Lactation Matters

Guest Post: Top 7 Ways to Support Black Breastfeeding Week

Later this week is the kickoff of the fifth annual Black Breastfeeding Week (25 August – 31 August, click here to learn more). We asked the leadership of U.S.-based National Association of Professional and Peer Lacation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC), one of International Lactation Consultant Association’s® (ILCA®) Global Partners, to share with us top ways to support Black Breastfeeding Week. We are honored to share with you this guest post by Stacy Davis, BA, IBCLC, and NAPPLSC executive director.

Year after year lactation advocates, supporters and professionals of color are challenged with the responsibility of defining why Black Breastfeeding Week is imperative to the survival of black families and communities. So much so that many have just stopped responding to the dissension that takes place during Black Breastfeeding Week.

The support, and the celebration, of Black Breastfeeding Week is not intended to refute the fact that all families need and deserve support, but that black communities need a little more “love” than its white counterparts. The week of August 25th to August 31st is more than just highlighting the inequities and disparities that exist in lactation support and care, it’s about uplifting black communities that lack the education, support, and socio-economic resources needed to survive and thrive. Black Breastfeeding Week is, also, about spotlighting the “boots on the ground” that educate, empower, and support black communities on a day-to-day basis, with minimal to no support or recognition.

Breastfeeding rates for black babies in the United States are low; thus, causing significantly high infant mortality rates in urban populations across the nation. In July 2017, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a study of 34 U.S. states, which concluded, between 2010-2013, 64.3% of non-Hispanic (NH) black infants initiated breastfeeding, as compared to 81.5% of non-Hispanic (NH) white infants. The contributing factors to low breastfeeding rates, and high infant mortality rates, are due to: early return to work, in some cases as early as 2 weeks postpartum; poor education and support from health care providers; and lack of access to professional support and care. Furthermore, the National Vital Statistic Report, published in August 2015, reported the average infant mortality rate, in the US, was 5.96 deaths per 1,000 live births, as compared to 11.11 deaths for NH black infants and 5.06 deaths per 1,000 live births.

In honor of Black Breastfeeding Week, here are 7 ways in which you can support and bring awareness about Black Breastfeeding Week:

#1) Support emerging leaders of color in building equity-based initiatives. Support their initiatives by volunteering your services and expertise, make an annual monetary contribution, or assist in building their network by linking them with potential partners and collaborators.

#2) Support community-based organizations and organizations of color. Many community-based organizations, and organizations of color, rely heavily on the support of private and public donors, and lack sustainable funding revenue to support their work. A small, or large, annual donation can go a long way in a community of color.

#3) Sponsor professional development opportunities for People of Color. Aspiring and new lactation professional and supporters lack the resources to personally invest in professional development opportunities. Organizations of privilege, and established professionals, can provide opportunities to People of Color by paying an additional contribution fee to a professional organization or making a donation to an organization that provides trainings, webinars, conferences, etc.

#4) Collaboration, Collaboration, Collaboration! Partnership is essential to the survival and sustainability of any successful initiative, program, or organization- large or small. Collaboration is inevitable especially when it comes to seeking funding from private and public donors. However, some do not recognize the extreme value of collaborating. No one individual or entity can achieve optimal success without aligning itself with at least one partner; alignment with more than one partner increases the likelihood of success and impact. Larger organizations can seek out small organizational partners to help increase the outreach and impact of both organizations’ work and target community. Smaller organizations can benefit from doing the same practice.

#5) Utilize promotional and marketing materials that are reflective of the community. Engage and co-create with members of the community to develop marketing and promotional materials. If community members are not available, seek out individuals that resemble the community.

#6) Employ lactation professionals and support persons that represent and reflect the service/target community. Employing community-based lactation supporters and professionals from the invested community adds to the overall organization, and possess an intimate and trusting relationship with the members of the community.

#7) Sponsor People of Color to become a member of a professional organization. Memberships to professional organizations can be very costly, depending upon the organization.

Stacy Davis, BA, IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with a Bachelors Degree in Health Services Administration and 17 years of healthcare experience, including clinical and community-based lactation support. Her specialty is organizing and managing grassroots, community-based lactation-related programs. Stacy is tirelessly dedicated to improving the level of equity, diversity and inclusion in lactation support; she wholeheartedly believes that community-based programs provide an invaluable service as a continuity of care that bridges the gap between the healthcare provider and community, offering families the socio-cultural support to birth, nourish and nurture healthy children and communities. Currently, Davis is the Executive Director of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) and a lactation consultant for Ascension Health System, where she assisted two hospitals in achieving Baby-Friendly Hospital designation and mentored aspiring IBCLCs of color. Stacy owns a private practice in her hometown of Detroit, MI, and resides there with her husband, Jessie, and four sons – Lawran, Devahn, Jessie, and Jace.

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National—Regional Partner Update: National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color

International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Global Partners Program was designed to improve breastfeeding worldwide by creating linkages between organizations around the globe. ILCA would like to welcome its 22nd National—Regional Partner, National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color, an organization working to cultivate a community of diverse professional and peer lactation supporters to transform communities of color through policy, breastfeeding, and skilled lactation care in the United States.

We asked Stacy Davis, BA, IBCLC, the executive director of National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color, to share with us more about the role of the organization in breastfeeding support and why they decided to sign on to the Partners Program.

Lactation Matters (LM): Tell us about why NAPPLSC is so important to human health in the United States.

Stacy Davis (SD): Our mission is to cultivate a community of diverse professional and peer lactation supporters to transform communities of color through policy, breastfeeding, and skilled lactation care. We all know how important breastfeeding is in creating a foundation for a healthy and whole community. We also know that People of Color are disproportionately affected by health disparities. In the communities many of our members serve, we see high infant mortality rates, high rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Formula feeding increases the risk of these and many other illnesses and diseases. We also know that a lack of support is the number one reason women of color do not meet their breastfeeding goals. Having access to high quality, culturally humble lactation support from folks that live in and love in the community is essential is ensuring breastfeeding success.  NAPPLSC believes that a baby’s right to human milk and a parent’s right to meet their nursing goals is essential to reducing disparities and creating a healthier world.

LM: What challenges do you face in your work?

SD: The biggest challenges we face in our work is ensuring that lactation supporters of Color have a strong voice and active representation in the landscape of breastfeeding and ensuring the national policies and procedures are reflective of the voices of our providers that work directly in the community. We also find the siloing that happens in our field creates barriers that the communities we represent are more likely to come into contact with. Infighting and competition between the varied credentials does a great disservice and by bringing all of these groups together we hope to bring a COLLECTIVE and UNITED voice to the table.

LM: Why did NAPPLSC decide to become an ILCA National-Regional Partner?

SD: Our organization decided to become an ILCA National-Regional Partners because we realize that our organization’s mission intersects and aligns with ILCA’S mission to ensure leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.  Both of our missions truly align to transform communities of color through policy, breastfeeding, and skilled lactation care.

LM: What is your vision for breastfeeding support in the US?

SD: Our vision is a world in which ALL families are given the information they need to meet their breast/chestfeeding goals. We hope to do this by providing a national voice for persons of color who act in professional and or supportive frameworks to lactating parents within their communities. NAPPLSC will do this by:

  • providing amplitude for the national discourse on lactation disparities
  • supporting candidates of color as they pursue careers in lactation
  • serving as a vanguard  for innovation and problem-solving
  • standing as a resource for others who desire insights into our communities
  • representing the concerns and desires of  peer and professional support persons of color to the wider lactation community
  • promoting our community cultures as topics of increased study and understanding in the social and biosciences as they relate to lactation
  • working to decrease barriers to breastfeeding in communities of color
  • promoting culturally congruent care models for communities of color among all lactation support providers
  • creating published resources to contribute to the body of knowledge on cultural care
  • illuminating our profession with the presence of national level leadership of color
To read more about NAPPLSC, check out their website by clicking HERE.

