Help Leaders Impacted by Natural Disasters

Please consider helping Leaders affected by the recent catastrophic storms and fires by donating to the LLL Alliance Heart to Heart Fund.  DONATE HERE

It was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to help Leaders impacted by natural disasters.  There are Leaders that desperately need help in many areas — especially in Puerto Rico. Funds are to be used to replace Leader resources or Group supplies or to pay dues for affected Leaders.

You can designate a specific area for your donation.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Steps Toward Equity, Diversity, and Understanding.

By Paulina Erices

Last March, I was honored to be invited to lead the Conference Development Task Force for the International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA).  The goal of the CDTF was to create recommendations to align future conference planning with the ILCA core values of knowledge, diversity, and equity. In other words, we want annual conferences to speak loudly about the values of ILCA, to move beyond good intentions, and take steps towards measurably more equitable outcomes.

I had been working on equity initiatives locally through the LLL Groups, other organizations, and in my own job in the public health department, but I had been mostly working as an individual. It was not for lack of knowledge that I had not peeked into the bigger picture; indeed, it was a very purposeful action. I get profoundly overwhelmed; inequities and their intersectionality are terrifying to me because I cannot fix them and they require very hard conversations. The truth is that you don’t make many friends when you become an equity advocate and that is by itself a reflection of the complex work involved.

The invitation from ILCA started a rollercoaster ride for me. With the support of LLL Alliance for Breastfeeding Education, I was able to attend the 2017 ILCA Conference—my first ILCA conference. From 7 am to 11 pm, six days in a row, I was surrounded by people speaking different languages, talking about the big picture, and having open and honest conversations about inequities based on race and gender identity/expression.  While many people walked away in discomfort, irritated, or offended, I saw many people embracing those feelings and staying. Change is not easy. Discomfort pushes us beyond our preconceived notions and invites us to change. I stood in the middle of everything, driven by curiosity and feeling deep emotions that had been hidden for a while. Supported by other ILCA members, many of them LLL Leaders as well, I have been able to dive deeply in a process of self-discovery that has made me question the alignment between my behaviors and my own values. The good and bad thing about equity is that when you see its absence, you cannot stop working for it. I am hooked for life! Here are a few things I can share:

  • My beautiful and thoughtful intentions are irrelevant and a waste of time for anybody, including me, except when channeled into motivation to help create measurable change. We make changes when we look at the outcomes of our behaviors and adjust those behaviors for the outcomes we want. Good intentions, more often than not, stay as good intentions.
  • When we talk about equity, people have very distinctive reactions: love it or hate it. Talking about equity is, in the very least, uncomfortable. People with privilege get easily hurt and defensive. We rationalize, we explain, we find excuses, but at the end of the day, most of the time we stop listening and walk away.
  • Marginalized communities, LGBTQ communities, communities of color, etc. have spent generations working for equity. I cannot expect them to teach, to explain, to defend, or even to cuddle me when my feelings are hurt. I have a lot to learn. ILCA, NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials), and other organizations offer wonderful trainings.
  • Diversity doesn’t mean inclusion. Inclusion is what you do with your diversity. Is everybody’s voice at the table? I have been a “warm body” and “box to check” when organizations want to meet their diversity quotas. I had accepted it thinking that at least I was holding a space; however, as soon as I ask for action, I can see the push back. This is where the hard conversations start.
  • To learn about equity we have to be willing to be challenged, make mistakes, be called out, sing the wrong tune, step on each other’s toes, recognize that there will be parallel truths, and connect with each other’s experiences even if they are not our own. More importantly, we must be authentic and ask for forgiveness as well as forgive.

It’s been a bumpy ride, but a really positive one. I am facing my own biases and my internalized racism. As a cisgender women, mother, Latina La Leche League Leader with a lot of privilege, my equity journey is just starting. Thank you LLL Alliance Staff for not walking away from the hard conversations. Indeed, thank you for seeing me the way I am.

Paulina Erices is the mother of three children ages 14, 12, and 6, a La Leche League Leader with LLL of Mountain Plains in Colorado, and an IBCLC in private practice. Originally from Chile, she moved to the US with her husband and her older baby in 2003. Initially, she didn’t speak any English, and she found a home in La Leche League of Fort Collins, Colorado, where she signed up to become an LLL Leader without realizing it (language barriers’ best outcome ever!).

Paulina holds a BS in Psychology from PennState and is completing her MS in Organizations and Leadership at the University of Denver. She works as a Maternal Child Health Specialist at the Jefferson County Public Health Department in the program for children with special needs, as well as in other projects on lactation and Latino communities.  She volunteers for Special Kids, Special Care building systems of support for families with medically fragile infants. She serves as a mentor for the Every Ounce/Cada Onza lactation team, a feeding group for families from diverse backgrounds.

Breastfeeding and Emergencies

With appropriate support, an individual who has been breastfeeding before an emergency will be able to continue.  Rather than feeding the infant artificially that individual needs food and water so they can continue to produce milk for the baby.  Those same individuals may need support to re-establish breastfeeding as soon as possible if they stopped during the emergency.  – See more here

Live, Love, Latch! 2017 Breastfeeding success takes all of us

Live, Love, Latch! is a National Breastfeeding Month celebration presented by La Leche League USA and hosted by LLL Groups throughout the country.

Live, Love, Latch! events are designed to not only celebrate breastfeeding, but to also highlight community support. These events provide an opportunity to educate family, friends, healthcare providers and other community members about how they can support breastfeeding, and also emphasizes the value of the support network behind every nursing dyad.

Twenty four states within LLL Alliance have events.

The World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year in 2017 is about working together for the common good!

Evidence on the benefits of breastfeeding is already available to us. We know that breastfeeding aids the survival of infants and helps them thrive, has long-term health benefits for women, yields economic benefits and enhances the wellbeing of all. The challenge for champions of breastfeeding is to translate globally agreed policies to positive action in our communities.

We learned in WBW2016 how the protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding are a key to sustainable development. We grouped the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into four Thematic Areas that relate to each other and to breastfeeding. These four groups help us to define our work in the context of the SDGs. From this year onwards, they will also help us find others to work with.

Many hands make light work and each of us has a part to play. Let us start!

World Breastfeeding Week

January LLL Alliance Shout Out

The January LLL Alliance Shout Out goes to….

All the Leaders and volunteers who staffed the Nursing Mothers’ Booth throughout the 17 days of the Eastern States Exposition! 

Over the course of the 17 days the booth was staffed for a grand total of 165 hours with 2,330 mothers, fathers, and grandparents using the booth.

Special recognition goes to MYNNDE COREY from CT who spent countless hours at the fair coordinating the volunteer schedule, and to LEZLIE DENSMORE from MA for her ongoing overall coordination of the Nursing Mothers’ Booth.

Let’s hear it for Mynnde, Lezlie, and the 60+ volunteers, including young Tabitha Corey pictured below!

Jan15Shout1 Jan15Shout2

LLL Alliance August Shout Out

The August LLL Alliance Shout Out goes to …

LLL of Lakeland, FL

August shout-outLakeland LLL Leaders provided Breastfeeding Friendly bags to the local hospital, birth centers, and a midwifery practice. They have received a $20,000 grant for this work. Lakeland LLL Leaders have provided just shy of 1,000 bags thus far and have 1,000 more to be distributed.

Awesome community outreach, LLL of Lakeland!