Category Archives: News

ALCIreland Annual Conference 2022

Tickets are now on sale for ALCIreland Annual Conference 2022 on


Speakers release  to date:-

Dr. Roberta Martinelli, Speech, Language and Hearing Pathologist, PhD

Presentation Title –Lingual Frenulum Assessment in infants

The Lingual frenulum protocol for infants is a specific protocol for evaluating the lingual frenulum for infants, whose objective is to diagnose the presence of alterations in the lingual frenulum and the limitation of the tongue movements, which can compromise the functions of sucking, swallowing, chewing and speaking. This protocol is a valid and reliable assessment tool, ensuring accuracy to diagnose tongue-tie.


Liz O’Sullivan PhD and Deborah Byrne MPhil –

Presentation Title – Experiences of breastfeeding supports within the Irish healthcare system

They will present the results of a survey conducted in 2022 designed to explore the experiences of breastfeeding support across the maternity units in Ireland.  They collected quantitative and qualitative data about experiences in the antenatal period, while in the maternity unit, and in the postnatal period.


Lucy Ruddle , IBCLC, HSC

Presentation Title – Supporting Neurodivergent Parents

Approximately 700,000 people in the UK are autistic, with up to 1.5 million having ADHD. That’s a huge number, without including the myriad of other neurodivergent conditions which many people live with.  Despite these high numbers, women are chronically underdiagnosed, and this leads to a range of challenges which often first become apparent during lactation.  This talk will focus on how to best support neurodivergent parents during their breastfeeding experience.


Lots more speakers to be announced…


ALCI AGM followed by FREE Webinar

ALCI will be hosting its Annual General Meeting via Zoom on 27 April, 2022.  The event will commence at 7pm and to be directly following by a webinar from Stephanie Wagner, BSN, RN, CLE, IBCLC, RLC, Certified OutCare Healthcare Professional.


Title: Embracing the LGBTQ+ Community and Understanding Inclusive Healthcare in the Human Lactation Field.


The goal of this presentation is to provide the learners with further knowledge about current needs of the LGBTQ+ community in the context of healthcare; particularly as it pertains to breastfeeding/chestfeeding/bodyfeeding for all families. Participants of this education will learn some history of the LGBTQ+ community within healthcare, appropriate inclusive language and needs from the community and their critical relevance within the LGBTQ+ community, and will have some tools and resources to feel more confident going forward when working with a family or person who identifies as a LGBTQ+ human.


If you have any question for members of ALCI Council at the AGM or any question for Stephanie please send them in advance to

Free Webinar to all ALCI Members on 9 March 2022

We are delighted to share with you that we will be holding a live Webinar on 9th March, 2022 from 7pm – 9pm,  titled: ‘2022 Update- News and views- Recertification and Related Issues’.  Some of the topics being covered are Recertification, Scope of practice, Professional Conduct, Clinical Competencies, Ethical Considerations and WHO implications.   The Wevinar will be presented by Nicola Clarke, RSCN, RGN,RM, IBCLC, MSc. Midwifery, MSc Health Informatics, FFNMRCSI, BFC (Cuidiu) P.C.C. (EMCC). 
We are excited to announce that this webinar will be live streamed free to all ALCI members only.   This webinar will carry 2 E CERPs.
If you would like to attand and would like to submit any questions in advance of the webinar please send to  

Infant Mental Health with Dr Sue Jennings reviewed by Roisin O’Byrne

I am currently working as a public health nurse in County Louth. A large part of my role involves supporting breastfeeding mothers and infants. I see mums and babies when they are discharged from maternity/midwifery care. Children are also seen at the four core developmental checks that are offered to all children in Ireland. These checks are an opportunity to provide education and support to parents of young children. I attended the ALCI Conference in October 2021. I found the two talks by Marie Meagher and Rosarii O’Donnell Connorton on Infant Mental Health (IMH) very interesting and they inspired me to seek further training in this area.


I attend a two part online training event with Dr Sue Jennings on the 27th and 28th of November. Dr Sue Jennings is a pioneer of Dramatherapy and Playtherapy in the United Kingdom. She has written a number of books on these subjects. The first day of the course focused on neuro-dramatic play and we participated in a number of exercises that can be used with parents to help reduce anxiety in the pre and postnatal period. These exercises will be very helpful in practice especially with mothers and parents in the community.  As a group we talked about different antenatal techniques that can help reduce anxiety, these included yoga, and breathing exercises and in depth antenatal education.  There can be an assumption from health care professionals that women know how to breastfeed and care for a new-born and we explored how important it is to ensure that all mothers have access to proper antenatal/postnatal education and support. Adult anxiety can affect children so it is important that we understand our own mental health so we can then in turn understand and support our infants’ mental health. We discussed the concepts of nurture and nesting and how these are important for both infants and parents when forming attachments with each other in the first years of life. We discussed the different techniques parents can use during the nesting phase these include rocking, stroking and holding. In the nurture phase it is important for infants to feel safe and for parents to understand the different transitions that happen in the first years of life.


