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Considerations of Health Equity in Breastfeeding

Course Description
Breastfeeding is a foundational intervention for the improved health of a population. The reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertensive disease in both parent and infant, as well as the reduction in neonatal mortality for the infant, and breast and ovarian cancer in the lactating parent, indicate that prioritizing breastfeeding success for parents who wish to breastfeed should be a top goal for all health systems across the nation that seek to reduce racial health disparities. However, while white parents and parents of color are known to have equal rates of breastfeeding intention, rates of breastfeeding success are not equal which compounds generational health gaps. This presentation will address both the historical background of breastfeeding inequities as well as current practices that impede parents from reaching their goals. We will also discuss real-world clinical and systems interventions to help address problems and help break down barriers to successful breastfeeding, especially in areas with known lactation support deserts.

Learning Objectives

After this session, participants will be able to:

1. Identify health historical racism that has led to disparities in breastfeeding rates in parents of color desiring to breastfeed
2. Identify how lactation failure contributes to health inequities across the lifespan
3. Learn ways in which midwives and other providers can implement practice and systems changes to improve breastfeeding outcomes, especially among historically marginalized communities

Emily Swisher-Rosa MSN, WHNP, CNM, IBCLC

Speaker Bio

Emily Swisher-Rosa (she/her) is a midwife, women’s health nurse practitioner, and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. She became interested in healthcare during her time volunteering with women and children in Chiapas, Mexico, and later working for the Massachusetts Migrant Education Program. Before beginning her current position at Boston Medical Center as a full-time midwife, she worked at East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Brockton Family Planning, and New England Mothers First, a nurse practitioner owned and run breastfeeding medicine practice. Emily is passionate about working with women and families from all backgrounds and is especially interested in immigrant healthcare and Breastfeeding Medicine. Deeply committed to bringing language and racial equity to the forefront of her work, she is excited to be a co-founder of the Breastfeeding Equity Center and the Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic at BMC. She is fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. Emily is involved in multiple organizations outside of her regular work including: the WIC Medical Advisory Board, co-founder of the Midwives in Lactation Collective, and has held an advisory role for the US HIV Task Force reviewing current guidelines on Breastfeeding in parents living with HIV.

CEs Offered: 1 CE

Course expiration: February XX, 2026