Jun 3, 2024

The Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates’ (COBA) vision is clear: A state where all children have access to human milk. Our newest CHAMPion of the Week works to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding in Oklahoma through education, networking, and advocacy for increased access to human milk.

Formed as a grassroots organization in 2000 and achieving its nonprofit status in 2014, COBA actively engages with policymakers and healthcare providers to implement supportive policies and practices that prioritize breastfeeding as a cornerstone of maternal and child health. The coalition organizes and hosts online educational panel discussions to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and infants and has a scholarship program aiming to increase the number of IBCLCs of Color. COBA’s collaborative approach has empowered mothers and advocates for maternal health, dismantled societal stigmas surrounding breastfeeding, and resulted in tangible improvements in the overall health of moms and babies.

Last year, COBA partnered with the Chickasaw Foundation and the Chickasaw Nation Women’s Clinic to establish the first-ever breast pump loaner program for underinsured families! Starting with 10 breast pumps in 2023, the program added six additional pumps this year, and currently, there are 12 loaned to working mothers who receive care at the Clinic.

The program has allowed mothers to establish and maintain breastfeeding while working to support their families. One mother shares: “Without the program, I would not have been able to provide my baby with optimal nutrition.” The program allowed her to supply her baby with breast milk while in the NICU.

Heidi Russell, MA, COBA Executive Director, tells us: “This program truly protects breastfeeding, provides ongoing lactation support, and strengthens and encourages the traditional Native practice of breastfeeding to improve the lives of babies and women for generations to come.”

COBA achieves all of this (and more!) with a part-time staff and volunteers from across the state of Oklahoma. We are inspired by their dedicated team and honored to celebrate the Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates as our CHAMPion of the Week!