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Meet Amber McCann; A Lamaze International 2013 Annual Conference Keynote Speaker

August 13th, 2013 by avatar

This year’s annual conference is a just a short two months away, and the more I learn about what Lamaze International has in store for conference attendees, the more excited I get! The venue is the wonderful city of New Orleans and the theme is “Let the Good Times Roll for a Safe and Healthy Birth.”  I know I am going to leave just brimming with new information, resources and ideas for my teaching and doula work, along with lots of information to write about on this blog.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Amber McCann, IBCLC one of the two keynote speakers at this year’s conference.  Amber is an expert on breastfeeding and social media, and this topic is *hot* right now!  Her dynamic personality along with her enthusiasm and knowledge for reaching and working with new mothers as they transition to motherhood and breastfeeding convince me that her keynote “Today’s Mothers are All Thumbs: Cultural Competency for Digital Motherhood” will be fun, funny, informative and thought provoking.

Learn more about the annual conference, the great speaker line up and registration here!  Don’t hesitate to join in the fun, I know it is going to be a fantastic weekend of learning and networking.  Look for a guest post from Amber soon on Science & Sensibility.  We will also be highlighting Dr. Richard Waldman, our other keynote speaker here as well, as the excitement for the conference builds.

Sharon Muza: How has social media and the digital age helped women who are planning to breastfeed or are breastfeeding?

Amber McCann: The world just got a whole lot bigger! Before the digital age, our opportunities to find resources were largely word of mouth. We found information and education in the same places that most of the other mothers in our circles found information and education. NOW, we are able to multiply the experiences, stories, “come, walk beside me” kind of support that we previously could only find in a limited manner. The brave women who came before us did so much to pave the way and now we’re able to take what they did and bring it to a larger audience.

SM: Has the internet, social media and other digital sources created problems for women who are hoping to breastfeed or who are breastfeeding?  What about those who found themselves unable to breastfeed?
 
AM: On the internet, everything is stronger, louder, and more intense. We have better resources…but it also means we have unhelpful or non-evidence-based resources. We have greater access to trained volunteers and professionals…but we also have access to those who aren’t qualified. We have a tremendous amount of cheerleading for those who reach their goals…but we also have tremendous disparaging of those who encountered things in their path that made breastfeeding extremely challenging. It can be a tough place and requires a certain amount of critical thinking and “gut trusting” for women who are new to the journey. I work very hard to help the good outweigh the destructive.
 
SM: What are your favorite resources for breastfeeding women on the web?
 
This is like asking my mother to choose her favorite grandchild! There are so many that I’ve loved watching blossom and grow. For general information, I’m a big fan of The Leaky Boob Facebook Page. Jessica Martin-Weber has done a profoundly fantastic job building the page and she supports families to make the decision that is right for themselves and their baby. She provides a well-balanced perspective and I find myself gravitating towards that kind of support. I also have a very special place in my heart for the sites/groups/communities that have sprung up around breastfeeding challenges that have an extra level of complexity to them such as the Facebook groups for moms with insufficient glandular tissue, adoptive breastfeeding mothers, and transgender birth and breastfeeding. These groups embody all that I love about the internet: bringing together those that previously might have felt they were all alone.
 
SM: What are your favorite digital resources for birth professionals on the topic of breastfeeding?
 
AM: My favorite resource for evidence-based information about breastfeeding is Kellymom.com. Kelly Bonyata, an IBCLC from Florida, has build an incredible website with easy to understand facts and support for all kinds of breastfeeding situations. I think it is a great “go to” for anyone working with new families. Of course, there will be times where we are required to dig a bit deeper so don’t hesitate to reach out to the IBCLCs in your community.
 
SM: What digital resources can childbirth educators use to enhance their classes when covering breastfeeding topics?
 
AM: YouTube is your friend!!! There are so many excellent (and often hilarious!) videos on YouTube that would be wonderful additions to any breastfeeding class. Your classes are full of all kinds of learners and videos are great at reaching several kinds. As a visual learner myself, I need to SEE what it is that I’m learning and so often, in lecture format classes, I feel a bit forgotten. But add in a video or two and I’ve been able to take in information in a way that works for me.
 
