Guest Post: “Supporting Women Through Relactation” by Lucy Ruddle, IBCLC

Supporting Women Through Relactation

by Lucy Ruddle, IBCLC

Lucy Ruddle, IBCLC

Editor’s Introduction: Lucy Ruddle is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) who resides in the United Kingdom (UK). She’s a mother who has successfully relactated herself and runs a UK-based relactation Facebook group. She specializes in relactation and breastfeeding grief (which we all know often go hand-in-hand). If you’d like to learn more about Lucy, you can find her on Facebook here. She also has a fantastic blog where she’s published a wide array of lactation-related posts and resources.


Author’s note on language: Throughout this article, I refer to “Breastfeeding” however, I am aware that not everyone who lactates identifies with this specific term. The term “Chestfeeding” may be preferred – please do use whichever language you feel most comfortable with. I have used a broad range of terms such as Mother, Mum, she, they, person, parent etc. throughout this article. It is my aim to embody the diversity of language individuals relate to in the field of lactation.


It’s a bit of a mythical beast, relactation. It’s talked about across the parenting forums and Facebook groups around the world. It seems that barely an “I’ve stopped breastfeeding and I feel awful” post goes by without someone saying, “You know you can relactate, right?” And yet even in the field of lactation, practitioners aren’t always sure how to support parents asking them if it’s really possible to bring their milk back.


Let me start by saying a clear “YES”, relactation absolutely is possible. If humans can induce lactation, then, of course, they can produce milk after doing so once before. There are anecdotal reports of Grandmothers relactating to feed their grandchildren, and many of us are aware of the outstanding work currently happening to support refuges to rebuild milk supply so they can safely feed their babies.


However, what I often hear is women being told to “Just put baby to the breast.” Which seems very logical to be fair, so this may come as a surprise… “Just put baby to the breast” rarely works. I run a relactation group on Facebook and have relactated myself. Over the last 5 years, I have lost count of how many women I have supported through this process. I have also lost count of how many babies simply will not latch to an empty breast. These babies have been taking a bottle for at least a couple of weeks, and usually, they were exposed to one before mum stopped breastfeeding altogether. They are used to a silicone teat dripping or pouring a steady flow of milk straight down their throats. They rarely have the patience to play around with a breast which isn’t giving up the goods.

Of course, we should encourage mum to find out if baby will latch. Let’s be honest, a willing baby makes rebuilding milk supply a lot easier. BUT if baby won’t attach, and the adult keeps pushing the matter, then we are on a fast track to breast aversion. Let’s take this thing, breastfeeding, which is supposed to be connecting and lovely, and turn it into a battlefield, shall we? No. If baby doesn’t want to latch, then we drop the rope, as it were.

Lucy demonstrating her suggestion of bottle feeding near the breast.

Instead, parents can work on building in skin-to-skin contact. This may be through co-bathing, babywearing, baby massage etc. A lovely and easy way to get in regular and prolonged skin to skin is while feeding with the bottle. Mum can hold the bottle close to her breast and snuggle baby in close. This starts to rebuild the association that milk and breasts are related, and helps the parent to feel close and bonded to baby. When parents are feeling relaxed and close to their babies relactation tends to go a lot better. In fact, this is really important.

Here’s what tends to happen when someone wants to relactate: They are overwhelmed with guilt, shame, anger, confusion and grief for their experience of breastfeeding. The need to erase those feelings is so strong that they throw themselves into pumping, taking herbs, and demanding their GP prescribes Domperidone. And then, when things don’t happen quickly – they burn out and stop. They tell themselves they really can’t breastfeed, they have failed not once, but twice. That is potentially deeply damaging and we need to support families to avoid this happening.

When we instead focus on what parents actually miss about breastfeeding, we often learn that it boils down to the closeness.

We can recreate this with skin-to-skin contact and we can help Mum to learn that she is good and wise, and tuned into her Babe’s needs even without breastmilk. Once her healing here begins, the pumping won’t feel so desperate. She won’t be in such a hurry, won’t need quick results. She can think more clearly, be open to the idea that this might take many weeks, and that perhaps she will only be able to partially breastfeed until solids are introduced.

Once the hurt and grief are subsiding we can also begin to talk with the family about how breastfeeding is only a tiny bit about nutrition, and perhaps the breast/chest can become a lovely safe, relaxing space for reassurance, sleep and pain relief. Skin-to-skin – it’s my number one recommendation for relactation.

While Mum is rediscovering close, physical connection with her baby she can begin to rebuild her supply. A good breast pump isn’t essential, but if it’s an option then it will most likely make the process quicker. Mum needs to be pumping as close to 8x a day as she can manage, never going longer than 6 hours between pumping sessions. 15-20 minutes each breast is about right in the early days, finishing up with 5 minutes of hand expression. Generally, drops are seen quite quickly – days rather than weeks. The key here is consistency though. The breasts must be stimulated often to keep prolactin high and to keep the growing milk supply flowing so the breasts replace what’s been removed plus a bit more.

I firmly believe that our role as breastfeeding practitioners here isn’t to pressure the parent into expressing a certain number of times each day but to support them to find ways to pump as often as they feel able.

We can talk about putting baby in a bouncy chair which can be rocked with a foot while pumping, we can suggest roping in friends and family to hold baby, bring meals, run through a load of laundry, look after older siblings. We can encourage pumping to be seen as a chance for the parent to put their feet up with a favourite TV show or audio book. The list of creative ways to help pumping feel sustainable and less of a chore is endless.

Telling someone to pump every 2 – 3 hours for potentially several weeks, and then not helping that person find ways to achieve that goal is, in my opinion, unkind and only carrying out half a job.

The transition from bottle to breast needs to be carefully managed. As supply increases, the breast should be offered at regular intervals (no more than once every few days until baby is willing to latch, and once baby is happy at the breast, it can be offered before and after bottle feeds, or any time that just feels good) and pump afterward. Paced bottle feeding may give baby opportunity to show satiety cues and avoid overfeeding as they take more from the breast, but evidence to support this is woefully lacking. Frequent weight checks with a breastfeeding-friendly provider are very important and responding to any drop in centiles with an increase in supplements and pumping will protect Mother and baby as they work through this tricky part of their journey.

This is the point parents often begin to worry they can’t make enough milk, so they need a lot of emotional support as well as education around normal feeding behaviour and signs that baby is getting enough to help them transition to full breastfeeding and maintain it long term.

