On Saturday, May 10, 2014, The Best for Babes Foundation will sponsor the 1st Nationwide Miracle Milk™ Stroll. Thousands of parents, friends, family and community members will gather in 67 parks and malls across the US and Canada to raise awareness about the need for premature babies to receive breastmilk—mother’s milk or donor’s milk—and for breastmilk to become the standard of care in NICUs.
In its most recent policy statement on breastfeeding and human milk, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states unequivocally that “the potent benefits of human milk are such that all preterm infants should receive human milk… If mother’s own milk is unavailable despite significant lactation support, pasteurized donor milk should be used.”
“Unfortunately, 60% of the nation’s NICUs do not use donor milk,” according to Jennifer Canvasser, whose son died last year from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Human milk has been shown to reduce the risk of NEC by 79&. Canvasser is the founder of the NEC Society, a primary partner in the event.
BEST FOR BABES
I’m impressed by the efforts of Best For Babes, the small non-profit that launched the Miracle Milk Stroll. The organization is headed up by two marketing geniuses, Danielle Rigg and Bettina Forbes, who coined the phrase, Booby Traps to describe obstacles to breastfeeding. Recently I was asked to join the Best for Babes advisory board and one perk is that I get to hang out with breastfeeding buddies, Nancy Mohrbacher and Marsha Walker.
I also have had a chance to get to know Best for Babes better. I always thought that because of the genius of the founders and the reach of the organization they were swimming in grant money, but like all the other breastfeeding non-profits I know of, they are underfunded and overworked. And yet, the number of projects Best for Babes has initiated is impressive.
PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS
In 2012, Best for Babes partnered with Healthy Child Healthy World, actors Jenna Elfman, Kelly Preston, and former boxer, Laila Ali, to host the first-ever celebrity mom event to raise awareness among expectant and new moms about the barriers to breastfeeding and how to overcome them.
In 2012-2013, Team Best for Babes, the first nationwide, year-round, personal fitness fundraiser for breastfeeding and human milk, raised a total of $25,000 to support breastfeeding programs, campaigns and events.
As part of that program, Best for Babes partnered with Breastfeeding USA to launch the We’ve Got Your Back, Babe (WGYB) event held during National Breastfeeding Month in August, and ongoing through October. The 2013 event had 34 teams and raised $15,0000 for Best of Babes and Breastfeeding USA.
SPECIAL ONGOING PROGRAMS
In addition to annual public awareness events, Best for Babes also sponsors several ongoing programs, including two that I’m particularly fond of.
The Harassment Hotline (855-647-3733) is a phone number women can call to report and record incidents of harassment while breastfeeding in public.
The hotline is headed up by volunteer Director of Activism, Michelle Hickman—another marketing genius—who is well known for organizing a nationwide Target demonstration after she was harassed while nursing her baby at a Target store. She and her well-versed team of volunteers have all experienced nursing in public incidents and they offer support to those who call as well as coaching about how to most constructively respond to the incident.
Best for Babes also maintains alliances with corporations, non-profits, bloggers and the media. The C.A.R.E.-WHO Alliance recognizes and publicizes the efforts of companies and organizations that support and abide by the Best for Babes Credo (positive, non-judgmental, and evidence based) and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. This program is intended to build awareness in an effort to drive consumer demand for a more ethical industry.
THE MIRACLE MILE STROLL
Proceeds from the Miracle Milk Stroll will benefit Best for Babes and its partners: NEC Society, Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), Reaching our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE), and the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA).
Funds will be used to educate parents, health care providers, medical directors and hospital administrators about the critical role of human milk—both mother’s milk and and donor milk— in saving premature, fragile or compromised infants.
Registration for the Stroll requires a donation. You can also commemorate the event by purchasing a Miracle Milk T-Shirt (by April 28th) and you can make a donation at any time if you are unable to attend. You can also donate milk. Donations of human milk are being accepted by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America directly in conjunction with this event.
Peggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of peggyomara.com. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011 and founded Mothering.com in 1995. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.