I got certified as a La Leche League Leader nearly 6 years ago (in March), and I can't say enough what a blessing it has been in my life! It feels so good to be running a group again here in Cedar City, Utah. When I left here 3 years ago I was so sad to leave! It was hard to watch the active, warm community of mothers we had created, dissolve to the ground. Yet here I am again, reviving the group and watching her grow once more! It's exciting! I held a meeting at our home last night and was thrilled beyond belief to see moms come together once again-- to share with one another, inspire one another, and oogle over all the cute babies.
I went to my first LLL meeting in 2006 when I was pregnant with our first baby. We were living in Los Angeles, California at the time, right next to the LA Zoo. I heard about La Leche League from our Bradley Birth instructor, who also happened to be a La Leche League Leader. She handed out these LLL fliers at our birth class with all the dates and times of meetings being held in LA county, strongly urging us pregnant moms to attend a 4-class series by the time we reached 8 months pregnant. At first I put it aside thinking it was a class for the Hispanic community. The words "La Leche" threw me off. "Why does she want me to go to a Hispanic breastfeeding class?" I asked my husband later on. "I don't even speak Spanish!"
Needless to say, there was a lot I had to learn. My husband urged me to go check it out anyways, so I went with my friend Michelle from our Bradley class. The meeting was being held at a park in Van Nuys, CA. It was a beautiful, sunny day out. I remember waddling my large, pregnant belly over to the grass and finding a place to sit amongst the other mothers attending.
I looked around to see moms of all races and nationalities, gathered together, each with a baby or toddler in their arms. They were friendly and smiling, and very welcoming. I instantly felt warm and comfortable in their presence. Many of the moms were lounging in beach chairs or lying on blankets, openly nursing their babies. They all looked so peaceful and happy. I wanted to be one of those moms. I wanted to be lying in the grass under the warm sunshine, smiling peacefully, while cuddling and nursing my new baby.
I learned a lot from that meeting, and it wasn't only from the up-to-date information I received, or the helpful resources I came across! I was not only convinced to read the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, or feel inspired to be an advocate for myself and my baby during our upcoming hospital birth, but I walked away knowing that I could breastfeed, no matter what. I could be one of those moms in the grass, and I couldn't wait to do it!
I continued to attend LLL meetings for the next several weeks. Each time I came home feeling even more prepared, and even more excited for the arrival of our baby.
I never thought that I would be a Leader someday, yet there was a special moment I experienced at one of our meetings that, unbeknownst to me, would greatly impact my decision to become an LLL Leader in the future.
Our group of moms was sitting in the grass, deep in discussion on some important breastfeeding topic or another, when a silver Honda slowly rolled up to the parking lot. I remember looking over to see a young couple get out of the car, the mom was holding a brand new baby. The mom looked tired, and worn down. The look on her face was one of worry, and despair. She walked slowly towards the group and sat down on a nearby bench. The Leader stopped the discussion so she could talk to this new mom. Everyone listened as she explained her situation:
"My baby is 3 days old. I can't get her to latch on. She's not eating, and I'm not getting any response from the lactation support at the hospital. I just don't know what to do."
Tears rolled down her face as she looked down in despair once more. Her newborn baby was swaddled in her arms, tiny, pink and helpless.
I watched as one of the La Leche League Leaders lovingly took this worried mother aside and worked with her one-on-one. She sat with her on a nearby bench, for the next 45 minutes, answering her questions, caring for her concerns, and helping her to know how to breastfeed her brand new baby. I then watched this same mother walk back to her car, looking confident, empowered, and happy. She was smiling, her husband was smiling, and their entire world had changed. All because they came to a La Leche League Leader for help.
This was an inspiring moment for me. I didn't know how or when, but I knew that I wanted to be involved with this organization in some way or another. I knew that if a mother could be impacted so powerfully by the simple care and concern of another mother, I wanted to learn how to do that.
I was able to learn later on that being an LLL Leader not only meant helping other mothers, but it means bringing together a community of mothers to help one another. That's one of my favorite things about LLL--the warmth and support shared between breastfeeding mothers.
I am happy to be serving our Southern Utah Community once more. I hope and pray that mothers can find us-- Mothers who need love and support, mothers who need breastfeeding education, mothers who need immediate help, mothers who need practical advice and questions answered, and mothers who need like-minded friends in a warm community!
La Leche League of Utah
La Leche League International
"Our 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. La Leche League is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization."