ILCA Offers You MORE in 2015: Membership Details

ILCA Membership BLOG HEADER (1)

You shared your needs with us in our 2014 Member Survey, and we listened! Based on what you told us you needed most, we have developed your new membership package for 2015.

First and foremost, ILCA is committed to world health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care. It is our highest priority to promote the professional development, advancement, and recognition of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®) WORLDWIDE for the benefit of breastfeeding infants and their families.

ILCA Offers You MORE in 2015!

The new membership package for 2015 includes:

Earn FREE CERPs (NEW in 2015):

All ILCA members are eligible to earn up to 10 FREE CERPs. As you know, IBCLCs are required to recertify by CERPs or exam every five years. Be sure to take advantage of this benefit: over the course of five years, you can secure up to two-thirds of your required CERPs for the recertification process. You won’t want to miss this benefit!

The Journal of Human Lactation (JHL):

Guide your practice by reading the research you need in  three ways: on paper, online, and mobile. In addition to the print edition that will arrive in your mailbox, you can also read full articles online at the JHL website, on your computer, or your mobile device. Use your ILCA membership number and password to log in.

Find A Lactation Consultant (FALC) Listing:

New families who are in need of breastfeeding support want to find YOUR contact information. Our FALC directory connects families seeking support to the gold standard in lactation support: IBCLCs. The FALC helps them find you: a verified IBCLC in their community.

Build Your Practice Toolbox:

Inside Tracks are exclusively for ILCA members. Get evidence-based handouts for families on topics like tongue-tie, returning to work, Vitamin D supplementation, hand expression, and more. Available for printing or sharing as PDFs with your clients. Check out the full list HERE.

Stay Connected:

Receive weekly email updates which includes information about educational opportunities, advocacy efforts, techniques to improve your practice, and the latest in lactation research through our ILCAlert. In addition, join us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. And, as always, be sure to check out Lactation Matters, the official blog of ILCA, for in-depth analysis of research, highlights of innovative programs, and new ideas to incorporate into your practice.

Save Money:

Get significant discounts on all of ILCA’s continuing educational opportunities, webinars, CERP modules, the ILCA bookstore, and our annual conference!

And MORE!:

Access our translations of practice documents and relevant research.

When do I need to join or renew?

If you are a current ILCA member, your current year membership expires on 31 December, 2014. If you would like to continue your membership and receive the new benefits for 2015, including access to earn up to 10 FREE CERPs, you must renew by 1 January 2015. You can do so online, starting 1 October, 2014, HERE.

If you are new to ILCA and are joining for the first time, you can receive up to 3 months FREE by joining as soon as possible after the membership registration opens on 1 October 2015. As soon as you join, you will have full access to all of ILCA’s member benefits. Go HERE, starting 1 October, 2015 to register.

What will this cost me?

We have recently made changes to the membership structure for our members from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.

Previously, members in these areas were required to join both the international organization (ILCA) and their respective regional organizations (USLCA, CLCA, and LCANZ). Their membership fee was divided between the two groups and members received the benefits of both, independently administered, organizations.

That is now changing and the requirement of membership in both the international and regional organization has been lifted.

As a part of the change in structure, your membership fee will also change. We have taken into account the concern expressed by our members that these changes would lead to a significant increase in the cost of membership. We are glad to announce our new fees for 2015 represent only a $2 (USD) increase over the portion of last year’s fee that came directly to ILCA.

As before, your membership fee varies based on your home country. You can find complete information about our 2015 membership fees HERE.

Still not sure?

Did you know that you can try ILCA FREE for 30 days? Want to figure out a bit more of what ILCA is about? Just email with your contact information (name, mailing address, email, and phone numbers) and you will receive a login and password that will be good for a 30 day ONLINE TRIAL membership.

Do you support and promote breastfeeding? Then you are a valued member of our community. You do not need to be an IBCLC to be a member!

If you have any questions, please contact

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Announcing a NEW Membership Structure for ILCA

ILCALogo_full_text (2)As the International Lactation Consultant Assocation® (ILCA®) prepares to begin our campaign for our 2015 Membership year, we want to make you aware of changes to our membership structure. We deeply value all members of the lactation field and we have put significant effort into identifying and delivering the services most important to you. We are also evolving to meet our vision of “World Health Transformed through Breastfeeding and Skilled Lactation Care.”

