Breastfeeding and Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality: Celebrating Successes and Overcoming Barriers

As a part of Black Breastfeeding Week, Lactation Matters is reprinting (with permission) two editorials from Clinical Lactation, the official journal of the United States Lactation Consultant Association. Up today: a focus on the successes so far and places where IBCLCs can support change. Throughout the post, check out additional links that author Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, RLC, FAPA, has asked Lactation Matters to highlight as additional resources for our community.

Many exciting changes occurred in 2013 in the breastfeeding world. One of the best trends was the increase in breastfeeding rates in the African American community. The CDC indicated that increased breastfeeding rate in African American women narrowed the gap in infant mortality rates. As the CDC noted:

From 2000 to 2008, breastfeeding initiation increased . . . from 47.4% to 58.9% among blacks. Breastfeeding duration at 6 months increased from . . . 16.9% to 30.1% among blacks. Breastfeeding duration at 12 months increased from . . . 6.3% to 12.5% among blacks.

Much of this wonderful increase in breastfeeding rates among African Americans has come from efforts within that community. In 2013, we saw the first Black Breastfeeding Week become part of World Breastfeeding Week in the U.S. Programs, such as A More Excellent Way, Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), and Free to Breastfeed, offer peer-counselor programs for African American women.

Check out the Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Summit

We can celebrate these successes. But there is still more to do. Although the rates of infant mortality have dropped, African Americans babies are still twice as likely to die. In addition, although rates of breastfeeding have increased among African Americans, they are still lower than they are other ethnic groups.

For each of the 2000–2008 birth years, breastfeeding initiation and duration prevalences were significantly lower among black infants compared with white and Hispanic infants. However, the gap between black and white breastfeeding initiation narrowed from 24.4 percentage points in 2000 to 16.3 percentage points in 2008.

Barriers to Overcome

In order to continue this wonderful upward trend in breastfeeding rates, we need to acknowledge possible barriers to breastfeeding among African American women. Here are a couple I’ve observed. They are not the only ones, surely. But they are ones I’ve consistently encountered. They will not be quick fixes, but they can be overcome if we recognize them and take appropriate action.

1) Pathways for IBCLCs of Color. In their book, Birth Ambassadors, Christine Morton and Elayne Clift highlight a problem in the doula world that also has relevance for the lactation world: most doulas (and IBCLCs) are white, middle-class women. And there is a very practical reason for this. This is the only demographic of women that can afford to become doulas (or IBCLCs). The low pay, or lack of job opportunities for IBCLCs who are not also nurses, means that there are limited opportunities for women without other sources of income to be in this profession. Also, as we limit tracks for peer-counselors to become IBCLCs, we also limit the opportunities for women of color to join our field. I recently met a young African American woman who told me that she would love to become an IBCLC, but couldn’t get the contact hours needed to sit for the exam. That’s a shame. (I did refer her to someone I knew could help.

2) We need to have some dialogue about how we can bring along the next generation of IBCLCs. We need to recognize the structural barriers that make it difficult for young women of color to enter our field. ILCA has started this dialogue and held its first Lactation Summit in July to begin addressing these issues.

These discussions can start with you. Sherry Payne, in her recent webinar, Welcoming African American Women into Your Practice, recommends that professionals who work in communities of color find their replacement from the communities they serve. Even if you only mentor one woman to become an IBCLC, you can have a tremendous impact in your community. If we all do the same, we can change the face of our field.

3) Bedsharing and Breastfeeding. This is an issue that I expect will become more heated over the next couple of years. But it is a reality. As we encourage more women to breastfeed, a higher percentage of women will bedshare. As recent studies have repeatedly found, bedsharing increases breastfeeding duration. This is particularly true for exclusive breastfeeding.

Bedsharing is a particular concern when we are talking about breastfeeding in the African American community. Of all ethnic groups studied, bedsharing is most common in African Americans. It is unrealistic to think that we are going to simultaneously increase breastfeeding rates while decreasing bedsharing rates in this community. The likely scenario is that breastfeeding would falter. It’s interesting that another recent CDC report, Public Health Approaches to Reducing U.S. Infant Mortality, talks quite a bit about safe-sleep messaging, with barely a mention of breastfeeding in decreasing infant mortality. A more constructive approach might be to talk about being safe while bedsharing. But as long as the message is simply “never bedshare,” there is likely to be little progress, and it could potentially become a barrier to breastfeeding.

