FREE WEBINAR STARTING TODAY! “Awakening the Parent: Are You Supporting or Sabotaging Your Client’s Transformation?” by Britta Bushnell, PhD from Gold


***Editor’s Note: This will be the last FREEBIE post in this format. Moving forward, each freebie post will contain several different freebies – ranging from webinars, research, podcasts, classes, trainings, CERPs and private practice tips to free breastfeeding artwork, client-friendly articles, handouts, lactation resources and last but not least, tips and tricks for lactation professionals. This is not an exhaustive list, just a bit of what’s coming up!

GOLD Birth & Beyond 2020 is a brand new online conference coming up soon from our friends at GOLD Learning! This event is perfect for healthcare professionals working with families throughout the perinatal and postpartum periods. This new online conference from Gold runs from October 5 to November 30 – complete with 12 internationally renowned speakers. Presentations cover topics including disparities in care among women with disabilities, parenting the high-needs baby, perinatal mental health, and much more.

I know you’re probably asking yourself, “Where the heck is my FREEBIE?Well, to kick off Gold’s new conference on October 5 (that’s today!), Britta Bushnell, PhD will be sharing her Opening Keynote presentation “Awakening the Parent: Are You Supporting or Sabotaging Your Client’s Transformation?”

Britta Bushnell, PhD

This presentation offers an opportunity to reexamine the way we approach teaching new parents. Dr. Bushnell will highlight how we might unknowingly reinforce the mindset that experts hold the knowledge that parents need. She’ll share ways that we can instead support parents to grow into a position of being autonomous and self-guided, with a sense of inner authority. You won’t want to miss this chance to hear these insights and to gain some new tools!

This is a free event so be sure to register and access all the info! The presentation will be shared live two times (yup, you read that right, TWO times: 1600 UTC and then again at 2300 UTC). If you missed the live versions, don’t fret. As long as you register to reserve your seat, you will have full FREE access until October 30, 2020. You can reserve your free seat and read about all of the details here.

***Disclaimer: Only those registered for the entire GOLD Birth & Beyond 2020 Online Conference will receive CERPS. CERPS are not available if you are just registering and attending the free webinar, however, you will obtain a Certificate of Completion after finishing the webinar.

Do you have an idea for FREEBIE FRIDAY? Don’t be shy! Please do share – I promise to give you full credit. If you’re a company, private practice, NGO, etc. and have a FREE opportunity or item to offer to Galactablog readers, please drop me a line. As long as you are WHO Code Compliant, you’ll be given full consideration.

You can contact me here or email me at: I look forward to hearing from you.

Tamara Brand 
Galactablog Founder


Freebie Week Day #3: Freebies for those in HELPING PROFESSIONS including a webinar, a 15-hour training program & 3 short training courses

who doesn't love free stuff

center for adolescent studies CASWell, it’s day #3 of FREEBIES! Today is your lucky day because again, there’s a few different freebies offered including a webinar (pre-registration ends today!), 3 short online self-paced courses and a 15-hour training program for those in helping professions – all for free. So keep scrolling down to learn about each free opportunity – all offered by the Center for Adolescent Studies.

Author’s Note & Disclosure: All of today’s freebies are from the Center of Adolescent Studies (CAS). I am in no way affiliated with CAS. I am disseminating CAS’s free offerings because I believe that lactation specialists and those aspiring-to-be ARE in the helping profession and WE can benefit from what CAS has to offer. While these offerings are not directly related to lactation per say, the subjects these freebies delve into including but not limited to –  mindfulness, compassion, providing trauma-informed care, counseling skills, working with teens and vulnerable populations and the importance of self-care are vital skills that will only make us better, stronger, more compassionate, knowledgeable and resilient lactation specialists (and those aspiring-to-be).  So let’s get to it!

sam himelstein

Sam Himelstein, Ph.D. & Licensed Psychologist

To the best of my knowledge, all courses, webinars and training programs are taught by Sam Himelstein, Ph.D. & Licensed Psychologist.

