Lactation Matters

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.

Ask Me Anything . . . with Elizabeth Brooks, JD, IBCLC

Ever wanted the chance to ask Elizabeth Brooks, JD, IBCLC, ILCA past president, and IBCLC ethics expert, anything? And we mean anything, from how to manage questions from a parent online . . . to where to find the best Philly Cheese Steak in her hometown!

Join the #ILCA17 community online to ask Elizabeth Brooks your most pressing questions. We will also be starting to connect with one another as you start to pack your bags (or pop your popcorn!) for the #ILCA17 onsite and virtual conference.

What is an Ask Me Anything (AMA)? The name really says it all! We will gather online for an hour to pose questions to our AMA guest, Elizabeth Brooks. She will answer our questions as best she can during that hour!

Who: Anyone who is registered for #ILCA17 (onsite or virtual) is welcome.

When: Friday, 16 June, 2:00 pm EDT (Click HERE to see your local time.)

Where: Our brand new #ILCA17 Connect online community! Connect is the future home of all ILCA’s online communities. It is a platform designed for ILCA members and includes the opportunity to have discussions, share documents, and connect with other ILCA members. #ILCA17 will be our first Connect community. Watch for others coming soon!

How: All registered guests of #ILCA17 will receive an invite to the Connect site by end of day 14 June. Before the AMA, we encourage you to take a moment to come by Connect and say hello. It is easy to use! At the time of the AMA, come find the AMA thread. Elizabeth Brooks will be there, ready to answer your questions!

 

Haven’t registered yet for #ILCA17? Regular registration ends 16 June. Avoid late fees and register now!

 

Can’t make it to Toronto, Canada? Join us for the virtual conference! Register now to be eligible for our AMA!

Share Your Expertise With the ILCA Community


Do you have expertise that you enjoy sharing with others in the field of lactation? Have you always wanted to present a webinar for the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®), but the lack of compensation was a barrier for you? Did you miss the deadline to submit an abstract for the annual ILCA Conference, was only one of your abstracts accepted, or does the need for travel make it impossible for you to speak at an ILCA Conference in person?

The ILCA Webinar Series has been reexamined, reimagined, and redesigned to increase equitable access to the role of webinar speaker. Speakers now have the opportunity to select from a menu of financial compensation and other opportunities. Highlights of our new process include:

  • Online abstract submission
  • Four different financial compensation options for speakers
  • Speaker recognition, marketing, and networking opportunities

Our new-and-improved webinar process also incorporates consideration of highly rated conference abstracts that were not selected for the annual ILCA Conference. Due to programmatic restrictions, each year we have the wonderful problem of being unable to select all of the impressive abstracts that have been proposed. Our new approach will help more of these abstracts become sessions that nurture the development of learners in communities everywhere.

We are seeking abstracts in each category of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) Detailed Content Outline, including: development and nutrition; physiology and endocrinology; pathology; pharmacology and toxicology; psychology, sociology, and anthropology; techniques; clinical skills; ethical and legal issues; research; public health; and advocacy.

There is no limit to the number of abstracts you can submit. Webinars are needed year round and by speakers from every setting and country in the world. Click here to propose a webinar today!

Win a FREE #ILCA17 Virtual Conference Registration!

All new online conference format goes far beyond live streaming to bring you the clinical skills you need, connect you with the #ILCA17 community, and build your changemaker toolbox.

What’s New at #ILCA17 Virtual Conference:

LEARNING: More than DOUBLE the continuing education of previous live streaming events. 14 Continuing Education Units will be available for the Virtual Conference.

CONNECTION: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with the entire #ILCA17 community and join our Online CONNECT Community, exclusively for conference attendees. Chat with both face-to-face and virtual participants, get your questions answered by participating speakers, and find and share resources on the topics discussed at the conference.

BUILD THE SESSIONS YOU NEED: In addition to the scheduled sessions, #ILCA17 virtual attendees get FREE additional continuing education. 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.

EASY TO USE + HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT: New to virtual conferences? We are here to help! EASY-TO-USE conference platform with dedicated, friendly, and patient tech support. During the live sessions, our professional tech support is supported by skilled moderators. We love bringing your online questions to the floor of #ILCA17!