Up until now, ILCA members who lived in the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand had their membership “bundled” with one of our Partner Affiliate organizations (In the U.S., you are bundled with the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA); in Canada, with the Canadian Lactation Consultant Association (CLCA); and in Australia and New Zealand, with the Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ)).

This means that, when a member joined ILCA, they automatically received membership in the national or regional organization in their area. For example, our Canadian members were automatically signed up for both ILCA and CLCA. The membership fee was divided between the two groups and members received the benefits of both, independently administered, organizations.

That is now changing. Members living in the areas served by our Partner Affiliates will no longer be required to join both the international organization (ILCA) and their respective regional organizations (USLCA, CLCA, and LCANZ).

Recognizing the potential benefits, ILCA and the Partner Affiliates have considered this action for some time. The primary rationale for this decision is to provide our existing members the opportunity to freely choose membership based on their needs and objectives and to provide potential members greater latitude to join like-minded local, national and/or international organization(s) that are within their budget. This new option will allow all the organizations to run more effectively and meet the unique needs of their particular region.

Additionally, the ILCA Board of Directors has renewed our commitment to strengthen and expand our affiliate relationships WORLDWIDE. Until now, ILCA has been intently focused on our three Partner Affiliates, often to the detriment of organizations and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) in other countries. This renewed commitment to emerging IBCLC institutions will allow ILCA to help elevate these organizations to the world stage by providing much needed organizational support.

Of course, ILCA remains strongly committed to our current affiliates and the needs of IBCLCs in those countries. If we are to truly embrace our vision of world health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care, we will need effective partnerships with both established and emerging affiliates. And most importantly, we need you: individuals committed to advancing the IBCLC profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.

Finally, we strongly encourage everyone to join both ILCA and your local or national professional association, in order to support efforts to advance the IBCLC profession both worldwide and in your community.

Together, these steps to remove the membership requirement and to strengthen ILCA’s global outreach are major initiatives with far-reaching benefits.  We look forward to continuing to serve you and hope you will renew your upcoming membership and partner with us to meet these exciting goals. Look for additional information about your membership renewal coming to you soon.

Sincerely, on behalf of the ILCA Board of Directors,

DSC03591Decalie Brown, RN, CM, IBCLC, CFHN, BHMtg
President (2014-16)

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Incorporating New Research In Your Practice: Guest Post By Sue Cox, IBCLC


In part one of this series Sue Cox, AM, BM, IBCLC, FILCA, presented research to inform our discussions around how milk handling (including shaking expressed milk and/or breast massage) changes the components of the milk, including fat distribution.

In part two Sue presents research on other common questions, including whether to feed on one side or both and interventions including nipple shields and nipple creams.

Both breasts at each feed? Research: One or both breasts at each feed

In 1984 we carried out research (Cox, 1984) to find out whether mothers followed the suggested feeding regime or whether they developed their own. At that time mothers were told to only offer the breast five times each day. They were also told to always use both breasts at each feed-time.

Length of breastfeeds was strictly regimented. Mothers were told to only allow their baby to breastfeed for:

2 minutes, on the birth day, then

3 minutes on the second day,

5 minutes on the third day,

7 minutes on the fourth day, 

10 minutes on the fifth day,

And from then on just offer 10 minutes.

Mothers stayed in hospital for 5-7 days and rooming-in was rare. When the babies returned to the nursery on the third and fourth day we noted that many of them had very wet and dirty nappies (diapers), they vomited excess milk, and they sucked their hands and cried.

We had read of some of the newest research from the UK (Baum, 1980) which showed changes (increases) in fat levels from the beginning to the end of a feed. Therefore, we decided to suggest to the mothers that if their breasts were feeling really tight on the second or third day, or if they had used one breast per feed with a previous baby, that they might like to try just using one breast at each feed until they recognized their baby wanted more milk and/or their breasts were less firm.

Our findings showed that of the 155 mothers: 3% were discharged early; 27% fed from both breasts at all feeds; 8% fed from one breast during the period when their breasts were distended and were discharged feeding from both breasts; and 62% fed from alternate breasts at each feed before and after discharge (Cox, 1988).

