My Family History Of Breastfeeding

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

16 comments to My Family History Of Breastfeeding

  • […] 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: […]

  • Very interesting! Can you imagine trying to prove to someone that the baby was getting enough nursing and then the person told you you gave him too much!! My mom also told me there was no support when she had me, only La Leche League. She said she went to one meeting, but it was at a wealthy woman’s mansion and although everyone was very nice, she felt uncomfortable as a single, poor mom and never went back. Luckily she didn’t have any issues, but how sad that our moms had no one to cheer them on or help them.

  • What made you decide to go for natural duration nursing instead of weaning earlier? I’m finding that people are becoming less and less supportive as my babies get older and older. Did you have support from your family?

  • […] Judy @ Mommy News Blog: My Family History of Breastfeeding […]

  • @Mama Mo – I never really “decided” to go for natural weaning, it just kind of happened. There never seemed to be a time when it was appropriate to “force” weaning. I got very little support from my family (and some of them were even very negative about it) but I was lucky to have some close friends who were good role models for me and have let their children self- wean at 2, 3 and 4 years of age. I never dreamed I would nurse as long as I did – and I wouldn’t change a thing. — Judy

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Judy Masucci and Elita, Alicia. Alicia said: RT @Blacktating: @mommynews contributed to today's Carnival of Breastfeeding!… […]

  • Ruth

    My mom breastfed me and each of my 7 siblings. We all were switched to milk at 6 months, and most of us started on solids about 3 to 4 months of age.
    I always figured I’d breastfeed my children, and as it became more popular, the idea of breastfeeding for a longer time became my goal. My oldest weaned at 9 months, but my second didn’t even start any solids until 10 months, although he weaned completely at 14 months. I have breastfed each child longer than the one before.:-)
    My maternal grandmother did not breastfeed, so I’m not sure why my mother did, unless perhaps she couldn’t afford formula. My paternal grandmother died when I was 12, so I never heard if she breastfed or not, although I suppose my father might know, since he is the second oldest of eight.

  • […] 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: […]

  • […] 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) Elita @ Blacktating: […]

  • What a great family history! Yay for your mother being so determined at a time when there was so little support.

    @Elita, I suspect your mother’s experience with LLL was the norm at that time. Breastfeeding support is still largely unavailable to the poor. :(

  • Jocelyn

    My mom breastfed all of her three children, although none of them exclusively as it was not the thing to do in the late 60’s and early 70’s. She tells the story of how when my oldest brother was born in ’67 that the nurses at the hospital would automatically bring the babies from the nursery every 4 hours for a feeding (they weren’t allowed to stay in the rooms with the moms). In ’69 when she had my other brother they would bring the babies every 4 hours, except they would skip the 2am feeding. By the time I was born in ’73 they were not bringing the babies for the 2am or 6am feedings. My mom got really mad and insisted that they bring me for the 6am feeding. She said that she would hear the little cart every morning coming down the hall and stopping outside her room. She was the only mom there that had her baby brought at 6am. Imagine all of the moms who “couldn’t breastfeed” and “couldn’t make enough milk” most certainly because they were not given the opportunity to properly establish their supplies! My mom is very proud of the fact that I still breastfeed my 16 month old son and did so exclusively for 6 months. She tells me on a regular basis how she wishes that she had been given the information about it that I was given.

    I know my maternal grandmother breastfed her babies because she tells stories about her oversupply and how they had her pumping in the hospital to feed other babies who were not getting enough from their mothers. I’m certain that my paternal grandmother must have – she died when my father was a boy, but they lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere and she had almost all of her babies at home so somehow I doubt that there were bottles involved.

  • I love these stories of our moms trusting themselves and standing up to naysayers! And I feel so lucky (there’s that word again!) that I was stumbling through the early days of breastfeeding at a time when support for breastfeeding was all around me. If I’d been going it alone it never would have happened.

  • @Jocelyn thank you so much for sharing your story! What a wonderful story! — Judy

  • How wonderful Ruth!! It’s so great to know our histories! I also found it odd that my grandmother breastfed all of her children, but of her children, my mother was her only daughter to do so. I guess that was the power of the times taking over. I too am so glad we live in a time with more support for breastfeeding moms – and I hope it continues to get better and better for our children than it was for us.– Judy

  • My mother breastfed all 6 of us but not extended. Both of my grandmothers breastfed their children as well. I had the privelege of breastfeeding my last baby for 2.5 years.

  • My mom breastfed all three of her children. My brother for 2.5, me for 2, and my younger brother for a year. She let all of us self wean, and I am so thankful to her for doing that. Her mom did not breastfeed any of her 5 children, so I really look up to my mom for choosing to breastfeed. My whole life I’ve just known that when you have a baby, you breastfeed. I understand that people have troubles, and sometimes things just don’t work out. I respect that. I don’t place judgement on anyone for chosing other methods. My daughter is 18 months old, and still nursing. I love it, and wouldn’t change my experience for all the cookies in the world :)

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