Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Healing Breastfeeding Grief

There are times when, due to individual circumstance, parents are unable to breastfeed or feel that it is really not what they want to do even if things are objectively going well. When our breastfeeding hopes or intentions don’t come to fruition we can struggle with feelings of loss, sadness, anger, grief and shame. When we are at this point we tend to think we are the only person feeling this way but in reality these feelings are not unusual or abnormal.

Hilary Jacobson, writer, researcher, holistic breastfeeding consultant and hypnotherapist, has written a book called “Healing Breastfeeding Grief” in which she shares from her own and the experience of hundreds of mothers what it can mean to experience these devastating emotions. Applying techniques of mindfulness and neuroplasticity, Jacobson offers a way out of the feelings of heartbreak and failure that overcome mothers when breastfeeding doesn’t go as they had imagined it would.

“I want to help mothers heal,” Jacobson says. “Each year, thousands of women enter motherhood carrying a deep wound. My intention for this book is that they heal and feel whole, and step fully and vibrantly into their life as a mother — no matter how they feed their baby.”

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The book looks at five steps which can help mothers understand the root of their feelings and give them tools to taking steps forward to deal with those feeling so they can love and enjoy their babies.

• Build your support team

• Understand your issues

• Find remedies

• Feel and process your emotions

• Focus on the love

The first two steps, building your support team and gathering information so you have a good understanding of how breastfeeding usually works, are both things that parents can do before baby arrives. A La Leche League meeting is a great place to get to know others who can be your supporters and to learn about breastfeeding. If you experience challenges or breastfeeding isn’t what you expected you will have people to turn to who can help you with step three: finding remedies that work for you and your circumstances. LLLC Leaders can provide a listening ear for parents to talk about their feelings and concerns in a non-judgemental atmosphere. We don’t offer advice as every parent/baby relationship is unique and what is right for one family will not be right for another. We offer information that empowers parents to make decisions that are right for them.

In part three of her book Jacobson bridges the gap between mothers and the professionals who have dedicated their lives to support families, and interviews seventeen mother-baby professionals and practitioners who share from their personal and professional experiences with breastfeeding grief. The book shares the experiences of a number of mothers including two who share the details of their personal stories and the different paths they took to feeling whole again.

Learn more at

At the time of publication of this post there is a sample chapter available for free download on a Kindle, PC or Mac here.



If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend




Leave a comment »

Second Time Around

As I sit here breastfeeding my second daughter, Niamh, I am so thankful that I became a part of my local La Leche League group. Without the support, information and contacts of the group, my second breastfeeding experience may not have been so positive.

Like my first, my second pregnancy was hard won, though took less time to achieve than my first (two years to conceive as opposed to five for my first). As my older daughter was born prematurely at 30 weeks, we were thinking this time would be similar; the reason for the premature birth was due to my uterine anomaly (Uterus Didelphys) and reduced kidney function, as I only have one kidney and less room in my uterus for the baby to grow. So as soon as I found out I was pregnant again, I started taking low dose Aspirin pills and calcium pills daily. I found an independent midwife who had experience with high risk pregnancies, and was referred to the Obstetric team at Waikato Hospital, who wanted to see me when I got to 20 weeks gestation. From 24 weeks gestation, I was injecting myself daily with blood thinners (Clexane); my impaired kidney function (resulting in protein in my urine) and my age made me higher risk for blood clots in pregnancy. I had to continue this until six weeks after Niamh was born. It wasn’t something I’ve done before, and not being that fond of needles, I certainly didn’t enjoy it, but I tried to shut my brain off and “aim and stab”.

When the pregnancy got to, and past 30 weeks, I was almost just waiting for something to happen. I was having fortnightly blood and urine tests to monitor my kidney function. The levels were worsening, but so far manageable. I noticed on the weekend when I was 33 weeks pregnant, that my face/neck looked a bit swollen and puffy. It became more noticeable the following day. So I contacted my midwife and she got me in for a blood pressure check. My blood pressure was fine, but she wanted me to have a blood test done along with my fortnightly kidney function tests which were due that day. My midwife phoned that evening and said my kidney function results had deteriorated in the past two weeks, so I needed to go to Women’s Assessment Unit to be admitted for observation.
I was admitted to hospital on the Monday night. On the Tuesday my Obstetrician came to see me and said she wasn’t happy with the test results, and that she would rather deliver my baby now to preserve the kidney function I had. The Renal specialist wasn’t quite so concerned, but after much consultation between the two specialists, it was decided that my baby would be delivered by elective Caesarean section first thing Wednesday morning.


Fortunately this time I was awake for the delivery (my older daughter was born by emergency c-section with me under general anaesthetic), so it was quite a surreal experience having open abdominal surgery while still awake. It was all very leisurely and relaxed, even though I felt on edge. I got to see my baby briefly as she was taken across to the resuscitation table, then again as she was taken out to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I got to see her properly for the first time two hours later, when I’d been given the all clear from recovery. I was wheeled on my bed down to NICU and Niamh was taken out of her incubator to have a skin-to-skin cuddle with me. She was on Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) to help her breathe. Even though I had been given steroid injections a week before to help mature her lungs for a potential premature arrival, because it wasn’t her that initiated labour, her lungs hadn’t had time to start adapting to life outside.

As I had been through the premature baby experience before, I knew I needed to start hand expressing colostrum for Niamh to be fed through her feeding tube. My midwife helped with the hand expressing on day one, I think the first syringe was only 0.1 ml of colostrum. Most of the rest of that day was a blur as I was dosed on pain medication. By day two, my hand expressing was getting a bit more volume. On day three I started using the electric pump.

