Taking Off the Rose-Colored Glasses, Breastfeeding in Appalachia

On Friday I attended the second annual Appalachian Breastfeeding Network Conference. The theme was “Taking off the Rose-Colored Glasses”, and the presentations focused on the barriers to breastfeeding in our region.

The conference was held at the surprisingly lovely Burr Oak Lodge, in Glouster OH. Thankfully it was close enough to attend while on-call. It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to go next year in Tennessee if I have any births lined up. I enjoyed taking short walks down to the lake between speakers, and am definitely keeping this locale in mind for future close-to-home vacations!

Anyway, I digress from the topic here. I loved the theme of this year’s conference, but it was challenging to sit through a day of presentations on opioid addiction, sexual assault, racism, and birth trauma. I am really grateful to the awesome friends and co-workers who attended with me, who added some levity to an otherwise very heavy day. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us as Breastfeeding support professionals! I learned so much about navigating the subtlety and variety of breastfeeding problems that can accompany the aforementioned topics.

I am also extremely grateful to have listened to a speaker like Linda Smith! She was honestly so amazing. If you didn’t know, Linda is one of the Breastfeeding goddesses, and author of books such as Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding, Comprehensive Lactation Consultant Exam Review, and Sweet Sleep. I found her presentation on how Birth practice and trauma effect breastfeeding to be really informative. It reinforced suspicions that I’ve had on this topic for a while, but didn’t have evidence based guidelines to back it up, until now. One of the things I found fascinating was how different delivery methods can present particular barriers to successful breastfeeding for baby. For example, the way in which a baby is typically extracted from the womb during a cesarean birth can put pressure on nerves that connect to the tongue, which in turn can lead to an ineffective suck. Thankfully Linda mentioned some strategies for helping in the postpartum. Pretty amazing info to keep in my CLC bag!

The other speakers were great too, but none stick out in my mind quite like Linda! I might update again with a bit more on the other speakers and presentations, but that’s all for now.

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