Archives for posts with tag: conference

I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding, I understand the benefits it can bring to children and subsequently to the child’s parents. We have been lucky enough to provide this choice to our children. It’s not always an easy option but with support and determination parents can keep breastfeeding their children for many years.

Some of the main breastfeeding support services in Ireland are Le Leche League and Cuidiú – both of whom we have used. My wife was obviously the main participant in their services and she gained friendships as much as advice during her initiation into motherhood. She was so impressed by what they offered she has trained to be a qualified breastfeeding counsellor with the Cuidiú organisation.

As a breastfeeding dad my role is mainly to support my wife’s role in being the feeder of our children. That usually involves taking the slack in household duties and parenting, and also tagging along to various breastfeeding events so that my wife can listen to the various speakers and network with the other attendees. It can seem that dads are only the support parent of the household, but nevertheless an important role in the early years.

Next month, La Leche League is holding its annual conference in Ireland and the keynote speaker is Dr Jack Newman, a well known breastfeeding advocate and author. It’s great to see that a man can be included in the role of breastfeeding advisors. It’s not the first time the keynote is a man, I previously attended a conference where David Coleman was the keynote speaker. So, thankfully sexism or gender discrimination isn’t alive in the ranks of La Leche League.

However, something that sours my opinion of this organisation is their attitude to working mothers. The service is available to all mothers who need breastfeeding support. The problem arises when the ‘working’ mother wants to return the favour, and train up to be a support counsellor to other breastfeeding mothers. My wife, who works part-time, made an application to train with La Leche League but received a ‘dissuading’ letter which focused on her role as a mother who is working rather than a dedicated breastfeeder who wants to support other women. This reaction was very judgemental and hurt my wife. Thankfully Cuidiú had no such issue and welcomed the passion my wife has on the subject. I would assume that a working mother would be beneficial to Le Leche League as it provides the empathy and understanding a working mother might need during her work / life balance struggles.

The reason I wanted to write this today is that I find it slightly irritating that La Leche League have no problem asking a man who works for a living to speak about breastfeeding – to offer advice and support to mothers at their national conference. This contradicts their actions to not allow working women to do the same for the League. If training breastfeeding support advisors is only available to women who are full time stay-at-home-mothers, then it creates a diluted structure within the organisation, as mothers who want to return to work or mothers that cannot afford to stay at home cannot get involved. Why is a working mother not admired and accepted within La Leche League? Maybe there is an element of sexism after all!?

Anyway, that’s my soapbox moment, and obviously I hope it’s a policy the League will review. No matter what happens, remember that the support is there from Cuidiú and La Leche League for anyone who wants to breastfeed their children; and the conference is a great social event whereby you can gain support over the few days and in the months and years following afterwards.

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In less than two weeks I’ll be heading to Dublin for Offset 2013. It’s an annual designers conference that I discovered last year – a couple of weeks after the event! So this year I was one of the early bird ticket holders, and I’m getting really excited about it now.

As mentioned before, I’m a wannabe designer of sorts. I’m fascinated by the work of the creative industry, the variation in the work, and the joy someone can bring to us through their skill. For the last twelve months I’ve spent time researching and following designers and started to recognise names and their work.

One designer I discovered is Sarah Illenberger, who created an amazing infographic from food (see below). I’ve always used food to express my creativity, but only in the guise of cooking a nice meal. Illenberger uses the raw material as props for her designs. So, needless to say, I was thrilled to see her added to the Offset 2013 line up. It’s a three day event so there are plenty more designers who have work I admire and others I’m eager to see to learn more about.

Others designers talking over the weekend are Oliviero Toscani who did the infamous Benetton ad campaigns I remember from my days in Dublin. Niamh Sharkey, the author and illustrator of one of my daughter’s favourite books – The Ravenous Beast – will also be there. Street artists, photographers, digital creatives, and more illustrators (Oliver Jeffers has just confirmed his attendance) will take to the stage so I’m hoping to learn a lot. I’ll share more when I get back, or follow me here for updates.

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I attended a La Leche League conference last weekend; an inspirational event for us in determining our actions and beliefs in parenting. The main task of fathers attending the conference is to do their parenting role in the lobby or hotel corridors. Each year I think I will get to listen to some interesting facts from one of the conference speakers, but it hasn’t happened yet. My wife is usually the one who attends the sessions (she is obviously more interested and appreciative of the discussion on breastfeeding than I ever will) so I’m happy enough with the way things are right now. This year’s conference was less demanding of my parenting skills as our children loved the play and crafting rooms.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to write about this event is because the mothers who take on the mammoth task of feeding their child through their breasts get a lot of stick for this choice. Society, health professionals, partners, family, employers, etc can often be the critical nay-sayers of this very important role. I can appreciate the complex situations that sometimes prevent a mother taking on the breastfeeding role, but there are instances of people strongly criticising or preventing the mother from making, or continuing with, the choice to do it.

So today, on this day celebrating motherhood, a big Thank You goes out to mums who do or support breastfeeding! For those who might be struggling through it, here’s some information that might be encouraging and of interest.

2012 ESRI Figures on Average breastfeeding rates:

Ireland: 5 out of 10, UK: 8 out of 10, EU: 9 out of 10, Scandinavia: almost 10 out of 10

A study in Brazil found that infants who were not breastfed at all had a 14 times greater risk of death than those who were exclusively breastfed.

830,000 deaths could be avoided if every baby was breastfed within the first hour of birth.

Spending on formula feed is worth $25 Billion, whereas breastfeeding costs us nothing!

Ref: Superfood for Babies, Safe the Children, 2013
The Journal.ie, 2012, National Breastfeeding Week

I also include the data because, if the stats are correct (and I’ve no reason to dispute them), there are more children celebrating mothers today because of her choice to not go with the new fad of bottle feeding!

Thanks mam. x

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