About me, Hilary Jacobson

While in my late teens, I traveled to Switzerland to study music, specifically, to study historic musical practices on the kind of wooden flutes that were played in the 1600s-1800s. I felt drawn to the softer sounds of these instruments and loved the practice of breath and the energy of musical expression. I was also intrigued to combine the breath of music with yogic breath practices, and to live in Europe and cultivate a feeling of connectedness to earlier times.

With the birth of my first child, and in response to my breastfeeding challenges, I began studying neglected areas of women’s medicine. Just as I had been interested in “Early Music,” I was drawn to study earlier practices of medicine. My particular interest was breastfeeding and milk production. I seemed to be riding a wave that was just beginning to crest, as by chance (this was pre-Internet days) I learned about the first school of holistic lactation and participated in its founding year. This school was formed in Rapperswil, Switzerland, by Christiane Husi-Simoniis, a previous president of the Zürich region LLLI. She was the first independent LC in Switzerland: she chose to remain independent so she could include holistic medicine in her practice. In 2000, I certified as a Holistic Lactation Consultant. I am indebted to Ms. Husi-Simoniis, as her school filled in the gaps of my own studies and enabled the completion of my book Mother Food: A Breastfeeding Diet Guide with Lactogenic Food and Herbs, first published in 2004.

The purpose of Mother Food was to bring together all of the ways that our food choices affect both the mother and the baby. In 1999, I had joined the nascent online group for low-supply mothers, MOBI Motherhood. In that group, I and several other LCs and IBCLCs, MDs, midwives and doulas supported hundreds of mothers; together we learned how tongue-ties, hormonal imbalances and environmental factors contributed to our breastfeeding challenges. My book Mother Food also owes a debt of gratitude to everyone who participated in this group, allowing me to learn so much that I could then incorporate into its pages and share with today’s mothers. 

It is hard to believe, but at the time I began this research, medical professionals and lactation consultants, including LLL-leaders, were forbidden from talking to mothers about herbs or foods for milk supply. They could lose their license or certification if they stepped over that line. (This continues today, in some parts of the US.)

I was aware that if I certified in one of these professions, I, too, would have my ability to speak freely about these things curtailed. Therefore, like Ms. Husi-Simoniis, I chose to remain independent. However, I fully respect and support the work of lactation professionals. I stand with evidence-based approaches, and I am grateful that my work has found wide acceptance in your communities.

To facilitate my studies, I regularly visited the university libraries of Basel, Switzerland, where I could freely access journals and could follow my interests into ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, anthropology, psychology, phyto-medical and women’s medicine and lactation-specific books, as well as rare historic and popular books on herbalism and nutrition.

My range of interests also included a study of world religions and practices in meditation. As I learned about history and changes in culture, my sense-of-self grew stronger. I was re-framing for myself what it was to be a woman through understanding our forgotten and forbidden history.

These insights are the foundation of my work for women’s health but also of my book Red Madder Root. This gently told novelette recounts our loss of medical and spiritual freedom, but also speaks to the resolve, courage, love and commitment of both men and women from ancient times to today. 

 

The Red Madder plant is a forgotten women’s herb. It was used primarily to dye fabrics red: the red cloak of Red Riding Hood would have been dyed with this root. The Madder herb was also used to treat urinary tract infections, to hasten childbirth, and as an emmenagogue.

This book is particularly valuable for those working in the alternative health field, for those who are intrigued by the mysteries of spirituality and human consciousness, and those who may be aware of that essential areas of human experience are denied or neglected by today’s science and culturally accepted norms. 

Indeed, I attempt in this book to encapsulate some of the most central conundrums facing girls and women psychologically and culturally, while re-telling the girl’s fairy-tales such as Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and more. The reader is invited to re-examine her own path into womanhood and to find a stronger sense-of-self and purpose.

In 2013, I was certified in mindfulness and somatic-based hypnotherapy in Ashland, Oregon. I developed a small hypnotherapy practice, specifically for mothers going through breastfeeding grief and / or birth trauma. This work was the foundation of my book Healing Breastfeeding Grief.

In 2020-21, in response to the Covid-19 lockdowns, I wrote the book A Mother’s Garden of Galactagogues, an actual gardening book, with useful information for those developing a deeper connection to nature inside and outside of the home, and to growing our food for thriving and survival.

 

In response to on-going interest and need, I am holding online classes for mothers and healthcare providers around lactation problems and the benefits of dietary support through pregnancy and lactation. I guest-speak at LLLI meetings, in-clinic trainings, conferences and summits.

Spread the love