Women breastfeed at Capitol to promote healthy children

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The city of Richmond has been fighting to lower its infant mortality rate since the 90's. It believes one way to save more lives is to educate people that a mother's milk is better than formula.

Now, the city has taken action by showing mothers breastfeeding in public. The "Big Latch On" was a big show with a simple message that breastfeeding is healthy for both the mom and the child.

It was just for one minute, but these moms made a statement they hope will last a lifetime.

More than 50 women gathered near the bell tower. From 10:30 a.m. to 10:31 a.m., they breast fed in unison to communicate this isn't restricted to the confines of home but anywhere they feel necessary.

"People look at them and wonder why they're breast feeding in public," said mother Rachel Motley. "The baby is hungry. Why can't the baby eat in public too?"

"I believe that breastfeeding in public should be discrete," said one man. "We have kids and we really don't want to see that."

Regardless of where it's done, doctors say breastfeeding helps babies grow into stronger children with healthier immune systems and fewer infections. Melanie Barr says her 15-month-old son is reaping the benefits.

"Perfect, he's never had an ear infection," said Barr. "He's never had a cold. No stuffy noses. He's been completely healthy."

Breastfeeding is cheaper and doctors add it also lowers the risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Breastfeeding is natural," said Endocrinology Fellow, Samantha Hudson. "There's nothing unnatural about it. It's meant to be just a way to feed a baby. It should be just as accepted as pulling out a bottle."

"I'm hoping the environment will change," Barr added. "At least it's being talked about now. 10 or 15 years ago, nobody spoke about breastfeeding at all. You bottle fed. If you breastfeed, you were weird."

The moms out here are hoping these 60 seconds will communicate the health benefits and necessity of breastfeeding.

Women around the world gathered in these synchronized breast feeding events as part of World Breastfeeding Week.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby's life.

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