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The Breastfeeding Therapist's Bibliophile Guide

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

I am a huge bookworm! I absolutely love reading all things about breastfeeding, development, birth, and parenting.

This is much to my hubby's dismay, who often reminds me that books can be just for fun. They can be fiction, too. They can be fanciful and escapist. They can be relaxing. They do not have to be "functional" or serve a specific purpose.

I remind him- he's talking to an OT. We LOVE things to be FUNCTIONAL. We LOVE for things to be PURPOSEFUL.

What he doesn't quite get (or I should say, what he forgets, because he knows me pretty darn well), is that for me, reading about breastfeeding, development, birth, and parenting IS FUN. I know, or at least hope, that others who might read this (who probably also love learning about breastfeeding and development) can relate.

To go ahead and cut to the chase, here are some of my favorite breastfeeding and development books as of 2020. Some I re-read over and over again every year. Some will make this list again next year I'm sure. Many of these books I consider essential reading for therapists specializing in breastfeeding, while others are more supplemental and their value probably depends on your own special interests and practice.

I did not include many lactation textbooks, and assume if you have taken coursework in breastfeeding, you already own these. They are of course essential in getting you started!

*Pictured above are some of the books discussed below. A few important ones are missing as I loaned them out. (Like Gasp which I loaned to my next door neighbor-- because, who doesn’t need to learn about airway health?!)

The Breastfeeding Therapist's Bibliophile Guide 2020

This book is what most of us, in the breastfeeding and lactation support world consider to be our Breastfeeding bible. Especially if you plan to support breastfeeding Infants therapeutically. I have owned this book for years, and refer to it often! It is a must, for anyone doing Breastfeeding Therapy.

2. Diane Bahr's books:

Diane Bahr, SLP, is one of the founders of oral motor therapy and has so many wonderful resources for both parents and therapists. I highly recommend all of her courses and books. and refer to her books year after year.

Two of her Books

3. The Breastfeeding Atlas By Clay and Hoover

This book is also essential for someone who plans to work a great deal with breastfeeding/lactating families. It is especially useful for newer therapists getting into the lactation field, but also a great reference for more seasoned Breastfeeding Therapists. It is essential (in my opinion) for those studying for the IBCLC exam.

4. Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Infancy by Wolf, OTR, IBCLC and Glass, OTR, IBCLC

This book is co-authored by two OT, IBCLCs and is an oldie, like published in 1991 old, but definitely a worthwhile book to read. The material is DENSE, in a good way. And another essential that I refer to often.

5. Functional Assessment and Remediation of Tots and A Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding by Robyn Merkel-Walsh, MA, CCC- SLP and Lori Overland,MS, CCC-SLP, C/NDT, CLC

Chances are, if you plan to help babies breastfeed, you'll encounter TOTs… ok not just chances are.. you WILL 💯, for sure, encounter TOTs. This book (TOTs) is a great starting point for the therapist specializing in breastfeeding. A Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding, by the same authors, is also foundational, but personally, if I had to choose between the two, as a therapist specializing in breastfeeding I would choose their TOTS book first.

6. Balancing Breast and Bottle: Reaching your Breastfeeding Goals by Amy Peterson, BS, IBCLC and Mindy Harmer, MA, CCC-SLP

I really enjoyed how this book provides a more nuanced discussion surrounding bottle and nipple choice (beyond just recommending Dr. Brown's with a preemie nipple, which I do love) and how these choices can be made to support therapeutic goals.

7. Tongue Tied: How a Tiny String Under the Tongue Impacts Nursing, Speech, Feeding and More by Richard Baxter, DMD, MS (with forward and contributors from interdisciplinary fields)

Another great introduction into the world of TOTs, providing a holistic view of how TOTs can impact so much more than just a restricted tongue.

8. Gasp! Airway Health- The Hidden Path to Wellness Dr. Michael Gelb and Dr. Howard Hindin

This book is a great introduction into airway health! If you work with babies, if you work with humans, understanding how the airways impact, well everything, is so important!

This book introduces the polyvagal theory, and discusses how to incorporate it into therapy practice (as the title implies). It's a good intro and makes polyvagal theory easy to understand.

This is one of my favorite breastfeeding books. I have encountered many families experiencing breastfeeding grief, as a feeding therapist, even years after their child was a baby. I found it personally helpful for myself with some of my own early mothering and birth experiences. (While this book isn't about birth, some of the strategies are still applicable.)

I am so pleased to see more attention being paid to the 4th and 5th trimesters. I think this book is great for helping mothers think and plan for this very important time. It is a good conversation starter on the topic.

This book is a wonderful source of insight for breastfeeding supporters into the experience of breastfeeding with IGT. It is also informative and emotionally supportive for mothers who could benefit.

13. The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk by Lisa Marasco, MA, IBCLC and Diana West, BA, IBCLC

This book makes challenging topics, like hormones, understandable, and accessible.

So many of the mothers/families we work with have experienced trauma. This book is so helpful in understanding trauma and how it is stored in our bodies. Highly recommend if you are working with postpartum mothers!

Alyssa Schnell's work goes beyond the Newman-Goldfarb Protocol to provide additional routes of lactation induction that are tailored to individuals with varying circumstances and needs.

I read this book when my first daughter was born! As an OT, I appreciate that it encourages self-feeding, fine motor skills, and sensory play, among other things. It is a great book to have on hand when parents you are working with have questions.

For the manual therapist, this book offers an alternative paradigm, that is compatible with pain science theory, for conceptualizing how and why manual therapy works. Gorgeous illustrations too.

18. Positioning for Play

This is an oldie, but a goodie. If you are new to peds/infants and want ideas for ways to position baby during play, check this book out!

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