Our local La Leche League (LLL) group here in Astoria, Oregon has been meeting every month and providing breastfeeding support for the last 30 years. In the last 10 years well over 500 mothers have received breastfeeding support. This year so far 50 mothers have received support. The result is mothers who feel empowered to navigate breastfeeding in ways that are right for them. And this group does so much more than help with breastfeeding challenges. It continues to be the starting point for lifelong friendships for mothers and for children: individual relationships that when all put together form a super strong community fabric.
Janet Weidman has been a LLL leader for 30 years and Megan Oien, 5 years. They are currently seeking volunteers and future leaders. If you are local and are interested in learning more reply to this email and I can give you more information.
Can you tell us about yourselves?
Janet: I live in Olney-Walluski area of Astoria. My husband and I raised our five children here in the countryside. My profession is now real estate, but I have spent the past 33 years being a mother (working at home as a mother) and I have been a volunteer LLL Leader for 30 years. My passions are good mothering through breastfeeding, and encouraging everyone to grow their own food. We make a tremendous difference everyday that we don’t buy corporatized foods. I have several other interests, but these two are probably the main ones.
Megan: I too live in the country- in the Knappa/Svensen area of Astoria. I grew up moving around the West Coast, but always living in urban/suburban areas. So the last 10 years of country life have been an exciting adventure! My husband grew up in the country and when we decided to start a family, we moved from Seattle, back to his hometown. I was a little reluctant to move somewhere without all the luxuries of the city, but soon grew to love gardening, raising animals and the serenity of country life. We have four young kids, who are constantly pushing me to grow and learn in ways I never imagined possible. Our focus, at this point in our lives, is building a life around our home and family. For us, life is lived at home. I spend my days cultivating a space and energy in which our family can thrive at home. I feel so blessed to be doing what I am doing now and can’t imagine life any other way.
What is La Leche League?
La Leche League is a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to providing breastfeeding support to mothers who wish to breastfeed their babies. It was founded in 1956 and has chapters all throughout the world.
As LLL leaders, how do you support women during postpartum?
Janet: As a Leader, I have done home visits, phone counsel calls, and emails with mothers having a challenging time with beginning to breastfeeding (usually 3 – 5 days after birth, but occasionally within 24 hours of giving birth). Mothers may have worries that the baby isn’t nursing well and will mostly need reassurance. Some may have problems with getting the baby to latch-on well, and there can be more than one reason for this. Sore nipples can also be a reason for a mother to call or email.
Megan: Many women reach out with a phone call or text- especially new moms, but also seasoned mothers who may have come across a new challenge. In the beginning of the postpartum period, mothers often have questions about their baby’s latch. Some mothers are told they should supplement with formula due to poor latch, weak suck, inadequate weight gain or baby’s medical condition (eg laryngomalacia, severe reflux, milk/soy protein intolerance); and they want to explore more natural options to maintain a breastfeeding relationship. Some mothers, who had a very easy time breastfeeding their first, find themselves encountering new difficulties with successive babies. Other mothers, reach out later when their babies are toddlers and they are looking for a group to support their nursing relationship with their older baby. We also have an email list for mothers to reach out for support from other mothers. And, of course, our monthly meetings are a wonderful place for mothers to ask questions, bounce parenting ideas off their peers and find support in other mothers who are at a similar place in life.
And finally what message do you have for all postpartum women?
Janet: Women need connections with other women. Finding like-minded mother friends is a big help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Also, listen to your instincts and follow your own heart with your own style of parenting. Having a baby is a very big change for your body, physically and emotionally. All these hormones are coursing through you and mood swings will catch you unaware… and that is when it’s nice to have other mother friends to tell you it’s all normal — you are *not* going crazy.
Megan: Like Janet said, support is SO important! If you don’t have people in your life who are supportive of your parenting goals (whatever they may be)- find them! During the postpartum period your life shifts radically and by surrounding yourself with people who are supportive, those crashing waves can feel more like a gentle rolling sea. Also, be direct in your needs and firm in your boundaries, The postpartum time is about you and your baby. So honor yourself and your baby by creating a peaceful space (whatever that means to you) in which you can bond. And finally, listen to your instincts! As the mother to your baby, you are the expert on your own baby. Every mother knows her baby best. We have been given hormones and a mother’s intuition to help guide us. They are wonderful tools.