Gentle, empathic, positive care, focusing on how incredible mum is, how well her baby is growing, how dedicated she is, how connected to her baby she is etc., will all help bolster confidence in herself, her baby, and her body.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of counseling and listening skills when dealing with a family wanting to relactate. These parents are often hurting intensely and are vulnerable to PND and low self-esteem. Relactation can be a powerful way to empower a family, and the correct support can genuinely facilitate that and change lives.


Are you a lactation specialist or one who is aspiring-to-be who has a special interest in a lactation-related topic? Perhaps you’d like to share your experience in the lactation field– tips, helpful resources, lessons learned, do’s and don’ts, challenges, etc. Or maybe you just have a lot to say! And that’s ok. Galactablog welcomes guest posts on a wide array of lactation-related topics. Contact us here or at galactablog{at}gmail{dot}com to share your ideas or for more information. 

Advertisements

Guest Post: “Mothers’ Welfare & the Breastfeeding Discussion” by Lesli Mitchell

Guest Post by Lesli Mitchell, MSW

While we need to encourage mothers to breastfeed more and for longer periods of time in the United States, we also need to acknowledge their personal thresholds and circumstances so that we [as Lactation Professionals] can better support them.

We mothers are a diverse group with different coping styles, personalities and sleep requirements. It is both ideal for moms to breastfeed for as long as possible and to function as well as possible .

As I reflect on my years as a breastfeeding mother, I think about the ways I functioned and the pressures I felt to continue night nursing despite feeling exhausted. I also put a lot of pressure on myself to be the “perfect mom.”

As a prior therapist, I felt pressure to make sure that my daughter had her emotional needs met 99.95% of the time. This article sheds light on the pressures new mothers face and discusses how these pressures overpower our own mothering instincts. It also emphasizes 8 ways to be a good mother instead of a perfect one, which really hit home for me.

Because breastfeeding was SO good for my baby, I felt that I HAD to do it as long as possible no matter how I felt. I also felt pressure from other moms, pediatricians and breastfeeding professionals. Some moms sneered at me for even considering night weaning, while other thought I was crazy for nursing so long. I never knew what sort of reaction I would get from a pediatrician, so I’d often brace myself for their response about tooth decay or sleep issues. Breastfeeding professionals were often so thrilled about my extended nursing that questions about my personal functioning were largely ignored.

Thinking back, I would have liked to hear more inquiry about my coping. I would have liked to know that breastfeeding professionals had an arsenal of resources, options and suggestions on how to help me make changes in my breastfeeding routine if I needed or wanted to. I wanted more ideas and support as to how to transition from night nursing as my daughter got older.

Knowing that breastfeeding professionals will be there to provide nonjudgmental options on how to make changes in the mother-baby feeding relationship, moms might even breastfeed longer. I met many women that didn’t want to nurse for too long out of fear that it would become a habit for the child, too exhausting and too hard to stop. There were times that I felt ashamed for trying to eek out personal space or more sleep at night for fear that I would be perceived as a lazy or weak mom.

It is important for us all to remember that we moms are human and our day to day functioning with our babies also matters. Alertness, connectivity, attachment, attentiveness, and driving safety are also critical components of mothering.

For many years I worked as licensed clinical social worker with children and families. I worked with people trying to cope with very painful, challenging experiences. Most people are aware when they are not functioning well and typically seek help. Breastfeeding mothers seek out professionals to help them manage better. As a social worker, I was trained to look at people’s lives like a large puzzle, composed of many parts. Some of the those parts include things like their marriage, mental health, social support systems, physical health, past history, childhood, belief systems, coping skills etc.

Considering their “life-puzzle” helped me gently guide my client’s on their personal journey of empowerment and transition. While breastfeeding professionals are not therapists, a mothers life puzzle or life circumstances have a huge impact on her breastfeeding journey and should be considered.

Leslie & her daughter Ava – 1 month old

I quit my job as a mental health therapist when I was seven months pregnant and gave birth to my daughter at the age of 37. My husband and I decided that I would stay home and mother our one and only child. I breastfed my daughter until she was almost 3 years old and night nursed her until she was 23 months. I moved into her room so that my husband could get enough sleep for work and ended up staying there until she was 4.5 years old. My whole life had changed. My husband and I were dedicated to giving her our all.

Leslie & Ava – 3 months old

The nights were especially rough. The first year was doable, but as I moved into the second year of on-demand night nursing it started to have more of an impact on me. My daughter would wake up every 2 hours to nurse and then wake up at 5am ready to start her day. It was additionally hard at “nap time.” I nursed her to sleep for nap time but If I left the room she would wake up. I was not comfortable with the “cry it out” method and so I stayed in the room. I remember not wanting to lay down again and breastfeed for nap time. I didn’t want to go to sleep in that same bed again in the day time, I wanted to sit up and read or just rest in my own space. I was already going to bed early at 7:30 at night. I was yearning for personal space. I resented the idea of sleeping during her nap time. I opted to drive my daughter around every day until she fell asleep. I had the front seat to myself, the radio, elbow room, reading materials. So, once she fell asleep in the car, I would park and have my space. It felt healthy for me.

In retrospect, I needed someone to help me plan out what I was going to do. When you are sleep deprived it is hard to come up with coherent plans and execute them.

It would have been healthier for me to take that nap with her in the day, but I just couldn’t do it. When I look back at my decision, it was more out of desperation. I felt like I was safe to drive and function, but as I learn more about sleep deprivation, I was likely not as alert as I should have been.

There are dangers of sleep deprivation for moms and babies. Sleep deprivation can have an impact on memory functioning, accidents, family dynamics, existing health (physical or mental) and mood. Most of the time, I got through, but I had a few rough patches that likely were a result of sleep deprivation. I once fell down the stairs and bumped my head on the front door while holding my baby. She was fine because I quickly tucked her close to me to keep her safe. I got in two car accidents with my daughter in the car. We were both fine, but it was nevertheless stressful. And once, I fell over a pot not looking where I was going while holding her in an outdoor shopping mall. Can I say that each of those incidents were absolutely a result of sleep deprivation? I can’t totally prove it, but it is very likely. It is hard to know how sleep deprived you are sometimes. I sort of thought that it was just the “mom culture” to be exhausted all the time.

One day I called a breastfeeding agency for some ideas about coping with sleep deprivation and night nursing. The woman’s response on the phone was very simple—keep night nursing, take a nap during the day and let the baby self-wean.

When I told her that I was tired and that I needed some personal space in the day, she was adamant about me continuing for the baby’s sake. I was proud of the fact that I had night nursed for so long and I felt hurt that I wasn’t acknowledged for the work I had put in. She basically ignored my needs and said that I wasn’t doing enough for my baby. My exhaustion and need for personal space didn’t matter. There was no compassion or understanding that the human part of me was suffering. It was all the end product—the thriving baby that seemed to matter. I wanted her to congratulate me, ask me how I was feeling and how I wanted to proceed. She had no other options, no compassion, no resources for me to consider. I hung up feeling like a wuss.

