Summer and Southampton Mela

On Saturday 15th July LLL Southampton had a stall at the wonderful Southampton Mela festival. The event is attended by 30,000 people and is a family friendly day, so we imagined there would be a number of people who would be interested in breastfeeding support. It was an amazing opportunity to give information to parents, meet lots of members of the community and spread the word about LLL Southampton.

We had dads collecting information for their partners, people with questions about their new-borns, people who had breastfed years ago or who had struggled to breastfeed years ago, people who had struggled to breastfeed recently, people who had questions about nursing their toddler, people who were interested in LLL Leadership, people with friends abroad who wondered if LLL was in other countries (yes!) and many, many more.

At one point, a local independent film company interviewed us – very exciting! Anne entertained everyone with her amazing bubbles and the children loved having a go too. Grandmas came to help out at the stall and also to visit us with their LLL grandchildren.

We really felt a glow of community spirit and such support for breastfeeding which was truly wonderful.

Ultimately we to hope to have spread the word about our group and look forward to welcoming new mothers in September – if that’s you, then please come along and say hello.

We are now having a summer break because our venue does not hire out the room over the school holidays. We will of course be available via email and on our LLL Southampton facebook page. Have a wonderful summer!

 



 

 

Spring Workshop in London

‘In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food.’ This is one of the 10 philosophy statements of La Leche League international and just one of the 10 that as a Leader, I have made a commitment to. I sign an annual statement of commitment to being a Leader, to provide my continued support to mothers who need help to breastfeed.

When I was lying in hospital, almost 6 years ago, trying to work out how to breastfeed my twins, with confusing, contradictory information, wishing I had been better prepared; I reached out and called the La Leche League helpline. First, I spoke to a Leader who was in the UK (I don’t know where!) she was calm, kind and reassuring. She asked my local Leader, Caroline, to call me. I remember the feeling of relief as I finally spoke to some people who seemed confident in my ability to breastfeed my twins. My mum was an amazing support too (having breastfed all 3 children) but somehow, speaking to a La Leche League Leader, someone who was trained to support breastfeeding mothers, helped me to believe in myself.

As time went on, I started attending meetings, I began reading the books in the LLL library, I joined as a member and then I was asked about Leadership. I was so excited! I went along to workshops and a conference that LLLGB were organising. I remember feeling a little scared and intimidated, surely I couldn’t become one of these confident, strong women who worked tirelessly to support breastfeeding mothers. I couldn’t believe I would be good enough.

However, I started the training and I loved it. I loved the knowledge I started to gain, the skills that I developed along the way and after two years I was an accredited La Leche League Leader.

When my children were little, I took them with me to the workshops and conference. I sat at the back and tandem fed them on the floor (easiest place if there are chairs with narrow arms, you can’t fit two babies in between to feed them!)

Now they are older, I am able to leave them for the day with my husband. They have a great time with daddy and I get a day out. The most recent workshop was in London. Going to workshops is a great way to connect with Leaders, we don’t work in an office together so we rarely get to see each other although we do talk a lot online. We also get to meet members from other LLL groups who are starting their journey, just as I did, thinking that Leadership may one day be for them. And it’s a great way to get a more in depth idea of what the organisation is about and the breadth of work that is done.

 

This time we learnt about the amazing LLL Leaders from Greece who are supporting refugee mothers in desperate situations, yes I was sobbing at the end of that session. We learnt about the work being done by a Leicestershire Leader who is supporting mothers in vulnerable situations often involving families living in poverty. We also learnt about statistics – yes we have the fun job of reporting on our figures every quarter, but it’s a great way to see how many mothers we are supporting year round. We learnt about the invaluable work of the LLL helpline, a resource which is available 24/7 and how much it means to mothers. We learnt about LLL antenatal sessions which are being rolled out over the UK and are very much looking forward to doing a pilot in Southampton later this year. We learnt about the importance of not mixing causes, LLL is a group which is purely for breastfeeding, whilst there may be overlaps or other good causes which we would like to be involved in, we stay focused on breastfeeding, meaning that we can support all mothers and not make anyone feel that LLL is not open to them.

