Did you know that there is a World Breastfeeding Week? You bet there is! August 1 to 7 women and organizations across the world will celebrate the week to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies.
As part of the celebration women worldwide will breastfeed for one minute at the same time. The synchronized event called is a community awareness event that is taking place at in the Campbell August 4 at 10:30 a.m.
“That minute is such a small piece of it,” said Param Matharu, organizer of the Campbell event. “It’s really about raising awareness of breastfeeding and community support for breastfeeding.”
The Big Latch On aims to raise awareness throughout the community and make breastfeeding a normal thing to do in public. Matharu said that mothers shouldn’t have to feel like they have to exclude themselves from public life because they have to breastfeed.
“We just don’t see breastfeeding in our community, so there’s not that much knowledge around it,” said Matharu.
Even though the event only lasts one minute, it influences communities to use a silly event to build awareness.
“It’s going to be really silly,” said Joanne Edwards, founder and global coordinator of the Big Latch On. “You can’t be serious about getting a bunch of women to breastfeed at 10:30 a.m.”
Edwards said that the Big Latch On made a huge impact in New Zealand through increased support for breastfeeding, which she hopes to see worldwide.
From coffee shops and baby stories to libraries and parks, local businesses are reaching out to encourage breastfeeding awareness. Breastfeeding is a part of daily life for mothers, so creating a community in which breastfeeding feels normal is integral.
“We’re talking about normalizing breastfeeding over time,” said Matharu.
Many of the women who participate in the Big Latch On know each other through parenting groups, but just as many know no one when they come. Edwards said that the idea is to create a community with local businesses and residents that supports breastfeeding.
Not only is engagement from groups important, but the women who attend the Big Latch On form friendships that last a lifetime. for an hour after the event had ended to exchange information and plan play dates.
“After that one minute, it’s a great opportunity for some of our local moms to get to know other moms that have little ones and are breastfeeding as well,” said Matharu. “For me it’s all about building that community.”
Mothers with older children reach out to newer mothers. Last year a woman who had a 9-day-old was struggling and received the support and encouragement of others who went through the same challenges, said Edwards.
At last year’s Big Latch On event in Campbell, women with various approaches to breastfeeding were exposed to new strategies. One woman was nursing twins at the same time while another was extended breastfeeding past the age of one. The event exposes women to new things and encourages mothers who are hesitant.
“To be able to turn up somewhere and to know that there’s going to be 5 or 10 moms breastfeeding in different ways is such an empowering feeling,” said Edwards.
The first Big Latch On took place in Aotearoa, New Zealand, in 2005. After Edwards attended the event, she introduced the Big Latch On to Portland, Oregon, in 2010.
Last year Annie Brown from La Leche League contacted Edwards about spreading the Big Latch On nationwide. The event has expanded to 23 countries. Last year 5,687 women participated.
“When I started it in Portland, I was supposed to have one location and then I had 30 more,” said Edwards.
Matharu has been involved in the Campbell parenting community for about six years. When she was pregnant with her now 5-year-old son, she took childhood classes and received support at , a community for pregnant and early parenting mothers to connect with others and receive support.
Now Matharu provides that same support to the community as a doula, a person who supports women through pregnancy, birth and early childhood.
Breastfeeding promotes normal growth and youth development. Babies who are not breastfed show increased risk of infant mortality, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, according to the Big Latch On website. Women should breastfeed their babies for the first six months of their lives, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
Join mothers at on Saturday, August 4, at 10:30 a.m. for the Big Latch On.