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CPBF will live stream a 2-hour special edition of our educational series Preemie Chats. Experts from across Canada will discuss how the pandemic affected breastfeeding, important steps to improve breastfeeding rates in the NICU, the science behind human milk feeding, and learn about a unique experience to increase community lactation support after infant loss.

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Merilee Brockway:  Breastfeeding experiences in the pandemic: How do we move forward from here?


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered how breastfeeding support is provided, resulting in mixed breastfeeding outcomes and experiences for mothers. In this presentation we will review pandemic-related changes in guidelines around breastfeeding support across 5 countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States). We will then summarize the evidence of how these changes have impacted breastfeeding initiation, duration and breastfeeding experiences. Finally, we will offer recommendations for clinical lactation support as we move forward into a post-pandemic era.



Dr. Merilee (Meredith) Brockway is a PhD prepared registered nurse and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant with expertise in maternal-child health, infant feeding, and patient engagement. She completed her PhD in nursing at the University of Calgary, examining maternal breastfeeding self-efficacy and infant feeding outcomes in moderate and late preterm infants. Merilee completed her post-doctoral training at the University of Manitoba in Dr. Meghan Azad’s lab, exploring clinical applications of donor human milk for preterm infants. Merilee is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary and developing a program of research examining the use of human milk as a clinical intervention to mitigate early life perturbations to the infant microbiome.   

Alanna Lakoff:  Memory milk gift

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In Alanna’s presentation she will explain how listening to a parent legacy request facilitated reflection & working together to improve community lactation supports after perinatal and infant loss. Furthering milk bank awareness created opportunities to donate and support our tiniest humans


Alana Lakoff is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 2014 and has a Masters Degree in Nutritional Sciences. She provides NICU nursing care for families and their babies in the Ottawa region. Alana has a passion for supporting families’ feeding goals and and has been volunteering towards establishing a local human milk bank. She is also the proud mother of three girls. 

Ashley Alonius and Ellen Kowbel:  Improving breastfeeding rates in NICU

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Recognizing that rates of Mother's Own Milk in our NICU were decreasing we reintroduced colostrum kits as part of every admission. We will discuss the importance of breastmilk, especially for premature infants and the role of colostrum kits in helping to initiate pumping soon after birth. Review of the colostrum kits, their function, and how our unit rolled out this initiative for all babies admitted into the NICU to improve our breastfeeding rates. Review of the current state of our unit and future plans.


Ashley Alonius

Graduated with a BN in Nursing in 2014. She began working in the Intermediate Care Nursery at HSC Winnipeg in 2014, combining with NICU into one unit in December of 2019. Took on the role of Clinical Resource Nurse in February of 2021.  


Ellen Kowbel

Graduated with a BN in Nursing in 2014. She began working in the NICU at HSC Winnipeg immediately after graduation as a general duty RN and started in the Clinical Resource Nurse position in February of 2020. Ellen is passionate about neonatology and loves caring for the smallest of patients and their families.  

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Keri-Ann Berga:  The magic and science of human milk feeding

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In this presentation, Keri-Ann will talk about human milk feedings and the benefits for all babies, especially those receiving care in the NICU.


Keri-Ann Berga is a Perinatal Consultant at Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program (CMNRP) in Ottawa, Ontario and teaches Nursing at two Canadian Universities:  Mount Royal University, in Calgary, and  MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. 

In her current role, Keri-Ann supports various initiatives for best practices in neonatal care: she is a NRP instructor and trainer for neonatal resuscitation,  a workshop facilitator for human milk feeding, and a breast and chest feeding champion as Co-Chair of the CMNRP Regional Breastfeeding Committee.  

Keri-Ann believes in supporting and promoting informed decision making, family-centred and family integrated care, and is a strong proponent of the fact that supporting families with human milk feedings can impact the health and well-being of families – both the baby and lactating parent – now, and in the future.  


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