Breast is best, says mum

SARAH MCCARTHY
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2014

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"I love the fact that I can breastfeed. I'm creating the future."

Junaya Leask is 23. She remembers being 17, sitting in the hospital for about 6 hours, trying and trying to breastfeed this tiny creature who now depended on her for everything.

It was tough. Really tough. But she had made up her mind that she was going to breastfeed. And that was that.

Three boys (Railyn, 5, Xavier, 2, and Kymani, 8 weeks) and five years later, Leask is herself a breastfeeding peer counsellor with Nga Kete. It is her way of paying back the great help and support she herself got from her family and her midwife when she was in those first terrifying days of motherhood.

"I'm not very formal," she says of her peer sessions. I talk to them like a friend. It's cool. I love it."

Her work with Nga Kete has made her think about working somewhere "in the industry" when her own boys get older.

Leask will join other breastfeeding mothers and supporters at the Big Latch On tomorrow from 10am to 12pm at the Lindisfarne Community Centre.

Health Promotion officer Kathleen Eade said the Big Latch On was a global event where breastfeeding mothers from all over the world got together and latch on their babies to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. There would be goodie bags and giveaways at the free event, as well as a talk by Dr Vili Sotutu. Community lactation consultants, peer counsellors such as Leask and Well Child advocates would all also be there to show their support for breastfeeding.

"A lot of people don't realise the support that's out there in the community because it's not talked about enough."

"The bond is the biggest thing," Leask said, looking at her little boy. "It's free and it's natural and that's what they're there for."

WHY BREAST IS BEST

Breast milk is easily digested.

It is immediately available and always fresh.

Breastfeeding helps babies grow and develop physically and emotionally.

Breastfeeding and breast milk help protect babies from meningitis and chest, ear and urine infections.

Breastfeeding decreases the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI, also known as sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS). It is also linked to lower hospitalisation rates.

It helps reduce the risk of obesity and may help reduce the risk of diabetes in later life.

It helps mothers recover from birth.

It reduces the mother's risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer.

It may reduce the mothers' risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fracture later in life.

It may help mothers lose weight gained during pregnancy. 

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BIG LATCH ON EVENTS IN THE SOUTH

Lindisfarne Community Church, Invercargill

Southland Hospital Maternity Unit - for our newest mothers and babies

Gore Parents Centre

Alexandra Community House

Cromwell Plunket Rooms

Queenstown Lakes Events Centre

Cinema Paradiso, Wanaka

Can't make it, but still want to be part of the Big Latch On? Take a ‘selfie' and post it to https://www.facebook.com/BigLatchOnNZ

- The Southland Times

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