Photo: La Leche League, via NY Times. Froehlich is pictured on the far right.
I'm still catching up on my reading of the last couple of weeks of NY Times papers that piled up while we were out of town for the holidays, which is why it was just yesterday that I stumbled upon this wonderful piece in the December 28 Magazine section. A moving tribute to Edwina Froehlich, a founder of La Leche League who passed away in 2008, the article does a wonderful job of detailing the groundbreaking work of this woman and the other original members of the group, which was founded in 1956. A couple of excerpts:
Froehlich and her six friends, all Catholic housewives, created La Leche League and called for mothers to wrest control back from the experts. They insisted that breast-feeding was better than the bottle — more natural, more nutritional, more sustaining of deep mother-baby attachment — long before the feminist health movement or the medical establishment did so.The seven founders had 55 children among them. Their husbands worked while they volunteered for the group, toddlers at their feet. But Froehlich and her friends also read Betty Friedan’s “Feminist Mystique” and thought of themselves as early feminists. Their living-room meetings anticipated the consciousness-raising groups of the women’s movement. La Leche urged mothers to toss aside housework to spend more time with their children and to feel good in their bodies. The group’s emphasis on natural food spoke to the Whole Earth crowd. “It was very funny to us that breast-feeding was seen as a hippie thing to do, when those of us who started it were staid middle-class ladies,” Marian Tompson, one of the five surviving La Leche founders, told me.