PLATTSBURGH — Moms, dads and infants formed an informal circle on the front lawn of CVPH Medical Center for the Big Latch On breastfeeding-awareness event Friday morning.
Some moms sat on beach towels or blankets, while others took seats on the grass. Some covered themselves with a breastfeeding
wrap; others prepared to nurse their child openly and proudly.
Maria Hayes, director of the Women and Infants Center at CVPH, began the countdown, from 10 to 1, to signal the official start of the Big Latch On, a worldwide event to promote breastfeeding as a natural and acceptable practice.
One by one, moms raised their hands to show that her child had begun feeding, giving local organizers the opportunity to officially count them as participants in the Big Latch On.
“It went well,” Hayes said, when a minute had passed and the moms could officially be counted, though most of the babies continued to suckle well beyond that official mark.
“We had well over 20 women participating, including the patients on the (newborn) unit.”
‘THE EVIL STARE’
The event emphasized the need to reduce the stigma associated with breastfeeding in public as much as the health factors involved in breastfeeding newborns.
“I think it’s for a good cause,” said Ana Belair of Plattsburgh, who was participating with her 7-month-old son, Jackson Garrant. “Not everyone is aware of the benefits, and many see it as a negative thing.
“I’ve gotten the evil stare,” she said of those times in public when a passer-by did not seem to agree with her choice to feed Jackson in public. “But I don’t think too much about (the negative reactions).
“As long as he’s eating and he’s happy, that’s all that matters.”
She did say that other people do smile and show their support for her decision.
Belair did not breastfeed her firstborn and noted that Jackson has had a healthier infancy with few illnesses.
“I don’t think I had the support (18 years ago),” she said. “It wasn’t something moms did. We weren’t as aware as we are today.”
Melissa Litts-Cass of Redford participated in the event with her 1-year-old daughter, Noelle.
“I’ve breastfed both of my children,” she said of Noelle and 3-year-old Brant, whom she nursed until he was 17 months old. “I attended pregnancy classes, and they promoted the health benefits of breastfeeding.
“I wasn’t breastfed as a baby and first thought it was going to be weird, but it’s been wonderful, just amazing.”
She said she has “gotten a lot braver” breastfeeding in public and feels that people are a lot more accepting when they see moms feeding their babies.
“I’m a lot more comfortable, a lot more confident,” she said.
A NATURAL ACTIVITY
Kristin Engle traveled to Plattsburgh from South Burlington with 17-month Liliana Martins and Liliana’s father, Adam Martins, for the Big Latch On.
“I couldn’t find any (Latch On events) going on any closer,” she said. “I’m very pro-breastfeeding and believe it is important to make people more aware of it.”
Breastfeeding in public is a natural activity that should be accepted by all, she said.
“It’s not really anything I had to think about,” she said of her choice. “Breastfeeding in public is the same as breastfeeding at home. I choose a spot where I feel comfortable whenever she is hungry.”
Kristin was breastfed as a child and praises her community for being supportive of breastfeeding.
Adam gives his full support.
“I was born and raised in Brazil. It’s very natural in my country and should be here as well.”
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