Q & A with Sherry Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC: An Innovator In Lactation Equity

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.54.48 PMSherry Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC, is the Executive Director of Uzazi Village, a nonprofit organization devoted to decreasing pregnancy related health disparities in the urban core of Kansas City. She is also the facilitator of the upcoming 2014 Lactation Summit: Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession. Ms. Payne speaks frequently around the country to professional audiences on topics related to lactation and birth disparities (including the upcoming 2014 ILCA Conference). One of the many barriers that aspiring IBCLCs of color face is acquiring clinical hours. The Uzazi Village Lactation Consultant Mentorship Program is an innovative solution, connecting aspiring International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®) from the Kansas City community to the Uzazi Village Breastfeeding Clinic, which provides free services to area families.

Ms. Payne was recently interviewed by Marie Hemming, IBCLC, a member of the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Medialert Team.

Marie Hemming: Why did you start the Lactation Consultant Mentorship Program?

Sherry Payne: I started this program with the idea that we needed more IBCLCs of Color. I am currently the only IBCLC of Color practicing in my city (though I am the third African-American IBCLC to be certified in my community). This has become a top priority for Uzazi Village – making accessible pathways for lactation educators and peer counselors to become board certified professionals, and then linking those professionals to families in our community who need those services. We already had our free Breastfeeding Clinic up and running two days a week and four volunteer IBCLCs to run it. It was not too difficult to add the mentorship program to it. Three of our IBCLCs qualify to be mentors and there were always plenty of women at our door inquiring about how to become a Lactation Consultant. The research tells us that recruiting and diversifying the ranks of IBCLCs should be a part of the strategy for overcoming disparities in lactation in the African-American community. That’s what we are attempting to do.

MH: Tell us about the Breastfeeding Clinic and how it serves families in Kansas City.

SP: Clients are referred from community-based prenatal clinics and local hospitals that serve low income breastfeeding women who otherwise would not be able to access the lactation support they need. I talk to the local lactation consultants, nurse midwives, pediatricians, doulas and other care providers about our clinic. We receive referrals from Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and home visiting programs such as Healthy Start and Nurse Family Partnership. We have three to five moms in clinic and home visits each day and we spend an average of two hours with each client on everything from sore nipples, to milk supply issues, to relactation and weaning. We also offer two breastfeeding support groups: La Leche League on Troost, and the Chocolate Milk Café. Our support groups and breastfeeding classes also draw local women into the clinic.

MH: How does the Mentorship Program work?

SP: The interns need to accumulate 300 or 500 hours and we ask that they work at the Breastfeeding Clinic a minimum of one day per week every other week. If they come to every clinic it will take them four to six months or it may take them as long as 10 months to get their hours if they come less often. They are also encouraged to take the WHO/UNICEF Breastfeeding course which is offered every quarter. The interns pay a fee for the program on a sliding scale depending on income.

The program is just starting out, however, we have our first intern beginning in May 2014, with two other candidates seeking placement. We are currently working on getting hospital placement for our interns to do part of their hours. We are also in talks with a local community college to package all the required courses to create a one-stop shopping curriculum for our interns. We hope to be able to simplify things by having classes and clinical experiences all in one program.

MH: What are some of the other barriers that aspiring IBCLCs of Color experience? How is Uzazi Village helping to break down those barriers?

SP: Barriers for aspiring IBCLCs include accessing the educational components, finding mentors, and completing the hours. Women of Color will of course be much less likely to find mentors that look like them, and normative culture mentors may be uncomfortable bringing a Woman of Color into their practice. (I am actually experiencing the same difficulty in my midwifery training.) Many aspiring IBCLCs of Color are found in the ranks of WIC Peer Counselors, but there is no clear cut pathway to move them into the ranks of IBCLCs. It is the presence of these types of barriers that compelled me to create a program at Uzazi Village. International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) requirements often presuppose educational attainment that peer counselors may not possess, leaving them stranded at the bottom of the professional and economic rungs.

MH: You were invited to Washington DC by the United States Breastfeeding Committee to discuss continuity of care with advocates from around the country. If you could change one thing about our healthcare system to improve breastfeeding outcomes, what would it be?