Virtual Conference Highlights:
  • SEVEN plenary speakers: Arun Gupta, Sharon Unger, Anita Moorhead, Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Doris Fok, Fedro Peccatori, and Marcus Stahlhofer
  • TWO concurrent sessions: Lactation and Medications: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Making Hard Decisions and When Evidence Changes Practice: Building a Skill Set for Interpreting and Applying Lactation Research
  • ONE workshop session: Infant and Maternal Factors Contributing to the Decision to Treat Restrictive Lingual and Maxillary Frenula: A Review of over 2000 Client Records from 2013-2016
  • ILCA Annual General Meeting
  • The Global Partners Panel: Furthering the Global Breastfeeding Agenda through Local, National, Regional, and International Advocacy
  • Lots of exclusive Virtual Conference content during break times
Equity Access Pricing:

ILCA is committed to ensuring the lactation community has access to #ILCA17, even in low-resource countries. Live streaming pricing is based on the same equity pricing model as our annual membership dues:

Category A: Standard/Clinical Members – $165, Students/Breastfeeding Supporters – $89, Retired – $66

Category B: Standard/Clinical Members – $32, Students/Breastfeeding Supporters – $19, Retired – $13

Category C: Standard/Clinical Members – $8, Students/Breastfeeding Supporters – $5, Retired – $4

Category D: Standard/Clinical Members – $4, Students/Breastfeeding Supporters – $2, Retired – $2

Non-Member Pricing: $241

To find which category your country is in, click here.

 

Earn a chance to win a FREE registration for the #ILCA17 Virtual Conference!

We want to know which speaker you are most excited to hear this year. Leave a comment here on the blog telling us from whom you are most looking forward to learning during the #ILCA17 Virtual Conference! See the complete #ILCA17 Virtual Conference agenda online by visiting our website!

We’ll pick one person who leaves their comment to receive a FREE #ILCA17 Virtual Conference registration!

Bonus entry if you also leave your comment in this thread on Facebook!

2017 ILCA Board of Directors Results

The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Sabeen AdilIona Macnab, and Nor Kamariah Mohamad Alwi have been elected by the ILCA membership to the Board of Directors.

Their three-year terms will commence July 2017. We look forward to working with them to continue ILCA’s mission: to advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.

Sabeen Adil, MD, IBCLC; Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria

Sabeen Adil, MD, IBCLC currently lives in Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria and is originally from Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan. She has experience working in lactation, pediatric, and maternity clinics and hospitals in United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan, and Nigeria. Sabeen established the first lactation clinic in Pakistan, and worked to achieve recognition of lactation consultants as medical professionals in that country. She is currently a private practice lactation consultant in Nigeria.

 

 

Nor Kamariah Mohamad Alwi, BE, MIT, IBCLC; Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Nor Kamariah Mohamad Alwi, BE, MIT, IBCLC resides in Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia. She created the online breastfeeding support forum susuibu.com in 2004 and is a co-founder and President of Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counselors. She is on the Local Governance Task Force Coordinator for World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). Nor is working with IBCLCs to establish a Malaysian Lactation Consultant Association. She is currently a private practice lactation consultant.

 

 

 

Iona Macnab, BA(Hons), LLB, IBCLC; Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Iona Macnab, BA(Hons), LLB, IBCLC lives in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is the co-founder of iLactation Online Breastfeeding Conferences, a global education platform offering continuing education credits for health professionals.  She was a Le Leche League (LLL) Leader in Japan (13 years) and Australia (6 years), as well as the LLL Regional Administrator for Asia, Africa and Middle East (7 years). Currently, Iona is the Conference Coordinator for Lactation Consultants for Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) and ILCA’s Professional Development Committee Chair, in addition to her responsibilities with iLactation.

 

 

We are proud to have these lactation professionals join the ILCA Board of Directors.

The ILCA Board would like to thank each of you for your continued support. To find out more, please visit our website at www.ilca.org.

New! Advocacy Track at #ILCA17

Lactation specialists around the world are engaged in the critical work of protecting, promoting, and supporting lactation. Whether you engage in advocacy at the local, national, or international level, ILCA’s Advocacy Track offers sessions that will help you be an effective change agent.

New this year, the goals and objectives of the annual Global Partner Meeting have been woven into the Advocacy Track. This track (which offers continuing education credits) includes plenaries and breakout sessions and is designed to connect you to the people and ideas that you need in your changemaker toolbox.

One highlight of this new track is the 2017 Global Partners Panel:

Furthering the Global Breastfeeding Agenda through Local, National, Regional, and International Advocacy*

Speakers:

Arun Gupta of the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India

Zoe Faulkner of the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

Jennifer Welch of the Association Québécoise des consultantes en lactation diplômées de l’IBLCE.

