Australia: ILCA (2013) New Friends and New Ideas

An exciting aspect of attending ILCA this year was the joy of meeting like-minded IBCLCs from around the world. Jim and I were delighted to discover that The HUG exhibit table was arranged right beside the Japanese Lactation Association (JLA) table. We were eager to chat about our recent HUG travels to Japan and to share the newly translated Japanese HUG Your Baby DVD.

Japan has a remarkable breastfeeding initiation rate of nearly 95%, but only 42% of Japanese mothers are exclusively breastfeeding at the end of the first month. Japan struggles with breastfeeding duration, as do most countries. After three months, 79% of Japanese mothers breastfeed, but only 38% do so exclusively. The JLA works hard to improve these statistics to benefit Japanese mothers and babies.
At ILCA 2013 my North Carolina colleague, Phyllis Kombol, an IBCLC from Charlotte (photo left), made her Tar Heel comrades proud with her presentation about promoting effective breastfeeding in the NICU. 

Zureena Ali (photo far left) is from Malaysia but now lives in the UK. She graciously connected me with a colleague who is planning an April Breastfeeding conference in Portsmouth, England. I happen to be available!  

Luciana Herrero, IBCLC (photo right), became the first Brazilian to begin the Certified HUG Teacher program--and she says she wants to translate the HUG DVD into Portuguese! 

What a great joy it was to visit again with my friend, Laurel Wilson, Lactation Educator Executive Director from CAPPA and co-author of the recent book, The Greatest Pregnancy Ever. Every time I visit with Laurel I remind her that she changed my life! It's true. 

In 2008 I made my first round of HUG presentations at parenting and childbirth conferences. Laurel pulled me aside and said, "Jan, you need to take your program to the next level. You've got what you need: an important ideas, passion for this work, and you can tell a good story!" It was one of those moments when someone takes time to help you see more in yourself than you have seen yourself. I am forever grateful to Laurel! She shared her most recent passion at ILCA, "Epigenetics and Breastfeeding," ambitiously delving into our lives as they first begin to express themselves.

I heard a most amazing discussion of Baby-Friendly Hospitals. Research is increasingly clear that the ten steps to Baby-Friendly certification, a WHO initiative, significantly increases initiation of breastfeeding. Currently 27% of maternity hospitals worldwide are Baby-Friendly facilities: 8% of those in industrialized countries and 31% in less developed countries (Labbok, 2012). Representatives from New Zealand shared the remarkable fact that all maternity services there are required to achieve and maintain Baby-Friendly status. 30% of Australian births occur in Baby-Friendly hospitals, while the United States "boasts" a mere 7% of babies born in Baby-Friendly hospitals. We have much to learn and much to do!

My favorite presentations were those by the renowned South African researcher and author, Nils Bergman, the "father" of Kangaroo Care and by Australia's (practical) neonatologist, Dr. Howard Chilton. 

I seem to be the only person on the continent who had not heard Bergman speak, so I hung on every word as he described the hormonal and bio-chemical evidence of how mothers are designed for effective breastfeeding and parent-child bonding--if "we" (the "modern" medical world) stay out of their way! 

Dr. Chilton inspired me with his thorough review of literature addressing sleeping and calming issues in babies. Since he actually used the term "over-stimulation of babies," I was eager to place a HUG DVD in his hands. We are kindred spirits! 

My head is spinning. After a glass of wine and a round of "fish and chips" I am ready to review a stack of scribbled notes and to explore a host of references resulting in new slides explaining these ideas to future HUG students.  

Huddled in our rather drafty Hobart (Tasmania, Australia) "flat," I cradle a cup of hot tea and email dozens of new Certified HUG Teacher trainees and colleagues who share our passion to support and encourage new "mums" and dads--a subject that, even on this chilly winter day, makes my heart skip a beat!

Labbok. 2012. Global baby-friendly initiative monitoring data: update and discussion. Breastfeeding Med. August 7:210-22.