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 www.mamamilkandme.com. You can learn more about her work at www.leighanneoconnor.com

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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: jhlphotocontest@gmail.com
  • 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 jhlphotocontest@gmail.com

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World Breastfeeding Week: Tell Us About Your MVPs


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted in World Breastfeeding Week | 16 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in ILCA 2014 Conference, ILCA News | 5 Comments

ILCA Announces New Vision Statement

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

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

New Vision Statement 2014








Our mission statement remains the same:

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

Why change vision statements?

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

Our previous vision statement was:

The IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ILCA President 2012-14


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

ILCA President 2010-12


DSC03591Decalie Brown, RN, IBCLC, CFHN, BHMtg

ILCA President, 2-14-16

Posted in ILCA 2014 Conference, ILCA News | 4 Comments

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

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

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

At The Conference

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

Facebook folks:

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

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

ILCA Tweeps:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumped Up: Supporting Nursing Moms at Work

When Brandon Wright, store manager for Goodwill Industries in Lafayette, IN, learnedworkplace1 that two of his employees were pregnant, he wasted no time letting them know that if they planned to breastfeed, he would provide them with time and space to express milk at work. For Wright, the conversation was more than merely complying with FLSA requirements under the Affordable Care Act; it was about doing the right thing to support valuable employees and help their children get a good start in life. His employees said they appreciated the easy way he began the conversation and instantly established that their family needs would be respected.

Wright found simple accommodations for Melissa and Jessilyn once they returned to work. A clean storage area was made available for them to express milk in privacy, and a simple hand-written sign was placed outside the door to indicate when it was in use. The employees took their usual breaks, and maintained open communication with their supervisor to assure that things worked well for everyone.workplace2

Wright says, “It wasn’t hard at all. It didn’t affect my day to day operations at all.” What he says it did affect was employee morale. “They [my employees] came to work knowing we respected what their rights were as women. They’re still here. I’ve retained them. I think it’s good.”

The Lafayette Goodwill store is one of thousands of companies across America who have found similar easy, low-cost solutions to supporting nursing moms at work, and are enjoying bottom-line benefits of longer retention, lower absenteeism rates due to healthier infants, and improved employee productivity. They are one of 200 companies in 29 U.S. states featured in a brand new online searchable resource for human resource managers launched at the 2014 Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Florida.

The resource, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions, was developed workplace3by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. It features hundreds of solutions for businesses in all 22 industry categories, including challenging environments such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, manufacturing plants, and many others. Videos and over a thousand photos are included to highlight workable options in virtually every type of work setting.

According to Ursuline Singleton, the OWH project officer, the project is designed to give employers a wide range of options and solutions. “We know that Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers of hourly workers to provide time and space for nursing women at work. We also know that many employers simply don’t know how to do that, and need practical solutions. We established this resource to show them how it’s done all across America. We took some of the most difficult job environments and provide options that are low-cost and easy to implement.”

To learn more, visit the new website at: www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/at-work.

by Cathy Carothers, BLA, IBCLC, FILCA

Cathy 7-6-14-crCathy is co-director of Every Mother, Inc. and project director for Every Mother’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health workplace lactation initiatives. She is the author of the HHS Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s Business Case for Breastfeeding, and was lead trainer for state-based training events in 36 U.S. states. She is past president of ILCA, immediate past chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee, and chair of the Monetary Investment for Lactation Consultant Certification (MILCC). An experienced trainer and speaker, she has provided training programs in every U.S. state and territory and several foreign countries. She is a Fellow of ILCA and an IBCLC since 1996. She was recently honored by the National WIC Association with their 2014 National Leadership Award in the “Friend of WIC” category.

photo credit: Anne Schollenberger

Did your workplace overcome a unique challenge to support lactating families? Please share with us in the comments!

Posted in Breastfeeding Advocacy, Breastfeeding in the Workplace | 3 Comments

ILCA’s Independent International Code Expert Panel: A Model for Professional Associations

ILCALogo_full_text (2)ILCA demonstrates its bedrock support for the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions (the International Code, or Code) with by-laws and governance policies that prohibit our professional association from accepting funds from companies that are not meeting their obligations under the Code. ILCA does accept advertising from those meeting their obligations under the Code: Exhibit Hall booths and tote bag flyers at our conference, and ads in our esteemed Journal of Human Lactation. These funds offset the costs of providing member services, which keeps annual dues at a reasonable level.

ILCA is an international role model: Organizations can operate with fiscal responsibility while also supporting the International Code’s mandates against predatory marketing of infant-feeding alternatives.

Due to its complexity and legitimate susceptibility to varying interpretations, the International Code is often difficult even for recognized experts to uniformly discern. Thus, the ILCA Board voted in November 2013 to establish an independent panel of experts, trained under auspices of the International Code Documentation Centre and recognized for their expertise in International Code interpretation and application.

The panel includes ILCA members (familiar with the programs and services of our organization), and those with no official ILCA relationship (to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest).

The Panel members are:

Linda Smith, Chair, MPH, FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA – Dayton, Ohio, USA

Carol Bartle, RN, RM, PGDip, ChAd, MHealSc, IBCLC, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

Jen Peddlesden, BScPharm, IBCLC – Chestermere, Alberta, Canada

Elisabeth Sterken, London, Ontario, Canada

Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, RLC – Weston, Massachusetts, USA

Audrey Naylor (Alternate), MD, DrPH, – Shelburne, Vermont, USA

The panel is authorized to make binding interpretations about potential advertisers/advertisements, for purposes of ILCA advertising and management, for the time- and event-specific purposes of the organization (primarily conference exhibit hall booths and tote bag flyers, and JHL ads).

This model doesn’t require the International Code to be legislated in any particular country . . . but it is akin to self-imposed “law” for ILCA operations. Under this model, trained experts can review precedent and WHO documents, debate the facts . . . and make a decision (with citable rationale) whether an advertiser meets ILCA’s stringent advertising policy on Code compliance. And this model provides an opportunity for marketers to learn how they can adjust their advertising, support the Code . . . and meet ILCA’s requirements.

ILCA urges other professional associations of healthcare providers to adopt this model: it eases association operations, expands understanding of the Code, reduces conflicts of interest in decision-making, and allows marketers with a true goal of supporting the Code to receive guidance toward that end.

liz-brooks-1Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA

ILCA President (2012-14)

Posted in ILCA News, WHO Code/BFHI | Leave a comment