Why did my mother's generation not breastfeed?

(131 Posts)
sushidave Fri 01-Feb-13 14:27:55

I asked my mum why me and my siblings weren't breastfed and she said something vague about how it wasn't 'in fashion'. I've no reason to believe she had other reasons so am genuinely curious as to why BFing was seemingly so rare 40 years ago. Is what she said representative of women at the time?

I'm BFing my 7 week old DD, am fully indoctrinated in the Breast is Best message, and objectively find it hard to disagree with the evidence behind the message. And more simplistically, as mammals surely feeding is what breasts are FOR!

So if anyone has any insight (personal or otherwise) into the polar shift in attitudes and practice of BFing, I'd love to know. Could it be due to the same reasons behind the relatively low rates of BFing in the UK currently: time constraints, embarrassment, lack of support (though that could be a circular argument), perceptions of complexity, lack of family support?

I always thought it was because the formula companies peddled it as superior to breastmilk, less faff, good for "hungry babies" and without the ick factor of human body parts being involved.
Then they were stopped doing that and things slowly started to get better. I say slowly...I'm not convinced there has been a polar shift tbh

ginmakesitallok Fri 01-Feb-13 14:30:14

I remember hearing/reading somewhere that formula was seen as the perfect food for babies, and only women who couldn't afford it breastfed. Breastfeeding was seen as the cheaper option and women aspired to formula feed.

I am 33 and my mum bf (mostly mixed) for about six weeks I think, because I was such a "hungry baby". hmm - not at her, but at the lack of support that let her think a tiny baby feeding lot was in some way abnormal.

Ironically I remember my aunt (who was a few years younger than her) wearing a T shirt that had a stylised picture of a baby being bf on it (it was her scruffy T shirt grin). I always assumed the baby was blowing a huge bubble gum bubble, and was an adult before I figured out what the picture was.

HumphreyCobbler Fri 01-Feb-13 14:33:59

My mother tried with her first baby. They kept him in a nursery and fed him a bottle in the night, and brought him to her at four hourly intervals to feed him in the day. It is not surprising "she didn't have enough milk".

My MIL ignored all the formula propaganda and was told she was cruel for wanting to feed such a big baby, as he would be obviously hungry. They gave him a bottle without her consent.

Wigeon Fri 01-Feb-13 14:34:16

I wonder what the actual statistics are on BF rates in the 1960s / 70s / 80s? My mum BF me and my sister (born 1979 and 1982) and my MIL BF DH and his siblings (born 1975, 1979 and 1991).

HumphreyCobbler Fri 01-Feb-13 14:34:40

sorry, 'they' in both cases were the HCPs who looked after her in hospital.

motherinferior Fri 01-Feb-13 14:34:49

Some mothers did breastfeed 40 years ago. I am 49 and was brought up believing that I would...

bluemintygel Fri 01-Feb-13 14:35:03

My MIL says it's because babies were separated from mothers in hospital. Feeding was done to a strict schedule so the midwives would bring the baby to be fed every 3 hours. The midwifes didn't really encourage breastfeeding and told her she wasn't producing enough milk so she bottle fed.

My mum breastfed us all to varying degrees. She says when she was in hospital with my brother (this would be about 47 years ago) she was expected to keep to the same routines as the bottle fed babies, demand feeding wasn't encouraged at all, so perhaps it was quite hard for many mums to maintain their supply?

My MIL was given pethidine without her consent shock

SecretNutellaFix Fri 01-Feb-13 14:37:44

My mother was told formula was better as I was a small baby for being two weeks late, and they gave her a tablet to dry up her milk.

bluemintygel Fri 01-Feb-13 14:38:10

BTW my mum breastfed, as did my aunties and most of my mum's friends so it's always been normal to me.

Longdistance Fri 01-Feb-13 14:38:16

My dm bottle fed. It really was to do with a lot of brain washing of mw, mothers and alike by ff companies. That it was better for baby. My mum even had to add sugar to it confused

How the hell is that supposed to be better for a child is beyond me???

Anyway, the fights we had when I bf my dds. Needed to convince the old dear, but she came round in the end....even showing off.

FunnysInLaJardin Fri 01-Feb-13 14:38:19

My mum is 85 and tried to BF all of us. She succeeded with my middle sister but not with me or my eldest sister. I was always brought up to think that I would BF and as it turned out I couldn't properly BF my sons either.

OhIWishThereWasABook Fri 01-Feb-13 14:38:56

Big bf fan, my mum didn't as was very worried about me bf. I wonder in her case if it wasn't a bit of a women's lib thing for her. For the first time women could pass on the feeding onto someone else and not be tied to the house. Also agree with gin that formula was seen as the posher substance.

NorbertDentressangle Fri 01-Feb-13 14:40:01

I wonder if it was also partly due to it fitting in with the fact that in the early 70s there was huge popularity in the introduction of 'modern', convenience foods and the 'space-age' technology of just adding water to create a food/drink and reheating ready meals etc.

(eg. Rise and Shine orange 'juice' made by adding water to a powder, boil in a bag Vesta curries, puddings where you add water/milk to a powder etc)

Convenience food was seen as the way forward and the ultra stylish way to eat. Formula maybe fitted that image?

rosiesmartypants Fri 01-Feb-13 14:40:20

My mum is very anti-breast feeding (she's 71), and for all I don't really know where the attitude comes from, she told me last year that when I was born that her GP told her "it was OK for the cows in the field, but not for human beings"...how attitudes have changed.

She was also disgusted last year that my cousin's wife was still BF her 1 year old. I can see I m going to get tonnes of support....

momb Fri 01-Feb-13 14:47:49

My Mum found it sore after the first couple of days so they gave her epsom salts to dry up the milk and put me on a bottle. She henceforth believed that she 'couldn't' BF so all my brothers were bottle fed.
When I carried on feeding my ED through cracked nipples and supply issues and mastitis and kept going for over a year, she thought I was mad, but has subsequently told me that after the first visit when ED was new, when I was obviously struggling but just kept on going until it came right, she went home and cried her heart out, as she had never been given the opportunity to keep going and now realizes she could have fed us all :-(

PatTheHammer Fri 01-Feb-13 14:55:15

I think the common practice of taking the baby to the nursery at night in hospitals must have had a huge impact.

When my brother was born in 1977 my mum was asked to stay 10 days in hospital (as standard), he was taken to the nursery every night. Subsequently her milk 'never came in' and on the advice of the midwives she bottle-fed.
By 1983 when my sister was born she was in and out of hospital quickly and successfully fed my sister for about 4 months, virtually unheard of for people to feed much over 6 months, babies were weaned at 12-16 weeks routinely and women were advised not to carry on giving the baby so much milk (!).

All of these factors and education/changing attitudes of midwives have got to have had a major impact.

In my Grandparents generation my Nan has said there was still a kind of class-thing going on. Working class people breast-fed. Better off people used formula (a replacement for the wet-nurse of years before!). Don't know if there's much truth in this though.

BTW, my mother and grandmother were both supportive when mine were BF, although my Mum was sceptical about feeding DS till he self-weaned at 17mths.

5madthings Fri 01-Feb-13 14:57:03

My mum got crap advice likje only 5mins on each breast and only every four hours and she was also made to put iodene on her nipples to sterile them....

5madthings Fri 01-Feb-13 14:57:19

Sterilize them that should be.

noblegiraffe Fri 01-Feb-13 14:58:55

My mum gave birth in a military hospital 3 times, and she said that each time the baby was removed from the mother, put in a nursery and every 4 hours there would be an announcement 'Mrs X, your baby is due a feed' and she would have to troop off to the nursery. The nurses were anti breastfeeding as it was far less hassle for them if the babies were bottle fed.

She didn't succeed feeding the eldest, I think the nurses basically forced her to put him on the bottle. She did bf younger 2 for a few months, which astonishes me given that 4 hourly feeding from birth goes against all the advice.

Jenny70 Fri 01-Feb-13 15:02:03

Formula was new & exciting, it was an era of scientific leaps in many areas and new techology was instantly trusted & wanted (tv, pill, moon landing, computers, mobile phones)... so people were primed to accept new things = good.

Then with the marketing making you feel like you were a poorer mother if you didn't invest in formula, midwives telling you your milk was no good and others telling you to just do it, it must have been a hard message to ignore.

