Tag Archives | Robin Kaplan

Nursing in Public: When Did It Become So Controversial?

Written by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

When I look back at 2012 and recall the variety of breastfeeding stories that were covered by American media, I can’t help, but grimace and wonder,

“When did breastfeeding become so controversial?”

News story after news story depicts a breastfeeding mother being harassed for breastfeeding in public:

Charlotte Dirkes was asked to stop, cover up, or go somewhere else when she breastfed her 10-month old at a water park in Englewood, Colorado.

Tiffany Morgan was asked to stop breastfeeding her 6-month old, cover up, or leave Denny’s in Sedalia, Missouri.

Dawn Holland was asked to finish breastfeeding her 20-month old son in the bathroom of Applebee’s in Georgia.

Photo via Nurse-In @ Hollister Facebook Page

Photo via Nurse-In @ Hollister Facebook Page

Most recently, Brittany Warfield was screamed at and forced to leave a Hollister store in the Galleria Mall in Houston, Texas, when she breastfed her 7-month old, sparking a nurse-in across the United States and Canada of over 1,000 breastfeeding mothers, children, and friends on Jan 5th, 2013.

What ensued during this most recent nurse-in was truly shocking.

Three women participating in the Hollister nurse-in at Wilmington, Delaware’s Concord Mall were asked to remove their signs (written about normalizing nursing in public) and move to another part of the mall.  After taking down their signs, they continued to nurse in front of the Hollister store.  The mall’s security guards called the local police, who ended up not taking any action with the mothers once they showed them a copy of Delaware’s law that protects a woman breastfeeding in public.  The security officers took it upon themselves to continue to harass the mothers by threatening them with removal from the mall and then followed the mothers throughout the mall.

Photo via Nurse-In @ Hollister Facebook Page

Photo via Nurse-In @ Hollister Facebook Page

When other mothers heard about what happened at the mall, they posted on the Concord Mall’s Facebook page that they should be ashamed for calling the police when mothers were just feeding their babies.  In response, the Concord Mall responded that the breastfeeding was an ‘eyesore’ and that they ‘hope you guys don’t mind if I suck on my wife’s breasts in public.’

Since this Facebook exchange, The Concord Mall has disabled their Facebook Page (and denies that it ever had a Facebook page).  They also have apologized to the three mothers, yet the apology never admitted wrongdoing or that the women were treated improperly.

By the way, all of these harassment stories took place in states where breastfeeding women are protected by law to breastfeed in a public space.

While this type of harassment ruffles my IBCLC-feathers, it truly upsets me as an avid advocate for a breastfeeding mother’s right to meet her personal breastfeeding goals.  How can we expect mothers to breastfeed for any decent amount of time if they are relegated to their homes, cars, and public restrooms whenever their babies are hungry, just to avoid degradation and humiliation?

How can we, as mothers and IBCLCs, create the necessary change in our society where women will be able to feed their babies as nature intended?

I asked these questions to a group of mothers at my breastfeeding support group today, as well as of the followers on my business Facebook page, and their answers were honest and insightful.  Here’s what they had to say:

  • More women need to breastfeed in public so that people become desensitized to it, just like ‘we’ (Americans, in general) are desensitized to the sexualization of the breast and to violence on TV.
  • More breastfeeding on television shows and in movies, rather than always bottle feeding.
  • Public service announcements about how breastfeeding protects the health of the baby and of mom.
  • Have easier access to the laws that protect breastfeeding mothers, to use as a defense when asked to stop breastfeeding in public, cover up, or leave a public place.
  • In addition to the laws that protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, there is a need for laws that involve recourse for those who harass a woman for breastfeeding in public.

Fortunately, breastfeeding advocates are already thinking these same ideas!

Thanks to the Breastfeeding Law website, breastfeeding mothers can find all of the laws in the United States that protect their rights to breastfeed in public.

In California, on September 28, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB2386, which states that it is unlawful to engage in specified discriminatory practices in employment or housing accommodations on the basis of breastfeeding or medical conditions related to breastfeeding.  What this means for breastfeeding moms… they are now considered a ‘protected class’ of citizens and will receive a full spectrum of workplace discrimination protection.

