Your ILCA Questions ANSWERED!

During our 2018 Annual General Meeting, as a part of our #ILCA18 Conference in Portland, Oregon, United States, we gave our members the opportunity to ask questions of our Board of Directors. Since returning from the conference, we have been hard at work implementing suggestions you have made and exploring how the needs of our members impact the future of ILCA. Here are our responses to the member-submitted questions. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to connect with us at

ILCA Organizational Questions:

Where can we find the minutes of the 2017 AGM?

Financial documents such as our Audit Reports, along with minutes from our of ILCA Board of Directors and Annual General Meetings, can be found on our website (for members only) by clicking HERE.

What financial plan is being developed to increase ILCA’s assets?

As a membership organization, our primary asset is you, our members. Your needs shape our vision, your volunteer hours help execute our strategic plans, and your membership dues fund our efforts. In 2019, our goal is to increase assets through growing our membership. We plan to do this by ensuring that lactation supporters like you fully understand the value of ILCA membership. We also hope to increase involvement in ILCA by more effectively communicating the critical advocacy work we have been engaged in for many years, and are fully committed to continuing. In addition, we plan to increase paid offerings, such as additional webinar and education opportunities in 2019.

What is the status of the FILCA program? When will the Fellows program be reinstated and what new criteria will be used?

The Fellows of ILCA designation recognizes significant voluntary commitment to ILCA and also the professional excellence and achievements of leaders and mentors in the field of lactation consultancy. The program is is currently under review and is scheduled to be reinstated in 2019.

Would ILCA please consider creating affinity groups for members of non-dominant communities who face lactation inequities? Together, we can have a stronger voice. The answer is in the community.

Thank you so much for this suggestion. As we expand the capabilities of the ILCA CONNECT site, our private online community for our members, we would love to create spaces for affinity groups. We are working now on developing these spaces. We would love to hear more about how these groups can be the most effective. Email us at to get involved.

Will ILCA extend its policy that doesn’t accept papers in JHL from those receiving funding from Code violators to speakers and extend it further to speakers who speak at Nestle and etc. events?

Thank you for this important question. As you know, ILCA is deeply committed to upholding our responsibility to families through supporting the Code. The ILCA board and Code Committee both have this issue on the agenda. Additionally, the ILCA Conference Speaker Policy is being voted on in January 2019.

What consequences exist against people at ILCA who violate the safe spaces rule? Can they be removed from seats of responsibility?

ILCA holds diversity and equity as core values. Part of our commitment to these values means creating guidelines that foster diversity and equity (like our Policy on Creating a Safe and Inclusive Environment) and upholding those policies when needed to foster a supportive space for our community members. We have extended our Policy on Creating a Safe and Inclusive Environment to include our entire organization, and not just our conference event. This includes both our in-person interactions and our virtual spaces. Our commitment also includes providing trainings and tools that guide our members on their continuing journey of supporting diversity and equity at ILCA. Should an individual violate policies despite these supports, they would be ineligible to assume or continue in a leadership role within our organization.

I keep hearing “international” members, which is very United States centered. We are ALL international. How would we work to formalize language and practices that truly speak of the inclusion we hope to reach? What is the strategy of ILCA to become more INTERNATIONAL?

Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. You are absolutely correct that our organizational language uses the term “international” to mean any of our members who are not based in the United States. We are intentionally shifting our language in this area. ILCA is deeply committed to meeting the needs of ALL of our members, not only those who are located in the US. Language adaptation is a process. Thank you for reminding us to keep it at the forefront of our attention.

In addition to our language, we are also seeking to address this concern in some additional ways. We have recently hired Michele Griswold as our Advocacy Advisor. She is tasked specifically with taking the needs of all of our members to the global tables where decisions about maternal and infant health are being decided. Additionally, we have, in June 2018, begun engaging our staff and board with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion trainings and will also be bringing this training to you, as a free webinar, in early 2019. We welcome your continued feedback as we are on this journey together.

Will you be using the work of the Courageous Conversations focus groups as you shape policy and work on strategic goals for ILCA?

Yes, absolutely! ILCA is bringing together the significant efforts of the Courageous Conversations and the Lactation Summits to give us a nuanced picture of issues of access to the profession, both those that are a part of the larger system and those that ILCA can specifically impact. We are in the process now of reviewing with our facilitators, Dr. Adrienne Coleman and Traci D. Ellis and look forward to reporting back to you the changes you should expect to see at ILCA. Please check out our recent blog post by clicking HERE for a review of the events surrounding Courageous Conversations at our 2018 Conference.

How can members become more involved and support ILCA?

