Mulford/WABA Fellow Update: The WABA/UNICEF Stockholm Symposium

We are proud to welcome Dr. Genevieve Becker to Lactation Matters. Dr. Becker is currently serving in Penang, Malaysia as the Chris Mulford World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) ILCA Fellow, where she is working with WABA at their headquarters on outreach and advocacy projects. She was recently able to attend the WABA/UNICEF Symposium in Stockholm, Sweden and reflects on her experience here.

By Dr. Genevieve Becker, IBCLC, FILCA

As health workers, ILCA members are important advocates for a supportive environment that protects and promotes breastfeeding as the norm. Maternity protection has improved for some women, though challenges still remain for many mothers, in all parts of the world, to balance their mother-work and paid work.

As part of my Chris Mulford WABA-ILCA Fellowship, I was privileged to be included among the 50 invited participants from 23 countries discussing the challenges and actions to improve maternity protection at the WABA/UNICEF Stockholm Symposium which focused on “Contemporary solutions to an age-old challenge: Breastfeeding and work,” held 26-28 September 2015. At least a dozen IBCLCs and ILCA members participated in this symposium as contributors, presenters, panelists, and rapporteurs, and shared their expertise and commitment to working together with others as advocates for maternity protection.


Representatives from a number of worldwide health agencies, including those who are ILCA members, work together on global breastfeeding initiatives.

Three main themes related to Maternity Protection ran through the symposium: Economics and Financing, Gender Equity, and the Informal/Short-Term Contract Sector.

Economics and Financing

Julie Smith, an Australian economist who has spoken at ILCA conferences and published in the JHL, provided numbers and analogies to help us understand how valuable mothers are in the economic system. These vital contributions by women may be lost if they are not widely recognised and protected. Women’s skills and knowledge are valuable to retain in the workplace and their milk ensures their children are well nourished, nurtured, and protected from illness to grow into productive future workers.

Labour policies in the absence of paid maternity protection can have negative effects on health behaviours with resulting decline in the wellbeing of mother and child. The database (McMaster University Canada) has data on policies and their effects. States need to commit to women and child rights as an investment in the future. The tools of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) and the associated World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative (WBCi) can be used to study costs of not breastfeeding at national level.

If an employer asked you how paying maternity entitlements would benefit his company, could you provide information? Is the value of breastfeeding and costs of not breastfeeding counted in economic data for your country, state or region? Have a look at the World Breastfeeding Trends web site and see how you can become part of gathering data on the costs and gaps in protection.

Gender Equity

Gender equitable maternity protection includes recognition of the importance of fathers as nurturers, their need for paid parental leave, and the overall aim of family friendly workplaces. Actions recommended at the symposium towards achieving this included spaces for men to talk to men, highlighting positive role models in media, school books, and antenatal services, as well as providing evidence to employers of the value of paid parental leave.

In your work setting or locality, is workplace childcare equally accessible to men and to women employees? Can a father have his baby at his desk? Is flexible working available to both fathers and mothers?

Look at the images portrayed about men. Are they shown as competent to care for a baby and nurturing? Or are the images of the macho man linked with violence and power?

Review the images in antenatal and new parent information that you use. Are fathers behind the mother who is holding the baby or are parents beside each other as equal?

Informal Sector

Women working in the informal or short term contract sector may have no access to maternity protection and many are less visible and hard to reach and organise to seek protection. This is a global issue. We may think of informal workers as migrant fruit pickers, home-based garment workers paid a piece rate, domestic cleaners, or self-employed women. However with the increasing casualization of labour, jobs that were previously formal jobs may now be short term contracts and can include nurses, school teachers, journalists, software programmers, and many more. These women may work in the formal setting of a hospital or office of a multi-national information technology company but have no entitlement to maternity protection (or health care, or job protection if they say they are pregnant) that co-workers may receive who are formally employed.

Look around you – who are formal workers with entitlements and who are informal workers? Are the informal workers counted in labour surveys? Are there organisations advocating for maternity protection for women in the informal sector? What allies in other sectors can you find to advocate with you?

Genevieve Becker, IBCLC, Ireland (WABA-ILCA Fellow), Maryse Arendt, IBCLC, Luxemburg (WABA Steering Committee), and Michele Griswold, IBCLC, USA (ILCA Board of Directors)

In addition to these three areas for thought, there were additional issues raised that I thought were particularly relevant to lactation consultants such as:

  • Concerns were expressed about how many families rely on pumping as the main provision of milk. Challenges can arise if expression/pumping is prioritised over direct breastfeeding. Are we going against human biology?
  • We must encourage families to not assume that the short length of paid maternity leave is viewed as the expected length of exclusive breastfeeding.
  • Maternity protection on its own may not increase breastfeeding rates. Breastfeeding families need the whole package of support and protection for sustaining breastfeeding.
  • It is not enough to have a maternity protection law, the laws need to be strong and to be implemented for ALL women. Worldwide, only 28.4 % of employed women (330 million) are effectively protected.
  • We should encourage the use of  phrases such as “PAID maternity leave” and “balancing family responsibilities and breastfeeding with PAID work” to emphasize that maternity entitlements means money.
  • In addition to generating additional tax income for the state through increased labour participation, maternity protection contributes to improved health and development outcomes and reduce companies’ and nation’s healthcare costs. The value of breastfeeding and the costs of not breastfeeding need to be counted in economic data.
  • At all levels, engage in advocacy around the actions from different sectors – nutrition, social protection, labour, anti-poverty, rural development, education, like-minded private sector employers, manpower agencies, reproductive health, child health, men’s initiatives, women and gender programmes, trade unions, financial institutions, religious groups, media and more. We should also aim for universal rights/social protection not linked to particular employment sector.