Thank goodness I knew better, but it still hurt. I knew I had to transition from night nursing and so I figured out a way to do it in my own way that felt right for me. But I feel sad for women that might hear that all or nothing message loaded with judgment and take it to heart.

I proceeded to write and illustrate my own book, Sally Weans From Night Nursing, to help my daughter night wean.

 

 

 

I felt like I was being told that my best wasn’t enough. Not all moms will be able to night nurse indefinitely, and that is okay. Being a mom is not only about breastfeeding. Yes breastmilk is awesome, but so is cuddling, playing, singing, healthy emotional interactions and a mothers attentiveness.

Leslie’s daughter Ava – 7 years old – and the inspiration behind the book, “When Sally Weans from Night Nursing.”

In the end, we all have to keep breastfeeding in perspective. Sometimes moms need to make changes so that they can function. We all have different thresholds, personalities and coping skills. Some of us need more sleep, more alone time, more time with other adults, or more adventure. We have to support women in how they function best and try to balance that with helping them nurture and care for their baby.

A one size fits all agenda is not realistic for our diverse populations of mothers. Liquid Gold is awesome, but it is not the only thing that makes mothering wonderful.

Are you interested in buying this book? If so, just click here for the English edition and here for the Spanish edition. Check out Leslie reading her book in the video below.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dc2Gw97LBIs

Mom2Mom Global: Breastfeeding Peer Support for Military Families

By: Amy Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC, Executive Director of Mom2Mom Global

February 2, 2016

Research has shown time and again that peer support is one of the most effective ways to help breastfeeding mothers meet their goals.  We know that breastfeeding is a “right-brained” activity, that must be observed to be learned, and that, historically through much of human history, women learned how to breastfeed by being around breastfeeding mothers, typically in their own communities from mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends.  

Current American culture is at a crossroads.  After several decades of bottle and formula feeding prevalence, breastfeeding is only just now beginning the return to being an accepted, normal feeding practice for babies and young children.   And it’s hard, we have growing pains.  Moms all over the US feel lost and confused and are often unsure of what to do when breastfeeding their children.  

For military families, it’s even harder.  Not only do we struggle with whatever our internalized cultural beliefs are about breastfeeding, but we also don’t have our close female friends and family nearby to help with a new baby.  Many families have a Permanent Change of Station (PCS)–or the civilian word, move–during a pregnancy, leaving a mama with a new baby in a new place, without a support system of friends nearby.  Often, due to deployments, temporary duty assignments, trainings, or the needs of the military, we don’t even have our partners with us.   I have a half-baked conspiracy theory that the reason Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) want your due date is so they can immediately cut orders to either deploy or PCS within a month of having a new baby!    

For Active Duty mamas, the challenges can be even harder.  They have the difficult task of working to establish a breastfeeding relationship and build up a pumping routine, with the added pressure of, depending on the service branch, as little as 6 weeks of “convalescent leave” (only the Navy and Marine Corps offer maternity leave) and the need to return to physical fitness standards and cope with the demands of a military career—all while breastfeeding.

Within this context, Mom2Mom Global offers support, friendship, and networking. Started in 1999 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, Mom2Mom Global is a military breastfeeding peer support organization that provides individual and group support to help new mothers meet their own personal breastfeeding goals.  In 1999, one of the pediatricians at LRMC, Dr. Laura Place, chatted during an office visit with the mother of one of her patients, Mrs. Claire Louder.  Mrs. Louder was a breastfeeding mother, and her husband, Dr. David Louder, was the head of maternal-infant medicine at LRMC.  Dr. Place shared that she was seeing a concerning trend. Many moms in the community who wanted to breastfeed were starting off well in the hospital, but by the time they came for the baby’s first well-baby check (at the time, 2 weeks postpartum), breastfeeding was not going well.  Moms lacked adequate resources and support for even basic questions about normal newborn behavior, so by the two-week mark, many had simply given up on breastfeeding altogether.  Dr. and Mrs. Louder had worked with the WIC Peer Counseling program in Texas, so they were familiar with the impact peer support can make on breastfeeding outcomes. Together with Dr. Place and Mary Reidy, a registered nurse in the Mother-Baby Unit, they developed Mom2Mom’s hallmark program, Peer Mentors.

A Mom2Mom Peer Mentor is a mother who has breastfed for a minimum of 6 months and considers it to be a positive experience.  These mothers take a one-day free training, where they learn the basics of lactation and the counseling skills to help pregnant and breastfeeding mothers define and meet their own individual goals.  Mom2Mom strives to provide Mentors who have successfully breastfed through a wide variety of different situations, to offer the benefit of peer support from the perspective of someone who’s “been there, done that.”  

Some examples of our Mentors:

  • Active Duty moms
  • Civilian working moms
  • Exclusively Pumping moms
  • NICU moms
  • Twin/Multiple moms
  • Tandem-nursing moms
  • Full-term breastfeeding moms
  • Moms who use a Supplemental Nursing System
  • Moms or babies with medical conditions or history that impact breastfeeding

Mentors provide phone, email, or online chat support to their mentees at the end of pregnancy and during the first few months after the baby is born.  A Mentor offers support, empathy, a listening ear, and a sounding board to help a new mother figure out strategies that will work for her baby and her family.   Mentors are trained to recognize symptoms that may indicate the need for professional lactation advice, and to refer moms and babies to local resources to get help when necessary.

m2m members

Mom2Mom KMC members participate in a charity event, photo taken by friend, Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Mom2Mom also offers group support, facilitated by trained lactation professionals, in both an online Facebook group and in-person through regularly scheduled meet-ups.  Each chapter holds weekly meet-ups that are open to anyone who supports breastfeeding.  Moms can come with their babies and older children to meet other families in the community and discuss any breastfeeding concerns that they have.  The structure varies from chapter to chapter, but is very informal and welcoming.  Trained lactation professionals are on hand to provide individual assistance for mothers and babies struggling with specific concerns, and the meet-ups offer a great place for mothers to practice nursing in public in a safe environment.  Friendships are born here, among both the mothers and the children.  Our closed, confidential online forums function as a 24/7 support group, as there is always someone up nursing a baby and posting to the group.  

We have a specific component, Mom2Mom Double Duty, for Active Duty and civilian working moms.  Double Duty holds meet-ups at times that fit into a working mom’s schedule.  Double Duty typically also has its own closed Facebook group where concerns are discussed specific to workplace and Active Duty breastfeeding families.  A working or Active Duty mom will be assigned a Peer Mentor who has successfully breastfed while working full time.

