Portage County event promotes breastfeeding awareness
By Taylor J. Hale
PORTAGE COUNTY – The Portage County Breastfeeding Coalition is hosting the second annual Global Big Latch On at Mead Park on Aug. 3.
The event coincides with World Breastfeeding Week, held from Aug. 1-7, and is geared to raise awareness on breastfeeding practices in central Wisconsin.
“It’s a nice community event for all families, whether they are currently breastfeeding or have in the past, or just support breastfeeding, to join us in the celebration,” said Ana Merchak, a coalition member.
The event is part of the international Global Big Latch On movement, started in 2005 in New Zealand. The program has exponentially grown since its humble origins. The Global Big Latch On now helps support over 770 events in 28 countries around the world.
The Portage County Breastfeeding Coalition, established in 2010, sees the event as a way to normalize breastfeeding.
“I have talked to other moms in other communities, and sometimes they don’t feel comfortable breastfeeding in public,” Merchak said. “I think every mom has this fear in their head, that someone is going to come up to them and shame them for what they are doing. When in reality, it’s the most natural thing in the world.”
Merchak noted that the coalition collectively came up with the idea to host the event in Stevens Point after seeing similar events throughout the state. Guests will be able to enjoy breastfeeding family photo sessions, fresh cookies, mom-and-baby yoga, informational stands and more. Visitors also have a chance to win one of five specialized raffle baskets.
All proceeds from the event are used to fund the coalition’s mission to support breastfeeding. Merchak hopes to see the program lay roots in Stevens Point and make a positive impact for current and future breastfeeding mothers.
“It’s so important to feel like it’s a natural thing and that there are people out there to support you,” she said.
The Global Big Latch on will be held at Mead Park, 1201 W Whitney St., Stevens Point, 10 a.m.- noon. Families that visit will receive a free copy of the “Best Milk Book” by Kate Carothers.