Charlotte and Frank Zuniga of Mineola were sitting under an umbrella at Jones Beach doing crossword puzzles Friday morning when a flash mob of two dozen mothers holding babies or toddlers burst into song and dance behind them.
The moms, dancing in unison to J.Lo’s “Let’s Get Loud” with babies strapped to their chests, were attempting to draw attention to the rights of moms to breastfeed publicly as part of the Global Big Latch On 2019, a worldwide event taking place during World Breastfeeding Week.
Just after the flash mob, at 10:30 a.m., 20 moms sat on the sand together to breastfeed and be officially counted along with moms nursing at the same hour all over the world.
Hamsini Kumble, 33, a self-described homemaker from New Hyde Park, participated in the Big Latch On with her 27-month-old son, Ojus. She’s a member of a Facebook group called Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers. “I want to support all the mothers, whether they are breastfeeding or not, for their motherhood,” she said.
Jones Beach Field 6 was just one site of the Big Latch On on Long Island. “We’re promoting and protecting women’s right to breastfeed everywhere. That’s why we’re doing it here at the beach,” said Donna Kimick, of Lakeshore Lactation, a Massapequa Park-based private lactation consultant practice, which sponsored the event along with Mommy Moves, a Long Island mom-and-baby fitness program, and the Long Island Lactation Consultant Association, a nonprofit for breast-feeding support professionals.
The Suffolk County Executive’s Office of Women’s Services and the Suffolk County Breastfeeding Coalition sponsored five other Big Latch On events Friday and has scheduled one event for Saturday at Tanner Park in Copiague, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in preparation for a 10:30 a.m. latch on there.
The Global Big Latch On debuted in the United States in 2010. Last year, almost 60,000 people around the world took part, with more than 21,500 children latching on, according to the Big Latch On website.
Sarah Moore, 33, of Farmingdale, who is self-employed, brought her daughter, Journey, 18 months, to the Jones Beach gathering. She said women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time and shouldn’t be ashamed to do what’s proven to be healthy for their children.
Michaelle Solages, a member of the New York State Assembly who said she has nursed on the assembly floor in Albany, participated in the Latch On with her daughter, Rose, 10 months. “We as a state, as a country, and as a society need to ensure we are helping parents, encouraging women to breastfeed their families,” she said.
As for the Zunigas, they didn’t mind having their beach time interrupted, they said. “I’m all for it,” Frank Zuniga, 67, a retired landscaper, said of breastfeeding. “Babies gotta eat, right?” His wife, Charlotte, 72, an adjunct professor at St. John’s University who said her mother nursed her, called the flash mob “a lot of fun. It was kind of a happening.”