The Big Latch On hopes to raise awareness about breastfeeding - WSMV News 4

The Big Latch On hopes to raise awareness about breastfeeding in Nashville

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Some doctors say new mothers should breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of a child's life, and up to a year beyond that. But Tennessee has some of the lowest numbers in the country when it comes to children who are breastfed.

It's a proven fact that a lot of mothers just don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public.

"I was finding myself avoiding going out to run errands because I was worried about doing it," said mother Caroline Martin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say breastfeeding is one of the most highly effective preventative measures a mother can take to protect the health of her infant and herself.

"We try to communicate the benefits for moms because that isn't as widely known. When I was 14, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and breastfeeding reduces my risk of breast cancer," said Julie Hamilton, president of the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition.

According to new CDC data, Tennessee ranks extremely low in terms of nursing moms. The state ranks 49th for babies ever breastfed. Four in 10 Tennessee moms never start breastfeeding at all.

One of the top reasons moms aren't breastfeeding is because American culture doesn't fully support it.

"They hear news stories about where moms were asked to leave or asked to cover up when nursing in public, and so they stay home," Hamilton said.

On Saturday at Opry Mills, nearly 100 women will breastfeed together for the Big Latch On, a global initiative to promote a positive environment for nursing infants.

The event is being sponsored by the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition. They work year-round to help women feel comfortable breastfeeding at public places like parks and restaurants and have been asking local businesses to hang decals in their windows to let women know breastfeeding is welcome.

"We want that staff to know that mom has a right to nurse in public. We have Tennessee and federal laws protecting her, and so we don't want that mom to ever even know that there was a complaint," Hamilton said.

The Big Latch On begins at 10 a.m. Saturday in the foot court at the Opry Mills Mall.

Click here for more information about the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition.

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