Following further research on breast capacity (Daly et al., 1993; Cregan & Hartmann, 1999) and research on breast hypoplasia (Huggins et al., 2000) we now understand that we cannot give advice about one or both breasts per feed or the frequency of feeds because this is dependent on an individual mother’s breast capacity.

Point baby’s chin towards the area of the blocked duct? Research: ensure good breast drainage over every 24 hour period instead of concentrating on angle of baby’s mouth

Ultrasound studies of breast anatomy (Ramsay, 2005) show that the ducts do not radiate out through a breast segment in an organized way, but instead begin under the areola and travel out through the breast in a randomized fashion.

Nipple creams and lanolin? Research: short term relief only

In 1988 mothers were dissuaded from using anhydrous lanolin as pesticides were found in the lanolin. A purer form of lanolin later became available, but only one prospective controlled clinical trial has been done to support its use (Abou-Dakn, 2011.) This study indicates that it may be helpful in comparison to expressed breast milk in the first three days of treatment.

In my experience 1,800 mothers who birthed in our maternity unit annually chose to breastfeed their babies. After we stopped using lanolin and other nipple creams in 1988, our maternity staff became very skilled in finding the cause of nipple pain and strategies to prevent and/or treat nipple trauma and pain were developed instead of using the “quick fix” of lanolin.

Rubber nipple shields prevented weight gain in infants? Research: use of silicone shields in a small percentage of mothers could be effective if appropriate follow-up is conducted

The main nipple shield used 20 to 30 years ago was made of rubber.  Following research to quantify milk transfer, it was found that the poor areolar stimulation through the rubber shield led to only 42% of available milk being transferred to the baby (Woolridge at al.,1980).

In the hospital where I practiced as an IBCLC, two incidences of babies having been admitted to the pediatric ward with poor weight gain at 6 weeks of age led to further exploration of the issue of rubber nipple shield use. Both mothers had been given a rubber nipple shield during their maternity stay. Following discussions with staff, it was decided that nipple shields would no longer be distributed. This increased the midwives’ skills at assisting mothers with breastfeeding.

Some years later, following much discussion in the literature, we decided to do a pilot study to quantify how many mothers and babies could be helped by using the newer, thin silicone nipple shields (Cox & Paine, 1997). We found that silicone nipple shields were an advantage to 2.2% of mothers and their infants as long as they were followed up to ensure adequate output and that weight gain was continuing during all the time they were using a nipple shield.

These experiences confirmed for me that developing new policy and procedures should always be supported by current research.

Finally, Sue recommends that IBCLCs consider their rationale before making alterations to their current clinical practice or before creating new policies and procedures. Using new clinical skills and techniques can be extremely beneficial, and we should strive to remember that they are “in development” until the qualitative or quantitative research is produced to support them.  In fact, as a profession we are called to propose and conduct research in collaboration with other disciplines to further our ability to assist mothers and babies. Sue leaves us with this reminder: “Development and growth of a respected profession is based on evidence. Listen to new ideas and seek validation of what you hear from the evidence.”

Abou-Dakn M et al., (2011) Positive effect of HPA lanolin versus expressed breastmilk on painful and damaged nipples during lactation. Skin Pharmacol Physiol, 24(1):27-35.

Baum JD, (1980) Flow and composition of suckled milk. Medica Amsterdam

Joanna Briggs Institute (2009) The Management of Nipple Pain and/or Trauma Associated with Breastfeeding Best Practice, Evidence based information sheets for health professionals, 13(4).

Cox SG (1984 ) One breast per feed: A solution for the crying baby. Proceedings of the International Confederation of Midwives conference, Sydney, Australia.

Cox SG (1988) Why do some babies prefer only one breast at each feed? Breastfeeding Review 13:85-6.

Cox SG & Paine K (1997) The importance of follow-up of infants when the mother is using a nipple shield for breastfeeding. Unpublished data.

Cregan, MD & Hartmann PE (1999) Computerized breast measurement from conception to weaning: clinical implications. J Hum Lact 15(2):89-96

Daly SE, Owens RA, Hartmann PE. (1993) The short-term synthesis and infant-regulated removal of milk in lactating women. Exp Physiol, 78(2):209-20.

