For more than 60 years, La Leche League International (LLLI) has helped mothers breastfeed through support, encouragement, information, and education. They’ve also promoted breastfeeding as critical in the healthy development of mother and baby.
History of La Leche League
A group of seven mothers in Franklin Park, Illinois, founded La Leche League in 1956 to provide breastfeeding help and support to interested women. The medical establishment didn’t encourage breastfeeding at the time, and it wasn’t practiced widely enough for women who wanted to breastfeed to have practical support. Two of the founders, Mary White and Marian Tompson, saw the need for information and advice and thus began holding meetings.
Monthly La Leche meetings are still held in communities around the world and cover topics from pre-natal issues to childbirth to breastfeeding. LLLI also promotes natural childbirth as part of the breastfeeding relationship, from early nursing to enhanced mother-baby bonding. Through LLLI’s advocacy, women are encouraged to hold and nurse their newborns immediately after birth and have critically important skin-to-skin contact. LLLI also has affiliated doctors who provide medical advice and support for moms with more difficult breastfeeding issues.
LLLI’s Main Tenets
- Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.
- Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a strong relationship and adequate milk supply.
- Babies have an intense need to be with their mothers in the early months of life.
- Human milk is the natural food for babies, uniquely meeting their changing needs.
- For healthy, full-term babies, breast milk is the only food necessary until solids can be introduced (around 6 months).
- Breastfeeding should continue until the baby outgrows the need.
- Alert and active childbirth helps get breastfeeding off to a good start.
- Breastfeeding is enhanced by the loving support, help, and companionship of the baby’s father. A father’s unique relationship with his baby is an important element in the child’s development from early infancy.
- Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
To find a La Leche League International group in your area, visit llli.org.