In some cultures, breastfeeding is also lower class, higjer class people would get wet nurses (pre formula), so having baby bottle fed was seen as sign of wealth and status.

Bert2e Fri 01-Feb-13 15:03:25

You might want to read The Politics of Breastfeeding by Gabrielle Palmer for a historical overview!

turkeyboots Fri 01-Feb-13 15:12:10

In the west of Ireland my grandparents and parents generation didn't breastfeed as it was only what you did if you couldn't afford powdered milk. I don't think it was seen to be better for baby.

My grandmothers were horrified when on DC3 my mother went all hippy long term breastfeeder.

blackteaplease Fri 01-Feb-13 15:18:59

My mum went back to work when I was 6 weeks old but I was on formula before then. I think it was the propaganda from the formula companies. As far as I know, all of my siblings were given bottles of formula, I am the youngest of 4.

My nana is in her 80's, she had 7 children and told me that she breastfed all of them until they were 4/5 months old.

sushidave Fri 01-Feb-13 15:29:47

Fascinating stuff, and what a cultural shift. Lots to ask my mum about now! The promotion of FF then BF reminds me of the arbitrariness of what's desired from one era to the next (e.g. tanned skin = bad / tanned skin = good; fleshy women = good / fleshy women = bad). Feel lucky to live in relatively liberated times.

MamaMary Fri 01-Feb-13 15:31:09

My mum breastfed all three of her children (we're now in early 30s) but lasted only 6 weeks with me as she got a flu and her milk dried up.

However, she only got to 4 months with my siblings as she had to go back to work. Maternity leave was much shorter then so very few working mums could have bf beyond 3 or 4 months.

usualsuspect Fri 01-Feb-13 15:32:20

My mum breastfed all of us, I would say it was the norm in the 60s TBH.

Kveta Fri 01-Feb-13 15:33:29

I think it was a mixture of over-medicalisation of child birth (women strapped to beds on their backs as standard) and everything else baby related (mums no longer knew best, doctors knew best), massive investment in advertising by formula companies ('this formula is so good, even royal babies drink it' or words to that effect), and enforced separation of mum and baby in hospital.

That and it being deeply unfashionable (previous generations obviously didn't have formula as an option, then when it was introduced, it was the preserve of the wealthy - so when it became more affordable, it was the done thing to show you were well off by buying milk rather than nursing your child directly - breastfeeding became the preserve of the poor and 'hippies')

The Politics of Breastfeeding is an excellent read btw - easy to read too, so can be read even on 2 hours sleep smile

That said, my nan bfed her 3 daughters (1942; 1946; 1954) for a year each, and my mum bfed all 4 of us for a year each (1982; 1984; 1987; 1989), so it certainly did happen in previous generations - but nan told me she was only allowed to feed 4 hourly in hospital (god knows how her milk came in) and mum said she was often the only mum on the ward, as she would be sitting feeding me, whilst the other mums went outside for a fag - so she'd be surrounded by screaming babies in their fishtanks whilst she struggled to get feeding established.

Oh, and both mum and nan were very dubious about me bfing beyond a year, but I am now on to DC2 and although she is 7 months, neither has asked when I'm getting her on to a bottle - they don't dare!! grin

duchesse Fri 01-Feb-13 15:33:47

I'm 45 and my mother was the only breastfeeding woman in the entire large northern city teaching hospital- they did ward rounds to coincide with my feeds! My mother never even countenanced not breastfeeding but most of the other women thought she was a backward freak. My birth was very difficult and she was very ill but even that didn't put her off. Very proud of my mother.

scaevola Fri 01-Feb-13 15:36:48

I suppose it all depends on how long a generation is to you!

In the 1950s, the doctors on the forefront of both paeds and ob/gyn were staunch and public pro-BF.

Illngworth and Illingworth wrote text books for medical students, plus one for parents (about the only one around in the 50s - see Hardyment's survey) and it was pro-BF.

I think it must all have changed in the generation following my mother ie some time in 1960s (when Britain also became more affluent).

MousyMouse Fri 01-Feb-13 15:36:56

my mothef was in hospital for a week after staight forward complication free births. babies were in nurseries most of the time and only brought to the mothers to feed every 4 hours. babies were weighted before and after each bf and topped up with formula if they didn't 'drink enough'.
no wonder supply hardly established...

TheSecretCervixDNCOP Fri 01-Feb-13 15:38:31

I'm really shocked and sad at how many babies were 'removed' from their mothers whilst in hospital! Why on earth was that necessary? If they'd have tried that when I had DD I would have got dressed and gone home there and then.

SunshineOutdoors Fri 01-Feb-13 15:41:16

Ah, I know it obviously didn't cause any lasting harm, but given how we all talk about giving our newborns cuddles all the time, and the importance of skin to skin, I feel a bit sorry for all these babies (us?) being left for four hours at a time and only being brought to their mothers for short intervals. Did they (we?) just stay in the little plastic cots for the rest of the time? I bet the new mums would have wanted to keep finding them, we used to stare for hours at our pfb.

duchesse Fri 01-Feb-13 15:41:37

Most women led pretty hard lives a few decades ago and lying in in hospital for ten days was probably about as close to a rest as they ever got. The babies were probably removed to give the mothers the chance to recuperate after the birth. Misguided maybe but for a good reason.

Theas18 Fri 01-Feb-13 15:41:45

Long stays in hospital. Babies fed 4hrly and " in the nursery so mother can rest and recover" I guess.

I was bottle fed after my mum had a huge PPH and nearly died- she was a bit twitchy when I came home with mine the next day as her bleed was day 3 or 4. (I'm 46) Just don't ask about the rusk/rice in bottles and chocolate pudding from about 8 weeks LOL

Theas18 Fri 01-Feb-13 15:43:50

I think the babies in the nursery thing was thought to be a kindness TBH. THey didn't realise the DVTs etc they were probably causing as well as maternal distress trying to conform to rules their mum instincts must have been fighting against.

tiktok Fri 01-Feb-13 15:45:10

Bf rates started to fall seriously in 1950s - mothers urged to breastfeed but hospital practices (separation of mothers and babies; lots of topping up) and unhelpful ideas about frequency and routines meant that it was a dismal experience for most of them.

Formula became widely available in 1960s. Marketed strongly to mothers and to HCPs. It was easier to prepare bottles, and by that time, the ideas about frequency and routine had taken hold.

Tide started to turn back again from the mid-70s on.

The unhelpful ideas about frequency and routines are still with us, though, often kept alive by the now grandmothers and great-grandmothers who heard them when they had their babies.

duchesse Fri 01-Feb-13 15:47:15

tiktok, do you know if regimentation of breastfeeding began during WW2? I would have thought a certain amount of enforced efficiency might have crept into feeding schedules as well, no?

Kveta Fri 01-Feb-13 15:49:06

my other grandmother was saying a while back that she was at a lunch with friends and they were talking about this 'new trend' for skin-to-skin - she said it seemed very alien to them, as babies were shown to them briefly from a distance after the birth, then whisked away to the nursery whilst mums were cleaned up. Grandma said she was sad she missed out on it, as the first time she got to hold her sons, they were several hours old. she also bfed, but hated it, and got them onto bottles asap. both born in early 1950s.

tiktok Fri 01-Feb-13 15:59:22

duchesse, actually routines and regimentation began long before that - Gabrielle Palmer (in the Politics of Breastfeeding) explains it as a result of industrialisation, when it became normal to measure and time tasks. It was also linked to older ideas of bringing up children, strictly and according to rules.

Baby care and nursing manuals from the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries are full of timings and rules.

But of course no one could really enforce any of this to vast numbers of women until the widespread incidence of hospital birth.

I was born in 1979 & my mum bf me and all 3 of my siblings ( born in 1981, 1983 & 1985). When my youngest sister was born (@29weeks) dmum was expressing for her in scbu and donating excess milk to other babies in scbu.

MIL didn't BF DH and was aghast at me doing it (bf) when formula was so easily & cheaply (!her words) available. DH fully supported me in BF and actually told his mum off when she called me selfish for not letting anyone else feed DS.

I fed DS til he self weaned at 16 months & DD until I was admitted to hospital with cancer when she was 17 months.

confusteling Fri 01-Feb-13 16:04:48

I was bottle fed prescription soy milk in 1991, and so was sister - my mum says now if she could have done it, she would, but she was ill at the time and had suffered a lot of sexual trauma prior to my birth so didn't feel able to BF.

