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#ILCA15 Conference Wrap-Up!

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More than 1,000 members of our community came together at #ILCA15 for four days of learning the latest concepts in lactation, connecting with leaders and changemakers, and bringing our voices together to transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care!

We hope that you had as much fun as we did.

If you were not able to join us, it’s not too late to catch the highlights! You can still search the hashtag #ILCA15 on all of our social media platforms and join the conversation. In addition, you can follow the twitter conversation streams from our plenary sessions by clicking on the following Storify links:

Dr. Gail Christopher

Dr. Howard Chilton

Dr. Jane Morton

Dr. Daniel Sellen

Dr. Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg

Dr. Chessa Lutter

Dr. Donna Geddes

Dr. Katherine Dettwyler

Thirty Years of Lactation Research Informing Practice

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeveral of ILCA’s Past Presidents gathered to be honored at our Opening Ceremony.

We heard from dynamic speakers from all over the world who pointed us towards new research and new ways of thinking.We heard from dynamic speakers from all over the world who pointed us towards new research and new ways of thinking.

Our Founders were our guests at a reception thrown in their honor.Our Founders were our guests at a reception thrown in their honor.

We had the opportunity to host the first US screening of the stunning film, MILK.We had the opportunity to host the first US screening of the stunning film, MILK.

Our first ever Global Partners Meeting gave us the opportunity to hear from emerging organizations supporting breastfeeding all over the world.Our first ever Global Partners Meeting gave us the opportunity to hear from emerging organizations supporting breastfeeding all over the world.

We had the opportunity to engage with cutting-edge research all throughout the conference.We were able to engage with cutting-edge research all throughout the conference.

And our President, Decalie Brown, made sure we got a "selfie" of the whole crowd during her President's Address.And our President, Decalie Brown, made sure we got a “selfie” with the whole crowd during her President’s Address.


What was your favorite moment? The most impactful moment? The new idea you’ll take to your practice?


NetCode: WHO’s New Global Code Monitoring Initiative

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Michelle Pensa-Branco, RLC, IBCLC, LLL, Toronto, noticed a UNICEF Canada infographic in her Facebook feed and realized the use of a bottle image to idealize bottle-feeding was a violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Michelle had attended a three day Code training workshop held by International Baby Food Network (IBFAN) in Toronto in 2012 and knew the ad was a violation of the Code. Michelle reached out to UNICEF Canada, and, as a result, UNICEF Canada will be training all its staff on the Code.

UNICEF's infograpic, in clear violation of the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes.

UNICEF’s infographic, a violation of the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes

This is an important outcome.

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is one of our main tools to protect breastfeeding families from infant feeding product marketing that erodes breastfeeding. The Code was first adopted in 1981, over 30 years ago, and there are ongoing initiatives to extend the impact of the Code and help keep it relevant in both the developing and the developed world.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, introduced in 1991, has resulted in hundreds of hospitals adopting the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, and the Innocenti Declaration moved efforts into the 21st century in 2005. Additionally, more than a dozen resolutions have been passed at World Health Assemblies that expand and enhance the Code. It is a living document, and still very relevant in today’s world, working to address current marketing practices like the introduction of follow-on formulas or breast pump company marketing of bottles and teats.

As health professionals, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLCs®) have a responsibility under the Code to both be aware of the Code, and to draw attention to Code violations. Some of the most flagrant violations are often those committed knowingly by multinational manufacturers who pay lip service to the Code, even in countries where the Code has the force of law. The film MILK, by Noemi Weis, provides a stunning exposé of current Code violations in several countries around the world—from ongoing marketing of Nestlé’s infamous coffee whitener Bear Brand to the families of hungry babies in the slums after the typhoon in the Philippines to the excess of tins and tins of formula sent unasked to mothers in modern kitchens in Canada. (A private screening will be available at the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®)’s Annual Conference – learn more here.)

International Code Document Center legal updateCode monitoring is an ongoing process, and IBCLC reports of Code violations to the IBFAN network over the years have contributed greatly to IBFAN’s International Code Documentation Center reports and legal updates, which are widely used to document and publicize Code violations, including those in well-regulated countries like Ireland, Canada, and the United States.

A key World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2011 on country-by-country implementation of the Code has found that, while 37 of 165 countries have full Code legislation, with many more implementing parts of the Code, few countries have functioning Code monitoring and enforcement mechanisms in place. At the World Health Assembly in 2012, member states were urged to put plans in place to improve implementation and monitoring, and WHO Director General Dr. Margaret Chan was requested to support the member state efforts. WHO is responding with activities to strengthen both implementation and monitoring of the Code. One initiative is the creation of a network for global monitoring of the Code called NetCode.

This initiative is still being rolled out, and many questions remain about how it will be enacted. What countries will be part of the initiative? What will the role be of the existing IBFAN network and the International Code Document Center in this new initiative? Will efforts be made to ensure partnership opportunities are not infiltrated by industry (such as the co-opting of UNICEF’s 1000 Days initiative by Nestlé in the City of Toronto recently, and the acceptance of money in 2013 from Nestlé to fund Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) initiatives to prevent and control obesity and chronic non-communicable disease)?

