Hands off my breasts!

Well, not my breasts; my breastfeeding days are over.

Hands off the breasts of all women of breastfeeding age!

It’s time wake up to the obvious fact that women have the right to control their own bodies. That includes EVERY body part. That includes breasts. It is amazing to me that in 2013 anyone could believe that they have the right,or even the obligation, to tell women when, how and for how long they should use their breasts.

Yesterday, KJ Dell’Antonia of the NYTimes Motherlode blog published the post Similac’s Dubious ‘No Judgment’ Marketing:

Similac, maker of infant formula, sponsored a “StrongMoms Empowerment Summit” on Tuesday as part of the introduction of its StrongMoms campaign, which the brand describes as a “Call-to-Action to Stop ‘Mom-Judging.’” …

Mothers … find the public-service message “Don’t judge one another for feeding a baby formula” a little laughable when “brought to you by Similac.” We get it. We may not want to judge one another. The very-lovely-I’m-sure marketing people at Similac may hope to help mothers bypass that judgment stage. But Similac itself, in whatever corporate form it has, wants people to buy more baby formula. When the message is from a marketer, it’s never just about the message.

That’s why Ms. Allers is right to encourage us to look harder at what it means when a company with a financial interest in our infant-feeding choices tells us not to “judge” them. That there is a line between judging and talking is something Similac has no interest in our thinking too hard about.

My comment:

You are absolutely correct to point out that Similac has an ulterior motive, but you are remiss in failing to point out that lactivists have an ulterior motive, too.

The truth is that while breastfeeding has real benefits, they are quite small. Why, then, have lactivists become obsessed with pushing women to breastfeed and engaging in ever more ludicrous practices (locking up formula in hospitals) in an effort to enforce the orthodoxy?

Lactivists have a very specific view of women and their bodes. Instead of respecting a woman’s right to control her own body, they insist that mothering be defined by how women use that body. It is no one’s business how a woman uses her breasts, just like it is no one’s business whether she uses contraception, chooses to carry a pregnancy to term, or chooses to terminate it.

Lactivism is not about benefiting babies. In the first place, the benefits are trivial. In the second place, most lactivist efforts are utter failures because they fail to take into account the real reasons why women choose not to breastfeed: the pain, the difficulty, inadequate milk supply, and the inconvenience.

Lactivism is about promoting the parenting standards of privileged white women to an ideal that all women are supposed to follow. It is about deliberately making some women feel guilty so other women can feel superior to them. It is about defining women by their body parts and how they use them, not by their needs, beliefs and desires.

There followed the typical judgmental comments, but my comment is the most popular comment, suggesting that while they may not be vocal, a large proportion of women feel as I do.

And that includes Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams. In a post entitled Is Breastfeeding “Gross”?, Williams reports on the views of Playboy Playmate Shanna Moakler. In an articulate response to criticism  of her desire to bottlefeed, Moakler explained:

“I understand this debate,” she said. “I’m highly educated on it….  I celebrate breastfeeding. I think women should be able to do it in public. I will stand arm in arm for women’s rights to do it. When I personally tried to do it. It felt wrong. It felt immoral and it felt incestual and it wasn’t a good fit for me. I’m so sick and tired of women who are pro-breastfeeding – which is awesome – putting down other women who either don’t want to do it, don’t like it, have bad feelings about it, or physically can’t do it…. When I tried to do it, it didn’t feel like a wonderful bonding experience. It felt immoral to me and so I chose not to and I chose formula…. You can’t tell me that feelings are wrong.”

Williams sums up her personal view about other women’s choices:

Their breasts are their business.

The sooner we realize that, and stop pandering to the desire of lactivists to shame any women who doesn’t mirror their own choices, the better.

  • Jess

    I am a breast feeding mom, because it works for me. I have a close friend who had to have surgery to remove a milk duct due to mastitis. The nurses told her she should just nurse on the other side. We had a good laugh as she mixed her Enfamil. However, I knew she felt guilty, and it made me a little mad and lot sad! I used to ask about nursing, and moms would say what they planned. No big deal. Now it’s like I’m in the BF club. When I ask bottle feeding moms I can tell they feel like they have to justify their choices. Again I feel a little angry and a lot sad. Now I just don’t ask. Why make someone bad about a choice only they need to understand? I wish this article didn’t bring race to the party. In my group of friends the racial/BF combinations are not as portrayed here. I’d have shared the article, but I am also not pertuating the belief of some that everything is about race. Some things just are what they are! It is discriminative to “blame white women” for bottle feeding moms’ guilt. My lactivist ob is Hatiian American male!!! Skip the blame, and be the change!

  • SB

    Great article. So happy to see more sane, reasonable, SCIENTIFIC discourse about infant nutrition finally starting to challenge this martyr-mother cult of ours.. it’s incredible how this and other issues (abortion, birth control) highlight our absolutely brazen and disgusting sense of ownership over womens’ bodies.

  • Jeevan Kuruvilla

    Dr. Amy, Don’t you think that such an approach could be quite dangerous in third world countries? I deal with quite a lot of maternal and child health. We find quite a lot of mothers who are very unwilling to breastfeed, but would give terribly diluted formula in inadequate amounts to their babies.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Absolutely. The risk benefit ratio is very different in third world countries. Where you work breastfeeding can be literally a matter of life and death.

  • Julia B

    I didn’t mean to insult anyone. I just wanted to point out that the items necessary for some women to breastfeed can be bought or received second-hand, re-purposed from other items (in the case of the shawl instead of hooter hider), medications can be covered by health insurance, and breastfeeding advice can be obtained free from breastfeeding groups, in the hospital, from family members, friends, parenting books in the library and the internet. Only the incidental items are purchased (breast pads, nipple cream for women who don’t want to express a little and let it dry, freezer bags for breast milk). In addition, yard sales are full of baby items, and recent mothers who are not planning more children are normally all too happy to give away their used items.

    Formula on the other hand has to be purchased. I have never seen a can of baby formula for sale in a second-hand store. I did give my free formula samples to a friend, however this was only enough for a week and hardly made a dint in the $1200-$3000 yearly cost for formula (I guess that’s why I was sent a $10 sample tin of formula for free). The exception is that some women qualify for free formula (e.g. via WIC in the US).

    • FormerPhysicist

      Many of the items are not fully necessary for bfing women. Some are. But if you are comparing the costs, don’t forget the cost of extra food for the mother making the breast milk. Even WIC includes that.

      I think the larger point is just that neither choice is cost-free, neither is clearly superior for all women, and babies are wonderful but relatively expensive and time-consuming no matter what you do.

  • mtmama

    Dr. Amy I am so glad you no longer practice medicine. You are the most close minded, belligerent woman I have ever come in contact with. I am so happy that there aren’t any women seeking actual medical advice from your special brand of crazy. Can you say QUACK!

    • Box of Salt

      mtmama, did you even read this post before you commented?

      • Amazed

        No, of course not. Why should she bother? She’s a writer, not reader!

    • What illuminating commentary. I learned so much. Now off with you and leave us science types be.

    • yentavegan

      Why so hurtful mtmama? Dr. Amy is a caring logical minded educated doctor, wife and mother. She has never given out false misleading intuitive information. She does not say what you want to hear. She writes about topics mothers need to know.

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      Well, people tend to get a little bit cranky when they see baby after baby die preventable deaths. And I’m curious. What medical advice that Dr Amy has given do you object to?

    • suchende

      Is it wrong to have your mind closed to bullshit?

    • Roze of the Valley

      She is definitively not a quack. Just because you dont agree doesnt make her one.

  • yentavegan

    I know that on this blogsite there have been comments that the benefits of breastmilk are negligible but in defense of choosing breastmilk over formula let me just say that for me the benefits were worth the trouble.
    I never needed to give my nursing children vitamins. I never needed to feed my nursing children real food until they were old enough to self feed. I never needed to own or clean bottles. And best of all for me, I never menstruated while nursing.

    • Melissa

      Formula fed children do not need vitamins and can drink formula until they are old enough to self feed “real food” also. (I use the quotation marks because I’m not sure what you think other mothers are feeding their children. Baby food is real food and for at least the first year an infant’s main caloric and nutrient intake should be from either breast milk or formula. Solid food is just for practice.) I breastfed my oldest exclusively for 6 months and I used plenty of bottles. I work outside the home and pumped daily. Aside from that I would also pump occasionally if my husband or another family member wanted to feed the baby or if I wanted to be away for longer than 3 hours.

      When people are discussing the benefits of breasfeeding vs formula, they aren’t interested in whether mom has to wash bottles for a long time or how long she went without menstruating. The focus is generally on intelligence, physical health, etc. of the baby (and sometimes the mother) as opposed to inconveniences.

      • yentavegan

        I actually did not buy into the belief that breastmilk made children smarter or healthier. And I do not promote those false benefits when helping mothers who seek out my support. i did not know that formula fed infants did not require vitamins. And I also thought that formula did not meet all the nutritional needs until a child could self feed.
        I do not think that the baby cereals that are highly processed and that no adult would ever serve to themselves is real food.

        • An Actual Attorney

          Eh — I love grits. About the same. For pesach I made my own “instant” cereal for my kiddo out of quinoa. It’s really not that processed compared to anything I would eat. Just toast grain and grind.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I agree with you about not menstuating. I did like that!!! But the vitamin part you have backwards. Formula already has all the needed vitamins added. It is *breastmilk* that requires an added vitamin. It is deficient in vitamin D, even if the mother is well nourished. This is especially problematic for babies in northern climates. For example, in the northern states of the U.S., the sun is strong enough to cause vitamin D production only for a few months in the summer. And if your baby is dark skinned, it is especially problematic as the weaker northern sun cannot penetrate. My sister, a northern pediatrician, saw the most devastating case of breastfeeding rickets due to this, and sees more mild cases from time to time. The iron is also a problem. Even in best case scenario, the iron stores a baby has at birth do not last an entire year. That is the reason for those gross baby cereals. They are fortified with iron and are started just at the time breastfed babies typically are running low. Formula fed babies can skip these as formula is already iron-fortified. Low iron is not something to sneeze at. It has been shown to cause potentially permanent drops in IQ in addition to anemia. I had a 16 month old who presented to my clinic in anemia-induced heart failure. Luckily ended up doing well in terms of the heart. Not sure about the IQ.