Stacy Davis, BA, IBCLC is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with a Bachelors Degree in Health Services Administration and 17 years of healthcare experience, including clinical and community-based lactation support. Her specialty is organizing and managing grassroots, community-based lactation-related programs. Stacy is tirelessly dedicated to improving the level of equity, diversity and inclusion in lactation support; she wholeheartedly believes that community-based programs provide an invaluable service as a continuity of care that bridges the gap between the healthcare provider and community, offering families the socio-cultural support to birth, nourish and nurture healthy children and communities. Currently, Davis is the Executive Director of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) and a lactation consultant for Ascension Health System, where she assisted two hospitals in achieving Baby-Friendly Hospital designation and mentored aspiring IBCLCs of color. Stacy owns a private practice in her hometown of Detroit, MI, and resides there with her husband, Jessie, and four sons – Lawran, Devahn, Jessie, and Jace.

National—Regional Partner Update: Mom2Mom Global

International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Global Partners Program was designed to improve breastfeeding worldwide by creating linkages between organizations around the globe. ILCA would like to welcome its 23rd National—Regional Partner, Mom2Mom Global, a worldwide network of breastfeeding support and advocacy for military families.

We asked Amy Barron Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC, the executive director of Mom2Mom Global, to share with us more about the role of the organization in breastfeeding support and why they decided to sign on to the Partners Program.

Lactation Matters (LM): Tell us about why Mom2Mom is so important to human health for military families worldwide.

Amy Barron Smolinski (ABS): We are the only 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting breastfeeding for military families serving the United States. Our sister organization, Breastfeeding in Combat Boots supports active duty military service members in their breastfeeding journeys. Together, our organizations create a community of support and advocacy that is built around the unique challenges and needs of the military families we serve. Deployments, frequent moves, training exercises, irregular shift work, and the constant knowledge that your family’s needs will always be secondary to the needs of the military can create stress and make it difficult to find the support and encouragement necessary for each parent to meet their breastfeeding goals. Yet, our military families are also incredibly resilient, strong, and willing to help each other out. Our organization is founded on this strength and compassion and made possible by the dedication of volunteers who simply want to help others succeed at meeting their breastfeeding goals.

Lactation Matters (LM): What challenges do you face in your work?

Amy Barron Smolinski (ABS): We operate on a 100% volunteer basis, and our volunteers are all affiliated with the United States Department of Defense in some way. This means that, at any given time, one or more of us may be moving, having a baby, deploying or away for training, single-parenting due to a spouse being away for an extended period of time, and/or living in a foreign country. For example, this summer, one of our Board members moved from California to Puerto Rico. She called into our virtual meetings from wherever she was—at one point standing in line at the vehicle processing center while she waited to try to pick up her car!  Being a virtual organization brings its own challenges, such as trying to plan for teleconference trainings or meetings across 10 or more time zones. As a brand new organization, we also face budgetary constraints that come with developing a long-term operational strategy.

We also face the struggle of invisibility within the national policy discourse. Legislation and policy are passed with no consideration for how it will impact military families, and we are just beginning to harness the power of our membership to bring the concerns of military breastfeeding families to the table. There is a tendency to believe that the military takes care of its own, but this is only half true. Military families take care of our own, but when it comes to policies, resources, and legislation, we are often an afterthought. However, it is also true that social progress is often tested within the military culture and system before it takes hold in the national culture. As a cross-section of the U.S. population, we face the same challenges as the rest of the nation, particularly when it comes to equitable treatment among those of diverse race, sex, gender, age, religion and economic status.

Lactation Matters (LM): Why did Mom2Mom decide to become an ILCA National-Regional Partner?

Amy Barron Smolinski (ABS): Mom2Mom Global is committed to diversity and equity as core values of our organization. We believe that all military families deserve access to the same quality of support, skilled lactation care, and advocacy. We are encouraged by ILCA’s stated intent to increase equity in lactation, both for those pursuing careers in the field and for breastfeeding families who need support. In addition, although we are a U.S. based national nonprofit, we also have members at locations all over the world, and this gives us a global lens through which to view breastfeeding in diverse cultures. We are excited to be an ILCA partner, and we look forward to working together to increase equity in the lactation field for both supporters and the families we serve.

Lactation Matters (LM): What is your vision for breastfeeding support for military families?

Amy Barron Smolinski (ABS): Our vision is military-specific breastfeeding peer support with chapters at military installations around the world to promote, protect, support, and advocate for breastfeeding families facing the unique challenges to breastfeeding and military life, and to normalize breastfeeding within military culture and communities.

To read more about Mom2Mom Global, check out their blog by clicking HERE.

 

Amy Barron Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC is the longest running active participant in Mom2Mom history. She became a Peer Mentor in the Kaiserslautern Military Community (KMC), Germany in 2008.  In 2010, she accepted an invitation to expand Mom2Mom KMC’s breastfeeding advocacy and outreach in the local community. Amy was the first ever Community Outreach Director for Mom2Mom KMC, and helped to shape the organizational structure and mission. She served on the inaugural KMC Board of Directors until 2014. In 2015, the KMC Board determined the need for a larger parent organization to support new chapters at other military communities, and Amy accepted the responsibility for creating Mom2Mom Global, a national nonprofit network of support and advocacy for breastfeeding military families, eventually taking the position of Executive Director. A Certified Lactation Counselor and Advanced Lactation Consultant, Amy counsels breastfeeding mothers and babies as a volunteer both in the community and at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  She has been a presenter at several international lactation conferences and published articles and essays on peer breastfeeding support for military families.  She breastfed all four of her children.

World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Changing Attitudes

The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.

This post is the sixth in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the other posts in this series here, here, here, here, and here.

WBW Theme #4: Women’s Productivity and Employment

When breastfeeding has to be combined with paid work, especially under precarious circumstances, the challenges may be overwhelming. The International Labor Organization (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183) calls for actions and laws in each country to improve maternity protection.

Enacting supportive workplace policies and family-friendly breastfeeding legislation requires a change in cultural attitudes. Breastfeeding and work must begin to be understood as a matter of rights and gender equality. Breastfeeding is part of the reproductive cycle, and women should be able to combine breastfeeding and paid work without discrimination or disadvantage. We must work together to ensure that women in the formal and informal sectors have the parental social protections that they need.

Steps to Success:

1. Advocate for parental social protection for all women in both formal and informal sectors.

One framework for this advocacy is WABA’s Empowering Parents Campaign (EPC), which seeks to champion the active involvement of both men and women by promoting gender equity in both paid and caregiving work.

2. Partner with Trade Unions and employers to ensure collective bargaining agreements that will support working parents.

3. Work with employers to develop family-friendly workplace initiatives and creches at or nearby the workplace.

4. Engage with universities to conduct multidisciplinary research to identify gaps and best practice models.

We must use current data and evidence about breastfeeding support and other maternal protections for women and their families. More research is needed to provide further evidence as to the benefits of breastfeeding protections for families and employers.

5. Get involved in the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) process in your country.

In 2004, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) launched the WBTi to assess and monitor implementation of key breastfeeding policies and programs at the national level in participating countries.

6. Develop awareness and attitudinal change campaigns, such as those that seek to normalize breastfeeding in public spaces.

 

To learn more about how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs in the four thematic areas, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

For more on how breastfeeding is linked to the theme of Women’s Productivity and Employment, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Conversations Beyond Breastfeeding

The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.

