Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities of Durham (Breastfeed Durham) is a health equity advocacy group that formed in November 2018.
Amber Crews, chair of LGBTQ+ Human Milk Feeding with Breastfeeding Family Friendly Communities of Durham (BFFC), started as a “backseat” member of the team in the organization’s infancy while she parented her one-year-old.
“From the beginning, I provided a voice as a lactating member of the LGBTQ+ community,” she explains.
Then, a few months after the COVID-19 pandemic was recognized, Crews became chair of the equity committee.
“… I channeled some of my pent-up energy by chairing an official equity committee dedicated to representing the LGBTQ+ lens regarding human milk feeding,” she says.
Crews explains that the committee’s early accomplishments included compiling resources in a user-friendly format so that LGBTQ+ folx and those supporting them could have a centralized platform to reach inclusive information and established/vetted providers who are affirming, LGBTQ+ friendly, and knowledgeable.
So far, the resource list includes the Directory of Local Support , National Lactation Support Resources for LGBTQ+ Families, and National Lactation Support Resources for Medical Providers and they continue to welcome and research additions.
“It was really cool to get some national inquiries/re-posting our resource lists shortly after publishing them on our website,” Crews highlights. “Even with all the advances in equity work right now, when it comes to a centralized resource list for chestfeeding/human milk that is truly inclusive to all the varied LGBTQ+ families out there, pickings are slim. The fact that our very small team of volunteers put together something that caught people’s attention in the wider-internet world is saying something. There is a need, and we have only begun to address it.”
In addition to Breastfeed Durham’s lactation support for LGBTQ+ families and medical providers, the organization created 10 steps that detail what it is to be a Breastfeeding Family Friendly community complete with a proclamation by the mayor supporting human milk feeding. Without diminishing these successes, there remains room for growth and improvement in regard to supporting LGBTQ families.
For instance, Crews explains that “there is still so much work to be done in educating providers working with LGBTQ+ families, educating family members and other support people, and getting all the information that’s out there to individuals about the benefits of chest feeding, the possibilities for situations like induced lactating, all the different ways to give our babies human milk and how important it is.”
In an effort to fill support voids, Crews held several months worth of virtual Milky Pride & Play gatherings and hopes to continue the meetups once more families feel safe convening in-person again.
“Among other things, having a more centralized place for LGBTQ+ families to meet and socialize seemed a priority,” Crews reports.
Crews completed her La Leche League Leader certification last year making her the only lesbian leader in her community.
“I’m hoping with time and word of mouth, more and more lactating folx will learn that there are options for support that they can trust. . . and that Milky Pride & Play can become a peer-to-peer support group that more know about and attend,” she shares.
Crews continues, “I’m excited to see this work grow and help more babies get more human milk!”