I spent most of last week at the Healthy Children International Conference. This was my second year at this conference. Last year I had the pleasure of presenting a breakout workshop and this year a poster presentation.
I love conferences. I love learning new things about maternal child health. I love enhancing my knowledge so I can offer better support to women and babies.
These conferences always seem to come at just the right time. Of course, spending the week in sunny Florida instead of upstate NY during the January freeze was wonderful…but that’s not the timing I’m talking about.
Conferences rejuvenate me. Spending 3 days with 100 other women who are as passionate as I am about this field reminds me of why I do what I do. I think it is easy to get burned out, especially when you spend your time fixing others. Add in kids, pets, husband, holidays; I’m exhausted. I’m returning now with new motivation on the horizon, amazing new research to grow on, new friends to correspond with, and a renewed sense of urgency to save the world.
I’ve been a lactation consultant for several years. During this time I’ve seen a lot of changes that we can be proud of – breastfeeding in the workplace laws, increased interest in breastfeeding, and higher rates of breastfeeding initiation just to name a few. But change is slow and can be difficult to incorporate in today’s world. Not only did I learn more about the most recent breastfeeding research, I also learned that in the world of maternal child health, we still have much work to do if we are going to be able to offer mothers and babies a fighting chance in this world. The Mothers Day Report from May 2013 http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.8585863/k.9F31/State_of_the_Worlds_Mothers.htm?msource=weolpstw0513 tells the story of women and children in dismal circumstances by offering the statistical report including maternal morbidity and premature rates around the world. This report includes industrialized and third world countries, with the U.S. far worse than I’d like to admit. For a country that is ranked in the top 10 for education and economics, we shouldn’t be low on the list for women’s health care.
Is it surprising that Sweden tops the list? Not just for maternal/baby care but for low rates of infant and maternal mortality, the best options for maternity leave and fewer preterm births as well. Maybe the correlation is that in Sweden 45% of their Congress seats are made up of women, where in the U.S. Congress is 82% male.
Last week the burned out me might have read that report with a deep sigh and moved on to the next thing. This week, the rejuvenated me wants to focus on making changes happen. Understanding that the wheels turn slowly, change might be in the form of one mother/baby dyad at a time. But I think we can do this.