A draft Framework for Action is being discussed by the symposium participants over the coming weeks aiming for a version with wider distribution early in 2016.

“Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!”

G Becker headGenevieve Becker is a registered dietitian and an IBCLC who has worked in maternal, infant and young child feeding for over 30 years. Her main interest is the education and performance of health workers. She has earned a Masters of Science (Community Health), a Masters in Education and a PhD, all which examined aspects of assessment of health worker performance in assisting mothers to learn skills related to breastfeeding. She is the lead author for the Cochrane systematic review on methods of milk expression. She was a volunteer counsellor with a mother-to-mother support group for 20 years.

Her business, BEST Services, provides consultancy services related to breastfeeding education, support and training nationally and internationally. Some current contracts include the coordination of the Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Ireland and assisting countries to revitalise their BFHI activities. Genevieve was the lead for the updating and revision of the UNICEF/WHO BFHI global materials in 2006-2009.

Genevieve served for 6 years on the ILCA Board and is currently the only FILCA in Europe. Genevieve lives in Galway city, on the west coast of Ireland with her husband. Their daughter currently works in Boston and their son and two granddaughters live in Ireland.

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2016 Memberships: Introducing our NEW FREE CERPs

2016 Membership Blog Images (1)In 2015, you were overwhelmingly clear: You want and need quality, accessible continuing education and you were glad that ILCA provided you with the opportunity to earn FREE CERPs. A record number of our members accessed FREE CERPs in 2015!

ILCA helps you get what you need to provide the best breastfeeding support.

International Lactation Consultant Association® offers many ways members can obtain Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs):

Beginning 1 January 2016, members will be eligible to earn up to 10 free CERPs:

  • Standard Members: 10 free CERPs
  • Clinical Professional Members: 10 free CERPs
  • Breastfeeding Supporter Members: 5 free CERPs
  • Student Members: 5 free CERPs

See all ILCA member benefits here.

FREE CERPS for 2016

The list was chosen to provide content on the issues that impact the IBCLC community worldwide. We also chose a variety of session types, including conference presentations, webinars, and JHL study modules. The offerings, all of which will be active for the entire 2016 calendar year, include:

Breastfeeding Interventions: What We Do and Do Not Know (1 L CERP)*: This session, presented by Miriam Labbok, MD, MPH, IBCLC, provides an excellent overview of the history of breastfeeding research, including a basic definition of breastfeeding as well as highlights the necessity of understanding research for clinical work as an IBCLC. In addition, it explains how to create a research project, for those who may contemplate diving into the research field.

Donor Milk and the NICU: Challenges and Opportunities (1 L CERP): This session, presented by Nancy Wight, MC, IBCLC, FABM, FAAP, provides a good overview of the process of milk banking and the use of donor milk in the NICU. It reviews the history of milk banking as well as the regulations and guidelines for milk banks. Two types of for-profit milk banks are described, as well as uses for processed banked human milk (PBHM) and why it is important for babies who need it. Policy statements from major institutions on use of human milk are reviewed, as well as the challenge of cooperation between those who informally share human milk and milk banks.

Breastfeeding Without Birthing: Adoption, Surrogacy, and Foster Care (1 L CERP)*: This session, presented by Alyssa Schnell, MS, IBCLC, describes those who may be interested in nursing a baby they did not birth.  It includes practical, step-by-step suggestions and processes for attempting breastfeeding. There are beneficial anecdotes and suggestions for those who are going through the process. 

Breastfeeding and Not Thriving (1 L CERP):  This session, presented by Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, IBCLC, reviews the various current definitions of clinical failure to thrive in the breastfeeding infant. It briefly reviews current practices including the use of galactagolagues and supplementation and includes several case studies which describe the application of the materials covered.

Theory on Feeding Frequency (1 L CERP): This presentation, presented by Nils Bergman, MBChB, MPH, MD, addresses fascinating research on the topic of feeding frequency. It includes evidence-based research to promote frequent feedings for breastfed infants.

He’s Home…Now What? Transitioning NICU Graduates to the Breast Post-Discharge (1 L CERP): This session, presented by Regina Maria Roig-Romero MPH, MCHES, IBCLC, highlights the fact that the transition of a premature infant to full and direct breastfeeding is most easily achieved in settings where mothers and infants are supported and assisted to practice breastfeeding frequently well before hospital discharge. Evidence shows that infants who do not make the transition to direct breastfeeding are at risk of premature weaning. Simple and easy-to-follow instructions are described. This session is available in both English and Spanish. Members may choose in which language they would like to view the FREE CERP.