Don’t miss the Interview with Sherry Payne on Fighting Breastfeeding Disparities with Support.

Reason to Hope

Even with these barriers, and others I haven’t listed, Baby-Friendly Hospitals are having a positive effect. When hospitals have Baby-Friendly policies in place, racial disparities in breastfeeding rates seem to disappear. For example, a study of 32 U.S. Baby-Friendly hospitals revealed breastfeeding initiation rates of 83.8% compared to the national average of 69.5%. In-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates were 78.4% compared with a national rate of 46.3%. Rates were similar even for hospitals with high proportions of black or low-income patients (Merewood, Mehta, Chamberlain, Phillipp, & Bauchner, 2005). This is a very hopeful sign, especially as more hospitals in the U.S. go Baby-Friendly.

Click here to watch the Teach Me to Breastfeed Rap!

In summary, we have made significant strides in reducing the high rates of infant mortality, particularly among African Americans. I am encouraged by the large interest in this topic and the number of different groups working towards this goal. Keep up the good work. I think we are reaching critical mass.

And thanks for impacting your community—one mother at a time. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2014.

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, RLC, FAPA

Editor-in-Chief, Clinical Lactation


Merewood, A., Mehta, S. D., Chamberlain, L. B., Phillipp, B. L., & Bauchner, H. (2005). Breastfeeding rates in U.S. Baby-Friendly hospitals: Results of a national survey. Pediatrics, 116(3), 628-634.

Reprinted with permission from Clinical Lactation, Vol. 5-1

About the Author

kendall-tackett 2014-small

Dr. Kendall-Tackett is a health psychologist and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and the Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Praeclarus Press, a small press specializing in women’s health. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Lactation, Fellow of the American Psychological Association in Health and Trauma Psychology, President of the APA Division of Trauma Psychology, and Editor-in-Chief-elect of Psychological Trauma. She is a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo, Texas and Research Associate at the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Her most recent books include The Science of Mother-Infant Sleep (with Wendy Middlemiss) and Psychology of Trauma 101 (with Lesia Ruglass). Her websites are and

Posted in Black Breastfeeding Week | Tagged | 1 Comment

Seven Ways To Support Black Breastfeeding Week



This week marks the second annual Black Breastfeeding Week (learn more here). We asked Kimberly Durdin, IBCLC, SMW, to share with us her reflections on her path to becoming an IBCLC, why we need Black Breastfeeding Week, and how we as IBCLCs can support Black women in our profession.

23 years ago, I was a brand new mom, with a weeks old baby daughter, who I was struggling to breastfeed. In spite of the support my mother (who had breastfed) and my husband, I needed more. I struggled with sore nipples, Caesarian recovery and thoughts of giving up. A new mom friend told me about our local La Leche League group and one day, I stumbled into the monthly meeting with my baby in my arms.

I received the support and help that I needed, and with the help of that leaders encouragement, I came back to more meetings and gained a community I didn’t even know was forming around me. Four months into nursing my daughter, this leader encouraged me to do more . . . she suggested I become a La Leche League leader.  I had no idea what that entailed and I surely felt unqualified to even attempt that journey. Patiently she keep after me, reminding me of what she said when the suggestion first left her lips: “There are not a lot of black women doing this [breastfeeding and becoming La Leche League Leaders].  You’d be a great role model.”

Although it took me four years and a winding path to actually make that happen, I did become a LLL Leader (yes, one of the few African American ones). I also became a breastfeeding peer counselor through the WIC program and, years later, an IBCLC. Although I have had many mentors over the years that I continue to value and learn from, I can’t thank enough Lucy Koteen, long time La Leche League Leader from Brooklyn, NY for not only seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself, but for also being such an outstanding, open-minded person. She was aware not only of her privilege, but also of the issues around her, beyond the ones in her immediate world (for example, breastfeeding in the Black community) and sought ways in which she could be of support.

