La Leche League Philosophy
The basic philosophy of La Leche League is summarized in the following statements:
- Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.
- Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.
- In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.
- Human milk is the natural food for babies, uniquely meeting their changing needs.
- For the healthy, full-term baby, breast milk is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids, about the middle of the first year after birth.
- Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need.
- Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
- Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby's father. A father's unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child's development from early infancy.
- Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
- From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings.
Why is LLL necessary?
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is an instinctual and natural act, but it is also an art that is learned day by day.
Once upon a time, children grew up seeing their family and friends nursing. This does not happen very often any more, and often new parents find themselves, baby in arms, without ever having closely observed parenting or breastfeeding/chestfeeding. With the widespread use of formula and the bottle, we have forgotten many notions and ideas that help in nursing successfully, and our expectations regarding children's needs and behaviors have changed. The ideal image of a healthy child that most people have today - for example, how and how much they will eat, how they will sleep, how much and how fast they should grow - are based to a great extent on the typical behavior of formula-fed babies.
Most nursing parents are able to feed their babies at the breastfeeding/chest and make enough milk. Some face challenges, and with good information and support families can learn how to overcome or adapt to obstacles so that they might succeed in meeting their breastfeeding/chestfeeding goals. It is almost always simply a matter of practical knowledge and not a question of good luck. At La Leche League meetings, expectant or nursing parents with babies can meet others who are nursing and in this way derive great benefit from their experience and encouragement.
Some attendees find it necessary to deal with the consequences of difficult births, inadequate or inaccurate information received immediately following birth, or physical challenges; La Leche League is also here for them, with accurate, up-to-date information that will help them make informed decisions that will work for their own particular circumstances.
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding provides parents with a unique occasion to experience parenthood in an optimal manner, introducing positive changes within their families and the society. A well-informed and involved parent can experience natural processes such as childbirth and breastfeeding/chestfeeding in the best way for parent and baby. They know when to proceed, when to ask for help and which choices to make. They know when and how to look for support and can give it to others.
La Leche League also publishes books and leaflets that provide information and support for anyone who wishes to breastfeed/chestfeed. More information on our organization and how it helps people around the world can be found on our General LLL Information page or on our collection of resources about LLL
What Goes on at Those La Leche League Meetings?
Many wonder why anyone would have a meeting about breastfeeding/chestfeeding . They may ask, "Who goes to these meetings and what do they talk about?"
At Group meetings La Leche League Leaders and other parents share experiences, give suggestions, and offer support and encouragement. LLL meetings are ideal for learning from and making friends with other parents. These meetings provide time for parent-to-parent sharing in a friendly and accepting atmosphere. The informal meetings are attended by expectant, new, and experienced parents and their babies. Most Groups rotate through a series of breastfeeding/chestfeeding topics, however every meeting is different and the questions of the attendees are always given top priority.
Why LLL meetings? In generations past, many parents had plenty of support for breastfeeding/chestfeeding their babies because their parents, grandparents, and siblings had already done it. Now many of us live far away from our families and most likely, they didn't feed their babies in this way. Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is natural, but it is a learned art. Attending an LLL meeting and seeing other parents nurse their babies helps new and expectant parents learn how to nurture their babies too.
Who attends LLL meetings? Parents and parents-to-be interested in breastfeeding/chestfeeding are welcome to attend LLL meetings. Parents-to-be are encouraged to begin attending meetings as soon as they know they are pregnant or before, if they are interested! Attending early in a pregnancy gives plenty of time to learn as much as possible about the "art of breastfeeding". Some Groups have an extensive lending library of books especially for families on the topics of breastfeeding/chestfeeding, nutrition, parenting, and childbirth.
What are the meeting topics? In-depth information on breastfeeding/chestfeeding is presented through discussions on the following topics:
- The importance of breastfeeding/chestfeeding. Parents are amazed to hear about the many remarkable qualities of human milk, their bodies' fantastic ability to produce milk, as well as the positive impact breastfeeding/chestfeeding has on families, the environment, and society.
- Adjusting to life with a new baby. This meeting focuses on the first six weeks and offers tips to make the transition into being a family as smooth as possible.
- Overcoming difficulties. Leaders and parents have excellent ideas to help parents overcome roadblocks that may impede breastfeeding/chestfeeding progress.
- Nutrition and weaning. Parents learn how to start solids for their babies. Nutritious options for family meals are shared. Those who are pregnant also enjoy this topic so they can optimize their unborn baby's health.
LLL meetings can be viewed as a buffet of ideas. Each parent is welcome to select only those that appeal to themselves and their family.
Remember, with topics so broad and each Group so individual, every meeting is different. The attendees' input and questions are welcome. Some Groups hold special meetings for couples and for parents of toddlers.
What about the meeting itself? Meetings are led by an accredited LLL Leader. The Leader is a parent who has breastfeeding/chestfed their baby and has completed La Leche League's comprehensive training program. During meetings, they share their knowledge of breastfeeding/chestfeeding, encourage others to share their experiences, and help clarify the La Leche League philosophy of parenting through breastfeeding/chestfeeding. A Leader's material is validated by experts in medical, psychological, nutritional, and child development fields. Leaders present LLLI information in a loosely-structured format that allows plenty of time for parent-to-parent sharing and questions. Parents (and their babies!) enjoy the warm and supportive atmosphere that encourages parenting through breastfeeding/chestfeeding.
Now, aren't you wondering where LLL meetings are? Usually they are held in private homes or in the meeting rooms of community halls, churches, libraries or hospitals. (La Leche League is not affiliated with any religion--we are a nonsectarian organization.) Some Groups meet during the day, while others find evening meetings more convenient. Click here to find a Group near you!
We're looking forward to seeing you and your baby at a Group meeting! If you want to learn more about La Leche League, visit our collection of resources about LLL
Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed/chestfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding/chestfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.