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Glossary

Disclousure: This is an informal A-Z of breastfeeding terms written in a way that is easy to understand. It is not a medical glossary!

A
Agitation / Aversion
Breastfeeding aversion and agitation is a condition whereby breastfeeding / pumping mothers experience negative emotions triggered whilst breastfeeding. These may include anger, rage, agitation, and irritability. 

Read this article on breastfeeding aversion and agitation.
B
Babywearing
Babywearing is the act of carrying a baby close to one’s body using a piece of material to support baby. This can be a baby sling or a more structured baby carrier. Baby can be carried in-front, at the side or on the back. Many mothers are able to breastfeed in a baby sling/carrier.
Bedsharing
Bedsharing is the act of sleeping in close proximity to ones child. This could refer to a baby sleeping in a cot attached to a bed with no barrier, or parent and baby sleeping in bed together. See also, ‘cosleeping’.

You might find this article on breastfeeding and sleeping interesting.
Biological Nurturing
Biological Nurturing (also known as ‘laid-back breastfeeding’)is a term used to describe breastfeeding in a relaxed and ‘natural’ position. A mother will recline in a chair/bed/sofa/couch with baby lying on top. The idea is that both mother and baby are in a natural and relaxed state for breastfeeding. It can prove to be a very helpful way to breastfeed if the mother is sore from birth and wishes to limit the need to sit up straight and hold the baby for the duration of a feed.
Blocked milk duct
A blocked milk duct is one which is clogged, preventing the free flow of milk. Mothers will likely feel a lump on the breast which will be tender to touch. There may be a small white dot on the nipple which is referred to as a ‘bleb’.
Breast crawl
The breast crawl refers to how a baby, who has just been born, moves their body and head towards their mother;s breast and nipple in readiness for their first breastfeed. It’s a known behaviour in many newborns and it is most often exhibited by babies who are placed on their mother’s chest straight away following birth.

Read this mama’s story about the breast crawl.
Breast milk collector
A breast milk collector refers to any device which collects breast milk, such as an electric breast pump or a breast milk suction device.

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
Breast pads
Breast pads are small circular pieces of material that can be placed in a bra to soak up any breast milk leakage during feeding. There are reusable pads or disposable pads available.

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
Breast shells
Breast shells are circular shaped moulds which are placed over the breast / inside a bra to collect any milk that may leak when breastfeeding. They are also used to help heal sore nipples and for women who may inverted nipples as it can help them breastfeed more easily. Breast shells are commonly made of silicon.

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
C
Cluster feeding
Cluster feeding is the term used to describe constant feeding sessions where baby seems to be attached to the breast non-stop, particularly during the night.

Read this article about coping with cluster feeding.
Colostrum
Colostrum is often referred to as ‘first milk’ because it is what a new mother produces after giving birth before their milk ‘comes in’. It’s thick and creamy in consistency and a baby only needs a small amount at a time. Some women begin producing colostrum during the latter stages of pregnancy.
Combination feeding
Combination feeding (also sometimes called ‘mixed feeding’) refers to using both breast milk and infant formula to feed a child.

Read this mama’s story on combi feeding.
Cosleeping
Cosleeping is the act of sleeping in close proximity to one’s child. This could refer to a baby sleeping in a cot attached to your bed with no barrier, or mother and baby sleeping in bed together. See also ‘bedsharing’.

Read this article on breastfeeding and cosleeping.
Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA)
Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) can affect people of all ages but is most common in young children. Exclusively breastfed babies develop CMPA as a result of milk proteins from products the mother has eaten transferring through breast milk. Most reactions to cow’s milk protein are mild or moderate, with severe forms of CMPA being very rare. Symptoms may include a red itchy rash, digestive problems, and eczema. Where CMPA is suspected in a breastfed baby, the recommended treatment is for the mother to remove all sources of products containing cow’s milk from her diet, ideally under medical supervision. If you think your baby is having a reaction to cows’ milk, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Read Emily’s experience of CMPA here.
D
Donor milk
Donor milk is breast milk which a person has expressed with the intention of it being used to help an infant in need. Most commonly donor milk is given over to a certified milk bank and given to a sick or premature baby whose mother is unable (for one reason or another) to provide their own milk.