SP: The Affordable Care Act makes provision for reimbursement for lactation professionals. I would like to see reimbursement for ALL levels of breastfeeding support professionals – direct compensation for the work we do, particularly WIC Peer Counselors. We need our WIC Peer Counselors in our communities. Lactation consultants are most often isolated in hospitals and accessing them is difficult, if not impossible, following hospital discharge. Private practice IBCLCs are cost prohibitive to access among the women we regularly see. Peer counselors have had the greatest impact on increasing breastfeeding rates in our community – they do most of the front-line work and yet they receive the least amount of recognition and pay. I would like to see Peer Counselors and Certified Lactation Counselors compensated by insurance companies for the valuable service and support they offer. This does not take anything away from the board certified professional, but enhances and refines his or her role. We need all levels of expertise.

MH: Of all of the things that you have done, are there one or two things that stand out as being most effective in helping the moms that come to Uzazi Village?

SP: The Chocolate Milk Café, which is a mother-to-mother support group for African-American women, has been groundbreaking. It is designed to meet the needs of our urban moms and has been one of our most successful programs. At Chocolate Milk Café, mothers can attend with their babies and have a safe environment in which to discuss their breastfeeding issues. We are starting to replicate this model around the country.

MH: You are breaking new ground with your work at Uzazi Village, is there someone who has influenced you or mentored you in your own career as a lactation consultant & natural birth educator?

SP: Lots of people have invested in my success over the years, but my primary mentor in lactation has been Charlene Burnett, BSN, RN, IBCLC. She mentored me when I was an L & D nurse, but I worked at a different hospital. She received special permission from her hospital to mentor me 500 hours in a year. I could not have done this without her. She is one of my LC volunteers and she is the Director of Lactation Services at Uzazi Village. We have named a scholarship after her: the Charlene L. M. Burnett IBCLC Scholarship, set aside for a candidate of color in the greater metropolitan area of Kansas, Missouri who has met all requirements to sit for the IBLCE exam. It is our small way of thanking her for all that she has invested in Uzazi Village.

MH: What advice would you give to others hoping to increase access to lactation services for women of Color?

SP: Be creative, assess your community assets and find a way to connect what you have to what women need. When I’m considering a project large or small, I always call to mind the words of the late tennis great, Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.” Finally, if you are not a woman of color yourself, join your efforts to someone who is. Allies are important to the cause, but they must take their lead from someone who is a member of a community of color. At Uzazi Village, we counsel many allies around the state and around the country to place women of color in central roles when doing outreaches to communities of color. On our website, you’ll find the success stories (Uzazi Champions) of those we have worked with to improve lactation rates in other communities of color.

Marie Hemming, IBCLC is the mom of three breastfed children (now 20, 16 & 15 years of age). She developed and taught a 20-hour breastfeeding class at the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. She is currently volunteering as an IBCLC and lay community counselor at Birthline of San Diego, serving families living in poverty.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

MORE Great Breastfeeding Blogs to Read!

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLCDSC02925

Almost two years ago, I penned a post on this blog highlighting my favorite breastfeeding blogs for IBCLCs and other lactation professionals and volunteers to read. Since the online world moves so fast and a number of new resources pop up every week, I figured it was high time for an update.

One of my favorites continues to be Breastfeeding Medicine, the official blog of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM). I included it on my list last time and it is still the place I go to for thoughtful, evidence-based reflection on current breastfeeding trends. Primarily written by Dr. Alison Stuebe, a member of the ABM Board of Directors, it takes a balanced stance of the challenges facing today’s mothers. Her recent post, How Often Does Breastfeeding Come Undone, caused me to look inward and examine the assumptions I make when breastfeeding doesn’t go well for new families. I strongly encourage you to put this blog on your “must read” list.

As breastfeeding advocacy is growing and practical solutions to the real challenges faced by families are being proposed, I find myself relying more and more on Moms Rising. While not focusing exclusively on breastfeeding, there is a strong emphasis on the needs of new families, including parenting leave and workplace flexibility. In addition to informative blog articles, they also create resource guides for issues such as Breastfeeding and the Workplace.

The awareness of the importance of donor milk and milk banking has risen dramatically in the past year and the hard work of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America’s (HMBANA) member banks is paying off. A number of banks have extensive online profiles and I especially enjoy the blog of the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank (and their accompanying Instagram profile). They are using these tools to reach out to donor mothers and increase access to donor milk. According to IMMB’s communication director Carissa Hawkins, the blog has driven much needed traffic to their website. “In the month since we posted this post on a recent policy change, web traffic has been higher then ever. We generally see about 1,500 hits a month. This post alone has had over 4,000. It was seen by over 3,000 people on Facebook and commented, liked, and shared over 1,o00 times.”

