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At Home with THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING

Susan Moore
Blanco County TX USA
Pat Andrews
Austin TX USA
From LEAVEN, Vol 43 No. 4, October-November-December 2007, pp. 80-81

As I sit at my desk, I see the oaks and cedars whooshing side to side in a brisk late October bluster. Every once in a while the sun peeks through the overcast sky, but on the whole it's definitely one of those days that call you to cozy up indoors, protected from the cold gusts outside. Even the birds and animals are hibernating today.

What calls us to home? It's the place where your family returns each day to nourish their bodies and souls -- the place where they touch base again with what makes them "them." It is the place where others share your values and where the young can look to the example of those who have walked the path of life before them, holding family values close to their hearts.

Maybe that's why walking into a La Leche League Group meeting feels like coming home to many mothers. Any time, any place in the world, LLL means shared values and a safe haven for the cherished and deep-rooted dynamics of mothering through breastfeeding. One mother passes to another the gift of her experience -- the incredible joy or the painful struggles that together say, "You are not alone -- you're at home here."

Owning THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING is like taking a Group meeting home with you. Mothers share their stories through its pages. Their stories speak to a mother's own deeply held mothering instincts through concrete, everyday examples. The words in THE WOMANLY ART affirm and lift up the mother in getting to know her baby.

There are many places where a mother can find accurate information about breastfeeding. What sets La Leche League apart from other sources of support is that we are, first and foremost, a mothering through breastfeeding organization. Viola Lennon, one of LLL's Founders, states in Seven Voices, One Dream:

If LLL had been solely about the 'how-to's' of breastfeeding, I don't think that I would have even bothered to go to that very first meeting way back when. But LLL has always been about more than the techniques involved in breastfeeding. Essentially it is about mothering and how to be the best and most effective mother and parent I can become. That's what got me involved in LLL, and that's why I have stayed involved with LLL for all these many years (pg 130).

We attract mothers to La Leche League and introduce them to mothering through breastfeeding by referring them to the source: THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING. When we quote information from THE WOMANLY ART in helping calls or at Series Meetings, we demonstrate what a wonderfully helpful resource it is. Mothers are encouraged to get a copy and read it for themselves. They are empowered with confidence as they begin to find the answers to many of their questions and explore how the practical aspects of mothering through breastfeeding can benefit them and their baby. That same sense of coming home welcomes them in each page.

Why read from THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING? Quoting Viola Lennon again, "THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING is more the saga of how to breastfeed and why, while the The Breastfeeding Answer Book has the answers to specific questions" (pg 101). Many mothers find that if they understand the "why" of what they are doing, they can manage to find the answers they need.

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING brings La Leche League philosophy back into the day-to-day examples that are their original source. When the Founders crystallized their thoughts and beliefs into the concepts, they drew from the values that guided their actions in daily life. Leaders can help members interested in leadership gain a clearer understanding of these concepts by reviewing the basic LLL manual.

In describing the prerequisites for leadership, Appendix 18 of the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook states:

The credibility and authority of LLLI are due, in major part, to the fact that all LLL Leaders are experienced breastfeeding mothers. LLL wants to attract prospective Leaders who have or are willing to develop the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to help mothers breastfeed and gain a better understanding of good mothering through breastfeeding (LLLI Prerequisites for Leadership -- Guidelines for Leaders' Introduction, Leader's Handbook, pg 221).

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING is the definitive guide to LLL philosophy. The Statement of Commitment we sign as La Leche League Leaders reads in part, "I am personally committed to good mothering through breastfeeding as presented in THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING and other LLLI publications." This is the basis for the prerequisite that a mother own and be familiar with the most recent edition in her language, to affirm that she understands the philosophy she is agreeing to represent.

Any time there is a question about agreement with a specific concept in discussions about leadership, it can be very helpful to ask the member to review the section of THE WOMANLY ART most pertinent to that concept. Talk about whether she would feel comfortable presenting and representing the information and suggestions included there. If in your conversations she disagrees or takes issue with what she has read, she may hold a different personal belief or opinion than that expressed in LLL philosophy. Some mothers believe that the suggestions in THE WOMANLY ART are outdated, while LLL believes they encompass a practical parenting philosophy fully livable in today's world.

THE WOMANLY ART is a printed version of that safe place found at a La Leche League Series Meeting -- where a mother and baby can relax into a lifestyle of mothering through breastfeeding established long ago and valid throughout time. Displaying a copy and quoting from its pages brings to life the vibrant dynamic relationship between mother and child represented by LLL philosophy. It is a place we come home to.

Reference to LLL Concepts in THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING,
Seventh Edition (reprinted from LAD Lifeline 2004, Issue 2)

Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby. Pages: 12 (exact or close wording), 12-16 (general reference)

Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply. Pages: 21, 46-47, 61

In the early years, the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food. Pages: 91, 167-170

Breast milk is the superior infant food. Pages: 6, 339, 341-342, 346, 365-369

For the healthy, full-term baby, breast milk is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids, about the middle of the first year after birth. Pages: 223-224

Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need. Pages: 233-254

Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Pages: 18-25

Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby's father. A father's unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child's development from early infancy. Pages: 183-192

Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible. Pages: 205-220

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