Okay this post is a little late. And by a little, I mean about three months. Oops.
Honestly, it’s just been difficult to find time to blog, between being a toddler mommy, an independent business owner, and not having internet easily accessible. But my wonderful hubby has gifted me with a new laptop (hooray!) so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up on the dozens of drafts and half-formed thoughts I have written on scraps of paper all over the house. 😉
On August 1st, 2015, I was blessed to be able to host my first ever Big Latch On. A latch on, for those of you unfamiliar, is a public event where nursing mothers in the surrounding areas can come and try to break the record for the most mothers breastfeeding their children at one time. In my opinion, it is a crucially important event in order to foster not only support and encouragement for currently nursing mothers (because sometimes, it’s tough!) but also to help educate the public on what breastfeeding is (natural, healthy, normal) and what it isn’t (dirty, obscene, shameful).
I was doubly lucky as this year’s Latch On date fell on the same date as our town’s annual T-Bone Festival, so we were able to advertise in the festival flyers as well as participate in a parade . Although I have attended one Latch On in the past, I didn’t realize how much work goes into such an event. Advertising and getting the word out is such a HUGE part, as I’ve found that many breastfeeding/expecting mothers feel very alone or secluded and don’t know where to find the support they need. I tried contacting four hospitals in our area that deliver and was pleased to discover that two of them employed lactation consultants (trained breastfeeding specialists), one of which who was able to attend the event, as well as ran monthly breastfeeding support groups (resources will be listed at the end of this post, for anyone interested!). Of course, social media is a must-have anymore with advertising, as well as good ol’ fashioned flyers.
After advertising, I had to plan the specifics of the event. I wanted this to be not just a “come, nurse, and go” five-minute deal, but a fun activity to really involve the families. My main idea was to set up a “Breastfeeding Information” board. On one side, I listed about two dozen benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby; on the other, I listed some “off-brand” uses for breastmilk. In the middle, I had all my moms write down their favorite thing about breastfeeding or why they decided to breastfeed. This is also where I was extremely blessed to come into contact with MANY sponsors and volunteers (list below); from goodie bag donations to door prizes to snacks and drinks, I was constantly amazed at the generosity of vendors and individuals who were supportive of this cause. I was able to stuff goodie bags full of samples, coupons, and informational flyers not only on breastfeeding but baby wearing. All of our attendees were offered homemade lactation cookies as well as fruit (because we gotta be healthy, right?!) and bottled water . Plus, ALL of our attendees were able to win an amazing door prize, ranging from “big” items, like a Moby and a Boppy, to breastfeeding aids, such as lactation cookie mix, even to gift certificates, like a free family portrait session. In fact, our event could even boast TWO professional photographers in attendance to capture the beauty of the day!
For those of you curious how the Latch On actually works, here is what we did.
I arrived around 9:30 in the morning to set up (signage and tables for the raffle, goodie bags, snacks and a bulletin board). It was pretty windy, which was a challenge, but with some help from a couple early volunteer helpers, we were able to keep everything (relatively) secured. The Latch-On was advertised to start at 10:00 am with sign ups, and I was pleased to be able to greet a steady stream of women, children and their support system (husbands, mothers, and friends) until close to 10:30. Our venue was attached to a small playground, which was great for the children to play, as well as provide a “no-pressure” environment for the adults to meet, chat, and get to know one another. (Seriously, I’ve found a child is the best ice-breaker in those socially-akward situations where you don’t know anyone.)
The Latch On itself was slated to begin at 10:30 and to last for one minute. Five minutes before that, I started to round up all the mommas. Some chose to latch on right away (who can say no to a hungry babe?) while others found their children would rather play than eat! Once a child had latched on, the mother then raised her hand so that our volunteer was able to count all the nursing mothers.
At the end of the day, we were able to boast that our very first Latch On was attended by TWENTY adults, thirteen of which were breastfeeding, and sixteen children. Our contributions helped boost the Latch On count up to a new record for 2015: a total of 14,889 breastfeeding children, 15,336 breastfeeding mothers, and a whopping 36,502 total attendance! For our town’s first year’s involvement, I feel like we had a great success, and I already have plans on how to make next year bigger and better! However, I also realized that I absolutely canNOT do this alone (I was kind of a mess, to be honest).
One thing I really want to stress is that this event is NOT just for breastfeeding moms. Yes, it is a great place for us to get together and support one another, because God knows many of us don’t have the support that we need. In my practice, I talk to many moms who desire to breastfeed, yet end up not because they feel like is it too hard, too inconvenient, their family will think it’s weird, etc. So many moms sadly give up so early because they are under the impression that their baby isn’t getting enough, they aren’t producing enough, or that it will always hurt. (Check out my post, “4 Breastfeeding Myths” for more on those subjects.) So yes, events like this, as well as connections with lactation consultants and accessibility to support groups, is crucial for mothers. But events like this is also so important for pregnant women (so they can see the reality of what breastfeeding looks like, as well as talk to moms who have “been there”), husbands/significant others (they will be the biggest day-to-day support to mothers and can make or break that breastfeeding relationship), and friends and family. I even go so far as to say that it’s important for the general public who may not have any connecting with breastfeeding whatsoever. These are the people who can influence nursing mothers the most; an “I don’t want to sit next to her while she does THAT” nose-in-the-air comment at a restaurant or a “You have to leave” comment at an outdoor sporting event can do more emotional damage to a mother’s confidence than you will ever know. No one wants to do that.
Breastfeeding Support Groups/Lactation Consultants
Atlantic: Group meets at the Cass County Hospital on the 3rd Tuesday of each month in Conference Room 7. LC: Katherine Ward Becker. Facebook Group Here.
Harlan: Group meets at the Myrtue Medical Hospital twice a month. For current schedule, view the website here. LC: Cara Cacy.
Acknowledgements/Thank-Yous for the Latch On:
Goodie Bag Sponsors:
Moby Wrap / Babywearing informational handout & coupon
Baltic Amber Necklace coupon
The Bent Elbow lactation cookies coupon / cookie sample
Mamawear Breastfeeding Apparel coupon
Momzelle Breastfeeding Apparel coupon
EarthMama AngelBaby nipple cream sample / coupon
Layla & Lisette breastfeeding pin
Lansinoh Lanolin sample / breastmilk storage bags / nursing pads
Motherlove nipple cream sample
Forever Captured Photography portrait session coupon
Naturally Blessed massage coupon
Door Prize Sponsors:
Baltic Amber Necklace
Lansinoh bottle / storage bags / lanolin
Momzelle Gift Certificate
EarthMama AngelBaby Milkmaid Tea (via Naturally Blessed)
The Bent Elbow Lactation Cookie mix
Boppy Nursing Pillow
Wee Kings Nursing Necklaces
Free Family Portrait Session (via Carmen Josefson Photography)
Parade Float Posters: Maison Lebeck
Lactation Cookies: Liz Ewoldt
Bottled Water: Mike ℅ Audubon Food Pride
Set-up/Child Help: Hannah Bowen
Counter: Robbi Wittrock
Lactation Consultant: Katherine Ward Becker
Photographers: Carmen Josefson and Jennifer Mosinski / Photojenics
A hundred thank you’s to everyone who donated their time or products, helped me prepare, and attended! I hope I did not leave anyone out! If you would like to be involved in next year’s Latch On, as a sponsor, volunteer or attendee, please contact me at email@example.com !