What is the Big Latch On?
The Big Latch On is an annual public health initiative to promote and celebrate breastfeeding, as well as support and connect parents and whānau on all infant-feeding journeys, within their own communities. It involves thousands of people from different cultures and backgrounds gathering together at registered venues throughout Aotearoa to access community and peer to peer support, breastfeed their children, and/or share their breastfeeding/expressing photos online to the Big Latch On Facebook page with the tag #BigLatchOnNZ. Ultimately, the Big Latch On aims to reduce some of the most common barriers to breastfeeding continuation. The Big Latch On supports communities to identify and grow opportunities for ongoing breastfeeding support and promotion. It provides an opportunity for women and whānau to make new friends, network and feel more confident about breastfeeding (particularly in public).
The Big Latch On has continued to grow, with 2018 being the biggest Big Latch On to date. A total of 2,091 children latched on, which includes those who attended a Big Latch On venue, and 215 who took part through social media in the form of a breastfeeding ‘selfie.’ There were 107 Big Latch On venues in 2018. Some of the venues had very high numbers of participants, such as 85 latches at an event hosted by the Northland DHB, and 95 hosted by Community Birth Services in Te Papaioea. There was at least one Big Latch On in every DHB region across Aotearoa.
What are the aims of the Big Latch On?
•To be inclusive, welcoming and supportive of all whānau regardless of how their child is fed.
•To support communities to identify and grow opportunities for on-going breastfeeding support and promotion.
•Connect whānau with support and knowledge available in their communities.
•Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
•Connect parents with other parents and act as a conduit for the establishment of peer support groups (particularly in rural areas)
When is the Big Latch On?
The 2023 Big Latch On will take place from Friday 14th to Sunday 16th April. In previous years, the Big Latch On was held during World Breastfeeding Week in August, however we are moving the event to the warmer month of April from 2023 onwards. Hosts are welcome to schedule events at any time across the three days. Participants are welcome to go along to as many, or as few, events as they like.
What time is the Big Latch On?
To make the event as inclusive as possible, hosts are able to hold their Big Latch On event at any time throughout the weekend (Friday 14 – Sunday 16 April). It’s important that you highlight what time your event starts on your promotional material/advertising.
Can the Big Latch On be held online/virtually?
Yes, you can hold a virtual event if you choose to or if it is the most appropriate type of event for your community. For many years the Big Latch On was only held in person, but after 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic we had to do things differently. Whilst we do encourage all Big Latch On participants to try to make it to an in-person event, we appreciate that sometimes this is not possible, which is why we now allow for virtual events. People who cannot make it to an in-person event can also participate in our Brelfie initiative, by taking a picture of themselves feeding (breast, bottle, expressing, SNS etc) and posting/sharing it online with the hashtag #BrelfieNZ and #BigLatchOnNZ. These online options are designed to coexist with physical participation, rather than replacing it, as a way of creating more ways for parents to feel supported and connected.
How can I host a virtual event?
Here are some considerations, practical ideas and protective measures for hosting a virtual event.
- What video conferencing platform will you use?
- How many people do you expect to join your event?
- How much will it cost you to use it?
- Do you want a chat room function?
- Do you need screen share function?
- Will it be a private event for a group of people that you know?
- Remember to set up your virtual event link, and add it into your registration form.
You should use a password or PIN system for accessing the virtual link to your event. We recommend that you don’t distribute this widely until closer to your event to prevent it being shared outside of your participant group. Also don’t give your host login details to anyone else.
Once you have everyone at the event, you should ‘lock’ your event so that security cannot be breached. Consider how and when you will count your number of participants.
Guidelines for the Big Latch On
In recent years, Women’s Health Action have made the ‘rules’ around the Big Latch On more flexible. We want the event to be as fun and inclusive as possible, and we encourage hosts to be flexible and use their discretion when organising and hosting the events.
