Devotion Yoga & Wellness,12 Hudson Place New Jersey, Hoboken 10538
The organization was founded in 1956 by Marian Tompson, Mary White, Mary Ann Cahill, Edwina Froehlich, Mary Ann Kerwin, Viola Lennon, and Betty Wagner. Later, other professionals joined and supported the group - Dr. Herbert Ratner and Dr. Gregory White. Herbert Ratner was influential in expanding the organization's philosophy beyond breastfeeding. At the time, most women bottle-fed their babies. At the time the organization was founded, only 20% of babies were breastfeeding in the United States. The first formal La Leche League meeting was held on October 17, 1956 in Illinois. The seven Leaders originally held meetings in private homes; more recently, hospitals, parenting centers, and other public venues have provided meeting spaces. In 1957, Dr. Grantly Dick-Read, considered the father of the natural childbirth movement, also came to speak with them. The first La Leche League Group outside of the United States formed in 1960 in Jonquiere, Quebec, Canada. The La Leche League became La Leche League International, Inc. (LLLI) in 1964 with groups in Canada, Mexico and New Zealand. In 1964 the first international conference was held in Chicago with 425 adults and 100 babies in attendance. In 1981 LLLI was granted consultative status with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). In 1985 LLLI served on the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, established to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for lactation consultants. The first IBLCE exam was administered in July 1985. The name "La Leche" comes from the Spanish word leche [pronounced leh-cheh] meaning milk. It was inspired by a shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, dedicated to "Nuestra Señora de la Leche y Buen Parto", meaning "Our Lady of Happy Delivery and Plentiful Milk". Group meetings were held by a Leader, someone approved by LLLI to run the meetings and moderate the discussion that would take place. LLLI grew from a local, to a national, and then an international organization that has been helping thousands of mothers and babies all over the world for more than 60 years.