The Big Latch On returns this week to support women who breastfeed and show that breastfeeding is a normal part of everyday life.

The global event, which is organised as part of World Breastfeeding Week, sees groups of breastfeeding mothers and their whānau come together to celebrate breastfeeding and to join thousands of other women around the world breastfeeding their babies at the same time in public.

Lakes District Health Board is encouraging breastfeeding mothers and their whānau to celebrate breastfeeding at Big Latch On events in Rotorua, Taupō and Turangi.

Lakes Baby Service co-ordinator and lactation consultant Amy Wray said the day was about celebrating breastfeeding mums and their successes, normalising breastfeeding in public, and raising awareness in local communities around New Zealand.

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"It's a fun morning with the focus on the women and achieving their goals. The Big Latch On is an inclusive event, providing an opportunity for women to make new friends, connect with support in their community, and feel more confident about breastfeeding, particularly in public."

Wray said about 80 women participated in the Big Latch On in Rotorua last year, 25 in Taupō and 20 in Turangi, and the day was growing in popularity.

There will be morning tea and a great range of spot prizes as well as a range of stalls from local businesses and providers.

"The Big Latch On is successful because it operates at a grassroots level. There are hundreds of venues throughout the country, but each event is unique, designed by members of the community, to suit the needs of the community," Wray said.

The Ministry of Health recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months and then continue to breastfeed along with the introduction of solid foods.

"Breastfeeding is important for the health and wellbeing of both a mother and her baby and lays the foundation for a healthy life through adulthood," Wray said.

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Lakes DHB's community lactation service started up in April 2016 and sees an average of 50 mothers a month. Lactation consultants in Rotorua, Taupō and Turangi help women with breastfeeding, including regular drop-in breastfeeding clinics in the community and home visits as needed.

Women wanting to access the free community lactation support can ring 0800 LakesBaby (0800 525 372).

Founded in New Zealand in 2005, the Big Latch On has gained publicity around the world with 23 countries now participating.

Those who cannot attend a Big Latch On event there will be a virtual Big Latch On event 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 click here.

Big Latch On events
- Rotorua, Harvest Centre, 324 Malfroy Rd
- Taupō, Parents Centre and Rotary House.
- Turangi, Hydro Cafe Turangi.