Challenged by the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog, I'm posting about the history of breastfeeding in my family.
I successfully nursed my daughter for almost 14 months. She weaned herself because my supply dropped off due to pregnancy. I plan on nursing my second daughter after she is born (due early December). Nursing to me was an incredible experience. I loved that I had all I needed to meet her nutritional needs from the day she was born. I loved the convenience of nursing, over a bottle. It was so easy to nurse her when she was hungry or fussing, rather than making her wait to take a bottle. I loved that nursing her meant she got exactly the amount of milk she wanted, as opposed to feeling obligated to finish a bottle. Nursing seemed to take the guess work out of "how much" when it came time to feeding.
I went back to work when my daughter was about 14 weeks old; I pumped when at work and nursed when at home. It was a struggle to keep up my supply. Had it not been for a good community of other breastfeeding mothers, I'm not sure I would've made it an entire year.
My mom nursed both my sister and myself. We were born at probably the height of the formula production. Technology must be better than natural, was the mindset of the world. My mom decided that she was going to breastfeed, and she did. I was unable to take a bottle, so my mom couldn't even supplement with formula if she wanted. And even after I turned 1, I was intolerant to cow's milk, so she had to continue to nurse me. It was very reassuring to her that she was doing the right thing.
Many years later, I remember a conversation with my mom after obtaining information on the benefits of breastmilk and breastfeeding. She was so proud of herself for sticking with her mother instincts and breastfeeding her children when formula was so popular.
My maternal grandmother nursed both my mom and my uncle for a few months, but she didn't like nursing. I believe she also went back to work and couldn't nurse the two kids for extended periods of time, but I could be wrong.
My paternal grandmother had 5 children, 4 years apart each. The first 4 children she nursed faithfully. By the time her 5th child was born, she was well into her late 40s and busy with teenagers and elementary school children. Because she was so busy, and had built in babysitters, it was easy to leave the baby at home and run to the store or a woman's group at church or wherever needed.
I wonder, had, there been the availability of breast pumps then that there is now, would my grandmothers have breastfed longer?