I do think there is a connection between BF and health. I have no major allergies or excemas but my sister has very, very dry skin, asthma and bad excema, also dozens of allergies. Both sister and I have various specific LDs as well.

do read the politics of breastfeeding , it will open your eyes!
Dmum wanted to feed my brother (1975) but struggled to latch him on with no help, eventually she was told she had the wrong sort of nipples(!!!) and they brought her a bottle . She then bottlefed dsis (1977) and me (1979). we have very similar body types, my nips were flat too (before bfing for years!) but DS stretched the ligaments in the first few weeks. she got teary once, telling me how she wished she had breastfed us, and had longed to sad
I think there was a very strong culture of doctor/nurse/nanny knows best . She marvels at how stroppy and assertive we are with HCPs .
DH's mum was a hippy and breastfed him in 1980.

tallulah Fri 01-Feb-13 16:17:45

There's a passage in the book "Call the Midwife" that covers this.

It became the fashion about that time [1950s] to put babies on to formula milk, and to suggest to the mother that this would be best for the baby. ... I remember lectures during my Part I midwifery training about the advantages of bottle-feeding, which sounded very convincing. When I first came to work with the Nonnatus Midwives, I thought them very old fashioned in always recommending breastfeeding <Quote>

I was born in 1963 but my mum refused to go to hospital and was able to breastfeed me - until I got teeth at 7 months sad My DB got his teeth at 4 mo. The NDN on both sides BF, as did my mum's friends. It was normal as a child to go to someone's house and see their mother BF a younger sibling.

My DC1 was born in 1986 and there was a general encouragement to BF. I was told to start solids at 12 weeks (increased to 16 weeks by the time I had DC2 18 mo later) and people seemed to take that as a cue to swap to bottles as well. I could never see the logic in that and continued to BF until DC1 self weaned at 15 months. That was seen as very odd - nobody expected a child of over 6 months let alone 12 months to still be feeding even tho those same people would give their children bottles until they were 4

When I had DC5 in the same hospital in 2007 I noticed far fewer people even started BF. The general attitude seemed to be a need to get out of hospital ASAP so when the nurses said you couldn't go until the baby was feeding properly they'd just instantly switch to FF. I had 2 work colleagues who did that just before I had DC5.

tiktok Fri 01-Feb-13 16:26:11

tallulah, interesting quote from the book.

In 1986, the majority of women started off breastfeeding....I'd have to check to be sure, but it was over 70 per cent. The figures continued to rise slowly ('cos tide had already turned) and by 2010, it was 81 per cent.

So your experience of fewer mothers bf in 2007 is not in line with that.... but maybe the socio-economic profile of the area had changed in those 21 years? There is still a marked difference in 'who' breastfeeds, though the majority of women in all socio-economic groups start off breastfeeding, except when you break it down regionally. There are pockets of the UK where hardly anyone starts bf.

44SoStartingOver Fri 01-Feb-13 16:35:02

I was delivered by section after my mum laboured for 5 days!

She had pneumonia and was kept in a regular ward. I was kept in an incubator for 10 days (despite weighing over 9 lbs - so they must have folded me up to fit me in!).

At no point was my mum allowed to visit me as she was considered not well enough. Am pretty sure she was given an injection to dry up her milk.

After 10 days a doctor asked why she was crying when she explained she had not seen met yet, but heard everyone talking about the large red headed baby in the incubator and she was sad. Finally I was brought to her.

if I know anyone who is separated from their baby at birth, I do tell them I don't think it made mum and me any less close or devoted, but looking back, she must have been out of her mind with distress.

My aunt is of a similar mindset and fed my exclusively breast fed baby with formula when babysitting for me. However, I was so ill at the time, I was still grateful she did her best (throwing away all my carefully frozen breast milk) as the formula was in lovely avent bottles - all clear and hygienic!

Both thought I was v weird for bfing. I have the NCT to thank for that!

MirandaWest Fri 01-Feb-13 16:39:59

My mum bf my sister and me (born in 70s and 80s). I always assumed that's what I would I'd do. I know my mum (born in late 40s) was bf as well.

ouryve Fri 01-Feb-13 16:47:35

It was all about convenience and being marketed as superior. My mum was born in the late 40s and bottle fed, too, with the National Milk (sweetened sterilised milk) because her mother was expected to go straight back to work while the restructuring effort went on.

notcitrus Fri 01-Feb-13 17:04:16

Two of my aunts did breastfeed, but at 12 weeks weaned the babies which meant not only onto food but off the breast. My mum was very confused when I talked about weaning ds yet still feeding him because she didn't know it was possible. She didn't get the option of bf as I spent 2 months in hospital 30 miles away. Other aunt bottle fed as it was 'clean' and modern.

This is all so interesting. Tiktok, have you got the regional rates to hand? I would love to see that.
My MIL had my DH in 1977 and he was only brought to her every 4 hours, so her supply never got going and she moved to formula a few weeks later sad
My DM had me in 1982 and was determined to BF. She allowed them to take me to the nursery one night so she could get some rest under the proviso that they would bring me back when I needed a feed. They didn't and gave me formula sad She was livid and refused to let me out of her sight for the remainder of the stay. She fed me until 4 months old when she took me to the GP as I was unsettled and they told her that she had run out of milk hmm So she stopped bfing me. I asked if I was put onto formula but she says she didn't trust it, so it was straight onto solids full time confusedshock
It is a bit sad as she has always told the story of her milk suddenly stopping and it's only since I have been a mother that I've realised it was probably just the four month growth spurt sad
Her support for bfing has been invaluable though, I was brought up to absolutely believe that I would breastfeed my own children and I intend to do lots of positive reinforcement for breastfeeding to both my DD and DS throughout their childhoods smile DS was fed until 16 months and DD is still going at 17 months. DS was very miffed the other day to discover that he won't be able to do it when he is a Daddy though grin

CrazyMegOfBedlam Fri 01-Feb-13 18:00:38

Finding this really fascinating, well definitely check out the book!

My mum bf all four of us (1988, 89, 91 and 93) for about 3/4 months when she weaned and from what I can remember of other families, (I am the eldest child) this was what a lot of people did. I went on to feed both my Dses until the self weaned (DS1 8mo and DS2 finished last week at 14 mo), I'd seen mum do it so I never really questioned that I'd do it iyswim
My Nan on the other hand, bottle fed all her daughters (Born 59, 60, 62 and 72) because it just wasn't done at the time so would tie in with what was said up thread. I'm not sure on her feelings about mum bf'ing. I remember DH being told her boobs were too small when she tried to feed bil (would have been the 70's, her parents had died by then so wouldn't have come from them, so maybe hcp at the time perhaps?)
My Dad, I think, was bottle fed and has quite an old fashioned attitude towards it, asking me a lot after 6 months when I was going to give up and if I was going to be 'one of those hippy women who were still feeding the baby at six years old [hmmm] '
It's really interesting how attitudes have changed then come full circle again

CrazyMegOfBedlam Fri 01-Feb-13 18:01:21

hmm even!

tiktok Fri 01-Feb-13 18:15:17

Whispers, all the UK infant feeding surveys are on the web, AFAIK....google is your friend smile

They go back to 1975.

treaclesoda Fri 01-Feb-13 18:19:58

I am a child of the mid 1970s, and my parents were quite old when I was born. I didn't even know that breastfeeding existed until I was about ten years old. Had never heard of it, seen it done etc.

However, I was also raised in a very conservative Christian household, and I think there was a very puritannical horror of body parts, and my parents would have viewed breastfeeding as somehow dirty. At school, the vast majority of my friends came from similar backgrounds, and I imagine their parents would have been the same. I know this is probably a minority experience, but just thought I'd throw it into the mix. My parents are elderly now and are perfectly supportive of breastfeeding now, but again that is probably down to the fact that it has come full circle and is now, quite rightly, seen as the norm.

poozlepants Fri 01-Feb-13 18:38:18

My Mil bf dh in 1969 but it was as regimented as formula. 10 minutes each side every 4 hours. She was in hospital for a week and the baby was brought to her round the clock when he needed fed. She said it was bliss as she left hospital rested and well fed. DH didn't put on much weight. Then she weaned at 12 weeks. She was the only one bfing and thats because she read an article about it once and thought it wasa good idea. She made my life a misery when I was feeding ds as she thought the feeding on demand thing was wrong and would make my baby fat. She kept repeating 10 minutes each side every 10 minutes.
My mother bottle fed as bfing was for regarded as old fashioned and only hippies did it. She was horrified when my aunt did it when I was about 5.