What makes Mom2Mom work?  Our mission to support and celebrate each mother’s individual breastfeeding journey.  Our moms help each other through the rough spots, provide encouragement, and celebrate every drop of milk as a gift.  They offer practical suggestions for obstacles, and cheer each other on, and respect that every mom and every baby is on a different path.  Our groups are “no-drama” zones, where differences of opinion are welcomed, but everyone’s unique experience is respected.  

We also are committed to providing up-to-date, accurate, evidence-based lactation information, so mothers can make informed decisions about infant feeding.  The leaders of each chapter are required to take additional lactation-specific training beyond the Mentor training and hold an accredited lactation credential.  We work with each chapter to help leaders attain this through scholarships and MyCAA.  We see a new level of mentorship arise as experienced lactation professionals work alongside newly-minted lactation specialists in military communities, sharing knowledge and helping mothers and babies.  

Over time, as mothers support each other, and new mothers come in and get support from the more seasoned moms, we are seeing a culture change at installations with Mom2Mom chapters.  When mothers feel supported in their communities, breastfeeding becomes a normal, accepted, unremarkable part of life.

Mom2Mom Holloman Big Latch On, photo courtesy of Journey Wings Photography, Holloman AFB, NM

Mom2Mom Holloman Big Latch On, photo courtesy of Journey Wings Photography, Holloman AFB, NM

Our longest-running flagship chapter, Mom2MomKMC, still operates in the Kaiserslautern Military Community in Germany.  In addition, there are active chapters at Fairchild AFB in WA, Holloman AFB in NM, Ft. Bragg in NC, San Diego, CA, SHAPE in Belgium, and USAG-Bavaria, Germany.  New chapters are planned or under formation at more military installations around the world.  We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  

In addition, part of Mom2Mom Global’s mission is to ensure that mothers can easily find support at any military installation.  To that end, we have a database of all breastfeeding support groups, military-wide.  We actively support other Peer Support programs, such as WIC Peer Counselors, Breastfeeding USA, La Leche League, and more.  If you are looking for a peer support group, or if you are part of a mother-to-mother support group (on or off base) that serves a military community, please let us know!

For more information on Mom2Mom, or to start a local chapter in your community, contact newchapter@mom2momglobal.org or follow us on Facebook.

Amy head shot

Amy Barron Smolinski Photo credit Gerelynn Trisl Photography

Amy Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC is the Executive Director of Mom2Mom Global, an international breastfeeding peer support organization that seeks to address the unique needs of breastfeeding families in the U.S. military.  She is an Army wife, and a breastfeeding mother.  

This article was originally published as a guest post on Breastfeeding in Combat Boots, a blog and website dedicated to supporting Active Duty breastfeeding mothers, and is shared here with permission.  You can view original article here.

Editor’s note: February 5, 2016 – Since the publication of this article, the military’s maternity leave has increased to 12 weeks fully paid maternity leave. You can read more about the policy change here.

Words from the Wise: Do’s & Don’ts of Running a Private Lactation Practice

Guest Post By Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC, RLC   Brandy 2

In private practice, you are vulnerable. You are entering someone else’s home that you’ve never been to before. They may know about you, what you look like, about your family and more through your website or business Facebook page; however, you know nothing about them, except that they have a baby.  Just like in your mothering, listen to your instincts.  Google the address you are heading to BEFORE the day of the consult – not on your way there. If you have any sort of “funny feeling” you can say no. This is a relationship you are beginning and you have half of the say.

Blank and DOs and DON'Ts memo papers attached with green and pink pins.

  • Do not go to a home of someone you have not talked with. If you have only spoken with a male, never heard a mother’s voice or had all contact via text with a male, don’t go to the home. I did this once.  Exactly once.  I called the midwife I was working with and told her my mistake. She said to keep my phone in my hand with 911 dialed and my finger on Send OR simply cancel the appointment.  When I arrived at the condo, there was construction on the front so a large piece of plastic was over the door. A male answered the door and to the left of the door were three pairs of men’s shoes. I insisted he go up the stairs first and my heart stopped pounding when I saw a baby swing. I should not have put myself into that position.
  • Do not go to a home you feel weird about, have a funny vibe about or just plain do not want to go to.  You reserve the right to not service a client. Listen to yourself, your instincts and heart.
  • Do not say yes to someone you should say no to. You can say no to clients just like they can say no to you.
  • Do not leave yourself in an uncomfortable position. I had a client who laughed when I was finishing our very long 2.5 hour consult when I told her I would need my fee and needed to finish with her for the day. She said, “You expect payment?!” I responded, “Yes, we discussed it over the phone and my fee is $XXX.” She replied, “You get paid through the hospital, they sent you here.” I reminded her I was not from the hospital or affiliated in anyway with the hospital. She did write me a check and I deposited it immediately.
  • Do not go to the hospital as a private IBCLC. You don’t have privileges there. You don’t belong there. Your role is in home support.

    Do not talk about your family, your kids, your schedule, your breastfeeding experience. None of that matters. This is about the mother. The very needy mother in front of you, not you. If she asks, keep your answers simple. How many kids do you have? 3 boys. How long did you nurse your boys? Over a year each. Quickly bring the subject back to her: What is your breastfeeding goal?

Blank and DOs and DON'Ts memo papers attached with green and pink pins.

  • Do wear a name tag when you get out of the car before you enter a client’s house.
  • Do introduce yourself the minute the client answers the door.  Acknowledge everyone in the room including grandparents and especially a dad. Do use everyone’s name while talking to them, including the baby’s.
  • Do have the client sign a consent form first. Every time you see her. Every client you see.
  • Do give the parents a receipt for payment and any health reimbursement forms they can submit for possible reimbursement for your services. Any time our lactation codes get in front of the insurance companies, it is an opportunity.
  • Do wear business casual WASHABLE clothes. Jeans or shorts are not appropriate. Present yourself as a business person. But be sure everything you wear can be washed due to dog hair, baby spit, baby poop, baby drool and mommy tears. wash hands
  • Do wash your hands before touching the baby!
  • Do have boundaries and KEEP them. If you decide you don’t take texts or phone calls after 8 pm, do not take a call at 8:05 pm. If you don’t work on Sundays, do not do doctor reports or go over your finances.
  • Do go on online support/help forums, Facebook pages of La Leche League, birth worker groups and such. You can get referrals this way, learn about midwives in your area and develop relationships with the people you need for referrals.

