New Resource: Advocacy Toolkit

The evidence is now stronger than ever: breastfeeding is critically important for women and children in both high- and low-income countries.

Increasing the rates of breastfeeding worldwide will help countries to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—including Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Breastfeeding is a woman’s right and empowers women as mothers, giving women the means to nourish their infants and protect them from illness, even during emergencies and times of crisis.

However, lack of adequate support for women to breastfeed is an issue in every country. Women who wish to breastfeed should have the right to do so—whenever and wherever they choose—with the full support of their families, communities, employers, and governments.

The Global Breastfeeding Collective (the Collective) is pleased to share a new resource: the Breastfeeding Advocacy Toolkit. Led by UNICEF and WHO, the Collective is a partnership of more than 20 international organizations – including ILCA – committed to increasing investment and driving policy change to support breastfeeding worldwide. The toolkit is intended for all stakeholders seeking information and tools to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. The toolkit aims to build awareness of the Collective’s seven policy actions and provide access to resources that stakeholders can use in the development of initiatives to support these policy actions globally, nationally, and sub-nationally. Resources in the toolkit include guidebooks, policy briefs, educational videos, and case studies. Where possible, resources have been provided in multiple languages, and the toolkit will be updated periodically to include new, relevant tools as they become available.

Please be sure to check out the Breastfeeding Advocacy Toolkit and consider sharing with your networks! The toolkit is intended to be interactive, and we welcome your input. Should you have any questions or suggestions regarding the toolkit, please contact


ILCA Seeks Advocacy Advisor

ILCA would like to thank Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC, for her service as the ILCA Advocacy Advisor to the Board of Directors. During her time in this new role for ILCA, she has helped to shape this position and has created a vision and strategy that will help advance breastfeeding worldwide and elevate the role of skilled lactation care. While we are deeply sad to see her go, we are thrilled to see her in her new position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health at Southern Connecticut State University.

ILCA is seeking an Advocacy Advisor to the Board of Directors to lead the organization’s strategic advocacy plan.

Advocacy is a core tenet of ILCA’s mission and vision.  Additionally, ILCA’s values of knowledge, diversity and equity serve as the basis for ILCA’s equity-focused evidence based advocacy strategic framework.

The person serving in the Advocacy Advisor role will be responsible for helping to operationalize ILCA’s leadership and participation on policies and actions including, but not limited to, Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, The Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, family-friendly policies, workplace initiatives, capacity-building of IBCLCs and skilled lactation professionals globally and promoting recognition of IBCLCs and other skilled support professionals as critical members of the health care team.

This is a leadership position that will report to ILCA’s Executive Director.

Core Responsibilities include:

  • Design and implement strategic planning for ILCA’s advocacy agenda
  • Oversee ILCA’s Global Advocacy Committee including United Nations liaisons
  • Build global expertise teams surrounding ILCA’s advocacy issues
  • Be a liaison between ILCA and ILCA’s global partnerships with WHO, UNICEF, WABA
  • Represent ILCA to the Global Breastfeeding Collective, NetCode, Codex Alimentarus and others
  • Represent ILCA at key strategic meetings globally

Required Qualifications:

  • Experience with advocacy at the local, regional, state, global level
  • Demonstrated commitment to ILCA values of knowledge, diversity, equity
  • Familiarity with core documents related to breastfeeding advocacy i.e. human rights, and the Code
  • Leadership experience
  • Strong English writing skills

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated leadership within ILCA as an organization as evidenced by prior/current volunteer service
  • Ability to communicate in more than one language
  • A strong network of global professional alliances
  • Excellent presentation skills
  • Critical thinker
  • Grant writing skills and experience/education in program planning, implementation, management, evaluation. Successful grant funding a plus!

This position may be remote. The successful candidate should have reliable access to internet etc. It is envisioned that the candidate will commit approximately 10-20 hrs/week which may vary with travel commitments. Salary is hourly and commensurate with experience.

To apply:

Please send cover letter, resume/CV addressed to, salary requirements, one letter of recommendation and the names and contact details of two additional recommenders who we may contact.


Three Research Takeaways: Supporting Lactating Women Who Experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse

How can new research inform how lactation consultants support women who are breastfeeding and who have experienced childhood sexual abuse?

The Journal of Human Lactation article, Breastfeeding in Women Having Experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse, aims to “investigate experiences with breastfeeding in women with a history of [Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA)].”

Find three key takeaways we have put together here:

Learn more by accessing the full article here. Access to JHL is free for ILCA members.

