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What Health Practitioners and Mothers have said about Lact-Aid

A Comparative Survey of Exeriences with Nursing Supplementer Systems

    by  Jimmie Lynne Avery

Abstract: A survey from 1985 to 1996 has been collecting and examining experiences of women who used and compared different types of breastfeeding supplementer systems. Data was collected from written reports submitted by the subjects who participated in the survey. Representative comments are presented to provide an overview of the types of experiences that were reported comparing results with Lact-Aid® Nursing TrainerTM System, after initially using an alternative supplementer system. The purpose of the survey was to determine what features related to product effectiveness and safety were observed and/or considered important, or desirable, among users familiar with at least two alternative devices. Data obtained was then reviewed to develop educational material in response to questions asked by nursing mothers and health care practitioners contemplating use of breastfeeding supplementer systems.


Before 1969, efforts were often unsuccessful to facilitate relactation or induced lactation, or to greatly increase lactation when milk volume was very low. Then and now, all these circumstances present certain requirements which absolutely must be met. These include:

  • First and foremost, the infant must be assured of adequate nourishment.
  • The mother must receive effective breast stimulation and effective expression of available milk from the breast.
  • In the absence of adequate milk volume, the infant must be enticed or coaxed to accept, and suckle the breast.
  • Methods used must be safe, not only to physical health and well being of the breastfeeding dyad, but must not harm the mother/infant bond, nor the overall family relationship.

Nursing assistance devices available up to that time included cups, medicine droppers, syringes with or without tubing attached, gavage feeders, pointed bottles, such as used for hair tint solution or food condiments (catsup, mustard bottles). None fostered correct suckling physiology for the infant, and safety continues to be highly questionable, with aspiration being the major risk factor.

It is said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. The Lact-Aid® NursingTrainerTM System was introduced in Denver, Colorado, in 1971 following three years of careful research and testing. It has often been imitated, by both home-made gadgets and by commercial products. None have ever been able to match the proved effectiveness associated with the Lact-Aid® name.

In terms of milk production, for example, a 1978 study of 660 women who attempted relactation in various situations, yielded highly positive results. Of 240 adoptive mothers, about two-thirds estimated they were able to provide their babies 50 to 75 percent of their nutrition as breast milk, once lactation was well established. This included about a third of the mothers who had never been pregnant.

Other situations studied included mothers of premature infants(117), mothers attempting to relactate after untimely weaning(175), and mothers whose breastfeeding had been interrupted by hospitalization of mother or baby(75). The results of their experiences were even more positive

It is significant that at the time of the study, the Lact-Aid® System was the only commercially available feeding tube system. It was the device used by most women in the study. Other supplementing methods used included infant nursing bottles, cups, medicine droppers, and dropper-type bottles. Since that time, other devices have appeared (and disappeared) in the nursing aid market. None have been able to demonstrate positive results to the extent that has been associated with Lact-Aid® System. That is because no other nursing supplementer (feeding tube device) functions exactly the same way as the original invention.

Purpose of the survey

It was decided to conduct a two part survey to determine how customers, and how health practitioners, particularly lactation consultants, perceived similarities and differences between various supplementer systems available. The data would be compiled, in order to develop useful information for developing or improving product information and instructions. Lact-Aid was particularly interested to develop material in response to increasing inquiries from prospective customers, and lactation consultants about Lact-Aid® System and how it differed from other alternative methods.


The survey incorporated three separate processes for collecting information:

  • An ongoing survey of the literature on breastfeeding, particularly in the subject areas of relactation, induced lactation, adoptive nursing, slow infant weight gain, prematurity, cleft lip/palate, and related subjects in which a nursing supplementer system might be used.
  • A review of correspondence received from health professionals, which includes physicians, nurses, midwives, certified and non-certified lactation consultants, lactation educators, La Leche League leaders, and leaders of parent support groups related to breastfeeding, adoption, premature infants, cleft lip/palate, and related subjects.
  • Customers who purchased a Lact-Aid System after initially using an alternative supplementer were provided survey forms to complete. They were asked to describe in their own words why they preferred Lact-Aid System over alternative supplementer systems.



What health practitioners have said

The initial review of literature and professional correspondence yielded numerous positive references to Lact-Aid System. Most consumer oriented texts on breastfeeding published since 1971 made positive statements about the effectiveness and usefulness of Lact-Aid System. None of the comments were paid advertising nor solicited by Lact-Aid. Likewise, in texts directed to health professionals, authors have commended Lact-Aid System for nearly a quarter of a century for its proved safety and effectiveness in managing breastfeeding problems.

