Breastfeeding Class Resources

I became certified as a breastfeeding educator in 2004 and accredited as a breastfeeding counselor in 2005, so I’ve been working with breastfeeding mothers for a long time. I lead a monthly support group and offer help/counseling via phone, email, text, Facebook message, Words with Friends messages, you name it. Recently, a nurse contacted me asking for ideas for teaching an early pregnancy breastfeeding class. I think this is a great idea, since mothers’ decisions about breastfeeding are often made before the baby is conceived and if not then, during the first trimester.

These are the initial ideas I suggested:

  • Focus on what the mothers themselves want—what do they need/want to know? What have they heard about breastfeeding? What are their fears? What misconceptions do they need cleared up? I’m very much about peer-to-peer support and allowing space for the women to talk to/connect with each other—the facilitator is then available to clear up misinformation and provide tips.
  • Focus on what mothers can do to prepare for successful breastfeeding—there is evidence that prenatal breast massage/colostrum expression helps with both milk supply AND with mother’s comfort with her own breasts. It also helps her think of herself as a breastfeeding mother BEFORE her baby is actually born!
  • Suggest good books to have on hand and encourage attending a breastfeeding support group (like LLL!) prior to baby’s birth.
  • Promote/discuss/encourage “baby led breastfeeding.” I love sharing with mothers about how smart their babies are and how mother’s chest after birth becomes baby’s new habitat! Check out the resources from Suzanne Colson:
  • Discuss and emphasize all of the other great ways dads and other family members can be involved with baby other than giving a bottle. Dad/grandma can do EVERYTHING ELSE baby needs! That’s cool! Leave the feeding to mom and let dad have the other special and important jobs like baths and burping and tummy time and more.
  • DON’T talk about “myths” and try to dispel them in a myth-fact format, because evidence suggests that this actually helps the myths stick more!
  • Use Diane Wiessinger’s approach to language ( i.e. breastfeeding isn’t a “special bond” it is a NORMAL bond. People want to be normal—special is for celebrities and “other people,” normal is what everyone wants. She also has handouts here:

Since her email, a couple of other resources and bits have caught my eye. One is that the AAP has a resolution about the distribution of formula “gift bags” by pediatricians and hospitals. Apparently this came out in 2011, but it only came to my attention when I saw this image on Facebook!

In keeping with the 10 Steps and consistent with the AAP’s resolution, the hospital advocacy project from the Illinois State Breastfeeding Taskforce makes available the following useful documents for mothers to communicate with their hospitals:

The Task Force explains:

We encourage you to make the Breastfeeding Bill of rights and Hospital Experience Letters available to moms in your classes, practices, community events, breastfeeding fairs, “rock & rest” stations, etc.

Encourage moms to fill out the appropriate letter and mail back to the hospital where she delivered her baby.  Or collect the letters and mail them from your agency or task force.  Help moms make their voices heard!

We hope that this will show hospital administrators that lactation consultants, knowledgeable staff and breastfeeding friendly practices are valued by moms and families using their hospital services.

The Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition clued me into this Breastfeeding Plan for Mothers (pdf) from the MO Dept. of Health. The handout may be downloaded and printed as needed and is a, “list of requests that support breastfeeding for the postpartum stay. Similar to a birth plan and based on the 10 Steps for Breastfeeding.”

Also, make sure to check out this awesome resource, the WIC Sharing Gallery—free programs, curricula, brochures, and more from different WIC offices. I found this because I was back at the Illinois Breastfeeding Taskforce’s website downloading their Grandmother’s Tea curriculum for intergenerational support of breastfeeding.

Another great resource is the FREE online Tear-Sheet Toolkit from La Leche League.

And, finally, I already touched on this, but remember there are ample handouts/articles available from the incomparable Diane Wiessinger about birth and breastfeeding.

A Year of Talk Birth–Free ebook (rough copy)

Earlier this year I mentioned that I’d used BlogBlooker to convert my blog into a book so that I could copy the text into a year-end Wordle. Anyway, I decided I might as well make the finished blogbook available for download here as an ebook of sorts. It is pretty rough, since it includes comment text as well as “footnotes” of any websites I linked to. And, the formatting of pictures and other elements is a little funky, plus it includes any reviews or giveaways or quotes posts that I did during 2011. But, for anyone who wants it, here is a year of Talk Birth in pdf ebook format. I sent it to myself to read on my iPad and it was really pretty fun! It is a long document—410 page pdf. Enjoy!

Six Healthy Birth Practices Handout

Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices are one of my favorites resources when discussing birth plans in my classes. I find that some materials about birth planning on the internet are unnecessarily cumbersome (while simultaneously being very “cookie cutter”). As I tell my clients, the Six Healthy Birth Practices provide an absolutely phenomenal “basic” birth plan and concisely cover each element of a healthy birth. I suggest using them as a foundation for any birth plan the client plans to write. For use in my own classes, I created a one page handout briefly summarizing the practices: Six Healthy Birth Practices. At the bottom of the handout, I also include my own even simpler summary of the information. I just love them and think they should be the core of any class that serves women planning hospital births. Seriously, what women deserve in a birth environment can be summed up in six, clear sentences! How practical.

