During last year’s 2nd Annual Latch and Link: A Breastfeeding Resource Fair, 162 infants and children breastfed simultaneously during the Great Long Beach Latch, a record-breaking moment, not only for the moms and babes who participated, but for the two local moms and breastfeeding advocates who had organized the event, Celine Malanum and Christine Gibson.
What began as a small, community-building open mic night at a Belmont Heights coffee house, Viento y Agua, where parents took the stage to recite poems, spoken word performances and stories about their experience with breastfeeding, has now gained enough momentum to be seen as a major movement in Long Beach.
In May, Malanum and local activist Maricela de Rivera introduced Long Beach Breastfeeds to the community as a response to the lack of support mothers receive to successfully continue the act of feeding their infant after they leave the hospital. It’s the city’s first organization dedicated entirely to supporting breastfeeding families.
On Tuesday, City Council handed Long Beach Breastfeeds the proclamation, sponsored by Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, to formally recognize August as National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Long Beach, an acknowledgment that oftentimes it takes a village for a mother to reach her breastfeeding goals healthfully and successfully and a move of support for what the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated is a “public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice.”
“As a mother, I understand and appreciate how beneficial breastfeeding is for our children, their mothers and our society as a whole,” said Lowenthal in a statement. “Long Beach unquestionably supports the health and wellbeing of our families.”
Now, Long Beach Breastfeeds will host the Third Annual Latch and Link: A Breastfeeding Resource Fair on Saturday, August 1 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach from 10:00AM to 3:00PM. The City of Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services, Dignity Health St. Mary Medical Center and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach have partnered with the organization to bring to Long Beach the free and family-friendly resource fair.
“There's a real movement here in Long Beach—we are birth-by-birth, day-by-day, building a breastfeeding culture”, said Malanum, Long Beach Breastfeeds co-founder, in a statement.
She added that St. Mary Medical Center is the city’s first hospital to earn the Baby Friendly designation, while Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital uses human donor milk and has an outpatient lactation clinic. The city’s Department of Health & Human Services also provides home visits by nurses to help with the lactation process.
“It’s an honor to partner with the anchors of our local breastfeeding community who provide such vital services," Malanum said.
Last year’s event drew 750 attendees seeking the valuable tools and information on breastfeeding, birthing, maternal and child health and attachment parenting, provided by the fair. Over 40 exhibitors will be featured at Latch and Link this year, alongside activities such as an interactive children’s class by Chantal Jura Nutrition, an organized play zone by the American Health & Wellness Institute, a lactation lounge staffed by certified lactation professionals, opportunity drawings and more.
“With collaborative efforts such as this event, we can raise the rates of breastfeeding in Long Beach, improving the health of children in our community.” said Kelly Colopy in a statement, Director of Health and Human Services, who also noted that Long Beach Breastfeed’s mission is closely aligned with the Health Department’s goals of their Maternal, Child, Adolescent Health program.
"The City of Long Beach is on the cusp of being a Breastfeeding Friendly City. The council action, coupled with the important work being done by our partners, speaks volumes of the commitment to breastfeeding families we have in Long Beach,” said co-founder Maricela Renteria de Rivera in a press statement. “We’re beyond honored to call on so many of our city council friends of Long Beach Breastfeeds. From the Vice Mayor’s proclamation, to Councilmember Richardson sponsoring a free monthly breastfeeding support group at Houghton Park. We’re on our way!”
To attend the free event, please register by visiting Long Beach Breastfeed’s Eventbrite page, here. For the most updated information about the organization and Latch and Link, click here and click here for the 3rd Annual Latch and Link event page.