In striving to answer some of these questions and provide an opportunity for a greater understanding of NetCode, ILCA invites you to a plenary address by Chessa Lutter, PhD at #ILCA15. Dr. Lutter’s address, WHO UNICEF Network for Global Monitoring and Support: Implementation of the International Code, will be presented Saturday, 25 July 2015, 10-11am EDT and will help attenders clarify the relationship between breastfeeding promotion and changes in current breastfeeding practices, the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, and implementation of the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. (NOTE: This plenary address will also be available via #ILCA15’s Live Streaming option.)

We look forward to learning with you at Dr. Lutter’s presentation and at all of our informative plenary events!

Jodine Chase owns a public relations firm that specializes in news analysis for a select clientele. She is the curator of Human Milk News and with her husband has parented eleven children and stepchildren. She has five grandchildren and wants infant food product companies to stop targeting her daughters and daughters in law, and her grandchildren with unethical marketing campaigns. She joined the Best for Babes Foundation board in 2014 to support the BfB C.A.R.E.-Code Alliance, and she helps run INFACT Canada ‘s Facebook page. She is a founding member of the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (BACE).

This talk will be just one exciting part of this year’s LIVE STREAMING EVENT!

To learn more (including new features and pricing options) visit here for details.


ILCA Global Partners Initiative: Bridging Vision and Reality

Lactation Matters_the official blog of-2Organizations around the world – from established international organizations to emerging national and regional groups – are all working toward improving breastfeeding outcomes. Imagine the impact if these groups had a way to link together goals, break down barriers, and pursue common objectives.

As a part of ILCA’s ongoing efforts to foster a global agenda, on 22 July 2015, ILCA will officially launch the ILCA Global Partners Initiative at the inaugural ILCA Partners Meeting.

This meeting represents the realization of an effort begun nearly a year ago when the ILCA Board of Directors proudly announced a new organizational vision: World Health Transformed through Breastfeeding and Skilled Lactation Care.


Implementation of the new ILCA vision began with a commitment to two goals: expansion of formal relationships with global partners and development assistance for emerging breastfeeding organizations.

In addition to nurturing formal relations with international breastfeeding organizations (WHO, UNICEF, WABA, etc.), ILCA committed to expanding formal partnerships with like-minded membership organizations throughout the global breastfeeding community (USLCA, ELACTA, JALC, etc.).

At the same time, ILCA recognized an urgent need to facilitate the growth and development of small groups of breastfeeding advocates who were not yet self-sufficient. Over the past several months, ILCA has formed new partnerships with several national and regional breastfeeding organizations and opened a dialogue with numerous emerging organizations.

During this process, ILCA has recognized a new and unique opportunity to significantly impact breastfeeding and skilled lactation care on a global scale—bridging the gap between vision and reality.

ILCA aims to facilitate dialogue and create new linkage among partner organizations at the international, national, regional and local level. Our goal: creating new synergies that support international programs while simultaneously elevating the needs of emerging breastfeeding organizations.

While many international organizations have regional representatives throughout the world, they often lack the infrastructure to successfully implement programs and objectives or to fully grasp the local needs. Through its multi-tiered collaborative global network, ILCA is growing the capacity and capability to provide that much-needed infrastructure to bridge global intentions with local needs.

Meeting Objectives

While the inaugural ILCA Partners Meeting will afford ILCA Partners the first opportunity to meet face-to-face, we anticipate this meeting will become a keystone event associated with all future ILCA Annual Conferences.

Key Objectives:

  1. Introduce the key components, members, and potential of the new global breastfeeding collaboration.
  2. Highlight several key international objectives that may benefit from this new collaboration.
  3. Identify some of the major organizational development barriers for emerging breastfeeding organizations.
  4. Identify 2-3 objectives the collaboration may wish to address.

Bridging Vision and Reality

While every organization has its own agenda and unique needs, ILCA sees a unique opportunity for the lactation community to speak with one voice that furthers the global breastfeeding agenda.

It is our hope that by creating the space for dialogue and collaboration among all of those in the breastfeeding community, we can bridge the gap between today’s reality and our collective vision for tomorrow.

Want to learn more? Leave us a message in the comments or contact ILCA Executive Director, Dick Padlo via email at


Q&A with #ILCA15 Speaker Katherine Dettwyler

Dettwyler Blog ImageKatherine Dettwyler, PhD is a plenary speaker at the upcoming 2015 ILCA Conference, 22-25 July in Washington, DC, USA. Her plenary address will be A Time to Wean: The hominid blueprint for a natural age of weaning in modern humans. She will also present during two breakout sessions, Beauty and the Breast: The cultural context of breastfeeding and Promoting Breastfeeding, Promoting Guilt?.

Kathy Dettwyler, PhD was recently interviewed by Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC on behalf of Lactation Matters.

I first heard Kathy Dettwyler, PhD, speak at a La Leche League (LLL) Conference in New Jersey, USA, when I was nursing my second toddler. I had been a LLL Leader for four or five years and had fallen in love with toddlers who were nursing—mine and others. I started a toddler-focused LLL meeting in addition to the regular support meetings in my area.

