LLL Today #3 – An empowerment Story

I can still remember the first call I made to a La Leche League Leader as a new mom. I was hoping to get breastfeeding help. It was a transatlantic call, in 1989. It was 2pm where I lived (Italy) but it was 7am in Chicago. Unfortunately for the Leader I called, the time difference only occurred to me at the end of our conversation! I apologised profusely for waking her up, and she just said “That’s all right. Your baby’s worth it”.

Aside from that extremely kind closing remark, I remember being totally surprised by something else. I was expecting/hoping for solutions to my concerns. What I got was lots of calmly-asked questions, and an occasional “Oh, my, your baby is doing very well!” “Doing very well”? I was in the deepest panic of my entire life, and my baby “was doing very well”?!

I admit it, the thought that I was talking to a fool— a very kind one, but a fool nonetheless — did cross my mind. Subsequently, I thought I must be the fool. Later the health professionals on my side of the ocean became prime candidates for the same label. As it turns out, there were no fools in this story! Just a wise, experienced, knowledgeable volunteer; a confused, inexperienced new mom; and well-intentioned healthcare professionals who were convinced that what they had been taught was accurate.

I had read LLL’s The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding during that first pregnancy, and loved it. However, when I was face-to-face with experts telling me that my baby and I had breastfeeding problems (it turned out that we didn’t), I found myself having to choose between believing the book written by and for mothers and believing the people who earned their living by making sure moms and babies got off to a healthy start. My conversation with that Leader was simply a review of what I had already learned from The Womanly Art, but hearing the same information from someone who had actually “been there, done that” made all the difference in the world.

I got off the phone thinking “Not only CAN I do this … I AM ALREADY DOING THIS!”

I was accredited as an LLL Leader in 1993, when my second baby was 7 months old. There have undoubtedly been zillions of empowerment stories similar to mine over the past 66 years, but can there ever be enough?

To help La Leche League International to thrive is to help breastfeeding dyads to thrive. We can do this … we are already doing this! But we need a little help from our friends to do more.

THANK YOU for your supporting La Leche League International! We provide breastfeeding support and information to whoever wants it.

Shevawn O’Connor, LLL Leader, LLL Italy