In October, 2012, Best for Babes announced the launch of their Nursing in Public Harassment Hotline.  Now, breastfeeding mothers can report incidents of nursing in public harassment, document them, and receive guidance on how to deal with the situation and approach the offending institution.  The goal… to have enough documentation to influence policy makers to create laws that require enforcement of existing breastfeeding in public laws, the creation of laws that cover harassment and discrimination against breastfeeding in public, and educational and sensitivity trainings for employees.

Even MTV is changing their stance on breastfeeding.  While season 2 of Teen Mom removed scenes showing Kailyn Lowry breastfeeding, season 3 star, Katie Yeager, stated on Facebook and twitter that the show “will show me breastfeeding for a year.  I’m breaking the stigma and normalizing it again.”  That’s quite a commitment for a 16 year old!

For me, I plan to hand out a business card-sized copy of the California state laws that protect breastfeeding in public and prohibit discrimination in the workplace and housing to every breastfeeding mother I work with.  Hopefully having it in her wallet will provide some comfort that the law is on her side.  I also plan to submit an editorial to my local newspaper every time I hear a story about a mother being harassed for nursing in public.  I figure, it’s my job to educate my community about a mother’s right to feed her baby in public, without fear of persecution.  Lastly, I plan to promote Best for Babes Nursing in Public Harassment Hotline.  The more documentation they can collect, the better chance we have of creating a REAL change in our communities to help mothers meet their personal breastfeeding goals!

What plans do YOU have to create change in your communities for protecting a mother’s right to breastfeed in public?

RobinRobin Kaplan received training to be a Certified Lactation Educator and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from UCSD. She holds a Masters in Education from UCLA, a multiple-subjects teacher credential from UCLA, and a BA in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. In 2009, Robin started her own business, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, where she offers in-home breastfeeding consultations, free weekly support groups, breastfeeding classes, and online support through her business blog.  In addition to her private practice, Robin was the founding Co-editor of theInternational Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA)blog, Lactation Matters, and a regular contributor to ILCA’s E-Globe newsletter.  She also is the host/producer of The Boob Group online radio show and the Director of Marketing for NaturalKidz.com.  Robin lives in her native San Diego, where she enjoys cooking, hiking, trying new trendy restaurants, and traveling with her family.


The Top Lactation Matters Blog Posts of 2012!

As we wind up 2012, we thought we’d take a look back at our most read blog posts of the year. It has been an exciting year at Lactation Matters, as we have passed our 100,000 views mark. We are well on our way to our second 100K and we’re looking forward to adding new regular features and bringing in dozens of new writers in 2013. If you are doing something new and innovative in your practice, have a tip or technique to share, or want to tell us about how IBCLCs are impacting breastfeeding families around the world, please send us an email to lactationmatters@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Here are our top 5 blog posts of 2012!

5464706246_6acccd82f6A Closer Look at Cultural Issues Surrounding Breastfeeding: This fantastic post, by Emma Pickett, an IBCLC in the UK, highlighted not only some of the unique cultural beliefs surrounding breastfeeding around the world but also turned some of our most common beliefs on their ears.

gennaAn Interview with Catherine Watson Genna: As IBCLCs, we are constantly on the look out for new insights into infant behavior that will help us to educate and encourage new mothers. Cathy’s observations of how infants use their hands in regards to feeding has changed practice and helped parents to work WITH their infants and not against them. In this interview, she explains why allowing infants to use their hands is important.

Pic for Jennie post 4

Synthetic Oxytocin and Depressed Newborn Feeding Behaviors – Could There Be a Link?Jennie Bever Babendure explores how birth practices can impact breastfeeding and how labor induction and augmentations can be sabotaging neonatal feeding reflexes, which can throw road blocks down in front of even the most committed breastfeeding efforts.

KimberlyPublicity-300x200Why Beyonce Nursing in Public is So Significant: Robin Kaplan interviewed Kimberly Seals Allers about the impact of an African American celebrity (let’s face it…Beyonce is THE African American celebrity!) on breastfeeding. “Celebrities can help create a lifestyle cache and trendiness, particularly among young women, that helps broaden our ideas about who breastfeeds in the black community.”

imagePumping Strategies for the Working MotherOur most popular post of the year (by over 6,000 page views!) was this practical one by Wendy Wright, of Lactation Navigation in San Diego. In it, she highlights why workplace lactation support is so vital as well as answers the critical questions from mothers going back to their place of employment like “How often should I pump once I return to work?” and “How much milk will I need each day?” .

