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Being a Leader

Carole Wrede
Managing Editor
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 2, April-May 2005, p. 44.

Sometimes it feels as though I have been around LLL a really long time. My daughter, Becci, now 26, actually remembers bouncing in the backpack and watching over my shoulder as I typed letters as a Nebraska LLL District Advisor and then as an Area Coordinator of Leaders. My writing may not have been inspirational, but my letters were distinctive -- the old typewriter punched an oval hole where each "o" should have been! Carbon paper gave way to computer copies, and email has replaced much postal mail. The luxury of long distance telephone calls to discuss a breastfeeding or Group management issue with other Leaders was treasured. Now, for those with computer access, there are numerous email groups bringing Leaders in frequent and close contact.

Thanks to Sue Ann Kendall and others, the La Leche League Community Network (CN) provides us with another wonderful communication tool. Norma Ritter, Development/Contributing Editor, has started a discussion group for everyone interested in discussing LEAVEN called "Leavening." Please visit the CN at http://community.llli.org, check out all the opportunities and information there, and join our discussion group. You are invited to suggest ideas and/or authors for articles in future issues of LEAVEN -- your professional journal.

We used to believe nearly every mother who gave birth would be able, with the right lactation management, to successfully breastfeed her baby. The past few years have brought challenges to that thinking. Lisa Marasco brings at least a partial answer, if not a solution, applicable to some lactation failures in her article, "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome." Although we, as Leaders, may not be able to "fix" problems of insufficient milk, it is very important that we are aware some situations are beyond our expertise and abilities. We do have special skills of listening and understanding as well as recognition of the value of even partial breastfeeding that mothers with PCOS will find few other places.

It has been a personal sadness for me that there are not more baby friendly hospitals in the United States. Mardrey Swenson reminds us it is possible even here in our commercialized country as in her article, "Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week at a Baby Friendly Hospital." Baby Friendly is becoming a topic of conversation in this country; I even tuned into a "talk radio" show debating the necessity and even if it were possible to ban formula from hospitals! The "talk" was certainly not all positive, but the topic is being publicly discussed -- a huge leap from when a well-known television host refused to say "breastfeeding" on air during an interview with Marian Tompson! Thank you, Pam Dunne and Linda Parry, Co-Coordinators of the LLLUSA WBW, for bringing us this article.

Toshi Jolliffe reminds us to "Keep Breastfeeding," even in the face of natural disaster. It is hard to imagine what mothers, babies, and families have endured through so many recent disasters; my heart goes out to every one of them. Special thanks to the Leaders who continue to support mothers through whatever may come.

"One Leader's Journey" written by Sherri Schafrath is familiar, comfortable, and important to read. LLL Leaders are heroes, whether helping mothers in crisis because of disasters or because of sore nipples and disagreeable family members. Nancy Spahr is continuing as Contributing Editor for "The Year of the Group" column (to be renamed), and invites you to share your journey.

Being a Leader for 30 years may or may not give me special insight, but I am sure LLL Leaders are just as needed in today's world -- in my nursling grandson's world -- as they were in their mother's. Remember to be good to yourselves, and assume good intentions in other Leaders.

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