August 14, 2013
Are you a bit scared to ask your clients about breastfeeding? It can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have personal experience with breastfeeding. What should you ask? What will you do when your client answers that she’s having problems? Should you even ask if you have no idea how to help?

Yes! Please ask your clients about breastfeeding.

When questions come up – as they’re sure to do – it’s a great opportunity to build your skills and knowledge. Here are a few of my favorite resources for practitioners who need more information.

Resources for Practitioners

  • LACT-MED this NLM database is a great place to look up whether a specific drug is compatible with breastfeeding; many physicians are not aware of this resource & many moms receive misinformation about the need to wean in order to take certain medications; please verify information here!
  • Thomas Hale, author of Medications and Mother’s Milk, is an expert on this topic. He also runs the website InfantRisk
  • Essential Guide to Herbal Safety (Mills & Bone) – my favorite resource for determining if an herb is safe during lactation; they take a very level-headed and non-alarmist approach
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League publication) – the 10th edition is a must-read for all pregnant & breastfeeding moms, as well as for practitioners who plan to support them. Clear, concise and easy/fun to read, this book covers all of the most common concerns/solutions.
  • Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple – a textbook for practitioners who specialize in working with breastfeeding issues; a wonderfully-written reference text, meant to be used while talking to mothers (e.g. has sidebars with questions to ask moms, as well as what to do if they reply one way v. another). Worth the investment if you will be serving many breatfeeding moms and helping them with breastfeeding-related issues. (p.s. it’s cheaper on eBay)
  • Nonprescription Drugs for the Breastfeeding Woman (Nice) – a short, information-rich resource covering herbs, supplements and OTC medications.
  • Nursing Mother’s Herbal (Humphries) – one of my favorites! Emphasizes that herbs are a second or third line of defense; before using herbs for most breastfeeding issues, check latch, frequency of nursing, etc. Humphries covers the basics first and uses herbs as supportive measures. Lovely list of herbs that are safe, possibly safe & contraindicated in the back.

Resources for your clients

  • La Leche League: LLL offers mother-to-mother support groups in most cities across the country. Volunteer Leaders are often available for phone or home visits, and clients can also use the national helpline or breastfeeding forums to get help & support.
  • Also keep an eye out for other breastfeeding support groups in your community to add to your referral list
  • Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) are the medical professionals who support breastfeeding moms; find one (or more!) in your community. Insurance will often cover these visits.

Do you have a favorite resource relating to working with nursing mothers? Please share below 🙂

About Camille Freeman, LDN, RH (she/her)

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and menstrual health. I run the Monday Mentoring community of practice and also offer continuing education programs for highly-trained herbalists and nutritionists (Check out this year's Deep Dive!). I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating.

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