NMC Commentary

What is so important about St. Albans City being Breastfeeding Friendly?

It is so very important!  Thanks to the efforts of the staff of Vermont Department of Health (VDH), RiseVT, Northwestern Medical Center, St. Albans City, and so many businesses and organizations throughout St. Albans, Mayor Liz Gamache recently proclaimed St. Albans to be an official “Breastfeeding Friendly City.”  Mayor Gamache’s proclamation recognizes that “breastfeeding protects mothers’ and infants’ health and is a key health promotion and disease prevention strategy” and that breastfeeding can help “prevent chronic disease and illness for both mothers and children.”  It is wonderful to walk through our downtown, Taylor Park, and other spaces throughout our City and see the “Breastfeeding Friendly” signs making it clear that we are a community which values good nutrition and health and wellness.

Rachel Gregory, a VDH Public Health Nutritionist and Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant who has been instrumental in this achievement, shared that “this proclamation has come as a result of much community collaboration between RiseVT, VDH St Albans District Office, Northwestern Medical Center, St Albans City, and many local businesses who have become Breastfeeding Friendly Employers, or who have opened their doors to nursing families and advertise their businesses as breastfeeding friendly.” Indeed, the progress in St. Albans is part of an even broader emphasis on getting our youngest community members off to the healthiest starts possible throughout Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.  The success of this was highlighted recently in the media as more than 50 businesses, schools, non-profits, and municipalities were celebrated for achieving “Breastfeeding Friendly” status!  The list deserves repeating, as these organizations are helping make health and wellness a priority in our community: The Abbey Group, Academy Mortgage Corporation, A. N. Deringer, Ballet School of Vermont, Barry Callebaut, Bellows Free Academy Fairfax, Bellows Free Academy St. Albans, Ben & Jerry’s, Cold Hollow Career Center, Champlain Valley Area Health Education Center, Choice Physical Therapy, City of St. Albans, Collins Perley, Community College of Vermont, Dickinson & Branon Dental Care, Duke’s Fitness Center, Fairfax Community Library, Fairfield Center School, Fletcher Elementary School, Folsom Education & Community Center, Franklin Central Supervisory Union (now Maple Run), Franklin County Caring Communities, Franklin County Home Health, Georgia Elementary & Middle School, Georgia Public Library, Grand Isle Elementary School, Guy’s Farm & Yard, Maple City Candy, Mapleleaf Montessori, Messenger Print & Design, Missisquoi Valley Union, Mystic Waters Day Spa, Northwest Access TV, Northwestern Medical Center, Olympia Sports, Peoples Trust Company of Vermont, Rail City Market, RAW Fitness, RE/MAX Destinations, RPM Logos, Sheldon Elementary, S. R. Smith Real Estate, St. Albans City School, St. Albans Free Library, St. Albans Messenger, St. Albans Town, St. Albans Town Educational Center, Superior Technical Ceramics, Town of Enosburgh, Village Hair Company, Vermont Department of Health St. Albans District Office, and Walmart. What great partners and what a testament to our community’s commitment to a healthier future for all!

This progress on making breastfeeding part of our normal behavior is a wonderful complement to NMC earning national designation as a “Baby Friendly Hospital” (joining St. Johnsbury as the only Vermont hospitals to achieve that honor), which includes an emphasis on helping support excellent nutrition for newborns.  It is also a remarkable example of the power of the collaboration between the Vermont Department of Health, NMC, and RiseVT.  The Health Department brings expertise, support, and resources and partners with NMC’s Family Birth Center and Northwestern Women’s Services-OB/GYN.  The engaging outreach of the RiseVT’s  Wellness Specialists (with particular shout out to Jessica Frost and Betsy Fournier on this one) who amplify and accelerate those collaborative efforts to encourage our entire community to embrace healthy lifestyles – including, in this case, breastfeeding.  My thanks and congratulations go out to all involved!

To learn more about breastfeeding and becoming ‘breastfeeding friendly,’ visit http://www.healthvermont.gov/breastfeeding  To learn more about RiseVT and embracing healthy lifestyles, visit www.RiseVT.com  Look at what we can accomplish as a community, when Public Health, healthcare providers, businesses, municipalities, schools, organizations, and individuals join together.  Communities developing initiatives to support the healthy choice as being the right choice is happening all over Franklin and Grand Isle Counties.

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer