Imagine you’re in the hospital and just gave birth to your first child. You are exhausted from the hard work appropriately called labor, but you’re thrilled to be a new mother. Ready to bond with your baby and start breastfeeding, you discover there’s no lactation consultant working during the duration of your stay at the hospital. You’ve read that breast milk is the superior infant food and that for the healthy, full-term baby, it is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids. But your newborn is getting fussy, and you’re afraid your colostrum, or first milk, won’t be enough for your baby. It’s late at night, and the nurse on duty is encouraging you to supplement with formula. What would you do? Who would you call for help?

For many women the answer is simple: Call La Leche League (LLL). For an LLL Leader, anytime the phone rings day or night it could be a mother or mother-to-be with a breastfeeding concern. Leaders in Westchester provide free breastfeeding information and mother-to-mother support over the phone, online and at monthly meetings in Scarsdale, Yonkers, Pelham, White Plains, Hastings-on-Hudson, Katonah and Yorktown. Leaders are experienced mothers who breastfed their children and are accredited by La Leche League International (LLLI) to help with all aspects of breastfeeding. Leaders do all this as volunteers, while taking care of their own families.

Mothering through breastfeeding is at the heart of what Leaders do as mothers and say as volunteers. During calls, Leaders lend an ear and help women assess their options. Leaders impart that active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start. Leaders also emphasize that mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply. Mothering through breastfeeding is a natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying a baby’s needs.

In the early years, a baby has an intense need to be with his mother. This is as basic as a person’s need for food. Leaders inform women how colostrum is perfectly suited to a newborn’s stomach and that human milk is a living fluid that provides a baby with antibodies and immunities.

Breast milk adapts to the changing needs of the growing baby. A mother’s health also benefits from breastfeeding as it reduces her risk of developing breast cancer.

A La Leche League Leader helps a mother feel confident in her ability to interpret her baby’s behavior and meet her baby’s needs. A Leader encourages a mother to follow her heart and motherly intuition, because she knows her baby best.

The idea for LLL came about in 1956 at a summertime picnic in a small town outside Chicago. Two breastfeeding mothers sat down on the lawn to nurse their babies, and one by one other mothers stopped by to chat and share their trials and tribulations of breastfeeding. The first official LLL meeting took place on October 17, 1956. The seven women who founded LLL sat in a circle and shared their collective wisdom as nursing mothers to help friends, family members, neighbors and even perfect strangers to birth and breastfeed their babies.

Today, LLL is an international, nonprofit and nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. Leaders like to imagine a day when all women have the information and support they need to birth and breastfeed their babies to good health. Happy mothers and healthy breastfed babies are what La Leche League is all about.

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