FARMINGTON — Eight-month-old Benjamin Bauman bounced up and down on his mother's lap Saturday morning as she sat cross-legged on a blanket at Kiwanis Park in Farmington. He smiled a big, toothless grin.

The infant had just finished nursing during the Big Latch On, part of La Leche League's Live, Latch, Love event. In Farmington, 17 women breast-fed at the same time during the Big Latch On.

La Leche League chapters worldwide participated in the Big Latch On in an attempt to break the world record for the most women breast-feeding at the same time. The world record was set in 2013 when 14,536 women participated in the Big Latch On. Numbers for this year's event aren't yet available.

Audrey, 2, and Abigai Garrison, 3, of Farmington, enjoy ice cream on Saturday during the Live, Latch, Love event, sponsored by the local La Leche League.
Audrey, 2, and Abigai Garrison, 3, of Farmington, enjoy ice cream on Saturday during the Live, Latch, Love event, sponsored by the local La Leche League. (Alexa Rogals/The Daily Times)

Benjamin's mother, Taylor Bauman, said La Leche League provides a support system for nursing mothers. As a first-time mom, she said she finds the group encouraging.

"With the first baby, I think it comes as a shock at first that you have to feed the baby with your own body and you have to eat enough," she said.

To continue producing milk for her son, Bauman says she drinks a lot of water and eats protein and oatmeal.

Krystal Edwards, who is visiting from San Antonio, Texas, also attended Saturday's event. She said her milk ran out after her first daughter, Marquel, was six months old. Marquel is now 2, and Edwards has a second daughter, two-month-old Imani, who she hopes to breast feed for longer.

"The biggest challenge is making sure I have a lot of milk," she said, adding that to encourage milk production, she drinks mother's milk tea and eats oatmeal.

Edwards said her cousin, who lives in Farmington and is pregnant, told her about the event, and the two women decided to attend.

"I thought it was a cool cause to support," she said.

Heather Yocom, a lactation consultant for San Juan Regional Medical Center, was at the event to offer advice.

A group of mothers on Saturday sits out in the shade at Kiwanis Park in Farmington and breast-feeds. The local La Leche League organized a Live, Latch,
A group of mothers on Saturday sits out in the shade at Kiwanis Park in Farmington and breast-feeds. The local La Leche League organized a Live, Latch, Love event at the park. (Alexa Rogals / The Daily Times)

She said breast-fed babies tend to be healthier, have higher IQs and fewer ear infections and are at a lower risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, diabetes, obesity and some cancers. Mothers also reap health benefits, such as a lower risk of ovarian and breast cancers.

Plus, it has other advantages, she said.

"I think for both mom and baby it kind of increases that bond," Yocom said.

About 86 percent of mothers in San Juan County initiate breast-feeding, Yocom said, but continuing it past three months or six months can be a challenge. Pediatricians recommend babies be breast-fed until they are six months old and preferably until after their first birthdays.

Yocom said the support of groups like La Leche League helps mothers continue breast-feeding longer.

Kaycee Digiacomo came to Saturday's event with Natalia, her four-month-old daughter, to "show how proud I am to breast-feed in the community."

Digiacomo also breast-fed her older daughter, Karmen, now 2. With Karmen, Digiacomo said she felt as if breast-feeding was something she needed to hide. But now she is confident in breast-feeding Natalia in public.

"I feel she's more willing to eat if I am not ashamed of it and trying to cover it up," Digiacomo said.

For Digiacomo, whether or not she would breast feed was never a question.

"I've just always wanted to," she said. "I felt like it's the best thing I can do for my child, and it's definitely cheaper than formula."

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.