She believed that all women should have support for breastfeeding and sought out ways to bring the information to underserved audiences such as young black and brown pregnant and parenting girls. She knew that someone who looked like them could perhaps deliver a message that may have more impact than hearing it (in her case) from a “wealthy older white lady telling these girls that they should breastfeed.” She got out of the way . . . it wasn’t about her. She didn’t need money and she didn’t have an agenda but to help as many woman as she could. She wasn’t a lactation consultant, and never became one. Because of her, a seed was planted in me and slowly, very slowly – and with the help of many other mentors along the way – a lactation professional emerged. As I grew into this profession, it was not only my own actions, but the support (and sometimes that support was strictly financial) of others who believed in me that actually made my dream of becoming a lactation consultant a reality. I could not have done this without the support of folks like Lucy. Actually, I could have done it, I would do whatever it took, but they helped me navigate looming obstacles. In the process I’ve been able to help innumerable families, many who look like me and many who don’t.   (I’ve also been able to help women who look like me enter the profession, too.)

This past July, I attended the Inaugural and historical Lactation Summit 2014 hosted by ILCA, LEAARC and IBLCE. Afterwards, I talked with a number of Summit attendees from the dominant culture. I was surprised to learn that many were unaware of the struggle that women of color have experienced in breastfeeding their own children, in receiving culturally competent care, and in obtaining the required education, mentoring, opportunities and financial support needed to sit for the IBCLC exam. The barriers are financial, cultural, systemic and logistical. When dominant culture women aren’t aware of the challenges that women of color face, that lack of awareness becomes a barrier of its own. 

Many also told me their eyes have been opened in a new way to inequities on various levels. These inequities harm Black women, but they also derail our profession.

Would you like to help? Are you wondering what support looks like? Here are some ways you can take action in your community:

One: Give to an educational scholarship of your choosing that will directly benefilt a candidate of color. A great way to do this is to list your educational scholarship or opportunity with The Grand Challenge.

Two: Contribute to cost of trainings for candidates of color.

Three: Offer to mentor candidates.  Bring them into your practice. Open doors for them that they wouldn’t have possibly been able to open without your connection.

Four: Contribute to expenses related to obtaining certification such as traveling expenses and testing fees.

Five: Contribute to educational fees associated with obtaining CERPs.

Six: Offer free/reduced price or scholarships for classes you may offer to  expectant and breastfeeding parents so that more community members can be educated, and also this helps to seed and grow the next generation of lactation and childbirth pros.

Seven: Respect and understand that some women of color are much more open to receiving health messages from other folks of color. Dominant culture women must learn to respect that and not feel threatened by it. Events like Black Breastfeeding Week help to strengthen cultural pride and awareness around our herstory of breastfeeding . . . our struggles challenges and triumph that are unique to our community, our shared herstory.

I hope that dominant culture breastfeeding supporters do not perceive Black Breastfeeding Week as some sort of woman of color protest. Black women rarely see images of women who look like them breastfeeding. Many breastfeeding promotion campaigns do not include images of black women breastfeeding. Events like Black Breastfeeding Week help black women see breastfeeding as something they do, too . . . not just something white women do. 

kimberly_james_largeKimberly Durdin, IBCLC, SMW, is an internationally board ­certified lactation consultant, childbirth educator, speaker, trainer, former birth and postpartum doula and a retired La Leche League Leader. She has helped thousands of families have a satisfying and empowering experience of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and parenting. Kimberly has served families in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, where she was named one of the best lactation consultants in 2004 by Washington Families magazine. Learn more here.

Posted in Black Breastfeeding Week, Breastfeeding Advocacy | Tagged , | 1 Comment

JHL Research: Impact of Maternity Leave On Breastfeeding Outcomes

Journal of Human Lactation

Editor’s Note: Leigh Anne O’Connor, a U.S. based IBCLC in private practice who often works with mothers planning to return to work, recently interviewed Kelsey R. Mirkovic, one of the authors of the recently published study on the impact of maternity leave on breastfeeding outcomes. Read on to learn more about the outcomes, study design, and more:

Recently the Journal of Human Lactation published the study Maternity leave duration and full-time/part-time work status are associated with US mothers’ ability to meet breastfeeding intentions by Kelsey R. Mirkovic, Cria G. Perrine, Kelley S. Scanlon, and Laurence M. Grummer-Strawn.

