Who Is Welcome at La Leche League Meetings?
by Felicia Henry

Felicia Henry is a mother of three children Justin (9), Amanda (5), and Jacob (10 months) and a La Leche League Leader in Oxnard. See the resource page for a Leader near you or call La Leche League International’s Breastfeeding Help line number at 1-900-448-7475 ext. 26 where recorded information is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week ($1.99 per minute, average call 5 minutes).

Who is welcome at La Leche League meetings? Do mothers need to follow a particular parenting style, breastfeed a certain way, or have a breastfeeding problem in order to attend? The answer is that all mothers and mothers-to-be are welcome to attend La Leche League meetings. The only requirement for a mother is to be interested in breastfeeding.
There is a diverse group of mother’s who come to La Leche League meetings. They share their different experiences and really get something out of them which directly relates to their lives. Because La Leche League recognizes that each family and baby is unique, its single focus is on breastfeeding so that all mothers can benefit from the information and mother-to-mother support at the meetings. This single goal has enabled the organization to help breastfeeding mothers for 40 years and become the world’s foremost authority on breastfeeding.

La Leche League is an international nonprofit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to providing education, information, support, and encouragement to women who want to breastfeed. Groups offer an ongoing series of four monthly meetings, each focusing on a different aspect of breastfeeding: “The Advantages of Breastfeeding to Mother and Baby,” “Baby Arrives: The Family and the Breastfed Baby,” “The Art of Breastfeeding and Avoiding Difficulties,” and “Nutrition and Weaning.” The meetings are informal, guided discussions led by an accredited La Leche League Leader. Mothers are encouraged to talk about the benefits and joys of breastfeeding as well as their questions and concerns. The breastfeeding information La Leche League Leaders present at meetings has been reviewed by La Leche League International and its advisory board of physicians and other professionals.

One way to think of La Leche League meetings is that they are similar to a buffet. Just as you only take the foods you enjoy most from a buffet table, the same is true for La Leche League meetings. You will hear a lot of different ideas — some you may have never heard before — but you take whatever you like and leave the rest behind. Since you are the expert on your baby and family, you are the only one who knows if any of the ideas and suggestions that you hear will work for your family.

Women can come to a meeting and get straight answers from experienced breastfeeding mothers. If attending mothers are planning on going back to work, they can talk to others who have combined working and breastfeeding. Another worry often discussed is how their baby’s father will bond with their little one. Mothers can hear others talk about the events which occurred in their lives, and how they learned to cope with their father and baby situations.

Mothers who attend the meetings can find that mother-to-mother support which means so much during a time which can be very confusing and sometimes new. The group helps to keep the concerns of mothers minor, especially before they develop into distressing problems. These problems can turn into extremely stressful thoughts, and this is something the league hopes to alleviate.

Since La Leche League meetings tend to reflect the questions and experiences of the mothers attending, no two meetings are ever alike. As any mother knows, where babies are concerned, there is always something new to talk about. Mothers at the meetings feel comfortable talking about their lives and families, how they parent their babies, and share many different ideas and suggestions about breastfeeding and parenting. In order to minimize confusion, many times the Leader will give La Leche League’s stand during the discussion. After this point, mothers can make their own decisions.

What if a mother feels she doesn’t fit in with the others in a La Leche League Group? Because no two groups are the same, a mother may find she’s more comfortable going to the meetings of a different group, when available. She may find the time, location of a different group better than the one she originally attended. She may even be considering the children in another group being closer in age to her own, so there are more kids to play with. Some mothers even stop going for a few months, returning later to find a whole different group of mothers and babies (and sometimes even Leaders).

La Leche League Groups are constantly changing and evolving to meet the needs of the mothers attending. By regularly attending a group’s meetings, you help tailor them to fit your needs.

So, if you’ve always wondered, “Who is welcome at La Leche League meetings?” the answer is you.