Breast-feeding mothers in Marlborough are invited to a Big Latch-On in Blenheim next Friday.
It is part of a global gathering. Women and babies will meet on August 3 at different centres around the world to see how many women can breast-feed at the same time.
It is a highlight of World Breast-feeding Week, starting on August 1.
The Big Latch-On in Marlborough is being co-ordinated again by Huia Crosby with Maataa Waka.
She says 44 breast-feeding mothers attended last year's event, six more than 2010.
That was the year she became the Maataa Waka breastfeeding consultant, helping women on their journey into motherhood by linking them to community support groups and health professionals.
The work was funded by the Ministry of Health under its Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) programme. But HEHA projects, including Huia's job, was terminated by the ministry on June 30 this year.
She hopes networks established for young mothers in the past two years will continue and says events like the Big Latch-On help to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding.
● Blenheim mother Amy Peters-Oswald, is grateful for the support she received after her baby Ava was born.
The little girl was looking healthy and happy this week, just one day before her 1st birthday, but Amy says congenital health problems posed many difficulties in the early months of her life.
Ava's first eight days were spent in the neonatal unit, receiving Amy's breast-milk through a nasogastric tube.
That meant sucking was not her first instinct when she was eventually placed in her mother's arms, and Amy is indebted to the support and guidance provided by her midwife and a lactation consultant.
Although a a registered nurse herself, she says she was primarily a new mother in those early weeks and would have felt lost without their support.
Liz Nash, Sue McNabb and Jackie Martin are all qualified midwives and lactation consultants and they met this week to talk about their work with Wairau Hospital.
For the past 10 years it has held a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFI).
That was launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 20 years ago in response to low breastfeeding rates despite the long-term health benefits of breastfeeding.
Mothers who breast-feed their babies at Wairau Hospital have increased from 48 per cent 10 years ago to more than 90 per cent since the BFI policy was adopted.
Sue oversees it and says 10 steps set by the WHO must be followed to be re-accredited every three years.
They include all staff, including ward receptionists and cleaners being educated about breastfeeding, mothers and infants having skin-to-skin contact for the first two hours after birth, and no bottles or milk formulas being promoted in the hospital.
Babies fed formula milk have a higher risk of ear infections, gastro-enteritis, respiratory infections and allergies, the consultants say.
Breastfeeding mothers lose weight gained during pregnancy more quickly, have a lower risk of contracting breast cancer, ovarian cancer and rheumatoid arthritis or getting post-natal depression.
"It's magic!" Liz agrees.
Community benefits mustn't be forgotten, either, the women say. Healthy mums and healthy babies mean less time off work and less costs to the country's health-care services.
And breast-milk is cleaner, greener and there are no product recalls, Sue adds.
A DVD produced by the Ministry of Health, Breast-feeding Naturally,can be hired from Blenheim video stores and Marlborough District Library.
Details about The Big Latch-On (Aotearoa/NZ) are on Facebook. Or, turn up at 10am to the Clubs of Marlborough, Blenheim on August 3 for a 10.30am "latch on", spot prizes and goodie bags.
- The Marlborough Express