We truly are #bettertogether and ILCA would not exist without the investments of time, energy, and expertise of its members. We encourage all members to consider being a part of our Breastfeeding Benefactors Program, which provides resources for ILCA’s many programs and scholarships. You can find more information by clicking HERE. We hope you will also consider volunteering on an Advisory Committee or Task Force. Advisory Committees are teams of subject matter experts focused on a specific area of interest. They provide leadership in these areas to ILCA and help to set direction in their assigned areas. While Advisory Committees provide long-term guidance, Task Forces serve to help us reach time-sensitive goals in project-based and task-specific ways. These groups of individuals work together on a short-term basis. Applications for volunteer service will be available in January 2019. You can read more about volunteering at ILCA by clicking HERE.

Promotion of the Credential:

How are we promoting the credential? I don’t want to need to be an RN to get a job!

At ILCA, we are always exploring ways to elevate and deepen understanding of the role and responsibilities of the IBCLC around the globe. Over the next year, watch for concrete marketing campaigns to this end. We will also be working closely with our Global Partners to ensure our plans reflect the ways lactations professionals work all over the world. We also have recently received a Google Grant so that we can more effectively market our Find a Lactation Consultant to the families who need it. Stay tuned on our social media channels and in your weekly ILCAlert for more details.

What plan do you have for making sure that IBCLCs can make a living outside of the hospital setting?

Sustainability is a key issue for our profession and it is a concern shared by every member of our board. At the global level, ILCA is working hard to ensure that the voice of the IBCLC is at the table when key decisions are being made about lactation policy. While at that table, your sustainability is one of our key considerations. That being said, the landscape for employment opportunities varies widely by country, and is often dictated by national and/or local health care models. To help shape the integration of IBCLCs into your local health care system, we encourage you to additionally support your local partner or lactation professional advocacy organization.

What plan do you have to recognize and encourage advanced practice?

There are really two answers to this question. First, we encourage you to reach out to IBLCE. As the pillar of the profession that oversees our credential, IBLCE is the only organization that can define or create an advanced practice designation. That being said, ILCA is deeply committed to ensuring its members have the education needed to support practice beyond the basic and intermediate levels. Watch our Knowledge Center for opportunities to deepen your advance practice skills. Have a skill you would like to learn, or a provider you would like to learn from? Be sure to share your suggestions with our education department at

Education Questions:

In our increasingly digital world, what plans does the ILCA board have to continue expanding virtual learning opportunities for our members? Will our present conference structure change?

We hope you have had the opportunity to try out our Knowledge Center (access it by clicking HERE), which makes it easier than ever to learn virtually. Enjoy live and on-demand webinars, tools and handouts, and easy access to certificates for completed courses. We intend to continue to expand our offerings in 2019. As you may know, conferences are planned far in advance, often many years in the making. We anticipate 2019’s conference to be relatively similar in terms of virtual offerings. However, we are looking closely at our digital opportunities in 2020.

Is ILCA helping to promote higher education degrees such as bachelors, masters, and doctorates?

We are incredibly grateful for Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC), one of the key pillars of our profession, for their efforts to expand educational opportunities for lactation professionals. You can read more about LEAARC in our recent blog post by clicking HERE. We encourage you to ask LEAARC directly about their future plans in this area.


Advocacy Questions:

Can ILCA speak more to our involvement at the World Health Assembly and how members can be involved in moving forward with these new political challenges?

As a part of ILCA’s global advocacy work, ILCA has been sending a representative to the World Health Assembly (WHA) for many years. Following this year’s WHA event, we issued this statement, which we hope you will continue to amplify. There are many ways you can help, and they are all important! First, stay tuned in. ILCA is increasing our communications around advocacy, and we need YOU to help amplify our messages. Be sure to keep your local lactation community updated with current advocacy issues. Be sure to help them understand how much these issues affect all breastfeeding families. Second, encourage your peers to become ILCA members. Your membership dues help support our efforts, but even more importantly, the size of our membership matters when we are engaging in advocacy. Consider donating to our scholarship fund if you can.

Is there a liaison between ILCA and the American Public Health Association? If so, who is this? We need APHA to increase their priority on breastfeeding.

ILCA does not currently have a liaison with the American Public Health Association (APHA). We are an internationally-focused organization and, while the APHA does have members from around the world, it is focused on being the professional organization for public health professionals in the United States. We are firm believers that having a seat at the table is essential to forward progress on our goals, so we strongly encourage you to explore how to establish these kinds of liaisons with the professional organization who is focused on work in the US, the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA). You can find more information and how to contact them by clicking HERE.

Are any board members ready to lead the charge to get elected to public office to facilitate the changes we need to create a more respectful and supportive environment for the breastfeeding dyad?

We are grateful for the leadership that our members show all over the world in supporting new families. Our current board is comprised of members from Ireland, Nigeria, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, and the United States. Alongside our members, each board member is working within their own communities as well globally at ILCA. Currently, ILCA members are serving their local governments in several places around the world. We encourage our members to support these efforts by engaging in the many opportunities to advocate for breastfeeding globally.

