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Moms hope to change society's view of breastfeeding

Zoe Greszler • Aug 9, 2016 at 4:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Some area mothers who feel society may be a bit unbalanced in a few of its views decided to come together Saturday at Clark Park in Monroeville in an attempt to raise awareness.

Moms in the area said the general opinion of breastfeeding is that it is something to shun and to be hidden.

But they disagree. They said they are proud feed their children in a natural way and hope to raise awareness for its benefits, change the way people view the practice and to provide support for other moms who feel similarly with an event known as the BIg Latch On.

A gallery of the event was also published online as the mothers helped to contribute to an attempt to break the world record of most women breastfeeding at one time.

The event is put on each year with the intent to raise awareness and promote breastfeeding and support those who want to participate.

“The Big Latch On aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding families by raising awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally, help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places, make breastfeeding as normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level (and) increase support for women who breastfeed,” according to the event website, biglatchon.org.

“I think it’s important just to raise awareness and just to feed your baby wherever they need to be fed,” said Abbey Fry, a breastfeeding mother in attendance.

“You have other stuff you need to do and be out with your other kids. There’s no reason you should have to go and hide somewhere because that kind of disrupts everything that’s going on with your other kids and everything like that.”

Norwalk mom Juliana Clark agreed. She said she wants to her daughters to feel comfortable doing “the right thing” for their children when they’re older.

“I think it’s important for my girls to know that they shouldn’t feel shame to be able to feed their babies,” Clark said.

“I think it’s disturbing in our society that you can have a low-cut top on and try to look exotic for someone, but it’s not OK to feed your kid. It seems backwards. I want them to know that it’s normal and that it’s the way, you know, that it was meant to be.”

Fry said she feels having her children at the event is important, even if they’re past the age of being breastfed.

“I couldn’t bring my other two boys this time, but they came with me last year,” she said. “It’s good so they can be more aware and when they get to be dads they can defend people if they need to if someone is giving (someone else) a hard time or so they can support their wife.”

Both mothers said they breast-feed for the health benefits for their children and themselves, as well as the ease of the natural way of feeding their children compared to formula fed. 

“I hate it when people say they took the easy way out with (formula feeding),” Fry said.

“To me it’s a lot harder to bottle-fed. You have to get up in the middle of the night and heat the bottle up. It would be a pain. To me, nursing is the easy way.”

“They’ve been doing it in this area for many years now, about five or six years now, with three local events, which is pretty cool,” event organizer June Myers said.

Women’s Health Action started the Big Latch On in New Zealand in 2005. Since then the program has grown drastically.

Last year the movement set new records. Worldwide there were 14,889 children breastfeeding during the one-minute count, 15,336 breastfeeding women who attended and 36,502 people attended a registered Global Big Latch On location to support breastfeeding.

Locally, there were eight women breastfeeding at the same time for the Big Latch On, with 16 others to offer support for the mothers and their children.

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