First up, CAS is broadcasting a free webinar titled, “Compassion as a Resilience Tool for Helping Professionals in Trying Times.” Last day to pre-register is TODAY – Thursday, May 7, 2020! So if you’re interested, hurry up and register here. It goes live tomorrow, Friday, May 8, 2020 at 10:30AM PST (USA & Canada). If you miss the live version, don’t sweat it, as long as you’re registered, a replay will be sent out to you.

Second up, a free 15-hour completely online and self-paced course titled, “Resilience and Self-Care Basics for Helping Professionals.” For more details and to register, see here.

And last but not least, 3 more FREE completely online and self-paced courses. Just click the hyperlinked title for more information and to register.

***Disclaimer: Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) are offered for the free online courses, training programs and webinars offered from the Center for Adolescent Studies (CAS). However, as of the date of this post, they are NOT lactation-related CERPs, instead they are CEUs for psychologists, social workers and other types of healthcare professionals. You can read more about the CE details here. I am in no way affiliated with the CAS, so any questions or concerns, please contact them directly.

do you have an idea for a freebie please shareDo you have an idea for Galactablog’s FREEBIE Week? Don’t be shy! Please do share – I promise to give you full credit. If you’re a company, private practice, clinic, hospital, non-profit, non-governmental organization, etc. and have a FREE opportunity, resource or item that you’d love offer to Galactablog readers, drop me a line. As long as you are WHO Code Compliant, you’ll be given full consideration. You can contact me here or email me at 

Cheers, Tamara xx


Lots of Breastfeeding Freebies Today Brought to You by Cindy & Jana! A COVID-19 Infographic, an Ebook for your Clients & 2 Online Birth & Breastfeeding Classes

freebies freebie friday

Whew! That title is a mouth full. So many wonderful FREEBIES today courtesy of Cindy Leclerc, RN IBCLC and Jana Stockham, RN IBCLC (also known as Cindy and Jana). I’m not even sure where to start!

Since we’re still living (and many still in lockdown) in the COVID-19 era, it makes sense to start with the most pressing freebie first. Cindy and Jana have made a fantastic yet simple infographic that answers the most common breastfeeding and COVID-19 answers your clients may be asking you. You can download it for free here.

Infographic Created By Cindy & Jana (2020)

Feel free to print, share and distribute widely, just make sure you give proper credit where it’s due and don’t make any alterations without explicit permission from Cindy and Jana.

5 crucial ways to preparing for breastfeeding nowNext up, how about grabbing a free Ebook written by Cindy and Jana while you’re already here. It’s titled, “5 Crucial Ways to Prepare for Breastfeeding Now.” It’s a helpful book for both new and expecting parents and for some, could be an invaluable tool. We all know that for our clients, it’s never too early to start learning about breastfeeding – wherever they are in their journey. So why not share it with them?

Last but not least, Cindy and Jana have made not 1 but 2 of their online courses FREE! That’s right, both are absolutely free (for a limited time).  The first is, “Healing & Recovery from Birth: Avoiding Infection, Complications & Pain,” and the second  is a 3 part mini-series titled, “Getting Ready to Breastfeeding: What women wished they had known ahead of time.” Just click on the name of the course you’re interested in (or both of them), enroll and you’re all set to go!

When I was first discussing Cindy and Jana’s online birth and breastfeeding courses with them, the first question that popped into my mind was, “Why are they making these courses free? And why now?” They passionately explained their reasoning and why particularly, at this time:

We have seen firsthand how health care provider contact is now limited and we want to help. During this difficult time, there is more need than ever for research-based information for new and expectant moms. We are trying our best to keep up with the need and are pleased to now offer the following resources for FREE. We want to make sure no new mother misses the information she will need.

~Cindy and Jana

Cindy and Jana headshot

Cindy Leclerc, RN IBCLC & Jana Stockham, RN IBCLC

Want to get to know more about  Cindy and Jana? It’s pretty hard not to find them, they are available on almost every single social media platform there is. Don’t be shy – reach out to them, introduce yourself, say hello and if you so desire, thank them for their generous freebies.

