My crash-and-burn summer continues with the news tonight, delivered in person by my brand-new La Leche League Area Coordinator of Leaders (ACL), that despite my intention to continue as an Illinois LLL leader after almost 29 years, she is removing me from her roster. Why did she take this action against my wishes? Here’s the reason she gave: I made it known that I recently became an accredited breastfeeding counselor with the new mother-to-mother support group Breastfeeding USA and I wanted to represent both organizations.
You’d think that the loss of nearly half of Illinois’ leaders in the last 2 years would give her pause about eliminating leaders who are willing to serve. I guess not. She referenced La Leche League International’s announcement last spring that any LLL leaders who were affiliated with both LLL and Breastfeeding USA would have to choose one, because representing both would put its leader liability insurance at risk. Yet oddly, the liability insurance through Breastfeeding USA does not carry this same prohibition. It assumes the covered individual knows which organization she is representing.
Is LLLI looking into finding alternative liability insurance? Word has it that earlier this week those at La Leche League International were given the opportunity to switch to another policy that does not require its leaders to make this choice and they opted not to do so. It appears those in charge would rather kick out those who step over this line.
My ACL had some choice words for me. She told me that I clearly thought I was more important than other people. (Because I want to help breastfeeding mothers in more than one capacity?) As she was leaving, she told me that although I am no longer an LLL leader in IL, I have the option of affiliating with another Area if any would have me, a possibility she seemed to think remote.
I told her that I consider this policy short-sighted and destructive of the greater good. Until now, La Leche League International has always cultivated cooperative relationships with other breastfeeding organizations. This is the first time it has created a policy that was openly antagonistic.
To me, this is a serious problem. The slogan of the Chicago Area Breastfeeding Coalition, which I helped to found, is “Strength in Numbers: Creating One Breastfeeding Community” and it exists to unite IBCLCs, LLL leaders, BFUSA breastfeeding counselors, peer counselors, doulas, physicians, midwives, everyone who comes in contact with breastfeeding mothers. When we speak with one voice, we promote our cause more effectively. When we undermine each other, we also undermine breastfeeding.
I told my ACL that if my example will help to right this wrong and shine a light on this destructive policy, then I am willing to be the sacrifice. We need to stand together and support one another, not tear each other down.
La Leche League International, hear my words, you cannot afford to alienate more dedicated women! And if you continue to implement and defend policies that undermine breastfeeding, you are not long for this world.