This post is the fifth in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the other posts in this series here, here, here, and here.

WBW Theme #3: Environment and Climate Change

The health of our planet is affected by the way babies are fed. Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is produced and delivered without pollution, packaging, or waste. The breastmilk substitute industry, on the other hand, carries a negative environmental impact that is not commonly recognized. Safeguarding breastfeeding links human life with the well-being of our planet in a powerful way.

The health of our future generations is affected by the health of our planet. Ways in which environmental issues and breastfeeding are interrelated include the needs of women and families in hazardous working conditions; increases in greenhouse gas emissions; and increased water and electricity usage from formula production and use. Organizations, such as Pesticide Action Network, are already working to highlight the dangers of working and breastfeeding in polluted environments.

Steps to Success:

1. Use links between breastfeeding and the environment as part of your advocacy.

  • Visit the WBW website for explanations, graphics, and downloadable materials to enhance your understanding of the issues and enable you to make it clear to others.
  • For more information and research about these connections, see this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 WBW celebration.

2. Normalize breastfeeding as a sustainable method of feeding infants.

We must find common cause with groups working on environmental issues and make the link between breastfeeding and sustainability.

3. Raise awareness on how breastfeeding contributes to reducing carbon footprint.

4. Talk to youth about the environmental impact of formula feeding.

Younger generations must be informed of the negative environmental impact of breastmilk substitutes, and have the information and support necessary to encourage them to make other choices, whenever possible.

5. Ensure that the  International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is fully implemented and monitored regularly.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is a framework to regulate the formula feeding industry. Adherence helps to safeguard both the environment and the right to breastfeed.

 

To learn more about how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs in the four thematic areas, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

For more on how breastfeeding is linked to the theme of Environment and Climate Change, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Creating a Unified Voice

The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.

This post is the fourth in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the other posts in this series here, here, and here.

WBW Theme #2: Survival, Health, and Well-being

Breastfeeding is a key contributor to the survival, health, and well-being of infants and families. Put simply, it provides babies with the best possible start in life. Urgent steps are needed to coordinate global action to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Two successful models of this coordination are the global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative (BAI) and Every Woman Every Child’s (EWEC) Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.

BAI was formed by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and 20 other prominent international agencies and non-governmental organizations in order to unify the voices of breastfeeding advocates and increase awareness of the importance of breastfeeding as a foundation of child and maternal survival, health, and well-being.

EWEC’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health is a global movement that mobilizes and intensifies international and national action by governments, multilaterals, the private sector, and civil society to address the major health challenges facing women, children, and adolescents around the world.

We know that when partners have a unified voice, political support can be gained. Advocacy is our most effective tool to secure the political, financial, and social support we need. Let’s advocate together to transform evidence into action for breastfeeding.

Steps to Success:

1. Join forces with other global, regional, or national initiatives for greater impact.

Find out what other groups or organizations are working toward similar goals as your own, and find out how you can support one another.

2. Advocate to decision-makers for greater political, financial, and social support.

Contact your representatives and tell them what resources you need from them. Visit the WBW website for explanations, graphics, and downloadable materials to enhance your understanding of the issues and enable you to make it clear to others.

3. Align your strategies and work plans with those of allies and partners.

4. Use latest evidence on the short- and long-term benefits of breastfeeding for your advocacy work.

  • The ILCA Knowledge Center helps you provide the most current and accurate information available by offering On Demand sessions of annual conference sessions, recorded webinars, and JHL modules.
  • Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) is the official journal of ILCA. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original research, insights in practice and policy, commentaries, and case reports relating to research and practice in human lactation and breastfeeding.

5. Advocate to your government to work towards the World Health Assembly (WHA) global target.

There is an agreed goal for all governments to prioritize the WHA global target for an increase in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months up to at least 50% by the year 2025.

 

To learn more about how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs in the four thematic areas, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

For more on how breastfeeding is linked to the theme of Survival, Health, and Well-Being, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

 

 

World Breastfeeding Week 2017: Working Together Across Sectors and Generations

The 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.

This post is the third in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

WBW Theme #1: Nutrition, Food Security, and Poverty Reduction

Breastfeeding is a vital part of sustainable development and a non-negotiable component of global action to end malnutrition. Increased rates of exclusive and continued breastfeeding can only be achieved by cooperating and collaborating across sectors and generations. Fortunately, the importance of working in partnership is increasingly recognized as a critical factor and incorporated into many global initiatives.

We must advocate that governments, in partnership with civil-society movements and others working for the common good, create environments that allow women and children to thrive. We must also focus our efforts on young people and vulnerable groups, such as adolescents, single mothers, and migrants. Breastfeeding is not just a woman’s issue or the sole responsibility of women; the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding is a collective, societal responsibility shared by us all.

Steps to Success:

1. Advocate for breastfeeding to be positioned as a vital part of the Sustainable Development Goals by demonstrating its link to as many of the SDGs as possible.

WABA offers several resources to better understand the connection between breastfeeding and each of the SDGs.

2. Adopt a multi-sectoral approach to breastfeeding advocacy and implementation of programs by engaging nutrition, health, labor, and finance advocates in the work.

Take a look at the models set by Women Deliver in their Deliver for Good campaign and Every Woman Every Child’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which recognize that cross-collaboration is fundamental in achieving the SDGs. The campaigns place access to good nutrition as a central recommendation. Breastfeeding is included as a target to ensure maternal and child survival, health and nutrition.

3. Use the Return on Investment case as an advocacy tool targeting decision-makers.

4. Work together to adopt and implement effective nutrition policies to position nutrition and breastfeeding as basic human rights.

5. Ensure that breastfeeding is included in nutrition programs in both urban and rural communities.

 

To learn more about how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs in the four thematic areas, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

For more on how breastfeeding is linked to the theme of Nutrition, Food Security, and Poverty Reduction, read this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

World Breastfeeding Week: Access FREE Articles from Journal of Human Lactation

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration of the role of breastfeeding in our homes, our communities, and the world.  As a part of our 2017 theme, Sustaining Breastfeeding Together, we are proud to announce that Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) is making available 10 essential articles to everyone – FREE* through 1 September 2017.

This post is the second in a series of #WBW2017 posts offering information and resources to help you celebrate and support breastfeeding, while working toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the first post in this series here.

 

The Journal of Human Lactation is essential for building our knowledge as IBCLCs. We believe knowledge guides our practice, strengthens our value, and supports our role in transforming world health.

 

Read the following JHL articles—free through 1 September 2017!*

  1. Breastfeeding among Mothers on Opioid Maintenance Treatment: A Literature Review
  2. Factors Associated with Recurrent Infant Feeding Practices in Subsequent Births: A Population-Based Longitudinal Study
  3. Community Rates of Breastfeeding Initiation: A Geospatial Analysis of Kentucky
  4. “You Are Not Alone”: Toward Equity in Breastfeeding and Skilled Lactation Care: President’s Address Given at the 2016 Meeting of the International Lactation Consultant Association
  5. Systematic Review of Evidence for Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Step 3: Prenatal Breastfeeding Education
  6. Breastfeeding in Women Having Experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse
  7. Factors Influencing the Breastfeeding Practices of Young Mothers Living in a Maternity Shelter: A Qualitative Study
  8. Factors Distinguishing Positive Deviance Among Low-Income African American Women: A Qualitative Study on Infant Feeding
  9. Breastfeeding Mode and Risk of Breast Cancer: A Dose–Response Meta-Analysis
  10. Lactation Newsmakers: An Interview With Cesar Gomes Victora, MD, PhD, As Interviewed by Kathleen Marinelli, MD, IBCLC, FABM

 

Journal of Human Lactation is the official journal of ILCA. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original research, insights in practice and policy, commentaries, and case reports relating to research and practice in human lactation and breastfeeding. JHL is relevant to lactation professionals in clinical practice, public health, research, and a broad range of fields related to the trans-disciplinary field of human lactation.