Some of the hardest working mothers I’ve ever encountered are those who serve in the military. Robyn Roche-Paull, BSN, RN, IBCLC and her hard work with Breastfeeding in Combat Boots serves not only to provide quality, evidenced-based education for the mothers who serve but also to give support and encouragement. Unique challenges abound for these families and having a place to engage about them is incredibly important.

I was so challenged almost two years ago when I began reading Milk Junkies, an honest and heartfelt blog written by Trevor MacDonald, a transgender father in Canada. Trevor shares his experience chestfeeding his son, their unique challenges, how their relationship challenges traditional gender roles and beliefs about breastfeeding, and affirms the incredible power of breastfeeding. It is my hope that as we, as a culture, will step away from our fear and disregard of our transgender community members and instead embrace them, especially in their role as parents who breastfeed. We need to be ready and Trevor’s blog is a wonderful resource.

As blogs continue to be an important part of the way in which we receive our news and information, I hope you will add these to your regular reading list. Of course,  also check out the ones listed in my previous Great Breastfeeding Blogs to Read (which has been updated to remove inactive blogs) and add your additions in the comments.

Posted in Social Media | 1 Comment

Introducing Decalie Brown, ILCA’s Incoming President

DSC03591We are proud to have the opportunity to introduce you to Decalie Brown, who will be assuming the role of Board President at the annual general meeting (AGM) in July at our annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Decalie has been an active member of the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Board of Directors since 2009 and has served as Director of Marketing. Decalie is also a registered nurse/midwife with 33 years of experience serving the families in her community. She is currently working as a nurse specialist in Community Health, visiting parents and babies in their homes and at clinics in the Blue Mountains of Australia, supporting complex issues. She extensively supports health professionals and parents with education of lactation, infant feeding and transitioning to new parenthood.

We recently interviewed Decalie to find out a bit more about her career and her visions for the future of ILCA:

What Called You to Be an IBCLC?

My first baby was a preterm infant after a Grade 3 Placenta Praevia and I was determined that she would only have breastmilk for the first 6 months. We struggled but met our goal. My second child was very different and breastfed with very little trouble and I was convinced that breastfeeding was the best thing I could ever do for my babies. To watch your child grow and develop because of the gift I gave was simply amazing.

I wanted to share with others the unique experiences I had as a breastfeeding mother. I knew the difficulties and also knew the rewards. I never realized how amazing it was until I experienced it, not once but twice.

As a midwife and a practical Child & Family Health Nurse, I loved everything about breastfeeding and wanted to know more about both the science and the art of lactation. Determined, I read and studied anything I could get my hands on that related to breastfeeding and lactation. My passion become a reality and I became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2001.

Today, I truly have the best job. I work as a nurse specialist in Community Health, visiting parents and babies in their homes and clinics. Every day, I have an opportunity to learn something new and make a difference in the lives of  babies and their families. It’s a privilege to be assisting parents as they achieve their parenting goals as well as navigating their own breastfeeding/infant feeding journey. For them, there is only one baby in the world that matters . . . their own.

How Did You Get Involved With ILCA?

I was first involved with ILCA at the 2006 Philadelphia conference where I ambitiously submitted a poster and volunteered for the organization for the first time. What a thrill it was to move among the lactation legends! A highlight of that time was a tour to the local Primary Health Center and a chat I had on the bus ride home with Dr. Ruth Lawrence!

I remember being so excited to be there among so many great speakers. I had read their books and their research and heard them speak but never met them in person. I seized many moments that conference and asked if I could capture the memory with a quick photo. I cherish these photos today.

As I continued to volunteer for ILCA, I was invited to attend the Strategic Planning sessions in March 2008 in Las Vegas (of all places!). Wow! What a thrill and opportunity of a lifetime to sit in the same room as the whole ILCA and International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) Board of Directors and it was a privilege for me, as someone who just happened to have a passion for the  lactation world and was now able to have input into their major strategic planning sessions.