Ethics in Lactation Practice (1 E CERP)*: This session, presented by Bridget Roache, RN, RM, IBCLC, Grad Dip CBE, looks at why ethical behavior is vital in ensuring the protection of clients who utilize the services of an IBCLC. The presentation explores the basic points of ethics in the area of health care provision and how these ethical parameters can be applied to clinical practice. There are in-depth explorations of informed consent, documentation, conflict of interest, and how to manage professional boundaries.

Breastfeeding and Neonatal Weight Loss in Healthy Term Infants (1 L CERP): This module from the Journal of Human Lactation focuses on the paper by Riccardo Davanzo, PhD, MD, et al. Neonatal weight loss is universally recognized, yet poorly understood and limited professional consensus exists on the definition of lower limit of safe weight loss. The author’s aim was to assess the extent of neonatal weight loss and its association with selected clinical variables in a population of healthy term infants cared for using a specific protocol on weight loss.

Maternal and Breastpump Factors Associated with Breast Pump Problems and Injuries (1 L CERP)*: This module from the Journal of Human Lactation focuses on a paper by Youlin Qi, MD, MPH, et al. The benefits of using a breast pump are well documented, but pump-related problems and injuries and the associated risk factors have not been reported. This study aimed to describe breast pump-related problems and injuries and identify factors associated with these problems and injuries.

Help us choose the final CERP!

studentWe’ve chosen 9 units of CERP offerings and we need YOU to help choose the final one. The chosen session can be viewed by those ILCA members who have the opportunity to access free CERPs*. You can vote in the poll below, which will be open until 30 November 2015. The CERP with the most votes will be added to the final list and become available as a free CERP for members on 1 January 2016. Your choices are:

  • Why Does It Hurt? A Differential Diagnosis for Breastfeeding Associated Pain (1 L CERP): This session, presented by Alison Stuebe, MD, MSc, FACOG, is an excellent review of potential causative factors for maternal nipple and breast pain. This session is easy to listen to, contains practical flow charts which are easily adaptable to a variety of breastfeeding support settings.
  • Antenatal Expression of Colostrum (1 L CERP):  This session, presented by Marianne Idle, BSc, RM, IBCLC, is an overview of the expression of colostrum in pregnancy, starting around 34 weeks. It includes the effect on the mother’s confidence in breastfeeding and how long she will continue. Recommendations and effects on mothers with type II diabetes is also discussed.
  • Perinatal Obesity and Breastfeeding (1 L CERP): This session, presented by Jennifer Weddig, PhD, RD, focuses on the effects of obesity on breastfeeding initiation and duration, with particular attention to the possible etiology of breastfeeding issues.  Research-based solutions and interventions are discussed, with recommendations for close follow-up and a multi-disciplinary approach to improve outcomes.

VOTE by 30 November 2015!


If you have questions or concerns, please comment below or email us at

*indicates those CERPs included in the Breastfeeding Supporter and Student Memberships which offer the opportunity to earn up to 5 free CERPs.

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Call for ILCA Annual Conference Facilitators, Session Speakers, and Task Force Chair

#ILCA16 HomePage BannerYour expertise is needed!

ILCA is seeking presenters and facilitators for the 2016 ILCA Annual Conference as well as calling for applications for the 2017 ILCA Annual Conference Task Force Chair.

Are you a seasoned lactation specialist with a knack for demonstrating clinical skills? Are you passionate about providing training on issues of equity, diversity, or cultural humility? Do you love to teach others how to navigate the complexities of ethical dilemmas? Then ILCA wants YOU to apply to facilitate or present these in-demand topics at the 2016 ILCA Annual Conference!

Last Call for Concurrent Sessions
Don’t miss your opportunity to submit a proposal for a one- or two-hour presentation. The Conference planners are especially interested in concurrent sessions focused on equity, ethics, and clinical topics! The Speaker Submission Site will be open until midnight 30 October 2015 (US Eastern Standard Time).

Clinical Skills Facilitators Needed
The Conference planners are also seeking seasoned IBCLCs to facilitate our popular Clinical Skills Rotation at the 2016 conference. Facilitators provide demonstrations and support hands-on skill practice for beginning practitioners and experienced consultants during rotations between skill stations in each two-hour session. If you are interested in being a Clinical Skills Facilitator or would like to recommend a Facilitator, please contact Cynthia Good Mojab, Education Manager, at by 25 November 2015.

Though the speakers and workshop presenters are a cornerstone of the ILCA Annual Conference, not everyone integral in making the Annual Conference so successful is as visible. There are many ILCA staff members and willing volunteers who provide the vision and nuts-and-bolts support needed to co-create the Annual Conference every year. We invite you to apply to join our team for 2017!

Invitation to Apply: 2017 ILCA Annual Conference Task Force Chair
ILCA is seeking applicants interested in serving as the Chair of the 2017 ILCA Annual Conference Task Force. The responsibilities of this compensated staff position include, but are not limited to, recruiting Task Force members representing global and social diversity, conference planning and scheduling, coordinating the review of and contributing to the selection of speaker abstracts, program preparation, and attendance of the 2016 and 2017 ILCA Annual Conference. To apply, please contact Cynthia Good Mojab, ILCA Education Manager, at by 15 December 2015.

