***Spectrum will be seeking images soon. Please check back here for more information***
Who are we?
We are Spectrum, a group of health and lactation professionals, supporters and parents who are passionate about ensuring that breastfeeding and lactation support is available equally to people with the entire spectrum of skin colours. Spectrum is a non commercial, not-for-profit project and is committed to the WHO Code. We have representatives in our steering group from a range of national breastfeeding organisations alongside some independent practitioners and medical professionals. While we establish ourselves as an independent organisation, we are operating under the wing of established community interest company, New Baby Network.
About the Project
We will create a website to host images of lactating breast/chest conditions in a range of skin colours, focusing particular attention on what these conditions look like in people with black and brown skin. We will also feature some ordinary asymptomatic breasts and nipples to show the range of normal anatomy. This will be open access and targeted to professionals and the public. Images will be accompanied by short histories of the condition, and will be reviewed by an expert committee to confirm the diagnosis. We hope that this resource will improve the ability of health and lactation professionals/volunteers to identify lactating breast conditions in a range of skin colours. This will start correcting the focus on people with white skin in health and lactation education and empower lactating people with black and brown skin. We will pay for submissions that are used in our image bank to ensure we are not asking black and brown people for free labour, and we will be granted non-exclusive rights to use the images so that the contributors retain the right to use them for other purposes in the future.
How to Support
Want to get involved with the project? We will be open to image submissions soon.
You can make a donation to this project by clicking the image below:
Steering Group members
Vanisha Virgo – Chair
Vanisha is a Doula, trained baby wearing and breastfeeding peer supporter she is also a childcare professional with over 25 years in childcare and education. Vanisha is a Co Director of The OBS CIC. She has worked with families in their own homes as well as in nurseries and playgroups and has supported families with children that have physical disabilities and learning difficulties.
She has experience of running childcare training workshops for an independent agency as well as running her own bias awareness workshops for healthcare professionals, breastfeeding and birth professionals. She is a huge advocate for equity and ensuring representation in and around the birth world for all marginalised people and have spoken and written about these issues since 2017.
Louise Oliver – Freelance operations manager
Louise Oliver is a Breastfeeding Counsellor, Peer Support Trainer, and Doula who has been supporting families for over a decade.
She founded Diversity in Infant Feeding after noticing the distinct lack of diverse representation in the infant feeding world. The organisation aims to change how infant feeding is portrayed by promoting inclusivity and increasing representation through online platforms and an online image bank. She is also a Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at Early Nourishment CIC, a company that provides universally accessible services with the aim of reducing social isolation along with improving families’ physical and mental wellbeing.
Carmelle Gentle is a mother of two, an independent Midwife, tongue tie specialist and IBCLC, and Hay House Author. She supports families to troubleshoot through complex feeding challenges with tangible strategies to achieve a more confident, empowering and positive feeding experience.
Carmelle recognises the lack of diversity within the lactation realm amongst professionals who provide lactation support as well as the disparities for parents receiving support. She has co-directed Black Breastfeeding Week for the past two years and is excited about being part of Spectrum to continue to support and make progressive change within the community.
Ilana is a neonatal doctor and PhD student at the University of Oxford, working in the field of human milk for the preterm infant. She is co-chair of the Hospital Infant Feeding Network and a trustee of community breastfeeding charity Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support. She strives to be an antiracist ally.
Dr Nav Paul MBBS BSc (Hons.) MRCGP DRCOG DFSRH DPD PGCert MRCP FRSA is a Senior Clinical Fellow in Dermatology and GPSI (GP with special interest) in London. She is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion in healthcare. She hopes to use digital technology to improve accessibility and representation for all people.
After a career as a Deputy Headteacher, Emma trained with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, qualifying as a breastfeeding counsellor with them in 2007. The ABM was founded in 1979 and trains health professionals and volunteers as well as speaking for families on a national advocacy level. ABM breastfeeding counsellors run the National Breastfeeding Helpline alongside the Breastfeeding Network. Emma qualified as a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2011. She has supported families at groups in North London for 13 years for Haringey Breastfeeding Support and volunteers on the helpline alongside her work as a trainer, writer and speaker on breastfeeding and infant feeding issues. She has two children and lives in London.
Wanja Knighton is the founder of RISE (Racially Inclusive Skin Evidence), an international non-profit that collects diverse images for digital health and artificial intelligence for healthcare purposes in order to combat racial bias, her vision is a future where all are equal under the eyes of those who need to see us
Dr Justice Reilly BSc MBChB MRCS DOHNS IBCLC is a speciality breast doctor in Glasgow and La Leche League breastfeeding counsellor. She has 3 daughters and is committed to improving access and equity in maternal and child healthcare.
Shereen Fisher was Chief Executive for the Breastfeeding Network (BfN) for nearly a decade and left the role in June 2022. Shereen has over 20 years of experience working in the public and charity sector with a particular emphasis on developing services involving volunteers. She has led BfN through considerable organisational change covering all aspects of work including governance, National Breastfeeding Helpline, volunteering, communications and training. She has helped the charity secure additional funding, extend its partners and achieve a Good Governance Award in 2021. She is passionate and driven to improve breastfeeding support for all parents and families regardless of their backgrounds. She represents on committees reporting to Government in England and Scotland. She has two children and lives in Birmingham.