      • yentavegan

        All I have to go on is anecdotal evidence but my own brood never took vitamins and their iron levels were always normal even though they consumed nothing but breastmilk until almost a year old, and then 4 of my brood nursed for the majority of their calories well past 18 months of age. i did not supplement with vitamin D, but we are fair skinned.

    • suchende

      Around half the EBF moms in my birth month club got their period back by 4-5 months post partum. And they were all pissed, lol.

      • CarolynTheRed

        Raising hand – I EBF-ed, aside from a little pediatrician directed supplementation for about a week total. I had my first postpartum period at three months.

  • Rebecca

    I hate that this is even an issue and that anyone considers it their business. I’m TTC. As I’ve mentioned on another thread, I’m not breastfeeding unless I have a baby that REALLY needs it (like a preemie, until they got stronger). I think for my baby, formula will be better than either having a mother who constantly feels awful from not taking medications or being exposed to several medications at once in breastmilk (they also can ruin supply). I hope I can just tell people who are nosy about it to shut up because it’s none of their business. I suppose some of the extremists would say I shouldn’t even have a kid if I know I can’t/won’t breastfeed. This whole subject makes me angry.

    • nannyogg

      Good for you for being sensible. I’ll guarantee you that your child is never going to think “My life is not worth living because I was formula fed! I wish I’d never been born!”

  • auntbea

    Speaking of boobies, can someone tell me what to do about mine? I am finally weaning my daughter from her bedtime nurse and now my ducts have gotten all plugged and I don’t know to fix that without nursing or pumping. If I get my first case of mastitis while weaning, I am going to throw down.

    • KarenJJ

      I used to hand express in the shower – just enough to feel comfortable. It eased over a week or so. Once one side was really clogged and I had to use the pump but didn’t drain that side completely, just enough to relieve the pressure.

    • Michele

      Agreed with hand express a bit in the shower. Also, lecithin supplements helped me with avoiding and clearing up plugged ducts.

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      Try a technique called the “bag of marbles breast massage.” Several times a day, lie on your back and move your breast around like it was a bag of marbles. It is gentle, not a firm massage, and the goal is to just move the “marbles” around slightly to promote circulation of blood and lymph. Some plugged ducts take a few days to weeks to resolve, but if they are getting better and not worse, I doubt you would get mastitis.

  • Guest

    How on earth does a playboy playmate have anything to say about something being “immoral”? I’m sorry, but that’s just ludicrous.

    • I would suspect that in part because she is a Playmate, she is has bought into the complete sexualization of human breasts. She is an illustration of the idea that breasts are sexual first and foremost. So it is hard for her to move from that idea to “breasts are for feeding babies.” Hence the “incestous” feeling.

      And if women have a right to their breast, being paid to display them is part of that right. You man not consider it moral, but this posting was about not judging other women for their choices.

    • Eddie

      As I’ve said before, the world is not a dichotomy. This is one of the most common logical flaws I see used day-to-day. It’s perfectly possible to be moral in one area of life and immoral in another. Add to that that morality is not absolute, but varies with time and culture and from person to person. It’s not as simple as you say, even if I agreed with you that by her career choice she was necessarily immoral. (I don’t agree.)

    • Spamamander

      What does her being a Playmate have to do with whether she herself is “moral”? If a consenting adult decides of her own free will to pose for some photos that is certainly her right, and doesn’t constitute “immorality”.

  • yentavegan

    Dr Amy, I imagine you and I are kindred spirits. Except while I was drawing hearts with my boy friend’s name on my highschool note book, you were actually taking notes and paying attention and doing really well in school.
    I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew I wanted to breastfeed since I was 8 years old and I saw a National Geographic special on TV. The show wasn’t even about breastfeeding, but a quick camera shot of an indigenous sub-sahara breastfeeding mother sealed the deal for me.
    Helping other women who turn to me for breastfeeding support has been my life’s calling.
    but not just that, I also help mothers who turn to me, desperate after trying every trick in the book to make breastfeeding work ditch the guilt.
    25 years of being a volunteer peer breastfeeding cheer leader and I tell mothers , who seek out my input, that a good mother always feeds her baby. a good mother uses formula rather than forcing an infant to nurse. A baby who won’t latch is a baby who can’t latch. Give your baby a bottle. You do not have to hand in your “cool” mom card because you are not breastfeeding. Hip cool moms bottle feed too.

  • Sue

    In Oz, another Coronial inquest into a HB death:

    “the coroner said it became apparent during the inquest that the community had lost an appreciation that childbirth had inherent and unpredictable risk and the debate was currently largely directed towards denial of the risk, particularly in the context of home birth.”

    “Ms Thurgood and her partner, Dwayne Gates, had had three children all born by caesarean section before Kate discovered she was pregnant again in March 2010. On December 13, 2010, when Kate, 41, was 42 weeks pregnant, she attended Monash Medical Centre with what she described as a heavy bleed.

    She was seen by obstetrician Peter Neal and scans revealed both baby and placenta were fine except the baby was in the breech position.Dr Neal suggested Kate have a caesarean, which she declined. Due to the bleeding, Kate was admitted to hospital for two days and went home to Clayton on December 15.

    She went into labour the next day about 4pm and her midwife Fiona Hallinan arrived about two hours later.”

    • KarenJJ

      Was just reading about this. This means both the coroner in SA and the coroner in Vic have both said that homebirth needs further reforms.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      YOWZA!

      A 42 week pregnant woman, with 3 previous C-sections and heavy bleeding, has a breech baby and a MW allows her to attempt a HB?

      That MW deserves to be in jail, no doubt about it.

      Who in the blazes could defend such recklessness?

      The risk involved in that is not at all unpredictable. Jeez, I hear the claim that childbirth is “as safe as life gets.” Not in this case. I don’t know how much more risky it could be than this. Except, I guess, if you found out she was also pre-e or had diabetes…

      • VeritasLiberat

        I read that she had gestational diabetes in her previous pregnancies. Don’t know about this one.

  • Wren

    I breast fed my kids. I am pro-breast feeding for any woman who wants to and is able to do it. Heck, my daughter never even had a bottle of any kind (not for lack of trying on our parts) and nursed until I told her she drank all the milk at 35 months. Her best friend had no breast milk. At 5 1/2 and 6 you could never pick out which one was fed which way without actually asking.
    I really wish the lactivists could pour all of that energy into ensuring every baby gets fed in a safe way, whether bottles full of breast milk or formula or straight from the tap. Yes, it’s important that women are able to breast feed in public, but generally they are. Yes, it’s important that women who work and want to breast feed get pumping breaks somewhere other than a toilet seat when possible, and many already do. Yes, it’s important that women are given accurate information and are offered support when needed whatever way they choose to feed their infant, but lactivists are only willing to support one option and do not provide accurate information.
    Speaking of inaccurate and dangerous information and advice, I know so many women who have been pushed or advised to do unsafe things to “protect” the breastfeeding relationship. How many babies have gone hungry? How many women have been advised to starve their babies back onto the breast? How many women have been advised to or have even stopped vital medication because “breast is best”, rather than the reality of “breast might be a little better in an ideal situation but certainly is not always best”?

    • I like your post a lot, Wren. Why is simple sanity so rare? Or is it just rare on the internet?

      Maybe more research attention should go into the psychology of women’s choices. Why do women let themselves be controlled by theories, images and ideologies that, when universally imposed, cause more misery than content? I absolutely support bf, cannot understand the fervent militancy and brainwashing that currently goes with it and I am appalled when I read what some women put themselves through. Baby friendly hospitals seem to me outrageous. Seventies feminism went a long way to freeing women from that kind of oppressive thinking, but stopped short at mothering and now frequently seems to reinforce controlling attitudes. If women really, really want to do it, for whatever reason, then by all means give support – but not guilt trips founded in dodgy science.

      • KarenJJ

        “Why do women let themselves be controlled by theories, images and ideologies that, when universally imposed, cause more misery than content?”

        I would love, love, love to know how and why that is. Is it cultural conditioning? Do men suffer the same ‘group think’? Why is someone stating an individual ‘I hate breastfeeding’, such a threat to others; whereas someone saying ‘I hate tea’ or ‘I hate toyotas’ treated as a personal choice?

        • LukesCook

          Have you seen the online gang wars between the Apple and Android fanbois?

          • KarenJJ

            Does it turn into moral outrage? In the way that breastfeeding vs bottle feeding can be? Maybe it does (thinking of anti-microsoft sentiment I’ve been exposed to).

          • LukesCook

            Sometimes people pin their identities on seemingly random choices. They gather in like-minded people and sometimes reach a point of critical mass where thousands and thousands of people get deeply emotional about utter nonsense. Religion (the Reformation, anyone?) and sport are obvious examples. Moral outrage comes easily when people are in the throes of groupthink, and all the more so if anything regarding children is involved.

          • Eddie

            Does it turn into moral outrage? Oh, absolutely it does. People *love* to judge the actions of big companies, and get as sanctimonious as any discussion we’ve dissected here. Look at any discussion of the Apple vs Samsung lawsuit, for example.

        • auntbea

          Have you ever told a Red Sox fan that you like the Yankees? Note: Do not tell me you like the Yankees. I am Sox fan.

          • KarenJJ

            No. That sounds like baseball which seems suspiciously similar to cricket.. I’m horribly allergic to cricket.

          • Squillo

            Gah. You sports fans got nothing on us opera heads. Try posting something positive about Renee Fleming on an opera queen site.

          • auntbea

            Why? What’s wrong with Renee Fleming? (I’m classically trained, but not really that into opera)

          • Squillo

            She has become somewhat “mannered” in the past few years (the wags call her “La Scoopenda,” and after last year’s Lucrezia Borgia, I could see their point), but really I think they object to anyone who they view as “pandering” to the unwashed masses. I’ve liked her in Strauss and Mozart, less so in bel canto, but I don’t think she deserves the scorn that gets heaped upon her. So I guess I lose my honorary opera queen badge.

        • Wren

          I don’t know the answers, but I do think it has a lot to do with achievement parenting as described in an earlier post.
          I also think there is a sense of tribal identity that forms around some of these mothering issues, and no question these are primarily mothering issues, not parenting issues. In my case, I was far from my family (in another country) and didn’t have any friends having kids yet, so I think I dived right in to the whole AP thing because it gave me a sense of a support network, albeit an online one. A huge market exists for products that make it clear we don’t know how to parent, and most of us don’t have networks of extended family to help but do have time to stress about the fears we cannot parent well. I’ve known women who are devotees of almost every parenting guru out there and I think you can find an expert to support almost any parenting choice. Rather than making it easier to parent, the vast number of conflicting “experts” makes it harder to feel confident in one’s choices. Grabbing hold of an ideology makes it easier to feel right.

