about nmc

Nursing Mothers Counsel (NMC) was founded in Palo Alto in 1955 by a group of women who breastfed their children at a time when there was a lack of accurate information and support for breastfeeding. These moms decided to form an organization to provide free counseling and support to new moms on a one-to-one basis, helping these moms feed their infants with the best and most natural food in an era when formula and bottles were the “modern” way to feed babies. NMC continues with the same philosophy today.

The organization was originally called Nursing Mothers Anonymous, but a few years later became known as Nursing Mothers Counsel. The NMC members felt that mothers needed advice and encouragement to learn to breastfeed. They believed it was up to the mother when to stop breastfeeding, and that the mother could easily fit breastfeeding into her active life. At that time obstetricians and pediatricians in the community from San Francisco through Santa Clara Counties turned to NMC for breastfeeding advice. NMC served as their resource until lactation departments became part of their hospitals in the late 1980s.  Many doctors continue to refer moms to NMC for free breastfeeding support.

our mission

The mission of Nursing Mothers Counsel is to support the personal breastfeeding goals of mothers with free, one-on-one assistance and education by highly trained volunteer counselors who have also breastfed. 

our core values

We are committed to offering free breastfeeding counseling, including home visits when necessary, judgment-free and client-based assistance, help to mothers seven days a week, training for our volunteers, training of professionals, help to a nursing mother throughout her breastfeeding experience, and free informational pamphlets.

our scope of practice

NMC volunteer counselors are not medical professionals and do not diagnose or treat medical conditions, or give medical advice. The services provided by NMC counselors are not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a physician, IBCLC or other medical specialist. NMC counselors are trained to make appropriate referrals whenever a contact’s condition falls outside the range of normal breastfeeding challenges. If a contact refuses to consult a medical professional, the NMC volunteer will terminate their relationship rather than continue to provide counseling services in lieu of proper medical attention.

Nursing Mothers Counsel volunteer counselors are individuals who successfully complete the following requirements:

  • Breastfeed one baby for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Attend a 21-hour NMC training in basic breastfeeding management.
  • Complete all assigned readings.
  • Pass a written exam demonstrating comprehension of materials covered in the NMC training.
  • Counsel at least two contacts during a minimum period of 6 months under the guidance of an assigned NMC advisor.
  • Observe one in-hospital counseling session, one private consult with an IBCLC or one home visit with an experienced NMC member.
  • Continue to counsel a minimum of 4–6 contacts per year.
  • Attend at least one continuing education class every two years.

To request a complete list of NMC standards, competencies and skills, email membership@nursingmothers.org.




about nmc