La Crosse mothers to participate in global breastfeeding event

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- More than 50 mothers are expected to gather at Myrick Park in La Crosse Saturday to celebrate breastfeeding.

The Western Wisconsin Breastfeeding Coalition is kicking off World Breastfeeding Week by hosting the Big Latch On event. It's a global event celebrated annually in more than 120 countries.

Groups of women come together and breastfeed their children at the same time.

This is the first year that the Coulee Region will join in on this tradition.

“The big latch on is all about community support, advocacy for breastfeeding, and normalizing breastfeeding," said Kim Welvaert, President of the Western Wisconsin Breastfeeding Coalition and a Lactation Consultant at Mayo Clinic Health System. "Recently in Janesville, Wisconsin there was a woman who was asked to leave a post office because she was breastfeeding. And we just feel that having more community support, it's a known fact that if moms have the support of their community or their partners, or their family and friends, they're going to breastfeed longer.”

Experts from both Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare and Gundersen Health System will also be there to provide information on breastfeeding.

“There's been kind of a shift in culture," said Wendy Sullivan, a nurse educator at Gundersen Health System. "For a long time, formula feeding was believed to be best. And now we've learned that that's not true, that we want to breastfeed babies, and breast milk is what's best.”

Amanda McConaghy is a mother of five and serves as leader of La Leche League of La Crosse and Black River Falls, a local breastfeeding advocacy group.

“There just wasn't a lot of support for breastfeeding around so I really wanted to go in that area," she said. "I hope that through making something like this public, and bringing awareness to breastfeeding and bringing awareness to the support that's available to breastfeeding that it's also helping to normalize breastfeeding.”

The Big Latch On event will happen at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, but event organizers are asking families to show up at 10 a.m. for some family-friendly activities.

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