Breast feeding drew many activists who held a demonstration in Burlington after the City Council rejected a resolution to take an official stance in support of the practice.
The rally was hosted by Vermont's Health Department and a breast-feeding support group kicked off World Breastfeeding Week.
Activists marched on Church Street Saturday to raise public awareness to say that say breastfeeding is not just a private bond between mothers and babies but that it was a community health issue, too. Jan Campbell, with the Vermont Department of health Jan Campbell said, "Breastfeeding is a big public health issue. Babies who are breast fed are getting the food that's meant for human babies."
Supporters call attention to the health benefits of breastfeeding - for both mothers and babies. Laura McCormick, with the La Leche League of Burlington said, "The effects last much longer than the first year of life. They're less likely to get ear infections, to get sick in general. For the mom, she's less likely to get h."
It has been estimated that in Vermont, 81 percent of mothers breast-feed their babies and for that number to increase mothers need all the support they can get. McCormick said, "It's a natural act, but it's something women find hard because as a culture we've stopped doing it for 50 years."
The City Council considered a resolution to have Burlington's Board of Health and Personnel Director work this month to increase breastfeeding. However opponents defeated the measure by a vote of 7 to 6 claiming that this was not part of the city's core mission, and the council should not devote the city's limited resources to it. McCormick called the move unfortunate. She said, "I think they made a mistake and I hope they'll reconsider. It's very little expenditure of the city's money and it could have really far reaching savings for the city."
Their decision caused many any supporters to attend Saturday's rally. McCormick said that she hoped the City Council hadn't closed the book on the discussion. "Frankly, I've heard from a lot of mothers who are very upset about the decision, they want to make their voices known. I'm assuming the City Council was just not aware of how important it is."
McCormick hoped that Burlington would become a breastfeeding-friendly city and for that public backing was required.