Niamh was being given small amounts of my milk as it was available. She was also on a glucose drip to keep her blood sugar up. As she tolerated the milk, her volumes were increased, and the glucose reduced until she was only on breastmilk by nasal gastric tube.
She was able to come off CPAP on day five, and was put onto high flow oxygen to give a little bit of assistance. Day six was a milestone day, I was discharged from hospital, (which is one of the hardest things I’ve now had to experience twice, with each of my children, leaving my baby in the hospital), Niamh went off any breathing support and was maintaining her body temperature, so could come out of the incubator and into a cot (and into clothes!).

With my first daughter, pumping every three hours in the day and once overnight didn’t result in enough volume, so this time I was pumping every three hours in the day and twice overnight, setting an alarm to wake me to pump. The amount I was expressing wasn’t great, but was slowly increasing every day. While Niamh was in NICU I was only just keeping up with her scheduled feed demands, which put stress onto the expressing, and needing to get enough to feed her. I was also getting incredibly painful nipples from expressing; the breast pump fittings didn’t seem to fit me properly. A Lactation Consultant let me have a different type of fitting, and we bought another one the same so I could double pump, which helped immensely. I also hired a hospital grade double pump for using at home, to try and maximize the output and speed up the pumping sessions.
I knew from my time expressing with my older daughter, that I got a larger volume of milk after I’d had skin-to-skin cuddles with her. After reading up on the topic during my second pregnancy, and having a midwife who was very pro active in getting her clients to do skin-to-skin, I made sure that every day I spent at least an hour with Niamh skin-toskin. I only had to justify it once to a NICU Nurse, who suggested that Niamh would be “better off back in her cot”. I explained to her that I needed to have skin-to-skin cuddles with my baby, as it helped build my supply.

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When she was a week old, I tried our first breastfeed (she was 34 weeks gestation corrected age). She didn’t latch at all, and fell asleep at my breast, which wasn’t a surprise but I continued to try each day during our time spent skin-to-skin. One of the nurses gave me a nipple shield to try; they said that she was probably struggling to latch on because her mouth was so small. This made no sense to me, as my older daughter, who was more premature, had launched herself at my nipple when she was 32 weeks gestation corrected age, and started sucking. So I knew if a smaller baby could do it, then it was definitely possible. But I tried it, and it did seem to allow Niamh to have a deeper latch so we started using the nipple shield for every breastfeed attempt. I did notice that she had a dip in the end of her tongue, that made it kind of heart shaped, and remembered that being mentioned in a book one of my group leaders had lent me, called Making More Milk*, in relation to tongue ties, but I thought nothing more of it. I guess I assumed the NICU nurses would identify if there were any reasons why feeding wasn’t happening as it could be.

To be discharged from NICU, Niamh needed to be fully suckle feeding (breast or bottle), and gaining weight. So that became my goal. At just over two weeks old, I asked the charge nurse if I could try demand feeding Niamh when I was at the hospital, at my breast only without giving any expressed milk through her nasal gastric tube (NGT), and then see how long she went before waking for her next feed. We’d give her a top-up after the last feed I was able to be there for, to try and ensure she would last the three hours till her next scheduled feed (which the nurse would do).

She agreed that we could try this for two days, and if she had gained weight in that time, then we could room in. So I would feed her at the breast when she woke, which would be around every three hours, then pump, and then be back beside her for when she next woke. I was able to be there for four of her scheduled feeds on both of those two days, and she had gained weight during that time, so on the Saturday we were allowed to room in. Rooming in is where you stay in the hospital (they have dedicated rooms for mothers of NICU babies) and have your baby with you 24/7, and you do all the feeds and cares. If the baby gains weight during that time, you are discharged.

Our first day of rooming in, Niamh kept pretty much to three hourly feeding, at the breast with no top-ups. She was weighed the next morning, and had only gained 9 grams. My midwife said they like them to be gaining a minimum of 20 grams a day before they allow discharge. The second night we roomed in was pretty hectic. Niamh wanted to feed constantly, would scream if not feeding, screamed when trying to feed, and we both hardly slept. In desperation, I went to the nursery and got one of the NICU nurses to make up a 20 ml bottle of my expressed milk for her. I wanted to solely breastfeed, so was very upset at having to resort to a bottle at this point.

The weigh in after the second night was exactly what we needed; she had gained 22 grams so we were allowed to take her home. She was two weeks and five days old (36 weeks gestation corrected age) weighing 2,041 grams.

That should have been the end of the challenges, if my older daughter was anything to go by. I was expecting to come home, and just have her needing to feed and grow. But it wasn’t to be that straight forward.

My midwife came to see us on our first day home, she weighed Niamh, and while it was a “gain” in numbers, when she factored in Niamh’s vest and nappy and different scales to the NICU ones, the “gain” was actually very minimal. She then checked in Niamh’s mouth and said that she was fairly certain there was a tongue tie and that we should consider whether or not to have it snipped. I took her to the hospital the following week, where the Lactation Consultant confirmed a type 3 tongue tie, and she snipped it.
My midwife came to see us at home over the next few days. Niamh continued to gain, but incredibly slowly, with barely 10 grams a day, which my midwife was concerned about. So she suggested that we start supplementing with my expressed milk, and that I pump after as many feeds as possible to build up supply. The hope was that once her tongue tie was snipped, feeding would improve, and supply would improve.

So I started pumping after every feed, I was already taking several different herbal supplements, taking the medication Domperidone, and doing breast compression while pumping. We re-hired the double pump for a month, and I would double pump, then single pump each side while doing compressions, after every breastfeed. Yet the amount I was expressing didn’t seem to be increasing.

Since I wasn’t producing enough extra milk to meet the amount suggested by my midwife, I had to make a decision on what to do; Niamh wasn’t gaining weight well, though she wasn’t quite deemed “failing to thrive”. Our options were to use either donor breastmilk or formula to make up the shortfall for top-ups, until my supply increased and Niamh got stronger at feeding. I wanted to avoid using formula this time, as I had used it for one bottle a day with my older daughter, and wanted to trust that my body would do it this time. I discussed milk donation with my husband, and we decided we’d try. Through some contacts we found two mothers who were happy to donate milk to Niamh. I didn’t need much as the potential shortfall was only around 20-50 ml a day but it was a massive relief to have the donor milk available. I could now focus on trying to build my supply, knowing I had a back-up option ready and waiting if needed. In the end, I only needed to use 100ml of it; with a frequent pumping schedule I managed to just keep my expressing (and Niamh’s weight gain) on track.


