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Helping Moms in Rural China

I was born and raised in The Netherlands, did a BSc in nursing in The Netherlands, midwifery training in the UK and since October 2013 I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

As a midwife, I had learned a lot about breastfeeding and supported breastfeeding mothers. When I was pregnant myself, it wasn’t difficult to make the choice to breastfeed my children. However, I did think, having seen several mothers struggle with feeding their babies: “I’m going to do my best, that is all I can do!” Once our daughter was born, my thinking changed: “There was no way a bottle was going to come close to her. I was determined to feed her myself!” I breastfed both daughters for over a year. I started right after birth and then breastfed on demand after that. No formula, no water, no sugar water, no bottles, no pain, no troubles! It has been a very positive experience for me. I already knew that giving birth to a new life and feeding your own baby was special, but becoming a mother myself gave this knowledge a deeper dimension. Women all over the world are the same: They need support and good care, someone who prepares them for birth, for breastfeeding, and for taking care of a new life. I knew I wanted to pass on my experience and my knowledge to help other women!

In August 1997 my husband, two daughters and I moved to China. After two and half years of language study in the big city of Tianjin on the East Coast of China, we moved to the little town of Huangzhai in Yangqu County, just north of Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province.

I became part of the medical team of the organization Evergreen. My first responsibility was to manage the “antenatal program”. I worked together with doctors from the maternal and child health clinic to train village and township level doctors in the villages with the aim to improve the antenatal and later also the postnatal care in the villages. We provided regular trainings and visited the villages weekly to see the pregnant women in their homes to provide the antenatal care that they otherwise wouldn’t have received. After a while we didn’t only visit these women during pregnancy, but also after they had their baby. Realizing how little the women in the villages know about things related to child birth and health in general, we developed information leaflets, we started health education in the villages and later taught antenatal classes at the hospitals. Since becoming a lactation consultant in 2013, my focus has been mainly on breastfeeding support and lactation training.

Photo Credit: China Travel Guide

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