The study showed that employment can be a barrier to breastfeeding outcomes. This reiterates the importance of public health policy and its role in supporting employed breastfeeding parents.

I interviewed Kelsey R. Mirkovic, PhD to learn more about this study.

Here is what she had to say:

What were the key findings of your research?

We found that even among mothers who planned to breastfeed for more than three months, that those who returned to full-time work any time before three months were less likely to meet that intention.

Were there any big surprises for you and your team? 

Early return to full-time work has been frequently cited as a barrier to breastfeeding and we were not surprised to find that even among mothers who planned to breastfeed for at least three months that those who did return to full time work did not continue breastfeeding.

What compelled you to do this study?

Others have published studies that show mothers who take shorter maternity leaves and return to work full-time stop breastfeeding earlier; however, some people think that mothers who plan to breastfeed for a shorter duration will return to work earlier. Because so many mothers participate in the work force, most with a full-time schedule, we wanted to determine if earlier return to full-time work was a barrier to breastfeeding even among women who planned to breastfeed for at least three months. 

Was there any intervention for any of the parents with an IBCLC?

In this study we did not consider mothers experiences with an IBCLC.

What definition is used for breastfeeding? Partial or exclusive? Was the definition a consideration?

In this study we focused on any breastfeeding as an outcome. We considered looking at exclusive breastfeeding as an outcome; however, in another paper published using the same group of women, it was shown that even among mothers who planned to exclusively breastfeed, many infants were supplemented with formula within the first month. Because this happened so early, we thought that other barriers to breastfeeding were likely contributing to the early supplementation, such as hospital practices or lack of peer or professional support.

What are your hopes with this study? What outcomes on a national public health policy do you see occurring?

It is important for public health policy to support women who choose the healthiest option for feeding their infants and we hope this study will contribute to the growing evidence that returning to work earlier may reduce a mother’s ability to meet her own intentions for infant feeding.

Do you see this study as a tool to change policy?

At CDC, we are dedicated to conducting research that will inform public health policy and we believe this study will contribute to the growing evidence that longer maternity leaves and/or part-time return schedules may increase breastfeeding rates and have important health benefits for mothers and infants.

If you could do the same study again, what would you change about the methods used in this study?

The Infant Feeding Practices Study II (IFPS II) was a very valuable and comprehensive study that followed expectant mothers from the 3rd trimester of pregnancy through the first year of their child’s life. This study asked mothers a number of questions about infant feeding and infant care practices. Because this study was not primarily focused on maternal employment, only a few questions were asked about the new mothers’ work. It would be very interesting to know how much maternity leave each mother had available and why she returned to work when she did; and if she would have taken a longer maternity leave if she could have received pay during her leave. It would also be very interesting to know if the mothers who did not meet their three-month breastfeeding intention perceived work as a major barrier to breastfeeding as long as they had planned.

Did you find that the parents who planned to breastfeed for a shorter duration did, in fact, return to work sooner?

In this study, we only included mothers who planned to breastfeed for at least three months and most of the mothers in our study planned to breastfeed for at least nine months. In fact, more than 40% planned to breastfeed for at least twelve months. Despite the long breastfeeding duration many mothers planned, mothers who returned to work before three months were less likely to breastfeed for at least three months, especially mothers who returned to work full-time before six weeks.

What would you like to add that was not included in the final printed research?

This study focused on a breastfeeding duration of at least three months. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends continued breastfeeding for the first twelve months or longer and it is important to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed as recommended.

LAO headshot summer 2014Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC, RLC

Leigh Anne O’Connor is a Private Practice Lactation Consultant, La Leche League Leader and mother of three. She lives and practices in New York City. She writes at You can learn more about her work at

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 10.09.04 AM

Kelsey R. Mirkovic, PhD

Dr. Kelsey Mirkovic works as an epidemiologist for CDC in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, where she focuses her work on infant feeding.  Her current research activities have focused on how topics related to maternal employment influences breastfeeding behaviors and how we may support more working mothers successfully breastfeed.

