La Leche League

Minnie - posted on 04/22/2011 ( 60 moms have responded )

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I'm not going to be involved in this debate/discussion. I just want to read all of the responses :).



LLLI is an organization that seeks to help mothers who want to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, information and education and encourage mothering through breastfeeding.



I want to know everyone's perception of LLL, from personal experience or what they have heard from other people.



Tell me what brought you to monthly series meetings if you've been and what you liked or didn't like, and what they could have done better. What would bring you back?

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[deleted account]

I previously shared my LLL experiences, but I'll share again. It was not a warm & fuzzy comforting feeling at all. Lots of phony personalities. The actual leader herself was helpful in assisting me in latching and education. I never felt like I was man-handled because I was so damn flat-chested! I did everything I was supposed to do-fenugreek, that tea, drink nothing but water, nurse round the clock on demand, monitor my diet. I just didn;t produce enough. I had the hospital grade rental pump for 3 months then bought my own. Still, just didn't pump enough. By 5 weeks old, my son was barely 5 1/2 pounds and was simply starving. We began to supplement, and I started going to nursing group meetings. Sadly, all these women did was bash formula using mothers. The leader was part of the conversations as well. I felt so intimidated becasue I was trying so hard to nurse, but it was formula that was helping fill his belly. I was surrounded by milk machines, literally. I would come home from those meetings crying-of course add post-partum depression into the mix. After 3 months my husband was adament about me not going anymore becasue he felt that it was useless and non-supportive. I didn;t realize that until years later. I know that LLL is all about education. Perhaps they can also be educated on being more accepting of mothers who cannot nurse, or simply don't want to nurse. Nursing is not for everyone.

Merry - posted on 04/24/2011

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Marina, it's possible that same nice lady would be able to help you wean. I know my Lk leader helped a few moms who were wanting to wean at a year. She didn't judge. Not I'm sure some leaders would judge and bitch, but if this lady was so nice and supportive for you already she might just be able to help!

Mary - posted on 04/23/2011

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I agree with Dana; just like anything else in life, there are some great LLL chapters out there, and there are those who are truly awful, and do more harm to their cause than good.

I think the hardest thing is that each area chapter is comprised of a variety of individuals, so everyone's experiences is going vary widely based on their personal interactions with the members they encounter. My mother breastfed my sister and I in the early 70's, when almost no one did it. She raved about LLL, and how she never would have succeeded without their support. For her, they were the best thing in the world. 38 years later, living in the same town, and my experience with them was radically different. I thought they were a bunch of militant nut jobs. They were beyond judgmental and condescending. Luckily, I had no real issues that I needed support or guidance with; I was fortunate in that all of my family and close friends had breastfed. Those women at LLL were just over-the-top! However, I do know others who have had much different experiences at other chapters, so I think I just hit one of the nuttier groups.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/26/2011

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Lisa, since you are actually part of LLL (not sure if just a member, or a leader or whatever) I don't see why you WOULDN"T respond to all of this. Maybe you can shed some light about LLL. I am mainly seeing a poor reception to them, so maybe your voice needs to be heard on their behalf. Talk about all the issues that have been addressed, but from a LLL perspective. It could be rather insightful...but then again maybe not ;)

Noreen - posted on 04/25/2011

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I have met a few LLL leaders at a breastfeeding class I attended to become a WIC Breastfeeding Advisor. And I attended one LLL meeting. I thought it was really nice! The LLL leader told the class not to be a breastfeeding nazi, to be compassionate and understanding all while guiding the new mother to do what was best for her newborn. When it comes to teaching someone how to nurse, I am very compassionate and understanding. I am also the least judgemental person too. :)

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Karla - posted on 06/23/2011

