La Leche League and Feminist Views on Breastfeeding

Jacqueline H. Wolf wrote the article What Feminists Can Do for Breastfeeding and What Breastfeeding Can Do for Feminists to discuss breastfeeding and the different views of it. In a portion of her article she focuses her attention on the La Leche League (LLL). The La Leche League is, “an educational organization espousing ‘mothering through breastfeeding’ [that] began in a Chicago suburb in 1956.” Wolf argues that the source of friction between the La Leche League and feminist critiques is the, “prominence of LLL in the breastfeeding world has made some feminists wary about taking a stance.” The La Leche League quickly grew in membership and “overshadowed other organizations to become the face of breastfeeding promotion in the United States.”

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Even though a great portion of American mothers also worked outside of the home the LLL was able to grow rapidly. The LLL’s advice to women was considered radical in the 1950s as they pushed for separation from doctors to bring mothers and babies together, which preceded feminist ideas by two decades. And by the time feminists began to push for changes in women’s medicine, the LLL was “rebuffing feminist aspirations by urging mothers to stay home with children.”

Although, I do think that conflict between two prominent groups can have negative effects on the topic at hand, I think that concerning the low rate of breastfeeding today this conflict is not the leading cause. Rather than the conflict between La Leche League and feminists, I think the leading cause of the low rate of breastfeeding today is due to the lack of knowledge in our country. As Wolf pointed out earlier in her article, many doctors are very unaware of the benefits of breastfeeding and that translates on to mothers. Often times new mothers heavily lie on information presented to them by the person they consider the medical expert and if that medical expert is not relaying on enough information because they themselves are not fully informed on the topic of breastfeeding then they do not take the personal responsibility to figure it out for themselves. I think another major factor of the low rates is the fast paced society we live in. With the cost of living continuing to rise many women need to work to afford their lifestyle so that makes breastfeeding difficult once the women return to work. Finally, I think a major impact is how simple it is for women to just feed their babies using a formula rather than taking the time to breastfeed. Formula is readily available, quick and easy, and you don’t need the mother to do it.

If women were able to get the complete information on the benefits of breastfeeding, I believe that the rates would greatly increase and we would not see the same conflict between the two groups.

 

Sources:

Wolf, Jacqueline H. (2006). What feminists can do for breastfeeding and what breastfeeding can do for feminists. Journal of Women in Culture & Society. University of Chicago. PDF.

Parkes, K. (2012, June 4). La leche league international. Retrieved from http://www.llli.org/

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