Posted in JHL article | 2 Comments

Catch up with the #ILCA2014 Conference


Missed the ILCA conference this year? There’s still a number of ways to catch up with conference highlights!

Thanks to the efforts of the ILCA Medialert Team (including Christine Staricka of @IBCLCinCA) and other conference goers, highlights of the conference plenaries and some of the breakout sessions were broadcast on Twitter. One of the Medialert Team members, Jodine Chase of @humanmilknews, captured and summed up those tweets which you can find here:

Wednesday 23 July 2o14

Heinig Plenary

Summary of other tweets on 22 & 23 July

Thursday 24 July 2014

Smillie Plenary

Gagneux Plenary

Summary of other tweets on 24 July

Friday 25 July 2014

Singleton Plenary

Summary of other tweets on 25 July

Saturday, July 26

Ball Plenary

President’s Address: Decalie Brown

Glass/Wolf Plenary

Stuebe Plenary

Clark Plenary

Labbok Plenary

Find ILCA and all its stories here on Storify.

Note that we were not able to catch the Lactation Summit via Storify. We’ll keep you up-to-date on a summary that is being prepared.

And of course, many of the most popular talks from the #ILCA2014 conference will be available via CERPs on demand. Watch here – we’ll let you know when they go live!

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FREE Access to the Journal of Human Lactation

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The Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) is the premier quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original research, commentaries relating to human lactation and breastfeeding behavior, case reports relevant to the practicing lactation consultant and other health professionals who assist lactating mothers or their breastfeeding infants, debate on research methods for breastfeeding and lactation studies, and discussions of the business aspects of lactation consulting.

JHL has made excellent strides in influence in the past year. They are the top-ranked breastfeeding journal globally and experienced a 50% increase in their ranking among nursing journals, where they are currently ranked as 6th. The journal’s impact factor – a key measure of the journal’s influence that looks at how frequently a journal article is cited – has risen to 1.977. We are proud to have them continuing to bring quality research to our field.

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, JHL is offering free access to a number of their most-read articles through August 31, 2014. While ILCA members receive and have access to JHL as a member benefit, the availability of the free articles is especially beneficial for our colleagues from other disciplines.  Please share widely these resources to pediatricians, obstetricians, midwives, nurses, educators, researchers and general public.

Free articles from JHL (through 31 August 2014) include:

ILCA Position Paper: Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies by Cathy Carothers and Karleen Gribble

Breastfeeding Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Attitudes of Canadian Physicians by Catherine M. Pound, Kathryn Williams, Renee Grenon, Mary Aglipay, and Amy C. Plint

Expansion of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding into Neonatal Intensive Care: Expert Group Recommendations by Kerstin H. Nyqvist, Anna-Pia Häggkvist, Mette N. Hansen, Elisabeth Kylberg, Annemi L. Frandsen, Ragnhild Maastrup, Aino Ezeonodo, Leena Hannula, and Laura N. Haiek

Relationship between Use of Labor Pain Medications and Delayed Onset of Lactation by Jennifer N. Lind, Cria G. Perrine, and Ruowei Li

Effect of Cup Feeding and Bottle Feeding on Breastfeeding in Late Preterm Infants: A Randomized Controlled Study by Gonca Yilmaz, Nilgun Caylan, Can Demir Karacan, İlknur Bodur, and Gulbin Gokcay

Education and Support for Fathers Improves Breastfeeding Rates: A Randomized Controlled Trial by Bruce Maycock, Colin W. Binns, Satvinder Dhaliwal, Jenny Tohotoa, Yvonne Hauck, Sharyn Burns, and Peter Howat

Variation in Fat, Lactose, and Protein Composition in Breast Milk over 24 Hours: Associations with Infant Feeding Patterns by Sadaf Khan, Anna R. Hepworth, Danielle K. Prime, Ching T. Lai, Naomi J. Trengove, and Peter E. Hartmann

Postcesarean Section Skin-to-Skin Contact of Mother and Child by Concepción de Alba-Romero, Isabel Camaño-Gutiérrez, Paloma López-Hernández, Javier de Castro-Fernández, Patricia Barbero-Casado, Maria Luisa Salcedo-Vázquez, Dolores Sánchez-López, Pilar Cantero-Arribas, Maria Teresa Moral-Pumarega, and Carmen Rosa Pallás-Alonso

