Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Breastfeeding Loss: A Grandmother Still Mourns

by Debbie Page, RN, IBCLC, CEIM

Janie Rezner (not the Gma in this story) with her grandson

The other day I met a man who was intrigued by my company name, The New Born Baby - he wanted to know more. I talked to him about new mothers learning to breastfeed and how most need tremendous support in order to have a satisfying breastfeeding relationship. He was amazed. "I didn't know there were companies like this," he said.

He went on to say, "I just have to tell you that my wife still feels sad that she couldn't breastfeed." Looking at his white hair and beard, I figured his children must be grown. "Tell me what happened," I asked.

"Well," he continued, "the interesting part is that I wasn't married to her when she had her children 38 and 42 years ago, but she still talks about how she had wanted to breastfeed. Someone told her her she couldn't because her milk was sour. From time to time she brings up how sad she feels that she wasn't able to breastfeed. I don't know what to say to her."

Losses don't go away. They hang around and resurface from time to time, though usually less frequently as time goes on. These losses were four decades ago and yet this woman remembers them often enough that it has made an impact on her husband - he recognizes her sadness when she talks about it.

Breastfeeding is a powerful part of who we are as women, but everyday women are being deprived of the joy that comes from the natural extension of pregnancy. It's much more powerful than most people realize. When a woman doesn't breastfeed, her body thinks the baby has died, thus the emotional effect is tremendous.

Many times when a new mother comes in for a consultation, her mother accompanies her. The grandmothers often pause to look at the stunning photographs hanging in my hallway and office (thanks to Barnes Portrait Designs) of Nancy breastfeeding her five month old daughter Jamie. Tears, even soft sobs, are heard as some new grandmothers reminisce about how they had wanted to breastfeed, but "could not." They are thrilled that their daughter has found someone to help them. They are committed to doing everything they can to help her in her journey. These are healthy tears, but some women express their loss of a breastfeeding relationship with resentment and anger. The loss is real - it doesn't just vanish.

Have you ever asked your mother or mother-in-law about her decision to breastfeed or not? Did someone convince her she couldn't or wouldn't want to nurse her baby? Maybe this even happened to you, too.



For additional breastfeeding books, websites and articles, see the Breastfeeding Resources Page



Debbie Page spends her days assisting and encouraging mothers and babies as they master breastfeeding. Knowing the benefits of breastfeeding for mother, child, family and society fuels Debbie's passion to help women with their breastfeeding problems. She maintains a busy private practice as a board certified lactation consultant, consulting with women in-person as well as online.


68 comments:

  1. My grandmother has told me that it wasnt popular so she didn't do it. My mother told me its because its nasty and breasts are sexual.

    My mother knew from the get-go that she wasn't going to breastfeed. In her mind, they are more sexual in having sex.

    My grandmother grew up in the 1950's and everything was formula and bottles. Although, she did cloth diaper and really enjoys that I do! She loves the new cloth diapers. She was the first to support me when I decided to CD.

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  2. I don't think many women realize the physiological component of breastfeeding. I had to wean my son early due to his fatty acid oxidation disorder (I nursed him as long as we safely could). I didn't expect to be as emotional during the weaning process as I was. Mentally, I knew this was the best thing for him...but my body & my emotions did not. "Mourning" is the only way to describe the emotions.

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  3. I've met a bunch of elderly ladies who have told me that they couldn't breastfeed because their doctors told them their milk was "bad." It astonished me to hear that!

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  4. I know my mother breastfed both my sister and I for a loong time, back then a year was looked down upon. My MIL breastfed my hubby and his siblings too. The biggest shock I hear is about talking to my grandparents. My parents are in their 40's and they were told that milk or formula was much healthier for the babies than breastmilk and that they shouldn't nurse. My grandma wasn't even given an option, they just fed my dad milk and she FREAKED out. She said she was the only woman in the hospital breastfeeding. They both breastfed because they decided it was best even though they weren't told that.j I'm so glad we have the support nowadays and are told how important breastfeeding is.

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  5. I have two daughters, i breastfed the first for 7.5months, then slow weaned her over a month, and felt so sad about it until having number two, who i am still feeding at 9.5months. i had planned to feed Lily till she was 18months, this time i have no plans, and things are still going great,i felt sad about stopping feeding..........for 6.5 yrs until i had another baby to feed.

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  6. My Mom was leery of me BF my first child because she was told her milk wasn't " good" since her son was hungry every two hours. Now, she has educated herself and is my biggest advocate. I think it is her way of dealing with being given such poor advice.I really think she is very sad that she didn't do this for her children. She looked at me and my 5 month old nursing the other day and said " that's so beautiful".

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  7. This is so true.....to this day whenever I talk about breastfeeding with my mother (which is often, as I am a breastfeeding counselor and advocate) she talks about how she feels awful for not even trying to breastfeed my brother. It breaks my heart to hear her talk about it.

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  8. This post made me cry...for all the mums out there who have missed out on this most beautiful connection with their child(ren.)
    My mum didn't breastfeed, nor did my grandmother. They were both given very misguided information. It makes me SO angry to know this is still happening. My SIL and a good friend were both told that they'd never nurse with "nipples like that." Sadly, my SIL believed them. The friend knew better.
    I am still nursing my 4 year old and will until he decides he's done. It's beautiful and I couldn't even imagine my life without this enriching experience. -Debbie

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  9. My brother and I were breastfed-never had a drop of formula- thanks to an AWESOME mom! My maternal grandmother had 3 children in teh late 50's to mid 60's. She was told her only option was a twighlight birth and formula for all 3. Her mother breastfed all 5 of her children. My mother in law formula fed her 3 children born in '77, '80, and '90. Her mother did the same for her children. My step-dad's mom (yes, big family) had all natural births for her 3 children born in the 50's and breastfed all of them for 2 years each!!!!!!!!!

