Archive | World Breastfeeding Week

Don’t Miss These FREE Articles from the Journal of Human Lactation

Even though we’ve wrapped up our World Breastfeeding Week celebration for 2013, The Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) is still celebrating all month long with FREE access to their journal. 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 is offering free access to a number of their most-read articles through August 31, 2013. 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 August 31, 2013) include:

Breastfeeding and Telehealth

Breastfeeding Protection, Promotion, and Support in the United States: A Time to Nudge, A Time to Measure

Education and Support for Fathers Improves Breastfeeding Rates: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Impact of Male-Partner-Focused Interventions on Breastfeeding Initiation, Exclusivity, and Continuation

Provision of Support Strategies and Services: Results from an Internet-Based Survey of Community-Based Breastfeeding Counselors

Breastfeeding Duration in Relation to Child Care Arrangement and Participation in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

What are your favorite JHL articles from the past year?  How have they impacted your practice?


World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Health Care System Circle of Support in Papua New Guinea

By Amber McCann, IBCLC

On this blog during World Breastfeeding Week, we have been highlighting the work of breastfeeding supporters in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme. We have been honored to have interviews with support happening in the workplace, in the community, in the government, and with families in crisis. The final circle of support is the health care system.

I have been so honored to serve as the co-editor, along with Decalie Brown, of this blog for the past year. It was exciting to attend this year’s ILCA Conference in Melbourne, Australia and I came away so encouraged and excited about where our field is headed. After the conference, I was able to travel to a remote area in the highlands of Papua New Guinea to spend some time with my best friend, a family practice doctor at a mission hospital in Kudjip.

As an IBCLC who has worked in both private practice and in a private medical office, my experience with breastfeeding support within a hospital was practically zero. I have spent the past 10 days shadowing my friend as she and the nurses on the maternity ward provided compassionate care to the women who come to birth at their hospital.

IMG_3272I was quite sure when I arrived that I wouldn’t have anything to teach or any way to provide support in this culture. Papua New Guinea has one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world and yet, I mistakenly assumed that breastfeeding was so a “way of life” that my help wouldn’t be needed. Culturally, breastfeeding is the assumed method of infant feeding. Formula is hard to acquire and formula marketing is outlawed. Women have been breastfeeding for generations and breastfeeding in public is the norm.

But, I came to realize that, even with so many of the things that I imagined would make breastfeeding “easier” in the United States where I live, women will always be in need of trained, evidence-based lactation care. 

Fortunately, for women being cared for in the Kudjp hospital and several others Papua New Guinea hospitals, there is a wonderful organization called Susu Mamas. They provide nurses and mentoring mothers who share prenatal education as well as postnatal support in breastfeeding and infant care. They come daily to the hospitals and work with new mothers to establish breastfeeding, trouble shoot challenges, and provide education to hospital staff. In addition to the hospital care they give, in some locations, they also provide family planning and HIV testing. They also established a national breastfeeding hotline in 2008.

IMG_3451While thankful for the support being provided to the women I encountered, I had to get in on the action! I was surprised one afternoon to hear Dr. Jim Radcliffe, a surgeon who has served at this hospital for over 25 years, call down the hall “Amber, you’re needed in the ER for a lactation consult!” I hurried over to find a young mother of a 7 month old who reported that she had no milk and that her baby had failed to gain weight in some time. After taking as full of a history as my understanding of their culture and my terrible Pidgin (with the help of an interpreter) allowed, I examined her breasts. She reported that she had never made any milk and had been feeding the baby bananas and pineapple since he was two months of age. I was heartbroken to examine her breasts and realize that she had insufficient glandular tissue. I quickly asked if she knew of anyone else who would be willing to breastfeed her baby (as feeding another’s child is common in PNG) and referred the baby to the doctor on call in the pediatrics ward. This mama listened intently to my counseling and offered up her dry breast to her fussy baby. Even with no milk, the baby quieted and relaxed into his mother’s arm with her breast for comfort. I praised her for the way her mothering was meeting the needs of her baby and while finding appropriate nutrition for her young child would be challenging, I’m thankful for the smile she gifted us with.

