The good news

The new year is always flooded with well-intentioned resolutions. Hopeful humans dedicate themselves to healthy lifestyles, doing good and overall positivity.

Source: United States Breastfeeding Committee.

For a brief moment, I’d considered committing this year’s blog to nothing but rosy articulations of improvements in maternal child health, until I snapped back into reality, reminded of the immense (although not insurmountable) challenges families face.

I can write with confidence that throughout 2019, Our Milky Way will be filled with happy stories of the incredible people working to lessen those challenges, but those stories will inevitably be accompanied by articles that expose and remind us of seemingly never-ending threats on achieving optimal maternal child health outcomes.

Today, let’s start on a high note. This year’s 25th Annual International Breastfeeding Conference brought to light an abundance of good news.

First, there are the documents that govern hopeful policy change.

The World Health Organization (WHO) created Intrapartum care for a positive childbirth experience which consolidates and evaluates new evidence during the intrapartum period.

“This is one of those cases where we could not be more pleased with the outcome,” Healthy Children Project’s Executive Director Karin Cadwell confirms.

One of the biggest changes acknowledged in the report is how we look at the duration of labor.

It challenges the flawed Friedman’s Curve and states “A minimum cervical dilatation rate of 1 cm/hour throughout active first stage of labour is unrealistically fast for some women and is therefore not recommended for identification of normal labour progression. A slower than 1-cm/hour cervical dilatation rate alone should not be an indication for obstetric intervention.” (p 51)

Source: United States Breastfeeding Committee.

While messaging about proper complementary feeding is fraught with inconsistencies, Healthy Eating Research’s Feeding Guidelines for Infants and Young Toddlers: A Responsive Parenting Approach offers consolidated recommendations based on current scientific evidence.

This resource is also accompanied by fun videos from to help parents navigate what, when and how to feed young children.

Amina Alio, PhD prepared TOXIC STRESS AND MATERNAL AND INFANT HEALTH: A Brief Overview and Tips for Community Health Workers in response to the detrimental effects of toxic stress.

“The good news is, with the help of a positive environment and support, some of these negative effects of toxic stress can be reversed,” she writes.

The document offers suggestions on how community health workers can intervene along with providing examples of programs successful at addressing toxic stress.

Source: United States Breastfeeding Committee.

Then there are the programs that have been successful at mitigating the obesity epidemic like the NOURISH randomized control trial, an Australian program intended to impact early childhood feeding practices which proved to have a positive impact on obesity rates.

In the U.S., the WIC program serves roughly half of all infants born in the U.S. Last year, it was reported that obesity rates among the WIC population have dropped despite obesity being a difficult condition to reverse.

The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) has demonstrated that our nation is especially good at measuring things; things that we value at least.

It wasn’t until recently though that there’s been a push to review maternal deaths in the U.S.

The Preventing Maternal Deaths Act was signed into law late last year which requires states to track and investigate deaths of expectant and new mothers.

Building U.S. Capacity to Review and Prevent Maternal Deaths promotes the maternal mortality review process to understand why maternal mortality in the United States is increasing, and identify interventions to prevent maternal deaths.

“It’s a tiny step,” Cadwell comments. She predicts that we won’t start to see changes as a result of this process for at least a decade.

One organization that is seeing results though, is HealthConnect One. Through its Community- Based Doula Program, the organization celebrates lower than average c-section rates and breastfeeding rates that exceed those tracked by the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS).

In other news, International Breastfeeding Conference participants raised over $1,000 for the Lucky Iron Fish foundation through the famous Milk Duck Race fundraiser.

And Nikki Lee of Nikki Lee Health donated $180 to Healthy Children Project toward a scholarship for next year’s conference.

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