New! Earn CERPs by reading this and other select JHL articles in our Independent Study Modules, free for ILCA members. Members, access your free continuing education here. Learn more about ILCA membership here.


Celebrating Black Breastfeeding Week 2019

The International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) is proud to celebrate Black Breastfeeding Week (25 August – 31 August). 

This year’s theme is “The World Is Yours: Imagine. Innovate. Liberate.” 

Black Breastfeeding Week consists of a series of online and face-to-face activities. Check out their website and social media profiles (including their Facebook page here) for updates. You can also find resources for bringing creativity and inspiration to your local breastfeeding community, like this Hackathon Toolkit.

In the United States, you can also look for a local event many of which include “Baby Lift Up,” the signature event for Black Breastfeeding Week. “Each year, black families gather  . . . in predetermined locations to lift up their babies (of all ages!) in unison in a show of solidarity and support for black children living healthy and thriving lives.”

Check out these past Lactation Matters posts for answers to your questions about why Black Breastfeeding Week exists or other resources for celebrating #BBW19.


Access FREE Articles from Journal of Human Lactation #WBW2019

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration of the role of breastfeeding in our homes, our communities, and the world.  As a part of our 2019 theme, Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding, we are proud to announce that Journal of Human Lactation (JHL) is making available 5 essential articles to everyone – FREE* through 31 August 2019.

The Journal of Human Lactation is essential for building our knowledge as IBCLCs. We believe knowledge guides our practice, strengthens our value, and supports our role in transforming world health.

Read the following JHL articles—free through 31 August 2019!

  1. Breastfeeding Support Interventions by International Board Certified Lactation Consultants: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis by Ellen M. Chetwynd, Heather M. Wasser, and Charles Poole
  2. Effectiveness of the IBCLC: Have we Made an Impact on the Care of Breastfeeding Families Over the Past Decade? by Barbara Haase, Emily Brennan, and Carol L. Wagner
  3. Current Trends in Research on Human Milk Exchange for Infant Feeding by Aunchalee E. L. Palmquist, Maryanne T. Perrin, Diana Cassar-Uhl, Karleen D. Gribble, Angela B. Bond, and Tanya Cassidy
  4. Critical Review of Theory Use in Breastfeeding Interventions by Yeon K. Bai, Soyoung Lee, and Kaitlin Overgaard
  5. An Integrated Analysis of Maternal-Infant Sleep, Breastfeeding, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Research Supporting a Balanced Discourse by Kathleen A. Marinelli, Helen L. Ball, James J. McKenna, and Peter S. Blair

Journal of Human Lactation is the official journal of ILCA. It is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal publishing original research, insights in practice and policy, commentaries, and case reports relating to research and practice in human lactation and breastfeeding. JHL is relevant to lactation professionals in clinical practice, public health, research, and a broad range of fields related to the trans-disciplinary field of human lactation.


Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2019!

Happy World Breastfeeding Week! 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 #WBW2019. The theme of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2019 is Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding. ILCA will feature resources throughout the week of 1-7 August to help you make the most of this important week.

Are you ready to celebrate #WBW2019? Check out this must-do list to be sure:

Visit the #WBW2019 website for general information and downloadable promotional materials, including the campaign objectives, logo, poster, action folder and other materials. These materials are available in many languages and contain information on the theme, relevant facts and figures, case studies, and suggested ways to take action.

Share your commitment to breastfeeding advocacy and education. Organizing your own WBW event? Then pledge your event to be placed on the Pledge Map. Use the #WBW2019 Media Kit that contains information about the annual WBW campaign as well as the 2019 Press Release for your events. Join the online social media movement by participating in WABA interaction, polls, and activities such as the upcoming #AskMeAnything session through their Facebook, and Twitter pages. Don’t forget to view the Social Media Kit that is frequently updated with visuals, infographics, GIFs, sample posts, and relevant hashtags.

Look for information and action steps throughout WBW on ILCA’s social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where you’ll find articles, images, action steps, and more to help with your successful WBW 2019 observance. Find graphics to download and share here on the ILCA website here.

For the most up-to-date information about WBW 2019 and to download promotional materials, please visit our website here.


Ensuring Health for All: ILCA President, Mudiwah Kadeshe, shares at Women Deliver

How do we make sure that the world knows about the impact and value of skilled lactation care? By educating the community at the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights, and well-being of women and girls. ILCA president Mudiwah Kadeshe recently presented at a side event at Women Deliver. Also in attendance at the conference was board member Iona Macnab. Together, they attended all of the lactation-related events and may have even been spotted adding some breastfeeding imagery to a community-created mural. Following is Kadeshe’s presentation.