I’m interested in getting involved with international volunteer trips. Is there a person or workshop that will help me be more aware of the groups and options seeking assistance?

ILCA does not currently plan or sponsor volunteer trips nor are we able to provide connections to individuals or organizations which do.

How do we intervene in the current polarized climate around infant feeding?

Your voice is more important now than ever. In the face of massive marketing budgets promoting human milk substitutes and a polarized political climate in many parts of globe, we need you to continue to do what you do best: share evidence-based information. Know that you are not alone in this work. You are joined not only by other lactation supporters, but also public health workers around the world who are working to deliver non-judgemental and accurate information to families so that they have what they need to make informed health care decisions. We also encourage you to work on the local level on policy issues that will mean families have a true choice (for example, access to skilled providers and paid maternity leave).

How can ILCA better advocate for the role of IBCLCs in supporting mothers in periods of crisis (like family separation at the US border or in emergency contexts)?

We have watched, alongside our colleagues, the many crises all over the world which impact new families. We encourage you to explore our Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Resource Module for more information. You can access it by clicking HERE.


Diversity Questions:

How can we work to facilitate training and education programs for a more diverse group of IBCLCs that more accurately reflects the patient population we serve?

ILCA agrees that expanded training and education opportunities is an important part of the overall goal to increase access to and diversify the profession. We are again grateful for Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC), one of the key pillars of our profession, for their efforts to expand educational opportunities for lactation professionals. You can read more about LEAARC in our recent blog post by clicking HERE. We encourage you to ask LEAARC directly about their future plans in this area.


Conference Questions:

The day before I traveled, there were 40 posted handouts. Now, there are 60. Why haven’t these been posted when we could print them?

We appreciate your feedback. We work hard to provide access to all materials from our presenters as soon as they submit it. We are looking at our process with our presenters so that we may, in the future, be able to post the materials they submit in a more timely manner.

Can we offer subsidized registration fees for scholarship recipients?

Thank you so much for this question. We will work with our Global Collaboration committee to look into this further as we plan our next conference scholarship cycle.

How much money does the conference make?

Our conferences continue to be an opportunity for IBCLCs and lactation professionals from around the globe to gather. As we continue to learn, we truly are #bettertogether! As such, our priority is on connection and not on increasing revenue with these events. Our members are welcome to view our annual Form990 by clicking HERE for see more information about ILCA’s assets and expenses.

I dream of a device with simultaneous translation in several languages being used in the ILCA conference. Is this possible?

We would love that as well! We will explore whether this means of translation is possible for our organization. We are prioritizing the availability of live translation for our future conferences.

Why are you holding the 2019 conference in the United States? I thought it was the year to be out of the US. When will ILCA do a conference that is in a country other than the US, Australia, or Europe?

Our conference typically is held outside of the United States every four years. In 2017, we held our conference in Toronto, Canada. While the current plan would have our next location outside of the US in 2021, our Board is currently discussing some new ideas and models for our future conferences. Stay tuned and we hope you will join us in Atlanta, Georgia, United States in July 2019.

Can ILCA consider when it does hold a conference outside the US that it is not the same year as an USLCA conference?

Historically, the USLCA conference was held once every four years, in the year in which the ILCA Conference was held outside of the United States. This was to provide educational opportunities to US-based attendees unable to travel internationally. More recently, USLCA has expanded their educational offerings to include more frequent regional and national conferences. We applaud their efforts to support US-based lactation supporters.

Will ILCA invite speakers like George Kant and speakers that talk about malnutrition in the breastfeeding mother?

We encourage all of our members to help us choose our slate of presenters at our conferences! Please reach out to our conference planners with your ideas. Find out more about our process and priorities by clicking HERE.

Can ILCA offer an Infant Feeding and Young Child in Emergencies workshop at the next conference so the attendees from different countries can go back to their respective countries and start helping?

Please reach out to our conference planners with your ideas. You can reach them at Find out more about our process and priorities by clicking HERE.  In addition, we encourage you to explore of Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies Resource Module on ILCA’s CONNECT site by clicking HERE.

How can we make sessions more flexible to accommodate more room for conversations? The anti-backlash session was wonderful but needed more time.

We could not agree more! While we love seeing engaged groups gathered together well past the end of key sessions, it is also clear that some conversations just need more time. We are looking into options including continuing conversations online, future online sessions, and other options. We are passing your feedback along to the ILCA Education department.

Would ILCA please avoid scheduling non-dominant communities in competing time slots?

Thank you for your commitment to participating in sessions by and for non-dominant communities. Conference scheduling is incredibly complex, with the need to puzzle together speaker schedules, available space, offering sessions at varying skill levels, and other factors. Please know that one of our top scheduling priorities has been and continues to be to avoid competing sessions for non-dominant communities, but sometimes these other factors lead to conflicts. If there is a particular session that you were not able to attend, please let our education department know at We can explore bringing that speaker for a webinar instead.

