'Big Latch On' Sends Important Breastfeeding Message No Matter How Big

Big Latch On Last Saturday, August 6, women around the world gathered in their local towns to try and set a world record for babies breastfeeding simultaneously. Called The Big Latch On of 2011, at 10:30 a.m. women came together to breastfeed their babies for one minute in the name of raising awareness and support for breastfeeding.

Perhaps not as hip as a flash mob, but what a wonderful show of solidarity for something so vital to the health of our children. The gatherings looked different in every locale, even though they all sent the same message. In the Orlando, Florida, area, they almost had to cancel the event as just three days beforehand, their venue was cancelled.

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They scrambled and found a different site in Sanford, Florida, and 13 women gathered to participate -- all with different backgrounds and experiences. Colleen Juul, Big Latch On Sanford site organizer and participant, was someone who had struggled with breastfeeding in the past.

I quit breastfeeding my oldest daughter at three weeks and my son at almost two months. Now I am still breastfeeding my youngest daughter at ten months. The difference? My support system this time around from my midwife Michelle Gawne and her breastfeeding support group, Bosom Buddies, at Heart 2 Heart Birth Center.

It's that support system that most women really need, but sadly don't always get. Kelly Martin participated in the event because she doesn't think breastfeeding should be taboo.

I hope people take notice of movements like this and support our efforts and rights to naturally feed our children. The event was a beautiful display of strong, empowered women gathering to enlighten the world. I am very glad to have been part of it.

It doesn't seem they succeeded in setting a new record. The final numbers are still being verified, but it's believed 4,123 women and children in 294 locations across the world participated in this year's event. The current record, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is 15,128 mothers and babies in 295 sites in the Philippines in 2007. But that doesn't really matter says Joanne Edwards, event coordinator.

Numbers really are only a small part of the story though. The event is held to develop the support of local communities for the wonderful job that nursing mamas do.

While small groups of women breastfeeding together here and there may not seem like a big deal, if their efforts inspired even just a few women to try breastfeeding, or to not give up, then the effort was not wasted. This is the first year the New Zealand-born event was held nationally in the United States, but it certainly won't be the last. Organizers are already looking forward to increased participation next year.

Would you participate in the Big Latch On to promote breastfeeding awareness and support?


Image via breastfeedingproject.org

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