My mom was not breastfed. She, like the rest of her siblings, was bottle fed a concoction made of evaporated milk, caro syrup and sterilized water (my Grandma points out that she made sure to boil all the water that went into her baby’s bottles). My Grandma tells me that she made six 8-oz bottles to last the day. First she boiled and cooled the water and then added that to one 10 oz tin of Carnation evaporated milk and 1 Tsbp of caro syrup. Then she poured that into the sterilized bottles. Her babies were fed on a schedule and given bottles until they were 12 months old, at which time they were switched to whole cow’s milk.
My Grandma, who birthed four children from 1945 to 1959 was told by her doctor that she couldn’t breastfeed. She doesn’t know the details but said that suited her just fine, she trusted her doctor, and as much work as preparing bottles was, she was happy not to breastfeed. She never felt comfortable with the idea, so that got passed down to my mom.
I was not breastfed. My mom had me when she was 20. She was young, shy and modest, and was encouraged to bottle feed by my Grandma, even though my dad wanted her to breastfeed, like his mom had breastfed all five of her children. So I was bottle fed on a schedule just like her. So was my brother. But at least by the time I came along there was real infant formula on the market. The idea of bottle feeding evaporated milk to a baby makes me shudder! Honestly, I often wonder how my mom and uncles turned out the way they did. I know it sounds like a judgement, but really, can you imagine feeding diluted tinned milk to your baby? And having no soy option for milk allergies? My Grandma says both my uncles had terrible reactions (extreme re-flux) to the milk she gave them. So what did she do? She changed brands. There was nothing else to do!
My mom and I have a pretty good relationship I guess, although I have never really felt close to her. When I was eight, my parents divorced. I got most of my hugs from my dad’s side of the family. They were just more naturally inclined towards showing affection. I don’t remember receiving too much affection from my mom and grandma and these were the two people I spent most of my time with. I have always envied other mom-daughter relationships, the ones that have that visible loving bond and mutual respect. This is what I strive towards in my own relationship with my daughters. In our home there is constant affection. And I think starting out breastfeeding can naturally pave the way to giving lots of hugs and cuddles. I think when babies are breastfed on demand and know they can always access their moms when they need them, a certain trust forms and from that can come a beautiful bond. For me, I think breastfeeding has played a part in my loving relationship with my daughters.
As for me and my mom, I don’t think our less affectionate relationship is necessarily a product of not breastfeeding, because I know my mom loves me, but I do believe she had me too early (for her) and truly missed enjoying what could have been her fun and carefree twenties. I think my mom feels similar towards her mother. She loves her and knows she was and is loved, but she has never felt really close to her. So is this a product of two generations of women not being breastfed? Or is it just my unique family history? Can one’s personality entirely be excluded from one’s choice to breastfeed? Or do they go hand in hand?
I’m sure everyone will have their two cents and I am curious to read what you have to say. I am also curious to read your stories. Were you breastfed? Do you know how long? What influence do you think not being/being breastfed has had on your relationship with your mother? Let me know by leaving a comment. And thank you in advance for sharing your stories here.