My name is Mudiwah Kadeshe and I am the president of the International Lactation Consultant Association, or ILCA. ILCA is the member association for International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®) and other healthcare professionals who care for breastfeeding families. ILCA membership is open to all who support and promote breastfeeding.

I have the unique opportunity to work with a variety of providers who support breastfeeding. I direct a lactation program that brings together comprehensive lactation services – from peer educators, Certified Lactation Counselors, and IBCLCs, to a pediatric breastfeeding medicine specialist. Each of us has our own scope of practice and are essential to this work. I get to see the impact that comprehensive, community-based lactation support can have in a low-resource community.

I work in Washington, DC, in the United States, but ILCA represents more than 5000 members in 80 countries around the world. Globally, our members support women in the prenatal period, immediately following birth, when they have sore, painful breasts, or have other special needs, such as cleft lips/palates. IBCLCs also educate families and other health care providers and advocate for breastfeeding worldwide.

Women Deliver calls for action to ensure health for all by implementing comprehensive health services that are person centered and focus on women and girls. They call for meeting the needs of women and girls’ reproductive health across the entire life course.

We believe that breastfeeding and lactation is a critical part of the continuum of reproductive health, but is too often left out of the discussions around access to a full range of reproductive health care. Integrating breastfeeding and skilled lactation care into a person-centered comprehensive health system is critical to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Imagine how increased breastfeeding rates worldwide could impact the goal of eliminating poverty. For example, a 2015 study from a large cohort in Brazil demonstrated that adults who had been breastfed as children had higher levels of education and income later in life.

Of course, increased breastfeeding rates can help end hunger for the youngest members of the global community.

Breastfeeding improves health of women and children across the lifespan and is part of a nurturing care package. Evidence from the 2016 Lancet series indicates:

  • 820,000 lives of children saved, but children are not the only beneficiaries of breastfeeding
  • 20,000 cases of breast cancer prevented
  • With adequate scaling up of breastfeeding to recommended rates, more than $300 billion USD could be saved each year in health care costs associated with not breastfeeding

Supporting women in breastfeeding also increases gender equality, or as Jennifer would say, gender equity…

…and reduces inequalities.

All while supporting sustainable cities and communities.

However, families are facing barriers worldwide. Globally, the majority of women initiate breastfeeding but many stop before they intend to. Only 40 percent of children are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. The target for exclusive breastfeeding is 70 percent. This gap is due, in part, to a lack of access to quality lactation health services.

There is ample evidence to include breastfeeding and skilled lactation care in an integrated health care system as part of quality health services.

In my experience in my community, comprehensive support is what helps families reach their goals. But don’t just take my word for it. The research supports my experience.

A 2015 meta-analysis reviewed almost 200 studies to look at effective interventions on breastfeeding initiation, exclusivity and continued breastfeeding in 5 settings-health systems and services, home and family environment, community environment, work environment, policy environment, AND they looked at the combination of these together. The authors concluded that no one setting is adequate.

The greatest impact on exclusive breastfeeding and lactation duration was demonstrated when breastfeeding families received counseling and education concurrently across settings: health systems, home and family and the community environment.

What do quality lactation services look like? High quality care is defined by WHO as “care that is safe, effective, people-centred, timely, efficient, equitable and integrated.”

According to the World Health Organization’s Guidelines on Counseling Women to Improve Breastfeeding Practices, comprehensive breastfeeding counseling should include:

  • all pregnant women and women with young children,
  • should be provided antenatally and postnatally up to 24 months or longer,
  • should be provided face-to-face and possibly by telephone or remotely,
  • should provide a continuum of care by trained HCPs, community lay/peer counselors,
  • and should anticipate and address important challenges and context.

Also, person-centred care should be:

  • Country-led,
  • Equity-focused,
  • and Participatory

If we know that lactation provides health for all, and lactation support improves outcomes, what are the barriers we need to overcome?

One of ILCA’s core values speaks directly to the issue of access to quality lactation care for families globally.

Today, families are not receiving comprehensive lactation care for a number of reasons. First, the health care system lacks capacity in knowledge. Second, communities are lacking capacity in higher level skills, including lack of access to IBCLCs. Additionally, unethical marketing practices by baby milk companies target vulnerable populations, undermining families’ goals and global health outcomes. Moreover, we need to scale up the number of providers available around the globe. However, there are issues of access to the profession. ILCA worked with those underrepresented in the field worldwide and identified challenges to entering the field, including language barriers, financial issues, and a lack of qualified mentors.