In the future, will you build equity into access to conference, both in terms of getting to the conference and for people with disability needs? They need to be involved in planning for it to work.

Thank you for your question. While we make every effort to accommodate the needs that are shared with us on the registration form, we recognize that the involvement of people with disability needs clearly fits the model that Mudiwah discussed in her president’s address: the answer is in the community. We are sharing your important suggestion with the equity committee.

A number of session have been problematic, especially when discussing breastfeeding disparities & communities of color. What is ILCA doing to ensure presentations & speakers use an equity lens?

Thank you for raising this very important question. First, ILCA is working hard to increase the number of speakers from non-dominant communities, with the goal of hearing directly from communities about the strategies that best meet their needs. We think this will go a long way in eradicating missteps around discussing health disparities from a deficit, rather than strengths-based, model. Second, we have been examining best practice models from other conferences for strategies we hope will help reduce micro-agressions at our educational offerings. For example, we are exploring offering training to ILCA speakers on how to reframe their presentations with an equity lens. Have you seen a strategy that you think will make a meaningful difference? Please share it with us at

Micro and macro aggressions are extremely common at ILCA conference. What new approach will ILCA take in the future to make the conference a safer place for attendees who are targeted by oppression?

Thank you for raising this important issue. ILCA is committed to creating safer spaces for our community. In addition to efforts this year (including having an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion expert on site), ILCA is planning equity trainings for members, vendors, and speakers in the future. Be watching for details for a free follow-up webinar to our Courageous Conversations in early 2019. The Equity Committee will continue to work closely on these issues in 2019.

Will there be a summary or review of the Courageous Conversations sessions? I did not attend.

We are sorry you missed this important conversation! We encourage you to read our recent blog post, which you can find by clicking HERE, which highlight the activities around Courageous Conversations at our 2018 Conference. In addition, a report will be available in early 2019. And, be on the look out for information soon about a follow-up free webinar in early 2019.


Journal of Human Lactation Questions:

Can the submission deadline be at least 12 weeks for special calls for JHL? A turn around of a few weeks is not possible for busy collaborators.

Thank you so much for your question. We will pass your feedback along to the JHL staff.


Credential Questions:

We received a number of questions that ask key questions about the profession – and are not questions ILCA can answer! Like many professions, lactation consultants are supported by three “pillars,” each with its own dedicated organization providing services and benefits to practitioners. Generally speaking, the three pillars are support for the profession (provided by ILCA), development of the certification examination and oversight of the certification program (provided by IBLCE) , and standards for education (provided by LEAARC). You can read more about how these organizations work together to support the IBCLC by clicking HERE. Here are some questions that you presented and we fully support. We have shared these with LEAARC and IBLCE, but we encourage you to reach out directly to answer your questions.

  • Can we get an update on the status of the 2nd credential being developed by IBLCE?
  • Where is ILCA on a lactation educator credential? I ask this as so many people want to help with lactation and it’s confusing to the public with so many other credentials.
  • Will ILCA consider Emeritus status after 4 exams or 30 years of practice?
  • Will you advocate for continued recertification by exam or removing that requirement?


I don’t like the smudging. I have asthma very bad. The smoke/odors came into the meeting space. Next time, it should be held away from the main doors.

Thank you for the feedback. At each year’s conference, we seek to honor the indigenous communities on whose land our event is held. We invite the representative to bring greetings and whatever rituals are appropriate within their tradition. This year, smudging at the entrance was an essential component for our representative. We will continue to seek to meet the needs of all of our conference attendees.

The Courageous Conversation was amazing and powerful. However, if it were held earlier in the day and made mandatory, it would have reached more participants. I think it was sad that Courageous Conversations was so late, which made it difficult for me, and I’m sure others, to stay. Choosing to place this earlier in the day would have placed more value on these topics. I would like to request that Courageous Conversations occur in the middle of the day. I feel this is important.

Thank you for saying what we have heard from so many – the Courange Conversations are critical to our work at ILCA. To that end, we are offering a free follow-up webinar in early 2019 and are planning expanded offerings for #ILCA19.

I love the focus on equality, on acceptance, on honesty. But, I don’t want us to lose our focus. These are important however, we are a group focused on lactation and helping the breastfeeding family.

We will not be effective in our ability to serve new and growing families if we are not sensitive to their ways of being. This means ensuring that we are skilled not only in providing care to those in the dominant culture, but also those who may be not be well served if we attempt to deliver the same model of care regardless of culture.

We also agree that we must be focused and targeted in our efforts if we are going to be successful as an organization. That is why we are looking to the report coming out of the conference that focuses specifically on what ILCA can do to increase both access to the field and access to culturally appropriate care. We look forward to updating you on specific action steps soon.

