.gle/tv9bnhDoh12LdkCo8
Vermont businesses are also invited to join in:
Social Media – The Brattleboro, Springfield, and White River Junction Local Health Offices want to feature your local business on their Facebook pages. Please send submissions or questions to [email protected].
- Option 1 (For any business): For us to share on our social media platforms – Take a picture of your breakroom or space where employees can pump or breastfeed. OR, write a few sentences about your commitment to being or becoming a breastfeeding friendly employer.
- Option 2 (For any business): Show the community that you are committed to happy employees with healthy families – Use your own social media to share a “Happy World Breastfeeding Week!” message.
- Option 3 (For businesses that ALREADY have “Breastfeeding Friendly Employer” status): Promote your lactation space and work culture similarly to option 1 above, but focus on what your BF Friendly status has meant to your staff! We will share this message on our social media to highlight the work you have done!
Learn more about breastfeeding in Vermont, visit healthvermont.gov/breastfeeding
Find your Local Health Office: healthvermont.gov/local
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About the Department of Health
We have been the state's public health agency for more than 130 years, working every day to protect and promote the health of Vermonters. Visit healthvermont.gov ─ Join us @healthvermont on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube