Lactivists: better for babies to die than for mothers to “lose confidence”

Milkscreen

Which would be worse?

Is it worse for a baby to suffer severe, unremitting hunger, become dehydrated, lose weight and possible die? Or is it worse for a mother to “lose confidence” in her ability to successfully breastfeed a child who is actually doing well?

The overwhelming majority of people would consider a starving, suffering child to be worse and a preventable child death to be the worst outcome imaginable. But not lactivists. Oh, no, for them, there is nothing more important than convincing women to breastfeed whether it is good for their baby or not. That’s why they wanted to ban a new product, UpSpring Baby Milkscreen Home Test to Calculate Breast Milk Production, a product that they have no intention of ever using, but want to be sure that no one else can use it either.

What is the Milkscreen Calculator? According to the product website:

Am I Making Enough Breast Milk for My Baby?

This is a common question breastfeeding moms ask. Many moms believe that they are not producing enough breast milk to satisfy their babies. Some moms are right, and some are wrong. Now there is a scientific way to know whether your breast milk supply is low or not: Milkscreen Calculator home test.

Are they shilling for formula manufacturers? Apparently not:

If I find out I have low breast milk supply after testing, should I supplement with formula?

NO! Most women can easily overcome a lower breast milk supply with natural methods to increase their supply. Milkscreen Calculator’s report will provide these tips if you need them, and will also recommend that you visit a Lactation Consultant to get the personal attention you need.

So what’s the problem? It can’t be that low supply doesn’t exist. We know that it happens far more often that previously thought. According to the paper Breastfeeding-Associated Hypernatremia: Are We Missing the Diagnosis?:

The incidence of breastfeeding-associated hypernatremic dehydration among 3718 consecutive term and near-term hospitalized neonates was 1.9%, occurring for 70 infants…

Conclusion. Hypernatremic dehydration requiring hospitalization is common among breastfed neonates…

The problem can’t be that the test is inaccurate. Lactivists didn’t bother to assess accuracy; they didn’t bother to assess any of their claims.

What is the problem? According to a blog post, Milkscreen Breastfeeding Assessment Test under fire, featured on the Facebook page of Mothers Against Milkscreen Breastfeeding Assessment Test:

And this doesn’t even cover the message the product is sending to new moms. Women are given formula samples at the hospital, inundated by coupons in their mailbox, questioned by well-meaning but misguided grandparents, and often harassed into supplementing with formula by medical professionals who don’t have a proper breastfeeding education. And now, Milkscreen has added insult to injury by with this product that asks if you’re making enough milk for your baby. (my emphasis)

Insult? Lactivists think it is insulting to suggest that some women do not produce enough milk to adequate nourish their babies?

That betrays the real focus of those who oppose the test. It has nothing to do with accuracy. It has nothing to do with safety. It has to do with THEIR feelings. They are not worried about babies failing to receive enough breastmilk; they are worried that their own choices are not being validated with anywhere near the fervor they demand.

The latest information from the Facebook page is that company has decided to stop selling the product indefinitely. That’s unfortunate, because we should never give in to bullies and, make no mistake, the lactivists are bullies. They are opposing a product they would never use, making claims that they never bothered to substantiate, for a reason that they have make no attempt to verify. It is more important to them that other women mirror and validate their own choice to breastfeed than whether the babies of those women are adequately nourished.

I have no idea whether Milkscreen is an accurate product or not. If it could be shown to be inaccurate or misleading, it should be removed from the marketplace, regardless of who is insulted or not. However, I have a big problem with censorship and that is exactly what the opponents of Milkscreen are trying to do. They are trying to deprive women of information that they might need because if women had that information they might make decisions of which the lactivists don’t approve.

Frankly, I think the makers of Milkscreen have made a big mistake. You can’t buy publicity like they are getting from opponents and the market for the product is everyone else in the world besides the opponents. I suspect that they would sell more Milkscreen kits now than they ever imagined in their wildest market assessments.

And lactivists are busily celebrating yet another Pyrrhic victory in the war that they are losing. By revealing themselves (yet again) to be hysterical fanatics who really don’t care whether babies suffer and starve just so long as everyone is mirroring their choices, they have make breastfeeding seem like a radical choice instead of an excellent way (but not the only excellent way) to nourish a baby.

  • Kitty

    Here is my problem with MilkScreen, they say that they are scientifically backed and have proof that the math in their algorithm is scientifically acceptable with peer reviewed, double blind studies, but they wouldn’t offer proof of these claims. They never released these studies to me our anyone else who asked for them. It is a proven fact that in most mothers, pumping is no where near as effective as a baby nursing, and any numbers obtained by pumping are highly skewed with this fact. The makers of milk screen state that their mathematical algorithm works this in to the equation, but once again, never gave an explanation on how.

    If this company really, truly, wanted to help mother’s who are nursing, instead of trying to make a profit off of women, who in this modern day society don’t know that their body’s can produce adequate amounts of milk (and are not told so when they seek help from care providers like their pediatricians and OB/GYNs), they offer a list of resources for local IBCLCs, CLC, CLECs, Pediatricians and OB/GYN’s that are certified to help women who need lactation care. MilkScreen knows that their goal was to make money. Unfortunately it was off of this fear modern women have that their bodies can’t do what it is designed to do, and that is just not right.

    I personally feel that women would be better off spending their money on having a weight check with a trained professional who can do pre and post feeding weights if they are concerned, evaluate in output of the baby, and evaluate why mom’s think that they are not producing enough milk. At least then they will have a real person providing comfort and support when needed and not a computer system. Women need women to reassure them that they can breastfeed their child, they can produce enough milk, and it is normal, natural, and better for the baby then formula.

    That being said, not a single lactation professional will ever tell a mother of a child who is obviously dehydrated, not having wet and dirty diapers, and not gaining weight that she should not think about supplementation. I have never, ever met a breastfeeding support person who would ever tell a mother that their baby should die rather than feed their baby formula. That is just not a realistic point of view, and might I say, very ignorant of you to say about lactivists. You have the right to your point of view, and that is okay, but to say that lactivists are out to kill babies because we want to empower women to know that their bodies are made to do what is the scientifically proven to be the best thing for their child is so far from the truth that it’s more than appalling, it’s laughable.

    As a Certified Lactation Consultant, I have to say this company may have started out with good intentions, but developed a very bad idea, and tried to profit off of mothers with insecurities without being willing to show their “scientific peer reviewed studies” as their support. That is what I find unacceptable. It’s one thing to have math and science to back you and your methods up, but I would think that even as a physician yourself, you would want to see the proof, the studies, and the “math” involved. As a nurse, I demand it.

  • Anyone care to speculate why, from an evolutionary standpoint, there is a delay between birth and the arrival of milk? Is it like that for all mammals? all primates? only humans? It seems like an early hominid mother who had milk immediately available for her infant would have an evolutionary advantage over one that had to wait a few days. Having milk come in too early would of course be a problem…is the delay simply due to an evolutionary balancing act? Could our distant ancestors count on having female relatives around to feed the infant for the first few days often enough that there was a reduced selective pressure to be able to make milk immediately?

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      My speculation is that (a) baby already has enough fluids on board at birth, so doesn’t need large amounts of it, and (b) baby is learning to coordinate suck-swallow-breathe, so having a lower volume thicker fluid (colostrum) come out is easier to manage.

  • Pragmatic IBCLC

    Oh Amy Amy Amy, when are you going to take a really solid epidemiology course?

    Lactation professionals actually do have quite accurate means of assessing milk intake. Dr. Jean-Pierre Habicht, Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology at Cornell University was actually quite entertaining when he did his lecture on the historical attempts to determine how much milk a baby drinks from the breast. No need to get graphic about the silly ideas some male scientists came up with and later abandoned.

    Here is a review of 32 studies on the topic. I’ve read all 32 studies. Test weighing is the most accurate method, far better than clinical assessment of swallows and certainly better than the misguided notion that expressing milk and feeding a baby a bottle tell you anything about how much milk a baby drinks from the breast.

    Scanlon K.S. et al. Assessment of Infant Feeding: The validity of measuring milk intake. Nutrition Reviews.
    2002;60:235-251

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Unless you have actual data on the results of the Milkscreen test, you have no idea whether it is accurate or not. Therefore, you, like the lactivist critics of the test, are not in position to comment on its accuracy.

      P.S What does this have to do with epidemiology?

    • CarolynTheRed

      OK, I really don’t want to get into a citation fight, but this was the first thing I found looking for your study. It’s more recent (2006), and short enough I read it.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672832/

      From the conclusions
      “It appears therefore that there is no reliable, simple, clinically
      useful method for assessing milk intake in breast fed infants. Our
      results suggest that test weighing of a single feed is too imprecise to
      be of clinical use and should be discouraged.”

      The literature seems to be very sparse, unless I just can’t find more. (I’m not in any medical or paramedical field, I’m just a frustrated nursing mother, fortunately one with no supply issues)

      (Edit to add – I do not claim to have done a full search of the literature, I didn’t mean to rebut this claim, I was really just looking up the paper itself.)

    • Becky05

      The Milk Screen Assessment was based on a pumping protocol which was compared to test weighing: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20433368

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      I think part of the appeal of Milkscreen is that it’s cheap and accessible to mothers. A scale sensitive enough to measure milk intake is around $1000, and unless a mother can rent one to measure each feeding for a 24-hour period, she’s not going to have a good idea of overall milk intake.

  • Disgusted

    I have been excoriated as a lazy mother who is a sheeple and doesn’t care about my child because I quit breastfeeding at SIX MONTHS. They refuse to believe my milk supply ran low. They refuse to believe I was really trying (even though I was impoverished, underfed, sick, and working part time). None of the promises I was handed for the wonders nursing would do for me panned out – I have never found a description of what could have gone so wrong. I didn’t lose a single pound. My period came back right away and was frequent and heavy. It wasn’t that I wasn’t nursing him sufficiently because until six months he was growing like a weed. But finally my body wore out. Of course, years later I was diagnosed with hormonal autoimmune problems. But clearly I just should have tried harder anyway.

    • I grew up in an impoverished, old fashioned part of the country – with long memories of the hazards of childbearing. One of the reasons that bf went out of fashion was awareness of the toll it could take on a mother’s body. If you are underfed yourself, isn’t that a problem?

      And most people then would have regarded six months as enough to gain the benefits for your child – so congratulations on doing your best.

  • BMJ123

    The issue with the milk screen is that you need to pump milk to assess if you are apparently making enough – but every professional who has done their research knows that most women cannot pump anywhere near the same amount as the baby takes from the breast, as the body is not fooled by the mechanical pump. Therefore, all of these women would believe they had low supply, when in fact it’s just that pumping is NOT a good indication.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      But that is not the only thing you do in the test, is it? It’s not JUST how much you pumped.

      And maybe, just maybe the people who developed the test also knows that “most women cannot pump anywhere near the same amount as the baby takes from the breast” and takes that into account?

      How do you know it is an issue? Have you actually tested it?

      This is a really lame strawman criticism for something you clearly don’t know anything about.

      • Eddie

        Agreed. If this is widely understood to be true (as everyone seems to agree) then we can only assume the product’s developers took this into account. The fact that most women cannot pump as much as baby can get shouldn’t be a problem for the accuracy this kind of test. The fact that this difference can be variable will be. (And how variable is this difference? And is there a way to take that into account as well?)

        We need a lot more information before we can evaulate the accuracy of this kind of product.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Yep, it’s easy to account for known systematic errors. It’s random variation that causes problems.

          I just get annoyed at the implication that the developers of the test are clueless morons. They could be, of course, but the fact that there is a test that uses pumping capability does not imply it.

          As you say, there is a lot more that would be needed to evaluate the accuracy, and no one knows enough to do it. Of course, that it irrelevant to the post, since the complaints Dr Amy points out are, in fact, predicated on the assumption that the test is accurate.

      • CarolynTheRed

        I’m actually very curious, and can’t find an answer anywhere – is there a known relationship (not necessarily an exact one, yadda yadda) between pumping output with a specific kind of pump, and maximum milk extractable by a baby? Everywhere I look or ask online says nope, no relationship at all. But that just doesn’t seem likely. I have to admit, I doubt there’s a lot of women who get essentially nothing with a decent pump but can supply twins directly. I’ve got no evidence for this, just my growing frustration with nursing advice all boiling down to my baby somehow knowing what my boobs need, so nursing on demand is always the answer.

  • Leica

    I struggled to breastfeed my first, and finally started combo feeding around 4 months. None of the pediatricians I saw (military hospital peds clinic) ever suggested I supplement, even when I asked about it as my baby was falling off the growth chart. He was never dehydrated, was growing in length, and developing normally, but was very skinny. Instead I was told to power pump, wake baby every 2 hrs around the clock, try herbs, etc. I felt so much better once I supplemented, no longer was frantically pumping for daycare only to end up depressed over how little I produced, and got to sleep more than an hour at a time. The funny thing is that I would have been perfectly ok with supplementing him earlier, but kept being told not to.

    I promised myself with baby #2 that I would not exclusively breastfeed at all costs. Go figure, he nursed like a champ from day one, was a pound over birthweight at his 2 week check, and hasn’t needed formula at all.

  • Meagan

    I could see this being really harmful if it were inaccurate… But I find the assertation that suggesting anyone might not have enough milk would trouble new mothers just bizarre. Doesn’t every new mother worry she’s not making enough milk? I’ll bet there are mothers who give up on breastfeeding because they are worried about not making enough… Even when they are. So theoretically a product like this, assuming its accurate, would HELP with breastfeeding rates?

    • Bombshellrisa

      “when doctors are negligent, they are treated one way, and when homebirth midwives are negligent, they are treated another. Our question is not, “Was she negligent?” but “How did the legal system approach the allegation of negligence?””
      That is indeed a clever spin job. Totally glosses over the fact that many homebirth midwives were found negligent in part because they were not supposed to be practicing in the first place. So show me the AMA and ACOG putting up a defense like the one for Rowan Bailey or the Oregon midwife who is getting the cookbook fundraiser.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Totally glosses over the fact that many homebirth midwives were found negligent in part because they were not supposed to be practicing in the first place.

        Exactly. If someone claimed to be a doctor, but did not have a license to practice medicine, you darn skippy they would face criminal charges. In fact, they would not even need to be found “negligent” in the first place, the mere fact that they are posing as doctors and pretending to practice medicine is enough to warrant prosecution.

        You want midwives held to the same standards as doctors? Prosecute anyone you find who practices without a license. Let’s see how long that lasts.

        • Becky05

          This is exactly what I said on a thread along these lines on Facebook a few weeks ago.

    • Eddie

      A very clever spin job indeed.

      Midwives should not be sanctioned for professional negligence through the criminal justice system, when doctors are immune from criminal prosecution for professional negligence.

      Great. So when should I expect to see midwives carrying medical malpractice insurance, and when should I expect to see the licensure organization permanently remove the license of the bad apples? When can I expect to see midwives try to learn from their mistakes so they will actually properly risk out those that should be risked out? When will we see midwifery based on science and evidence rather than homeopathy and special ways of knowing and “trust your body”? When will MANA release its home birth statistics?

      Oh, never, for all of those things? Well, then. That’s why doctors are immune from criminal prosecution while midwives aren’t. Midwives do not want to be treated the same as doctors. They want the priviledges of a doctor without the responsiblities. Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.

      Yeah, they later handwave in the right direction. But so far the professional organizations of CPMs have resisted all movement in the correct direction. This is simply not a human rights issue. Not unless they agree that I have the human right to be allowed to be a pilot, hired and paid as such, without one lick of the experience or training that a normal commercial pilot has. How hard can it be to pilot a plane when nothing goes wrong? What if I want to be a direct entry pilot?

      • KarenJJ

        Doctors aren’t immune from criminal charges. There’s been a few charged through the courts in Australia at least. Sometimes they’re imprisoned.

      • Bombshellrisa

        “What if I want to be a direct entry pilot?” I can’t be a direct entry sommelier, even though I have a passion for wine and have read a lot of wine books and attended many tastings both at wineries and restaurants. And nobody is going to die if I suggest the wrong red or white to enhance the experience! But I couldn’t be certified and if I wanted to I would have to take the four levels of education along with the tests so I could earn that title of Master Sommelier. No restaurant is going to hire a wine steward who read a few books, studied some stuff on the internet and attended some tastings at a few wineries. But if I wanted to, I could call our place in Oregon a birth center and call myself a midwife and catch babies when I am there for the week. Melissa Cheyney would back me up if I wanted to do that too.

    • Box of Salt

      Why are the women in the last photo facing away from the camera?

  • Therese

    I wish someone would actually evaluate the science behind this product. I’m really curious. But everyone wants to spout their opinion on it without even taking five seconds to find out anything about the product. They just hear the word “pumping” and assume they know everything there is to know! So annoying.

  • Sue

    Questioning the holy status of “mothers’ milk” is like desecrating a religious icon – one is judged as morally bankrupt. I’ve found this reaction when posting about the actual, objective benefits of BF in wealthy societies – I may as well be advocating feeding babies on an exclusive diet of cola and HFCS.

    The lactivists fight back with their asthma-chronic disease-IQ-epigenetics arguments – as if questioning the magnitude of benefit might destroy the human race.

    As Amy points out, there has always been a need for breast milk substitutes. My cousin who was born in small-town Southern Italy was fed goat’s milk. Wealthy people had wet nurses. Poor people shared, used other animal milk, made up a “formula”, or the child starved.

    The doubt about “do I have enough milk?” seems to be a deeply ingrained one, for women in many societies. It’s possible that the testing device might be reassuring and allow a mother to continue to feed with reassurance that her baby is getting “enough”.

    • KarenJJ

      As someone pointed out below though, a lot of mothers have invested a lot of time and effort into breastfeeding because the benefits are supposedly so great. They haven’t found it easy and have made significant sacrifices and haven’t particularly enjoyed breastfeeding. I can think of two mothers off the top of my head like this. I can’t say for sure but I suspect if they’d been given more information on both the pros and cons and some of the information about how the studies behind some of the breastfeeding benefits are potentially confounders then they wouldn’t have breastfed or at least that they’d have stopped sooner.

      I don’t have the expertise or the heart to say anything to the two mums that I’m close to, but I wonder how they’d feel about having a blunt discussion about it all? I don’t think they’d take it well and I think they’d get defensive or feel depressed and angry. It’s mostly in the past for my friends now anyway.

  • This product has the potential to mislead mothers badly. For one thing (and this has been brought up several times among the comments) many (most?) mothers’ pumping output is lower than what a baby can get out. I have a great supply–never needed to supplement and my baby gained like crazy. But I was never any great shakes as a pumper. If I’d been bought this product by a well-meaning relative or partner when my baby was going through colic and seemed distressed, I would have come away with the seeds of doubt in my mind, that I “didn’t have enough.” That would not have been true. What I’m describing here isn’t the exception for lactating mothers–it’s the norm.

    Secondly, it could mislead mothers in the other direction–making them believe that the baby is getting ***more*** milk that the he or she actually is. If you are a good pumper, you could pump away and get a great output, and because the product is implying to you that that’s the only thing that really matters, “Oh, my baby must be getting enough milk then! The constant fussiness must be allergies, or something requiring a chiropractic adjustment, or….” Never mind that the baby could well be hungry. He or she may have a transfer issue–poor latch, difficulties with swallowing/keeping the milk in his/her mouth, passing too much milk undigested in stools. If these are the issues then that’s what needs to be addressed.

    Sorry, but this is a stupid, dodgy, poorly thought out product which does not help BF mothers. If a mother has supply issues, then you supplement–but you need to find out whether she actually does have an issue, and what that issue actually is. The best way to ascertain if it really is supply and not something else is diapers and weighted feedings. An exclusive pumping mother might get some use out of this product—but then, why not just look at the numbers of the side of the containers and do the math yourself?

    • Susasn

      I agree. I can’t see how this product would be that helpful. It says it’s based on volume. I thought it was an analysis of the milk itself that reflected something I might not know about.

      I was like you in that I rarely got much milk from pumping but my babies grew quite well also.

      Did anyone notice that they took the product off Amazon?

    • quadrophenic

      As I mentioned down thread my baby had a bad latch (for the few times I’d managed to even get a latch) and in 15 minutes I could pump over twice what she would get from nursing 45 minutes. I think a good LC is the only one who could really evaluate this type of thing.

    • Becky05

      The results aren’t just based on pumping but also weight gain, and the developers claim that it is clinically accurate. The pumping protocol is based on this research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20433368 and additional unpublished research. It was designed in consultation with a Fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

      I still wonder how valid it would be and would definitely recommend a professional over this, but it isn’t as bad as most are making it out to be.

  • Eddie

    What I really don’t get is that so many people construct their identity around stuff like BF, and that any challenge to the dogma is a challenge to their identity. Or if they are unable to BF for whatever reason, they believe they are a failure. I just don’t get that. And that, as Dr Amy points out sometimes, the people pushing these all-consuming mothering behaviors claim that they are the only feminist choice — as if anything that so severely limits a woman’s choice can be feminist.

    For too many of these folks, it is a fundamentalist religion, not a fact-based, evidence-based realm where it is possible for those who disagree to have a meaningful and productive conversation.

    What I find most tragic about this — other than the babies who are underfed, that is — is that so many mothers honestly feel like they have failed as a human being due to BF difficulties. Of all the important things that mothers do across a kid’s childhood, BF is just not at the top of the scale of things that matter in the long term. Note: I am not saying it’s unimportant. But compared to the work of actually raising and mothering a child, nurturing, loving, setting boundaries, demonstrating healthy relationships … how can someone be a failure for something whose benefits are so comparatively minor and whose efforts are so comparatively short lived? I mean, seriously, no-one can look at 100 kids and pick out the ones that were breast fed vs bottle fed. But it is pretty easy to pick out the kids who were not effectively parented.

    And I know I’ll get voted down for saying that truth. Too bad. If you disagree with me, I’m open to conversation. I don’t even pretend to know everything. Show me persuasive facts and I’ll change my mind. But persuade me with logic and facts, not drama or absolutes. If you vote me down, I honestly don’t care. But if you have facts to explain why you disagree, I’ll listen to you.

    • JC

      I completely agree with everything you said. I was one of those women who felt she had “failed” even when I made it 3 months with my first child. Technically, I covered the most crucial part of breastfeeding in terms of benefits, but since I didn’t make it at least a year, I felt like a failure. Now that my children are older, I see that nursing is such a minor issue in the whole scheme of things. There are many things that are more important. And I can see that my friends who nursed for a year or more have the exact same problems/issues as I do when it comes to parenting. Their kids are not perfect because they were breastfed. They throw the same temper tantrums; they get sick and go to the doctor; they get bad reports at school. Now when/if I have a third child, I will try to breastfeed again. But I can certainly put it all in perspective if it doesn’t work out.