We give a HUGE thank you to all of our contributors this year. 2012 was an absolutely stellar year for Lactation Matters and we look forward to watching this blog grow in 2013!


From JHL: How US Mothers Store and Handle Their Expressed Breast Milk

Written by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Image via Mistel de Varona

Breast milk storage guidelines can be incredibly complicated for mothers to decipher. With each pump company and breastfeeding website having its own storage and handling recommendations, how’s a mother to know which one to follow? Plus, throw in whether the baby is full-term, pre-term, healthy, or in the NICU, and we have quite a confusing situation.

In the most recent online publication in the Journal of Human Lactation, How US Mothers Store and Handle Their Expressed Breast Milk, Judith Labiner-Wolfe and Sara B. Fein analyze the data they collected from over 2,000 pumping mothers in the United States. Their findings will probably not shock any lactation consultants, yet the authors bring up very valid conclusions for how we can educate the breastfeeding and pumping mothers that many of us work with.

Here are some of the significant results of the study:

  • 95% of mothers either never stored their milk at room temperature or did so for less than 4hrs. Recommendations range from 1-10 hours.
  • Roughly 50% of mothers never refrigerated their milk for less than 1 day and no more than 4% left it in the fridge for more than 5 days. Recommendations range from 1-8 days.
  • 10% of mothers heated their breast milk in a microwave, a practice that can cause uneven heating, as well as destroy some of the nutrient and anti-infective factors in breast milk. The professional consensus is to never microwave breast milk.
  • 17% of mothers with babies under 6.5 months old reported that they occasionally only used water to rinse the bottle nipples, which the authors stated could cause the baby to ingest harmful bacteria. Recommendations range from rinsing in warm, soapy to sterilizing daily.

What are our professional guidelines?

There are also some discrepancies as to how long pumped milk stays fresh and viable, even in our own professional guidelines. While these recommendations are similar to one another, there is still enough variability to cause confusion for even the most educated lactation consultant. Here are the recommendations, for a healthy infant, according to the newest edition of the Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice (2012):

Room Temperature 77 º: < 6 hrs.
Refrigerator: < 8 days
Insulated cooler with ice pack: < 24 hrs.
Completely thawed in the refrigerator: < 24 hrs.
Freezer compartment in 1-door refrigerator: 2 weeks
Freezer door in 2-door refrigerator: < 6 months
Deep freezer: < 12 months

The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Clinical Protocol #8: Human Milk Storage Information for Home Use for Full-Term Infants states:

Room temperature 16-29ºC (60-85ºF): 3-4 hrs. optimal; 6-8 hrs. acceptable under very clean conditions
Refrigerator ≤4ºC (39ºF): 72 hrs. optimal; 5-8 days under very clean conditions
Freezer < -17ºC (0ºF): 6 months optimal, 12 months acceptable
Reusing stored human milk – There is little information regarding the issue of refreezing thawed human milk or the duration of time that human milk can be used once a baby has begun drinking from the bottle or cup.

Both resources recommend washing human milk storage containers in hot soapy water and
rinsing or washing in the dish washer. Sterilization is not necessary.

How do these findings impact our practices when we work with breastfeeding and pumping mothers?

When we are discussing safe storage guidelines for breast milk, it is important to review our professional recommendations, as well as include warming, safe handling, and pump/bottle cleaning recommendations to protect the integrity of the breast milk, as well as the health of the child.

Recommendations should be accompanied by rationale, so that the mother understands WHY her breast milk is less compromised following these standards.

Where do we go from here?

This study’s findings highlight the need for a more systematic, researched-based recommendation for the viability of breast milk and what constitutes safe handling and storage. With so many variables (temperature of the storage space, type of storage equipment, handling, feeding, and cleaning procedures, etc.) there are just too many options, which I, myself, find incredibly confusing. While there are many factors that go into keeping breast milk viable for consumption, there has to be some way that we can create guidelines that are easier for new parents, and lactation consultants alike, to navigate and follow.