Below are a few key ‘must do’s’ for the Big Latch On:
- Participants of your event should complete the ‘Participant Registration’ form whilst attending your event. This form can be found under the Host Resources section.
- You will need to count the number of participants at your event. This is regardless of whether parents are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding their children. We want to be supportive of responsive feeding and understand that babies/children need to be fed when they are hungry, or that some children may be distracted at the event. As a host, you should include anyone who attended your event with the intention of participating, regardless of whether they actually ‘latch on’ at a specific time, or at all. Please count everyone who turned up, including children, infants and supporters.
- You will need to report how many people participated at your location by completing the Submit Event Count form (click to open). You will also need your event code to complete this form.
Who can register an event for the Big Latch On?
Any individual, organisation, community group or company interested in supporting parents.
Who cannot register a venue for the Big Latch On?
Any entity that is in violation of the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. You can access the Code here.
Where can my event be held?
A café, marae, playgroup, church, local meeting room, hospital, health centre, workplace – one year there was a Big Latch On held on a plane! You can hold the event wherever you want to meet, as long as it is in Aotearoa New Zealand. In 2023, you also have the option to hold your event online.
Can we have a private event?
Yes. When you register your event on our website, the final question asks, “Do you give permission for us to advertise your event on our website?” If you would like your event to be private and therefore not listed/visible on the website, check “No”.
Are you running a Latch Count in 2023?
No, we are not running an official “Latch Count” in 2023. Over recent years our focus has shifted from counting the number of people breastfeeding their children at one time, to inviting people at all stages on the infant feeding journey to gather together and find connection and support in their communities, at events able to be held at any time across three days.
In 2023, Women’s Health Action is also coordinating the Big Latch On globally – see more here. We have taken this on without additional resource or staffing, which is another contributing factor to why we are running a less proscriptive event in 2023.
How can we spread the word about our event?
Once you have registered your event, Women’s Health Action will provide you with promotional materials such as posters and invitations. In 2023, to cut down on running costs, we are providing these materials in electronic format only. You are able to download and share them, or print them off and display them in areas where pregnant people and mums will see them (i.e. Plunket rooms, waiting rooms, cafes, malls, church notice boards etc).
The 2018 evaluation of the Big Latch On showed that most participants found out about the Big Latch On via Facebook. We suggest using social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter to help spread the word. Make sure you like/follow the official Big Latch On Aotearoa Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BigLatchOnNZ
Other ideas include:
• Approach local businesses and see if they would be happy to promote your event on their social media pages, websites and/or publications. You may offer promotion of their goods and services in return, however you will need to make sure they meet the sponsorship guidelines – see the Fundraising, Donations And Sponsorship section below for more information.
• Approach local midwives and ask if they would be willing to put up your posters and/or give out printed copies.
• Approach your local maternity hospitals and birthing centres and ask if they would be willing to put up your posters and/or give out printed copies.
Print, radio and television media:
Women’s Health Action engage with print, radio and television media to promote the Big Latch On at a national level. As a registered host, we will provide you a template to produce your own local media releases and Women’s Health Action are available to provide you with further guidance about working with the media. We are here to help so please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like any assistance, even if you just want to bounce some ideas off someone. Email [email protected] or call us on 09 520 5295.
Can we set up our own website or Facebook page?
Yes, you can set up your own Facebook event. If you email us the link, we will share your event on the Big Latch On Aotearoa Facebook page.
How do I cancel my event?
Before you cancel your event, consider whether someone else can take over the hosting responsibilities. Women’s Health Action can assist you with finding a new host and help to address any other difficulties you may be facing. If you still need to cancel your event, you can do so at any time. Firstly, you need to delete your event registration – do this by logging into the website using the email and password you entered when you registered. You will also need to contact us at Women’s Health Action via phone (09) 520 5295 or email ([email protected]) to let us know you have cancelled your event. Please be aware that you are responsible for making sure your community is informed of the cancellation. This means you need to spread the word about the cancellation in all the places you originally advertised, and you will need to make arrangements for people who have not heard about the cancellation and still turn up to your event.
