Welcome to the November Carnival of Breastfeeding!! This month’s topic is ” the history of breastfeeding over the generations in your family.” Please be sure to visit the other blogs who are participating in this month’s carnival (links at the end of this post).
Both of my grandparents are deceased, so I asked my mom about our family history. I have always known that my mom breastfed all three of us kids for 6 months each and then we went straight to a cup – so we never had bottles. But I never knew if my grandmothers had breastfed their children or if my mother’s other siblings had breastfed. So I asked my mom and this is what I got:
Question: So – I know you breastfed each of us for 6 months. What made you decide to do that in a time when most women weren’t breastfeeding?
My family had mixed feelings on breastfeeding. My mother nursed her babies for 6 months and that is why I did. Dad’s mother did not nurse her children because his father was against it. One could not see what was being given and therefore, he did not feel right about it. I remember weighing your brother before and after nursing him to show Dad’s father that he got enough milk. He weighed 5 oz more after feeding and Grampa declared that I gave him too much…..!!! The doctor recommended food starting at 1 month. You stayed with one food until you knew if the baby had any reaction to that food (usually 5 days). I started you on food at 6 weeks. And your sister at 3 weeks. At 4 1/2 months I started to wean your brother from the breast. By 6 months I had him on a sippy cup taking about 2 oz at a time of milk. Table food was started at 4 1/2 – 5 months old. No egg, wheat, orange juice until 6 months old. Breastfeeding was just something I wanted to do and felt it was better for the babies health wise. It allowed them some natural protection to diseases.
Question: Did your siblings breastfeed their babies?
Three of my four sisters did not nurse their children, I am not sure about the fourth. My two sister-in-laws did. My mother never left a bottle for me when I was little. If I did not wake up to eat before she went to work for 3 – 4 hrs, I had to wait for her to come home. Auntie Ro remembers walking the halls with me until Mom got home. Usually left at 4 – got home at 7 pm.
You’ll notice in my mother’s comments that back then, the doctors actually had them start us on foods at 1 month! My mom actually still has her journal showing what foods we ate and if we had any reactions. I am always astonished when I see this. Today pediatricians don’t recommend any foods (other than breastmilk or formula) until 6 months. Some still recommend starting earlier (4 months), but the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially changed their recommendation to 6 months.
My mother breastfed us (late 60’s early 70’s) at a time when most moms didn’t breastfeed. She told me that back in those days if a mom had any trouble what-so-ever breastfeeding, the doctor immediately switched her to formula. There wasn’t any support at all for moms who wanted to breastfeed. I have always felt proud that I was breastfed. And somehow, the fact that we went to a cup instead of a bottle was something that my mother was always proud of.
My sister had her first baby when she was in her early twenties. She had a very difficult pregnancy and ended up giving birth 4 weeks early. Her baby, now a beautiful 15 year old boy, was very sick and spend the first 7 weeks of his life in the NICU hooked up to every machine imaginable. During this time, my sister pumped her milk for him and was able to breastfeed him until he was 10 months old. Back then it didn’t even dawn on me what my sister must have gone through to be able to pump and feed her sick baby her breastmilk. I never even “realized” that she pumped her milk – until I thought about it – I always knew that she breastfed, but when you aren’t a breastfeeding mom – it doesn’t even occur to you what it means to breastfeed a baby who is in the NICU on all kinds of machines. I am so proud of her – now that I realize what she must have gone through. She also nursed her other two children for 7 and 5 months respectively.
My brother’s eldest daughter was breastfed for 1 year and his 8 month old was breastfed exclusively for 6 months and now is breastfed when she is with her mother, but gets supplemented when her mother is at work.
I feel very lucky to be part of family with a breastfeeding history. I breastfed my son until he weaned, just shy of his 4th birthday.
What is your family’s history? Take the time to ask them now, before they aren’t around anymore to answer your questions. I wish I had asked these questions of my grandmother’s when they were still alive. It would have been so wonderful to hear their answers!
To read other stories of Family Breastfeeding History, please visit these additional blogs. And be sure to check back throughout the day – additional links will be added as each post is up:
Christine @ Christine’s Contemplations: Carnival of Breastfeeding- My Family History of Nursing
Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Family History of Breastfeeding
Jona @ Breastfeeding Twins: Beer & Bottles (and other motherly advice)
Jake Aryeh Marcus: Breastfeeding? Not in My Family
Elita @ Blacktating: Three Generations of Breastfeeding
Mama Mo @ Attached at the Nip: How Women in My Family Feed Babies
Alicia @ Lactation Narration: Only the Hippies Were Breastfeeding
Dr. Sarah: Breastfeeding, Circa 1950s
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: An Unbroken Chain