Jenna Elfman, Kelly Rutherford, Alysia Reiner share THEIR mothers’ breastfeeding stories

Our theme for this year’s Mother’s Day is “The Broken Circle of Breastfeeding:  Helping Our Mothers Heal,” inspired by the letters between BfB Co-founder Danielle Rigg and her mother, Jill Berke.  Like many of our mothers, Jill didn’t breastfeed her children, because, like seatbelts and sunscreen, she didn’t know any better and was ordered to use formula. Unlike many aspects of infant care, the passing down and joy of sharing breastfeeding information from new grandmother to new mother has been shattered, and so breastfeeding can be a very sensitive subject.  Understanding, compassion, and respect can rebuild relationships and the circle of information.

We asked some of our (very brave) celebrity Champions for Moms to walk down this road with us and share their mothers’ experiences, and whether and how it influenced them:

Sue Butala, Jenna Elfman, and Story

Jenna Elfman: “When I was about 11 years old, I saw a family friend breastfeeding her son.  It was the most beautiful, peaceful and intimate thing I had ever seen.  From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my future children.  It’s interesting, I didn’t even know breastfeeding was something to do until I saw her doing it.  I had only ever seen babies being given bottles.  I was not personally breastfed, but it wasn’t for my mother’s lack of trying.  She tried with my older sister, but it turns out my mom’s milk never came in* (after trying for 2 weeks) and my sister was starving.  I know that sounds almost impossible, but my mother herself was born very prematurely– her mother was only 5 or 6 months pregnant when she delivered my mom, and this was in 1935!  So the fact that mom even survived is a testament to mom’s feisty (and sometimes stubborn) spirit!

Because she was born so prematurely, they thought perhaps her body didn’t develop fully in certain capacities that would facilitate her milk coming in–or least that’s what the doctor concluded in 1958. So she didn’t even bother trying to breastfeed my or me brother after that experience.  Did she have special circumstances that COULD have been overcome, but there was no knowledge of HOW to overcome it in 1958? Very likely.  A Booby Trap?  Yes, quite literally.  I asked what made her want to breastfeed in the first place– since at that time I’m pretty sure that formula was being touted as ‘the better option’ over breastfeeding.  She simply responded, ‘I just knew that breastfeeding was best for the baby.’  She has always been supportive of my breastfeeding efforts and I’m always grateful that I have the wonderful, loving and supportive mother that I am so lucky to have.”  Read how Jenna donated her milk to help a sick baby and her other Booby-Trap-beating adventures.

*Editor’s Note:  It is quite possible that Jenna’s mother suffered from Insufficient Glandular Tissue, a condition affecting a very small percentage of mothers.  Much more is known about this condition today; there are more effective ways to boost milk supply and for moms who can not breastfeed, there is greater access to donor milk.  For more on this topic, see Don’t Invalidate Moms Who Say They Can Not Breastfeed, Yes You Can Breastfeed, No Matter How Much Milk You Make, and How to Bottlefeed like You’d Breastfeed, a guide to best bottle-feeding techniques.

Ann Edwards and Kelly Rutherford



Kelly Rutherford:  “My mother did breastfeed for a few months … She of course was told to use formula as it was promoted as easier and they were marketing it at the time so fewer women breastfed.

I just thought it was important to do because of all the research done regarding the benefits and better health. I also read that your body naturally gets back in shape faster. We were traveling and my son would be so much more calm on flights.

I breast fed both of my children and it was such a time of love and nurturing for me as a mother.  My mother totally supported me breastfeeding.  She is really into health and well-being.” Read how Kelly struggled and went on to tandem breastfeed her son and daughter.




Terry Berenson, Livia, Alysia Reiner

Alysia Reiner: Alysia asked her mother, Terry Berenson, to share her thoughts.  She responded: “If I had my life to live over again, I would definitely have breastfed. I am very happy that my daughter Alysia and granddaughter Livia shared this important bonding experience and that Liv received all the health benefits we didn’t fully understand when I was a new mom.” Read how Alysia donated her milk to a friend in need.

Do you know any other celebrities whose mothers breastfed them, or have shared that they were not breastfed?   One famous breastfeeding mother-daughter duo that comes to our minds is Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn . . .   Tell us whose mother-daughter story would you like to hear, and we’ll give it a try!

6 thoughts on “Jenna Elfman, Kelly Rutherford, Alysia Reiner share THEIR mothers’ breastfeeding stories

  1. My mother wanted to breastfeed so badly, and got no support. She is very wistful watching me breastfeed again with my second daughter now. She is almost jealous and gets very defensive that she didn’t breastfeed and sometimes picks fights defending the bottle even thought she wishes she had breastfed. She is supportive, but jealous. She is proud of me but wistful for her lost chance. Can be taxing for both of us. I breastfed my first daughter until she weaned herself at 13 months and will nurse my second until she does the same.


  2. Kate Hudson admits she breastfed her son in front of the director when filming ‘The Skeleton Key’.

    The stunning actress – who gave birth to Ryder Russell Robinson 22 months ago – says it was a “funny” experience displaying her assets in front someone other than her husband, Black Crowes rocker Chris Robinson,

    Kate, 26, told Britain’s OK! magazine: “It was funny when I was breastfeeding because every three hours I’d go to the trailer to breastfeed or pump. It became a joke in the end it was hard but it got to the point where I didn’t want to go back to the trailer so I’d just bring the baby out and I’d sit and I’d talk to the director and just breastfeed him while chatting.


  3. Goldie Hawn shares memories of her actress daughter Kate Hudson as a baby.

    She explained, “She clamped onto my breast like nobody’s business. She was a voracious eater…She still likes to eat.”


  4. I bottle fed my first daughter, due to caving to her father’s request that I bottle- fed, as he said it “would be easier, because of my handicap.” (I have cerebral palsy)
    But he was also of the generation that was not usually breastfed, and had older children from a previous relationship who were bottlefed. I actually found it difficult to bottle- feed my daughter because my hand would become numb as I held her bottle up- each and every time she was fed.
    Now, with my second daughter, who has a different dad, I do breastfeed, and plan to for at least another year. I found out just how incredibly easy it is for me, over bottle-feeding. With the aid of a breastfeeding pillow, made by My Brest Friend, I can comfortably feed my 8 month old the way I’ve always wanted to.


  5. I always say: “Relax, live and let live”. All forms of feeding are good and I can only advice “follow your instinct”!. Do not understand how much men and women feel disgust when they see a mother breastfeeding a child, frankly, disgusted and gives no more before you have someone in a restaurant that is messy to eat? The other day I saw one like that and I thought “is that people eat this kind of sensitivity does not hurt?” So that …..


  6. I breastfed both my daughters through trials and tribulations. I knew it was best for them because of growing up interested in biology. I was a brain researcher in college. I had so many problems but made it through the first three months with the help of my fellow mothers at La Leche League which has been helping women for 54 years. Both my children naturally weaned at the world’s average age. It is a great organization. I highly recommend it. I think Moms can do anything if they are determined enough. Don’t let your patriarchal society tell you it is anything short of a miracle to feed your baby. I am a Mom who breastfed and now my daughter does not. It is the saddest thing imaginable to know she cannot bond with her baby in this way. With formula companies still being the most prevalent conditioning there is, it’s sad that our society thinks formula is the way to feed a baby and that it is just as “good” as breastfeeding. Sadly that is not true. But no one will make money off you if you don’t believe that. Kudos to these women for helping women know that breastfeeding is a good and healthy thing to do.


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