I send deep gratitude to the United States Lactation Consultant Association for speaking out on the immediate need for family reunification following the forced separation of infants and children from their parents at the U.S. border. This is the USLCA Statement on Family Reunification:
In solidarity with thousands of individuals and many organizations across the United States of America and the world, the U.S. Lactation Consultant Association calls on lawmakers to end immediately the forced separation of children from their parents at the U.S. border. This unnecessary practice is harmful to both adults and their children, and no justification for this practice should be prioritized above the health and well-being of human beings.
As International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), we work daily alongside many more breastfeeding advocates and providers of health care to support and ensure optimal health of pregnant people, parents, infants, children, and the general public through education about and assistance with breastfeeding. The IBCLC is an expert in infant feeding and is responsible to uphold scientific, evidence-informed theory and practice that is free from conflict of interest, be it financial, academic, personal, political, or otherwise.
Separation of children from their parents creates barriers to breastfeeding and safe infant feeding, and to our knowledge, no IBCLCs have been contacted with regard to how to appropriately feed infants away from their parents, to support and protect continued lactation in lactating persons who do not have access to their children for breastfeeding, or any general information about infant and young child feeding in national emergencies, natural disasters, or humanitarian crises. It is critical to understand that globally, children breastfeed far beyond infancy and that this practice is important to the health of families and the general public. The abrupt removal of the opportunity to be breastfed or to express breast milk has serious health consequences for infants, toddlers, and their lactating parents, and USLCA firmly opposes this practice in all circumstances. In addition, all major health organizations with policies about infant feeding call for the use of pasteurized donor human milk in all situations where their own parent’s milk is not available; the use of safely prepared infant formula for all children under the age of 12 months is only recommended when neither their own parent’s milk nor pasteurized donor human milk are available.
USLCA calls for the immediate and rapid reunification of families who have been separated from each other, as well as the provision of appropriate health care and support for all persons who have been directly affected by the practice of forced separation. This includes comprehensive health consultation for all facets of physiological and mental health, as well as support for resuming breastfeeding, milk expression, and education and support to ensure safe infant and young child feeding.