Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Spring is always a time when I feel a sense of growth and excitement. This year’s lactation consultant training class enhanced this feeling with their kind gifts at the end of the semester, including a shadow box of personal notes and plants.
As I look at the cactus – slow and steady, smooth and spiny, with ~1750 species and the orchid – delicate and complex, I reflect on a lactation landscape that has these same characteristics. The lactation field is in a time of enormous growth, even if it feels that the wheels of change are not turning fast enough for the families and communities we serve. As Director of CGBI, I am tasked with strategizing and balancing our growth as an institution in the short and long term; what is our role, who should we collaborate with, who we want to support, who is needed on our team, how do we meet the needs of different communities, when and where is our participation appropriate and desired, how do we stay true to our mission/vision, what calculated risks do we take, how do we apply an equity lens to all work? These are all of the questions I continually ask myself. Most importantly for our institute, how does our existing team continue to grow in the profession with an ever changing landscape? We have an amazing, dedicated team at CGBI and nourishing their individual professional needs is a priority. Yes, we work in the 3 B’s (breastfeeding, birthing practices, birth spacing) but when should we lead and when should we follow? Continual self-reflection is essential to growth. I am honored to have been asked to share our experience of self-reflection and growth as an institution with privilege at the 2018 ILCA Conference in Portland, OR. Please consider participating in either the plenary or 2-hour workshop, or attending one of our other sessions (full list included at the end of this newsletter).
I am excited to share our latest initiative with our readers. RISE: Lactation Training Model (Reclaiming, Improving and Sustaining Equity) was launched in late February. RISE, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, aims to increase the representation of women and men of color employed and serving as International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. We are working in close collaboration with the National Association of Professional and Peer Lactation Supporters of Color (NAPPLSC) and Historically Black Colleges/Universities and other colleges serving communities of color to plant the seeds for improved access to high quality lactation training. Please read more in our feature article.
In March, we hosted and co-sponsored the 13th Annual Breastfeeding and Feminism International Conference with our partner and colleague, Dr. Paige Hall Smith from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The theme this year was The Dance of Nurture in a Complex World: How biology, gender, and social contact shape how we nourish our children. The conference theme was inspired by anthropologist and plenary speaker Penny Van Esterik’s latest book: The Dance of Nurture: Negotiating Infant Feeding.
There were over 200 attendees at this year’s conference. Participants were inspired and challenged by the many dynamic speakers who presented from various regions, territories, and countries including Appalachia, Australia, Canada, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom; and other parts of the United States. Some participants took their first steps into a better understanding of equity and started their journey of growth. To learn more about this conference visit http://breastfeedingandfeminism.org. I would like to give a special recognition to Lourdes Santaballa Mora, IBCLC, and founder of ASI: Alimentación Segura Infantil, for being awarded with the Miriam H. Labbok Award for Excellence. Like Miriam, Lourdes’s fiery spirit and infinite dedication to mothers and babies drives her to do groundbreaking work. For Lourdes, her work with ASI began in the wake of Hurricane Maria in her native Puerto Rico. Please visit their website or facebook page to learn more.
On the global front, many have seen the WHO’s revised, implementation guidance for the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative 2018. The CGBI team is diligently reviewing the new guidance and seeking information from other partners, global and domestic, to ensure that all of our healthcare related work is informed by the latest evidence and practice guidance. Read further for updates on EMPower Training and ENRICH Carolinas.
As I write this letter, Drs. Aunchalee Palmquist and Alison Stuebe, Kathy Parry, and Daina Huntley are attending meetings in Toronto, Canada to further grow our work with the Global Breastfeeding Collective and enhance our understanding of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
Lastly, a big congratulations to the 2017-18 class of the Mary Rose Tully Training Initiative on completing their Pathway 2 training requirements! We wish you the best of luck with the October IBCLC exam. As they embark into this new field we hope that we have provided them with well-amended and fertile soil for bringing fresh ideas and leadership into the field.