Nursing a toddler seemed so natural. I couldn’t imagine mothering without this special tool. I heard so many moms struggling with weaning and with so many voices questioning what seemed right. I knew in my heart it was right, but I couldn’t always answer the questions parents had, the questions extended families had, the questions doctors had. Her presentation was just what I needed.

Recently, I was lucky to be able to pick her brain about nursing past infancy.

LO: Can you tell me how you got interested in breastfeeding, particularly older babies?

KD: I first got pregnant in 1979, when I was in grad school, and I had a dear friend, Martha Toomey, who had a four-month-old she was nursing. When I told her I was pregnant, she invited me to go with her to a La Leche League meeting. I said, “What’s La Leche League?” and the rest, as they say, is history.

I was the youngest child in my family, my older sisters don’t have kids, and I never babysat much, so I was clueless about babies in general. But breastfeeding was easy for me, and as I had always been interested in the interactions between culture and biology, I was fascinated by the cultural differences between La Leche League and the general US culture at the time.

I ended up having to change the topic of my dissertation research at the last minute, and found myself in Mali. I decided to look at how infant formula was impacting the growth and health of children in Mali, only to discover that no one used formula. I did my PhD research on general cultural beliefs and practices about breastfeeding and weaning, and their effects on child growth. In Mali, people used to nurse longer (up to 6 or 7 years for last children), but the “new” style was to breastfeed for only two years, and the women I worked with there started to urge me to wean my daughter when she turned two years of age, so I could get pregnant again—a third cultural viewpoint to contrast to the US mainstream and to LLL.

Eventually, I ended up trying to write a review chapter for a book I was co-editing on what we knew about how long modern humans were evolved to breastfeed, only to discover that no one had ever, EVER asked that question. Lots of “experts” had lots of opinions, but no one had ever tried to answer the question scientifically except for the wonderful Ruth Lawrence, and she was working from outdated information about mammals in general and elephants in particular.

So I started trying to answer the question of how long humans would breastfeed, if not for weird cultural beliefs, by looking at how length of nursing correlated to other life history variables in our closest relatives (the nonhuman primates) and then using variables that aren’t so easily manipulated by culture, like length of pregnancy, when the permanent teeth erupt, average adult female body size, etc., to predict age at weaning in the absence of cultural beliefs. That’s where the 2.5 years to 7.0 years comes from.

LO: What percentage of people are breastfed until natural weaning occurs? In Western cultures? In other cultures?

KD: There is no way to answer this question in a meaningful or scientific way. There are hundreds of thousands of cultures around the world, depending on how one defines the boundaries of a culture. In every culture, there will be variation in age of weaning unless the culture imposes some strict cultural belief on it. There are undoubtedly some cultures where most of the children nurse until they are between 3 and 5 years of age, or longer.

There are also many cultures, including in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, where some children nurse that long, but most do not. There are also many, if not most, mother–child pairs where weaning is a mutually negotiated process—two people are involved, after all. I nursed my first child for 4 years, then one for only 4 months, then the last for 5.5 years. None of them weaned “on their own,” except my son with Down syndrome, who absolutely refused to nurse after 4 months of age.

LO: Which cultures currently nurse the longest?

There is no way to answer this question meaningfully. There are still a number of cultures around the world where children nurse for many years. We don’t have a snapshot in time of cultural beliefs about nursing or actual practices in terms of length of nursing from most places around the world. All over the world, the general trend is for nursing to get shorter and shorter, or be replaced by formula, except in a few cultures, such as the United States and other Western countries where nursing is trending the other way, with more women nursing and for longer and longer times.

It’s a very similar process to the “Demographic Transition.” There are three stages to infant feeding practices:

Stage I: Everyone breastfeeds for many years, with a shift to shorter and shorter durations, and, eventually, replacement by formula.

Stage II: Most people bottle-feed with formula, and those who do breastfeed only do so for short periods of weeks or months at most, followed by a shift back to longer and longer durations, and fewer and fewer people using bottles and formula.

Stage III: Everyone breastfeeds for many years.

The United States and other Western countries led the way in the transition from Stage I to Stage II, with the wealthier, more educated women leading the way in the transition to bottle-feeding with formula, then these ideas and practices trickling down to those of lower socioeconomic status and less education. About the time those with the least resources] had switched to bottle-feeding, the wealthier, more educated women were switching back to breastfeeding (1960s-1970s).

Likewise, most non-Western cultures were slow to adopt formula feeding, and some of them are just now in the transition between Stage I and Stage II—places like China, where the formula companies are now targeting mothers in a big way as the market for formula wanes in the West.

This view of the “Infant Feeding Transition” is not my own original perceptive insight; it was Margaret Mead herself who first put this forward years and years ago and said it was too bad we couldn’t figure out some way to skip Stage II, since so many children die or are left with impaired cognitive and immune systems from formula.

LO: What are the biggest barriers to normal length nursing?

