Building a Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community (BFFC)

The Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities (BFFC) initiative, is a community-wide program to impact Health Equity, as supported by the World Health Organization guideline to work with communities to improve breastfeeding support services. The BFFC brings together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, organizations, agencies, and institutions. This discussion will include information on how to begin the process of advocating for Breastfeeding Family Friendly policies in your community and ideas for working with government and healthcare institutions. We will provide templates for connecting with diverse community stakeholders, as well as materials and resources that we are using to cultivate a presence in community celebrations and health fairs and to disseminate breastfeeding-related news throughout the community. Change may take time; however, the goals of BFFC include advocating for breastfeeding-friendly and equitable health care policies and practices by supporting parents and healthcare providers to be accountable for top quality and equitable care, to help all families find excellent prenatal care, and to teach every family in [our town] why breastfeeding matters. Every family that wants to breastfeed will be able to breastfeed for as long as that family chooses without shame or guilt and with educated and supported choices that are not undermined. By implementing Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities (BFFC) practices, we will create a more breastfeeding and family friendly community to impact health equity for all families. 

Contact: Kathleen Anderson at 919-624-0230 / kathleen@breastfeedingcommunities.org.

The History:

The Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities initiative began in Chapel Hill and Carrboro with the support and coordinated efforts of a representative team from the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI), the Chapel Hill Rotary Club, the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, La Leche League of Chapel Hill, and the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, and later expanded to include Orange County Health Department, Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition and others in and around the area. Read More

In Durham, the Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities initiative began with the combined efforts of representatives from the Durham Women’s Council, Durham Connects, and La Leche League of Durham. The initiative is growing. Currently, the BFFC team consists of representatives from Durham Women’s Council, Durham Connects, La Leche League of Durham, Moms Rising, Duke University Health System (DUSH). Read More

Creating a New Community:

This is a community-wide program to impact Health Equity! By the time our grandchildren are born, every family that wants to breastfeed will receive education and support that does not undermine the family’s decision, but rather enables the family to breastfeed for as long as that family chooses.  

  • Review the Designation
  • Review the Ten Steps to a Breastfeeding Family Friendly Community (Learning Objective):
  • How BFFC might start:
    • The [our town] initiative might begin with just two people committed to diversity and supporting all families in [our town].
      • One LLL Leader 
      • One [our town] Lactation Consultant
    • Established that no one else was doing this work in our local community.
    • Look into community interest; breastfeeding advocates might needed help getting started.
    • Learn how the community feels abused by this work.
    • Realize that it will take time to earn community trust.
    • Formed a Designating Group: After one year most groups have a small number of  individuals who are regularly coming to meetings and are completing the tasks.
    • Began talking to parent support organizations about meeting the needs of more diverse groups of people.
  • File a Proclamation:
    • Proclamations once every year
    • Example

Begin the process:

Advocating for Breastfeeding Family Friendly policies in your community. 

  • Bring together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, organizations, agencies, and institutions.
  • Build Health Equity into the Foundation:  Racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, geographic, academic/professional. Stakeholders include community members with different backgrounds, social experiences, religious affiliations, ages, gender identities, personalities, physical needs, political beliefs, opinions, sexual orientations, heritages, and life experiences, (including families that did not meet their planned breastfeeding goals).
    • Consider creating digital form in order to generate a Breastfeeding Advocates Directory (see the template).
    • Seek out the BFFC pilot program director Kathleen Anderson
    • Invite potential community stakeholders
    • Run a Facebook/ email campaign to find community stakeholders
    • Meet in person: Lactation consultants, parent support groups, health insurance, nursing mothers. ([our town] reached out to Mom’s Rising, a national family advocacy group; Suckle, an organization specializing in supporting women of color; and others).
    • Meet with agencies and organizations in the community: Family Connects, Improving Community Outcomes for Maternal and Child Health, Duke Health, Duke lactation consultant, WIC staff.
    • Assess, reassess, and grow. The [our town] Team continues to reach out to important community groups, such as, the LGBT+ community; medical professionals from the Hospital(s), City council members.

Continuing the process:

  • Have a Stakeholder Growth Goal for each year. Here are the [our town] Team goals for year two:
    • Find 10 highly dedicated individuals before the end of the year who are willing to do work and show up to all of the meetings.
    • Add representatives from five more organizations in [our town] in the next 12 months, who are engaged in our process. Engagement is defined as attending one out of every three meetings and reading/responding to emails from the group.
  • Work toward meeting the goals.
    • Create a list of organizations that work with families/children in [our town] or surrounding areas; learn what all the other groups do to help breastfeeding families; email the current organizations in order to add those who are not on the list (see the template).
    • Participate in community activities: Events, local Facebook and other social media groups, health fairs.
    • Attend all the local breastfeeding coalition meetings at least once during the year.
    • Work with local health community leaders to hold a symposium to promote engagement in BFFC.
  • Review and re-review our templates and formulate a digital outreach plan for connecting with community stakeholders at top of page (Learning Objective)
  • Recommendations for BFFC from health care
    • Provide more education for doctors and families
    • Create a breastfeeding support plan (like a birth plan for breastfeeding)
  • Supporting the Breastfeeding Friendly Child Care Designation
  • Sustainability
    • Funding opportunities: Be mindful of how we grow long term, we need funding to be sustainable, and there’s a lot of work to be done, some people may need to be paid in order to truly attract a diverse stakeholders that were looking for.

The goals of BFFC include advocating for nursing-friendly and equitable health care policies and practices by supporting parents and healthcare providers to be accountable for top quality and equitable care, to help all families find excellent prenatal care, and to teach every family in [our town] why breastfeeding matters. 

Commonly requested templates:

By implementing Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities (BFFC) practices in other communities, we will create a more breastfeeding and family friendly world to impact health equity for all.