Personal experience with the Trudi Szallasi Memorial Scholarship

Ms. Shela Akbar Ali Hirani (Awardee of the Year 2012 from Pakistan)

Trudi Szallasi Memorial Scholarship has enabled me to fulfill my dreams of pursuing formal education in lactation, confidently appear for the IBLCE certification exams, and become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). My IBCLC credentials is facilitating me to strive for promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding in my country Pakistan through my clinical practice, community services, teaching to nursing students, and research work.

As an Assistant Professor (full time Pediatric Nursing faculty) at Aga Khan University (Pakistan), my IBCLC credentials is enabling me to teach new advancement in lactation to the undergraduate and graduate level nursing students, and develop their interest in this specialty area. Being a pediatric faculty having IBCLC credentials, I have been serving as thesis committee member for the graduate and advanced diploma level nursing students interested in pursuing their research work pertinent to lactation. Till date, I have supervised/served as thesis committee member of students interested to analyze the effects of Kangaroo Mother Care on infant's outcomes, association of breastfeeding with childhood obesity, effects of maternal employment and their breastfeeding practices on children's emotional development.

Since becoming an IBCLC, on voluntary basis, I conduct training sessions for the pregnant and postnatal mothers at diverse community based setups, including community health center, baby day care center, women's workplace, health camps etc. My credentials as an IBCLC is enabling me to promote, support and protect breastfeeding by providing practical, timely and culturally relevant counseling to mothers having sick babies, preterm/low birth weight child, breast engorgement, insufficient milk supply and several other issues etc. As an IBCLC, I counsel lactating women on voluntary basis as per their convenience i.e. in person, emails and through telephone/Skype call. In Pakistan, where several myths and misconceptions are associated with the breastfeeding, I am glad that with my extended knowledge and skills gained during my education period in lactation I am able to address the concerns of lactating women and their extended family members in a competent manner. Lactating women and their family members admires my knowledge, skills and commitment to respond to their concerns on timely basis.

After becoming an IBCLC, on the basis of my expertise in research, I also served as "Research Committee Member for the IBLCE" (2013-2015). Since 2012 to date, I am also serving as an active member of International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) to keep myself upgraded with recent advances in the field of lactation. Since 2014 to date, I am also serving as President of Rho Delta Chapter (Pakistan chapter) of Sigma Theta Tau International: A Honor Society of Nursing. In my leadership capacity, I am involved in organizing and executing hospital/community based programmes to improve health outcomes of young children through breastfeeding promotion. I am also mentor novice nursing faculty and nurses who are interested in pursuing their specialization in lactation and early child development.

Keeping in view my intense interest in research pertinent to maternal and child health, during and after my formal education in lactation from "Health-e-learning: and International Institute of Human Lactation, Canada", I have published several manuscripts in the refereed journals and presented my research papers pertinent to lactation at the national and international conferences.

International Peer Reviewed and Indexed Journals

  1. Hirani, S. A. (In press). Continuing Breastfeeding with Paid Employment: Perceived Availability of Support from Informal Social Network and Breastfeeding Practices of Pakistani Urban Women. Clinical Lactation [Indexed in Google scholar; Publisher: Spring Publishing Company] 
  2. Sachwani, S., Karmaliani, R., Hirani, S. A., Khowaja. A. R., & Lalwani, E. (2015). Association between breastfeeding and childhood obesity among school-going children, 5-16 years of age in Karachi, Pakistan. International Journal of Nursing Education, 8 (2), 265-270.
  3. Sachwani, S., Karmaliani, R., Hirani, S. A., Khowaja. A. R., & Lalwani, E. (2015). Whether maternal factors are associated with childhood obesity: A matched case-control study. International Journal of Nursing Education, 8 (2), 298-302.
  4. Hirani, S. A., & Karmaliani, R. (2013). The Experiences of Urban, Professional Women when Combining Breastfeeding with Paid Employment in Karachi, Pakistan: A Qualitative study. Women and Birth, 26 (2), 147-1515. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2012.10.007. [Indexed in PUBMED, MEDLINE, Scopus, & CINHAL; Publisher: Elsevier; impact factor: 1.696].
  5. Hirani, S. A., Karmaliani, R., Christie, T., Parpio, Y., & Rafique, G. (2013). Perceived Breastfeeding Support Assessment Tool (PBSAT): Development and testing of psychometric properties with Pakistani urban working mothers. Midwifery, 29 (6), 599-607. doi:10.1016/j.midw.2012.05.003. [Indexed in PUBMED, MEDLINE, CINHAL, Scopus; Publisher: Elsevier; impact factor: 1.707].
  6. Hirani, S. A., & Karmaliani, R. (2013). Evidence based workplace interventions to promote breastfeeding practices among Pakistani working mothers. Women and Birth, 26 (1), 10-16.doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2011.12.005. [Indexed in PUBMED, MEDLINE, Scopus, & CINHAL; Publisher: Elsevier; impact factor: 1.696].
  7. Hirani, S. A., & Karmaliani, R. (2012). Breastfeeding Support for working mothers: Global and Pakistani perspectives. Current Pediatric Reviews. 8 (4), 313-321. doi: 10.2174/1573212700124073963. [Indexed in CINHAL, EMBASE, Scopus; Publisher: Bentham Science Publishers].

In future years, with my IBCLC credentials, I am willing to continue to work towards supporting, promoting and protecting breastfeeding among Pakistani women in diverse care setups and would like to pursue my PhD studies with the focus on lactation. My gratitude to Trudi Szallasi Memorial Scholarship Award for keeping up my motivation, facilitating me to reach all the glorious milestones in my academic career, and enabling me to make a difference in my region as an IBCLC.