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Join or Renew NOW for 2016 ILCA Membership!

Lactation Matters-the official blog of (6)

2015 has been an exciting year for the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®). Together, we’ve been working hard to advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research. And in 2016, ILCA is poised to be better than ever.

We invite you to consider becoming an ILCA member!

ILCA membership gives you what you need to provide the best possible breastfeeding care, including benefits that will help:

GROW YOUR KNOWLEDGE by taking advantage of the opportunity to earn up to 10 FREE CERPs. This benefit was first offered in 2015 and an overwhelming number of our members worked to earn their free CERPs, increasing their knowledge, and expanding their understanding of lactation so they could better serve breastfeeding families.

GUIDE YOUR PRACTICE with the Journal of Human Lactation. For the first time ever, you will have the opportunity to “Go Green” and receive ONLY the online edition to save money! The print edition will continue to be available with the regular standard membership price.

HELP FAMILIES FIND YOU with the Find a Lactation Consultant Directory (Standard Membership – IBCLCs only). We surveyed you to find out what worked and what didn’t work with this directory and you spoke loud and clear! We’ll soon be launching a brand new directory, with increased features and search capabilities along with a marketing plan designed to significantly increase traffic. We’re working hard to make sure that this directory works FOR YOU!

SAVE YOU MONEY with discounts on educational opportunities in ILCA’s NEW Knowledge Center (launching in November) such as live and recorded webinars and registration for our annual conference, this year in Chicago, Illinois, USA!

BUILD YOUR PRACTICE with access to share Inside Tracks with your clients. ILCA offers expert, evidence based research interpreted just for breastfeeding families.

STAY CONNECTED through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and the ILCAlert, our weekly newsletter!

ILCA Membership – Not Just For IBCLCs

ILCA membership is not just for IBCLCs! ILCA has benefit packages to meet the unique needs of both clinical care providers – like physicians, midwives, nurses, and dietitians – and breastfeeding supporters – like volunteers with new family support groups, peer counselors, and those with other lactation certifications. Click HERE to learn more about our new membership categories and benefits. Group memberships are no longer available.

New Equity-Based Pricing

If you live in a country where the cost of ILCA membership has felt out of reach, please look again. As a part of our commitment to knowledge, equity, and diversity, ILCA has reassessed its fee structure. Learn more about how and why we made these changes HERE, and find the fee for your country HERE.

ILCA helps you get what you need to provide the best breastfeeding support.

Please consider joining ILCA in 2016. Click below to join or renew now!

Screenshot 2015-10-12 14.22.11

If you have questions or need more information concerning ILCA member benefits, please contact us at

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ILCA 2016 Membership Pricing: Understanding Our Equity Approach

Lactation Matters-the official blog of (2)In 2016, ILCA is significantly reworking the membership pricing structure to better reflect our commitment to knowledge, diversity, and equity. We want to share with you the new pricing, the values behind the shift, and how we determined the new structure.

Our 2016 Standard Membership Fees:2016 Standard Membership Fees

As we’ve done for many years, each member is placed in a category based on the World Bank Economy Indicators list. However, what is different this year is how we calculated each category’s fee structure.

Member fees seen through our core values: knowledge, diversity, and equity

ILCA, as a part of its new strategic direction, has adopted three core values:

  • Knowledge: We believe knowledge guides our practice, strengthens our value, and supports our role in transforming global health.
  • Diversity: We foster an inclusive environment that supports leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research from varied perspectives.
  • Equity: We support global access to skilled lactation care and the IBCLC profession.

The ILCA Board of Directors has taken a hard look at every aspect of our work  – including our membership structure, benefits, and pricing – to determine how it is aligned with these values.

We have been aware for many years that, even though ILCA employed a tiered pricing structure, membership fees were still out of reach for many people worldwide who are otherwise committed to improving global health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care. By taking a close look at the numbers, we saw a clearer picture of just how great the disparities actually are.

For many years, we’ve based our pricing on the World Bank Economy Indicators list. Members from countries that the World Bank rated as “high income” were charged our full membership fee, while those within lower resource countries (upper middle income, lower middle income, and low income) paid less — an 18%, 33%, and 43% discount (respectively). While the general thinking behind this strategy  — lower rates for lower resource countries — made sense, the percentage discount did not take into account the full impact of worldwide disparities.

Using World Bank data, we compared the average salary to the ILCA dues for each country. The results helped us to see that, although we were adjusting the scale, we weren’t doing so in an equitable way. For people in the lowest resource countries, the ILCA membership fee represented as much as 12% of their annual income, yet it was only 0.3% of the annual income for someone in a high resource country. Our 43% discount for low resource countries simply wasn’t low enough to ensure that the benefits of ILCA membership were accessible worldwide.

The ILCA Board realized that something needed to change. If we want to achieve our vision of world health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care, we must make membership accessible to all of those committed to this vision.

Our new fee structure in each resource level calculates the fee based on the average income of all countries in that category. Now, members around the world will pay approximately the same percentage of the annual salary for their World Bank category.