What can we take away from this? As I have seen in my own community, investment in building capacity of health care systems, including professionals and community lay and peer counselors will strengthen decisions that families make about breastfeeding.

Investing in diversification of skilled lactation professionals will help ensure quality comprehensive, person-centered care to families globally.

And, most importantly, families’ decisions to breastfeed should not be undermined by inequitable access to quality, comprehensive, person-centered breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

Lactation and breastfeeding are a critical part of the reproductive continuum.


Informing Advocacy With Research and the IBCLC Perspective: An Update from Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC, Advocacy Advisor, International Lactation Consultant Association

As skilled lactation professionals, we are committed to evidence-based practice but how can we also apply evidence to advocacy efforts for the families in our care?

ILCA is currently working to ensure that a number of advocacy efforts are informed and supported by both the available research and the expertise of our IBCLC members.

One of ILCA’s Core Values is knowledge. As our website says, “we believe that knowledge guides our practice, strengthens our value and supports our role in transforming global health. ILCA aims to connect members to leading experts in the field and to the research that guides practice and policy while fostering conversations that result in innovations in your work and the growth of our profession.”

One way that ILCA puts its core value of knowledge to work is to connect members to global experts in the field through our engagement with the Global Breastfeeding Collective. Led by UNICEF and WHO, the Collective is a partnership of more than 20 prominent international agencies calling on donors, policy makers and civil society to increase investment in breastfeeding worldwide. One of my roles as ILCA’s Advocacy Advisor is to represent ILCA members and partners to the Collective.  

I serve as the Co-Chair of the Collective’s Evidence Review Working Group, a multi-disciplinary/sectoral group comprised of stakeholders with research backgrounds. Calling upon governments to enact paid family leave and workplace policies that support breastfeeding is one of 7 key policy priorities of the Collective.The Working Group recently embarked upon a project to update a summary of the scientific evidence surrounding Family Friendly Policies and breastfeeding outcomes.

At the same time, the UNICEF Early Childhood Development (ECD) team is leading a new initiative to advocate for Family Friendly Policies. Optimal ECD is influenced by breastfeeding but also several other interdependent factors. Therefore, evidence briefs (research summaries) were solicited in the following five key areas: Parental Leave, Childcare , Breastfeeding, Gender and Child Grants and presented by these organizations respectively,  World Policy Analysis Centre, Overseas Development Institute and Early Opportunities LLC, ILCA/Collective, Institute of Development Studies, Economic Policy Research Institute.

On 17-18 April I was honored to be invited to a high level meeting at the Swedish Consulate in New York where I joined the prestigious panel of writers to present the breastfeeding paper on behalf of our writing group. Each presentation was followed by a facilitated Q&A period that highlighted some gaps in the literature (childcare policies and breastfeeding outcomes) but also made me think about how breastfeeding messaging can still be polarizing. For example, does breastfeeding contribute to gender inequity or does it support gender equity? I would argue the latter but not all at the policy table would agree. How do we reach consensus?

Another critical perspective discussed was the informal labour sector. Currently 60% of the world’s population work in the informal setting. Families working in informal labour settings are generally not entitled to benefits such as family leave. How can we advocate for policies that protect breastfeeding for families working in informal settings for which evidence is scarce?  I was both challenged and inspired to be part of this important discussion.

One of the unique factors that skilled lactation providers bring to the policy table is the experience of working directly with families in our communities. Where there may be gaps in the scientific literature, lactation consultants bring real-world examples and scenarios that give a voice to families globally and can help decision makers to understand the complex factors that influence breastfeeding outcomes. Advocacy for policies that promote, protect and support breastfeeding aims to shift the burden of responsibility for breastfeeding from individual families to the greater society. This is why advocacy matters and why it is part of ILCA’s mission.

The findings of the papers will be synthesized to make global evidence-based policy recommendations that support children to have every opportunity to grow and thrive. The synthesis of policy recommendations will be released during a high level meeting at UNICEF headquarters in New York in July 2019.

Are you involved in advocacy efforts in your community? Have you seen the Breastfeeding Advocacy Toolkit created by the Collective? If you are currently working on advocacy issues in your community, I would like to hear from you!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC
Advocacy Advisor, International Lactation Consultant Association


Win a FREE #ILCA19 Virtual Conference Registration!