Do you have an idea for Galactablog’s FREEBIE Week? Don’t be shy! Please do share – I promise to give you full credit. If you’re a company, private practice, clinic, hospital, non-profit, non-governmental organization, etc. and have a FREE opportunity, resource or item that you’d love offer to Galactablog readers, drop me a line. As long as you are WHO Code Compliant, you’ll be given full consideration. You can contact me here or email me at 

Cheers, Tamara xx

***Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Cindy and Jana. This means, at no additional cost to you, if you decide to sign-up for one of Cindy and Jana’s paid online courses (using my affiliate link), then I am financially compensated. I receive no financial compensation from any of the free resources Cindy and Jana generously provide.

FREE Vintage ‘Eat at Mom’s’ Poster from Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA

Galactablog has some exciting news! Each day this week (and maybe next week too if I have the energy and enough material), a new FREEBIE will be offered to Galactablog’s readers daily. Life has been difficult enough lately. My goal is to give you something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning (or when you go to bed at night depending on where in the world you are) that’s absolutely free and lactation-related – no strings attached.

So what’s up for today? Well, I’m a sucker for art. Any art. But what really grabs my heart is breastfeeding art. Does anyone else here feel the same way? So when my hear colleague Christine Staricka, IBCLC shared this charming vintage-style ‘Eat at Mom’s: Open 24 hours’ with me and I found out it was FREE, I literally had to stop myself from jumping up and down with joy! Yes, I’m that passionate about breastfeeding and art and when it’s combined, my heart swoons.

This vintage poster was created by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FPA and available through Praeclarus Press – a website you should definitely check out because it’s full of articles, webinars, books for both parents and professionals and so much more – including more FREE printable breastfeeding-related posters and graphics here and more free resources here.

All free posters and free resources are completely yours to keep, print, share publicly, and distribute however you like, royalty-free. Just ensure you respect Dr. Kendall-Tackett’s copyright and do not alter without her explicit permission. You know the rules – give credit when credit is due and respect each other’s work.

So if you’re just dying to get your hands on this vintage-style poster, all you have to do is to click here to download. Now you have some pretty cool artwork for your office or home, without having to leave your house or empty your wallet.

Created by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FAPA ~ Praeclarus Press

If you’d like to learn more about Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, FAPA, you can read more about her here. Not only is she a renowned speaker, author of several articles and books and videos, podcasts and webinars, but she’s also the founder of Praeclarus Press. You can also find her on Facebook and Linked-In.

Do you have an idea for Galactablog’s FREEBIE Week? Don’t be shy! Please do share – I promise to give you full credit. If you’re a company, private practice, clinic, hospital, non-profit, non-governmental organization, etc. and have a FREE opportunity or item that you’d love offer to Galactablog readers, please drop me a line. As long as you are WHO Code Compliant, you’ll be given full consideration.

You can contact me here or email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Tamara xx

Tuesday’s Tips: Helpful Counseling Tips for Medications, Herbs & Galactagogues from Dr. Frank Nice

As a lactation specialist or one aspiring-to-be, you may find yourself getting asked questions regarding the safety of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs by your breastfeeding clients. Or maybe it’s not medications, but the safety of herbs or the use of Galactagogues.

As lactation professionals (and those aspiring to be), it’s essential we stay within the scope of our training and certification. Diagnosing and prescribing prescription and OTC medications, herbs and galactagogues are outside the scope of practice for IBCLCs (and other lactation specialists) – unless of course, you’re also a licensed health care provider who has the ability to diagnose and prescribe medication. What we CAN do as lactation specialists is to counsel our breastfeeding clients and provide them with evidence-based resources so that they can make an informed decision that is best for themselves and their family.

In the Middle East where I used to live and practice, it was not common practice to question your physician’s recommendations, ask questions, or even to begin an open dialogue about potential alternatives, risks and benefits, etc. To question your doctor was a big no-no and it was something that just wasn’t done.

But because my client’s (and their infant’s) health and well-being come first, I encouraged every single one to bring every single evidence-based resources to their health care provider – to ask questions, demand answers and to begin an open dialogue. Yes, I admit I probably committed a few cultural faux pas, but it was worth it.

