Photos from Berkshire County’s Big Latch On

We had 12 mamas registered to latch on!

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Berkshire County’s Big Latch On

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week and to celebrate, La Leche League has announced a nationwide breastfeeding event called the Big Latch On. On Saturday August 6, 2011 at 10:30am thousands of nursing mothers and their babies across the United States will gather in their own communities to take part in the Big Latch On, America’s first synchronized nursing event in multiple locations. Our local Big Latch On event, organized by La Leche League of North/Central Berkshires, will take place at the Town Common in Adams, MA. Mothers are encourage to arrive by 10:00 a.m. for check-in.

What’s a Big Latch On? Groups of nursing mothers coming together at registered venues around the country (or the world) to all nurse their babes at a set time. All the mamas and babes latched on for one minute at the set time (10:30 a.m.) are counted by the witnesses. The numbers are added up and we see how close we come to the world record!

The first record for a single location was from Berkeley, CA USA in 2002 where 1,130 mothers breastfed simultaneously. The international record for one location is 3,738 mothers held by the Philippines in 2006. Since then, there have been several coordinated international events and in October 2010, 9,826 nursing mothers were recorded at 325 sites in 16 countries.

The Big Latch On is originally from New Zealand. It was introduced to Portland, Oregon in 2010 by Joanne Edwards as a celebration for World Breastfeeding Week. During the same week Annie Brown, a La Leche League Leader from Connecticut organized a simultaneous breastfeeding event in her home state. For World Breastfeeding Week 2011, they are working collaboratively and with the support of La Leche League USA to bring the event across the country.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the WHO/UNICEF document Innocenti Declaration, which lists the benefits of breastfeeding, plus global and governmental goals.

Breastfeeding contributes to the normal growth and development of babies, and babies who are not breastfed are at increased risk of infant morbidity and mortality, adult obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and premenopausal breast cancer and ovarian cancer (both mom and baby.) The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life to optimize these benefits, continuing to breastfeed for 2 years and as long thereafter as is mutually desired by mother and baby.

For more information, call Marya LaRoche, 413-441-7176 or visit

P.S. Don’t forget about Berkshire North WIC’s annual World Breastfeeding Day celebration at Whitney’s Farm Market in Cheshire on Friday, August 5th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is a free family friendly event and a great way to learn about local community agencies and resources. There is a playground and petting zoo for the kids and David Grover will be performing. Hope to see you there!

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Annual Picnic Time!

This month our meeting will be a potluck picnic at 5:30pm Wednesday, July 13th at Pontoosuc Lake. Park in the lot on Hancock Road, Pittsfield. We’ll have a small pop-up shelter and tables under the pine trees. There is swimming access if you want to bring suits and towels. Please bring a dish to share and any gear you might use, including blankets or chairs.
Looking forward to seeing you!

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Next LLL Meeting: The family & the breastfed baby

One of the challenges of growing an organization that began over 50 years ago is how to adapt to the changes within a society or culture. The women who met under a tree in a park looking for breastfeeding support way back then were not that different from the women who seek the same kind of support today. But the circumstances of today’s women have changed. Many more moms are working outside the home and need to return to work within a matter of weeks. There are more single parents, a situation that may or may not have been planned. The mother’s supportive partner may or may not be a man. Siblings may not be blood-relations.
I’d be interested to hear how moms from these modern situations handled “bringing home baby” and how we can add their perspectives to our knowledge base on how to support the new mother and her family.
Please join us Wednesday, June 8th at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Pittsfield to continue the discussion!