But Do NOT get anxious, nervous and distraught if you see YOUR clients reaching out for more help other than yours. Social media is a means for mothers to get support. Some mothers need a lot of support and from different sources. Do NOT question your ability if she wants another opinion or reaches out for more ideas. Just know the ONE negative comment can hurt more than three referrals or satisfied clients.

  • Do take a vacation. Change your voice mail message, and put on your vacation responder on your email. If you are lucky enough to have another IBCLC in the area you can trust, ask her if you can refer people to her for that time and leave her number on your voicemail. Birth workers give and give and give. We need to  take a break and to recharge too.
  • Do continue your education. Either through CERPS or individual study, it is important to stay up-to-date in our field. Connect with other professionals and learn from them. Enroll in online breastfeeding conferences such as iLactation and Gold Lactation.  

Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC runs In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC. Look for her on Facebook. Stay tuned for part 4 coming soon.


Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, do’s and don’ts, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog@gmail.com.

Words from the Wise: Why I do What I do – Private Practice Lactation

maryGuest Post by Mary Unangst, BS, IBCLC

My name is Mary Unangst and I am an IBCLC in private practice in Tampa, Florida. I own Sweet Songs Breastfeeding, LLC. I see women one-on-one in the comfort of their homes providing breastfeeding support and lactation management. Up until recently I was hosting a weekly support group. The women that attend are a joy to be around and many friendships have already been forged. I enjoy teaching breastfeeding classes, but I’ve only taught a handful and most were while I was employed with WIC (prior to becoming an IBCLC) as a peer counselor.


My Motivation

I was inspired to start this career, I think like many other lactation professionals, after a difficult experience nursing my first. My birth didn’t go as planned and then breastfeeding was incredibly challenging and painful. My world was completely upside down. I credit my (eventual) success in part to my supportive husband, but also to the wonderful IBCLCs who saw me several times a week for the first few weeks. I knew from that point on that I wanted to help other women achieve breastfeeding success and reach their personal goals. If breastfeeding meant so much to me as a woman and a mother, then it surely meant that to others. My passion was born!


My Background

My background is actually in linguistics. I served in the Air Force for 10 years before moving onto become a lactation consultant. It’s with that background that I come to this field. I enjoy adhering to the evidence-based research that is necessary to provide good care and I see myself, much like in a military community, as part of a larger female tribe. I get a lot from empowering women on their motherhood journey. I went from peer mentor, to CLC, to ALC and then eventually completed my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Maternal Child Health, majoring in human lactation through Union Institute and University and passed the exam to become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) shortly thereafter.


My Private Practice Challenges

  • Marketing – It’s expensive and time-consuming, but a very necessary part to a thriving business. As the months pass, I’ve learned to make marketing and advertising a priority.
  • Google continues to be my biggest source for clients so maintaining an updated and captivating website with good SEO has paid off.
  • Insurance companies and their interpretation of the Affordable Care Act is another struggle. I offer superbills to mothers for reimbursement, but it unfortunately doesn’t always happen. I’m lucky enough to contract with another lactation company (more detail below) so I can see Aetna clients for multiple visits at no out-of-pocket cost to mom.

The biggest challenge for me as of late is finding a work-life balance. I feel a real sense of urgency to help the moms that contact me. They are often in excruciating pain and on the brink of quitting breastfeeding. I have to remember that my first commitment is to my family (I have two small children and an amazing and supportive husband) and only after my family commitments are met can I then shift my focus to work. It’s taking time, but I’m getting there.


My Advice 

  • Know the needs of your target audience I find that women tend to prefer an in-home lactation visit, especially in the early postpartum weeks. So most of the help we provide to women is one-on-one in the comfort of their own homes.
  • Fill a need in your community – In addition to in-home visits, we did hold office space as well. In fact, we were considered the first and only free-standing outpatient breastfeeding clinic! We started out by renting an office space in a prenatal wellness center (offering prenatal yoga, acupuncture, massage and chiropractic care) for a 3 month trial period. I shared the space with my colleague, Trish, so we split the rent – making it quite affordable.  We didn’t hold office hours, but instead saw clients by appointment only.
  • Network! Network! Network! When we moved to Tampa three years ago, I hit the ground running. I attended breastfeeding seminars, conferences and starting networking with others in the field as much as possible even though I had not established my business yet. Fast forward to today and I think the connections I made are really paying off. I recently (and officially) added my friend and colleague, Trish Hanning to my business. She is an experienced and passionate lactation consultant with nearly a decade in the field. It has been incredible to have her as a mentor and a partner. I actually met her when I interned under her at the hospital her in Tampa. And, you know what? After I started my private practice business, she called me to ask if we could work together!
  • Collaborate and establish relationships with other professionals in your field – When Trish and I joined forces, she was already contracting for another lactation consultant (someone I had met through a shadowing program three years ago). After a few months of us working together, our client load was increasing.  The next thing I know this other lactation consultant was calling to ask me if I would be interested in contracting for her as well! Trish recommended me to her and she was impressed with the work I had already done in the community. As a midwife and IBCLC she was able to become a preferred provider for a couple insurance companies and now as an independent contractor for her I can see those insurance clients as well and she signs off as the supervising physician.
  • Don’t be afraid to DIY – When I first set up my business, I designed and purchased business cards for my clients. I also designed larger post cards to disseminate at expos, pediatric offices and birth centers. I have found that most of my business is generated from women simply searching Google for lactation help in our city. I also designed my website myself using Wix. It was tedious work, but not terribly difficult. I enjoy having the control to tweak it as I see necessary (new services, offers, updated pictures, etc.). I have gotten positive feedback from my clients saying the site is cute and easy to use.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone entering the lactation field would be to get involved in your breastfeeding community; whatever that means for your location. Find mentors, be a mentor, make change and make a difference. This is a group effort; we don’t all know everything! I truly enjoy what I do and I’m grateful every day that I am able to do it!


This is a guest post from Mary Unangst, BS, IBCLC.  She runs Sweet Song Breastfeeding, LLC in Tampa Bay, FL. You can find her on Facebook here.


Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog@gmail.com.

 

Words from the Wise: The nitty gritty of starting your own private lactation practice

 

Guest Post By Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC   Brandy 2


I want to begin by giving a ton of credit to La Leche League (LLL)La Leche League is the gold standard in breastfeeding peer support groups much like a specialist achieving the IBCLC credentials is the gold standard of lactation support. I was a LLL Leader for 10 years, including some time after I became an IBCLC. La Leche League helped me learn how to mother through breastfeeding. I went to a meeting every single month for three months with my first son and left the meetings thinking: “Ok! I can do this for one more month, so I can get to the next meeting. They were my life line.” But what LLL does in addition is help empower mothers – this is the coolest part of the organization to me. La Leche League is the core of my counseling and how I practice.