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  10. At the time I had my first daughter, I knew my mother hadn't breastfed, but I didn't really know why. My daughter and I had a rough go of it at first, after what was supposed to be a natural birth turned into one that included demerol, an epidural and forceps (after that disaster, my second daughter was born at home). Thanks to a LLLLeader, we worked it out, but by the time we discovered what was wrong (she was tongue thrusting) and helped her figure out how to nurse, one of my nipples was injured enough that I couldn't nurse with it until it healed. By then, my daughter would no longer nurse on that side, so I nursed her for almost 3 years one sided. Even so, I had enough milk that I probably could have fed another baby!

    When we moved back to my home province, my daughter had just turned two. Surprised that I was able to nurse at all, never mind still be nursing, I found out my mother's story. Being from the "old country," she had assumed she would nurse when my sister was born, but also being the youngest of her own family, she'd never really learned how it was done. When she tried to nurse my sister, she would get splitting headaches and my sister would be constantly crying and hungry. From her description, my immediate thought was that my sister wasn't latched on properly. When my mother went to the doctor, however, she was told that she wasn't producing enough milk and to use formula. My mother went on to have 4 more children (I was the youngest), and never tried to nurse again.

    The reason given by the doctor as to why she wasn't able to produce enough milk? Her breasts were too big! I had inherited her generous proportions, so she fully expected that I wouldn't have enough milk, either.

    I wonder how she felt when she found out that what she was told was total BS.

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  11. My son weaned himself at ten months- no time for me anymore. Eight months later I still miss it and hold him in the same rocking chair that we nursed in. Now he points to me and says, "Bubbies", and I have to tell him that he missed his chance! :) My mother didn't even try to nurse me and I think it was the same with my MIL and her children, but they were both very supportive of my decision to nurse my children.

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  12. I just loved this post. I had to wean my son early because of a bad case of posterior ankyloglosia (a severe rear tongue-tie). I think I'm still mourning it as I nursed my other two children until well into their 3rd year and my son was weaned from the breast at by 4mo old. I think I'll always feel sad about it.

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  13. With my first son, I nursed him on and off for the first day of his life before I relinquished custody to his adoptive parents. My second son, was a "lazy nurser" (or so the lactation consultant told me), I nursed him for 6wks but he never got the hind-milk and was losing weight, so I had to give him formula. :( With my third, I hemorrhaged very badly and my milk supply never really came in and he would suckle but then get frustrated because nothing was coming out. He stopped nursing at 2 days old. When he was 9 days old, I put him to my breast to try to nurse him and he nursed but that was the last time he ever did. I pumped for the first 3 weeks and then nothing was coming out anymore. :( I still feel so robbed.

    My mother in law, nursed ALL 5 of her children well past a year. My husband was her longest nursling (and only boy), weaning himself at 3 years old.

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  14. When my Mom had me nearly 50 years ago she told the doctor she was going to breastfeed. she was told, "Go ahead if you want to poison your baby!"
    Thank goodness my mom told him that she didn't think formula companies could improve on God's plan. She nursed 6 healthy happy babies and her daughters and grand daughters nursed their babies as well.
    Thanks for the legacy mom!

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  15. my Mom is a R.N. and she did not nurse breastfeed ! I saw her once " try " to Breastfeed my sister and she gave up ,when I had my babies I wanted to nurse them and I did ! all three of them , when my m.i.l. and f.i.l. saw the fat little Baby-Boy we had from breastfeeding him , well they were SHOCKED ! and told me they never knew . now I'm a Granny and our Daughter is still nursing her youngest Baby ( 12 months ) and working full time it can be done ! and I'm so very proud of her and our GrandBaby for still being a nursing couple and that also means that our grandBabies are second generation breastfed Babies ♥

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  16. My mother was told to stop nursing my sister and I because we were lactose intolerant. It was not until my daughter was born that she now think we both had Reflux.

    My mother always told me that we behaved like my daughter does. It's so sad the lack of knowledge. I was put on formula at 4 weeks and my sister was put on soy.

    My mother blames herself for both of us having allergies and my sister actually being lactose intolerant because of soy.

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  17. My Nana (86) told me that after she had my mum, she was told to stop bf suddenly at six weeks and her breasts were bound with bandages and she wasn't allowed to even touch them. She got mastitis. Poor woman, must have been agony.

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  18. Oh! your sweet Nana :(
    I thought people were more breastfeeding friendly many decades ago. What state was your nana in @Alicia?

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  19. UK- Lancashire. She had my mum at home. I only heard this story because I was feeding next to her bed when she was ill one time. I keep trying to find out more about her childbirths and pregnancies but she doesn't talk about them.

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  20. My mother tried to nurse all 4 of her babies, but received bad advice from the doctor and gave up.
    It wasn't easy with my own 2, but I'm determined, and worked at it for about 6 weeks before things went well from there. Thank goodness for La Leche League, where I found the information, advice and support I needed.

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  21. My grandmother (65yo, American) was also bound after having my mom/uncle. They bound them downwards too and it tore all the tissue/muscles and it caused her a lot of pain. Its sad :( Surprisingly...I had a standard hospital birth and the staff (and my sons pediatrician) all advocated BFing! It didnt work out for me (I pumped though!) but Im determined to make it work for our next baby!

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  22. My sister-in-law & I had our babies about 8 months apart, she had my niece first. She refused to even try to bf because she simply didn't feel like it & her mother didn't with any of her 3 kids, so she thought it wasn't a big deal. Once I had my son & my mom-in-law learned that I was bf, she pulled me aside to have a talk with me about how I was caring for her grandson. She wanted me to know how proud of me she was & how she wished that her daughter had made the same choice to bf that I had. She had regrets about not bf her 3 kids...Her kids are now 36, 30 & 25.