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The Importance of Breastfeeding

Tonight we discussed how to reframe the breastfeeding discussion by moving away from the word “best” and reintroducing nursing as “normal”. As individual women we understand this concept, but in the midst of an entire society that doesn’t, supplementing or weaning can leave us feeling angry, cheated and envious. During our introductory go-round, we each read a part of the following piece written by Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC, (originally titled What If I Want To Wean My Baby?). I hope it reminds everyone that no matter if it’s for a day, week, month, year or more, nursing your baby is a gift to the both of you.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR JUST A FEW DAYS, he will have received your colostrum, or early milk. By providing antibodies and the food his brand-new body expects, nursing gives your baby his first – and easiest – “immunization”and helps get his digestive system going smoothly. Breastfeeding is how your baby expects to start, and helps your own body recover from the birth. Given how very much your baby stands to gain, and how little you stand to lose, it just makes good sense to breastfeed for at least a day or two, even if you plan to bottle-feed after that.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR FOUR TO SIX WEEKS, you will have eased him through the most critical part of his infancy. Newborns who are not breastfed are much more likely to get sick or be hospitalized, and have many more digestive problems than breastfed babies. After 4 to 6 weeks, you’ll probably have worked through any early nursing concerns, too. Make a serious goal of nursing for a month, call La Leche League or a certified lactation consultant if you have any questions, and you’ll be in a better position to decide whether continued breastfeeding is for you.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 3 OR 4 MONTHS, her digestive system will have matured a great deal, and she will be much better able to tolerate the foreign substances in commercial formulas. If there is a family history of allergies, though, you will greatly reduce her risk by waiting a few more months before adding anything at all to her diet of breastmilk. And giving nothing but your milk for the first four months gives strong protection against ear infections for a whole year.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 6 MONTHS without adding any other food or drink, she will be much less likely to suffer an allergic reaction to formula or other foods later on; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until about 6 months to offer solid foods. Nursing for at least 6 months helps ensure better health throughout your baby’s first year of life, reduces your little one’s risk of ear infections and childhood cancers, and reduces your own risk of breast cancer. And exclusive, frequent breastfeeding during the first 6 months, if your periods have not returned, provides 98% effective contraception.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 9 MONTHS, you will have seen him through the fastest and most important brain and body development of his life on the food that was designed for him – your milk. Nursing for at least this long will help ensure better performance all through his school years. Weaning may be fairly easy at this age… but then, so is nursing! If you want to avoid weaning this early, be sure you’ve been available to nurse for comfort as well as just for food.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR A YEAR, you can avoid the expense and bother of formula. Her one-year-old body can probably handle most of the table foods your family enjoys. Many of the health benefits this year of nursing has given your child will last her whole life. She will have a stronger immune system, for instance, and will be much less likely to need orthodontia or speech therapy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends nursing for at least a year, because it helps ensure normal nutrition and health for your baby.

IF YOU NURSE YOUR BABY FOR 18 MONTHS, you will have continued to provide the nutrition, comfort, and illness protection your baby expects, at a time when illness is common in formula-fed babies. Your baby is probably well started on table foods, too. He has had time to form a solid bond with you – a healthy starting point for his growing independence. And he is old enough that you and he can work together on the weaning process, at a pace that he can handle. A former U.S. Surgeon General said, “it is the lucky baby… that nurses to age two.”

IF YOUR CHILD WEANS WHEN SHE IS READY, you can feel confident that you have met your baby’s physical and emotional needs in the most normal, healthy way. In cultures where there is no pressure to wean, children tend to nurse for at least two years. The World Health Organization and UNICEF strongly encourage breastfeeding through toddlerhood: “Breastmilk is an important source of energy and protein, and helps to protect against disease during the child’s second year of life.” Our biology seems geared to a weaning age of between 2 1/2 and 7 years, and it just makes sense to build our children’s bones from the milk that was designed for them. Your milk provides antibodies and other protective substances for as long as you continue nursing, and families of nursing toddlers often find that their medical bills are lower than their neighbors’ for years to come. Research indicates that the longer a child nurses, the higher his intelligence. Mothers who nurse long-term have a still lower risk of developing breast cancer. Children who were nursed long-term tend to be very secure, and are less likely to suck their thumbs or carry a blanket. Nursing can help ease both of you through the tears, tantrums, and tumbles that come with early childhood, and helps ensure that any illnesses are milder and easier to deal with. It’s an all-purpose mothering tool you won’t want to be without! Don’t worry that your child will nurse forever. All children stop on their own, no matter what you do, and there are more nursing toddlers around than you might guess.