SM: How has your practice as a Lactation Consultant in private practice changed over the years?
 
AM: When I became an IBCLC and decided to pursue private practice, we were living just outside of Washington, DC and my youngest had just entered kindergarten. I love the flexibility it provided and the ability it gave me to make the business model work for me and my family. Because I recognized that the women who were in need of my services were largely congregating online, I specifically modeled my practice in a way that supported these women. It was a wonderful and busy few years!
 
Earlier in 2013, I was offered a position with the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh that sounded like my dream job (and I’ll admit that, so far, it totally is!). I work several days a week providing direct clinical care to breastfeeding families in our office where I am supported by pediatricans and other providers (many of whom are also board certified lactation consultants). It is very much a team model, much different that in my previous practice where I was a lone wolf. In addition to clinical care, I provide social media and marketing communications for the practice. I’m so thankful that my employer has chosen to look carefully at the skills of each employee and really plug us in to what we do best.
 
SM: How did you come to be an IBCLC?  What was the path that brought you here?
 
AM: I often tell people that my path to becoming an IBCLC started when my daughter was 6 days old and I was sitting in tears on the stairs of our home. My entry into motherhood was a bit traumatic and on that day, I was at the end of my rope. I couldn’t find the support I needed and didn’t know where else to look. I decided that this pain and frustration had to be for good some day.
 
I didn’t put energy into figuring out how that would work until my children were all approaching school age. I knew that I’d need to put my time and energy into some new pursuits and breastfeeding was a good fit. Our pastor used to talk about “finding our sweet spot”…that place where what you are good at meets together with what you are passionate about. That place for me is in supporting new mothers. Lactation consulting affords me the opportunity to be exactly where I was made to be.
 
Like many in my field, I do not have a medical degree. My undergrad program was in sociology and I also did some Master’s work in Urban Ministry. As I pursued my IBCLC, I had to take classes and pour my time and energy into obtaining both the knowledge and experience necessary for the job.
 
SM: What has been the most rewarding thing about your work, in all of its forms?
 
SM: I find the most joy when the moms I work with are able to gain confidence that they can achieve whatever tiny goal we’ve set…it might be as simple as “I’d like you to sit here for 15 minutes and do nothing but hold this baby skin to skin on your chest. Do you think you can do that?” A nod of the head and smile is usually enough to energize me through the rest of the day. I want moms to feel strong and capable and so many of them come away from their early moments of parenthood as anything but. I’m honored to be one of the first people to be invited into that sacred space. I don’t take it lightly and my hope is always that the moms I encounter come away feeling as though they were perfectly created for this task.
 
SM: What has been the most frustrating obstacle about your work, in all of its forms?
 
AM: I’m sure this isn’t a popular answer but the most frustrating thing for me is when a family doesn’t feel empowered to make the decision that is the right one for them, whether it is what I would chose for them or not. I stand whole-heartedly behind the incredible public health benefits of breastfeeding and I work every day to support it in our culture. But, ultimately, it comes down to one family and the resources, support, and energy that they have. It is their child; they get to make the decisions. As new parents, we hear a cacophony of voices, opinions, and strong statements. As birth and breastfeeding professionals, we make them. As friends and family, we make them. As members of a community, we make them. I wish more families felt supported instead of preached at. Because many families have already experienced this before they encounter me, I often have to do a bit of reassuring before we can get down to the business at hand.
 
SM: After becoming an LC, how did you get drawn to the idea of using social media to spread your message?
 
AM: As you’ll hear in my presentation at the conference, the internet saved my life as a new mother…and I’m promising you right now that I will break down a little as a tell you my story. Those were the days before it was “social media” and it was instead message boards, emails, and listservs. But, even when I was completely incapacitated with fear, the deep heart knowledge that someone I had never met face-to-face could reach out through my computer screen and speak love to me was life-changing. I guess after that experience, I didn’t know how to provide support to new mothers in any other way.
 
