Archive | Opportunities for Participation

Call for Public Member for LEAARC

Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC) is seeking to fill a public member vacancy for a three-year term, January 1, 2014 – December 31, 2016. LEAARC is responsible for establishing standards for lactation education and for the review and recognition of programs successfully meeting these standards. The public member serves a three-year term with eligibility for a maximum of two consecutive terms of service. The public member represents the general public and serves as a consumer advocate, protecting the public interest and overseeing the process for fair and reasonable action. A public member may have NO FORMAL OR INFORMAL CONNECTION TO THE LACTATION CONSULTANT PROFESSION. A mother who was helped by a lactation consultant would qualify. If you know someone who may be interested in this position please forward this call for nominations to them.

LEAARClogo_XLNomination Criteria:

  • Ability to commit to one 3-year term.
  • Willingness to actively participate in board activities, including training, meetings, discussions, and review of materials.
  • Ability to conduct business through electronic means (email, discussion board, meetings).
  • Ability to evaluate an educational program objectively in terms of such broad areas as curriculum, faculty, facilities, student evaluation and outcomes assessment.
  • Commitment to bring the public/consumer perspective to board deliberations.

Nomination and Selection Procedures:

Self-nominations are requested in order to ensure that the candidate is willing to serve in this role. Strong consideration will be given to assisting LEAARC to achieve diversity, including underrepresented groups, geographic diversity and varied educational philosophies. Send a statement of interest and request for an application to judi@leaarc.org. Further questions regarding the position may be directed to LEAARC at 919-459-6106. Nominations must be received no later than November 15, 2013.

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World Wide Impact in 10 Minutes or Less: Using Social Media for Powerful Change

By Amber McCann, IBCLC

One week ago, Lactation Matters posted a blog entitled If YOU Don’t Advocate forMothers & Babies, Who Will? If there was any doubt that you, the Lactation Matters readers, were willing to step up to the plate, that doubt has been squashed. Within moments of the publishing the post, the initiative to use social media to ask the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) about their acceptance of money from major industry, including Swiftmoney Nestle, was gaining ground.

In response to the blog post, over 400 readers have joined a Facebook group, Friends of the WHO Code, to discuss advocacy and activism as it relates to the WHO Code and social media. Discussions this week have centered around gaining the attention of those involved in this situation and those who have the power to influence decisions. The group has worked hard to get the message out that that acceptance of funds that constitute a conflict of interest are unacceptable for an organization whose purpose is to protect the public health of the world. The group is primarily using Twitter as a means to connect and raise a tidal wave of support. And, it has been SUCCESSFUL!

Wednesday morning, those in the group noticed that the World Health Organization was responding to our questions with the following tweets:

In addition, WHO posted the following message on their Facebook page:

The conversation is beginning in the social media space and is a perfect example of how social media has the power to quickly bring all the players to the table. Although the World Health Organization has engaged in conversation with us, there is much work still to be done.

Do you have 10 minutes?

Would you join the conversation?

In a few short minutes, you can play a significant role in this initiative. Please consider taking 10 minutes and doing the following:

  1. Join the Friends of the WHO Code Facebook group
  2. Go to Twitter* and share the following tweets (just copy and paste!):

#WHOCode protects women&babies from predatory marketing. Shame @Nestle for trying to buy seat at the @PAHOWHO table #nonestle #breastfeeding

Tell @PAHOWHO to give back @Nestle $150K #nonestle #WHOCode #breastfeeding #conflictofinterest http://t.co/nnWJCIfX @WHO

We will not be bought! @PAHOWHO please return the money to @nestle . Stand up for mothers and babies. #WHOCode #breastfeeding #nonestle

If you’ve got more than 10 minutes, would you lend your expertise, insight, and skills to the movement?

Two thoughtful ladies responded to last weeks Call to Action with this quote from Margaret Meade:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The time is now.  Let’s change the world.

* If Twitter feels like another language to you, we understand. Check out the support from Birth Swell and Twitter’s Help Center.