IMG_3460I also realized that many breastfeeding challenges like sore nipples, engorgement, and thrush were universal! One mother came to the hospital and required a C-section (my first surgical observation!). We followed her closely in the days after and she struggled a bit with pain. Many of the women in Papua New Guinea have very long, pliable breasts (likely from not wearing a bra regularly). They simply lay the babies in their lap and their breasts reach easily to their child…no football (or rugby!) hold here! Ronda was mimicking the positioning she had seen all her life but her breasts were much shorter, leading to a very shallow latch. We changed her position and provided some pillow support as she learned and a huge smile appeared on her face.

I am heading home soon and will carry these experiences from my time at the hospital in Kudjip into my practice in the US. I am grateful to have had the experience of observing and participating in the important work of providing breastfeeding support in a hospital setting. I am honored by the warm welcome I received from the nurses and hospital staff and also from the mothers who I encountered. Breastfeeding support literally saves lives, especially in a place like Papua New Guinea and I’m so glad to be a part.

* And on a funny note, in Pidgin (a language spoken by many in PNG), “susu” is the term used for breasts, breastfeeding…anything having to do with milk. I heard the term “kalabus belong susu” being used to describe a bra. The translation? Prison of the breast! Take that, Victoria’s Secret! 🙂

Amber McCann, IBCLC

Amber McCann, IBCLC is a  board certified lactation consultant with the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh. 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 and is a regular contributor to The Boob Group, a weekly online radio program for breastfeeding moms.


World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Response to Crisis and Emergency Circle of Support

During World Breastfeeding Week 2013, we will be highlighting the work of lactation professionals in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme ~ Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. Each weekday during this celebratory week, we will be shining the light on innovative and exciting models of care in each of these areas. Check back everyday for more encouraging examples of breastfeeding supporters being close to mothers.

Ali Maclaine, UK

photo 2Ali Maclaine is currently the Senior Humanitarian Nutrition Advisor for Save the Children based in London. Save the Children works in 120 countries worldwide and in many of the emergency affected countries, they are undertaking breastfeeding support through their Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) program. The level of support varies from messaging, group education sessions, or peer support to one-on-one counseling. As well as providing support themselves, Save the Children often works with partners and undertakes trainings so that others can also learn about the life-saving importance of breastfeeding, especially in emergencies. She shared with us the following responses.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”. The organizers have identified 5 Circles of Support that are critical for breastfeeding mothers in our world and one of those circles is “Response to Crisis and Emergency”. Can you describe for us a bit about the work you are currently doing in the field of lactation to support breastfeeding mothers in crisis? How did you become involved in this work? When emergencies happen, what might a day of support look like?

Following the completion of my Masters in Public Health Nutrition, I was a Consultant on a report called ‘Cracking the Code’ that looked at violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes worldwide. This work increased my interest in breastfeeding. My first field placement with Save the Children was following the 2006 conflict in Lebanon. I saw how an influx of donations of breastmilk substitutes were undermining breastfeeding. I also saw the effects of common myths and misconceptions on breastfeeding and the lack of skilled breastfeeding support. During that crisis and in all the others I have worked in subsequently (Philippines, Indonesia, Haiti, East Africa, Syria, etc), the thing that I see is that breastfeeding mothers and their support circle often do not know how robust breastfeeding is. They instead seek formula to ease the burden of the breastfeeding. Many kind hearted people give formula as they want to help babies in emergencies but are not aware of the risks of artificial feeding during an emergency. Breastfeeding saves lives.

However, I have also seen many mothers who have sought breastfeeding support during emergencies and have not been able to find it – either the health workers have disappeared, are too busy, or they are not trained about the emergency aspects of breastfeeding. They often repeat the normal breastfeeding messages which do not have the impact or relevance during an emergency. For example, families are often encouraged to exclusively breastfeeding for 6 months when, in reality, they simply need to get through the next 24 hours while caring for their family in a shelter.