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  23. the LLL was the big Sister that 'nursed' me, and helped learn to nurse my babies 33 years ago! its not as EASY as it sounds, but I still to this day do not know how to make formula, but I do know how to breastfeed ♥

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  24. I asked my grandmother about her childbirth experiences over the phone and she didn't seem able to tell me anything. She wrote me a really long letter later and now I realize why. She was completely knocked out for it! Her doctor TOLD her that she labored for so long, and then "he" delivered her baby. Birth in America is still badly broken, but we've at least come a long way since then.

    As for bfing, my mother-in-law said when she gave birth to her first, a nurse gave her a shot to keep her milk from coming in (without asking, or even telling her). Unfortunately, her baby turned out to be allergic to any kind of formula too.

    These "treatments" sound as archaic as leaches!

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  25. My mother breastfed all of us to about 9 months. She says that we lost interest around that time. She tells me all the time that she's jealous that I'm still nursing (21 months)
    I don't dare ask my grandmother about it (either of them, since they feel the same way). She tells me all the time that I need to listen to the doctors more. She can't understand how I could possibly not do everything I'm told in a doctors office. She's absolutely appalled that I'm still breastfeeding my almost 2 year old and she's horrified that I'm even considering birthing without a "professional."

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  26. What an amazing article. I gave birth to 4 living children. My 3rd birth a beautiful little girl who was born with a severe birth defect and I could not breastfeed her. I was able to breastfeed my other 3 children and so enjoyed it. Katie-Jeann Elizabeth only lived for less than a day but the torture of not being about to breastfeed her to comfort her was tremendous. Then after she was buried...I had no idea how painful it would be to not breasfeed her physically for me. It added to my grief.

    Something about reading this article made me want to reach out and hug all those moms who were told that they had not milk and were denied breastfeeding their healthy babies. It is just cruel.

    I watched as my own adult daughter breastfed her daughter for 4 years. My grand-daughter mourned the loss after she was weaned. It is an incredible bonding experience.

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  27. My mom always told me she didn't breastfeed any of us because she couldn't produce enough milk, but I recently learned it was more because she has inverted nipples. I only learned of her inverted nipples when my second baby was born with them. I had no idea how my babies were being born with inverted nipples until my mom came forward and told me she has them.

    My mom has supported me fully in my choice to breastfeed all my babies. She delights in being able to share the experience of giving them a bottle of my milk when I have to pump and she watches them for me. She has seen the benefits first hand with my 15-year old and I can see the regret she has for not being able to breastfeed us. She has been a tremendous support for me and encouraged me as I have breastfed each of my children until they were 3 years old and I am hoping to maintain that same commitment with my 3 month old.

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  28. I nursed my three babies between 7 and 10 months each. Now that I'm pregnant with #4, I'm determined to nurse longer. I miss it, and #3 was only weaned last year! Nursing is such a unique, precious experience, and I can't imagine being robbed of it completely. And, I'm very interested after reading some of the other comments, to delve deeper into my own family birth and BF history - thanks! :)

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  29. I have a 5 month old ds, and in the beginning I had a milk supply issue. I have hypoplastic breasts and don't have the mammary tissue necessary to produce milk. I worked very hard with an LC so that my baby would be ebf. Thankfully it worked!

    During the process of seeing the LC, my mom came with me to some of the appointments. I knew that she hadn't bf me for very long (a couple weeks maybe) and my brother not really at all. Her doctor had induced her with me a month early, when she wasn't even in labor because her mucous plug (or part of it) had come out. So I was a preemie, and she had always blamed my little mouth for not being able to bf (I started losing weight, so she finally had to put me on formula) She lived 7 hours from her family, had just moved into a new house in a new town the week I was born, and she had no support. When she saw what I was going through and all the info I was getting from the LC, she could see how she probably had the same thing I did. She had felt guilty all this time not being able to bf me, and she felt better being able to come to these appointments and understand that it wasn't her fault, she just didn't have the support she needed. That was back in 1976, but I still see so much of that going on, and it makes me so sad that so many don't get to experience the beautiful bf relationship. Right now I feel like I hope my ds never weans! (well, when he's ready at least)

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  30. What a thoughtful post! It brought tears to my eyes thinking about how deeply families and especially mothers are impacted by our culture.

    I remember even in my labor-lala land status as I was pushing out my daughter, that I saw my mom change and heal in some ways by being there. She was overjoyed to come by the next day and sit next to me on my couch and nurse my sister while I nursed my newborn.
    (Background: she was birth-raped in a hospital and due to us both being hospitalized for injuries for so long plus a myriad of other difficulties, she was never even allowed to latch me on, let alone nurse).

    The decisions we make impact people through GENERATIONs. Loss and damage to human dignity and the normative way of being are ripples in a lake, extending to more people than we currently acknowledge.

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  31. I am fortunate to have been the first of four children that my mom breastfed. She was planning to bottle feed me and had all of the supplies ready. Then, after I was born, she decided to give breastfeeding a try and never looked back.

    I wasn't exclusively breastfed, because she did go back to work and pumping wasn't a viable option then, but she did nurse me until I was 10 months old (and apparently self-weaned, although it was probably a nursing strike or other contributing factors) and nursed all of my siblings until they were between a year old and 18 months old.

    I credit the many years my mom spent with a baby at her breast with my assumption that that is how babies are fed. I never even considered feeding my babies any other way.

    When I did have significant difficulties breastfeeding my first child, I cried about it each and every day. Dragging out the pump and feeding him bottles just about killed me. Fortunately, we eventually got over all of the problems and he nursed until he was 2.5 years old. His sister nursed until a month past her third birthday.

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  32. I credit a lot of my success in breastfeeding (currently nursing my 15 month old and 3.5 months pregnant with #2) to my mother and mother-in-law, who both nursed all of their babies for at least a year. They didn't have a lot of specific advice or tips but were incredibly supportive and never once suggested I give up.