Amber McCann, IBCLC is a  board certified lactation consultant in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside of Washington, DC and the co-editor of this blog.  She is particularly interested in connecting with mothers through social media channels and teaching others in her profession to do the same. In addition to her work as the co-editor of Lactation Matters, the International Lactation Consultant Association’s official blog, she has written for a number of other breastfeeding support blogs including for HygeiaThe Leaky Boob, and Best for Babes. She also serves on the Social Media Coordinator for GOLD Conferences International and is a regular contributor to The Boob Group, a weekly online radio program for breastfeeding moms.  When she’s not furiously composing tweets (follow her at @iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV.

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If YOU Don’t Advocate for Mothers & Babies, Who Will?

Written by Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC

As IBCLCs, part of our Code of Professional Conduct  (IBLCE November 1st, 2011)calls on us to adhere to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and Subsequent Resolutions.  For those of us who hold this Code in high esteem, the news that WHO is accepting corporate funding and instant payday loans for its obesity initiative is enough to turn our stomachs many times over. According to the article, the Pan American Office of the WHO (based in Washington, D.C.) has begun to accept funding from fast food makers, among them the food giant and WHO Code violator Nestle.

As I struggled to reconcile the idea that an organization focused on world health would accept funding to fight obesity from the organizations that stand the most to gain from creating it, I began to feel crushing discouragement. How on earth can we, as a small band of mothers and breastfeeding professionals supporting the WHO Code, compete with multinational corporations with seemingly endless supplies of money? How can we succeed at supporting the WHO Code when the WHO is taking money from one of the worst offenders?

This is the point in the story when the hero has been soundly defeated. She goes back home with her eyes on the ground kicking stones in the path. She decides she will never win, so she might as well give up and just make noodles for the rest of her life (oh wait, I think that might be from one of my son’s favorite movies).

After a long night of frustration, writing, and a little alcohol, I chose to reframe the issue as a CALL TO ACTION. And if the WHO violating the WHO Code isn’t a call to action slapping me in the face, I don’t know what is!

But what can we do?

Most of us are doing our darndest to help mothers and babies start and continue breastfeeding in the face of tremendous marketing and cultural pressure to do otherwise. We stay awake nights worrying about how to best help a mother struggling with thrush or low supply, pour over research on tongue-tie and search the web for resources for new mothers. What more can we do?

The time has come for us to see our roles expand.  Our job as lactation professionals must not only be to provide individual breastfeeding support, but also to advocate for maternal and child health on a larger scale. If we don’t begin to protest the status quo and work to change the political and cultural barriers that mothers face in their attempts to reach their breastfeeding goals, we will be fighting the same battles for the next 100 years. The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) has long been at this fight. They shouldn’t have to fight alone.

In many places, we are beginning to see policies and legislation changing. We need to harness that momentum to move the tide even further. Now more than ever, mothers and babies need us to advocate for them and they need us to empower them to demand change themselves. Not just in the clinic or hospital, but in the grocery stores and restaurants, in the hallways and on the floor of congress. When mothers and babies protest a mother being asked to leave for nursing in public, we need to show up. When our congressmen and women debate policies that impact breastfeeding, we need to show up. When a news station wants to run a story on breastfeeding, we need to show up. When the WHO takes money from Nestle, we need to show up!

For some, showing up means planning and attending nurse-ins and rallies, for others it is talking, blogging and posting information on the cultural and political barriers to breastfeeding on websites, twitter and Facebook pages. Still others have the ability to influence corporations and other organizations they are a part of by changing the way they do business, who they work with, and how they support their employees. Even beginning to have conversations with the mothers you work with about choosing to support companies that uphold the WHO Code can have an impact!

We can also leverage our resources by joining forces with other organizations working to improve maternal and child health. In addition to IBFAN and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding ActionNatasha K. Sriraman has written about the organization 1000 Days for the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.  With a goal of improving life by improving maternal and infant nutrition in the first 1000 days –pregnancy through the second birthday—1000 days seems like a natural ally of lactation consultants and maternal-child health advocates.  Working with like-minded organizations will increase our ability to impact policies and legislation that prevent corporations like Nestle from sabotaging breastfeeding in both developed and developing countries by marketing their products directly to mothers.

When I was younger, I was under the illusion that if something important were happening, someone else would take care of it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that is rarely the case. When the WHO takes money from a formula company, something is terribly wrong. If we don’t do something about it, who will?

If you are interested, please consider joining the “Friends of the WHO Code” Facebook Group to discuss violations of the WHO Code, especially those on social media, and how we can empower lactation professionals, volunteers and mothers to stand up for its importance.

Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC: I am mother to 2 active boys and an Assistant Research Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. As breastfeeding researcher, I am constantly scanning the literature for articles that guide my research and inform my clinical practice. One of my goals is to increase the evidence base of our profession as lactation consultants. I feel it is important for lactation professionals to be aware of and contribute to breastfeeding research, especially when so much of it is fascinating! As an ongoing contributor to Lactation Matters, it is my hope that you will find the articles I highlight as interesting and informative as I do, and that you will use them to guide you in the important work of lactation professionals and breastfeeding advocates. For more research news and commentary, check out my blog at www.breastfeedingscience.com. I can be reached at jennie.bever@gmail.com.

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Bryson’s Legacy: A Story of Milk Donation and the Love of a Family

Those who attended the 2012 ILCA Conference had the wonderful privilege to view a video presented by Ryan Comfort, of Milk for Thought, which told the story of Amy and Bryan Anderson and their son, Bryson. There was an intense emotion in the room as they shared of their milk donation since his birth and death and we wanted to offer an update of their journey.


Amy shared with us the following: 

Bryson’s legacy begins eleven years after I fell in love with my high school sweetheart. We had been married for five years and were already the proud parents of two precious children. Our firstborn, Brody, was a passionate 3½ year old boy. And our Joey Skylor was born into heaven in December 2009 for unknown reasons early in the second trimester. Our family felt prepared for the additional joys and love that a new baby would bring, so we were all overjoyed with anticipation to find out we were expecting a baby boy due to arrive March 28th, 2011. However, the Lord had special plans for our precious baby Bryson.

After a month of constant medical interventions to save our son from the complications of a rare condition called LUTO (Lower Urinary Tract Obstruction), Bryson went home to join Joey on heaven’s playground.  It was a beautiful, sunny and windy day on that October 30th, 2010 at 1:04pm when I finally stopped trying to hold onto my baby boy as his body was torn from mine.  It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, relax and let go of my precious baby, whom I had been incessantly praying for and loving for what seemed like an eternity…  I remember as soon as I felt him leaving I bawled and tearfully called out.  I was hopeless and helpless.  My whole body shuttered with the reality of what was happening.  I just wanted him back, I already missed him so badly.

My husband and I were beyond ourselves, completely lost in our grief and despair and yet so proud of our son’s journey/life.  Daddy noticed how he already resembled his big brother especially in the brow… that warmed our hearts.  What a beautiful and fragile baby he was… I can only imagine how gorgeous he is in heaven, no longer weakened by his delicate body.  Bryson’s body was 13oz and 10in of perfection, with 10 tiny fingers and toes with nails already formed on them.  I fondly remember watching him on the dozens of ultrasounds we had… he certainly was a fighter and a persistent little one, much like his mommy.  His personality was very strong and he had every intention of being a significant part of our family and our hearts… in that respect his life was a complete success!  He has made a huge impact in the lives of many.

As we heard at the conference, Amy began pumping and donating her pre-term milk. Their “Donation Through Grief” has totaled 3,239 ounces of milk to Mother’s Milk Bank of New England and 8,523 ounces to Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohiothat’s nearly 92 gallons of breast milk! Bryson’s milk was literally sent all around the country and even around the world.