I feel incredibly proud to be part of this wonderful organisation. Some days I still can’t believe I am a Leader. Everytime a mother thanks me, tells me her situation improved thanks to my help, supports other mothers by attending our group and shares the LLL support, I feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s a great feeling; I love what I do.

LLL Leaders are mothers, like you 🙂

Polly

Thinking about LLL Leadership

Evaluation Meeting

Another milestone for our group: LLL Southampton has kicked off the New Year by holding its first official evaluation meeting.  The purpose of such a meeting is to evaluate (saw that coming, didn’t you?) how our Series Meetings have been going and to give our group mothers a chance to have a say and be more involved in the organisation of the group.  We would like to thank everyone who came as we really value your input.  This group is here for you and wouldn’t exist without you, so there’s no point in us making all the decisions on our own and deciding what it is you want!  An overview of what we discussed will be available on our Facebook page shortly and you can still have your say by emailing leader@lllsouthampton.org.uk .  Some of the main ideas that were suggested and that we will be looking into were 1) the startup of a Facebook group where mothers can ask questions and share experiences, and 2) the translation of our posters and purchase of books in other languages in order to be more inclusive.  We still welcome any ideas or suggestions you may have (such as which books you feel could be added to the library or what we might need to raise funds for in the future, or anything else you want to ask or say, good or bad!) and we are also still looking for more mums who might be willing to take on a small group job (from making a cup of tea to helping with publicity or fundraising, or even the prestigious job of writing this blog!).

We’re all feeling energised and inspired now, and ready to make 2017 a super year for breastfeeding and for LLL.  Whatever your breastfeeding goals may be, we hope that in 2017 you find your path to reach them and we wish you a very Happy New Year. x

March Meeting

We held our March meeting on the very first day of spring, a warm and sunny day.  A good excuse to celebrate with some chocolate cake and share some ideas on the art of breastfeeding and avoiding difficulties.  Spring brings hope after all!

Spring meeting2

We first discussed feeding cues and benefits of feeding on demand, which brought us to our main topic of supply issues.  With the help of a couple of enthusiastic bunny-assistants, some surprise situations were handed out and mothers shared their thoughts on what they believed was perfectly normal or could indicate a supply issue and may need attention.  We made the best of some of the new books in our library to look up information and add to our own experiences.  We ended our meeting with a nice quote from Diane Wiessinger (normalfed.com):

“Breastfeeding is nothing fancier than making lunch for your child. Maybe you need a specialist’s help to do that – maybe something makes it hard for you to open the jar, for instance – but mostly you just need to see other mothers, all making lunch in different ways, from different ingredients, all feeding their children, as mothers always have.”

and of course… some more cake! 🙂

Easter Meeting

New library!

We’re very happy and proud to announce the arrival of our new library! 🙂
Thanks to the money we’ve received from the Big Lottery Fund, we’ve been able to add some brilliant new titles to our existing library, including:

  • Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding;
  • Breastfeeding Solutions, by Nancy Mohrbacher;
  • Making More Milk, by Diana West and Lisa Marasco;
  • Birth and Breastfeeding, by Michel Odent;
  • The Fussy Baby Book, by Dr. Sears;
  • Hold Your Prem, by Jill Bergman;
  • Breastfeeding Older Children, by Ann Sinnott;
  • Three in a Bed, by Deborah Jackson;
  • How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish;
  • Breastfeeding, Take Two, by Stephanie Casemore;
  • ….. and more!

New Library

Everyone welcome to come and have a snoop around. Membership gives you the benefit of being able to borrow books so you can take home whichever book takes your fancy!

See you soon!

Festive meeting

This week we had a great time celebrating LLL Southampton’s last meeting of the year in lovely company.