    When my paternal grandmother came to visit, she was so thrilled to see me breastfeeding. She told me when her first son was born the doctor looked at her nipples and said "Oh you'll never be able to nurse". He suggested a combination of cow's milk and honey, although her youngest son was lactose intolerant and he got goat's milk mixed with corn syrup. She's sure that's why the boys had allergies growing up and expressed sadness she was never allowed to even try breastfeeding. It really made an impression with me.

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  33. About the biology bit - I was unable to breastfeed my eldest son. Unable due to many factors. The fact that my milk didn't come in until day 6, which was the day I gave up. The fact that we struggled physically and there was no help. Unable due to the fact that I was depressed from the moment he was born and did not want him near me.

    When I look back now, having breastfed my second son until 3 years 2 months, and currently enjoying a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my third son (13 weeks), I realise that if there had been help, I could have succeeded. Moreover, my depression may not have been as bad or lasted as long - indeed, my postnatal depression after my second and third sons has been far easier to overcome.
    However, I noticed one thing in your post - my body thought my baby had died. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting this. I have no bond with my eldest son; we can't stand each other. Neither tablets, nor counselling, nor bloody hard work have been able to help me to overcome this. I have long tried to explain to one person after another how I feel and it sounds like this - I think I rejected my baby and if I was a cow they'd let me but I'm human so society says no to what biology tells me. But I have been tols I'm stupid, crazy and cold. THANK YOU for saying this on here, because I know I'm not going mad now.

    I will regret the fact that I did not breastfeed him until the day I die, on the same day that I finally give up trying to love him. But until then that one statement has brought me much peace.

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  34. My mother still comments about how much she hates the La Leche League...b/c they made her feel guilty for not breastfeeding. Now of course I know this is her own pain and not in anyway a true hatred to the league of extraordinary women. But it hurts her. She attempted to breastfeed each one of her five children but she has Celiac Disease and b/c it took everything from her she got even sicker and finally I was the last who she breastfed for a total of four weeks and when she took me to the hospital I was 4lbs and my birth weight was 5lbs 10oz. Soooo She truly could not breastfeed but she still has guilt.
    My grandmother breastfed each of her children for six months and then weaned them onto carnation milk. She seems very fine with her decision and often asks why I chose to breastfeed for so long.

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  35. I want to know where the HELL these people - these "doctors" & "nurses" - got their information back in the day, not too long ago? What effing genius came up with the idea that breastmilk is spoiled, bad, sour, poisonous or any other cockamamie thing that they told women it was??

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  36. I was adopted, so Mom didn't breastfeed me. She was born on a farm to a 15 year old mom with inverted nipples... told she "couldn't", my dear mom was fed Karo (corn syrup) and water until able to eat table food. She died at 55 with heart failure, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis.There were stigmas even on a farm to a child then.... she was born in 1936.

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  37. My mother breast-fed me for about 6 weeks until she got mastitis and quit (ouch!). She didn't breast-feed my sister at all because sis was preterm (34 weeks but no extra hospital or NICU stay needed) and mom was told she wasn't allowed, her milk wouldn't be enough, she needed to use the high-cal preemie formula. I have a coworker who wanted to breast-feed but was given a shot of something to dry up her milk without her knowledge, even though she had told the nurses and doctors she wanted to breast-feed (this was about 40 years ago).

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  38. My grandmother told me they told her that her milk was too watery & had no substance for her newborn. She didn't try with any of her next two.
    When i had my first she was always curious, and maybe a little sad.

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  39. When I was born Breastfeeding was just starting to come out the "Darke Ages" but was by no means a popular choice. My mother is so thankful for the support she recieved from her now ex-MIL, who nursed her children when it was very Taboo. My mom went on to exclusivly BF Five children and now my siter-in-law and I exclusivly BF as well. My family does not have any issues with allergies (my two middle siblings are allergic to coconut) or asthma. My yougest sister cought RSV when she was a month old but recovered beautifuly from it, and I contribute that to a great doctor and bf.
    My best friend tried to bf but didnt know to prepare her nipples since they were inverted and the baby didnt suck properly. He decision to turn to formula was so difficult and she has truly mourned this loss to the point of needing medication to help out of her depression. She hopes to be more educated and prepared for when she has baby #2 so that she can Bf.

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  40. Neither of my grandmothers breastfed their children (my dad was the oldest of three boys, my mother the younger of two girls). My paternal grandmother grew up in Austria, but was by far the youngest of her family, and left home for America when she was only 16. I would imagine my great-grandmother breastfed on the family farm in Austria - so since my grandmother was living here in post-war America, wanting to fit it, away from her mother, that must have figured in with her decision to formula feed. My paternal grandmother passive-aggressively criticized my mother's decision to breastfeed by talking to me when I was just a drooling baby - "Wouldn't you just like a nice bottle instead of...?" Although at times my grandmother was a huge help in times of crisis, my mother still hasn't forgotten about those comments (and my grandmother passed away in 1994).

    My maternal grandmother probably didn't think too hard about whether or not to formula-feed, since virtually everyone was formula-feeding. My aunt had digestive issues at birth and they had to scald milk etc. for her - too bad she wasn't breastfed, it would likely have been easier on everyone concerned. My grandmother didn't understand my mother's choice to breastfeed at first. However, she came around once she saw how easy breastfeeding was, and even said she would have done it had she known how much easier it was (no scalding milk, carting around bottles, etc.).

    When my mother had me, she planned to breastfeed. I am still not sure how she decided to (in the mid-70s), having not heard of La Leche League, and with an older sister who hadn't breastfed the three kids she's had so far. My mother had a rough birth with me, and tried hard to get me (a 9lb baby!) to latch on. My mother got engorged very fast and had flat nipples. She was in tears, I was screaming. She was about to give up. And then a nurse walked into my mother's hospital room. My mother told her why she was so upset. The nurse said, "You really want to breastfeed, right? Let's help you do it!" She helped my mother with latch and positioning, and got the doctor to give my mother one dose of an oxytocin nose spray to help her letdown. After that, we were off to the races. My mother was also very lucky to have a pediatrician who was knowledgeable and supportive of breastfeeding. She only found out about La Leche League later on, having nursed me for a year-plus only having a couple of other friends who were also breastfeeding. After that, she was an active LLL member for a few years (and happily came to a meeting with me after my son was born!).