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Hi All. I found all the responses very interesting. It's been a long while since I breastfed; my youngest child is 14, and he weaned at about 2 1/2 yrs old -if I remember right.
Anyway, I want to add that LLL helped me very much as a mother - I personally loved AP.
I also became a LLL leader, though I have retired from that position long ago. I will say, as a former leader I am saddened that so many people here have had a negative experience with LLL. Every negative instance I read about was something that was addressed in my training as a Leader. We were definitely trained to be accepting and to encourage mom's to make their own decisions about BF and parenting based on their family's needs. If a mother were to call me and ask how to wean, I was to tell her how to wean. If a mother called me and was upset about a nursing strike, I had many resources to help her with that with both the physical aspects and with a strong background in "people skills," "attentive listening," etc.
As a LLL member and then leader, I went to conferences and workshops, so my thought is that some leaders are not continuing their education and finding constructive non-judgmental ways of helping - just a thought. Most LLL leaders I met were wonderful and amazing women, but I'll admit there were exceptions as well.
If you are in need of support, you may find the mother to mother support at LLL very helpful, as I did. Most groups offer a library that includes books on parenting, breastfeeding, and nutrition. As one poster mentioned here, membership includes a magazine which primarily contains mothers' stories including early bf, working & bf, husbands, extended bf, etc. I always found it very interesting when my kids were young. I realize I'm sounding like a advertisement here, but that is truly my take on LLL. The support from leaders, and the organization, helped me be a better mother. I can only hope I offered a good experience to mom's who came to me when I was a leader.
Happy mothering to you all!

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/26/2011

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Lisa, since you are actually part of LLL (not sure if just a member, or a leader or whatever) I don't see why you WOULDN"T respond to all of this. Maybe you can shed some light about LLL. I am mainly seeing a poor reception to them, so maybe your voice needs to be heard on their behalf. Talk about all the issues that have been addressed, but from a LLL perspective. It could be rather insightful...but then again maybe not ;)

Noreen - posted on 04/25/2011

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Loureen- That sounds like allo lactating. That is SO awesome!! Some other mammal's allo lactate so that the other females in the pack can also nurse the mother's young while the mother hunts. Off topic, but I thought I would share. :)

Mel - posted on 04/25/2011

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ABA are great Kathy. I got told by some ladies on here that I should find a new place to get my information, because I believe ABA have very different advice to LLL. ABA have always been very supportive and not anti formula, not natsy or anything always worked with what I wanted which I thought was great. I was pressured in anyway by breast feeding nazis

[deleted account]

Don't know much about LLL - I'm in Australia, and LLL is not very big here. Most mums seem to prefer the Australian Breastfeeding Association, which is AWESOME. Great information, extremely empathic, not pushy. I used to be a breastfeeding counsellor when ABA was called the Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia.

ABA's website:
http://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/default....

Caitlin - posted on 04/25/2011

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I never really thought about joining them. My milk dried up with my first when she was 7 months (I was pregnant, and the hormone changes made me dry up) and with my second the same thing at 11.5 month (again, pregnant). Not much I could do about that, I know some women can aparetnyl breastfeed while pregnant but when I say dried up, I mean no pain, no engorgement, I just stopped letting down and producing all of a sudden.

I must say my only experience directly with LLL was when my second was 10 months I was having a hard time, my production dropped because I wan having a stressful time at work, and I called up the local chapter, got an answering machine message to call one of the 5 volunteers, and I left a message with 4 of them and didn't get a call back until 2 days afterwards, at which point, it really wouldn't have mattered what I chose to do, because the choice was made (luckily, the issue resolved itself after a good long nap and 2 tylenol - but I was seriously having issues for 2 days..) I wasn't impressed with this response at all, so I don't plan on attending any of their meetings in my area. I figure i've done this 2 times now, a third should be easy breezy (if not - i'll find some advice online!)

Karla - posted on 04/24/2011

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I read "The womanly art of breastfeeding" (which I am pretty sure is a LLL publication) when I was pregnant. For the most part, I thought it had some good info, however, I felt like it was drastically skewed toward the AP style of parenting.

My only other interaction was when a LLL leader came to one of our childbirth classes. It was truly what helped me decide AP and LLL was not for me. It was quite obvious that she felt her style of parenting was the ONLY way to parent. She recommended I manually express to maintain my supply while working 12-14 hour shifts.....SERIOUSLY?

But the thing that I remember the most was that she literally put her child (probably 6 months) to her breast every 3-5 minutes for 30 seconds. Right then i knew I was not interested in learning about BF'ing in that way.

Sylvia - posted on 04/24/2011

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Oh, one other thing: we had a mum in the group who nursed using an SNS because (despite trying everything one is supposed to try) she was not able to make enough milk. The Leader and the group were 100% supportive and positive about this -- she definitely didn't get any flak for not being able to nurse "the natural way", as some people on this thread seem to have experienced (boo! to those LLL groups. Ick).

