Cerise Bouchard said it is "lactivism" that led 18 mothers to breast-feed their babies at exactly 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the lawn outside her Richmond Road breast-feeding resource store, Mother Nurture.
The local supporters of breast-feeding, and specifically public breast-feeding, joined thousands of nursing women and their babies across the United States who took part in the Big Latch On, a one-minute synchronized nursing event in multiple locations.
Shayna Chasteen of London said she breast-fed 4-month-old daughter Ella Chasteen at Lexington's event because she wanted to help make other mothers aware of the benefits of breast-feeding and to promote "normalizing breast-feeding in public."
Chasteen uses a cover when she breast-feeds and said she gets mostly positive response.
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Kelli Dabney of Versailles, who brought 8-month-old daughter Scarlet, said that she breast-feeds discreetly in public and that while she hasn't experienced rudeness, "it's not as accepted as it should be."
On occasion, she said, "I still feel like I get the eye from people."
Laws have been passed in Kentucky to protect women who want to breast-feed their babies in public. State law allows a mother to breast-feed her baby or express breast milk in any public or private location. Kentucky's law states that breast-feeding is not to be considered an act of public indecency or indecent exposure.
Women who participated in the national event were trying to beat a record set in October 2010 when 9,826 nursing mothers were recorded at 325 sites in 16 countries, according to a statement from the La Leche League USA that organized the Big Latch On. Bouchard did not immediately know Saturday afternoon whether that record had been broken.
The event was coordinated to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week, which ran from Aug. 1 through Sunday. As part of the week, state officials issued a statement on the importance of providing support for breast-feeding families.
"We stress breast-feeding as the gold standard in infant feeding, because of the nutritional and health advantages it provides," Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Janie Miller said. "Women have more success with breast-feeding when they receive consistent and accurate information and are supported by their health care providers, family and community."
The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life and continue to be breast-fed, along with being fed other food sources, for at least a year.
Bethany Spencer said she came to the Big Latch On to encourage mothers to continue to try to breast-feed even if they had difficulty at first.
Spencer said it had been "extremely difficult" to breast-feed her older son, Lochlainn, when he was a baby, taking seven months to iron out the problems, and it had been "tough" as she worked for more than four months to breast-feed younger son Finley, now 9 months.
"Breast-feeding is a dance, and you have to perfect it between you and your child," said Spencer. "Don't give up. It can be done."
State officials said it's important for mothers who want to breast-feed to get support not only from family, friends and employers, but also from professionals such as International Board Certified lactation consultants so that they can resolve questions and problems faster.
"When breast-feeding mothers have little support, they are more likely to stop breast-feeding before they reach their goals," said Marlene Goodlett, breast-feeding promotion coordinator for the state Department of Public Health.
The Kentucky Women, Infants and Children Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program provides support and information for prenatal and breast-feeding mothers.
The only father at Saturday's event, Brion Barnhill of Lexington, came with his wife, Amy Barnhill, and their daughter, Lilly Belle, 19 months. Brion Barnhill said he had not realized how many women were made to feel uncomfortable while breast-feeding their children.
Mothers, he said, are "on the go" and often don't have the option of feeding the baby at home in private. "Luckily my wife cares more about my baby's health than what somebody else thinks," he said.