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Media Release: Breastfeeding Pioneer Essay Winners

The Essay Team was completely overwhelmed by the wonderful Breastfeeding Pioneer stories that we received from around the globe. We received stories about trailblazers from Guatemala, the United Kingdom, China, Argentina and many states in the US.

Every woman who wrote in was a breastfeeding pioneer who has helped mothers and babies.

All essays were winning essays, but with great difficulty we had to choose one. The following essay is the first place entry written by Etel Conti. Etel will receive $100 (US) gift certificate to purchase materials for her La Leche League Group.

How the Seven Founders of La Leche League Have Inspired Me to be a Breastfeeding Pioneer

Inspiration, projects, enthusiasm, feelings and emotions, work and achievements have become part of me because of these seven women who got together to work for the world. As a mother of seven children, four formula fed and three breastfed, I found that LLL put into words and showed what I believed of this wonderful and many times exhausting job of mothering.

My life was enriched by LLL's philosophy. First I grew with its guidance and then I became enthusiastic about its work. My city (Mar del Plata - Argentina) needed a group which supported breastfeeding. Mothers materialized, and my dream came true I founded a group. My enthusiasm multiplied and I started new groups at the cities of Miramar, Loberia and Necochea. My work and I have flourished since then. I had meetings with children and adolescents, the parents of the future, I promoted breastfeeding on buses, shops, on the radio and even at the office where all mothers should register their newborn babies.

My job as a leader has allowed me to discover that happiness lies in a real sense of commitment, work and love. I am grateful to these seven women who have shown us such a myriad of possibilities. My contribution to LLL makes me feel an important part of God's work.

Spanish translation:

Como las siete fundadoras de la Liga de la Leche me han inspirado a ser una pionera del amamantamiento

Inspiración, proyectos, entusiasmo, sentimientos y emociones, trabajo y logros se volvieron parte de mí porque estas siete mujeres se unieron para trabajar por el mundo

Como madre de siete hijos, cuatro alimentados con biberón y tres con lactancia prolongada, descubrí que la LLL, expresaba con palabras y mostraba lo que yo creía que era esta maravillosa y a veces agotadora tarea, que es la maternidad.

Mi vida se enriqueció con la filosofía de la LLL. Primero crecí con su orientación y después me entusiasmé con su trabajo.

Mar del Plata (Argentina) mi ciudad necesitaba un Grupo de Apoyo a la Lactancia Materna. Las madres se materializaron, mi sueño se hizo realidad y fundé el Grupo. Mi entusiasmo se multiplico y comencé nuevos Grupos, en las ciudades de Miramar, Lobería y Necochea. Mi trabajo y yo florecimos desde entonces. Tuve encuentros con niños y adolescentes, los padres del futuro. Promocioné la Lactancia en ómnibus, negocios, en la radio y hasta en la oficina donde todas las madres deben anotar a sus recién nacidos.

Mi tarea como líder me permitió descubrir que la felicidad reside en el sentido del compromiso, el trabajo y el amor. Estoy agradecida a estas siete mujeres que nos brindaron tantas posibilidades.

Mi contribución a la LLL, hace que me sienta parte importante de la obra de Dios

The Following Entries were Runner-up Winners.

Mariana de Petersen wrote the following essay. An English translation follows.

Las fundadoras de La Liga de la Leche me inspiraron

Mi bebe de sólo un mes de edad, lloraba desconsoladamente, así que a pesar de las instrucciones recibidas por el medico de turno de suspender la lactancia por 48 horas, le dí mi pecho. El se calmó y para sorpresa mía… el pecho me dolía menos después de haberlo amamantado. Fue entonces, hace unos 22 años, que conocí a una mujer dulce, que inspiraba confianza. Ella me visitó. Sus palabras, hicieron resonancia con lo que yo sentía muy adentro, yo sabía que la información que ella me estaba dando era correcta.

Así fue como conocí a La Liga de la Leche, me involucre en cada actividad que se realizaba, los grupos de cada mes eran parte vital de mi vida. Después de mi segunda hija, me certifiqué como Líder y empecé a tener mi propio grupo. Mi única remuneración eran las palabras amables de las madres, que por el apoyo que les ofrecía lograban el éxito y las sonrisas de sus bebes quienes lucían felices y muy plácidos. Continúo con éste trabajo, porque me llena de satisfacción saber que mi apoyo a cada madre, hace que sean mejores familias, que vivan con mas armonía y respeto.

Después de 10 años en la Liga, escuche por primera vez hablar de las Conferencias Internacionales, recibí financiamiento para asistir a mi primera conferencia. ¡Un regalo!

