Revision of “Concept Explanations” (Appx 17) and “Applying for Leadership” (Appx 18)

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Dear Leaders,

The LLLI Board is pleased to share the newly revised LLLI Policies and Standing Rules “Concept Explanations” (Appendix 17) and “Applying for Leadership” (Appendix 18) documents that guide our examination of LLL philosophy and leadership prerequisites when exploring leadership with others.

These documents have been updated to assure worldwide uniformity in the application of LLLI accreditation standards.  By stating the prerequisites to applying for leadership in more objective terms, Leaders and Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representatives will have a clearer means of assessing the qualifications of those interested in leadership.

LLL philosophy, and our commitment to all ten concepts, have not changed.  Leaders are still expected to have experience that reflects all elements of LLL philosophy.  In considering someone for leadership, the mother-baby relationship is demonstrated by ongoing breastfeeding and responsive mothering at twelve months or beyond.  Separation will not be used to disqualify those interested in leadership. Breastfeeding and mothering are inextricably entwined, so to make this clearer, we have combined the personal breastfeeding experience and the mothering experience prerequisites.

We have updated the explanations of some of the concepts.  We have added an explanation about the childbirth concept, which had not been previously included.

To meet legal requirements, we have removed language that might be interpreted as discriminatory.  While we continue to use the words “breastfeeding” and “mothering” due to the many cultural, legal and translation issues that we face, we recognize that some may prefer other words.  Please feel free to use different language in one-on-one support situations that require it.

La Leche League philosophy has not changed.  Our hope is that these combined clarifications will support uniform accreditation practices, promote more diversity among Leaders, and increase outreach to underserved populations around the world.

For more information, please see:

LLLI Board

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Has LLL philosophy changed?

No, the ten concepts of LLL philosophy are unchanged.

  1. What has changed?

LLL leadership can no longer be denied on the basis of mother-baby separation.  This change is explained in the newly revised LLLI Policies and Standing Rules “Applying for Leadership”.

  1. What criteria will be used to assess a mother’s sensitivity to baby’s need for mother’s presence?

LLL’s position on the baby’s intense need for the mother has not changed.  It has long been recognized that there are no precise numbers that can be used universally to assess the age when a baby is ready for separation, or how many hours of separation are acceptable.  The most reliable way to assess “enough mother-baby togetherness” is the measurable fact that mother and baby are still nursing at, and beyond, the first birthday.  A mother and baby who are still breastfeeding at twelve months demonstrate an intact mothering-through-breastfeeding relationship.

  1. What about the baby’s needs?

The mother knows the baby best.  If the baby is still nursing at twelve months, this indicates that the mother is responsive to the baby’s needs and that the baby is spending sufficient time at the breast to sustain the breastfeeding relationship.  Otherwise, the baby would have weaned.  A mother who has breastfed a baby for at least twelve months can both present and represent LLL’s concept that “In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.”

  1. Why were these changes made?

Both Leaders and Leader Accreditation Department representatives have requested clearer, more objective criteria so that candidates would no longer be accepted or rejected based on subjective judgments.  The new criteria provide greater clarity for all.

  1. How will these changes help LLL increase diversity?

The former subjective criteria were open to differing interpretations, which created barriers for some who wanted to apply for leadership.  These changes help establish uniform criteria around the world to eliminate any inequities in the application process.

  1. Is LLL now saying that human milk feeding is just as beneficial as breastfeeding?

No. While research has made clear that human milk is valuable to babies, breastfeeding at the breast results in emotional, psychological and physical outcomes in both mother and baby that cannot be obtained through bottle-feeding. Even when asleep, the breastfeeding mother’s behavior toward the baby is different.

  1. Where can I find the Mothering Experience Prerequisite?

Recognizing that “mothering through breastfeeding” encompasses both breastfeeding and mothering, and that they are inextricably related, LLL has combined them into one overarching prerequisite.

  1. Why was the language changed so that there is no longer reference to the mother as she/her?

The LLLI attorney indicated that we should remove gendered identifiers.  We have followed that guidance.  The attorney also advised that we can and should continue to use the words “mother” and “breastfeeding.”  We recognize that some may prefer other words.  Please feel free to use different language in one-on-one support situations that require it.