As part of the World Breastfeeding Week 2018, we are urged to engage with individuals and organizations for greater impact. Many people engage by bringing cookies to a group during World Breastfeeding Week. And certainly, I’m all for food and celebrations! But to have an impact, we need engage year-round.
How can we engage as a paid employee, or in a volunteer capacity?
As part of your paid employment; as part of your regular job
If you have already discovered, there are many ways you can engage, just by doing your regular job.
Get involved in policy-writing
I admit, I got involved in policy-writing because no one else wanted to do it. I didn’t know anything about it. But I knew that drafting policies would give me a ton of influence, right within my own organization. Since then, I’ve read entire books on how to write effective policies, and I teach others how to do it, too!
Become a mentor to a newbie
Let’s say you’re a healthcare provider. Look around. Someone in your facility needs to be a mentor. Engage.
But let’s say you’re a mother who is not currently in the workforce. You might be thinking, “Oh, no, mentoring is for a seasoned professional.” Well, you are a seasoned professional mother! You are very much in a position to mentor someone else.
Tell a breastfeeding advocate about our scholarship
I’m guessing that if you’re a professional, you are already working with someone who wants to become an IBCLC. We offer a scholarship to our 95-hour prep course every year. Tell someone to get on our mailing list for the next Felix Biancuzzo Memorial Scholarship application.
Bring your message to an “outside” group
Most of us have been fascinated by the research showing how breastfeeding protects children and adults in any number of ways. But few of us are making connections with organizations that are devoted to helping individuals who want to minimize the risk of cancer, obesity, hypertension, SIDS or other health problems.
Spearhead efforts to get the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation
What’s that? You don’t work in a hospital, so you can’t do that? Oh contraire! Several months ago, I worked with a major medical center on the east coast. The hospital was approached by a community group. The group wanted to reduce the racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding initiation and continuation.
If you do work in a hospital and you’ve tried it and it didn’t work, stand by! I promise, I will address this later. As a past President of Baby-Friendly USA, I have plenty to say!
As a volunteer
Volunteer to help with emergency preparedness in your locale. Listen to my podcast with Dr. Karleen Gribble for ideas on what needs to be done before disaster strikes, during the crisis, and in the aftermath. You can help, even if you don’t have a lot of expertise.
Maybe you have more milk than your baby needs. Get some great insights on how to donate from my podcast with milk bank director— Kim Updegrove. Maybe your baby has died; my podcast with Amy Wright Glenn explains that donating milk can be a healing experience. Maybe your childbearing days are over. You could help by transporting milk for donors who are homebound.
Write or speak an informed citizen
Look for opportunities to engage. For example, the baby-bottle campaign stressed me greatly. I’ve even given you some ideas on how to make that noise! Or check-out my impromptu experience with mothers in the locker room at the YMCA.
Or, maybe you had a great experience you’d like to write or speak about? Check out Jennifer Canvasser’s article on how baby-wearing changed her life, and then her enlightening talk on my podcast baby-wearing for her premature sons.
As a traveler
I usually have the presence of mind to photograph the “lactation rooms” in airports where I travel. You could do the same!
As a coalition leader
Be sure to listen to my podcast with Tina Cardarelli. She clearly said that anyone can start a coalition, even if they’ve never done so before. Even if your life circumstances are a little too hairy to start a new organization right now, maybe you could help someone else to.
Become a peer counselor, member, or leader of a breastfeeding support group.
Offer to be a peer counselor, mentor or leader in one of many organizations. Sure, La Leche League International comes to mind first, but you might want to volunteer.
If you are still looking for other ideas for how to engage
I also have a wonderful resource on my website: A Checklist for Communicating Hospital Policy. It will help “engage” your organization. Communicating is more than posting policy on the bulletin board!
The checklist is available for a limited time when you sign up for a free Insiders Club account on my website and opt-in to the World Breastfeeding Week resources. When you fill out this form (if you haven’t already) we will send you a password and give you access to all of the free resources I’ve given away this week!
How are you engaging with individuals and organizations for greater impact?