Saturday, September 25, 2010

Take the challenge!

Are you familiar with the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge? Organized by the Quintessence Foundation of Canada, this is an international event held every year on the first Saturday in October.

From their website:

Join us to celebrate breastfeeding in a fun “competition” where every child “wins” because they are breastfed!

... This fun event is a challenge for which geographic area (province, state or territory) has the most breastfeeding babies, as a percentage of the birthrate, “latched on” at 11am local time.

Why: To celebrate breastfeeding and milk-banking, and demonstrate promotion, protection and support for breastfeeding women and their families. It’s a chance for education and peer support done in a fun social way.

I have helped coordinate one of these in the past and it was very fun! Our group included one woman who drove several hours from her small, rural town to participate. She was still breastfeeding her toddler and didn't have any friends or social support for breastfeeding locally, much less continuing to nurse her baby long-term. She was so excited to come meet other breastfeeding moms, and we were so excited to meet her. It reinforced for me that these events are a great form of peer support.

If you're interested in participating, think creatively - maybe this could be used as a chance to celebrate WIC participants who are breastfeeding, or as a special occasion for a La Leche League group, or even be done on a hospital postpartum floor (encouraging all the moms to get their babies latched on in their rooms and sharing the final number with them so that they feel part of a shared experience). Or if you're in a small town or don't have the resources to coordinate a big event, you can invite as many nursing women as you know to a smaller get-together at someone's home - it still counts!

If it's a public event, you consider inviting the media to help spread awareness of breastfeeding support programs in your community. To help make it a fun, family-centered event, you can ask local birth/breastfeeding/etc. stores for donations for a raffle/door prizes, and local grocery stores for donations for snacks. Some activities for older kids help too - they can be simple like macaroni necklaces, coloring stations, or bubbles.

Let me know if you or a group you're involved with is doing Quintessence! I'd love to hear about it.

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