After gaining confidence as a Director on the Board of the Australian Lactation Consultants Association (before Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) was formed) for 2 years, I became the ILCA Director of Marketing in 2009. The rest is history!

As the Incoming President, What Are Your Priorities in the First Year of Your Presidency?

  • To listen carefully at the 2014 Summit Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession and collaborate on the recommended steps to reduce barriers of entry into our profession and increase access to our services.

  • To advance the recognition of the IBCLC credential and profession. Providing skilled lactation care is a critical part of transforming world public health.

  • To continue refining and improving ILCA’s internal governance, based on transparency, accountability and strategic financial planning.

What Do You See as ILCA’s Primary Goals for Your Term?

  • To continue being THE best resource for education and professional development opportunities for IBCLCs, and those who support the ILCA vision and mission. We will also focus on expanding the educational opportunities offered to our members.

  • To develop and expand the relationships with our affiliate organizations globally.

  • To actively update and revise ILCA’s Strategic Plan,  a “living document” that is adjusted to changes in priority, member needs, and fiscal opportunity.

  • To expand ILCA’s presence, outreach, and voice through social media and online channels.

  • To increase ILCA’s  membership, especially in countries and populations under-represented in the past.

  • To expand ILCA’s impact as a global leader in international public health and policy-setting activities.

  • To increase opportunities for research and analysis of research, especially through ILCA outlets.

  • Have a party to celebrate 30 years of ILCA as a strong advocate for our profession!

Do you have additional questions for Decalie?

Please leave a comment and we’ll be glad to post her answers.



Posted in ILCA Board of Directors, ILCA News | 10 Comments

Wondering how to become an IBCLC?

Wondering How To Become An IBCLC-
Are you an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) who gets questions about how to join the profession? Or are you considering becoming an IBCLC?

The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) has a number of resources to help you become an IBCLC and prepare for the certification examination.

The basic requirements needed to become an IBCLC

To become an IBCLC, you’ll need to take certain health science courses, acquire lactation education hours, obtain clinical hours supporting breastfeeding families, and sit for the certification exam. The exam is developed and overseen by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®).

There are three pathways to becoming an IBCLC. The one you choose may depend on whether you have a background in health sciences and how you plan to obtain your clinical hours. You can learn more about the three pathways here at IBLCE’s site.

Finding the right course for you to become an IBCLC

Once you choose a pathway, you’ll select how you will obtain lactation education hours. It is recommended that you complete a comprehensive lactation management course. At the ILCA site, you’ll find a student resource page with a number of resources, including:

Guide to Selecting a Course – Questions to ask course directors to help find a course that fits your needs.

Directory of Lactation Management Courses – List of available courses, with details including the number of hours, learning mode, language and contact information. You’ll find online, local, and college-level offerings, with some that include the opportunity for clinical hours.

Frequently Asked Questions – Answers questions about college prerequisites, clinical experience, continuing education.

Professional Practice Documents – Learn about your profession. Here you’ll find links to Standards of Practice, Scope of Practice, Code of Professional Conduct, and Clinical Competencies.

ILCA also has a number of ways for you to acquire your course hours and develop a connection to your IBCLC community.

Annual Conference – The premiere educational event, offering over 30 contact hours on a wide variety of topics presented by internationally recognized speakers.

Worldwide Education Calendar – Listing of continuing education offerings, including conferences and courses.

Webinars – Live webinars in several languages; placed on the ILCA CERPs onDemand Site following the live presentation.

Continuing Education  – A wide selection of study modules on ILCA’s online CERPs onDemand site. Study modules are based on previous conference sessions, journal articles, and selected documents. ILCA members receive a 50% discount.

Finding the clinical hours you need to become an IBCLC

Acquiring clinical experience is the greatest challenge for students and could take some digging to find somewhere to get your clinical experience.

Clinical Instruction Directory – This new resource is still populating with sites. You can check to see if there is a site near you.

ILCA Discussion Board – Need a Mentor is one of many topics on ILCA’s discussion forum. You can see previous comments, post your questions, and post a notice that you need a mentor. There isn’t a high volume of messages on the forums, but you never know when you might find your mentor here!

Find a Lactation Consultant Directory – Locate IBCLCs in your area and contact them to ask if they will mentor you. This may be your best resource.

ILCA affiliates – Contact the group in your area to ask if they know of instructors near you.

