Statement in support of the uprising to end violence against Black and Brown people
June 2, 2020
Dear Breastfeeding Supporters,
We want to stand firm and be clear – racism is a public health emergency. There are clear intersections between the ongoing disparities in breastfeeding outcomes, systemic racism, and the violence perpetrated against Black and Brown bodies by police and vigilante white supremacists. When George Floyd called for his mother as he drew his last breaths, we heard and felt his cries too. In the future we are building, there is no room for white supremacy. Black Lives Matter. It’s on every single one of us who serves families during birth and breastfeeding to dismantle systemic racism and end the violence against Black and Brown people. We stand with families across Michigan who are protesting murders, brutality, and violence against Black and Brown people, and who are demanding an end to systemic racism.
Learn more about the impacts of systemic racism on breastfeeding: www.mibreastfeeding.org/learning-resources
Demand racism be declared a public health emergency in Michigan:
- Governor Whitmer: 517-373-3400
- Find your state representative: https://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/frmFindaRep.aspx
MIBFN Letter to Detroit Hospital in the Support of Breastfeeding
December 8, 2019
Michigan Breastfeeding Network (MIBFN) applauds Alecia Dillard for her perseverance in successfully breastfeeding her 2-month-old son, and joins Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association and Metro Detroit/Wayne County Breastfeeding Coalition in calling for organization-wide breastfeeding-supportive policy and training at Children’s Hospital of Michigan (1, 2).
It came to the attention of MIBFN leadership, through a video shared by Channel 4 Local WDIV on Friday, December 6th, that, while breastfeeding her 2-month-old son in the emergency room waiting room of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Alecia Dillard and her son were covered with a sheet by a security guard (3). In her words, this resulted in her baby unlatching and showing additional signs of discomfort.
According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding is not a matter of personal choice, it is a public health imperative (4) and leading health organizations encourage breastfeeding on demand (5, 6), especially for babies who present with health complications described by Ms. Dillard. The nutrients, immunological protection, and comfort provided by breastfeeding are vital (7). Ms. Dillard also notes in her interview with Local 4 WDIV that she had experienced some breastfeeding difficulties with her son and had been especially excited that he was latching easily at that moment.
The Michigan Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Law passed and was signed into law in 2014 (8). This law protects the civil right of Michigan families to breastfeed anytime, anywhere. According to MIBFN Board Member Elon Geffrard, BS, CLC, ICCE, “Families have every right to breastfeed openly. If they cannot do that safely at a children’s hospital, nowhere is safe.”
It also bears noting the unique implications for the fact that Ms. Dillard identifies as African American. Infant mortality rates and infant infection-related deaths are higher in black babies compared to their white counterparts. This is exacerbated by barriers and lack of systemic support for breastfeeding that disproportionately impact black families (9). Research also indicates that black women cite a lack of support in healthcare settings as a top barrier for not meeting their breastfeeding goals (10). MIBFN advocates for every Michigan family to receive breastfeeding protection and support, and is especially concerned about the unique implications when black mothers are singled out while breastfeeding.
MIBFN advocated successfully for passage of the Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Law and, through our Breastfeed: Anytime, Anywhere campaign (11), is committed to increasing awareness of and compliance with this important public health legislation through training, technical assistance, and social marketing campaigns. In that regard, MIBFN leadership has offered to provide support to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in the establishment of breastfeeding-supportive policy and organization-wide training to ensure compliance with state law and MIBFN is requesting a publicly available written statement about the implementation of this policy and training.
Michigan Breastfeeding Network is a 501c3 organization that collaborates with organizations and individuals to bring about actionable, system-level changes that are centered on the diverse experiences of Michigan families with young children. Our mission is to lead the statewide collaborative actions for advocacy, education and coalition building to create a supportive breastfeeding culture. To learn more, visit www.mibreastfeeding.org.
- Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association. (December 7, 2019). SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! We stand with…[Video]. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/BMBFA/videos/617087265695551/
- Metro Detroit/Wayne County Breastfeeding Coalition. (December 6, 2019). Statement from the Board [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/WayneCountyBFCoalition/posts/2605365219692246
- Mann P. and Clarke K. (2019, December 6). Mother breastfeeding at Children’s Hospital of Michigan says she was told to cover up. WDIV ClickOnDetroit. Retrieved from https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/local/2019/12/07/mother-breastfeeding-at-childrens-hospital-of-michigan-says-she-was-told-to-cover-up/?source=facebook&medium=social&campaign=snd&utm_content=wdiv&fbclid=IwAR08Yj0Sof3xdgnBa1Lw2iXhUf-gUGScim0GDnrYBYlXXnspnles8lppUb0
- World Health Organization. (2002). Infant feeding recommendation, Global Strategy on infant and young child feeding. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/gb/archive/pdf_files/WHA55/ea5515.pdf?ua=1
- World Health Organization. (1989). Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breast-feeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services: A Joint WHO/UNICEF Statement. Retrieved from http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/9241561300.pdf
- American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013). Ten Steps to Support Parents’ Choice to Breastfeed Their Baby. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Breastfeeding/Documents/tenstepsposter.pdf
- Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. (2012). Pediatrics, 129(3), e827-e841. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3552.
- Michigan Legislature. Breastfeeding Antidiscrimination Act 2014 s. 37.232 (USA). Retrieved from http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(vkj1dcbds1amv1v5mlaa1e2p))/mileg.aspx?page=GetObject&objectname=mcl-37-232
- Johnson A., Kirk R., Rosenblum K.L., Muzik M. (2015). Enhancing Breastfeeding Rates Among African American Women: A Systematic Review of Current Psychosocial Interventions. Breastfeeding Medicine. 10(1): 45-62.
- Beauregard et al. (2019). Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration Among U.S. Infants Born in 2015. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(34): 745-748.
- Michigan Breastfeeding Network. (2019). Breastfeed: Anytime, Anywhere Campaign. Retrieved from www.mibreastfeeding.org/anytime-anywhere
Action needed to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding
July 10, 2018
Recent opposition by the United States to a breastfeeding resolution that calls on governments to “protect, promote, and support breastfeeding” at the World Health Assembly is a step backwards for public health and places infant and maternal lives at imminent risk.
Breastfeeding is not a lifestyle choice: it is a public health imperative. Breastfeeding is especially important in populations with compromised water sources, high infant mortality rates, and other risk factors. Recent estimates show that over 800,000 child lives and 20,000 maternal lives worldwide could be saved each year if every child were exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Predatory marketing practices by companies that sell breast milk substitutes specifically target impoverished communities and further undermine breastfeeding outcomes. Marginalized and underrepresented populations need equitable systemic support and increased commitment to further promote, protect, and support breastfeeding.
Education is key to support public health over corporate interests. USLCA is providing contact information and resources to contact officials within the US Government. MIBFN urges you to make your voice count and speak out in support of the recent WHO Resolution.
View and share MIBFN’s social media post on protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding here.
Family Separation at the Border
June 19, 2018
MIBFN stands against the forced separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Executive Order ending this policy is only the beginning – it is imperative that separated families be reunited immediately. The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life, which becomes physically impossible when mothers and children are forcibly torn apart. The impact of this practice causes permanent emotional, psychological, and physical damage to the families affected.
Please contact your federal legislators to insist that reuniting separated families take urgent priority.
View and share MIBFN’s social media post against family separation at the border here.