          • Eddie

            I’ve seen people convert to very controlling religions because the religion told them precisely what to do and not to do. That is very comforting for some people. It removes a whole level of adult responsibility, because all you have to do is follow orders. The less ambiguity there supposedly is, the more appealing it is to those people.

      • Love your comment and I so agree with you. I could breastfeed my two children till they were over a year old, and am nursing my boy at 2 months, and plan to do it till he’s a year old, or he doesn’t want to anymore, or I don’t want to anymore. But seriously, why would I care if somebody else’s child gets breastmilk or not?

  • Sue

    From a comment in the NYT thread

    ” Thinking that baby formula is as good as breast milk is believing that thirty years of technology is superior to three million years of nature’s evolution.”

    Oh – so hearing aids vs deafness? No, we’ll take nature’s ear evolution against technology, thanks.

    • Antigonos CNM

      Three million years of evolution conquered infectious diseases such as smallpox, polio, whooping cough, or measles? No it was technology, and with the exception of smallpox [approx. 200 years ago], all the major infectious diseases have succumbed to vaccination/inoculation within the past 80 years or less.

      Why anyone should think that “evolution” is inevitably the better way I cannot imagine. In fact, in some cases, evolution is the problem. The mutation that causes sickle cell anemia most probably became dominant because it gave some protection against malaria — but at a cost of its own. However, it gave significant protection to enough people to become a dominant trait because they did not succumb to malaria in childhood and lived long enough to reproduce.

      • Mac Sherbert

        I wonder if formula is evolution. We got smart enough to make an alternative to Breast-milk.

        • KarenJJ

          That’s what I think. Babies have been supplemented for many many years now because we used our brains to try and give them some sort of food and because we cared about these babies. The fact that people (and babies) seem to be able to survive and thrive on a wide range of food leads me to suspect that breast milk has not been a sole food source for young humans for quite a while. How many areas around the world are babies actually exclusively breastfed for 4-6 months?

          I also suspect that issues with breastfeeding are much more common and much more difficult to overcome than breastfeeding advocates and lactation consultants are leading women to believe.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Oh, there have been alternatives out there for as long as we know (although it’s dumb to talk about evolutionary changes even in terms of recorded history). But formula wasn’t developed as an alternative to breast milk. It was developed as an alternative to the crap that people were using instead of breast milk, like cow’s milk or goat’s milk, or worse.

    • Box of Salt

      “From a comment in the NYT thread”

      Made on the “World Wide Web” of the internet, which did not exist in its currently easily accessible form 30 years ago. Or even 20 years ago (1993, folks – how many of you could log on from home?).

      I wonder if the person who made that comment knows what a punch card is.

  • hurricanewarningdc

    A judgmental blog post defending one’s right to be judgmental? Got it. And in the New York Times, to boot. Nothing to see here. (Great post, Dr Amy.)

  • sourpea

    I wish I’d given up breastfeeding earlier! Four months of dreading the sound of my son’s cry as he woke for the next feed, four months of not wanting him anywhere near me unless he was feeding… It came good after that and I still believe breastfeeding can be great, but in my experience not worth the guilt and pain of those early months. Now number 2 is just around the corner I’ll give it my best shot – but that will involve being kinder to myself and paying more attention to the distress and anxiety that the pressure to breastfeed can create.

    • Mac Sherbert

      The constant feedings made me feel that way too. I finally started having my DH give a bottle (of formula) once a day! It changed everything. If not for that, I would have given up BF at 3 months or earlier.

  • fiftyfifty1

    “Well, not my breasts; my breastfeeding days are over.
    Hands off the breasts of all women of breastfeeding age!”
    Actually, even postmenopausal women can lactate. You could adopt an orphan and re-lactate. Or if you end up with a selfish daughter or daughter-in-law some day, you could (i.e. should) relactate for your grandchild.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife

      Just because you can do something, that doesn’t make it right.

      • Antigonos CNM

        Or even sensible.

      • fiftyfifty1

        What can you possibly mean by not right? Breastfeeding is the loving act of feeding a child. How could that ever be wrong?

  • This is a great post! I know its been said before, but I find the term ‘baby friendly hospital’ so frustrating, because for me it wasn’t baby friendly at all! My baby was dehydrated, bright orange and had lost over 11% of birth weight and It wasn’t until I snapped out of my post c section, drugged haze that she finally got a bottle!

    Why is it okay that a lot of women are pro-choice when it comes to abortion, but If you choose to keep the baby you damn-well better breastfeed it.

    • Charlotte

      Same here! My baby had a horrible latch and lost over a pound of body weight in two days and was peeing red crystals she was so dehydrated, so the doc at the hospital said to supplement with formula. But, the nurses refused to give me any so my husband had to go out and get bottles and formula and smuggle it in. When we got caught the next day, we got a lecture from two nurses about how bad formula isn’t and that we shouldn’t be feeding it to our baby despite the doctor’s advice.

    • Rebecca

      is there anyway to find out if a hospital is “baby-friendly” (aka anti-formula)? Already decided not to breastfeed the baby I’m TTC for medical reasons and I don’t want to deal with that after birth (my OBGYN agrees with me 100% but who knows about the hospital…)

      • Eddie

        If you just call and ask the hospital, I imagine you’d get an honest answer. I cannot imagine a hospital would lie about this. Or just *go* to the hospital, find out when they give tours of the labor & delivery section, ask the people on shift.

        The hospital we used was quite nice and parent friendly. Breast feeding was encouraged, of course, but not mandatory. The mother could wheel the baby (plastic bassinet on wheels) to a nursery if she needed or wanted quiet time or needed to rest. Very accommodating to the mother. To the whole family, really.

        • Karenjj

          ask whether they have a night nursery where a nurse can mind the baby while you get some rest or whether rooming in is compulsory. My hospital had a night nursery. I used it the first night after the c-section. At any rate it is nice to have the option regardless whether you end up needing it.

  • ANH

    well, right now we’re tied for most popular comment 🙂
    I’ve been thinking a lot about breastfeeding. I think it’s a completely wonderful thing, but the more I read about it, the more I talk to other moms, the more I take critical looks at breastfeeding studies, I feel like something going on is very wrong.
    Please don’t get me wrong, I think natural birth is a wonderful thing (even if I wasn’t able to achieve it), but there seems to be a giant cognitive disconnect in the arguments that lactivists and NCB supporters make (they are usually the same people)
    NCB supporters, to paint a broad stroke, talk a lot about a woman’s right to be in control of her body. they talk about how she should be in charge of her birth, and make the right decisions for her. they accuse doctors and nurses of playing the dead baby card. they talk about how a healthy mother is just as important as a healthy baby. I agree with a whole lot of this
    but then, we have the baby and all of a sudden there’s this enormous pressure for us to breastfeed. Our bodily autonomy is no longer important, we need to sacrifice ourselves to breastfeed because it’s best for baby. wait a minute! why was I allowed to make the best decisions for myself when I was pregnant but now I’m no longer allowed. They don’t play the dead baby card, but they play the sick, fat, stupid baby/child card. Even if we’re exhausted, depressed, in constant pain, our babies are losing weight, we resent our child, or breastfeeding is causing emotional flashbacks to previous abuse…none of that matters because our baby is getting breastmilk and we’re avoiding evil disgusting formula. And then if we truly truly truly can’t make enough milk (it’s only 1% of us, right? hah!) we’re either supposed to buy breastmilk of the internet and feed some stranger’s bodily fluids to our child, or buy a goat and concoct my own crazy brew in my kitchen.

    and for all the talk about evidence based medicine?? No breastfeeding study, or no REPUTABLE breastfeeding study, has produced evidence so unbelievably compelling that women should totally sublimate themselves in order to breastfeed. It’s milk! it has great antibodies, and yes, once I put some on a bug bite and it went right away, but it’s not some magical elixer that will keep our children from ever getting sick. In some ways it seems like the most ardent breastfeeding zealots are completely downplaying the role we parents play on our children. Like breastfeeding can make up for all the ways we lack as a parent.

    it’s all freaking madness.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Actually some of them do play the dead baby card. The first lactation consultant I saw did.

      • ANH

        seriously? how on earth did she try and justify that kind of statement?

        • fiftyfifty1

          Do you want the specifics? Here are things she said:
          Increased risk of leukemia
          Increased risk of SIDS
          Increased risk of diabetes
          Formula contaminated with bacteria
          Formula mistakenly made at the factory missing a micronutrient. Baby grows and appears to thrive and then suddenly dies or ends up with permanent brain damage.
          She said all these things to me when I told her I was considering weaning because of the severe constant pain (which she misdiagnosed as nipple thrush when it was actually crush-injury triggered Reynauds).
          An IBCLC. yep.

          • Isramommy

            “Formula mistakenly made at the factory missing a micronutrient. Baby grows and appears to thrive and then suddenly dies or ends up with permanent brain damage. ”

            This actually happened to a number of babies here in Israel around ten years ago. It was caused by an imported German brand called Remedia soy based formula which was totally missing vitamin B1. There have been convictions for negligent manslaughter and other charges for some of those involved in the importation and marketing in Israel. It was and continues to be a terrible tragedy but not something that should be exploited by lactavists to advance their own agenda.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Hey, so she wasn’t making it up after all! She did tell me it happened in Israel.

          • Isramommy

            It’s also worth noting that, as far as I know, this type of thing has happened only once, in this one specific case, with a defective product that was on the market for three months. It was horrible, life altering/fatal and inexcusable for the effected babies and their families, but really can’t be used as evidence that all formula fed babies are at risk. And the legal action taken against the company (which went out of business in Israel) and the various individuals involved in the improper product oversight speaks to how much of an exceptional event the Remedia tragedy really was. It’s not as though unregulated vitamin deficient cans of formula are randomly showing up on every grocery store shelf.

    • the sick, fat, stupid baby/child

      They would have a bit of a problem with my second, entirely formula fed daughter (and many, many others) who was/is none of those things. I understand the angst and anxieties around feeding, but are people quite incapable of looking around them and figuring out this is nonsense?

