Local breastfeeding mothers and their families attended the annual Big Latch On Saturday in an attempt to set a new record.
The Big Latch On is an event to promote breastfeeding and breastfeeding awareness while attempting to set a new world record for synchronized breastfeeding. This is a global event, held during World Breastfeeding Week, and is hosted within individual communities around the world.
The Big Latch is organized by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and occurs during World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7.
Our local event took place in Murrieta, CA and hosted by Temecula Valley Birth and Birth and Baby Fair, Donohoe Chiropractic , Breast4Baby , and Inspirations Photography by Kristin. This years event tallied 61 breastfeeding and pumping moms who contributed to the global count of 17,790 children latched on at one time.
"There is just nothing that comes close to the nutritional value of breastfeeding", said co-host Veronica Donohoe. "As a breastfeeding mom, it did not come easy or naturally to me so it is important to support our local families in their breastfeeding journey's and let them know they are not alone and there is support in the community".
Breastfeeding and breast milk are not only nutritionally optimal, it contributes to decreased risk of cancer for both mom and baby, improves brain development, decreased risk of childhood obesity, reduction of childhood diseases, and diabetes (to name a few).
"Every time mom and baby nurse a dose of oxytocin which makes for a calmer and happier mom and baby, decreases risk of osteoporosis in mom, and reduces the risk of postpartum depression", said Kristen Davis registered International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and owner of Breast4Baby.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby's life. Then complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for two years or beyond to optimize these benefits.
However, even with these known benefits only 20 percent of mother's in the United States breastfeed for 12 months or beyond according to the CDC. The stigma runs deep. The disconnect between something natural and scientifically proven and social construct has created a tense environment for nursing mothers, and between nursing mothers. Lack of education from medical professionals, lack of research, the popularity of formula, and the sexualization of breasts have helped to create an environment where a breastfeeding mother is shamed, made to feel uncomfortable and are berated, threatened, and (at times) fear for their safety.
The choice to breastfeed (or continue to do so) is not only a battle one must have with society as a whole, but often between mothers as well. The terms "breast is best" or "fed is best" are used to argue a woman's choice to breastfeed or formula feed, While breastmilk is scientifically proven best, the blanket statement does not consider those mothers who cannot breastfeed due to illness, low production, or who adopt. The stigma surrounding breastfeeding has reached a level where defenses run high and mothers now feel the urge to defend their choices and choose a side.
However, a good support system can be the key to a mother choosing to breastfeed and continuing to do so.
Christine Magnan, 31, has been nursing her son for over 2 and a half years and plans to take his lead when he is ready to wean. She came out to represent those who breastfeed up and through the toddler years.
"Breastfeeding is an accomplishment", said Magnan. "I didn't think that I would be able to do it this long".
She goes on to emphasize the struggles that she overcame, such as an over supply, pain, poor latch and being the only one in her family to nurse past a few months. A big help to her success has also been her husband, Nick Magnan, 33, who was there to support her and the event.
"I fully support breastfeeding, its free, natural, and nothing wrong with it. It has been demonized for a long time and it shouldn't. It's nice to have him nurse as long as he has and that's the way it should be", said Nick.
Davis and Donohoe concur and hope the event will bring all types of moms together and showcase to breastfeeding mothers they are not alone.
Davis also leads a breastfeeding support group at 10 a.m. the second an fourth Wednesday of every month at Babies R' Us in Murrieta. She can also be reached at 760-716-6699. or firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more about World Breastfeeding Week and last years event, check out my article for the Sun News and Review by clicking here.