Richmond’s Big Latch On set for Saturday, August 3

To celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, which begins August 1, Richmond’s Big Latch On is set for Saturday, August 3 at 10:30 a.m. at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square. The Richmond Healthy Start Initiative is partnering with Bon Secours Richmond Health System, HCA Healthcare and VCU Medical Center to host this year’s event. The Richmond event is part of a worldwide gathering of thousands of breastfeeding women and their babies and/or children who will assemble in their communities to take part in synchronized breastfeeding events. Registration for the Richmond event begins at 9:30 a.m. and all nursing mothers and their babies in the metro-Richmond area are invited to participate in the Big Latch On. In the event of inclement weather, the Big Latch On will move to Virginia State Capitol House Room 3, which is accessible through the Bank Street visitor’s entrance. 

“This year's Big Latch On is sponsored by the Richmond Health Action Alliance, a Healthy Communities Action Team funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth through the Richmond Healthy Start Initiative. Having the full support of the Mayor Dwight Jones Breastfeeding Commission helps make this a truly wonderful educational event,” said Rose Stith-Singleton, Richmond Healthy Start Initiative Project Director. "Babies and children who are not breastfed are at increased risk of diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as an increased risk of obesity and diabetes later in life. Even when mothers are able to get off to a good start, there is often a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates in the weeks and months after birth. Because breastfeeding is such an important public health measure, it is important that our community actively supports its breastfeeding mothers."

“VCU Medical Center is delighted to support the Big Latch On with our health care colleagues in the community. We all want what is best for our infants and mothers, and breastfeeding is the most effective prevention, boosting baby with antibodies that will fight infection and promote health from the earliest days and beyond,” said Dr. Gauri Gulati, a pediatrician and board certified lactation consultant who provides comprehensive breastfeeding support through the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “With breastfeeding, the return on investment is enormous for families, the community, and employers. For every 1,000 babies not breastfed, there is an excess of 2,033 physician visits, 212 days in the hospital and 609 prescriptions."

Last year, VCU Medical Center was selected in a highly competitive process as one of 90 hospitals in the United States to participate in a collaborative, Best Fed Beginnings, to improve outcomes for mothers and infants by increasing the initiation and duration rates of breastfeeding. It is actively pursuing the Baby Friendly Hospital designation.

“The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to support breastfeeding has provided additional opportunities for HCA Virginia, to collaborate with our colleagues, community partners and families to remove some of the barriers faced by breastfeeding mothers. We are in support of the promotion of  activities such as The Big Latch On to increase the awareness of how the documented benefits of breastfeeding impacts mothers, babies and their communities,” noted HCA, Virginia Health System’s Lactation Services Coordinator Denise DiCicco.

"Bon Secours is committed to supporting nursing mothers," said Blake Slusser, Manager of Women's and Children's Education and Outreach, Bon Secours Virginia Health System. "The Bon Secours Magic Hour provides undisturbed time for mothers and babies to have skin-to-skin contact during the first moments of life and Quiet Time gives parents and families a quiet and comforting setting to help baby further transition into their new environment; this has also been proven to increase breastfeeding success! In addition, we encourage parents to keep their baby with them in the patient rooms to help them recognize early feeding cues and better establish the bond between mother and baby.” Inpatient lactation services are offered to every patient and outpatient services are available from A Woman's Place Lactation Center and Boutique, with lactation consultants available by phone or for in person consultations. Bon Secours not only supports its patients, but also employees with pumping locations at every facility and steeply discounted breast pumps for purchase.

Richmond’s Big Latch On will take place on Saturday, August 3, at the Bell Tower, Capitol Square, intersection of Franklin & 9th Streets. Last year’s event included 100 attendees and nearly 50 breastfeeding mothers. Free parking to the 2013 Richmond Big Latch On is available in the gravel lot on the Southwest corner of Broad and 9th Streets and 900 East Marshall Street under the City’s Department of Social Services building.