      • MLE

        Yes….postpartum and no sleep made me believe almost anything negative. 9 months later was another story.

    • Dr Sarah

      ANH: Actually, NCB supporters very often have exactly the same attitude towards women’s autonomy with regard to feeding choice as they do to women’s autonomy with regard to birth choice. Namely, they’re all in favour of women making their own choices as long as those choices happen to coincide with the ones the NCB supporters have decided are right. If you happen to want an epidural or an elective C-section rather than an unmedicated vaginal birth, I suspect you’ll find NCB supporters to be rather less vocally in favour of your autonomy and your right to make the right decisions for you.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        That’s because they seem to be confused about the concept of what “choice” really means. Consider, for example, the comments about how NCB makes them feel “empowered.” In what respect? That they are able to choose to have an NCB? But while it is true that choosing to have a NCB requires the ability to choose, NOT choosing a NCB does not mean that one does not have that choice. Empowerment is manifested in the ability to choose, not in the choices we make.

        It’s like the anti-abortion bumper sticker “Aren’t you glad your mother was pro-life?”* Aside from being a false premise, just because someone chooses not to terminate a pregnancy does not mean that they are not “pro-choice.”

        *I should note that even the saying, “Aren”t you glad your mother choose life” fails, because it is impossible to say one is better having been born or not. It is logically impossible to say I am better off now than if I had never been born – it’s a meaningless concept. It is not possible to compare the quality of existence with non-existence. It is as meaningless as asking what color my hair would be if I had never been born.

  • proudlazymom

    I’m so tired of women who need to justify why they didn’t breastfeed – low supply, baby wouldn’t latch, needed to take medication. I didn’t breastfeed because I didn’t want to, simple as that. I was solely responsible for the baby for nine months and I was more than ready to share that responsibility after birth. I don’t care if people think that makes me selfish or a bad mother.

    • moto_librarian

      STANDS UP AND CHEERS!

    • People also justify having a cesarean.

      • proudlazymom

        I know and it’s so sad. If I have a cesarean with my next baby I am going to tell people it was a MRCS even if it isn’t. Just because I can.

    • Well some people did want to but could not. Does not mean that they are trying to say they are better than people who chose not to.

      • proudlazymom

        I don’t think women who want to breastfeed but can’t are trying to say they are better than women who don’t want to. Some women feel they need to justify why they are not breastfeeding instead of stating that they just didn’t want to. I wish those women would be honest but I understand why they’re not. Who wants to deal with the disapproving stares and comments when you’ve got a new baby and your hormones are all over the place? My baby is almost 2 and I now feel confident to state the truth. I used to say that I didn’t breastfeed because my milk never came in. The truth is I was doing a little happy dance when that happened because I never wanted to breastfeed in the first place. My next baby, I will not be bullied or guilted into trying.

        • BeatlesFan

          Exactly this. I fed DS pumped breastmilk for the first 6 weeks (supplemented with formula) and then went to total FF when I returned to work. I always felt the need to explain I had low supply (which, to be fair, might not have been the case had I pumped more frequently or made some other effort to keep my supply up). With DD, I gave pumped breastmilk for the first 3 weeks, then said f*** this, I hate pumping and I’m losing enough sleep as it is, formula didn’t damage her big brother and it’ll do just fine for her. And this time, I am fine with saying that. We’re done having kids, but if we were to have another, I don’t think I’d bother either.

      • LukesCook

        I often wonder if the lactivists and vag-worshippers have it partly right, that insufficient supply is quite rare and a good proportion of “medically indicated” c-sections are in fact unnecesareans. Not for the reasons they think though, but because there are quite a few women out there who want to FF and have MRCSs but don’t like to admit it, so explain it with “poor supply” or “baby looked big on ultrasound”.

  • Antigonos CNM

    Nothing annoys me quite as much as this “baby friendly” absurdity of locking away formula in newborn nurseries and subjecting new mothers to intimidation [listening to a lecture and signing a “consent” form] when they want a bottle. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about the physiology involved knows:
    1] most, although not all, babies are relatively uninterested in food until they’ve cleared their intestines of meconium. This can take several days. In my experience, far more newborns are uninterested in nursing initially than the lactation consultants are in urging unlimited time at the [empty] breast.
    2] Indeed, this may be the reason that nature has arranged that the milk does not arrive in quantity until about the third, sometimes 4th, postpartum day — when, given current hospitalization policies, nearly all women are already at home. Some women produce very small amounts of colostrum, as well.
    3] There are a number of reasons, such as physiological jaundice, for actually pushing fluids and wanting to know how much the baby is getting. With a bottle this is easy; test weighing is not really accurate at all. If the mother has access to a breast pump, and is willing to give the baby expressed breast milk, well and good; if not, formula supplement is very helpful.

    So, given the possibility — indeed, the probability — that a new mother won’t have a good nursing experience even if she is dying to breastfeed while in hospital, what is the rationale behind trying to provoke, if at all possible, dehydration in a newborn infant by trying to get a sleepy baby to survive on a small amount of colostrum? Breast first, then top up with supplement, at least until the milk comes in.

    My daughter did everything exactly the way she should, yet on the day she was discharged my granddaughter had a completely dry diaper for over 12 hours but my daughter was so engorged that Shir could not latch on and both of them were crying from pain and frustration. I really think that if I hadn’t been on hand, both the mother and baby might well have wound up in the ER. Hot compresses, a breast pump, to ease the engorgement enough for Shir to be able to begin nursing, followed by some supplement, had her passing urine quickly enough — but this was all at home, away from the hospital “professionals”. I wonder what other new mothers without support systems do.

    • Jessica

      “I wonder what other new mothers without support systems do.” They quit breastfeeding.

      I’ve shared before my experience in a hospital trying to get BFHI status. We wanted to go home 24 hours after birth. Baby was not latching and nursing well. IBCLC was useless – coming by the room 30 minutes after I’d paged her, then shrugging at my sleeping baby and saying, “Call me when he’s ready to eat again.” OB said he had no reason to keep me in the hospital, an LC wouldn’t be available overnight, and it was a great way for the hospital to make more money.

      So new nurse comes on and we share with her our desire to go home. She notes baby hasn’t nursed well and we really need another night in the hospital. I say, “Well, my mother BF me, I have a hospital grade pump at home, and if all else fails, we’ll get some formula.” The nurse replies with, “Well, we don’t like to do that.” I thought my husband was going to have a stroke. After she left the room I had to remind him the baby was OURS and they could not legally keep us in the hospital in order to force breastfeeding. FWIW, the on-call pediatrician was happy to discharge us at the 24 hour mark since baby was not jaundiced and because we had a feeding plan in place that included supplementation if needed.

      I’ve been breastfeeding the little guy for nearly 11 months now, but my success in that has nothing to do with the freaking hospital.

    • theadequatemother

      AMEN! If it wasn’t for my Family doc nonchalantly telling me to supplement I would have had a newborn under bilillights. Same scenario….no pee x 12 hrs nursing x 2 hrs.

    • Squillo

      How’s about we suggest locking away the vending machines that sell candy, chips, and soda? Those things aren’t the best nutrition and contribute to health problems.

      So if a staff member gets peckish during a night on-call and has foolishly neglected to bring a healthful snack, a nurse can be dispatched to give him or her a lecture on why fruit is a better snack than a chocolate bar before grudgingly unlocking the vending machine.

      We’ll call it the “Staff-Friendly Hospital Initiative.”

      • Aussiedoc

        Sigh. They HAVE doe that at a hospital I used to work at. Got rid of all the coke and chocolate vending machines. Just before I did a week of nights too. I was LIVID. you try making life changing decisions at 4am with no caffeine and refined sugar. Bastards?

        • Bombshellrisa

          That is cruel!
          We used to have a McDonalds at the local hospital, both staff and patients preferred it to the healthier cafeteria. They got rid of it in an attempt to seem healthier (right before they got rid of the well baby nursery and locked up the formula)

        • Squillo

          Did they replace it with anything you could actually eat?

          Removing one’s source of caffeine should be a criminal offense.

          • Aussiedoc

            At the time no – I think there were plans for water and ‘healthy’ snacks but this happened just as I was leaving.

            Fortunately the nurses in emergency where I was we’re all stuff this and filled the fridge with canned coke you could buy. Plus brought chocolate and chips to work. Which was awesome. After the first two nights I stop eating because I’m too exhausted, if it wasn’t for the chocolate I’d have lost even more weight…

            The irony was about a week later there was a huge outcry about the hours being worked by junior doctors…and the health department actively recommended we drink caffeine to keep going. Leaving aside how unhealthy and rude that recommendation was I remember thinking how??? YOU STOLE IT FROM ME!

          • Dr Kitty

            I can’t eat on night shift, I just get heartburn and crampy. So I’d have a dinner before the shift and breakfast afterwards, and survive on tea.

            A&E was great, because the staff would make a proper breakfast in the break room on a George foreman grill (sshhhh, don’t tell management) and it was the only place I worked where drs had set break times.

            So in the quiet 6-7 am of an almost empty emergency department I’d eat toast and scrambled eggs and bacon…which, since I was pregnant at the time,, was just lovely.

            Nurses and doctors survive on caffeinated beverages, chocolate left by grateful relatives and takeaway Chinese food ordered at 4am after the cafeterias close. Taking away vending machines is cruel.

          • Sue

            ED staff are known for being both rebellious and using initiative 🙂

            My weekend shifts generally start with going to the cafe and buying multiple coffees and a big block of chocolate. Coffee and chocolate seem to be good for the patients as well (so long as they can eat).

          • Aussiedoc

            After the first couple of days I can’t even manage breakfast anymore. I usually lose about 2kg over the course of a week of nights (being somewhat stocky though, it was never a drama, plenty of reserves ;)).

            Now I do GP-obstetrics so normal days with on call. As tiring as it can be to work all day, be up at 2am and then back up at work – it’s so much better than 7 straight 12 hour night shifts. I have so much respect for people who do them for a living. Pain…

            (Not that this has anything to do with breastfeeding….:p – except I’m pretty sure I’m about to discover on call tends to be incompatible with it. Luckily I’m not averse to the-thing-in-utero getting some formula if I’m at a birth)

          • Dr Kitty

            Oh god I hated “week of nights”, 7 straight 8pm-9am shifts, especially since in my rotas they were usually preceded by working 4 days straight of 11 hrs shifts, finishing work on a Thursday at 6pm and having to come in Friday at 8PM to start nights.

