About the Big Latch On

Click here to go directly to the 2014 Big Latch On page.

To help reduce barriers to breastfeeding, every year during World Breastfeeding Week (1-7th August) Women’s Health Action coordinates the Big Latch On, a fun event in which breastfeeding women gather together around Aotearoa New Zealand to build community support, one latch at a time.

Increasing the rates and duration of breastfeeding has consistently been demonstrated to be an effective intervention for improving community health. [i] [ii]  Research highlights that a significant barrier to breastfeeding is the lack of peer support for breastfeeding women.[iii] Women with no prior exposure to breastfeeding in their family or social network, who feel that their choice to breastfeed makes them different to other women in their social circle, are more likely to prematurely cease breastfeeding.[iv]

 Founded by Women’s Health Action in 2005 the Big Latch On is a highly successful, targeted community development initiative that raises awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding, encourages the formation of support networks between breastfeeding women, and aims to normalize breastfeeding as a part of daily life. There has been a substantial growth in the numbers of breastfeeding women attending and in the support for breastfeeding from whānau, peers and the community.  The Big Latch On is now a worldwide event, aiming to strengthen support for breastfeeding to improve the health of women and children around the world.

The Big Latch On is informed by the principles of community development, providing the opportunity for breastfeeding women to get together in their local communities, coordinate their own events, raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding, and identify opportunities for on-going support.

Aims of the Big Latch On

  • Support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available in communities.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding a normal part of the day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for women who breastfeed - women are supported by their partners, family and the breastfeeding knowledge that is embedded in their communities.
  • Communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated appropriate and accessible breastfeeding support services.

History of the Big Latch On

The Big Latch On is originally from New Zealand. It was started by Women's Health Action in 2005 as part of World Breastfeeding Week. Each year, they have seen a growth in the numbers of breastfeeding women attending and an increase in the support for breastfeeding in public. The Big Latch On has also taken off globally, and last year 14,536 babies took part in the Big Latch On across 28 countries. Click here to see more information on previous years' Big Latch Ons.

[i] Smithers, L., & McIntyre, E. (2010). The impact of breastfeeding - translating recent evidence for practice. Australian Family Physician, 39(10), 757-760.

[ii] Hanson, M. A., Gluckman, P. D., Ma, R. W., Matzen, P., & Biesma, R. G. (2012). Early life opportunities for prevention of diabetes in low and middle income countries. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 1025-1033. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1025

[iii] Weimer, J. P. (2001). The economic benefits of breastfeeding: An analysis and review (Report No. 33813). Washington: Economic Research Service (ERS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

[iv] Scott, J. A., & Mostyn, T. (2003). Women's experiences of breastfeeding in a bottle-feeding culture. Journal of Human Lactation, 19(3), 270-277.