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Thinking Visually

Originally published in LLLI’s LEAVEN, April-May 1996

A huge poster of a lactating breast loomed before me at my first childbirth preparation class many years ago. My husband and I sat on folding chairs before the huge cross-section that showed blue ducts, red sinuses, green alveoli, and pink fatty tissues. Who knows how many potential nursing mothers and their partners decided against breastfeeding that night!

Posters often do help a Leader supply information and guide discussion at Series Meeting, but why not consider thinking beyond two dimensions? An active, three-dimensional visual presentation may more effectively reinforce the information and support you want to share.

You are the first visual aid. Your smile, body language, and appearance create strong images of La Leche League. A mother coming to your meeting is looking at you. Do you look happy to be there? Does your body language show interest, confidence, and encouragement? A bigger payoff may come from spending more time on your appearance, less on your poster.

Mothers and babies make a strong visual impression. Some women have never seen a mother nurse a baby. Provide a relaxed discussion pace to allow for “watching spaces” during a meeting.

Use props to make a point. Demonstrate positioning with a doll in a baby blanket or drape a shawl on your co-Leader’s shoulders to show discreet nursing, both have more appeal than magazine pictures. Fill a tote bag or box with props: pillows, fabric breast model (homemade or purchased from a childbirth teaching aid catalog), baby doll, robe, sling, or shawl. Be ready to pull something out of the bag to show the women at your meeting how to position, nurse discreetly, or get some rest while nursing. Mothers will be all eyes!

Use action as a visual tool. Using pillows to demonstrate nursing in a hospital bed makes a stronger impression than statement on index cards about nursing after a cesarean birth. Lie on the floor of the meeting room—yes, do it!—to show how breastfeeding mothers can nurse and rest. Line up chairs and demonstrate how a woman can nurse modestly on public transportation. Mothers may want to sit in different seats on your “bus” or “plane” to demonstrate discreet nursing in an aisle or window seat.

A week after that first childbirth preparation class, I attended my first LLL meeting. There I saw for the first time the natural beauty of mothers nursing their babies. The memory of the giant breast poster soon faded. As Leaders, we need to remember that the simplest visual aid—mothers practicing the womanly art of breastfeeding—gives new mothers an image to last a lifetime.

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