SM: What do you wish that pregnant women knew about breastfeeding before their babies arrive?
 
AM: I wish they knew that their bodies were perfectly designed for the tasks ahead of them. It seems to me that birth and breastfeeding are the two biological processes that our culture assumes WON’T work. From the moment a family announces their pregnancy, they hear a lot of messages about how things might not go the way they hope. I wish instead that they were overwhelmed with messages that affirm that their bodies can do the things they will have to do. Of course, as in all things, these processes sometimes break down. But coming at it with a “Yes, I Can!” mentality instead of a “I’m Afraid It Won’t Work” one can go a long way towards reaching our goals.
 
SM: What do you think about the increase in using Skype and Google Hangouts to offer remote breastfeeding consultations?
 
AM: I’m quite fascinated by it and have participated in “virtual consults” myself. It is a real challenge though and I would strongly encourage families to seek face-to-face support first. I tell my clients that doing consults like this is like practicing with “one hand tied behind my back”! Even virtual consults require a consent and full history of both mom and baby. I find them especially helpful in older baby issues (mom going back to work, weaning) and rarely do them for newborns. But, often, especially when the appropriate care in unavailable in the community, these kinds of consults can be a breastfeeding relationship saver!
 
SM: What do you want childbirth educators to know about teaching breastfeeding in their classes?
 
AM: Don’t dwell on all of the things that can go wrong. Often, in an attempt to gather the maximum amount of information before their births, families desire details about the minutia of these wonderful biological processes of our body. They want a “fix” for every possible challenge. But, doing so can strengthen fear. I’m a firm believer that the best message a family can take from prenatal breastfeeding education is “You were created for this. Trust your body.”
 
SM: Tell us something about yourself that we would be surprised to learn about you?
 
AM: Hmmm…besides the fact that I’m deathly afraid of frogs and love really terrible reality TV? Many would be surprised that, until very recently, I had never seen a baby born other than my own. I’ve just returned from a trip to Papua New Guinea, where I was able to shadow and assist in the maternity ward of a remote mission hospital. Even though I’ve seen thousands of women breastfeed, I’d never seen one birth and I was both inspired and honored by the experience.
 
SM: Can you offer us a sneak peak about some key takeaway points of your upcoming keynote presentation?
 
My favorite takeaway from all of my presentations is the same takeaway we hope to give our clients and students: “You Can Do It! I Believe in You!” So many in the birth and breastfeeding field feel intimidated and overwhelmed by social media, much like those we serve who feel the same about their upcoming entry into parenthood. I hope to provide the same type of encouragement to my colleagues in regards to social media that we all provide to parents.

More about Amber McCann

Amber McCann is a board certified lactation consultant. Her current interests are connecting with mothers through social media channels and teaching others in her profession to do the same. In addition to her work as the co-editor of Lactation Matters, the International Lactation Consultant Association’s official blog, she has written for a number of other breastfeeding support blogs and serves as the social media coordinator for lactation related organizations such as: GOLD, Lactation Education Resources and Nourish Breastfeeding Support. McCann’s expertise not only derives from her experience in coordinating social media outreach and writing content for various blogs, but she has also furthered her credibility through her participation as a volunteer as well as engaging in numerous public speaking and presentation opportunities advocating for her passion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Conference Schedule, Continuing Education, Infant Attachment, Lamaze International, Lamaze International 2013 Annual Conference, Newborns , , , , , , , , ,

Free Breastfeeding Webinars for Birth Professionals through ILCA

November 7th, 2012 by avatar

flickr.com/photos/muskva/90959878/

Are you a lactation consultant, teach breastfeeding classes or work with new mother-baby dyads during the breastfeeding period?  The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) is offering *free* live continuing education webinars.  These webinars are taught by experts on the various topics and offered in English, Spanish and French.  Continuing education credits are available for a fee for those who need the ILCA hours, but others may attend the webinars at no cost.

