Health e-Learning recently had the privilege of attending the 2015 Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) conference in Brisbane, Australia. Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who stopped by our booth to either inquire about courses, give us feedback about our courses, and/or simply to say   hello. We loved talking with you all!

This conference gave us a wonderful opportunity to hear speakers from around the world. The conference opened with Dr. Jenny Thomas who not only educated and presented us with new ideas, she also entertained us, and made us laugh. Understanding epigenetics in the context of breastfeeding is a daunting task and yet Dr. Thomas explained it beautifully. She also presented new information explaining why breastmilk is not just food. Her closing conference presentation included live tweeting as she discussed connecting social media to our practice and to the families we interact with.

LCANZ 2015Nancy Morbacher presented on the ever growing health concern of obesity and the importance of the preventative role breastfeeding plays. Nancy's presentation provided an overview of the research associated with infant feeding in the first year of life and the risk of obesity during childhood. She also presented on the importance of understanding breastfeeding behaviors and simplifying breastfeeding in the first 36 hours after birth. She shared with us what biology tells us about normal feeding patterns, and how skin-to-skin contact and separation affect infant stability.

Professor Uwe Ewald, from Uppsala University in Sweden, gave us a glimpse of what is possible in an NICU when the infant, mother, and family are the centre of care. He referred to this as “family centered care (FCC) in neonatal intensive care units (NICU)”. He presented strategies to change care culture and gave an example of a Swedish NICU where an adult bed for the mother and/or partner is placed next to the incubator. He explained that by adding an adult bed the message given to the parents is that we want you to stay and be part of the care whereas a chair gives a different message. Most of us cannot sit in a chair for long periods of time let alone sleep while providing skin-to-skin care. The adult bed allows the practice of early and almost continuous skin-to-skin care as normal practice (versus incubator care) and supports breastfeeding and human milk as best practice for babies in the NICU.

It was also wonderful to hear Dr. Marjan Jones, dental surgeon, discuss the critical role of effective breastfeeding in the development of the physiological structures that optimize breathing. She presented how breastfeeding influences anatomical development and functional patterns of the orofacial region. In her words “Put simply, optimal breastfeeding influences how we look, how we speak, how we eat, and how we breathe.” It is wonderful to see passion about breastfeeding emulating from other health care professionals.

If you have never heard Dr. Julie Smith speak, you are missing out on an extremely important message that can be passed to our governments. Dr. Smith is an Australian economist and her presentation illustrated the economic incentives affecting breastfeeding practices as well as the reasons governments and agencies need to be investing in protecting, supporting and promoting breastfeeding. Investing in breastfeeding has potential financial and economic advantages for governments and societies worldwide. Dr. Smith introduced the World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative (WBCi) tool which can help governments and agencies estimate the cost of implementing the WHO-UNICEF Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding. To find out more about the WBCi which was launched in 2013, you can read about it in the February 2015 International Breastfeeding Journal article Investing in breastfeeding – the world breastfeeding costing initiative which can be found at:

There were also many breakout sessions by great Australian and New Zealand presenters and researchers as well as speakers from Belgium and Canada. On a personal note, our Director, Lenore Goldfarb, won the “Best Poster” award for Ankyloglossia in Breastfeeding Infants: Stretching Exercises Post-Frenotomy and the Efficacy of the Procedure co-authored by our other Director, Carole Dobrich as well as several colleagues (Drs. E. Demyati, M. Stern, A. Srinivasan, and H. Mitnick) from the HFPC-JGH-Goldfarb Breastfeedfing Clinic. It was wonderful to see so much new research being shared among colleagues. Thank you for a great conference LCANZ and we hope to attend your next one in October 2016 to be held in Melbourne, Australia.