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Inner city breastfeeding initiative means health benefits for mom and baby

HARTFORD -- When Carmen Veal gave birth to her daughter, Sania, she was 17 years old, living in the North End of Hartford.

"I only breastfed her for seven weeks. I didn't know what I was doing. I had very little training when I left the hospital," she recalls, 14 years later.

"It was a cultural thing, I found, for women of color, not really having that information passed-on from my mom or my grandmother," said Veal.

According to Dr. Walter Trymbulak, director of the Center for Women's Health at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, Veal's experience isn't unusual.

"There was no culture of breastfeeding [in the city]," he says.

The center is offering low-income African American mothers a program to promote breastfeeding that has been successful in Hartford's Hispanic community over the past decade.

"Breastfeeding: Heritage and Pride," first developed by the Hispanic Health Council and brought into communities in partnership with Hartford Hospital, recruits, trains and hires women from the city's neighborhoods who have successfully breastfed their own babies for at least six months.

Click here for the entire column from The Hartford Courant.