Join ILCA!

Students are welcomed members of the ILCA community! Members enjoy many benefits including a subscription to the Journal of Human Lactation and the weekly ILCAlert emails. A Members Only section of the website is quickly becoming the hub of much IBCLC activity from the Career Mart to teaching tips to resources for promoting your practice. Other member features include discussion boards, FAQ’s, conference session presentations, and access to the online Journal of Human Lactation. Members also receive discounts on ILCA Bookstore purchases, study modules, conference attendance. Learn how to join here, including details on special student rate memberships.

Best wishes on your journey!

photo courtesy of the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition. Anne Schollenberger Photography.


Posted in Membership | 1 Comment

Freya’s Gold: Milk Donation After Loss

#ds37 - Mom and BabyIn today’s Lactation Matters, we’ll hear from Monique, who opted to donate milk after the loss of her daughter, Freya. Monique shared her story in honor of both daughters (Aviana and Freya) who passed away. For her, it is comforting to have their names out there and for their lives to be recognized in some way.

Clinical Lactation, the journal of the United States Lactation Consultant Association, has published an article entitled Lactation After Loss that you may find useful as you support bereaved families.

You may also find previous articles on how to become a milk donor and debunking common milk banking myths helpful as you educate others about milk donation options.

Monique’s story:

When I found out that I was pregnant in 2011, my husband, Justin, and I were both excited and scared because we had already been through a first trimester miscarriage and a loss at 23 weeks gestation when my cervix dilated and I went into early labor (Aviana only lived an hour and a half). Due to previous complications during pregnancy, we decided to work with a high-risk specialist to prevent preterm contractions and cervical dilation. During my pregnancy, I was on bed rest for over three months and was monitored very closely. In preparing for the possibility of preterm labor, I was working with a lactation specialist to learn how to pump milk for a preterm baby. At 33 weeks gestation, there was a cord accident and our second daughter Freya died in-utero. I never had the opportunity to breastfeed or pump milk for Freya.

Even though I had no baby to feed, I produced milk and decided that I wanted to pump. The lactation specialist that I worked with during my pregnancy was bewildered that I wanted to keep pumping my milk after Freya died. She seemed confused as to why a bereaved mother would want to keep pumping her milk . . .

My main support to keep pumping came from my husband and a dear friend, who is a naturopath and a midwife. Both of them encouraged me to pump my milk as long as I wanted to.

The pain of losing a baby is indescribable and for me, pumping milk helped create a structure for the days after my loss that were filled with grief. I pumped my milk multiple times a day for six weeks. I stored every drop of milk that I pumped in a freezer. I couldn’t imagine throwing away “Freya’s Gold” because there was so much love in that milk.

In my experience, there is a general discomfort with grief and loss in our culture. There is pressure to close the loop on suffering which is not realistic for bereaved mothers. Pumping milk is one way that bereaved mothers can manage the intense and ongoing grief of losing a baby.

I have always felt very lucky in love (I love you Justin), and even in the darkest days of my grief, I could feel this light and this love from Freya. I knew I wanted to do something meaningful in memory of our daughter. So I called the Mothers’ Milk Bank about donating my milk. For me, donating milk was a way to help other babies benefit from our daughter’s milk and it was a way to honor my body and my experience.

When I lost Aviana at 23 weeks, I suppressed lactation and never pumped my milk. When Freya died, I chose to continue expressing my milk and then donated it to the milk bank. I made these decisions based on what was best for me at the time. I feel strongly that it is important for lactation consultants to address lactation with bereaved mothers and give them the option to pump their milk so they can make an informed decision.

Special thanks to the Mother’s Milk Bank (a San Jose, California based non-profit milk bank serving 13 states in the U.S.) for working with Monique and sharing her story with Lactation Matters. To stay in touch with the Mother’s Milk Bank, please click here.

Photo credit: Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank

What strategies and tools have you used when talking with bereaved mothers?

Posted in Breastmilk, Donor Milk, Family Support, HMBANA, Milk Banking, Pumping | 12 Comments

Let’s Get Creative! ILCA’s 30th Anniversary Conference Theme Contest!