The next webinar is scheduled for November 20th at 10:00 AM EST and the topic is “New Perspectives on Breastfeeding and Alcohol” presented by Ted Greiner, PhD.  For more information, to register, and learn about what other topics might be available in the future, click over to the ILCA webinar website, and check there frequently to see new free webinar offerings.

Questions about how to register, problems, concerns, handouts, contact hours, etc for the ILCA Webinars should be directed to the ILCA staff.  More info here.

Babies, Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Continuing Education, Evidence Based Medicine, informed Consent, Parenting an Infant, Uncategorized, Webinars , , , ,

Help New Mothers Breastfeed In Comfort; Nordstrom Converts Any Bra Into A Nursing Bra For A $10 Fee

August 2nd, 2012 by avatar

Here is a useful nugget of information to help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week that you may want to share with your students and clients in childbirth classes.  Did you know that Nordstrom will convert any bra into a nursing bra for a small alteration fee of $10?  A mother does not even have to have purchased the bra from Nordstrom.

Creative Commons Photo: Children’s Bureau Centennial. WPA Project 1938

Nordstrom has long been a favorite of mine for their expert bra fitters, but this service now allows women to have their favorite bras converted into a nursing bra with very little expense and quick turn around. Many families are faced with significant expenses when having a baby, and this simple service can help new mothers transition to the breastfeeding relationship in comfort and style, wearing their favorite bras.  Part of a successful nursing relationship is feeling comfortable feeding a baby in many locations, and having clothes, including nursing bras, that fit, feel good and make nursing easier and more comfortable is a key factor.  Do confirm with your local store before sharing with classes, but I called several locations around the country and received 100 percent confirmation that this is indeed a service they offer.  Thanks Nordstrom!

Breastfeeding, Childbirth Education, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, Infant Attachment, Newborns, Push for Your Baby, Science & Sensibility, Uncategorized , , , , , ,

2011 Perinatal Care Conferences Schedule

February 1st, 2011 by avatar

With the New Year well under way, it’s a good time to cast a giant spotlight on the conference schedule for the year…and boy, is there a lot to choose from!  Below you will find conferences listed according to discipline and (mostly) by date.  I commend each and every reader to attend at least one conference from the following list.  There is SO MUCH happening in terms of research and development of evidence-based care practices in the realms of perinatal, lactation and maternal mental health care…keeping up to date on-line is wonderful, but being a part of the action in person, as it is unfolding, is another experience entirely!

~ Childbirth Education ~
Lamaze’s Annual Conference:  “Steering Change for Safe and Healthy Birth
” in Fort Worth, TX Sept 15-18

Regional Association of Childbirth Educators of Puget Sound (REACHE) in Tacoma, WA March 4 featuring guests speakers Michele Deck, Pamela England and Sheri Deveney.

Health Connect One’s Fifth Annual Conference:  “Birth, Breastfeeding and Beyond: Sustaining Community-Based Practices” Washington DC March 21-23 which will further the organization’s efforts to sustain community-based maternal and child health practices in underserved communities.

International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) Regional Conferences in Washington DC (March 26), Pensacola, FL (May 4-6), Sacramento, CA (May 13-15), Minneapolis, MS (June 23-24), Knoxville, TN (Sept 28-Oct 1), Burbank, CA (Oct 22-24), Anchorage, AK (Oct).  **Featured speakers at individual regional conferences include Penny Simkin, Henci Goer, Marilyn Hildreth, Jeanette Swartz, Ina May Gaskin, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and others…

Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association (CAPPA) Annual Conference in Valencia, CA June 23-26 (with pre- and post-conference special workshops  June 21-23; 27-28)

~ Midwifery ~
Midwifery Today’s Conference: “Gentle Birth is a Human Rights Issue” featuring a keynote address by Dr. Michele Odent in Eugene, OR March 3 – April 3

Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) Regional Conferences in the Chesapeake Bay area, MD (May 1) and Cary, NC (Aug 6-7). Their joint conference with the Canadian Association of Midwives will be in Niagara Falls, Ontario Nov 9-11.

