Tag Archives | Australia

World Breastfeeding Week 2013: The Government and Legislation Circle of Support

During World Breastfeeding Week 2013, we will be highlighting the work of IBCLCs in each of the 5 Circles of Support mentioned in this year’s theme ~ Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers. Each weekday during this celebratory week, we will be shining the light on innovative and exciting models of care in each of these areas. Check back everyday for more encouraging examples of breastfeeding supporters being close to mothers.

Susanna Scurry, Australia

photo sueWe were able to interview Susanna while at the 2013 ILCA Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Susanna is a midwife, and lactation consultant since 2005 and also a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) assessor and educator. She was also on the board of Australian Lactation Consultant Association (ALCA) and Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ). She shared with us the following responses.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme is “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers”. The organizers have identified 5 Circles of Support that are critical for breastfeeding mothers in our world and one of those circles is “Government and Legislation”. Can you describe for us a bit what work you are currently doing or hoping to do in the field of lactation and the government? How did you become involved in this work? What would a typical day of working at the government level, supporting breastfeeding look like?

I am a big fan of Marilyn Waring, a New Zealand economist who states “An economic model that does not value clean air, clean rivers, forests, unpaid work by women, and breastfeeding is unsustainable.” I am all for an economic system that promotes, protects, and supports normal birthing, breastfeeding, and sustained home visits to parents . I support anything that is making a community better for today’s parents, as they say , “it takes a village to raise a child”! What I value for future generations, including for my 6 lovely grandchildren, is for a sustainable future.

My focus is on women’s health. For many years, I have been advocating for a human milk bank in our neonatal unit and family centered care in our NICU facility as well as a public IVF clinic in Newcastle along with community birthing, and palliative and aged care. I talk about the public health implication of not using breastmilk and also my support of BFHI. I truly believe it is “from the cradle to the grave”. If we had skin to skin contact throughout life, we would have a much kinder world.

The World Breastfeeding Week organizers stated “Women who plan to breastfeed or who are already breastfeeding benefit from the support of international documents, protections for optimal infant feeding, plus active and well funded national commissions. Legislation that combats aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes and enacts paid maternity leave also benefits breastfeeding women.” Can you expand a bit on what some of the unique challenges are that women in your community face that could be improved through legislation?

I appeared before the Productivity Commission to argue the case for paid parental leave. I am proud of the four month paid parental leave granted but I think twelve months would be better and will continue to argue for this. I have also lobbied for many years for the implementation of the WHO Code in Australia. The Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula (MAIF) agreement is a toothless tiger and I would like to see it gone. Australia had a Parliamentary Inquiry into breastfeeding in 2007 and all of its recommendations should be implemented.

What are some of the current initiatives, laws, and policies that support breastfeeding women in your community? What are your hopes for the future?

We need to expand BFHI into the community, pediatric offices, child care centers, etc. We also need to reclaim breastfeeding in our culture. Australia needs, at a federal level, to have a paid breastfeeding coordinator as recommended by the World Health Organization and breastfeeding representation at an International level as well. I will continue to work towards these goals.


ILCA Conference Highlights – SATURDAY

Saturday at the ILCA 2013 Conference was the day for MOVING & GROOVING!  Attendees got their early morning exercise with a bit of “shift and squish” with Pat Martens, as she explained both the techniques of quality research as well as the incredible body of evidence that supports breastfeeding. Her talk was followed by the “ever energetic” Liz Brooks who entertained and educated us all on how to ethically and thoughtfully support today’s modern family. Morning tea with poster presentations, a 2nd amazing plenary with Dr. Howard Chilton, and a fantastic boxed lunch rounded out the early part of the day. The remainder of the day was spent in a wide variety of concurrent sessions on a number of exciting topics.

We were also able to celebrate with the presentation of the inaugural Patricia Martens Award for Excellence in Breastfeeding Research, award by the Journal of Human Lactation, to none other than…(drum roll, please)…Patricia Martens! Dr. Anne Merewood gave an inspiring insight into the impact that Dr. Martens has had on the work that we all do with mothers and baby. Congratulations, Patricia Martens!

No matter where you are in the world, you can be a part of the action but using the #ilca2013 hashtag on Twitter or you can follow the live Twitter stream HERE.