Join Us for the #ILCA19 Virtual Conference!

  • Earn up to 12 Continuing Education Units on the topics you need most.
  • Build the conference you need: In addition to the scheduled sessions, select an credit from our on-demand learning in the Knowledge Center.
  • Participate LIVE 26 – 27 July or watch on YOUR time – 60 full days of access.
  • Easy to use platform staffed by skilled moderators.

Register TODAY!

Who are you most excited to hear?

Win a FREE registration for the #ILCA19 Virtual Conference!

We think this year’s speakers will energize your practice, bringing you the new information you need to inspire you for the year ahead.

Leave a comment here on the blog telling us which speaker or topic YOU are most excited by at the #ILCA19 Virtual Conference.

Find the agenda HERE. Get details on our equity pricing HERE.

We will pick one commenter to receive a FREE #ILCA19 Virtual Conference registration!

Bonus entry if you also leave your comment in this thread on Facebook.

Our winner will be chosen on 31 May 2019.


An Update from Mudiwah Kadeshe, ILCA President

The path to equity is a journey, not a destination. I am here to tell you that this crossing may be uncomfortable at times, however, the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) is deeply committed to walking it together, with you, our members and the lactation support community. Progress on this passage will be marked by increased access to our profession; when all families experience skilled lactation care.

We have taken initial steps down the path. Building on the work of the Equity Summits, we are continuing to assess the barriers in lactation, deepen the skills of our staff, members, volunteers, and board, with the skilled support of equity consultants Dr. Adrienne Coleman and Traci Ellis, JD.

In response to your positive feedback and requests, the training they provided at #ILCA18 is available as a webinar. We hope that you will join us for their next training, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: Implicit Bias. You can access it by clicking HERE.

We continue to seek additional ways to make access to member benefits equitable to all. Our pricing is structured to make being a part of ILCA within reach for more lactation professionals around the world. The virtual conference provides up-to-the-minute information for those who are unable to join us in person. This year, our marketing efforts will include an American Sign Language (ASL) greeting aimed at engaging our deaf community.

Thanks to your generous gifts to the ILCA Benefactors program, we provide membership and conference scholarships to those impacted by social, economic, or political hardships.  

Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere, (R.O.S.E.) whose amazing work has transformed breastfeeding support across the southern United States (where our upcoming conference is located) and our partner, the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) have both been awarded scholarship offerings for the upcoming #ILCA19 conference with the aim of bringing those from marginalized communities into our sphere.

And we hope you will join us at #ILCA19 if for no other reason than to hear the influential Dr. Camara Jones speak on Achieving Health Equity in Breastfeeding: Naming and Addressing Racism and Other Systems of Structured Inequity.

Still, ILCA submits, we miss the mark. Frequently. As lactation consultants, we know that babies need a deep latch to effectively transfer milk. As a community, we need to commit to go deeper still in our equity journey to transform biased norms.

Finding ways to untangle inequity is tough and ongoing work. It requires us to humbly reexamine the way we show up in the world, “our ways of being,” and then be willing to make course corrective actions. We need to deconstruct what have been our organizational norms. Our Safe Space policies apply not only to our conference, but to our board meetings and on-line spaces.

One  strategy we will employ to dismantle our old, inequitable ways of being is by having multiple means of hearing from you about what we get right – and what we get wrong – as an institution and a profession.

We need you. At last year’s conference, we talked a lot about how we are #bettertogether. Hearing from you will help us “step-up” our pace on the journey to becoming a more just and equitable association.

Soon, you will receive two different surveys seeking your feedback. The first, from Dr. Adrienne Coleman and Traci Ellis, JD, seeks to build on our knowledge of barriers to the profession and to care. The second one, from the Equity Committee, seeks your feedback on what tools and resources ILCA can provide to make its programs and services more equitable, and to increase access to the field for families and professionals.

Do you feel called to walk closely with us on this journey? We are currently seeking volunteers to serve on our Equity Committee. This committee works together to ensure that ILCA is culturally inclusive and welcoming to all members, which furthers the practice of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) on an organizational level and in the skilled lactation care profession. You can access more information by clicking HERE.

There is a long and arduous road ahead. I’m up for the challenge. And, from my place of leadership, I can assure you that ILCA is as well!

As I have shared in the past, one of my greatest desires for my time as President is that you, our members, feel deeply heard. To echo your voice, it is vital that I know how you experience joy and what challenges you face in your daily work. Moreover, how can ILCA better support you through our core values? You can email me anytime at


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