Where we have the funding to have dedicated IYCF-E activities, we are able to provide key messages to mothers and into the wider community. We also provide mother-baby caravans/areas where mothers can go to breastfeed, meet other mothers and access skilled breastfeeding support, as well as be a part of educational sessions. There is also support for relactation and wet nursing.

The World Breastfeeding Week organizers stated “This circle of support represents the need for support if a woman finds herself in an unexpected and/or serious situation, with little control. Situations that require special planning and support could include natural disasters, refugee camps, divorce proceedings, critical illness of mother or baby, or living in an area of high HIV/AIDS prevalence with no support for breastfeeding.” Can you expand a bit on what some of the unique challenges are that breastfeeding women and babies who are in crisis face?

Breastfeeding women and babies have a number of challenges during emergencies:

  • There are often a huge number of additional myths and misconceptions that undermine breastfeeding during conflicts. Common emergency related myths/misconceptions are: Stress drying up breastmilk, lack of food or change of food negatively affecting breastfeeding, tension or even grief being passed on to the baby.
  • Many of the countries that we are currently working in are Muslim and populations are commonly displaced. Muslim mothers often will not breastfeed in public or even in tents, which they may share with other men. Hence, there needs to be dedicated private breastfeeding spaces.
  • Often there are huge donations and untargeted distributions of breastmilk substitutes (often labeled in the wrong language or near/past use-by-date) which are given to caregivers, and even to breastfeeding mothers. We have found that if a mother is given these, she is much more likely to use it and that it can then lead to breastfeeding difficulties and undermines breastfeeding. Often, these donations are only given for a short time, meaning that as her breastmilk supply has been affected, the mother has to then find formula and the money to continue to feed her child.
  • People often think that when the volume of breastmilk is diminishing, it can’t be increased. They mistakenly believe that there is no hope for increasing the supply that might have been impacted by the crisis.
  • There is often a lack of skilled support for breastfeeding mothers in emergencies. The health workers may have also been affected by the emergency, may be taking care of their own families, and there may be a lack of health workers who have been trained on breastfeeding before the emergency.
  • There is a lack of funding for programs to support breastfeeding in emergencies. Donors pay lip-service about the importance of breastfeeding but don’t give the money.
  • Communities often do not prioritize breastfeeding support during emergencies as a NEED. This is an issue we are increasingly looking at as “accountability to beneficiaries” is a key issue and we must prioritize our emergency responses based on what the community says it needs. Whilst this works in terms of shelter and water, I think that this methodology is flawed for identifying the need for breastfeeding support. The community leaders are rarely women and culturally, it would be difficult in some circumstances for women to tell their community leaders/outsiders about the need for breastfeeding support.

The challenges and need for support for women in crisis is ongoing. But there is hope! What are some of the most recent initiatives that have made breastfeeding for women in crisis easier? What are your hopes for the future?

Save the Children is creating an IYCF-E Toolkit, which it is hoping to get input in from other NGOs including those from the IFE Core Group which should ensure that we can provide breastfeeding support in a quality way quickly in emergencies. We also have partners who have undertaken work on the psycho-social support needs of breastfeeding mothers in emergencies that all agencies are trying to learn from.

My hope for the future is that health and nutrition workers in emergency prone countries are taught about breastfeeding in emergencies during their training so that they are equipped to support mothers during the additional stress of an emergency. Also,  that during an emergency, breastfeeding support is regarded as part of our key work – that every person that works in the field in an emergency response is aware of the need and how to support breastfeeding mothers. I hope that we are systematically able to provide the quality support that breastfeeding mothers need in that context.


World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Family and Social Network Circle of Support

During World Breastfeeding Week 2013, we will be highlighting the work of IBCLCs in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme ~ Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. Each weekday during this celebratory week, we will be shining the light on innovative and exciting models of care in each of these areas. Check back everyday for more encouraging examples of breastfeeding supporters being close to mothers.

