Lactation Management Training: From Novice to Expert

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Ducks are mammals?

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Well no, after ducklings hatch from their shells, they usually don’t eat for the first 24 hours, and then they start on small pieces of food and sips of water.  But as we see from this charming video of a mother cat turned mother to ducklings and kittens, unusual things can happen.

That oxytocin circulating right after birth is certainly powerful for bonding for both mothers and their off-spring.  Those newly hatched ducklings arrived just at the peak of the mother cat’s post-partum oxytocin surge.  Lucky for them, she took them “under her wing”, kept them warm and even offered them the only food she had, mother’s (cats) milk.  Oxytocin lives up to its nickname, “the mother love hormone”!

Successful reproduction in mammals demands that mothers become attached to and nourish their offspring immediately after birth. It is also important that non-lactating females do not manifest such nurturing behavior. The same events that affect the uterus and mammary gland at the time of birth also affect the brain. During parturition, there is an increase in concentration of oxytocin in cerebrospinal fluid, and oxytocin acting within the brain plays a major role in establishing maternal behavior.

It may be best to view oxytocin as a major facilitator of parturition and maternal behavior rather than a necessary component of these processes.  


Vergie Hughes has a long history of experience in Maternal Child Health including labor and delivery, post-partum and pediatrics, and for the past 25 years she has been involved in lactation management. Ms. Hughes has a BSN from Pacific Lutheran University and a MS from Georgetown University. She has been a board certified lactation consultant since 1985. At Georgetown University Hospital, she was the director of the Human Milk Bank. She created and developed the National Capitol Lactation Center and the one week Lactation Consultant Training Program. This course has trained more than 4,000 Lactation Consultants since its inception in 1990.

She has been a private practice lactation consultant and business owner, and operated her own lactation center, Washington’s Families First. Lactation Education Resources On-Line is her website, offering training to professionals and information to parents as well. Ms. Hughes has served on the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and has served on the IBLCE exam writing committee. Her first love is teaching and that is exemplified by the creativity of the courses she has developed. A series of courses “The In-patient Breastfeeding Specialist,” "The Out-patient Breastfeeding Specialist” and “The NICU Breastfeeding Specialist” are all designed to advance the lactation management skills of nurses at the bedside. She regularly teaches skills to labor and delivery nurses and just recently developed the course “Towards Exclusive Breastfeeding.”

Ms. Hughes is the program director and content manager for all of the on-line Lactation Education Resources courses. Ms. Hughes was recently honored with a “lifetime achievement award” as Fellow of the International Lactation Consultant Association (FILCA).


  • Guest
    Gale Touger Wednesday, 26 March 2014

    This is just wonderful! Thanks for posting, Vergie

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