Both MIL and my mother were given pethidine injections without being asked if they wanted it or not- it was obviously standard. Explains when I asked both of them how sore it was they were sort of vague and said it wasn't that bad.

Zara1984 Fri 01-Feb-13 19:27:40

Some of these reasons sound like what I encountered..... In October 2012, at a large "Baby Friendly" maternity hospital in Dublin.

I was told DS had to be successfully bf every 3 hours for 15 minutes or more, or they would give him formula by syringe.

I was the only mum attempting to bf on my whole ward. When I was crying trying to get DS to latch, with no midwife coming to help for over 30 minutes even though I repeatedly pressed the call button, one of the other mums told me not to bother and just give him a bottle sad

FF mums got to sleep at night while the midwives took the babies off them to feed... I was told I had to wait to get help at night latching DS until they had finished bottle feeding babies angry

I saw the healthcare assistant offering to make up bottles for me every 4 hours more than I did any midwives helping me to feed (and I really needed the help, DS wasn't latching)

Midwives and friends generally thinking I was crazy for persevering for 2 weeks bf, until I gave up in exhaustion from trying to get him to latch and pump full time

DS is not very good at eating and sucking generally but is it any bloody wonder DS got a bit dehydrated, I ended up FF after 2 weeks, even though I never doubted I would BF? angry I don't feel guilty anymore about not bf (best choice in the circumstances for us) but I am still fucking furious at the hospital and wonder how I can report them to the WHO for not exactly being bf friendly as they advertise. DH is so angry at the hospital he said he'll never set foot in the place again!

Zara1984 Fri 01-Feb-13 19:30:39

Conversely, my mum always said I was bf - what I know now is that she meant I was fed until 12 weeks, then I was on formula. When I asked why she didn't bf longer than that she looked at me like I had two heads! I think in the early 80s bf past 3 months was seen as seriously weird. Possibly due to attitude of healthcare staff, from what she told me.

Zara1984 Fri 01-Feb-13 19:34:58

44SoStarting your poor mother! Your post made me cry sad she must have been out of her mind with worry.

I was born in the fifties and was ff after a few weeks because DM got repeated mastitis. DSIS was breast fed- don't know for how long. DBRO wa fed with Carnation milk after being bf for a few weeks!

DH was bf for exactly nine months as were his sisters.

I bf both DSs (born in the nineties) until they self-weaned at around 13 months. Would have been happy to continue for longer. Got a lot of pressure from MIL to feed every four hours and wean at nine months, which I ignored.

DM seemed to feel guilty in her latter years for not bf me for longer. This was after she saw me and DSIS successfully bf our own children. Sad that she felt like that.

FiveFlowers Fri 01-Feb-13 19:49:35

My DD1 was born in the early 70s and I intended to BF her. I read all the baby books I could get my hands on and every one I read gave the same advice - "10 minutes each side every 4 hours, or every 3 hours for a premature baby." - And that was it.

In hospital (6 day stay), babies were brought to us four-hourly along with a bottle of formula for topping up after a BF. Only two of us mums in a ward of 16 were breast feeding.

Babies were removed to the nursery where they were given a bottle during the night.

I got no support from midwives or my HV and when my baby cried 'between feeds' it meant my milk wasn't 'good enough' or I 'didn't have enough'

So, surprise, surprise, like every other mum I knew, I failed at BF. I felt embarrassed feeding anyway as it wasn't really considered a 'nice' thing to do - in hospital, the curtain had to be drawn around my bed when I was feeding my baby sad

I had more success with my subsequent babies when I trusted my instincts and BF them at the slightest peep! They were both given solids at 12 weeks or 12 pounds (whichever was earlier) as recommended at the time, so not exactly exclusively BF for very long.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I don't think BFing fell out of 'fashion' nearly as much in Australia (where I'm from) as it did in the UK. Everybody, but everybody, I knew growing up was breastfed and I grew up in the 80s seeing it all the time in public.

That said, misinformation and misunderstanding still abounded. My mum BFed me and had sore and bleeding nipples. She carried on regardless, even following a bout of mastitis, after being told off for not having conditioned her nipples properly prior to giving birth hmm When I was six weeks old she had to go back to work full-time. She had wanted to express rather than put me on formula but said, 'I was stressed about going back to work and it caused my milk to dry up.' When I asked her how she knew her milk had dried up, it was apparently because I had been fussing at the breast and pulling on and off. The nurses informed her this was because the milk supply was dwindling confused

At the ripe old age of 28, I went to a new dentist who commented on how tongue-tied I was - neither I nor mum had any inkling of this previously. It wasn't until I had my own tongue tied DS (when I was aged 33) that the penny dropped as to what had happened with me as a baby and mum. Mum was gutted when we made the connection sad

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 01-Feb-13 20:13:57

I'm a child of the 70s, and although mum BF my siblings I have a tongue tie that made my latch excruciating. Apparently SMA Gold was "the thing" to feed back then, almost a status symbol, and mum was seen as a bit of a hippy (she's so not!) for BF the others

My mum breastfed all four of us, oldest brother is 38 now. I was fed for the longest - 14 months. My mum is very pro breastfeeding.

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 01-Feb-13 20:16:56

Elphaba, just seen your post (crossed with mine)

I never know whether to be pleased that a sensible doctor diagnosed my tongue tie at 6 weeks and let my mum move to a bottle for me without enduring significant pain to feed me, or cross that the useless doctor didn't recommend a simple snip to enable my mum to continue to BF me how she wanted

Rosevase Fri 01-Feb-13 20:17:40

70s baby. My mother had home births and did extended breastfeeding (and when my sibling was born, tandem feeding too!).

She thought that was what was better.

She didn't have that in her background. She had been brought up by maternity nurses and nannies.

ceeveebee Fri 01-Feb-13 20:17:42

My DM bf my older sister for a few weeks, me for a year (bottle refuser), my younger brother for a few months but bottle fed my younger sister (think that was just the pressure of 4 under 5 rather than thinking ff was superior). I was born in 1976.
My DM told me that she didn't have enough milk as she had to feed me every two hours - I did try to suggest to her that this was probably normal but she had been told by the midwife and the doctor that she must have a low supply.

cochonette Fri 01-Feb-13 20:20:20

I was BF til 10 months (1979), and my DSis (1982) til her 4th birthday - my mum definitely found herself in the minority with that at the time!!
My mum was breastfed by her mother for a matter of days, (1947) and then fed on condensed milk, which was absolutely common thing at the time (this was in France).
Interesting how accepted methods of feeding babies have changed through the generations.
I was brought up believing I would BF my own babies - and I did with DS to 12 months.

Chottie Fri 01-Feb-13 20:22:26

My DC were born in the 70s and 80s. They were born in a small cottage maternity hospital. I knew all the midwives it was really cosy and supportive. I was in hospital for 10 days with DC1 and 5 days with DC2. The babies went into the nursery at night, but they came and got you when the baby woke up. I fed both my DC for 9 months. The midwives were very encouraging and supportive.

My DSis had two DC in the 90s and BF both of them

We were born in the 50s and were fully BF
My mother was one of 7 (all BF)
My DH was one of 7 (all BF)
DD is now pg with DGC, I have not mentioned feeding to her, but she has told me that she wants to BF too.

Do you think some breast shapes are easier to BF with than others? We all live or lived in south London

deleted203 Fri 01-Feb-13 20:23:50

I'm 45 (Child 5 out of 8) and my mother breast fed all of us. Don't think it was uncommon, was it?

stargirl1701 Fri 01-Feb-13 20:24:06

My Mum tried to bf me (late 70s). She was given pethedine (sp?) during labour. As I was sleepy she was told her baby had no sucking reflex and was told she had to bottle feed - where I presumably sucked!

oldebaglady Fri 01-Feb-13 20:29:08

I was BF in the 70s
so was DH
That wasn't unusual amongst our mother's peers
I was BF until I was over 1 yr
Both had C Sections (which then were under general anaesthetic) but must have been helped by the hospital staff to feed afterwards

yoyo123 Fri 01-Feb-13 20:29:23

my mum breastfed me ( born 1957) , but when she had my sister in 1961, she was given tablets , when she asked what they were for ,she was told they were to "dry up her milk", she refused and was considered 'difficult'

ByTheWay1 Fri 01-Feb-13 20:30:33

I was fed Carnation milk from a teaspoon as I had a deformed palate and could not suckle - why Carnation milk I do not know??!?!?