Katya Lokshina, Russia

katyaKatya is a former linguist turned IBCLC serving in Moscow, Russia. She is the mother of three children and was proud to be the first Russian La Leche League leader. She was one of the group of 12 first-ever Russian speakers in 2011 to pass the IBCLC exam in the former Soviet countries. She now leads a popular mother-to-mother support group and works as a private lactation consultant. She shared with us the following responses.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”. The organizers have identified 5 Circles of Support that are critical for breastfeeding mothers in our world and one of those circles is “Family and Social Network”. Can you describe for us a bit about the work you are doing in the field of lactation to support breastfeeding families? How did you become involved in this work? What does a typical day of supporting breastfeeding families look like?

I am the mother of three children and providing breastfeeding support is both my day AND night job! I must balance my private life with that of being a breastfeeding professional. On a typical day, I get a few calls from mothers. While my children are at school, I do home visits. Sometimes driving to a mother’s home can take up to 1.5 hours due to the heavy traffic in Moscow. Russian women rarely get professional breastfeeding support at the hospital but things are slowly changing.

Being not only an IBCLC but also a La Leche League leader, I encourage expectant mothers to visit a breastfeeding support group. Watching other mothers and babies and talking with them can go a long way towards building a foundation for a successful breastfeeding relationship.

I believe that EVERY mother can be a huge promoter of breastfeeding! At the hospital, at family gatherings, at the playground, in the doctor’s office, and in many public places like shopping malls, cafes, on an airplane – simply by breastfeeding our babies and kindly answering questions and comments from others (those from teenagers and kids are most important!), we are doing a great job of supporting breastfeeding.

The World Breastfeeding Week organizers stated “Husbands, partners, fathers, family, and friends compose the mother’s immediate and continuous support network. Social support includes community support – at the market place, within a religious context, at a neighborhood park, etc. Support during pregnancy reduces stress. Support during labour and birth empowers the mother. Societal support increases the mother’s confidence in her ability to breastfeed beyond the early weeks and months.” Can you expand a bit on what some of the unique challenges breastfeeding women and their babies face in your community? What is the reaction to breastfeeding women who feed in public? How is your group providing support?

As a La Leche League leader, I am able to observe the mothering styles from many different countries. Russians are less afraid of feeding in public than their American counterparts. Still, there is much to do in this field. Many Russian mothers are not willing to bring their babies into a public place at all. We are afraid of “infections” and, especially in the first weeks, of the “evil eye”. We’d rather ask for a home visit from a doctor or lactation consultant than come to an office or support group. BUT, it is gradually changing! I can see a difference after 8 years of working in the field. 

The challenges and need for support for breastfeeding support is universal. What has encouraged you in the last year when working with breastfeeding families? What are your hopes for the future?

My encouragement is my environment. With every year, I find more and more breastfeeding mothers offering their help to La Leche League. I have become acquainted with many highly-skilled professionals and I’ve met wonderful pediatricians, surgeons, general practitioners, and midwives, all of whom are well informed about supporting breastfeeding families. It is a pleasure to cooperate with them. This makes me very optimistic about the future of Russian babies!


World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Government and Legislation Circle of Support

During World Breastfeeding Week 2013, we will be highlighting the work of IBCLCs in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme ~ Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. Each weekday during this celebratory week, we will be shining the light on innovative and exciting models of care in each of these areas. Check back everyday for more encouraging examples of breastfeeding supporters being close to mothers.

Susanna Scurry, Australia

photo sueWe were able to interview Susanna while at the 2013 ILCA Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Susanna is a midwife, and lactation consultant since 2005 and also a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) assessor and educator. She was also on the board of Australian Lactation Consultant Association (ALCA) and Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ). She shared with us the following responses.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”. The organizers have identified 5 Circles of Support that are critical for breastfeeding mothers in our world and one of those circles is “Government and Legislation”. Can you describe for us a bit what work you are currently doing or hoping to do in the field of lactation and the government? How did you become involved in this work? What would a typical day of working at the government level, supporting breastfeeding look like?

I am a big fan of Marilyn Waring, a New Zealand economist who states “An economic model that does not value clean air, clean rivers, forests, unpaid work by women, and breastfeeding is unsustainable.” I am all for an economic system that promotes, protects, and supports normal birthing, breastfeeding, and sustained home visits to parents . I support anything that is making a community better for today’s parents, as they say , “it takes a village to raise a child”! What I value for future generations, including for my 6 lovely grandchildren, is for a sustainable future.

