The country’s leading breastfeeding support organisation is celebrating 50 years in New Zealand this month.
A birthday party is being held in the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert on ANZAC Day afternoon - 50 years to the day since La Leche League began offering breastfeeding support to Kiwi mums.
Since then the organisation has helped hundreds of thousands of mothers and babies to breastfeed by offering mother-to-mother support at its groups across the country.
In 1964 the vast majority of babies weren't breastfed and mothers found it almost impossible to source accurate information and support.
"Although the health professionals supported breastfeeding as the ideal, the advice given to me was unhelpful, almost damaging. It was not until I joined La Leche League I found the information I sorely needed - no pun intended!" remembers Yvonne Foreman (formerly Procuta) who started the first La Leche League group in the Waikato.
"La Leche League gave me the knowledge and mother-to-mother support to breastfeed confidently, enjoyably and without stress," she adds.
La Leche League New Zealand (LLLNZ) has played a vital part in sustaining breastfeeding knowledge within communities, and in raising public awareness of the value of breastfeeding.
Its trained volunteers have encouraged Government polices that promote, protect and support breastfeeding, including submissions on workplace policies that enable mothers to have adequate maternity leave and breastfeeding breaks.
"This work is only possible through the commitment of our dedicated trained volunteers. All women, all mothers, making a difference in the lives of families around New Zealand," says LLLNZ’s current Director Alison Stanton.
"Kathleen Peace started the first group in Mt Albert in 1964. Today we have over 40 groups around the country with many holding events to mark this golden jubilee," she adds.
La Leche League New Zealand makes 20,000 contacts with mothers each year, through both its network of mother-to-mother support groups and its telephone helpline. Over 6,000 more contacts are made by Leaders with health professionals and members of the public.
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