*You may already have access to these articles through a library or other subscription.

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week: 1-7 August 2017

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration of the role of lactation in our homes, our communities, and the world. The 2017 theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2017.

This year’s theme celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding is already available to us. We know that breastfeeding aids the survival of infants and helps them thrive, provides long-term health benefits for women, yields economic benefits, and enhances the well-being of all. The challenge for champions of breastfeeding is to translate globally agreed policies into positive action in our communities.

In September 2015, world leaders committed to 17 goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity. These goals are known as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One way to ensure the world’s leaders know what we know—the lifelong outcomes of breastfeeding for mothers and their children—is to show the connections between these outcomes and the 17 SDGs. These goals can be divided into four themes: Nutrition, Food Security, and Poverty Reduction; Survival, Health, and Well-Being; Environment and Climate Change; and Women’s Productivity and Employment. For more information on these connections, see this Lactation Matters post from our 2016 celebration.

The 2017 WBW theme focuses on the collaboration and support necessary to make impacting changes in our countries and communities. Specific objectives for #WBW2017 are to:

  • Inform: Understanding the importance of working together across the four thematic areas.
  • Anchor: Recognize your role and the difference you make within your area of work.
  • Engage: Reach out to others to establish areas of common interest.
  • Galvanize: Work together to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Sustainable development is essentially about ecology, economy, and equity. Throughout the week, ILCA will highlight resources and support available—either through ILCA or elsewhere—to help you create sustainable communities through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

Looking for more ways to participate in World Breastfeeding Week this year?

Visit the WBW 2017 website for general information and downloadable promotional materials, including the WBW 2017 Action Folder.

Sign the WBW 2017 Event Pledge Form, and let everyone know that you or your organization pledge to celebrate WBW 2017 by hosting a WBW event.

Share your commitment to breastfeeding advocacy and education as an imperative part of accomplishing the SDGs.

Visit the ILCA WBW event page for #WBW2017 content to share.

For the most up-to-date information about WBW 2017 and to download and purchase promotional materials, please visit the World Breastfeeding Week website by clicking here.

Knowledge, Diversity, & Equity at #ILCA17

 

We are so grateful for the more than 750 people who came together to share #ILCA17. Whether you joined us virtually or face-to-face, we were honored to be with you as we explored the conference theme of Knowledge, Equity, Diversity: Global Access to Skilled Lactation Care.

Here is a quick recap of some of the images captured by you and by our photographer, Bill Ivy of the Nursing Moms Project.

 

 

Together, we shared critical knowledge for our field. Click below to get a recap of some of the plenary sessions via Twitter.

Plenary Session: Gender Diversity, Language, and Inclusion for Lactation Specialists (Alice Farrow, IBCLC)

Plenary: Bridging the Research-Practice Gap (Sonia Semenic, PhD, RN)

Plenary: Advocacy for Breastfeeding and Skilled Lactation Care: Lessons from Around the World (Arun Gupta, MD, FIAP)

The Global Partners Panel: Furthering the Global Breastfeeding Agenda through Local, National, Regional, and International Advocacy (Arun Gupta, MD, FIAP; Zoe Faulkner, BA (Hons), IBCLC; Rosalie Sarasua, MA, IBCLC)

Plenary Session: The Evidence for Human Donor Milk (Sharon Unger, BSc, MD, FRCP)

ILCA President Michelle Griswold’s Address

Plenary Session: Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing (DAME): A Randomised Controlled Trial (Anita Moorhead, RN, RM, IBCLC)

Plenary Session: Breast Cancer and Its Relationship to Breastfeeding (Fedro Peccatori, MD, PhD)

Plenary Session: Protecting Families from Misleading Marketing Practices Accountability through Human Rights (Marcus Stahlhofer, BSc, MSc)

We shared our gratitude for three departing board members, Sara Gill, Lisa Mandell, and Al Wolf. Want to learn more about what comes next for our outgoing leaders? Click here to read more and to thank Sara, Lisa, and Al.

Sharing Our Gratitude: Sara Gill Farewell Interview

Sharing Our Gratitude: Lisa Mandell Farewell Interview

Sharing Our Gratitude: Al Wolf Farewell Interview

We celebrated those who contribute to our ever-growing field of research through three awards:

Presenting the Patricia Martens Annual Award for Excellence in Breastfeeding Research: Cesar G. Victora

Presenting the Miriam Labbok New Investigator Award: Jason P. Bently

Presenting the Journal of Human Lactation Best Research Article with a Practice Focus Award: Vicky Fallon and Colleagues

We were also reminded that our field still has much work to do to achieve our goals of equity and diversity. We are grateful for the thoughtful conversations that took place, both those that were planned at conference sessions and meetings, and those that took place informally long into the nights in Toronto.

For those seeking additional resources around equity and lactation, here are a few resources:

ILCA’s commitment to the core value of equity

Pandora’s Box Is Already Open: Answering the Ongoing Call to Dismantle Institutional Oppression in the Field of Breastfeeding, Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM

The Lactation Equity Action Committee: A Brief History and ILCA’s Role

Lactation Professionals and Gender-Inclusive Language: An Interview with Alice Farrow, IBCLC

Lactation Support and the LGBTQI Community

Equity in Breastfeeding: Where Do We Go from Here?

2014 Lactation Summit: Addressing Inequities in the Lactation Profession—Summary Report

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. United against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related intolerance

Presenting the Miriam Labbok New Investigator Award: Jason P. Bentley

At #ILCA17, the Journal of Human Lactation awarded the Miriam Labbok New Investigator Award to Jason P. Bentley, MBioStat for his paper “Factors associated with recurrent infant feeding practices in subsequent births: A population-based longitudinal study.” This award, given for the first time in memory of Miriam Labbok, honors excellence in student research. The winner is chosen by the JHL Editorial Team. We recently caught up with Jason to find out more about his paper and how he came to be interested in lactation research.

Share with us your research interests and what led you to focus your efforts in this area.

Through both work and study, I became very interested in the health of mothers and their infants. In particular, the idea of a healthy start to life led me to do my PhD. Also, as a statistician and health researcher, I have a particular interest in using large administrative data sources to investigate longitudinal patterns in health. As part of the background work for my PhD, it was very apparent that breastfeeding policy and promotion is an important aspect of a healthy start to life. We found good evidence for factors affecting breastfeeding success at different time points, as well as duration. However, what was lacking were studies assessing changes over time. In particular, there was a paucity of evidence about factors associated with changes in breastfeeding behavior across subsequent births; an important area given it is well known that previous breastfeeding experiences substantially influence subsequent breastfeeding outcomes.

Your award-winning paper addresses what factors lead to either breastfeeding or formula-feeding in subsequent births. What do you think the key takeaways are for individual IBCLCs® working directly with families?

I think for first-time mothers, it is important for IBCLCs to communicate the positive message that breastfeeding now is associated with increased breastfeeding success for future births. We found 9 out of 10 first-time mothers who exclusively breastfed their first infant did so again for their second. IBCLCs could also focus more effort towards first-time mothers who have breastfeeding difficulties with one or more of the risk factors we identified: being young, single, smoking, or from a lower socioeconomic area. For mothers having their second birth or beyond, it is important to acknowledge previous feeding experiences, but equally so, that change is possible, even for women who may have had formula-only feeding for their first birth. In our cohort, 1 in 4 first-time mothers with formula-only fed infants achieved exclusive breastfeeding for their second infant. IBCLCs can focus effort where it is needed based on previous feeding experience and the risk factors identifying women less likely to remain breastfeeding or change to exclusive breastfeeding from formula-only feeding. The evidence points to an important message about breastfeeding choices, expectations and experiences: While we know that a mother’s success breastfeeding the first time around impacts future feeding decisions, change is absolutely possible.