Breastfeeding and Neonatal Weight Loss in Healthy Term Infants by Riccardo Davanzo, Zemira Cannioto, Luca Ronfani, Lorenzo Monasta, and Sergio Demarini

A Qualitative Study to Understand Cultural Factors Affecting a Mother’s Decision to Breast or Formula Feedby Tara P. Fischer and Beth H. Olson

What are your favorite JHL articles from the past year?  How have they impacted your practice?


Posted in JHL News | 1 Comment

JHL Cover Photo Contest!

JHL (3)

Every year, the Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) hosts a photo contest for the coveted cover spot on each edition. The JHL 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. The annual photo contest is your opportunity to contribute to the journal and highlight your community. We’ve invited the JHL staff to tell us more about how you can join in the contest.

The four photos on JHL’s cover are changed annually. JHL is your journal, and we want to feature your photos! The four photos portray the broad field of human lactation, from the IBCLC helping new mothers (picture the caring professional with a breastfeeding mother, teaching a class, etc.) along with the harder science of lactation (picture test tubes of milk, microscope slides, etc.). Please send us your photos! We are looking for shots representing a range of backgrounds, contexts, and cultures.


  • Keep photo clear with minimal background interference
  • Photos should be jpeg files: 300ppi .jpg; at least 2100 pixels wide x 1500 pixels high
  • Email photos to:
  • We may not be able to respond to each message separately, but as confirmation of your submission, you should receive an auto response message
  • Include your name (assuming you are the photographer) and full contact information with preferably a second email address


  • Deadline – October 15, 2014: NO EXCEPTIONS
  • If a recognizable person features in the photo (e.g., the face of a mother/baby/clinician etc.) you must have a photo consent form.
  • If your photo is a contender for publication, we will require subjects to sign a specific consent form, so only send photos if you know you can obtain permission from the subject.
  • As the photographer you will need to sign non exclusive copyright – in other words, you allow JHL to use the photo, but you are free to use it elsewhere as you choose.
  • If we believe the photo is a potential winner, we will contact you again before the deadline to talk to you and ensure we have the correct forms.

Questions? Email

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World Breastfeeding Week: Tell Us About Your MVPs


World Breastfeeding Week kicks off Friday, August 1st. Please help us celebrate by joining in! Read on to learn about our plans for this year.

“I loved having [my IBCLC's] support just a phone call away! It took the stress out of breastfeeding. She was always available to problem solve small and large issues. Sometimes I just needed reassurance that I was on the right track. I felt like I was able to avoid any major issues by having her as part of my team.” – Lara L, Mother to Lincoln & Felix

“IBCLCs are an essential part of the infant feeding team — quarterback, goalie, coach, doesn’t matter. A large portion of my practice is infants with feeding problems, and many babies come to me as a result of referrals from IBCLCs, and I refer right back to them for continued support, skills acquisition, help with pumping plans, transitioning away from feeding tools and towards the breast, or towards successful integration of feeding tools. They’re the breastfeeding experts and we are so lucky to have thorough, compassionate IBCLCs in our community supporting our families.” – Dr. Elias Kass, Seattle, Washington, US

Breastfeeding is a ‘team’ process: parents and babies form the core of the team, with family, friends, and others serving as team members, coaches, cheerleaders, and fans. Parents have goals for breastfeeding and need the help and support of the whole team to achieve those goals.

As with a sports game, there can be small successes and setbacks through the course of a family’s breastfeeding experience, though striving all the time to win. The 2014 World Breastfeeding Week theme, “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal – For Life!” celebrates the team effort needed to make breastfeeding easier.

This year’s theme also recognizes that there can be many teams supporting breastfeeding, including health care clinics, birthing facilities, child care providers, and employers. Uniting the efforts of all of these teams across the local or regional landscape to form Team Breastfeed can help everyone succeed with their goals.

