Breastfeeding support service empowers lactation professionals and mothers

Tiffany Taylor M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC
Co-Founder and Administrative Officer for Baby2Breast

Plagued is our society with quibbles damning nearly every parenting choice. We know them all too well which is why it’s so refreshing to encounter a system that empowers all women in their journeys as mothers.

Stephanie Levenston, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC, CD
Baby2Breast Co-Founder, consultant to lactation support professionals.

It’s called Baby2Breast (B2B), an in-home breastfeeding support service founded about nine months ago by Tiffany Taylor MS, CCC-SLP, CLC and Stephanie Levenston MS, CCC-SLP, CLC, CD. Since its founding, B2B founders have made significant changes to the business’ platform based on feedback received from current and potential affiliates.

B2B is the first national organization to provide a platform that supports lactation professionals and mothers alike.

Taylor and Levenston were my first interviewees for Our Milky Way. I was so impressed with their enthusiasm and their readiness to answer any question I had. They were willing to share their knowledge in its entirety. They were patient with me (and my daughter in the background who grew increasingly irritated with me throughout the interview.)

Taylor and Levenston call B2B “business in a box.” They are equally as accommodating with their affiliates as they were with me.

Lactation professionals listed on the B2B directory receive access to the materials necessary to begin or expand a private practice.

Materials include:

  • marketing guides
  • photos and videos to use during in-home visits
  • handouts for mothers
  • template letters for physicians, hospitals and medical staff
  • invoices for services rendered
  • and a Breastfeeding Report

Provision of these materials allow lactation specialists to spend more time with moms and babies in need.

Taylor says their model quells concerns professionals might have about starting or expanding a private practice because she and Levenston take the prep work and research out of running a business.

A personalized business venture

Taylor and Levenston explain that B2B affiliates can personalize their business as desired, regulating their ideal client flow.

Affiliates include the following information on the directory:

  • Name
  • Business name
  • Contact information
  • Rate for service
  • Typical response time to a visit request
  • Location for services

Payment is collected at the time of service and affiliates retain 100 percent of the fee.

“Our affiliates are what makes B2B successful and we have a fantastic group of women who are highly committed to making a positive impact on our country’s breastfeeding rates and on the individual journeys of the mothers with whom they work,” Levenston says.

All affiliates are required to offer in-home services.

B2B founders feel strongly that the most effective environment for the assessment of current skills and the carryover of new skills is in a mother’s most natural environment.

“There are tremendous amounts of research indicating that the most reliable and comfortable environment in which to provide any intervention service is in the client’s home,” Levenston states.

Empowering moms

Of B2B’s many services, affiliates, with the client’s permission, collaborate and correspond with other medical professionals such as OB/GYNs, midwives and pediatricians to ensure consistent support to mom and baby.

Taylor and Levenston say that when the mother is made the focus of the care model, it builds confidence in her own experience. In other words, the goal is for mothers to not become dependent upon an affiliate. Instead, women become empowered through working with the specialists.

The least invasive way to achieve the end result will always be the best result, they add.

Reviving the field

Both founders agree that this type of platform has been needed for years.

“Often we would meet someone long after their breastfeeding journey has ended and their common phrase was: ‘where were you when I needed breastfeeding help?’” Levenston comments.

The duo, both with speech language pathology backgrounds specializing in infant feeding disorders, took this as an opportunity long in the making to offer a platform which is easy to access for both mothers and lactation support professionals seeking to connect with them in an appropriate, timely and convenient manner.

If B2B specialists feel technologically competent, intervention through Skype is offered. Taylor and Levenston claim some clients prefer the virtual experience and agree it adds another level of timeliness.

Come one, come all

B2B accepts a variety of credentials to increase its outreach to moms and babies.

“Certainly there are some individuals that may feel threatened or opposed to our perspective that a number of credentials are qualified to provide lactation support to breastfeeding dyads,” Levenston says.

“But we do not view others’ perspective as a difficulty; rather we see it as a call to action to reach out in sisterhood to the many women who are committed to making a difference in the field of lactation support,” she continues.

