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ILCA Conference Speaker Highlight: Nils Bergman

During the weeks leading up to the 2013 ILCA Conference, we will be highlighting a number of conference speakers.  Watch this space every Thursday for more profiles.

nilsWe are so pleased to have Dr. Nils Bergman as one of the speakers at our conference in Melbourne in just a few short weeks.

Dr. Bergman calls himself a Public Health Physician, and currently promotes and researches skin-to-skin contact on a fulltime basis. He is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a research affiliate of the South African Medical Research Council.

Dr. Bergman was born in Sweden and raised in Zimbabwe, where he also later worked as a mission doctor. He received his medical degree (MB ChB) at the University of Cape Town, and later a Masters in Public Health at the University of the Western Cape. During his years in Zimbabwe, he completed a doctoral dissertation (MD, equivalent to PhD) on scorpion stings. He has worked in rural South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sweden, and his last posting was Senior Medical Superintendent of Mowbray Maternity Hospital in Cape Town, overseeing 18000 births per year.

He enjoys sharing the wildlife of Africa with his wife and three youngsters.

Dr. Bergman will be presenting two plenary sessions at this year’s conference. At 9:00am on Friday, July 26, he will share with us about “The Neuroscience of Birth and Breastfeeding”. In addition, at 3:00pm on Sunday, July 28, he will help us wrap up our conference with a session entitled “The Neuroscience of the Global Public Health Imperative”.

He will also be presenting two sessions where he encourages attendees to focus on the most basic of baby’s needs. Plan now to attend the following sessions:

Clinical Best Practice Workshop on Thursday, July 25

  • 8:00am: Practical Aspects of Skin-to-skin Contact and Breastfeeding

Concurrent Session on Friday, July 26

  • 4:00pm: Theory on Feeding Frequency

For more information about our upcoming conference and to register, please visit the Conference Page on our website.


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!


Kangaroo Care Awareness Day

Written by Amber McCann, IBCLC, Owner of Nourish Breastfeeding Support

On May 15 of this year, we will celebrate the first annual International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day.

As lactation consultants, most of us are well-versed in the importance of keeping babies skin to skin with their mothers and we are familiar with the work of Dr. Nils Bergman.  We regularly encourage the mothers we work with to hold their babies to their chests with their skin touching, we advocate for policy changes in hospitals, and we educate the public about this important practice.


Kangaroo Mother Care has three parts:

  1. Skin to Skin Contact – putting babies in the “sweet spot”, right between mother’s breasts and under her chin, is important starting at birth, but helpful anytime.  Babies and mothers should be kept like this as much as possible and around the clock.  Even dads, partners and grandparents can keep a baby close and tight.
  2. Exclusive Breastfeeding – for most babies, this means feeding directly from their mother’s breasts.  Babies who are born prematurely might need to be fed by another method and might also need additional nutrients.
  3. Support of the Mother/Baby Dyad – Whatever mother and baby need, regardless of whether this is a physical need, an emotional need or a medical need, we meet these with a focus on keeping them together.
The Gates Foundation is also working hard to promote the practice in places like Malawi, where it can have a significant impact on the survival of pre-term babies.  Click here to watch a short video about their work.

We encourage you, on May 15th, in celebration of the first International Kangaroo Care Awareness Day, to take a few moments to read a new article, engage in conversation with a new health care provider, and encourage one more mother to keep her baby right on her chest, right where he/she belongs.

Interested in hearing Dr. Nils Bergman speak about the power of Kangaroo Care?  Here are a few upcoming dates.

Wednesday, June 6 (Dover, DE)

Thursday, June 7 (Voorhees, NJ)

Friday, June 9 (New York, NY)

Tuesday, June 12 (Baltimore, MD)

Wednesday, June 13 (Plainsboro, NJ)

Friday, June 15 (Washington, DC)



Irena Zakarija-Grković, MD, FRACGP, IBCLC, is a GP and passionate breastfeeding advocate from Melbourne, Australia who moved to Split, Croatia in 2004 with her husband and three children. Irena now works at the University of Split School of Medicine where she is involved in teaching and research. Irena is a founding member of the National Breastfeeding Committee, a BFHI educator, president of the Croatian Association of Lactation Consultants, 80-hour breastfeeding course provider, former IBLCE coordinator for Croatia and an active member of ILCA (volunteer member of Scholarship Committee and Multilingual Committee)and ABM. She also conducts breastfeeding classes for expectant parents, does some private practice as a lactation consultant and is the author of several chapters in Croatian on breastfeeding . Irena loves what she does and tries hard to infect others with her enthusiasm for breastfeeding.

Back in 2007, I was a fortunate recipient of an ILCA scholarship and so, thanks to the generosity of numerous friends of ILCA, I was able to attend my first ILCA Conference, held in San Diego, California.

It was an exhilarating experience and among the many interesting talks I attended, the one that stood out was the talk given by Nils Bergman, on the importance of skin-to-skin contact for brain growth. After the presentation I struck up a conversation with Nils and soon found out that Nils traveled to Europe regularly to visit family in Sweden. Immediately, the thought of Nils visiting Croatia came to mind but seemed too farfetched to mention at the time, so I left San Diego with some lovely memories and lots of useful information and resources.

Upon returning to Split, I realised that unless I tried to bring top experts to Croatia the likelihood of my colleagues hearing about the latest recommendations in the field of breastfeeding medicine was minimal, and hence I set about making plans on how to bring the exciting world of evidence-based breastfeeding medicine to Croatia. This wouldn’t have been possible without collaborating with neighbouring Slovenia, specifically the Slovenian Association of Lactation Consultants and UNICEF in Slovenia. Together we’ve brought several renowned speakers to our neck of the woods over the years and by doing so have raised the awareness of the importance of breastfeeding. This, in addition to organizing an annual 80-hour breastfeeding course for health professionals (5 years running) and getting the IBLCE exam translated into Croatian and offered in Split (since 2009), has brought the number of certified lactation consultants in Croatia from one in 2007 to 21 in 2011!

This year, for WBW, the Croatian Association of Lactation Consultants (CALC) was honoured to welcome Nils Bergman to Croatia. My dream had come true- thanks to Nils’s trust in me, his generosity of spirit, and to the support of my Croatian and Slovenian colleagues. Nils’s tour started off with a two-day visit to sunny Split where he was run off his feet meeting the media, giving talks to health professionals and demonstrating to mothers and staff at the University of Split Neonatal Unit how to practice kangaroo mother care.

The latter was the highlight of Nils’s visit because it brought home the importance of placing the baby in its proper environment, the beauty of which brought tears to the eyes of all present. For some mothers with babies in the Neonatal Unit, it was the first time they had held their children. The media were so impressed with what Nils had to say on the topic of caring for premature babies that he made the midday news and was featured on four other TV programs!

  Next, Nils spoke in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, to a full house at the Hospital of the Holy Spirit and was then whisked off to Lasko, in Slovenia, where he was an eagerly awaited speaker at the Slovenian breastfeeding symposium.

Despite all the work involved in organising Nils’s visit, it was well worth the effort and has brought hope, joy and revelation to all those he met. Thanks Nils and good luck with all of your endeavours in promoting kangaroo mother care!


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