To honor World Breastfeeding Week, we want to highlight the IBCLCs that have earned their MVPs (Most Valuable Players!) by helping families reach their breastfeeding goals. We are asking families and colleagues to recap their victories – big and small – and how their breastfeeding team worked together.

Because we want to make sure the IBCLC members of Team Breastfeed have the tools they need to the best possible players, we’ll pick one story at random to celebrate. The family will receive WBW swag – like a Team Breastfeed water bottle and bib – and the helper will receive a one year membership to ILCA, which includes critical tools for providing evidence-based care, including access to the Journal of Human Lactation, discounted access to webinars on the latest research and care, and a listing in the ILCA Find a Lactation Consultant Tool (for IBCLCs in good standing).

WABA also offers another way you can show your support for breastfeeding: The World Breastfeeding Week comes on the heels of the World Cup held in Brazil, the soccer games that united the world for the love of the “beautiful game”. World Breastfeeding Week is a call to action for breastfeeding as “a winning goal for life”. ILCA’s new vision statement released on July 24th. It now reads, “World Health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care”. Lactation consultants around the world are transforming world health by helping families build a solid foundation for maternal and child health, gender equality and sustainable health care. Lactation Consultants can take a leadership role in World Breastfeeding Week by initiating public and media events for breastfeeding women in their communities. Connecting with WABA about these events and becoming a WABA endorser are ways that we can unite the world for the love of breastfeeding at the ILCA conference verifies the impact of breastfeeding on health.


Share your story in the comments below! The winning entry will be picked on the last day of World Breastfeeding Week, August 7th.

Posted in World Breastfeeding Week | 16 Comments

What Do the Changes Announced by USLCA Mean To US ILCA Members?

ILCALogo_full_text (2)The United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) has announced its intent to change its relationship with the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®). USCLA will establish an operation fully independent of ILCA so that USLCA may focus on the unique challenges of the IBCLC® in the United States. Nonetheless, ILCA is committed to a continuing collaboration with USLCA to advocate for the IBCLC. As always, ILCA will support its members worldwide.

We are all international and part of a global community. Every region in the world  – including the United States – has particular needs, which are, by design, capably managed by the local and affiliate organizations. Those local efforts are supported and enhanced by the international advocacy provided by ILCA.

You may be asking what all of this means for US members. Currently, all US members hold a joint membership with USLCA and ILCA. The recent change will effectively “unbundle” membership. However, all of your member benefits through the end of the 2014 calendar year, both those that come from ILCA and USLCA, will remain unchanged. Starting next year, you are encouraged to maintain membership in both organizations.

We know that one of your first questions is likely about how the new memberships will be structured. Although ILCA only recently learned of these changes, we are already hard at work creating a plan. Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring a new membership package that continues to put the needs of our members at the forefront. As the premier global association advocating for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant profession, ILCA is home to all IBCLCs worldwide, providing services unavailable elsewhere. If you have ideas, questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us at

Posted in ILCA 2014 Conference, ILCA News | 5 Comments

ILCA Announces New Vision Statement

Three ILCA presidents – past, present, and incoming – have come together to share a major announcement today during the ILCA conference: a new vision for ILCA. You can learn more by watching the video created by all three presidents and reading on in this post. We want to know what you think! Please share your feedback in the comments below.

We are proud to share with you the International Lactation Consultant Association’s new vision: 

New Vision Statement 2014








Our mission statement remains the same:

To advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.

Why change vision statements?

A vision statement serves many functions: to explain “why” our work is important, to inspire participation and support, and to show the outcomes we plan to achieve. It goes hand-in-hand with the mission statement, which shows “how” ILCA will achieve those outcomes.

Our previous vision statement was:

The IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.

This is a powerful statement that IBCLCs know to be true, and has been affirmed in countless settings. Ursuline Singelton summed it up best by saying this: “IBCLCs empower mothers and save babies’ lives.”

But this statement only shows the world “how” we will get “where we truly hope to go.” It does not tell the world why IBCLCs are so critical: Because we are transforming world health.

ILCA’s new vision statement does not reflect a change in ILCA’s priorities or what we will continue to do on a day-to-day basis: promote the profession of the IBCLC.

What it does reflect is the world-changing work that IBCLCs are doing every day: transforming world health.