It's funny, I never noticed that LLL is "anti-spanking". Almost nobody spanks here, so it kind of just never came up.

Sylvia - posted on 04/24/2011

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I have only one child, went to LLL meetings only while I was on mat leave, and didn't go every single month, so I probably ended up going to about 9 or 10 meetings. I really enjoyed meeting the other mums, met some great people and some adorable kids, and got a lot of helpful information about babywearing, AP, and what "normal" looks like with a nursing baby or toddler. The group I went to kind of specialized in twins (we had 3 sets at one point, ranging in age from newborn to 18 months), and that was reaaaaallly interesting!

I did have one problem with the group, which was that the Leader was quite negative toward working mums. Since I was going back to work whatever anyone said -- "just stay home!" is not so easy when your salary represents 55% of household income -- I could really have used some support and some helpful advice, but unfortunately what I got instead was ... not that. I think this was probably just that Leader, not LLL in general -- I later subscribed to their magazine and found it much more supportive of WOH as well as SAH mums. If I am every lucky enough to have another baby, I will definitely start going to LLL meetings again.

Johnny - posted on 04/24/2011

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My mother tried to get help from LLL when I went on a nursing strike at 7 months (this would be 33 years ago). She had PPD and my dad had often given me bottles during the day so she could sleep. The leader who came to the house berated both of them for me going on nursing strike. She did not offer any help, just basically told them that they'd screwed it up.



I am sure that there are good leaders out there, but until LLL addresses these problems at conferences and such, I think the negative may continue to outweigh the positive. I haven't seen much self-assessment or self-critique in their materials. It saddens me to think that women are being alienated rather than helped. It has the potential to do so much good...

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/24/2011

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Laura, unfortunately it was 5 years ago, and in a different state. I couldn't even tell you her name :( I am not sure I would feel comfortable calling one where I am at. My sister tried for herself, and got a lot of negativity.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/24/2011

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Mel, I tried starting her at the age you said, actually at 3 months I was trying to offer a bottle with breastmilk. She just would never take it. i think I would have needed to start her like at a month. I truly regret not doing it that soon. I just want to be done with it. I am mainly a pacifier from about 2 in the am til about 5 am...then if she wakes again....blah.

Mel - posted on 04/24/2011

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:( Marina it can be so hard getting a baby off the breast. The most heartbreaking thing ever seeing them so upset for hours hungry. Im lucky my daughter could go with or without it doenst bother her. I think it helps (just for future reference) to make sure you introduce baby to the sippy cup from 4-6 months as a regular things with meals, Ive done everything by the book so bub didnt get so addicted to breast feeding. Youve done so well to get this far :) I understand completely you wanting to stop now. I hope you are able to wean soon

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/24/2011

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In truth, I am still BF my 1 year old (just turned 1 in April) and would sooooooooo very much like to stop. She won't take regular milk, nor a bottle. She will drink out of a straw cup, but I want her off the boob desperately. I would absolutely not feel comfortable calling on anyone from LLL because of how against the bottle they are. I have been breastfeeding well past the point that I have wanted to....

~♥Little Miss - posted on 04/24/2011

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I don't necessarily have a positive view of LLL, but it isn't fully negative either. My experience with them is minimal, but that is by choice, and recommendation from someone who was involved with LLL....that in itself speaks volumes to me.

When I started BF my first baby, he was really hurting me...to the point of tears. His latch seemed great, and definately was receiving adequate milk....but it hurt like a mother fucker. I called LLL, and they called me back ASAP, and the women came right over. She came with her two children in tow. She was wicked nice, and we discussed more than just BF. All about my c-section, she really helped me start coming to terms with it, and made me feel more like a natural mum.

Anyhow, she told me she was sorry that she had to bring her two children, but it was between her coming over, or the LLL leader of that chapter coming over, and she vehemently insisted it was her. She told me that the women who was going to come had scared off many new moms, and made them feel horrible about themselves. I am so glad she is the one that came over to help. She did a damn fine job, but she kept giving me warnings not to get ahold of anyone else...just her. I trusted her judgement...she told me that she only stayed with LLL because she felt that if she could help another mother who wants to continue to BF, she wanted to offer her positive teachings...but was not against bottles either.