Read! Read! Read! – To dig deeper into the Art of Private Practice, I always refer back to The Lactation Consultant in Private Practice: The ABCs of Getting9780763710378 Started by Linda J. Smith. Linda knows what she is talking about. The book is a bit outdated as our world is more tech-savy now. In reality, I text mothers more than I talk to them. There has been talk of Face Timing, though I haven’t established the virtual video chat connection yet in my practice. I don’t however, charge for the extra communication. Any texting, phone calls or emails after the initial consult is included in my one-time fee. I don’t charge by the hour.


The Importance of Follow-up – 75% of my job is playing the role of cheerleader.  In order to maintain personal boundaries, I don’t answer texts after a certain time at night, though I do answer calls and texts every single day – even on Sundays. Boundaries are important! If you are not able to take a mother’s call because you are on the soccer field and you couldn’t possibly hear her, then call her back when you are able to give her ample time, energy and attention.


Making a Connection – I mentioned in a previous post about getting in touch with Pediatricians and Ob/Gyns in your area. You may ask how to do this! Well, this means making muffins, delivering flowers and walking in with a hand full of business cards or pamphlets and leaving them for the office staff (just like drug representatives do every day). I recommend repeating this during a random holiday and again during World Breastfeeding Week. Establish a relationship. Bring them lunch. Offer free breastfeeding classes to their staff during lunch. Get in front of your audience and those you want to refer your services.

Connect with birth groups, support groups, childbirth classes, maternity stores, birth and postpartum doulas, local hospitals and hospital-based IBCLCs, online forums and anyone birth related.  These people and groups ARE your referrals. Your business thrives on referrals. Send thank you notes for referrals in the mail – the old fashioned way. Give a shout out to groups on Facebook for referrals. Constantly thank the people who give you work.


How do I know who to connect with? Get out an old fashioned paper map, decide on your service area and which Pediatricians and Ob/Gyns to approach. Check out ILCA.org for other private practice IBCLCs in the area and connect with them. Territory is important and if you are in an area that already has an established IBCLC, approach her first before putting out your business sign. It is important to have a community you can rely on when you are on vacation. It is important to have someone you can refer to. It is important not to fight for a service area with a reputable established IBCLC. You can be an asset to her too!


Choose the Right Name –  I wanted people to know what I do. I wanted a mom to say, this lactation consultant comes to me and helps me with breastfeeding. I wanted a logo that made sense. I didn’t want to pay $200 to someone to make it. I had help and input from my husband. My goal with the S at the end of In Home Lactation SpecialistS, LLC has always been to hire more IBCLCs who go out and do the hands-on work. I think young women relate best to other young women. As I age, I hope to hand the day-to-day hands-on work to the lactation consultants I hire to do what work I do currently.

I will be very picky about IBCLCs I hire. La Leche League is my history and shaped me into the IBCLC I am. I tend to share the same philosophy as Leaders I work with. Two local LLL groups in my area refer to me with technical cases and those that are outside their scope. I appreciate the clients and the business for sure.

But what I value the most from the relationship is the reciprocal respect. I value what LLL  gives every breastfeeding mother. I am not in competition with LLL. This organization does an amazing job supporting mothers. I appreciate what they can give. I don’t want to be going on home consultations when I am 50 years old. This means I have 8 short years to foster a relationship with good solid private practice IBCLCs AND grow them within my business.


The Wrap-Up  – Like mothering, you need to do what works best for you, your family AND your business. This type of work can be flexible, but I do work weekends and nights in the summer so I can be home most of the day when my kids are home. This work is repetitive – do you know how many times in a consult I explain supply and demand? This work is all-encompassing when you have a mother you know would stand on her head if that would fix her problem yet you just can’t seem to put your finger on that one thing that will help her. How I run my business, facilitate my business and grow my business will not be the same as how you will. But that’s okay! This is your business. Figure out what works best for you and go with it.


Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC runs In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC. Look for her on Facebook Stay tuned for part 3 coming soon.


Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, do’s and don’ts, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog@gmail.com.

Words from the Wise: The 5 Essential Tips to Starting Your Own Private Lactation Practice

 


Guest Post By Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC 


Brandy 2

I run what I consider a successful yet part-time private lactation practice called In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC. That being said, I am currently working on hiring IBCLCs that do the same consulting I do to cover more service area. I adore my job and truly know that it is my calling in life. However, I am also called to be a Lutheran Pastor’s wife, soccer mom to three growing boys and woman of interest. As such, my private practice is part-time and thus my income is too.

I currently live in Troy, Michigan which is a middle class suburb 8 miles north of Detroit. I am one of about three IBCLCs who are in private practice in my surrounding area. My service area includes all of Oakland County and surrounding cities. I do not have an office. I visit every mother where she is most comfortable – in her own home. I would see more mothers if I did have a central office but I wouldn’t be doing my job well or in the way that I am marketing myself.  I travel no further than 30 miles one way from my home. I can see 3-4 families in their homes in one day, a very busy crazy day. Before we moved here five years ago, I started my business in Fredericksburg, Virginia which is less populated. The demand was minimal for my job.  I am not an RN, nor did I want to be one, and that was my first barrier to work in a hospital setting. I needed to find my niche. And in Troy, Michigan I did.


The following are things that I learned are necessary components of a successful private lactation practice:

Let me first start by saying:  I am not able to serve as a mentor to anyone sitting for the IBCLC exam, wanting to start their own private practice, needing clinical hours, or be a shadow. The work I do is flexible for my family and the families I work with. I get weekly inquiries about what I do and how I do it and I tell everyone step one is to become IBCLC certified. So, step 1 is:

  1. Become IBCLC certified. Check out the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE) – the actual international board that accredits lactation consultant and the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) for more information. See here for a detailed explanation by ILCA of what an IBCLC is.
  1. Charge a legitimate fee and stick to it. Research the area you live in and set a price. Talk to other IBCLCs already established in the area. Poll forums on line. You need to know what your mothers will be willing and able to pay. You put in a lot of time to be certified, you should charge for that knowledge and time. You are valuable. Decide if and what you should charge for a visit, an hour, travel time, follow-ups, emails and texts. You will
    Brandy 1

    Katey with Baby Beck – together with Brandy’s help, they continued to breastfeed for 20 months.

    need to decide what works for you and the area you are serving. I charge by visit and my consults are usually no longer than 1.5 hours – babies and moms work hard when I am with them. And in private practice, you need clear boundaries to be a good support to mothers but not let every mom be all consuming to your mind and move into your family or off time.

