Lactnet Empowers the Frontlines of Breastfeeding Education, One Email at a Time
Global Lactation Support Community Wins Top Honor in L-Soft's LISTSERV Choice Awards
Bethesda, MD (October 20, 2006) – Lactnet – a unique Internet community providing up-to-the-minute information and ongoing support to breastfeeding educators worldwide – has won the grand prize in L-Soft's 2005-2006 LISTSERV® Choice Awards program, the only global recognition program for email list excellence.
Lactnet is a forum for cutting-edge information, discussion and support focusing on best practices, emerging thoughts and current research. Lactnet has approximately 3,500 subscribers from 38 countries, covering every continent except Antarctica. It is designed for lactation consultants and others – such as lay breastfeeding counselors, nurses, doctors, midwives, public health advocates, pharmacologists, marketing experts, writers, journalists, scientists, dieticians and doulas – involved in providing support to mothers in breastfeeding their infants and young children.
Breastfeeding has moved closer to the forefront of media and public attention in recent months, with significant World Breastfeeding Week coverage over the summer, including, in the United States, a controversial "Baby Talk" magazine cover featuring a close-up of a baby at the breast. Virtually all major government agencies and medical organizations worldwide – including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Academy of Pediatrics – have spoken out clearly in support of breastfeeding as the optimal source of infant nutrition and nurturing as well as a significant contributor to maternal health. Numerous U.S. government initiatives are underway to increase breastfeeding rates, particularly among low-income and minority communities.
"Lactnet is an extraordinary Internet community, unique in the way it uses an email discussion list alone to bring together so many different types of individuals, all with the same goal of promoting breastfeeding. Lactnet receives the top LISTSERV Choice Award for being a shining example how a simple use of technology can be so powerful, resulting in a wave of positive outcomes for mothers and babies worldwide," Eric Thomas, L-Soft Founder and CEO, said. "On Lactnet, thousands of lactation professionals and other supporters become virtual colleagues – all within the reach of a single email message – and join together to help breastfeeding mothers and enhance maternal-child health."
Kathleen Bruce, Lactnet co-founder, stated: "Breastfeeding is a woman's right all over the world. Lactnet makes the world a little smaller, in that a lactation consultant in rural Tennessee can now communicate with a lactation consultant in Zimbabwe, or Oslo, or Sydney, or any of the 50 states in the U.S., or elsewhere in Europe, and so on. Physicians are available to communicate with lactation professionals, and current knowledge and ideas are shared on a global level. Everyone on the list is interested in supporting breastfeeding mothers and babies based on the latest evidence-based information. The commonalities across the field of breastfeeding management help increase the incidence of breastfeeding, making it a universal language of mothering," adding "Lactnet helps mothers and children everywhere by helping their breastfeeding professionals."
Launched in 1995 by Bruce, a Vermont nurse, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and La Leche League Leader, and well-known author and lactation consultant Kathleen Auerbach, PhD, IBCLC, Lactnet creates a network of support for isolated lactation consultants who lack the benefit of local peers. It is now led by Bruce and five co-facilitators or "listmothers" across the United States, Australia and Europe.
The geographic divisions between members are bridged by LISTSERV email list technology and turned into benefits with tangible results, such as a global knowledge base. Lactnet has helped mothers with dire breastfeeding problems in such widespread locations as the countries of Georgia, Taiwan and Honduras. Bruce cites examples, including one in which a subscriber's own child had suffered from chylothorax, a rare, life-threatening complication following heart surgery as a newborn. This made it impossible for him to consume fat. The subscriber was allowed to post about the case although it was her own child because the situation was so rare that it was unlikely most practitioners would ever see it themselves, and the listmothers wanted the information from the case to be freely available online so others could have their lives saved as this child did, through the efforts of his mother, who developed a method for removing the fat from her own expressed milk.
Far more common is the exchange of techniques and practices that can help the majority of mothers in overcoming more everyday challenges involved in breastfeeding. One example is Reverse Pressure Softening, or RPS, a simple technique to relieve breast engorgement in the first week after a baby's birth, which has quickly spread throughout the subscribers on the list because it is easily described, simple to use, and seems to be more effective than anything else currently in use.
In addition to active daily list postings and discussions, Lactnet utilizes digests to provide scientific and practical information in a user-friendly format on a wide range of topics that are important to lactation professionals. Lactnet also offers public list archives that provide members as well as the general public with an online compendium of the list's lively discussions, which span the areas of difficult breastfeeding problems; ethical issues; information on newly published articles, books or research; controversial issues; networking; and emotional and informational support among members. Lactnet runs on L-Soft's hosted email list service, powered by LISTSERV, the email list solution that launched the industry in 1986.
Bruce notes: "LISTSERV software makes it easy to connect people who are far flung, making us a community of members who are very close, but who have never met altogether in one room!"
To read more about the LISTSERV Choice Awards winners, visit:
L-Soft, which was incorporated in 1994, offers email list and opt-in email marketing software and outsourcing services for managing email newsletters, discussion groups and marketing campaigns. Recognized in 2004 as one of Maryland's top 50 fastest growing technology companies by Deloitte & Touche, L-Soft's products deliver about 30 million messages a day to more than 110 million list subscriptions.
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