Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI)

Breastfeeding Exclusive Summer 2020 - L.I.F.E. Support Amid the Pandemic

L.I.F.E. Support Amid the Pandemic

The L.I.F.E. TM Initiative, which stands for Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies, is an active hub of research, policy advocacy, and technical support led by CGBI’s Dr. Aunchalee Palmquist. Through this initiative, CGBI’s projects and activities have access to just-in-time recommendations relating to current emergency situations. Despite having no formal funding, this initiative has been extremely active since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe – read below for some of these exciting updates!

USBC Constellation

Dr. Palmquist is representing CGBI as a co-steward  of a new constellation in the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. The constellation maintains an advisory group of Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) experts, and dozens of USBC’s member organizations have joined in on the work. The constellation serves as a bi-directional learning forum and centralized advocacy hub for the First Food field, and uses an equity lens to support and coordinate responses to challenges posed by the pandemic across the US. Among the ongoing working tasks of the group are the adaptation of a UNICEF Joint Statement for Infant and Young Child Feeding for the US context, a coordinated and informed response to the CDC Guidance on Evaluation and Management Considerations for Neonates at Risk for COVID-19, and a platform of shared resources among the groups’ members and advisory team.


NC Pregnancy & Continuity of Care During COVID-19 Taskforce

Dr. Palmquist also participated in a North Carolina Task Force focused on creating guidance on perinatal care in the context of COVID-19. Recently released, the recommendations offer guidance to providers and facilities who seek to provide safe, high-quality peripartum care to childbearing families in North Carolina. Read the Task Force Recommendations here.

ENRICH Carolinas

In addition to this work with the USBC, the L.I.F.E. Initiative has been supporting CGBI’s ENRICH Carolinas project, aimed at helping maternity care centers and their communities in North and South Carolina. Perhaps most salient to the broader public, a web resource page is maintained where professionals can access numerous resources for use with different audiences. There are 4 tabs for specific topics: Breastfeeding, Mental Health, Community, and Child Care. Also accessible through this page are infographics depicting up-to-date guidance for expressing and storing milk at work for healthcare staff and child care staff.

Prenatal offices, including private, community and WIC, can now refer patients needing breastfeeding and maternity care practices education to CGBI’s Ready Set Baby Live online zoom class which includes WHO guidance relating to pregnancy, childbirth and the early postpartum period during the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched in mid-April, these no-cost HIPPA-compliant online classes are taught live by lactation students and/or CGBI staff, and always have at least one IBCLC in the room. Details about what internal resources were leveraged to arrive at this unique resource for the community have been submitted for publication and we hope to share this with you soon.  A research study is currently underway to determine the acceptability and effectiveness of this method of teaching breastfeeding education to pregnant families.

Through our child care efforts, just-in-time resources tailored to meet the needs of Early Care and Education (ECE) professionals have been developed. It was imperative that we issue considerations for the continuation of best practices in child care settings, given the rarity of national recommendations specific to ECE professionals supporting breastfeeding families during the pandemic. The considerations were formed by compiling the available health and safety guidance for COVID-19 and incorporating it into CGBI’s existing 10 steps to Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care. Additionally, ENRICH will be hosting ECE virtual trainings on Emergency Preparedness Response (EPR) planning. This training is an adaptation of L.I.F.E.TM that will educate child care industry professionals on coordinating and establishing protocols that address infant and young child feeding in emergencies.

The L.I.F.E TM initiative provides information and helpful guides for health workers, frontline responders, shelter managers, and volunteers who are supporting families in their communities during an emergency with infant and young child feeding and nutrition. A toolkit of helpful resources for integrating infant feeding into current disaster response activities in the U.S. is currently online. Our team is working to update these resources for COVID-19 and translate guidance documents into Spanish and other languages. Please share these resources and tools with your networks as you are able.

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