    Bless that nurse who helped my mother nurse me, ad then in turn my two younger siblings (even with having to pump for my sister in the NICU), and in turn inspire me to fight to breastfeed my son. You never know when a kind word or some reliable information might come at just the right time for someone. And the effects can be long-lasting!

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  41. My mother breastfed me and my siblings, but my grandmother was one of the ones who was told her milk was "bad." Even at 85 years old, you can tell that she's sad that she didn't have the opportunity. Grandma was born at home and breastfed by her mother in the 1920's. The 40's and 50's were a real blow to breastfeeding in the US.

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  42. My grandmother was SO lucky to have a sensible doctor in the 50s. He said to her, "What do you think God gave you those (breasts) for?" She already wanted to bf, and that was all she needed. She bf all three of her daughters. Mamaw was poor and had no choice! She nursed all six of her kids. I'm so glad my family has always been a bf family. No one ever discourages me or gives me funny looks!

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  43. My first child was small for age (4lb7oz) tho term without problems but I was told I couldn't nurse because he needed more than I could provide by hospital staff (in the late 60's). With my second child I had gall bladder attacks and when I was diagnosed I was told I couldn't breast feed anymore because of the low fat diet I was put on and my milk wouldn't provide enough nutrition. I stopped at about 6 weeks and went to bottle. It was very difficult because for several days my child would not take to a bottle and I felt so guilty.
    My daughter breast fed all 3 of her children, the first til he was a year old and the other two until they were self weaned. I could see the bonding and loving between them and am so glad for her.

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  44. My grandmother was born in 1928, she had five children, the first was born when she was 14 years old. She said she tried to breastfeed a few of them but the Dr. would pinch her nipple and tell her that her milk was to weak and thin to nourish any children so they all were fed Karo syrup, condensed milk and water. Her breasts were bound with cloth, she said that it was so very painful. My Mother never wanted to breastfeed me, she felt that it was just nasty to do so. I grew up with that mind set. When I had my first two children I didn't want to breastfeed them at all :-( When I had my third child I tried for a few days but I had no idea what I was doing so I gave up. Plus I had my Grandmother, Aunts, and Mother in my ear telling me that it was gross, that my milk was probably too weak etc... When I had my fourth child I felt successful to have breastfed her fully for seven months. Then when I had my fifth, sixth and seventh child I learned so much more! and breastfed them until they weaned themselves between the ages of 26-28 months of age. It is such a shame that back in the day the formula companies had their hands in the Dr.'s decisions what to tell Mothers and Mothers who didn't have good Mothers to teach them, believed what their Dr.s said. They have created a downward spiral of ill health in America (other places as well!) all because of $$.

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  45. My grandmother tried to breastfeed her first, my aunt. But my grandpa took her camping in the mountains with friends at about one week postpartum. It was awful! She started hemorrhaging at one point, and later on got mastitis. And she had a hard time trying to nurse my aunt hiding in a tent so Grandpa's friends didn't see her. In the end she weaned to a bottle soon after and bottlefed her other two kids.

    My mom breastfed me, though, and all her other kids. With my older brother, she was just a college student (in 1983) so she had to hand-express milk for him a lot. First, while he was in the hospital -- he was kept for jaundice while she was released, and she didn't have a car, so she walked a mile or so and took a bus to get his milk to him and nurse him all day! Then later, she had to hand-express for when she was in class. And yet she managed it, every single day, and nursed him for a whole year! The rest of us were way easier, and my younger brother is still nursing at two and a half.

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  46. my mother nursed me until i was 14ish months old & i got really sick & couldn't nurse properly. with my 4 sisters she nursed as often as she could & supplemented with soy formula while she worked (she couldn't get work breaks on a regular enough schedule to pump). only one of my sisters was weaned at about 4 months because she would not take a bottle at all when she was still nursing & starved herself (actually lost some weight). i grew up with the mindset that nursing was natural and bottles & formula are as a back up if mom can't be there. my mother's mother didn't nurse any of her 4 children because she "couldn't" & was supposedly too thin/sickly to maintain a milk supply (granted she is a small lady & only gained an average of 14lbs per pregnancy), but all of her daughters nursed their children. on my father's side however, my great grandmother nursed not only her own children but a niece as well during ww2 (they were in the philipines) and all of her daughters nursed their children. i nurse my now 8 month old daughter & have no plans of stopping until she is ready :) i live 4 hours away from my family but still have long distance support & i am happy to say that i am able to not only nurse my own baby, but donate pumped milk to a local baby who's mother's supply never established correctly due to his tongue-tie. i feel truly blessed to have an amazing nursing relationship with my daughter & plan to nurse my future children as well. when my rather unsupportive inlaws said well there's nothing wrong with bottles & my daughter's grand aunt said that she didn't bother to try to nurse her twins because it was stupid to put in the extra effort i just tell them that as long as i'm breathing formula is not going to touch my babies lips!

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  47. Back in the early 80's when I had my first two children, their father actually discouraged me from breast-feeding, saying that it wasn't enough food for them and they wouldn't grow as well. A few years later I went on to have three more children, and breast-feed all three of them, they grew perfectly fine, and I had plenty of milk for them. I'm still sad I missed the opportunity with my first two, but so glad that I nursed the last three. It's an experience like no other.