It really says alot that she did not trust the other LLL members to not fuck it up. I appreciated her help fully, but never needed assistance again. If she did not come and help, I am sure I would have started the bottle sooner.

Mel - posted on 04/24/2011

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I know Loureen I just searched the site as it was reccomended to me by someone on here and I thought asbout ringing them to find out their opinion on the matter compared to ABA

[deleted account]

I have a pretty positive view of LLL. Members of the local LLL back in the early 80's helped supply my cousin with much needed breastmilk and quite possibly saved her life.

Admittedly, I've never attended a meeting! I was recently invited by an old friend from high school, so I may try to go to next month's meeting.

I hadn't ever heard anything negative about them until COM.

April - posted on 04/23/2011

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i havent had any personal experience with them either, but when i attend my first meeting in May, I will let you know what I think!!

Kate CP - posted on 04/23/2011

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I've never really had any personal experience with LLL. The one time I needed their help I couldn't get a single person on the phone. And I don't live in a small town...there were LOTS of people to call and not one of them answered the phone. I got more help from here than them. ;)

Anyway, having never had a personal experience with them I guess I have to say that I've heard good and bad things about the group. I still recommend people contact a lactation consultant if they have issues with nursing their kiddos. So I guess I'm with Teresa and thus not much help. ;)

Mel - posted on 04/23/2011

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Ive read one page of the responses - Im so glad I never contacted them! I nearly did a while back. Im so glad I stuck with ABA. I cant believe there are people out there that want to push breast feeding so much they can be nasty and hurtful and make mothers feel bad about themselves. Thats aweful. Im so so sorry to hear what some of you have been through. Ive found ABA have always been very helpful and supportive with whether I chose to use formula or just breast feed and told me how much I could top up with formula without hurting my supply

[deleted account]

Oh, one other "incident" that set me apart from the other moms at the LLL group. ALL of them were SAHM. I was the only one who was planning to return to work (I'm a teacher) when the new school year began in August. I was constantly asking for assistance in how to transition form being home to work, pumping, and stashing a supply. Because I made very little to begin with, I had very little in the freezer. But there were a few very condescending and hurtful comments about returning to work. One nasty comment to me is something I'll never forget, "Why bother building a supply when you already use formula?" Again, I know that LLL is all about the education & art of nursing, and leaning more towards a AP style of parenting. BUT.....I felt that if you were not part of the "club" you were not made to feel welcome.

[deleted account]

Oh, one other "incident" that set me apart from the other moms at the LLL group. ALL of them were SAHM. I was the only one who was planning to return to work (I'm a teacher) when the new school year began in August. I was constantly asking for assistance in how to transition form being home to work, pumping, and stashing a supply. Because I made very little to begin with, I had very little in the freezer. But there were a few very condescending and hurtful comments about returning to work. One nasty comment to me is something I'll never forget, "Why bother building a supply when you already use formula?" Again, I know that LLL is all about the education & art of nursing, and leaning more towards a AP style of parenting. BUT.....I felt that if you were not part of the "club" you were not made to feel welcome.

Frances - posted on 04/22/2011

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A friend of mine was part of LLL for a while. Her complaint was that they are anti-spanking and their kids are little terrors. She said that when they have meetings, they take their children with them and they get into things and break stuff and are out of control.

Johnny - posted on 04/22/2011

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My personal experience with LLL was terrible. None of them had experience nursing after breast surgery. They felt totally comfortable insulting me for having had the surgeries in the first place. Because clearly my ability to function was less important than my ability to nurse a potential child years down the line. And they couldn't help me worth shit. The fact that I was supplementing with formula was clearly the entire problem according to their uneducated worldview on the matter. My taking medication to increase my supply, nursing on demand and as frequently as possible and pumping at other times, while still getting limited supply did not seem to register with them. I would never recommend anyone approach them for help, because sanctimony is of little practical use. I ended up weaning my daughter off formula by 5 months and nursing her until she was 2. With the help of BFAR (Breastfeeding After Reduction), Dr. Jack Newman, my parents, my neighbor, my doctor (who was willing to prescribe what I needed as long as I wanted it), and my own drive & determination.

