Help Forms and LLLChat
East Moline, Illinois, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 33 No. 5, August-September 1997, p. 83
We're all familiar with the challenges of helping breastfeeding mothers by telephone -- listening and understanding without the help of body language, using Human Relations Enrichment (HRE) communication skills when we respond, discerning problems without seeing mother and baby nursing. Today, Leaders who help mothers using the Internet and email are faced with the same challenge -- and a few new ones!
Currently LLL offers two kinds of mother-to-mother online help: Help Forms and LLLChat. Available through the LLLI Web site, both of these services are increasing in popularity.
LLLI Help Forms can be accessed by anyone browsing the LLLI Web site. The forms ask for the same information Leaders document in their logs with additional space for a mother to add her email address and type her question. When a Help Form is filled out, it is sent to the Web site list manager who distributes it to a volunteer Leader. An online Leader can answer as many Help Forms as she is comfortable accepting, usually about one every two to three weeks. She has one week to respond, although she can certainly reply sooner.
One of the nice things about answering Help Form questions is that a Leader has a chance to review her resources and respond at a convenient time, instead of trying to talk to a distraught mother while her children need attention or dinner burns in the oven! She has time to check the BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK and consult with a co-Leader, District Advisor or Professional Liaison Leader if necessary.
Leaders outside the US are especially needed. Help Forms are filled out by mothers all over the world and LLLI prefers to route them to Leaders in a mother's own country so she will be familiar with the mother's cultural background.
LLLChat hosts live chats, like Series Meetings in cyberspace, over the Internet. Like live meetings, the chats take place at a specified time. The Leaders log on, as do those who wish to "attend," and questions, answers and conversation are exchanged, although slowed a bit by the need for typing. Usually LLLI tries to provide at least two Leaders for each chat, so that if a sensitive question or situation arises, one Leader can go to a private area on the Web to speak with the individual while the other continues the chat.
Helping mothers online through Help Forms and LLLChat are exciting ways to spread information about breastfeeding and LLL. Both use the same knowledge and skills a Leader already uses to lead meetings and answer phone-helping calls.
For more information or to volunteer to help mothers online, contact us.
[Note: This information was revised on December 4, 2001 and again on October 3, 2006]