   We first talked about surviving the hustle and bustle of Christmas with babies or small children in tow.  We discussed how we feel about nursing our (not so) little ones in front of other people at Christmas gatherings, spending time with family and friends who may not be familiar with having little people around them all day, and responding to our children’s needs when we are not in our own home and meals may be at strange times.
Mums also commented on how nursing could be a lovely chance to reconnect with their babies during busy days.  The LLL philosophy that talks about mothers putting the needs of their family first seems a particularly fitting one for this time of year.
   We then went on to discuss the journey of weaning we go on with our children, a journey that is unique for every mother and every child.  Weaning is another topic that can be extra challenging at this time of year, when we often sit around a table and share a meal with people who’s opinions may be quite different from our own!
These were some of the statements on weaning we discussed in the group:
– Weaning is a step toward growing up and, like walking and talking, a child takes these steps according to his own timetable;
– Each stage of your nursing relationship requires new mothering skills… this can be a challenge!;
– Extended nursing protects your child against illness;
– Quiet moments with you are still important to your older baby (a toddler’s active schedule and time away from you can increase the need to nurse);
– How to substitute other kinds of loving care for nursing.
   As always I loved to listen and watch how mums were sharing experiences and ideas, all while listening to some festive music, munching on some healthy Baby Led Weaning carrot muffins and some less healthy Christmas tree cupcakes, all washed down with a lovely warm cuppa!  I hope every one left feeling refuelled and ready to take on the festivities, and we warmly wish you and your family a restful break and a great start to the new year!  We hope to see you all in 2016!
 Xmas meeting LLL2

September meeting: Advantages of breastfeeding

     We had a busy meeting this week, with a wide variety of ages: from an expectant mother to grandmothers; all proud to share their breastfeeding experiences together.  The babies and toddlers joined in too, some feeding, some playing trains.  Lovely!!
     After some introductions, Polly, who led this month’s series meeting, asked us to reflect on (a) when breastfeeding became natural to us and (b) how breastfeeding has enhanced our mothering.  Two very interesting questions, I thought.  I’m still trying to figure out an answer to the first question for myself: so many different breastfeeding memories seem to flow together.  The second question was easier for me: I know that from the very beginning, the many, many hours spent ‘stuck on the couch’ have given me a first lesson in patience.  And I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that patience to lovingly guide our little ones as they grow and learn is one thing we can never have too much of!
     I loved listening to everybody’s personal experiences, and no doubt as you read this, you will be considering what the answers to those questions might be for you.  Every mother’s experience is individual and unique, so there is no right or wrong answer.  At LLL meetings, we listen to every mother who wants to share her thoughts and experiences, providing a safe and supportive space for this.
 LLL Meeting 1
     We then went on to discuss the main topic of the day: the benefits of breastfeeding.  We all wrote down what we felt was an important benefit to us/our family/our baby on a piece of paper, those who wanted then shared their thoughts on this and we tied each benefit to a flower, so that at the end of the discussion, we had a beautiful bouquet of breastfeeding benefits!
LLL Meeting 2
      As always, the mothers in our group seem to have plenty of inspiration when it comes to good reasons to breastfeed.  We sure have a bunch of strong women who know what they want and why!
     Here are just a few of the many benefits that were brought up:
– an easy way to soothe our children;
– knowledge that we’re doing the best thing for our babies;
– strong bonding experience between mother and baby (that lasts into adulthood);
– financial advantage of not having to buy formula (though several mums admitted possibly spending the equivalent on chocolate, and I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged!);
– helps with night feeding and sleeping;
– good for mother’s self-confidence;
– helps you through illness of baby;
– …
     To conclude the meeting, Polly read a quote from the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (p.12):
“Many women are surprised by the passion they come to feel about breastfeeding. Not many of us felt this passionately about breastfeeding until we did it ourselves, and many of us remember it as one of the best things we do in our lives. The experience is just that powerful.”
     I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the wide range of ideas and thoughts that floated to the top.  As always, we encourage our group mums to share, listen and respect, and to take home only what they feel would work for them and leave the rest.
     So well done Polly for leading a beautiful meeting, and thank you to everyone who contributed to make it special.
Polly took the lovely bouquet we created together home to her mother, but it really goes to all the other grannies as well, and all those supporting the mums, caring for them, feeding them, sharing their ups and downs, so they can focus on what’s most important: feeding and nurturing baby!  Good job everyone 🙂
     Looking forward to our next meeting, which will be on 19 October, and which will have as topic: “The baby arrives: the family and the breastfed baby”.  Hope to see many of you there!
xx Anne