Porkster Fri 01-Feb-13 20:34:36

My mum breastfed, early 70s.

But she remembers being in the minority. She bf all of us for about 2 years; she reckons this was not the norm back then & tells tales of her friends adding baby rice to bottles & using darning needles to make the hole in the teat bigger!

BearsLikeMarmalade Fri 01-Feb-13 20:35:51

Its only since having a baby myself that I've realised how unusual both my Mum and MIL were for BF their babies for a year + in the 70s.

Mum BF my older brother (1975) and me (1977) for 12 & 15 mths respectively. She used to take my brother to the chemist and weigh him there herself to avoid getting a flea in her ear about BF when she went to the clinics. I grew up thinking BF was normal and didn't even question whether I would do it or not. Mum was great at supporting me when I had DS, and I commented that she should be a BF counsellor. She then casually mentioned that she'd done the training with NCT when we were little. One of her oldest friends also credits my mum with being the reason she BF her daughter. My mum has dementia now and is often hard to get along with so I think about this a lot to remind myself how great she is.

MIL was told for some reason not to BF her first baby beyond 3 mths (1974) but was in Africa when DH was born (1977), and the only baby equipment she owned was a sling! She BF DH for over a year, and also his younger brother (1980 in the UK then). She's since said that she felt 'rebellious' for doing so as it wasn't the done thing. Her own mother was of the 'feed 4 hourly' school and seemed to think that she wasn't able to BF.

Very grateful to have had both mum and MIL pro-BF, I think it makes a massive difference to support if its seen as normal in your family to feed on demand etc.

GettingObsessive Fri 01-Feb-13 20:36:01

My Nana had my DM and 4 siblings in the late 50s/early 60s and was told that she couldn't BF because her "nipples were too leathery" hmm

Having said that, all 5 of them turned absolutely fine, but wonder what would have happened if she had been given better advice.

My MIL says that she didn't produce enough milk. DH can eat a horse and still come back for pudding, even now, but again I wonder whether she was following advice to feed every four hours (this was in 1980) and there wasn't enough demand to stimulate the supply.

storytopper Fri 01-Feb-13 20:45:56

I am in my late 50s and BF both my DSs for about one year each in the early 1980s.

I was in the minority but not that unusual. Don't actually know the statistics - about the same percentage of mothers as today?

I overheard 2 old ladies discussing one of their granddaughters recently giving birth.

OL1 - Yes xx had a lovely little girl, but you'll never guess what she's doing with her.
OL2 - Ooh, she's not boobie feeding her, uurgh
OL1 - Yes, boob feeding. It's horrible to watch, she does it everywhere whenever the baby squawks.
OL2 - How common, you need to get her mother to sort her out and get the poor baby some proper milk.

Wallison Fri 01-Feb-13 20:46:03

I agree with the posters who said it's to do with attitudes towards technology that were around in the 70s - the moon landing had just happened, we were all heading towards an era where we could take our nutrition from pills and zoom around on personal hovercrafts etc. With that, I think there was a loss of common knowledge about breastfeeding; nobody was doing it, and who wanted to put their faith in the frail and frankly not fit for purpose human body.

My mum made loads of comments when I was breastfeeding; when my son cluster-fed, she said it was because I wasn't producing enough milk and maybe I should give him formula. If he was going through a growth spurt, again he was feeding so often because I wasn't producing enough milk. If he wanted feeding more than every three hours, again with the not producing enough milk comments. And all this despite him starting out as a tiny preemie and then racing through those bloody centiles. But it's because that's what she had been told when she tried to breastfeed us. It makes me feel really quite sad and cross that so many women were discouraged from trusting their own bodies and not being made aware of their capabilities. I'm sure my mother could have fed us, and actually she has since said that having watched me feed my son that she feels sad, even after all this time, that she didn't. Of course on one level to me it doesn't matter a damn that she didn't because she's my mum and she's ace, but I am angry that she has been left feeling that way.

firstpost Fri 01-Feb-13 20:47:32

My MIL is so anti breastfeeding it would take your breath away. I was feeding my 5 day old baby and she looked at me in disgust and said I was turning her stomach, it is revolting and I was making her feel queasy.

In turn FIL jumped up like a jack in a box everytime I sat down with DS, he made it very clear that he would not be in the room if I insisted on getting my breasts out as he would be too embarassed sad

MIL influenced her daughter so that none of her 4 children were breastfed. She is from NI and says in their part of the world nobody does. Allegedly the midwife told her daughter definitely not to try breastfeeding child number 2, 3 or 4 as its only possible with a first baby.

CitrusyOne Fri 01-Feb-13 20:56:20

I was born in the late seventies, and mum tells me of how her milk didn't satisfy me, and that when I was six weeks I wouldn't stop screaming me and she'd given me 20 minutes on each side, so Dad fetched formula and I slept right through the night. I also was taken away to the nursery though the night.

When I got pg with DD, I was open minded and thought I'd give bf my best shot but not beat myself up if it didn't work out. I went to an NHS workshop, and met mum for a cuppa afterwards where she asked what id been told. I relayed all the current advice about how to latch baby on, feeding on demand etc. She is now so full of guilt bless her, that she wasn't told all this, and is now fascinated and full of praise for me as I feed DD who is now 15 weeks and exclusively bf!

monsterchild Fri 01-Feb-13 20:57:44

My Mom was a lone parent back in the 60's living with her parents and working when my oldest three brothers were born, so she FF, as expressing and giving that to her parents to feed the boys wasn't really done. When the second litter came along, she had my Dad, but was still working full time, so we were again FF.

My sister tried to bf her kids, but a combination of physical things (including undiagnosed tongue tie) kept her from BF. She expressed for 8 months, which I think is pretty amazing.

I am lucky that I am able to bf my ds!

monsterchild Fri 01-Feb-13 20:58:39

Oh my Ds also has a tongue tie, but it's not prevented him from feeding just fine!

SeeYouSoon Fri 01-Feb-13 20:58:49

My mum definitely bfed both me and my brother in the mid 70s but not sure how long for. My stepmum bfed her two in the same era, ad admits to "cheating" at the 4 hour ten mind per side rule, probably one of thf reasons she fed them both till 9m successfully! Mil had hers in the 60s and 70s and didn't manage to get bf established. She always thought she was "doing it wrong" because she left maternity hospital ffing due to no milk. It wasn't till I explained how bf works with supply and demand etc that she realised it wasn't her fault that it handnt worked out for her.

I do think that those who succeeded in those days of babies taken away and brought back every 4 hours either had very plentiful supply or 'cheated' like my stepmum.

My brother was born in aus in 1971 and apparently there babies were given water at night in hospital rather than milk - my dad swears my bro was sleeping through from going home due to this.

EndoplasmicReticulum Fri 01-Feb-13 21:06:46

My mum did, I was born in 1974. She was a bit of a hippy though.

I was born in 66. DM tried to bf me, but as I was only allowed to feed every 4 hours and was constantly hungry she was told her milk wasn't good enough and that I needed ff.

it wasn't the fashion then to feed on demand. dsis was born in 71 and was ff from the beginning following a very difficult pregnancy. DM was in hospital for 10 weeks before giving birth.

dsis had nephew in 93 and was living with DM. she tried to bf, but DM wasn't very supportive. ds1 was born in 95. DM kept telling me my milk wasn't rich enough that's why he needed to feed so often. kept telling me I needed a top up bottle for ds. also tried to make me drink stout as it's got lots of iron in itconfused

ended up having a massive row with her and didn't speak to her for 2 weeks. dsis had to intervene in the end. HV was also crap. ds was 2 weeks early and every time I took him to be weighed she'd put the cross on the chart in the wrong week, then tell me he wasn't gaining enough weight. it's a good job I am stubborn. bf ds1 till he was 10 months, until he started biting me hard.

ds2 was born in 2002 and DM had given up saying anything by then grin

my cousins all had babies in the 70's and they all ff.

with ds1 a cafe told me I couldn't bf him as I might offend the other customers[angry, but I also took him into some secondary schools as part of an nct initiative to try to reverse the trend for ff.

with ds2 I made a point if feeding him in loads of cafe's etcgrin I bf till he was 2.