  • Cultural beliefs that breasts are sex objects. They are not. They are mammary glands, but cultural beliefs about the breasts as sex objects are very powerful in a tiny minority of cultures around the world, and these beliefs are largely to blame for the difficulties women in the West have with breastfeeding in public, breastfeeding even in private, getting their husbands to support them, etc. Not to mention female mammary mutilation (breast augmentation surgery), which is analogous to female genital mutilation in so many ways.
  • The lack of belief in the power of women’s bodies to function normally.
  • The lack of paid maternity leave, or a society where women can combine their productive work and their reproductive work. In much of the world, women do much more work than in the West—hauling water and firewood, chopping firewood, pounding grain into flour, walking for miles every day, growing crops, milking the herds, working at all sorts of other productive tasks, such as weaving and pottery and even in office jobs—but their kids are with them at all times, and they can nurse whenever they want, including in public, and they have many other people to help them care for their kids.
  • A misguided notion that normal durations of nursing will make a child clingy and more dependent, a sissy, not capable of independence from the mother. Research has shown that this belief is not just false, but that, in fact, the more children have a secure base in infancy and toddlerhood, through nursing and co-sleeping, the more independent and socially mature they are in later childhood. As well as smarter, and healthier, and nicer, of course.
  • A general devaluation of children and a reluctance to give them the time and emotional effort they need and deserve, having kids too close together; I could go on and on and on.

LO: How do you feel about the term “extended nursing?”

KD: I don’t mind “extended nursing” as long as it is clearly and consistently defined. To some people, anything past three weeks is extended, for others, it is one year. I use the phrase to mean “beyond three years,” which is extended relative to cultural norms in the United States and other Western contexts, but, of course, is not at all extended in biological terms. But I don’t get my panty hose in a twist and insist on such awkward constructions as “natural-term” or “full-term” nursing. I would love to see the term “extended nursing” limited to those children who nurse beyond 7 years of age, and yes, there are some, even in the United States, but that isn’t going to happen.

LO: Is there a difference in children who wean naturally from those who are weaned?

KD: This is another unanswerable question. There are, of course, differences in children who nurse for several years versus those who nurse for only a few months or those who are weaned at birth. Is there a difference between my son Alex who “was weaned” at age 5.5 years, by me, versus a fictional child, George, who self-weaned at 2.5 years? No one knows. What kind of differences? How could one ever determine if it was because of the different way they ended up stopping breastfeeding versus one of the thousands (nay, millions) of other genetic, environmental, and cultural differences between Alex and George.

I am all in favor of the wording in the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that mother and child should nurse as long as is mutually desirable. I don’t think mothers should feel any qualms about weaning when they are ready to stop, for whatever reason. The more critical issue is that mothers who want to continue nursing to any age should be supported, not ridiculed, not have their motives questions, and not be charged with sexual abuse or lose custody of their children, as sometimes happens.

LO: Are there health differences and attachment differences between weaned vs. self-weaned children?

KD: No one knows. There is basically no research on differences between children who nurse for varying lengths of time beyond 2 years (2 vs. 4 vs. 6, etc.) either for cognitive functioning, short- and long-term health consequences, emotional health, attachment, etc., just like no one knows the composition of maternal breast milk more than 2 years postpartum. And certainly there is no research I am aware of between those who self-wean at various ages versus those who are encouraged to stop. Remember, too, that “weaning” can happen more than once. I weaned my daughter, my first child, at age 3, then went back to nursing her 4 months later, and weaned her again at age 4.

LO: What is the latest research in breastfeeding older babies and children?

KD: Here’s an excerpt from my “court letter” that cites the only recent research I am aware of:

Thus, while there is not a broad-based research enterprise proving that breastfeeding a child for 3 years provides statistically significant health, cognitive, or emotional benefits compared to breastfeeding a child for only two years, there is no research to show that breastfeeding a child for 3 years (or 4-5-6-7-8-9 years) causes any sort of physical, psychological or emotional harm to the child. This was explicitly confirmed in the 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics Recommendations for breastfeeding the healthy term infant, as well as Karen Epstein-Gilboa’s research, published in her 2009 book Interaction and Relationships in Breastfeeding Families: Implications for Practice.¹

LO: How can mothers best be supported to continue nursing past a year or two?

KD: Families could best be supported in extending breastfeeding by providing:

  • A year of paid maternity leave.
  • On-site child care facilities, or letting them have their kids with them at work.
  • Education for the general public that breasts are not sex objects.
  • Education for the general public that nursing beyond age 2-3-4 is normal and healthy.
  • Education for the general public on the risks of formula feeding for children, including death, cognitive impairment, immune system dysfunction, chronic diseases, etc.
  • Education for the risks of formula feeding for mothers, including higher rates of osteoporosis and reproductive cancers.

LO: What are the biggest myths around nursing older babies?