Thank you for your service! We know you are volunteers who take time away from your family and your work to serve us. My appreciation goes out to our Board (and committees) to keep us going and growing.

Thank you so much for your support. We are honored to support you, our member, and the profession. We also cannot do this alone! We encourage you and other lactation supporters to consider volunteering at ILCA. Watch for specific opportunities in your ILCAlert and by clicking HERE.

Why do we come to an ILCA Conference? I – because we are inquisitive. L – because we love to learn and to laugh. C – because we are caring. A – because we are amazing! ILCA – home to incredibly people.

We love this! Thank you for giving us all a huge smile. Now, who can write us an ILCA haiku?



Welcoming Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC: ILCA’s Advocacy Advisor

As a part of our ongoing commitment to transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care, ILCA is honored to welcome Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC as our new advocacy advisor.

This position was created in response to requests from members and partners to strengthen ILCA’s position and representation of breastfeeding and skilled lactation care issues globally. The Advocacy Advisor will provide strategic support to the organization, coordination across ILCA’s current liaisons and global partnerships and also work with volunteers to advance issues related to breastfeeding and skilled lactation care at the regional and country levels.

By creating this new role, ILCA also hopes to further support the advocacy work of its Partners and deepen its participation in major efforts such as the Global Breastfeeding Collective, which brings together implementers and donors from governments, philanthropies, international organizations, civil society and is led by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We are thrilled that Michele has agreed to step into this new role,” said ILCA President Mudiwah Kadeshe, MSN, RNC, LNC, IBCLC. “The additional coordination and support she will provide will serve to multiply many times over the critical efforts of our advocacy team.”

Griswold brings almost 20 years of experience in breastfeeding advocacy, including leading her state breastfeeding coalition’s policy and advocacy efforts. She has also held leadership positions in ILCA’s advocacy work since 2011. Specifically, she served as Chair of the former Global Outreach Committee, as an ILCA Liaison to the United Nations, and in 2014, was elected as Global Outreach Director to ILCA’s Board. Under her leadership, ILCA became engaged with the Global Breastfeeding Collective and NetCode, and she represented ILCA at key global meetings. As the outgoing ILCA board president, she also brings a deep knowledge of ILCA as an institution and how to best leverage ILCA’s strengths to support advocacy efforts.

“Advancing breastfeeding on the global agenda can have a powerful impact locally, both for families seeking skilled lactation support and for professionals who deliver that care,” said Griswold. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to focus on amplifying the work of our advocacy team.”

This role will also increase ILCA’s capacity to provide the expert guidance of our community when matters of breastfeeding are addressed at the global scale. “Lactation consultants are experts in the clinical support of breastfeeding families,” Griswold added. “Our collective knowledge should inform decision making surrounding global policies directly impacting breastfeeding families in our care.”

To contact Michele, please email her at


The Three Pillars Supporting Our Profession

We here at ILCA® regularly answer questions about whose role it is to provide support for our profession of lactation consulting, for our credential known as the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant®, and for the education that gives us what we need to provide evidence-based care.

Like many professions, lactation consultants are supported by three “pillars,” each with its own dedicated organization providing services and benefits to practitioners.

Generally speaking, the three pillars are support for the profession, development of the certification examination and oversight of the certification program , and standards for education. We hope this post clarifies the three pillars and the three independent organizations that support each pillar.


Pillar of support for the IBCLC credential: International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE)

Answers questions like “How do I become an IBCLC?” and “How do I maintain my certification?”

Established in 1985, IBLCE “establishes the highest standards in lactation and breastfeeding care worldwide and certifies individuals who meet these standards.” The organization is responsible for developing, administering, and maintaining the IBCLC certification program. This means that IBLCE defines eligibility and recertification requirements develops  a psychometrically sound professional examination, and maintains an ethics & disciplinary process for stakeholders, including the public. As the certification board, IBLCE confers the IBCLC credential.

Practically speaking, IBLCE is the standards keeper for the IBCLC. It determines what makes someone an IBCLC. IBCLE decides what is essential knowledge and then they test candidates to see if they know it.

Learn more about IBLCE’s work here.


Pillar of support for standards in education: Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee (LEAARC):

Answers questions like “Is this coursework for becoming an IBCLC meeting my needs?”

LEAARC “establishes standards and recognizes quality in lactation education worldwide.” The organization is responsible for reviewing and recognizing didactic (instructional) and clinical courses as well as recommending to the Commission on Accreditation of
Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) the accreditation of lactation programs in postsecondary institutions.
This means that they make sure the programs and courses to guide candidates into the profession meet LEAARC and CAAHEP standards and that graduates are able to provide a similar level of care to families.

Practically speaking, LEAARC makes sure you are getting what you need from lactation courses and programs. When someone decides to pursue becoming an IBCLC and enrolls in course work, if the course they have chosen is recognized by LEAARC, they can be assured that they will receive an education designed to comprehensively meet their educational needs.