And what do you think the policy implications are for this research?

Policy should outline clear aims for promoting and supporting exclusive breastfeeding for first-time mothers. It should also emphasize the importance and benefit of establishing exclusive breastfeeding in their first birth for subsequent breastfeeding success. Appropriate interventions should be recommended to encourage women who formula-only fed in their first birth to change to exclusive breastfeeding for subsequent births. Finally, policies should target interventions for young, single mothers from low socioeconomic areas, supporting them with exclusive breastfeeding in their first birth and encouraging them to maintain this for subsequent pregnancies. Additional antenatal resources and support in the postnatal stay and afterwards, in the community, should be provided to these women.

Our congratulations on the award! What research should we watch for coming up from you?

We have actually just had a paper accepted for publication in Birth entitled “Formula supplementation in hospital and subsequent feeding at discharge among women who intended to exclusively breastfeed: An administrative data retrospective cohort study” that will be available online shortly. This is similar in idea to our JHL paper except it explores factors affecting infant feeding at discharge after in-hospital formula supplementation. We have a couple of other studies in the works along a similar line regarding patterns of breastfeeding at different time scales.

 Congratulations Jason Bentley!

Jason Bentley is a biostatistician and health researcher with a particular interest in using large routinely collected administrative data to support evidence driven policy for maternal and child health. Jason has 8 years of experience in analyzing large population-based linked administrative data in New South Wales, Australia, and most recently, California in the United States.

Presenting the Journal of Human Lactation Best Research Article with a Practice Focus Award: Vicky Fallon and Colleagues

At #ILCA17, the Journal of Human Lactation awarded the JHL Best Research Article with a Practice Focus Award to Vicky Fallon and her colleagues, Rachael Groves, Jason Christian Grovenor Halford, Kate Mary Bennett, and Joanne Allison Harrold,  for their paper “Postpartum anxiety and infant-feeding outcomes: A systematic review.” This award, given for the first time at this year’s conference, honors a paper which facilitates the development of the evidence-base in lactation practice. The winner is chosen by the JHL Editorial Review Board from all articles published in the JHL having a practice focus, based on the quality of the science and the contribution to the field of lactation. We recently caught up with Dr. Fallon to find out more about her paper and how she came to be interested in lactation research.

Share with us your research interests and what led you to focus your efforts in this area.

My research interests concern maternal mental health (prenatal and postpartum) and its impact on infant health and behaviour, in particular infant nutrition. My interests in this area were initially sparked by my experiences with my own children, who I have raised alongside my psychology studies. My interests have been further refined through my PhD studies which examined maternal anxiety and infant feeding from pregnancy to parenthood. In the US, over 25% of new mothers – over 1 million women a year – suffer from depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder following the birth of an infant. The consequences of these disorders are far reaching for the mother, her infant, and the wider society. Yet research examining many of these mental health problems is insufficient. I try to bridge the gap between research and practice and increase awareness of the impact of poor maternal mental health to influence policy and practice.

Your award-winning paper addresses postpartum anxiety and how it impacts infant feeding. What do you think the key takeaways are for individual IBCLCs® working directly with families?

The paper reports a systematic review synthesising all of the available evidence regarding postpartum anxiety and infant feeding. It includes data from 33 studies across 11 different countries. Firstly, IBCLCs should be aware of the specific manners in which anxiety can impact upon infant feeding outcomes in order to provide appropriate support. The findings demonstrate that women with symptoms of postpartum anxiety are less likely to breastfeed exclusively and more likely to terminate breastfeeding earlier. In those who do breastfeed, symptoms of anxiety reduce breastfeeding self-efficacy, and increase breastfeeding difficulties. Given that anxious women may also have a stronger negative emotional response to breastfeeding cessation, providing sensitive, non-judgmental support for those who supplement with formula is also advised to minimize further maternal distress. IBCLCs should also be mindful that postpartum anxiety remains among the most underdiagnosed and undertreated complications of childbirth and that this is largely due to the “shadowing effect” of postpartum depression. IBCLCs should be encouraged to be vigilant for symptoms of anxiety occurring in mothers. This is particularly necessary when symptoms present independently of depression; to minimise the risk of symptoms being undetected, and to ensure timely treatment. Finally, the review highlights that women with postpartum anxiety may negatively perceive infant feeding behaviours. Educating women about responsive feeding practices such as timely recognition of infant cues of hunger, and feeding on-demand is advised. Normalising other typical infant feeding behaviours, including cluster feeding, frequent night feeding, and day-to-day variability in infant hunger and/or satiety is also recommended.

And what do you think the policy implications are for this research?

The findings have important applications for those involved in the design and implementation of maternal and infant health policies. First, policy makers are urged to raise awareness of postpartum anxiety as a disorder that can occur independently of postpartum depression. The review highlights literature which finds that despite high comorbidity, postpartum anxiety occurs independently, and at a higher rate than postpartum depression. Currently, postpartum anxiety is not recognised as a distinct disorder, and symptoms of anxiety are subsumed within guidelines on postpartum depression. Consequently, there is no current guidance which exclusively addresses postpartum anxiety and its impact upon infant health outcomes such as infant feeding for either health professionals or mothers. This under-recognition leaves mothers who are anxious and depressed, diagnosed with depression. It also leaves mothers with pure anxiety misdiagnosed with depression. Worse, it raises the potential for both mother and health professional to assume that they are functioning normally as they are not depressed. All of these scenarios delay or prevent the appropriate management and treatment of symptoms of anxiety which may have serious consequences for both mother and child and contribute to suboptimal feeding outcomes. Mandatory screening for symptoms of anxiety in the perinatal period may negate the potential for these outcomes.

Our congratulations on the award! What research should we watch for coming up from you?

Thank you. It is a real privilege to receive such a prestigious award at this stage in my career. In terms of future work, there are a number of avenues we are currently exploring based on some of the review findings. For instance, the paper highlighted wide variability in anxiety measurement. I have been recently working on developing and validating a measure of postpartum specific anxiety (Fallon et al. 2016). Regular use of similar measures of anxiety would allow future replication of the review with the addition of a meta-analysis allowing a more precise estimate of the effect of anxiety upon infant feeding outcomes. The bidirectional nature of the relationship between maternal anxiety and infant feeding is also yet to be explored. Dennis and McQueen (2007) used a time-sequenced analysis to examine the bidirectional nature of the relationship between postpartum depression and diverse infant feeding outcomes. Although their findings indicated that infant feeding method did not predict the development of depressive symptoms, a similar study is necessary to examine this hypothesis in relation to postpartum anxiety. Finally, the paper recommends a funding proposal for a non-pharmacological intervention designed to simultaneously reduce postpartum anxiety and increase breastfeeding rates. We are currently looking into funding opportunities to take this recommendation forward.

 Congratulations Dr. Fallon!

Vicky Fallon is a Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool. She is affiliated with the Appetite and Obesity research group in the Department of Psychological Sciences and holds a doctorate in Psychology. Her research interests concern perinatal mental health and early infant development, in particular infant nutrition. Her PhD examined maternal anxiety and infant feeding from pregnancy to parenthood.

