My MIL died of cancer several years ago, before I even got the chance to talk about baby-raising with her.
: So I don't know if she BF or not, although I would assume that she did not. I've seen several pictures of my husband and his siblings with bottles at young ages, and I know that my youngest SIL had a bad case of baby-bottle mouth from night-time kool-aid. Doesn't leave an impression of having been pro-BF. My FIL has never mentioned it, and he knows (and is supportive, so far) of his granddaughter nursing, so it seems that if MIL had BF that he would have mentioned it. I haven't asked... I kind of want to keep an image of my MIL nursing my husband in my mind and not have it shattered with the possible truth. I know that her twin sister did BF her two kids for 6 months each, and that her mother "tried" to BF her oldest but was told her "milk was too thin, and blue." Mamaw did not try to BF her twins for any length of time, because "that isn't even possible." So said the doctors in 1947.
: My older SIL didn't BF, although she claims to have wanted to do so and regrets that she didn't. Her lack of BF makes me think even more so that MIL did not.
So, since I never knew if MIL breastfed, it obviously did not influence my decision. My husband is VERY supportive, not because he had a pro-BF upbringing (it wasn't talked about), but because he realizes it is the logical and obviously right thing to do. When we first discussed BF, he said, "It makes sense to do it, and seems silly not to do it."
My mother did not BF my older siblings (1968 & 1972) but did, surprisingly, try with me in 1977, after a c-section (which she says was her easiest childbirth recovery, go figure). She stopped at about 3 weeks because a doctor told her I was always crying because I was "allergic" to her milk. Turns out I was allergic to the dairy-based formula he made her switch to, too.... so I think that if she'd known to cut out dairy that I would have been fine. I was put on soy. I was supposedly an enthusiastic little nursling as a newborn.
Gotta love those doctors, always doling out such sound advice.
I grew up hearing about how mom's milk was bad for me and how breastfeeding me had made my mom's breasts sag, and that women shouldn't do it if they want to keep their figure.
: I guess those arduous three weeks of BF took their toll, huh?!? Neither my sister nor my brother's wife BF or even considered BF. But despite that, I grew up knowing
in my heart and mind that BF was the right thing to do. I hated giving bottles to my nephews, and got sick at the very smell of formula.
I also saw each of them suffer ear infections one right after another. We had lots of animals, and everyone talked about how important it was for them to get their mother's milk... but why no one could apply this logic to human babies was beyond me.
Even though I never saw anyone BF a baby in my whole life, I always knew I wanted to BF my future babies, and I actually bought BF books and joined message boards long before even beginning to try to conceive. My mother was still quite unenthusiastic about it when I told her how important I considered BF to be, and had told me not to get my hopes up, because of course my baby could be "allergic" to my milk just like I had been. It was hard for her to accept that she might have been given misinformation back then.
But, since I've had Gail, and my mother has seen how she thrives on my milk, she quickly became very supportive and even brags about it to relatives. Yay Mom!
I still have to clear up some misinformation about it when talking to mom about it, but she is at least suportive and willing to listen. I have since learned that my grandmother (who died before I was born) had nursed all but one of her 15 (!!!) children. The last one is the one which wasn't BF, because of grandma's failing health (she died not long afterward). She even tandem-nursed occasionally, but usually put the older baby on the bottle (PET brand evaporated milk, I think, or sometimes straight cow's milk) when she would get pregnant again (LAM did not
work for grandma!
). Now, my aunts and uncles are all quite close in age, so I doubt she nursed any one child for much over a year if even that long. But still, I learned that she would use a homemade sling and would NIP no matter where she was. Yay for grandma!
I know that it was partly their poverty which led to the BF, but I'm still glad to hear it. Funny how I never heard these positive BF stories growing up.... I just got the negative.
I wonder about my other grandmother, but imagine that she did BF at least some because they were dirt-poor (like my mother's family, they were sharecropper cotton farmers in Arkansas). My father is very pro-BF, but never mentioned it when my older siblings FF (although he did say he thought formula smelled bad). Now that he finally has a child who breastfeeds, he talks about how healthy his granddaughter is because of the good milk she drinks! When he babysat for me one day and offered Gail a bottle of expressed breastmilk, he said he didn't blame her for not drinking the bottle, because she was used to eating "the right way." Yay Dad!
So, in my immediate family, there wasn't much BF going on. Like I said, I never saw it growing up, or even heard about it other than the sagging breast warning.
But that didn't stop me from knowing innately what babies should be eating. I always thought to myself, "But that's what they're for!"