Date: Friday, 21 July
Time: 1:45-2:45 pm, EST
Credit: 1 CEU

All conference attendees are welcome to join the conversation, whether or not you are following the Advocacy Track!

The ILCA Global Partners Program is improving breastfeeding outcomes by bringing together emerging local and national groups with established international organizations. Together, these groups are working to link goals, break down barriers, and pursue common objectives.

To join the Advocacy Track, click here to register for #ILCA17. There is no need to specifically register for the Advocacy Track.

*The Global Partners Panel is also a part of the #ILCA17 Virtual Conference.

LAST DAY for #ILCA17 Early Bird Registration!

Take advantage of Early Bird registration for the 2017 ILCA Annual Conference, Knowledge, Diversity, Equity: Global Access to Skilled Lactation Care, 19–22 July, in Toronto, Canada and save up to $125 on conference registration fees!

Early bird registration for #ILCA17 ends today at 11:59PM, EST, so REGISTER NOW!

Join us in TORONTO, CANADA to:

  • Learn from the leading experts around the globe—68 speakers representing 13 countries, our most diverse group of speakers yet. Earn up to 24 CEUs (including preconference sessions).
  • Get the clinical skills you need, from clinical skills rotations (preconference) to sessions on topics like donor milk, latch, tongue tie, and more.
  • Connect with the advocates improving lactation outcomes worldwide, and build your changemaker skills to take back to your community on our new advocacy track.
  • Enjoy formal and informal networking at the exhibit hall, network sessions, meals, and more.
Today is your LAST CHANCE to register for early bird pricing. Register now!

2017 ILCA Elections: Board of Directors

The ILCA Board of Directors has presented a ballot for ILCA voting members to select their next Directors.

All ILCA members who are certified as an IBCLC and are in good standing should have received an email from ILCA on 20 April 2017 containing a link to the ballot. If you did not receive an email and you should have, please contact the ILCA Office at info@ilca.org (or) 1+ 919-861-5577 (or) 888-452-2478. Our ILCA staff is eager to make sure you get a ballot, so your vote can be counted. To ensure a timely and secure election, all voting will take place through an online survey.

Prior to casting a vote, all voting ILCA members are encouraged to thoughtfully consider all information provided below. This will enable you to make an informed decision. Vote carefully: Once your vote is cast, it cannot be changed, repeated, or cancelled.

The balloting commences 20 April 2017 and concludes 12 May 2017, at which time all electronic votes will be tallied by the ILCA staff.

Board of Director Elections On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are pleased to present the 2017 ballot for election of Directors.  The Nominations Task force used an objective scoring system to conduct a fair and impartial assessment of each application. After thorough review and analysis, the following candidates were approved by the ILCA Board of Directors.  This year, we will be electing three new directors.

A Director must be elected by a majority of ILCA voting members. (Note: ILCA Bylaw 3.4 confers voting privileges to those dues-paying ILCA members who are also IBCLC certificants.)

The ILCA Board of Directors, in its November 2014 Lactation Matters blog, described three goals as part of its vision of, “World health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care:”

  1. Establish collaborative partnerships with other regional, national, and international organizations;
  2. Mentor newly developing organizations, worldwide, that promote IBCLC professional development and care;
  3. Build an ILCA infrastructure of equity and diversity, by reducing barriers of entry into the profession and into ILCA leadership positions. 

Accordingly, candidates to run for the position of ILCA Director, ideally, would:

  1. Embrace this strategic vision,
  2. Bring geographic diversity, especially from outside the USA
  3. Be alert to regional and cross-cultural differences as the occur within the global breastfeeding community
  4. Be sensitized to the challenges of ensuring equitable access to positions of leadership within ILCA for currently underrepresented social groups
Please take time to review the profiles of each nominee, by clicking on their names, prior to casting your vote. You will vote for three.

Sabeen Adil, MD, IBCLC, Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
Amal El-Taweel, MD, PhD, IBCLC, Giza, Giza Governorate, Egypt
Iona Macnab, BA(Hons), LLB, IBCLC, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Nor Kamariah Mohamad Alwi, BE, MIT, IBCLC, Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

The ILCA Board extends a special thanks to the Nominations Committee for their efforts on behalf of the entire membership.