The University of Liverpool has a long history of psychological research and was one the first Universities in the UK to establish a Department on the subject. The Department of Psychological Sciences has over 100 staff, including Chairs, Lecturers and Researchers, with expertise in experimental, applied and clinical domains.  These experts are brought together across several research groups that drive research of value to developments in psychology, psychiatry and behavioural medicine. The work of the Appetite and Obesity research group encompasses a broad spectrum of basic and applied research, addressing behavioural and psychological processes that govern appetite expression at a variety of levels from the molecular to the whole person.  Key research themes in this area include examining the influence of food advertising on food choice, consumption and bodyweight in children and the development of food preference and weight gain in infants.

Presenting the Patricia Martens Annual Award for Excellence in Breastfeeding Research: Cesar G. Victoria

At #ILCA17, the Journal of Human Lactation awarded the Patricia Martens Annual Award for Excellent in Breastfeeding Research to Dr. Cesar Victoria. This award is given, in memory of Patricia Martens, to a senior researcher with a history of excellence in breastfeeding research, which has had an international impact on advancing our knowledge and practice about human lactation and breastfeeding. The award recipient is chosen by the JHL Editorial Review Board. We recently caught up with Dr. Victoria to find out more about his research and how he came to be interested in supporting lactating families through his research.

Share with us your research interests and what led you to focus your efforts in this area.

I have focused on three main areas of research, all related to child health and development in low and middle-income countries. The first area includes the short- and long-term consequences of early life exposures, during the first 1,000 days from conception to the age of two years. I am one of the coordinators of four birth cohort studies in the city of Pelotas, Brazil, where I live, of which the longest running study started in 1982 and is still going on. The second area is the evaluation of how large-scale health and nutrition programs have an impact on child health. And the third, to which I dedicate most of my time at present, is the documentation and monitoring of socioeconomic and other inequalities in the health of children, and in the reproductive health of women.

While practicing in Brazilian slums during the 1970s, soon after I finished medical school, I became more and more frustrated by seeing the same children coming back to the clinic with infections and undernutrition. I would treat one disease episode at a time, but the children kept returning with related conditions. This is when I decided to study epidemiology and became interested in breastfeeding as an affordable, effective intervention against many infectious diseases.

We are honored to celebrate your lifetime of work in breastfeeding research. What has been your most influential work? What is your most personal?

I believe that my most influential work was a study that led to two papers published in 1987 (in The Lancet) and 1989 (in American Journal of Epidemiology), showing for the first time that exclusive breastfeeding prevented deaths due to infections, particularly diarrhea. These findings were corroborated by other studies and led the World Health Organization and UNICEF to recommend exclusive breastfeeding in the early 1990s, which up to that time was an unusual practice for mothers anywhere in the world. I am also proud of my involvement in the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards based on breastfed children, which are now adopted by about 150 countries around the world.

My most personal work? This is a difficult question, but I am proud of being part of a hugely motivated team of Brazilians who have worked for the promotion, support and protection of breastfeeding. As a result of our collective effort, the total duration of breastfeeding in my country increased from 2.5 months in the 1970s to over 12 months at present, which is probably the greatest progress ever achieved by any country.

What research should we watch for coming up from you?

I am more and more involved in global child health, particularly in the challenge of ensuring that affordable, cost-effective health interventions reach those women and children at greatest need. I have set up the International Center for Equity in Health here at the University of Pelotas, in which we collect data from over 100 countries to identify which women and children, within each country, are being left behind. We then analyze these data and feed the results back to policymakers around to world, as part of an initiative called “Countdown to 2030” aimed at supporting countries to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for women’s and children’s health.

We are grateful to honor Dr. Victoria for his work and we are not alone! He recently was awarded the John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award “for outstanding contributions to maternal and child health and nutrition in low and middle income countries, with particular focus on the impact of exclusive breastfeeding on infant mortality and on the long-term impact of early-life nutrition.” This award is one of the world’s most prestigious awards recognizing excellence in global health research. Read more about his receiving of this prestigious award at the following links.

The Lancet: Seven Scientists Win the 2017 Gairdner Award The Lancet: Dr. Cesar Victoria – Leader in Child Health and Development The Gairdner Foundation: 2017 Canada Gairdner Laureates Announced 2017 Gairdner Award Presentation Video London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: Congratulations to Cesar Victoria Wellcome Trust: Researchers Win Global Health Award Wellcome Trust: 30 Years of Brazil Cohort Studies The Globe and Mail: Seven Wonders of Science  Congratulations Dr. Victoria!

Cesar G. Victora is Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil, where he works since 1977. He has honorary appointments at Harvard, Oxford and Johns Hopkins Universities, and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has conducted extensive research in maternal and child health and nutrition, birth cohort studies, inequalities in health, and on the evaluation of the impact of major global health programs in a large number of countries. He was a founding member of the Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn and Child Health” initiative aimed at monitoring the Millennium Development Goals, and currently acts as Interim Director of the Countdown to 2030 initiative aimed at monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals. In Pelotas, he coordinates the International Center for Equity in Health, which produces disaggregated analyses of indicators on women’s and children’s health and nutrition for the World Health Organization’s Health Equity Monitor and for the Countdown to 2030. He has over 600 peer-reviewed publications and is a member of the editorial boards of several journals, including The Lancet. He was President of the International Epidemiological Association (2011-14), and won the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award in 2017.

LAST CHANCE EVER to register for the #ILCA17 Virtual Conference

Whether you plan to participate live or watch the recording, TODAY is the last chance to register for the #ILCA17 Virtual Conference. Don’t miss out! REGISTRATION CLOSES TODAY, 20 July, at midnight (eastern daylight savings). After today, the full package of live sessions (and recordings) will only be available to those who are pre-registered.

GET THE KNOWLEDGE YOU NEED:  up to 14 Continuing Education Units

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with the entire #ILCA17 community on our Online CONNECT Community, exclusively for conference attendees. 

BUILD THE SESSIONS YOU NEED: Choose the content YOU need most by adding one additional credit from our on-demand learning in the Knowledge Center.

LIVE OR ON YOUR TIME: Participate LIVE or watch on YOUR time – 90 full days of ACCESS to your content.

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Sharing Our Gratitude: Board of Directors Albert Wolf Farewell Interview

Here at ILCA, we are grateful for the time and energy of those who serve on our Board of Directors. This week, the terms of three of our board members come to an end. Join us in sharing our congratulations and gratitude with these amazing ILCA volunteers. Today, we share our gratitude for Al Wolf who has served on ILCA’s Board of Directors for 3 years as ILCA’s treasurer. 

Albert Wolf has been a pediatrician and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 2000. Since that time, he has helped form the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh, a regional breastfeeding center with sixteen IBCLCs on staff that work directly with their pediatric practice, Kids Plus Pediatrics. The Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh’s ongoing position as the first and only Advisor to the United State Breastfeeding Committee allowed him to work in nonprofit and advocacy roles before coming to the ILCA Board of Directors. In 2011, he helped to co-found the National Breastfeeding Center, a consulting company that works with physician offices, hospitals, businesses, and organizations to teach how to provide breastfeeding services in a financially sustainable manner.

How did you first get involved with ILCA in a volunteer capacity?
I first got involved with ILCA after a conversation with Liz Brooks (Liz was ILCA President at the time) at a USBC (United States Breastfeeding Committee) meeting. I was just finishing my MBA at the time, and was talking with Liz about my interest in the intersection of business, practice management, medicine, and breastfeeding.  Liz gave me one of her trademark chuckles (as if to say “have I got a job for you!”), and then she said “have I got a job for you!”  She suggested that since ILCA was going to be looking for a Treasurer in the next election cycle, that I might be interested in applying.  It sounded like the perfect opportunity for me to combine all of those areas I was interested in, so I jumped at the chance, and that’s how I ended up serving on the Board.

