Waikato mums will celebrate breastfeeding at more than 17 locations across the region later this week, including seven in Hamilton.
Waikato District Health Board (DHB) is helping to promote the Big Latch On events this Friday and Saturday (1 and 2 August).
Big Latch On is an initiative from the Women’s Health Action, a non-profilt organisation. This is the 10th year of the Big Latch On. Thousands of women from different cultures and backgrounds will simultaneously breastfeed their babies in more than 130 public events nationwide, aiming to make this year the biggest demonstration yet. The event has now spread to more than 28 countries.
Ashleigh (22) is one of many mothers who breastfed in the important first six months of her baby’s life. She says it can take determination and perseverance to breastfeed but it pays off in convenience and in bonding, as well as the recognised health benefits for mum and baby.
“It’s like labour, you can tick the box off,” Ashleigh laughs. “You feel like you’ve achieved something once you’ve got it.”
Ashleigh was lucky to have support around her. “I come from a family who breastfed, so that made it easier, and everyone around me was breastfeeding pretty much. My partner Matt was really good about it; I could feed her anywhere, anytime and he didn’t care.”
Photo: Ashleigh, partner Matt and baby Kiarah.
Waikato DHB staff members Jo Cottrell, health promoter, and Alys Brown, midwife and lactation consultant, are helping to promote the Big Latch On events that women in local communities have organised as a way of raising awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and to provide opportunities for networking and local support.
One of the Hamilton venues is at Te Awa The Base near the Food Court. The event reinforces Te Awa’s commitment to providing a breastfeeding-friendly space. Participating mums will be given a hot drink and muffin.
Women’s Health Action’s Maternal and Child Health promoter, Isis McKay says communities around the country are the heart of The Big Latch On.
“The Big Latch On is successful because it operates at a grass roots level. Each event is unique, shaped according to the ethos and culture of the community organising it. From a maternal gathering on a pig farm, to en-masse marae sit-ins, we’ve even had women taking part 30,000 feet in the air; an in-flight Big Latch On! We warmly welcome and encourage community groups everywhere to participate in this year’s 10th Big Latch On celebration,” she says.
The mass event aims to support breastfeeding women and celebrate the health-giving, mother-baby bond.
To mark the event’s decade anniversary, Women’s Health Action initiated a virtual Big Latch On. For the first time, women can take part by posting a breastfeeding selfie to #biglatchonNZ www.facebook.com/biglatchonNZ
“There is evidence that women increase their internet use by up to 45 percent after becoming mothers, and if they’re back at work or unable to make it to a physical Big Latch On, this on-line option may work for them.”
Ms McKay says The Big Latch On is a lot of fun. “You get to meet other women and previous participants tell us they made new friends and liked supporting each other. Some of the groups decided to keep meeting regularly.”
The list of Waikato locations and times is on Waikato DHB’s website www.waikatodhb.health.nz/breastfeeding
General media enquiries
Mobile: 021 671 239
For general enquiries about the national Big Latch On events:
Isis McKay, Maternal and Child Health Promoter 09 520 5295, 021 442450