breastfeeding term

Breastfeeding Terms: A Glossary of useful terminology

It’s August 1, and that means that today marks day 1 of National Breastfeeding Month! All month long we celebrate breastfeeding mamas and this is a time of learning, educating, and advocating. This month I’ll be writing you posts all about breastfeeding so stay tuned!

Now, speaking of breastfeeding, I’m sure you’re in 1 or 2, if not a few mom groups dedicated to breastfeeding support. If you’re a new mama, and heck even if you’re a veteran mama, you may have come across a few terms that made you raise an eyebrow.

In these mom groups and breastfeeding groups, there’s so many acronyms and different terms that it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s where I come in! I’m going to give you the most commonly used acronyms and terms that will help you along in your breastfeeding discussions.

Commonly used breastfeeding acronyms

BLW- Baby Led Weaning 

EBF- Exclusively breastfeeding 

EP- Exclusively pumping 

FF- Formula Feeding 

LC- Lactation Consultant 

CBS- Certified Breastfeeding Counselor 

IBCLC- International Board Certified Lactation Consultant 

MOTN- Middle of the night

SNS- Supplemental nursing system 

Additional acronyms you might find in a mom groups

CIO- Cry it out 

FTM- First time mom 

DD- darling daughter 

DH- Dear/darling husband 

DS- Darling son 

LO- Little one 

MOTN- Middle of the night 

MPP- Months Postpartum 

PPD- Postpartum Depression 

SAHD- Stay at home dad 

SAHM- Stay at Home Mom 

SO- Significant other 

WPP- Weeks postpartum 

Commonly used Breastfeeding Terms

Feeding Terms

Cluster Feeding

Cluster feeding is a period during which your little nugget wants to constantly nurse. Your baby will want to feed longer and more frequently. This usually runs happens during a growth spurt or developmental leap. During times of clusterfeeding, many moms think that their supply has decreased or that their baby simply isn’t getting enough milk. This thought process often leads to to quit breastfeeding. Don’t do it mama! This period (and there will be a few) is completely normal. Hang in there!

Exclusively breastfeeding and pumping

Exclusively breastfeeding is a term used to describe a baby that is fed only breastmilk. No other forms of nourishment like formula or solids. Mothers who pump breastmilk are still considered to exclusively breastfeed. 

Exclusively pumping is when a mother gives her baby pumped breast milk only. The baby does not latch to the breast to receive milk. There are many reasons a mother may choose to only pump for their baby. And to be honest, it’s no one’s business but hers. Regardless, she is providing her baby with breastmilk. 

breastfeeding terms


Galactagogues are substances with an ability to increase milk supply. The most common forms of galactagogues are

  • Blessed thistle
  • Fenugreek
  • Brewers yeast
  • Alfalfa

There has been much debate about the galactagogue, fenugreek. It has been shown in some women to increase their milk supply, and in others it decreases it, some so much so that they had to give up breastfeeding. There’s no way to tell until you start taking it. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t take that 50/50 chance when there are other supplements and herbs out there that offer positive lactation promotion. So just stay away from anything that contains it.

Let down

The let down is the release of your milk from the alveoli to the ducts. If you’ve read any of my recent blog posts, then you know all about oxytocin and how it triggers the let down reflex. Some moms report it feeling like a tingling feeling or pins and needles.

Consultants and Counselors

International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

An International Board Certified Lactation consultant – “International Board Certified Lactation Consultants function and contribute as members of the maternal-child health team. They provide care in a variety of settings, while making appropriate referrals to other health professionals and community support resources. Working together with mothers, families, policymakers and society, IBCLC certificants provide expert breastfeeding and lactation care, promote changes that support breastfeeding and help reduce the risks of not breastfeeding. 

International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners

Lactation consultant

Lactation consultant (LC) is short for IBCLC or any other certification in lactation so many people tend to use it interchangeably. They provide many services for breastfeeding moms to include individual consultations, breastfeeding classes, plan of care in collaboration with other health care providers, and instruction on the use of different breastfeeding products:breast pumps, SNS, nipple shield, etc.

Certified Lactation Counselor(CLC)

A Certified Lactation Counselor has gone through a certain amount of hours of training and is also dedicated to the protection, promotion, and support of human lactation.

Breastfeeding accessory terms


A Haakaa is sometimes called a breast pump. I would call is a milk collector. A haakaa is placed on the breast, typically when the mom is nursing on one side and wants to collect the let down from the other as to not waste milk. You can also use it while pumping if you have a single pump. Let’s get this out there. A haakaa is NOT to replace an actual pump. This will in no way effectively or efficiently empty your breasts to keep up with the supply and demand of your baby. It is, however, a nice accessory to add to your collection to help you build up your stash.

Nipple Shield

A Nipple shield is an accessory to breastfeeding that moms can use to help overcome some difficulties with latching. It is a nipple-shaped sheath, made of silicone that is placed over the nipple before feeding. The baby is able to latch on to the mother’s nipple easier. I will point out that this is a temporary fix only. Nipple shields should not be used long term. Instead, the underlying cause of the latch issue should be found in order to protect the mom’s nipple from damage. This could be tongue/lip ties, flat nipples, etc.

Supplemental Nursing System (SNS)

A Supplemental Nursing System is a type of device that uses a feeding tube to help supplement babies at the breast. This can be especially helpful for babies coming out of NICU that haven’t been able to feed from their mother’s breast, relactating mothers, and mothers needing help getting their infant used to the breast.

By using the supplemental nursing system for days or weeks, it triggers the hormonal release of prolactin so that the mother is able to produce enough milk for her baby, and the baby is now familiar with getting their nutrition from their mother’s breast.

Mother’s that are adopting or using a surrogate to have their baby can benefit from this system as it can help induce lactation.

Sikana English

Breastfeeding complication terms


Mastitis is an infection of a clogged milk duct. Clogged ducts can happen if you’re not emptying your breasts effectively or frequently. Typically, pumping or nursing will get the clog out, but if it doesn’t, it can turn into an infection. This then requires medical treatment.

Both clogged ducts and mastitis can be very painful for moms. So empty your breasts ladies!

Milk bleb

Milk blebs have also been called milk blisters. These tiny little dots can be very painful and are caused by the skin growing over a milk duct. The milk is then trapped and unable to be released which is why the white blister is formed. There are a few reasons that milk blebs form to include latch and suck, oversupply, and tongue tie issues.


Thrush is a type of yeast infection that can occur during breastfeeding. It can appear around your nipples and in the baby’s mouth. Thrush is an overgrowth of Candida albicans or “candida”. These organisms are grow naturally on our body but when put in the perfect condition of warmth and moisture, they can multiply excessively.

Thrush can be very painful, and many moms report dreading nursing/pumping while they deal with the infection. If baby gets thrush in their mouth it can be sore or uncomfortable for them as well.


Engorgement happens when your breast tissue overfills with milk. Many moms experience this when their initial milk comes in after delivery. If you aren’t emptying your breasts frequently, you can also experience engorgement. Not necessarily painful, but can be very uncomfortable. Engorgement can lead to clogged ducts if not taken care of. And you know what clogged ducts can lead to.

So how do you feel? Feeling more prepared to jump in on those discussions? Listen, it’s ok if you don’t know what everything means. And it’s perfectly ok to ask if you don’t understand something. Us moms gotta stick together!

You may also like:

Breastfeeding: All The Things I wish I knew

Pumping: Maintaining Your Milk Supply When You Return to Work

Postpartum Sex-What You Need To Know

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