            Then you’d get 7 straight days off after the last night shift, which was meant to compensate and kept the rotas legally compliant in terms of average hours works, but really didn’t do ANY favours for your mental health. You felt constantly jetlagged.

            Like you, Aussiedoc, I found a 1-in-6, 36hr on-call shift pattern much less exhausting than a formal “night shift” every 6 weeks, although I know that research apparently finds otherwise.

          • Durango

            I need very simple food on night shift–fruit, pb & crackers/bread. Anything else makes me nauseated. My body does not like being awake all night!

          • KarenJJ

            I used to live in a mining town. I’d be heading to work at 7:30am and see all the miners just off shift sitting outside the pub eating bacon and egg “breakfasts” and drinking beer. I felt nauseous at the thought of it.

          • LukesCook

            I spent a few days in Rome and the cafes were always full of mostly old men drinking grappa and espresso at 7am. I don’t think they’d been on night shift though.

          • KarenJJ

            Have to say I wish they’d get rid of the vending machine at the hospital I take my daughter to for specialist appointments. Spending an hour waiting for a specialist – not great. Spending an hour listening to your toddler go nuts because they want to eat everything in the vending machine – really not great. Feeling like a crap mum and giving in to the stupid machine and taking in one bored, sugar crazed kid stuffed with lollies and chips to see the doctor – super bad..

          • LukesCook

            Can’t you put in the wrong coins and claim the machine is broken? Or is your toddler brighter than mine?

          • KarenJJ

            I claimed the machine was broken until one of the staff came and used it.

            But it didn’t matter because by the time we reached an hour I was thinking I could go a marsbar and some chips myself….

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            She did say twizzlers.

          • Squillo

            Yes, but to make a balanced meal you really need Mallomars and Zesty Ranch Kettle Chips.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Granted, Mallomars will get you your daily requirement of marshmallow, but you know, if they would at least offer Nacho Cheese Doritos, you’d get your grains AND dairy. Now that’s a balanced meal.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Twizzlers leave a nasty red film on your teeth-you don’t want to greet patients with little red bits in your teeth. Unless you can brush your teeth after you have one.

        • theadequatemother

          my hospital too….vending machines have diet soda and juice and water only. Not sure why they think juice is better than coke wrt to sugar content. Also have gotten rid of the chips, chocolate and replaced them with granola bars (which aren’t really nutritionally superior), “health” cookies, dried fruit and nuts and twizzlers. I guess because twizzlers are low fat? Oh, and everything is labeled with an icon that is supposed to tell you just how “healthy” or “unhealthy” your choice is which is a laugh because individual snack choices don’t matter – the pattern of them and how they fit into your overall diet does.

      • Eddie

        Wait five years. That’ll be New York City.

      • Antigonos CNM

        Hospitals in Jerusalem, and I guess other parts of the country, too, have kiosks which sell more healthful items. There’s one in the lobby of the Hadassah hospital at Mt. Scopus, for example, which sells yogurt-based fruit smoothies, and freshly squeezed fruit juices, for example. [But it isn’t open on the Sabbath]. This is alongside the standard vending machines.

  • Jessica

    If you read Ms. Williams’s post in Salon in its full, you see that Moakler’s original statement was: “I didn’t breast-feed. I’m selfish. … I look at my breasts as like, sexual. … I think it’s like, incestual. It’s gross. I don’t like it. Sorry.” I think her subsequent statement was eloquent, but it’s not surprising that she got some flack at first. Further, Williams’s post wasn’t just about Moakler’s comments – it was also about the backlash Danica McKellar got for announcing she’d recently weaned her toddler son. Hence the closing line, “Their breasts are their business.”

    For all the lactivist efforts, the majority of infants in this country receive formula at some point. The latest CDC Breastfeeding Report notes that just 36% of babies nationally are exclusively breastfed at 3 months. If you’re breastfeeding at 6 months, or one year, or longer, you are in the distinct minority, though it may not feel that way in certain parts of the country or among upper middle class, well-educated white women – the kind who read Motherlode and the NYT or articles on Salon.

    I agree that no woman, including Moakler, should have to justify her decision not to breastfeed. But I can’t help that think that Moakler’s attitude, which is common enough, is part of the reason that women fight so hard to justify their decision to breastfeed, especially an older infant or toddler. It is a defensive action taken to fend off accusations that you are weird, creepy, committing incest, or doing something unnatural.

    • LibrarianSarah

      I think a lot of those breast feeding statistics are misleading because as soon as the kid is given an ounce of formula he/she is no longer counted even if he/she is breastfed for for a year afterwards. I live in an neighborhood with a large immigrant population. Just about all the women around here breastfeed. They do it in public, private etc. However, a couple months ago the local news was in a tizzy because our “breastfeeding rate” was “under 5%.” It turns out that these women give a bottle for the first couple of days until their milk comes in and the exclusively breastfeed from there out. LLL or some other breastfeeding organizations are trying to launch a campaign to “reeducate” them but their is a lot of resistance. And personally? Good on them for resisting. I wish we could look past this “all or nothing” culture we seem to have.

      • Jessica

        That is a limitation, but the CDC Report Card does report the rates in the following categories: (1) Ever Breastfed, (2) Breastfeeding at 6 mos, (3) Breastfeeding at 12 mos, (4) Exclusive Breastfeeding at 3 mos and (5) Exclusive Breastfeeding at 6 mos. The national rate for exclusive breastfeeding at 3 mos is just 36%, but the rate for any breastfeeding at 6 mos is 47%.

        FWIW, even though my son was supplemented with two or three bottles of formula in his first week, I considered myself to be exclusively breastfeeding until he started solids at 6 months. But I agree with you – the definition of exclusive breastfeeding no doubt excludes a lot of women who had to supplement in the beginning but do not so routinely at any point thereafter.

  • gentry

    Here is a piece by the Alpha Parent ( possibly the biggest misogynist on the internet)
    http://www.thealphaparent.com/2011/10/why-way-you-feed-your-baby-is-my.html

    This woman actually has convinced herself and about 25,000 “fans” that what women do with your breasts is in fact, her business.

    • She is outrage personified.

    • suchende

      Tagline: “the snobby side of parenting.” I don’t even know what to say to someone who is being horrible on purpose.

      I always tell my husband, there’s no one as dangerous to herself and others as a lawyer who drops out. We’re barely tolerable when we’re kept busy.

    • Jessica

      I’m reading her list of useless baby products and my eyes just might roll out of my head and onto the floor.

    • ejohns313

      That Alpha Parent just posts inflammatory things for attention. She doesn’t care at all about public health. She’s like the Ann Coulter of infant feeding — except she’s so chicken that she can’t even use her real name.

      • Bombshellrisa

        Like the fact that she was a wet nurse for her niece. The niece saw her breastfeeding and asked if she could try.

        “My niece, Ivry, when she saw how I fed Kye, started wanting to nurse as well. Keep in mind, she was only breastfed a short while before her mom switched to formula. Since she showed interest, even after being told no three times, I called her mom, who lives in Virginia. She said she had no problem with it. Once that was done, I asked her dad (my best friend & roommate). “You sure her mom doesn’t care?” he asked. Once he was assured, I had the green light.”

    • Bombshellrisa

      All the while wailing about the “manhandling” from the midwives and nurses in the hospital. She also doesn’t believe that she should have had a C-section. ““My son was born by ‘emergency’ caesarean after induction at 42 weeks, I say ‘emergency’ as I have since discovered the reason was rather dubious (I was at full dilation and pushing, they said my son was in distress – apgar of 9 indicates he wasn’t) but I digress.” WOW. So these types believe a baby has to be born floppy, blue and not breathing if a C-section is necessary? This explains EVERYTHING.

    • Sue

      Eeek! Why did I allow myself to be coaxed over there? Did you see her list of conditions apparently caused by FFing? Includes “morbidity and mortality” (as a condition – I kid you not!) as well as appendicitis and delayed menopause…..sigh.

      • Squillo

        Did she include autism? ‘Cause everything that isn’t 100% bonfide natural causes autism. I heard that not breastfeeding makes the mom autistic retroactively.

        • Eddie

          I really, really hope you’re kidding on that last sentence. But I’m afraid to ask.

          • Squillo

            Well, I’m kidding. But I bet dollars to doughnuts someone somewhere (probably Gloria Lemay) has said this in earnest.

    • Rebecca

      Ha, I wonder what she’d have to say about me. I am one of three siblings. My brother and sister were exclusively formula fed from birth, I was exclusively breastfeed for 9 months. If you ignore my brother’s heart defect which was present at birth, I was by far the sickest child, and it seems I am unfortunately, also the sickest adult. No fair? I did get the best grades, though.

  • To me, breastfeeding was the best option- for all three children. It came easily, I had tons of milk, and never had to use any products such as pumps. I thought this was because I am such an awesome mom, but now I feel that I’m lucky. Nobody has told me to stop breastfeeding in public, but once a woman came up to me and said: “I feel it’s really important that you’re breastfeeding”. Oh really? It’s not that I cared about what she was thinking, I just did what I considered easiest for me. And seriously? I think it’s awesome that I could formula feed if I wanted or needed to. I think it’s awesome that women can formula feed and have the father or daycare nannies feed their child while they can work/sleep/shower/have fun! Seriously, people, this discussion about breastfeeding is so ridiculous, why don’t we just respect each other’s choices?

  • Dr Kitty

    Sometimes people don’t make the same choices we would make.
    Provided those choices are legal and not actively dangerous, they get to make those choices.
    Their choices are their own and it should not be inferred that your choice is less valid than theirs.

    It is impolite at best and hateful at worst to constantly assume that the only reason other people do not make the same choices as you is because they don’t know any better.

    This applies to:
    breastfeeding

    whether you cycle or carpool or telecommute or drive to work in a SUV
    dietary preference
    religious belief
    whether you choose to get married
    whether you choose to have sex before marriage
    who you have sex with
    political opinion

    Basically, MYOB and let people get on with living their lives as they see best, because really, it isn’t up to you.

  • I agree with Ms. Williams and this post. It’s funny that we feel the need to say something like “I celebrate breastfeeding”. Seriously, ten years ago, before I got married and had kids, I would have thought that was some sort of bizarre joke or something. I would have laughed at this sentence, but 10 years later I’ll say it: “I refuse to celebrate breastfeeding.”

