With World Breastfeeding Week upon us, there are events aplenty here in the DC area to show your support for breastfeeding, to learn, and to win some great prizes as well!
The Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington is hosting four events, described in detail at http://breastfeedingcenter.org/support-us/wbw2014/. They include the second annual Breastfival Friday, August 1, 2-6 p.m., The Big Latch-On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (arrive at 10:00) and a screening of the new film, The Milky Way at 11:00
Be sure to register ahead for Friday’s Breastival Festival, sponsored by Lansinoh. I was amazed at the turnout last year with over 100 mamas enjoying delicious snacks and soaking up the positive vibe of the renovated space, which, since I took my first child there, has dramatically expanded its store, upgraded its downstairs facilities and added another room upstairs, which is now hosting regular yoga classes.
The action will mostly be in the Center at 2141 K St NW, Washington, DC 20037. There will be food and fun, including baby footprints and handprints. Additionally, the waiting room at Children’s Pediatrics will be used as a toddler playroom, and in nearby Washington Circle Park, participants can enjoy babywearing demos and Q&A with the Center’s babywearing instructore Clare Branson between 3:00 and 5:00, prenatal yoga with Manisha Tare of Falling Leaf 2:30-3:30 and Mommy & Baby yoga with Alleah Clark of Embrace DC.
Raffle tickets are 3 for $5, 10 for $10 and 25 for $20. There are some amazing items including lots of nursing gear and clothing, photography sessions, massages and bodywork, and food. It’s enough to make you want to get pregnant all over again if you’re not already! Check the complete list of raffle items here. The drawing will happen at 5:30.
All the proceeds from the event will be used to create new free classes including a new support group and additional classes in other areas in the Metro DC area. They Center would like to duplicate the very popular Tuesday class for moms with babies 0-4 months, a class that has saved many a mama (including this one!) and spawned longtime friendships.
The Center was founded in 1997 by lactation consultant Pat Shelley. It moved to its current location in 2003 and expanded in 2012. Parking in the building garage is likely to fill, so, if you don’t take Metro or find a metered spot on the street, consider the lot on L Street at 22nd (cash only) or the lot on 21st between K and Pennsylvania.
This is the Center’s first year doing a Latch-On, during which moms will nurse for one minute at precisely 10:30 a.m. in locations around the world and be counted. Register for the event ahead and get your tickets for the 11:00 screening of new documentary The Milky Way at the nearby West End Cinemas. (If you miss the film this time, there’s another screening in Alexandria the evening of August 14).
On Tuesday, August 5, head over (after the conclusion of 1:00 support group if you want to walk en masse) to a celebration 1:30-3:30 at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization and enjoy snacks and swag!
If you’re across the river in Virginia and further south, the second annual Big Latch-On in Woodbridge will also be on Saturday, August 2 at 10:30 (arrive at 10:00). The event is being organized by Anna Burmeister Rademaker, founder of Little Green Cabbages, a support community for “greenish” parents in Woodbridge. A lactation consultant and childbirth educator, Anna is passionate about sharing information, empowering parents, and spreading the word about breastfeeding.
There are several great vendors lined up for this event, taking place at Lake Ridge Park Marina, including The Farm Table, Whim Pops natural popsicles, BirthCare and Women’s Health, and more. Proceeds from the vendor tables will benefit ACTS Emergency Shelter, and proceeds from raffle tickets will go to Gar-Field High School for its program that allows teen moms to complete their education with the help of an on-site nursery.
Preceding the official Latch-On on Saturday will be a “flash mob” Latch On Friday morning at 10:30 (arrive at 10:00) in the Potomac Mills Mall playground (in neighborhood 2, near TJ Maxx). For details on both events, see the event Facebook page and click “See More.”
And if you’re looking for a from-a-distance way to connect with your inner nursing goddess, or if you want a good laugh about other moms trials and tribulations with breastfeeding, enter the Goodreads giveaway for the anthology Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding. I’ve got an essay in the collection about what my nearly three-year-old had to say about my breasts after jogging and another about my first (somewhat thwarted) attempt to for a retreat of just a few hours when he was a baby.