A detailed Bibliography will soon be added to our web citing printed and online references to breastfeeding and related subjects and to experiences with Lact-Aid System. Watch What's New for announcements when it becomes available. In the meantime, here are just a few excerpts from letters received from health professionals, or from publications on maternal and infant health:

"Lact-Aid® System is useful in relactation and in building up a milk supply that has been diminished for whatever reason. All health personnel should become familiar with (it).if they are to effectively counsel lactating women." Victor LaCerva MD: Breastfeeding, a Manual for Health Professionals..
"While Lact-Aid® System has been on the market since 1971 and has been proven safe and effective, several other companies have since developed similar devices that use a bottle or other container, with varying degrees of safety and effectiveness." M. S. Eiger & S. W. Olds: The Complete Book of Breastfeeding. Rev. Ed. 1987
"It assists a variety of breastfeeding problems, including suckling defects ...This device provides the correct rate of flow and volume of liquid that elicits the reflexes of swallowing and expression ...(thus)... provides oral therapy and nutritional supplement for the infant and mammary therapy that enhances mother's lactation...It is effective in managing low milk production in the mother caused by separation, delayed breastfeeding, poor technique, or other correctable problems and giving nutritional and oral therapy to the infant who is slow gaining or has a suckling dysfunction." L.E. Weisman, & J. L. Collins: "Breastfeeding the Sick Neonate", in G.B. Merenstein, & S. L. Gardner, Eds:

Handbook of Neonatal Intensive Care. Chap. 10.

"The Lact-Aid® System is becoming known as a tool that can take the place of bottled supplements. The amazing way it helped was something I'll be eternally grateful for. The success the mother had with it helped to rebuild her confidence as a mother. There are no words to describe the good you do with this product." Lactation Consultant
"We found Lact-Aid® System works very well as a follow up to the breast pump." Lactation Consultant
"...an excellent way to establish breastfeeding without the worry of malnutrition, dehydration, or choking is with a Lact-Aid® System ...Many mothers of preemies, as well as adoptive mothers, have used it successfully to relactate or to induce lactation." H. Harrison:

The Premature Baby Book.

"I am a La Leche League Leader and seem to often be in contact with people needing help nursing an adopted or cleft lip/palate baby. Our joint cooperation reveals that Lact-Aid® System is superior... Please continue your good work." D.M.M.

La Leche League Leader

"...the risks of starving a premature infant while he adapts to the breast are real. The solution...is to provide nourishment while the infant stimulates maternal milk production by suckling at the breast. The Lact-Aid® System will provide this set-up very effectively...Experience to date...has been good. The infant can continue to gain weight while stimulating the breast. (It) provides a simple means of assuring adequate nourishment while adapting to the breast." R.A. Lawrence: "Breastfeeding the Infant With a Problem", in Breastfeeding, a Guide for the Medical Profession. 1985.
"None of the mothers in our group who used the S__ have been able to get off it." J.S.
"We've had problems with the S__. We prefer to recommend Lact-Aid System. It's been around a long time and proved itself." Midwife
"One of the most pleasant and successful ways of teaching a baby to nurse is through use of the Lact-Aid® System. Its specialized design and function are based on knowledge of the process of lactation, infant nursing behavior, and the factors affecting breastfeeding success." D. Stewart & C. Gaiser: "Supporting Lactation When Mothers and Infants are Separated", Nursing Clinics of North America. Volume 13 (1).
"Had complaints that mothers can't tell the sizes apart...of the tubing on the S__." K.C.

Experiences of mothers who switched to Lact-Aid® System

Apparently due to the high recognition of the Lact-Aid® name, some sales people and health practitioners have called the alternative devices they dispense by the term "Lact-Aids", which is improper use of the Lact-Aid® trade mark. Dissatisfied with their experience, many of their clients called information to find a number for "Lact-Aid" and were referred to Lact-Aid International, Inc. headquarters. It was only when they called the Lact-Aid® Hotline to complain about problems they were having, that they discovered their so called "Lact-Aids" were not Lact-Aid® brand nursing supplementer systems. After being informed about the differences in the devices, most decided to switch to Lact-Aid System.

What the mothers experienced

While many experiences have been collected, several themes have appeared again and again in their commentaries. Some representative remarks are presented which are typical of experiences described by women who started out using an alternate nursing supplementer device, and then switched to the Lact-Aid® NursingTrainer™ System.

Prior to switching, they commonly reported making little or no progress in increasing their lactation, and they continued to experience menstruation. Many reported that they could express or pump milk after feedings, which they believed indicated that Baby had failed to express the breasts adequately during the supplemented feedings. Many reported nipple discomfort from Baby's strong suction during the feedings.

