Got milk? Popular breastfeeding organization holds walkathon this Sunday
by Ricardo Kaulessar
Sep 26, 2006 | 1059 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
"Mother's milk is the gold standard in terms of what is needed to nourish your baby," argues Jennifer Lisimachio of Jersey City. "It is Mother Nature's perfect food."

But some mothers, particularly those who don't have the time or inclination, don't see it that way.

Lisimachio's group feels the need to educate them. She is one of several "leaders," as they call themselves, who helm a popular group called La Leche League that meets monthly in Jersey City and Hoboken.

The League is an international, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization that supports and educates mothers about breastfeeding (see sidebar).

They will commemorate World Breastfeeding Week by holding a fundraiser today (Sunday, Sept. 17) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Hoboken and Jersey City, seeking to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.

The fundraiser will start with a walkathon from Van Vorst Park in Downtown Jersey City to Pier A in Hoboken. Then at Pier A, a festival will commence with a soccer clinic for children ages 5 through 10, a lecture on parenting, music by local musicians Carol Lester and Dandy Lion Pride, and activities for the kids.

But most importantly, attendees will be exposed to information on breastfeeding with representatives providing literature.

What is so important about breastfeeding?

Mother's milk

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical organizations recommend that babies should be fed with breast milk only for the first six months of life. In May, the World Health Organization recommended not only exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months but that also infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been leading an advertising campaign to urge mothers to breastfeed their babies as part of a health initiative known as Healthy Families 2010.

The benefits cited for predominant breastfeeding over manufactured infant formula include: better sensory and cognitive development, protection against infectious and chronic diseases, and reduction of infant mortality due to common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea or pneumonia, and quicker recovery during illness.

But some mothers are too busy to breastfeed, don't like the feeling of it, or don't think their babies are getting enough milk that way.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that breast-feeding also has health benefits for mothers, including reducing the risk for ovarian cancer and premenopausal breast cancer.

The issue of breastfeeding has been in local news this week, as Hoboken resident Theresa Minutillo, a new Board of Education member and a nursing mother, has been breastfeeding her baby on the dais during public board meetings. She has been using a blanket to cover herself up when doing so.

An issue closest to her breast

Lisimachio and her husband are the parents of two sons, ages 3 and 8, who are breastfed. She has been an advocate for breastfeeding and involved with the La Leche League since the birth of her first son while living in France.

She joined the local chapter about five years ago when the family relocated to Hudson County.

Lisimachio estimates that she, along with her fellow leaders, has helped "a minimum of 3,500 women annually" through open monthly meetings, telephone consultations, and appearances at community events.

The women who take part in La Leche League not only come from Hoboken and Jersey City, but also from West New York, Weehawken, Union City and other Hudson County municipalities.

"The special thing about La Leche League is mothers are really there to support one another," said Lisimachio. "It's not like a traditional class where moms hear a leader, it's about sharing stories."

Lisimachio also pointed out the recent studies from The American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization as backing up her reasons singing the gospel of breastfeeding.

She said the local chapter still has work to do in reaching out to more mothers about breastfeeding.

"There are many mothers in Jersey City and other places that may not be aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, and we're hoping to spread the word with this event this weekend," said Lisimachio.

Lisimachio continued, "Babies come out of the womb knowing how to breastfeed. The baby at the breast is a beautiful thing."

For more information about the fundraising event, visit or call (201) 255-0867.

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at

Upcoming meetings

The La Leche League Jersey City and Hoboken announces that they will have a new location in September at the Jersey City Medical Center. Also, there will be no Jersey City morning meetings in September.

The following are upcoming meetings:

Sept. 13, 10 a.m.
Hoboken - 333 River St.
Contact Allie (201-333-1074)
Topic: Baby Comes Home, Getting Off to a Good Start

Sept. 19, 7 p.m.
Jersey City - Jersey City Medical Center, through the cafeteria, conference room 5
Contact Eileen (201) 798-3038
Topic: Advantages of Breastfeeding

Oct. 5, 10 a.m.
Jersey City, 83-85 Bright St. near Jersey Avenue
Contact Lynn (201-795-4765)
Topic: Nutrition and Weaning

Oct. 11, 10 a.m.
Hoboken , 333 River St.
Contact Allie (201-333-1074)
Topic: The art of breastfeeding and avoiding difficulties. - RK
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