  1. Read The Lactation Consultant in Private Practice: The ABCs of Getting9780763710378 Started by Linda J. Smith and get to work. The book may be dated but honestly, it is really really good stuff. READ IT. LEARN IT. Mine is folded, highlighted and used to its fullest. I pulled it out the other day to review a couple things.
  1. Make yourself known to the people who matter. I cannot stress enough how very important it is to get your name, business and what you do into the hands of those who refer you: PEDIATRICIANS and OB/GYNs! Everyone likes mail, the kind that shows up on paper in the form of a card or letter in the mailbox. Personalize your letter to everyone you want to know you. Then, walk into those offices like a pharmaceutical representative. Introduce yourself; bring flowers or goodies and plenty of business cards to leave behind.
  1. Business Basics. Of course, you need the business basics: your name, branding, website, social media, to establish an LLC, get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS, open a SEPARATE business checking account than your family’s and apply for your NPI. Order your business cards, postcards and marketing stuff. (I use VistaPrint). That is all business related and necessary. But don’t get hung up on it and don’t spend a lot of money on it. Get a scale, but not the best on the market. Women trust stepping on scales and then stepping on the scales with their babies in arms if they are worried about their baby’s weight. You do not need the $600 scale. Figure out how you will keep track of your clients. However, it doesn’t have to be electronic, an app or complicated. Find out what works for you and use it. I use Excel to keep track of how many clients I serve monthly and yearly, how much I charged, how many miles I drove and who referred them.

It is a whirlwind, I know and this is just the tip of the iceberg for the successful private practice. Stay tuned for more tips in part 2!


This is a guest post from Brandy Walters, BBA, IBCLC, she runs In Home Lactation Specialists, LLC. You can find her on Facebook here. Look for part 2 coming soon.


Are you a lactation specialist (of any kind) in private practice? Consider sharing your experience – tips, lessons learned, challenges, etc. in Galactablog’s “Words from the Wise” series. Contact us here or at galactablog@gmail.com.

How Can Lactation Professionals Help Make Child Care Centers Breastfeeding-Friendly?

edited stormy cover pic

Guest Post by Stormy Miller, CLC

February 27, 2015

Why should daycares, nurseries and child care centers support their breastfeeding families and create a breastfeeding-friendly site?

In short, the payoff is significant.

Child Care Centers can see savings and benefits from breastfeeding in areas like:

  • Better daily attendancebreastfeeding_welcome_here_stickers
  • Less spit-up, reflux and GERD
  • Less offensive diaper smell
  • Healthier newborns, infants and children
  • Public image boost for center
  • Builds trust and communication with parents
  • Encourages centers and its employees to be up-to-date on current breastfeeding information and practices related to child care and development
  • Centers under the USDA Child Nutrition Program (or similar programs) may get reimbursed if parents do not use the provided food (as they are instead using expressed breast milk)

Having a breastfeeding-friendly daycare, nursery or child care center will not only help support the mother in reaching her breastfeeding goals, but it will also increase breastfeeding rates and lead to healthier people. Hopefully, this in turn will help reach the Healthy People 2020 goals.

How do we create a breastfeeding-friendly center?

  • Education is key! Staff and employees not only need to know the benefits of breast milk but also how to bottle feed breastfed babies (called paced bottle feeding) and how to store and handle breast milk (more on this below). They also need to know that from 1 – 6 months of age, breastfed babies do not need increased quantities of milk because breast milk changes composition to meet infants’ needs – so unlike formula, volume does not increase. Many assume that as babies grow, they need greater quantities of milk and this is not true in the case of breastfed babies.
  • Paced Bottle Feeding – This is a method of bottle feeding that mimics breastfeeding. The baby controls the feeding, just like at the breast, which is not only healthier for the infant’s digestive tract, but it helps protect the breastfeeding relationship. See here for videos on how to do Paced Bottle Feeding.

  • Feed on demand – Watch for hunger cues instead of scheduled feedings. In fact, most infants will begin to put themselves on a general schedule (e.g. 3 oz every 3 hours).
  • Develop a communication plan with parents – What should be done if breast milk is gone? Does mom want to bring in an emergency freezer stash that is clearly labeled for cases like this? When should this freezer bag be de-thawed and does mom want to be contacted in this case? What does mom want done if baby is acting hungry and she will not arrive for another hour? Have a clear plan and be aware of both parties’ expectations.
  • Do not give any bottle within 1 hour of mom’s arrival if possible– This way baby will be ready for mom (as long as this is outlined in communication plan).
  • Know proper breast milk storage and handing guidelines, including  how to properly thaw and warm up breast milk.– see here and here and here.
    • Guideline charts are great to print and put on all of the refrigerators!
  • milk labelsEstablish proper and correct labeling procedures in place for breast milk. Ensure  all staff understand protocol and labeling techniques and that parents are educated on labeling protocol as well.
  • Ask the mother to bring her milk in small amounts (2-3oz. in each bag) to avoid unnecessary wastage – especially if regulations require throwing out bottles that are not finished within 1 hour.
  • Offer to keep breast milk in the mother’s cooler, if her baby has not finished it within the 1 hour rule.
  • Baby-wear – wear infants in wraps, slings, etc. Studies show baby-wearing keeps babies calmer, less colicky, promotes physical development, increases trust and attachment and promotes breastfeeding; in addition to helping employees multi-task with multiple children. See here and here and here. Some cities, counties and or state regulating agencies do not allow baby-wearing, so always check with your regulatory agency first to ensure you are abiding by current regulations.
  • Have free breastfeeding materials and how-to guides available for caregivers here and breastfeeding families here (hard copy), here (electronic) and here readily available and accessible. These are just some examples of what’s available.
  • Create a community breastfeeding resource guide – let parents and caregivers know what type of help is available in their own communities. This can include local breastfeeding support groups, WIC offices, lactation consultants, breastfeeding peer counselors, breastfeeding classes, Baby Cafés, etc.

    Click on book!

