A FESTIVAL designed to promote breastfeeding in new mums has bounced back bigger and better than ever following a pandemic hiatus.
This year’s ‘Breastival’ events in Belfast and Londonderry in a bid to help new mothers and their little ones latch on to breastfeeding.
There was a programme of in-person events in both cities on Saturday, with co-ordinator Catherine Muldoon (36) delighted with the turnout.
The mum-of-two, from Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone, said: “We had baby yoga and sensory events, the singing mamas in Derry teaching songs and post-natal events in Belfast.
“We had a whole lot of support providers as well talking people through things and helping to support parents in their breastfeeding journey.
“We started off in The MAC in Belfast and were in the Ulster Museum for a few years.
“But we were conscious it was quite Belfast-centric, so it’s great now to be able to reach across the region.
“It means people in the north west were able to attend, which was great.”
Both cities had gatherings in support of breastfeeding called the Big Latch On. Catherine said there were 550 people in attendance overall, with 70 ‘latches’ in Derry and 92 in Belfast.
“It was really fantastic to get those numbers, especially in the north west because it’s the first time that the event has been held there. It was really well received,” she said.
“The Big Latch On is an opportunity to be counted in support of breastfeeding. We were running a little bit of competition between the two cities. We wanted to see how many people we could get together on the day, both breastfeeding and showing their support.
“It was an opportunity to normalise breastfeeding and aid visibility to help improve the breastfeeding rates.
“Our organisation came about after the DUP MP Sammy Wilson made a statement that breastfeeding in the House of Commons was ‘exhibitionism’. We just grew from there into Breastival and it’s still about challenging those taboos.”
Those attending the Ormeau Park event in Belfast included Alliance MLA Kate Nicholl with her nine-week-old son Etain and Tracey Chow-Seegoolam with five-month-old triplets Elodie, Lewis and Felix.