by Elizabeth Kirts, MPH, ICCE, IBCLC, RLC
I had initially planned to write about other topics for March and then the war on Ukraine became heavy on my heart. I have two friends who are from the Ukraine and still have family there. One has been vocal on social media; posting pictures and her family’s story. The other has been eerily silent. I cannot fathom the fear and distress they are experiencing. I hold them and their families in my heart and prayers. I am also inspired by how quickly people have responded and tried to help in any way they can. This article, “What Mothers Know About War,” is an excellent perspective of that hauntingly beautiful photo of the strollers left in Poland for fleeing mothers. The photo went viral quickly because it is such a powerful image. The photojournalist who took the photo, Francesco Malavolta, noted the contrast in the lack of people at the train platform and the mass exodus so close. He stated, “I thought of them both… about the solidarity of those who brought the strollers and the dramatic stories of mothers fleeing the war.” This article gives a personal look at the Maternity Ward in Kyiv. It is unimaginable to be hiding underground waiting to go into labor or being cared for after recently giving birth. Many not certain what the future holds. If they flee, they likely have to go alone because the men have been prohibited from leaving. This leaves me feeling helpless, but also hopeful. Helpless because there have been at least 31 attacks on healthcare facilities or equipment and 80,000 Ukrainian women due to give birth in the next three months. Hopeful as I watch organizations rally quickly, people selflessly leaving their strollers and supplies for another mother, and the dedication of healthcare workers reminds me that there is always good amongst the horror and devastation. As members of the ICEA Board of Directors were discussing what we could do, a letter from Debra Pascali-Bonaro arrived with a list of Mother-Child friendly organizations in a position to help arrived. It was sent out to our professionals and members last week but I have included it again here. Wanting to help these families is intuitive to people in our profession. We are accustomed to providing support in whatever way we can. It seems to be engrained in our beings. As is so much of life, we are constantly transitioning from the trials and challenges to the celebrations and joy. With that, I would like to recognize and express my appreciation to all our IBCLC’s who celebrated on 2 March. IBCLC Day is recognized on the second Wednesday of March every year. As an IBCLC myself, and the manager of a team of 10 inpatient IBCLCs, I know how much we educate and support the patients we see. And I express my sincere gratitude for the outpatient team I work closely with who are there for the continuity and the long term support. Thank you to all of you who support breastfeeding/chestfeeding whether as an IBCLC, CLC, LC, etc. or through extra education and providing referrals. We had a great turn out to our movie night on 6 March 6. There were a couple of glitches, but overall it was a great evening where we could watch Orgasmic Birth as a group and then breakout to discuss. We heard you, and we will continue to provide more opportunities like this to connect and earn CEUs. The Board continues to work on the strategic plan that will ensure we continually move forward as an organization. If you have any questions or concerns, we are here to serve you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your message will be forwarded to the Board. As always, we are here to serve you.