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Big Latch On and Breastfeeding Week a huge success

The Big Latch On event at the Matatoki Cheese Barn, south of Thames

Photo: A big latch on event 2015 at Matatoki Cheese Barn near Thames – photo: Louise Rowden, clinical midwife manager, Thames Birthing Unit.

Once again Waikato registered a significant number of “Latch On” venues –  in Taumarunui, Te Kuiti, Otorohanga, Te Awamutu, Tokoroa, Morrinsville, Paeroa, Thames, Waihi, Huntly with several in Hamilton (5).

Most venues registered between four and ten ‘latches’ at their events. Many negotiated sponsorship and media support locally.

Te Awamutu events again hosted a significant number of women (20 + 7 ‘latches’) at two events and have strong support from within their community for the event each year.

Waikato Hospital hosted two events – one in the post-natal ward, the other in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) with 16 ‘latches’.

This year a large event was hosted at the Lido Cinema in Centre Place Hamilton – see story below:

Big Latch On at the movies

Big Latch On at Rialto's Lido cinema in Hamilton

Big Latch On at the Lido Cinema in Hamilton

As a way of promoting the importance of breastfeeding Waikato DHB’s Māori Health service, Te Puna Oranga, hosted an event at the Lido Cinema in Centre Place in the Hamilton CBD.

This event attracted 73 women to participate and registered 67 ‘latches’ together. It was hosted by staff of Te Puna Oranga who also sponsored entry into the movie enjoyed by the women attending. Each woman also received a gift bag on arrival as well as opportunity for other prizes throughout the event.

Executive director of Māori Health Ditre Tamatea said: “Promotion of the importance of breast feeding was a key health priority for everybody but especially so for Māori as our rates are low. Breastfeeding helps to build our pepi’s immunity against a range of infectious diseases and has other health benefits for baby and mum alike.”

“Supporting breastfeeding is one of the best investments we can make in our future generation; promoting the Big Latch On event was simply part of that process but wider work still needs to be undertaken.”

Data showed that woman whom breastfeed were less likely to get breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis. Breastfeeding was also a protective factor in reducing SUDI rates which was a major issue for Māori with over 80 per centof all SUDI deaths being Maori infants.

“Breastfeeding is a natural practice but even in current times woman have suffered from stigmatism with some in society trying to stop them or discourage breastfeeding such as in public places, and work places need to better support breastfeeding,” Tamatea said.

Kelly Sprigs Safe Sleep co-ordinator for Te Puna Oranga, who helped to facilitate the event, said that breast milk is a “superfood” for babies.

“It decreases pepi’s chances of getting chest and ear infections, and decreases the risk of obesity and diabetes it also helps to build a bond between mum and baby. The feedback from our wahine whom participated was that they viewed the day as a resounding success. Wahine of all backgrounds got to attend a movie and receive prizes and to reaffirm the importance of breastfeeding.”

Tamatea said that Māori breastfeeding rates were not where they needed to be and that the health sector needed to do all it can to support behaviour change to improve Māori uptake of breastfeeding, and that this would require the health sector to look at doing things differently.


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