Robin Kaplan received training to be a Certified Lactation Educator and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from UCSD. She holds a Masters in Education from UCLA, a multiple-subjects teacher credential from UCLA, and a BA in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. In 2009, Robin started her own business, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, where she offers in-home breastfeeding consultations, free weekly support groups, breastfeeding classes, and online support through her business blog.  In addition to her private practice, Robin was the founding Co-editor of theInternational Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA)blog, Lactation Matters, and a regular contributor toILCA’s E-Globe newsletter.  She also is the host/producer of The Boob Group online radio show and the Director of Marketing for NaturalKidz.com.  Robin lives in her native San Diego, where she enjoys cooking, hiking, trying new trendy restaurants, and traveling with her family.


What Do Undergraduates Think about Breastfeeding?

Written by Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Photo by j.o.h.n. walker via Flickr

It is well known that in the United States, breastfeeding rates are somewhat discouraging. With only 35% of babies exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months and 44.3% receiving any breast milk at all at 6 months, as a nation we are not meeting the standards set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the World Health Organization. As we continue to look at ways in which we can increase our breastfeeding rates, one suggestion has been to examine the breastfeeding education taught to nonpregnant youth.

An article in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Human Lactation explores this issue. Kavanaugh, et al. surveyed 248 nonpregnant undergraduate youth at a large research university in Tennessee to determine their breastfeeding knowledge, attitudes, prior exposure, and breastfeeding intent (For subscribers to The Journal of Human Lactation, you can read the full text of the paper here).

The most significant findings from the study were:

  • Over 90% of the participants agreed that breastfeeding should be started soon after birth and that breast milk and formula were not the same. However, only about 50% of the participants knew that breastfeeding can reduce a mother’s risk of cancer and that formula-fed infants are ill more often than breastfed babies.
  • While a majority of the participants believed that breastfeeding was cheaper and healthier than formula, an astounding number felt that breastfeeding in public was embarrassing and unacceptable (71% female, 47.7% male) as well as inconvenient and painful (47.8 female, 33.8% male).
  • Those who had been breastfed as infants scored significantly higher on breastfeeding knowledge and positive attitude towards breastfeeding than those who were unsure or had not been breastfed.
  • The majority of the participants (80%) intended to breastfeed/support a partner to breastfeed in the future.

So where do we go from here? How do we change the attitudes of children, adolescents, and young nonpregnant adults about breastfeeding?

  • This research study is limited in its generalization due to the sample of the participants, therefore we need more wide spread, longitudinal studies of adolescents and young adults’ breastfeeding knowledge and attitudes.
  • We need better support and legislation to protect breastfeeding in public. If breastfeeding in public becomes the norm, as it is in MANY other countries, it should decrease the perception that it is embarrassing, unacceptable, and inconvenient. It’s time we start seeing more of this:

    Photo via blondebutbright.blogspot.com

    and less of this:

    Photo by Kate Gulbranson (@hygeiakate)

  • Additional curriculum, like the one pioneered in NY State, that promotes breastfeeding as the norm, in human development and nutrition classes for children, adolescents and college students. The bulk of the content could focus on the benefits of breastfeeding (for both mother and baby), the hazards of formula, and the superior nutritional components of breast milk.
  • A recommendation, per the authors (which I personally think is brilliant), it also to educate our youth about appropriate infant development and behavior. The authors concluded that if our youth understood how often an infant/toddler needed to breastfeed and that covering with a blanket was not always feasible (especially with an older infant who wants to see the world around him/her), that they might stop viewing a breastfeeding mother as being immodest when breastfeeding in public. Also, since an infant typically breastfeeds every few hours, it is irrational to expect this mother to stay at home for every feeding.

What recommendations would you add to this list? How does your community make breastfeeding the norm?

Robin Kaplan received training to be a Certified Lactation Educator and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant from UCSD. She holds a Masters in Education from UCLA, a multiple-subjects teacher credential from UCLA, and a BA in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. In 2009, Robin started her own business, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, where she offers in-home breastfeeding consultations, free weekly support groups, breastfeeding classes, and online support through her business blog.  In addition to her private practice, Robin was the founding Co-editor of the International Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA) blog, Lactation Matters, and a regular contributor to ILCA’s E-Globe newsletter.  She also is the host/producer of The Boob Group online radio show, which launches on July 2, 2012, and the Director of Marketing for NaturalKidz.com.  Robin lives in her native San Diego, where she enjoys cooking, hiking, trying new trendy restaurants, and traveling with her family.


