Friday, 11 March 2011

Breastfeeding & Feminism: Day 1

I really need to take more notes at these things! So here are a few notes pulled out of my very scattered information overloaded brain:

- Eugene Declercq gave a great keynote on statistical trends in C-sections, VBAC, and other birth-related stuff. One of the most interesting sections was on homebirth. Still very tiny numbers, so hard to identify a definite overall upward trend, but it seems to be on the rise. He then broke the trends out by race, and that was fascinating: homebirth rates were the same or dropping for all races except for white women, who are clearly seeing an uptick. He reports that in the latest stats, 1% of all births to white women happened at home. That seemed high to me, but apparently that's what the statistics are telling us. I am not at all surprised, however, by the disparity.

- Bettina Lauf Forbes and Danielle Rigg of Best for Babes spoke about reframing breastfeeding, including how much they dislike the phrase "protect, promote, and support breastfeeding" - they want to replace it with "inspire, prepare, and empower moms". They really have a marketing mindset of helping introduce moms to breastfeeding via common consumer culture avenues like celebrity profiles, then help educate them on avoiding the "booby traps". As they pointed out, we have very high BF intention rates - we need to help moms achieve their personal goals!

- Keren Epstein-Gilboa, who came all the way from Canada, gave a really dynamic talk on breastfeeding and envy. She first had us imagine something that we really, really wanted - a job, a person, a house, whatever - and say how it made us felt. (Great!) Then we had to think about how we couldn't have it - and how that made us feel. (Well, pretty crappy.) Now how did we feel about that thing, and the person who had that thing instead of us? We often tell ourselves we didn't want it anyway, or that it really isn't that great, or we try to break it into parts. She used that introduction to discuss her research on the relationship of fathers to breastfeeding, and how different societies treat mothers and by extension how they treat breastfeeding, and also what it means for women who try to breastfeeding and aren't able to. I only wish she'd had more than 15 minutes!

That's all for now - I've got to start recharging my brain for tomorrow...