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La Leche League Presence Makes a Difference

Annette Leibovitz
Buffalo Grove IL USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 1, February-March 2004, p. 14.

American Baby magazine sponsors the American Baby Faire in seven US cities each year. La Leche League has had a booth at the event held in Chicago, Illinois, USA each year since the first year the Baby Faire came to our area. Thousands of pregnant and new mothers attend this event with their families.

Each year we raise funds to have a booth. In 2003, we received donations ranging from $25 to $150 from many local LLL Groups as well as individual Leaders. Also, 12 Leaders, four Leader’s husbands, a few Leader’s mothers, and a variety of children and babies populated the booth during the two-day event. Having a corner booth made it possible for more women to stop by to get LLL material and ask questions. We also had a few impromptu positioning discussions with several pregnant mothers listening to our positioning and latch-on tips. A few even pulled their husbands over to listen.

LLLI and staff members from the Schaumburg office contributed funds toward the booth fee this year. We received Catalogues and a limited amount of free tear-off sheets to hand out to mothers. We also got a discount to buy some titles from the LLLI Catalogue to resell at the event. Since I live very close to the LLLI office, no shipping fees were involved; however, even if a Group had to pay some shipping for these items, it would still be well worth it.

While we were at the Faire, many people came to the booth to thank us for being at the event. Some had walked around for a while before they found us and said they were afraid we weren’t at the event this year. One woman came with a small baby in her sling. She had bought the sling two years ago at this event from our booth. Her sling was well worn and had a very peaceful baby sleeping in it. The mother was so happy that she had met people from our organization at the Baby Faire.

Many grandmothers also thanked us for being present. They encouraged their daughters or daughters-in-law to pick up information from our table. Many copies of THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING were bought as well as MOTHERING MULTIPLES, some of our cookbooks, and a few other parenting books. Over 1,200 LLLI Catalogues were handed out and we also gave out tear-off sheets and some NEW BEGINNINGS. I made 600 bright blue and hot pink bookmarks with basic LLLI information including LLLI’s Web site and local phone numbers to find a local LLL Group in the area. There were three on a page and the cost was about two cents per bookmark! We encouraged pregnant women to come to an LLL Group meeting before their babies were born for support, information, and education on breastfeeding.

The LLL booth looked professional and everyone who helped was amazing. Some of the Leaders traveled from a great distance to be at this event to volunteer their time. Some had not realized how large the American Baby Faire really is.

LLL’s presence at this important event wouldn’t have been possible without donations and time volunteered. If our LLL Group was not there, mothers would have only had information from formula companies. Formula companies pay a lot of money to be at these types of events. At the Faire, they presented lectures on different topics, including breastfeeding and supplementing. There was also a television with a video about formula and breastfeeding running at all times. We asked if we could present a topic on breastfeeding, but were told we had to pay several hundred more dollars, which we didn’t have.

While it is expensive to exhibit at this event, it’s a way to reach huge numbers of women who may not know anything about breastfeeding or La Leche League. An added bonus of exhibiting is that La Leche League of Illinois will be featured for free on the American Baby Web site with contact information for LLLI and LLL of Buffalo Grove for a whole year. We hope to be in this event again next year and we encourage LLL Groups in other US states to do what they can to be a part of events like the American Baby Faire.

Annette Leibovitz is the mother of three children (14, 11, and 3 years old). She volunteers for LLL and works for LLLI answering the 800 line. Annette wrote the LLL approved book Our Camp Our Children. She runs a cooperative preschool, and is involved in a tot Shabbat program at her synagogue. She also takes part in a monthly book group and is in the process of opening a children’s hands-on-art museum.

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