Buongiorno from the 4th ABM European Regional Meeting for Physicians in Trieste Italy!
Yesterday was the first day of the 4th ABM European Regional Meeting for Physicians in beautiful Trieste Italy. As this is very close to the childhood home of my grandfather, I feel like I have come home. The city itself is a beautiful Italian city perched on the edge of the sparkling blue Adriatic Sea. Arriving by car from Germany two days ago, the vistas from high above the city out over the sea were breath-taking.
The meeting started off with an informal “pizza party” of sorts at a lovely restaurant nearby the hotels on the canal and close to the sea Friday night. The multinational attendance was immediately evident by the accents and languages one heard.
We began bright and early Saturday morning on a gorgeous sunny day. There are 100 attendees from 29 countries and 6 countinents—a mini United Nations! OK—really 5 continents, but one attendee originally was from Australia and another works part-time in Australia, so I think that counts for 6 continents!! Elien Rouw (Germany) and Adriano Cattaneo (Italy) opened the program as the conference organizers. The first plenary session was a fascinating look at “The mechanics of breastfeeding revised” by Michael Woolridge (UK). The next session was a roundtable discussion, “Ensuring effective feeds: biological nurturing, learning how a baby latches on, or both?” It was lead by presentations by Christina Smillie (US), M. Ersilia Armeni (Italy) and Kathleen Marinelli (US), and engendered lively discussion from the attendees!
In the afternoon, we focused on Baby-Friendly worldwide. Maria Bettinelli (Italy) spoke of “Breastfeeding and continuum of care throughout the life cycle: a framework for action in the Baby Friendly Initiative.” We learned not only of Baby-Friendly in the hospital, but of the Italian Baby-Friendly Community program. This was followed by the second Round Table, this one on “Experiences and Challenges in countries implementing the Baby-Friendly Initiative. Our speakers to inform this session were Martha Muresan (Romania), Irena Zakarija-Grkovic (Croatia), and Carol Williams (UK). The last plenary presentation of the day was “Baby-Friendly Initiative: beyond information towards relational approaches with women” by Fiona Dykes (UK). This thought-provoking discussion was followed by two platform abstract presentations—Maria Astengo (Italy)”Breastfeeding Promotion and Support in Public Health Services: Experiences of a Local Health Agency” and Beatriz Flores (Spain) Why Does Spain have so Few BFHI Hospitals?”
There were also many posters on display from all over the world on many different topics in breastfeeding. Seeing the ideas out there and the work that is being done, and the animation of colleagues interacting over this work, was very exciting indeed!
At the end of the day, we all met by the waterfront and took a bus tour of part of the city. We had the opportunity to see the main Piazza, Roman ruins, different beautiful parts of the city, the Church of San Giusto with its beautiful paintings of the breastfeeding Madonna, not to mention the added bonus of the vistas of the sea and the city from that height. Then the buses took us to a seaside restaurant for a traditional Italian multicourse dinner, with nothing but good food, great Italian wine and time to network and talk with colleagues and new friends. It was a lovely somewhat magical evening for all.
On Day 2, we began with a presentation that got the audience as worried as the speaker—”The inter-relationships between pregnancy, obesity and breastfeeding” by Kathleen Marinelli (US). The figures are staggering and very frightening. This was followed by a fascinating Roundtable: “Continuing breastfeeding and the timing and introduction of complementary foods” by Adriano Cattaneo (Italy), Carol Williams (UK) and Maria Teresa Hernandez-Aguilar (Spain). We may sound different to one another, dress differently, but we certainly all face the same issues. Pat Hoddinott (UK) gave a stimulating discussion of her research on “Family perspectives on breastfeeding—what would make a difference?” This was followed by the last presentation of the conference, “The social impact of breastfeeding” by Anne Marie Oudesluys-Murphy (Netherlands).
The sessions were wonderful, informative, and lively at discussion time. Breaks and lunch—well, let’s talk food first. Can’t top freshly made espresso or cappuccino instead of just an urn of old cooling coffee in my book! And trying to be “good” I had to avoid the Italian pastries (sigh). Prosciutto, cheese, bread, pasta and couscous salads for lunch…doesn’t get much better—except that it was all served on a sunny rooftop terrace overlooking the city. How to make it better—many physicians with many accents all talking with one another. And I kept hearing snatches of conversation with words like “collaboration”, “share our research protocol”, “compare how we do it with how you are doing it”, “interested in looking at this with me”? Isn’t this what ABM is all about?? Our Mission Statement:”The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is a worldwide organization of physicians dedicated to the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding and human lactation. Its mission is to unite into one association members of the various medical specialties with this common purpose.” Our Vision Statement: ABM is an independent self-sustaining multi-specialty international physician-to-physician organization that promotes breastfeeding education, knowledge, attitudes and skills for physicians, worldwide. These discussions certainly support out Mission and our Vision! I learned we share many of the same issues, and we can certainly learn innovation from one another. This IS an international meeting in the best sense of the world. Elien is to be praised for her hard work and persistence in starting and continuing these meetings. I for one, am very impressed and am looking forward to future meetings with great expectation! A number of members have offered to host the next meeting in their countries after attending this meeting. Our Strategic plan has us holding the annual meeting outside North America by 2015. I would posit that with the attendance the European meetings have drawn, and the success they have attained, we could be considering holding the 2015 meeting in Europe. Elien—what do you think??!!
Kathleen Marinelli MD, IBCLC, FABM is a neonatologist a Board member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and Chair of the ABM Protocol Committee.
Posts on this blog reflect the opinions of individual ABM members, not the organization as a whole.