Nursing mothers gathered at the Kokomo Downtown Farmer's Market on Saturday morning to breastfeed their children, along with other women around the world.
The women were attending The Big Latch On, hosted by the farmer's market and local mother support group MommaJuse. The event was a part of the Global Big Latch On, an annual three-day gathering to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week, Aug. 1-7.
The Latch On aims to promote, protect and celebrate breastfeeding nationally and globally, according to the Global Big Latch On website. Children must be latched on for a minute straight during the registered time to participate in the event.
This is the first year MommaJuse has hosted this event. The event got 80 signatures of support and 19 mothers and 19 children who nursed as a part of the event, MommaJuse founder Manny Wagaman said. Support throughout the market was strong.
"La Tasha Bandalier, who is my biggest helper right now, went around the market and explained what we were doing, some already knew beforehand," Wagaman said. "She had a couple decide to not sign because they didn't understand. Fortunately, there was only one lady that she ran into that was mad we were doing it."
MommaJuse is usually set up at the farmer's market selling handmade items made by moms. Their wares include breast pads, blankets, bibs, tag sensory blankets, fidgeters and more.
Jill Enustun carried her daughter Emrie in a carrier on her chest. She said the event was bigger than breastfeeding.
"I love being around women supporting women, whatever the topic," she said. "Whether you are breastfeeding or not, or chose not to breastfeed, it's about promoting one another. And if you're curious about nursing, we can meet you with empathy and compassion to make a difference."
Jill Houlihan attended the event with her sister, Jeanette Draper. Houlihan is a mother of four; her youngest is 20 months old.
"I like the idea of nursing for one minutes with other women on the other side of the world," she said. " I mean, everywhere we nurse, there is someone on the other side of the world in it with you. That helps when it makes you feel lonely."
Houlihan said the most isolated moment she had while breastfeeding was when she was asked to leave a business.
"I think I feel the most lonely and secluded when I'm told to leave.... or when I get comments," she said. "I've gotten the most gruesome and disgusting comments from men in public. That's only happened a few times, but the negative hurts worse than the positive helps."
With Houlihan's oldest child, a 12-year-old girl, she was only able to breastfeed for four months while dealing with postpartum depression and very little support. Because of this, Houlihan has become vocal about mothers trusting their body's intuition.
This came in handy when Draper's youngest was born, a 3-month old boy with a heart condition called heterotaxy syndrome, causing his organs to be on the opposite side of his body. Jediah, nicknamed Jedi, will undergo surgery to fix the condition in a few weeks.
Draper said when Jedi was born, the medical professionals around her told her to bottle feed because they believed Jedi wouldn't be strong enough to nurse and wouldn't gain enough weight.
"I just said, 'Well, we're going to practice,'" she said. "I know what's best as a mom. Now he's 13 pounds and at the top of what doctors expected him to weigh. He's very healthy considering the condition."
Jedi was born on Star Wars Day, May 4. People often tell the infant, "May the Force be with you." May 4 is also Heterotaxy Syndrome Awareness Day.
"He's got the force, the force is strong with him," she said. "He is proof of the mothers intuition. The doctors aren't always right."