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New Zealand is marking World Breastfeeding Week with another first this year - the call out for women to upload a breastfeeding selfie.
By posting a selfie to the Big Latch On Facebook or Twitter page (#BigLatchOnNZ), breastfeeding mums can 'virtually' take part in an event that sees thousands of women from different backgrounds simultaneously breastfeed their babies in public gatherings across the country.
The Big Latch On was first launched in New Zealand 10 years ago to help celebrate and support breastfeeding women. It's now held in over 27 countries, and last year saw 14,536 babies take part.
The 'I latched on' selfie is a new addition and opportunity to take part in the event via select social media sites.
Women's Health Action Maternal and Child Health promoter, Isis McKay, says there's evidence that women increase their internet use by up to 45% after becoming mothers and if they're back at work or can't make it to a physical Big Latch On, the online option might work for them.
She says exclusive breastfeeding rates in New Zealand drop significantly from the time of discharge from hospital (around 85%) to the time the baby is six months old, when around 17% of women are still exclusively breastfeeding.
"Breastfeeding seems something women want to achieve, but for lots of different reasons it doesn't always work out," says McKay.
The Big Latch On helps remove some of the barriers that prevent mums from achieving their aims, she adds. "Breastfeeding in public was still stigmatised 10 years ago... Our aim then was about gaining acceptance." But it's clear from the statistics that there are still barriers to breastfeeding for longer, she says.
The Big Latch On takes part today and tomorrow across 130 registered venues from Kerikeri to Invercargill.
For more, go to www.biglatchon.org.nz.
Notes: World Breastfeeding Week runs from August 1-7. It's coordinated internationally by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and is this year running the slogan, 'Breastfeeding: A winning goal - for life'.