    • quadrophenic

      I agree. I thought I was doing the right thing on following the advice from my baby friendly hospital and LLL that babies only need a little milk the first few days when my baby was rapidly losing weight. My milk came in but she was too tired to latch and never cooperated again. They tell you all the wonderful benefits of breastmilk without telling you that the benefits are only slight and not really observable on an individual basis, so I desperately wanted to follow the advice of all the medical professionals and breastfeed as long as possible. It did make me feel like a failure when my baby wouldn’t latch and I exclusively pumped. Then I went on pumping for a month longer than I should have after I had an arthritis flare and needed my medication but delayed it. I was limping for months. Knowing what I know now I’m really pissed off that so many medical professionals lied about the difficulty of breastfeeding, exaggerated the benefits, and made me scared of formula. Looking back I made myself way too miserable over something that just isn’t THAT important. Honestly I may not even try breastfeeding if I have another kid, it’s going to get formula eventually anyway.

      • KarenJJ

        “Looking back I made myself way too miserable over something that just isn’t THAT important. Honestly I may not even try breastfeeding if I have another kid, it’s going to get formula eventually anyway.”

        Me too. Next baby I did try again briefly but gave up quickly.

        It’s also why I give no credence to the idea that there is a problem with breastfeeding support is inadequate for first time mothers because they are not meeting their ‘breastfeeding goals’. It may inadeqaute, I don’t know, but you’re not going to find out if that is the case by measuring the success of a first time mother meeting her breastfeeding goals when she has no experience with breastfeeding.

        My breastfeeding goal as a first time mum was to exclusively breastfeed to six months and then breastfeed for at least a year, hopefully two.

        My breastfeeding goal as a second time mum was to try and give some colostrum on top of the formula supplementation in that first week and then formula feed before starting solids at 4 months – ish.

        My first was in no way achieved. Second goal achieved. Dramatically different goals.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “Note: I am not saying it’s unimportant”
      Well, since you’re not, I will:
      It’s unimportant.

      • fiftyfifty1

        ETA: If you live in a country with clean water and access to formula.

  • OMG This would have been so freaking useful for my daughter. We could have saved months of BS.

  • My good friend and I had our first babies very close together. We both had problems breastfeeding. My excellent hubby told me that I was not a failure if I couldn’t breastfeed and it was okay for me to relax, give him what I could and sustain him through formula as well. I cried when my milk dried up and had to exclusively formula feed him. Again, my hubby comforted me by telling me what I needed to hear. That I fought to have this baby against all odds and I fought the good fight to breastfeed him and now it was okay for me to let go and just enjoy him. And I did, and have no regrets. My friend, on the other hand, went to an LC, several in fact, and was told she had to keep trying for the good of her baby. She tried an SNS, every natural and pharmaceutical remedy out there. She tried for 6 months and her daughter remained severely underweight in spite of it. She told me that she dreaded the start of each day and cried every sleepless night while her hungry baby wailed without ceasing. Finally, she let go and supplemented and her daughter became happy and fat. Her LC was not impressed. Then we both became pregnant again. One of her hormone panels revealed that she had PCOS and insufficient glandular tissue and she would not be able to exclusively breastfeed this new baby. By the time her baby came, she was at peace. She fed him what she could and bottle fed as well. She regretted that she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed the way she wanted to, but she didn’t torture herself and didn’t suffer through 6 months of agony. Her baby thrived and so did she. This product could have potentially saved her and so many other women the pain of not knowing that their babies would need supplemental feeding to be healthy. I don’t know how accurate this product is, but it seems wrong to demonize something that could be a help to so many for nothing more than an ideology.

    • Cellist

      Who the heck voted this comment down?

      • Bombshellrisa

        Hopefully it was just a mistake!

        • Cellist

          Fingers crossed!

        • Petanque

          It’s happened to me accidentally before (not this comment though)

      • Eddie

        I’ve gotten the impression lately that someone dissatisfied with their reception here randomly goes through and votes things down. I’ve seen a surprising number of constructive comments voted down just in the last week.

        • Victoria

          I wanted to vote this down just to be silly but I have to sign in to vote down! Which, come to think of it, would probably have taken less time than writing this whole comment. I did vote up Tara’s comment though – no signing in necessary!

        • KarenJJ

          I’m surprised it’s not more. At least someone is taking the time to read some opinions that are opposite to their own opinions. Hopefully.. It still seems a passive aggressive way to disagree. Why not use words to take issue with the poster and state your argument? More interesting at least.

          • Eddie

            I have this image of some angry person going through the forum, voting people down, saying, “YOU suck, and YOU suck, and YOU suck…” as if they’re making any difference. A Secret Fighter for Truth and Freedom(tm). A down vote won’t sway most people and may not even be noticed. As you say, with words, at least there’s a chance of finding common ground. I think it says something about the Downvote Police that they don’t take the time to write up a cogent explanation of why they disagree. (No, I’m not saying anyone is ever obligated to take the time to do that.)

            P.S. @Victoria: Too funny.

          • Sue

            I like the idea that you can be casually nice but you have to be seriously committed to disagree.

        • Box of Salt

          It has to be someone who’s registered on Disqus. You have to sign in to downvote.

          • Eddie

            Ah, that gets to the comment of @151ab6b508b9f8ec1a4d573d86a0fb05:disqus about why it doesn’t happen more.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Yes, I noticed that with your completely logical comment on the NC midwife thread-every comment from the past few days was voted down on there.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          It wasn’t me!

          (although I was the one who voted Victoria’s comment down below – 8-P)

      • FormerPhysicist

        I don’t think it was me, but I’ve accidentally voted things down before. Just moved the mouse a bit.

        • theNormalDistribution

          If it was you, downvoting again would remove the vote.

  • Check out the Amazon reviews. They must have posted this on La Leche’s blog- 54 1-star reviews ranting about how people should not trust anything or anybody other than a lactation consultant.

    • AmyP

      Amazon reviews by non-readers and non-users are one of my major pet peeves. If you haven’t read the book or used the product or seen it used, don’t write a review, people.

      Unless you’re funny. In that case, carry on.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        Pass the Tuscan Milk and Bic For Her pens.

        • GiddyUpGo123

          and that banana slicing thingy …

          • auntbea

            I recently read a very informative monograph on how to avoid huge ships. Changed my life.

  • Thank you overzealous lactivists for giving me the confidence to consider formula feeding. My baby isn’t born yet and I have no idea if I’ll have any trouble breastfeeding but, I might not even try to breastfeed due to my own personal/health reasons which are none of the lactivist’s business. I tend to be the kind of person who thinks the more hype there is about something the less there is to get excited about (anyone remember the Facebook IPO?) So, the more I hear cries of “exclusive breastfeeding or else____ (fill in the disaster of the day)” the more I’m convinced that formula feeding is nothing to worry about. I would also like to acknowledge that I know there are good lactation consultants out there helping women who do want to breast feed while respecting the feelings of those who don’t or can’t so thanks to all of you!

  • I don’t have a creative name

    It’s the same attitude as those of typical homebirth activists. You’re not supposed to think that anything bad could happen, or you’re fear-mongering. Thinking positive prevents everything bad always. If you ignore any signs you’re not making enough milk, your baby will be fine, malnutrition and dehydration be damned. If you ignore any signs during a homebirth that something is going wrong, then your baby will be fine, HIE and death be damned.

  • Jessica

    Pumping output may not tell you much other than whether you respond well to the pump. I don’t believe that it’s a good measure of how much milk baby is actually transferring at each feeding. I’d venture to guess that the vast majority of women use consumer grade breast pumps, and may not express much, especially in the early days of breastfeeding as the milk is still coming in or if pumping to build a freezer stash and not replacing a feeding. On a breastfeeding board I frequent there is at least one post a week from a woman of an infant under the age of six weeks who is panicking because she is only able to pump 1-2 oz. after each feeding. Never mind that her baby’s diaper output is good and baby is gaining weight appropriately and seems satisfied with nursing at the breast.

