La Leche League philosophy underpins everything that LLL does. This philosophy is drawn from 10 statements about mothering and breastfeeding. They’re not meant to be rules – rather, they form a general framework about what LLL believes. There are many ways to interpret each statement, and you will see LLL philosophy take a different shape in each person who embraces it.
I’m exploring the 10 concepts that underpin LLL philosophy in this space. I talked about the first two concepts in an earlier post, and now I’m ready to move on to the third:
Alert and active participation by the mother in childbirth is a help in getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
When LLL was founded in the United States in 1956, twilight anaesthesia was common during birth. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth out, you may have experienced twilight anaesthesia yourself. You’re not alert, you don’t remember what happened, and you’re not able to control your actions as you normally would. When babies were born to mothers who were under the effects of twilight anaesthesia, their mothers were not able to remember the birth, or hold their babies right away.
It seems like common sense that twilight anaesthesia would interfere with early breastfeeding. But what about today’s childbirth practices? How does modern birth impact breastfeeding?
There is some evidence to suggest that epidural use may impact breastfeeding. There is also research that shows lower breastfeeding rates in the case of caesarean birth, versus vaginal birth. One possible explanation for the reduced breastfeeding rate following a caesarean birth is that mothers are not able to breastfeed as quickly following a surgical delivery. As we already discussed, being able to breastfeed early and often is important in successfully establishing breastfeeding.
It’s well and good to say to extol the benefits of natural childbirth. But what of the mother who ends up facing far more interventions in birth than she hoped for? Is LLL blaming her for the outcome? Absolutely not.
No matter how much you prepare for childbirth, things can change quickly, and you may end up with a birth that was far from what you were envisioning in your head. LLL Leaders understand this, because we are all mothers ourselves. We also know that no matter how your birth plays out, breastfeeding is still possible, and we are here to help you achieve your personal breastfeeding goals.
What this concept does encourage you to do is research and prepare for birth as best you can. If you find yourself in a situation that differs from your dream birth, you will be empowered with information, and you will be better prepared to make decisions that work for you in the moment. And, in the process, you set yourself up to get breastfeeding off to the best start.