On Aug. 4–6, peer counselors, community volunteers, parents, lactation professionals and health care providers gathered in Arlington, Va. for the Fourth National Conference of State/Territorial/Tribal Breastfeeding Coalitions, organized by the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC).
The biennial conference – “Answering the Call: Coalitions Moving Into Action” – focused on ground-level opportunities to implement The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, especially during August, which USBC has declared as National Breastfeeding Month.
At a plenary session on the final day of the conference, WKKF Vice President – Program Strategy Dr. Gail C. Christopher spoke on the intersection of breastfeeding, racial equity and disparities in health. “This simple act,” said Dr. Christopher about breastfeeding, “this simple opportunity to give a baby mother’s milk is a major force in mitigating the many social determinants of poor health outcomes.”
Dr. Christopher received applause for addressing the debate about breastfeeding currently taking place in the media, sparked by opinion pieces in The New York Times and The Atlantic critical of breastfeeding advocacy. Those supporting breastfeeding, said Dr. Christopher, are standing on a solid foundation of science.
In encouraging participants to create a new societal norm around breastfeeding, Dr. Christopher quoted Buckminster Fuller: “The effective change agent really isn’t busy attacking the existing system and structure, the effective change agent creates new systems and new structures which makes the existing systems obsolete.”
In addition to hearing from inspiring speakers during the three-day conference, participants shared knowledge and experiences, made connections across coalitions and explored current issues in the support and promotion of breastfeeding.
Following the conference, many attendees participated in an optional Breastfeeding Advocacy Day involving a trip to the Capitol to visit the offices of senators and representatives.
For more information, visit: http://www.usbreastfeeding.org.