After switching to Lact-Aid® System, they reported that Baby's suction was more gentle, but swallowing was more frequent. Baby seemed to express the breasts more effectively. This was assumed because less milk was left in the breasts after feedings. Lactation increased, indicated by decreases in supplement used, wetter diapers, and softer stools. The menstrual flow also decreased or was skipped entirely, which is typical of normal postpartum lactation amenhorhea.

What the mothers said...

With such dramatic changes that occurred, it is no wonder that the mothers had a lot to say about their experiences. Here, in their own words are just a few comments, typical of the many survey forms received.

I tried another supplemental device, and there is no comparison. This is only my second day using Lact-Aid® System and our adopted son is eating better now than 12 days of S__. I got frustrated with that hard plastic bottle. To keep him sucking I had to hold pressure on the bottle. I even tried the larger tube on the S__. But he'd slurp it down and still not be satisfied. I nursed 5 daughters and the S__ is so artificial, hard. I was real discouraged with the whole experience. I thought the S__ the lactation group leader sold me was Lact-Aid® System ..She never said it wasn't. Using Lact-Aid® System feels more natural and I am more relaxed and doing better now. I plan to let others know about it. E.P
Like no other system I've used, it teaches Baby proper suckling. The tube is softer and more gentle for baby to suck without the use of tape. It's discreet and simple to use anywhere The S__ cuts into the flesh, flows unevenly, clogs easily, has stiff tubes that tend to gag baby and requires tape to hold the tubes in place. I nursed babies born to me as well as a recently adopted infant. I know first hand what suction, let down, and fullness of the breasts should feel like. With Lact-Aid® System has come increased milk production for me as well as proper suction, greater let downs and frequent breast fullness. It helps decrease sore nipples. The S__ just feeds the baby instead of teaching the actual art of breastfeeding. I'm very pleased with the bags, they're sturdy as well as soft, don't leak and can stand a lot of pressure,. Nursing is more frequent. The amount of formula has decreased and the bond between Baby and me has become stronger. Quite frankly, I was getting so tired of the S__ for so many reasons, I was nursing only once a day or every other day. By the way, my adopted baby had to be trained to nurse. Weeks passed and no matter how hard I tried with the S__ she just refused. When I tried Lact-Aid® System the first time, to my amazement, my baby latched right on. Thank you for such a great invention for mothers like me interested in nurturing their children like God intended. C.S.
When I used the S__, breastfeeding was a chore - tube fussing - neck cord choking - My nipples were sore. I wasn't sure how long I'd put up with it. Now, having switched, I love our nursing times together. I disliked the S__ for several reasons: the plastic bottle was cumbersome, bulky hard bulge in the middle of my chest, unsightly and uncomfortable I questioned its cleanliness. I disliked applying tape to my breast and looking like a hospital case with IVs taped on me. Lact-Aid® System Bags are soft to the touch, sterile. The Nursing Tube is easy to handle. I can discretely nurse without a bulge on my chest. I feel more feminine, and natural. I love the flexibility of how I can attach it, your comfortable neck cord, pretty eyelet pocket. I'm lactating and owe our success to Lact-Aid® System. S.J.W.
I was not comfortable using the hard, rather large bottle of the S__. It was not discreet because of its size. It made a terrible noise all the time when air was leaving the unit, which often startled, and upset Baby. The 2 tubes were unnecessary and would leak on the side not in use. If closed off, it would be very difficult for Baby to suck the milk out. After 2 weeks, my milk began drying up! I began using Lact-Aid® System and my milk began to increase. For me, personally the Lact-Aid System is as close as you can get to breastfeeding. I can nurse Baby in almost any position, in bed lying down was no trouble at all. J.J.
It is a much more convenient system because of the discreteness; much easier to use in public (as opposed to having a plastic bottle hanging around your neck). I think the Lact-Aid System feels more natural too. B.B.
The Baby nurses better. It feels much more comfortable to wear around my neck. Much nicer than a hard plastic container. B. K.
I had used another system and was not pleased with what I got. The bottle would hang around your neck upside down and leak. It also hit my chest when I moved. It made it hard to nurse privately around people. I always had so much explaining to do. D. L. A.
I am happy about being able to fill and store nursing bags in advance. No more strange bulges under my shirts. L.T.
Baby expresses better and I get more stimulation to my breasts. With Lact-Aid® System my breasts empty completely of breast milk. Pumping after feeding is rarely needed. No need to use tape. Baby is able to control milk flow on his own. With the S__, milk flowed whether Baby sucked or not, if both tubes were open, Baby would often choke. J.C.R.
I feel my baby is now suckling properly and taking a more regulated flow of milk as he nurses. I did not like the air my baby was taking in because of the bottle-type system. K.W.
My first week breastfeeding was a disaster with a S__. Even a $60 consultation with a lactation consultant failed to solve the problems I had using it. With Lact-Aid® System our breastfeeding is now very successful. My baby is gaining beautifully. J. A. M.
Your system is best for my needs. It's the most discreet..also the quietest! The other had a hard plastic container that gurgles constantly. I found that most annoying. Lact-Aid® System fits my busy, on-the-go life quite well. It allows discreet nursing with a minimum of bulky apparatus. M.H.
I was very disappointed with the other system. I was wearing this ugly bottle around my neck, upside down and it leaked. The tubes were so long, I had to use tape. The more tubing the more chance for Baby to grab. The bottles began to get a build-up in them and looked dirty despite cleaning and boiling. But now, with your pretty holder, I can just pick up my Baby, pop my Lact-Aid® System in the holder on the way to my rocker, sit down and nurse! C.M.
With the other device, The neck strap broke, the cleaning syringe broke, a piece of tubing broke off and tubing became coated with glue from the tape even with diligent cleaning. The Lact-Aid® System tubing is thinner and much easier to manipulate Bags are so much softer and less bulky, and also less conspicuous. It feels very natural. The most important reason is Baby nurses without difficulty. N.G.
The other kind did not provide supplement with each suck, and it seemed to take milk out of Baby's mouth and draw it back up into the tube when he rested. There seems to be less fluctuation in flow rate and Baby doesn't gag or choke as he did with the other if both tubes were open. C.J.
With my last baby I ended up in frustration trying to regulate the flow of the other device. I switched back to the Lact-Aid® System , a much superior nursing aid that I had used with my first two, due to breast surgery. P.S.
We love Lact-Aid® System ! The disposable bag is less obtrusive under clothing and allows closer cuddling than a rigid bottle. K.W.
I don't have to wash and sterilize the bags. I think one tube to deal with is a lot less hassle. Lact-Aid System is much less bulky during use and makes nursing in my special situation more discreet. C.M.