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During all of this, I was still pumping after every feed. We decided to do the night feeds solely by bottle to try and maximize sleep. My husband would feed Niamh, and I would pump. We had to set an alarm to wake us up so we could feed her, as she wasn’t waking on her own, and with minimal weight gain, she couldn’t afford to go too long without feeding. I was getting increasingly concerned about my supply, as I was struggling to get 50 ml in total during these night time pumping sessions. When I was doing the same for my older daughter, I was getting 100 ml. I continued on with the galactogogues, Domperidone, and herbs, which had helped before, but nothing seemed to be working this time. It was then that my group Leader asked me what medication I was on, so I said only the blood pressure medication, Enalapril. That was our Eureka moment. My group Leader had consulted with Alison Barrett (IBCLC, Obstetrician), who found information which stated that when post-partum women were put on Enalapril (an ACE inhibitor) in the first 12 weeks, their breastmilk production could be impacted, with prolactin levels being reduced by 20%. The studies she looked at suggested this would happen at a dose of 20 mg/day, which is what I was on. So I then swapped my medication back to the pregnancy safe Labetalol, and the change was incredible. The day after I stopped taking Enalapril, I got 80 ml during my night time pumping sessions, then the next night I got 100 ml, then 120 ml. The blood pressure medication was the cause of my shocking supply. It also explained why I could pump the most volume in the late afternoon, but very little overnight, as I was taking the pill at night before bed, and by the afternoon it had worn off.

That wasn’t the only challenge we faced. Two weeks after Niamh came home, she started showing signs of Gastroesophageal reflux. My older daughter had had reflux, and was on medication for it until she outgrew the need so I recognised the symptoms immediately. We were checked at the hospital to make sure there were no physical issues at play, and were given the all clear.  So in addition to pumping after every feed, I now had a baby with reflux who would scream in pain after every feed, didn’t like to lie down flat, and had to be held upright after every feed for 20-30 minutes to try to keep the milk down.

I knew that in many instances reflux could be a result of physical issues, so I had my Osteopath treat her. She helped with realigning her body, though it didn’t appear to help the reflux. The Osteopath did however improve her breastfeeding. Even after her tongue tie was snipped Niamh still couldn’t poke her tongue out. But once the Osteopath treated her tongue, she instantly poked it right out, and could latch without a shield.

I then wondered if the reflux may be caused by food sensitivities as I had discovered while pregnant that I had sensitivities to certain foods. After keeping a food diary for a week, and noting what foods I’d eaten, and any symptoms I experienced, then what symptoms Niamh had, I was fairly sure that wheat and dairy were issues. When she was two months old I took her to my Naturopath, who tested her, and identified all the foods she is sensitive to, which along with my suspicions of wheat and dairy, were; gluten, soy, beef, pork, peanuts, cashew nuts and yeast. So I then cut them out of my diet, and within a few days, she was no longer screaming in pain after every feed, and we stopped medicating her for reflux.

Her growth has continued to be in the realms of “slow and steady”, with a predictable 20 grams a day. She is happy and healthy in all other respects, and developing in line with her corrected age.

I later discovered that she had an upper-lip tie, and that some of her tongue-tie had either come forward or reattached, as she regained the dip in her tongue. Breastfeeding was becoming uncomfortable as she was not able to latch properly and couldn’t flare her lip out. We subsequently had it revised by laser and her latching and feeding is greatly improved.

It has been an interesting and stressful learning curve, and while some of the aspects of our journey together are similar to the experience I had with her older sister, there are many more that are different. My husband was a wonderful support, and he took over a lot of things like doing the pre-school run with our older daughter on the two days she went, and keeping the house running.

With the difficulties that we’ve experienced, if Niamh had been my first child, I do wonder if I’d have been able to overcome them or find the support to work through them. I only discovered my local La Leche League group when my older daughter was 13 months old. Through the information I’ve gained (from the group meetings and group library books) and the support of the Leaders and other group members, I am pleased to have overcome our difficult start, and gone on to have another rewarding, loving breastfeeding relationship with my child.

* The Breastfeeding Mother’s Guide to Making More Milk, by Diana West, may be in your local LLL group’s library, and is also available through on Chapters Indigo.


by Alison Stacey
Used with permission from LLL New Zealand


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend

Leave a comment »

La Leche League: Who We Are… and What We Do

You know that La Leche League Canada provides breastfeeding support because that is what got you reading this page but do you know what happens when a mother contacts LLLC?

Anyone can access the support of a La Leche League Canada Leader by phoning the central LLLC phone lines or the National Referral number at 1-800-665-4324. You can also find a local group by checking the provincial listings here. In many parts of the country, Leaders also post information in public locations or at healthcare facilities.


When a Leader receives a call, she will:

  • Listen empathetically
  • Help the individual determine what their priority is
  • Provide information about what to expect from a breastfeeding baby (e.g. diaper counts, weight gain)
  • Offer ideas for improving breastfeeding management
  • Consult with the her resource Leaders if the question or concern is more complex, or of a medical or legal nature
  • Read medical information to the mother verbatim; a Leader does not interpret the information, nor does a Leader offer alternative therapies or treatment options – she is not qualified to diagnose or prescribe
  • Recommend that a person contact an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or other health professional for an assessment, when appropriate
  • Encourage the individual to maintain open lines of communication with their healthcare professionals who are following them and the baby


Leaders also answer questions via email, using a similar process to that which they would use when talking on the phone.

In many part of the country, La Leche League Canada holds in-person meetings.  Parents can find information about times and locations of local meetings, drop-ins or gatherings from either or by contacting local Leaders.




