The Value of a Welcome

Rachel Brown Kirkland, Dalton, Georgia, USA

Think back to the first La Leche League meeting you attended as a parent. Walking into a new place to meet new people and learn new concepts can be nerve-wracking when you don’t know what to expect. Add to that experience the challenge of being a new parent or a parent new to breastfeeding, and you’re likely to have many questions on your mind:

  • Will the other parents and I have much in common?
  • Will I receive support or criticism?
  • What if I disagree with some of the ideas presented?
  • How will Leaders and other attendees perceive me?

Many Groups have found that a warm welcome can help ease some of these concerns. In addition to creating an atmosphere of acceptance throughout the meeting, some Groups have found welcome packets or newcomer bags to be a nice way to both set a positive tone and help participants feel valued.

These small gifts can be as simple as a paper folder with an encouraging welcome note and some information sheets or as elaborate as a reusable bag filled with snacks, water bottles, pens, keychains, books and breastfeeding accessories.

Here are some welcome bag items that several Groups have found are well-received:

  • Introduction letter explaining more about the Group and providing contact information for the Leaders
  • Flyer with information on dates, times and locations for a year’s worth of meetings
  • Tearsheet handouts from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
  • Printed copies of articles from LLL publications
  • Folder for participants to store LLL contact information and any flyers, articles or tearsheets shared at future meetings
  • Coupons or discount vouchers for breastfeeding-friendly products and services (make sure they’re WHO Code compliant)
  • Information on local breastfeeding laws

Some Groups also use Group funds or solicit donations to put together a “breastfeeding corner starter kit” with items such as:

  • Cup or reusable water bottle
  • Prepackaged biscuits, cookies, crackers or other non-perishable, non-allergenic items that can be eaten with one hand
  • Individually packaged tea or coffee bags
  • Small pack of wipes or facial tissues
  • Breast pads
  • Small notebook
  • Bookmarks
  • Pens or pencils

Whatever your welcome packet includes, the simple act of giving one can be one way of helping newcomers feel valued––perhaps enough to not only return but also bring along a friend or two!

Rachel Brown Kirkland is a La Leche League Leader in Dalton, Georgia, USA, where she lives with her husband and four-year-old son.