- Women's Health
What are La Leche Meetings Like?
What Happens at La Leche League Meetings?
Are you needing support with breastfeeding? Are you considering joining a La Leche League group? Are you curious as to what happens at a La Leche League meeting? Just want to know what the La Leche League is all about?
Joining a La Leche League might be one of the best decisions you make in your parenting adventure.
Interview with Founder of La Leche League
La Leche League is an international organization that helps provide encouragement, education, and breastfeeding support to mothers and mothers-to-be. It began with seven women in 1956, and has impacted the lives of thousands of breastfeeding moms around the world. If you are interested, check out the website here to find the nearest meeting.
I have never officially joined the La Leche League. However, I have visited 4 meetings. The meetings are very casual, and friendly. They usually meet in a church building, community center, hospital or even a coffee shop. Moms with kids will bring toys and snacks to keep older toddlers busy.
The group leader should introduce herself to you and will hopefully make you feel very welcome. Other members will probably introduce themselves to you as well. At the meetihngs that I visited, all of the group members sat in a circle, with the kids playing in the middle. Each meeting is different. At one of the meetings I visited, members discussed why they chose to breastfeed. Everyone had a chance to share.
At another meeting, members were encouraged to write down questions, and then questions were drawn from a hat for everyone to answer. At each La Leche League meeting, you will always have a chance to ask for advice. You can discuss current problems you are having, such as your baby biting you. You can talk about other challenges such as thrush, nipple confusion, etc,.
You will learn from everyone's experiences. At one of the meetings I attended, there was a mom who was adopting a baby in a few weeks. She was given advice on adoptive breastfeeding. At another, there was a mother who was going to be gone from her baby for several days for a work-related conference. She was provided advice about pumping, and even told she could ship the breast milk back home on dry ice. Also, one mom was counseled on breastfeeding during pregnancy.
Yes, of course, moms will openly breastfeed their babies and toddlers at the meetings. Most moms will not do it very discreetly. If you have an older child that you would prefer to not see another mom's breast, you probably should not bring him or her.
One topic that you will probably not get much support with is forced weaning. Nearly all La Leche League members believe that children should naturally wean themselves. You are welcome to ask about weaning, but more than likely you will not be encouraged to force your child to stop. I have known of some La Leche League members who breastfeed their children up to the age of six.
Also, if you have chosen to supplement your baby's diet with formula, you might not receive much kudos. While moms will not be critical, most La Leche League members do not believe in formula, except for emergencies. (At one of the meetings, however, one of the moms offered to give another mom her stash of formula samples since she was unable to produce enough breast milk while pumping.)
In addition to discussing breastfeeding, you can talk about other parenting issues as well. I discovered that most La Leche League members use cloth diapers, believe in baby wearing, and practice co-sleeping. Therefore, you can also ask for advice in any of those areas. Also, at the meeting, you will have the opportunity to purchase helpful books. If you would like a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, you can more than likely purchase it there. You might be able to buy other books such as Taking Charge of Your Fertility.
At the meetings that I attended, they had infant slings (cloth carriers) for sale. If you do decide to join the group, you will have to pay a small membership fee. This will include a magazine subscription. I received a free packet at the first meeting I attended. It included a copy of the magazine. If you are nervous about going to a meeting, don't be. The job of the leaders is to make all moms feel welcome.
If you'd prefer, feel free to take a friend or even your mom with you. Any woman who believes in breastfeeding can attend. La Leche League meetings are a great way to make new friends, find support with breastfeeding, and perhaps find a playmate for your toddler. If you are unable to attend a La Leche League meeting, remember that there are plenty of online breastfeeding support groups.