Read this article on why milk donations are needed.
E
Electric breast pump
An electric breast pump is a machine used to express milk from breasts. A cup-like suction device is placed over the breast to express milk into a container. Electric pumps are commonly used to express milk quickly and easily but they can be expensive. You can avail of a single electric breast pump (for use on one breast at a time) or a double electric pump (for use on both breasts at the same time). Pumps such as these can often be rented temporarily from a hospital or other organisation.

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
F
Flat or inverted nipples
Inverted or flat nipples are those which do not point out and which may cause issues when breastfeeding – particularly with regard to latching the baby on. Mothers with inverted or flat nipples often find the use of nipple shields or breast shells helpful to allow the baby to attached and feed successfully.
Flipple technique
The flipple technique refers to a specific ‘breast shaping’ latch technique whereby the mother shapes her breast in a way to help baby get a deep latch. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘breast sandwich’ technique.

Read about how this mama used the flipple technique.
H
Hand expressing
Hand expressing is the term used to describe expressing breast milk by hand. It is a good skill for breastfeeding mothers to have, especially when they are experiencing breast engorgement and need to relieve the pressure in their breasts.

Read this article on how to pump breast milk without a pump.
I
Infant Formula
Infant Formula (sometimes referred to as Formula Milk) is a synthetic product that can be used to feed babies and small children as an alternative to breast milk. It is designed to be as much like breast milk as possible however it does not contain all the ingredients of human milk and so does not have all the natural benefits of breast milk. It can be purchased in powdered form or liquid form and is most often given to a baby by way of a bottle. Powdered milk in particular must be prepared in a specific way using sterilization to be safe to give to a baby.
Inverted or flat nipples
Inverted or flat nipples are those which do not point out and which may cause issues when breastfeeding – particularly with regard to latching the baby on. Mothers with inverted or flat nipples often find the use of nipple shields or breast shells helpful to allow the baby to attached and feed successfully.
L
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a temporary form of birth control which breastfeeding mothers may use to help prevent pregnancy. There are various guidelines for a woman to follow for LAM to be considered effective, including breastfeeding exclusively.
Laid back breastfeeding
Laid-back breastfeeding (also known as ‘Biological Nurturing’)is a term used to describe breastfeeding in a relaxed and ‘natural’ position. It’s when a person reclines on a chair/bed/sofa/couch with their baby lying on top. The idea is that you are both in a natural and relaxed state for breastfeeding. It can prove to be a very helpful way to breastfeed if a mother is sore from birth and wishes to limit the need to sit up straight and hold their baby an extended period of time.
Latch
The latch refers to how a baby attaches itself to the breast to feed. The idea is to have the baby ‘nose to nipple’ to encourage a deep and efficient latch onto the breast so that they have the best chance of feeding as well as possible.
Lip-tie
A lip-tie occurs when the labial frenulum, which is the piece of tissue that attaches the upper lip to the gums, is very tight. This may make it more difficult to move the upper lip. For this reason, it can make it difficult for babies to feed efficiently from the breast but this is not always the case.
M
Manual breast pump
A manual breast pump is a device used to express milk from breasts. A cup-like suction device is placed over the breast and a handle is used to express milk into a bottle-like container. Manual pumps can be quite labour intensive but are generally inexpensive and useful if needing to pump from time-to-time.

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
Mastitis
Mastitis is a condition whereby the breast(s) become inflamed and engorged. They’ll likely feel very warm to the touch and look ‘angry’ and red. This may also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms; feeling hot one minute and cold the next. Most commonly, mastitis can take hold if a person skips a feed or if the baby repeatedly feeds off one breast and not the other.

Read this mama’s experience of mastitis here.
Mixed feeding
Mixed feeding (or combination feeding as it’s sometimes called) refers to using both breast milk and infant formula to a child.