Amy and Bryan are currently involved in advocating for bereaved parents by educating medical professionals and the community at large in how to care for those who have lost infants, especially in terms of lactation options after a stillbirth or earlier loss.  Amy says,

I’m persistently advocating to amend the US federal law “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  The law is intended to support appropriate break time for expression as needed at work for “nursing mothers”.  However, this verbiage has made it possible for my place of employment to say that the law doesn’t apply in my situation because I don’t have a nursing baby, therefore am not considered a “nursing mother”.  Regardless of the fact that my body was lactating uncontrollably even though my baby was not at home to latch on.  My goal is for the law to pertain to any “lactating women”, so employers cannot use the law to discriminate against a bereaved mother whose already experiencing unfathomable grief.

So far I’ve been completely unsuccessful with getting the attention of any of my state representatives, the Department of Labor has directed me to my local La Leche League, and the White House has also yet to reply to my e-mails (lol, yup, I even reached out to the president/first lady).  My best bet so far is to get as many people as possible to hear my Bryson’s legacy.  People need to know lactation can happen even after only 20 weeks gestation (and even earlier), and that donating their baby’s breastmilk is a precious, much appreciated gift that gives meaning their baby’s short life and helps with the grief process.  I’ve already recieved a few responses that our story inspired a couple other moms to “Donate Through Grief” which is huge to me (though I understand it’s a very personal choice, the option needs to be available to the mom).  

At Lactation Matters, we are proud to share Bryson’s story and know that there are many in our community who would have unique insight for the advocacy that the Andersons are pursuing.  Please contact Amy at aranderson33@gmail.com if you’d like to help take up the cause.

Have you worked with bereaved mothers to donate milk? How has this practice positively impacted them?

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We need your INTERNATIONAL perspective!

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC

In my few short weeks as the new co-editor of Lactation Matters, I have skidded right smack dab into a wall…the wall of realization that my perspective on our profession is overwhelmingly American.  Of course, this is understandable as I was born in a small farming community right smack dab in Middle America.  But, I desire to have a global perspective…to understand just how different life can be for mothers on the other side of the world.  And how similar.

Photo by Tareq Salahuddin via Flickr

So, we need YOU!  This blog is for all of us, IBCLCs from the United States and from Australia and from Japan and from South Africa and from Ireland…and everywhere in between.

We need your STORIES.

We need your PERSPECTIVE.

We need your LEADS to innovative people who are making a difference.

If you know of someone or something that needs profiled here, please comment with how we might get in touch with you.  If there is breaking news in your country, let us know.  If you know of research being conducted or published in your part of the world, reach out so that we can include it here.

I am proud to be an INTERNATIONAL Board Certified Lactation Consultant.  Help us make this blog international as well.

Amber McCann, IBCLC

Amber McCann, IBCLC is a  board certified lactation consultant in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside if Washington, DC and the co-editor of this blog.  She is particularly interested in connecting with mothers through social media channels and teaching others in her profession to do the same.  In addition to her work here, she has written for a number of other breastfeeding support blogs including The Leaky Boob and Best for Babes and served on the Communications Team for GOLD Conference . When she’s not furiously composing tweets (follow her at@iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV. 

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Great Breastfeeding Blogs to Read!

Photo by jeff.snodgrass via Flickr

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC

Blogging has become an incredibly influential part of the media consumed by today’s mothers. In BlogHer’s 2012 Study of Women and Social Media, a sample of women were asked, ““Do you trust the information and advice that you get from blogs?” and an overwhelming 98% said YES.  The number of women, especially pregnant women and new mothers, who are seeking advice and guidance from bloggers is staggering.  45% of the sample said that blogs were more influential than Facebook status updates from their friends or celebrity endorsements.  Clearly, it is a medium that breastfeeding advocates and supporters should be aware of. And with nearly 4 million “mommy bloggers” on the scene, finding the best of the best can be a challenge.