American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) 56th Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX  May 24-28

International Center for Traditional Childbearing’s Midwifery Conference in Biloxi, MS Oct 15-17

*For additional midwifery-related conferences, go here: http://www.midwife.org/master_calendar.cfm

~ Doulas ~
Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Associations (CAPPA) Annual Conference in Valencia, CA June 23-26 (with pre- and post-conference special workshops June 21-23; 27-28)

Doulas of North America (DONA) 17th Annual Conference in Boston, MA July 21-24

~ Perinatal Mental Health ~
Postpartum Support International (PSI) 25th Annual Conference: “Whole Care for the Whole Family” in Seattle, WA Sept 16-17 (with pre-conference workshops and activities Sept 14-15)

~ Improving Maternity Care Research & Advocacy Groups ~
Coalition for Improving Maternity Services:  “Reframing Birth and Breastfeeding:  Moving Forwrad” in Chapel Hill, NC March 11-12 with pre-conference workshops Mar 10.

International Cesarean Awareness Network’s Annual Conference;  “Your Gateway to a Better Birth” in St Louis, MO April 8-10

Partners in Perinatal Health 22nd Annual Conference in Norwood, MA May 17

Perinatal Advisory Council:  Leadership, Advocacy & Consultation’s 15th Annual Conference: “Quality of Life for Families XIV: Improving the Outcomes of Pregnancy” in Los Angeles, CA May 25-26

~ Nursing ~
March of Dimes’ 36th Annual Perinatal Nursing Conference in Oak Lawn, IL  March 3-4.
Various topic tracks will be featured at this conference, including: Public Health, High Risk Newborn, Lactation, L&D/Mother Baby.

Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses’ (AWHONN) Annual Convention in Denver, CO June 25-29.

~ Medical Conferences ~
American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) – 59th Annual Clinical Meeting in Washington DC April 30 – May 4.

For American Academy of Family Physicians conferences related to maternity care and women’s health issues, go here for future listings: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/cme/aafpcourses/conferences/aafpevents/byevent.html#Parsys64996

~ Public Health ~
Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs’ (AMCHP) Annual Conference in Washington DC Feb. 12-15

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Birth Summit will take place in northern Virginia on April 9. The summit will call together physicians, researchers, midwives, childbirth professionals, and advocacy groups to examine the rising maternal mortality rate in the US.

~ Lactation Support ~
International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA): “Raising the Bar: Enhancing Practices and Improving Health Outcomes” in San Diego, CA July 13-17

Nursing Mothers’ Council Breastfeeding Conference in Boxborough, MA on April 1

To see an entire years’ worth of breastfeeding support-related conferences, go here:  http://www.breastfeedingconferences.com/ (U.S. and international conferences listed)

~ Others ~
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s “Evidence Based Solutions for Improving Pelvic Floor Health and Function – Women’s Health Rehabilitation Symposium & Post-conference Workshop” in Chicago, IL May 13-14

~ International ~
The Lancet journal launches a new series on the issue of stillbirth with simultaneous press conference events in Johannesburg, South Africa and London, England on March 8.  For more information, visit the Lancet’s website (following the launch) and International Stillbirth Alliance’s website.

Association of Radical Midwives National Meeting in Wigan, UK March 19.

3rd International Nursing and Midwifery Conference (hosted by hosted by the School of Nursing & Midwifery, National University of Ireland) in Galway April 4-5

International Confederation of Midwives 29th Triennial Conference in Durban, South Africa June 19-23.

New Zealand Lactation Consultants Association (NZLCA) Conference:  Breastfeeding:  Passport to Life in Christchurch, NZ Aug 26-28.

Australian College of Midwives 17th Annual Conference:  “A Midwifery Odyssey” in Eveleigh, Sydney Oct 18-21.

If you are aware of a conference worthy of being on this list, please add the relevant information via the Comments box below…

Conference Schedule, Evidence Based Medicine, Research for Advocacy , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,