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  48. My mother was treated so roughly in hospital that she gave up and formula fed my brother (9 yrs older than me) She fed me for 6 weeks until she went back to work full time (she had her own business) she developed severe mastitis and was told to stop (bugger that!). she is very supportive of my feeding my daughter (now 3 and still a feeder even with baby no.2 due in around 8 weeks).
    My MIL was another story...she was the typical c-section victim and was told she couldn't make any milk so she formula fed. She has not been supportive of my breastfeeding at all and has been very aggressively nasty to me, as if my breastfeeding is a personal attack on her. If they knew I was still feeding my daughter...well

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  49. I was just 18 when I gave birth to my now 3 year old daughter it was an unplanned pregnancy but she is wonderful. I had planned to breastfeed exclusively to begin with but found it very difficult without any support. Her fathers family kept trying to convince me she was not getting enough milk from me because she wanted to feed so often (later finding out with research and from other family that it more then likely was just a growth spurt and wanted the extra milk/bonding). I would spend hours alone day and night feeding her. She would feed for a short time, stop, cry and feed again sometimes she would stay calm for a bit but she still seemed unsatisfied. After several rough weeks of this stage I started to give her some formula I was exhausted and at that point in time I didn't know who to turn to for help the ones around me either never wanted to breast feed or decided that formula was easier and so they had no experience with it. Very quickly after starting formula my milk supply lessen and I began to dry up I attempted to nurse and bring it back but she would only nurse for a moment or two then cry because she wanted a bottle since she had been offered one too early. I was so upset with myself for giving in because in my heart and mind I always knew that breast feeding was not only what I wanted for her but what I knew she needed. I still think about it very often and am now pregnant due in less then 3 weeks I am going to breast feed. With my knowledge now as well as the support I have this time around I know that I will succeed in giving my child the milk that is made for it. I still miss the time I spent bonding with my daughter breast feeding her even though I stopped quite early. I know I can never go back and change the choice I made with her it still breaks my heart.

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  50. Two of my aunts feel very sad they weren't allowed to breastfeed and on seeing me breastfeed my children have told me their stories many times, so to me it seems like they're still dealing with their loss. One of them got sore, cracked nipples whilst still in hospital which bled a bit - and so she was told she couldn't breastfeed because of the blood. She was the 7th of 14 children, all breastfed, and she rang her mother in tears for advice, but the nurses at the hospital wouldn't let her feed her baby. My other aunt gave birth to a stillborn baby in 1969. Her private obstetrician quickly arranged for her to adopt the baby of an unwed mother he delivered a couple of days later. She was given her adopted baby while still in hospital, but despite her milk having just come in, and her wanting to breastfeed, she was told she must not breastfeed her new daughter because "it wasn't her baby".

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  51. To the last Anon - those stories just break my heart. I cannot imagine everything in your body telling you to NURSE YOUR BABY and having other people around you not allowing you to follow these powerful instincts to protect and care for your little one, or to be told that this baby "isn't really yours..." :'( Thank you for sharing. Hopefully we can break free from the myths that too often overcome and hurt mothers and their babies in this way. It is certainly about time to do so!

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  52. I am so blessed to be able to talk breastfeeding with both my grandmothers. They tell me stories about not leaving the house when their kids were young because people told them off for breastfeeding and having "skinny" babies. My dad's mum bfed all six of her kids for twelve months, almost unheard of 50 year ago and for me she's a fantastic role model.
    At the moment I'm worried that I may need to wean my daughter as i have severe osteoporosis and need to be on medication but. we don't know how it will affect my milk. My grandmothers have been my best support people and encouraged me to start expressing so that even if. I do have to wean I'll still have breast milk to give my baby.
    Without their wisdom I'd be lost.

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  53. My mother gave birth to me in 1945 and breastfeed me for three months until she "ran out of milk" --sounds like a growth spurt to me. Anyways, her doctor, her mother and her sister all tried to discourage her. Breastfeeding was out at the time; bottles were in. I think my mother was awesome doing what she felt was best even though it wasn't encouraged at the time.

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  54. my grandmother didn't breastfeed any of her three children because she was told by her doctor that breastmilk was not good enough, and formula was better. my dad, her last, was allergic to every formula she tried and eventually the only thing that worked was puppy formula.

    my other grandmother breastfed her first (my mom), then discovered how amazing breastmilk is and became a la leche league leader! but when her second came, she couldn't breastfeed her due to real supply issues. when her third was born, she was finally able to successfully breastfeed her baby, and did so for 2.5 years. :)

    my mom breastfed me for 9 months, my brother for 1.5 years, my sister for 2.5 years, and my youngest sister for 13 months. :)

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  55. My experience is a little different. My mom breastfed for 6 months with me (had wanted it to be at least a year, but got bad advice from her mother about schedule feeding, and ended up with bad supply issues), and 2 years with my sister (no issues at all that time). My mother-in-law died before I met my husband, but she breastfed her sons each for at least 2 years. She was from a rural part of Thailand. They don't even know what formula is in her village. I mention my MIL because even though she's dead, my husband is really supportive of breastfeeding because it's what is normal to him. It is normal to him because she breastfed him for a long time. As for me, despite only having been breastfed for 6 months, it is still what's normal to me because I've never actually seen any relative of mine bottle feed. They all breastfeed. It wasn't really something I ever gave much thought to. You have a baby, you nurse the baby, and that's that.

    Even so, I had major breastfeeding issues, and none of my kids have been exclusively breastfed. With my daughter, I gave it a week. In that time, she lost a ton of weight, and our pediatrician (a breastfeeding mom herself) told me to nurse every hour around the clock. I was single at the time, so I had no help, and nursing a baby 24 hours a day takes its toll fast. I also had extreme pain (even though our latch was good) and severe cracking. My lactation consultant was the one who gave me that first bottle of formula. When I fed it to my daughter, it was amazing. She was full when she was done, and I wasn't in pain anymore. I never nursed her again after that. My mom was pretty pissed about that, and so was most everyone I knew, but I did what I could do at that time.

