I think that when some people try to picture what a La Leche League breastfeeding support meeting looks like, they conjure images of long braided hair, flowy skirts, naked breasts everywhere, perfectly behaved children eating their organic snacks, and maybe some calm music playing in the background.
It actually looks something more like this:
There are tired parents who managed to put on the least wrinkled clothes from the floor, and parents who showered and put on make-up up because this is one of their few meaningful interactions with other adults in a month. Parents arrive early (perhaps because they had to drive around aimlessly for an hour while their child finally slept). Parents arrive late (perhaps because their toddler had some majorly unreasonable demands…so unusual for toddlers, right?!). Some parents come to get information on their soon-to-arrive baby and how to plan for breastfeeding success. Some parents come because they have a 1 month old, and they have already faced every breastfeeding challenge in the book…yet they persevere and are looking for support to keep going. Some parents come because breastfeeding went so well, they are now breastfeeding an 8-month old, and never expected to be here. They have questions like, “What happens when my baby gets teeth?” There are parents who had planned and prepared so much for breastfeeding, but it just hasn’t been as easy as they thought. There are parents who don’t have many positive parenting examples in their lives. They’re finding that the way they are choosing to raise their child feels different than that of their friends and families, and they’re looking for support and guidance. There are families who are trying to figure out how to get some space and return to having some intimacy in their partnership again. There are parents who are navigating separation from their child, for work, travel, hobbies etc.
Oh and we haven’t even mentioned the La Leche League leaders…you know them…breastfeeding was a breeze and now they easily navigate parenting while also helping support other families through their breastfeeding journey. Leaders were and still are all of the types of people that come to meetings. If you have been to a meeting, you may have seen a leader engaged in conversation with a new parent, oblivious to the fact that their older child is running naked through the spray park, or standing on top of an off-limits table while other little ones look to figure out how they can get on top of the table too. You may have seen us sprint away from the group mid-sentence to find our child who is a runner, or who is hanging from a too-high spot in the playground. You may have seen us bring tablets or phones to keep our children off of our laps while we try to help you with breastfeeding. You may have seen us pull our child in close for a cuddle because they’re having a hard time in the space. You may have seen us nurse our child for an hour straight, so they stay happy, quiet, and out of trouble. You may have seen us address our child in a way that is new to you or use language that you haven’t heard before, and that feels like something you may want to try. You may have seen us being real parents with real struggles who have found that breastfeeding laid the groundwork for the type of parents we are becoming as our children grow older and challenge us differently. You may have seen us at a meeting without our children, because even though we may be beyond our breastfeeding years, we see such value in continuing to support families like yours in your breastfeeding journey.
La Leche League meetings are for anybody in any stage of their breastfeeding/chestfeeding journey. If you’re feeling like attending a meeting isn’t right for you, La Leche League also has a volunteer-run help-line. You can call 780-478-0507 and ask your question to a leader.