  • Are held at least monthly (some LLLC Groups hold them more often)
  • Are informal, facilitated discussions, which take into account the questions and experiences of those in attendance
  • Are respectful of a parent’s choices wherever they are on the continuum from exclusive breastfeeding to weaning
  • Usually follow a set of four topics: “The Importance of Breastfeeding”; “The Family and the Breastfed Baby”; “Preventing and Overcoming Difficulties”; “Nutrition and Starting Solids” but always make sure to deal with the current questions and concerns brought by the parents attending the meeting.
  • Are open to all women who are interested in breastfeeding information and support; women are encouraged to attend during pregnancy and babies are always welcome at meetings.
  • Some Groups are open to couples and welcome partners to regular meetings. Other Groups hold separate couples meeting nights. Transgender, pregnant, breastfeeding parents, and parents in same-sex relationships are welcome. Contact your local Group Leader.
  • Provide access to the Group’s lending library from which attendees can borrow books on a wide variety of breastfeeding and parenting topics


If you would like more information about what happens at a meeting, you can view the Mothering through Breastfeeding video prepared by the LLLC-Halifax Chapter here.



Or you can watch the National Awareness Campaign videos featuring actress Sitara Hewitt:

  • 1 minute Public Service Announcement here.
  • 11 minute movie here


We look forward to seeing you at an LLL meeting whether you want to ask a question, gather some information or share your own breastfeeding experiences.



If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend



Leave a comment »

A Look Back: A Whole New Way of Life

La Leche League International celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and will continue the celebration into 2017 with the theme “Celebrate 60: Building a Legacy.” Find out more about the anniversary celebration at This article was published in January/February 1981 La Leche League News, the year that La Leche League International celebrated its 25th anniversary.


What was it like breastfeeding a baby twenty-five years ago?  Well, much more difficult than it is today in some ways and pretty much the same in others.  You see, I was expecting my fifth child in 1956 so watching our daughters today raise our five grandchildren has given me a great basis for comparison.  Back then, the average pregnant mother had probably never seen a woman breastfeed a baby much less met someone who had nursed for more than a few months.  It was not until our fourth baby had been born that we actually experienced baby-led weaning, at thirteen months, thanks to the help of Dr. Gregory White and his wife, Mary.  But our grandchildren have all nursed for at least two years, except for Mark who is only one year old (and still nursing!).  Of course, one of the drawbacks to breastfeeding in those days was that nursing in public was unheard of. You didn’t even nurse in front of your relatives!  It was Mary who showed me how it could be done when she sat next to me while we did a panel on parenting at a church function and to my great amazement discreetly nursed her new baby.  Today, though, we have no less an authority than the 1980 edition of The Book of Modern Manners to reassure us that nursing in public is not only acceptable, but that “those who disapprove should do so silently.

Babies were not often taken out in public in those days.  Many times our baby was the only one present at a so-called “family type” affair.  The few baby carriers available were sling type affairs made to help support an older baby on mother’s hip.  I’ll never forget when Mary and I ordered our first Gerry Carriers designed for babies of mountain-climbing parents.  We never did use them to climb mountains since Franklin Park is pretty flat, but they sure made it easier to take baby along.  We raised a lot of eyebrows then, but baby carriers have become so much a part of our culture now that they hardly merit a second glance.

Allowing a baby in bed with you in those days was considered something just short of immoral.  So powerful were the warnings and threats of what could happen that it was only a few months ago that my mother revealed that I (lucky baby) had spent most of my first year sharing my parents’ bed.  Maybe she was waiting to see how I would turn out! Our sweet grandchildren, on the other hand, have all spent time in their parents’ beds.  As a progression of the family bed idea, one of our daughters has a bedroom which is a sea of beds, one smack up against the other.

In 1956, many pregnant women never even considered the possibility of breastfeeding. There was only one book on breastfeeding available – Frank Howard Richardson’s The Nursing Mother.  Today in many countries the number of women breastfeeding has doubled and tripled.  There’s a lot of written information available.  In some hospitals women are allowed to nurse right after delivery, and to room-in with their babies, thereby continuing to feed on demand.  This is a big improvement from drugged mothers and babies, delayed first nursings, four-hour schedules, and a separate nursery for the baby.


Six of the Founding Mothers of LLLI, 1956


Still, some things remain the same.  Many mothers are still not given the help they need from the health professionals they expect to provide it.  They worry if their babies are fussy and wonder if it’s caused in some way by their milk.  They are not sure what to do about sore nipples or how to prevent them.  Weaning still is the solution offered for a variety of problems.  These problems used to be nervousness or milk that was too thin or too rich; today it’s jaundice and slow weight gain.

Of course, we’ve got a whole new generation of mothers who have nursed their babies, and they continue to be any nursing mother’s best means of support.  Even our children who don’t even have children of their own, still have absorbed so much about breastfeeding that their friends use them as sources of support when problems arise.

La Leche League, I believe, was an idea whose time had come.  It grew out of a need that was waiting to be filled.  There is no other explanation in my mind for the way the efforts of seven women reaching out to help their friends in a small town in Illinois took off and encircled the world.  Early antagonism of some health professionals soon gave way to grudging respect followed by enthusiastic endorsement.  Our recommendations on early nursing, late solids, and baby-led weaning have stood the test of time.  Or as others have said, “Science has finally proved what mothers have known all along…”

While we can all attest to the changes League has made in our lives, I have always felt LLL did not introduce a new way of mothering but instead gave mothers permission to do that which in their hearts they knew was the best way all along. Tuning into their babies instead of a schedule, letting their own baby rather than an expert set the pace, they experienced a motherhood that fulfilled all their expectations though it may have led them into a very different lifestyle from that of their friends.  So League meetings became important, not only as a source of information but also as a reinforcement for that way of life.  It is a lifestyle characterized by a sensitivity for the individual and a respect for his uniqueness and needs.  You have only to attend a League gathering of these families to sense the difference and to rejoice in it.  The League has become a gathering place for many of the truly caring people of the world.  They are the people who recognize that one of the most important things we can do for that world is to respond in a sensitive and loving way to the people whose lives touch our own.  As nursing mothers, we’ve learned that needs can’t be put off to some convenient time, and it’s how we tend to those needs today that is already determining the shape of tomorrow!


marian_leonard_tompson  By Marian Tompson, co-Founder of La Leche League International
Used with permission from NEW BEGINNINGS

NEW BEGINNINGS Editor’s Note: The first issue of La Leche League News, the bimonthly publication for members, was published in 1958. The name changed to New Beginnings in 1985. New Beginnings continued to be published until 2014 when it switched to its current blog format.


