Advocacy, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is the act of pleading for, supporting or recommending something such as a cause, idea or policy.

Breastfeeding advocacy can occur at the individual patient level on up through the legislative policy level.

History of Breastfeeding Advocacy in Oregon:

The three Oregon laws related to breastfeeding arose primarily from the work of grassroots citizen advocates Martha Johnson, RN, IBCLC from Eugene and Dixie Whetsell, MS, IBCLC of Portland. While working with individual moms and babies, they recognized bigger-picture change was needed.

Oregon’s landmark Rest Breaks for Breast Milk Expression law, signed by Governor Kulongoski in 2007, and effective January 1, 2008, was the result of ten years of work by Martha and Dixie, and the concerted efforts of a passionate young mother, Diane Garrett.

Diane was a volunteer peer counselor with Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon (NMC) when Legislative Committee Chair Anne Kelley Feeney chose Diane as the volunteer lobbyist to champion the push to the finish line.

Making weekly trips to Salem throughout the 2005 and 2007 sessions with her three year old daughter at her side, Diane met with legislators and gradually built the momentum and goodwill necessary to pass the law.

In 2005, the bill passed without a mandate. In 2007, it passed with a unanimous vote from the House Human Services and Womens Wellness Committee chaired by Representative Tomei, to go on to pass the House 49/7 and Senate 28/1.

This video introduces Nursing Mothers Counsel of Oregon, and volunteer lobbyist Diane Garrett.

Advocacy resources:

Oregon legislature has instructive advocacy tools for the citizen lobbyist, including the invaluable:

  • “How an Idea Becomes a Law” and
  • “How to Testify Before a Legislative Committe”

American Public Health Association offers similar tools on its advocacy webpage, and also:

  • “Top ten rules of advocacy” and
  • “Guides to making advocacy appointments or phone calls”.

Alliance for Justice. This organization does education on advocacy for non-profits and foundations.

California Center for Public Health Advocacy has a seven-strategy approach to support policy reform at the local and state levels.  They apply these strategies to a variety of health topics and also train other organizations on using them. is a national grassroots online advocacy organization with a political platform based on the acronym M.O.T.H.E.R.Hood:

  • Maternity and Paternity Leave
  • Open Flexible Work
  • TV and After School
  • Healthcare for All Kids
  • Excellent Childcare
  • Realistic and Fair Wages
  • Hood Visit the Neighborhood

Activistas is a grassroots online advocacy organization of mamas in Portland, Oregon.  Their website states:

  • Our goal is to inform, inspire & connect busy parents who want to create change on the issues that matter to your family. Tell US about YOU!! Help us create an effective, dynamic online & in-person community of activist parents.