The North Carolina Lactation Consultant Association Summit is an opportunity for North Carolina (NC) lactation consultants and other lactation professionals to come together and learn from one another each summer. Participation was at an all time high for this year’s gathering. Attendees arrived from every perinatal region in the state, and across multiple areas of specialty.
The lactation science fair held at the event aimed to hear what participants were doing in their area to support breastfeeding women. The format was purposely informal to encourage members who might not typically speak at conferences to participate. This interactive science fair, which included hands on demonstrations, movement and discussion, showcased the broad expanse of breastfeeding resources in NC. A chemist presenting on moving through grief with beads made from breast milk, a teacher talked about breastfeeding education in the schools, and others, including medical students, doctoral students, physicians, peer counselors, and IBCLCs, gave demonstrations, discussed presentation posters, and shared handouts and skills.
NC is divided into six perinatal regions. With help from colleagues at the Division of Public Health, CGBI, and NC WIC, regions gathered together for concrete discussions that build communication across the state. Each region identified strengths as well as areas for growth, created an achievable goal for the year, and discussed who should be ‘at the table’ when breastfeeding is discussed at the regional level. The information gleaned will contribute to mapping of the landscape of breastfeeding support in NC, a process begun several years ago by the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition. The more that can be identified, the better NC lactation advocates can be at supporting one other, pursuing grants, and improving the wellbeing of breastfeeding mothers and babies.
NC has the fourth largest number of IBCLCs in the nation, behind California, New York, and Texas. Multiple universities conduct breastfeeding research. NC is the home to Breastfeeding and Feminism International Conference, drawing participants from all over the world. Innovations in NC hospitals, WIC agencies, clinics, and community breastfeeding support are strong and vibrant. This was all visible and celebrated at the NCLCA Breastfeeding Summit.