There was such a large response to an article I wrote previously about International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) and why, even though many breastfeeding advocates have been proponents of more professionalism believing this increase may work to make breastfeeding a normal biological and social process and increase the amount of women who initiate and sustain it, I believe IBCLCs, although greatly intentioned, may be causing more harm than good. That post was an excerpt from an essay I wrote in an anthropology theory course, that drew from Michel Foucault’s discussion of dominance as well as other thinkers and also my own thoughts. The article looked briefly at the proliferation of breastfeeding professionals via the history of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and how this eruption follows along a trajectory of ways certain forms of control, dominance and inequality and inequity have all been instituted. At one point in the beginning of my own ‘lactation journey’ I wanted to become a Board Certified Lactation Consultant. But this was all before I realized not only that clinical breastfeeding was not my passion or how I felt I could be most impactful, but beneath the surface the institution of breastfeeding itself was much more problematic — especially for groups who had already been more prone to a history of subjugation.
It has been some time since that article but I want to extend that conversation through this necessary and important webinar. I don’t want anyone to mistakenly believe that I’m pinpointing a single or two or 10 or 100 IBCLCs, in order to independently criticize these workers. I’m looking at a larger, more structural picture on breastfeeding professionalism to highlight blind spots and overlooked areas of whiteness, domination, racial injustice and more. I’m interested in finding ways to forge more social justice and equity in this custom.
Here is the abstract:
Towards the latter part of the 20th century, the increasing awareness and so-called empirical and scientific data highlighted the various health benefits of human milk as opposed to artificial infant formula, which was greatly promoted instead of breastfeeding at the time. To heighten this interest, medical professionals began working with breastfeeding advocates with an effort to increase the population’s understanding and mothers’ participation to breastfeed, as well as offer hands-on assistance. In 1985, International Board Certified Lactation Consultans (IBCLCs) — who many deem the ‘Gold Standard’ in breastfeeding education and lactation management — became the product of this initiative. A rigorous set of criteria which included enrolling in formal education classes in anatomy and physiology, biology, nutrition and others instituted by the overarching entity is required in order to obtain this esteemed title. This is what relegated these clinical professionals to the top of the lactation hierarchy.
Since then countless women across North America and around the world have depended on members. IBCLCs are employed in public and private sectors, and even though there is no doubt that they are doing exactly what they are meant to do — getting more babies to the breast, I believe taking a more critical, and holistic approach through a complex lens will reveal the greater complications of this new-found establishment. In addition to the discussion on why there is such a push for more professionalism, how this increase has led to breastfeeding as a commodity, and others, I will also be sharing reasons on why, even though more Black people are said to be the ones who could greatly benefit from this proliferation given the status of Black breastfeeding in the United States and how Black women statistically rank the lowest in breastfeeding initiation and duration, a highly complicated history for Black people may prove otherwise.
About the speaker: Acquanda Stanford is a critical Black feminist anthropologist, ICTC Full Circle Doula and Certified Lactation Educator. She is also a PhD student of Sociocultural Anthropology, researching breastfeeding among people of African descent in the US.
Title: ‘Are IBCLCs the “New” Infant Formula?’
Date: Sunday, August 31, 2014
Time: 5:00 – 6:30 PM, pst
Duration: 90 minutes; 60 minutes of presentation followed by 30 minutes Q&A and dialogue. This involves back and forth conversations between host and participants. This means that in addition to participants asking me questions, I will also draw on your thoughts and ask you questions, in order to create a critically engaging reciprocal learning environment and move the conversation and ways of participating along.
$25.00 USD. Please pay here via paypal:
*If you have economic circumstances that prevent you from paying this fee then please let me know. Some discounts are available.* Likewise, if you are someone who would like to enact a ‘pay it forward’ gesture and help others attend, any additional money submitted with your payment (whether it is $1.00 or $5.00 or whatever amount) will be used to help fund another’s seat. Once you submit your payment, I will email you within 24 hours with a password that you will use to log in on the day of the webinar.
Accommodations: I am in the process of working to gather the proper materials in order to transcribe and/or interpret and to make this webinar more available to visually impaired, Deaf and hard of hearing participants.
- A computer monitor and speakers, or a compatible device such as an iphone, tablet or another supported device, since you will be able to see and hear me. Note: If you do not have access to a computer monitor and speakers, you can participate via calling in.
- High speed internet connection
How to participate:
- Within 24 hours of receiving your payment, I will update the registration list with your information, and you will receive an invitation and instructions for accessing the webinar.
- On the day of the webinar, click on the link you receive in your email. In order to participate using video and audio, you are required to download the fuze application https://www.fuze.com/download. If you do not download this application, you will be still able to see and hear the presentation, but you will not be able to participate in the live chat.
Other points to remember:
- At the bottom of the screen on the left side underneath the meeting chat, you will see a small arrow: use this to open the panel for chat and video.
- I recommend navigating to the user panel of your computer and clicking on ‘view’ and selecting ‘enter full screen.’ I think this will provide the best experience.
Space is very limited. There are only 35 seats total, since this allows all of us to better engage each other without being overcrowded. I will update/remove the payment option if/when there are no more spaces, but do not wait to register.
Please help me spread the word about this webinar by sharing this post with your social networks — and anyone else.