KD: The biggest myths are:

  • They will bite you with their teeth. Yes, they sometimes bite, but so do babies, with their bony gums. It hurts either way and can be easily discouraged
  • It will make them homosexual, especially boys. Ridiculous!!
  • It will make them clingy and dependent. Not true—just the opposite, in fact.
  • They don’t need it for nutrition. There is no better food for children than human breast milk; nothing else comes close. And, of course, it isn’t just, or even primarily, food. Breast milk contains all sorts of factors, many still unrecognized, that help in normal development of the brain, immune system, and other parts of the body. Breastfeeding also helps the child self-regulate their physiological state, to calm them down when hurt, tired, or upset, to make them better when they are sick, to put them to sleep, to lower their blood pressure, to improve nutrient absorption through the gut, etc.
  • The idea that breast milk magically turns to Kool-Aid the day the child turns one year of age. There is lots of research to show that breast milk continues to be nutritionally valuable and to have even more immune factors per mL as the child gets older. It never becomes nutritionally valueless.
  • Their friends will make fun of them. In my experience, a lot of older nurslings have friends who are also still nursing, and they think everyone at kindergarten goes home and nurses. Why would they think otherwise? If kids do make fun of them, the nursing child can educate the ignorant with a few well-chosen words. Or, as my daughter said to someone in high school who was acting disgusted about learning that a 1.5 year old was nursing, “Look, I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but you’re a complete idiot when it comes to this issue. You obviously don’t know anything about it, so why don’t you just shut up” (paraphrasing, it was many years ago, that daughter is now 34 years old). And even if some kids do make fun of them, so what? We wouldn’t expect a Jewish mom to raise her children Christian to fit in and avoid teasing. We wouldn’t expect a mom to have surgery on her child’s face at age 6 to make him or her more pleasant looking (hopefully) to avoid teasing. Etc., etc., etc. Children are going to make fun of each other no matter what.

LO: Are there any downsides to nursing into preschool age?

KD: Absolutely not. Except having to deal with ignorant people. And, of course, legal trouble for some people in places where the ignorant people are judges, lawyers, and/or work for child protective services and think extended breastfeeding is abuse.

LO: What is the most surprising thing you have learned in your research?

KD: How many people are so ignorant about the function of human breasts and think that they are naturally sexy and that mothers who nurse older children are having sex with their kids.

LO: What is the most unusual nursing story you have encountered?

KD: I’ve heard lots of great stories. I love my friend’s story. She was nursing a five year old and a three year old when she gave birth to twins (unexpectedly—she knew she was pregnant, but not that she was having twins). For a while she was nursing all four kids, but then eventually weaned the 5 year old to try to help get a yeast infection under control. She used to joke that even though she drank tons of water every day, she never peed.

And of course, I love stories like the one where my daughter was flying from Europe to New Zealand by way of China and there was a Chinese baby on the plane without its mother, screaming, and the father couldn’t get any formula mixed up, so my daughter offered to, and did, nurse the baby to sleep. The best part of the story is that she had to get her husband to distract their own little boy so he wouldn’t be upset seeing mommy share “his” milk with another baby. Everyone on the plane was very appreciative.

And of course, I once was interviewing a mom for my dissertation research and she was nursing her two year old, when a one year old walked over and started nursing from her other breast, and she was surprised when I was surprised. It was her grandson and she said, “Doesn’t your mother help you nurse your daughter?” When I said, “No, she lives too far away and doesn’t have little kids of her own any more,” she offered me her sympathy, saying, “That must be really difficult for you.”

LO: Where do mothers find the most support?

KD: For some, it is right there at home with their mother, mother-in-law, sisters, husband, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. For others, it is face-to-face mother support groups like La Leche League, Nursing Mothers Association, and similar groups. Since the advent of the internet, of course, there are now thousands of online support groups, including some targeted specifically to distinct groups, such as disabled mothers, older mothers, African-American mothers, lesbian mothers, mothers nursing toddlers and beyond, etc.

LO: Where do you find participants for your research?

KD: When I was doing research in the mid 1990s on women in the United States who nursed longer than three years, that was in the early days of email and the internet, but I put up info on my website, through LLL, at conferences, through email lists, such as LactNet, etc. Lots of women passed the survey I was doing on to their friends. It isn’t difficult at all to find women nursing kids over three years of age.

DettwylerKatherine Dettwyler, PhD is an anthropologist and breastfeeding expert who specializes in evolutionary medicine and infant/child feeding practices. She publishes extensively on topics related to breastfeeding, especially the conflicts between biological and cultural breastfeeding wisdom. Katherine is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Delaware.

Leigh Anne O'Connor 2Leigh Anne O’Connor is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Parenting Expert. She has over 17 years experience working with families. She is the past President of New York Lactation Consultant Association (NYLCA), a member of International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA) and a past member of the Bank Street Head Start Health Advisory Board.

¹Epstein-Gilboa, Karen. 2009. Interaction and Relationships in Breastfeeding Families: Implications for Practice. Texas: Hale Publishing.

Want to hear more? Join us at #ILCA15!

ILCA15 register now button


#ILCA15: Announcing Private Screening of MILK by Noemi Weis

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We are thrilled to announce that the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) will offer a private screening of the ground-breaking documentary, MILK, at our annual conference this July in Washington, DC. JOIN US after our Founder’s Reception (22 July 2015, 8:30pm) to view this wonderful film and participate in a Q&A with its director, Noemi Weis. An additional screening will be held on Friday, 24 July at 3:00pm.