WHETHER YOU NURSE FOR A DAY OR FOR SEVERAL YEARS, the decision to nurse your child is one you need never regret. And whenever weaning takes place, remember that it is a big step for both of you. If you choose to wean before your child is ready, be sure to do it gradually, and with love.

©2000 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC

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The Benefits of Breastfeeding

In preparation for tomorrow night’s meeting (Wednesday, 5/11/11, 7:00pm at the UU Church in Pittsfield), I was surfing for information about the benefits of breastfeeding and thought I would share a few links. I found the last one most interesting: possible ramifications for child-bearing women who skip the “fourth trimester of pregnancy” and don’t allow their bodies to go through the lacation process.

Feel free to post more links to other studies and articles in the comments section!

A comprehensive list (almost):



Childhood obesity:

Post-partum weight loss:


Health benefits for mother:

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Happy Mother’s Day

Thought you might enjoy this today:

    Help Wanted: The Ideal Mother

The transition into motherhood can be tough on anyone. “I just wasn’t cut out to be a good mother,” says the weary voice of my friend on the telephone. “I can’t get the baby to sleep through the night. I scream too much at my toddler when he gets into things. And my six-year old is always whining that she doesn’t have enough to do. At least in the office I have someone to teach me my job and my evenings and weekends off.”

I understand her completely because I am also a mother. The difficulty isn’t just the first transition, either. It’s the ongoing reshaping of pieces of a personality and a way of living to become the kind of mother a child needs for each stage of her life.

For example, a job description for the kind of person who would be an ideal mother for a baby might read like this:

Wanted–Easygoing, relaxed, loving type to care for infant. Should enjoy rocking, cuddling, be able to hold baby patiently for 20-minute feedings every three or four hours without fidgeting. Light sleeper, early riser. No degree necessary. Must take all shifts, seven-day week. No vacation unless can arrange own mother as temporary substitute. No opportunity to advance.

A year and a half later, the ideal candidate for the job of mothering the same child would match this description:

Wanted–Athlete in top condition to safeguard tireless toddler. Needs quick reflexes, boundless energy, infinite patience. ESP helpful. Knowledge of first aid essential. Must be able to drive cook, phone, work despite constant distractions. Workday, 15 hours. No coffee or lunch breaks unless child naps. Would consider pediatric nurse with Olympic background.

In another 18 months, the same mother should be able to meet these qualifications:

Position Open–Expert in early childhood education to provide stimulating, loving, creative, individualized learning environment for pre-schooler. Should have experience in art, music, recreation, be able to speak one foreign language. Training in linguistics, psychology and Montessori desirable. Two hours off five days a week when nursery school is in session and child is well.

Job stability improves somewhat when a child is between 6 and 12, and the mothers who cope most easily should meet these qualifications:

Good Opportunity–For expert in recreation, camping, Indian arts, all sports. Should be able to referee. Must be willing to be den mother, room mother, block mother. Public relations skills essential. Should be able to deal effectively with teachers, PTA officers, other parents. Knowledge of sex education, new math required. Must have no objections to mud, insect collections, pets, neighbors’ kids.

A mother changes occupations again when her child reaches 13 or 14 and must face up to new requirements:

Job Available–For specialist in adolescent psychology, with experience in large-quantity cooking. Tolerance is a chief requirement. Slight hearing loss helpful or must provide own earplugs. Must be unflappable. Should be able to sense when presence is embarrassing to child and disappear.

After 18 years as a working mother, a woman is qualified for only one more job:

Urgently Needed–Financier to provide money, clothes, music, wheels to collegian. No advice necessary. Position may last indefinately. Ample time left to take income-producing work.

Like most want ads, there are some things these work descriptions leave out: (1) A mother who has more than one child must usually hold down two or more of these posts simultaneaously; (2) those who handle the jobs best work themselves permanently out of a job, and (3) there are greater rewards than anyone could ever imagine.

Author: Joan Beck
Excerpted from: Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Hearts & Rekindle the Spirits of Women

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