In 2001, 856 babies in 26 different locations across the province latched onto their mother’s breast simultaneously, kick-starting the first-ever Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge. And it’s time for an entirely new generation of breastfed babies to do the same.
Saturday, Sept. 29 marks the 18th annual Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge, which has become a global event with more than 4,000 babies in six different countries participating in 2016.
“My youngest son was born 18 years ago and we participated in the first challenge,” said Lara Hergott, who’s now involved as an organizer rather than a participant.
The Challenge is a grassroots movement that not only celebrates breastfeeding and milk-banking, but it also strives to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding women and their families.
“And it’s a wonderful way to get moms and babies out and meeting each other,” said Hergott, who’s a certified lactation consultant and perinatal support worker.
“We want to encourage and support any mom who wants to breastfeed her baby and provide accurate information as well.”
While the official part of the challenge, the latching and counting, takes place at 11 a.m., doors will open at 9:30 so moms can mingle, listen to guest speakers, and enter for door prizes.
“There will also be a local photographer taking nursing portraits, which is truly memorable photography,” said Hergott. And while the photos are on a first-come, first-served basis, “most moms will have a digital image of themselves nursing (their) baby.”
Having hosted a challenge every year since the event began, Chilliwack has an impressive record, but Hergott says she hopes this year will be even better.
“We came in number one in the world before, which is really astounding if you think about the size of our population,” said the mom of four. “We were (also named) number two in the world and number one in North America (before).”
In 2015, 133 babies latched on during the challenge, but the year previous, 2014, there had been 213 babies, which won Chilliwack the worldwide title.
“We’re hoping for at least 200 so we’ll be able to snag that title again,” said Hergott. “But whether we reach that or not, moms and babies win by this event even happening and by them being a part of it.
“It’s the kind of the event moms really like attending,” Hergott continued. “Everyone comes away with something, (and it’s) fun to go to for the social support.”
And the first 200 moms to pre-register for the event, which is at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre, will leave with a swag bag full of stuff from business sponsors and a lovely personalized certificate that includes both their name and the name of their child.
For more information about the Chilliwack Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge, or to become a sponsor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration can be done through the local Eventbrite.ca listing.