“The true difficulty is experienced by the mother who needs support but does not know where to find it or cannot locate someone in her immediate area to provide her with the option of a home visit in a time sensitive manner,” Levenston concludes.

Taylor and Levenston both have a number of impressive titles to claim but Levenston says her favorite training has been the CLC course through Healthy Children Project’s Center for Breastfeeding.

“The women they send to do the training are funny and witty,” she says. “The information is so dense but they kept us engaged and laughing. That is a gift and a talent not everyone has.”

The transition from training to actual implementation in practice was natural and easy, the duo says in accordance. Because CLC training focuses on providing evidence based practice, current information and counseling and listening skills to assist mothers in their feeding goals, these ideals fell into direct alignment with what B2B founders believe as professionals.

“We ultimately believe it is a woman’s choice to determine what is right for her and her baby,” Levenston says. “We believe that the majority of women will opt to breastfeed if they are provided with current, unbiased information regarding the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks involved in formula feeding and if they know they will have the support they need when they encounter a challenge.”

For the future

The directory also includes providers qualified for complex case consultations like families dealing with prematurity, genetic disorders, medical issues and physiological feeding challenges like cleft lip and/or palate, tongue tie, etc. The hope is that mothers will have an easier time finding the right fit for their specific needs through the directory.

Lactation support professionals interested in learning more about listing their services on the Baby2Breast directory or referring prospective clients can learn more at

Like Baby2Breast on Facebook.

Lactation Counselors declare their love

Chelton (right) poses with Jana and Ty Phillips at a Natural Healing Families Breastfeeding Sharing and Info Group she facilitates.

In beautifully written verse, Hearthside Maternity Services’ creator Angelique Chelton, CLC, CBE, SBD declares her love for all women who offer breastfeeding support to women in need in a recent post on Angie’s Blog.

She recounts her experiences as a somewhat new lactation professional and thanks others for sharing their passion and knowledge. She denounces division between lactation care workers and calls for unity within the field. Chelton expresses her hope for eventual extinction of the current demand for lactation professionals and shares Healthy Children Project’s Renewed Call for  Collaboration.

“I hope to see a world where the wisdom about breastfeeding reverts to those to whom it has always belonged- the wisdom of breastfeeding lies in breastfeeding mothers,” she writes.

Ms. Chelton, in response to your powerful, inspiring post and critical services you offer, I hereby declare my love for you. As you have, I extend my gratitude to lactation professionals no matter what title(s) they claim.

Unity and respect requests

Chelton has been assisting breastfeeding dyads for a little over 18 months. She lightheartedly calls herself a newbie. Even so, all of her clients have achieved their breastfeeding goals.

She says that the most difficult part of her job is being misunderstood and/or misrepresented by other professionals.

“In the few years Hearthside has been open for business, I’ve managed to ruffle some feathers in several nests,” Chelton says.

She says asking the hard questions, listening, thinking critically and speaking truth gently isn’t always the easy road to take, but it’s the right one and it’s the one she chooses to navigate.

“Professional integrity, including respecting the work of others in the same field, is a vital thing,” Chelton says.  

Hunger for knowledge

While training as a doula, Chelton completed an internet-based breastfeeding course but was eager to learn more.

“I saw CLC training with Healthy Children as a way to expand my professional services,” she says.

She adds that nursing her children was tremendously important to her and she saw expanding her knowledge as a way to honor her personal breastfeeding relationships.

Chelton’s CLC training also provides her insight on disparities within our healthcare system.

“Wealthy people are able to afford access to services like CLCs which can be essential to their breastfeeding success,” she explains. “I am thrilled that the Affordable Care Act now makes CLC services accessible to more mothers. I hope to see insurance coverage of Lactation Care Professionals expanded so everyone, included the least advantaged in the U.S., can have easy access to assistance when needed.”

Tragedy and triumph

Hearthside Maternity Services launched in 2009 in Montgomery County, Pa. Clients have access to lactation services including support groups and counseling, pregnancy and breastfeeding education opportunities and bereavement doula services.

