Thursday, 20 September 2012 13:27

Organizers hope participants latch onto Cypress Breastfeeding Challenge

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The local Cypress Breastfeeding Support and Promotion Team is sponsoring the Swift Current Breastfeeding Challenge, a global initiative to raise awareness that breastfeeding is a normal and important strategy for child and maternal health. The challenge will take place Sept. 29 at the Swift Current Mall.


“Latch-on is anticipated for 11 a.m., if the babies are co-operating,” added Arian Navickas, a Registered Midwife with Cypress Health Region and a member of CBSPT. “Our goal is to get as many women as we can to breastfeed simultaneously, to hopefully break the previous record each year.”
Another goal for the event is to promote awareness for public breastfeeding, and help women learn more about support systems within the community to help them with breastfeeding issues.
“We are really trying to make sure that women have the right information, and having that support is critical,” noted Navickas. “The best thing a woman can offer her baby is breast milk. Breastfeeding is tied to infant mortality rates, and to a baby’s overall health and nutrition. We are currently not at the numbers that we are aiming for as far as exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of the baby’s life.”
Navickas hopes to get more women breastfeeding exclusively for as long as the first two years, even. She feels the number of women still turning to formula is mainly due to a lack of support and resources.
“I think those resources are there, but a lot of people don’t know where to look for them,” she admitted. “During the Second World War, women were really pushed toward formula, so many women were raised with mothers and grandmothers who feel that breastfeeding is not the best option. Without that family support, they need to find it elsewhere.”
The Cypress Health Region employs a Lactation Consultant, who works with women facing breastfeeding issues. Public Health Nurses are also well-trained to aid with these problems, but Navickas explains these resources are not being used enough by new mothers.
“Our big goal is to get women in a place where they can network and build a community of support for women with babies, and we want to be a part of that,” she added. “We have professionals here who want to help, and women here have the same options and resources as women who live in larger centres.”
Last year’s event had 4,646 children in 16 countries latch on for the Breastfeeding Challenge, and Navickas is hoping for a much higher number this year — especially from the Swift Current Challenge.
“Our numbers last year were pretty small, so we worked on promotion and public relations a lot more this year, hoping to get that up,” she said. “We are competing with Culture Days, and it’s a really big community weekend, but there are some great incentives for moms to come out and participate in the challenge.”
Women who take part will receive a thank you gift and have the chance to win great door prizes, but the main reward from participating in the challenge will be the opportunity to network with other nursing mothers within the community.
“The people who came last year were just really happy to be there,” Navickas said. “One of the best parts of last year’s event was that afterward, the moms just sat around for an hour and a half after the latch-on, just talking amongst themselves. I’m really hoping that can keep happening, because we need more support like that for these women.”

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Ryan Dahlman

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