Today is a day to celebrate mothers, spoil them with gifts and applaud their uncountable contributions. But for one global organization that has a big presence in Waynesboro, every day is an opportunity to celebrate and a chance to educate women on breastfeeding.
La Leche League is a non-profit organization that aids current or prospective moms through mother-to-mother support by educating them on breastfeeding and encouraging it as a vital element in the healthy development of a child.
In Waynesboro, there is a chapter of LLL that meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of every month at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
“Breastfeeding is the X-factor. It’s the more normal, natural thing. That is what we want people to realize,” said Millicent Blanchette, the local LLL leader.
At the meetings, the group covers various topics from basic positions to the roles that fathers and other family members play, aside from answering questions and supporting mothers who are seeking help.
Leche is the Spanish word for milk, and according to Blanchette, breastfeeding is not in the title because in the 1950s the word could not be published in print.
“Basically, like any new mom, I went to La Leche League out of pure desperation,” said member Sarah Brown of Waynesboro. “Nursing wasn’t going very well. I needed guidance, support and advice. I got a lot of great information and a great group of women who were able to coach me through nursing for several months. I honestly would not have been able to do it without them.”
The organization has been around since the 1950s and started in Chicago. About five to 10 mothers, either pregnant or having already conceived, attend the monthly meetings. There are about 20 to 30 members locally from all over the Shenandoah Valley. Internationally, there are chapters in nations such as Argentina, Qatar, Kuwait and England.
“La Leche League offers that mother-to-mother support outside the hospital, which we know is vital for mothers who continue to breastfeed,” said Roxanne Harris, Augusta Health’s international board certified lactation consultant. “They give good information to help support them. It’s just irreplaceable. There is nothing out there that is equal to breast milk. It’s superior for nutrition. It’s liquid gold.”
The meetings have been as valuable as gold, said members, who also advise interested members to not be scared or feel uncomfortable.
“It’s been great,” member Amy Showers said. “Millicent is my husband’s cousin. She invited me. She said it was good. It was just really informative, hearing moms bringing up their issues. It really prepared me for it and made it easy. I would tell [those interested] to go ahead, go to one meeting. It’s really laid back and you can contribute as much or as little as you want. It’s definitely worth a shot.”
For more information, visit www.llli.org.