ILCA recognizes that this new fee structure will not relieve the financial burden of membership from every potential member. We understand that, even in countries named “high income” by the World Bank, significant and inequitable financial structures still exist. We will continue to examine and address this concern. With this in mind, we are increasing our efforts to fundraise for scholarships and hope to offer an increased number of scholarships in 2016 and beyond. In addition, we will continue to offer scholarships for those in need. 

In addition to our Standard Membership, we will also continue to offer Student and Retired memberships as well as Clinical Care Professional and Breastfeeding Supporter membership for those who are not IBCLCs. Watch for more information on pricing and benefits for these membership types soon.

You have told us, both formally through our membership survey and informally through phone calls, emails, social media communications and face-to-face conversations that you highly value ILCA membership. You’ve overwhelmingly taken advantage of the opportunity to earn FREE CERPs, expressed your deep appreciation for the Journal of Human Lactation, and shared with us how being listed in the Find a Lactation Consultant directory impacts your community.

Our new fee structure will not impact your member benefits. We are committed to making sure that you continue to have access to the benefits that you have come to value. The more members we have worldwide, the greater our capacity to impact global health. The more our profession impacts global health, the more IBCLCs will be recognized as integral to health care systems worldwide.

We want to continue to help our current members  get what you need to provide the best breastfeeding support. And, we want to make sure these same benefits have the worldwide impact our vision calls upon us to achieve.

Be watching on 15 October 2015 for more information about how you can LATCH ON TO ILCA for 2016!

Posted in 2016 Membership Campaign | 13 Comments

Reflections from the 2015 Lactation Equity Action Seminar: Addressing Mentoring Challenges

Lactation Matters-the official blog of (5)By Norma Escobar, IBCLC, RLC

Part of the Lactation Equity Action Seminar this year focused on finding solutions to identified barriers to enter the IBCLC profession. One of the key themes that emerged is the need for mentors in the profession for underrepresented groups. But what does mentoring mean? Why do established IBCLCs sometimes cringe at the thought of mentoring an aspiring exam candidate even while recognizing the need to secure the future of the profession?

There are two kinds of mentoring: Formal and informal. By formal mentoring we may point to IBLCE’s Pathway 3, where an IBCLC takes on the task of making sure the exam candidate has the competencies needed to be a good lactation consultant. There are clear guidelines, expectations and costs involved to be a part of this type of relationship. The IBLCE web site has very specific guidance on this HERE and there are also publications that are available to those IBCLCs who want to make this a part of their practice model, which can be found HERE and HERE.

The formal mentoring programs and clinical internships have an important place in helping people enter the profession and hone their skills. But what about the aspiring candidate who perhaps is geographically isolated, or the IBCLC who does 2-3 home visits per week and some weeks sees no one as she works part-time around the needs of her family. Pathway 3 options are not practical in these cases. Then there are IBCLCs who work in teaching settings or research who may not necessarily be able to give the aspiring candidate the exposure to mothers and babies that a traditional mentoring program might. Does that mean that they are not able to mentor the next generation?

2014 PC Training Graduation

On the contrary, anyone who has passed the rigorous IBCLC examination can be a mentor to another person seeking to enter the lactation profession. Consider finding someone from an underrepresented population and see what you can do to encourage them to explore their options. Here are some simple (and more complex) ideas that have worked in various practice settings:

  • Be available to answer questions about the certification process and share your experience on how you became certified. Even though requirements may have changed over the years, the basics are the same: clinical experience, basic knowledge set, lactation education hours.
  • Encourage mothers who are breastfeeding “stars” to become volunteers in established mother-to-mother support organizations, such as La Leche League International, Breastfeeding USA, and the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
  • Participate or start a breastfeeding coalition in your community. Talk about the need for more IBCLCs and provide opportunities for networking and sharing.
  • Consider loaning out some of your professional books or back issues of professional publications such as JHL to aspiring IBCLCs.
  • Join a facebook group of aspiring IBCLCs such as “Want to be an IBCLC” to see what the concerns are and see if you can provide assistance.
  • Invite interested candidates to shadow you for a day or a client interaction.
  • Establish a volunteer program in your hospital or public health setting to help interested individuals get clinical hours and experience in a supervised setting.
  • Offer to pay someone’s way (or partial way) to a breastfeeding conference
  • If you offer education events for lactation, consider a scholarship (or several) for participants from underrepresented populations
  • Educate yourself on sources for funding for aspiring IBCLCs, such as the MILCC Scholarship, and DONATE! Every little bit helps!

2013 May pc

During my time as a breastfeeding supporter I’ve mentored many women into the field of breastfeeding, first as an LLL Leader, now as an IBCLC. In my IBCLC role, I have been privileged to be able to partner with my local hospital and WIC agency establishing a Peer Counselor Volunteer Program. Many of these volunteers are interested in becoming IBCLCs and are willing to give us their time in order to accumulate the clinical hours that they need to sit for the exam. Some of them have already gone on to become IBCLCs. While establishing these programs can be challenging, the pay-off is more skilled breastfeeding helpers.