On the second day of the course the group discussed how to talk to mothers using respectful terminology. Different ways of speaking to mothers were outlined, with a focus on sensitivity and creating the right environment to discuss mental health. We also discussed intergenerational trauma and how that can impact mothers’ and infants’ mental health. Another topic that was discussed was birth trauma. We looked at different techniques that can help mothers who experience this type of trauma. These included skin to skin contact, nurturing, debriefing and how to discuss this topic with an older child. Dr Sue explained the different types of play that children engage in and I found this very interesting. For example, dramatic play can include interactive play with a parent and also how a baby imitates their parent’s expressions in the new-born period.

I believe I gained a lot from Dr Sue’s course that can be used in my practice. The different exercises that we did helped me to gain a deeper understanding of my own mental health and how positive support can be so beneficial to parents and children. Being able to have discussions with different professionals around their own experiences with infants’/parents’ mental health was also very valuable. I believe I have achieved a deeper appreciation of the importance of supporting parents and infants’ mental health in the community.


Roisin O’Byrne, December 2021.

Roisin received a bursary of €100 from ALCI to attend Infant Mental Health with Dr Sue Jennings.

Returning to Normal Physiological Birth – Hormones & Birth Kerstin Uvnas Moberg reviewed by Niamh Cassidy

Oxytocin. The love hormone, the contraction hormone, the milk ejection hormone. As lactation consultants this is the basic and necessary information, but what else is there to know about oxytocin that may help our practice?


Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg, author of several books about oxytocin and its importance and positive impact on different processes in the body, gave a two-hour lecture on the topic at the “Returning to Normal Physiological Birth. Growing the Practice of Normal Birth and Midwifery Led Care in Ireland” conference organised by midwives from Portiuncula Hospital.


Among other fascinating facts Moberg took us through the impact of labour and birth practices on oxytocin. During labour, oxytocin is released into both the blood and brain, Oxytocin has many positive effects in the mother’s brain during labour, and prepares her for motherhood. Oxytocin reduces anxiety, stress and pain in labour and switches on brain pleasure and reward centres, making the new mother relaxed, and happy as she meets her baby for the first time.


Oxytocin is activated by stimulation of sensory nerves. During labour this stimulation occurs when the baby’s head presses against the cervix. Epidural anaesthesia removes sensation ‘from the waist down’ for most people. Removing that sensation through epidural oxytocin plasma levels drop and labour contractions can slow down or even stop. The largest oxytocin peak experienced is during the last moments of birth as the baby passes through the vagina to be born. Women and birthing people who have epidural anaesthesia have a much-reduced peak; this obviously includes mothers whose babies are born by caesarean section. These babies also do less rooting. To offset this reduction in oxytocin as much as possible the ‘treatment’ is to increase interactions and skin to skin with mother and baby, not to separate as its often the case after surgical birth. Dyads may also need additional breastfeeding support as babies may not cue to be fed as often as needed.


Skin to skin contact after birth produces oxytocin in both mothers and babies. We know oxytocin as the ‘love’ hormone, one that makes parents and babies feel nice and loved up. However, its impact reaches far beyond this. Oxytocin acts on the dopamine receptors in the brain, activating our reward systems. Both parents and babies experience this and the more often and more regular the reward centre is activated the greater the long term impact. Oxytocin has capacity to shape human social behaviour and to enhance intricate social activities including pair bonding, while usually associated with couples the behaviours could also be applied to parent baby relationships. I found myself wondering is this an even greater reason to encourage skin to skin with fathers and non-gestational parents? If the other parent has regular skin-to-skin the baby will associate them with feeling good and happy and is more likely to accept them regularly as a comfort giving caregiver.


Oxytocin also has the ability to influence behavioural responses to social stimuli by increasing the prominence of social cues. Babies are highly salient to their mothers and the more opportunities for oxytocin release in both baby and parent the more attuned to each other they become. Oxytocin improves the detection and classification of positive social and emotional stimuli but not for negative stimuli and can blur negative memories and reduce stress in both infants and caregivers.


The positive effects of oxytocin are wide and varied with ongoing research into its impact on dopamine receptors and on social communication. I found the presentation fascinating and I feel there is a lot more amazing information on oxytocin to come as research expands into this area.


Niamh Cassidy, December 2021.

Niamh received a bursary of €100 from ALCI to attend the Returning to Normal Physiological Birth – Hormones & Birth Kerstin Uvnas Moberg webinar.