I found this not only enabled those I worked with to make informed decisions that worked best for them and their families, but it EMPOWERED them as well. The cherry on top was that it also educated health care professionals on lactation issues, which was often desperately lacking. Due to this approach, I was able to establish working relationships with local health care providers and to network. It was a win-win.

Dr. Frank Nice, RPh, DPA, CPHP

You may be wondering where to start when counseling your breastfeeding families on prescription and OTC drugs, herbs and galactagogues. How do you go about it? What approach would you take? What questions should you be asking and answering? Well, thanks for Dr. Frank Nice over at Nice Breastfeeding, he’s got all of this covered.

He has shared a wealth of information in order to help you help your breastfeeding families. Best of all, it’s all FREE and immediately accessble – just click here for practical, relevant counseling tips that you can begin applying with soon as the situation arises.

This link is divided into 3 sections: 1) About Mom, 2) About Baby, 3) Useful PDFs (on several topics including but not limited to Domperidone, Galactalogues and Herbs, and Recreational Drugs). These are free, downloadable and are perfect resources to share with your breastfeeding families.

And don’t forget to encourage your clients to share these handouts with their health care providers – not only will this create an open dialogue of how to best approach their situation and meet their needs, but it will also help to educate health care providers as well.

There is also a helpful ‘Patient Resources’ section with  Useful Links that you can share with your expecting and breastfeeding clients. Again, these are free!

Dr. Frank Nice, RPh, DPA, CPHP,  founder of Nice Breastfeeding, has over 40+ experience specializing in medications and  breastfeeding. He has also authored 2 books: Nonprescription Drugs for the Breastfeeding Mother, 2nd Edition (2011) and The Galactogogue Recipe Book (2017).

“Stretching Conference Dollars in 2019” (Bonus: a list of lactation conferences with links to registrations) by Christy Jo Hendricks


Happy New Year! And who can think of a better way to ring in the New Year than by intellectually stimulating your mind (and your hearts because we all know pretty much anything lactation-related makes our hearts happy). You may be asking, how do I enrich my knowledge-base and make my heart happy?

Christy Jo Hendricks, IBCLC, RLC, CLE, CCCE, CD

Well, that’s simple and the credit goes to Christy Jo, IBCLC, RLC, CD (DONA) & CAPPA CLE Faculty, owner of Birthing, Bonding & Breastfeeding, and her new, exciting initiative already in the works – Lactation University.

For those of you who weren’t aware, Christy Jo has also just recently founded an award-winning IBCLC prep coursewhich has a 100% IBCLE exam pass rate from its first year of students. Incredible, awe-inspiring and just plain brilliant!

Are you ready to see the list of all of the upcoming lactation conferences in 2019? Then just scroll down to the bottom of this post and you’ll find it there – with links to registration and costs. Thanks Christy Jo for making this so easy for us.

Are you wondering how the heck to chose which lactation conference to attend? Christy Jo has some helpful advice:

“The main considerations when selecting which educational opportunity to attend include: cost, location, date, speaker line-up and networking opportunities. Many attendees also make decisions based on who the conference will benefit, or the reputation of the organization hosting the event. Audiences may also select a conference if it provides Continuing Education Units or CEUs to attendees. I usually attend several low-cost, high-quality, local conferences and one or two international conferences annually.”

For more information on how Christy Jo stretches her hard-earned pennies to be able to take advantage (and afford) these incredible, enriching opportunities? Simply click here to find out.

Are you interested in what else Christy Jo is up to? My question is, how does she sleep?! She has so much to offer – so it’s definitely worth checking her out. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, her professional blog, professional lactation website and more, including, but not limited to helpful and practical lactation education items that are perfect for home and hospital visits, trainings and breastfeeding classes and a picture book portraying real families breastfeeding, which goes a long way in normalizing breastfeeding titled, “Mommy Feeds Baby.”

And don’t forget to sign up for Birthing, Bonding and Breastfeeding’s (BBB) FREE newsletter here

Free Lactation & Drug Safety Resource List

Free Lactation & Drug Safety Resource List

Author’s Note:  This post used to be a static page. I turned it into a blog post to make it more accessible and easier to search. Providing lactation support can be difficult and trying at times – particularly when it comes to medications/herbs and lactation safety and compatibility. There are several great lactation/drug compatibility resources and databases out there but many don’t know where to search or how to access. Compiling all of the evidenced-based resources into one space, so it can be more accessible by not just lactation consultants and those aspiring to be, but also parents and health professionals was the ultimate reason behind the creation of this post.

