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Looking Back: A Legacy of Love

Feb 23 LLLNewsJanFeb1981– By Kaye Lowman

Originally published in January/February 1981 issue of La Leche League News

Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to be published until 2014 when it switched to its current blog format

This article was published in 1981, the year that La Leche League International celebrated its 25th anniversary. La Leche League International celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and will continue the celebration into 2017 with the theme “Celebrate 60: Building a Legacy.” Find out more about the anniversary celebration at

A computer analysis would have said it was impossible. A professional consultant would have sadly shaken his head no. A feasibility study would have said it was totally unfeasible.

But fortunately two young mothers named Marian Tompson and Mary White didn’t have the benefit of a computer analysis or professional consultant. They had only their hearts to guide them as they sat and talked at a church picnic in August of 1956 and decided that there had to be a way to help their friends who so wanted to nurse their babies, but found only frustration and failure when they tried. With their own nursing babies cradled in their arms on that summer afternoon at Wilder Park in Elmhurst, Illinois, Mary and Marian vowed to find a way to help these women so that they, too, could know the deep fulfillment of the nursing bond.

They had no resources, no formal training, no real idea of how best to go about helping their friends. But Mary and Marian were too young and too full of love for mothers and babies to even consider that they might not succeed.

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Between them they were able to find five other mothers who had successfully nursed one or more babies. With little else to offer except their personal experience and their words of encouragement, these seven women gathered their pregnant friends for a meeting at Mary White’s house one October evening in 1956. La Leche League was born on that night, destined to change an entire nation’s style of mothering, and to touch the lives of mothers and babies in every corner of the world.

From this humble beginning twenty-five years ago, La Leche League has become the internationally recognized authority on breastfeeding. But La Leche League’s real legacy to the world is a global network of devoted mothers sharing the art of breastfeeding with women who want to nurse their babies. The true essence of La Leche League will always be found in the serene beauty of a mother nurturing her baby at her breast.

In this, our Twenty-fifth Anniversary year, we rejoice in the knowledge that through helping mothers the world over to nurse their babies, we have played a part in strengthening and deepening the love-ties formed in infancy which will last for eternity.