February 2023

Breastfeeding Coalitions Offer Support

By Laura Maxson

Families and healthcare providers know that lactation support takes many forms. More than just an appointment with a lactation consultant, it’s also a call from a lactation peer-counselor, a helpful Facebook group, or supportive lactation legislation. How does all this come together? Breastfeeding coalitions are providing this strong foundation of support both locally, and statewide.

The California Breastfeeding Coalition’s mission is: “To improve the health and well-being of Californians by working collaboratively to protect, promote, and support lactation. We do this by cultivating collaborative relationships among state and local organizations, government agencies, hospitals and health care providers, employers and community-based chest/breastfeeding support organizations throughout California.

Our vision is that all California families receive equitable access to quality timely essential lactation support throughout the perinatal period. We recognize the vast disparities in breastfeeding rates exist due to racist structures and systems in health education, communication and medical policies and practices. Through our advocacy and education efforts, we amplify the voices and experiences of those who have been historically ignored.

The California Breastfeeding Coalition (CBC) seeks to bolster the current lactation healthcare system to promote and support chest/breastfeeding consistently with evidence-based best practices. Through a comprehensive and coordinated approach, the CBC will convene partners from across the continuum of care to enact sustainable and effective systems change.”

The CBC website covers a wide range of topics. There are links to resources related to work, school, hospital, community, California Resolutions, and laws and regulations – and that’s just from the breastfeeding rights page.

The Breastfeeding Rights page not only gives instructions on the accommodation and support entitled to lactating parents returning to work or school, but also supplies links and information on how to file an official complaint. Those needing additional individual guidance are encouraged to call the breastfeeding coalition for help.

The Lactation Action Network has its own page for those interested in working with policy and legislation around breastfeeding/lactation issues. Sign up to be advised of upcoming legislation, media advocacy opportunities, meet with state and local representatives to promote breastfeeding awareness month and other issues impacting breastfeeding families.

A lactating parent detained in a county jail has the right to provide milk to their baby or toddler. For this to happen, jails need to identify lactating parents and help facilitate pumping, then transferring the milk to the child. The coalition’s website includes a recorded webinar for parents, county employees and others interested in helping to implement the 2020 law to ensure incarcerated parents can continue to provide milk to their children.

The CBC events calendar includes upcoming educational events, webinars, and other activities that might be of interest to breastfeeding parents and/or lactation professionals. The yearly Breastfeeding

Summit has just wrapped up for 2023. Check the calendar in August for Breastfeeding Awareness Month events.

The CBC’s Healthcare Resources page provides a webinar concerning milk sharing – both informal, and through an accredited milk bank. Parents and healthcare professionals can better understand the issues surrounding milk sharing, as well as the importance of providing breastmilk when needed. And, of course, there are plenty of links to COVID related information to understand the current situation as it applies to lactation.

Local Coalitions – from the CBC page follow the link to Santa Cruz County’s own breastfeeding coalition, providing contact information and resources for parents and professionals including:
Birth Network of Santa Cruz County
Dominican Hospital Lactation
Sutter Hospital Lactation
Watsonville Community Hospital Lactation
Nursing Mother’s Counsel
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
And covers resource topics including:
Breastmilk Feeding in Natural Disasters and Emergencies
Breast Massage and Manual Expression Guides (video clips):
Breastfeeding Advocacy Toolkit
World Breastfeeding Week/National Breastfeeding Awareness Month
Starting a Community Breastfeeding Coalition
United States Breastfeeding Committee
Data and Statistics
Handout for Dads – How to help
Advocacy organizations
Resources for healthcare professionals
Workplace resources for employers and employees.

Let’s give a shout out to these extensive networks of caring individuals and organizations working
together to create state and local coalitions of support so families can be successful in their
breastfeeding goals. Coalitions bring people together – there’s room for you, too.

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