Coffee and breast milk

Cambridge La Leche League co-leaders, from left, Debbie Graham, Joanne Simpson and Karen Wilson at their July coffee morning at Clementine cafe.

Cambridge breastfeeding support group La Leche League is inviting mums to a coffee morning on Monday as part of World Breastfeeding Week.

The group will meet at Clementine cafe at 10am and anyone breastfeeding their baby – or combining breastfeeding with formula feeding – is welcome to pop along.

“We want local mums to know that we’re here, we offer free advice and support, and we always welcome new members,” co-leader Joanne Simpson said.

“We’re a friendly, relaxed, non-judgemental group and we’re very inclusive and diverse.”

Formed in America in the 1950s, La Leche League is a global organisation spanning almost 90 countries.

Its name is taken from the title of a Spanish madonna, “nuestra senora de la leche y buen parto”, which means, loosely, “our lady of happy delivery and plentiful milk”.

Joanne, a technologist with a PhD in applied mathematics, joined the Cambridge group during World Breastfeeding Week six years ago after her daughter Sammy was born.

“It was a bit nerve-racking because I’d had a C-section and couldn’t drive so my husband came with us and of course walked into a room filled with mums and babies – but they made us all feel very welcome,” she said.

“It was a really fun event… it was an eye-opener to see so many people breastfeeding in a cafe and it being so natural. Then I went to my first meeting a few weeks after that. Just sitting there and hearing information and stories from other mums who had babies that little bit older was great.”

Joanne became a co-leader of the group a year ago, joining Debbie Graham and Karen Wilson.

Debbie said the group was not just for those needing breastfeeding help, but anyone who wanted to “come and make a connection with other breastfeeding mums”.

“It’s about community and having a chance to sit together and share experiences and information,” she said.

“A lot of mothers think that they’re the only ones thinking the way they are, and when they discover that other mothers feel the same way it’s quite empowering for them to know that they are actually quite normal.”

She said the “vast majority” of mothers were able to breastfeed with the right support.

“Probably the biggest group of women who don’t end up fully breastfeeding would be the ones where their milk supply is a bit of an issue,” she said.

“And we have mothers that actually breastfeed using formula. If the baby can latch at the breast and the mother offers a supplement – donor breast milk or formula via a feeding tube at the breast – then this mother is breastfeeding.”

Cambridge La Leche League holds themed meetings at 10am on the third Monday of every month at the Cambridge Parents’ Centre in Taylor St to discuss particular topics, such as nutrition, weaning and sleep difficulties.

It also holds coffee mornings at 10am on the first Monday of every month, at either a cafe, the Parents’ Centre or Lake Te Koo Utu.

“And I think within a lot of those meeting discussions there’s this thread sometimes of helping mums to have perhaps realistic expectations and understand what’s normal,” said Karen, who has co-led the group for six years.

She said some mothers commented they’d “found their tribe” at La Leche League, and she identified with that experience.

“I guess the philosophy that came through and the advice I’d been given really clicked and made sense,” she said. “I just felt kind of a connection with the people that were there.”

La Leche League meetings can be found by typing “Breastfeeding Support – Cambridge NZ La Leche League” into Facebook, where there is information on how to contact Joanne, Debbie and Karen by phone or email outside of meeting times for free advice and support.

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