La Leche League's mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.
It was an honour and a privilege to run a pilot course of the LLLGB Beginning Breastfeeding course for LLL Southampton parents. Despite babies arriving early, snow (!) and changes to our scheduled times, we somehow pulled it all together and what a wonderful thing it was to be part of. There is something very special about being in a room with expectant parents, listening to their questions, supporting them in their wish to breastfeed their baby.
The course has been tried and tested in other parts of the UK, but as it was our first time leading it, we decided to apply for funding (thanks to the Lottery) so that we could run this first course as a pilot. This meant that it was free for those who attended and it also gave us the opportunity to make mistakes and stumble on our words which we probably would have felt more nervous about if we had been charging for the course. So whilst the parents learnt, we learnt too, about getting the timings right (owning a watch is essential!) and grappling with technology (apparently modern laptops don’t play dvds too well… or at all!)
As usual the tea and cake flowed – our secret weapon is Anne who really should be on the next Great British Bake Off.. – as did the conversation and of course the listening.
A highlight for me was having two breastfeeding mothers attend our third session where it just felt like an absolute gift – priceless – for the parents to have that time asking questions and finding out about real life with a breastfed baby. No sugar coating, but a whole lot of love. That’s what I will take away from it and I hope they do too.
We probably needed 3 hours for each 2 hour session, which is probably why we overran each time (something we’ll be better prepared for next time). And we definitely had too much cake, but that’s probably the right way round.
Overall, as a Leader, it was such a joy to be part of. Being passionate about breastfeeding is really at the heart of Leadership and everytime I think I have found all there is to discover about sharing this passion, something else comes along to show me there is more. And yes, we do hope to run more courses. After we’ve had a short rest to recover and recuperate and of course to support the mums and their new babies who we may be lucky enough to continue to see at group on Mondays.
On November 4 th and 5 th 2017, the first Vegan Festival in Southampton arrived with a flourish and LLL Southampton were there with a stall in the children’s area. “But what does being vegan have to do with breastfeeding” I hear you say? If you are vegan then breastfeeding suddenly takes on a broader significance due to the fact that the majority of alternative food for babies (formula), is made from cows milk. You definitely do not have to be vegan to attend LLL, but LLL may be a place that parents who are vegan choose to attend, in order to get support with breastfeeding.
One of the La Leche League mission statements is that, ‘human milk is the natural food for babies, uniquely meeting their changing needs.’ We enjoyed discussing this and other breastfeeding topics with the people we met at the festival.
Attending events in our community is a great way to get information out to new parents (or parents to be) about who and what LLL is. Established in 1956, La Leche League was founded by 7 mothers who needed to think of a name for a breastfeeding support group. La Leche is Spanish for ‘the milk’ and was decided on partly because it was an appropriate way to talk about breastfeeding in the 1950s. However, this does mean that in 2017 not everyone knows the name La Leche League. We hope that by going out into the community and talking about LLL, that people will know about us and seek our help should they need it in the future.
We had a great time and spoke to lots of people at all stages of their breastfeeding journey. We hope they come along and visit our group if they are local to us. There are now 70 LLL groups in the UK and this number continues to grow year on year. Many mothers enjoy the support they get from LLL so much that they decide to become Leaders because they want to pass on the gift they received, to others. We look forward to attending more events and spreading the word about the work we are doing in this community.