ILCA Conference Highlights – FRIDAY

Dr. Nils Bergman

Dr. Nils Bergman

What a fantastic day! We began our morning with the annual Parade of Flags and a traditional aboriginal welcome from a representative of Warundjeri Council. She is the youngest of 16 children and said “there was a lot of breastfeeding going on in our home”! We were also treated to research, thoughts, and hilarious moments with Nils Bergman, who shared of the neuroscience of birth and breastfeeding, Linda Smith who wowed (and frightened) us about how current birth practices dramatically impact breastfeeding, and Howard Chilton who encouraged us to think about how we feed infants and the impact it has on their future health and risk for obesity.

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4 ILCA Presidents, past and present: Liz Brooks, Cathy Carothers, Sallie Page-Goetz, and Jan Barger

After a very flavorful lunch, it was on to a full afternoon and early evening of concurrent sessions. It was exciting to hear conversations in the hallways of all the wonderful information being learned. We even got to catch up with some great groups of people in conversation, including four ILCA presidents, both past and current, all in one place!

No matter where you are in the world, you can be a part of the action but using the #ilca2013 hashtag on Twitter or you can follow the live Twitter stream HERE.


ILCA Conference Highlights – THURSDAY

ILCA Speaker Cathy Carothers

ILCA Speaker Cathy Carothers

ILCA’s 2013 Conference kicked off in a big way on Thursday, July 25th with 5 tracks of workshops highlighting communication techniques, research, clinical practice, professional practice, and clinical skills. At break times, attendees were abuzz with new information, new ways of connecting with breastfeeding families, and new ideas to take home. Speakers such as Cathy Carothers, Nils Bergman, Liz Brooks, and Linda Smith helped keep us all on the edges of our seats.

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Our new friend, Matilda the Koala

The day concluded with a fantastic President’s Social and the opening of our exhibition hall. The highlight for everyone was the visiting zoo which included a koala, black-headed python, tawny frogmouth, blue penguin, and a wallaby. No matter where you are in the world, you can be a part of the action but using the #ilca2013 hashtag on Twitter or you can follow the live Twitter stream HERE.


Contaminants in Breastmilk? IBFAN Responds.

By Joy Heads, OAM, IBCLC, FILCA, 

7643953482_b74b48b183The reality of the presence of environmental chemicals has been on the world’s radar since the release of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring in 1962.

Today it is accepted that every human body contains many man-made chemicals that can cause harm. Human milk has a high proportion of fat and therefore fat soluble contaminants, including dioxins, can be very easily measured.

Expressed breastmilk used to be included in the Australian Basket Market Survey, now called Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS), because it was easy to collect from consenting women in postnatal wards.

Over the last few decades, scare tactics have emerged, warning women about the perceived danger of breastfeeding.  I clearly remember one front page headline in a Sydney Sunday paper in the mid 70’s screaming: DDT’s in breastmilk: mothers poisoning their babies.

The press coverage of Florence William’s 2012 book: “Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History”, which covers her investigations into the issue, did little to allay these fears.

It is therefore heartening that the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) has just released “IBFAN Statement on Infant and Young Child Feeding and Chemical Residues” (2013), which presents objective and independent information for parents, carers and health professionals.

The main author of the paper is well respected Dr Adriano Cattaneo, Consultant Epidemiologist and Co-ordinator of the Unit for Health Services Research and International Health, Institute of Child Health “IRCCS Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste, Italy, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Maternal and Child Health. Dr Cattaneo was an Expert Reviewer on the 2012 NHMRC Infant Feeding Guidelines.

This evidence-based, well referenced statement goes beyond the issue of possible residues in human milk to include that of contaminants in infant formula including in the unnecessary, but cleverly marketed, follow-on formulas, baby foods, feeding bottles and teats.

The paper also emphasises the potential harm of chemical exposure during pregnancy at a time when tissues and organs are growing rapidly. It reinforces the fact that there is now far greater understanding of the beneficial effects of breastfeeding and its role in developing immune protection and mitigating the harmful effects of chemical exposure in the womb.

Conversely, formula feeding does not afford any protection to babies at all. The ecological footprint and consequence of increasing rates of formula feeding is also addressed.

The document lists 10 Key Points and Key IBFAN Messages, which includes the statement that “pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have the right to receive full and unbiased information”.

IBFAN endorses international health regulations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding – because the benefits outweigh any possible harm -“except in the case of industrial disasters and of exceedingly high residues after industrial disasters”.