Read this mama’s story on combi feeding.
N
Nipple cream
Nipple cream is a specialist ointment that breastfeeding mothers can use to rub onto sore, cracked nipples to help them heal and to relieve pain.

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
Nipple shields
Nipple shields are soft thin silicon teat-shaped covers that are placed over nipples before feeding from the breast. They have a hole in them to allow breast milk to come through. Many mama’s use nipple shields if their nipples are sore from breastfeeding, or if they have flat or inverted nipples and need help attaching baby to the breast. Nipple shields may also be used to help babies achieve a better latch, particularly if they were born premature.

Read Bekki’s story to see how she used nipple shields.
Nursing bra
Nursing bras are specialist bras designed to make breastfeeding easier. Nursing bras often feature a drop-down nursing clip.

You may find this article on breastfeeding sports bras useful.
Nursing cover
A nursing cover refers to a piece of material that a mother drapes over themselves and their baby to feed discreetly in front of people or in public. Some mothers use a simple muslin cloth to drape over themselves and their baby, whilst others invest in a specialist nursing cover-up

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
Nursing pillow
Nursing/feeding pillows are generally curved pillows that a mother sets on her lap and which she places the baby on top of to feed. There are also specialist pillows that can be adjusted in height to accommodate a mother and her growing baby. 

You might find this breastfeeding checklist helpful.
O
Oxytocin
Oxytocin is the hormone that is released when an infant starts feeding from their mother. The hormone enters the brain of both mother and child and is often referred to as the ‘love hormone’. It’s said to bring about positive outcomes, such as improved mood and a feeling of closeness between mother and child.
P
Prolactin
Prolactin is a hormone that causes breasts to grow and develop and produce milk after a baby has been born. A woman who exclusively breastfeeds usually has high levels of Prolactin.
R
Reflux
Relux is when a baby repeatedly spews up their milk during or after a milk feed. They can often be unsettled during a feed (gagging or choking) and appear uncomfortable after a feed, arching their back and crying. In some cases reflux can be a serious condition and can cause poor weight gain. A severe form of reflux is known as galled gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) causing acid from the stomach to leak up into the oesophagus (gullet). It is often the result of the ring of muscle at the bottom of the oesophagus becoming weakened. There is also ‘silent reflux’, which can be difficult to diagnose as it’s when a baby does not bring up milk after a feed but is in a lot of discomfort. 

Relactation
Relactation is the term used to describe the re-starting of breastfeeding after a prolonged break. It can be a long process to establish a milk supply again but by following the correct strategies, it is possible to go on and breastfeed successfully (whether that be exclusively or non-exclusively).
Responsive feeding
Responsive feeding is the act of feeding a baby when they are looking to be fed. It’s not about watching the clock and spacing feeds out at certain times. Responsive feeding is the updated term for ‘on-demand feeding’.
S
Skin to skin contact
Skin to skin contact is the practice of holding a naked baby against a caregiver’s bare chest to bring about a feeling of closeness and warmth. Mothers are often encouraged to have skin to skin contact after birth to successfully initiate breastfeeding.
T
Tandem feeding
Tandem feeding is the act of feeding two children simultaneously. Generally, it is a term used to describe feeding twins together but it can also mean breastfeeding two children of different age (i.e. baby and toddler) at the same time.
Thrush
Thrush is a condition which can arise whilst breastfeeding, and one which mother and baby can both suffer from. In the mother, symptoms can include sore flaky nipples, red or pale nipples, and itchy nipples. Some women also experience a burning sensation around the breasts and nipples. Babies with thrush often have a white coating around their mouth and tongue. Thrush is common after a course of antibiotics and in the early days of breastfeeding when mothers may have sore and cracked nipples (thrush thrives on broken skin).
Tongue-tie
Tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, is where the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual. Some babies can have a very slight tongue tie and are still able to breastfeed very successfully, whereas other babies can have a very severe tongue tie leading to a shallow and inefficient latch.

Read this mama’s experience with tongue-tie.

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Breastfeeding for Beginners – Latches, letdowns & leaky boobs

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