2018 marked the 10th anniversary of Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio. Since starting we have researched outpatient lactation support in the pediatric office, infectious causes of chronic pain, and described and shown the benefit of Therapeutic Breast Massage in Lactation for treating acute breast pain.
This journey has been made possible through collaboration with many colleagues, patients and families. To celebrate we hosted the event Breastfeeding Around the World: a panel discussion on breastfeeding in different cultures and countries including Australia, Latvia, Costa Rica, Russia and Thailand.
Thailand’s government has promoted breastfeeding through national programs since the late 1980s. In 1991 there was a national initiation to support implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and by 1996, 99% of public hospitals were certified. They have continued with national efforts since then and currently maintain breastfeeding initiation close to 90% with approximately 40% of the population still breastfeeding at one year. Exclusive breastmilk feeding continues to be a struggle (12.3% in 2013). “Yuu Deaun” is the time mothers stay home during the first month postpartum with reduced activity. They eat foods supportive of their milk supply including ginger, banana flower, warm water, spicy mixed vegetable soup, lemon and Thai basil and gourds. There is also an increased focus on protein in the diet including egg, tofu, chicken, fish and seafood.
The Latvian Lactation Consultants Association (LLCA) was established in 2011 to improve public health in Latvia by working to increase the number of breastfed children. In 2017 they arranged 413 classes providing free lectures and consultations in breastfeeding through support of the Riga City Council project. There are currently 2 International Board Certified lactation consultants (IBCLC) in Latvia who certified in 2010 and 2011. Taking the exam in a foreign language(English) remains a big obstacle for the others in Latvia. Overall Sandra Lase, IBCLC from Latvia noted they “see a very positive dynamic, since more and more mothers seek our assistance and higher trust from physicians is observed.”
Breastfeeding data for Australia last collected in 2010 reported 90% initiation with 15.4% exclusive breastfeeding to 5 months. The Australia Breastfeeding Association was founded in 1964 and provides mother-to-mother breastfeeding information and support, along with health professional education. Dale Hannson, RN, Dip BM, shared the work of World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative(WBTi) Australia to address the disregard for the WHO code for the International Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. They are supporting completion of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) tool with the aim of using this information to enable action to improve breastfeeding support in Australia.
Russia has a long history of breastfeeding. Common beliefs about breastfeeding include scheduled feedings, manual expression after each feeding to prevent mastitis and the belief that a mother can “spoil” the baby by holding him/her all the time. While breastfeeding, mothers often eat a restricted diet including no green vegetables, spicy food, oranges or strawberries. The Natural Feeding Consultants Association of Russia (NFCA) was founded in 2006 to support breastfeeding mothers and provide information and education to Russian-speaking lactation consultants. Like Latvia, IBCLC’s are limited because of the barrier of taking the IBCLCE exam in a foreign language. Theresa Yaroshevich, the first IBCLC in Russia, shared “I love that Russian women are so willing to breastfeed. They are a joy to counsel. It is a very good side of this culture. No one here really seems to believe that formula is a “good substitute” for mother’s milk.”
Thank you to all who joined us at our Breastfeeding Around the World Event! We look forward to future collaboration with colleagues and families.