About the Speaker

Alyssa’s passion revolves around supporting non-gestational parents to lactate and nurse their babies:  adoption, surrogacy, LGBTQIA+, and more.   Alyssa’s own amazing experience breastfeeding her baby via adoption prompted her to become a lactation consultant so that she could help other families have their own extraordinary experiences. She has done extensive research on inducing lactation and relactation, and has worked with thousands of non-gestational parents over the past several years. She believes that every parent who wishes to breastfeed, no matter how their baby arrives, should have the support and helpful information to do so. Lactation professionals provide an essential link to the breastfeeding success of these special families.

Official Bio for Brochure

Alyssa has been helping parents and babies with breastfeeding since 2002, first as a La Leche League Leader and currently as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 2009.   In her private practice, she consults with families around the globe who wish to induce lactation or relactate, and their breastfeeding partners.  She is the author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing:  A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers Through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances and a professional supplement to the book, The Breastfeeding Without Birthing Professional Pack online training.  Alyssa has authored articles for The Journal of Human Lactation, La Leche League’s Leader Today and Breastfeeding Today magazines, and Adoptive Families magazine.  She is an international speaker on the topics of inducing lactation, relactation, and other related topics.  Alyssa is the proud mother of three breastfed children, two by birth and one by adoption.

Bio for Introduction

Alyssa has been helping parents and babies with breastfeeding since 2002, first as a La Leche League Leader and currently as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 2009.   In her private practice, she consults with families around the globe who wish to induce lactation or relactate, and their breastfeeding partners.  She is the author of Breastfeeding Without Birthing:  A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers Through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances and a professional supplement to the book, The Breastfeeding Without Birthing Professional Pack online training.  Alyssa has authored articles for The Journal of Human Lactation, La Leche League’s Leader Today and Breastfeeding Today magazines, and Adoptive Families magazine.  She is an international speaker on the topics of inducing lactation, relactation, and other related topics.  Alyssa is the proud mother of three breastfed children, two by birth and one by adoption.




Presentations

Overcoming Obstacles to Supporting Parents Inducing Lactation

Time-frame: 60 minutes
CERP: yes

The word is getting out!  Appreciation of the importance of breastfeeding is increasing while at the same time families are growing in more diverse ways.  While adoption has been around for a very long time, more families are growing via gestational surrogacy.  The number of LGBTQIA+ parents is also growing.  The result is more non-birthing parents with various gender identities and diverse hormonal and anatomical characteristics are interested in inducing lactation…and in some cases co-breastfeeding. Creating lactation without pregnancy and birth for a diverse population can pose some new challenges for lactation professionals. Fortunately, for each of the obstacles we may face supporting these extraordinary parents, there are solutions – many of them drawing from the skills we already have to support the wide variety of birthing parents we regularly encounter.

Co-Lactation: How LGBTQIA+ Parents Share the Breastfeeding Relationship

Time-frame: 45-60 minutes
CERP: yes

Are you an inclusive lactation provider?  Co-lactation — also called co-nursing, co-feeding, or co-breastfeeding — involves sharing lactation and/or the breastfeeding relationship between two or more LGBTQIA+ parents.  This presentation explains why parents might choose to co-lactate … although if you’ve ever been the only nursing parent in a family with a baby waking up multiple times during the night you probably already have some idea! But when research and general knowledge about lactation revolve around one person breastfeeding a baby, it can be difficult to know how to navigate a shared breastfeeding relationship.  How to establish sufficient lactation between parents?  How to balance parental roles when both breastfeed?  Will baby develop a preference for breastfeeding with one parent over another?  This presentation draws on the experiences of many co-nursing couples to serve as a guide for successful co-lactation for queer families.

