One of the challenges that come forth immediately after childbirth is breastfeeding. More so, if you are a first-time mom. And, even though breastfeeding is often described as a natural phenomenon, it has an art that needs to be learned by both, the mother as well as the newborn child.
It would be safe to suggest that the challenges ascribed to breastfeeding result from the barriers that exist, which include lack of knowledge, lactation problems, poor family and social support, employment and childcare, and restricted healthcare services. Luckily, there are now a number of organizations operating worldwide, which offer support for breastfeeding moms.
Here are some of them.
1. La Leche League International
La Leche League is a global organization that helps mothers worldwide get the proper support, encouragement, information, and training to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding.
Based in USA, in the state of Illinois, LLL has expanded on a global scale, through its dedicated team of leaders who are also volunteer breastfeeding counselors. Having nursed their own children, they are passionate about the value of human milk and provide support in their communities around the world. To facilitate this ends, they make information accessible to mothers in six major languages - Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. The organization works around strong core values to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding for the healthy development of the baby and mother. LLL is committed to cooperating with mothers, families, communities, and other organizations, through mutual support and accountability.
La Leche League offers peer-to-peer support in communities, respecting needs and individual situations with compassion, and without judgment. The organization's website gives users free access to plentiful resources relating to breastfeeding, that are available in the form of articles and a webinar library. It contains any and everything to do with breastfeeding and to locate a support group in your area.
They also have a strong online presence in terms of support groups, such as those on Facebook. If you are looking for general breastfeeding (for example, you are nursing your child or are pregnant), check out LLL's general nursing support group at LLLI Breastfeeding Support | Facebook
You may also seek support through specific support groups on Facebook, such as La Leche League - Subgroup - Inducing Lactation & Relactation | Facebook.
2. Global Health Media Project
Global Health Media Project is a USA-based non-profit organization that designs and produces videos and animations to teach key healthcare practices for frontline health workers and families in low-resource settings. The videos are simple, short and practical. They are designed for use on mobile devices and accessible online, where they can be streamed or downloaded. GHMP has produced more than 90 videos on key topics including newborn care, birth, breastfeeding, and care of preterm babies. These real-life videos possess an exceptional ability to show clinical signs and the close-up details essential to developing practical skills that are needed for nursing and caring for newborn babies. Also, by capturing subtle nuances in facial expressions, these live-action films are equally valuable in modeling the kindness and respect that health workers can convey to patients.
Founder Deborah Van Dyke pursued the mission of improving healthcare practices, especially in underserved areas. GHMP's unique approach to developing videos is based on insights that they possess the visual teaching power to provide an effective way to share knowledge, skills, and information across continents, cultures, and languages. The heart of the project is based on an in-depth understanding of needs in rural areas in Africa and Asia, where Van Dyke had worked directly with frontline health workers and saw the needs and training gaps firsthand. It was her experience that guided her to the vision of GHMP’s visual learning tools.
By leveraging advances in the internet and mobile technology, the organization aims to reach out and support millions of families needing healthcare assistance. Not only is this a cost-effective approach, but also allows for information to be shared across vast distances, making a powerful impact on global health. And subsequently, as more people gain access to mobile devices in the future, the potential is unlimited.
GHMP's visual content is serving the needs across several domains such as:
Worldwide Use: The high-quality teaching videos are available in 50 languages, increasing the chances of viewership and engagement through social media, mobile applications, and other digital platforms.
Training Health Workers: The documented videos are used as complementary training tools, in both pre-service and in-service training, by health workers at all levels. Practical and relevant to developing world realities, they are used by over 7,000 organizations, including United Nations groups, ministries of health, teaching institutions, hospitals, and NGOs large and small.
Teaching Communities: The films in each of the series are adapted to speak directly to patients, caregivers, and community members. They can be viewed in maternity wards, at home, or in hospital waiting rooms.
Here is a link to their breastfeeding support project:
And, other areas concerning family and child care support:
Many of the films produced by GHMP are also available on their app, Birth & Beyond, created in 2020 for both Android and iPhone users.
3. International Breastfeeding Centre
The International Breastfeeding Centre is an online subsidiary of The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The clinic was established in 1984 by Dr. Jack Newman and has ever since been providing breastfeeding care and support to more than 2,000 families every year. The Newman Breastfeeding Clinic is a supportive, inclusive, safe, and judgment-free space where concerned persons can have a one-on-one appointment with their extensively trained International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. These consultants prioritize listening to their patient's concerns, answering questions, and guiding them in achieving an optimal latch and efficient feeding. Expert pediatricians also assess and examine babies for tongue and lip tie. Together, the lactation consultant and pediatrician liaise and develop a unique care plan that takes into account the patient's needs and breastfeeding goals. For those seeking online assistance, there is the option to book a virtual assessment via the website, too.