What are your ideas for mentoring the next generation? I know there are innovative ideas you’ve come up with or have dreamed of. Please share with the rest of us so we can be inspired!

normaOriginally from Mexico City, Norma Escobar originally trained as an English as a Second Language Instructor.  After moving to the United States and having children, she found her passion in helping breastfeeding mothers. Norma has been working with breastfeeding women since 1994 as a Leader with La Leche League, where she served in a multitude of roles.  She became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2002.  She currently serves as the Breastfeeding Coordinator and Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Manager for the New Hanover County WIC program in North Carolina as well as the Perinatal Region V WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator.   She believes this is the role she was made for as she is responsible to mentoring the next generation of breastfeeding helpers, be they Peer Counselors, health care professionals or community volunteers. She is the mother of two grown sons without whom she would have never discovered the joys and challenges of breastfeeding.

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#ILCA16: Share Your Expertise at our 2016 ILCA Annual Conference

#ILCA16 Conference Social Media Banners (1)
2016 ILCA Conference and Annual Meeting
20 – 23 July 2016
Celebrating Baby Friendly in the Hospital and Beyond: Helping Families Thrive Worldwide
Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers
Chicago, Illinois, USA

The 2016 International Lactation Consultant Association Conference, Celebrating Baby Friendly in the Hospital and Beyond: Helping Families Thrive Worldwide, is being held at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers from 20-23 July 2016. This four-day conference combines research and practice presentations with clinical and research skill development.

We invite you to consider speaking at the 2016 conference. The ILCA annual conference showcases speakers with exceptional expertise and presentation skills in order to provide quality information to attendees. ILCA’s Call for Proposals provides an opportunity for ILCA members and others in the maternal/child health community to submit presentation proposals to share their insights, expertise and research with colleagues.

If you are interested in submitting an abstract, please visit the Speaker Submission Site to learn more about 2016 presentation formats, submission categories, and submission guidelines (you can also find the speaker guidelines here). The site will be open until 30 October 2015 (US calendar and Eastern Standard Time). When the site closes, the Conference Program Task Force and Professional Development Committee will begin their blind review of submitted abstracts. Submitters will receive notification via email by 30 November as to whether their work has been selected for presentation.

Submit your abstract HERE.

If you have any questions about the submission process or if you submit an abstract and do not receive email notification by 30 November, please contact us at

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Introducing ILCA’s NEW Education Manager: Cynthia Good Mojab

Cynthia visualKnowledge is a core value at the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®). We believe knowledge guides our practice, strengthens our value, and supports our role in transforming world health. Our Education Manager is charged with ensuring that our members have access to the top experts in our field and the latest thinking in evidence-based practice.

This critical role has most recently been held by Judi Lauwers who is now transitioning to overseeing ILCA’s accreditation process. We are proud to announce that Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM, will be joining the ILCA team as Education Manager on 30 September 2015.

To help our community get to know Cynthia and the unique talents and perspectives she brings to this role, we caught up with her during her most recent speaking tour to learn more about her. Please join us in welcoming her to this new role at ILCA!

Lactation Matters (LM): Tell us what brought you to your work as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®).

Cynthia Good Mojab (CGM): I was first drawn to the profession because of my own experience with breastfeeding and with receiving and giving lay breastfeeding support.

I knew then how important accurate information and compassionate support are to parents considering, initiating, or continuing any version and degree of lactation, including direct breastfeeding, exclusive pumping, donor milk feeding, at-breast feeding, and partial breastfeeding. (Since becoming an IBCLC, my understanding of lactation has expanded to include chestfeeding and at-chest feeding.)

I knew that breastfeeding is the original paradigm—the ecological niche—for nurturing human health and development. And, I knew that the diverse contexts in which families live play a huge role in their access to information, support, opportunities, and resources—all of which influence infant feeding possibilities and decisions.

I felt that becoming an IBCLC would enhance my ability to provide information and support to families, both through my becoming able to provide professional lactation services and through improving my capacity to provide lactation-compatible mental health care in the role I already held as a clinical counselor.

LM: What projects have you been working on recently?

CGM: I have just completed a three-city speaking tour for La Leche League Canada’s 2015 Health Professional Seminars, One Size Does Not Fit All: Customizing Care for Breastfeeding Families. In Halifax, Ottawa, and Toronto, I presented on ethical decision making in cross-cultural contexts; helping families make informed decisions about vitamin D and the breastfed baby; perinatal depression; and how context affects infant feeding decisions.

In preparation for the tour, I enjoyed conducting a review of the Canada-related literature to try to customize each presentation to better meet the learning needs of Canadian perinatal care providers. As I’m sure you can imagine, preparing for this tour has been the focus of my attention for some time!

In addition, I’ve recently created (and presented) a few new presentations, including Brief Breastfeeding Encounters: Effective Counseling Techniques When Time is Limited; Heartbroken: Loss and Grief in the Perinatal Time Period; Loss, Grief, and Breastfeeding Counseling; and Cultural Competence or Cultural Humility? A Roadmap for Lactation Specialists. I’m now in the midst of creating two more presentations, Perinatal Mental Health Screening: A Primer for Lactation Specialists and My Brain is Doing What? Bias, Ethics, and the Lactation Specialist, both of which I will present in 2016. And, I am grateful to have been selected as a plenary and concurrent speaker at the 2016 ILCA conference in Chicago, IL, USA. So, I am always engaged in one or more literature reviews and the creative endeavor of sharing information that I have found useful in my own work and that I hope will also be helpful to my colleagues.

