Earlier this summer, I opened the morning newspaper to find an article sharing yet another study showing a positive link between breast-feeding and IQ scores. I have to say that in my 24 years of motherhood, I don’t ever recall reading about a study where breast-feeding was linked with any negative impact on an infant.
Yes, 24 years. I was actually one of those rare breast-feeding mothers of the late ‘80’s and early’90’s. Neither my mother nor her mother had breast-fed their babies and they were rather surprised at my decision to breast-feed my children. I don’t think they believed my decision would be long-lived. They warned that my grandmother was told that she “didn’t have enough milk” to breast-feed her first-born and she never tried again with her subsequent four children. In the 1960’s, when my mother was raising her family, pediatricians were telling new mothers that there was no benefit to nursing your child when the scientifically formulated substitute could do just as well…or better. As a very young mother, I doubt that she had any role models or support for breast-feeding.
I am not really sure what motivated me to breast-feed. Since I was far from my family when my daughters were young, I did a lot of reading to try to prepare for their arrivals. Perhaps I was just fortunate to find the right guidance in my reading. I know it was my plan from the start and, although the hospital tried to give my first daughter formula so I could “rest” after my cesarean section, I was determined to give breast-feeding a chance. My sister-in-law was my greatest support during those first few weeks. She had worked for my pediatrician’s office and she was a wealth of information and encouragement. I was also fortunate to have a pediatrician who believed in the benefits of breast-feeding.
As time went on, I thought it was great that I always had food for her in the right amount and at the right temperature without the hassles of formula and bottles. I remember traveling on a plane with her and just leaving her at the breast for the entire flight. She never fussed a moment of that 3-hour journey. I was always very discreet when feeding her as it was pretty uncommon to see a woman breast-feeding in public in those days.
I believe that had I lived near my family when my girls were born, I might have been more influenced by their opinions of and concerns about breast-feeding. My sisters and their daughters, who live in close proximity to family, have all formula-fed their babies and my mention of even giving breast-feeding a try has fallen on deaf ears for two generations. I hope that my daughters will at least give it consideration if they become mothers. I know it was the right decision for me.
Michelle B. Wolfe is mom to two grown daughters and a founding partner of Sibley’s West: The Chandler and Arizona Gift Shop
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Photography by Breanne Thompson Photography