Fifteen years ago while I was pregnant with Bella, I started attending local La Leche League meetings in Joshua Tree to meet other breastfeeding moms. I later became so enthusiastic about breastfeeding that I became a La Leche League leader myself and co-led monthly meetings with my friend Darlene. Eventually, as Bella grew older, my patience for supporting all mothers who breastfed began to wane – I didn’t want to spend my time supporting moms who wanted to breastfeed for just a few weeks or a few months – I wanted to spend time with moms who were in it for the long haul, like me, and so I resigned from LLL, giving breast feeding only informally from then until now.

But ultimately, my friends and Bella’s play group sprang from those original LLL meetings, because there I found women who not only supported long-term nursing, but attachment parenting, co-sleeping, and eventually home schooling.

So naturally, I wanted to scope the LLL scene here in my new ‘hood. I always strongly urge pregnant friends to start attending meetings during pregnancy, so that in the critical first few days of breastfeeding you know who you can call (La Leche League leaders will often take calls any time of the day and night – and they are volunteers!) and I wanted to take my own advice. Turns out that there are two LLL meetings in the area:

1) Capistrano Beach meets every third Friday at 10 am.

2) The Irvine group meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at 10 am.

[For a full listing of Orange County La Leche League Meetings, visit their official website here.]

All meetings are free; however, you are encouraged to join LLL for the annual fee of $40. The membership helps the group buy new books and materials and supports the international organization. It also gives you a subscription to a breastfeeding magazine, New Beginnings, and gives you the privilege of checking out books from the group library.

I went to my first meeting this morning.

The meeting was at Martha and Bill Sears’ home in Capistrano Beach (south Dana Point). The two of them are quite famous in the parenting world, not just because Bill Sears is a world-renown pediatrician, but he and his wife have written 23 books on parenting and childbirth. They themselves are the parents of eight children, three of whom have grown up to be doctors like their father – and the Sears are considered parenting authorities on attachment parenting, which means they are avid supporters of breastfeeding and baby wearing (and slings).

I didn’t know quite what to expect, but it was really exactly what I should have expected. The house was along an ocean view drive; large and spacious, but traditional and unpretentious in design – especially in comparison to the castles and turreted chalets along the same road. When you entered the house however, you immediately face an expansive living room/dining room with six floor-to-ceiling windows that open out to the Pacific Ocean. It was a gorgeous, breathtaking view befitting the “celebrity” status of the Sears family.

Martha Sears was there, and very welcoming, but she was not the meeting leader. The Sears apparently just open their house for LLL meetings once a month! Which is pretty damned generous if I do say so myself, especially considering that it means not just a dozen women or more, but all their attending noisy, and very active babies.

The meeting lasted about 1 1/2 hours and was all about pro-actively dealing with potential breast-feeding hazards.

The babies were all so sweet! I knew that I had wanted to be there, but seeing all those nursing babies and moms, made me realize that I don’t just want support, but I want to make friends with these women and babies. I was very satisfied to see the group of mothers present – all so actively and lovingly involved with their babies. Things were a little on the hectic side (I think that the meetings have been elsewhere for a short time), but I am looking forward to going back. Next Tuesday, I going to the Irvine group too. You know, just to scope the situation and see which group might be a better fit for me.

I can’t wait to be nursing a baby again – only 2 1/2 months to go.

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