5953182596_be7bcfce5aILCA will host its 30th Anniversary Conference & Annual Meeting 22-25 July, 2015 in the United States’ national capital of Washington, DC. Planning is under way to celebrate this anniversary and we welcome member input on a theme for the big event. The Conference Program Committee must determine the theme by mid-April. We invite our members to submit theme suggestions! Consider these questions in creating your idea of a theme:

  • What theme would reflect our conference being held in the United States capital?
  • How has the profession evolved over 30 years?
  • What hot topics are IBCLCs dealing with the most that you think they could use more information on?
  • What education do you think will be most helpful to the mothers, babies and families you serve?

All ideas are welcome! We want to make the 2015 ILCA Conference the best it can be and we hope you will join us next year to celebrate this momentous occasion!

Submit your ideas for a 2015 conference theme for a chance to win a complimentary full conference registration! Submissions must be received by midnight, on 31 March. Each person who submits an idea will be entered into the drawing for a conference registration. Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

[editor's note: to avoid spam and inappropriate content, all comments at Lactation Matters are moderated. This means your comment won't "show up" below until an editor approves it. We're checking frequently throughout the day, so you should see your comment within the day. Thanks for your patience!]

Photo credit: cc image via flickr user KP Tripathi.

Posted in ILCA 2015 Conference, ILCA News | 72 Comments

IBCLC Day 2014: Sharing Our Gratitude

IBLCDaySocialMedia-Final-AThis Wednesday, 5 March 2014, is IBCLC® Day!

Every day, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants help families reach their breastfeeding goals. IBCLC Day is our opportunity to honor and thank the individuals that help parents and their babies year-round.

Did an IBCLC help you reach your breastfeeding goals?

“Thanks to my IBCLC, my baby and I went from a failure to thrive babe who had not regained birth weight at 5 weeks to a full milk supply. She helped me with a plethora of support tools: SNS, formula, pumping, and domperidone. I was able to breastfeed him for two years! I will be forever thankful.”

Was your baby in the NICU or special care nursery? Did an IBCLC help you establish breastfeeding?

“My hospital IBCLC worked like crazy when my baby was in the NICU. She really advocated for me and my baby and she knew how important it was to keep us together.”

Did an IBCLC help you out when the first latch wasn’t as smooth as you’d hoped?

“Our IBCLC helped us with our tongue tied newborn. She saw us for several follow up visits to make sure breastfeeding was going well.”

Did an IBCLC help you feel supported as you managed your unique breastfeeding situation?

“One of the most helpful things she has done for me is to continue to reach out to me on a daily basis. It makes me feel not isolated on solving my breastfeeding problems, and tells me that she really cares about my success.”

Did you or your baby have unique medical issues that made breastfeeding more challenging?

“My IBCLC helped me develop the confidence in my altered body [post breast reduction surgery] to successfully nurse. She taught me about supplemental nursers and milk increasing herbs.”

There are many ways to thank an IBCLC today – please join us!

Tell us your story. Leave thanks for your IBCLC in the comments here or on our Facebook page here.

Thank your IBCLC. Stop by the ILCA Facebook page and show your gratitude. We’ll be posting content starting Wednesday (at noon UTC +11). Or share our thank you image here on your lactation consultant’s page. You can also send a e-card here.

Thank the hospital, birth center, or community center that employed an IBCLC that helped you. Share your appreciation with the facility today by sharing our thank you image here (live starting Wednesday at noon UTC +11, but you can download one at any time here) on their Facebook page.

Show your gratitude to the IBCLC that helped you help a family. Are you a health care provider or doula that collaborated with a lactation consultant this year? Are you an IBCLC that consulted with another IBCLC recently? Let them know you appreciate it! Share this image on their Facebook page or send thanks in an e-card.

Are you celebrating IBCLC day in other ways? Please share with us, either in the comments here or on Facebook.

Posted in IBCLC Day, IBCLCs around the globe | 1 Comment

Letter from the ILCA President 2014

Every year, the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) board president shares with members the strategic plans and priorities for the year ahead. This year, we’re sharing it at Lactation Matters so that everyone interested in ILCA – not just members – can be up-to-date. Share your feedback at info@ilca.org or in the comments below.

liz_brooksDear ILCA Members,

Happy IBCLC Day (Wednesday, 5 March 2014) from the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Board of Directors!

