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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?

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.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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