While Chelton’s passion encompasses “the entire childbearing cycle,” there’s one aspect of her work that is especially close to her heart: her connection to Stillbirthday, an organization that serves families suffering pregnancy loss and parents who receive difficult and/or fatal diagnoses prior to delivery. Chelton serves as Stillbirthday Director of Education & Training and as a birth/bereavement doula.

I learned that Chelton suffered two miscarriages prior to the birth of her son Alex and daughter Fae. I wondered if these raw, unimaginable experiences help her bereavement services or make them more difficult. The following is her response:

Having had two devastating experiences with pregnancy loss deepened my well of empathy for women suffering through perinatal bereavement. After carefully examining my healing journey and after training to offer professional perinatal bereavement services, I am able to allow the flow of healing energy to go from me into my clients. When I am in need of a recharge, I have a network of friends and colleagues who are able to pour back into me.
I find that doulas who have their own pregnancy loss history, are in a unique position to comfort a bereaved family. I don’t believe one must have experienced a pregnancy loss to comfort others, but there are experiences that are so common to bereavement, they almost become an unspoken language. We can never sit in another’s soul and mind to understand exactly what they are feeling, but there is absolutely a resonance that happens between a person who is hurting and one who has hurt in that same way.  

Despite the tragedies Chelton sometimes confronts, she finds purpose in families’ confidence to handle difficulty and their ultimate success stories.

Recently, Chelton created a series of webinars covering a variety of topics for parents, birth workers and lactation professionals. January through March selections are currently open for registration.

Visit Hearthside Maternity Services on Facebook for more information.

Uncovering flavors in breast milk: Dr. Julie Mennella’s flavor learning research and implications

In case you haven’t heard, artificial baby milk increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and certain kinds of cancer. Formula-fed children are also at risk for contracting a long list of illnesses that might otherwise be squashed by immunities in breast milk. Among the many differences between artificial baby milk and breast milk, there is one big difference that is often overlooked: flavor.

In my Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) training, I remember learning that children were likely to nurse longer if their mothers had recently consumed garlic. Breast milk never ceases to amaze me; especially when it’s garlic-flavored!

As a member and director emeritus of the Monell Science Apprenticeship Program, a non-profit institute in Philadelphia, Dr. Julie Mennella has been conducting flavor learning research for more than two decades.

Dr. Mennella’s research “focuses on the development of food and flavor preferences in humans and the effects of alcohol and tobacco on women’s health and infant development.”  (Retrieved from

“Every baby is living in their own sensory world when they are breastfed,” Dr. Mennella says. “It’s unique food that that mom has made for that baby.”

Differently, artificial baby milk although available in many varieties, presents static flavor.

“That constant flavor doesn’t reflect the culture they will grow up in,” Dr. Mennella says of formula-fed children.

Greater implications 

Unfamiliarity with the flavors of one’s culture and consequential unacceptance of certain foods has considerable implications.

As Dr. Mennella and Dr. Gary K. Beauchamp put it in their 2011 article entitled Flavor Perception in Human Infants: Development and Functional Significance, “both before and after birth, humans are exposed to a bewildering variety of flavors that influence subsequent liking and choice.”

Their research suggests that taste and olfactory systems operate in utero within the amniotic fluid and that breast milk serves as a sort of flavor bridge to the time of weaning.

Because the food we consume directly impacts our health, it is important to note that an infant who develops a “taste” for salty, sweet and fatty foods over fruits and vegetables will have a greater risk for diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some cancers according to Mennella’s and Beauchamp’s Flavor Perception in Human Infants article.

Dr. Mennella explains that the breastfed baby exposed to an abundance of flavors is at an advantage once weaned.

“What moms eat are typically what babies end up eating,” Dr. Mennella says. She highlights the importance of a varied diet for pregnant and lactating women.

A breastfed baby experiences textural variations such as viscosity and mouth coating as well so “breastfeeding provides an even richer variation in oral sensory stimulation” as stated in Flavor Perception in Human Infants.

