In honor of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7), Bronson Battle Creek and the Breastfeeding Coalition of Calhoun County are participating in the ‘Big Latch On’ program on Saturday, August 3. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at Anybodies Playground at Bailey Park in Battle Creek.
At the same time every year, in over 120 countries around the world, thousands of nursing women and their babies gather in their own communities to take part in a synchronized breastfeeding event. All the breastfeeding women and their children are ‘latched on’ for one minute at the set time (10:30 a.m. EST) and are counted by witnesses to verify the event.
The first Big Latch On took place in New Zealand in 2005 when a small group of nursing women gathered to celebrate the joys of breastfeeding. In 2012, this event had grown to global proportions when nearly 9,000 children were breastfed at more than 600 locations in 22 countries. This year, organizers hope to surpass that record.
“This event is a visible opportunity that brings to light the advantages of breastfeeding,” said Sue Gehrman, RN, IBCLC, CCE, lactation/childbirth education coordinator for the Bronson BirthPlace-- Battle Creek. “We believe this is important because breast-fed infants are 10 times less likely to be admitted to the hospital in their first year of life and have fewer ear and upper respiratory infections, higher intelligence quotients, and reduced risk of sudden infant deaths.”
According to the U. S. Surgeon General, a mother's milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. Most babies find breast milk easier to digest than they do formula. Breast milk has agents called antibodies in it that are not found in formula to help protect infants from bacteria and viruses and to help them fight off infection and disease. Human milk straight from the breast is always sterile.
“Breastfeeding contributes to the normal growth and development of babies and children,” added Sheri Marvin, director of women’s health and the Bronson BirthPlace—Battle Creek. “Those not breastfed are at increased risk of infant morbidity and mortality. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding to optimize these benefits.”
“Exclusive breastfeeding for about the first six months of life provides the most complete form of nutrition, supports optimal growth and development, and reduces the incidences of infant illnesses,” said Gehrman. “It also enhances an infant’s cognitive development, leading to improved academic performance in later years.”
Breastfeeding is economical, reducing health care costs and employee absenteeism. And the benefits of breastfeeding continue throughout life reducing the incidence of chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes in children and adults.
For the mother, breastfeeding reduces the risks of breast and ovarian cancers, osteoporosis, and helps women recover from childbirth more quickly.
For more information about the Big Latch On program, call Paulette Porter, Regional Health Alliance at (269) 962-2181. For information about breastfeeding, contact the Bronson BirthPlace—Battle Creek at (269) 245-8586.