My focus is on women’s health. For many years, I have been advocating for a human milk bank in our neonatal unit and family centered care in our NICU facility as well as a public IVF clinic in Newcastle along with community birthing, and palliative and aged care. I talk about the public health implication of not using breastmilk and also my support of BFHI. I truly believe it is “from the cradle to the grave”. If we had skin to skin contact throughout life, we would have a much kinder world.

The World Breastfeeding Week organizers stated “Women who plan to breastfeed or who are already breastfeeding benefit from the support of international documents, protections for optimal infant feeding, plus active and well funded national commissions. Legislation that combats aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes and enacts paid maternity leave also benefits breastfeeding women.” Can you expand a bit on what some of the unique challenges are that women in your community face that could be improved through legislation?

I appeared before the Productivity Commission to argue the case for paid parental leave. I am proud of the four month paid parental leave granted but I think twelve months would be better and will continue to argue for this. I have also lobbied for many years for the implementation of the WHO Code in Australia. The Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) agreement is a toothless tiger and I would like to see it gone. Australia had a Parliamentary Inquiry into breastfeeding in 2007 and all of its recommendations should be implemented.

What are some of the current initiatives, laws, and policies that support breastfeeding women in your community? What are your hopes for the future?

We need to expand BFHI into the community, pediatric offices, child care centers, etc. We also need to reclaim breastfeeding in our culture. Australia needs, at a federal level, to have a paid breastfeeding coordinator as recommended by the World Health Organization and breastfeeding representation at an International level as well. I will continue to work towards these goals.


World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Workplace and Employment Circle of Support

During World Breastfeeding Week 2013, we will be highlighting the work of IBCLCs in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme ~ Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. Each weekday during this celebratory week, we will be shining the light on innovative and exciting models of care in each of these areas. Check back everyday for more encouraging examples of breastfeeding supporters being close to mothers.

Vergie Hughes, USA

IMG_3126We were able to interview Vergie while at the 2013 ILCA Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Vergie has a long history of working in maternal child health and for the past 27 years, she has been an IBCLC. In addition to her work described here, she is the program director for Lactation Education Resources where she provides education for lactation consultants (and lactation consultants-to-be) all over the world. She shared with us the following responses.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”. The organizers have identified 5 Circles of Support that are critical for breastfeeding mothers in our world and one of those circles is “Workplace and Employment”. Can you describe for us the work you are doing in the field of lactation to support working mothers? How did you become involved in this work? What does a typical day of supporting working mothers look like?

I have been the lactation consultant working on a contract with America Online (AOL) for more than 10 years now. I have worked in many areas of lactation over the years, but this is one of the most fun. I teach prenatal breastfeeding classes, have phone and email contact with the mothers [who are employed by AOL] over the months of pregnancy and during the time they are establishing lactation. Some even call me from the hospital, since we have an established relationship. Then, we keep in contact regarding any questions that come up and as they plan to return to work. The continuity of support with these mothers is so rewarding and often lacking in other work venues.

AOL is wonderful in that it provides 3 months of maternity leave and a pumping room with a hospital grade breast pump in each facility. Those things really make it easier for mothers to maintain breastfeeding when they do return to work.

The World Breastfeeding Week organizers stated “Employed women face challenges and need support at working and breastfeeding. The opportunities for mother support are as varied as the work women do, but usually involve facilitating mother-baby contact or expression and storage of breast milk.” Can you expand a bit on what some of the unique challenges are that women who work away from their babies face?

I do think that the women that I work with at AOL have an ideal situation since they are in an office environment with good support. It is not so easy for women who work in an outdoor environment, a busy retail environment, or in a setting with an unsupportive supervisor or co-workers. A lactation consultant can be the key person to help this mom problem solve her pumping situation and suggest strategies for persevering in a hostile workplace.

The challenges and need for support for women who are working outside of the home have been present for many years. But there is hope! What are some of the most recent initiatives, laws, and policies that have made breastfeeding for women in the workplace easier over the years? What are your hopes for the future?

