Nils Bergman, MB ChB, MPH, MD


  • Baby Training/Sleep Programs
  • Culture and Breastfeeding
  • Birth Interventions and Breastfeeding
  • Birthing Practices and Breastfeeding
  • Colic and Breastfeeding
  • Hospital Practice/Policy and Breastfeeding
  • Human Milk Components and Biochemistry
  • NICU Policy/Procedures for Breastfeeding Mothers/Infants
  • Premature Breastfeeding Babies
  • Psychology of Breastfeeding
  • Public Breastfeeding Policy

Previous Conferences

About the Speaker

I have specific expertise in early mother-infant skin-to-skin contact (SSC). This covers the underlying neuroscience of birth for baby and mother, extending to all newborns, term and  preterm, with breastfeeding and subsequent development. The insights from this science have relevance to all aspects of newborn care. After having been involved in health service management of maternity services at provincial level, I have since 2005 been working freelance and fulltime in promoting and disseminating newborn care practices based on scientific evidence worldwide. I teach and educate through Grand Rounds, conferences and workshops, and I demonstrate practical skills and techniques in obstetric and neonatal care environments, and support policy and protocol implementation at any level of care. 

Official Bio for Brochure

Dr Bergman qualified in Cape Town, South Africa, and later worked as doctor at Manama Mission, Zimbabwe. Here he, with Midwife Agneta Jurisoo, developed and implemented Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) for premature infants right from birth, with dramatic improvement in survival of premature babies. He continues researching this, and has given keynote addresses on KMC at International Conferences in six continents. He has a Diploma in Child Health, a Masters degree in Public Health, and a Doctoral degree in Clinical Pharmacology, on the effects of scorpion stings.


Bio for Introduction

Dr Bergman’s primary professional interest revolves around Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), and the underlying perinatal and developmental neuroscience. His diverse background explains his broader public health approach to supporting and promoting the global dissemination of maternal-infant skin-to-skin contact. For the last four years he has been devoting himself full time to this, and is a popular speaker at conferences and workshops. When not travelling and lecturing, he researches with the University of Cape Town, developing a brain monitor that will read the autonomic nervous system.

After graduating from the University of Cape Town, Dr Bergman started his medical career as a mission doctor in Manama Mission, Zimbabwe. It was there that he began his work with KMC. During his seven years in Zimbabwe he completed a doctoral dissertation (Clinical Pharmacology, MD = unsupervised PhD) on deadly scorpion stings. He initiated Home Based Care programmes for HIV/AIDS. He introduced KMC to South Africa in 1995, and after 5 years, KMC became official policy for care of prematures in the hospitals of the Western Cape province. During this time he completed a Masters in Public Health. He was for 6 years Senior Medical Superintendent of the Mowbray Maternity Hospital and five Midwife Obstetric Units, overseeing 18000 births per year. His last posting was as a technical advisor to the health department on health reform.

He enjoys sharing the wildlife of Africa with his wife and three children.


This speaker is pleased to provide presentations on the following topics to professional and parenting conferences. Presentations on other topics may be available upon request and subject to sufficient development lead-time. (For CERP topics, required paperwork will be provided promptly to meet CERP deadlines.)

Perinatal neuroscience and skin-to-skin contact

60 - 120 minutes

Covers essential concepts on brain growth, and how this works  at birth. Skin-to-skin contact is the place the newborn brain expects, and responds to. Maternal-infant separation leads adverse effects on the newborn and breastfeeding.

This content is fundamental for most other topics I present. It can be customised for different audiences, from parents to all professionals.

Kangaroo Mother Care: Restoring the Original Paradigm for Infant Care

90 - 120 minutes

We seem to think that separating mothers from babies is normal. This talk describes the origin of such thinking, and how our culture has come to rely on technology, instead of our basic biology. Taking a biological perspective that defines mother as the normative place of care, there is in fact a huge body of evidence that separation is worse - therefore bad - for newborns and infnats.

To better get this talk, it should be preceded by the talk on neuroscience. This can however be done as a standalone talk, but then requires time to sketch the neuroscience.

A Neurobehavioral approach to breastfeeding

60 - 120 minutes

Breastfeeding is a behaviour, underpinned by "neuroendocrine" processes. Understanding how sensations and hormones work in the brain enhances our ability to support breastfeeding, the more so in preterm infants. It is the infants that breastfeeds, and that wires the mother's brain to support this!

This is best preceded by the talk on neuroscience, can stand alone of given some extra minutes to cover basics. On request, this talk can include practical demo with mannikin on how to breatsfeed in skin-to-skin contact.

A Neurobehavioral Approach to Feeding Frequency

60 - 120 minutes

Our culture expects infants to feed three to four hourly ... yet there is NO evidence for this, and adults actually feed more often. This talk explains how the stomach works, and based on this and the known capacity of it, infants should feed more frequently. Almost all problems preterm infants have with feeding can be explained by too large volumes given too infrequently.

Ideally, this talk should follow "A neurobehavioural approach to breastfeeding"; the content of that and this talk can however be concensed to one .

Neurologically Supportive Newborn Environments

60 - 120 minutes

There are simple practical ways of applying our new knowledge of neuroscience to support breastfeeding and brain development, specifically at birth and for preterm infants. This talk includes practical demonstrations.

This talk should follow the "perinatal neuroscience" talk to make best sense.

Maternal perinatal neurobehavior

60 - 90 minutes

While it is the baby that breastfeeds, important hormonal and neural mechanisms in the mother make this possible. These start at a biological needs level, but breastfeeding is intrinsically part of bonding and attachment, with health effects on the mother as well as the baby.

Other talks on skin-to-skin contact

60 - Full Day minutes

My basic premise from the neuroscience is that skin-to-skin contact is the platform for breastfeeding and all other developmental needs. I can present the history of this, clinical research and other scientific evidence, social and anthropological aspects, practical and policy issues, as well as implementation practically.  I am happy to do this in Conferences and workshops, but also in hospitals, specially to my medical colleagues.

Travel from South Africa does cost, but by coordinating several events the costs can be shared and become reasonable: see website or email me !!

I am happy also to share a speaking platform with my wife, Jill Bergman, whose main focus is to make the early neuroscience I present accessible to parents and more practical to health providers. She is an educator, with a special interest in developmental care and parenting.

Contact Info

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8 Francis Road
Pinelands , WC 7405
South Africa


Jill Bergman
February 1, 2010
Jill Bergman
February 1, 2011
Jill Bergman
October 3, 2011

Speaking Services

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Nearest Airport: 
Cape Town, South Africa
Willing To Travel To: 
Northeast - US
Mid-Atlantic - US
Southeast - US
Northern Mid-West - US
Central Mid-West - US
Southern Mid-West - US
Northwest - US
Mid-Pacific - US
Southwest - US
East Canada
Central Canada
West Canada
South America
West Europe
East Europe
United Kingdom
Middle East