Women raise their hands to be counted during the 2016 Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Saturday. This year’s event takes place Sept. 30 at the same location. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Nursing moms and babies gathering again for breastfeeding challenge

Chilliwack moms have held champion title for breastfeeding challenge in past years

Moms who nurse are invited once again to join in the Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge, taking place Sept. 30 at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre.

Breastfeeding moms from Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley will gather for the 17th annual challenge, to participate in an international “latch-on” competition. There are sites all over the world competing for the title, which Chilliwack has managed to snag a few times in the past.

The event takes place as part of the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week in Canada. The Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge began in 2001 in B.C., with 856 children at 26 sites. Last year, Chilliwack had 156 babies breastfeeding simultaneously, putting the city in first place in North America and second in the world. In 2015, Chilliwack had 133 babies participate, and in 2014, the city had 213 babies participate putting Chilliwack in first place worldwide that year. The annual challenge strives to increase public awareness of the normality of breastfeeding, the benefits to mother, child and community and the ways in which women need support to achieve the recommended duration for breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding still presents a major challenge for many women. Two of the biggest hurdles for mothers continue to be lack of support and marginalization by the community. Women are often discouraged from breastfeeding, especially in public, either directly or indirectly. The event is important to provide participants with a chance to socialize and network with other women with similar breastfeeding goals. It promotes breastfeeding as a best practice for babies and provides support to mothers who may struggle with reaching their breastfeeding goals. For the public, the event promotes breastfeeding as a positive, natural process for both mothers and children that is appropriate whenever and wherever little ones are hungry. The Breastfeeding Challenge is one strategy to help spread the word globally that breastfeeding is normal and an important strategy for child and maternal health.

Mothers are encouraged to register in advance at www.bit.ly/chwkbfchallenge2017 to receive a commemorative certificate of participation and a gift bag. Participants are also able to register at the event as well. Other highlights include door prizes and complimentary breastfeeding portraits.

The Quintessence Foundation, a non-profit group providing education to parents and professionals about breastfeeding, sponsors the Breastfeeding Challenge. For more information regarding the Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge, contact Avril Field at chwk.bf.challenge@gmail.com or check out the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/chilliwackbreastfeedingchallenge. You can also visit the Quintessence Foundation website at www.babyfriendly.ca.

The Neighbourhood Learning Centre is located at 46361 Yale Road. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. with the official latch-on happening at 11 a.m.

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