I expressed milk at work where they had a mothers room. had to make a bit of a fuss to get that room too.

rosy71 Fri 01-Feb-13 21:20:06

I was bf (born in 1971). I think it was probably only for about 12 weeks though and 10 minutes each side like others have said. My mum said they made lots of fuss about it in the hospital - I think she was the only one breastfeeding - and kept making her express all the time so she didn't run out of milk. When she had my sister at the same hospital in 1973, she decided to bottle feed rather than deal with the nurses again.

My younger brother and sister (born 1978 and 1982) were both breastfed. Apparantly attitudes had changed and breastfeeding was encouraged. I think they were still both weaned at 12 weeks or so thoguh.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 01-Feb-13 21:25:41

I am the mother of a 24 year old and a 22 year old, so born in 89 and 91. I chose not to breastfeed despite HUGE pressure from all the health professionals so do do because I wanted to be able to leave the baby with DH/grandparents etc and have some freedom which with BF you can't.

I had very contented healthy babies and would make the same decision today.

monstermissy Fri 01-Feb-13 21:26:52

My mum always said she never fancied it, she also said that no one knew smoking was so bad either. I'm guessing my mum was busy smoking and holding fondue parties/tupperware parties so too busy to breastfeed. I was born in 77. (My mum is awesome by the way) smile

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Fri 01-Feb-13 21:30:26

DM did 4 hourly feeds, ten minutes each side with me. I was BF for 6 weeks before she 'ran out'.

Younger DSises were BF on demand. They were BF for a year.

I explained to DM why this was but she was having none of it!

I grew up in 70s in a very large working class rural family. BF was the norm among family and friends. It went through a cycle in the 80s, 90s and 00s where FF became norm but now most of my young cousins and family members BF at least for a few months.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Fri 01-Feb-13 21:34:40

Don't want to start a bun fight or derail but you can BF and have freedom.

sleepyhead Fri 01-Feb-13 21:58:01

My mum had my brother and I in the early to mid 70s.

With me, she assumed she would bf because her mum and all her aunts had, but the hospital were quite anti. It was 4 hr scheduled feeds, babies taken away overnight (and mums given a sleeping pill), bf babies were weighed before and after feeds and if the required weight gain wasn't achieved then a bottle was brought.

Luckily for my mum (since I was pretty weenie and slow to get going) there was a more experienced mother in the bed next to her and she told my mum to say to the midwife that the baby wouldn't take the bottle when she saw her getting upset. Still, I was formula fed overnight. My mum asked them to bring me to her (she refused the sleeping pill) but they never did.

Both my mum & I had a lot of problems bf'ding because of massive oversupply, but for my mum I suspect that's the only way her supply survived 10 days in hospital - it's amazing she didn't get mastitis with the long breaks overnight though.

They also routinely gave you a pill to dry up your milk at the drop of a hat, so once you'd said you'd bottle feed there was no going back.

With my brother 3 years later in a different part of the country the midwives were more supportive and my mum was more experienced, so she said that it was much, much easier.

VinegarDrinker Fri 01-Feb-13 22:14:51

My DM BF 5 of us, all to over a year (born between 1981 and 1992). We had bottles of formula when she was at work.

My DH was BF to 18 months also in the early/mid 80s. His Mum considered BFing a big part of her feminism.

thesnootyfox Fri 01-Feb-13 22:19:59

My mum breast fed her first children, she hated it and found it difficult. By the time I came along early 70s formula was more widely available and my mum couldn't bear the prospect of having to bf for a 4th time.

5madthings Fri 01-Feb-13 22:22:17

You can have freedom if you bfeed and yes bottle fed babies can grow up to be fine but evidence shows that breast milk is better for babies. Its a bit of a no brainer that human milk for a human baby is going to be better for them IMO, its what they are biologically designed to have.

ouryve Fri 01-Feb-13 22:24:49

* FiveFlowers Fri 01-Feb-13 19:49:35*

My DD1 was born in the early 70s and I intended to BF her. I read all the baby books I could get my hands on and every one I read gave the same advice - "10 minutes each side every 4 hours, or every 3 hours for a premature baby." - And that was it.

When DS1 was born, 9 years ago, there were still books around advocating this.

And a lot of maternity hospitals in the US routinely put babies in nurseries away from mother and gave formula. I was on a msn due date group at the time and quite a few of the mothers had to be quite adamant in their birth plans about rooming in and no formula (never mind not being automatically treated like a piece of meat at the obstetrician's convenience during the birth). OBEM illustrates quite nicely that the culture hasn't changed a lot over there, in some hospitals.

ceeveebee Fri 01-Feb-13 22:40:23

I was told exactly the same in hospital last year - 10 mins each side every 3 hours for my 6lb twin son (and offered top ups on night 1 when getting a latch was tricky), and <4lb twin daughter was tube fed formula as she "needed formula" to increase her blood sugar - apparently colostrum wouldn't be enough for her. Was in for 8 days and under constant pressure to ff to get them to put weight on.

Anyway despite their best efforts to dissuade me I bf them for 11 months once I got home

Dottiespots Fri 01-Feb-13 22:44:37

When I was breastfeeding my mother was quite disgusted by it. She had me in the early sixties . When Id been feeding my daughter for 6 weeks she said that she thought it was time I switched to bottle now. I thanked her for her imput but asked if she could just support me as this is not the easiest thing in the world to do. She didnt like what i said and shouted at me to get out of her house. Despite this I continued feeding my daughter for a few years and then went on to feed my son straight after.

CitizenOscar Fri 01-Feb-13 23:20:25

My DB & I were born 79 & 80, both by CS.

DM bf us both - me for about a year, DB for less (6 months?). She did NCT etc so I guess she got support from people there.

They were definitely told the 10 mins each side thing. When they saw me feeding DS on demand, they did make some comments about how often he fed but mostly I think my dad was annoyed that he'd spent so many nights walking up & down with my DB when he wouldn't stop crying, when he was probably just hungry!

I wonder what practices our kids will be horrified by when they look back at us?!

PoppyWearer Fri 01-Feb-13 23:46:04

I was born in '75 and DMum had a tough labour with me (breech vaginal birth, ouch). She says she was told nothing at the hospital about how to care for me, and had no family support nearby (my DDad was feck all use in that department, still is!) so she gave up bf after a couple of weeks, and that was it, game over. Formula was the norm then.

DMIL was raising her DCs overseas and is even more pro-formula as a result. She claims to have bf at some point but is very anti-bf in practice and I do fully blame her for SIL giving up/not trying. She almost made me throw in the towel with all of her interfering and snarky comments.

It's a miracle I got so far with bf with so little knowledge/support in the family, but I did it for well over a year with both DCs almost in spite of them and to spite them. smile

Teds77 Fri 01-Feb-13 23:59:41

Really interesting thread!

My DM bf me and my DB. DB (1975) until around 4/5 months when he was on solids and me (1977) until 6 months when I started to bite. She talks about being 'determined' to bf. I must ask her about it but it sounds like by the time we were born she'd heard/read enough to think 'breast is best' but there wasn't yet a huge amount of support for bfers. Certainly both my DF and my DM's DM kept telling my DM just to give a bottle when we were unsettled.

DM now talks a bit sadly about not bfing us for longer but it seems feeding beyond 6 months was unusual or even non-existent where we were/amongst her peers. My DSIL fed my DN to 13 months and DM thought it was fabulous and really very practical and it was ridiculous no one had encouraged her to bf for longer.

6 months into bfing my DTs she has been my best supporter. People talk about the bond with your child but for me bfing has been the source of a really special bond with my DM.

80sMum Sat 02-Feb-13 00:04:57

This is interesting, as other people's experience and impressions are very different from my own.
I'm 55 and was bf, as was my younger sister. I never considered formula feeding for my DCs, born in 1980 and 1983, and indeed bf was strongly encouraged in the hospital and formula feeding from birth was very much frowned upon.
It was difficult in 1980, as the babies all stayed in the nursery overnight (and sometimes during the day) so we had to rely on the nursery nurses to comeand tell us when our babies were awake and crying.
It had all changed by 1983 and we all kept our babies with us overnight (and no-one got any sleep at all!).
I didn't know anyone that didn't breastfeed. Among my friends and acquaintances bf was definitely the norm. Most of us continued for about a year, but it wasn't at all unusual for mums to bf for longer (up to 2 years).

babyboomersrock Sat 02-Feb-13 00:07:49

My four were born in the 70s/80s, and had I not been determined - and lucky to have a good milk supply - I would never have managed.