The film, which debuted just a week ago at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival and has also been officially selected to the Madrid International
Film Festival with two nominations, one for Best Director and one for Best Editing. It is quickly gaining buzz as THE breastfeeding documentary to see.

The film’s website states, “Through an intimate and artistic lens, MILK brings a universal perspective on the politics, commercialization and controversies surrounding birth and infant feeding over the canvas of stunningly beautiful visuals and poignant voices from around the globe. Inspiring, informative, provocative and sensitive, MILK celebrates bringing a new life into this world with a strong call to action and reflection.” We caught up with Noemi Weis to find out a bit about her film and why the audience at ILCA will be an important one:

What inspired you to make this film?

Having worked on a variety of social issues and human rights films for many years, this time, I decided to go back to the roots of Mother Nature and explore what happens when we receive a new life into this world.

The more I heard women’s stories, the more I knew that this was a documentary that needed to be made. I was compelled to hear that advocates from around the world, who have been working on protecting women for decades, were still battling on communicating truths on issues surrounding malnutrition and infant mortality. Even more surprisingly, was to learn how little awareness there is about infant nutrition in emergency and disaster response in many areas around the globe.

 As I talked to mothers from different countries, I realized that the problems and challenges they faced were similar, no matter what country, what culture or what language they spoke. They were all talking about the same issues, united by a strong feeling of motherhood that clearly had no borders.

 I decided then, that I would embark on a world journey and offer a platform that would unite these voices. I went where the story took me, without limitations, traveling to eleven countries and casting the strongest and most passionate women, as well as the most vulnerable and ignored.

 I embarked on the mission with the hope to ignite a conversation, bring awareness and influence change within governments, industry, health workers and anyone dealing with the mother and child in order to help future generations of children live healthier lives.

Why does showing this film to ILCA members especially excite you?

I am very pleased to be able to share the film with ILCA members, as I think that MILK will offer them a platform to increase awareness to the importance of breastfeeding through the voices of the mothers themselves.

What do you hope ILCA members will do with what they’ve learned after viewing MILK?

MILK offers reflection and ignites conversation. I am hoping that by uniting people from around the world in the universal topics of motherhood, birth and life, together, we will create the much-needed change to offer new lives bright and healthy futures.

 As we unite to increase awareness, I would like ILCA members to bring MILK to their communities. I know that together, we can make a difference.

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ILCA is proud to partner with MILK as we believe that the message of the film aligns closely with our vision of “World health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.” We will be providing additional information at the screening for those who would like to share this film in their own communities.

To learn more about this film, visit the website at Also, make sure you check out their Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram profile for the latest information about this documentary.

Pre-registration for MILK is not required; however, the private screenings will be open to conference attendees only.

No CERPs will be offered for these sessions.

To learn more about the 2015 ILCA conference or to register, click the register now button: 



#ILCA15: Exploring Washington, DC

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In just a few short months, we’ll be gathering together for the 2015 Conference and Annual Meeting for the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®). Located in Washington, DC, USA, this year’s annual conference is shaping up to be an exciting celebration of “Leadership in Lactation: 30 Years & Moving Forward.” We’ll be learning new and innovative techniques, hearing from thought leaders in our field, and reflecting on the past 30 years as we also think towards the future.

While we’ve got a jam-packed schedule of plenary sessions, workshops, concurrents, and events, we hope you’ll be able to take some time to explore our host city. Washington, DC – the capital of the United States – is full of culture, adventure, history, and progress. Here are 5 local sites you won’t want to miss!

Tai Shan

Photo by Smithsonian’s National Zoo via Flickr’s Creative Commons

Smithsonian’s National Zoo: One of the treasures of Washington, DC will be one block away from our conference hotel. As one of the oldest zoos in the United States (and with free admission!), it is now home to thousands of animals housed in exhibits such as Amazonia, the Bird House, and the Giant Panda Habitat, which is home to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, along with their “toddler” Bao Bao (you can read a bit about his weaning HERE). Check them out on the PANDA CAM!

Photo by Robert Lytle Bolton via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Robert Lyle Bolton via Flickr Creative Commons

Smithsonian Museums: In addition to the National Zoo, the Smithsonian Institution includes 17 museums in the Washington, DC area (in addition to two more in New York City, NY, USA). They include the National Portrait Gallery (including a temporary exhibit with TIME magazine covers from the 1960’s), the National Museum of American History (where you can view Julia Child’s Kitchen and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz), and the National Air and Space Museum (check out the Wright Brothers plane) – all of which have extended hours during the week of our conference. Admission to all museums is FREE and most are easily accessible by the DC Metro.

Photo by Geoff Livingston via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Geoff Livingston via Flickr Creative Commons

National Memorials and Monuments: For many visitors to Washington, DC, the memorials and monuments are “must sees.” Among the most popular are the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and Vietnam Memorial as well as the World War II Memorial. Many especially love to visit them at night as most are beautifully lit. In addition, there are a number of sightseeing tours that include on and off buses which stop at the monuments.