Después de escuchar la presentación de la noche de apertura, creí que era tan valioso lo que había escuchado, que ya podía venirme de regreso a casa. Lo que yo no sabía, era que mucho más me aguardaba. Información, mucha información y cientos de mujeres que trataban con amor a sus niños. Es difícil describirles lo que sentí al conocer a las fundadoras de esta maravillosa organización. ¿Cómo era posible que ellas tuvieran semejante visión? ¿Que por un picnic después de la iglesia, sus corazones se habían entrelazado? Y más increíble aun, sus ideas de crianza con amor habían llegado hasta los lugares más lejanos de la tierra.

Al regresar de esa conferencia y por primera vez, haber estado en contacto real con LLLI, supe que quería hacer de lactancia materna, una profesión en mi vida.

LLL Guatemala y yo hemos crecido juntas, he aprendido a ser una mejor persona, a ser más organizada, a enfocarme en las personas y no en las cosas o el reloj, a respetar y a amar a mis hijos. Me enamoré de la lactancia y de LLL. Me gusta mucho mi trabajo como voluntaria de LLL, siento que aporto algo valioso a la sociedad!

Gracias fundadoras de LLL, sin ustedes, nuestra vida sería diferente.

The La Leche League Founders Have Inspired Me

My baby, who was only one month old, cried inconsolably, anyway despite the instructions I received from the doctor of stopping breast-feeding for 48 hours, I gave him my breast.

He calmed down and to my surprise, the breast hurt me less after nursing. Then a sweet woman who inspired confidence 22 years ago, visited me. Her words had resonance with what I had f

felt inside, I knew the information she gave me was correct.

After coming to know La Leche League, I became involved in each activity they organized, the groups each month became a vital part of my life. After my second daughter, I was accredited as a Leader, and I began to have my own group. My only renumeration was the kind words of mothers, that the support we offered them attained success and the smiles of their babies whose smiles shined with happiness and much pleasure. I continue with this owrk because it fills me with satisfaction to know that my support to each mother, made good families, who live with great harmony and respect.

After ten years with La Leche League, I heard for the first time about the International Conferences, and I received the financial assistance to attend my first conference. What a gift! After listening to the opening night presentation, I believed that I had gained invaluable information by listening that I could return home with. Although I didn't know it, there was so much waiting for me. Information, more information and hundreds of women who were treating their children with love. It is difficult to describe the feeling of getting to know the Founders of this marvelous organization. How was it possible that they had this huge vision? At a picnic after church, their hearts became interlaced. And even more incredibly, their ideas of childhood with love have spread to the far reaches of the earth.

I returned from this conference, and for the first time, I had established real contact with international La Leche League, I knew that I wanted to make breastfeeding the profession of my life. LLL Guatemala and I have grown together, I have learned to be a better person, to be more organized and focused in people and not in the things or the clock, to respect and love my children.

I am captivated and enamored with breast-feeding and with La Leche League. My work as a volunteer with La Leche League pleases me so much, I feel that I contribute something of value to society! Thanks to the Founders, without them our life would be very different.
Mariana Peterssen, Lider de LLL Guatemala.

Melissa Clark Vickers, LLL Leader in Huntingdon, TN shares her thoughts

How the Seven Founders of La Leche League Have Inspired Me to be a Breastfeeding Pioneer

In 1991, as a relatively new LLL Leader, I discovered Prodigy's online Parenting Bulletin Board, a discussion forum for various issues, including breastfeeding. Questions were posed and answered--sometimes by other parents; sometimes by "experts" obviously unfamiliar with The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding! I began answering breastfeeding questions and recommending local LLL groups.

I corresponded with Janet Jendron, LLLI BOD member, about my online efforts, and how this new media just didn't fit existing LLLI written communication guidelines. I sent "The World's Largest Nightly LLL Meeting," to Janet, who passed it along to LEAVEN Editor Nancy Mohrbacher. When the article appeared in the November/December 1992 issue, more than fifty Leaders joined Prodigy! We made such a positive impact on Prodigy moms who'd never heard of LLL before, as well as those who were wary of "things" they'd heard. And we provided sound breastfeeding support in the mother-to-mother tradition the Founders began.

This Prodigy experience laid the groundwork for LLLOnLine (now TLC), Lactnet (begun by Kathleen Bruce, a Leader who joined Prodigy because of my article), and even the LLLI website (thanks to subsequent efforts of technically gifted Leaders like Sue Ann Kendall). I helped pioneer the translation of the seven Founders' universal vision into a form that now reaches millions of mothers--a vision just as relevant today as it was more than 40 years ago!

