Breastfeeding Support Groups:
I often reference La Leche League in my posts, so I thought it was time I wrote a little bit more about the why I like the group, how the meetings work, and give you an idea of the different topics they cover.
We went to our first La Leche League (LLL) meeting when we were Bradley™ students in 2004, pregnant with our oldest child. I called ahead and confirmed that it was a “Dad’s welcome” meeting. Bruss had seen his sister nurse his nephew and niece, so it wasn’t completely new to him. However, it was the first time he had been around a group of women breastfeeding. He had no idea what to expect. I had seen my mom breastfeed my siblings, but again, I had never been in a group setting with breastfeeding mothers.
We lucked out – unbeknownst to us, the wife of a former co-worker was a “regular” and she made us feel right at home, and introduced us to the group leaders. We were good Bradley™ students and took notes; attending the meeting definitely cemented our choice to breastfeed. It also gave us the reality check that it was going to be a learning process along the way.
I went to LLL meetings a couple of times after Ysabella was born. Since I worked in the evenings it was too hard to get our local meeting without changing my schedule. When I had free time, I wanted to be one-on-one with our baby, not driving around to a different part of town to find a morning meeting.
I didn’t go back to a LLL meeting until it was time to certify as a Bradley™ instructor. This time, I made the effort to try some of the different meetings since I wanted to be able to answer our students’ questions about La Leche League with confidence. I went to a breastfeeding café in the Scottsdale area, and to a regular group meeting in Mesa. I was welcomed at both groups, got to see the advantages of the different meeting formats. I also got to meet great leaders and experience the benefit of hearing about different breastfeeding situations other mothers asked about at those meetings.
Once we got certified, I kept going to meetings, being a “regular” since 2010. Part of The Bradley Method® coursework is to attend at least two La Leche League meetings. Even if I don’t have a nursling, I like to go to hear what’s new in the world of breastfeeding. Additionally, knowing from experience that some people are more motivated to try something new if they know a friendly face will be there, I go to meet students there, too.
Over this time, I have become a Big Fan of La Leche League. The leaders were so helpful in the early months of pregnancy to help me navigate breastfeeding our nursling. The leaders were supportive and shared their experiences as I learned about tandem nursing. Besides their help to me, I have had two years worth of hearing leaders share information and answer questions.
Frankly, I have no desire to be a “Jill-of-all-trades”. My passion is birth and supporting birth, so in the spare time I have, I read all I can about pregnancy, labor and childbirth support. I can confidently tell our students to call their La Leche League Leader or our local IBCLC certified lactation consultant to find answers to their breastfeeding questions. I know that the leaders know what they are talking about because moms they have helped testify to the great support they have gotten from the group leaders. And the IBCLC we refer to is a retired La Leche League leader – best of both worlds!
So, how about those meetings? La Leche League also strives to offer as many options in regards to meeting times and places. Each area is divided into chapters, and that chapter is further divided into small groups. The chapter meets to coordinate schedules so you can find a meeting just about every week of the month in your geographical area. In addition, there are lots of time options: morning meetings, evening meetings, and even groups that are always “Dads Welcome”.
The “regular” meetings are focused around four main topics (see the list below). Each group is led by at least one leader…in our area there is a group with eight leaders! There is a four-meeting cycle, and in a group where there are multiple leaders, each leader will take a turn leading so that the group gets to hear different approaches to the same topics throughout the year. Even if there is not a change in leader, the topic will be presented differently according to the needs at the specific meeting.
Although there is a monthly topic, the leaders are very flexible. Each meeting evolves around the needs of the group that is in attendance. If the leaders find that the chosen topic is not well suited to the people that have shown up, most of them will switch gears and do the meeting the people in attendance need. Leaders always take into account who is there, and attendees can come with as many questions as they like. The priority is always to answer questions, so depending on how that's done it could actually take up an entire meeting.
The second type of meeting is the Breastfeeding Café. These are a more casual gathering for moms to come with questions, or to come for support as they learn to breastfeed in public. I love the way Laura Taylor-Taft, Leader in the San Tan Group, describes the café meeting, “[T]he Cafe style meeting was simply to offer a more casual atmosphere where moms can chat about breastfeeding and get their questions answered…The timing of the meeting was on purpose, such that you might meet a mom and really connect with her and then could stick around and get lunch together.”
Some groups even offer enrichment meetings as well as their regular series meetings. Enrichment meetings can cover just about anything the group is interested in. The San Tan group in the Chandler, AZ area does this – they supplement their regular morning series with evening meetings. Laura is always asking the ladies in her group what they want to talk about and centers the enrichment meeting around helping her moms learn about other topics that tie into the nursing relationship.
For example, one month they did “babywearing” as their Enrichment meeting. Not only did the moms who were interested get to hear about babywearing, other moms got to bring their carriers and share what they had learned about wearing their babies. Everyone has different preferences, so it was helpful for the learning moms to try on some of the different carriers and decide which one fit for their lifestyle.
Lastly, here are the meeting topics. Each chapter has different variations along the main themes. You can check the local calendar to find out meeting times, dates, and to see what the topic of the month is should you make the decision to attend:
Meeting #1: The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
Meeting #2: Breastfeeding 101
Meeting #3: Breastfeeding Tech Support
Meeting #4: Questions Mothers Ask & Overcoming Obstacles
Have you been to a La Leche League Meeting? Thoughts?
Want to find a meeting?
International Directory of Chapters and Meetings:
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.