Painting the Future
Independence VA USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 5, September-October 2005, p. 203
At the 19th International Conference, over a thousand people came together to unite for breastfeeding and La Leche League International. The theme of the Conference, Breastfeeding: Ancient Art, Modern Miracle, truly is a powerful statement.
In modern Western culture, so many people fall into what I call the "science trap." Sometimes, people blindly accept what science says is "good" or "right" instead of following their own instincts (this can be good or bad). In the case of breastfeeding, what almost became an ancient art because someone made a substitute is justly being dubbed a modern miracle because neither science nor technology can come close to reproducing what nature perfected so long ago! But we already knew that, didn't we? Why is it so important, then, to continue supporting and attending events such as the Conference? I would like to share what I learned from this gatheringmy first LLLI Conference!
The sessions ranged from breastfeeding benefits to discipline to learning how to stop procrastinating. (What do you think inspired me to finish this article?) Yet, it was not the average LLL meeting that most of us are used to. There were ceremonies, fun and relaxing activities, the Exhibit Hall, the Bookstore, and much more. Put all of these aspects together to create a powerful learning experience.
For example, for several years I've noticed that the age when girls enter puberty seems to be getting younger and younger. I thought perhaps it was just my imagination. I found out, however, that my observation was true. According to Ros Escott, BappSc, IBCLC, girls who are bottle-fed don't get the hormones that are naturally secreted in human milk; therefore, girls go into hyper-estrogen production when they enter the pre-puberty phase of their lives and physically mature faster.
I also learned that it's no coincidence that about once a year a fantastic study comes out warning about the supposed pitfalls of human milk. In recent years, there were studies on the toxins in human milk and studies about the supposed lack of vitamin D in human milk. The truth behind these studies? Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, pointed out that attempted scares such as these can be expected every year in anticipation of World Breastfeeding Week. How convenient! In truth, babies are not exposed to anything more through human milk than they are in utero. Breastfeeding does not expose a baby to anything that it has not already been exposed to.
In addition to sessions, there were so many other aspects of the Conference to enjoy. I was struck by the realization that LLL is huge! It was nice not feeling like a minority for my parenting style. There were people in all stages of life from Japan, Israel, and many other nations. I met employed mothers, mothers who are students, stay-at-home mothers, fathers, grandparents, health professionals, and, of course, a lot of children. If I was in awe of an organization that I know so well, imagine the impact we had on the hotel staff and surrounding community! What a powerful statement all of us made as we joined to support breastfeeding. And let's not forget about what we're teaching our children. We're giving them a voice to speak up for themselves and for their own children one day. We're building their confidence and giving them beautiful memories.
Through being involved with LLL for over five years, I've seen how "weird" breastfeeding seems to some people. To them, it's "breaking the mold." Formula feeding is what "everyone" does. Attending the Conference has reaffirmed my belief that human milk is best. We are not "weird" because we breastfeed, we are practicing a normal way of life that sustained the human race from early civilizations until today. Whether we attend Conferences or nurse in public as ways to demonstrate our support, we are helping to create a world where breastfeeding is the norm.
From LLL Members to Leaders to fathers, they all help fulfill the LLL mission by supporting women who are nursing, have nursed, or will nurse their children. Our actions pass the torch of knowledge on to future generations.
As supporters of La Leche League and breastfeeding, we are paving the way for the next generation of women who proceed down the road of motherhood. Eventually, the road will be smooth and wide because of the mothers of yesterday and today. We are each an important piece of a much larger picture. Together we are painting the future.