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6 Weeks until ILCA 2012! {thoughts from a conference newbie}

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC

Photo via edailypost.com (Permission requested)

When I think of conferences, especially those with my fellow supporters of mothers and babies, I imagine it as one big PARTY!  When I found out that I would be attending this year’s ILCA conference in Orlando, I promptly went and packed my party clothes!  The conference brochure states,

The ILCA Annual Conference is the premier lactation learning event of the year. The Conference 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 them in giving optimal breastfeeding care and support to mothers and babies.

Sounds like a celebration to me!  Apparently, I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W35H_43gTss&feature=bf_prev&list=ULoD0JXmBuGUY]
I’ve never attended an ILCA conference (though I enthusiastically watched from afar last year on both Facebook and Twitter) so I had to dig in quickly to find out everything I could to get my registration submitted, travel plans made and conference itinerary set.  I will also, over the next several weeks, need to figure out how to get myself to the hotel (taxi? shuttle?), navigate the venue (where’s the spa?), figure out what I’m going to eat (sushi anyone?), determine what I’m going to do with my down time (I vote for the pool and a drink with a tiny umbrella), pack a suitcase (don’t forget your business cards!) and network, network, network…and all while preparing to “run the conference marathon”! WHEW!

But, first things first, registration!  June 15th is the deadline for standard registration. You can still register after June 15th, but the fee goes up, so if you have not already done so, register NOW! You can register online or download the registration form and either fax or mail it to our ILCA staff.  And don’t forget, you can also register on site in Orlando (but at a significant price increase…wouldn’t you rather save that money to spend on a speaker’s latest book instead?).

As a part of crossing that task off my list, I printed off page 4 of the conference brochure and spent several hours pouring over it.  Seriously, choosing which sessions to attended was proving to be the hardest job ever! Many of the speakers were familiar to me and even more were brand new.  It made me wish I had a clone.

I methodically went through choosing my sessions, starting with the Wednesday Workshops.  These are a series of sessions, over the course of the first conference day, on a particular area of interest including Working with Spanish Speaking Families (sessions are presented in spanish), Health Promotion, Global Advocacy, Research Skills/Methods and the very popular Clinical Skills Rotations.  As a fairly new IBCLC, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to attend the Clincial Skills session but, unfortunately, it is a “hot ticket” and already has a waiting list.  I’m on it and hoping for a spot but, in the meantime, I’ve signed up for the Health Promotion sessions and honestly, as I read through all the session descriptions, you really can’t go wrong with any of the Wednesday Workshops.

Choosing sessions for the rest of the conference proved to be challenging to me as well.  There is simply so much relevant and exciting information being offered that I’m afraid to miss any of it.  Be watching this blog, over the next weeks, for profiles of some of our conference speakers for opportunities to get to know them better and to highlight the information they will be sharing with us.

So, now I’m registered.  And now I need YOU!  If you have attended an ILCA conference in the past, what are your “best tips”?  What “don’t miss moments” should I make sure to experience? What piece of advice would you give to someone who has never before attended an ILCA conference?  I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section, on Facebook or Twitter.

Next week, I’ll be exploring the realms of both Orlando International Airport and the JW Marriott Grande Lakes!  Stay tuned!

P.S. – Do you have business cards?  They are a great way to connect with others at the conference but, if you don’t already have some ready for your suitcase, now is the time to order!  I have often ordered from VistaPrint in the past and they are currently offering 250 business cards for FREE!

Amber McCann, IBCLC is a  board certified lactation consultant in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside if Washington, DC and the co-editor of this blog.  She is particularly interested in connecting with mothers through social media channels and teaching others in her profession to do the same.  In addition to her work here, she has written for a number of other breastfeeding support blogs including The Leaky Boob and Best for Babes and served on the Communications Team for GOLD Conference . When she’s not furiously composing tweets (follow her at @iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV. 

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