Contained within the paper is a Call for Action, urging decision-makers and industry across the globe to implement the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

The Appendix is an excellent reference and carries an analysis of 13 chemical residues or families of chemical residues. IBFAN have considered only substances “for which there is ample literature and that are a target for important policies and regulations worldwide.”

This paper provides strong evidence that the continuing fight for a healthy global environment, with minimum toxins, is a challenging one considering industry redistribution and weak environmental regulations.

This post was originally published on Crikey, a news service from Australia. We thank them for allowing us to republish it here. 

Joy HeadsJoy Heads, OAM, IBCLC, FILCA,  is a midwife and has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 1986. In 2009, she was awarded the designation of Fellow of the International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA™). She is currently on the Board of Directors of ILCA, and co-wrote the chapter on “Breast Pathology” for the ILCA’s Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultants (Editors: Mannel B, Martens P J, Walker M. (3nd ed) Jones & Bartlett. MA. USA. 2013). In 2006 she was awarded the Order of Australian Medal for service to nursing and midwifery as a specialist lactation consultant and to health professional and parent education. Joy was the Clinical Nurse Consultant (Lactation) at the Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney for many years until she retired from paid work in late 2010.


Registration is NOW OPEN for the 2013 ILCA Conference!


The ILCA™ Annual Conference is the premier lactation education and professional development event of the year. The Conference provides a rich learning environment for lactation professionals, midwives, child and family health nurses, general practitioners, physicians, dieticians and nutritionists, breastfeeding counsellors, researchers, pharmacists, nurses, doulas, policy advocates and other advocates who assist mothers and babies with breastfeeding. It offers current and aspiring International Board Certified Lactation Consultants® (IBCLC®) information on cutting-edge evidence-based practice and research in optimal breastfeeding care and support for mothers and babies.

Registration is NOW OPEN!

We hope that you will join us in beautiful Melbourne, Australia for this year’s conference. 


We Thank You, Dr. Virginia Thorley!

Virginia_ThorleyILCA is thankful for the incredible volunteer service of Dr. Virginia Thorley.

Not only has she been a continuous ILCA member since 1988, she has also served in a number of positions of ILCA leadership, most recently as the Publications Committee Chair. As she retires from her ILCA service, we want to say “Thank You” and reflect on her important contributions to our field.

Joy Heads, ILCA’s Director of Global Outreach, shares:

As a newly pregnant midwife in 1975, I was given Virginia’s book “Successful Breastfeeding” by a friend. I was stunned that the evidence provided in the book had not been any part of my midwifery education. Our 1960’s Midwifery Text book was the ‘bible’, by Margaret Myles. From memory, it contained many pages on ‘Formula Feeding” but only one page on breastfeeding – headed – you guessed it: ‘Breastfeeding Problems’.

Virginia’s book was a revelation and when my twins were born – it became my new bible and started me on the path of persuing IBCLC accreditation. Thank you, Virginia!

We asked Virginia to share a bit with us about her career and how offering breastfeeding knowledge and support all over the world has impacted her life. She graciously accepted and we hope you enjoy her reflections on her important career and service to ILCA.

I have been involved in breastfeeding since 1966, after qualifying as a breastfeeding counsellor with both La Leche League International (LLL) and the Nursing Mothers’ Association of Australia (now the Australian Breastfeeding Association – ABA). This came about because of the consistently deleterious advice on breastfeeding that was imposed on me with my first baby in 1965. In late 1964, I had contacted LLL in far away Chicago. The advice and encouragement from LLL’s first president, Marian Tompson, was to stand me in good stead when everything went pear-shaped after the birth of my daughter.

As the first and only breastfeeding counsellor in Queensland, Australia, I did letter counselling because of the vast distances in this state. In 1969, I founded the ABA’s first group in Queensland in my tropical hometown of Townsville. I gave over 40 years continuous service to ABA. In 1985, I was in the initial group certified as IBCLCs after traveling to Melbourne, the only site in Australia to offer the exam. In 2008, I was in the first group to be inducted as a Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association (FILCA).

Besides helping mothers to breastfeed, writing seems to be “what I do”. I have authored four books, including Successful Breastfeeding (written as Virginia Phillips). My latest book, written with Melissa Vickers, The 10th Step & Beyond: Mother Support for Breastfeeding, was released in July 2012. I have also published a number of book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals as well as serving as a regular reviewer for many of the same journals. Since 1975, I have spoken at conferences and seminars on five continents for health professionals and the general public.

