Mother-Daughter Leadership through the Generations
Michele Lein and Christina Forga, mother and daughter, describe their story as Leaders in Minnesota, USA.
My mother (Michele Lein) became a La Leche League Leader in 1983 when I was two years old, just before my brother was born. I am the oldest of six children, and my childhood was filled with fond memories of La Leche League (LLL) meetings, Chapter Meetings, Area Conferences, and La Leche League International Conferences. I would often attend meetings and events with my mother to watch my younger siblings so my mother could lead meetings, panels, and give support. I remember solid weeks of non-stop breastfeeding help phone calls when my mom would volunteer to have our home phone number connected with the LLL phone helpline. In fact, by age 12, I was pretty confident that I could help a breastfeeding mother over the phone just based on all the conversations and meetings I’d heard my mother have! It was never a question of whether or not I’d be involved in LLL in my adult life. I couldn’t wait to become a La Leche League Leader.
I grew up in a place where breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and gentle discipline were the norm (even in all of my extended family). The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was given as a baby shower gift to every expectant mother we knew. I didn’t realize this was not a typical childhood until I was in college and one of my roommates came home in hysterics because she saw a woman breastfeeding her baby in the restaurant she was just at. I remember being so confused as to why she was so visibly upset and giving her the weirdest look saying, “And… then what?” She replied with a laundry list of why she was so traumatized. Floored by her response, I asked her if this is what everyone thinks? Her annoyed YES in reply made me realize that perhaps my experience with breastfeeding as a norm may have been unique. This instance solidified my commitment of wanting to help mothers breastfeed their children and to normalize breastfeeding in public, in private, and everywhere. I even became a birthing support person for two friends during college when their children were born, getting them connected with the local LLL Groups and Leaders for more breastfeeding support.
In my 20s, when I was single and without children, I attended LLL Conferences and meetings with my mother and read every edition of The Womanly Art and other LLL publications. I even spent my 27th birthday at a local LLL meeting. My summer vacation in 2007 was attending the LLL 50th anniversary International Conference in Chicago with my mother.
I became an official La Leche League member at age 18 paying my yearly membership fee to support my mom’s local Group even though I lived in another city. I started actively attending monthly LLL meetings as a mother myself when I was 12 weeks pregnant with my first son. After breastfeeding my son for a year and being an active member of my Group, I inquired about becoming a Leader. I officially became a Leader in 2016 one month before my second son was born. I breastfed for about six years total from start to wean, and in every public place I found myself in with my nurslings.
I began leading monthly meetings in my city and sometimes attended my mom’s meetings with my boys in the summer just for fun.
When COVID-19 started and we could no longer meet in person, I started a monthly Zoom meeting with my mom’s Group! So, we now lead meetings together!
~Christina Forga, LLL Leader since 2016
La Leche League (LLL) and its philosophy changed my life and how I mother my children. I am so thankful for LLL throughout the years. My oldest, Christina, was the one who taught me about breastfeeding and brought me to LLL for help and support, and she has never left! It is such a joy that she is in LLL leadership now. LLL has always been a part of her life. When she was dating, she always said she would tell prospective boyfriends that she wanted to have children one day and that breastfeeding was NOT optional. Christina is a wonderful mother and LLL Leader. We have often attended each other’s Group meetings and it has been great to co-lead Zoom meetings together this past year. It is also great to confer with each other on helping calls when appropriate and helping mothers breastfeed. We have each had different experiences and suggestions and we balance each other well.
I am so thankful to be two generations of LLL, creating community and helping mothers through breastfeeding!
~Michele Lein, LLL Leader since 1983