Do your clients ever call you wondering if a particular medication is compatible with breastfeeding? Many times nursing mothers are told to “pump and dump” or wean by their physicians when in fact, it’s unnecessary. Other times, it’s assumed if a medication is over-the-counter or an herb, it’s completely safe. This is not always the case.

Check below for the most widely used evidence-based resources in order to evaluate drug risk and safety during lactation. This list is arranged by alphabetical order and is by no means exhaustive, so if you’ve found another database or resource helpful, let me know so I can add it.

Questions for lactation professionals and nursing mothers to consider when evaluating risk levels of drugs, herbs, chemicals, etc. during lactation:

1) Will the drug, etc. affect my baby?
2) Will the drug, etc. affect lactation?
3) What are the risks of weaning?
4) What are the options?

For tips on how to counsel your breastfeeding clients on medications, galactagogues and herbs, see these tips by Dr. Frank J. Nice, RPh, DPA, CPHP.

Electronic Databases 

Breastfeeding Network –  Provides FREE Fact Sheets on a wide array of drugs, medical procedures and health conditions and compatibility with breastfeeding available here. These are great to share with your clients (and to encourage them to print them out and discuss safety concerns or potential alternatives with their health care provider). Also provides a detailed description of an ‘Introduction to the Safety of Drugs Passing Through Breastmilk’ here. For common FAQs concerning breastfeeding and generic medications, see here. Also contains general ‘Information on Breastfeeding’here, ‘Thinking about Breastfeeding’ here, ‘Breastfeeding and Perinatal Mental Health’ here and common ‘Questions about your Baby’here.

TIP: when using drug search databases: Since drug names can differ by country and even more so if it’s a generic vs. name brand drug, if the drug you are searching does not show up in the database search engine, then google that particular drug for the active ingredient and search by that instead.

e-lactancia – Compiled by pediatricians affiliated with APILAM. Uses risk levels 0 (no risk) -3 (very high risk). Covers “medical prescriptions, phytotherapy (plants), homeopathy and other alternative products, cosmetic and medical procedures, contaminants, maternal and infant diseases and more.” For common FAQs concerning lactation and medications, see here. Very easy to use and understand. A great resource to share with families so they can look up their own medications. Available in English and Spanish.

Infant Risk Center – Researched and compiled by Dr. Thomas Hale, PhD and author of the renowned and widely used medical lactation risk and reference guide, ‘Hale’s Medications and Mothers’ Milk.’ This reference guide is updated every 2 years, with the most recent edition published in 2017 and a new edition coming out in 2019). This resource uses lactation risk categories 1 (safest) – 5 (contraindicated). It covers prescription medications, chemicals, herbals, vitamins and radioisotopes/radiocontrast agents. This reference guide is also affiliated with the Infant Risk Center at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. A detailed description of ‘Drug Entry Into Human Milk’ is available here. If you have a question regarding a particular drug, you can call a free helpline at (806) 352 – 2519.

Medications & Mother’s Milk is an electronic database also established by Dr. Hale. Annual subscriptions are available at varied prices for individuals and groups/institutions. Mobile apps are also available for both androids and iOS – one is for healthcare professionals ($9.99) and the other is a simplified version for parents ($3.99). You can view options here.

LactMed – Sponsored by the National Institute for Health (NIH)’s US National Library of Medicine TOXNET Toxicology Data Network. It provides peer-reviewed, fully referenced, evidence-based resources. Users can look up lactation risk of both drugs and chemicals. This site is highly medicalized and may be too versed in “medical speak” for the average consumer to fully understand. LactMed also offers a mobile free app for both android and iOS.

MotherRisk – Sponsored by The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It provides evidence-based information about the compatibility of prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal products, chemicals, radiation, chronic diseases, infections, occupational, environmental, and other exposures during pregnancy and lactation. Also covers general FAQs about medications and lactation. Various brochures are available here. Offers a FREE MotherRisk Hotline: 1-877-439-2744, which is open Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 12pm and 1 to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Additional Drug Safety & Lactation Resources

Breastfeeding &  Human Lactation Study Center (which is a part of the Division of Neonatology at University of Rochester Medical Center’s Golisano Children’s Hospital) under the direction of Ruth A. Lawrence, M.D. Healthcare professionals can call (585) 275-0088 at no cost for information on drug risk and compatibility and to consult on difficult breastfeeding issues. Note: This hotline is for healthcare professionals ONLY, not for parents or your breastfeeding clients. For more information, see here. See here for a breastfeeding site geared specifically toward your breastfeeding clients and families.

Cindy Curtis, RNC, IBCLC, CCE, CD of Breastfeeding Online has compiled a comprehensive and beautifully organized list of lactation risk and compatibility with direct links to articles on breastfeeding and alcohol, herbals, epidurals, antidepressants, social drugs, cigarettes, prescription and non-prescription drugs and more. This is an accessible and quite handy resource to share with your breastfeeding clients or lactation specialists-in-training.

Frank J. Nice, RPH, DPA, CPHP of Nice Breastfeeding has written several books on medications and compatibility with breastfeeding: ‘Nonprescription Drugs for the Breastfeeding Mother’ (2017) here. ‘Recreational Drugs and Drugs Used to Treat Addicted Mothers: Impact on Pregnancy and Breastfeeding’ (2016) available here. ‘The Galactagogue Recipe Book’ (2017) which discusses dosage, uses, and cautions of galactogogues here. There are free downloadable pdfs on a wide array of lactation and drug risk categories including herbs and galactagogues, recreational drug use and Domperidone are available hereFree patient resources with helpful links are available here. You can find information for healthcare providers on how to counsel breastfeeding mothers who have drug-related questions here.

International Breastfeeding Centre established by Dr. Jack Newman, MD, IBCLC provides a general overview of maternal medications and breastfeeding in a Q&A blog post format, addressing general FAQs, whether or not to continue breastfeeding, how drugs get into breast milk and lactation compatibility with specific medications here. If you have a question about a particular drug’s compatibility with breastfeeding (or you’re dealing with a difficult breastfeeding case in general and would like some guidance and feedback), Dr. Newman answers emails from Lactation Specialists at no charge here. Information sheets on a wide array of lactation topics are available here, many of which are translated into different languages here.

Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC of Kellymom has compiled lists of lactation risk databases in English and other languages, common FAQs on specific drugs, treatments and medical procedures, lactation risk resources and a detailed list of reference links here.This is an accessible, easy to understand resource to share with your breastfeeding clients.

La Leche League International (LLLI) has also published some articles and FAQ fact sheets on medications and breastfeeding. It also has a comprehensive resource of hyperlinked articles addressing breastfeeding with maternal illness, conditions, diseases and  if medications/treatments are compatible. LLLI’s site, including it’s articles (typically written  for mothers and parents by mothers (who are also breastfeeding counselors), are fantastic reat resources to share with nursing mothers and families as they are easily accessible, usually short and sweet, and written for an audience without a medical background. Just click on the title(s) below:

Wendy Jones, BSc, MSc, PhD, MRPharmS of Breastfeeding and Medication.This comprehensive site includes free downloadable Fact Sheets, evidence-based useful links on medication and breastfeeding, E-Learning Packages/Training Packs, aimed at GPs (latest cost was £40.00), which can be purchased here. She has also authored the books, “Breastfeeding and Medication.” (2018) and “Why Mothers’ Medication Matters” (2017).

Herbs & Breastfeeding

Kelly Bonyata, BS, IBCLC of has created a simple, accessible resource list of specific herbals and natural treatment and compatibility with lactation here. For information on marijuana and breastfeeding, see here. These are both fantastic, easy to read and understand resources to share with your breastfeeding clients.

