Monday, August 06, 2007

Joy talks about HOT MILK...

Today Joy Anderson, lactation consultant from Breastfeeders Anonymous reports a bit about her time at HOT MILK (the conference of the Australian Breastfeeding Association), which was held in Melbourne last weekend.

There were many speakers at the HOT MILK conference providing interesting and stimulating information on breastfeeding and topics related to breastfeeding, such as parenting styles and practices. Several presenters spoke about fathers, helping us to understand today's dads and the importance of helping them to be more involvedwith their children - but not by bottle-feeding!

A few snippets from some of the speakers were:-

Ros Escott spoke about the effects of infant feeding on every organ system of the body, quoting peer-reviewed research to demonstrate that artificial feeding results in less-healthy individuals. A few of the many, many facts were that some artificially-fed babies studied had damaged DNA in their lymphocytes; 50% of breastfed babies infected with rotavirus showed no symptoms; and coeliac disease is more common in artificially-fed babies, especially if there is no breastmilk in the diet at the time gluten is introduced.

Psychologist Robin Grille spoke about attachment (bonding) and how early experiences, from the third trimester of pregnancy in fact, shape how the individual parents their own children in the future. He spoke about how very few of today's parents had their own attachmentneeds fully met as infants, due to cultural practices of separation, solitary sleep, methods of discipline, etc, and therefore have trouble fully meeting the emotional needs of their own babies. He talked about how human populations evolved over time to become more aggressive, by wiping out the peaceful (and well-attached) populations, as the latter didn't fight back. Aggression in a population correlated with the level of disturbance of the mother-infant bond following birth. Therefore these people were more successful in wars, so today's peoples are descended from them and have inherited practices that are not conducive to good attachment.

Helen Ball, from the UK, spoke about bedsharing. She pointed out that breastfeeding babies are positioned at the mother's breast level, and the mother instinctively protects the baby's space by facing the baby, with her elbow above the baby's head and her knees bent below the baby. The baby is not near the pillows. On the other hand, bottle-feeding mothers sleep with their babies like they would with another adult, with the baby's head level with or on a pillow,close to the mother's head. They may also face away from their babies. This difference in position in the bed influences the risk of smothering. It would be almost impossible for the breastfed baby in this normal position to be overlain or have their face covered by apillow.

Ted Greiner, a nutrition expert from Sweden, stated that paid maternity leave is a human right in any society, and it should not be considered an issue of economics at all. The proximity of the mother and child is what is important, not only for breastfeeding, but for normal attachment and emotional development of all humans. He described the situation in Sweden, where parents receive a government-provided year of paid leave between them after a baby is born. This is still cost-effective in comparison to large subsidies provided for child-care.

Thanks Joy for your news flash on some of the speakers at HOT MILK! Wish I could have been there.

If you WERE at HOT MILK, please leave a comment telling us all what you learnt or found most informative about the sessions...