A Year to Remember

The year 2020 will go down in history as one we all will remember for so many reasons.

For Health e-Learning-IIHL, we started the year by participating in the first Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia WHO Code training and Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCFE) workshop on Coochiemudlo Island with colleagues from around the world.

Health e-Learning

We also attended the annual New Zealand Lactation Consultants Association conference in Auckland, New Zealand and met up with many wonderful colleagues and friends. We had a full calendar year booked and we had looked forward to catching up with colleagues and students at WPHNA (Brisbane, Australia), ELACTA (Milan, Italy), AQC (Quebec, Canada), ILCA (Houston, USA), IBC (Chennai, India), and LCANZ (Melbourne, Australia).

Then in March 2020, it seemed that the whole world stopped! Flights were cancelled, international border crossings were closed, conferences were cancelled or became virtual, due to the global COVID 19 pandemic. The world as we knew it changed and for many has not returned to anything resembling normal. The pandemic has impacted the world, including all supporting infant and young child feeding.

The news headlines highlighted how COVID changed the health care systems, including birth and breastfeeding. Pregnant people were suddenly being forced to birth alone, postpartum separation of the dyad was ordered and rampant fear that human milk may be a vessel for transmission. The normal human behaviour of birth and feeding was put into question without any evidence.

Health e-Learning-IIHL felt it was important to share the limited available information early and first interviewed Public Health advocates on the topic of Breastfeeding and COVID 19 on March 17, 2020. We followed up with an update on March 24th and also looked at COVID-19 and Coping with Trauma and Grief.

The message now is clear that considering the lack of evidence for SARS-CoV-2 transmission via human milk, breastfeeding/chestfeeding support along with appropriate counselling and hygiene precautions (frequent hand washing and wearing facemasks) should be provided to ALL pregnant people.

During this time of uncertainty, sensitive to those of us missing the opportunity to talk to colleagues, Health e-Learning-IIHL ventured on a new project of interviews around the world discussing topics related to infant feeding. Our “Conversations with Colleagues” series can be found on the Health e-Learning YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/c/HealtheLearning. This is where you will find discussions about: Green Feeding, IBCLCs in First Nations Communities, IBCLCs and Virtual Consults, Infant feeding and Health Care Costs, Pregnancy and Postpartum Substance Use, along with many other interesting topics.

We also participated in the first ILCA virtual online conference and exhibit booth and it was great to chat with many of you.

We were there to support many students who had their exam preparation put on hold due to having to focus their work on caring for COVID patients due to shortage of staff. We had to think outside the box when the April IBLCE exam was cancelled and many were left unsure of what was going to happen. We extended access to our Lactation Exam Practice to those students that had their April exam cancelled and they rejoined us again in July to prepare for the September exam. This again was an adjustment as the IBLCE exam this year was held over three weeks. We always want to give the students our best and we had to be imaginative. The discussion forum has so much valuable knowledge and information that closing it early didn’t give students who enrolled late the opportunity to access it. So when we closed the forum due to confidentiality re the IBLCE exam, we made changes assuring access to read our forum was still available. This was something our LP20 participants let us know they appreciated.

As 2020 is coming to a close, we are continuing to do our best to improve our services for our students. We are translating courses we offer into other languages. Currently Health e-Learning-IIHL BreastEd series is available in English, French and Italian (via AICPAM), and in 2021 there will be some courses available in Simplified Chinese. In 2021, we will also be working towards Spanish and Portuguese translation.

All our team at Health e-Learning-IIHL wish you a safe and happy holiday season and we know for many of you it will not be a usual one. In Canada, and in many countries around the world we will not be celebrating in the usual way, yet with access to virtual platforms, thankfully we can still connect with family and friends. We look forward to hopefully catching up in 2021 with a new appreciation for what we have. Please stay safe.