Myrtle Beach women breastfeed in public

Thousands of women united Saturday morning for an event to raise awareness on breast feeding, including a group of about a dozen in Myrtle Beach.

It's called the Big Latch On event. Women are trying to beat the record for the most women breastfeeding at one time.

"I just want to be supportive to all breastfeeding moms. If the more women that come out if they are breastfeeding, it shows good support to other women that have it in mind that they want to breastfeed and that they can do it," mother Shaunte Vanwagner said.

Last year, 18 women participated in a similar united breastfeeding latch on event. This comes also as mayors across the country, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are encouraging hospitals to urge mothers to breastfeed.

Beginning in September, more than half of that city's hospitals will lock up their formula, and require mothers to sign it out like medicine.

"I think it's wonderful," Tiffani Rogers, who was on vacation to Myrtle Beach from Maryland and participated in the event told us. "I have a lot of friends who didn't breastfeed because they have problems. And they weren't encouraged to."

In 2006, the Philippines holds the international record with 3,738 mothers breast feeding at one time. The country then partnered with other countries and set a new record in October 2010 with 9,826 nursing mothers in 325 sites in 16 countries breast-feeding simultaneously.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be fed nothing but breast milk for about the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding for at least one year. The Centers for Disease Control says babies who are fed formula and stop breastfeeding early have higher risks of obesity, diabetes, respiratory and ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and tend to require more doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions.

The CDC is also suggesting more hospitals across the U.S. encourage new mothers to breastfeed, adding low rates of breastfeeding add $2.2 billion a year to medical costs. It also emphasized that children who are breastfed for nine months are 30% less likely to become obese than a bottle baby.

Big Latch On originated in New Zealand in 2005 and was created by the non-profit organization Women's Health Action. They chose this week in August to coincide with the annual celebration of World Breast-feeding Week, which is in its 20th year this Aug. 1 through 7.