  • Normalize breast feeding for all – infants, children, parents, employees, etc. Have children’s books that discuss breastfeeding or show illustrations of breastfeeding. This demonstrates that nursing is the natural and healthiest way of feeding. Some examples available: Mama’s Milk, Nursies When the Sun Shines, The Mystery of the Breast, We Like to Nurse, We Like to Nurse Too, Mommy Breastfeeds My Baby BrotherMichele: The Nursing Toddler – A Story about Sharing Love

 Last but not least, provide a comfortable, practical space for pumping and nursing – for both nursing mothers, staff and employees. Many mothers will nurse at drop-off and, if their work allows, will pop in during the day to nurse their baby. What can be included in a pumping/nursing space? Here are some ideas: 

ACES Lactation Room, Peoria, AZ http://austincenters.com/

Lactation Room at Austin Centers for Exceptional Students (ACES) Peoria, AZ http://austincenters.com/

  • A room with a locking door, a comfortable chair – perhaps with a footstool, outlet for the pump, table to set the pump on, a mini fridge or fridge access, a sink (or access to one), a CD player or I-pod dock for relaxing music and mini heater for cold rooms can also be beneficial.
  • If possible, a microwave for sanitizing (with the microwave bags). Hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes.
  • Even better – providing extra storage bags and bottles for milk collection in case the mother forgets hers at home.
  • If a workplace has multiple pumpers, they could consider investing in and supplying a hospital-grade multi-user pump. This will enable mothers and staff to pump efficiently and effectively – thus saving time and ensuring they maintain their milk supply. A win-win for all!


If you would like to write a guest post or collaborate on a post for Galactablog, please contact me with your ideas! I am open, flexible and very interested in helping you publish anything lactation-related.

Guest Post: DIY Mouth for a Soft Baby Doll by Tova Ovits

DIY Mouth for a Soft Baby Doll

Guest post by Tova Ovits, IBCLC at FirstLatch.com

The First Latch teaches prenatal Breastfeeding 101 classes at a local birthing center that provided expensive plastic dolls with awkwardly twisted legs and necks. The rigid dolls were not helpful for demonstrating breastfeeding positions, and were more useful for demonstrating the need to get therapy for torticollis. When I saw a YouTube video of IKEA dolls that were weighted, I had to hack my own dolls and figured out how to add an open mouth and tongue. The new mouth opens widely enough to demonstrate a nipple tilt or breast sandwich with a crocheted demo breast.

IKEA hack for TT doll

IKEA’s LEKKAMRAT soft Caucasian, Asian, and black dolls cost about $10 each. Their arms and legs rotate at the shoulder and thigh, allowing the “baby” to hug mom’s breast. Because I hacked the dolls in the springtime and stretchy one-size-fits-all winter gloves weren’t available, I used 2 fingers of a stretchy shower glove from the dollar store for each mouth and tongue.

Step 1: Cut 2 fingers off the stretchy glove and place one finger inside the other, with the fingertip sticking out and the cut end inside the other fingertip. The inner finger is the tongue inside the outer finger’s mouth. The cut edges of the outer finger will be folded in to create the new lips.

Step 2: Carefully cut open the doll’s embroidered mouth. Cut a little bit more than the width of the mouth, to allow it to open wider. Use your finger to separate the top and bottom of the mouth and press the embroidered lips into the hole to support the new mouth.

Step 3: Insert the new mouth & tongue (tucked glove fingers) into the hole you created. Use your finger to push it in deeply, making sure that the tongue (glove fingertip) lies flat inside the mouth (cut edge of the glove finger). Extend the edges of the new mouth to cover the outer edges of the doll’s embroidered lips.

Step 4: Fold the edges of the glove against the doll’s face, so the cut end doesn’t unravel, and sew the folded edge along the outer edge of the doll’s (embroidered) lips. Tack the corners of the new lips upward, to create a smile. Sew a philtrum into the top lip by tacking down the top center.

Step 5 (optional): To demonstrate tongue tie, tie a knot at the end of your thread and insert your sewing needle from the doll’s chin into the doll’s mouth, then tack the tongue down through the chin. Pull the knot down, so the thread has room to let the tongue elevate and extend, and knot the other end of the thread. The knots let you pull the tongue back down; hold them tightly to show how a tie keeps the tongue from moving properly.

To weight the doll after completing the mouth, carefully open the seams along the neck/back and arms and legs. I used florist sand (from IKEA) in some of my dolls, and organic cedar chips (kitty litter!) in others. I put the weight material into zip top snack bags or sandwich bags and carefully stuffed the bags into the holes in the doll, then sewed the seams shut. They weigh between 2 and 4 pounds when stuffed. I carry a lightweight doll in my bag for home visits (only the head is weighted, to allow the doll to “look up” to latch). We give heavier dolls to give the pregnant couples in our Breastfeeding 101 classes. You can make your doll as heavy as you want by adding more or less weighting material. 


ikea dolls

Tova, this is an absolutely brilliant, affordable, easy option that is helpful and useful in so many ways. Thank you so much for your willingness to share with us. You have no idea how many breastfeeding families around the world will be helped due to your creativity. Do you have a helpful, DYI solution that you’ve “MacGyvered” or hacked to make a product that can help breastfeeding families? If so, don’t be shy! Please share it with Galactablog!

Welcome to Galactablog

Hello-Welcome-Picture

Welcome to Galactablog! Have a look around, make yourself at home. There are lots of free resources: webinars and podcasts, handouts, journal articles, training modules, DYI breastfeeding tips, tricks and products, CERPs/CEUs and more. Topics relevant to lactation will be blogged about and shared – not only by myself, but also by lactation specialists and those aspiring-to-be from around the world.

guest postIf you have a special topic that you’re passionate about – consider writing a Guest Post. I’d love to feature it and of course, give you all the credit. Plus, you’ll have a free opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Send me your ideas here.

Galactablog has some fun weekly series – so keep your eyes out for ‘Freebie Friday,’ ‘Tuesday’s Tips & Tricks,’ ‘Words from the Wise‘ and ‘The Sunday Review.’

Check out Galactablog’s Pinterest Boards and YouTube Channel, both full of social-media-design-concept_1284-5151free breastfeeding-related videos for parents and professionals. All are free resources you can use to further your own lactation knowledge and to help those around you breastfeed. Galactablog is also on Twitter and Facebook, both as a ‘Community Group‘ and a closed, private group open to lactation professionals, those aspiring-to-be and breastfeeding supporters.

If you’re interested in furthering your lactation training, check out the various lactation training opportunities under the “Lactation Training” tab in the header. I’m not in any way affiliated with any of the programs, nor do I earn any money or incentives – I just want to disseminate the information out to those who need it. If you know of a program I’ve left out, please send the info my way so it can be included.

final the sunday review lactation programsGalactablog is the ONLY blog in the world to publish reviews of lactation training programs in the weekly ‘Sunday Review’ series, so for those of you who’ve taken these trainings and/or finished lactation training programs, consider writing a review so we can help others decide what program and will best fit their needs. You can use your name or go anoymous – up to you. You can find the review form here. Lactation programs ARE reading the reviews published and your review can help create change.

I look forward to working collaboratively in order to create FREE resources accessible worldwide to help not only my fellow Lacties, but to help encourage breastfeeding.

Stay tuned for more,
Tamara