By Laura Nance
First published in the September 2008 issue of the CAPPA Quarterly
In 1961, a young cattle rancher and his wife had their first baby, a son. Because this man had seen first hand the complications that occurred when a young calf did not receive it’s own mother’s colostrum it was very important to him that his son was breastfed. While breastfeeding rates were on the rise at that time it was still uncommon. Two years later they had their second baby, a daughter, whom was breastfed. Six and a half years later in 1970, they had their third baby, another daughter whom was breastfed as her older siblings watched on.
In 1986, the oldest daughter had a son. Having seen her baby sister breastfed 16 years prior, the normalcy of breastfeeding was instilled in her. She was successful in breastfeeding her first son as well as her second son, whom was born in 1990. As she breastfed her two babies her younger sister, who was now a teenager, watched on.
I was born in 1970, the youngest child of that cattle rancher and his wife. In 1997 I became pregnant with my first child. For me, there was never any ‘decision-making’ about breastfeeding. It was just something you did. You had a baby and you breastfed. I never really thought about it and I never even considered that there might be problems.
My in-laws, who live nearby, were also very pro-breastfeeding. My mother-in-law breastfed both my husband and her other son in the early 70’s and my father-in-law remembers being breastfed up to age six.
I practiced extended breastfeeding with both my children, 21 months for my first baby born in 1998 and 31 months for the next baby born in 2000. I never had any real issues with breastfeeding beyond the initial learning process. I saw breastfeeding as a normal way of life, because I had seen women and babies breastfeeding. Our minds work much better with what is familiar to us. Breastfeeding was familiar to me. I always saw it as a positive way to care for a baby.
The other major factor I had was positive support for breastfeeding. Not only had I seen breastfeeding in action as a normal way of caring for your baby, I was surrounded by people who also saw it as the normal way of caring for a baby.
I feel very blessed to have such a rich family history of breastfeeding. It was handed down to me from my sister who had seen me breastfed as a baby. What an amazing circle! When I look at my children, I hope this cycle of breastfeeding continues. When they grow up and have families of their own, I hope they will carry on the breastfeeding family tradition.
About the author
Laura Nance is a CAPPA Faculty Member, a CAPPA Labor Doula, CAPPA Lactation Educator and a Bradley Method Childbirth Educator. She lives in North Carolina with her supportive husband and two wonderful children. She loves all things birth and has a special passion for breastfeeding.