    I celebrate happy/healthy kids and parents. My reading of the literature as of four years ago when my baby was born is that breastfeeding may or may not have some slight health benefits, but the risks/benefits are down in the noise. You could look at things like the number of miles travelled by car per day that have a greater impact on risk, but obsessing about small risks is contrary to happy/healthy kids and parents.

    Having kids is hard, esp if both parents want to keep their professions running without turning their kids over to a nanny. So people should not make it any harder than it needs to be.

    I agree we know what Simlac’s motivations are. We don’t know what’s in lactivists’ heads. My impression is they think a woman’s place is in the home, but that’s just a guess and I really don’t care what makes them tick. They just need to stay separate from scientific medicine.

    When I was 28 y/o I would have laughed out loud to think I would be this worked up about the topic of feeding babies. But when my first baby came at age 33, my wife and I were clueless. We are scientifically minded and sought advice from the hospital and doctors. Instead of science, we got politics, but we didn’t know it until we literally followed the footnotes in some of the info they gave us and found the cited research did NOT support the claims they were making.

    The result of their politics is I’m cautious about breastfeeding. When I hear about it, it sounds like a back-door way of saying a woman’s place is in the home. That’s too bad because there’s nothing at all wrong with breastfeeding itself.

    • suchende

      “But when my first baby came at age 33, my wife and I were clueless. We are scientifically minded and sought advice from the hospital and doctors. Instead of science, we got politics, but we didn’t know it until we literally followed the footnotes in some of the info they gave us and found the cited research did NOT support the claims they were making.”

      Sounds just like us (except we were 27 and 28 at the time). At first my husband bought into it and really pushed me on BFing the first 6 weeks. But once he dug a little deeper he was just appalled.

      • KarenJJ

        “Instead of science, we got politics, ”

        Well said! Same for us. It was what lead me to skepticism and Skepticalob.

        • Sue

          I had always thought that BF must have had significant benefits for the baby – everyone says “breast is best”, right? It was only after I found my way here from a complaint by Meryl Dorey (anti-vaxer) that I read the actual research and found out the actual magnitude of the benefit.

          And then, like Bofa would say, “All other things being equal”.

          (BTW – good news – New South Wales parliament has just passed a Health Legislation Amendment Bill that allows organisations like the AVN to be investigated and disciplined by the Health Care Complaints Commission).

          • KarenJJ

            Ooh that is good news. I’ve done a little arguing with anti-vaxxers lately. Skeptical ob is my respite. One comment was someone saying that although she didn’t vax, of course she’d get her kids the small pox vaccine if they travelled overseas… I bet she researched her decision to not vax very thoroughly…

  • Comrade X

    This lady FULLY SUPPORTS mothers breastfeeding their children. She has stated her commitment to standing “arm in arm” with breastfeeding mums for their right to breastfeed, including in public. She cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to have made “anti-breastfeeding” statements or comments.

    It gives HER a funny feeling when SHE does it. It makes HER uncomfortable when SHE does it.

    That’s it. She’s not telling YOU or ME how to feel or what to do.

  • Dr Kitty

    It isn’t as if the nipple balms, breastfeeding covers, breastfeeding pillows, breast pumps, breast feeding teas, latch assist devices, fenugreek, nursing necklaces, nursing bras, nursing dresses etc are made by pixies and delivered to nursing mothers free of charge by the nursing fairy.

    There is a “Breastfeeding Industry” with stuff to sell and a message to promote, just as much as the formula industry. Lactivists are kidding themslves if they think otherwise.

    • MLB

      I received WIC when my children were little and one thing that was disappointing as a breastfeeding mother was that they didn’t provide some of the things like nursing bras or breast pumps to me in place of formula coupons. I know they are about nutrition and they were providing me the foods which would ideally help provide the best breastfeeding relationship with my child, but I think more women would do it if they could afford some of these tools which help. I was home with my children, but if I had to go back to work, then I would have ended up having WIC pay for formula because I couldn’t have afforded a good pump to pump while at work. For some, formula does end up being the cheapest route because of the government programs set up to help provide this to babies in need.

      • Stephanie

        I am not sure how long ago you were breastfeeding, but I do know that my local WIC does provide breast pumps (not nursing bras, but I think that is probably a bit too personal of a product,) along with both IBCLCs and peer breastfeeding help.

      • I agree. If gov’t subsidizes food, it should subsidize breast feeding supplies. Formula and breastfeeding are both good ways to feed a baby. A baby being well fed by caring parents is very important. The exact method of feeding matters hardly at all.

      • slandy09

        WIC where I am gives out breast pumps too–I guess your WIC was behind the times.

      • You want to know what is BS? I disparately needed a pump after my daughter was born and was totally full up. I called WIC because it says online that all mothers get a hand pump. They refused to give me one because I was not working or a student.The LC kept saying ” But why do you need one? You’re going to be with the baby all the time, you can just nurse!”. Apparently SAHM means you don’t get engorged and you don’t ever leave the house. I reported them for their behavior and told them that had I been a first time mom and didn’t know how to relieve the milk abundance, they may very well have caused me to stop breastfeeding all together. They were very sorry, but I’m still livid over it.

        • Engorgement stinks.

          Breasts so taut that even the most determined newborn couldn’t get a proper latch, the mother in pain (not ‘discomfort’) and a hungry baby.

          Oh, sure you have breast milk. You lack a way to get it out of the actual breast and into the actual baby. Breast pumps, even cheap manual pumps, can usually do that job. Or you could buy supplement and some bottles to feed your baby. The irony of it all.

          • That is exactly what was happening. She could not get her mouth onto the nipple because it was like getting a baby to latch onto a plate. It was torture.

          • Dr Kitty

            My midwives made sure I knew how to hand express before I left hospital, for just such an eventuality.

            Breast pumps are nice, but needs must when the devil drives and hand expressing does work.

          • LukesCook

            Yes, I had a pump but it worked so poorly that I expressed by hand for the first few weeks. It produced the same amount of milk as even the hospital grade rented pump, but took much longer and I did always have bruises on my breasts (because I’m impatient).

      • Dr Kitty

        I work as a GP I the NHS- there is a LOT of parental pressure to diagnose tiny infants with reflux and lactose intolerance.
        Why?

        Not for bragging rights, but because lactose free, extensively hydrolysed and anti-reflux formulas are available, FREE, on prescription.

        So, in the UK, if you want to bottle feed, and you tell you GP a tale of woe of a colicky, puking baby with bad nappy rash, you might get a year or more of free formula.

        So, for some people, bottle feeding is MUCH cheaper than BF.

        *I say, cynically*.

    • Things I paid for out of my own pocket when I BFed:
      breast pump
      breast pump supplies
      bottles
      breast milk bags
      lanolin
      nursing bras
      breast pads
      nursing tops
      a few cans of formula

      No lactivist offered to donate any of those items or pay for them.
      No group or organization offered those items at a discount.
      The only baby feeding items that I got in my swag bag from the hospital was a sample can of formula powder and a eight pack of ready to feed formula.

      I would say that the lactivists have their work cut out for them. Put up or shut up!

      • LukesCook

        I discovered too late that my medical fund would have covered the cost of my breast pump. Not the bags, bottles and bras though. The whole lot cost a fortune. If you’re pumping you have to shell out for all the same things as a bottle feeding mother- sterilizer, warmer, bottles, teats – plus all the breast feeding kit – bras, pads, nipple cream, LC fees and special shirts or covers if you’re like me and more concerned about exposing your flabby post-pregnancy tummy in public than your nips – plus the pumping paraphernalia.

      • Julia B

        You can shell out all this for breastfeeding, however it is not all necessary. I paid for lanolin (although I didn’t need to because I got a tube free from the hospital), breast pads, and some extra supplies for the breast pump I got second hand from a friend (a big no-no from the manufacturer, but I made an educated decision as a microbiologist and decided no pathogenic microbes would survive for months in a cleaned breast pump), and nursing bras and tops. Women who don’t pump don’t need the breast pump supplies, which are probably the most expensive part. The nursing bras were useful in the first few months but after that I could go back to the pregnancy bras, then my normal ones. The nursing tops were not useful at all since the clip mechanism was very ugly and it showed through under a cardigan, and in retrospect I did not need them. The breastmilk bottles I was given second hand as well, and I felt that they were clean enough after being washed in the dishwasher. Breastmilk contains lysozyme and other antimicrobials and I felt that this was enough.

        So breastfeeding women not intending to pump could potentially get by with only buying nursing bras and nursing pads, and even the nursing bra could be substituted for a sports bra or crop top, and potentially cut-up pieces of diaper cloth for the nursing pads. For women pumping, there are extra costs from the pump and supplies, however these are less than for formula, and presumably most women pump because they are working and earning more money than if they were staying at home. The “hooter hiders” are sometimes given away free as a way to promote breastfeeding, and actually a well-placed scarf also does the job.

        When I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed by all the marketing for products for the baby. So much of it is unnecessary. I had a seminal moment when researching crib mobiles on Amazon when I read that I would have to take it down after 5 months when the baby could start to pull itself up. I took that off my baby list and all other things that I would only need for a couple of months and did without.

        On the evidence side, I know that the evidence primarily comes from observational studies, and there are methodological issues with measuring dose and duration of breastfeeding particularly after the introduction of complementary foods, however the evidence is fairly consistent in showing a reduction in gastrointestinal, respiratory and ear infections (see “Breastfeeding and maternal and infant outcomes in developed countries” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764214). These are of course based on large studies and they look at the overall risk of illness and not at individual cases. The results do not mean that a particular baby is sick because its parents chose to give it formula. I was lucky in that my daughter was only sick a couple of times with a cold in her first year of life, however at least I felt that I was doing what I could to help prevent her getting sick.

        • fiftyfifty1

          I read a lot about how you don’t really have to buy certain supplies with breastfeeding (and also with cloth diapering). Then predictably the writer goes on to tell about how she was able to score second-hand all these things you supposedly don’t need through having the right friends or through intensive yard-sale stalking etc. That’s great, and I’m glad you got these things free or for a good deal, but really your situation is not typical or something a woman can count on.
          I have not paid to have my hair cut for many years. My aunt is a beautician and does it for me for free. Other women should learn from my example and realize that they are foolish to pay to get their hair cut!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I cut my own hair. Even better.

