Rutland Woman Among Vermont’s First Breastfeeding Peer Counselors

For Immediate Release: Aug. 11, 2005

Contact: Communication Office

BURLINGTON – Lynn Stuhlmueller breastfed her twins for 13 months through two long Vermont winters. Newborn infants will breastfeed as often as 12 times in a 24-hour period, and Stuhlmueller stubbornly and lovingly prioritized time to nurse. Those traits will serve her well as a Vermont Breastfeeding Peer Counselor.

“Breastfeeding two babies is quite a challenge because they had growth spurts, and not always at the same time,” said Stuhlmueller. “I wanted to give up but I knew how important it was. My doctor was great to keep me going. But I could have used a peer counselor. It was difficult at times.”

Stuhlmueller will graduate today as a member of the Vermont Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Class of 2005. The graduation ceremony, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Vermont Department of Health Asa Bloomer State Office Building in Rutland, will honor a special group of nine women that will guide and support new mothers in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton and Poultney.

The Vermont Department of Health selected Rutland County based on its lower than average rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration. The outreach efforts of the breastfeeding peer counselors will influence an estimated 300 of the 600 women who give birth in Rutland County each year.

Approximately half of all births in Rutland County are by women enrolled in the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) program. WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition program of the United States Department of Agriculture that helps families eat well and stay healthy.

Breastfeeding a baby for a full year, the duration recommended by the Health Department, provides children with a nutritional boost that improves their overall health throughout their life. Breastfeeding improves the immune system of both mother and child and protects the child against obesity later in life.

Stuhlmueller, 29, of Proctor, breastfed her first child for six weeks before she switched to formula as she returned to work. She later learned of the vast benefits of breastmilk, such as it’s easier for a baby to digest and helps new mothers lose weight gained during pregnancy.

“Graduating among the first breastfeeding peer counselors is something I am really going to enjoy,” she said. “I’ve been practicing by counseling my friends and I hope I get a full case load. I think it is going to be great.”