Breastfeeding mothers converge on WEM
Jennifer Yang, Journal Staff WriterPublished: 1:21 pm
EDMONTON - This Saturday at exactly 11 a.m., 27 mothers gathered at West Edmonton Mall and slipped out their breasts to feed their babies.
The women and their 30 babies and toddlers (some mothers fed two at a time) for the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge 2008, a global event designed to raise public awareness of breastfeeding.
The competition has mothers feeding their babies simultaneously, either in public places or at private events. In the end, participants tally their totals to determine which city had the most babies "latched on" at 11 a.m. local time.
In Edmonton, this year's challenge was sponsored by a local group called the Breastfeeding and Lactation Information and Support Source, or BLISS.
"It's kind of hard to even make breastfeeding 'normal' in a society that sees breasts as sexual," said Karen Speed, the founder of BLISS. "Breasts are made for breastfeeding ... it's the perfect food for babies and no formula will be ever, ever made that's as good for babies."
Participating mom Lee-Ann Grenier arrived for the challenge with her two children, 22-month-old Danica and her five-year-old son Zale.
She said a woman once kicked her out of a swimming pool for breastfeeding, calling it "indecent."
"I felt really stigmatized," she said. "I didn't feel like I was feeding my baby, I felt like I was doing something slutty."
For Grenier, this is exactly the attitude she wants to dismantle by participating in the challenge. She thinks people have become overly focused on breasts as sexual objects as opposed to a healthy and natural source of food for babies.
"I feel it's really important to support breastfeeding and its visibility in our community," she said. "It's the one way that I know I'm meeting my children's needs for security as well as for food."
© Edmonton Journal 2008