My name is Wendy Jones and I am a pharmacist and a Registered Supporter and Trainer with the Breastfeeding Network in the UK. Combining the two roles I have developed a special interest in the safety of drugs in breastmilk.
In February 2013 I was immensely proud that my book Breastfeeding and Medication was published by Routledge. Seeing it available for pre-order on Amazon was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I was born over a Boots shop in South Wales (more years ago than I care to admit) so I was never going to be anything other than a pharmacist, following in my father and uncle’s footsteps. I studied at Portsmouth University and began working for Boots in my pre- registration year and followed the training towards being a manager.
In 1979 we moved up to Milton Keynes and I became pregnant with my eldest daughter. I always knew that I would breastfeed; no alternative ever crossed my mind. However breastfeeding support in the 1980s was not the best – water to be offered after every feed, 2 minutes a side building to a maximum of 10 minutes and never feed more than four hourly. It was only thanks to my mum (who had breastfed me) encouraging me to follow my instincts, that empowered me to feed successfully.
My second daughter was born in 1984 – she was never offered any water or formula and I was confident to do it my way. The local midwife invited me to talk to the next ante-natal group as I was “so good at breastfeeding” – little did she know what she began!
When we moved back to the Portsmouth area I joined NCT – initially organising coffee mornings and a very active social group. But one day there was a request for people to train as breastfeeding counsellors. “I could do that I
thought, as my midwife said I was good at breastfeeding” and promptly volunteered.
I finished my training as a breastfeeding counsellor in 1987 as
I waited for the birth of my third daughter. I knew all the theory
but she proved to be the most difficult to breastfeed, losing
more than 10% of her birth weight and not regaining that for 6
weeks. With hindsight I thought I was superwoman, rushing
around with the other two who had the usual commitments –
dancing, music, brownies let alone school and nursery school.
Feeds were fitted in as and when and for a few days had to be
accompanied by a small amount of formula – much to my dismay. But we came out the other side and she was breastfed for the longest of all my children.
In 1995 I was asked to update a short A4 leaflet on various drugs taken by breastfeeding women
and to include sleeping tablets (as lots of women in the London area were taking them!) and
anything else I thought might be useful. During a 2 week locum in a homeopathic pharmacy,
where no-one wanted to talk to me about over the counter medicines, I wrote “a compendium of
drugs in breastmilk” which covered some 30 odd pages. I allowed NCT to include my home
telephone number, inviting mothers and healthcare professionals to call me!
Again hindsight was a useful tool, I got a lot of calls – in the days where the internet clogged up
the telephone line and my daughters wanted to call friends. That doesn’t take into account my
long suffering husband who took calls from sobbing women discussing cracked nipples in his
When the Breastfeeding Network broke away from NCT in 1997 I became one of the founder
members. In 1999 they provided me with second dedicated Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline
During all of this I decided I would like to write a book but felt I needed more academic training. In 1996 I began
research towards a PhD with the snappy title “Community Pharmacist Support for Breastfeeding
Mothers Requiring Medication During Lactation”. With the help of my endlessly patient supervisor I was
awarded the PhD in 2000. The book was still waiting to be published but I learned a lot of skills and a love of supporting people.
Whilst finishing the PhD I was employed as a community pharmacy manager and ever the glutton for punishment I began the certificate, diploma and finally Masters Degree in Community Pharmacy to broaden my skills from the very
specific area of my PhD.
I graduated with my PhD in the same week as my eldest daughter graduated. Not many people get to share a photograph like this. A very proud week.
My book Breastfeeding and Medication was finally published in February 2013 followed by Breastfeeding for Dads and Grandmas in December 2016
and Why Mothers Medication Matters in February 2017.
Little could I have dreamt of this when I gave birth to my first child and I just wanted to breastfeed!