I recently was involved in a conversation with other lactation consultants about what blogs we were reading to stay up to date on the current conversation about breastfeeding.  I am an active blog reader (if you are new to reading blogs, I encourage you to use an RSS Reader such as Google Reader) and enjoy hearing what other mothers, volunteers, professionals and the general public are saying. Many of my colleagues expressed that they enjoyed reading blogs as well but were a bit unsure about where to go to find the ones being most accessed by breastfeeding mothers.

What are your favorite breastfeeding blogs?  Where are the mothers you support telling you they get their information? Here are some of my favorites * (in alphabetical order) and why I love them:

  • Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine:  Physicians, such as breastfeeding research Dr. Alison Stuebe, weigh in on current breastfeeding trends and “hot topics”.

    Best for Babes

  • Best for Babes:   Bests for Babes is a non-profit organization focused on addressing the “cultural, institutional and legal barriers to breastfeeding”.  I sometimes write for their “Celebrity News” section but my favorite posts are Tanya Lieberman’s series on the “Booby Traps”, those things in the breastfeeding process that a mom isn’t expecting and when she steps on them, everything blows up.  Doesn’t that feel familiar?
  • Breastfeeding Reporter:  Nancy Mohrbacher shares her insights on current breastfeeding issues.
  • Fearless Formula Feeder:  I am well aware that some will take issue with the addition of this blog to my list but I consider it essential reading for lactation consultants.  We must be very aware of how our message is perceived by many mothers and we must be willing to listen to the stories of those who have chosen/been forced down a different path than we would choose.
  • The Leaky Boob:  Jessica Martin-Weber is doing really innovative work in regards to reaching breastfeeding mothers through social media.  While her Facebook pageis where most of the magic happens, her blog is truly compassionate.

    The Leaky Boob

  • MamaMilkandMe: Written by Leigh Anne O’Connor, IBCLC (previously profiled in our “Clinicians in the Trenches” series)  in Manhattan.  I so enjoy her perspective, not only on her practice, but also on her own experience as a breastfeeding mother.
  • Mammals Suck: Katie Hinde is a professor of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard and Director of the Comparative Lactation Laboratory.  I particularly enjoy her scientific perspective along side humor.
  • Milky Way: Milk sharing, through organizations such as Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies has become a very “hot topic” in our field.  This blog shares the stories of those mothers who are currently either donating or receiving donor milk through milk sharing.
  • Motherwear: This is the very FIRST breastfeeding blog I ever read.  Tanya Lieberman, IBCLC writes for breastfeeding mothers, interpreting new research and breastfeeding news in an accessible way.
  • Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress

    Normal, like Breathing: Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC share her wisdom and insight on her blog.  I particularly enjoyed her recent posts about breastfeeding beyond infancy.

  • PhD in Parenting: Another “must read” in my book, Annie Urban covers a variety of parenting topics and often talks about breastfeeding and specifically the WHO code.
  • Postpartum Progress:  A fantastic blog about mental health issues surrounding pregnancy and birth.
  • San Diego Breastfeeding Center:  Robin Kaplan, former co-editor of this blog, has really been a standout in using her blog to build her lactation consulting private practice.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list but just a taste of what is available.  I add new blogging voices to my reader all the time and have found that they contribute greatly to my practice.  

* These blogs are my personal favorites, not those endorsed by ILCA.  Obviously, being located in the United States gives me a bias towards blogs authored there.

Do you have a favorite breastfeeding related blog not on this list?  Do you blog yourself?  What are the best breastfeeding blogs NOT based in the US? We’d love to know about it!  

Amber McCann, IBCLC

Amber McCann, IBCLC is a  board certified lactation consultant in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside if Washington, DC and the co-editor of this blog.  She is particularly interested in connecting with mothers through social media channels and teaching others in her profession to do the same.  In addition to her work here, she has written for a number of other breastfeeding support blogs including The Leaky Boob and Best for Babes and served on the Communications Team for GOLD Conference . When she’s not furiously composing tweets (follow her at@iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV. 

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