            Actually, nowadays, the kids help me.

            So you don’t need to pay for haircuts. If you have 2 and 4 year olds, they can help you out for free!

          • LukesCook

            And if you have no vanity.

          • Eddie

            You didn’t need both ears, right? At least, not all of them.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Wow, are your kids CPBs (Certified Professional Beauticians) yet? Because it totally sounds like they have way enough experience.

    • quadrophenic

      I spent over $1200 to try and breastfeed (got a little over 3 months of milk out of it). Things like an expensive pump, nursing bras, storage bags for frozen milk, and even a new freezer to store the milk really added up quickly. Had I been able to breastfeed for a year it would have been about equal to the out of pocket cost of formula, although I ended up fornula feeding anyway. But what isn’t included in the out of pocket cost is time – I exclusively pumped for 12 weeks. That was at least 3 hours a day, so roughly 20 hours a week, the equivalent of a part time job. Sure I was on leave at the time, but my lost time with my daughter and list sleep are worth something.

      • suchende

        I was gonna say, some people even get new freezers. So much for free.

      • Josephine

        This was a big turning point for me in giving up the “fight” to breastfeed – having spent so much money and still being unable to breastfeed without the help of at least two or three other hands. I realized if I kept going down that path, I would be out all the money I spent and still have to buy formula. As it stood I ended up spending enough to cover probably 6 months of formula.

    • Antigonos CNM

      Not only all the various supplies one needs to nurse properly — I remember my dietetics instructor telling us that while a pregnant woman “eats for one and a half”, a nursing mother needs to “eat for two”, which made, in her opinion, breastfeeding a more expensive option than formula.
      One of the illusions of the lactivist community is that all one needs to breastfeed successfully is a baby and a breast.

      • “One of the illusions of the lactivist community is that all one needs to breastfeed successfully is a baby and a breast.”

        On the other hand, none of the items that have been listed on this thread are actually necessary to breastfeed.

        Apart from difficulties with feeding itself, if a mother is able to produce enough milk and the baby is able to latch, you don’t need anything else. Poverty has an amazing way of streamlining your life. A poor woman would be able to afford breastfeeding much more easily than formula feeding.

        • Antigonos CNM

          First of all, that’s a big “if”. And with the current “obesity epidemic” it is often overlooked that women with big breasts do not have more milk-producing cells, but rather more fat cells, and often do not produce as much milk as small-breasted women. Moreover, a poor woman is under much more pressure to return to work as soon as possible, gets less rest as a result, and both these reasons can seriously interfere with nursing. Places like supermarkets or Walmarts are not ” breastfeeding-friendly” for their staffs, and the children are most likely far away in childcare, not in an adjacent creche, so pumping and refrigerating/freezing milk at work for later feedings by bottle is not practical, if possible at all. [How about riding to and from work on public transport with containers of frozen breast milk? Just think of the supplies needed for that!] Lastly, while the milk itself does not usually vary much in quality, if a woman is not getting sufficient nourishment of the right kind, her body will be depleted so the milk quality stays the same and that affects her general health. Poor women often have to eat inferior diets [high carbs, low protein] in order to provide their other children with the minimum. That it is cheaper for poor women to breastfeed is actually a fallacy.

          • “First of all, that’s a big “if”. And with the current “obesity epidemic” it is often overlooked that women with big breasts do not have more milk-producing cells, but rather more fat cells, and often do not produce as much milk as small-breasted women.”

            I said nothing about the size of breasts, large or small, or their correlation with wealth or poverty. I did disclaim the women who have physiological difficulties in breastfeeding their children.

            Although you say this disclaimer is a “big “if”” I believe that it still affects only a minority of women Unless you are actually suggestion that a MAJORITY of women are physiologically unable to provide for their babies through breast milk?

            (And please don’t remind me that a minority of women is actually NUMERICALLY a LARGE number of women, whose needs must also be addressed, which I am totally supportive of.)

            “And I assure you that the formula costed far less than the extra food I needed to support lactation.”

            Assuming that a woman has the luxury of maintaining her own health AND the health of her child. Many do not, and physiologically the child will be nutritionally supported ahead of the women in a BF situation.

            “Sure – unless she needs to go to work, in which case, not.”
            “How about riding to and from work on public transport with containers of frozen breast milk? ”

            “Working poor” women obviously have different needs.

            A poor women without a job, without money for a bus fare, without clothes for a job interview, without the possibility of obtaining childcare, without a steady roof over her head, without access to sterilising equipment or even the ability to readily boil water, can still (in the majority of cases) breastfeed her child. Without paying $1200 or more on commercial products or spending extra money on special food for themselves.

            Without bothering to do a comprehensive search of the literature, I would venture to suggest that most women in the world do exactly that.

          • fiftyfifty1

            You are saying breastfeeding women don’t NEED all these things. Well you can play this game until the cows come home. They also don’t need clothes because either they live somewhere warm or if they live somewhere cold they can cover themselves with a pile of leaves. Because that is what they could, and indeed would do if it got to that. Boy it’s amazing how this extreme poverty streamlines your life, eh? So duh. What’s your point beyond an obviously trivial thought exercise?

          • My point is that dismissing the idea that breastfeeding is cheaper than formula feeding is a point of view that comes from a position of privilege. It IS helpful for women who can afford to choose between breastfeeding or formula feeding in the ways that have been described, because it counteracts the biased point of view that is often put forward in favour of breastfeeding (often by the lactation industry).

            However, it is not a helpful point of view for women who cannot afford these options. Supporting these women in feeding their infant might be better served by acknowledging that these additional costs of breastfeeding are not actually necessary.

            I don’t believe that it is a trivial thought exercise to consider these women. Even in a wealthy, western country with a robust social security system (I live in Australia), there are women who struggle down to the dollars and cents every week, or who struggle to even interact with the social security system in the first place.

            A great deal is written on this blog about counteracting false and misleading information. Counteracting the message that breastfeeding is cheaper than formula feeding for privileged women is useful and I support it. However, suggesting that this is true in all circumstances is not either truthful or helpful. Poor women deserve accurate information too.

          • fiftyfifty1

            For women who have no access to anyone who could help with childcare, no opportunity for paid employment and who have no access to subsidized formula, breastfeeding will be cheaper. For almost all others, breastfeeding will be more expensive due to opportunity cost. It’s the old “Breastfeeding is only free if your time is worth nothing”. Women living in 3rd world countries (and perhaps those few living in backwaters of developed countries) whose time really is “worth nothing” in the labor market, are not reading the SOB for tips on how to save money on infant feeding.

          • True. But I thought that some of the readers of this blog might interact with those women, professionally or through volunteer work. And the “your time is worth nothing” attitude can be a bit harsh in those circumstances.

          • An Actual Attorney

            My neighborhood letter carried had to go back to delivering the mail when her son was 3 weeks old. Should she have pumped in the mail truck????

        • Sue

          “A poor woman would be able to afford breastfeeding much more easily than formula feeding.”

          Sure – unless she needs to go to work, in which case, not.

          • LukesCook

            As all truly poor women do.

        • Maya Markova

          When I had my first baby, my family was cash-stripped. So we controlled carefully all of our expenses, including for food. And I assure you that the formula costed far less than the extra food I needed to support lactation.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “Poverty has an amazing way of streamlining your life.”
          ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

    • I got a ton of that stuff when I left the hospital. They had baskets for formula feeding moms and baskets for breastfeeding moms. I got some nice swag.

    • Wren

      Granted, there is a breastfeeding industry with plenty of products to sell. For the 9 months of breastfeeding plus 3 months of pumping plus formula my son got I spent a lot, but most wasn’t needed. For the nearly 3 years of breastfeeding my daughter I bought one bra, because I already had reusable supplies from my first and bottles were out of the question for her anyway. She chose 5 hours without anything over a bottle of pumped milk at 4 months and I stopped trying. Had I gone the formula route for her, I still would have had bottles, etc from my son but would have needed to buy the formula itself. Cost is dependent on the situation.

  • Are you nuts

    I don’t know what it is about being pregnant or having an infant that makes it ok to initiate REALLY personal conversations about one’s bodily functions. Are you planning to deliver vaginally? Are you planning to have an epidural? Are you planning to breastfeed?
    Imagine if similarly personal questions were asked by people you barely know… maybe like: Did you go #1 or #2? What is your bra cup size?
    Maybe I’m just prude, but I can’t imagine discussing any of the above outside of my family, my doctor and a few close girlfriends.

    • I so agree! What is it about being a mom that people suddenly start groping your pregnant belly, or insist on groping your newborn or really think that they can put their noses into strange people’s business?

  • Cellist

    A good friend had mastitis four (4!!!) times before she finally switched to formula. I wish that I had known about this blog back then!.

    The weird thing is…I never, ever questioned the FACT that breast is best. I just took it as a given that breastmilk was clearly superior and BETTER for babies.

    And, I don’t quite understand why I never questioned this?

    Because the thing is …I studied advanced stats at uni. I don’t have the excuse that so many of our dear homebirthing advocates have of not actually understanding basic statistics.

    And yet I’ve had more than one friend have difficulties with breastfeeding. And I am embarrassed to have to admit that it just never even occured to me to question whether their pain was worth it.

    Better late than never I guess.

    • quadrophenic

      I also feel duped by the “breast is best” message and made myself miserable pumping while feeling guilty about wanting to quit. But there’s a big problem in that WHO. AAP, etc spout off the benefits without explaining exactly what that science means, and if you dare mention to someone in passing that breast milk’s benefits are only slight you get attacked. It comes down to “breast is best” being a much more attractive message than “Breastmilk most likely reduced the chance of suffering a GI infection, but that reduction isn’t huge. Also there’s a correlation of other benefits such as less infections and lower obesity on a population wide basis but we can’t adequately control for socioeconomic factors or show causation. But we continue to fund studies because we hypothesize this stuff is AMAZING. Therefore we recommend breastfeeding for 1 year.” Not quite the same sales pitch.”

      I buy the maternal antibodies benefits when it comes to GI infections. I buy the fact that breast milk may be better tolerated/digested by a lot of babies, and if you can successfully do it, it’s cheap. But let’s stop pretending that its the single most important thing you can do for your child. Even if breast milk really is super amazing I have a hard time understanding how simply one year of good nutrition means so much when we eat like crap the rest of our lives. I was breastfed for a year, but it didn’t stop me from eating fast food yesterday. On the whole even if it is really great stuff, what you do for the next 17 years is far more important to the health and well being of your child.