    Five years later, I had my first son. I thought breastfeeding would go better then, because I had gotten married a few years prior (so I wasn't doing it alone anymore) and my husband was adamant that his son WOULD be breastfed. I had the same issues (minus the weight loss) as before. I was in extreme pain, and one night when I decided to pump instead of nursing (just so my husband could feed the baby while I slept a little) and I got more blood than milk, even my breastfeeding-supportive husband said enough, and went out for a can of formula. I'll never forget the last time I nursed my older son. We were laying in bed on a Sunday morning, in our old house in Georgia, and the sun shopne bright in the window. It really didn't hurt as bad as usual either. I think I could have succeeded that time if someone told me I could.

    With my younger son (whom I'm actually nursing right now!) I had all the same issues as the second time, and once again began to develop postpartum depression because feeding the baby was so painful. By then, I had a really good pump, so my mom said I should give my son some formula so he could get full and not be so fussy all the time, and then just pump and give him as much breastmilk as possible in bottles. He was a week old then. I did that for a week, and then saw my supply really start to diminish. My midwife said I had to latch the baby back on if I wanted to not dry up completely, so I did, and the pain was gone! We've been nursing ever since, but he still gets a few ounces a day of formula despite my best efforts to build supply. He is almost 3 months old. This is the longest I have ever breastfed, but my goal is the same as every time- at least a year. I don't know why it never worked out quite right for me despite having the best support possible.

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  56. My grandmother "wasn't able" to breastfeed any of her 4 children. The doctors told her because she was RH- that it would poison her babies. I've never asked her if she's upset she wasn't able to.. I think I will, she never really show much emotion towards it. (she was born in 1925, started having kids in 1947)

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  57. My mother did not try to breastfeed me because her friends were not doing it, she was a young mother, and her mom didn't breastfeed. I am obese with food allergies and asthma. I was born in the early 70s.

    She got on a healthy kick and breastfed my little brother in the mid 70s. At his 2 month appointment he was severely underweight and the doctor said, "Shove cereal in as fast as you can." She was sent home with a scale to use before and after each feeding. Soon she gave up.

    I was determined that I would breastfeed my children, but when my 2 1/2 week old was a pound under her birth weight, I relinquished to the LC's bottle of formula. Only instead of having the formula in a bottle, she used a supplementer. I was told once the baby's suck improved, I wouldn't need it anymore.

    I went home with the supplementer and tried to use it. Without the extra help though, it got tossed for bottles. During this time my mother expressed her opinion rather forcefully. She didn't understand why I was, "torturing myself" trying to continue breastfeeding and encouraged me to, "just use formula."

    At 7 months my oldest daughter won the battle. I was fighting her every feeding to take the breast before the bottle. Nipple "confusion" is a misnomer, she wasn't confused at all. She was getting very little at the breast and much more out of the formula bottle.

    I would find out later, after reading Lisa Marasco's book, "Making More Milk," that I do indeed have hypoplastic breasts. I went on to nurse 3 other children with the supplementer, one of which I still nurse now at 20 months without it.

    My mother is still trying to convince me to stop breastfeeding, but then again, I never did really take her advice. :) I think after reading this that what she is experiencing is horrible guilt, and seeing me breastfeed my babes is just too much.

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  58. My mother tried to bf me in 1957 and gave up after a couple of days because she was told she wasn't producing any milk. She didn't even try with my sister. She also believed that bm was inferior to formula; I remember her telling me that it was thin and watery and bluish in colour, and couldn't possibly nourish a baby properly.
    I grew up knowing that she 'couldn't' bf and when I was pregnant with my son I expected to have the same deformity. I wasn't sure if I'd even try, especially as it was clearly no better than formula. Luckily (I still thank my lucky stars), immediately after his birth the midwife asked me if I'd like to try and I found myself agreeing.
    Despite bad positioning, mastitis and being guilt-tripped into supplementing with formula, my son was bf until he weaned himself at 3.
    I was much better informed by the time my daughter was born 6 years later. She was premature and in SCBU for 2 weeks, I pumped for her, and by the time she came home she was exclusively bf and remained so until she grabbed a piece of broccoli and stuffed it into her mouth at 5 months. She weaned when she was just 5.
    My mum, bless her, has always been very supportive of me and my sister, who also bf her two children.

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  59. When i am younger i never thought i will breastfeed my baby in the future but thanks to a good friend of mind who inform me how beneficial breastfeeding are to both mom and baby and the daddy pocket, i began my research online every other day... n the will kept growing stronger as the day of pregnancy reaching to an end... i have a very tough time breastfeeding, the pain is terrible but i do not know how i manage to go through that important 6 weeks of building stability breastmilk supply. I believe human milk is for human baby, cow milk is for cow baby... I bf my bb ger for 17 month because i wanted to go back to the work force and my bm is depleting because she seems to be ready to wean off.

    Though i did not get support from my mom and in laws during the first month of birth because they see breastfeeding is for the poor and are very judgemental about the quality of those milk that looks so diluted compare to formula (they believe formula produce a smarter kid) but i always try to educate them... as my baby grow, they see how healthy and active she is especially after each jab, she never had fever... my mom told me ... she regret she is not well inform those days in 1970's and not determine enough but she did breastfeed for 2 weeks despite the pain, i told her... you have given us the best you can... n i thanked her for being such a great mom ... all mom's tried their best ... right!

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  60. My mother-in-law was told by her sister that formula feeding made life much easier so don't breastfeed. My husband is an only child and they have quite a rocky relationship to say the least. She does express regret for not nursing her only child in the early 80s but her older sister "didn't breastfeed and her two daughters turned out fine." This was in North Carolina.

    My mother is an immigrant from Laos and my grandparents and aunts and uncle came to the U.S. in the late 70's. I was born in '86. Fast forward 25 years later when I give birth to my son (their first grandchild) and she stays with us to help out. I ask my mom lots of questions about newborn care including breastfeeding assuming she did with all 4 of us as she is of an 'ethnic culture' and that my grandmother for sure nursed all her 4 kids in Laos. She said that she only did it for a month because she had 'no milk.' :( I can see how she can be duped into formula feeding being that my siblings and I were born in America and in third-world country Laos babies were just breastfed. Today I'm unsure if that still rings true as how southeast Asia is rising in modernization.

