National organizations rarely exist as a sole entity to meet a need, and Breastfeeding USA is one of many public benefit and for-profit corporations that are dedicated to breastfeeding advocacy and support. Diversity of choice in any service is beneficial, including mother-to-mother support. The 2011 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card identified a huge disparity in the need for breastfeeding support and the number of available mother-to-mother breastfeeding helpers and state health department full-time employees dedicated to breastfeeding. Breastfeeding USA aims to increase access to evidence-based, mother-to-mother information and support to address this need. While there are some similarities among all organizations dedicated to breastfeeding advocacy and support, Breastfeeding USA is unique in its combination of mission, organization and governance, and emphasis.
The mission of Breastfeeding USA is to provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and to promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm.
Many organizations focus either on providing support or advocacy, but not both. Breastfeeding USA is focused on providing information and support that mothers need -- support that builds on the experience of other breastfeeding mothers and the evidence-based information supported by up-to-date research.
Breastfeeding USA also promotes breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm. Therefore, the organization and its Breastfeeding Counselors will be involved in advocacy efforts to change public perceptions. This work will likely involve collaborations with other organizations. While the mission to provide evidence-based information and support aims to help individual breastfeeding mothers and babies, the mission to promote breastfeeding aims to change the culture.
Centralized Education Program
In order to ensure that Breastfeeding Counselors provide evidence-based information, Breastfeeding USA has developed a centralized educational program based on a current text (Counseling the Nursing Mother by Lauwers and Swisher). For helping situations Breastfeeding USA recommends the current resource text Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple, by Mohrbacher, as well as Medications and Mothers Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology, by Hale. Breastfeeding Counselors are also encouraged to seek other current, evidence-based resources as needed to assist mothers, and the BRAID (Breastfeeding Resources and Information Department) workgroup can assist Breastfeeding Counselors in accessing specialized current resources for unusual situations. The education course is written by experienced lactation counselors, most of whom are also IBCLCs.
Breastfeeding USA also requires Breastfeeding Counselors to demonstrate participation in continuing education programs. The Breastfeeding USA centralized education program intends to build a diversified counselor base that represents a cross-section of US mothers, while ensuring that these counselors provide consistent, up-to-date, evidence-based information.
Organization and Governance
Breastfeeding USA is incorporated as a membership organization in the state of New York. Breastfeeding Counselors and other volunteers who serve the organization at the national level as participants on any of the working committees are voting members of Breastfeeding USA. Voting members have the right to participate in the Board of Directors elections, attend meetings of the organization, and even have the ability to vote to amend the organization’s bylaws. As voting members, Breastfeeding Counselors are encouraged to participate in the governance of the organization and influence how Breastfeeding USA is managed.
Breastfeeding USA values the volunteers in the organization; it is dedicated to ensuring that the organization operates transparently and is responsive to the needs and ideas of its volunteers. Governance documents, financial reports, and other organizational information is openly posted on our website. Various tools (Yahoo Groups, Google Docs, skype) are made available to our volunteers to support collaborative development and sharing of ideas throughout the organization. And all voting members -- including the Board of Directors -- have equal rights and requirements in Breastfeeding USA.
Breastfeeding USA aims to meet the needs of the modern American woman. She comes from any number of geographical, ethnic, religious, and philosophical backgrounds. She is married/divorced/single. She may be a member of the LGBT community. Breastfeeding is the link that ties these women together. Mothers want someone who will listen to them, provide good information, and make them feel welcome no matter where they are in their breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding USA Counselors are encouraged to assess the needs of the families in their communities and be creative in meeting those needs. Breastfeeding Counselors may choose to form a Community Chapter or not. Community Chapters may choose to lead support group meetings, host drop-in socials, offer educational events, or other programs that serve their communities. Breastfeeding USA also encourages Breastfeeding Counselors to seek out other breastfeeding supporters and organizations in their communities and work with them in harmony.
Breastfeeding USA is a unique organization dedicated to breastfeeding advocacy and support. Breastfeeding USA seeks to exist respectfully and cooperatively with other such organizations to help mothers get the information and support they need to meet their personal breastfeeding goals and help make breastfeeding the cultural norm in the US.