Google+ Authentic Parenting: How my Mum influenced my breastfeeding relationship

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How my Mum influenced my breastfeeding relationship

By Abby Kennedy

Before I got pregnant, I didn't really think about breastfeeding.  I've got my Mum to thank for that.  I was raised in a house where breastfeeding was normal.  Completely, and totally normal.  I never gave it a second thought, and it is only now that I'm starting out on my own breastfeeding journey, that I realise what a gift that is.

When I found out I was expecting, I noticed that 'breast or bottle' was a common discussion amongst my pregnant peers.  I realised then how I was different - although many said they wanted to try to breastfeed, I always answered that I would breastfeed.  I couldn't imagine any other way.  I had experience of bottle-feeding as a nursery nurse, but when I imagined feeding my baby, I imagined holding him close and breastfeeding.

Another gift from my mother was her copy of The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding.  It was very old, obviously very well read, and had her contact details as a La Leche Leader in the front.  This book was the first 'parenting' type book I read, and the one that influenced me the most.  I came away with the overwhelming message that if there were problems, it was almost certain that they could be overcome.  My Mum supported that message, and didn't ridicule me over not buying bottles or formula 'just in case'.  

I planned my birth carefully.  I didn't research enough though, or things might have been very different.  I know now that you can't research enough!  I went along with the hospitals wishes, and I was induced at 39 weeks due to pre-eclampsia.  I did what I could to minimize the damage to the breastfeeding relationship.  I knew that birth had a big effect on breastfeeding, and I refused pethidine, and insisted on immediate skin-to-skin contact.  Those first moments were a bit of a blur, but I help my baby close and he tried to feed.

In my room a few hours later, I began to realise that my resolve to breastfeed was going to be tested!  Toby (born a healthy 7lb 7oz with an Apgar score of 8) was unable to latch.  I tried the positions I'd seen detailed in books.  Nothing worked, and despite days of help from various self-proclaimed Breastfeeding Experts, I realised that things weren't going to change any time soon.

I was in a daze of emotion - I felt disappointed, confused, angry and guilty.  My Mum arrived with another gift - reassurance that if I wanted it to work, I should keep trying.  She brought with her not only a message of hope, but a breastpump.  I began pumping, and continued for 9 weeks.  Throughout that difficult time, my Mum was a wonderful support to me.  She listened and reassured me.  She was one of the few people who didn't suggest I give up.  It was so helpful to have someone I could tell my woes to, who listened sympathetically, but didn't always suggest formula!  

Toby latched on when he was 9 weeks old.  He was then exclusively breastfed for 6 months, and now at almost 13 months is still breastfed on demand.  I will continue until he self-weans.  We went through so much to get to this point, and it is down to my Mum that I got this far.

I hope one day to be able to offer this sort of support to my children.  I will be there for my daughters and daughters-in-law, to listen, to give hope, to give practical help.  Until then, I try to help other women by being a proud and happy breastfeeding Mum.  I know that growing up knowing that breastfeeding was normal and right helped me, and I'm doing my bit to pass that message on to every person who sees me gazing into my sons eyes, holding his hand, and proudly giving him milkies, wherever and whenever he wants it.




  1. Beautiful post. I too was lucky to be supported by a mother who had breast-feed and I think this made a huge difference to my experience of breast-feeding. She encouraged me to feed my son for as long as I wanted to and this encouraged me to feed my son until the age of two in spite of my in-laws disapproval. I believe it makes such a difference how supportive one's mother is. I heard from other women in my ante-natal group how their mothers would take formula to their houses in spite of their daughters saying that they wanted to breast-feed. It was wonderful to hear that your mother turned up with a breast-pump.

  2. I never really thought about breastfeeding or bottle feeding before I got pregnant. I had been exposed to both as I'd worked in a daycare, but it had never actually been discussed or whatnot. I didn't have a younger sibling that I'd seen breastfed either! My sister was almost 3 yrs. younger than me, so that was no influence on my decision.

    When I found out I was pregnant, after trying for 3 years, I took every class I could about having the baby and such. I have no idea, to this day, how I decided I was going to breastfeed either! The birthing center I had my oldest in offered a weekly breastfeeding support group with a lactation consultant, nurse, and things to weigh your baby with if you so desired. Above all that, it was also a great place to meet other moms who had new babies and were also breastfeeding. To this day, all of our kids from the first round are 3 or almost 4, I'm still maintaining the relationships I was able to develop there! And this in spite of moving a few hours away and not being able to see them as often!!! Most of us from the time period where I joined, have had a second child (within about 2-3 months of each other), and were able to breastfeed those children!

    I think every city needs to have a strong breastfeeding support group like that one did! Where I moved they have the LLL, but I was never able to get there to their once a month meetings at random peoples' houses. It's actually a goal of mine to eventually start a weekly meeting with a nurse or lactation consultant for new moms or even moms that are having problems nursing or want to look into random information! I can say that our nurse/lactation consultant was awesome. She would go around the room helping out moms and babies or just be there for general support.

    I wouldn't trade for the world the opportunity that I had to have that much support with my decision, however it was made, to breastfeed. I was able to breastfeed my oldest until she was almost a year and my youngest for almost a year and a half. I still miss that connection, but I think it's helped to make my girls that much more secure and sometimes more cuddly!


  3. Great article! My experience was very similar with my first son. My answer was "I WOULD breastfeed!" too. I love it that your mom was there for you. Mine was too far away. I had an awesome lactation consultant and baby support group that got me through the tough times. I have nursed all three of my sons...1st till 16m, 2nd till 24m and still nursing my 3rd who is 14m.

  4. I wish I had received a copy of the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding when I was pregnant. Instead my mom gave me her well worn copy of Dr. Spock's classic (thankfully i can't even remember the name now.) which was awful and went against everything I valued. Thankfully it all worked out in the end and I've been going strong in breastfeeding for 5 3/4 years now!

  5. I can't believe you are still breastfeeding on demand at 13 months!! Well done! You are so lucky to have such a fantastic supportive Mum!
    My Mum has also encouraged me to keep on breastfeeding through challenging first few weeks. I am happy that I'm still breastfeeding my little boy (who is 3 months old now) - and am enjoying it! I'm hoping to carry on for at least three more months.
    Here is my post about my breastfeeding experience:


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