    Women need accurate information and intervention in the early days of breastfeeding to make sure that there is not only adequate milk, but effective transfer. They need to understand newborn feeding behavior, growth spurts, and signs of adequate milk intake/production, not only to get help ASAP if there is a problem, but also to reassure themselves, their husbands, and other relatives that breastfeeding is going well when it really is. If this test actually does that, then fine, but I think the better approach would be a one on one meeting and a weighed feeding with a good LC.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Exactly. Pumping is not the real indicator.

      The thing that kills me is the women that only pump 1-2 oz. and then give that mere 1-2 oz to the baby and act like that should be all the baby needs. I have never been able to pump more than 1-2 oz at time, yet I know baby gets WAY more than that at each feeding.

  • SarahSD

    I have seen some of the posts objecting to this product and I have a few thoughts about it. The objections are coming from women who are pro-breastfeeding and who for the most part have successfully breastfed or are successfully breastfeeding. From this perspective, one might feel that there is more anxiety and worry about milk production than there needs to be (because in your case you didn’t end up needing to worry so much). Sometimes this pressure DOES come from well-meaning family members, and in many cases it may not be based on an actual problem but on a cultural difference in what the relative or friend recognizes as a normal way to feed a baby. I certainly encountered it from my in-laws. From the perspective that “most of the time things are fine, they were for me”, I can understand the impulse to say “cut it out with the barrage of advice and products that make mothers doubt themselves”. Because there is plenty of it. At the same time, I recognize that there are people out there telling women not to doubt themselves even when there is a serious problem.

    On the one hand, this attitude mirrors the NCB attitude about interventions in labor and birth – the bad thing didn’t happen to me, so I view the worry and precaution-taking around it to be unecessary, and as the next worst thing. It is certainly irresponsible for these women to say that this product is totally useless on the grounds that the worst thing that can happen is that a mother doubts herself. But on the other hand, I’m not convinced that the product has much value, and I certainly don’t think it should take the place of a professional opinion.

  • slandy09

    There are those of us who don’t get a lot out with a pump, but our babies get it out just fine and get plenty. That’s the problem I have with this product.

  • me

    What I don’t get is who is this product marketed to? I mean, if you are bfing and have no concerns, obviously you’re not going to buy this product. If you are bfing and you DO have concerns, you are not going to buy this product (any sane person would take their child to a HCP ASAP, rather than sit around for a week or more waiting for some hokey test to arrive via UPS). That leads me to believe that it is being marketed to pregnant women, specifically FTMs. And that does seem a little unethical – they are planting that seed of doubt, encouraging women to have this test at home “just in case”, and of course, what new mom doesn’t at least wonder if their bf baby is getting enough to eat, so you do the test even when there is no clear concern, and… then what? IF the test is truly accurate and reliable, it might actually be helpful, but if it isn’t, talk about unneeded worry and stress… IDK, “testing” for low milk supply is probably something that should involve seeing a doctor or at least an IBCLC. DIY testing seems like a bad idea…

    • MLE

      Actually, having met the lactation consultant at my son’s doctor’s office, I would definitely wait on a test before visiting her again. And it was much easier to wait on a test instead of trying to get a doctor’s appointment, bundling us all up into the car when I could barely walk, etc. My concerns were that the kid was eating 24/7, so maybe I wasn’t giving him enough and maybe I was. A home test would have done a lot to reassure me that I was on the right track, or give me the courage to go to the doctor and face the unhelpful LC again.

      • MLE

        *would have been much easier

  • Michele

    It sounds like a waste of money to me but nothing I’d get in an uproar over. A pre- and post- feed weigh-in for baby compared to what I could pump gave us the same information. My baby couldn’t get much out but I could pump tons of milk. So much for babies always being more efficient than pumps.

  • Anonymous

    What I find so disturbing is the “well meaning but misguided grandparents” part. I can just picture someone watching their grandchild starve while mom is screaming that everything is completely normal.

    • Susan

      Not to be contrary but that’s exactly what happened to me when I was a rather young mom breastfeeding my first. My MIL thought he was starving to the point she snuck him a bottle of formula after convincing me to go out for 15 minutes. We got back and he promptly vomited all over me. I knew it smelled awful but I didn’t put together what was wrong until later. My ex went back and found the bottle in the trash and left it in the middle of the dining room table. He was (thanfully) at the 95% percentile ht and wt and had a supportive pediatrician. Very long time ago but I’m sure the same power plays are still around.

      • suchende

        GASP. Oh MILs…

  • Anonymous

    Apparently they’re selling it again on their website. Must have realized that the people complaining are loons.

  • fiftyfifty1

    The more I have experience with exclusive breastfeeding (as both a parent and a physician), the more I respect the breastfeeding traditions of the Somalian immigrants I see. Among these immigrants, it is standard to give newborn babies formula for the first 5-7 days. When you ask the mothers why they say “The milk doesn’t come in for a few days, so I am feeding the baby with a bottle until it does”. No amount of reassurance, or pressure or “education” on the matter sways these mothers. It drove the lactation consultants absolutely nuts at first. “Oh no!” they would say, “The baby doesn’t need milk at first! The baby isn’t hungry! Your milk won’t come in strong if you do it that way!”. But lo and behold, almost all of these moms go on to be successful with extended breastfeeding. And their babies don’t end up in the hospital with dehydration and jaundice. And there are no tearful clinic scenes where mom holds a stick-thin hollow-eyed baby while I encourage and then beg her to supplement with formula, and then support her while she sobs and calls herself a failure.

    • AmyP

      I suppose that even before formula, it would have been possible to use a wet nurse until the mother’s milk came in.

      • suchende

        Wouldn’t any mom be a thousand times more relaxed if she had a relative to wetnurse her baby while she recovered? The “NCB” version of those first few days is, IMO, incredibly stressful. You’re supposed to be nursing around the clock and never hand the baby to anyone else. If stress really does decrease supply…

    • KarenJJ

      It used to happen in Australia in hospitals. Babies taken to the nursery and brought out for feeds during the day and given formula feeds to top them up around that. It happened to my mother in law and she went on to breastfeed both her kids for a year each.

      I read one account of an Australian midwife in Laos trying to educate local mums that colostrum was good for newborns and not ‘bad’ milk and that newborns did not need rice that was chewed in the mothers mouth for those first few days.

      It would be interesting to compare the rates of ‘exclusive breastfeeding’ in those first few months across different countries. A lot of cultures do things differently for babies, but supplementation seems to be quite a part of it all.

      • Becky05

        “A lot of cultures do things differently for babies, but supplementation seems to be quite a part of it all.”

        It definitely is. One of the barriers the WHO faces to the “breastfeed exclusively for six months” message is that most cultures do NOT breastfeed exclusively for six months. Most of the supplements given aren’t good for baby and all introduce the possibility of food or water borne illness.

    • LukesCook

      Just because most babies can survive a few days with little or no food without apparent lasting effect doesn’t mean that it is ideal for them to do so.

    • Laural

      When I was a student nurse in the newborn nursery our Hispanic mothers would do the same. We nurses would happily bring them the formula, and they seemingly all went on to have wonderful breastfeeding success. We tried to ‘educate’ to let them let the babies nurse first and get the colostrum, then offer the formula. The lactation consultants practically went bonkers over some of the Mums, who no amount of lecturing could convince not to feed their babies until their milk came in.