Dr. Mennella says formula companies are only able to add flavoring to follow-on formulas at which point she says it is too late to stimulate flavor detection.

Benefits a plenty

Flavor learning research does not only point to future variation in diets. In The chemical senses and the development of flavor preferences in humans published in Hale and Hartmann’s Textbook of Human Lactation, Dr. Mennella cites the research of Frederick D. Provenza which shows that “learned food preferences are transmitted from [mammalian] mothers to their offspring, resulting in greater biodiversity.”

Provenza’s research also suggests that flavors transmitted through breast milk allow mammalian offspring to know what food is safe to eat through familiar flavoring once weaned.

More to discover, more to learn

Recently, Dr. Mennella has become interested in growth differences between breastfed and formula-fed infants.

“I’m shocked at how little we really do know,” she says.

Healthy Children Project’s upcoming 17th Annual Conference in Orlando will be an opportune time for Dr. Mennella to summarize some of the findings of basic flavor learning research and present some unanswered questions.

“How do we learn from basic biology to educate both mom and health professionals about the mystery of what’s happening early in life?” she asks. “We’re beginning to have evidence that it’s setting the stage for many things to come.”

Mennella, J. A. (2007). The chemical senses and the development of flavor preferences in humans. In P.E.Hartmann & T. Hale (Eds.), Textbook on Human Lactation (pp. 403-414). Texas: Hale Publishing.

Beauchamp, Gary K., and Julie A. Mennella. “Flavor Perception in Human Infants: Development and Functional Significance .” Digestion . (2011): 1-5.

Center for Breastfeeding then, now and later

Karin CadwellAs a relatively new Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Dr. Karin Cadwell, Executive Director of the Healthy Children Project (HCP). HCP trained me for my CLC exam back in November 2011 and the organization has trained thousands of other lactation care providers.

Dr. Cadwell was so engaging in our chat, I could have listened to her insight all day.

She told me that breastfeeding support should not mirror car salesmanship. Today it’s hard not to know that Babies Were Born to Breastfeed thanks to advertising initiatives like i want a strong baby and Beating the Booby Traps. But simply touting benefits isn’t going to help moms in need or increase breastfeeding duration rates.

“We have to get out of the sales business and get into the service business,”
Dr. Cadwell says.


A Democratic Mindset

Dr. Cadwell is committed to the justice of all mothers and babies and works to provide competent, evidence-based care to help breastfeeding dyads.

She says that breastfeeding support should not be based on the ability to pay outrageous prices for it or because one’s healthcare provider just happens to be interested in breastfeeding.

“I have a more democratic point of view,” she explains.

A Challenge to Overcome

Karin meeting nursing staff of Hangzhou #1 Hospital.

Dr. Cadwell stresses the importance of collaboration.

“The next challenge for breastfeeding advocates is to leave our pioneering spirits behind and work as colleagues,” she says. “We’re passed that part of our history where people don’t believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.”

HCP staff and friends visit the #1 People’s Hospital, Hangzhou.

Dr. Cadwell recalls a recent plane ride where she reviewed her notes for an upcoming lecture. Catching a glimpse of the breasts across her computer screen, the man next to her curiously questioned her profession.

After she explained, Dr. Cadwell says the man proceeded to list at least 25 advantages of breastfeeding.

“We have to catch up to that,” Dr. Cadwell says of what is becoming common knowledge.

The Missing Piece

Decades ago in the 1970s, there was a massive growth in independent, consumer-based breastfeeding information. Around this time, Dr. Cadwell was working as a nursing mothers’ counselor and eventually a trainer for the Childbirth Education Association of Greater Philadelphia (CEAGP). But because CEAGP objectives were so consumer focused, education was not offered to healthcare providers.

“It seemed to me that was a missing piece,” Dr. Cadwell says.

Eventually, Health Education Associates, Inc. (HEA) decided to sponsor breastfeeding workshops for nurses and doctors and did so for almost 20 years. In 1992, after HEA downsized to only a publishing company, Healthy Children Project, Inc. was born.

