Breastfeeding mothers across the Bay of Plenty, including Rotorua, are set to join thousands of other women around the world to simultaneously breastfeed their babies in public.

Big Latch On events are held during World Breastfeeding Week, an annual worldwide event held in the first week of August to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding and normalise breastfeeding as part of everyday life.

This year's theme is about working together to empower parents and enable breastfeeding, now and for the future.

Kia Wana Lakes Baby Service assistant co-ordinator Jenna Anapu said their service had got together with a group of Rotorua mothers, all brainstormed, and decided they wanted to do something a bit more public and easily accessible.

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This was decided with this year's theme in mind.

She said Rotorua was hosting two Big Latch On events.

The first will take place at the Central Mall food court in a flash mob style, and music will start it off.

The second is at the Rotorua Library which will also include a multicultural group doing an opening performance, live music, a shared morning tea, prizes and the announcement of photo competition winners.

Anapu said there would also be an introduction of Kia Wana Lakes Bay's volunteer peer supporters who had been training to support other women in breastfeeding challenges.

She said the event was about showing that parents and women had support, and raising awareness around the breastfeeding culture - helping to make the community aware and supportive of it.

"It is definitely inclusive of all parents, however they choose to feed their baby. It's really just about being together and supporting one another."

There will be sign in stations at both events and free parking at the Village Green from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

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Toi Te Ora Public Health said breastfeeding was a team effort and support from immediate whānau and the wider community could create an enabling environment that empowered mothers to breastfeed.

When mothers have close support from partners, families, workplaces and communities breastfeeding rates improve.

A recent study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal looked at attitudes towards public breastfeeding in New Zealand. It found that 75 per cent of Kiwis were supportive of women breastfeeding in public.

Toi Te Ora supports the Big Latch On and recommended that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months and then continue to breastfeed along with the introduction of solid foods until the baby is at least one year old.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Phil Shoemack said breastfeeding was about giving your baby the very best start in life that he or she could possibly have.

"Breastfeeding gives your baby all the nourishment he or she needs for the first few months, and it's so vital for strengthening that very special bond between you and your baby.

"The Big Latch On helps create opportunities for breastfeeding to be celebrated as a normal everyday occurrence," he said.

Big Latch On events are taking place all over the country on Friday August 2 and Saturday August 3.

Friday August 2:

- Whakatāne – 10am, Te Tohu O Te Ora O Ngati Awa, 15 Golf Links Rd, Whakatāne
- Tauranga – 10am, Papamoa Plaza, 7 Gravatt Rd, Papamoa
- Tauranga – 10am, Tauranga Parents Centre, Historic Village, 17th Ave, Tauranga
-Rotorua – 9:15am, Central Mall, 1170 Amohau St, Rotorua
- Rotorua – 9:45am, Rotorua Library, 1127 Haupapa St, Rotorua
- Turangi –10am, Awhi House, 17 Paekiri St, Turangi.

Saturday August 3:
- Waihi Beach – 10am, Flatwhite Café, 21 Shaw Rd, Waihi Beach.
-Taupō – 10am, Central Plateau REAP, 73 Titiraupenga St, Taupō.

A virtual Big Latch On event has been created via the Big Latch On Facebook page www.facebook.com/BigLatchOnNZ which encourages breastfeeding Mums to post breastfeeding selfies with the hashtag #biglatchonNZ or #BrelfieNZ.

For more information about Big Latch On events and World Breastfeeding Week, visit www.womens-health.org.nz.