I do think that support for breastfeeding has improved over the past few years. In the United States, the new Affordable Care Act regulations have made breast pumps more available to mothers, which is good. However, the quality of these pumps and the quick availability is often lacking.

The regulations regarding workplace accommodation of lactating mothers has been supportive of women who request time and a place for breast pumping. Hopefully, a supervisor would provide these accommodations for the breastfeeding mother because it is the “right thing to do”. But, if not, then the mother has the support of the regulations to push for the time and facilities that she needs.


What a Difference a {National Breastfeeding} Month Makes!

Written by Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC

ILCA Marketing Committee

Although my oldest son is the reason I got into lactation, my youngest has borne the brunt of my lactivist enthusiasm by virtue of being born after I became an IBCLC. For the first week, his every latch was overanalyzed and photographed, and my researcher self will admit to saving an ounce of breastmilk for future study everyday for the first 2 months after he was born. Along those same lines, we celebrated his 9 month birthday by attending ILCA’s 2012 Conference, the unofficial preparty for World Breastfeeding Week, and in the United States, National Breastfeeding Month. There, we met up with friends and lactation rockstars (some of whom are one in the same!) and I not only increased my breastfeeding knowledge, but also began to see the potential of social media in breastfeeding advocacy and support.

For those of us in the US, August 1 not only marked the first day of World Breastfeeding Week and Month, but also the day that many of the breastfeeding provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect—Hooray!! Starting that week, my Facebook and Twitter feeds were all a flutter with breastfeeding twitter parties, and excitement about the Great Nurse In on the US Whitehouse Lawn! For me, the highlight of the week was being part of The Big Latch On in San Diego. Arriving just in time for the Official Latch On, Noah and I mingled with the crowd and basked in the glow of happy mothers, sweet babies and supportive partners, and were lucky enough to have our picture taken. We were having so much fun that my family had to drag us out of that event to go to the beach.

Our celebration continued the following week when we got the chance to visit lactation rockstar (and former editor of Lactation Matters), Robin Kaplan at her breastfeeding support group. For those of you who don’t know, in addition to helping mothers and babies in person, Robin has a wonderful blog and has recently started an online radio show, aptly named The Boob Group. Robin chatted with me and helped mothers while Noah made a game of stealing toys from unsuspecting members of the support group who were not yet mobile….

That week my newsfeeds were humming with news stories, blogs and tweets about Mayor Bloomburg’s push to make New York City hospitals Baby Friendly. Although much of what went out from the news media was misinformation, it was heartening to see so many mothers and bloggers speak up, (even this one on to talk about the importance of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and what it really means for hospitals, mothers and babies.

Meanwhile there were wonderful blog posts all over the internet in honor of World Breastfeeding Month. Some of my favorites were from people and organizations that celebrate breastfeeding all year long, such as this post from Best for Babes, 100 words (by Lactation Matters editor Amber McCann) and this one from Diana Cassar-Uhl. Mainstream parenting site The Bump even got on board, proclaiming Aug 15 Public Display of Breastfeeding Day, and asking mothers to tweet about where they were nursing their babies.

For the rest of the month Noah and I celebrated by breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere!

At the beginning of our celebration of World Breastfeeding Month, my little Noah was still toothless and the media outlets were reporting that reality TV personality, Snooki, pregnant with her first child, was hesitant to try breastfeeding. Now Noah’s sporting 2 sharp little incisors and Snooki is nursing! I can’t help but think–What a difference a month makes!

How did you Celebrate World Breastfeeding Month?

Send us your stories and photos!

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


Hats Off to Kentucky Educational Television for An Awesome Breastfeeding Panel Discussion!

Kentucky Educational Television (KET) is Kentucky’s educational television network with a mission of “educating, inspiring, informing, and connecting its citizens through the power of public media.” With Kentucky’s breastfeeding rates ranked 48th among states in the US according to the 2012 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card (59.4% ever-breastfed; 9.6% exclusively breastfed at 6 months), there is lots of opportunity to educate, inspire, and inform on this important topic. Check out the following trailer for the segment on YouTube.