The LLLI 60th Anniversary celebration begins October 1st with a live 24 hour online global La Leche League meeting! This meeting will rotate through different languages and Leaders providing breastfeeding support for 24 hours. Join us and share with others around the world at a time that suits YOU the best. For the meeting schedule or to join visit Facebook LLLI 24 Hour Global Online Meeting. Celebrate LLLI’s 60th Anniversary!





If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend





Leave a comment »


I have often heard the definition of weaning as ‘to be satisfied’ and in my experience I think this is true. With my first baby, Matthew, I was an exhausted new mother trying desperately to do everything right. He had latching trouble that even experts struggled to identify, and because of my split bleeding nipples, he spent a week drinking expressed milk.

Twelve years on I still bear the scars. When Matthew had just turned one, we went out of town to visit family. On one occasion his cousin who had just turned five was present, and as the evening wore on, his mother took him on her lap, breastfed him, and he fell asleep. Until then, my point of reference for nursing duration was two years, as this is what had been the norm when my mother breastfed my brother. I was not shocked, but I was surprised. And several things went through my head – one being that I wouldn’t do that, quickly followed by a reminder that I probably shouldn’t rule anything out.

Matthew and I enjoyed a happy breastfeeding relationship for over four years. I became pregnant with baby number two when Matthew was thirteen months old, so embarked on a journey into nursing when pregnant and then tandem nursing. Aidan was an enthusiastic feeder, and we experienced none of the troubles I had the first time. Tandem feeding worked well for us, as it meant that while the newborn fed, I also knew exactly where the toddler was.


When the boys were four and two years old respectively, I found I was pregnant with their sister. This time around, breastfeeding while pregnant was a bit too much. It was painful, and I decided that the boys should wean. I discovered that weaning a four year old and weaning a two year old are quite different experiences. When Matthew was four and a half, we exploited the idea of this ‘half birthday’ to bring our breastfeeding relationship to an end. We made it an event. He had a special dinner to celebrate that he was moving onto the next step. This situation showed us that although the child didn’t make the choice about weaning, he was old enough to participate and cooperate in someone else’s decision about him. Breastfeeding is a relationship, and the fundamental shift in it meant something had to change, a compromise had to be reached, and an effort made for everyone to be protected.

And we succeeded.

A few months later I found breastfeeding Aidan (then aged two and a half) was too painful, and I felt that he, too, would be old enough to handle weaning. I was wrong. He became upset, toilet training regressed, and he was not a happy boy. All I could do was make the best decision I could at the time, and my levels of physical discomfort with continuing to feed him overrode his distress. I had to find ways of ‘other mothering’ – and fathering; this was a point where his father came into his own with comforting. Looking back now, I do regret weaning him at that stage. During this time we moved house, and he would have had a vague knowledge that big changes were afoot with my growing belly. But I can only acknowledge that at the time I thought it was best for all of us, and use the experience to learn from.

In October 2006 we welcomed our first baby girl, Fiona. Breastfeeding went smoothly and she enjoyed it for many years. In 2008 we found we were expecting another baby in February 2009, and so embarked yet again on a tandem feeding journey. Breastfeeding while pregnant was fine, and tandem nursing turned out to be a real bonus.

Joel had lots of problems latching, and would simply drink milk from my initial letdown, and then fall asleep. He would take in adequate quantities of milk to keep hydrated, but not enough to put on weight. Days and weeks of stress blurred together as we tried all sorts of techniques to get volumes of milk into him, and to get him feeding at the breast again.

The real bonus in all this was that Fiona (two) was still an enthusiastic feeder, and she aided in keeping my supply up. Even through the fraught early days with Joel, it was comforting to be able to nurse her to sleep in the middle of the day.
By six weeks old, Joel was back on the breast, his weight gain had picked up and everything was going smoothly. Our tandem feeding relationship carried on for several years without event.

In 2010 we were approached by the makers of the TV series 20/20 to participate in a piece about ‘extended’ breastfeeding. Knowing that features about extended breastfeeding often lurch into sensationalism, it was a risky move. But the producer and presenter were reassuring, pleasant, polite and non-judgemental. We spent several days having our family filmed and I did an interview to camera. At the time Fiona was three-and-a-half and I talked about her weaning in about a year. Of course this again came back to my own cultural references. I had pushed past my original social norm of two years old, and created my own.

Time passed and breastfeeding changed with age and stage. As our children grew we changed our approach. At around two years old I stopped breastfeeding them to sleep and co-sleeping, and we initiated ‘Daddy Intervention.’ This was an approach to get them to fall asleep in their beds, and Daddy would be the one to return them there if they woke in the night. They were still welcome to breastfeed during the day, and there is still nothing like a breastfeed to calm a busy toddler and get them to sleep.

In 2012 Fiona turned five and started school – and was still breastfeeding first thing in the morning. This carried on for another year. She and Joel were still both breastfeeding, coming in for morning cuddles and ‘milkies’ every day.