    • nannyogg

      That’s really interesting, fiftyfifty. I wonder why the difference between those outcomes and all the stories from Western women of how the first bottle was the beginning of a downhill spiral?

      • CarolynTheRed

        I’m a western woman. I continued giving my daughter a couple bottles a day after she was discharged from the NICU (hypoglycemia). It was against the nurses’ advice, but I figured she’d been eating as much formula as she would take every 3 hours, my milk couldn’t be in enough for her not to be hungry (and I figured the “no formula shall touch baby’s lips” ship had sailed). She hasn’t had a bottle of formula since she was about 10 days old, and is one freaking huge five month old (pushing nine kilos – I’m hoping she’s hitting a plateau).

        Lots of the breastfeeding women I know have supplemented early on, even if it was just one bottle once when the baby was crying inconsolably. They just don’t talk about it unless they know they won’t be judged.

        • Pragmatic IBCLC

          The difference is that in many other cultures women put their babies to the breast much more frequently than Western women do. There is very clear research now that the frequency of milk removal stimulates supply. The myth that giving bottles will decrease milk supply comes from an era in between when wetnurses and hand expression were commonly used and an era now when there are much more efficient electrical pumps.

          If you have a baby who is full from drinking milk from a bottle and you do not remove milk from the breast and you do that frequently enough the milk supply will drop. If you continue to remove milk by hand expression or with a pump frequently enough, you can do it as long as you want. I know many women who have exclusively pumped for more than a year no problem.

      • fiftyfifty1

        My guess is because with a certain percentage of births in ANY culture there is insufficient milk. But Western women have been handed the narrative that “even one bottle will start the spiral”, so when they have breastfeeding failure that is what they say caused it. Breastfeeding failure also happens in other cultures, but that narrative isn’t there so they explain it with things like “My body was depleted by the pregnancy, so I could not make much milk”, or “The baby cried at the breast but was happy with the bottle, so I knew that for this baby the bottle was best”. Almost all Somali moms start off breastfeeding, but I don’t see that they attach any significance to it in terms of it being a mark of a Good Mother and none of them have a purist attitude about it. So the ones that end up feeding mostly or completely with formula due to low supply don’t seem upset by it.

  • CandC Mommy

    The product reviews on Amazon (by women who have not purchased it) are just cruel. In their eyes it’s not even appropriate to pump! The baby must be nursed on the breast! If it weren’t for a pump I would have given up on giving breast milk to my kids. More evidence of the “you must parent according my standards” mindset.

    • suchende

      If you can’t pump, you can’t work. Now what’s better for children, the financial security of having a mother’s income, or breastmilk? To me the answer is at least not obvious.

      • CandC Mommy

        I think these are probably the same mothers who are horrified by the fact other mothers chose to work full time. I happen to work full time because of my greater earning potential while my spouse stays home with my kids and my pumped milk. I love the fact my almost three year old will jump in her play car with a purse on her shoulder and announce she is going to work.

        • Ceridwen

          I’m even worse. My husband and I have the same current earnings and the same earning potential as we’re both at approximately the same point in the same degree program. If anything, his earning potential is likely a bit higher since he’s male and there still tends to be a bias in earnings in our field when all other things are equal. And yet I still intend to continue on full time in my degree program after this baby comes! I’m clearly a horrible mother already by many of their standards and I haven’t even had the baby yet.

          • Wishful

            Well I have a female partner…so does that make it okay for me to work so long as shes home when I am out? Or does her feeding with a SNS device count if its my milk (I hope to be the one carrying)? What about gay couples? Are those babies just doomed?

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            That’s an interesting question. I wonder what the NCB party line is on male couples having kids. Should they only adopt toddlers or older? Hire surrogates and pay them to wet nurse?

            My friend’s wife carried their baby, but she is the one staying home because her wife earns more. I thought it was neat that instead of pumping, sometimes (mom at home) would pack up the baby and take him to have lunch at (working mom)’s office.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I wonder what the NCB party line is on male couples having kids

            It’s not so much NCB, but the APers, right?

            In one respect, I’d say that why should their response to that be any different from their response to any adoptive couple?

            Then again, I continually question, what DO they think about adoptive couples? The implication is that they cannot approve, it seems to me. How could they?

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            Don’t APers and lactivists encourage adoptive moms to take drugs to induce lactation? Or did I hallucinate that?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            There are certainly some that do go that far, although I think, for the most part, they remain silent on the issue, knowing full well that if they speak up, they are going to come off very poorly. ISTR He Who Must Not Be Named actually did that (spoke up about it) and boy, did he get hammered.

          • Wishful

            That doesn’t sound very natural to me. Besides they claim the the moms body magically knows how to adjust nutrients in the milk to fit the baby. How can it know these things for a baby it didn’t birth?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            That doesn’t sound very natural to me. Besides they claim the the moms body magically knows how to adjust nutrients in the milk to fit the baby. How can it know these things for a baby it didn’t birth?

            Hey, I never claimed it was logical, just that there are those who will go as far as TCHM suggests. I think, by default, they are not working from a basis in reality, so “that doesn’t make any sense” isn’t really an argument against it.

          • Eddie

            I think, by default, they are not working from a basis in reality, so “that doesn’t make any sense” isn’t really an argument against it.

            (laughing) That’s actually a really good point!

          • Lost in Suburbia

            I think the extreme lactivists/NCB/AP crowd would send those parents to find human milk donations – Have you come across eats on feets and human milk for human babies? They are person-to-person milk donations.

          • Eddie

            Reminds me of a Girls Behaving Badly episode where they pretended to give people cheese samples made of human breast milk. Except that what you’re talking about actually exists.

          • Lost in Suburbia

            I recently heard about a woman who made cheesecake with breastmilk and fed it to some family members (adult, I assume). Everyone in hearing distance of this particular tale immediately responded with an eww gross, and wondered about eating anything with milk at this woman’s house.

    • ejohns313

      I think the Amazon reviews have been coordinated by an outside campaign. I can’t find any terms of use that violates, but you’d think that something called “customer reviews” would require that the reviewers actually be customers.

      • CandC Mommy

        There is a three star review where the poster references a campaign by a breast feeding group on Facebook. It would be nice if the reviews were tagged as not being a verified purchaser.

  • mearcatt

    my sister in law could not breastfeed her daughter when she was born. she tried for weeks and it just wasn’t happening, and she went through a lot of physical pain, and her daughter wasn’t getting the nutrition she needed. she had no other choice but formula, but our lovely mother-in-law stepped in and insisted that she just “must be doing it wrong” because in her mind, it was natural and you can’t not do something natural. BS. people need to understand that breastfeeding just does not work in all cases, in spite of the best intentions, but telling a new, vulnerable mom that she’s doing something wrong ranks amongst the lowest of the low. people need to divorce themselves from the notion of “breast or nothing” because yes, in fact, it doesn’t work in all cases.

    • Isilzha

      And they ignore the fact that Nature doesn’t give a DAMN about whether you or your baby survive.

  • fiftyfifty1

    So if I am reading the study correctly, if you choose to exclusively breastfeed, your child has about a 2% chance of ending up hospitalized due to that choice and a 1% chance of ending up with a spinal tap due to that choice. But mothers are never told this ahead of time! Wow!

    And yet the best study of breastfeeding outcomes we have (the randomized Belarus PROBIT study) shows that the health benefits to breastfeeding are minimal at best in a country with access to clean water and formula. But mothers are never told this either.

    This has got to be a case of “You can’t handle the truth!”

    • suchende

      Anyone preaching the truth is “attacking breastfeeding.” Many breastfeeding moms who really aren’t lactivists otherwise totally lose their shit if you suggest breastfeeding isn’t magical. It takes so much sacrifice, people are really not open to the message that it didn’t give their children everything they believed it would.

