Are you sitting in your room alone breastfeeding your baby while about hundred questions zoom into your mind? When you do not have any experienced people around you to help you with questions about breastfeeding, you can count on the La Leche League.
The La Leche League, is an international non-profit organization, founded by seven mothers to promote the goodness of breastfeeding. It all started, way back in 1956, when Marian Tompson and Mary White were having an interesting conversation about the joys of breastfeeding at a local church picnic in Franklin Park, Illinois. This simple conversation became an exchange of ideas and experiences which prompted them to invite their friends Mary Ann Cahill, Edwina Froehlich, Mary Ann Kerwin, Viola Lennon, and Betty Wagner to join their discussion.
It was an era when, only about 20% women in USA were breastfeeding their children. The time was ripe for a revolution and these women brought it about.
The La Leche League formally became a group in October 1956 and each of its founding members held meetings at homes and hospitals to educate new mothers and pregnant women about the benefits of breastfeeding. In 1957, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, a pioneer in the movement for natural birth of children, joined these women to promote breastfeeding.
Early on, when the group was initially formed, many local newspapers refused to publish their meeting notices since the words ‘breast milk’ and ‘breastfeeding’ were deemed inappropriate for family newspapers. Later, inspired by My Lady’s shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, which is dedicated to “Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto” (Our Lady of Happy Delivery and Plentiful Milk), the group adopted the name ‘La Leche’. ‘La Leche’ means ‘milk’ in Spanish.
As the movement gained momentum, the La Leche League opened its branches in various states and countries. By 1964, they were a well-established organization with branches in countries – Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. In 1981, the La Leche League joined hands with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and was offered consultative status.
The La Leche League’s philosophy is quite simple. They believe that natural ways of mothering your baby is through breastfeeding. The benefits of this single act are manifold. Breast milk is best natural food for the baby and it guards the child from many illnesses and increases immunity. Breastfeeding also increases the bonding between mother and child. The league also emphasizes the role of the father during the childbirth and nursing. They believe that the father’s support during the childbirth and nursing will help him create a unique relationship with the child.
The members of La Leche League are women like you who have breastfed their own babies and have been trained to help other women in the same situation. They have expertise in solving and providing advice for every situation that you would face while breastfeeding. The La Leche League meets once a month at your local area and they are also available through, email, forums and website. Some branches of LLL also do home or hospital visits to meet new mothers.