For this second edition of the new La Leche League International publication, LLL Today, we wanted to address the importance of the support that a breastfeeding mother or nursing parent can receive on a daily basis from a partner, family member, friend or the community without which many breastfeeding relationships are unfortunately compromised. Studies have shown a correlation between the support a mother can receive and the duration of breastfeeding. This is the case for the support of the baby’s father, a partner, a co-parent or the support of a well-trained healthcare team.
Humans are, as the saying goes, “social animals”: they live in groups and depend on being part of a group to survive. They learn everything they need to survive by observing the more experienced among them. This is true of children, but it is also true of young parents. In caring for their children, young parents will replicate the actions they have seen from experienced parents. Thus, parenting skills are acquired through imitation of other group members.
We refer to this group as a “village” because we are dealing here with the microsocial level, that of the community, and not with the macrosocial level, that of institutions (which is another subject). In what is called “modern society” in some parts of the world, the basic unit is the nuclear family: two parents and their children. We know having a supportive partner can be enormously helpful. But it is sometimes insufficient and mothers need to weave a much denser network of relationships to obtain all the material, physical, emotional and affective help they need to carry out their parental “work”.
We interviewed several mothers about how they pictured their “ideal village”. We also examined the different levels of circles of support that surround mothers and parents. Among these circles, of course, is the circle of caregivers who are so influential in parenting practices and in building their skills.
For breastfeeding is part of the “reproductive work”, and caring for babies is essential for the survival of the human species. From time immemorial, this work has been distributed among all members of the community (we will address the topic of “breastfeeding work” in a forthcoming issue). Anthropologists have even hypothesized that the assumption of some of this reproductive work by grandmothers represented an evolutionary advantage for the parents who benefited from it.
In this second issue, you will also find an article on the effects of prolonged breastfeeding on the humanization process of our species. Finally, you may have wondered if being an LLL Leader is for you; Linda Wieser’s article will help you answer that question.
I hope you enjoy reading. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or feedback about our articles, or even if you have any ideas for topics.