The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative conference started today. Oh my gosh, it was so good. Off memory, the topics lectured on were the Millenium Cohort Study done by Dr Maria Quigley of the University of Oxford. It was a great lecture and the study was done using very good science. Ah, the joy of using my brain again. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her explain their study on the effect of breastfeeding on hospitalisation cases of diarrhoeal disease and respiratory infection. Seriously, they used such good science. It made my heart leap with joy. She showed that exclusively breastfed babies did indeed have a significantly lower rate of hospitalisation for the two diseases they looked at, and that not breastfed babies as well as mix-fed babies, had much higher incidences. The only complaint I had was that as always, it was stated that breastfeeding 'reduces the risks' rather than formula increases the risks. Though I understand her reasons for stating it as she did (the number of formula-fed babies is so much higher that they formed her base group, but still, formula shouldn't be the 'norm' or we'll never come around to seeing breastfeeding in it's proper physiological context), it would've been interesting to hear the facts stated in a different way. Nevertheless, it was a really great lecture.
Next was Dr Peter Blair of the University of Bristol discussing SIDS and dummy use/ bed-sharing. I didn't enjoy this lecture as much as I expected to, seeing as it was the major topic I was looking forward to. The man's a scientist, so I don't blame him, but he went a bit too fast and his charts and graphs were hard to follow as they weren't labeled very well for a fast run-through of his study called the SWISS Study (South West Infant Sleep Situation study - no links as this is an unpublished study as of yet). It was still interesting though. I agreed somewhat with some of his conclusions, but after the amazing thoroughness of Dr Quigley's research, I felt there were a lot of factors he didn't consider, or at least didn't mention. His final conclusion was that there is no conclusion on whether dummy use prevents SIDS (thank you) and that bed-sharing is still not safe enough to recommend (which again, I somewhat agree with, especially as he put it with all the factors that our culture needs to deal with first like soft mattresses, heavy duvets, pillows, alcohol, sleeping pills, smoking, etc.) But I would've liked to see more evidence of what bed-sharing amongst breastfeeding mums shows in regards to SIDS, rather than lumping all bed-sharing together. He did, however, which I think was wonderful, separate the situations in which bed-sharing was actually sofa/chair-sharing and when there was alcohol or drug use involved, which changed the numbers drastically.
Let's see, what else. There was an address on the Scottish Government's support on breastfeeding, an update on the Baby Friendly Intitiative changes and some information on a study done to acertain certain interventions needed for promoting breastfeeding.
Then came my other favourite lecture of the day. Dr Suzanne Colson, of Canterbury Christ Church University, spoke on her study regarding 'Biological Nurturing'. I'd never heard of this before, but in short, she discussed how sitting upright and feeding a baby in the cradle position isn't biological to mammals and showed how simply lying back seems to often correct the problem of latch with many babies and mothers, much as other mammals lie to feed with babies lying on their tummies. It dealt with infant reflexes and innate behaviours as opposed to learned behaviours regarding breastfeeding. It was fascinating. Simply fascinating. It was also very emotive, as she showed videos of her research - videos of mothers trying to breastfeed - and it was beautiful. Sounds silly, but I was so moved, I had contractions through her entire presentation! She could've talked for hours, and I would've been fully enraptured (minus the contractions, of course). I'm very, very interested in obtaining a copy of her DVD and of her published study (the latter I will try to get tomorrow at the conference, as she'll have a few copies available at one of the stands).
All in all, it was a fantastic day. We were all giddy throughout the whole thing. I am so looking forward to tomorrow. Not only do I love feeling my brain go back into education mode (analysing data and taking notes and deciding for myself what I think of the research and the methodology - oh, it makes me want to be a student again), but the topic is so close to my heart, I'm completely spellbound.
It's now 2.30am. I should be asleep. I was, too, but I keep waking all night long. I've had a bite to eat now, so I think I should go back to bed. After I run back through all of this and link away.