It goes beyond self-promotion to a much broader vision of the real purpose for the work that the IBCLC does. ILCA envisions a world where health is not just attainable by privileged people, but a reality for all families, including vulnerable populations, where access to good health is much more challenging—and this vision is only made realistic by ILCA’s collaboration with the other 100 entities in the breastfeeding community that are working to move the same needle. ILCA’s new vision recognizes the fact that we share the “why” with many others.

If we aspire to see every child to grow up with the best chance in life possible, we must recognize that breastfeeding is central to that call. IBCLCs are the pivotal drivers of that global transformation.

IBCLCs don’t just provide breastfeeding support and care, we embrace evidence- based care using a high level of skill under the world’s only globally recognized credential.

ILCA’s vision is a rallying point for us all, highlighting our unique role and bringing us together to make a difference for our world.

If you are excited as we are by the new vision, and you agree that we need a world transformed by breastfeeding and skilled lactation care, please join us in celebrating our new vision. Help us to help mothers and babies by joining ILCA and becoming an active member of our community.

liz-brooks-1Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, FILCA

ILCA President 2012-14


Cathy 7-6-14-crCathy Carothers, BLA, IBCLC, FILCA

ILCA President 2010-12


DSC03591Decalie Brown, RN, IBCLC, CFHN, BHMtg

ILCA President, 2-14-16

Posted in ILCA 2014 Conference, ILCA News | 4 Comments

Making the Most of Social Media At The ILCA Conference – Even If You Can’t Make It To Phoenix!

Social Media At The ILCA ConferenceIf you are Phoenix bound you are probably picking your best swimsuit for the lazy river right now! Don’t forget to leave room in your bag for your iPad or laptop, because there’s a whole other way to get even more out of the conference: social media.

Not able to attend this year? You will be missed, but you can still join the conversation!

At The Conference

Of course face-to-face connections, conference talks, and the lazy river are going to be your top priorities. How can you use social media to enhance and not distract you from your conference experience?

Facebook folks:

Are you “going” on the event page? Be sure you have marked yourself as “going” on the ILCA Conference event page, which you can find here. The page is already active with people making plans for extracurricular events, sharing tips and conference going strategies, and coordinating rides. During the event, you’ll get updates on last minutes schedule changes, events, pictures to share, and more!

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Help us find your posts: use the hashtag! Sharing pictures on your facebook page of you with your favorite speaker? New insights? Favorite quotes? Be sure to mark your posts with the hashtag: #ILCA2014

ILCA Tweeps:

Join the backchannel conversation! Share your insights – and hear what others are saying – on Twitter. We’ll all be tweeting the ILCA conference on the hashtag #ILCA2014, and the Lactation Summit at #LactSummit14.

Tools tip: TweetChat is back up and running! This great tool isolates the tweets on the hashtag you choose, which can keep you from feeling distracted by other topics during a talk. Follow along at the conference in the #ILCA2014 room here or the Lactation Summit in the #LactSummit14 room here. Another great tool for managing multiple streams: Hootsuite.

Following along . . . from Phoenix or from around the world.

ILCA members from around the globe will be following along and joining the conversation.

On Facebook find others posts about the conference: during the conference, enter #ILCA2014 in the Facebook search bar. You’ll find all the conference-specific news! You can do the same for the Lactation Summit at #LactSummit14.

On Twitter: We want to hear from those of you who aren’t at the conference . . . especially at the Lactation Summit. Be sure to tweet to #LactSummit14 – there will be a dedicated person following along and keeping track of your insights.

On Pinterest: Check out our #ILCA2014 conference board here, where we’ll share insights and pictures from the conference.

McCulloch Speakers Headshot CroppedJeanette McCulloch, IBCLC, is the editor of Lactation Matters, the media coordinator for ILCA, and a principal at BirthSwell. You’ll find her at the conference happily tweeting under the #ILCA2014 or #LactSummit14 hashtags . . . or on the lazy river. She’s looking forward to meeting many of the Lactation Matters readers face-to-face, so please come and say hello!

What are your favorite ways to participate in the conference using social media?

Posted in ILCA 2014 Conference, Social Media | Leave a comment