RN, BSc, MA
Lactation Specialist and Childbirth Educator (CAPPA, LEC, BPNI)
The month of July was a busy travel time for me, but I had the privilege of attending ILCA's 2016 Conference in Chicago. The theme was, "Celebrating Baby Friendly in the Hospital and Beyond: Helping Families Thrive Worldwide." I work in a city where I am the only official lactation professional, so when I walked in a room of 900 lactation professionals I was in shock. It was an immediate moment of camaraderie. After working in an under-served region of the world for the past 4 years, I was amazed to hear stories of success and triumph. I knew that I would be drinking from a proverbial knowledge and networking firehouse. I was able to make many connections, grow in professional knowledge, and dream about what could be for the lactation profession in India.
After a month back in India, I have been thinking about how to make such a conference more readily accessible to those working in the Asian context. My fellow co-workers in India, Pakistan, Thailand, China, and so on deserve an opportunity to have mutual encouragement at such a conference. Working in the lactation profession is both a rewarding and exhausting career. We believe that breastfeeding both saves and changes lives. We read research and are reminded that with breastfeeding in the first hour and exclusively for 6 months 800,000 children's' lives could be saved (Lancet Study, 2016). So, how do we gather together to be refreshed by knowledge and networking and commit ourselves again to the cause that breastfeeding saves lives.
I feel that the solution to this dilemma is partnership. Without collaboration in all contexts, we can only go so far alone. An African proverb states, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." I am a person who likes to make things happen, and sometimes I believe the lie that working with others slows me down. Each year I am reminded that team, teamwork, collaboration matters. So, I look forward to attending more breastfeeding conferences in years to come and sharing stories of working together. So, will you join me?