My work as an educator, clinical counselor, and IBCLC is guided by my commitment to social justice. So, my presentations, publications, and services regularly address, to one degree or another, human diversity and the impact of systems of privilege/oppression (e.g., racism, classism, heterosexism, cisgenderism). Recent related projects include my commentary, Pandora’s Box Is Already Open: Answering the Ongoing Call to Dismantle Institutional Oppression in the Field of Breastfeeding, which was published in the Journal of Human Lactation’s special issue, “Equity in Breastfeeding,” in 2015. I also co-authored Undoing Institutional Racism in Perinatal Support Organizations: First Steps for Eliminating Racial Inequity in Breastfeeding Support, which was published in “It Takes a Village: The Role of the Greater Community in Inspiring and Empowering Women to Breastfeed” in 2015.

Since 2014, I have served as a member of the Lactation Consultant Equity Team—part of an evolving initiative to address inequity in access to the IBCLC credential. And, from 2012 to 2014, I served as a design team member for the 2014 Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC)/ILCA/IBLCE Lactation Summit, Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession. I also created and provided the pre-Summit webinar-based training, Ready, Set, Listen! Preparing to Hear the Missing Voices of the Lactation Consultant Profession.

LM: Of all of the projects you could be working on, what made you decide to accept a position with ILCA?

CGM: Through my collaborations with individuals and institutions working to reduce inequity in access to the IBCLC credential and to breastfeeding support, I have become increasingly aware of ILCA’s efforts to do its part. For example, ILCA’s 2015 Strategic Map presents a new and clear intention—and, more importantly, a guide—for actively incorporating the core values of knowledge, diversity, and equity into every aspect of the organization’s functioning.

This is exactly the kind of institution-wide, internal change that is needed to eliminate widespread inequitable organizational outcomes across the field of breastfeeding. I hope that by serving as Education Manager I will be able to contribute to meaningful and measurable improvements in access to the IBCLC credential and to the educational support that is needed to help grow the profession globally. I am truly excited about and grateful for this new opportunity!

LM: What do you see as priorities for IBCLC educational opportunities?

CGM: There are arguably few areas of knowledge and skill needed by IBCLCs that are not somehow intertwined with culture and that cannot be viewed through a social justice lens (e.g., addressing the impact of bias, privilege, and oppression). And, I mean “culture” in its broadest sense, not just confined to ethnicity: any complex system of learned and shared behaviors, beliefs, approaches to communication, customs, and feelings that distinguish one group of people from another even as huge variation exists within those groups. So, IBCLC educational opportunities (e.g., webinars, conference sessions, publications) focused on issues of diversity, cultural humility, and equity are critically important. At the same time, they are not enough.

IBCLCs—and aspiring IBCLCs—also need access to educational opportunities focused on a broad range of topics that routinely incorporate issues of diversity, cultural humility, and equity, just as they are (or should be) inherently interwoven into the experience of breastfeeding and the practice of lactation consulting in the real world. Making this shift will require educators to expand and deepen their self-understanding, focus, literature reviews, and presentations in ways that may be new and unfamiliar to them and many learners.

But, IBCLCs are ethically obligated to “provide care to meet clients’ individual needs that is culturally appropriate,” “present information without personal bias,“ and “treat all clients equitably, without regard to age, ethnicity, national origin, marital status, religion, or sexual orientation.” We cannot engage in the ongoing journey to increasingly honor these ethical mandates, nor can we contribute to the work needed to help diversify our field, if we do not have the training and support to do so.

It is my hope that, over time, an increase in educational opportunities that incorporate issues of diversity, cultural humility, and equity will help increase the number of IBCLCs who are skilled in applying a social justice lens to their work within their communities and institutions. We need every shoulder to the wheel if we are to measurably increase equitable access to the IBCLC credential and our collective capacity to effectively meet the needs of diverse communities around the world.

In addition to shifting the content of IBCLC educational opportunities, I would also like to see the development of more IBCLC educational opportunities that are created by and for specific populations globally. No one knows the needs of a community better than the members of that community. And, among the barriers to the IBCLC credential outlined in the Summary Report of the 2014 Lactation Summit: Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Profession are lack of access to affordable education and education in one’s own language. So, I think that another priority for IBCLC educational opportunities is the collaborative development and testing of pilot programs intended to increase access to educational opportunities that are affordable and culturally and linguistically appropriate for IBCLCs and aspiring IBCLCs in more corners of the world.

Cynthia headshot 2014Cynthia Good Mojab, MS, LMHCA, IBCLC, RLC, CATSM, is a clinical counselor, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, author, researcher, and internationally recognized speaker. As one of a small group of mental health care providers in the world who are also IBCLCs, she has a strong interest in lactational psychology. She is the Director of LifeCircle Counseling and Consulting, LLC where she focuses on perinatal mental health care. She formerly served as Research Associate in the Publications Department of La Leche League International and was on the faculty of Parkland College. Cynthia has authored, contributed to, and provided editorial review of numerous publications related to breastfeeding, culture, and psychology. She provides education, training, and consultation services to individuals and organizations seeking to increase cultural competence/humility and dismantle institutional oppression. She has lived biculturally and bilingually for nearly 30 years.

