What Keeps Me Involved with La Leche League?
Austin TX USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 5, October-November 2001, p. 110
When I attended my first La Leche League Group meeting in April 1987, my son was two months old and I had never seen another nursing baby. I came home from that meeting feeling very encouraged about my mothering and about La Leche League. I still feel the same way coming home from meetings. Why am I still here?
Take a moment to reread the introduction to the LEADER'S HANDBOOK. "We wanted to help, to pass on what we ourselves had received. This desire to help other mothers and babies, as well as the deep satisfaction that we receive from this commitment, is why we are La Leche League Leaders. And so, by helping just one other woman establish that special nursing bond with her child, we touch and shape the future of the world" (1998 edition, p. 1). This explains why many of us are Leaders.
From Chapter 1: "The Leader's goal, then, is to empower each mother. She does this by giving the mother the facts she needs to make an informed choice and by supporting her as the expert on caring for her own baby." (p. 12). This explains how we can be effective Leaders.
The Leaders who develop the skills detailed in Chapter 1 of the LEADER'S HANDBOOK are the Leaders who will be effective at empowering mothers. We empower mothers by using empathetic listening skills, communication skills, and problem-solving techniques. We maintain a strong foundation of breastfeeding knowledge by staying up-to-date on current breastfeeding research. We also keep our own egos, personal experiences, and biases in the background.
It may feel hard to share information without giving advice. It may be difficult to put aside personal judgments of another mother's lifestyle choices; however, that is the only way we can effectively reach LLL's ultimate goal: empowering mothers to be the experts at caring for their own babies. Leaders who give advice have become too caught up in "the right solution" or "fixing the problem." Conversely, Leaders who share information show honor to the other mother by respecting her responsibility and ability to make her own decisions. It really works. It's how I feel such peace with being a Leader. I just remember it's her baby.
At our last Group meeting, the topic focused on communication strategies to cope with thoughtless remarks made about breastfeeding. We had a lively, creative flow of ideas. Mothers left the meeting feeling encouraged about their mothering and about La Leche League. Whether or not any of them ever become Leaders, I can still envision them as ambassadors to the world, sharing the positive information, encouragement, and support that they found at the meeting. That's why I'm still a Leader.
Bev Vaugh and her husband, Kent, have two children, Matt, 14; and Hannah, 10. She has been a Leader for nine years and in the Profession Liaison (PL) Department for seven years. Currently, she co-Leads in the Austin West, Texas, USA PM Group; is Assistant Area Professional Liaison (AAPL) for Texas; and as the newest Online PL Resource Leader, Bev helped in the Technology Room at the 2001 International Conference in Chicago.
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