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Global 'Big Latch-On' Promotes Benefits Of Breastfeeding

Doctor treating a baby

Health officials have long touted the benefits of breastfeeding.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, human milk protects against a variety of diseases.

The "Big Latch-On" is an annual global effort to promote the benefits of breastfeeding to improve infant health. The goal is to educate mothers on best practices and to offer peer support.

Mothers and their babies in Sarasota County recently participated in the synchronized breastfeeding event at The Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County.

"For me, it’s just the most natural thing you can do,” said breastfeeding mom Christina Simpson. “So if I can show through my own actions how easy and how amazing it is, then hopefully that's the message that people pick up."

Health professionals say breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from bacteria and viruses.

“You know, every time we've ever been sick in our life, our bodies built up immunity against viruses and diseases,” said Pamela Strouhal with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County. “So when you breastfeed your baby, it’s kind of like giving them a shot of antibiotics so they don’t get sick.”

Credit Cathy Carter

As the breastfeeding coordinator for the WIC program in Sarasota County, Strouhaul said a variety of organizations provide education and resources.

“You know a lot of moms just give up because they say ‘oh it hurts or there's nothing coming out,’ and we can help. Within the program itself there are several certified lactation counselors and also three breastfeeding peer counselors. “

Another goal of the “Big Latch-On” is to normalize breastfeeding. Organizers say it isn’t unusual for first time mothers to feel awkward at first.

“At WIC or any of our community partners we can show you how to position your baby and how to feel more comfortable out in the public,” said Strouhaul.

Although increasingly uncommon, in some cases, there is still a stigma about breastfeeding in public.

In Florida, mothers have the right to breastfeed in any public or private location.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.
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