Photo by Photo Phiend via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Photo Phiend via Flickr Creative Commons

Washington National Cathedral: One of the largest cathedrals in the world, the Washington National Cathedral is the epicenter of the Episcopal Church in the United States. Located just over 1 mile from our conference hotel, it has been designated as the “National House of Prayer.” There are a number of tours available and you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss the Gargoyles and Grotesques (including one of Darth Vader!) Admission is $10 for adults for visits to explore the grounds and architecture. Worshiping, prayer, and other spiritual visits and all visits on Sundays are free.

Photo by Andrew Watt via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Andrew Watt via Flickr Creative Commons

Kennedy Center for the Performing ArtsThe place to go for theater, dance, ballet, as well as all forms of music is, undoubtably, the Kennedy Center. They offer a full calendar of events year-round (including an annual “Sing Along” version of Handel’s Messiah) and they are featuring a number of events while we’ll be in town, including two Tony Award Winning musicals, Once and The Book of Mormon. You can check out the full schedule as well as information about tours on their website.

What are you most looking forward to visiting while you are in Washington, DC for #ILCA15?

Want to coordinate a day trip with other conference goers? Visit the ILCA Facebook event here!

For more information about the conference and to register, please click below.




#ILCA15: Register NOW for our Clinical Skills Rotations

Blog Images (1)We are excited to once again offer our popular Clinical Skills Rotations. Participants will rotate between our skill stations in each two hour session. At each station, those attending will spend 25 minutes with an expert facilitator, who will provide a demonstration and support hands-on skill practice.

Clinical Skills Rotations are available for beginning practitioners (primary session) and for seasoned consultants (advanced sessions). You may register to attend on either Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, depending upon the skill level you select. Expanding the offerings to three days doubles the number of participants who may take advantage of this popular offering!

Attendees are asked to register for only one Clinical Skill Rotation block  to allow sufficient room for others to participate. This is a popular feature of the ILCA conference so register early if you wish to participate!

Primary Clinical Skills Rotation (available Wednesday, 22 July 10:30am – 12:30pm and Thursday, 23 July 2:45pm – 4:45pm):

  • Breast Massage Influenced by Japanese Style. (Rika Dombrowski, RN, MS, MA, IBCLC)
  • Teaching Tools for Basic Breastfeeding Skills. (Sherry Payne, MSN, RN, CNE, IBCLC, CD)
  • Three Important Rules for the Beginner IBCLC. (Barbara Wilson-Clay, BSEd, IBCLC, FILCA)
  • Case Study Review: Reducing the mother’s anxiety to accept help. (Mireya Patricia Roman, LMHC, IBCLC)

 Advanced Clinical Skills Rotation (available Wednesday, 22 July 1:30pm – 3:30pm and Friday, 23 July 3:00pm – 5:00pm):

  • Being the IBCLC Detective: Where do the clues take us? (Carole Dobrich, RN, IBCLC, RLC)
  • Powers of Deduction: Tongue kinematics in normal infant suck. (Catherine Watson Genna, BS, IBCLC)
  • Handling the Pain: Use of therapeutic breast massage for the treatment of engorgement, plugged ducts and mastitis. (Maya Bolman, RN, BA, BSN, IBCLC)
  • Choosing Supplementation Methods and Devices. (Tanefer L Camara, IBCLC, MS-HCA)

Are you looking to increase your clinical skills? Join us!



Hand Expression: Q & A with #ILCA15 Conference Speaker Jane Morton

Copy of Journal of Human Lactation (5)Dr. Jane Morton, MD is a plenary speaker at the upcoming 2015 ILCA Conference, 22-25 July in Washington, DC, USA. Her plenary address will be Updates on Game-Changing Research about Breast Milk Expression: Early Hand Expression and Hands-On Pumping. Dr. Morton will also present during a breakout session on Prevention, Availability and Sustainability: What Baby-Friendly Bedside Care for Low- and High-Risk Infants Must Offer.

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

MH: In September 2011, your overview of pumping appeared in an article entitled Is Pumping Out of Hand. Many of us working with new mothers get the impression that all mothers want to have a breast pump and health care practitioners want to give them one. Why do you think that has gotten a little out of hand, so to speak?

JM: Pumps (used most effectively) are a vital part of lactation support. The high number of mothers discharged from the hospital with their babies and pumps is most often twofold, sending mothers home who will not produce enough milk to feed their babies, and sending babies home who risk not getting enough breast milk.

We need to ask ourselves why this is and how we can leverage the time spent in the hospital to prevent problems. Commonly, in medicine, rather than thinking preventatively, we offer episodic, problem-oriented care, waiting for excessive weight loss, excessive jaundice, etc. before more urgent measures are taken. The question that needs to be addressed is how can we better prevent these problems?

MH: Breast pumps are not particularly convenient, given the need for sterilization, perhaps a source of electricity, and the unwieldy size and weight. Hand expression seems so much simpler. How do you think we can guide mothers prenatally to teach them that hand expression is almost mandatory postpartum?