The External Milk Duct: Choosing and Using A Nursing Supplementer

Time-frame: 75-90 minutes
CERP: yes

Exclusive feeding directly from the breast or chest is not always available.  Common reasons for this include a baby who is unable to effectively remove milk from the breast/chest or a parent who is not producing enough milk to meet baby’s needs.  A nursing supplementer – or supplemental feeding tube device as it is often referred to in journals – can serve as an “external milk duct” providing plenty of extra flow when baby needs an easier flow or parents need an increased flow.  A nursing supplementer can help preserve the breastfeeding relationship and increase milk production.  So why isn’t it used more often?  It can be challenging to use, especially at first.  As a lactation consultant who specializes in working with parents inducing lactation, Alyssa has seen the struggles and successes using a nursing supplementer first-hand.  In this presentation she shares her professional experience and the wisdom of the research to help other lactation professionals support clients with this incredible tool for supporting long-term breastfeeding outcomes.

 

Supplementation: A Goldilocks Dilemma

Time-frame: 60-90 minutes
CERP: yes

Too much supplementation means baby is getting less of the parent’s own milk, and eventually less milk production for the parent.  Too little supplementation means baby is not fed enough.  So how to find that juuuuust right amount?  Or even to determine whether supplementation is really necessary?   And, when necessary, how to supplement in a way that preserves long-term breast/chestfeeding outcomes?  This presentation can serve a guide for if, when, how and how much to supplement direct breast/chestfeeding with additional human milk or infant formula.

The Three Step Framework for Inducing Lactation (TM)

Time-frame: 60-90 minutes
CERP: yes

Inducing lactation for adoptive, intended (via surrogacy) or non-gestational LGBTQIA+ parents – just like any other lactation issue we support – should not be approached with a “one size fits all” protocol.    Parents vary in their need or preference to avoid certain methods, present with diverse hormonal and anatomical characteristics (think PCOS, post-menopause, trans woman, or intersex), may have irregular time or unknown timelines for their babies’ arrival (almost always the case with adoption), and usually have a long-term need for supplementation.  We can offer a flexible and customizable approach to inducing lactation that meets the needs of the individual.  Sound complicated?  Actually, when broken into three basic steps, inducing lactation has much in common with some familiar lactation issues facing the gestational parents we already regularly support.

The Unique Needs of Non-Gestational Parents: Adoption, Surrogacy, LGBTQIA+ and More

Time-frame: 60 minutes
CERP: yes

Every parent deserves the opportunity to breastfeed – even if that parent did not birth their baby.  And as professionals, it is important to recognize that these parents will come to us with some unique needs and circumstances.  They are likely to have health histories that are different than gestational parents.  They may have difficult feelings about their path to parenthood or a non-conforming gender identity. The timing of their baby’s arrival may be unknown until weeks or days beforehand.  They may be sharing the breastfeeding/chestfeeding relationship with a partner.  They can expect to need to supplement their milk production.  And of course, they won’t have the hormones of pregnancy to initiate lactation.  Understanding as best we can the unique needs of these extraordinary parents can go a long way towards being an inclusive lactation practice.

 

The Proficient Pumper

Time-frame: 60-75
CERP: yes

Many lactating parents rely on a breast pump to help provide milk for their babies when they are separated or not feeding directly from the breast/chest for other reasons. Some of these parents may find pumping uncomfortable. Many others have difficulty expressing enough milk to meet their babies’ needs. There are also those who produce an overabundance of milk while pumping. This session addresses all of these parents by providing ideas for making pumping as effective, efficient, and comfortable as possible.

Relactation: Resuming Milk Production after Days, Weeks, or Even Months

Time-frame: 60 minutes
CERP: yes

When is it too late to breastfeed a baby? Sometimes parents regret the decision not to breastfeed. Sometimes they discontinue breastfeeding and feel it was too soon. For various reasons, parents may wish to resume lactation.  Although it isn’t as easy to make milk without the hormones of pregnancy kicking things off, it is very possible for parents who haven’t lactated for days, weeks, or months to begin to produce milk once again.  This presentation was developed to help the listener understand when and why a parent may wish to relactate, what to expect, and the specific tools and techniques to resume milk production.