Our social media platforms (FacebookLactation Matters blog and Twitter) are front and center this year, to honor and celebrate the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®).  We hope you take a moment to reach out and thank an IBCLC who touched your life . . . perhaps as a clinician; maybe as a mentor. Learn more here.

To our members: thank YOU! Your membership dollars are the engine driving this association, allowing us to produce the top-ranked breastfeeding research publication Journal of Human Lactation (JHL), to host the premier international lactation conference every year, and to be an important voice for IBCLCs who protect  human lactation in international policy-setting bodies. But without YOU, this professional association would not exist.

In return, ILCA offers YOU a place for advocacy, education and professional development that focuses on YOU and your credential. No other group or association looks out for the IBCLC the way ILCA and its Partner Affiliates do. Here is a snapshot of some of ILCA’s important activities in the last year:

Reducing inequities in breastfeeding support; opening the doors of the profession, and the professional association. The demographics of ILCA membership, and the pathways of entry into our profession, show there are significant race- and income-based barriers to sit for the IBCLC exam offered by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®). Accreditation of academic programs in human lactation (by the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee, LEAARC) is expanding . . . but not yet universal. The future viability of our profession is very much at stake. Thus, the three independent organizations (ILCA, IBLCE and LEAARC) are co-hosting a Summit Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession on 27 July 2014, in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Watch the ILCA website for details and consider a submission to the JHL issue devoted to the topic of inequity; deadline is 1 August 2014.

Operations and management. Over the past few years, ILCA has been working on a top-to-bottom governance and operational shift, which is critical for long-term association sustainability. Our restructured budgeting, accounting, and auditing processes now include an operational metrics system to better evaluate ILCA’s programs and services. Additionally, ILCA now has highly skilled, experienced staff members who have expertise in conferencing, member-association management, and financial planning and analysis.

Finances and budgeting. The ILCA Board has set several short-term budgeting and long-term financial goals that better reflect our changing member needs. ILCA has commenced an ambitious development goal to raise  membership by expanding into more countries and remote regions where English is not the primary language.

Improved affiliate relations may mean new governance at ILCA! In a matter of weeks, ILCA hopes to provide details of a year-long review and revision of the ILCA Partner Affiliate agreements, designed to better support our affiliate members.

International advocacy. ILCA recently received a three-year renewal of its coveted non-governmental organization (NGO) status with the World Health Organization (WHO), and we retain our NGO status with the United Nations (UNICEF). Additionally, several efforts are underway from our stellar United Nations Breastfeeding Action Team (UNBAT), to insert breastfeeding protection into measures involving maternal/child health, gender equity, food safety and emergency preparedness.

Strategic plan, vision and mission. As part of its on-going work concerning the ILCA Strategic Plan, the Board has begun to look anew at the vision and mission that are our association guideposts. Every breastfeeding family deserves information and support; indeed, breastfeeding and human lactation as the cultural norm is an ideal upon which we can all agree. The IBCLC plays a critical role in making that happen. While not all families need an IBCLC’s care, those that do should know who we are, what we do, and how to access our services quickly. And ILCA and its Partner Affiliates are the ideal place to find IBCLC-centered resources and advocacy.

This is not all that ILCA is doing. These are only the “big picture” efforts that define the overall tone and philosophy of your professional association. The work of our Committees, Task Forces, Liaisons, staff, and our cadre of social media ambassadors, continues, every day. We’d love your help, too.  Let us say it one more time –

Thank you! On behalf of the entire ILCA Board of Directors,


ILCA President

Posted in ILCA News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Moving On

By Amber McCann, IBCLC


Two years ago, I received a message from Decalie Brown, a board member of ILCA, asking me if I would consider coming along side the organization to give leadership for their blog, Lactation Matters. My dear friend, Robin Kaplan of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, had birthed the blog a year earlier and taken it through its infancy. She had been afforded the opportunity to kick-off The Boob Group podcast (if you aren’t listening, it is a fantastic resource for the mothers we serve!) and was handing off her ILCA responsibilities. My knowledge of Robin and the caliber of her work coupled with a true desire to be a part of walking ILCA through the changing tide of online communications led me to give a hearty “YES” to Decalie.