In January 2013, we moved house, and found that the dynamics of the household changed with the layout of the house. Our formerly cramped existence had meant more closeness, and our new spacious house lent itself to children heading downstairs and away from their parents’ room. Eventually, the littler ones followed suit, and not long after turning six, sometime into the new year, Fiona stopped coming in for her morning milkies, instead choosing to join her big brothers downstairs watching TV.

After having experience with a child who had truly weaned by her own choice, I came to understand the meaning behind weaning and why it meant satisfaction. We had both let ourselves run through the natural course of breastfeeding, and at the end, that course came to a natural close with no feelings of loss or resentment.

Not long after, at the age of four, Joel also began to follow his big brothers downstairs, and he didn’t come calling for his morning milk either. Initially I was surprised at this. My reference for normal nursing duration had been pushed out so far that it was almost a little jarring to have a child wean ‘so soon’ – at four years old!

Weaning Joel was a time of reflection. I felt I had fulfilled this part of my parenting journey well. I did have some regrets, but overall had done the right thing. And that wasn’t dictated by books or other people – it was by watching my child in the context of his family group and his needs. Breastfeeding started out as a momentous event. Something that took over our lives and our time and our minds, but eleven years later as that time came to an end, it was just a quiet slipping away. A need now sated and an emotional belly now full.

It was satisfaction.


by Donna Henderson
Used with permission from LLL New Zealand


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend





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Breastfeeding and Cigarette Smoking

La Leche League Leaders are often asked whether smoking cigarettes impact a mother’s ability to breastfeed. It is not the role of La Leche League to judge a parent’s decision to smoke. We are here to provide fact based information which allows parents to make their own decisions. So what does some of the research say?

What people believe about smoking and breastfeeding: a study that looked at the factors which contribute to intention to breastfeed and breastfeeding outcomes examined how smoking status affected the decision making. The conclusion of the researchers was “Women perceived that a strong risk of harming the baby was posed by smoking while breastfeeding and received little encouragement to continue breastfeeding despite an inability to stop smoking. The perceptions of the toxic, addictive, and harmful effects of smoking on breastmilk constitution and quantity factored into reasons why women weaned their infants from breastfeeding much earlier than the recommended 6 months.”

Breastfeeding duration: a 2006 study followed mothers who had smoked during pregnancy and mapped how long they continued to breastfed. The results showed a lower rate of initiating breastfeeding and a shorter duration (average of 11 weeks vs 28 weeks) when compared with the non-smoking mother control group. The statistical difference persisted even after adjusting for mother’s age, education, income, father’s smoking status, mother’s country of birth, mother’s intention to breastfeed for more than 6 months and baby’s birth weight.



Does breastfeeding change smoking behavior? A 2012 study done in Italy showed that women who had stopped smoking during pregnancy were less likely to resume smoking after giving birth if they were breastfeeding. Women who had continued to smoke during pregnancy and breastfeeding smoked less at the interview check points than the mothers who were not breastfeeding. A similar study concluded that early prenatal care and breastfeeding is associated with postpartum smoking abstinence.

Infant sleep: a 2007 study looked at sleep duration in a group of infants on two separate occasions: after their mothers had smoked and when their mothers had refrained from smoking. They found the babies spent less time over all and the longest sleep session was shorter.

Lower respiratory tract infections: Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) considered in this study were pneumonia, bronchitis and bronchiolitis. This study looked back at a large group of children born over a two year period in Oslo Norway and tracked health information from physicians. Their data showed that the babies of non-smoking breastfeeding mothers who breastfed for more than six months had the lowest risk of having a LRTI in the first year of life. Babies of mothers who smoked and breastfed for more than six months had an increased risk of an LRTI in the first six months of life. The risk decreased in the second six months although not to a level as low as that of the non-smoking group. Short term breastfeeding (less than six months) and smoking had an increased risk of LRTIs compared with short term breastfeeding without smoking. The results suggest that breastfeeding has a protective effect for babies who are going to be exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. A 2008 study on a similar topic looked at breastfeeding, maternal smoking, recurrent LRTIs and asthma in children.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support. Your donation is essential and very much appreciated to help LLLC cover the cost of producing breastfeeding resources: or become a LLLC Friend



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Breastfeeding Beyond Toddlerhood: Why Support Matters

From my experience supporting breastfeeding mothers, many do not set out to breastfeed beyond toddlerhood. While these mothers know they are doing what they feel is right for their families, each of them struggled at points with personal expectations, outside pressure to wean, and doubt about whether to set limits with their child.
But each one also has reached out for support when it was needed. Breastfeeding support is critical, no matter where a mother is on her parenting journey—even, or perhaps especially, when breastfeeding beyond toddlerhood.
My first baby was an early preemie and never did latch on, so I exclusively pumped for about six months until I, regrettably, became overwhelmed and stopped pumping. I was shocked at the cost of artificial infant milk and dismayed when she developed an allergy to cow’s milk.
Seven months later, I had my second baby. I was determined to breastfeed and I did. But I struggled with low supply until I finally lost my milk supply when she was nine months old. I was shocked again, this time by how much I missed breastfeeding.

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Four years later when I had my third child, I was determined to breastfeed for a full year and to avoid struggling with low milk supply. Early on, I had problems with poor latch, sore nipples, mastitis, thrush, and an abscess. After a few months, I felt I had the easier breastfeeding relationship I had been looking for since my oldest was born.
I set a goal of one year. When his first birthday arrived, he was still breastfeeding at least six times a day and a couple times at night. So I decided to set 18 months as a new goal as he was clearly not ready to wean. At 18 months, I set a new goal of two years. And at two years, I made a firm decision in favor of child-led weaning.
But a few months later, I was surprised by my feeling of being touched-out and tied-down. I felt ready to wean, but at the same time, I was very sad at the thought. It was quite evident that my son was not ready to wean. I never thought that I would be struggling with these feelings.
And then I reviewed the book To Three and Beyond: Stories of Breastfed Children and the Mothers Who Love Them by Janell Robisch.
A former La Leche League Leader, Robisch put together breastfeeding stories from mothers who have engaged in child-led weaning and breastfeeding beyond three years. Robisch breastfed her three children until the ages of five, four and one-half, and three and one-half years.
The support I received from these stories helped me work through my conflicting emotions about breastfeeding. I continued to breastfeed my son for another year and some months: he weaned completely on his own terms. I was happy with how it all went. Not a tear was shed by either one of us!

