A dozen women gathered at Tainui Group Holding's Te Awa food court yesterday to help break a national record by taking part in the annual Big Latch On, an initiative by Women's Health Action.
Yesterday's event took place at 10.30am at more than 130 venues nationwide. Co-ordinator and lactation consultant Alys Brown hoped the national record (set in 2012, when 1571 women breastfed simultaneously) would be broken and said it was a great way to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding and the local support services for mothers.
The shopping mall was at the centre of a breastfeeding controversy last month when a mother-of-three was asked to stop feeding her baby at the food court.
Tainui Group Holding's chief executive, Mike Pohio, said holding the event at Te Awa reinforced their commitment to providing a breastfeeding-friendly space. "We hope it can be an annual event [at Te Awa] and look to organise it earlier to create a greater awareness and [attendance]," said Pohio.
Waikato DHB Health promoter Jo Cotrell said the Big Latch On was an annual event and she encouraged breastfeeding women to participate. "What's important is that women know they are able to breastfeed their children when they want and that they are allowed to."
Cottrell said it was essential for breastfeeding mothers to have the support of their partners and families.
Mother-of-four Cherie Kingi, a first-time participant, took part to support the lactation services in the Waikato.
"My daughter Charity had tongue-tie and couldn't latch immediately. It was heart-breaking, especially in those first few crucial days. I am grateful for the support the Waikato lactation consultants have given."
The Big Latch On is in its 10th year and, to celebrate, Women's Health Action initiated a virtual event - women can take part by posting a breastfeeding selfie to #biglatchonNZ on social media.
"If they're back at work or unable to make it to a physical Big Latch On, this online option may work for them," said Women's Health Action Maternal and Child Health promoter Isis McKay.
Donna-Lee Biddle is a Wintec journalism student
- Waikato Times