The award-winning Breastival returns on Monday 1 August with a programme full of activities for the whole family.
A week-long series of free events will inspire, support and provide information to breastfeeding parents and their families across Northern Ireland. The week begins with a special launch event featuring Hollie McNish, award winning poet and author.
Coinciding with World Breastfeeding Week, Breastival seeks to reduce the stigma, normalise and celebrate breastfeeding through online panel discussions, webinars and support.
Breastival will host a virtual screening of award-winning documentary ‘Birth Time’ on 5 August. ‘Birth Time’ follows three women as they seek to find out why an increasing number of women emerge from their births physically and emotionally traumatised. The women’s discoveries cause them to forge a movement that hopes to change maternity care in Australia and across the developed world.
The ‘Big Latch On’ will take place on Saturday 6 August from 9.30-12.30pm in Ormeau Park, Belfast and in St Columb’s Park, Derry/Londonderry. Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Tina Black will launch the event in Ormeau Park and Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Sandra Duffy will launch the event in St Columb’s Park.
The Breastival team will be competing between the two locations to create the biggest gathering of women and breastfed infants and children, with the count taking place at 10.30am. The family-friendly outdoor event seeks to empower women to feed for as long as they choose and create connections to the wider community there to support them. It will also feature fun activities for babies, toddlers and young children with free taster sessions of popular baby classes, yoga and a chance for older children and adults to be part of a unique ‘punch needle’ community art project.
Closing the festival on Sunday 7 August, renowned quizmaster Andy Kelly will host a virtual quiz night. Andy has hosted pub quizzes for over 30 years and has appeared on over 35 UK quiz shows, including “Mastermind”, “Who wants to be a Millionaire” and “Deal or no Deal”.
The full programme and tickets for all events, most of which are free to attend, can be found on www.breastival.co.uk.
Breastival Coordinator, Catherine Muldoon said:
“Unfortunately, even today, many women still feel nervous and vulnerable about breastfeeding, particularly in public. That is why Breastival is important. We are here to celebrate breastfeeding and we are thrilled to be able to host many of our events in person this year.
“Breastival seeks to support women build confidence in their feeding decisions, challenge the stigma around breastfeeding and help to reduce the isolation new mothers often feel as they adjust to life with a new baby.”
Breastival Founder, Jennifer Hanratty said:
“This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is ‘Step Up for Breastfeeding’, and I am so proud Breastival continues to advocate for, and support women to meet their own goals around breastfeeding while having fun and enjoying each other’s company.
“While breastfeeding rates in Northern Ireland have improved in recent years, we still have a long way to go. Women’s choices are often undermined by aggressive marketing of formula and some families aren’t familiar with breastfeeding or are unsure as to how to support women that want to breastfeed.
“Events like Breastival allow mothers to feel empowered in their choices, to access support, feed their babies and interact with one another in a safe environment, free of judgement. We encourage extended family, friends and supporters to join us to ‘step up’ to support breastfeeding.”