This semester I’m taking public speaking (eek!), which is a requirement for my degree. I did my most recent speech last week and, since it’s related to breastfeeding, I figured I’d share a typed out version here. Prepare to have your minds blown away with information on La Leche League!
Once upon a time, there was a new mom. She went to the hospital with the plan to breastfeed. The problem was that she went into labor on a Friday night and the lactation consultants have the weekend off. When she got home she asked her mom for help, but she said that it was supposed to hurt. None of her friends had breastfed and her husband said he thought it was kind of gross. She quit within two weeks. This may sound like a worst-case scenario, but it actually happens pretty frequently. According to the CDC Breastfeeding Report Card 2012, 85% of moms in Utah breastfeed at all. This sounds great, but not so much when you hear that by six months, the minimum amount of time recommended to nurse exclusively from the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 25% of babies are exclusively breastfeeding.
I know from past speeches that some of you in this room are moms, but even those of you who aren’t moms probably know a new mom. Maybe you’re a dad or about to become an uncle. Maybe your best friend is having a baby. Maybe you don’t know any new moms yet, but chances are within the next few years you will. Wouldn’t you like to be part of that mom’s support system?
Well, there’s a group that can help. That group is called La Leche League. La Leche League was founded in the 1950’s, when breastfeeding rates were near 20%, by a group of breastfeeding moms who wanted to help other moms with their goals to breastfeed. They’re still doing that today and they do it through directly supporting moms and through their advocacy work.
First, let’s talk about how they directly support moms. Anywhere you find a La Leche League group, which is all over the world at this point, you’ll find at least one monthly meeting. At these meetings, new and not-so-new moms can come to get and give advice, ask questions, or just get support. The second way that La Leche League directly supports moms is through their one-on-one sessions with leaders. According to the La Leche League International website last edited in 2011, leaders take about a year on average to finish their application. Along with this extensive training, they have their own experience as a nursing mom. These leaders can help moms through checking latch, answering questions over the phone, and doing pretty much anything else they can do to help support a mom in her goals to breastfeed. And if they’re not able to help, they can refer that mom to an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant.
The second way that La Leche League helps moms to breastfeed is through their advocacy work. Now, there are many ways that La Leche League advocates breastfeeding, so I’m just going to highlight two of them today. As I mentioned earlier, many moms don’t have it easy when they’re starting off breastfeeding. La Leche League is working to solve this problem by publishing this book (hold up book) The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. They call this a “meeting in a book” and it has answers to virtually every breastfeeding question you can think of, what’s normal for breastfed babies, diagrams on positioning, and even how to form your own support network. It’s a great resource that I would recommend for every mom. Another way that La Leche League advocates breastfeeding is through their continuing education conferences. According to the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, revised in 2010, obstetricians, midwives, nurses, and even pediatricians may have little to no breastfeeding training. Even a non-board certified lactation consultant may have little experience actually helping moms breastfeed. La Leche League seeks to help this by offering continuing education conferences for health professionals so that the next time a mom comes to them with a question, they know how to help.
In conclusion, La Leche League is a group devoted to supporting breastfeeding moms. They do so through their direct support and through their advocacy. I hope that you’re able to pass this information about La Leche League onto the new moms in your life so that you can be a part of their support system.
Department for Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Breastfeeding Report Card—United States, 2012. Retrieved 20 March, 2009, from http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2012BreastfeedingReportCard.pdf
La Leche League. (2008-2011). La Leche League International. Retrieved 19 March, 2009, from http://www.llli.org/
Wiessinger, Diane, West, Diana, & Pitman, Teresa. (Ed. 8). (2010). The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. New York: Random House, Inc.
Feeling the urge to put a little note here: I was not paid or anything of that sort by La Leche League to write or post this. They don’t even know it exists. I just thought it would be a good informative speech for my public speaking class and that you all may like it too.