JM: From Picasso to Steve Jobs, artists and inventors have found that keeping things simple is worth striving for. Building simplicity, repetition, and logic into a didactic setting is key. Learning prenatally the benefits of hand expression gives expectant mothers the answer to many typical “what if” concerns and preparation for whatever the outcome may be. Unlike a machine, a mother’s touch is quite natural and does not suggest a problem or medicalize milk expression.

MH: What are the benefits of hand expression?

JM: Our research and subsequent studies [to be presented at the ILCA15 Conference] suggest hand expression of colostrum increases milk production, onset of lactogenesis, and breastfeeding rates.

MH: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found in your research on hand expression?

JM: I have been teaching hand expression to mothers from the beginning and referred mothers to IBCLCs if they needed a pump. This research project required the use of a pump, but I found that they were not as effective as hand expression. I went back to the Internal Review Board to change the protocol to incorporate hand expression as part of the tools and [to] add a tally of how frequently milk was hand expressed.

The first surprising thing to me was that the data showed that [there was a] difference [in] milk production, depended[ing] upon how often milk expression happened in the first three days. The second surprise was how very simple it is to express colostrum in the first hour after birth and how much more difficult it was for the same mother to express colostrum later.

A new study I just reviewed will be coming out in Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine in a couple of months, and the results show precisely that the timing of the expression of colostrum is much more important than we thought. That first hour after birth we have known is very critical to the success of breastfeeding, and, again, this reiterates the significance of hand expression of colostrum in the first hour.

MH: Do you have a teaching method you prefer to use to teach hand expression, and how long does it take?

JM: The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other well recognized supporters of breastfeeding recommend every mother learn hand expression prior to discharge, for a myriad of reasons. How long it takes and how easy it is to teach will, of course, vary from one mother to the next. When the oxytocin level is highest (within the first hour after delivery), colostrum is quite easy to express; mothers are delighted to see their milk, and research supports this may be a critical window of time to maximize the benefits [of expressing]. In fact, hand expression and helping a baby latch work well together.

At the [ILCA15] Conference, we [will] discuss ways of integrating this into our practice, [while] respecting the constraints of time, skills, and resources. The more frequently hand expression is used, the easier it becomes, the earlier milk comes in, and the more milk mothers make. Mothers who use hand expression can make up to 80% more milk. Teaching hand expression needs to be incorporated into the first hour following birth to maximize the benefit.

A video from Stanford University’s School of Medicine on hand expression and Dr. Jane Morton’s research.

MH: What kind of clinical guidelines need to be in place so that all mothers can receive timely teaching of hand expression prenatally and following the birth of their babies?

JM: In my mind, the question is not whether mothers need to learn this, but how often they may need to practice this technique prior to discharge. We certainly don’t have all the answers and, at the conference, I [will] share how some hospitals are managing this.

MH: Have you considered incorporating the teaching of hand expression into the Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative (BFHI)?

JM: Given the increasing number of dyads at risk for preventable complications of breastfeeding, I think a stronger case for this will become clear. With more randomized clinical trials addressing outcome measures, we would have a stronger case to recommend just this.

At the [ILCA15] conference, [I] will discuss why Baby-Friendly care, as wonderful as it is, may fall short of providing truly preventative care to all dyads.

ILCA15 register now button


Dr. Jane Morton, MD is a Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her particular interest is preventing breastfeeding problems by training new mothers, their partners, and their providers simple, doable but critical steps from the first day, no matter what the challenges may be.


Marie ipad photoMarie Hemming, IBCLC is the mom of three breastfed children (now 21, 17, and 16 years of age). She developed and taught a 20-hour breastfeeding class at the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. She is currently volunteering as an IBCLC and lay community counselor at Birthline of San Diego, serving families living in poverty.


2015 ILCA Conference: TOP FIVE Reasons to Attend

Are you planning to attend this year’s International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Conference in Washington, DC, USA 22-25 July 2015? We hope so! We’ve been hard at work planning for an exciting and informative time together as we celebrate Leadership in Lactation: 30 Years and Moving Forward.


Why Attend? Here’s 5 Reasons…


Learn new clinical techniques, absorb fresh methods of communicating, and come prepared to challenge old ways of thinking. Our 2015 slate of speakers includes top thinkers and innovators from around the world. The families we serve deserve the latest in evidence-based care. You’ll find it all here!


Reconnect with and learn from your peers, be inspired by those who have built our profession and glean new insights from emerging leaders in the field.


We are committed to changing the world! Coming together helps us develop a unified voice in the international community. Together, we can promote IBCLC care worldwide.


Our Clinical Skills Rotations have become one of our most popular conference events and we hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to participate!

These sessions always sell out quickly. Be one of the first to register so you don’t miss out!


No one has ever said that IBCLCs were boring! 30 years ago, our profession began and we’re looking forward to having one giant birthday party together! Help us blow out the candles and celebrate the incredible impact of IBCLCs in our communities!


Don’t forget to check out our brand new conference website. You can also download a printable brochure.


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

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

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

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

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

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Photo credit: cc image via flickr user KP Tripathi.

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