Philippa Pearson-Glaze and Mary Francell
The Professional Liaison Department (PL Dept) of La Leche League is available in many parts of the world to provide support and information to Leaders dealing with medical and legal queries. While some PL Leaders are medical professionals, such as doctors or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), others are Leaders who are interested in researching complex legal or medical situations related to breastfeeding. Contact your local Area Network or Affiliate to find out how to contact a PL Leader who can help you. Or consider joining the PL Department yourself!
When might a Leader contact a PL Leader?
If an enquiry is medical in nature, such as a medication question, or has a possible legal aspect, it is recommended that the Leader to be in touch with a PL Leader. It may be that a Leader feels she has exhausted her own resources, such as the The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. In this case, she should contact the PL Dept for further help and information and for her own support.
How can the PL Dept help?
PL Dept Leaders often have access to recent lactation textbooks, such as Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (Wambach and Riordan, 2015) or Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple (Mohrbacher, 2010), and may be aware of reliable online resources for a particular situation. They can also draw from the experience and knowledge of fellow PL Leaders or have contact details for professional advisors in your Area/Area Network.
Like all Leaders, the PL Leader can’t give medical advice but will provide information from the resources that are available to her. This information is then relayed to the Leader who adapts it for the mother with whom she is working. The information will not usually be suitable for forwarding to the mother verbatim, nor for sharing on social media, as it will be addressed to and tailored for the Leader. The Leader replies to the mother in her own words, giving the same care and attention to respectful communication as she would to handling an LLL Help Form or LLL Helpline call. This way, the Leader maintains personal contact with the mother as well as adding to her own knowledge base about complex breastfeeding situations.
Using a medical query form
When contacting the PL Dept it is important to get as much specific information as possible from the mother. Many Areas/Affiliates/Area Networks have a medical query form that can be filled out and forwarded to the PL Leader. A fuller history helps the PL Leader find the relevant information needed and saves time.
Support for the Leader
When helping a mother deal with a challenging situation, it can be reassuring to know that you as a Leader do not have to carry the load alone. PL Leaders are members of an experienced and friendly team who can help and support you, as you support and inform the mother. Contact your Area or Area Network administrators to get in touch with a PL Leader near you.
Philippa Pearson-Glaze has been an LLL Leader since 2002 and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 2011. She lives in the West Midlands, United Kingdom with her husband and four children. She is Managing Editor for the LLLI publication Leader Today and currently serves on the Professional Liaison panel for La Leche League Great Britain. Philippa also regularly writes for her informational website Breastfeeding Support.
Mary Francell and her husband Howard are the parents of three breastfed children, aged 24, 20 and 17. She has been an LLL Leader for over 20 years and is currently Area Professional Liaison for LLL of Georgia, USA and Contributing Editor for Leader Today. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Mary works part-time at a pediatric office and also sees clients on contract with a private lactation practice in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.