With my first, in 1974, I was the only one breastfeeding in a ward of 6. The ward sister made her disapproval of me clear - every four hours, the curtains were drawn round me, the baby was plunked into my arms, she checked her watch and said "two minutes each side first day and I'll tell you how long tomorrow". She then marched off, happily dispensing bottles to the good mothers. I was allowed five minutes the second day and ten on subsequent days and had to stay there for five horrible days.

I was 27, much older than many on the ward, and breastfeeding was generally regarded as a bit of a hippy activity - certainly in that hospital. No-one ever sat with me or encouraged me in any way and it was hard to persist in the face of their opposition, but I did.

When I got home, things weren't much better - feeding was going well (though everyone, including my mother, said I "fed him too often"), my son gained weight quickly, but every time I had a question for the midwife or health visitor, I was advised to put him on the bottle or wean him.

By the time my other three came along, I didn't ask. I got very assertive and took no nonsense from anyone, but it still saddens me that I was made to feel so "abnormal".

ninedragons Sat 02-Feb-13 00:14:02

It's easy to forget how easy the Internet makes it to conduct your own research and walk into a doctor's surgery already well informed.

In the 70s and the 80s, the prevailing attitude was far more "Yes, Doctor". So if your GP told you that breastfeeding was for cows in the field, that was what you accepted.

But if a GP said that today, there'd be a 1,000-post thread on here (with links to all current peer-reviewed research) by lunch time and a petition to have him struck off by dinner.

AlbertaCampion Sat 02-Feb-13 00:18:05

My first DC was born last year & I am very fortunate to have given birth at a UNICEF-accredited BF-friendly hospital, with lots of help & support from the midwives & HCPs before I was allowed home. My home-visiting midwife & HV were fantastic too. Finally, the advice I received here - particularly from tiktok, who is a star - was a great help & reassurance.

The support was invaluable... because to my surprise, my DM & DMIL both turned out to be ferociously anti-BF. Both were adamant that BF wasn't enough for DC and that topping up was required. My DM came to stay the week of the birth, and kept grabbing the baby from me when he cried and I tried to feed, saying the baby couldn't possibly be hungry AGAIN. My MIL came to stay the following week and spent a lot of time glowering on the sofa, because she genuinely thought I was starving my baby. It was awful.

One reason why I was surprised is that my mum had always said I was breastfed (born 1979). Turns out that she BF me for 6 weeks, "then my milk dried up". My MIL tried to BF (1974) but "wasn't able to produce enough milk". Of course, it's clear to me now that they were advised terribly at the time. Neither will hear it - 35 years on, it's still a sensitive subject - but II am so pleased that times have changed.

1944girl Sat 02-Feb-13 00:25:11

My two children were born in '69 and '72.Both by EMCS.
Both were in SCBU for two days after birth and I did not get to meet both of them until that time.
The first time I wanted to breast feed but was very ill and I found it really hard and gave up at three weeks.The second time I did not even try and was given no encouragement(sp).The nurse actually came in with a bottle of milk for DS2 just after I had met him.
Both babies were bottle fed during their time in SCBU. When a baby has been given their first feeds from a bottle they do not take to the breast very easily, as the teat is bigger (in my case it certainly was, my nipples are hopeless) and they dont have to work so hard.
As a previous poster's DM I could cry when I think of the help and encouragement I would have got today.Also my right to demand an ELCS but that is another subject!.
4 hourly feeding was the practice and woe betide you if you dare to think of demand.

Wrigglebum Sat 02-Feb-13 07:35:04

My sister and I were born 1976 and 1979 and both bf for 6 months, food was introduced at 4 months and we had formula from 6-9 months when cow's milk was introduced. My mum swears this was the advice at the time and that almost everyone she knew bf for 6 months. She lived in a village at the time and bf at baby group but admits it wasn't done to bf out and about. My mum is far from a hippy!

MIL (children born 1979 and 1982) bf for a couple of weeks then switched to bottles as so said that was the done thing and no one really bf.

I think experience is more about the circles they were in than the era maybe? Mum had my sister in a small maternity hospital with just a few beds so perhaps that was more bf friendly than the big hospital that DH, BIL and I were born in. Also, I think my mum mixed in more middle class circles whilst MIL was more working class.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 02-Feb-13 07:40:44

My mother's milk never came in. I suspect this might have been linked to me staying in intensive care in one hospital and her being taken back to the hospital where she should have given birth, and not seeing me for a week.

lizzytee Sat 02-Feb-13 08:35:31

Love this thread - and how it frames so many individual experiences into a narrative....

Both my GMs BF four and six children respectively in in England in the 40's/50's and Ireland. My mum BF four of us in the 1970's and felt like the only woman in Ireland doing so. She says she did it was because her own mother was so pro-breastfeeding. I suspect my DM's tendency to ignore the opinions of others may have been a factor. grin

Until my peers in the UK started having children, I had no idea BF was supposed to be difficult and that lots of women couldn't.

I now support mothers postnatally....and the experience of their mothers and the effect it has on their attitudes towards feeding is something we often discuss. I often think of how muddled feminism has been in relation to bf - but it strikes me as profoundly anti-feminist to tell women that their bodies are leaky and bit yucky and apt to fail.

PenelopeChipShop Sat 02-Feb-13 09:35:21

So true ninedragons. We shouldn't forget that for most people there is so much good information out there today, though practical support can still be hard to find.

My mum bf me (1980) and DB (1984) though after a while definitely used formula as well - I actually remember big tubs of SMA in the kitchen when DB was a baby, or perhaps I've just seen a photo maybe! She says we were both bf for about a year and she was fantastically supportive of me bfing (my DS is 7 mo and I'm still going).

MIL I think was a bit surprised that I wanted to - she bf my DH for 6 weeks (he's the oldest of 3) then stopped as she didn't like being the only one who could feed him and having to 'shut herself away ' to do it. To her credit she was supportive too though when I just fed him in their living room surrounded by family (including her MIL who apparently didn't want to see her bf 30 years ago) saying 'its different now, it's fine to feed in public'. She didn't try with either of her second 2, put off by experience the first time round.

leedy Sat 02-Feb-13 16:17:47

I was the eldest in my family, born in 72, and my mum breastfed me until some fool public health nurse told her at 6 weeks that I "wasn't gaining enough weight" and "needed formula": she's still fuming that she accepted this advice unquestioningly. Younger sibs all BF for increasing lengths of time, my youngest sister for over a year including pumping when she went back to work, which was apparently pretty unusual in late-70s Ireland.

Ruidh Sat 02-Feb-13 16:38:31

Some of this actually makes me want to cry! As in really emotional!
I can't bear the thought of not being able to feed my baby (even if I had to do mixed for some reason), let alone things happening to me or him without my consent.

My mum didn't bf me or my sister, she was adamant that having carried us for 9 months that it was someone elses turn. She didn't want to bf so didn't even try.

I understand that many people can have all sorts of problems with bf and I have many grumbles towards the government for various different reasons but I cannot agree more with the whole breast is best situation! I do however think the ban on formula discounts/promotions is a bit too much as babies need feeding regardless of how their carers decide to do it and not everyone can afford the extortionate prices of those tins!

ClaraOswinOswald Sat 02-Feb-13 16:53:55

My mum was (is) a bit of a hippy and breast fed all 4 of us (1971, 1974, 1978, 1981). Her mum also breastfed all 4 of hers (1950s/60s) although I'm not sure for how long, but she is proud of it to this day and was over the moon when she heard I was breastfeeding mine as I have apparently inherited her fab boobs.
smile
My DDs have both breastfed their dolls so I'm sure they will breastfeed when the time comes if they can.

NulliusInBlurba Sat 02-Feb-13 18:58:50

The rot really seems to have set in across large swathes of the UK some time in the 1950s/60s/70s. I do think it has something to do with the British love affair with convenience products, combined with a British prudishness about natural bodily functions. I'm still amazed by the number of people here who feel they have to qualify any pro-breastfeeding in public message with 'as long as it's done discreetly, of course'. And the proliferation of capes and other 'breast-covering' devices.