Research is my passion – “I breathe, so I research” – and I encourage colleagues to do research and publish. My current interests include the history of infant feeding, particularly twentieth-century Australia and mid-nineteenth-century England and Europe as well as specific influences on mother/infant feeding decisions, wet nursing, co-feeding, and human milk banking. My clinical interests include mother or infant behaviors that enhance or hamper breastfeeding and low-tech methods of helping mothers and babies to make breastfeeding work for them.

In 1999, I was elected to the Board of Directors of International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) and was also appointed to the International Advisory Council of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).  In October 2010, I was elected to the Board of Directors of Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ). My other memberships include the Australian & New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine and the Australian Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (AMIRCI).

Though first and foremost an IBCLC, I have had extensive experience with indigenous and non-English-speaking-background adults, in an educational context. My ongoing interest in the readability levels of health information handouts was put to use as Chair of ILCA’s Publications Committee from 2006-2012.

In the January 1994 Australia Day Honours, I was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “services as an author, counsellor and consultant on lactation, and to the Nursing Mother’s Association of Australia”.

Dr. Virginia Thorley, we thank you!


What We LOVE About Australia!

The exciting news is that the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) is headed DOWN UNDER to Melbourne, Australia for its 28th Annual Conference in July 2013.

The conference is July 25-28 2013 and Lactation Matters, over the next months, will give you a taste of what’s in store for you as you travel to the jam-packed 4 day conference. We will share some local knowledge to make sure you get the best value for the time you have in Australia.

You can start preparing, even now by:

  • SAVE YOUR MONEY. Begin planning who you will travel with, how long you will stay, and what your budget will be.
  • Request time off from your employer.
  • Begin talking with travel agents or researching airfares and hotel arrangements.
  • Remember that our conference will be during Australia’s winter so prepare your wardrobe…and don’t forget, the beaches are only a short flight away!

We did a quick poll of some of ILCA’s Board of Directors about what they love most about Australia and Australians.

Some of their responses might be identical to yours!

  • Australians have really cool accents.
  • They have nerves of steel, given all the poisonous flora and fauna found only on their continent.
  • Melbourne is a destination location for coffee lovers.
  • They aren’t offended when you ask about their ancestors’ criminal past! Because of the culture’s convict history, they aren’t easily fooled.
  • They make fantastic movies! *
  • We love Australian’s direct approach, frankness and relaxed attitude.
  • The country’s indigenous culture and amazing ancient rock carvings are spectacular.
  • Australian wines (especially Tasmanian Point Noir)!
  • The fun ways they use the English language and unique phrases like saying that something going “down the gurgler”.
  • The fact that their toilets flush in the opposite direction!
  • They love to have fun all the time!

Make your plans now to join us in July!

* Editor’s Note – We encourage those travelling to Australia to check out the movie “The Sapphires”. Ian Heads (spouse of Joy Heads, ILCA’s Director of Global Outreach, who hails from Australia) says, “Based on the real events first captured in a hit stage play, The Sapphires might just be the “feel good’ movie of the year”. It is a genuine Aussie yarn, telling the story of four Aboriginal girls who got together to form a singing group in country Australia in 1968 – and ended up going to Vietnam to entertain the troops. The film is sassy, bright, breezy and often hilarious – and the music is toe-tappingly wonderful. The Sapphires doesn’t dodge serious issues of the time – but you’ll come out with spirits uplifted, having been mightily entertained.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ljho1cyEfg&w=560&h=315]


Plan to Join Us at ILCA’s 2013 Conference in Melbourne, Australia

The ILCA Annual Conference, July 25-28, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia, provides a rich learning environment for lactation professionals and others who assist mothers and babies with breastfeeding. It offers current and aspiring lactation consultants information on cutting-edge lactation practices and research to equip you in giving optimal breastfeeding care and support to mothers and babies.

We have lined up some of the very best speakers in the field including:

Nils Bergman, MB, ChB, MPH, MD from Cape Town, South Africa. Nils is an expert and popular speaker on skin-to-skin contact and the underlying neuroscience.

Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, FILCA from Pennsylvania, USA. Liz is a private practice IBCLC, one of many car accident lawyers, author, and speaker on legal/ethics issues in addition to being our ILCA President.

Howard Chilton MBBS, MRCP(UK), DCH from Sydney, Australia. Dr. Chilton is a neonatal paediatrician, author, and leading baby doctor in Australia.

Patricia Martens, IBCLC, PhD, FILCA from Manitoba, Canada. She is a Professor at the University of Manitoba, public health scientist, and popular speaker on breastfeeding research.

Linda J. Smith, MPH, IBCLC, FACCE, FILCA from Ohio, USA where she is an author, teacher and popular speaker on birthing and infant sleep practices.

Watch this space for more information in the coming months. Also, join us at www.ilca.org!


Care for a Virtual Cuppa? Australia’s first Online Breastfeeding Café launched.

Written by Maddy Knight

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has welcomed the newest addition to its stable of services for breastfeeding families, the Online Breastfeeding Café(OBC).

With so many blogs on the web about breastfeeding (ILCA’s Lactation Matters recently referred to BlogHer’s study where over 98% of respondents said they trusted the information they received on blogs), the Online Breastfeeding Café has been developed by the ABA as an online community where users can share, discover and chat with guaranteed reliable, up to date information.

The OBC also has families in mind. This means the inclusion of  an additional men’s parenting section and private, log-in only forum for Dads.

The new site was launched on behalf of NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Jillian Skinner by State Member Roza Sage at Glenmore Park Child and Family (NSW real estate Australia) precinct on Tuesday 26 June. Also present at the launch were Cr Greg Davies, Mayor of Penrith and Todd Carney representing Federal Member the Hon. David Bradbury.

The Online Breastfeeding Café was three years in development and was designed with Generation Y parents in mind, knowing that for today’s families both mums and dads want to share in the breastfeeding and parenting journey.

“The OBC can help make sure mother’s and fathers both have a place to go to ask and share about their experiences. It really helps them to parent from the same page” says Nicole Bridges, Australian Breastfeeding Association Assistant Branch President.

“These days dads aren’t passive breastfeeding supporters, they want to know what’s going on and how they can help and support mum in any way they can. If she’s happy then the whole family is happy.”

The Online Breastfeeding Café features many of the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s reliable resources and information, but packaged in a new, vibrant and easy to use website that compliments its existing website.

The concept of the breastfeeding café as a physical venue first took off in the UK a couple of years ago. The OBC is the first attempt to take the concept of a comfortable, relaxed place to share and chat about breastfeeding and turn it into an online community.

A café theme runs through the website, with areas such as The Breastfeeding Couch, full of great tips, latest articles and breastfeeding videos; a dad’s-own section of the website aptly titled Dad’s Espresso Bar; great stories and inspiration in A Cuppa and a Read, as well as a long list of popular tools such as finding your local breastfeeding-friendly café.

More features of the Online Breastfeeding Café:

  • Most asked breastfeeding questions, and tips on making breastfeeding easier.
  • How to find your local breastfeeding class or breastfeeding-friendly café or lactation products.
  • Information on breastfeeding and returning to work.
  • The latest breastfeeding articles from the ABA and other trusted sources.
  • Great forums to get involved in, including a general/mum’s forum and completely private Dad’s forum.
  • In “Dad’s Espresso Bar”, a new father can find some practical ways to develop his own special unique bond with his baby even though mum does the breastfeeding. He can also chat with other dads in a private forum about some of the unique concerns of fathers.

The Online Breastfeeding Café also has forums that are fully mobile (containing every post) so you can take it with you and have a virtual cuppa and chat with other parents, all while you enjoy your latte at your local breastfeeding-friendly café.

We would love new mothers (and dads) to know all about this great new online community.

Log in today at www.onlinebreastfeedingcafe.com.au or contact the community manager@onlinebreastfeedingcafe.com.au for more information.

Maddy Knight is Project Director of the Online Breastfeeding Café. She is an experienced journalist, media advisor, publicist and graphic designer and has worked extensively with non-profit organisations including the Australian Breastfeeding Association. The Online Breastfeeding Café was her brainchild for which she developed the website plan and layout, edited and wrote much of the content and even designed the logo and slogan. She spends her spare time singing and writing her blog Bondi Sourdough 101. She lives in Bondi Beach with her husband and cat, Luna.


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