Regena Pinkerton

Regena Pinkerton

Doulas of Los Angeles is pleased to support families who breastfeed, formula feed or combination feed. We believe that women make the best choices for their families when they are supported with unconditional positive regard. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, it is our pleasure to honor the women who have come before with an interview specifically focused on feeding choices.

We’ve come a long way, baby!

What is your name?
Regena Luecinda Simpson Pinkerton

When were you born?
March 21, 1947

When was your first child born?
I have 4 daughters. Bonnie was first, she was born in Sept 1966.

Tell me about your decision to feed your first baby:
I grew up seeing people bottle feed. Aunt Vera breastfed though, and I always thought that was cool. She was pretty earthy. I remember she shot some breastmilk into someone’s coffee one time when they were out of creamer.

It was the late sixties when I had Bonnie though, and through the 50s people didn’t want to breastfeed, it was considered pretty gross. But I wanted to. I really wanted to. I was a terrible failure and I quit. I was engorged for 6 weeks, and I just couldn’t get past it. She was so hungry, and she had to suck so hard, but she just couldn’t get enough milk.

After a while I just gave up. I had a lousy doctor, he was a family doctor who was busy doing things that would get his name in the paper and he just didn’t have time to help me with breastfeeding. I tried hot towels to try to make everything easier, but I think I had Mastitis. I’m not really sure exactly though.

When I switched over to the bottle, she was used to having to suck so hard to get anything that when I gave her a bottle she sucked so hard that it hit her stomach and came right back up. She vomited so hard that it hit the wall four feet away. I had to learn to slow things down a bit so she wouldn’t throw up.

Doctors in those days recommended that mothers supplement with rice cereal right from the beginning, so I added some cereal to those bottles. It took me a while to feel normal again after the Ether that I had during the birth. We were both struggling.

And the next baby?
Judie was born in 1969, and with her I didn’t even try to breastfeed, just gave bottles from the start. Dr. Spock was really popular at the time and he said that what was most important was that mothers be relaxed and happy and that relaxed, happy mothers had relaxed happy babies. My husband did some wrought iron work for Dr. Spock’s house, it’s nice to have that personal connection.

And the next baby?
With my 3rd daughter, enough time had passed that I was up for breastfeeding again. This time nursing was easier. It was such a shock with my first that breastfeeding was difficult because it had looked so easy when Aunt Vera did it, but by the time my 3rd came along, I didn’t have much fear left about it.

What do you think had changed so that you didn’t have fear this time?
I was older and had more knowledge. It was hard at first, but I used the Lamaze breathing at first and then it got easier. I was older and things just didn’t rattle me as much. What I loved the most about breastfeeding this time was that traveling was easy. I would nurse her while we were driving and think, “this is so easy!” With a bottle, you had to stop at a restaurant and ask them to warm the bottle for you. They’d put it in a pan on the stove and then we’d just have to wait with a hungry baby while it warmed up.

When my 4th daughter, Kate, came along, I felt like a pro. And she let everyone know what she wanted, and when! So it was even easier then. I nursed her for a while, almost a year, and I knew she was the last so I wasn’t ready for her to wean, but she decided on her own and that was that.