I also absolutely LOVE the video based on the practices that is available from Injoy. It is extremely affordable (I actually own three copies of it!). It is very concise and clear (just like the practices themselves) and I love how it shows women in a hospital environment, getting their needs met and having satisfying births. While I personally choose homebirth for myself and am a big advocate of homebirth, at least 90% of my clients are planning hospital births and deserve information and resources that support healthy, satisfying births in the environment they have chosen. I have a variety of great videos in my library, but many of them focus on homebirth and I think the message this sends to clients is—“good birth = homebirth.” While that feels personally true for me, it isn’t actually the message I want to share with my clients—I want to share my enthusiasm for birth, period, and to help them discover resources and plans for having a beautiful birth in any setting. I want to communicate to them that they deserve access to these healthy birth practices in the hospital and I hope we can create a birthing world in which all women can expect to have access to these practices in any setting. So, I like how this video shows women getting their needs met within in a hospital setting.

Additionally, the videos are available for free, practice by practice, on the Mother’s Advocate site, which also includes a variety of accompanying handouts to print.

And, again, here is my own handout for use during birth classes: Six Healthy Birth Practices.

I know I sound like a “commercial” for Lamaze’s Birth Practices and though I am a Lamaze member, I am actually certified with other organizations (ICEA and CAPPA). I think it is important that childbirth educators not limit themselves only to the materials and information provided by their own certifying organization and instead seek out excellent materials from a variety of the wonderful organizations that exist to support birthing women!

Handouts for Birth Booths

A frequent topic on email lists for birth professionals is good handouts/resources for booths at maternity or baby fairs. Rather  than making copies of materials or creating my own handouts (reinventing the wheel in a less-professional looking way!),  I am a fan of using glossy, professionally printed, but still very low cost stuff for tables and also a fan of materials that address good maternity care in general. My top faves for having on a booth or as handouts are:

Centering for Birth

I have a strong commitment to active birth—the use of movements, position changes, and most of all laboring out of bed. As a result, in my classes I tend to emphasize movement-based coping strategies for labor. However, I have also come to realize that coping measures employing relaxation and breath awareness are extremely valuable. These tools cannot be stripped away from the birthing woman. Whatever happens during birth, whatever unforeseen circumstances that arise, or if her need for activity runs smack into the hospital’s need for passivity, the breath—and breath based tools—cannot be taken from her. I do not teach patterned breathing techniques in my classes, but I do teach various breath awareness skills.

Centering is a breath awareness strategy that I’ve adapted for use in birth classes based on the ten second centering process described in the short book Ten Zen Seconds. Using the breath as a “container” for a thought or affirmation is the basis of centering. A meditative technique, the purpose is to “center” and to become mindful of the present moment. The container is a 10 second long breath—a five second in-breath and a five second out-breath—that holds a thought. You think the first half of the phrase on the in breath and the second half on the out breath (Maisel, 2007). Use this technique once or twice to “greet” the contraction and then continue breathing with awareness throughout the remainder of the contraction.

Some suggestions of centering thoughts to use during birthing include:

(I am open) (to birth)

(I am ready) (for my baby)

(I welcome) (my labor)

(I am confident) (and strong)

(Right here) (right now)

(I am equal) (to this challenge)

(I embrace) (this moment)

A pdf handout describing this technique (for use in birth classes), is now available here: Centering.

Another phrase I find useful in daily life, as well as applicable to birth is (I expect) (nothing). While this may initially appear pessimistic, it is a very useful reminder of the idea that most emotional suffering in life is a result of attachment to how something “should” be (i.e. “labor should only be taking 12 hours) (Dyer, 2002).

I frequently remind my birth class participants that coping techniques work best when they are incorporated into daily life rather than “dusted off” for use only during labor. Centering is a skill that is readily incorporated into real life. Indeed, when I first learned the technique, I quickly realized that it was a skill that I will use for the rest of my life. I let my class participants know that I regard this as a life skill, that happens to also be useful for birthing. It is essentially a tiny meditation technique that can be more readily incorporated into one’s daily life (especially a life that includes small children) than traditional, dedicated, more elaborate meditation techniques.


Molly Remer, MSW, CCCE is a certified birth educator, writer, activist, and mother of two young sons. She is an LLL Leader and editor of the Friends of Missouri Midwives newsletter. She blogs about birth at, midwifery at, and miscarriage at


Dyer, Wayne. Ten Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, Hay House. March 2002.

Maisel, Eric. Ten Zen Seconds, Sourcebooks, Inc. March 2007.


This article is modified from one that originally appeared in The International Journal of Childbirth Education, July 2009 (page 20)