ReLATCHtation: Transitioning from Bottle-feeding to At-breast Feeding

Time-frame: 60 minutes
CERP: yes

Newborn babies are hardwired for breastfeeding:  their newborn instincts direct them to latching at the breast/chest.  But what about older babies who are currently exclusively bottle-feeding – can they learn to breastfeed too?  A birthing parent may wish to initiate or resume breastfeeding after choosing not to breastfeed or discontinuing breastfeeding.  An adoptive or foster parent may be placed with an older baby or toddler whom they wish to nurse.  With patience, persistence, support, and some tools and tricks, it can be possible.  This presentation discusses how to know if baby is ready to breastfeed, setting the stage for success, and the process of gentle transitioning from bottle to breast/chest.

Peer-to-Peer Milk Sharing

Time-frame: 30-60 minutes
CERP: yes

When a parent is unable to meet her baby’s needs with her own milk, milk donated by another nursing parent may be an option. Parents have always quietly, informally received donated milk from family members and friends. Recently, parents are connecting via the internet with nursing parents they have never met who are willing to donate their surplus milk to another baby in need. Milk donors are not screened, the milk is not pasteurized, and the handling and storage of the milk is not monitored. As a result, it is essential that parents take precautions whenever accepting donated milk. This session takes a close look at the concerns regarding milk sharing and how parents can minimize the risks involved.

The Breastfeeding Partner: How Dads, co-Moms, and other Special People Make A Difference

Time-frame: 30-60
CERP: yes

According to research collected by the U.S. Surgeon General, the support of the breastfeeding partner is one of the most important factors for breastfeeding success. Dads and other breastfeeding partners can support breastfeeding success by providing emotional support, gathering resources, helping the nursing parent get comfortable, provide nurturing, and more.  This session also addresses common concerns of the breastfeeding partner, including suggesting ways the partner can bond with the baby without bottle-feeding so as not to disrupt breastfeeding in the early days.

Alyssa Schnell


Country: USA
Phone number: 314-614-2074
Email: alyssa@alyssaschnellibclc.com
Site: http://AlyssaSchnellIBCLC.com
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Publications

Schnell, A. (2022). The Three Step Framework for Inducing LactationTM. Journal of Human Lactation, 38(2), 252-261.

Key Messages

• No standardized protocol for inducing lactation currently exists.

• A standardized protocol for inducing lactation may not reflect the diversity of parents’ health, fertility,
or lactation histories; circumstances and timing of babies’ arrivals; and parents’ goals and values.

• The Three Step Framework for Inducing LactationTM is flexible and customizable for the individual needs of each family. The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC)
can use this model to develop an individualized inducing lactation protocol for each client.

Schnell, A. (2022). Successful co-lactation by a queer couple: A case study. Journal of Human Lactation, 38(4), 644-650.

Introduction: With cultural and social evolution and improvements in reproductive technology, an increasing number of babies are born to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and/or questioning, and asexual and/or ally parents. As parental roles and gender expression become more expansive, the role of breastfeeding a baby must naturally also expand to include the option of sharing of breastfeeding among parents, called co-lactation (Bamberger & Farrow, 2021). In most cases, co-lactation involves a gestational parent and a non-gestational parent. If a non-gestational parent desires to produce milk for the purpose of breastfeeding, they do so by inducing lactation. While interest in and research about induced lactation are developing quickly, little information is currently available about co-lactation.

Main Issue: A couple identifying as queer presented with concerns about inducing lactation in the non-gestational parent, as well as seeking assistance in managing a successful sharing of the breastfeeding relationship.

Management: Breast massage, milk expression, acupuncture, hormone therapy, and galactagogues, including domperidone, goat’s rue, and malunggay (moringa oleifera) were used to initiate and establish lactation by the non-gestational parent. Parents shared the breastfeeding relationship equally and carefully managed milk expression when the other parent was breastfeeding to maintain or increase lactation.

Conclusion: With professional lactation support, commitment to a lactation plan, responsive parenting, and strong communication and cooperation between parents, two parents were able to successfully co-lactate for more than a year. Breastfeeding was shared equally and supplementation of breastfeeds was rarely needed.