Know You Make a Difference

by Elizabeth Kirts, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC

November is the month of Thanksgiving in the United States.  This holiday has on occasion been questioned in regards to whether it is politically correct or not. As I stand by DEI and doing better in terms of how we treat people and how we go forward, I also am a firm believer in being thankful. Gratitude is powerful and can really help change mindset, thinking, experiences, and how we approach life. So I will start by saying that I am so grateful for all the people in my life who have been walking beside me during a challenging year. I am thankful for the Board of Directors who is serving all our professionals and members; working to make ICEA better. I am so glad that I continue to have the opportunity to serve all of our educators, doulas, and lactation professionals. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

November is also National Prematurity Awareness Month and 17 November is World Prematurity Day. My dad was premature in 1945. His twin died, but for some reason, he fought through being about 12 weeks early in a time when the medical community didn’t really know how to care for a premature baby of 2 lbs 10 oz. He was blind in one eye because of the oxygen, had many medical complications growing up, and ultimately ended up with a heart condition most likely a result of being born so early. I also have a niece and a nephew who were premature each for different reasons. The medical advances are amazing and they both had a better chance of survival and reduced morbidities.

My “connect to cause” is one of the reasons that I have been working tirelessly with a team to found and build a human milk bank accredited by HMBANA. This has taken us about 17 years and a lot of tenacity to accomplish. And its well worth it. Providing safe, pasteurized, donor milk (PDHM) to sick and premature infants has a profound impact on their hospital stay, growth, and both short and long term health. It saves lives! Donor milk also provides security to families of these sick and vulnerable babies. Many times the reasons for premature birth make it difficult or impossible for them to provide breastmilk for their babies. PDHM is the best choice for an alternative when supplementation is necessary. As you are working with patients and clients keep in mind that milk donation may be something they are eligible to provide.

We are holding our annual meeting on 15 November.  We hope you will join us to see what the Board of Directors has been doing, where we are going, and ask questions about what you need to know. We are excited that we will have a guest presenter, Debra Pascali-Bonaro. She will be talking to you about her film, Orgasmic Birth, her work with ICI, and some collaboration with ICEA. Please register to attend this meeting.

In closing, I want to again, thank all of you for everything you do to support expectant and new parents. It’s not always immediately and sometimes never known the impact you have on their lives. Continue your hard work remembering our core values: Compassion, Collaboration, and Choice. Know you make a difference!