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Journal of Human Lactation Photo Contest

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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 families (picture the caring professional with a breastfeeding parent, teaching a class, etc.) to 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 the 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,  preferably with a second email address.


  • Deadline – 16 October 2015: 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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Be a Part of Transforming World Health: Become an ILCA Volunteer

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In our recent Lactation Matters post, we shared with you the new ILCA Strategic Map that will guide the future of ILCA. Now, we want to reach out to you as an ILCA member and breastfeeding supporter to ask for your assistance in making these strategic goals and objectives a reality.

The New ILCA Strategic Map

The ILCA Strategic Map is the result of a careful process, beginning with the launch of the new vision in 2014. Together, the ILCA Board of Directors and Staff identified core values–knowledge, diversity, and equity–and areas of impact–our members, the IBCLC profession, and the world.

From this work, ILCA’s new goals became clear:

  • Provide innovative education and networking.
  • Provide access to and interpretation of lactation research.
  • Build capacity of future leaders.
  • Champion the IBCLC as the premiere lactation credential.
  • Advance breastfeeding on the global agenda.

To achieve these goals, highly specific objectives were identified to transform global health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care while advancing the IBCLC:

  • Create a global platform for networking and communication.
  • Create culturally appropriate, diversified educational delivery channels.
  • Increase access to evidence-based documents that build knowledge and support the IBCLC.
  • Implement development process that spans the knowledge of global awareness, organizational excellence, and effective human influence behaviors.
  • Develop a marketing plan that encompasses a diversified audience.
  • Support IBCLC organizations globally.
  • Engage in partnerships with global health leaders and relevant organizations.
  • Provide access to expert guidance on breastfeeding as it relates to diverse areas of global concern.

Maximizing Your Impact with ILCA

The ILCA Board of Directors and Staff cannot achieve these objectives without the talents, time, and energy of ILCA members who volunteer their time as committee members. ILCA also recognizes that these critical resources–member efforts–are not unlimited. To make the most of what ILCA volunteers can offer, we are restructuring the committees to ensure they  align with our new strategic map and maximize the impact of each volunteer’s contribution.

Task Forces

We recognize that not all efforts to achieve our goals and objectives are the same. Some projects are short term, time specific, and goal-oriented. Now, all short term projects with a beginning and an end–like conference planning and committee nominations–will be supported by task forces instead of committees. The task forces will be populated by members willing to commit time and energy for the time it takes to achieve its objectives. The task force will be disbanded once the goals are achieved. Sample ILCA Task Forces include: Annual Conference Program, Board Member Nomination, and Logo Development.

ILCA Advisory Committees

In other areas, ILCA is forming advisory committees to support an ongoing need that is not time-bound. These will be filled by members willing and able to commit for a specified period of time (a 3-year term). These committees include: 

Advocacy Committee – Promote the value of ILCA and the IBCLC in advocating for breastfeeding and skilled lactation care at the international, national, regional, and local levels.

Diversity Committee – Ensure that every aspect of ILCA is culturally inclusive and welcoming to all members.

International Code Committee – Expand the awareness, understanding and application of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and relevant subsequent WHA resolutions.

Professional Development Committee – Assist in guiding the professional development of ILCA members and the greater lactation community.

Resource Development Committee – Grow and diversify ILCA’s financial resources to support organizational goals and objectives.

ILCA Regional Committees

ILCA is also launching six regional committees, modeled on the World Health Organization committee structure. These volunteers will be charged with focusing on their region and ensuring that the needs of that region has a voice in our organization. ILCA will work closely with the new regional committees to together discover regional goals and objectives that best represent the needs of each area. These committees include: Africa Region, Americas Region, Eastern Mediterranean Region, European Region, South-East Asia Region, and Western Pacific Region. 

Your talents and skills are needed!

ILCA is currently seeking volunteers to join the advisory committees. This core group of individuals will assist ILCA in clarifying and pursuing the long-term strategic objectives of the advisory committees. We will be recruiting for our task forces and regional committees soon.

Our volunteers will be contributing at a critical time when we are seeking to refine and define ILCA’s goals and objectives. While some of the committees have a name similar to our previous structure, every group will have a new scope of work and new profiles, in line with our new strategic map. By taking this fresh look at every committee, task force, and position, we will ensure we are all pulling in the same direction and maximizing the individual effort of each volunteer.

We will be looking to your unique perspectives to ensure the strategic map remains a living document that is aligned with the vision of the organization and effectively considers global, national, regional and local factors impacting ILCA strategic goals.

Consider applying now!

It is the efforts of individuals like you that will make our goals and objectives a reality. Please consider applying for a advisory committee position today. To apply, visit HERE to complete an online application.

For more information, please visit our website or contact ILCA’s Executive Director, Dick Padlo, at

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