Learn more about LEAARC’s work here.


Pillar of support for the profession: International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA):

Answers questions like: “How can I get the knowledge and tools I need to do my job better?” and “How can I increase my involvement in supporting breastfeeding families around the world?”

ILCA seeks “to advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.” The organization is responsible for making sure that, when breastfeeding is being discussed around the world, IBCLCs are at the table. This means that we are working hard to make sure IBCLCs have the tools and community they need to support families.

Practically speaking, ILCA is a member organization that provides education, tools, and a premier lactation journal to its members, helping them to keep up-to-date with the latest information they need. ILCA also champions the IBCLC and lactation professionals at important conversations around the world, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), UNICEF, World Health Organization, and the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a partnership of more than 20 prominent international agencies calling on donors, policy makers, and civil society to increase investment in breastfeeding worldwide.

Learn more about our work at ILCA here.


Courageous Conversations Together at #ILCA18

The ILCA Equity Committee, launched two years ago, played an important role in the 2018 conference in supporting conversations around equity, diversity, and inclusion. The Equity Committee provided Lactation Matters with this update on the committee’s recent efforts.

Gathering together annually for a time of learning, networking and much more has been a core focus of ILCA. This year, at ILCA’s annual conference in Portland, Oregon, United States, the Equity Committee put in place a number of strategies to help ILCA leaders, staff and members to continue their process of increasing equity on many levels.

Before the conference, the Equity Committee deepened their own skills by participating in an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) training by Dr. Adrienne Coleman, a recognized leader in the EDI field.

All ILCA conference attendees had the opportunity to participate in an onsite session designed to support “Courageous Conversations,” an interactive session helping conference-goers focus on ILCA’s role in inequities in the lactation field. The session, led by Coleman and Traci D. Ellis, J.D., provided both practical tools for engaging in courageous conversations as well as the opportunity for focused discussion around key areas, including reducing US-centrism in the field and increasing access to the profession for those with different abilities and LGBTQIA+ people.

To ensure long-term impact from the session, Dr. Coleman and Ms. Ellis gathered data from each of the discussions with the goal of gathering data to develop a report for the ILCA board. Ultimately, these inputs will be considered as a part of an equity action plan, designed to focus on ways that ILCA can impact both access to the profession as well as increasing families’ access to skilled lactation care around the globe.

The Equity Committee also worked to engage conference attendees throughout the conference by sparking conversations around equity issues. For example, the Equity Committee’s conference booth focused on, “Stories from the Heart.” Throughout the conference, members wrote their stories and shared their experiences at the booth.  We received: 17 selfie cards, 5 interview responses and 5 comment cards. These activities served as important beginnings for engaging ILCA members in conversations on their perspectives of equity issues.

These efforts were a reflection of the recent work of the Equity Committee. Launched just two years ago in 2016, the committee’s goal is to engage the board, members, and staff in increasing equity in the lactation field globally.

Although the Equity Committee feels as though we have just begun, the progress has laid a solid foundation for greater work moving forward.  Srikanthi Bodapati, member of the Equity Committee and first time attendee shared, “The conference helped me understand the broader perspectives of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across the globe with specific reference to the lactation field. I will be able to advocate with policy makers for equity in healthcare for the marginalized communities, especially from countries with poor health indicators. I have gained insights into the language (both verbal and non-verbal) to be used while working with diverse populations. I am also in a position to develop and customize culturally appropriate equity centered frameworks for implementation in low resource countries to promote increased access to skilled lactation care. In the future, I am aspiring to see representation of participants from all the regions of the world at the ILCA Conference.”

The ILCA Equity Committee looks forward to our continued work with the ILCA community.  Please follow our updates for continued work in equity, diversity and inclusion.


Understanding International Policy on HIV and Breastfeeding: A Comprehensive Resource

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has recently released the second edition of the HIV kit Understanding International Policy on HIV and Breastfeeding: A Comprehensive Resource.

According to WABA, this kit is important for those working on breastfeeding and those working on HIV issues alike. It does not replace the detailed guidance from WHO/UNICEF nor does it serve as medical advice for those affected by HIV/AIDS. It seeks to inform about the concepts and recommendations for dealing with infant feeding and HIV and enhance the understanding of the importance of HIV-free survival.

The kit provides an overview of infant feeding in the context of HIV, based on current evidence (2018). It contains information, issues to think about and discuss, actions to take, and references. The kit may serve as a useful tool for anyone who works with breastfeeding families in areas where HIV is endemic. WABA hopes the kit will be distributed widely to help families in reaching their breastfeeding goals, which could lead to a reduction in morbidity and mortality related to HIV.

Access Understanding International Policy on HIV and Breastfeeding: A Comprehensive Resource HERE.