To help with breastfeeding, Newman personally provides a free email answering service to women and health professionals and also maintains the clinic's website as a source of reliable breastfeeding information. The International Breastfeeding Centre contains multi-language videos available for women worldwide to learn about breastfeeding as well as blogs available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Vietnamese and Portuguese. The center also offers prenatal breastfeeding classes, in person and online. These classes are geared toward getting breastfeeding started off on the right foot, addressing common myths, and what is normal for the newborn breastfed baby. It is a 3-hour interactive class led by an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
4. Global Breastfeeding Collective
The Global Breastfeeding Collective (The Collective), led by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, is a partnership of prominent international agencies calling on donors, policymakers, philanthropists, and public at large to increase investment in breastfeeding worldwide.
The Collective pursues its vision of a world where all mothers have the financial, emotional, technical and public support they need to start breastfeeding within an hour of a child’s birth. They strongly feel that breastfeeding should be done exclusively for six months, and continued with adequate, age-appropriate and safe complementary foods for two years or beyond. The Collective advocates for smart investments in breastfeeding, meaning thereby that breastfeeding is a vital part of providing every child with the healthiest start in life. It is a baby’s first vaccine, the best source of nutrition, and can bolster brain development. Furthermore, it is likely to have a positive impact on national economies as increased rates of breastfeeding can improve a country’s prosperity by lowering healthcare costs and producing stronger, more able workforces.
The Collective has also developed a country scorecard to track global progress across seven policy actions on breastfeeding practices within different regions.
The 7 Policy Actions are:
1. Increase funding to raise the breastfeeding rate from birth to 2 years.
2. Adopt and monitor the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.
3. Enact paid family leave and workplace breastfeeding policies.
4. Implement the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” in maternity facilities.
5. Improve access to skilled breastfeeding counseling in health facilities.
6. Strengthen links between health facilities and communities to support breastfeeding.
7. Monitor the progress of policies, programmes and funding for breastfeeding.
It examines these indicators at national as well as global levels. The Scorecard is designed to encourage and document progress on the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding. Each action has a progress indicator and target (to be met by 2030) which serves as a call for action for policymakers worldwide to collectively make breastfeeding support a national priority. The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard was first introduced by the Collective in 2017 and is updated annually.
The Breastfeeding Advocacy Toolkit is a comprehensive collection of advocacy tools and resources aimed at improving policies and financing for the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding. The Toolkit is intended for breastfeeding advocates and other stakeholders seeking information and tools.
There are other resources available on the website at Global Breastfeeding Collective.
Kellymom is an initiative taken by Kelly Bonyata, who is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and also a member of the International Lactation Consultant Association, the United States Lactation Consultant Association, and the Florida Lactation Consultant Association. A mother to three children herself, she took up this noble mission of helping mothers and babies to breastfeed since 1997.
Kelly is an internationally recognized website providing breastfeeding and parenting information to professionals and parents. The resource is up-to-date with the latest research on lactation, infant nutrition, and infant development and includes articles on breastfeeding and parenting. Counseling services are also extended to mothers in person and online, via the mother-to-mother support boards. In order to cater to the needs of the vast majority, the website offers a translation feature articles in several languages, including Bulgarian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.
6. International Breastfeeding Journal
The International Breastfeeding Journal is a subdomain of BMC (BioMed Central) Pregnancy and Childbirth. BMC has an evolving portfolio of some 300 peer-reviewed journals, sharing advanced discoveries from research communities in science, technology, engineering, and medicine. In 1999, they made high-quality research open to everyone who needed to access it.
With regards to breastfeeding, the International Breastfeeding Journal provides a high-quality multi-disciplinary journal in the field and encompasses all aspects of breastfeeding. All articles published are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication, without subscription charges or registration barriers. Further information about open access can be found here.
Breastfeeding in Public is a new series of articles from the International Breastfeeding Journal and aims to highlight the issues surrounding breastfeeding in public throughout the world.
For further information, visit the website at International Breastfeeding Journal.
It is important that families, healthcare providers, NGOs, other organizations, and support groups work together to help address common healthcare needs, such as providing support to new mothers and their babies. This will not only help to help raise awareness but also eradicate barriers and ease accessibility to essential healthcare services.
Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and mother of three boys. Always on the quest to learn, she is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it on to others. A writer in the making, she draws inspiration through deep conversations, laws of nature, and her own children. She and her family are currently living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.