Charlie - posted on 04/22/2011

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My sister has never had children and we are very close ( she is my best firend ) but when I gave birth her milk came in and she got mastitis because obviously she had no children to feed and she didnt realise what was happening until the doctor told her !

Merry - posted on 04/22/2011

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I had mastitis twice, once at 7 months and once at 11 months.......my dr didn't think it could be cancer. Strange!
Maybe the piercing had scar tissue blocking the ducts, idk but that's what came to mind when I think about it.

Jenn - posted on 04/22/2011

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I think we've discussed this before, but I still don't understand how a nipple piercing would stop milk from coming out. Not that it really matters, I just don't get the science behind that.

Charlie - posted on 04/22/2011

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I know it isnt the LLL but the women at the Australian Breastfeeding association have always been amazing to me especially when I was feeling really frustrated and ready to give up they were so understanding and compassionate ...it never felt like they were forcing me or being pushy .

Amanda - posted on 04/22/2011

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Breast infections arent normal after milk has come in? Laffs I best get checked too, my son gave me infections ALL the time, he was such a lazy breastfeeder. The last infection I said thats it you are weaning at 2 years old.

I have heard stories about LLL being a bit nazi like, maybe thats why I couldnt find time to go to meetings LOL.

[deleted account]

The only LLL leader i have experience with was not very helpful. She told me i was breastfeeding wrong off of the left side and thats why gabby kept unlatching and crying. Turned out that the nipple was damaged from a piercing and wouldn't allow the milk to come out. I even asked her if that could be the reason why, but she said that piercings wouldn't affect my nipple like that. I had a few lumps of milk that were engorged and i think infected. When i asked her about it, and what i could do about it. She went on like i need to get checked for breast cancer because that is not a normal occurrence so long after my milk came in. She just needed to be more informed.

Mrs. - posted on 04/22/2011

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I felt very pressured by other moms I know to join LLL. Problem is, the friends I had who were in LLL - I always felt like a piece of shit for not producing enough milk. They were very sanctimonious and doubted that I tried "everything" to make my boobs the heavenly milk giving sanctuary that protects my baby from all things evil. It was not a good advertisement for them.

Not to mention, my mother had tried to attend some meeting back in the day. To this day she still tells me, "Don't listen to those La Leche Nazis, they are like a cult." That is her experience and opinion. Still, after my own brush with LLL - I was not interested in being in that environment.

It is such a fragile time...people with agendas can sometimes easily slip in with the intention of wearing you down to get a message across. You know, like The Church of Scientology :)...

I'm just not sure they care about mothers as much as just getting a pro breast feeding agenda out there. I'm not into shame groups.

Dana - posted on 04/22/2011

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I figured as much but, I'm still hoping to hear from you when the conversation starts to wind down. :)

Minnie - posted on 04/22/2011

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Breaking my silence for a moment (Dana) :D

I am choosing to stay out of it because I want mothers' honest opinions. Because of my association with LLL I think that posters here might take my responses as denying their feelings or me setting out to refute their experiences.

[deleted account]

There are three leaders in the group I attended and none of them were in any way pushy. Actually, the way they were interacting with the group was very much reminding me of my volunteer training for councelling. Very unjudgmental and open to everyone. We were always told at the beginning to just take home the advice that suited us and to forget about the rest. I really liked that, because particularly at the beginning you take things as criticism so easily even if it's not ment that way. The library was very much pro-AP but, again, no one pushed any books at you. The only one that came recommended was one that I really needed to read in order not to feel so overwhelmed anymore. CIO came up a few times afterwards, when everyone just moves around and chats, but I do think it's ok for a leader to voice an opinion if they are in a private conversation with you and know that you don't agree with it either. I think often the judgemental stuff probably rather comes from women in the group, and that's not necessarely something I would blame the leaders for, they are not there to mediate. I was such a rambling mess in the first few months and at the same time so excited about all these things I had newly discovered, bedsharing being the main one, and I think I might have been a little off-putting to at least one new mom. Another new mom was still so overwhelmed at her first meeting that she kept talking about 'those irish formula feeding mothers' and everything that was wrong with them. Again, could have put someone off, but was probably just a normal reaction to the unexpected demands of breastfeeding and the loneliness that comes with it when no one else does it. The only breastfeeding-nazi comment I got was from someone who never attended. By nature there are always more moms around who nurse toddlers (moms weaning early only attend a few times), so maybe that makes it uncomfortable for some moms who know they don't want to go on for that long. A mom who weaned at six months told me the other day that she felt sad that she couldn't attend anymore (and so do I - she is very nice), but I did point out that if it was open to everyone like a mother-baby group, then moms like myself who are nursing a toddler would have no safe place to go to anymore. So, to sum up all my rambling: I can understand how they are not for everyone, but they are certainly for me.