Huggins KE, Petok ES & Mireles O (2000) Markers of Lactation Insufficiency: A study of 34 mothers. Current Issues in Clinical Lactation, 25-35.

Kent JC et al., Breast volume and milk production during extended lactation in women. Exp Physiology, 84(2):435-47.

Ramsay DT et al., (2005) Anatomy of the lactating human breast redefined with ultrasound imaging. J Anat, 206(6):525-34.

Woolridge MW, Baum JD, Drewett RF (1980) Effect of a traditional and of a new nipple shield on sucking patterns and milk flow. Early Hum Dev, 4(4):357-64.

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Shaken Or Stirred? How Does Handling of Breastmilk Impact Composition? Guest Post by Sue Cox, IBCLC


Incorporating new evidence-based information about putting lactation into practice is a critical component of the role of the IBCLC.  As additional information becomes available, it is a challenge to place it in the context of what has already been established both in the field of lactation and in the broader fields of anatomy and physiology. 

Our guest blogger Sue Cox, an IBCLC since 1985 and the author/presenter of over 80 papers, addresses the research in hot topics in the IBCLC profession today, including questions about breastmilk composition when shaken, agitated, or left in the breast between long feedings. Watch for part two of this post next Wednesday where she will share her reflections on the research on other commonly asked questions about breastfeeding.

On Listening, Then Reviewing/Pondering What We Read and Hear

In this blog post, I will be commenting on some of the discussions I have read on the Internet and heard in professional conversation lately. I hope these quotes – on which I have based my professional life as an IBCLC – will help guide your thinking.

. . . Continued learning requires that we seek new knowledge and [accept] the challenge that takes place when our own interpretations on ways of doing things are questioned by others. That is the price we must pay if we are to hone our skills, increase our knowledge and strive to keep to the best of our abilities for those women who seek our assistance and depend upon us for guidance.

Kathleen Auerbach, (1987) J.Hum Lact 3(4).

Receptiveness to what we hear is vital, but what we hear needs always to be backed up by physiological/biochemical/ anatomical/endocrinological and/or psychological understandings.

Sue Cox 2014.

Note from the editor: Much recent research has addressed how best to handle expressed human milk, with the goal of maintaining the integrity of the milk components and more evenly distribute the components within the liquid. This has, in turn, generated conversation about ways to more evenly distribute nutrients, especially human milkfat, throughout milk during breastfeeding. Read on for the research that Sue provides to further discussion in each of these areas.

Will agitating a syringe of expressed breastmilk for infusion to premature infants homogenize the milk?

Ultrasound has previously been shown to homogenize cow milk (Ertugay & Sengul, 2004).

Ertugay, FM, Sengul, M (2004) Effect of Ultrasound Treatment on Milk Homogenisation and Particle Size Distribution of Fat. Turk J Vet Anim Sci 303-308.

In the recent study by Garcia-Lara and colleagues (2014) the researchers sought to extend knowledge of the most appropriate routine to decrease fat loss in infused expressed breastmilk for premature infants. The word homogenization occurred in the title: “Type of homogenization and fat loss during continuous infusion of human milk.” Three methods were used to mix the milk in the syringe: baseline agitation, hourly agitation and ultrasound. The first two methods simply reconstituted the milk but did not make every drop the same as in homogenization. 

Garcia-Lara et al., (2014) Type of homogenization and fat loss during continuous infusion of human milk. J Hum Lact  0890334414546044, first published on August 13, 2014 as doi:10.1177/0890334414546044.

Could shaking the breast homogenise milk?

Breastmilk in the alveoli is a suspension of fore- or skim- milk with small amounts of fat suspended in it, but most of the fat is bonded to the epithelial lining of the alveoli.

If breastmilk were to be homogenised it would require a “factory setting” in which it would be altered from a suspension to an emulsion where every drop would be the same.

Homogenisation is a process in which the fat droplets are emulsified and the cream does not separate

Even after centrifuging, all of the fat globules do not separate and fat is seen in the skim fraction of the milk (Czank et al, 2009)

Czank, C, Simmer K, and Peter E Hartmann, PE  (2009) A method for standardizing the fat content of human milk for use in the neonatal intensive care unit. Int Breastfeed J. 2009; 4: 3.

