By proclamation, St. Albans City is now officially a Breast-feeding Friendly City. St. Albans is one of only a handful of towns across the U.S. with such a designation. This is something to be celebrated. Not only for what it reflects as a community value, but also for the collaboration that made this proclamation possible. It was a result of public and private partnerships all aiming for a healthier community.

RiseVT works with all aspects of our community, but this project initially came out of collaboration with small businesses. We partner with the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) to designate businesses as Breast-feeding Friendly Employers. This demonstrates a business’s commitment to enable breast-feeding employees to have access to workplace conditions to support their needs, thus positively impacting the employee’s health and their child’s.

While working with Rail City Market on their Breast-feeding Friendly Employer designation, Rail City Market offered to allow the public to come in and use their designated space. This sparked an idea of creating Breast-feeding Friendly Places throughout the City. All that would be required is a welcoming attitude towards breast-feeding and a comfortable chair.

Nancy Hudak, owner of Rail City Market, says,

“Rail City Market has been a breastfeeding friendly place for over 30 years so this is nothing new for us. I can’t imagine why anyone would discourage a mother from nourishing their infant when the need arises. We are happy to know that St. Albans City is making this proclamation of being a Breastfeeding Friendly City.”
 

The idea was presented at the quarterly RiseVT Small Business Umbrella meeting.This group is comprised of small businesses, from one to 50 employees, which are interested in working with RiseVT on employee wellness.The group was enthusiastic about the prospect of small businesses making a big impact in community health.

From there, the vision of Breast-feeding Friendly City grew. Two years ago, RiseVT had worked with the City and Town to provide Breast-feeding Friendly signs for the parks. Northwestern Medical Center is a designated Baby-Friendly Hospital. Franklin County is a leader in the number of Breast-feeding Friendly Employers, with 47 participating. It was a natural progression.

RiseVT aims to collaborate to improve our communities’ health and amplify what is already happening. Rachael Gregory, public health nutritionist at VDH says,

“Vermont can be commended for ranking fourth in the U.S. for exclusive breast-feeding at six months, with 31 percent of infants currently meeting this goal. However, it is estimated that if 80 percent of U.S. families followed guidelines to breast-feed exclusively for six months, the United States would save $10.5 billion annually from reduced direct medical and indirect costs and the cost of premature death. We know that women are 2.5 times more likely to breast-feed their babies where it is protected, promoted, and supported.”

Next time you walk downtown, look for the “Breast-feeding Friendly Place” sign in the window of the following shops:

• Build A Bagel

• Catalyst Coffee Bar

• Chamber of Commerce

• Champlain Valley Area Health Education Center

• Duke’s Fitness

• Franklin County Caring Communities

• Rail City Market

• Main Street Graphics

• Northwestern Medical Center

• ReMax Destinations

• St. Albans City Hall

• Traveled Cup

• What a Yarn

If you would like your own sign, please reach out to Jessica Purvis Frost, RiseVT wellness specialist at jfrost@nmcinc.org.