My Breastfeeding Experience in 1964

25 Jun

As the youngest of three in the 1940’s, I was a breastfed baby.  However, when I had my first baby in 1964, I was one of the few who breastfed their babies.  I had never seen anyone breastfeed. Not one of my many young married friends who were also having babies at the same time intended to breastfeed and relatives and friends all raised their eyebrows when they heard… I WAS breastfeeding!

Back in the 1960’s breastfeeding was not encouraged or promoted.  My obstetrician and pediatrician were fine with the idea but had no real advice.  It was in the beginning years of the La Leche League and I bought their book and read it a number of times during my pregnancy.  When my first daughter was born in the summer of 1964, I remember the nurse bringing her to me and helping for a minute or two.  The gal in the next bed (in those days when the single hospital room was a rare thing and babies did not stay all day and night in with mom) had just had her sixth baby and was also nursing.  She decided to check me out and was a great help. This seasoned mom pulled back the curtain and asked me, “How are you doing?” Then she proceeded to give me a few tips, helped me relax and we nursed our babies together for the next few days (in those days moms stayed at least three to five days after giving birth in the hospital).  I nursed my daughter for nine months and it was such a great experience.  When I became pregnant with my second baby, my obstetrician told me to stop nursing and begin weaning her.  

My second baby, a boy, was born with several minor birth defects.  I nursed him for three months and decided to stop nursing. After only two days off breast milk, he was breathing became labored. It was the beginning of a year-long struggle with pneumonia, hospitalizations and finally a diagnosis at New York University Medical Center with a rare heart/lung birth defect.  He survived a first-time ever reported heart surgery.  Not one symptom showed while I was nursing and only became evident when he was off breast milk. I personally believe that breastfeeding gave him a good start to help survive a life-threatening situation and had I not breastfeed him, perhaps he would have shown life-threatening symptoms at a younger more vulnerable age.

Subsequently, I nursed my third and fourth babies.  Both my daughters nursed and are nursing their babies and are great advocates of breastfeeding.  

My youngest daughter became a Certified Lactation Consultant.  Together we opened Waddle n Swaddle, a maternity, nursing mom and baby boutique, where nursing moms can come for support –Breastfeeding Support Groups, private consultations and great nursing clothes and nursing accessories for moms.  

One of my greatest experiences of motherhood was watching my two daughters nurse their babies together sitting on the couch in the house where they grew up.  It was a beautiful sight!

A personal story by Arleen


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