The Big Latch On, a global breastfeeding and infant health education event, promotes the awareness of breastfeeding and its normality. On August 4, at 10:30 am, mothers around the world breastfed their children at the same time as a commemoration and celebration of its relevance within motherhood. Women’s Health Action, a social change organization, started the Big Latch On in New Zealand, in 2005. Since then, the support of the event has grown immensely and now more than 400,000 women and children participate in the event annually.
The Big Latch On in Lake County was held in Griffith this year, as it marks a central location for many Lake County mothers and families. Becky Tilton, Community Health Improvement Coordinator at Franciscan Alliance, initiated The Big Latch On in Lake County last year. She spoke about the partners that affiliated themselves with the event and their support.
“We wanted to get all organizations that focus on mom and baby or family and baby within the committee,” she said. “We have five organizations that are a part of the event this year: Franciscan Health, Community Healthcare System, Mental Health America, Nurse-Family Partnership, and WIC.
“We are trying to normalize breastfeeding,” Tilton said about cause’s goal. “The Big Latch On is a global event, where everyone around the world is latching on at the same time. It brings a sense of community and provides a space for mothers and families to educate themselves.”
“The collaboration between the hospital systems and other organizations in town is great for this cause. All of our major hospital systems are involved.” Hope Robinson, a volunteer, said. “We can all work together for a common cause.”
Kelly Spomar, Nurse Manager of the NICU at Community Hospital, spoke of the importance of support from the community and healthcare systems in Lake County.
“We are here supporting breastfeeding moms to show them what’s best for baby and what’s best for mom,” said Spomar. “I think support for the moms is important. Not only from the healthcare partners, but the community and other family members as well. So today, we are making everyone aware about how important and good it is for moms and babies to feel comfortable with breastfeeding.”
Annie Martinez, a mother attending her first Big Latch On, discovered the event after she gave birth, and made sure to mark it on her calendar. She expressed her opinion about the importance of the normality of something she considers necessary in her children's growth and development.
“Twelve years ago, when I had my first child, I would just pump in the bathroom, at work or out shopping. Thinking about it now, I was uneducated.” Martinez said. “It’s the knowledge that the support is there, and simply understanding the basic rights you have as a mother.”
“You wouldn’t eat in the bathroom, or prepare your food in there. So why would I breastfeed in that space?” Martinez said. “Mothers should be able to feel comfortable with what they are doing, instead of running to the corner, or a bathroom.”
Plans for next year's Big Latch On are already moving forward, Tilton explained.
“Our next steps are to review the event, listen to feedback from our partners, and reach even more families next year.”
The Big Latch On is a supportive event and cause that shares an important message to the world about breastfeeding and its benefits. The event creates a safe place for mothers and their families to discuss and congregate together as activists. If you are interested in this event and wish to support it, visit https://biglatchon.org/ to find out more. For more information about Community Healthcare System, please visit www.comhs.org.