Across the river on the corner of South Shelby and Breckenridge, in the up-and-coming neighborhood known as Smoketown, a new mural has gone up in just a few days with guns, or rather breast, ablazing.
The two-story mural, created by artist Liz Richter, is a first in the area; a woman gazes upon her babe as they breastfeed. It may seem simple, and yet any woman who has breastfed in a public space knows the act itself can be anything but. A withering stare from a stranger zaps your confidence; your typically easy, amenable baby has a temper; the table you’re at doesn’t have quite enough space to make things work; a fly arm catches a blanket and your attempt at modesty turns into a burlesque show.
As a mom who has managed to keep two kids alive with the miracle of my (free) breastmilk, if you’ve never tried it, let me assure you it’s no walk in the park. Murphy’s Law is always in full effect and all you wanted was to both get out of your house and feed your baby at the same time.
All that is to say, the mural is a much-needed and deserved shout for women across Kentuckiana, “We see you and you are welcome to feed your baby here.”
That same type of support has been offered in Southern Indiana for more than a decade, but in a quieter and much shorter package.
Lisa Mascio-Thompson has been leading the Southern Indiana chapter of the La Leche League for 13 years, and has been a member even longer.
The local chapter of the La Leche League, an international nonprofit primarily dedicated to advocating for breastfeeding, was there for support and to help with questions when Mascio-Thompson had her son 14 years ago and decided to breastfeed him even though she’d be the first in her family to do so.
After she had another child, a daughter, a few years later, becoming a leader seemed like the natural progression for her.
“I fell in love with it and wanted to give back,” she said.
As a leader, Mascio-Thompson answers all types of questions at any time and aims to be there for families throughout their journey, from before the baby is even born to weaning — which, she admits, tends to be the part most people are interested in.
From virtual Facebook meetings to texts, phone calls and monthly in-person support groups, helping families who exclusively breastfeed, pump, supplement — Mascio-Thompson runs the gamut.
“I just want to support a family and whatever that looks like for them,” she said.
Over the past 13 years, she has seen co-leaders come and go for different reasons, but she doesn’t see any scenario in the foreseeable future in which she would want to leave her post.
“It’s a very big passion of mine to make sure this is still around... I think the need is still great in this area for it to carry on,” she said.
She’s helped local mothers through nursing strikes, tongue ties, mastitis, blebs, night weaning and more. Many women attribute her support and education (along with that of other co-leaders) with their breastfeeding success.
“Lisa is a warm soul full of light and she always makes me feel welcomed and understood,” Abby Newton, of Floyds Knobs, said.” No value can be placed on such amazing support for mothers!”
Elaine Weaver, of Lanesville, agrees. “I invite so many new mothers to the group, because with every struggle, someone in the group has experienced the same struggle and can offer advice,” she said. “Not only do they offer support for exclusive breastfeeding, but also for exclusive pumping, breastfeeding with supplementation, baby-led weaning (introducing solids), returning to work and introducing bottles. The LLL of Southern Indiana is an invaluable asset to the breastfeeding community.”
Speaking on behalf of the more than 1,300 women in the Southern Indiana La Leche League Facebook group, of which I'm one, we're happy to know Mascio-Thompson is in our corner when we have a baby at our breast.
— Erin Thompson is a mother to two boys, two cats, one dog and one fish and wife to a man who had no clue what he was getting himself into. When not spending time with that motley crew, she is writing, attempting house projects, and checking her email at ErinwithanER@gmail.com.