Breastival, the award-winning, fun-filled summer family festival, is gearing up for a fourth year with its first online festival, which is set to be a virtual celebration of all things breastfeeding.

While Breastival normally takes place on 1 August in the Ulster Museum, in the context of Covid-19, the volunteer-run festival felt it was more important than ever to offer a space, albeit an online space, where breastfeeding could be celebrated.

Expect a week-long virtual extravaganza of talks, workshops, and fun activities from 1-7 August as part of World Breastfeeding Week, all which can be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.  Breastival is for expectant parents, new families, experienced parents and grandparents, and supporters – everyone can find something to enjoy.

Breastival kicks off with the Big Virtual Global Latch on, on Saturday 1 August which will be hosted by special guest The Unnatural Woman, Riona O’Connor. At 10:30am, families and supporters, all around the world, will gather online via webinar or live stream and feed their babies together.  Breastival is asking breastfeeding mothers to join online as part of this global event.

In the mornings Breastival will host fun activities including Sing and Sign, Yoga, and Baby Sensory, so all the family can join in.

In recognition of the increasing diversity of families, a highlight at this year’s Breastival includes Drag Queen bedtime story with drag sensation Electra and special guest ‘The Breast of Rhymes’ Gráinne Evans, who will read favourite bedtime stories and poems for babies, kids and parents to wind down before bedtime on Sunday 2nd August, the closing day of Belfast Pride.

Breastival will feature several lunchtime and evenings talks and online support on a range of topics from breastfeeding basics, how to overcome breastfeeding challenges, perinatal mental health, breastfeeding at work, and how partners can support the breastfeeding journey.

Key speakers include Professor Amy Brown, author of The Positive Breastfeeding Book on all things feeding and international experts, Dr Cecilia Tomari, Dr Aunchalee Palmquist and Dr EA Quinn who will discuss the fascinating ways that culture and what we see as ‘normal’ effects how our babies eat and sleep.

Breastfeeding policy and politics is a key feature at each Breastival and this year two events will take place; a policy roundtable with local politicians to discuss what needs to be done to better support breastfeeding, as well as a discussion on the rights, protections, and progress in breastfeeding.

Two comedians join this year’s line-up at Breastival.  First up is Gusset Grippers, run by Elaine Miller, a physiotherapist with a hobby of stand-up comedy and will provide hilarious evidence-based chat about pelvic health in pregnancy and beyond.

Wrapping up this year’s Breastival is Comedian Diane O’Connor who will deliver ‘Breastfeeding Al Fresco’ – a show inspired by babies, boobs, and breastfeeding, with support from local legend Barbara Whearty and more– so Breastival is asking people to kick back and relax with a beverage and enjoy.

Jennifer Hanratty from Breastival, said,

“This year moving online we have embraced the opportunity to put together an amazing line up of speakers, support, and fun. As we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions we are still very aware that many new parents have been isolated and missed out on seeing family and meeting other new parents in those challenging early weeks and months of learning to be a parent.

Breastival is needed now more than ever to connect families with the support they need, and with each other. We want as many people to join us as possible. We’re usually sold out at this stage so it’s great to be able to send the message out that no one will be turned away”.

Details of all the events including how to register is available at breastival.co.uk/2020-programme/.

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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