I find support, especially local and in-person from other mothers who’ve “been there, done that” to be empowering for every breastfeeding mother. So does Robisch, who had this to say about supporting mothers who are breastfeeding beyond the age of three:
Remember why you have made the choice to continue breastfeeding.
You are not alone, not by far. I feel comfortable saying that, at this moment, there are thousands—if not more—mothers nursing beyond infancy and even toddlerhood.
One of the most important things to do is to find support. It means the world, even if it is only online or from one friend or family member in your life.
While no two mothers’ experiences are the same, one of the main threads running through their stories is of individual mothers carefully considering their children and their families and making decisions about breastfeeding and parenting based on the family’s needs as a whole and the children’s needs in particular. There is compassion and respect here for children’s needs, even when they contrast with what society presents as the ‘right’ way to do things, and there is balance as well.
I just want to give a shout out to all the brave mamas out there who fly in the face of tradition, not to rebel but to parent in the best way they know how, those who are brave enough to question parenting practices that ignore the needs and developmental stages of children and do what feels right for their children and families.

by Rita Brhel, Hastings
Used with permission from New Beginnings

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!





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Becoming a Mother

Along with the birth of a baby comes the birth of a mother – you will learn together.
How many of us, before becoming mothers ourselves, have looked upon a screaming child at the grocery store and sworn, with misguided certainty, that it would never happen to us. The same judgment was there in many situations I observed before motherhood: overhearing another parent use an overly harsh tone for a child’s behavior, too much television, idle parental threats….the list goes on and on. Before I was born into my motherhood role, I had all of the answers. Since then, I have been on a road fraught with humility and pitfalls. Luckily, the road has also been rich with many, many gifts that make it all worthwhile.
When my first baby was born, I was well read. I didn’t focus only on the birth and forget about the postpartum period. I was a postpartum nurse in the newborn nursery; I taught mothers about baby care and breastfeeding. I was certain I had the whole mothering thing in the bag. When my beautiful baby girl arrived three weeks early, I wasn’t worried; I couldn’t wait to put my skills to the test.

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Then, we brought her home. We settled in for a few hours, and the downfall of my misplaced confidence began. She cried and cried and cried. As midnight loomed, I called the pediatrician because surely my lovely baby was sick; there must be something wrong with her because I didn’t know how to solve the problem. The pediatrician patiently asked questions to determine if there was something physically wrong, and we checked her temperature and examined her. The pediatrician had just examined our baby a few hours prior at our hospital discharge, so the next step was my first lesson in becoming humbled as a mother: the pediatrician gently explained that sometimes babies cry. She explained that sometimes babies even cry all night. Rationally, I knew this of other people’s babies, but somehow I was naively sure I would be able to circumvent all discomfort for my daughter if I just loved her enough and read the right books.
My world crashed down a little in that moment on the phone with the pediatrician. I began to grasp the magnitude of my role as a mother. The physical birth of the baby was powerful and painful, and now I was beginning to understand that growing into my potential as a mother was going to be painful too. I had to let go of all of my misguided and overconfident preconceived ideas and begin fresh. I had a lot to learn. My daughter and I cried together quite a bit that night and through the difficult colicky weeks that followed.
Slowly, I learned that by watching my baby, and having a “back pocket” full of comfort measures to try, I could solve the problems. I learned that the solution was often found in offering the breast. With my baby in my arms and at my breast, I was empowered. I admired and gazed at her tiny, perfect self. I watched her sucking patterns; I learned many subtle behavior cues. I learned about being the mother to this wonderful, already decisive baby girl as she learned about the world. Slowly, and with a lot of support from family, friends, and La Leche League, I became the authority as her mother. Nobody could take care of that baby as well as I could. Nobody. My mothering confidence was born again.
With each new phase, new trials and triumphs are born: toddlerhood, adding a sibling, adding another sibling, the elementary school years, which flowed right into the tweens and teens. There have been some stages where I have had a lot (a really, really lot) to learn, while I have rolled right through others. There is still more to come—more lessons for all of us. We are learning together.



Used with permission from LLL USA New Beginnings

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally

If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!


LLLC Spring Appeal Campaign for the support of breastfed babies: Help LLLC Grow – If you, or someone you know, has benefitted from the support of LLLC, a donation is one way you can “pay it forward”.
Donate Today
Over 385,000 babies are born in Canada each year and we want to ensure every mother has access to La Leche League Canada support whenever she needs it. We are working hard to grow and we need your support. Every donation helps us provide more support to more families!
Thanks to past donations, we have been working hard to grow our services:
Our volunteer Leaders are the cornerstone of LLLC and the support we provide. We have increased our Leaders by 10% in the past year and Leader Applicants by 40% over the past 2 years!
More than 13,000 mothers attend LLLC meetings and another 20,000 receive one-to-one phone support from Leaders.
We have doubled our community and health professional outreach in just one year!
5 new Information Sheets in various languages were made available free of charge to mothers and health professionals
A new Communication Skills program was developed to strengthen health professional and breastfeeding peer support skills and our Best for Babies pre-natal program continues to grow.
Our Leaders are a vital part of LLLC’s breastfeeding foundation. They freely devote their time to help other parents give their children the optimal start in life. You, the donor, make up the other part of the foundation on which the LLLC breastfeeding services rest. Your gifts mean that our Leaders can carry out the valuable help families need. Frankly, we would be unable to deliver services to families without you or our Leaders so please take a moment to consider how valuable your support is and make a donation, either online or by using our pledge form. If a one-time donation is not suitable for you, perhaps spreading your gift over a year would make sense. Our pledge form has the monthly donation option for your convenience.
We are proud of our growth – but we want to do so much more! We need your support to help us serve even more mothers. Please donate today so we can grow to serve the mothers and babies of tomorrow.
Thank you for taking the time to consider supporting La Leche League Canada and our continued efforts to support all breastfeeding families who need us.

