Generational issues cannot be ignored in the breastfeeding conversation. The data in this survey shows that attitudes are formed over decades and generations, not years or months. It is clear that with both mothers and mothers-in-law, the support they are able to offer improves markedly if they themselves had personal breastfeeding experience. The perceived lack of support/discouragement from mothers and mothers-in-law who had not breastfed themselves should not be considered ill-intended or malicious. Respondents elaborated that they felt that their mothers or mothers-in-law simply said the wrong things or didn’t know how to provide support because of their own lack of experience.
While there are many reasons that a mother-in-law / daughter-in-law relationship will never be the same as that of a mother and daughter, the data supports the notion that a mother-in-law with breastfeeding experience has the opportunity to enhance her grandchild’s breastfeeding success. She can either offer more pro-active support to her daughter-in-law, or transfer knowledge and experience to her son. In this way a new mother’s partner can deepen his level of support and encouragement – and even knowledge – by learning from his own mother.
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