Board of Director Ratifications In addtion to our slate of nominees, the ILCA Board of Directors ask that you ratify the following Board members for a second term:

Kathleen Marinelli, MD, IBCLC, FABM, South Glastonbury, Connecticut, United States Lisa Akers, MS, RDN, IBCLC, RLC, FAND, Harrisonburg, Virginia, United States

Please note that the Board of Directors announced openings for positions of Secretary, Treasurer, and one Director position. No qualified applications were received for the Treasurer position; current board member Lisa Akers has offered to serve this role for her second term.  The Board has recommended she continue a second term in the Treasurer position. The one application received for the Secretary position did not meet all of the qualifications desired by the Board, therefore current board member Geraldine Cahill has offered to serve in the Secretary role temporarily, and the Board recommended to accept her service. Thus, this election will select three Directors.

Questions? Comments? Share them here! We want to hear from you.

#ILCA17 Virtual Conference Registration Now Open

Join the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) for the #ILCA17 Virtual Conference!

Our all-new format goes far beyond live streaming to bring you the clinical skills you need, connect you with the #ILCA17 community, and build your changemaker toolbox.

LEARNING: More than DOUBLE the continuing education of previous live streaming. Final number of continuing education units TBA. 

CONNECTION: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with the entire #ILCA17 community and join our Online CONNECT Community, exclusively for conference attendees. Chat with both face-to-face and virtual participants, get your questions answered by participating speakers, and find and share resources on the topics discussed at the conference.

BUILD THE SESSIONS YOU NEED: In addition to the scheduled sessions, #ILCA17 virtual attendees get FREE additional continuing education. 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.

EASY TO USE + HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT: New to virtual conferences? We are here to help! EASY-TO-USE conference platform with dedicated, friendly, and patient tech support. During the live sessions, our professional tech support is supported by skilled moderators. We love bringing your online questions to the floor of #ILCA17!

For more information about the #ILCA17 online conference, a full schedule of events, and registration information, visit the virtual conference webpage!

 

JHL Call for Papers: Lactation and Social Justice

The Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) invites lactation-related research, reports, reviews, commentaries, and insights into practice and policy related to the theme of Lactation and Social Justice for an upcoming special issue. Click here to view JHL‘s new author submission guidelines.

Increasingly, breastfeeding is being viewed through a social justice lens, which approaches lactation as a human rights issue. The current unequal distribution of lactation services worldwide perpetuates breastfeeding inequities, along with significant reductions in human health due to lack of adequate lactation assistance.

From the social justice perspective, lactation support and services are a routine and required part of care for all families, including those who work, refugees, people who are incarcerated, transgender parents, and all who choose to breastfeed, chestfeed, or provide expressed human milk for their infants or young children.

For this issue of JHL, we are seeking manuscripts that address these and all social justice issues within the field of lactation. Manuscripts focusing on the local, regional, or global level are welcome. We are looking for an array of multidisciplinary approaches from many perspectives, including program planning, interventions, and policy. We are seeking research manuscripts, as well as Insights into Practice, Insights into Policy, and commentaries.

The submission deadline for the special issue is 1 December 2017.

Click HERE to submit your manuscript online. Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) is the top-ranked breastfeeding journal and the most valued benefit of ILCA membership. 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.

Lactation Professionals and Gender-Inclusive Language

Join us for the 2017 ILCA Conference and Annual Meeting, Knowledge, Diversity, Equity: Global Access to Skilled Lactation Care, 19-22 July in Toronto, Canada. #ILCA17 offers opportunities to learn from leading experts around the globe (68 speakers representing 13 countries) on a wide range of topics. Alice Farrow, IBCLC (Italy) is one of the #ILCA17 plenary speakers, and will be presenting Gender Diversity, Language, and Inclusion for Lactation Specialists.We spoke with Alice about the role of gender-inclusive language in providing compassionate, accessible lactation support, to get a feel for what we can look forward to at #ILCA17.

Lactation Matters (LM): How can knowledge of inclusive language help International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLCs®) improve their practice?

Alice Farrow (AF): First, non-inclusive language is a barrier to practice.

Inclusive language can refer to many issues. My talk at the ILCA conference is about gender-inclusive language. Gender-inclusive language has become commonplace when it concerns changing male-gendered language to language that is inclusive of women. It used to be commonplace for the word “man” to mean men and women, or all people. It is no longer commonplace.

When I talk about gender-inclusive language, I am not referring to language that is inclusive of men and women. I am talking about all genders: cisgender and transgender, third gender, non-binary, agender, androgynous, gender queer, etc.

In lactation, pregnancy, and birth, until recently, language was unquestioningly female gendered and heteronormative, e.g. mothers give birth to babies and fathers support the dyad. But, not all families are composed of a mother and a father and their baby. It is now widely recognized that transgender men give birth; non-binary and agender people give birth; intersex people give birth; some men become primary caregivers without giving birth; some supporting partners are women; sometimes parents are the same sex; etc.