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Waste Reduction Through Breastfeeding


As a breastfeeding parent, you are already reducing the amount of resources used by your family and limiting the waste produced by your household. So how does breastfeeding save resources and limit waste production?



  • Breastfeeding is a sustainable, locally produced, renewable resource that is free and creates no waste. Breastfeeding uses none of our planet’s scarce natural resources or raw materials.


  • Breastfeeding is climate compatible; it is a low carbon and clean green solution because breastmilk is neither industrially manufactured nor ultra-processed


  • Breastfeeding is a zero waste feeding method. Nothing is wasted or becomes unwanted at any stage. If 50% of infants born in Canada (total births about 400,000 per year) are breastfed for six months, then 15 million fewer tin cans will be discarded.


  • Breastfeeding also has zero water footprint. Water footprint is the volume of fresh water used for the goods and services produced by any activity or used by an individual or a community. All that a baby needs for the first six months of his or her life is breastmilk. Not a single drop of water is needed for feeding purposes.


  • A bottle-fed baby needs about 1 litre of boiled water per day to prepare feedings and 2 litres to sterilize the bottles and nipples. Breastfeeding mothers “drink to thirst”, which may be more than their usual fluid intake, but it is unlikely to be 3 liters per day more than their pre-breastfeeding intake.


  • Bottle feeding requires feeding products, many of which are made from plastics. Waste is created during manufacturing process and when the item is disposed of.


  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months and then continue breastfeeding often have delayed fertility, and experience delayed menstruation for an average of 14 months. This ensures that the mothers use fewer menstrual pads and tampons which end up in landfills or incinerators.

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More information on the environmental effects of breastfeeding vs formula feeding can be found in Formula for Disaster: weighing the impact of formula feeding vs breastfeeding on environment © BPNI/IBFAN Asia 2014.  Authors: Alison Linnecar, Arun Gupta, JP Dadhich and Nupur Bidla.


Celebrate EARTH DAY April 22nd !


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!

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Engorgement: Cabbage leaves and Other Treatments

Engorgement is the tender, full, larger feeling that many women get in their breasts between day 2 and day 6 after giving birth.  Some women describe it as feeling like they have Barbie Doll breasts.  The change in size and sensation is caused by increasing milk volume and increased blood and lymph flow to the breasts.  The increase blood and lymph flow supports milk production.

Women who have had intravenous fluids during labour are at an increased risk of having an extended period of engorgement while the body rids itself of the excess fluids.  If the baby is latching and nursing well the normal postpartum levels of extra fluid generally don’t cause any breastfeeding difficulties.  As the pregnancy and childbirth hormone levels decrease over
the next few weeks, mother’s breasts feel softer in-spite of the increased milk volume of established breastfeeding.

Several studies have shown that when babies feed more frequently in the early days mothers are less likely to experience engorgement.  An Australian study which compared mothers who were told to let their babies nurse as long as their wanted on one breast before offering the second breast found those mothers had less engorgement than the mothers who were told to be sure their babies took both breasts at a feeding.


Treatments for postpartum breast engorgement have not been well studied so mothers will get lots of opinions and advice.  The ideas we know work well are those that get the baby nursing effectively and emptying the breast:

-Breastfed as often as baby is willing (at least every 2-3 hours) and allow the baby to stay on the first breast until he comes off on his own.  The second breast can be offered if the baby is interested.  If baby isn’t interested in the second breast right away make sure to offer that side at the next feeding whether that is 10 minutes or two hours later.

– Get assistance sooner rather than later from La Leche League or another trained breastfeeding support person if baby is not latching well.

– Cold compresses between feedings can help reduce the swelling and the often feel good.  A soft gel Ice packs or a bag of small dice frozen vegetables works well to sooth an engorged breast.  Protect the skin with a layer of cloth between the ice pack and the skin.

– Pain medication may be helpful while waiting for the increased breastfeeding and cold compress to be effective if a mother is experiencing a lot of discomfort from engorgement. Discuss appropriate pain control medication with a health care provider.

– Express some milk if baby isn’t able to latch on well due to the swelling.  Some mothers worry that by expressing milk they will increase their milk production and create a bigger problem. Draining the breast helps to decrease the congestion of extra blood and lymph in the breast tissues.  Milk volume is unlikely to increase beyond baby’s needs with the amount of milk expression needed to regain comfort and make it easier for baby to latch on.

– Gentle breast massage before feeding or expressing may help to make the milk flow more easily.

-Cabbage leaves have long been recommended as a treatment for engorgement.  The small amount of research that has been done shows they don’t prevent engorgement.  Another study showed that they don’t appear to be any more effective than frozen gel packs but mothers preferred using cabbage leaves over the frozen gel packs.  If mothers want to try using cabbage leaves as a treatment for engorgement, choose green cabbage not the red/purple variety (it stains skin and clothing!).  Take a rinsed, room temperature or refrigerated, cabbage leaf and cut out the heavy vein out of the middle of the leaf.  The leaf or leaves are laid over the breast directly on the skin.  Putting on a bra or snug top over top of the leaves will keep them from falling off.  Remove the leaves when they are wilted and soft (usually within a few hours) or when the baby wants to feed again.  Fresh leaves can be applied after a feeding or when the first ones are wilted.

La Leche League Leaders can help you work through engorgement and other breastfeeding challenges.

More information about engorgement can be found by clicking here.

If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to an accredited La Leche League Leader. In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally


If you have found this article helpful, La Leche League Canada would appreciate your support in the form of a donation at so we can continue to help others breastfeed. Thank you!


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