Starting a Local Breastfeeding Coalition
Starting a new breastfeeding coalition in your community can seem like a daunting task. But it is really pretty easy. All you need to do is find several like-minded individuals, pick a project to work, and a time to meet. That’s it!
Who can make up a coalition?
Anyone! Breastfeeding moms, peer counselors, lactation consultants, nurses, doctors, city officials – anyone who is interested in promoting breastfeeding.
What are good projects to start with?
- World Breastfeeding Month is August 1-7 of each year. WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) sets a theme and develops materials to go with the theme that you can download for free. You can use their materials and ideas or develop your own. Many coalitions have parties for breastfeeding moms, health fairs, and/or nurse-ins to celebrate. Some even have breastfeeding meetings and conferences during this month.
- Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge is the first Saturday in October. It is a world-wide nurse-in. You register as a site. On the day of the event, you count the number of moms and babies nursing at 11:00 am and submit. The results are posted on the Quintessence website.
- Anything you can think of to promote breastfeeding – any time of year.
How to organize your coalition
You can be very organized – set up by-laws, vote on officers, take in dues, and apply to be a 501-C-3 nonprofit organization OR you can have a loose coalition where you meet together and work on promoting breastfeeding without officially organizing OR something in between. Some coalitions meet monthly and have been meeting for years. Others meet when they have a project to work on and dissolve in between times.
One of the best resources is the Community Action Kit for Protecting, Promoting, and Supporting Breastfeeding developed by the Texas Department of State Health Services. You can download this comprehensive 106 page pdf for free. Chapters include:
- Does Your Community Need a Breastfeeding Coalition
- Build Your Coalition
- Network to Expand
- Assess Your Community
- Address Community Needs
- Enact and Influence Legislation
- Utilize the Media
- Utilize the Evidence
- Resources & Materials
- Breastfeeding Coalitions
Questions about starting a coalition?