A Farewell and an Introduction for Lactation Matters

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Over the past 10 months, I have had the esteemed honor of acting as co-editor of Lactation Matters. When I first met with Decalie Brown, ILCA Director of Marketing, at the ILCA conference in San Diego, CA (2011), she shared with me as a member of the Marketing committee, the blog idea that had been recommended by (SAGE Rep) Courtney Pugh, ILCA’s Journal Human Lactation Publisher a day or so earlier. Courtney, Decalie and I met just as the conference started and virtually within 3 weeks created and launched ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog by publishing a blog article every day of World Breastfeeding week in August 2011, a huge and exciting task ! We had no idea what it would look like or the type of articles it would contain, but we knew that its purpose was to share pertinent, research-based information with our colleagues, the international board certified lactation consultant. Since July, I have watched Lactation Matters blossom from its infant-stage into a full-grown blog with over 60,000 hits in the first 10 months. I never imagined it would have such great success!

It is with this hope for continued success that I have decided to step down from my role as co-editor. I know that Lactation Matters has the potential to grow in ways that I, as a volunteer, do not have the time to nurture. I have had my own private practice, the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, for almost 3 years now and it is time to me to attempt to grow my business and help support my family of four. I have absolutely loved creating and maintaining Lactation Matters and I feel so lucky to have worked with my co-editor, Decalie Brown, and with such a fabulous team of writers.

Amber McCann, IBCLC

I would like to introduce my friend and colleague, Amber McCann, who will be taking my place as co-editor of Lactation Matters. As a contributor to our “Clinicians in the Trenches” posts since the launching of the blog, Amber has a real love of connecting people through the use of blogging and social media.

Amber says, “As a young mother myself, I found that connecting with other mothers online was vital to my survival in those early days. Now, 10 years later (and still friends with many who I met when my daughter was an infant), I use many of the same technologies, and a slew of new ones, to provide online support and information to breastfeeding mothers.”

When not working on a variety of online breastfeeding support projects, such as being the blogger responsible for the “Celebrity Breastfeeding News” section of the Best for Babes blog, she works as an IBCLC in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside if Washington, DC . In addition to working directly with mothers online, she speaks professionally about social media to other birth and breastfeeding professionals. She also offers one-on-one social media coaching to her colleagues. When she’s not furiously composing tweets (you can follow her at @iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV.

Lastly, I would just like to thank all of my colleagues and the Lactation Matters readers for their support and guidance over these past 10 months. It has been such a pleasure to ‘meet’ so many inspiring lactation consultants making a significant difference in the lives of mothers and babies. Your comments and suggestions have truly helped to create this amazing dialogue among our community. I am so thrilled you have enjoyed the blog thus far and I cannot wait to see how it continues to grow over the next few years!


Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Message from Decalie:

Not knowing what lay ahead , Robin volunteered unselfishly to support me and the process of creating and developing ILCA’s first blog. Robin’s first surprise was she had a co-pilot that didn’t really know anything about a blog, let alone writing one! The experience working together was amazing and we took up the task and the challenge to birth Lactation Matters blog in August 2011 (in just 3 weeks) and continued to tailor this social media blog to the needs of the IBCLC . Moving though the months to today we have had a core group of amazing volunteer guest bloggers. Without them, and Robin’s input and coordination, ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog success may have been different.

I can still remember Robin confidently and eagerly stating early in the process, “we should be able to publish 2 blogs a week, no worries!” and this was actually managed most weeks.

On behalf of the ILCA Board of Directors and all ILCA members, I would like to sincerely thank Robin for her commitment, expertise, her professionalism and contribution to the Lactation Matters blog and for taking time to volunteer for ILCA. We wish her well in her IBCLC practice.

P.S. Fortunately, Robin she has agreed to be a Lactation Matters guest blogger and remain as a volunteer on ILCA’s Marketing committee. Thank you, Robin!

We are very excited to warmly welcome Amber McCann, who has kindly offered to be co-editor of ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog as of June 1, 2012 through the end of this year. After this time the ILCA Board is proposing to advertise this wonderful opportunity to members to apply.


Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Five

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Yasmin – The most memorable experience as an IBCLC is when I, as coauthor, conducted first time independent research in which we explored the experiences of women on reasons in initiating and maintaining breastfeeding in the urban area of Karachi, Pakistan. For this, I feel very humble. After attending the ILCA conference in 2008, a spark was ignited in us and we were able to initiate this small scale research project in our country.  To continue that learning and to help mothers continue exclusive and optimum breast feeding practices, I have chosen to complete my master’s thesis on the topic of exploring father’s and health care provider’s perceptions for breast feeding practices in Karachi, Pakistan.

Yasmin Mithani, IBCLC, BScN, RN, RM

Senior Instructor, AKUSONAM

Robin -A few months ago, I met a mother at one of my weekly breastfeeding support groups.  She had a 3 week old baby boy, who was having some major challenges latching on.  When I went to her home for a private consultation, her story began to unfold.  Her son’s tight frenulum had been clipped in the hospital and, since then, had refused to latch for more than a few minutes.  She was exclusively pumping, to preserve her milk supply, and her son was receiving bottles of breast milk in place of breastfeeding.  This sweet mother was so determined, yet was at a loss for how to bring her baby back to breast.

Within about 15 minutes, I removed the mother’s breastfeeding pillow, elevated her feet, and asked her to recline.  Next, I rested her son on her chest and waited for him to root around.  Her son bobbed around until he found her nipple and began to suckle.  The mother was in disbelief that her son could latch on his own and tears filled her eyes as she heard gulp after gulp.

Well, after I left, her son went back to his fussy ways and would only latch and breastfeed intermittently.  The mother was devastated.  I recommended that she wear him skin to skin and to spend a day in bed with her son, nursing whenever he showed signs of hunger.  I felt so badly for this mother and baby, as I knew her son was capable, yet they weren’t in sync at the moment.

Two weeks later, the mother walked through the door of my support group and gave me an enormous hug.  After having spent an entire Saturday cuddling with her son, gently refusing to give him a bottle, he finally figured out that he could get all that he needed directly from the breast.  They had been exclusively breastfeeding for 4 days now and they couldn’t have been happier.  I was so incredibly proud of this mother…for her perseverance and her willpower.  She continues to inspire me to this day.

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Co-Editor, Lactation Matters Owner,

San Diego Breastfeeding Center www.sdbfc.com


Supporting Breastfeeding with New Technologies

A few months ago a story out of Australia caught my attention.  A research study conducted at Queensland University of Technology showed that new mothers who received cell-phone based text-messaging support (also referred to as SMS, which stands for Short Message Service) were four times less likely to stop breastfeeding than those who did not.  This collision of technology with nature’s perfect infant nutrition piqued my interest and I wanted to learn more (self disclosure – I’m a bit of a technophile).  While details of the study have not yet been published, I was able to talk with an IBCLC who uses SMS, as well as hear the perspectives of several nursing mothers.  This post is intended to share this story and also generate a conversation about what other practitioners have experienced using text-messaging to support breastfeeding moms.  Please join in the discussion!

An IBCLC’s Perspective

Robin Kaplan, IBCLC and founder of San Diego Breastfeeding Center, LLC, offers mothers the option to communicate with her via SMS after she conducts an initial in-home consultation.  She estimates that about 25% of her follow-up communication is through text-messaging, with some clients using it for 100% of their contacts.  The nature of Robin’s texts are primarily responding to questions from new mothers (moms can include a photo with the question to help in diagnosing some problems), as well as checking in with mothers to see how they are doing.  One of the benefits of text messaging is that it isn’t interruptive, like a phone call may be, and it can be managed from a time perspective (versus not knowing how long a phone call might last).  This seems to be important for new mothers, as Robin gets more responses from texting than she does from phone calls.  Texting is also conducive to the round-the-clock hours that nursing mothers keep.  “They can leave me information any time they want,” says Robin.  From a business perspective, she sees texting as time and cost-effective.  “It makes a lot of sense!”

Mothers’ Perspectives

“When you have a sleeping baby, or you’re just too tired to get into a long conversation, texting is so convenient,” said texting mother, Tracy.  “Robin was able to get straight to the point and offer quick responses to my questions, which were very helpful… Though some might think it’s impersonal, texting is still a conversation and a readily available one at that, I really appreciated the instant gratification.”

