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13th Annual Breastfeeding Conference PDF Print E-mail
Written by Heart to Heart™   
Sunday, 01 June 2003
June 2003 - Seminar and Conference Summary

I had the opportunity the first week in June this year to attend two very informative conferences. The first one was the 13th Annual National Breastfeeding Seminar at Humber College in North York, Ontario. Health professionals including doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, midwives and doulas from across Canada attended it to hear the most up to date research on breastfeeding issues.

Although I spent most of my time at our booth handing out information and demonstrating our Heart to Heart baby sling (especially Imagebreastfeeding positions ) I did attend sessions when possible. One very informative seminar was “Understanding the Impact of Parenting Styles on Exclusive Breastfeeding” by Attie Sandink RN, IBCLC who runs the Breastfeeding Clinic at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ontario. She did a short review of several baby books currently on the North American market, including the “Baby Wise” series by Gary and Marie Ezzo and “The Baby Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. Attie also spoke about health care professionals being seen as not only health experts–but parenting experts as well. The common complaint doctors hear from new parents is the lack of sleep. Not surprisingly, the main focus of most parenting book styles is : How to Get Sleep.

I was appalled to see how these “parenting” books tried to control the infant feeding and nurturing process and manipulate a mother’s natural parenting instinct. I was also surprised by the lack of evidence based research to support these books.

Later in the week I attended the Central and Southern Ontario La Leche League Conference in Milton, Ontario. It was wonderful to see so many friends, especially the LLL leaders that helped me so much with my firstborn, Susan Wheat and Jill Heckman. Keynote speaker Dr. Jack Newman, pediatrician, author and the Canadian Breastfeeding expert, spoke on “Stress and Low Weight Gain.” Allowing your baby to “cry it out” increases his levels of cortisol, a hormone that indicates stress – which affects the baby’s ability to self calm. Excessive crying in the newborn interferes with normal bodily functions in EVERY WAY – including gut tensing, heart pounding, increased blood pressure, laboured breathing and disorientation. It can also affect weight gain through burning too many calories or becoming too fatigued to nurse effectively. Dr. Newman also discussed the medical mismanagement of breastfeeding and the numbers ie. charts with bell curves used to “rate” babies’ weight gain and the needless worry inflicted on parents.

The second keynote speaker was Dr. Jay Gordon, from California, a pediatrician, author and the first male certified lactation consultant. Dr. Gordon spoke on the “Family Bed, Crib Death and Sex”. He also touched on the “Baby Whisperer” and the “Baby Wise” series; what he sees is the relationship between parents and baby is not brought closer together, but week by week is pushed farther apart when the baby is left to cry a little longer. He made me laugh when he said “The way these books tell you to treat your baby – you wouldn’t treat a guest like that – “Great to have you here ! There’s your room – just stay in your bed and cry all you want – we’ll be in to feed you in 3 hours.”

I have to say, in my own experience, that letting my baby cry was not an option. I believe babies are designed to be in constant contact. I breastfed on demand, tucked all our babies into bed with us and carried them almost everywhere. I tried to treat them the way I would want to be treated. Today they are 18, 15, 13 and 11 years of age and in my unbiased opinion, the greatest kids in the world. They are confident, happy, respectful and intelligent. There is no end to Baby Books, but – the best “baby whisperer” is your heart.

Editorial by Bev Hoefs – owner of Heart to Heart Designs for Mothering

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