Ivy from Beijing, China shares her thoughts on being a pioneer.

It is because seven mothers like me decided 4 decades ago to establish this support group that my toddler and I are enjoying nursing more than ever. Looking back to where my journey started, I realize that it is because of the founders' vision that I have become proud to breastfeed in public, nursing my toddler even amidst disapproving relatives. In fact, I look forward to the opportunities nursing in public gives me to share with people about the benefits of extended breastfeeding. For I too, was like them not long ago...

Before my son was born, I knew little about breastfeeding. After reading about the benefits of breast milk, I was convinced. Yet in the hospital, I had trouble getting him to latch on. Blistered nipples caused me to dread each feeding and nearly give up.

Finally, I called my LLL leader. I followed her suggestions and within days, nursing became enjoyable. Now, at 14 months, we intend to nurse until he is ready to wean. For breastfeeding is my favorite part of motherhood.

Living in Beijing, and seeing the ignorance about breastfeeding among local mothers, hospital staff and doctors, I have a burning desire to become an advocate in this country. I intend to apply for leadership and assist my LLL leader to get LLLI resources published in Chinese and distributed widely. Social change starts on an individual level. It did in the hearts of the seven founders, and I believe it can start with me.

Anna Burbidge, Market Harborough, Great Britain tells how she was a trailblazer in her country.

How the Seven Founders of La Leche League Have Inspired Me to be a Breastfeeding Pioneer

By 10 weeks old my first daughter was bottle fed and my sorrow at this led to me reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. Then I just knew that I would be able to nurse next time.

When I went to my first Meeting I felt I had "come home" and found a place I belonged. My second daughter was happily nursed. I helped to set up LLL of Market Harborough, and became a Leader while expecting my fourth child. I worked in various capacities in LLL and had two more children.

One of my happiest memories was taking five children to Disneyland, when my son was six months old. I nursed him queuing for, or on, most of the rides and heard comments on what a joy it was to see such a happy, big family.

I am amazed at how ordering a book about breastfeeding led to such a change in my life, in nursing my babies and encouraging me to do what I felt was right. My whole family has benefited by my involvement in LLL and this inspires me to continue to offer other mothers what LLL has given to me.

I am always amazed by how much it still offers me and knowing that I really can make a difference. Just as when I attended my first Meeting I had no idea what it would come to mean to me, so the Seven Founders can look back and think "Look what we did"!

The following are quotes from those who received Honorable Mentions.

Vera Lynn Richardson says, " I had a dream to be a better parent and good LLL Leader. I wanted to help bring LLL to my county. The seven Founding Mothers inspired me on my journey. I helped bring LLL to my county six and one half years ago by following the wonderful Seven Founders' example."

Patti Benson, shares "… being a breastfeeding pioneer really wasn't so hard-thanks to the seven Founders of La Leche League. They taught me to trust myself and to trust my baby. This gift of trust will guide our mother-daughter journey long after our breastfeeding days are over."

Breastfeeding pioneer Joanne Polner shares, "I speak for all mothers who nurture their babies from their bodies and their hearts. None of us and all of us are pioneers, the first to go forth each and every time we lift up our children. None of us and all of us have done nothing more striking than bring the milk goddess to her fulfillment."

Mary Brown tells us, "Although breastfeeding days have long passed; there is still tremendous trust between my eleven-year old son and me. I truly believe breastfeeding had much to do with that. Because of the Founders I had the courage to follow my heart and the cues of my child and not necessarily the dictates of society."

Theresa Daviet tells us, "Somehow I learned that breast really is best. I knew that if women like Mary White, Marian Tompson, Mary Ann Kerwin, Mary Ann Cahill, Betty Wagner, Edwina Froehlich, and Viola Lennon could breastfeed then I could too. Without the determined women who founded LLLI I never would have discovered what a wonderful gift breastfeeding is."

Jessica Ring tells us, "I would have to say that the most rewarding thing I have done in my life is breastfeeding my daughter. I wasn't able to breastfeed my first daughter because of lack of knowledge of how you can breastfeed successfully but I was determined to make ti work with my second daughter. I am so grateful for all the advice and support I have been given by LLL. I am ever so grateful to the LLL pioneers for creating such a wonderful organization."

And finally, breastfeeding trailblazer, Melissa Cordrey says, "I choose to breastfeed my child because its what God gave us to provide love and comfort to our baby. Nursing our child is a gift."

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