Adoptive mother, Danielle, said text-messaging support was a huge help in establishing her breastfeeding practice.  “The reason texting worked for me is that my consultant, Robin, was always quick to reply…  This [breastfeeding an adopted infant] is a new frontier and being able to text when your baby is asleep in your arms is so helpful…  For me, texting as opposed to verbalizing sometimes kept me a bit calmer. I always know I can call if I need to. The ability to have both options, however, was great.”

According to Erin, “Because newborns require so much attention around the clock, texting was the easiest form of communicating with Robin.  It allowed me to send her a quick message, an update or ask a question without regard to the hour or any of the long winded social niceties that a telephone conversation would require. By the same token, Robin was able to check in on my progress, offer much needed practical advice and soothe my worries with most welcome words of support.”

On the Bleeding Edge

How does text-messaging fit into healthcare privacy laws that might impact lactation consulting care?  This will vary country by country, and many governments are still trying to figure this out.  Robin said she is moving towards printing and then deleting text messaging conversations and adding them to patient records.  She deletes photos immediately.  Having a password lock on your phone is another measure of security.  It’s always important to get a mother’s consent before you begin sending text messages.

What has your experience been with adding text-messaging support to your lactation practice?  We’d love to hear your stories!

By Maryanne Perrin MBA, graduate student in Nutrition Science, and ILCA volunteer


Why You Should Have a Facebook Business Page?

When I started my private practice business a few years ago, Facebook had just started to really take off.  I only had a personal page, which I used to post pictures of my kids and talk about my life as a mother of two young boys.  I also wanted to connect with my breastfeeding clients, but felt awkward sharing my personal life with them, at least on a semi-daily basis.  That’s when I knew that it was time to launch my business Facebook page.

You may ask, “How important is it to have a Facebook presence?”

My answer is: Extremely important! 

While you may not connect with your friends and family through Facebook, your clients and patients do…. And on a regular basis!  So, why miss this opportunity to continue your conversation with them?

Who should have a business Facebook page?
• Anyone or any business that wants more patients and clients.
• Private practice Lactation Consultants, Lactation Consultants in non-profits, lactation organizations, anyone who is looking to increase business through marketing
• It is imperative if you have a blog and/or private business.

Why Facebook could be good for your business?
• The new generation of mothers is not getting their information from traditional marketing arenas (i.e. newspapers, TV, radio, email blast).  Instead, they are looking to engage with content.  They want something interactive, engaging, and informal (hence, Facebook)
• When Lactation Matters posted Jane Morton’s article on Hand Expression of the 384 views to the article, 224 were ‘referred’ from Facebook.  It is a way to share your message.
• When I posted an article about Creating a Breastfeeding Basket , it got picked up by Kellymom and Hygeiababy, all because they found the article mentioned on my Facebook business page.  My San Diego Breastfeeding Center blog also received over 700 unique hits that day.  These are all potential people talking about my business and breastfeeding support.
• You can engage with your audience, clients, and followers in your niche groups by posting articles, questions, surveys.
• You can share great information with your followers.  You can follow others in your niche group.  You can enable a conversation.

A Few Key Rules to Keep in Mind:
• Keep your Facebook posts on a professional level, not a personal level.  Think about what you want your clients and colleagues to know about you.  They don’t need to see pictures of your grandkids’ birthday party, unless it is pertinent to an article you are posting.
• NEVER share info about clients, patients, etc.  Remember your HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act ) laws and keep your posts out of other people’s personal lives.
• Don’t post the same content or links over and over again.  Your followers will ‘hide’ you, or worse, stop ‘liking’ you.
• Share great, pertinent information that you think your followers will find useful.
• Answer followers comments
• Follow other business pages that are using Facebook well.  Share their information and comment on their pages.

Examples of businesses and organizations that have a great Facebook business presence:
Kellymom.com and Best for Babes

So, take that first step into Social Media.  Create your Facebook business page.  Start engaging with your clients and colleagues in a meaningful way.  It’s amazing what you will learn!

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC is the owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center.  She can be found playing around with social media on her website’s blog, her San Diego Breastfeeding Center Facebook page, and SanDiegoBFC Twitter account.   She is also the co-editor of ILCA’s blog, Lactation Matters.


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