When I was born in 1970, my mum was told beforehand that she wouldn't be able to bf because of some mole on one breast, and so she never attempted it. She persisted in peddling the 'I couldn't do it for medical reasons' line until after I'd had my own babies and I realised that she'd just been the victim of the general bf aversion prevalent at the time, where any excuse was used to get women away from bf (certainly in our part of the world).

I had my two in Germany in 1998 and 2002, and the experience seems to have been totally different to what many experience in the UK, and unsurprisingly, the uptake of bf is much higher (and stays much higher). Even in 1998 we were all told that we should aim for 6 months ebf if possible, for the health of the baby. Not everybody chose to keep on bf that long, but there was much less of a 'yuck' response from society in general. It just wasn't an issue. There's also much more support available with bf counsellors and midwives, and less of the 'failure to thrive' culture (what a horrid term) being thrust on mothers at the earliest possible moment. I get the feeling that even now mothers in the UK are being set up to fail (and to feel crap about themselves for 'failing') - professionals are spouting platitudes about 'breast is best' but then making it difficult in practice for that to succeed.
Rant over <calms down>.

Aliglobetrek Sun 03-Feb-13 08:40:29

I've enjoyed reading this thread.
I was born in 77 and DM tried to BF me once but apparently thought it was revolting and that she felt like a cow!
All the way through my pg she kept going on about how the 'breast is best' message is propaganda and how I shouldn't feel guilted into BF my DS.

Well I wanted to BF my DS (now 20 weeks) and had quite a lot of trouble
getting it established. Thankfully DH is very supportive but DM just kept going on at me to give him a bottle and get horrendously embarrassed when I needed to feed him. She used to leave the room at first!!

I'm glad I persevered and I think I got some of the determination from wanting to 'annoy' her by not giving him a bottle lol!

I'm back at work in 6 weeks so have just started to introduce a bottle to start weaning him off day feeds although I hope to still feed at night once I'm back.

Weissdorn Sun 03-Feb-13 08:55:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Loislane78 Sun 03-Feb-13 09:44:02

I'm the youngest of 4, first born late 60's through to me in the late 70's. With my oldest sister my mum said she was fairly naive about all things pg related (lack of internet and MN no doubt!) and when she had her was in a maternity home for over a week where the babies were kept in a nursery overnight and midwives all encouraged routine FF.

It's interesting that mum said the birth was pretty textbook but highly medicalised - lots of unnecessary internals, shaving (!), enemas (!!) etc. although no pain relief. FF was considered the norm and encouraged so whilst all that is bad, she said the maternity home was great. Lots of help from midwives on how to bath baby and general care, people coming round to do pelvic floor exercises with new mums, so interesting how some things have improved and others gotten worse.

Jenijena Sun 03-Feb-13 14:45:53

My Mum breast fed me (b 1981) til I was 9 months... I'd always assumed that meant EBF, but it turns out that I was mixed fed, as she had a conversation with my MIL recently about how "the best" formula was available only at the HV clinic and 'if you ran out between clinics it was much more expensive at the shops'.

MIL tried to bfeed, but I don't think had much support. I think many of the problems I encountered, she did, but I had the support and maybe a wee bit more stubbornness to get through. I think this makes her sad, but I know our birth experiences are sensitive things and I don't want to prod old memories. When i did just lightly, it turned out FIL wasn't banned from DH's birth, he just didn't want to be there. And she would have liked him there (I found out) Which considering her last labour had ended in a still birth, is devastating to my mind sad

safetyzone Sun 03-Feb-13 16:50:00

I was born in Hong Kong where the prevalence of formula was and still is even worse than here. DM's milk didn't come in because there was no skin to skin and no attempt at latching on since she's never felt full. It was the same with DB, both of us born in the 70s. DM was from a family of 9, I'm sure her mum did bf some of them but DM was fed cows milk (!), which explained why she was rather poorly when young.

Because bf was seen as uncivilised and the maternity leave is ridiculously short, I have never seen anyone inside or outside my family bfing when I was there (SAHM were also more unusual). It's only in my generation where women are more determined to bf and even that was limited to people who are capable of seeking either online or real life help. Which is doubly sad when they now have chronic shortage of formula in the shops because the mainlanders bought it all up and resell them in china (after the milk scandal they don't trust the formula sold in the country anymore). And even now in the private hospitals they still take the babies into nurseries and won't let mum stay with baby or do skin to skin. I'm just glad that I don't have to experience that.

MIL fed her both to 9 months (which seem a popular cut off point at the time) in the 70s in England. I'm pretty sure she was on the advice of timed feeds and routine and she vaguely recalled babies staying in nurseries overnight (so probably given formula at that point). She's probably not keen on me feeding beyond a year and now when pregnant but kindly kept quiet about it. She also said she was fed the rationed milk powder in the 40s.

Having said that the bf support I received at a baby friendly certified hospital 2 years ago was pretty ropey. Was told to supplement 70ml per feed on day 3 because of more than 10% weight loss (even though we both had iv at birth) could have finished off the bf. also got told by a mw that I didn't have enough milk hmm. we got help once discharged and dumped the formula as soon as possible.

exoticfruits Sun 03-Feb-13 17:10:35

My mother breast fed us all-she is in her 80s.

oldebaglady Sun 03-Feb-13 17:13:11

and you can't possibly get enough support with your first one if you are chucked out of hospital a few hours after birth

I couldn't disagree more! for both my births (one in a UNICEF certified hospital), staying in was detrimental to BFing and being at home where you have someone to help you pick up the baby (if you are in pain) and patient emotional support, and someone to bring you more than one cup of tea a day etc.

The community support is much better IMO, in hospital you can't co sleep because of horrid narrow beds, the fish tank cot things are really hard to reach over if you have stiches etc, you feel like you are disturbing everyone else, the "support" depends on who happens to be on shift and how busy the ward is

Once we got home, both times, we could begin to get somewhere with BFing

Weissdorn Sun 03-Feb-13 18:12:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

smicha Sun 03-Feb-13 19:06:52

What a fascinating thread. Just reading it while bfing DS and realise that I've been pretty lucky with my Mum and MIL. DM ebf me and Dsis to 4 months in 79 and 82. DMil bfed all three of hers between 62 and 71, although she did do the 10mins each side every 4 hours. I therefore had no doubt that I wanted to bf and am lucky enough to have had great support to do so. DM in particular read everything she could find on current guidance so she was in a position to help me all she could. She's now the biggest advocate of bfing on demand.
I've just downloaded The Politics of Breastfeeding and am looking forward to getting stuck into that!

nannyl Sun 03-Feb-13 20:18:18

Im 32. My mum EBF me and my sister.

we never had a drop of formula..... and nor has my own baby.

My grandmother EBF my mother and her brother too.

I have just been clearing my fathers house, and found a book that i can only assume belonged to HIS mother (who also BF 3 of her 4 children, the 4th refused to latch on at all)....
Its the good housekeeping book of baby care, first published in 1944 i was reading it just last night, and it makes it very very clear how breastfeeding is far better than the (cow / condensed / evaporated) alternative milk (pre formula) and is very VERY pro breastfeeding.... they have even done basic analysis of BM to variouse types of cow milk, and made the point of how different they are.

This shocked me, but in 1944 it was clearly also the advice of the time

Meglet Sun 03-Feb-13 20:31:51

Mum bf me and my sister in the mid 70's. It didn't occur to me not to when I had my own DC's.

As it turned out DS was a nightmare to bf but mum was hugely supportive with expressing and formula feeding. She never passed judgement once on how I fed him.

She was a lot more practical when I was bf DD. I was hopeless and always worrying about whether DD was getting enough and wouldn't let anyone take her for a walk in case she needed a feed. Mum laid down the law and pointed out that 2 month old DD was wonderfully chubby and she wouldn't starve to death if she took her for a walk for an hour blush. (mum was right)

GinGirl Sun 03-Feb-13 20:44:32

My mum bf me (born 1984) and all of my subsequent siblings.

How she managed with me I do not know as I had a severe tt which wasn't cut til I had it done under GA at 2yrs. She fed all of us for a year, but does say that it wasn't until her DC2 that she realised how easy it could be. She didn't realise that the amount of bmilk I brought back up and the pain she was in wasn't normal and was down to the tt.

She encouraged us to see it as normal growing up and I have bf my 3 DC to over a year each. Though when I was struggling with DC3's latch, I had her checked for a tt at day 6 and had her almost 100% tt cut at day 9!

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