By CARA HUNT
Tribune Features Writer
Bahamian women are invited to join mothers from all over the world for the Global Big Latch Off event this weekend to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
The Global Big Latch On takes place at registered locations around the world. Mothers come together to breastfeed and offer peer support to each other.
The local event will take place over two days, starting this Friday.
Tishka Moss, owner of the Fourth Trimester and an organiser of Saturday’s session, told Tribune Health that the group also plans to break the current synchronised breastfeeding world record.
“This year the goal is to break the current Global Big Latch On record of almost 21,500 children breastfeeding at 778 locations, across 28 countries,” she said.
According to the guidelines of the event, officials count the number of children breastfeeding at the same time (the latch count), how many breastfeeding people are gathered, and the total number of people who come out to show their support.
Friday’s event starts at 10am and will be held at the Ministry of Health’s cafeteria. Saturday’s event begins at 10.30am at Doctors Hospital. It’s a latch on event, so every child’s mouth around a breastfeeding person’s nipple counts. If you are breastfeeding twins or triplets (or more), it counts double and triple, even if they are not all breastfeeding at the same time.
You can be included in the count whether you are:
• Latching a child or children
• Using a supplemental nursing system or nipple shield
• Expressing milk (hand or pump)
• Feeding your child breast milk via an alternative method
Children do not have to stay latched for the whole time and all ages are very welcome.
Mrs Moss, who has partnered with Milky Momma for Saturday’s session, said the event is designed to normalise public breastfeeding as well encourage more women to nurse until their child is six months old.
“Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding, I would definitely encourage all mothers to nurse. However, I do realise that some women are just not able to nurse or they may have chosen that they do not want to nurse for whatever reason. And so this is not to make anyone feel bad or judge anyone, because we just want our babies to be fed and healthy,” she said.
Mrs Moss added that expectant mothers are also encouraged to come along so that they can become a part of the breastfeeding community.
“I know when I had my son, I didn’t have a lot of women in my family who had nursed, and so to have someone who can encourage you to do it is very helpful,” she said. “Breastfeeding is a natural thing, but it does not always come naturally, sometimes you have to work at it and it’s nice to have a group of women who you can call to encourage you.”
She added that national statistics indicate that 30 percent of Bahamian mothers breastfeed their children, a statistic that local health officials hope to increase.
Those who can’t make it to either of the two locations are asked to post a breastfeeding picture to Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #mybiglatchon2019 and #nassaubiglatchon2019.
Some of the known benefits of breastfeeding for the baby:
• More digestible food
• Mother’s mild contains antibodies that help the baby fight off infections
• Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma or allergies, and fewer sick doctor visits
Benefits for the mother:
• Nursing mothers can lose pregnancy weight faster
• Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer
• It is cheaper and easier than formula feeding