This year’s Big Latch On event not only turned out to be highly attended, but it was also record breaking.
On August 1, more than 200 families attended the Big Latch On, an event in which breastfeeding women come together at registered locations around the world to all latch on their breastfeeding child at a set time. This year’s event, hosted by the Hillsborough County Breastfeeding Task Force and held at the USF College of Public Health, saw a record number of breastfeeding mothers.
“Task Force members are still in awe at the turn out,” Deidre Orriola, COPH undergraduate instructor, said. “A total of 113 stayed latched on for the 60-second world record attempt and this surpassed the county’s previous Big Latch On record of 74 latched mother-child pairs.”
World Breastfeeding Week, a global event, is held every year during the first week of August to raise awareness regarding the importance of breastfeeding for infants, mothers, families and communities.
The 2015 theme, Let’s Make It Work!, decided in part by the World Health Organization, underscored the need for polices that support breastfeeding mothers’ return to the workforce.
“Breastfeeding provides important advantages for baby and mom and is perfectly tailored to baby’s age and stage of life: it is easily digested, results in a healthy gut, regulated metabolism and a well-developed immune system,” Orriola said. “For mom, it helps her body return to a healthy weight and reduces her risk of several types of reproductive cancers; if a mom feeds only breast milk and feeds her baby on demand for the first 6 months of life, it is very effective at preventing pregnancy; in addition, breastfeeding can result in less complicated nighttime feedings, which means more rest for momma.”
“Because of all of the benefits [of breastfeeding], it is important that we help families support each other in their decision to breastfeed, we provide resources for communities to create a breastfeeding-friendly environment, and urge law makers to support polices that facilitate continued breastfeeding for employed mothers,” Orriola said.
During the three hour event, families enjoyed visiting with more than 20 organizations showcasing their resources. There were also activities for children including a toddler zone hosted by Fit4Mom, story time from Usborne Books, face painting and celebratory cake.
“I enjoyed learning from the different information tables and vendors that were there and seeing so many proud mothers breastfeeding their little ones with no shame,” Candy Mayor, an attendee of the event and mother of 6-month-old son, said. “I was also very excited to meet the owner of the Green Mommy boutique; I was lucky enough to receive her last green ticket in order to get a discount on my Tula [baby carrier] which I now have and absolutely love.”
In addition, the Florida Breastfeeding Coalition honored partner Tampa General Hospital with the Five Star Maternity Award for recently earning their Baby-Friendly designation. A raffle raised more than $350 toward the purchase of a freezer to be used as a breastmilk depot for mothers who donate their surplus milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Florida.
“In all, the event was a huge success thanks to all who helped plan, promote and attend,” Orriola said. “I am very proud to work for the College of Public Health because of activities like this; the event was a great example of how the university, student organizations, the community and local health agencies work together toward a goal.”
The COPH’s Department of Community and Family Health provides breastfeeding mothers a conference room in the Lawton & Rhea Childs Center (LRC) that can be used when scheduled. Contact Lisa Sleek at firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations.
The USF Marshall Student Center also provides space in its Mothering Room, room 2404, by reservation.
Story by Anna Mayor and Deidre Orriola, USF College of Public Health