Forgot Your LLLID? or Create Your LLLID Here
La Leche League International
To Find local support:  Or: Use the Map

Guidelines for Helping Employed Mothers Breastfeed

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 23 No. 2, May-June-July 1987

Web site note: while there is much good, timeless information in this article, remember that it is from 1987, and that references to LLLI publications, titles for LLL personnel, and other time-sensitive phrases may not be current. Always consult the current LEADER's HANDBOOK or the Policy and Standing Rules Notebook for current LLLI policies.


These guidelines for holding a special meeting for employed breastfeeding women are the culmination of a 1986 Pilot Study conducted in Colorado and Wyoming. It was developed by Alice Edwards, Regional Administrator of the Mountain Region, who gratefully acknowledges the help and support of Melissa Romanin and Mary Tagge, who participated in the Steering Committee, the Leaders of Groups in CO/WY who participated in the study, Joan Richardson, Division Director of Leaders, Western US, Mary Lofton, LLLI, Joy Seacat, Dr. Marianne Neifert, Maureen Wirth, and the many Leaders around the country who have worked on similar projects in the past few years.

At last it is here--well thought out and carefully compiled, this material for Employed Mother's Meetings is packed with useful information and full of great suggestions.

La Leche League Leaders will find this material of great help in their work, but the real beneficiaries will be the mothers and their babies.

Eleanor Randall, Chairman of the Board


The Employed Breastfeeding Mother's Meeting is an optional, extra LLL Meeting much like a Toddler Meeting. The purpose of holding this special LLL meeting is to provide employed mothers with breastfeeding information and support and to explore ways of minimizing mother/baby separation.

The Employed Mother's Meeting can be offered whenever Group Leaders perceive a need for it either from the Group itself or from the community in general. It is not part of the regular Series Meetings nor does it replace these meetings or any part of them. It is a special LLL meeting, not a special group. Employed women, like all breastfeeding mothers, need the basic information that is offered in our four-meeting Series which they should be encouraged to attend.

Because this may be the first or only LLL Meeting some of these mothers will attend, special attention needs to be given to explaining LLL’s purpose and services and displaying warmth and friendliness.


How can you help employed women who want to breastfeed?

  • Communicate your enthusiasm and approval of her decision to breastfeed.
  • Assure her that the best way to succeed at breastfeeding and working is to succeed at breastfeeding first. Provide her with information on the basics of breastfeeding. Encourage her to attend LLL meetings and/or breastfeeding classes.
  • Help her explore ways of minimizing her separation from her baby. Let her know that you have complete confidence in her ability to choose the alternatives that best meet her own baby's needs. Assure her that her commitment to breastfeeding and attachment parenting are valuable.
  • Encourage her to use the many services LLL has to offer her-meetings, books, information sheets, phone help.
  • Listen to her. Take your lead from her Does she just need straightforward information or does she need to discuss feelings and other issues?

As it says on page one of the LEADER'S HANDBOOK, "If her image of us is that we are for her as a person, can relate to her, listen to her, understand her, and can offer suggestions and information about breastfeeding, then we can help her She will listen to us. If she feels we care more about breastfeeding than about her and her baby, or that we are critical of people who do not follow a fixed pattern of mothering, her image of us will stand in the way of our being able to share our information with her"



  • Go through your phone log and send meeting notices to Employed Mothers who have contacted you recently.
  • Develop a flyer listing the major topics covered at an Employed Mother's Meeting. Mail it to all employed mothers you talk to on the phone along with your meeting notice. Display it in your community.
  • Announce the meeting at the Series Meetings. Encourage women to pass the word onto others who might be interest.
  • Think of other ways to attract employed mothers in your community who have not been in contact with LLL. Distribute flyers and meeting notices to local doctors, hospitals, childbirth instructors, and day care centers. Announce your meeting in local papers, on cable TV, and even in corporate newsletters! Write an article about the meeting and its purpose for your local newspaper. (This would need prior approval from your DA.)


