The picture to the left is of me and my mother, circa 1970. In it I'm a few months old. It's the only picture I have of her nursing me (another reason why I'm trying to take more pictures this time).
I love this picture because, while it looks like a simple domestic scene, its subject is really outside the mainstream for the time.
The early seventies were the low point for breastfeeding in the U.S., with only about one in four mothers ever putting their babies to breast. So this was a very unusual sight in those days.
My mother tells me that her pediatrician was supportive of breastfeeding (though he did instruct her to start me on solids at 6 weeks), and his support was certainly one factor in her decision to breastfeed. But from what I can gather it was her friend Phyllis who was the key factor in the feeding equation. My mother once told me, "Phyllis was doing it, so I did it, too." She has also told me about how she'd meet other moms in the park and they would all nurse under their ponchos.
When I was looking at the research on Latinas in breastfeeding for this presentation, one fact kept leaping off the page: the influence of peers makes a huge difference in feeding decisions. It certainly seems like it did in my mother's case. It also probably didn't hurt that her mother (my maternal grandmother), who immigrated from Japan in 1911, had twelve children and breastfed all of them.
On my father's side, my Jewish paternal grandmother, who has a great memory still at 95, tells me that she breastfed her children. She says, "It wasn't at all the thing to do back then, but I did it. That was just my way."
I think it's safe to assume that all of the generations that came before these breastfed, so it all adds up to an unbroken chain of breastfeeding on both sides of my family, and I think that's something to be thankful for.
Check out these posts by other bloggers on this month's theme (updated throughout the day):
- Christine's Contemplations: Carnival of Breastfeeding- My Family History of Nursing
- Mommy News Blog: My Family History of Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding Twins: Beer & Bottles (and other motherly advice)
- Blacktating: Three Generations of Breastfeeding
- Attached at the Nip: How Women in My Family Feed Babies
- Lactation Narration: Only the Hippies Were Breastfeeding
- Dr. Sarah: Breastfeeding, Circa 1950s
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