Considering these positive experiences of women who used other devices then switched to Lact-Aid® System, the fact remains clear that no other method equals Lact-Aid® Nursing Trainer™ System.

The Secret of Lact-Aid® Excellence

With Lact-Aid® System, Babies typically swallowed more often, and expressed more often than they did with the alternative devices their mothers had used at first. Their mothers experienced positive changes in lactation and menstrual patterns. All these factors validate the fact that switching to Lact-Aid® System was an excellent choice, but do you know why?


Nutritive suckling
at its best



The secret is the fact that expressing is the component of suckling that has the most importance in eliciting milk ejection and stimulating lactation. During normal nutritive suckling in breastfeeding, studies show that babies express the breast about 60 times a minute (with little pauses now and then). Suction (negative pressure) is strong during latching on, but quite gentle during nutritive suckling, and swallowing is frequent. Just like Lact-Aid® System!

We are very proud that our Lact-Aid® NursingTrainer™ System was so carefully bio/medically engineered. It has proved effective as an oral physical therapy for babies with suckling problems, including cleft lip/palate!

Its unique design focuses on promoting the highly effective kind of expressing that is characteristic of nutritive suckling. Other devices appear to be designed with their focus on suction.



Auerbach KG & Avery JL: Nursing the Adopted Infant: report from a survey. Monograph No. 5. Denver, 1979, Resources in Human Nurturing, International, Inc. (Now available as Monograph # M005, from Lact-Aid International, Inc.

Avery JL: Relactation and induced lactation, Chapter 13, in Riordan J: A Practical Guide to Breastfeeding. St. Louis, 1984, CV Mosby Co.

Avery JL: Unpublished Data from Lact-Aid International, Inc. client files, 1969 to 1984.

Avery JL, Ed: Unpublished Data from Lact-Aid International, Inc. client files, 1985 to 1998.

Hormann E: Breastfeeding the adopted baby, in Birth & the Family Journal. Volume 4:p165, 1977.

McGregor JA: Lactation: Physiology, Nutrition, and Breast-Feeding. New York, 1983, Plenum Press.

NOTE: This report is adapted from a summary brochure entitled Lact-Aid Excellence, ©Copyright 1995, 1996, & 1998 by Lact-Aid International, Inc, plus updated unpublished data to date from Lact-Aid client files. All rights are reserved. This publication may not be modified nor altered in any way, nor reproduced in whole, nor any part, by any means, photographic, electronic or otherwise, without the express permission of the author, except for free distribution for educational purposes only.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide or substitute for medical advice in any way.