I’m so grateful to the Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington for helping me get through those early nursing challenges so that I could go on to breastfeed my son for three years (see us illustrating the word “Toddler” on the wonderful “Nursing Our Future” video from Holistic Moms Network) and to then confidently nurse my daughter when she came along a year after that.
Last year’s inaugural DC Birth & Babies Fair was a huge success and a great opportunity for expectant moms and newly postpartum moms. It was exactly what I wished I’d been able to attend before I became a mom 8 years ago. Having first had a c-section (after planning a birth center birth) and then a homebirth four years later, I felt like the Fair was a wonderful mix of all the resources a Metro DC mom might want to know her options and feel supported.
I took my toddler with me to the fair to staff a table for the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network, and I was beyond impressed with the class offerings and the exhibitors, not to mention the beautiful Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (near Eastern Market), where the event will be again this year on Saturday, May 3, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
I was honored when event organizer and childbirth educator Lindsay Gonzales asked me to sit on the fair’s Advisory Board with a great group of women representing all aspects of prenatal and postpartum care. Earlier this week, I asked Lindsay to share a bit with our readers about the origins of the event and her plans for this year’s event.
Q: What made you decide to put on this event in the first place?
Lindsay: The story of where it came from was a mix of my experience as an expecting mom and as a childbirth educator. When I was pregnant in DC and alone without family nearby, I felt there was a lack of resources, that there just wasn’t that much out there for me. When I became a childbirth educator, I realized just how many wonderful resources there really are that many families don’t know about.
I realized there was a real disconnect. There’s a challenge for families to connect with resources, and I wanted to make those connections easier.
Birth Options Alliance (BOA) was one of the first resources I did connect with, and I immediately felt a strong sense of connection to their mission and that they were a great resource for families. When I created the event I wanted to support BOA and their mission. This year, the proceeds from the raffle will go to Birth Options Alliance, which has a Yahoo email group, information about birth options, and local provider lists for every kind of prenatal, birth and postpartum service you might want, including doulas, breastfeeding resources, loss support, and mood and anxiety support, among many other times.
Q: What was the size of last year’s event, and what’s new at this year’s event?
The drop-in clinic is something new we’re trying with hands-on sessions. Each hour we’ll have chat with one expert and a comfort session. They will be in the same place room so people can come for comfort and listen in on expert advice at the same time!
Q: Who’s been helping you?
Lindsay: The composition of the advisory board is very deliberate to be able to have someone representing early parenting and natural living, postpartum doula work, a midwife, birth doula, parent counselor. I wanted to have people bringing in different perspectives from the full range and scope of what we’re trying to represent. This is about being our happiest and healthiest in these important times. One of the best things about the Fair is that it touches on people’s health across the spectrum of wellness. It’s about women and their families feeling their best mentally and physically and even spiritually.
Q: I could not believe it when I heard on April 3 — exactly one month before the event — that you had to have an emergency appendectomy. How has that affected your planning this year?
Lindsay: Fortunately, my surgery was laproscopic, so it could have been worse, and I’ve turned a corner in recovery in the past few days, which is good.
When something happens, like unexpected surgery, it’s so helpful to have everyone come out to wish you well and offer support. It’s actually been a really great experience. Not every kind of event would work like this except for this community coming together.
Last year, everything was a big experiment and just a hope, and there was still so much support. We saw this need, and there were so many people willing to volunteer their time and expertise not even knowing if it would work and how many people would come.
Organizing an event in partnership with doulas, midwives and parenting experts is the most supportive thing anyone could ever do! Everyone involved is involved because they want the families of the DC area have the best experiences of pregnancy birth and parenting. We’re all united with the same focus.
The website for the DC Birth and Babies Fair is http://www.dcbirthandbabiesfair.com/.
Registration for the event is $10 per individual or $15 per family. Use the promotion code birthandbabies to save $3.
Photos taken by Kea Dupree Photography and used with permission.