Jen Chendea began attending La Leche League sessions when she had her first baby. Her son is now eight, followed by his 4-year-old sister.
“Has it been that long already,” Chendea laughed.
The mother of two, now beyond breastfeeding, is still involved in La Leche League. She’s now a leader, helping other mothers.
“I get the satisfaction of helping people,” Chendea said. “It’s very rewarding.”
La Leche League International—“la leche” is Spanish for “the milk”—was formed in 1956 by seven mothers from Illinois. They had breastfed their own children and wanted to spread the gospel. The non-profit, with a global presence, educates and promotes breastfeeding.
The organization has groups throughout the world. Le Leche League Pensacola has recently experienced a growth spurt.
“I think it’s amazing how this group is growing,” said Chendea. “We’re booming, we’re growing, we’re exploding.”
The group hosts several meetings throughout the area. There is a Thursday session on the first Thursday of every month at Ever’man Natural Foods and another meeting on the third Saturday of every month at Holy Cross Episcopal Church on Ninth Avenue. The local chapter is also beginning a new meeting on the fourth Thursday at the Drowsy Poet in Pace.
“It is a safe, respectful place where all mothers, whether expecting their first baby or nursing their sixth child, can come and talk with other nursing moms who have been in their shoes,” said Elisabeth Soileau, a leader who became involved with La Leche League in 2009 when her oldest child was born.
The group offers new mothers a place to come for advice and support.
“We want moms to know they’re not alone and we are here to support each other in our nursing and mothering journey,” Soileau said.
Mothers commonly come to the group with questions about milk supply and pumping or going back to work. There are also a lot of questions about latching issues and when to introduce solid foods.
“In an average meeting, we begin by introducing ourselves and our little ones, open the floor to any pressing questions and, if we have time, we cover a topic such as the advantages of breastfeeding, bringing home baby, avoiding difficulties and nutrition and weaning with a fun game to get everyone involved,” said Soileau.
In addition to providing an educational resource for inquisitive mothers, La Leche League also has other benefits. Usually busy with her children, Chendea said acting as a leader in the organization gives her a chance for some adult-interaction, as well as serving as a kind of “professional development” exercise.
Soileau appreciates La Leche League’s social benefits.
“It was the best support group I ever joined,” she said. “I’ve met many of my friends from the meetings and it was so refreshing to be around other like-minded mothers.
La Leche League Pensacola
Ever’man Natural Foods
315 W. Garden St.
Every first Thursday, 9:30 a.m.
Holy Cross Episcopal Church
7979 N. Ninth Ave.
Every third Saturday, 10 a.m.
4620 Woodbine Road
Every fourth Thursday, 6 p.m.