Dana - posted on 04/22/2011

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And Lisa, I hope at some point you do partake in the thread. I'd like to hear your thoughts and your overall thoughts on the replies.

Dana - posted on 04/22/2011

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Unfortunately I've heard nothing but bad things. Of course it's also always from people who didn't or couldn't BF.

I've had no experience with them but, I figure it's like any thing else in this world. There are some good apples, there are some bad apples.

Jenn - posted on 04/22/2011

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I've never been to a meeting, but I know some friends who have and liked it. I've never heard anything bad.

Merry - posted on 04/22/2011

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That's awful tara, my friend said her son self weaned at a year, well he did sort of self wean, but it was mostly just that he began prefering bottles, the leader was so cool with this it actualy bothered me a bit, she said to the mom that she did great job and she should be proud of what she accomplished etc. I agree she did good and stuff, but I think it would have been appropriate to also say something about the fact he didn't necessarily self wean, he just switched to bottles.
Idk, maybe my leader is the exception. But she is very supportive of most everything.

Tara - posted on 04/22/2011

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Well I got flack for weaning my kids early, when in fact they all pretty much self weaned by 2.5, but I was accused of weaning them for my own reasons, and not allowing them to wean themselves. Which again I did, but they figure no child will naturally wean themselves at that age so I simple must have been denying them their ever precious boob when they really really needed it still.
I was also told that if I expressed milk I should have it given only in a cup and never in a bottle. Well, that's great in theory but not all little babies will drink enough from a cup. Their reply, than you shouldn't do it at all, just nurse her from the breast and it won't matter. Hmmm helpful? Nope.

[deleted account]

While was pregnant.I had a lot of conversation with a lady who was apart of this group.She would come to the clinic with leaflets etc.She was so nice and positive.If the group was anyway like how this lady was i would love it.I never got the chance as b/f never worked out for me.My sister b/f for 2&half years and she said she felt judged by that group, that was from just a few calls,i say it was mainly a certain person from that group.As we all know one bad apple brings the rest down to.:-(

To be fair my sis did so well.She got to b/f for 2 years which is amazing.She did fantastic and a little encouragement from family&me is all she really needed.x

Amanda - posted on 04/22/2011

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I love LLL, I have called them a few times in my time of need. They have always gotten back to me in good time and call back to make sure their tips have helped. I havenever been to a monthy meeting as they always seemed to be hosted while I had other plans.

Merry - posted on 04/22/2011

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I've had only positive experiences with lll. I've only met one leader, but she is wonderful, she is open to all types of moms. She has never made any mom feel bad for any style of parenting, even stuff like combined feedings, weaning 'early' solids early, etc. All the controversy she is neutral and she simply supports what mom feels is best for her. Bothers me sometimes, but I think it's a good stand to take as she gains the trust of the moms by not judging, and then if they want help she is there to guide them. I've never heard of leaders being so rude, but I guess you can't expect everyone to be the same, even in an organization. I have no complaints.

Isobel - posted on 04/22/2011

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I think it's really sad that their reputation for being pushy and sanctimonious actually ends up pushing women AWAY from breastfeeding.

If I were in a position to help them improve...attitude would be my starting point and then somehow advertising that their attitude had changed.

I've never had any experience with LLL but I know I have never wanted to...even when I WAS having difficulty breastfeeding my daughter.

Jessica - posted on 04/22/2011

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My sister met a local leader when her baby was younger. She said the woman was actually really cool, willing to talk and help her out but didn't act like it was the end of the world that she gave a bottle of formula now and then. My sister wanted me to go with her to a meeting since we are bothbreastfeeding, but we haven't ended up going yet.

[deleted account]

I think they have worthy goals and are a great resource for mothers. I also think they demonize formula unjustly and promote nonsensical 'natural' parenting.

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