At exactly 10:30 a.m. Friday, mothers all over the world will lift their nursing babies to their chests and begin to breast feed.
It's part of "The Big Latch On," an international synchronized campaign designed to draw attention to the health benefits of breast-feeding and to encourage community support for the practice.
The in will be one of a dozen sites in Illinois participating in the event, in which mothers will be asked to breast feed for at least one minute (or longer, if they desire) so they can be counted as having taken part, health department spokesman Vic Reato said.
The Big Latch On movement started in New Zealand and has slowly moved across the world, Reato said.
"This is really fairly new to the United States," he said. "This is our first go-around with it."
Mothers are being asked to congregate in the lower level community room at the county's Public Health Complex, 501 Ella Ave., Joliet, at 10 a.m. The official count will be taken at 10:30 a.m., Reato said.
There are other sites in Chicago and its suburbs where the event is also being held, including Rolling Meadows, Wheeling and Northbrook. Other sites in the state include Kankakee, Champaign, Decatur, Rockford and East Peoria.
Reato said his department learned of the Latch On movement from one of their breast-feeding peer educators, who was aware of it being done in her home country of Peru.
"It's exciting on a couple of levels," he said. "We operate the county's WIC program, and breast-feeding is very important to the women in that program. ... We want to convey to our WIC clients the importance of breast-feeding. It something that's really kind of taking off on a national basis."
Researchers have determined that mothers who breast-feed their children have a lower infant mortality rate, Reato said. And their children have lower incidents of certain types of cancer, including breast and ovarian, he said.
Latch On is also about winning public acceptance for the practice as being a natural part of motherhood and the need for breast-feeding support services, including public places where mothers can nurse.
In 2011, 5,687 women breast-fed simultaneously as part of the Big Latch On. They hope to beat that number this year, and possibly set a world record, according to their Web site.
The county has signed up about 25 women to participate so far. Reato asks that anyone who would like to join them register by calling 815-685-2189.
For more information about the group and its campaign, go to www.biglatchon.org.