Who can attend my event?
If your event is public and listed on our website, then anyone can attend. If your event is private and therefore not listed on our website, only people who you invite will be able to attend.
How do I know how many people to expect at our event?
If your event is public you probably won’t know, it’s part of the fun of the Big Latch On. You may ask participants to register or to contact you if they plan to attend your event, however they do not have to do this. People may also plan to attend but on the day not be able to make it for various reasons.
What if no one turns up?
Use the experience as learning and build on it for next year! Please contact Women’s Health Action and we can work with you for the following year. Please make sure you still let us know how many participants you had (in this case, ‘0’). Submit the number of participants at your event here.
Is there an age limit for breastfeeding children?
What if someone participates at multiple events, on numerous days?
This is perfectly fine, they should be counted each time they attend an event.
What if someone wants to take a “Brelfie” (breastfeeding/feeding selfie) at a Big Latch On event?
This is fine, but they must make sure it is only themselves and their baby in the photo. They cannot upload pictures of other people without their permission.
Why is the Big Latch On no longer in August?
For many years, the Big Latch On was held in the first week of August to coincide with International World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). WBW commemorates the Innocenti Declaration made by WHO and UNICEF policy August 1990 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. You can read more about WBW at http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/. However, because WBW falls in the winter time/cold and flu season in Aotearoa, it is not the best time to encourage people to get out in public with their children. After several years of COVID-19 lockdowns and disruptions, we decided that 2023 will be the first time we move the Big Latch On to the warmer month of April.
How do I report my participant numbers after the Big Latch On?
All hosts must report how many people attended their events. Please complete the Submit Event Count form (click to open). You will need your event code to complete this form. Please count everyone who turned up, including children, infants and supporters.
PLEASE NOTE: If you misplace your venue code please contact Women’s Health Action on 09 520 5295 or email [email protected]
Can we charge admission to cover our costs?
No, but you can seek donations from local businesses and benefactors to cover your costs.
Can we get sponsorship to cover costs or supply spot prizes?
You can use sponsorship to help cover costs like printing, advertising and supplying food and drinks. Some events have local businesses provide goodie bags or turn their event into a pamper day with services such as bra fittings and massage!! Your local businesses might also supply you with spot prizes for participants, or with drinks and snacks for your Big Latch On.
Do we have to have photos of our event?
You no longer need to supply official evidence, but we would still love to receive photos from your event. Please make sure you have people’s permission to be included in photos.
What if a participant does not wish to be photographed?
The ‘Participant Registration’ form includes a section for participants to give permission for their photos to be taken and for these photos to be used by Women’s Health Action. As hosts, you are responsible for ensuring you have participants’ permission for any photos and any film footage taken at your Big Latch On. Photographers and videographers should be made aware of any participants who do not wish to be photographed. By sending in photos or film to Women’s Health Action, you are agreeing that you have permissions from all those in the images.
Can we use our own registration forms?
No, you must use the paperwork provided by Women’s Health Action. You will be emailed a copy of the registration form shortly before the Big Latch On event. If you have not received the registration form, you will be able to download one from the “Host Resources” section on our website or contact us at [email protected].
Will there be feedback forms this year?
In 2023 we are not requiring hosts or participants to fill out feedback or evaluation forms. Unfortunately, due to resourcing and staffing constraints, the event organisers do not have capacity to analyse or report on feedback in any meaningful way. You are still welcome to let us know by email if there is any specific feedback you’d like to provide. Contact us at [email protected]
What forms must I complete after the event?
Please complete the Participant Registration form when participants attend your event and email completed forms to [email protected] or post hard copies to Women’s Health Action, 13 Coyle Street, Sandringham, Auckland 1025. We will not be chasing you up for these documents, so we really appreciate you being organised and proactive about sending these in.
Please report the number of people at your event by completing the Submit Event Count form (click to open). Thank you!