SnowCap sponsors first Gresham event

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Thirteen mothers and babies along with other family members and activists, gathered Friday, Aug. 2 for Greshams first Big Latch On. The mothers simultaneously breastfed their babies for one minute.

In a 2012 editorial cartoon by David Horsey, two security agents approach a mother breastfeeding her baby outside Victoria’s Secret.

“Nursing?!” one says. “This is a shopping mall! We can’t allow women to brazenly display their breasts!!”

This is exactly the mentality that some East County mothers and activists sought to challenge Friday morning.

The group gathered on the patio of Park Place Coffee for Gresham’s first Big Latch On, sponsored by SnowCap Community Charities during World Breastfeeding Week.

One of seven held throughout the Portland and Vancouver area last week, The Big Latch On is designed to create awareness about breastfeeding and set the record for the most women simultaneously nursing their babies.

“It’s a slow change in our culture, but I hope we can help everyone understand that breasts are a way to feed babies and not always something sexual,” said Karla Nussbaum, an international board-certified lactation consultant based in East County.

At 10:30 a.m. Friday, 13 mothers simultaneously nursed their babies for one minute at Park Place Coffee. But the event was about much more than trying to break a record.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Michele Hennebeck brought her son Owen to The Big Latch On in celebration of his first birthday.

Michele Hennebeck celebrated her son Owen’s first birthday, saying she couldn’t think of a more natural gift to give her son.

Three 1991 Gresham High School graduates who met in elementary school were reunited, nursing their sons together.

Mothers from as far away as Hillsboro expressed their gratefulness for the opportunity to support each other and exchange resources. They also hoped it could lead to more public acceptance of breastfeeding in places like malls.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Kari James, special events coordinator for SnowCap Community Charities, organized the first East County Big Latch On. The event is held throughout the globe as part of World Breastfeeding Week.

“Events like these help people to realize you don’t have to make a big deal out of breastfeeding — it’s a normal occurrence,” said Kari James, the event organizer and special events coordinator of SnowCap.

The mothers said breastfeeding played a huge role in raising the healthy, lively and happy group of babies gathered Friday — that breastfeeding should be celebrated, not stigmatized.

“It’s the most magical, powerful, healing food ever,” said Sonja Williams, one of the 1991 Gresham High graduates and a Portland resident. “Smile at a nursing mom next time you see one.”

For more information on The Big Latch On, visit

Breastfeeding resources

• The Birthingway Breastfeeding Center offers a telephone support line, free visits to mothers for lactation support with a certified consultant, breastfeeding supplies for sale and a baby clothing exchange. To learn more, visit 503-762-1632.

• The Northwest Mothers Milk Bank, the first facility in the Northwest to process breast milk from donors, celebrated its grand opening earlier this summer. Located at 417 S.W. 117th Ave. in Portland, the nonprofit organization can help feed medically fragile babies by accepting extra breast milk donated by mothers. For more information, call 503-469-0955.

• Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon offers free breastfeeding help through education, peer counseling and breast pump support. For more information, call 503-282-3338 or visit

• As of Aug. 1, mothers who visit the Postpartum Care Center at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center can use insurance benefits to receive a breast pump. The center has 17 lactation consultants who can support breastfeeding mothers seven days a week. For more information, call 503-216-1234.

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