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  61. As far as I know, my mother breastfed me (her first child) for 7 months and my younger brother for 6 months. Why did she stop at 6 months? Because my own stupid father forced her to stop because he wanted them to go on a skiing holiday, and presumably, leave the baby behind. She says she obeyed his wishes but that it was a very painful and upsetting process. I have been angry at my father ever since I found out that information. Mum only told me recently and I am 30 years old. What an idiot my dad was then and sadly my mum was too meek to stand up against him.

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  62. My Mother in law only nursed my husband and her sister for 6 months. As a nurse, even she was informed that this was all a child needed. Granted, that was 40 years ago. When I had my first son 4.5 years ago,.. she was skeptical of the new information but, for the love of her grandson and me wanting the best for him, she was loving, supportive and encouraging of my breast feeding relationship. I proudly nursed my son till he self weaned at 30 months.

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  63. My mother was told she was starving me and they forced her put me on formula which gave me constant diahreah that eventually had blood. She said it was so much she just laid a diaper under me because there by time she had one fastened it was already time to change it! They eventually put me on a soy formula. The craziest part is she said that I was perfectly healthy and content when they told her she was starving me! This was in 1978. (I have always had allergies and I think that is probably why.)

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  64. My husband grandmother still thinks about her breastfeeding journey and she is 87. A doctor told her that her milk was blue...? I've never heard of this. Her oldest wasn't gaining weight and she never tried again because of this. She will sit and watch me nurse my baby and she tells me how envious she is of me. I think its so sad. But I'm glad I can share my experience with her.

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  65. I am completely shocked at most of the comments about how they were forced into formula feeding. It is so sad. I wish I had tried harder to breastfeed, I wasn't informed enough about breastfeeding and needed more support :( I had my baby in 2010

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  66. all these stories made me cry. my mom formula fed my brother her first because he was a preemie not too sure if she was told not to or just thought she couldnt, i was never given formula and nursed till 18m. my first i never thought twice about whether i would bf, but after getting eclampsyia and an emergency c-section also having had gestational diabetes i didnt see my son until about 8 hours after he was born and he had been fed glucose water to keep his sugars up, he latched fine but he would nurse literally around the clock, he cried constantly and i was alone with him all the time with severe ppd i had a bad infection and was on antibiotics for months after he was born and pain meds, i gave up and started supplementing at night, he got rsv at 3.5m and he was so sick he couldnt eat at all for 2 weeks i tried to pump and nothing came out the medala hospital pumps hurt sooo bad and caused my nimples to bleed, by the time he got better my milk was dry. my second i had plans to nurse at least a year, i was working and pumping but couldnt pump at work so couldnt get enough for him while at daycare, and found out later the lady was feeding him cereal in his bottles at 3m! i was sooo mad we took them out of daycare and i stayed home but my supply was low at that point and i would nurse him then pump after every feeding to try to build it up he had formula in between when i couldnt build it back enough and weened at 8m my first girl my heart still is broke over i knew i was able to be a sahm and was soo sure i could nurse her until she was ready to wean at least 18m was my thought, she was not born early but i had diabetes again and she was born at 8lbs 2oz she lost to 7lbs 1oz, i never gave her formula and we had no problems with latch and a wic lc and hospital lc and a supportive pedi but she was under her birth weight still at 9 weeks old she was gaining so slowly we weighed her every day for weeks, i would weigh her feed her weigh her to see how much she was getting and def had no supply issue, she just wouldnt gain so i was pretty much forced to feed her formula 3 times a day to see if it helped she finally hit birth weight at 12 weeks, by then i was barely nursing her because she wasnt gaining and everyone though i should give her 3oz of formula and then nurse at every feeding. she weaned by 4 months because the bottle was easier, she ended up intolerant to most formulas she was always constipated from them and i finally started her on probiotics. she is still a tiny lil thing at 2.5 she is barely 24lbs and thats with her eating as much as most 2 year olds and being on pediasure 2 times a day at least she had to be given 6 pediasures a day on top of food to get from 21lbs to 23lbs and it took a year. knowing all this i now feel i should have continued nursing her obviously she is just a petite child:( my last baby is 18m now and disabled we still dont know what she has, but she has a muscle tone problem and couldnt latch and even when she did she was choking and would pull away i kept on trying for 4 months until i had a bunch of family stuff happen all one after another and she wasnt gaining weight either. we didnt find out that she had the muscle tone and swallowing problems until she was 8m and in pt and speech. she was very lucky and coughed out all that was going in her lungs or she could have died from it. i had my tubes tied when i had her and now regret that decision and will always feel the loss of not being able to nurse longer.

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  67. I cannot exclusively breastfeed my children due to hypoplasia of the breasts, and with all 5, I mourn it. I still breastfeed them a little, but it definitely is a grief process. PPD hits me hard after each one weans, which is usually about 3 months or so because they always prefer the bottle over the breast. My youngest is going on 7 weeks old, and even though we nurse at least 10x a day, he is still being supplemented 20-26 oz. It's a double edged sword. You want to keep nursing so they get that tiny bit from you, but between nursing and having to do bottles, you pretty much have no time to think for yourself, let alone try to care for your other children. I wish i could breastfeed, and I try extremely hard to every single time, but the outcome is always the same. I can sympathize with these women. It's definitely something that is emotionally difficult. I don't think I'll ever get over being cursed with deformed breasts. I just hope my daughters don't have to go through this also.

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  68. My mother breast fed me and my sister, but she struggled to breast feed my brothers. I'm not entirely sure but she said she just couldn't produce enough milk for them, so she had to breast feed along with bottles. (I don't have much info on this though)It wasn't anything to do with it being sexual I know that much. My mum often recoils in shock when people mention breast feeding being sexual...she can't get her head around that point of view at all!

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