A Message from Incoming JHL Editor, Anne Merewood

In England, you learn to talk, and shortly thereafter, to answer the question, “What will you be when you grow up?” For better or worse, kids soon set a goal, be it fireman, footballer, or pharmacologist. My brother planned to be a horse, one of the few aims he didn’t achieve. The UK education system plays into this – from around age 14 students begin to specialize. I studied English Literature at Cambridge University. I didn’t major in English Literature, I read English Literature for my BA, and nothing else.

 After graduating, I entered a field related, arguably, to Literature – journalism; specifically, BBC TV news. I learned editing, news writing and film-making, and met Paul McCartney and Phil Collins. I then married (not Paul or Phil, but Gerassimakis) and moved to Greece for a year before my husband took a research post at Harvard in 1987. For over 10 years, I freelanced as a writer, but after my three boys were born, I wanted a change, a career with meaning, and a five figure income. For the usual reasons – personal obstacles met with inadequate answers – lactation attracted me. I became an IBCLC in 1999, gained my MPH in 2006, and my PhD from Cambridge in 2010. During this time I moved away from the purely clinical into teaching and my grown up passion – research.

My vision for JHL emerges from this mottled background in science and journalism. I believe excellent research and accessibility can be – indeed, must be – compatible. Research is fun – exciting – an endless creative torrent of new information pouring from the pages to readers thirsting for knowledge. Writers and editors must make this knowledge accessible for practicing clinicians and personal enlightenment. At JHL, I will strive to increase clarity and readability of research, reduce restrictive jargon, and battle against – yes – the distancing drone of the passive voice. The first rule of good writing is to make the reader read it. Why are so many academic journals hard to read and, frankly, so boring?

Before the purists run screaming for the archives, I don’t advocate sacrificing quality for over-simplification. Specific terminology is critical and beautiful, nothing beats clarity of meaning in excellent writing. Indeed some of our breastfeeding terminology could use a dose of epidemiologic precision. As more than one epidemiologist has asked me, what do you mean by a breastfeeding rate?

With all this in mind, changes I hope to bring to JHL will include some revamping of  writers’ guidelines. We will print longer, structured abstracts, and shorter articles. We will feature student research, expert round tables, and regular themed issues, the first of which will focus on the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, in August 2012. Editorially speaking, Donna Chapman, RD, PhD, will remain as Associate Editor; Supriya Mehta, MHS, PhD, (Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Chicago School of Public Health) will join us as Methods Editor. We will create an International Advisory Board to involve proactive non-US researchers, and subject area Assistant Editors to reach more expert reviewers in the ever growing field of lactation research.

A field, it seems, that failed thus far to nourish my English family. When I announced my new position, my brother shook his sadly depleted mane and said, “the Journal of What?” I proceed undaunted, despite my healthily humbling British roots. Touring SAGE Publications back in June, I was delighted to discover so many strange people like myself – ex newspaper editors polishing scientific tables; ex lab technicians crunching data and deadlines. I had found what I grew up to be. I hope my platform of readable research will serve ILCA members well for many years to come.

 Anne Merewood PhD, MPH, IBCLC

Incoming JHL Editor

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Happy Birthday!

When I meet someone for the first time and they ask what my profession is, I usually receive a raised eyebrow when I tell him/her that I am a lactation consultant.  This raised eyebrow is typically followed by either, “What type of consultant?” or “Wow, I could have used you when I had my kids (followed by a 5 minute soliloquy of her breastfeeding challenges),” or “Well, why would someone need a lactation consultant?  Isn’t breastfeeding easy?”  As lactation consultants, we are often working on our own or with other health professionals who don’t truly appreciate all we do for mothers and their families.  We don’t just help mothers breastfeed….we nurture a mother’s self-confidence as she enters the full-time profession of motherhood.

To be a successful lactation consultant does not mean that we make a ton of money (wouldn’t that be nice???)  Instead it means that we provide gentle, emotional (and breastfeeding!) support  to those families who need it the most.  But where do we receive our support?  Sure, we attend professional development seminars and workshops.  We might network with colleagues.  We might volunteer at our local county breastfeeding coalition.  All in all, we could use more support, just like our moms.

In answer to our need for support, we would like to introduce ILCA’s newest support system: Lactation Matters, the official blog of the International Lactation Consultant Association.  In this blog, you will hear from authors about their latest research, in 600 words or less!  You will learn tips from colleagues who are setting up outpatient clinics, non-profit organizations, and private practices.  You will be exposed to international news about breastfeeding from around the world.  All of our articles will be focused on supporting lactation consultants and breastfeeding professionals with pertinent research, tools and tricks of the trade, and global movements in breastfeeding promotion.  It serves as the perfect complement to ILCA’s monthly member newsletter, e-Globe.  Lactation Matters will help us take one more step to meeting ILCA’s vision and mission: Our vision is a worldwide network of lactation professionals. Our mission is to advance the profession of lactation consulting worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.

We look forward to sharing our knowledge and experiences with you.  We hope that it will nurture your education and self-confidence as a health-care professional and lactation consultant.  We also hope it will inspire you to share your knowledge and experiences with us as well!   If you find an article that you feel your colleagues would benefit from, please link to it from your Facebook page or Twitter account and add comments to the bottom of the blog to keep the conversation going.  If you are interested in submitting an article to Lactation Matters, please contact us at lactationmatters@gmail.com.

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC, Lactation Matters Editor, Owner San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Decalie Brown, RN, CM, CFHN, IBCLC, ILCA Director of Marketing

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