Yesterday's national breast-feeding event - "The Big Latch
On" - was well supported in regional Otago.
Nationally, a record 1474 women took part, up from 1299 last
In Queenstown, 13 mothers and their babies gathered at the
Wakatipu Parish Lounge at St Peter's Anglican Church, the
youngest baby being Ashtyn Hunia at just 7 weeks old.
The Wakatipu event was organised by the Breast-Feeding Peer
Support Group and the La Leche League.
Counsellor Catkin Bartlett said the support group comprised
local mothers who had been trained to provide breast-feeding
support, advice and counselling for mothers.
While there were no figures available specifically for the
Wakatipu, statistics from 2008 showed 65% of Southland
mothers were breast-feeding when their children were 6 weeks
old, which was below the national target of 75%, but in line
with the national average.
The La Leche League provided breast-feeding and
mother-to-mother support, organiser Kate Atkinson said.
The group met once a month and provided mothers with the
chance to talk about any issues they might be having and also
ran a 24-hour helpline for anyone in need of urgent
Mrs Atkinson said both services were well used, partly
because of the Wakatipu's "baby boom".
In Alexandra, 11 mothers and their babies gathered at the
Central Stories Museum and Art Galley to take part.
Staging such an event at a museum helped highlight
"family-friendly" public places, one of the organisers said.
The Alexandra event was organised by the Rural Otago Primary
Health Organisation (PHO), the Alexandra branch of La Leche
League and Charlotte Jean Maternity Hospital.
PHO health promotion co-ordinator Louise Thompson was
delighted with the turnout and said it was the fourth time
the event had been staged in Alexandra, but the first time
using the museum as a venue.
"Central Stories is keen to promote itself as a
family-friendly facility and we're happy to highlight various
locations that are supportive of breast-feeding mothers," Ms
"The more public places that support breast-feeding in the
community, the better."
Alexandra mother Andrea Murphy is a "veteran" of three
successive Big Latch On events, with sons Nicholas (3) and
Christopher (18 months) McIntosh.
"For me, breast-feeding is a natural, instinctive process and
it's obviously best from a nutritional point of view, but it
goes beyond that and is almost a parenting system.
"The attachment that comes with breast-feeding is a very
strong connection between you and your child."
Ms Murphy, who also works as a dairy nutritionist, said she
found most places family friendly and welcoming to
"For example, I was speaking at a Probus meeting in Alexandra
a while ago and my son needed to be fed, so I picked him up
and carried on with my talk, with him latched on.
"I wasn't quite sure how that would be received, but several
people came up to me afterwards to say they thought it was
Wanaka Plunket hosted four mothers and four babies ranging in
age from 4 months to 7 weeks for latch-on day celebrations