The Center for Breastfeeding, a practice center offering lactation services and classes to local mothers on The Cape, Islands and South Shore, precipitated from HCP.


Education to Help Families

 A major focus of Healthy Children Project is the Lactation Counselor (CLC) Training Course, a competency based program that equips participants with the essential skills and knowledge to help families achieve their infant and young child feeding goals.
“Healthy Children’s philosophy is that education comes before practice,” Dr. Cadwell explains.

She describes the CLC course as transformational learning. She cites students reporting learning about the magnificent functions of their bodies and reconstructing the way they think of themselves as women in the world. (She sums up my experience perfectly).

Sometimes nurses don’t enroll in the course by choice but end up getting hooked, Dr. Cadwell explains.

“That’s the best experience of all,” she says.

International Collaboration

Healthy Children faculty members and colleagues have been working alongside the Egyptian Lactation Consultant Association and the Egyptian Ministry of Health to rejuvenate the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) for over 10 years.

Egypt was one of the first countries to establish BFHI in their public hospitals. Alas, with no sustainability built into the system, Baby Friendly practice began to fail. Healthy Children and its colleagues worked with UNICEF to develop a national survey by visiting almost all of Egypt’s 27 governorates. The national survey helped to come up with a sustainability plan.

Research for the Masses

HCP faculty member Anna Blair introduces nursing students to her research on sore nipples.

Healthy Children Project also designs and implements collaborative investigations to solve breastfeeding dilemmas.“Our research focus is very practice oriented,” Dr. Cadwell explains. “It aims to question the basic tenets of what we do.”

While it’s sometimes easier to  focus on microcosm issues, Dr. Cadwell says, “We really work to focus on the things where most people can be helped.”

HCP faculty member Kajsa explains the Magical Hour to fascinated nursing students.

She cites reasons behind why women get sore nipples and how to most effectively implement skin to skin.
Changing peoples’ practices through research will gradually allow mothers and babies effortless breastfeeding experiences.”We don’t have to be aggressive,” Dr. Cadwell says.

At the end of October, Dr. Cadwell and several of her colleagues spoke at the Normal Labour and Birth Conference at Hangzhou Normal University in Hangzhou, China.

Anna Blair, Karin Cadwell, Cindy Turner-Maffei, Kajsa Brimdyr & Kristin Stewart – so excited to attend the conference!

The conference offered a wonderful opportunity to share and to learn from those working to optimize birth and breastfeeding outcomes all around the world.

Dr. Cadwell, Kristin Stewart and Cindy Turner-Maffei spoke on developing effective teaching programs for healthcare professionals and parents to assist in uninterrupted skin- to- skin implementation. Drs. Anna Blair and Kajsa Brimdyr addressed their findings in newborn tongue behavior as it relates to epidural fentanyl exposure during labor, and Dr. Blair presented a poster on sore nipple research conducted in Latvia.

Welcome to Our Milky Way!

Welcome lactivists, skeptics and information seekers of all kinds! I am Jessica Fedenia and I’m so thrilled about the opportunity to explore and celebrate lactation care workers’ subjects of interest and the individuals, particularly Certified Lactation Counselors, who work to help families and communities achieve healthy infant and young child feeding goals. This space is dedicated to sharing the projects and organizations they create, the knowledge they uncover and discover and the experiences they undergo. We’ll also spotlight the role of other professionals in lactation management and research based strategies.


As a relatively new Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) and young mother who initially struggled with breastfeeding even with access to a wealth of reliable information, I wholeheartedly support the strategies set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF)to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration. Honestly, if I had it my way the clouds would rain breastmilk and we all would hold hands dancing cheerfully over puddles of remedial liquid. That said, I still believe there is significance in considering all 6.9 billion (roughly) sides of the story.


So, come along to learn and share but please note: thoughtful, insightful engagement in our online community is encouraged. Critical, intelligently crafted discussion is welcomed. Blatantly offensive, threatening, vacuous comments including personal attacks will not be tolerated and will be removed immediately.