KET took up the call for this year’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Month by airing a 28-minute segment on all things breastfeeding: benefits, barriers, laws, workplace considerations, hospital initiatives, cultural challenges, and more. The panel of breastfeeding gurus included Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (and ILCA’s eGlobe editor), Jan Johnson, RD, IBCLC of the Pike County Health Department, and Cerise Bouchard, President of the Lactation Improvement Network of KY.

You can view the 28 minute segment HERE.

Kudos to KET for covering this important topic!  


World Breastfeeding Week: More babies are receiving donor human milk in Canada

By Jodine Chase

It’s been almost two years since the Canadian Pediatric Society called for a network of donor human milk banks across Canada to join the country’s single milk bank in Vancouver. Now, across the country, more babies have the option of donor human milk when mother’s milk is not available.

Photo via Calgary Mother’s Milk Bank

The British Columbia (B.C.) government has plans to build on the long-established milk bank at the Baby-Friendly-certified B.C. Women’s Hospital. They sent representatives to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America conference earlier this year and are exploring an expansion of milk banking throughout the province. A Donor Breast Milk Dispensary has opened at Chilliwack General Hospital. And Breastfeeding Matters South Vancouver Island is now raising funds to support the shipping of donor milk from Vancouver Island to the mainland for processing.

Photo via Calgary Mother’s Milk Bank

The country’s second milk bank, serving all of Alberta, opened in Calgary in the fall of 2011, bringing much-needed donor milk to babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) to that province. This summer, Edmonton’s Grey Nuns hospital announced the launch of a collection depot for Edmonton donors. The depot allows mothers an easy place to drop off frozen milk to be shipped to Calgary for processing. The announcement came after a successful fundraiser by the Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (BACE) and strong support from Edmonton neonatologists Dr. Shariff Shaik and Dr. Ramneek Kumar.

Long-time breastfeeding advocates Johanna Bergerman, Janice Reynolds and Wendy Stefiuk of Saskatchewan also attended the HMBANA conference in Las Vegas this spring. A Saskatoon Health Region Baby Friendly Coalition working group that includes neonatologist Dr. Koravangattu Sankaran and staff from the NICU at the Royal University Hospital are exploring the feasibility of milk banking in that province.

Photo via Nancy Holtzman

Toronto has been a HMBANA developing milk bank for several years now and is close to opening. The Ontario Donor Human Milk Bank recruited a part-time coordinator last fall. Pediatrician Dr. Sharon Unger told a US FDA committee last year that two hospitals, Mt. Sinai and Sunnybrook, currently use donor human milk and all NICUs in the area are participating in a randomized control trial on the use of donor human milk. A quiet fundraiser has been operating on the Sunnybrook website to raise money for the project.

There are two efforts underway in Quebec currently and it is expected a milk bank will be operating soon in that province.

Although more babies are receiving donor human milk, there are still many areas of the country where donor milk is not currently available. Physicians and hospitals outside of Alberta, B.C., and the Toronto area can place orders from the country’s two operating milk banks, and parents who have funds to pay the processing fees and shipping can purchase milk with a doctor’s prescription from Vancouver and Calgary, if it is available. In the meantime, there are a number of robust milksharing communities active on Facebook and the Internet – Human Milk 4 Human Babies operates community sites on Facebook in all provinces and Territories, Eats on Feet has some less-active chapters in some areas, and MilkShare is active in Montreal.

Jodine Chase owns a public relations firm that specializes in news analysis for a select clientele. She is a longtime breastfeeding advocate with five children and three grandchildren. She has provided a variety of news briefing services for the breastfeeding community and currently curates Human Milk News, and is list mother for several information sharing lists in Alberta relating to efforts to re-establish donor human milk banks.  She joined the Alberta Breastfeeding Committee in 2011 and her focus has been providing support to develop ABC’s communications strategy. She is a founding member of the Breastfeeding Action Committee for Edmonton (BACE), Human Milk for Human Babies, and a supporter of the nascent Calgary Mother’s Milk Bank in Alberta. Her most recent campaign has seen her take on the removal of breastfeeding photos on Facebook.


