La Leche aims to help mums

17:00, Apr 29 2014
La Leche League
SUPPORT GROUP: La Leche League Papakura members, from left: Papakura La Leche League leader Janet Wilson, left, group founder Lyn Polwart, national LLL director Alison Stanton and Counties Manukau support leader Sue Sutton.

Most modern mums know breast is best for feeding newborn babies.

But it wasn't always so. It took "real pioneers" to change the prevalent attitude, Papakura La Leche League leader Janet Wilson says.

The pro-breastfeeding league can take some of the credit for that.

It's an international movement founded on the theory that breast milk is the only thing a baby needs and it's been in New Zealand for 50 years this month.

Members of the local branch gathered to celebrate a double anniversary - it's also been 40 years since La Leche was founded in Papakura.

Over cups of tea and home baking, former group leaders and current members reminisced about the early days.


"The women involved when La Leche first came to New Zealand . . . were battling things like babies being taken away after birth and put in nurseries," Wilson says.

"And there was lots of misinformation about the goodness and quality of breast milk. It was often blamed for all sorts of things."

Six months of breastfeeding exclusively is now the norm advocated by the World Health Organisation but in the early days the concept was poorly understood.

"The main thing needed is information and support. Even now it can be difficult if your support people are not aware of the benefits of breastfeeding or were bottle feeders or bottle-fed themselves," Wilson says.

La Leche offers practical help and phone counselling for women who are struggling.

Numbers at the monthly meeting vary, Wilson says.

"We have five or six regulars but even if only one mum turns up and we can help that one then it's still worth it."

La Leche meets over a cup of tea on the first Tuesday of the month from 10am till noon at the Old Central School Hall on Wood St. It's free and mums, dads, partners and kids are all welcome.

Call Janet on 299 1537 or go to

Papakura Courier