      • CSM

        So true. I find that in practice, frequently. Especially after a birth that didn’t go according to the woman’s plan, then BF becomes the last proof that her body can do at least something ‘right’. Whoever came up with the set of expectations for what our bodies can and cannot do is responsible for a lot of mental anguish.

        • Meganomics

          That was my experience. After the unexpected complications and the emergency C-section, BF was my last stand: “the one thing that could still go according to plan!” I sobbed to my husband as he attempted to talk me down off the ledge. 🙂

          • ejohns313

            Yup. Me, too. I never thought it was possible to feel so bad about my body. When we finally had to bite the bullet and use formula, I felt like it didn’t matter anymore who mothered my child because I was a proven failure on every level. I was all set to call off my maternity leave so I could go back to work and at least be of some use to the world. Fortunately my friends talked me out of that.

          • CSM

            It saddens me to hear these stories. Every mother I have encountered so far was a responsible, intelligent woman full of love, cuddles, and unique lessons to teach her child. Each of them fully capable of giving the child what really matters, yet many feeling incapacitated by guilt for not being able to birth vaginally and/or breastfeed. We are a technically skilled, mind-over-matter society, so why obsess with insignificant biological quirks?

          • ejohns313

            I don’t know. In retrospect, these feelings were not rational or even within my normal moral boundaries. I don’t believe anyone’s value as a person or mother has anything to do with physical reproduction — I am as close to my stepparents as to my parents, and I have long considered adopting. I wasn’t attached to a vaginal birth, and I never was the type to sentimentalize a medical decision. But I was an insecure new mom finding out for the first time that parenting won’t go according to my plans and intentions. From a balanced perspective, none of this is worth getting upset about. But life with a new baby is not balanced.

          • KarenJJ

            “But I was an insecure new mom finding out for the first time that parenting won’t go according to my plans and intentions. From a balanced perspective, none of this is worth getting upset about. But life with a new baby is not balanced.”

            Phrased so well. That is how I feel about it. I was used to setting goals and working hard. Parenting really threw me for a while there. It took a long time to feel grounded again. There was a lot out of whack those first few weeks that I am only now just starting to get some perspective of what I was going through. Breastfeeding failure was a large part of it, anxiety another part.

            Thinking back over it, it reminds me that we really need to take care of new parents and babies and make sure they are both feeling happy and thriving. Above breastfeeding. Setting goals on breastfeeding rates is like setting goals on sleeping through the night.

          • Laural

            Yes, Karen. Yes, yes, yes. And part of caring for the family means doing whatever we can to ensure the mental health of the parents.
            For whatever reason my Aunt, a very successful business woman, goes into the throes of depression when she breastfeeds her newborns. It took therapy for her to finally give her last baby a bottle and not be in a puddle of guilt. As soon as she did, she went back to her normally beautiful, exuberant, happy, loving self- that is a thousand times healthier for her sweet baby than getting her mother’s breast milk- how do we place a premium on that, how do we value that as a culture and society?

          • Laural

            Yes- my main inspiration for becoming a doula was because the transition into motherhood can just be so overwhelming and hard. Normally sane, rational, balanced, secure women can be so vulnerable. After doing the ‘DONA’ thing I decided it would be better to just become a nurse, but, still, I agree that new Mums, especially first time Mums can be so impressionable. And for whatever reason the wounds and slights can go deep and last long. That is how I rationalize the lengths some go to to avoid repeating a less than wonderful ‘first’ birth.

          • The idea that feeling bad about your body has any bearing on one’s competence as a mother boggles my mind.

            In one sense, the physical sense, it DOESN’T matter who mothers a child, so long as somebody does. Psychologically it does matter later on in life, but hardly to a baby. People presumably don’t feel bad about their bodies if their appendix fails, so this is more to do with a relatively recent culturally constructed version of what constitutes a good mother – the Birth Goddess, the fecund, the bountiful provider of breast milk. Back in the days of wet nurses, were they famed for their scrupulous care of infants? Is an abundance of milk all there is to it? Sure, nurture and care and concern for long term health is part of mothering, but it is hardly the whole! A fully functioning reproductive system may be nice and satisfying, give confidence, and a good start, but if one’s feelings about one’s body destroy confidence or lead to depression something has gone very wrong with the cultural construct.

            Some of the qualities that enables us to mother a child properly may be instinctive; in a complex modern world, rather more of them are not, and I can’t see that anything much in child rearing is related to biology.

          • ejohns313

            Of course it isn’t related to biology. These aren’t logical thoughts or feelings. I didn’t think I’d ever have them. I thought all the birth goddessy stuff was gross. I think the word “fecund” is gross. I’ve never been woo-ed.

            But I was hormonal, I was depressed, and I wasn’t bonding with my baby. Suddenly I was insanely jealous of women who had vaginal births and copious breastmilk because they had something to hang their hats on, while I had nothing (at least, that’s how it looked in the fog). I thought if I had one of these things to feel good about, I could bond with my baby and stop worrying that she or I would be taken away. And maybe I could look in a mirror and not be disgusted by how my body looked postpartum because it had served my baby well. These feelings got worse and worse and worse as I frantically pumped all day and all night. Those conditions were terrible for PPD, but PPD made the breastmilk battle seem even more necessary. It’s a vicious cycle.

          • Me

            That’s exactly how I felt. Looking back, it’s so sad and so unnecessary.

          • Petanque

            I felt the same way Meganomics, after several rounds of IVF and a C-section I just felt if I could breast feed properly it would show how I was really doing my best. Thank goodness for supportive family and friends who helped me accept that supplementing was a positive choice for my baby.

      • MrsGeeEffingWhiz

        My experience was not that breastfeeding was sacrifice — it was, in fact, rather easy. I had good supply, babies had good latch, and we had a really successful breastfeeding relationship, which I am thankful for. When everything works, really, its not a sacrifice or that difficult. But for the moms who are having bad experiences, why on earth would they continue to put themselves and their babies through it? Do they think it somehow makes them better parents to be anxiety-ridden zombies while their hungry babes cry? My mind boggles with the backwards thinking of it.

    • Therese

      If I am reading this right, it is 2% of hospitalized breastfed infants, not 2% of all breastfed infants.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Thanks Therese! Much better!

  • quadrophenic

    I’m not sure of the product works or not – from what I can tell it may not be that accurate. So yes, maybe the product should be pulled from the shelves. Just like the gender prediction tests. But the lactivists seem to be getting worked up over the very idea that a woman could not produce enough rather than the potentially bad product itself. And even if you produce a lot of milk there’s always the potential that maybe the baby can’t extract the milk well. When I could get a latch my daughter was lazy about it and would only drink 1.5 oz in 45 minutes when I’d be able to pump 4 oz in 15 minutes at that point. The fact is there are too many variables for an OTC test to diagnose and if you suspect problems you need to see a pediatrician and a sane lactation consultant who is willing to suggest supplementing when necessary rather than see babies starve.

    • Becky05

      It was designed with the input of a physician who is a Fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and claims to be based on clinical research. After reading about it, I still wouldn’t recommend it (I’d recommend going direct to a health professional) but I don’t think it is dangerous or inaccurate.

      • quadrophenic

        While the lactivists are worried about false positives I guess I’m just thinking of the danger of false negatives – if you’re concerned enough to buy the test you should see a professional. If you think your baby isn’t eating enough and the test tells you that you’re fine but there really are issues then the mom may not seek help. I would like to know more about the clinical accuracy so I’ll read up on it if I have time, I’d heard it was based on pumping and some women just don’t respond to pumps. But apparently there’s more to it?

        • Therese

          I’m not really concerned about false negatives. It also asks about baby weight gain and diaper output, surely it would pick up on any serious problems if mom put in the answers correctly.