And thus began my wonderful term as blog editor for Lactation Matters. I had the opportunity to attend two amazing conferences (one in Orlando and the other in lovely Melbourne, Australia) and connect with countless ILCA members worldwide. I grew as a clinician and an advocate. I got to rub shoulders with many of those who have gone before me in the field and paved the way. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

Our Clinician in the Trenches Series: Early in my time with Lactation Matters, I was tasked with highlighting the work of ILCA members who were working with new mothers and babies in their communities to support them at the start of their breastfeeding journeys. We developed this series to ask the question “What Does a Typical Day Look Like for an IBCLC?”. The responses we got were varied and inspirational. So many of you are doing the hard work, over and over and over, to provide the families in your communities education, support, and advocacy. Bravo to you!

Engaging with Dr. Virginia Thorley: While working on a blog post about her latest book, The 10th Step and Beyond, I struck up an email relationship with Dr. Virginia Thorley. If you’ve ever been afforded the opportunity to engage with her, you know that she has a wealth of wisdom and a library of stories. My background is in sociology and I’m driven not by the science of lactation (though I do strongly respect its value) but by the connection it brings. I found a kindred spirit in Dr. Thorley. I was blessed to share dinner, face to face conversation, and her company while in Melbourne. I treasure those moments and her willingness to pour a bit of her magic into me.

IMG_3272Our 2013 World Breastfeeding Week Series: The theme in 2013 highlighted the many ways that support is provided in the community: through the workplace and employment, through government, through family and social networks, through crisis response, and through the health care system. We highlighted each of these methods in its own post and more than doubled our weekly posting average to focus on them all! We had a wonderful response and more views on the blog in a week than we’d ever had.

As I pass the baton to my colleague, Jeanette McCulloch, I do so with gratitude. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my gifts with ILCA and I look forward to continuing to serve in the future. I couldn’t be more confident that Jeanette will take the foundation that was built by Robin Kaplan and I and grow the ILCA presence higher and higher. As I give up my responsiblities with ILCA, I’ll use the time I get back to explore my new hometown of Pittsburgh (and eat my way through all of its amazing restaurants) and find new and exciting ways to support the mothers in my community. I’ll never be far from ILCA. They help me everyday to “empower mothers and save babies’ lives.”

Photo credit: Amber McCann, IBCLC

Posted in ILCA News, ILCA Staff, Social Media | 4 Comments

IBCLC Day 2014: Honoring the Ways IBCLCs Help Families

IBCLCs, get ready to give thanks – and accept gratitude.IBLCDaySocialMedia-Final-A

Every day, I hear from people who are grateful for the IBCLCs in their community. Families who were able to reach their breastfeeding goals. Health care providers who see the vital role the IBCLC plays on a baby’s team. Community leaders who value how breastfeeding improves their citizens’ health and well being.

This year, IBCLC Day is designed to deepen the connections we have to families, health care providers, and our community by taking a moment to share that gratitude.

ILCA has created a series of images – designed to be shared on social media – that invite the community to share their reflections on the impact of IBCLCs. (Check out a sample one at the top of this post!) We also hope that families and others will take this opportunity to thank the IBCLCs in their lives by sharing these reflections on social media.

On March 5th – IBCLC Day 2014 – please watch on the blog, Facebook page, and in your e-mail for ways that you can encourage sharing.

Want to take action today? On the ILCA website, you’ll find a flyer all about how your community can participate. Please print and post wherever families, health care providers, or anyone who cares about breastfeeding might see it – like your local baby store, community center, or health care center.

Know an organization who would like to help us celebrate IBCLC day with a blog post to encourage sharing? Contact us at LactationMatters {at} gmail {dot} com.

We know that in the past, IBCLC Day has focused on local events. While we don’t have some of the materials as in year’s past (like cake art) others will still be available (like thank you certificates and e-cards). We hope that you’ll continue to organize those in your community! You can also purchase IBCLC merch at the ILCA store here as thank you gifts! We encourage you to take this opportunity to come together and share your gratitude for your local breastfeeding community.

You can also take March 5th as an opportunity to share gratitude for your IBCLC colleagues. Stop by the ILCA Facebook page and share a “thank you” with your mentor, your practice partner, or an IBCLC that you collaborated with sometime this year. Or send an e-card (you’ll find those and everything else you need for IBCLC Day here). The more gratitude, the better!

In the words of the U.S. poet and author Maya Angelou: “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”

Photo credit for image: courtesy of the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition. Anne Schollenberger Photography.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment