La Leche League Erases Mothers
Woman breastfeeds her little three-week-old child. (Photo by Steve Christo/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

La Leche League Erases Mothers

The charity that taught me how to breastfeed is eliminating women by calling it ‘chestfeeding.’

We’re told that women can do it all, and let’s be honest: that’s a lie. I can’t open a jar as easily as my husband; I can’t pee in the woods as easily as my sons. But there’s one thing I can do that they can’t, and that’s create a new person and sustain their life with milk made exclusively by my body.

I’ve made six people (that takes roughly ten months each) and then breastfed each of them for the first year of their lives. In fact, I am still breastfeeding my 18-month-old.

But breastfeeding isn’t easy or intuitive. I credit my early breastfeeding success with the fact that I was helped by a lactation consultant at my local La Leche League chapter. 

Founded in Chicago in 1956, now with 1,020 expert volunteers hosting monthly meetings across the U.S., La Leche League takes the lead in teaching mothers how to breastfeed in America. When it began its work, just 20 percent of mothers in the U.S. breastfed; now that figure is 75 percent

But I’m not sure I would have the same success with breastfeeding if I had had my first baby more recently. La Leche League’s meetings are now also open to biological men. All attendees have to do is say they’re transgender or nonbinary, and they can come and watch women baring their breasts while obtaining breastfeeding support. When I learned to breastfeed at these meetings, I had my boob out for about 45 minutes. But if a man were there as well, I wouldn’t have done that. And I might be put off even before that point by La Leche League’s website, which encourages biological men to attend.

Looking at the site, one wonders precisely who these meetings are now open to: Is it biological men who want to induce chemical lactation in themselves, or is it biological women who now consider themselves to be men? Either way, the entire mission of an organization meant to support women during one of the most important times of their lives is changing to accommodate a few hundred individuals, at most.

Recently, I noticed the League’s website also states that its mission is to help parents “breastfeed, chestfeed, and human milk feed their babies.” The information section asks, “Do you have questions about breastfeeding, chestfeeding, pumping, and more?” Donations, the website says, will help sustain “breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and human milk feeding.”

La Leche League Erases Mothers
Bethany Mandel with her sixth child. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Meanwhile, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, a guidebook by La Leche League that’s been around since the 1950s, is being rereleased in October under a new title: The Art of Breastfeeding—erasing the word woman entirely. So here we are, in the run-up to Mother’s Day, watching an organization that once celebrated motherhood cave to political correctness. 

When I asked La Leche League if they would explain why they’ve made these changes, they declined to comment. But I’ve spoken to a half-dozen leaders of La Leche League chapters who’ve told me they are unhappy about the recent moves. They think the organization—founded by seven women to help mothers, and which relies on small donations and membership fees to keep going—has been hijacked. One chapter leader, who did not want to be named, messaged me to say the overall direction of the league “does not represent the views of all the leaders.”

Trisha Ludwig, who is not a member of the league but a certified nurse midwife, lactation expert, and co-host of a podcast on birth called the Down to Birth Show, told me using the term chestfeeding “does not serve women.”

“It serves an agenda and harms the women they serve,” she said. “Providing respectful and inclusive care to breastfeeding women does not require abandoning truth.” 

I happen to agree. There is nothing more feminine and beautiful than breastfeeding, which is why I’ve spent over a decade of my life doing it. Watching the most prominent proponents and cheerleaders of breastfeeding abandon women for the sake of a radical political ideology feels like a betrayal.

Bethany Mandel is the co-author, with Karol Markowicz, of Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation. Read her Free Press piece “I Never Wanted Kids. Number Six Is Due in a Few Months,” and follow her on Twitter (now X) @bethanyshondark.

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