What has been your most fulfilling accomplishment as a board member? Your most challenging?
It’s hard to say anything has been an accomplishment of mine, because in everything I’ve worked with here I’ve had the privilege of having amazing staff and fellow Board members helping me out, so it’s really been team accomplishments.  If I had to pick one thing we’ve accomplished over the last three years, I’d have to say it would be getting ILCA in a financially stable position.  We’ve reviewed, renegotiated and/or renewed nearly every contract with nearly every entity we work with, updated and improved ILCA’s savings/investing strategy to make it safer and more efficient, and built up our operating reserves so that ILCA can focus on the bigger issues that are important to its members instead of worrying about how we were going to remain solvent.  Again, I can’t give enough credit to the staff and my fellow Board members for their help getting ILCA to where we are today, they all are really an incredible group of people to work with. The biggest challenge for me has been learning about the world of breastfeeding.  In my career as a pediatrician and IBCLC, I’d never needed to think about all of the different people, groups, organizations, etc. that are involved in lactation beyond how I as a pediatrician could help moms and babies in my practice.  Being a part of ILCA has really opened my eyes to all of the different ways people across the globe work to promote and support breastfeeding, so I could better advocate for everyone.  So it was definitely a challenge, but it was certainly well worth it!

What is next for you?
With two daughters aged 15 and 17, I plan on spending more time with my family these next few years before my wife & I become empty nesters.  Assuming running a pediatric practice allows it, that is… work always seems to find a way to fill up all 25 hours each day, there are always so many things to do!

We are so grateful for Al and his service to ILCA. We wish him well in the future!

Sharing Our Gratitude: Board of Directors Sara L. Gill Farewell Interview

Here at ILCA, we are grateful for the time and energy of those who serve on our Board of Directors. This week, the terms of three of our board members come to an end. Join us in sharing our congratulations and gratitude with these amazing ILCA volunteers. Today, we share our gratitude for Sara Gill who has served on ILCA’s Board of Directors for 6 years and resigns from her current term. 

Sara L. Gill received her nursing degrees from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio (BSN, 1977; MSN, 1983) and the University of Miami (PhD, 1997). She has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 1992. During her nursing career, Sara has worked in labor and delivery and mother/baby care. Currently, Sara is Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio School of Nursing where she teaches, conducts research, and practices as a lactation consultant at a local hospital. She is a member of the San Antonio Breastfeeding Coalition and the Texas Breastfeeding Coalition. She served on the ILCA Research Committee. She has received funding for breastfeeding research and is the author of a number of breastfeeding manuscripts. Her current research focuses on improving breastfeeding initiation, duration, and exclusivity in vulnerable populations.

How did you first get involved with ILCA in a volunteer capacity?
Soon after becoming an IBCLC in 1992, I volunteered for the Independent Study Module committee serving for several years. I then served on the Research Committee again for several years. The outgoing Research Board member, Karen Wambach, encouraged me to serve as a Board Member.

What has been your most fulfilling accomplishment as a board member?
Increasing the visibility of evidence-guided practice including the research sessions, research presentations, and the growth of the poster presentations the annual conference.  I am also grateful forthe use of evidence that has become infused in all things related to IBCLC practice.

Your most challenging?
Addressing the evidence/research needs of a global lactation community with cultural appropriate information.

What is next for you?
Continuing in my role as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, mentoring the lactation consultants at the hospital where I practice and guiding graduate students as they learn to use evidence and/or create knowledge.

 

We are so grateful for Sara and her service to ILCA. We wish her well in the future!

Sharing Our Gratitude: Board of Directors Lisa Mandell Farewell Interview

Lisa Mandell has been working with breastfeeding mothers and babies for over fifteen years, first as a volunteer breastfeeding counselor through La Leche League, and then as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Lisa has a private practice seeing mothers and babies, works as a corporate lactation consultant, and has also worked as a lactation consultant in hospitals and a pediatrician’s office. She has been involved in her United States Lactation Consultant Association chapter as President, as CERP Coordinator, and providing information for those wishing to become IBCLCs. She is pleased to use her education and experience in business and marketing, as well as her passion for breastfeeding, to help in her work on the ILCA Board of Directors.

How did you first get involved with ILCA in a volunteer capacity?
​I applied to participate in ILCA’s Marketing Strategy Planning Meeting in 2007, and was thrilled to be selected. After spending an intensive weekend working on marketing strategies with some of the ILCA Board, I then joined the ILCA Marketing Committee as a volunteer, working with Director of Marketing, Decalie Brown. In 2011, when secretary Liz Brooks was finishing her term, she asked if I might be interested in applying for the position. I was, and have enjoyed serving six years as ILCA’s secretary.

What has been your most fulfilling accomplishment as a board member? Your most challenging?
There have been a number of exciting things that have happened with the ILCA board in my tenure. Certainly one early accomplishment, that was both challenging and fulfilling, was making the difficult decision in December 2011 to strengthen ILCA’s Advertising Policy with regard to the International Code. We worked to more clearly identify that ILCA will not accept funding from any entity that was not compliant with the International Code or has ​financial relationships with a non-compliant entity. This has continued to evolve over the years, and continues to be difficult to evaluate and apply these ideals, but I am pleased that ILCA continues to choose to make compliance with the International Code an important element in the work we do. One of the more challenging tasks as a board member has been to manage the financial stability of ILCA. When I joined the board, due to the global financial crisis, revenues had decreased and reserves were low. The board made difficult decisions to cut programs and costs where possible, and has been able to increase operating reserves to a desired level. Moving forward, ILCA is again facing declining revenues, but has the operating reserves to manage through any difficulties as the board evaluates best steps for moving forward.

What is next for you?
I will continue my work as a private practice lactation consultant, working to “transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care” one family at a time.​ I love the work I do, and am honored to do it. I will miss the opportunity to work with my board colleagues (and especially the new directors joining the board), but will look forward to hearing about the work ILCA is doing and reconnecting at future ILCA conferences.

We are so grateful for Lisa and her service to ILCA. We wish her well in the future!

Why attend our #ILCA17 Virtual Conference?

Why attend our #ILCA17 Virtual Conference?

We asked past attendees, and here is what they had to say:

ILCA virtual conferences positively impact your practice.

All of our respondents said they applied the skills and/or ideas they learned at #ILCA16 live streaming to their practice, work, or volunteer efforts.

“My learning from the 2016 conference impacts my practice DAILY and has fine-tuned my holistic assessment skills. It’s also added significantly to the content of my breastfeeding class in birth preparation course.”

“It has given me the confidence I needed to be a better lactation consultant.”

ILCA virtual conferences connect you to the worldwide lactation community.

“It was exciting to see other attendees from Africa – I had some interaction with a prospective IBCLC from Zimbabwe – super cool!!”

“Great way to feel a part of ILCA on the international scale. So many of us are a bit isolated and the virtual conference helps to connect us to the big picture of what an IBCLC can mean to mothers who would like some help and encouragement.”

The format of the conference makes it easy to learn new ideas.

“I have been present at past ILCA conferences and the virtual conference is a great way to attend if there is limited time. I was able to view the conference anytime, anywhere. Thanks, ILCA!”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to view the video again after the presentation and will do so in the near future.”

“I want to thank the organizers for including this opportunity to view again. It allows me the opportunity to have better clarity of the information.”

The ILCA virtual conference is a secret worth sharing!

“Thank you ILCA for offering this live streaming event!  I have spoken with friends that are also IBCLCs and they were unaware of this, so next year I will definitely pass the word if it is offered again!”