Could shaking the breast or breast massage increase the fat content earlier in the feed?

Whittlestone (1953) hypothesised that the fat globules adhered to the walls of the alveoli and ducts.

Whittlestone WG (1953) Variations in the fat content of milk throughout the milking process. J Dairy Res 20: 146–153

Foda (2004) found that when samples of expressed milk were taken within 30 minutes  before Okatani massage and then the breast was fully hand expressed after massage that there were increased fat levels in the post-massage breastmilk but this only occurred after lactation was well established which in that study was after three months. No reference was made to the effect that the massage may have had on milk ejections occurring which increase fat levels in milk, nor was there mention of degree of fullness or time since the previous feed.

Foda et al., (2004) Composition of milk obtained from unmassaged versus massaged breasts of lactating mothers. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr.;38(5):484-7.

Morton et al (2012) found that when mothers who were expressing for their premature babies used hand expression and breast compression during pumping that their milk exceeded normal fat and energy levels after the first week postpartum.

Sue notes here that the breasts would have been well drained at each expressing and pumping session.

Morton J, et al., (2012) Combining hand techniques with electric pumping increases the caloric content of milk in mothers of preterm infants.  J Perinatol. 32(10):791-6

Would altering breastmilk so that the infant received creamier milk earlier in the feed be an advantage to the baby?

Karatas (2011) suggested that the weight patterns in healthy breastfed infants at their second and fifth months is based on the satiety from changes in breastmilk ghrelin, leptin, and fat levels between the foremilk and hindmilk.

Karatas Z et al., (2011) Breastmilk ghrelin, leptin, and fat levels changing foremilk to hindmilk: is that important for self-control of feeding? Eur J Pediatr. 2011 Oct;170(10):1273-80.

Various theories have been suggested about how/why the fat detaches including: the decrease in surface area as the alveoli are being drained of milk during a feeding (Atwood & Hartmann, 1992; Neville, Allen & Watters, 1983; Hytten, 1954); the effect of hormones oxytocin and prolactin and/or alteration in gene expression as the alveoli is drained (Hassiotou et al., 2012; Hall, 1979) .

Atwood CS, Hartmann PE (1992) Collection of fore and hind milk from the sow and the changes in milk composition during suckling. J Dairy Res 59: 287–298.

Neville MC, Allen JC, Watters C (1983) The mechanisms of milk secretion; Neville MC, Neifert MR, New York and London: Plenum Press. 49–102.

Hytten FE (1954) Clinical and chemical studies in human lactation. I. Collection of milk samples. Brit Med J 23: 175–182.

Hassiotou F, Geddes DT, Hartmann PE (2012) Cells in human milk: State of the science. J Hum Lact 29: 171–182.

Hall B (1979) Uniformity of human milk. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 32: 304–312.

Does milk separate in the breast if there are long gaps between feeds?

The greater portion of the milk is stored in the alveoli until required (Geddes, 2009). High-resolution ultrasound images (Geddes, 2009) show the flow of milk as the ducts dilate in the breast following oxytocin-mediated milk ejection (shown by flecks in the milk in the duct as the milk is ejected as well as in the infant’s oral cavity). When milk removal ceases the residual milk returns to the alveoli.   

Geddes D (2009) The use of ultrasound to identify milk ejection in women – tips and pitfalls. Int Breastfeed J. 2009; 4: 5. doi:  10.1186/1746-4358-4-5

Hassioto et al., (2013) found that when milk was expressed before, after and then at 30- minute intervals for three hours after breastfeeds that the highest fat levels were found 30 minutes after the end of milk removal. This supports the utrasound findings of Geddes (2009) that showed how residual fat returns to the alveoli after milk removal.

Hassiotou F, et al., Breastmilk cell and fat contents respond similarly to removal of breastmilk by the infant. PLoS One. 2013; 8(11): e78232. Published online Nov 6, 2013. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0078232

In conclusion, the suggestion that homogenization can be achieved by simply shaking or agitating breastmilk in the breast or in another receptacle is an incorrect use of the word homogenize. The use of the word homogenize in the context of human lactation and breastfeeding requires scholarly review.

Watch for Sue’s next guest post, where she presents the research on other key areas of breastfeeding practice today.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?


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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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