Sheila Humphrey, BSc, RN, IBCLC has written the ‘The Nursing Mother’s Herbal’ (2003) available here, which discusses the effects of a wide array of herbs, dietary supplements and natural remedies on lactation and lactation-related maladies such as mastitis, plugged ducts, thrush and more. Her book is organized into Herb Safety Categories A (no contraindications) – E (Avoid. Toxic plant with no justifiable medical use). See here for a more thorough description of the Herb Safety Categories and see here for a review of her book from LLLI.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If you have a evidence-based resource on drug safety and lactation that you recommend and it’s not included in the list, then please, send me a message with a description and relevant info so that I can include it. Thanks a bunch, xx

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. 

FREEBIE FRIDAY: “Nutritional Support of the VLBW Infant” Free Toolkit

Do you help support Very Low Birthweight (VLBW) Infants in your lactation work? Or maybe you are just starting out and want to learn more about working with and how to better support premature and VLBW infants. If so, then you’ll enjoy this FREE toolkit. I can’t take credit for this find myself – it was shared in a private lactation group by Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, FILCA.

The California Perinatal Quality Care Collaborative explains what’s included (and what’s new) in the 2018 version:

“The 2018 update of the Nutritional Support of the VLBW Infant Toolkit was developed to provide rapid assessment of current nutritional practices, outline evidence-based best practices, and enable rapid multidisciplinary improvement cycles to improve nutritional outcomes for premature newborns. We have added important new references, streamlined recommendations, and targeted the best resources.”

Aren’t you excited to download it and check it out? If so, click here for your free toolkit. And don’t forget to check out all of the FREE Additional pdfs located on the same site on your lower righthand side.

Do you have an idea for FREEBIE FRIDAY? Don’t be shy! Please do share – I promise to give you full credit. If you’re a company, private practice, NGO, etc. and have a FREE opportunity or item to offer to Galactablog readers, let me know. As long as you are WHO Code Compliant, you’ll be given full consideration. You can contact me here or email me at: I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday’s Tips & Tricks: How to use grapes to illustrate lactating breast anatomy & milk production

It’s Tuesday! That means it’s time for some tips and tricks. Do you ever struggle in explaining lactating breast anatomy and how milk production works to your clients? Perhaps you have the definitions and explanations down pat, but you can see their tired eyes glossing over and it’s obvious they are losing interest. I’ve learned that fun, visual props not only make great conversation and keep attention, but they work as visual aids much better than words alone. Bonus points if the prop is completely unrelated to breastfeeding. Come on, who wouldn’t want to pay attention when you pull a bunch of grapes out of your lactation bag. Yup, you heard that right – GRAPES!

You may be scratching your head and wondering, what the heck to grapes have to do with breastfeeding or lactation? Not everyone has the money or access to fancy breast models (and some clients may not be able to read or understand complicated breast diagrams), so I’ve learned that keeping it basic and simple, along with using something that you probably already have laying around, is cheaper, easier, quite effective, practical and oh so fun. So let’s get to it. If you live in an area where grapes aren’t expensive and they are available, hurry and go get some. They serve as fantastic visual props to illustrate breast anatomy and how milk production works. Bear with me here. Take a quick look at this very basic diagram of a lactating breast (on  different topic, I was surprised at how many breast diagrams still existed that contained lactiferous sinus) and then the grapes. Do it a few times.


Are you starting to see the resemblance? Can you see how if you look closely (and use your imagination), that in a bunch of grapes, you can point out the ducts, alveoli (clusters of glandular tissue that look like small, grape-like sacs), lobules (cluster of alveoli), a lobe (cluster of lobules), ductules, adipose (fatty) tissue and so on? Get creative and have fun with it – I guarantee they’ll pay attention. Now if you happen to come up with a simple, basic, quick script, please do share – mine is still kinda rambly and dense, it’s something I’m constantly evolving.

If you want to have fun with it, bring different colors of grapes – just as all breasts come in different sizes, shapes and colors – so do grapes! Don’t forget to share, after all, a breastfeeding mother needs to eat.

Do you have a tip or trick for Tuesday’s Tips & Tricks series? If so, don’t be shy! FREEBIE Please do share – I promise to give you full credit.  You can contact me here or email me at: I look forward to hearing from you.