Whanganui mothers wanted to move the Big Latch On to the town's main library this year - because holding it in the council chamber was not public enough.

"Parents asked to have it somewhere more public. They just felt they were getting hidden away," library early years learning champion Becky Stanley said.

About 60 mothers, babies and supporters were at the Davis Library for the Friday morning event, part of World Breastfeeding Week. Seventeen babies were ready to latch on for a feed at the big moment - 10.30.

The babies ranged in age from five days to two years and five months.


There were snacks and giveaways provided and a lot of small people walking, toddling and crawling around the children's area.

Regina Joblin-Mills was there with three-year-old Leila-Joy and nine-month-old Mia, both breastfed. She said she had never been scared to breastfeed in public, and was annoyed some people objected to it.

She had seen online research that contrasted people's reactions to women in low-cut tops with their reaction to women breastfeeding babies.

"Most people walking by wouldn't mind a woman in a revealing top but they will tell a breastfeeding mother to cover up.

"It makes me a little bit mad," she said.

Whanganui District Health Board encourages mothers to breastfeed until babies are at least six months old. In the Whanganui region 95 per cent of babies are breastfed at birth, 89 per cent have had only breast milk when they leave hospital and 81 per cent are still receiving it at six weeks.

Numbers drop off after that, with 50 per cent fully breastfed at three months and 50 per cent receiving any breast milk at six months. The board would like breastfeeding to be a cultural norm for the region.

It has long-term benefits for both children and women, and a new group funded by the board's Maternity Quality and Safety Programme has been set up to promote it.

The mother-led breastfeeding support group meets from 10am to noon on the first Friday of every month at the Ladies Rest building at 75 St Hill St. It's for both mothers wanting support and women who can give it. Attendees will be offered a cuppa and have time to talk, and training for a La Leche League peer leader will be provided.

For more information on the group, contact Jacqueline Brand-Holt on 021 135 9948.