In case you haven’t heard, Chilliwack moms are kind of legendary.
The 15th annual Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge returns Saturday, October 3. Thousands of mothers across the globe will gather in public spaces to breastfeed their children.
This “friendly competition” challenges each site to see which geographic location will have the most breastfeeding babies “latched on” at the same time.
And though everyone breastfed baby is a winner, Chilliwack is a real front-runner.
Of the 4,560 children who were part of last year’s count, 213 of them were dining here in Chilliwack, more than any of the other 214 sites worldwide.
“Our participation [last year] earned us first place, but it was also a great time for the community to come together and support nursing moms and their little ones,” said Avril Field, Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge event organizer for this year.
The challenge began in 2001, when a total of 856 babies at 26 sites across B.C. breastfed from their moms simultaneously to celebrate breastfeeding and milk-banking.
The challenge continues today to provide mothers with an opportunity to socialize and gain support from other breastfeeding moms, and to promote breastfeeding as a best practice for babies.
The expert recommendation is for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond together with adequate complementary feeding. Despite the proven health benefits of breastfeeding, many women wean their children prematurely in part due to a lack of acceptance and community support.
The challenge supports mothers in their breastfeeding goals, and utilizes public venues as challenge sites, which promotes breastfeeding as “a positive, natural process for moms and babies, that is appropriate whenever and wherever babies are hungry,” Field explained.
At 11 a.m. local time around the world, babies will latch on and mothers will raise their hands for the “official count.”
Field invites all local breastfeeding mothers to join the challenge. “Feeding babies is a lot of work. It can sometimes be isolating. We strive to let mothers know that they have community support and aren’t alone in their struggles,” she said.
There will be breastfeeding-related booths to provide resources for nursing moms, representatives from B.C. Women’s Milk Bank to sign up new donors, and door prizes and gift bags. Coun. Sue Attrill will be present to cheer on the participants.
The challenge takes place at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre (46361 Yale Road) on Oct 3. Doors open at 9 a.m. and the official count time is 11 a.m.
Participants are encouraged to register early by emailing their information (name, child’s name and age, address, phone number, email address) to firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also register on the day of the event when they arrive.