Volunteer Spotlight: Claremont La Leche League Leader Helps Women Meet Goals
Claremont — At age 32, Zadiah Eisenberg is a married woman with two small children to care for, so there is little doubt she has any trouble staying busy.
But in addition to tending to matters at home, Eisenberg is also the driving force behind the Claremont chapter of La Leche League, an international nonprofit organization that provides support and education to women who choose to breast-feed their children. Bringing to her efforts a bachelor’s degree in psychology and work experience in human services and education, Eisenberg is passionate about helping local mothers meet their breast-feeding goals.
Eisenberg recently discussed her work with the Claremont La Leche League via email with the Valley News . An edited transcript of that conversation follows.
Valley News: What is the overall mission of La Leche League?
Zadiah Eisenberg: The mission of La Leche League International is to help mothers worldwide to breast-feed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education, and to promote a better understanding of breast-feeding as an important element in the normal healthy development of the baby and mother.
VN: If breast-feeding is a natural function, why do women need assistance with it?
ZE: This is an oft repeated … question. It seems like all a mother needs to do is put the baby to the breast, let him or her attach, and away you go. But in reality, it’s not always so simple.
True, some babies do just go right to the breast and never experience any problems. But many need some help.
In times gone by, before the 20th century, when every mother breast-fed and families weren’t so mobile, one would turn to mother, grandmothers, aunts and friends for breast-feeding help. Unfortunately, today we’ve lost that breast-feeding community. That’s where La Leche League steps in to fill the gap. Breast-feeding really is a learned art. (Women need to) learn what is a normal newborn behavior and what is a potential problem (for example, the “good” baby who sleeps all the time and isn’t waking to feed).
VN: How did you become involved with La Leche League?
ZE: My first exposure to La Leche League was as a child attending meetings with my mother. I assumed that this was a support available to all mothers. When I was pregnant with my first child, and new to the area, I looked for local meetings and found that the closest meeting … was over an hour drive. Facing my own obstacles breast-feeding my little ones, I knew I was not the only mother missing out. So I pursued leadership to provide that support for our community and those in the surrounding areas.
VN: Do La Leche League volunteers receive any training?
ZE: La Leche League International leaders are accredited volunteers who have breast-fed their own babies and have been specially trained to help mothers with breast-feeding.
VN: What is your role in the organization now?
ZE: I am currently the sole leader of Claremont La Leche League. This means I prepare for and facilitate all meetings, act as treasurer, handle publicity, serve as librarian and interface with La Leche League of Maine/New Hampshire.
I field all questions and requests for assistance from mothers and mothers-to-be and forward on La Leche League publications.
In order to be most effective, I keep up-to-date through continued training and study of the most current medical research on breast-feeding.
VN: What do you find most rewarding about your work with La Leche League?
ZE: Breast-feeding is the only way to provide for a baby’s normal growth and development.
Formula, like all medications, has a very real place, but too often mothers do not breast-feed due to lack of support or correct information. Women were meant to breast-feed and their risks of many illnesses, including cancers, increase when they do not.
Breast-feeding increases public health and intelligence, increases a nation’s productivity and is better for the planet.
That said, the rewards of helping (a woman) achieve her breast-feeding goal by having confidence in herself and persevering to overcome breast-feeding obstacles is infinitely rewarding.
VN: What do you find most challenging about your work with La Leche League?
ZE: La Leche League is able to be most beneficial when there is a shifting core group of mothers involved who can give one another and new mothers support. Establishing this core group is challenging. Mothers face such time constraints that regular attendance can be very difficult.
I look forward to women knowing they can turn to La Leche League for support and more mothers becoming actively involved.
I am always on the lookout for the next leader applicant.
Editor’s Note: The Claremont La Leche League meets from 9:30-11 a.m. and from 5:30-7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at Good Beginnings, 109 Pleasant St. For additional information call 603-276-0519 or visit www.llli.org. A Lebanon chapter of the La Leche League meets from 10 a.m.-noon on the second Tuesday of each month at the Women’s Health Resource Center, on the pedestrian mall. Call 603-643-1451 for additional information.
Do you know an Upper Valley volunteer whose efforts deserve to be recognized in a Volunteer Spotlight story? Send suggestions by email to Volunteers@vnews.com, or by mail to Volunteer Spotlight, Valley News, P.O. Box 877, White River Junction, Vt. 05001. Be sure to include your name and a daytime telephone number. For more information, call 603-727-3221 during regular business hours.