LLL History, Purpose, and Philosophy

La Leche League’s History

From its humble origin of two friends breastfeeding at a picnic in 1956, La Leche League has grown into an international, non-profit organization dedicated to helping every woman who wants to breastfeed. This video was created in 2006 by a Chicago television show (“Chicago Stories”) on the occasion of La Leche League’s 50th anniversary.

 

La Leche League’s Purpose

La Leche League was founded to give information and encouragement, mainly through personal help, to all mothers who want to breastfeed their babies. While complementing the care of the physician and other health care professionals, it recognizes the unique importance of one mother helping another to perceive the needs of her child and to learn the best means of fulfilling those needs.

LLL believes that breastfeeding, with its many important physical and psychological advantages, is best for baby and mother and is the ideal way to initiate good parent-child relationships. The loving help and support of the father enables the mother to focus on mothering so that together the parents develop close relationships which strengthen the family and thus the whole fabric of society.

LLL further believes that mothering through breastfeeding deepens a mother’s understanding and acceptance of the responsibilities and rewards of her special role in the family. As a woman grows in mothering she grows as a human being, and every other role she may fill in her lifetime is enriched by the insights and humanity she brings to it from her experiences as a mother.

The League’s purpose is distinct. This singleness of purpose does not prevent interaction with other organizations with compatible purposes, but La Leche League will carefully guard against allying itself with another cause, however worthwhile that cause may be.

(From La Leche League Purpose and Philosophy, LLLI Publication No. 300-17)

La Leche League’s Philosophy

The basic philosophy of La Leche League is summarized in the following statements:

  • 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 satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.
  • In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.
  • Breast milk is the superior infant food.
  • For the healthy, full-term baby, breast milk is the only food necessary until the baby shows signs of needing solids, about the middle of the first year after birth.
  • Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need.
  • Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
  • Breastfeeding is enhanced and the nursing couple sustained 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.
  • From infancy on, children need loving guidance which reflects acceptance of their capabilities and sensitivity to their feelings.

The ideals and principles of mothering which are the foundation of LLLI beliefs are further developed in THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, the most comprehensive handbook on breastfeeding and parenting ever published. It has provided needed answers to three generations of nursing mothers on every aspect of breastfeeding.

(From LLLI publication No. 300-17, “La Leche League Purpose and Philosophy.”)