Jenny Shuster, IBCLC
Where I was 20 years ago? This is simple, I had just had my second child. When I attended my first La Leche League meeting 2 years earlier with my first baby my impression was “what am I getting myself into?” Little did I know that breastfeeding was not just a way of feeding, but a way of life for both me and my babies.
The very first World Breastfeeding Week had been in 1992 with the theme “Baby Friendly Hospitals” and was sponsored by the newly founded World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). La Leche League sponsored the first World Walk for Breastfeeding to raise money and awareness, and the small LLL group that I attended held their first walk as well. I wasn’t involved that year, but I was the next. And the next. And the next for 14 years in the small town where I was a LLL Leader and then an IBCLC working at our regional hospital. As the years went by the World Breastfeeding week and the LLLI World Walk became my focus each summer.
Twenty years of mothers feeding their babies. Twenty years of signs, posters, billboards, articles all designed to raise awareness of this intrinsic part of infancy. With the involvement of La Leche League and the World Walk for Breastfeeding there were marches, picnics, parties, tents, strollers, slings, wraps, toddlers, babies, dads and moms all celebrating a way of feeding, nurturing, mothering, and living with their babies. How many mothers, fathers and babies we touched, informed, supported, encouraged and educated during World Breastfeeding Week over those years I don’t know. Hundreds definitely, maybe thousands, as those parents talk to their friends and family about their choice to breastfeed. All I know is that for each one their lives were altered in some way by WABA and LLLI. That choice to focus one week each year putting the message out that breastfeeding is what babies need, was the beginning for many of us.