World Breastfeeding Week: Breastfeeding in Ireland

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, Lactation Matters will post every day this week, highlighting the stories of breastfeeding in different cultures and countries.

By Geraldine Cahill, IBCLC

The promotion of breastfeeding has been a key government health policy in Ireland since the 1990’s and yet the prevalence of breastfeeding is still incredibly low. The Growing up in Ireland Longitudinal Study has shown that Ireland has the lowest breastfeeding rate in Europe. Less then 50% of babies are still breastfeeding when they leave the hospital and less than 15% are still breastfeeding by six months. As happens in the rest of the Western world, levels of breastfeeding were likely to increase with educational levels. Some of the reasons given for not breastfeeding at all, were inconvenience and fatigue or simply having a preference for feeding formula (48%). Ireland has a long way to go to meet the goal of breastfeeding being the normal way to feed a baby.

How do I as an IBCLC in Private Practice view the state of Breastfeeding in Ireland?

There are currently 197 IBCLCs in Ireland. Most of them are working in the hospital systems as midwives and some are employed as nurse specialists in breastfeeding. Additionally, a number work as public health nurses who visit the mothers in their homes after birth (but these nurses also have other responsibilities within the community and don’t just deal with mothers and newborns). The lactation consultants who work in private practice tend to have come from parent-to-parent support groups such as Cuidiú (Irish word for “caring support”) and La Leche League.

Cuidiú, a parent-to-parent support organization which provides education  and support for all parents (from birth to the teen years), is inundated with requests from women all over the country for training to become Breastfeeding Counselors – and with help from government grants are doing so. La Leche League of Ireland is also reporting the same surge of interest in training, with attendance at their groups on the rise. There are support groups in the major centers of Dublin and Cork every day of the week and many IBCLC’s in Ireland are involved with this work.

Social marketing has had a huge impact in Ireland. We have big urban centers but also many rural mothers. These mothers have set up groups to support themselves and some of these groups have asked IBCLCs to join them.  They have asked because they know this format is mostly about peer support but they want the information on their boards to be correct so that “we don’t give incorrect information or overstep our boundaries”.

One of those mothers, Aideen Ni Cheilleher, has singlehanded done as much work as the rest of us put together over the last year in the area of connecting people together to support one another. She found herself with a year off work, with a newborn, a toddler and a 7 year old, while living in Kerry in a very rural area. In order to get support for herself in her tandem nursing, she set up a facebook group called Extended Breastfeeding in Ireland.  The group grew quickly, with 100 members within 24 hours of being started.  She now has 750 members! These mothers are very committed to breastfeeding and using breastfeeding as a parenting tool but felt isolated and alone in this journey. Now, there is a buzz and a sense of possibility about the future that hasn’t been around in a long time.

The statistics in Ireland have, for so long, concentrated on the lack of breastfeeding that in
some ways, the success of those who continue to feed has not been recognized. I asked those who have met or are meeting their breastfeeding goals, “What do you feel about the State of Breastfeeding in Ireland?” Among the usual complaints about the lack of support and good education in the hospital setting, there were lots of positives, such as the fact that there are so many parent-to-parent groups and that they have better access to support because they can find it online. They also commented that they realize THEY are the community now and feel encouraged to run events and make the changes themselves.

For me, what I hold onto is changing things one family at a time, being there for
mothers when they need support, providing information and letting them get on with the job of changing society as only this younger generation are capable of doing.

Geraldine Cahill has been an IBCLC since 2007 and works in Private Practice. She provides home visits for Mums in the early postpartum period and also provides consults at Touchstone Medical Practice. In addition, she runs Breastfeeding Classes for mothers alongside and complemetary to her work as a Childbirth Educator. Geraldine is also the current President of Cuidiú (a parent to parent support group) and represents them on the Irish National Breastfeeding Strategy and Implementation Committee.   She is also on the Education and Membership Committees of ILCA working with other IBCLC’s to enhance the educational needs of her profession.


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