        • Becky05

          Yes, it is based on a particular pumping protocol shown in a (very small) published trial to be a good estimate of a woman’s milk production as determined by pre and post feed weighings, and it also collects information on baby’s nursing behaviors, weight gain, etc. to issue a report. It isn’t just the pumping.

    • Elaine

      “The fact is there are too many variables for an OTC test to diagnose and if you suspect problems you need to see a pediatrician and a sane lactation consultant who is willing to suggest supplementing when necessary rather than see babies starve.”

      that is why I am not in favor of this test. It doesn’t seem very constructive or accurate. It’s true that many moms can’t pump as much as a baby extracts, so it’s going to under-report for those who are producing adequately. Maybe it’s good for those who aren’t, but they really should be seeking help in a form other than an OTC test.

  • auntbea

    I am frustrated with the idea that you are making enough milk as long as the baby is gaining weight. That means you are making enough that the baby is not starving, sure, but it doesn’t mean that you are making enough to satisfy her hunger. My baby gained weight fine and we still had to supplement because apparently she was programmed to gain even more weight.

  • Rebecca

    It’s very funny to me that the lactivists aren’t similary opposed to the Milkscreen Alcohol Test, which seemingly encourages women to drink while nursing.

    • suchende

      I don’t understand, why would lactivists be opposed to drinking while nursing?

      • auntbea

        I know I intentionally drink wine before my baby’s bedtime snack. Don’t wake me up until morning, kid.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife

        I thought they encouraged it, sorta–dark beer is one of the things recommended to stimulate production.

    • quadrophenic

      But the idea that you can take just about every medication while pregnant and occasionally drink is central to the idea that you have no good excuse to ever give formula.

    • Therese

      If anything, lactivists would oppose it for keeping drunk women from nursing.

    • Becky05

      Actually, I think they are. I know I’m opposed to it, because it gives the impression that you need to be anxious about a drink or two. You don’t.

      • me

        This! You know how much you had, and if you are drunk enough that you really think your milk isn’t safe, you are probably right 😉

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    I had an easy time with breast feeding. Even so, it took a day or so for the milk to really come in and the baby got a bit dehydrated the first day. One bottle of formula and two of pedialyte later, she was fine and breast fed exclusively for another 9 months.

    If I’d gone with the lactivist “formula is poison” thing, she would likely have gotten more dehydrated and ended up in the NICU for a couple of days for observation since dehydration in a baby can induce a fever. This would have disrupted breast feeding far more than a bit of formula did.

    I suppose the hard core NCB activist would say that I should have stayed home so that no one would check her vital signs or hydration status, but then she might have gotten more dehydrated and ended up with febrile or hypernatremic seizures and/or starved. Not good outcomes. Even leaving aside the “die in obstructed labor” thing.

    • quadrophenic

      I was kind of the same way, except it wasn’t until the third day that I have in to supplementing. By that time she’s had it with nursing and wouldn’t try again because she’d lost too much weight. Supplementing the first day would have meant she probably would have nursed. Instead I ended up exclusively pumping.

  • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

    I dont know anything about Milkscreen’s accuracy either. But it is ironic that one of the founding principles of La Leche League was to provide ACCURATE INFORMATION to mothers wanting to breastfeed.

    • Sue

      But don’t you know their definition of “accurate”, Lynette?

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

        Not sure what you mean…

    • Donna

      I’m not sure what this has to do with LLL? The reason “lactivists” are concerned is because how much milk you pump isn’t an accurate way of knowing how much a baby is getting. And even if you DID know, how do you know whether or not its the ‘right’ quanity for YOUR baby? This product produces results not unlike ‘test weighing’ which has sabotaged many a bf relationship. The general consensus is that to know what’s going in, look at what’s coming out. Mothers are already worried enough about perceived lack of supply, but this isn’t a way to solve that. The ‘accurate’ information they need is the stuff about urine and stool output, about average weight gains for full term newborns, about normal baby behaviour, even.

      This product is just designed to make someone a buck, and using parental fear to do it. Simple as that.

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

        Point taken. Supply does not always = intake.

        • Donna

          Well yeah..that too! With my 4th baby I had great supply, but transfer was poor, so I pumped and bottlefed top ups. I had a rough calculation to guide me as to how much to pump over a 24 hour time frame – but this was a calculation made by and given to me by my health professional.

          If a normal, healthy baby is gaining well there should be no supply issues. If a baby is unwell or not gaining or losing weight, Mum should be seeking health professional guidance. Neither scenario requires a milk measuring gadget from a discount store.

  • Elle

    But… isn’t it true that nothing is more effective at expressing milk than the baby? In which case, wouldn’t it be likely that there would be a certain amount of “false positives” with this kind of home test, when it would be more accurately diagnosed by a physician? I was always told that weighing the baby was the most accurate way to tell whether the baby was getting enough milk, which could have a lot more variance than a simple ounce amount of milk produced. Perhaps one purpose in opposing this is to keep women’s focus on their baby than on the potentially misleading number this test could give them?

    • suchende

      I don’t understand the question. The calculator relies on baby expressing the milk, not anything else.

      That said, it does seem like weighing baby is the most effective measure of production. This product does seem like it would mostly muddy the waters.

      • me

        According to the directions, the product does rely (to an extent) on pumping output. From the box: Step 1: pump and measure milk. Step 2: input data online. Step 3: receive a personalized report. Now, yes, part of the data you must enter apparently includes your “breastfeeding habits” and the baby’s weigh gain stats, so it doesn’t appear to rely *solely* on pumping, but it absolutely does ask you to pump and enter how much you were able to express.

        I’m somewhat torn on this product. On the one hand, if you have low supply it seems the sooner you identify it and address it, the better. And if you do get a positive from this test, hopefully you will be able to get help from your child’s pediatrician or a qualified LC to help resolve the problem, or, in the case of a false positive, reassure you that you do not have a problem. The bigger issue is false negatives. If you are told that you have a normal supply, but it is actually low, that could cause harm. Low milk supply can be quite serious! Screw some OTC home test, if you are worried about your baby, seek a qualified human being to help you determine what is going on.

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      “But… isn’t it true that nothing is more effective at expressing milk than the baby?”

      Actually no. In the early newborn period when babies are likely to be sleepy or have inefficient milk transfer abilities, a pump is often better. Not always though; pumps are not great at extracting colostrum. I wouldn’t rely on a tool like Milkscreen exclusively, even if found to have good accuracy, or even a single pre- and post-feeding weight check. You have to look at the whole picture: daily weight gain, diaper output, baby’s behavior etc.

    • Allie P

      No, that’s not true. It depends on the breast and the baby. Some babies are poor suckers, some breasts react much better to pumps than to mouths. That’s the problem with lactivist “facts” — there was a woman in my LLL group that did manage to exclusively breastfeed her babies — but only with pumped milk. My baby got more from me than a pump did. Every person/baby combo is different. I was very lucky that my local LLL was open minded and did not discriminate against women who breastfed in their own way, in their own time, combo fed, supplemented, pumped, or even (gasp!) formula fed but were also supportive of women who wanted to make breastfeeding easier and more acceptable in society for those who wanted to nurse (through social/legislative change). I understand that not all LLL are like that, though. It was a very “feed your baby the best you can and support those women who do want to nurse be able to do so” kind of group.

  • suchende

    I was shocked and horrified by the “support” I got from LCs and lactivists in the face of my low supply. No one ever suggested I might have IGT, even though all the signs were there. No one even asked me what my breasts were like prior to my implant surgery. No one brought up my surgery at all! Instead they pushed me to sleep less and give up more. Refusing to acknowledge supply issues actually exist and insisting that almost everyone can breastfeed in the face of contrary evidence will ultimately undermine them. It shows that it’s really about dogma and not evidence.