Mother + father + baby is no longer a formula that is inclusive of diverse family structures.

Misgendering people —for example referring to a birth father as “mum” or “mom” or referring to a female partner as “dad”—is erasing, hurtful, and disrespectful. A care provider is not doing a good job if their client or patient is uncomfortable, unable to listen to them, does not trust them, is afraid of them, is not intending to return for follow-up, is triggered, or is in any way damaged by the consultation or visit.

Transgender and gender nonconforming people have higher rates of suicide and mental illness and lower rates of health than the general population (not due to their gender, but due to society’s prejudice). This is a serious health equity issue. Knowledge of gender-inclusive language and a willingness to adopt gender-inclusive language will improve access to your care and improve the quality and appropriateness of the care you provide.

LM: What challenges do lactation consultants experience while working toward gender-inclusive language?

AF: This is very unique to the individual. Some IBCLCs do not find it particularly challenging to incorporate gender-inclusive language into their practice. I know of many IBCLCs who have updated their websites with gender-inclusive language. It may be more of an issue in unrehearsed speech.

There are some people who are strongly opposed to gender-inclusive language. I fully expect to be criticized for my talk at #ILCA17, and I am glad to be in a position to stand up and speak where other LGBTQI colleagues are perhaps not in a position where they feel safe doing so.

Some people are challenged by gender-inclusive language due to their religious beliefs, their upbringing, their ideologies, or something else. Some people were loudly outraged when the British Medical Association’s 2016 guide to inclusive language in the workplace suggested “pregnant people” in place of “expectant mothers” as inclusive of transgender men and intersex men. Some people see this as an erasure of women, but rather than proposing something that is inclusive of birthing women, men, non-binary, and transgender people, they want to maintain the current exclusive language. That is not okay. Exclusive language is not acceptable.

LM: Can you share with us one tip for introducing gender-inclusive language that you plan to share in your talk?

AF: Yes, quite simply adhere to the principle of treating your clients (and colleagues) with compassion, dignity, and respect.Change your intake forms to allow more than two genders, and ask preferred terms for parent/carer/family roles (i.e., mom/mum, dad, something else). Ask which pronouns the person uses (e.g., him, her, they, zie). Use the terms identified by your client and apologize if you get it wrong. That would be a great first step.

 

Alice Farrow is an IBCLC®, writer, speaker, and infant-feeding and health-equity advocate. Based in Rome, Italy, they have spoken around the world on LGBTQI health inequities, gender diversity, gender-inclusive language, lactation support for infants born with a cleft lip and palate, and barriers to entry to the lactation profession (in particular, those experienced by non-US candidates).

Alice participated in the 2014 Lactation Summit and the 2016 Lactation Equity Action Committee (LEAC) Global Forum, and published the groundbreaking article Lactation Support and the LGBTQI Community as part of a Journal of Human Lactation special issue on Equity. They write for the Language of Inclusion blog and the Cleft Lip and Palate Breastfeeding website, run the online support network for LGBTQI health professionals and allies Embracing Diversity in Reproductive Health, Birth and Infant Feeding, and run the Want to be an IBCLC? support groups for aspiring lactation consultants.

Alice is currently an undergraduate student with the Open University (UK), completing a Bachelor of Science with a focus on public health and public health promotion.

Resources on Recent Coverage of Neonatal Hypernatremia

The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) has been closely following recent media coverage of neonatal hypernatremia and the role of skilled lactation care providers. We express our deep sympathies to the family impacted in these stories.

ILCA affirms the important role that International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®s) play as a part of the healthcare team. For those seeking resources on the issues raised, we are sharing the following resources.

Academy of Breastfeeding MedicineOf Goldilocks and Neonatal Hypernatremia

UNICEF UKHypernatremic Dehydration: Response to News Coverage

Baby-Friendly USA – Individualized Care in the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

Academy of Breastfeeding MedicineClinical Protocol #3: Hospital Guidelines for the Use of Supplementary Feedings in the Healthy Term Breastfed Neonate, Revised 2009

International Lactation Consultant AssociationPosition Paper on the Role and Impact of the IBCLC

We will continue to update this list as additional resources are developed. Do you have a resource you would like to suggest? Please share it with us in the comments.

Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Case for Paid Parental Leave and Support for Breastfeeding

Every day, ILCA is working in public and behind the scenes to promote the role of breastfeeding in transforming world health. 

