Giving Tuesday: La Leche League Was My Lifeline
Hello, New Beginnings readers! My name is Amy Nelson and I am the Managing Editor of this blog. While I typically stay behind the scenes, today – Giving Tuesday – I’d like to step out and share with you why La Leche League has been so important to me throughout my breastfeeding and parenting years.
When my first child was born 22 years ago, I lived hours away from family and only had one friend who had any experience with breastfeeding and parenting, and she didn’t even live in the same town. I was overwhelmed and, looking back, experiencing the baby blues. My firstborn was what you’d call a “high needs” baby. I couldn’t put her down – awake or asleep. She wanted to nurse constantly (or at least more often than the “every three to four hours” a generic baby book told me to expect). I was engorged. I had sore nipples. I had mastitis. (Not necessarily all at once.) I was nervous about going out in public because I had never seen anyone nurse a baby while out and about. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong when my daughter refused an attempt I made to give her a bottle. I needed a shoulder to cry on, someone to tell me that it was going to be okay and that I would figure it all out.
Thankfully, my one parent friend told me about a group called La Leche League and invited me to a meeting, which was about a half hour away from me. After that first meeting, La Leche League became my parenting lifeline. I went to the monthly meetings. I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I eagerly awaited my issues of New Beginnings (which was published as a print magazine at the time).
As the months passed, thanks to the encouragement and information I found with these resources, I became more confident and actually began to feel like the expert of my baby, something I heard time and time again at those monthly meetings but hadn’t actually believed would happen to me.
Now, with four children who are all teenagers and young adults, I look back at the years I’ve been involved with La Leche League and how the support and resources they offer have grown so much over the years, keeping up with the changes in technology. While those monthly meetings and support phone calls continue today, the options available for those in search of information and encouragement are numerous. Meetings are scheduled throughout the week at a variety of times and days, and since meetings are currently virtual that means you don’t even need to leave your house or get up from the couch to connect with others. La Leche League Leaders are volunteers who make their contact information available and are often immediately able to answer your questions via email, text, or by phone. If you are a rather shy person as I am, you probably really appreciate that you can reach out in a variety of ways that meet your comfort level.
In a blog post earlier this year, New Beginnings shared the thoughts of several parents who were attending virtual meetings or reaching out for support by other means. Erin welcomed her first child during the height of the pandemic and expressed her appreciation for having a source of support when so many groups temporarily shut down due to safety concerns:
“Being able to connect with other local parents and get support from a Leader has been invaluable, especially when navigating those first few weeks at home with a preemie. Chatting from the comfort of home and the flexibility of the group setup allows me to participate and keep doing things that (are part of) motherhood.”
Larissa chimed in to say how much the flexibility of these meetings helped her.
“I think online meetings have lots of pros. They’re flexible time blocks — you can put in as much time as you want to when you’re available. Also, the information we discuss is very accessible, in case you need to refer back to something or are running late.”
Perhaps you are like me and received support from La Leche League a number of years ago. Or, perhaps your current season is full of parenting infants, toddlers, or preschoolers. Whatever the case may be on this Giving Tuesday, I want to thank you for taking the time to read about why La Leche League made a difference in my life and to encourage you to donate any amount that you are able to, whether it is $1 or $100. Your donation will help La Leche League continue to provide support and information for all families who are providing human milk for their children.
Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].
Please consider donating to La Leche League USA.
Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted. Thank you!
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