Help Us Build a Diverse Slate of Presenters for #ILCA19! – CLINICAL SKILLS DEADLINE EXTENDED

To transform world health, we need everybody. We are #bettertogether.

At ILCA, we believe that, if we are to truly ENGAGE, we must hear from, and listen to, people with a variety of perspectives. We want our conferences, and the lactation professionals and supports who attend them, to include, encourage, and recognize people of all races, ethnicities, genders, ages, abilities, religions, and sexual orientations. We are not there yet.

We have recently opened up the presenter submission site for
our 2019 Annual Conference. For more information, see our Call for Abstracts. The abstract submission deadline is 31 October 2018.


We are working to increase opportunities for people from underrepresented groups by actively recruiting diverse speakers for our onsite and virtual conferences, offering scholarships, and taking part in ongoing conversations about the value of diversity in the communities we serve. We feel like this is one place where we have the power to make real, measurable change.

As we prepare for #ILCA19, here are some ways you can help us build a more diverse slate of plenary, concurrent, and workshop presenters:

  • Contribute to our ILCA Scholarship Fund through our Benefactors Program.
  • Recommend presenters to the ILCA Conference Programming Task Force by emailing us at
  • Forward our Call For Abstracts to relevant affinity groups with the message that we are looking for a diverse roster of presenters.
  • During the Call For Abstracts phase of the conference, suggest to potential speakers that they submit proposals.
  • Encourage potential authors, reviewers, and other content creators to work with us, or recommend them to us directly by emailing
  • Organize community-­based public speaking trainings and practice events.
  • Suggest ways that the onsite conference experience can be more welcoming and supportive. Send an email to

We value diversity in the communities we bring together, and we welcome your contributions to creating balanced representation of the richness of our collective human experience. Please share your ideas and best practices for how we can realize our vision by sending an email to


Win a FREE ILCA Membership! How has ILCA Membership Impacted Your Practice?


THANK YOU for your response to our recent ILCA membership survey. We learned new things and confirmed what you have shared with us before – like just how much you value the Journal of Human Lactation and your free continuing education. (A lot! Nearly 97% of you rate JHL or free continuing education as the MOST important ILCA benefit.) Your answers are helping us shape your member benefits package.

We want to hear more! Share with us how ILCA membership impacts you, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win an ILCA membership.

Here are  some questions we’d love to hear more about. Pick one to answer and leave your response in the comments. You’ll receive a second entry if you also paste your answer into the comments on THIS THREAD on Facebook. Watch here for the winner: we will select a winner by random draw on 1 October 2018. DEADLINE EXTENDED! We’ll be gathering your responses until Friday, October 5.

  • How has ILCA membership impacted your practice?
  • What would you tell a colleague about the value of ILCA membership?
  • What ILCA benefit is most important to you? Why?
  • Or anything else you’d like us to know about why ILCA is important to you.

Your comments will certainly help guide our thinking about ILCA membership, and may be used as a part of the materials we use to help others learn about ILCA.

Thank you for helping us learn more about what matters most to you about ILCA.


ILCA’s International Advocacy: Understanding NetCode

As a part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (commonly known as the International Code), ILCA has signed on as a NetCode partner. The news was shared with members at the recent ILCA conference by immediate past president Michele Griswold.

While the International Code outlines critical protections against predatory marketing of breast-milk substitutes, regional and national laws and regulations in line with the International Code provide the on-the-ground provisions that support families. Those regional and national laws and regulations must exist and be enforced to ensure families have a level playing field to make feeding decisions.

NetCode is a coalition of organizations working to expand and strengthen the capacity of Member States and civil society to develop, monitor, and enforce national Code legislation. Formed in 2015, NetCode members include the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), select Member State representatives, and collaborating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including ILCA.

ILCA board member Sabeen Adil recently attended the third meeting of NetCode to lend ILCA’s support to the efforts. She will be serving on the Advocacy Task Force, which will be focusing on efforts to advocate about code monitoring with health care professionals.

NetCode has developed a number of tools that you can use in your local community, including:

  • NetCode toolkit. To better enable governments to monitor adherence to the International Code, NetCode developed a toolkit, consisting of an ongoing monitoring protocol and a periodic assessment protocol. The toolkit is being piloted in countries including Mexico, Cambodia, and Ghana.
  • Introductory course on the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. This e-learning course on the International Code is available for free at It is intended to provide a comprehensive introduction to the International Code, its contents, and ways in which it can be implemented and monitored. This resource is intended for policy makers, legislators, health practitioners, relevant UN agency staff and civil society partners staff.

ILCA looks forward to its ongoing involvement in NetCode’s efforts. To learn more, watch for updates here and in the ILCAlert.


Celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week: Guest Post by Stacy Davis, Executive Director of the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color

The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) is proud to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week (25 August – 31 August). We asked Stacy Davis, BA, IBCLC, and executive director of U.S.-based National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC), one of ILCA’s Global Partners, to share with us the importance of this week and how professional lactation supporters can support Black families.


Why is Black Breastfeeding Week important for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®), around the globe, to celebrate?

Black Breastfeeding Week is incredibly important and necessary for professional lactation supporters to celebrate for many reasons. Black Breastfeeding Week is not simply about celebrating that Black women are breastfeeding, but rather about affirming the experiences of a Black woman, acknowledging the disparities for Black women and their children, and addressing the lack of support and resources in Black communities.

In the United States (and in many other places in the world), Black women are often not understood by women of other races and ethnicities. Black women often suffer from “strong woman syndrome” – the need to be strong and resilient in all situations and circumstances. This is often perceived as aggressive and militant, even in instances where we feel feeble. We grapple with the need to be the best and look our best AT ALL TIMES. We have to give even when nothing has been deposited.

Black women are charged with so much in our daily lives – we are breadwinners, caretakers, nurturers, educators, social workers, therapists, and so much more. We bear the burden of our families and our communities, while paying little to no attention to ourselves . . . and most of us struggle with self-care. When we fail (or feel as though we are failing), we internalize that and it tends to impact other areas of our lives.

So, when a Black woman decides to make breastfeeding a priority for herself, her child(ren), her family and her community, we need to celebrate that! We should not question why Black Breastfeeding Week exists. It is imperative that we, as professionals, providers, supporters, advocates, leaders, from around the globe celebrate all the Black women who sacrifice to chestfeed/breastfeed, as well as those who make sacrifices to support another Black woman. Black lactation professionals make DAILY sacrifices to support other women in, and out, of their community. Overall, Black Breastfeeding Week is about celebrating disadvantaged Black women and children and the boots on the ground doing the work with little to no recognition or pay.


How can IBCLCs support families of color in their communities?

IBCLCs can support Black families and other families of color by seeking training in equity, cultural sensitivity, cultural responsiveness, and cultural humility. It is essential that we incorporate these lessons into our lactation care and practice. Moreover, IBCLCs can embrace the LOVE model of care:

L – (actively) LISTENING with a open heart and open mind

O – (asking) OPEN-ENDED questions for better understanding

VVALIDATE and affirm feeling

EEDUCATE with focused, individualized messages (not blanket, textbook information)


What can national and international organizations do to increase the number of skilled lactation providers of color?

There is much that national and international organizations can do to support aspiring IBCLCs and increase diversity in the IBCLC profession, such as:

  • Create affordable mentorship programs in communities including opportunities for free and reduced-cost mentorships
  • Offer financial assistance through personal or organizational donations
  • Support the work and efforts of organizations such as NAPPLSC and the Reclaiming, Improving and Sustaining Equity (RISE) Lactation Training Model, and others
  • Help to create adequate job opportunities for current and aspiring non-medical IBCLCs
  • Be an advocate or an ally for diversifying the field
  • Ask an IBCLC of color what she/he believes is lacking and needs addressing

There is so much to be done, now and for years to come.

Want to learn more?

We encourage you to register for NAPPLSC’s 2nd Annual Black Breastfeeding Webinar. As an added bonus, NAPPLSC will be doing raffles and giveaways for FREE trainings and memberships. Click below for more information and to register.



Breaking the Cycle of Poverty #WBW2018

International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) is excited to join World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and other organizations and individuals the world over in celebrating #WBW2018 1-7 August. The theme of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2018 is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life. Lactation Matters will feature blog posts and resources throughout the week to help you make the most of this important week.

A sustainable world begins with ending poverty in all its forms everywhere. According to Pinstrup-Andersen, “not every poor person is hungry, but almost all hungry people are poor. Millions live with hunger and malnourishment because they simply cannot afford to buy enough food, cannot afford nutritious foods, or cannot afford the farming supplies they need to grow enough good food of their own.” Hunger and poverty work together in a vicious circle that keeps people from achieving their full potential.

Breastfeeding is the great equalizer that can help break the cycle of poverty.

Breastfeeding is a universal solution that levels the playing field to give every child a fair start in life. It enables millions of young children to survive and thrive, setting them on a path towards better health and a more prosperous future. Breastmilk is the most nutritionally and immunologically potent food for infants and toddlers, a food that can fuel brain development like nothing else. Breastfeeding powers cognitive development and IQ of children, thus greatly improving educational attainment, participation in the workforce and lifetime earnings. Missing this critical stage of brain development during childhood can result in significant cognitive and economic losses. Breastfeeding improves the health and well-being of women and children and is the foundation of a country’s development and future.

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For the most up-to-date information about WBW 2018 and to download promotional materials, please visit the World Breastfeeding Week website by clicking here.


9. Poverty – United Nations Sustainable Development. (n.d.). Retrieved from
10. Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding.

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