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New Zealand’s breastfeeding women take the lead

New Zealand’s breastfeeding women take the lead

Tomorrow will mark the start of the 20th annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, which runs from the 1st – 7th of August.

“New Zealand certainly has reason celebrate, with recent Plunket research showing New Zealand's breastfeeding rates for the last financial year were the highest they had been in 19 years” says Isis McKay from Women’s Health Action.

Another cause for celebration is the Big Latch On which will be taking place on Friday the 3rd of August at 10.30 am, with breastfeeding women from all over Aotearoa New Zealand leading the 2012 annual Big Latch On. They will be joined by fellow breast feeders from all over the globe latching on at 10.30am their local time. The Big Latch On involves breastfeeding women coming together to break the record for most women breastfeeding at the same time across Aotearoa New Zealand. This event was established by Women’s Health Action in New Zealand in 2005 and has now taken off globally.

“Last year we broke our record for the seventh year running, with 5687 women and their children recorded globally for the count and many more coming together to participate on the day, we are well on target to break this record again this year” says McKay “we already have over 130 venues registered throughout Aotearoa New Zealand from as far south as Invercargill and as far north as Kerikeri. We also have 400 registered venues spread out over 22 other countries, It’s going to huge!”

“While it is great news that breastfeeding rates are on the rise, there is still work to be done” says McKay “According to the recent report from the Growing up in New Zealand study, 96 % of pregnant women in the study intended to breastfeed with most of them intending to do so for more than six months. Although breastfeeding initiation rates among these women was over 90 % the rates of exclusive breastfeeding dropped dramatically with only 6% of babies being exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months.

A number of factors have been identified as continued barriers to breastfeeding including returning to paid employment; perceptions of inadequate milk supply; problems during the antenatal and birth period; the loss of breastfeeding as the cultural norm within communities; confidence to breastfed in public; and inconsistent messages from health workers.

“It is clear that we need to work harder to help women to achieve their breastfeeding goals, the Big Latch On is just one of the ways we are working to increase community and peer support for breastfeeding women “ says McKay

“We are thrilled with the amount of enthusiasm and support we have for this event and we are looking forward to another record breaking Big Latch On” says McKay.

It’s not too late to register a venue, it can be anywhere: your house, a marae, church, the local mall, a movie theater, Kohanga Reo, your office, a local café, play groups, mainly music, or even a plane! Anywhere, as long as it is in NZ and you have at least one non participating witness.

Anyone looking for more information on the Big Latch On should visit our website at or contact Isis McKay on 09 520 5295 or on


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