One critical arena for our work is the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The CSW is so important to our work because it is the “the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” 

Their role is to promote women’s rights around the globe. That is why we believe it is critical to elevate breastfeeding, and specifically, paid parental leave to support breastfeeding, at CSW.

The International Lactation Consultant Association  (ILCA) and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) have released the following statement in support of the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA 13-24 March 2017.

You can read the statement below. You can also find it on the ILCA website in our resources section for future reference.

Breastfeeding provides a strong foundation for the economic empowerment of families throughout the world. In addition to improving maternal and child health, supporting recommended breastfeeding practices could save annually an estimated $302 billion USD globally.

A robust body of evidence demonstrates that breastfeeding contributes to improved maternal and child health, across the life course. Optimal breastfeeding is associated with higher educational attainment and economic productivity of women and girls in adulthood.

A major gap in advancing women’s economic empowerment are policies and practices that also support women’s work as mothers and family caregivers. Perhaps the greatest gap can be found in the lack of adequate support for breastfeeding mothers and infants.

Therefore, the purpose of this statement is to make a case for women’s economic empowerment, specifically through paid parental leave in support of breastfeeding.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action calls upon governments to ensure that legislation, incentives, and appropriate institutional support systems empower women and parents to balance breastfeeding with the demands of women’s labour.

Poverty is a barrier to optimal breastfeeding globally. The Commission on the Status of Women 2016 released a report revealed that among the estimated 43% of people living in severe poverty 70% are women, youth and children. Women and girls living in poverty carry a disproportionate burden of unpaid labour, which in turn leads to poverty across generations. Women in impoverished settings may spend up to 80 hours per week on family care, cooking, cleaning, wood and water fetching, which is the equivalent of two full time jobs. As a result impoverished girls and women are often unable to complete an education and find safe wage-based employment that may lead to improved economic standing for their families and communities. Women and children living in fragile settings are especially vulnerable to the poverty-generating impacts of climate change, forced migration, war, epidemics, and disasters. Suboptimal breastfeeding is also associated with decreased birth spacing, which is a risk factor of both perinatal morbidity and mortality and increased global population growth.

Today’s global economic and labour conditions are changing rapidly, and has led to improvements in women’s participation in local and global economies. However, the benefits of paid labour do not reach all women and families equally. Women continue to participate in labour markets on an unequal basis with men. In 2013, the male employment-to-population ratio stood at 72.2 per cent, while the ratio for females was 47.1 per cent. About 830 million women, mainly in low-income countries, lack social protection for oppressive working conditions. Women in these settings typically have access only to low-paying jobs with poor, and often violent, working conditions. Only 53% of countries meet the International Labour Organisation’s 14-week minimum standard for maternity leave. Together, these factors create insurmountable challenges to mothers breastfeeding as recommended by the World Health Organization and numerous maternal-child health organizations.

Several international conventions and instruments support global maternal- and parental- workplace and breastfeeding empowerment, including The Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding, the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and the International Labour Organisation Convention on Maternity Protection.

Women’s economic empowerment is inextricably linked to women’s empowerment as mothers and primary infant caregivers. The needed support includes, but is not limited to, actions that extend access to paid maternity or parental leave, paid breastfeeding breaks, and family friendly environments with flexible, baby-friendly working arrangements. It includes creating social support systems that value women, mothers, breastfeeding, and family care work. Such support systems will only be achieved by inclusion of all members of society, but particularly men, youth, grandparents, childcare providers, employers, and policy makers, in recognizing the importance of women’s economic and maternal empowerment. By creating opportunities for equitable parental and domestic responsibilities, new pathways emerge for building gender equality at the home, the workplace, and society.

When more women work, economies grow. When more mothers breastfeed as recommended, they are healthier, their children are healthier, and their children grow to have healthier children of their own. Healthy children are more likely to survive living in poverty, complete an education, find employment, help lift their families and communities out of poverty, and contribute to long-term national economic growth.

It is, therefore, urgent that breastfeeding advocates, together with women’s health, gender rights advocates, trade unionists, employers and governments, United Nations agencies and others seek collaborative ways to respond.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the International Lactation Consultant Association believe that these actions to enhance paid parental leave and support for breastfeeding are essential to making women’s economic empowerment in the changing workforce.

Do you have questions about CSW, ILCA’s global agenda, or the role of paid parental leave on impacting breastfeeding? We want to hear from you! Please leave a comment.