Register Now!

Guest Post – Facts Not Fear: Protecting the One Place Where Fear Does Not Belong

Today at Lactation Matters, we are sharing a guest post by Kimberly Seals Allers, a US-based journalist and infant health advocate. This post is a part of the #FactsNotFear campaign launched by 1,000 Days. To learn more, follow the #FactsNotFear hashtag on social media, including this post on Facebook at 1,000 Days.

We live in a world of fear. From the recent terrorist attacks in England to last year’s Orlando nightclub massacre. We have seen how the fear of outsiders has sparked powerful political movements around the world. As a frequent business traveler I sense my own anxiety as I sit on planes and trains, and as a mother I know the feeling that sweeps over me whenever I receive an incoming phone call from my children’s school.

Yes, we live in times of fear and anxiety—much of which is beyond our control.

But there is one place where fear should not exist. There is one area, where, as women and
mothers, that we should insist that fear not enter—that is in the precious act of feeding our babies. From the time they are first placed in our arms, we are anxious that we will do our best. Yes, we are nervous that we will make mistakes. But we should not be made to dread our ability to mother—particularly when it comes to feeding our infants—one of our very first tasks.

That’s why a recent spate of fear-based marketing, particularly from the Fed Is Best Foundation, stoking fears that exclusive breastfeeding kills babies is both erroneous and irresponsible. But it is also the type of insidious marketing that preys on a mother’s existing insecurities that should make all women concerned. If the only way Fed Is Best can make its point is by sensationalizing infant deaths and undermining our confidence in our bodies—then maybe their point needs to be carefully considered.

Or, as women, we insist that they make it with valid facts and sans the fear mongering.
Let’s face it, women are sold fear and anxiety as a marketing tool every day. In fact, the strategy, officially known in business circles as FUD—fear, uncertainty and doubt—was designed by an IBM executive decades ago to persuade buyers to feel “safe” with IBM products rather than risk a crash, virus or server disruption. By the early 90’s it was generalized to refer to any kind of misinformation used as a competitive weapon.

Today, weaponizing fear takes many forms. We fear our faces aren’t pretty enough, so we buy cosmetics. We worry that our body isn’t the right “type” so we are sold diet plans and surgical procedures. We are told our hair isn’t shiny, bouncy or thick enough so we are sold multitudinous hair products. And then we are told to fear that our bodies may not properly do what they are biologically made to do, and we are sold infant formula.The truth is, our bodies were uniquely made to feed the infants we create. Decades of scientific research proves that formula is nutritionally inferior to breastmilk. Admittedly, societal pressures, structural barriers such as a lack of paid maternity leave, and physicians who receive little to no training in lactation science in medical school, make it very difficult for some women to fulfill their biological norm. Many women who want to breastfeed find undereducated physicians and nurses and limited post-natal support—particularly in the early days after discharge. We have much to overcome.

The truth is, our bodies were uniquely made to feed the infants we create. Decades of scientific research proves that formula is nutritionally inferior to breastmilk. Admittedly, societal pressures, structural barriers such as a lack of paid maternity leave, and physicians who receive little to no training in lactation science in medical school, make it very difficult for some women to fulfill their biological norm. Many women who want to breastfeed find undereducated physicians and nurses and limited post-natal support—particularly in the early days after discharge. We have much to overcome.To be clear, infant formula is necessary. When a mother’s own breastmilk or human donor milk is not available, then infant formula is an important third option that can, at times, save lives. However, women should come to that decision fully informed, not because of marketing efforts designed to incite distrust in their own bodies or threatened with the fear of the death of their infant.

To be clear, infant formula is necessary. When a mother’s own breastmilk or human donor milk is not available, then infant formula is an important third option that can, at times, save lives. However, women should come to that decision fully informed, not because of marketing efforts designed to incite distrust in their own bodies or threatened with the fear of the death of their infant.

It’s no secret that, especially in the Western world, women already fear they will have insufficient milk. For some, this fear can become a self-fulfilling prophecy because fear and anxiety can literally limit lactation by stifling the letdown reflex that stimulates the milk glands. Feeding into this insecurity by promoting early formula supplementation “just in case” has been a go-to move by the formula industry for years.

As far back as the 1940s, the manufacturers of Borden KLIM evaporated milk ran a radio jingle in the Congo that stoked mother’s fears over insufficient milk. The song went:

The Child is going to die
Because the mother’s milk has given out
Mama o Mama the child cries
If you want your child to get well
Give it KLIM milk

So when Fed Is Best frequently promotes eerily similar headlines claiming, “One bottle would have saved my baby”—it seems to make early supplementation innocuous, while deploying a similar tactic used to spur sales of infant formula. The insidious message is that your breast cannot be trusted but a bottle can—this type of marketing should concern all women.

Instead of fear, we should demand the facts about why physicians and nurses don’t have more education to properly identify lactation dysfunction or failure. We should demand knowledge about other options to increase milk output such as hand expression, which can extract more milk than a pump. If formula must be used, it should be administered as a temporary bridge until a mother’s supply is established, not a breastfeeding killer for mothers who want to nurse. And we should demand standard home visitation immediately after discharge, as is the practice in the UK and other European countries.

Ultimately, women deserve facts not fear. Women have a right to guilt-free, confidence-building information and support. And it’s time that we demand it of everyone—including, and especially, from those claiming to support mothers. We cannot stand by while Fed Is Best insists that fear is best.

Affirming Our Shared Values: Changes to the ILCA Global Partner Agreement

Since the start of the Global Partner Program over two years ago, membership in the program has steadily grown. Our partners now exceed 21 recognized global breastfeeding organizations, representing 20 countries.

In our dialogues with our Partner community, Partner representatives have affirmed one of our shared values: a deep commitment to raising awareness of and adherence to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (International Code). ILCA’s vision would not be possible without this mutual commitment.

At ILCA, we also recognize that all of the documents that guide our work are living documents. Remaining open to change is particularly critical as ILCA continues to bring more voices to the table from all corners of the globe, bringing a much-valued new perspective to all we do.

Our commitment to the International Code and to transforming world health through breastfeeding brought the Board of Directors to review the ILCA Global Partner agreement. Their goal was to ensure it reflects our collectively held needs and values.

With input from the International Code Committee and the Partners themselves, the ILCA Board of Directors has made revisions to clarify and strengthen the provisions of the agreement related to the International Code.

We would like to share with you the following changes to our ILCA Global Partner Agreement:

FORMER PARTNER AGREEMENT LANGUAGE

International Code Compliance.
Parties agree to maintain absolute adherence with International Code.

CURRENT PARTNER AGREEMENT LANGUAGE

International Code.
Parties agree to continuously meet their obligations as defined by the International Code. Consistent with the purpose and spirit of the International Code, parties agree to abide by the following:

a.     Parties acknowledge their parent organization (if applicable) and subsidiary organizations (if applicable) are meeting their requirements under the International Code.
b.     Parties agree to contribute to or accept funds only from those meeting their requirements under the International Code.
c.     Parties agree to refrain from organizational practices that may present a conflict of interest with the International Code.

This is work in progress, but an important step. These changes demonstrate a collective commitment to the International Code and point to the leadership role the Global Partner network plans to play within the global breastfeeding community.

All of our current partners have reviewed and agreed upon the new language. Find a list of our current partners here.

We are also pleased to announce that we will shortly be welcoming a number of new Global Partners. Please watch here at Lactation Matters for updates!

We look forward to expanding the impact of our Global Partners and working together to advance the global breastfeeding agenda. With a united front on matters of the International Code, we are equipped to positively impact our world and, together with all of you, transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

Oldalak