Chilliwack looks to defend title in breastfeeding challenge

The 16th annual Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge takes place Oct. 1

This year's Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge takes place Saturday

This year's Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge takes place Saturday

Chilliwack placed first in the world in 2014 and second in 2015, and now organizers of the Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge are aiming to be number one again this year.

The 16th annual Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge is a friendly competition between cities around the world to see which city will have the largest number of babies breastfeeding simultaneously in one location.

“The Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge is a lively place — anywhere with over 120 little ones is,” says event organizer Avril Field.

It all takes place on Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre, and it’s in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week in Canada which runs Oct. 1-7.

Last year, Chilliwack had 133 babies breastfeeding simultaneously, putting us tied for first place in North America and second in the world. In 2014, we had 213 babies participate, putting us in first place out of 215 sites worldwide.

“I feel a strong sense of community at the challenge. Nursing mothers come together and spend the morning meeting other women who face similar challenges, and to play with their little ones. It’s a great place to come together,” says Field.

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.

“Breast milk provides a unique nutrition as well as antibodies for the nursing little one. Many mothers enjoy the bonding time that breastfeeding allows them,” says Field.

But breastfeeding still presents a major challenge for many women. Two of the biggest hurdles continue to be lack of support for mothers and marginalization by the community. Even today, women are often discouraged from breastfeeding, especially in public.

In B.C., mothers have the legal right to breastfeed in any public area. Asking a mother who is breastfeeding her child to move or cover up is illegal.

“I would strongly encourage anyone who is shy about breastfeeding in public to attend the challenge,” says Field. “It’s a great place to start as everyone else there is breastfeeding too. You won’t feel out of place.”

Of course, women are welcome to bring a cover-up if it makes them feel more comfortable.

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.

In B.C., the Breastfeeding Challenge began in 2001 with 856 children at 26 sites.

The 16th annual Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge takes place Saturday, Oct. 1 at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre (46361 Yale Rd.). Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and latch-on is at 11 a.m.

Registration is required to take part. Those interested can register online at www.bit.ly/chwkbfchallenge. Registration is free, and the first 200 people to register will receive gift bags. There will also be door prizes and guest speakers.

For more info, search for ‘Chilliwack Breastfeeding Challenge’ on Facebook, or email chwk.bf.challenge@gmail.com.

jenna.hauck@theprogress.comtwitter.com/PhotoJennalism