In 1983, pediatrician Audrey Naylor founded Wellstart International with her colleague, nurse practitioner Ruth Wester. Their mission: to actively educate health-care providers in how to promote, facilitate, and preserve breastfeeding relationships between mothers and children in medical settings such as hospitals.
Naylor’s journey began in 1976, when she attended a series of seminars on breastfeeding taught by Kittie Frantz and Paul Fleiss. She’d made it through medical school, speciality training in pediatrics, and earned a PhD in public health—all without being taught one thing about lactation or breastfeeding. Naylor realized that, as a full-time member of the faculty of the School of Medicine at the University of California San Diego (UCSC), she must inform her colleagues about these subjects.
Naylor implemented practices to support lactation at UCSD’s Mecical Center, and went on to launch the Lactation Management Education Program (LMEP) for the medical faculty. Once LMEP was up and running, Nayor and Wester founded Wellstart.
Over 25-plus years, nearly 1000 health professionals, faculty members, and policy makers from 65 countries have become Wellstart Associates. A 2003 mini-survey of 40 associations, undertaken at the prompting of UNICEF, indicated that these professionals alone had influenced the training of more than 300,000 other health-care trainers and providers.
Wellstart also collaborated with UNICEF to create in 1989, the UNICEF-World Health Organization publication Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Breastfeeding: The Special Role of Maternity Services, which became the foundation for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991.
Naylor is a founding member and steering committe member of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding, founder and past president of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and past Chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC).
Tags: Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, Audrey Naylor, Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, Kittie Frantz, Paul Fleiss, Ruth Wester, UNICEF, United States Breastfeeding Committee, University of California San Diego, Wellstart International, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, World Health Organization