The ILCA Global Partners Initiative was designed to improve breastfeeding worldwide by creating linkages between organizations around the globe. The Partners Initiative gained even more momentum with the recent signing of the 19th National-Regional Partner, La Asociación Española de Consultoras Certificadas en Lactancia Materna (AECCLM), the new professional organization for IBCLCs in Spain.
Lactation Matters: Tell us about why AECCLM is so important to human health in Spain.
Dr. Carmela Baeza: Breastfeeding rates in Spain are not very impressive. We have an 85-90% initiation rate, 70% at 6 weeks, 50% at 3 months and around 25% at 6 months.
In the last ten years, the importance of breastfeeding support has been recognized by the Spanish national government. Support has been forthcoming in the form of some campaigns and the allocation of funds for the training of healthcare providers (HCP) by our national health service.
So we can say that we are on the first steps of change. In this landscape, the birth of our organization is important. We´d like to be a referent, a keystone to help breastfeeding promotion and support be evidence-based and up-to-date, and to be a voice for those mothers, babies and families who want to benefit from breastfeeding, but frequently cannot do so for a lack of support (both social and healthcare-wise).
LM: What challenges do you face in your work?
CB: We face multiple challenges. For years, there has been a great lack of breastfeeding knowledge and loss of our breastfeeding culture. On the one hand, HCPs have not been trained in breastfeeding so mothers get contradictory and often downright wrong advice about breastfeeding management. And second, to fill the void created by this lack of knowledge and support, many people have self-trained or acquired breastfeeding training of only a few hours, and have become breastfeeding counsellors with no official certification. While some of these people are excellent breastfeeding counsellors, many of them are not and often overstep boundaries, both putting mother-baby dyads in danger, and creating bad blood toward any breastfeeding professional.
So this is a critically important moment for our organization to stand up and shine. First, we are working to ensure that IBCLCs become accepted and valued as a necessary part of the healthcare team. Second, we want to offer parents the certainty that they are being helped by qualified, certified, and ethical breastfeeding professionals.
LM: What is your vision for breastfeeding support in Spain?
CB: Our vision for breastfeeding in Spain is for IBCLCs to be part of the national healthcare system, as well as in private practice for those families that prefer it. We dream of being present in all steps that mother, babies and their families take, to ensure the best start for all our children.
LM: Why did your organization decide to become an ILCA National-Regional Partner?
CB: AECCLM decided to become an ILCA partner believing there is strength in working together!! Many of the challenges we face are similar all around the globe; we believe that sharing experiences and ideas, as well as offering each other support and encouragement, are necessary in this battle for global health.
Carmela Baeza, MD, IBCLC is the president of AECCLM. She was born in Madrid, Spain and everyone calls her Kika. She is a medical doctor, specializing in family medicine and sexual therapy. In her role at a private Family Wellness Clinic, Raices, she heads the lactation program. She has been attending breastfeeding dyads since 2003, and became an IBCLC in 2005. She is also an ILCA member and an BFHI Evaluator.
The Raices lactation program includes two IBCLCs attending moms & babies at the clinic (Carmela and a co-worker) and an extensive offer of breastfeeding training for professionals, doulas and breastfeeding peer counsellors. Baeza has coordinated more than 50 breastfeeding courses, training over 3000 doctors, midwives and nurses from Public Hospitals in the Madrid area.
She is also the author of a parenting book, Amar con los Brazos Abiertos, and co-authored (with Dr. Concha de Alba, IBCLC, MD) the chapter on breastfeeding in the book Pediatría Extrahospitalaria. Fundamentos Clínicos para Atención Primaria (Outpatient Pediatrics. Clinical Foundations for Primary Care). She and her husband Carlos have four children.