Breast-feeding mothers raise awareness at ‘Global Big Latch On’

ST. GEORGE — Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George will be hosting a “Global Big Latch On” event Saturday in the LiVe Well Theater located in the Dixie Regional Health and Performance Building, 652 S. Medical Center Drive, as part of the larger “World Breast-feeding Week” where thousands of breast-feeding women and their infants will gather in their own communities to raise awareness and support for the benefits of breast-feeding and breast milk.

All breast-feeding women and their babies are invited to attend and show their support. Participants are asked to check in and register at 10 a.m. and be ready to latch on at 10:30 a.m.

The first “Big Latch On” took place in New Zealand in 2005. The event was introduced in the United States in 2010. Since then, it has taken off globally. The goal for 2015 is to break the 2014 records for the number of countries participating (31) and the number of breast-feeding women attending (14,173).

“World Breast-feeding Week,” the first week of August each year, was established to help communities and workplaces positively support breast-feeding and raise awareness of the local breast-feeding support available.

“The benefits of breast milk for newborns are immeasurable,” said Kerry Ann Humphrey, lactation specialist at Dixie Regional Medical Center. “It is amazing what breast milk provides. I work with babies in the (neonatal intensive care unit) and we have found that feeding preemies breast milk prevents infections. Breast milk is vitally important to all babies and is ideal for a newborn’s first six months.”

Breast milk contributes to normal growth and development in babies. Breast-feeding also has benefits for mothers. Breast-feeding helps prevent premenopausal breast and ovarian cancers and also helps moms get back to their prepregnancy weight faster, according to Dixie Regional Medical Center.

Infants who are fed breast milk exclusively have a lower risk for infant morbidity and mortality, adult obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life to optimize these benefits.

“Many women choose to pump their own breast milk and put it into bottles,” Humphrey said. “All the benefits of breast milk are then in the convenience of a bottle. This can be a great option for mothers who work outside the home.”

Pumped breast milk can also be donated. Dixie Regional has a milk depot that collects breast milk donations and then ships them to Denver to be pasteurized and distributed to NICUs across the country. The Dixie Regional milk depot is always looking for qualified breast milk donors. For more information on donating breast milk, call 435-688-5440.

“Breast-feeding is not always easy,” Humphrey said. “It is natural but also a huge learning process for both mother and baby, and each baby is different and learns at their own pace. Breast-feeding takes practice, persistence and patience. Events such as the “Global Big Latch On” encourage women to breast-feed and support each other.”

Women who choose to breast-feed should also know that outpatient lactation services are available at Dixie Regional. Personal electric breast pumps are also available.

Breast-feeding consultations and breast pumps are usually covered by most insurance plans.

“Please join us Saturday morning, August 1,” Humphrey said. “Come and show your support of choosing to be a breast-feeding mom at our local ‘Global Big Latch On’ event.”

Event details and resources

  • What: “Big Latch On”
  • When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m., check-in at 10 a.m.
  • Where: LiVe Well Theater, Dixie Regional Health and Performance Building, 652 S. Medical Center Drive, St. George
  • Cost: Free
  • The Global Big Latch On website
  • Dixie Regional Medical Center website

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