This meeting can be presented in several different formats:

  • A single meeting (one-and-a-half hours)
  • A two-part meeting (two one-and-a-half hour meetings, two consecutive weeks)
  • Saturday mini-workshop (three hours)

Choose the format that is most convenient for you and the employed mothers. Schedule meetings on weekday evenings or Saturdays.

Meeting Fee

Leaders may want to consider charging a nominal meeting fee of $3-5 to non-LLL members. We recommend charging a fee since many employed mothers may attend this meeting only. The fee could be used to cover the expenses of the meeting-handouts, publicity, room charge, refreshments. If your expenses are minimal, you may want to charge a fee that could be applied to the cost of a membership within one year as a means of encouraging memberships. This fee is totally optional.


We strongly recommend that employed mothers pre-register for this meeting. Employed mothers are tired by the end of a busy work day/week. Much as they might want to come to a scheduled meeting, when the day actually arrives they may be tempted to stay home. Pre-registration and pre-payment strengthen their commitment and makes better use of Leader time.

Babies at Meeting

Employed mothers may be unfamiliar with LLL. Be sure that they know that they are encouraged to bring their baby with them to the meeting.


Consider either a private home or a centrally located public building such as a library or community center. If you have to pay a room fee, figure that into your meeting fee. Consider what will be the easiest for you and the most convenient and appealing for employed mothers.


There's more to breastfeeding than "FEEDING ' " It's a way of mothering your baby. LLL believes that a mother's presence is irreplaceable to her baby. Breastfeeding provides the most natural Illustration of this fact. Breast milk is a miracle of nutrition and immunological protection. But just as breast milk can't be duplicated, neither can mother! Figuring out how to minimize separation from your baby is time well spent. It's an investment in the future of your child

Group Library

Because many employed mothers may attend only this meeting, you may choose not to bring your lending library. Instead, you could mention that your Group has an extensive lending library which is displayed at regular Series Meetings and is a benefit of LLL membership. On the other hand, you may want to bring some books from your library so participants can see how they could benefit from LLL membership and to encourage attendance at Series Meetings if they borrow something that has to be returned.

Information Sheets

Display the ones referred to in the outline.


The benefits of LLL membership to employed women should be clearly pointed out, including Series Meetings for basic breastfeeding information and ongoing support, NEW BEGINNINGS, lending library, 10% discount on purchases, etc.


Think of refreshments as a way of showing LLL hospitality. Consider offering nutritious snacks with water, fruit juice, or other beverages at the beginning of the meeting. Use the time to talk with each mother and to let her relax and look over the displayed LLL materials. Perhaps on your meeting notice you could list, "6:30-7:00 Gathering Time. Meeting starts promptly at 7:00" If you prefer to jump into the meeting first, consider breaking mid-way through the meeting for refreshments and sales.


  • Consider giving each woman a copy of the meeting outline so she has information to refer to without taking lots of notes.
  • You may want to distribute a Packet containing No. 27, No. 81, No. 83, No. 85, and No. 440, and your current Series Meeting notice instead of offering these information sheets for sale separately. The cost of this packet could be included in the basic meeting fee. Include an evaluation card for mother to return to you at the end of the meeting or by mail.
  • Whether or not you choose to prepare a packet, distribute copies of No. 440 as a means of giving basic information about breastfeeding and LLL membership. Also distribute copies of No. 501, LLLI Catalogue.


See "Recommended Sale Items for the Employed Mother's Meeting." Selling information sheets if you don't offer them in a special packet will offset Group expenses. Most employed women will leave immediately after the meeting, instead of staying to chat. Consider taking a short break between parts one and two of the meeting. Tell mothers you will be at the sales table to answer questions, and to show and sell LLL materials and memberships.


Display the quotes from the meeting outline. Consider using a display board showing the benefits of LLL membership. Post a current meeting notice, local LLL phone numbers to call for 24-hour phone help, an HRE brochure, Area Conference information, pictures of mothers and babies at LLL functions,



Greeting each mother directly and warmly when she arrives is extremely important to this meeting. She may never have attended an LLL meeting. She may have heard "stories" about LLL. Greeting her warmly, remembering her name, paying attention to her baby will leave no doubt that you care about her and that LLL is available to help her


While you pass around the sign-in sheet, use a statement such as "LLL believes that mothers know their own babies best. We want you to feel comfortable taking from this meeting the ideas that work for you and your family. If there's something you don't agree with, please don't feel that you can't participate or return. All mothers have different opinions, and all mothers are welcome at all LLL meetings. " Leaders who have used comments similar to this at their Series Meetings note the reassurance this gives to the Group.

Encourage women to attend LLL Series Meetings and to buy THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING for basic breastfeeding information and ongoing support.


This meeting calls for a Leader-guided discussion with much more information-imparting than you may be used to at regular Series Meetings. Careful planning will allow time for participants to ask questions, add comments and share from their own experiences. The support derived from this mother-to-mother sharing is the essence of an LLL meeting. If you would like to substantially alter this outline or use something completely different, check with your District Advisor.


To create more discussion time without having a longer meeting, rely on information sheets to actually give some of the information. As the Leader you act as a resource giving some specific information and then referring mothers to the best written source of information for her to take home. For example, most mothers will want information about pumping, expressing, storing, thawing, and transporting milk. A thorough discussion of this by the Leader takes 30-45 minutes if she imparts all the information herself. A time-saving approach is to hold up No. 83, explain its importance, cover several major points lecture-style, recommend that mothers purchase No. 83 or refer to the fact that it's in their packet, take questions, and move on.

Avoid spending lots of time discussing childcare arrangements. While this is a crucial issue for employed women, we have a limited amount of time at our meeting and we should spend it sharing our expertise in breastfeeding. LLL cannot be a clearing house of childcare information.


(Web site note: Not all of the items discussed below may be currently in print. Titles may also have changed)

This listing of LLL materials is recommended for use at the Employed Mother's Meeting. Leaders are encouraged to display and use these sources during the meeting to make mothers aware of the wealth of reference material that is available for them through LLL. See No. 500, LLLI Catalogue for complete descriptions.


No. 83 "Practical Hints for Working and Breastfeeding" ESSENTIAL reference for all participants. Discussing milk management-pumping, storing transporting, etc-can monopolize the meeting. However if all participants have this Information Sheet, they can use it for reference. For Leaders who are concerned that they don't know enough about the specific concerns of employed women this is also an invaluable resource in preparing this meeting. No. 157 Breast Pump Packet No. 27 "Manual Expression of Breast Milk-Marmet Technique" No. 81 "Establishing Your Milk Supply" No. 85 "Increasing Your Milk Supply" No. 440 "LLL ... Because You Care" This contains advantages of breastfeeding and specific information about the benefits of LLL membership for employed women. Local Leader and Group information should be written on the back. No. 444 "LLL Meetings, Who Needs Them?"


[note that publication numbers, prices and availability may have changed--there also may be new books that are appropriate]

No. 2778, OF CRADLES AND CAREERS, Lowman. Women who are balancing career and family NEED this book. No. 274, THE HEART HAS ITS OWN REASONS, Cahill. Written for women who are exploring ways to spend more time at home by saving money and/or earning at home.

No. 321, THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, Anderson A guide to home-based careers. No. 250, THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, LLLI While the THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING strongly encourages women to stay at home with their children when they are small, employed women, just as any mother who has chosen to breastfeed, will benefit from the wealth of information and breastfeeding support contained in THE WOMANLY ART. No. 331, Creative Parenting, Sears No. 276, NIGHTTIME PARENTING, Sears No. 269, Fussy BABY, Sears No. 266, BECOMING A FATHER, Sears No. 262, WHOLE FOODS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, LLLI No. 273, GROWING TOGETHER: A Parent's Guide to Baby's First Year, Sears


LLLI Breastfeeding-Aid Sales Program-Leaders who would like to sell breast pumps at the Employed Mother's Meeting may do so following all the specific guidelines for the Breastfeeding-Aid Sales Program. Selling pumps is strictly optional and may not be done during the meeting.


• Have an evaluation meeting.

• Send a meeting report to your District Advisor.

• Consider making a follow-up call to each mother who attended the meeting. Thank her for coming. Ask her if she found the meeting helpful and ask if she has any additional questions or concerns. Invite her again to attend Series Meetings.


"LLL . . . believes that mothering through breastfeeding deepens a mother's understanding and acceptance of the responsibilities and rewards of her special role in the family. As a woman grows in mothering she grows as a human being and every other role she may fill in her lifetime is enriched by the insights and humanity she brings to it from her experiences as a mother." (From LA LECHE LEAGUE'S PURPOSE AND PHILOSOPHY)

Opening the Meeting

I. Brief round robin introductions--"Tell a little about yourself, your baby and family, and your employment situation."

II. Then ask the group, "Is there any specific information you need or ideas you'd like us to explore today?" Make a quick listing. Get a feel for the needs of the group. Check to be sure you will cover the group's concerns during the meeting.

III. About La Leche League (cover briefly)

A. Leaders are trained volunteers. LLL information is approved by medical professionals.

B. Phone Help-24 hours a day, 7 days a week

C. Benefits of LLL Membership

D. Display and briefly explain sale items.

"La Leche League was founded to give information and encouragement, mainly through personal help, to all mothers who want to breastfeed their babies." (From LA LECHE LEAGUE'S PURPOSE AND PHILOSOPHY.)

Part One/Meeting One:

Breastfeeding Management for the Employed Mother

"I wish I could tell all working mothers how much easier, special, and joyful it is to breastfeed. I am surprised to find that some people seem sorry for me and others think it is so courageous to do the perfectly natural thing." (THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING)

I. Misconceptions about breastfeeding and the employed mother (Brief, Leader-led discussion)

II Advantages of breastfeeding for the employed mother (Brief, Leader-led discussion)

III. Prenatal Planning

A. Planning your maternity leave-take enough time. A minimum of two months off is considered optimum for successful breastfeeding.

B. Some women have been able to extend their leave by getting a letter from their doctor stating the baby's need for unrestricted breastfeeding or the mother's need for rest.

C. Try to avoid being boxed in by prenatal commitments. Realize that all you can do is plan idealistically now. When the baby is born your reality and your feelings may be different.

D. Select a caretaker now so you can relax and enjoy your baby after the birth. Discuss your decision to breastfeed with your caretaker, and what type of breastfeeding / other feeding arrangements you are planning.

E. Consider childcare arrangements that make nursing accessible. Lunchtime nursing, on-site or nearby day care, having baby brought to work for nursing, working with baby nearby.

F. If you are planning to use a breast pump, start investigating them. You may want to wait to purchase one until after the baby is born. Many women find that they do not need one or that they have more specific preferences in a pump after lactation is established.

G. Pre-plan to minimize household jobs in the early weeks after the birth. Freeze meals. Arrange for diaper service or use disposable diapers. Keep up on housework or have house deep cleaned. Check your wardrobe. You'll need two-piece outfits or clothes made for the breastfeeding woman when you return to work.

IV Getting off to a good start-The early weeks at home after the birth.

A. Relax and just get to know your baby. Do minimal household work.

B. Totally breastfeed-no bottles, no pumping. Establish your milk supply and let-down reflex.

C. Educate yourself about basic breastfeeding management so you understand the principle of supply and demand, frequency days, growth spurts.

D. Get used to eating and preparing simple, nutritious foods.

V Going back to work-Preparations in the last few weeks before returning to work

  1. Get used to expressing and/or pumping.
  2. Plan for storing, thawing, transporting milk.

C. Ease into your work schedule:

  • Begin expressing milk during or after feedings to increase milk supply. Store expressed milk.
  • When you return to work, perhaps your employer would consider allowing you to start with less than a full week. (e.g.., one or two days the first week, two half-days, starting on a Thursday or Friday instead of a Monday.)

D. Introduce the baby to his childcare provider gradually. Many employed mothers have had success with the following pattern. ONE WEEK before you are returning to work, leave the baby with his childcare provider for 1/2 hour when he is not hungry. (Baby will sense little tension from Mom or caretaker.) THE NEXT DAY, leave the baby for a little longer. By the THIRD OR FOURTH DAY, leave the baby for an even longer time, closer to a feeding with the caretaker giving a bottle.

E. Introducing baby to the bottle.

  • Someone other than the mother can more successfully introduce a baby to a bottle. Try Dad or the childcare provider.
  • Many women have found that giving one bottle of expressed milk or water every other day helps to avoid the problem of baby rejecting the bottle. Begin as soon as the milk supply is established (4-6 weeks after the birth).
  • In addition to the tips already given, don't wait until the baby is very hungry. Let the baby get used to the bottle. Don't be alarmed if he doesn't take to it right away-although many babies do. Be calm and keep trying. If the baby rejects the bottle, try different types of nipples or consider spoon or cup as an alternative to bottle feeding.

VI. Questions

Part Two/Meeting Two:

Putting It All Together: Family, Job, and Breastfeeding

"Breastfeeding simplifies many things for me, plus it helps to ensure that when I am home, I am spending time with my children ' " (Publication No. 83, "Practical Hints for Working and Breastfeeding")

  1. The breastfeeding mother-ON THE JOB

A. Breastfeeding arrangements at your workplace

  • Finding a time and place to pump.
  • Breastfeeding routine for workdays. How often to pump, maintaining your supply.
  • Relationship with boss and co-workers. They're expecting "the same old you." Be honest with them. What you're doing is wonderful, not embarrassing. You are giving your baby the best infant nutrition. Seek out women who are doing the same thing.

B. Overcoming difficulties

  • Facilitating the let-down
  • Lack of time to pump.
  • Engorgement, leaking
  • Plugged ducts, breast infections (Mothers need rest and a realistic schedule.)
  • Maintaining your milk supply-supply ups and downs (e.g.. Drop in supply when you return to Work. "Dry" Fridays; "Overflowing Mondays.) Growth spurts.
  • Dealing with feelings of "Is it worth it?,'


A. Role overload

  • Fatigue, coping with multiple demands of work and family life.
  • Rearranging priorities. Family first!
  • Critical need for a support system.

B. Baby's needs

  • Baby's nursing patterns at home-Before and after work, nighttime, weekends, days off. (Most recommend unrestricted nursing anytime mother and baby are together) Mother should avoid giving bottles when home.
  • Tips on making the most of and finding more time with your baby. (Physical contact. Focused attention. Nurturing self-esteem. Understanding a child's individuality.)

C. Tips on minimizing household responsibilities

  • Planning to share household responsibilities with other family members.
  • Meals-menu planning, cooking easy and nutritious meals
  • Using outside help-mother's helpers, diaper service, cleaning service, etc.
  1. What about Dad? Encouraging his involvement in childcare and household responsibilities. Help him deal with feelings of being left out.

III. Setting your breastfeeding/ mothering goals.

A. What's best for baby, mother, the family? Why do babies nurse? Food, comfort, sucking needs, sense of well-being.

B. Exploring alternatives-What's working? What's not?

  • Periodically review breastfeeding goals. Breast milk only? Breast milk and formula and/or solid foods? Set specific goals for yourself for a period of time, then reevaluate. Adjust goals as needed. (if your baby will get something other than breast milk in the first six months, check with your pediatrician for supplement recommendations.)
  • Assess childcare arrangement. Are both you and your child happy with your caregiver? Could any minor adjustments make things smoother? (Morning nursing at the sitters instead of at home; leaving expressed milk each day after work for the next day; keeping healthy snacks in the car.)
  • Assess employment situation. If full-time isn't working out, consider employment options-Part-time, flex-time, job-sharing, earning money at home, full-time mothering. (OF CRADLES AND CAREERS, THE HEART HAS ITS OWN REASONS)

IV Questions

" . . . Once we have accepted the role of parent, we have made a choice that will change our lives as few other choices can." (Mister Rogers Talks With Parents)

Page last edited .

Bookmark and Share