      • cellist

        “Breastmilk most likely reduced the chance of suffering a GI infection, but that reduction isn’t huge. Also there’s a correlation of other benefits such as less infections and lower obesity on a population wide basis but we can’t adequately control for socioeconomic factors or show causation. But we continue to fund studies because we hypothesize this stuff is AMAZING. Therefore we recommend breastfeeding for 1 year.”

        I kind of want this on a bumber sticker now!!!

        Great point about ongoing nutrition. I too was breastfed for a year… and this morning I ate leftover pizza for breakfast!

        Oy vey.

        • Well, the hypothesis that it is amazing has been pursued assiduously in rather a lot of studies without being proved conclusively. And I am not quite sure what would happen if it was found to be so amazing that failing to bf was tantamount to child abuse, given that there would still be women who couldn’t or wouldn’t. And does it really get more amazing, provide greater benefits if you go on doing it for a year, two years – maybe for life! If it is that amazing maybe they should line us all up like cows and bottle it.

          I am in favour of bf, but some of the pious hype, one upmanship and anxiety surrounding it makes me feel that mothers who fed their babies gin were less of a menace than the enthusiastic lactivists.

          • fiftyfifty1

            ” And does it really get more amazing, provide greater benefits if you go on doing it for a year, two years – maybe for life!”

            Believe it or not, this has actually been studied, at least for IQ results. Babies who were breastfed had higher IQs than those who were not. There appeared to be a dose-response effect. Those who were breastfed for 6 months, for example, had higher IQs than those who were switched to formula after 6 weeks. This apparent benefit held until right around 12-14 months and then babies were actually shown to *lose* IQ points for extended breastfeeding, also in a dose-response manner. This was, IIRC, despite attempting to correct for confounders.
            Do I really believe that extended breastfeeding causes loss of IQ points? No I don’t. But I also don’t think breastfeeding adds IQ points. My belief is that it probably has to do with uncontrolled confounders which are a *big* problem in these types of studies. The best example we have is Hormone Replacement Therapy. Study after study after study said that HRT was good for your heart and prevented dementia. These were large scale, well done observational studies that were corrected as well as humanly possible for confounders. It took a randomized study to show that there had been residual confounding all along and that HRT actually increases the risk of heart disease and strokes.

          • How on earth do you test the IQ of a six month old baby?

            Of all the benefits, this is the one I find most dubious. I have seen that it can add four whole points!

            I would put money on the anxious mother from the Guardian article, the one deeply disappointed by her child’s intellect, being a devoted breast feeder. Haven’t a clue how I was fed. My mother, being a sensible, intelligent woman probably just opted for what worked for her, in less neurotic times.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I am sorry, I wrote it poorly. They compare KIDS who had been BF 3 mo to different kids who had been BF 6mo to different kids who had been BF 14 mo etc. Not the same kids at different points in time.

          • Eddie

            This. This is what so many people don’t understand about the studies they quote as Bible and verse. So many people “just know” better that sadly the science doesn’t really matter to them.

      • suchende

        “if you can successfully do it, it’s cheap.”

        Well. Unless it interferes with your ability to earn money.

        • quadrophenic

          Yeah, definitely – if it comes easy it’s cheaper while you’re out of work, and it would probably save you money in a pump friendly job. Or *gasp* it would be perfectly ok to just nurse while at home and feed formula while at work if you liked breastfeeding and couldn’t pump.

          Trying to breastfeed for 3 months cost me roughly the same as a year of formula, so I am really just guessing that its cheaper for some women since all the lactivists claim it’s free. It’s only “cheap” when it’s easy and you don’t have to take time away from work or other activities. I’d have saved about $1000 if I’d given formula from day 1, and a lot of time, energy , and misery. The true “cost” of breastfeeding vs formula isn’t easily measured and it’s a case by case basis.

        • Staceyjw

          THIS.
          I was out of work with Dd, and since it was very easy, and required zero extras (not even pads or bras), it was perfect.
          It wouldn’t be so easy if I had been working.

      • fiftyfifty1

        And now even the obesity bit has been shown not to be true. The most recent findings of the Belarus study (an excellent, large scale, randomized, first world study) were recently published and show that 11 year-olds have a 17% GREATER chance of being obese or overweight if they were in the breastfeeding group than in the control group.

        • Eddie

          Whine: But that study doesn’t show what we want, so there must be something wrong with it!

          People who say the scientific evidence is strongly in favor of big benefits of BF — let alone exclusive BF — seem to be engaging in confirmation bias. And the comments on the blog entry Dr Amy mentioned are just full of references to formula as “chemicals.” Don’t these people realize that everything is composed of chemicals?

    • Yammy

      Wow, ditto almost word for word, except my rather glib impression as a young student came from physical anthropology and human development. This, despite me knowing I was a 100% formula-fed child and being cool with that. I at the time just never really had much interaction with new moms before I left school and my friends were starting families and seeing the highs and lows firsthand. Gotta love it when real world education sets you straight after all that hard book learnin’.

  • I just read some of the comments and there are actually people there saying that formula feeding is a public health problem, like not vaccinating.

    • KarenJJ

      I’ve had an interesting one from a facebook friend where she is delaying vaccinating her children because she is still breastfeeding.

      • That’s a great example of getting her memes wrong.
        “Babies get antibodies from breast milk so they are protected as long as they are nursing!”

        If you want to give your baby a steady supply of your mature immune system’s antibodies, the way to do that is to give them regular blood transfusions.

        • AmyM

          Yes, the concept of passive immunity is not well understood by most people. Of course, there is clearly a contingent that doesn’t understand herd immunity either, so I guess we really need to step up the basic immunology education in this country.

      • LukesCook

        This is a huge bugbear of mine. Everyone interprets the antibody thing to mean that each dose of breast milk is effectively a vaccine against everything the mother has immunity against. I had a nasty cold when my son was vey young and was concerned about passing it on, and was assured by a clinic nurse that the antibodies I was passing on in my breast milk would immunize him, so no need to worry.

        • Kerlyssa

          I wouldn’t even go that far. I very much doubt many breastfeeding mothers bother to think about whether they themselves have a current immunity to the things they think their breastmilk is protecting their kid against.

        • AmyM

          Me TOOOO! Thank you. I managed to convince one friend who was beating herself for being unable to breastfeed…she thought she was denying big time immune protection to her daughter and she was worried that baby would be sick all the time and it would be all mom’s fault for not BFing. She is computer scientist, so when I sent some (biological) scientific papers her way, that showed that passive immunity is limited and temporary, she understood and was reassured.

          But there are so many lactivists that will simply deny that passive immunity is temporary and limited and insist that breastfed babies are immune to everything the mother is (wrong) and that breastmilk acts as a sort of general vaccine that prevents babies from catching anything (also wrong). Why isn’t there more info about this easily available? If doctors need more education in how to educate nursing mothers, I think this should be included. It’s erroneous ideas like this that contribute to falling vaccination rates, since these people are being convinced that breastmilk IS a vaccine.

    • Kerlyssa

      Wow. More people who don’t understand how vaccines work. Shocking.

    • Yammy

      If formula is a public health problem, then I consider the fact that I can buy any other steak but filet mignon is a public health problem. Fliet mignon is BEST (even though I won’t argue with a ribeye), and we need to ban other cuts because going with a marginally less delicious alternative, regardless of cost, only benefits Big Agra. I mean, how could anyone with a conscience sully their palate with a nice top sirloin?

      A stretch here but about sums up how silly I think people are when they make formula sound like powdered toxic waste. Hope I don’t offend any vegetarians/vegans out there with this analogy

  • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

    This is a great post, but I really WTF’d at Moakler’s statements about breastfeeding feeling “incestuous” and “immoral.” I’m not offended that she felt highly uncomfortable, but those words are IMO verbally abusive to those who enjoy the loving act of breastfeeding. If she thinks putting a human nipple in a baby’s mouth to FEED it is basically a sex act, then does she think putting a silicone nipple in there is basically inserting a feeding dildo or something? Her words are ridiculously inflammatory and hurtful; no infant feeding choice is immoral, incestuous, or abusive in any way, as long as mom and baby are happy and baby is fed.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      My first thought was that she might be a victim of sexual abuse.

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

        Wow; I’m ashamed I didnt think of that. I guess I had a knee-jerk reaction to the idea that someone would think that way about MY feeding choice. You’re right of course and no woman should feel bad about her personal emotional response to breastfeeding. We should just be careful not to say things publicly that would hurt other moms’ feelings.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but her choice of words suggested that possibility.

          • Susan

            I thought of that too. Sexual abuse is sadly so common. I do think however a woman that was a playboy model might be more likely than most to have a pretty strong view of her breasts as erotic/sexual to the point of not seeing them easily as mother/gender/sexual. Obviously abuse could cause the problem but I can imagine someone feeling the way she does who was never abused.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I celebrate breastfeeding. I think women should be able to do it in public. I will stand arm in arm for women’s rights to do it. When I personally tried to do it. It felt wrong. It felt immoral and it felt incestual and it wasn’t a good fit for me.

          I thought she was absolutely very careful in how she said it to be as supportive as she could of others, and making it clear that her response was her own personal feelings. I don’t know how she could have been any gentler or more understanding.

          Would that hurt someone’s feelings? I hope our feelings aren’t so delicate that we can’t bear the idea of someone having a different response than us. For example, I find peaches to be disgusting. I can’t stand the taste, and the texture literally makes me gag to the point where it has made me throw up. Does that hurt the feelings of people who like peaches? I hope not, because I am clearly only talking about me.

          Now, you might wonder if there was something in my past that caused this crazy response that you can’t comprehend (and you would be right), but would it hurt your feelings if you like peaches that I respond this way?

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            No, because there is a difference between not liking peaches and connecting the idea of feeding kids peaches with incest. I get that she was describing *her* feelings, and if she had said that to me privately over coffee, I would feel nothing but empathy … but to use those words in a public forum just fuels society’s discomfort with the idea of mom’s nipple in baby’s mouth. We all need to start wrapping our brains around the concept that ALL infant feeding is loving nourishment — regardless of how we personally feel comfortable doing it.

            Edit: now I’m curious about what event in your past caused you to gag on peaches 🙂

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No, because there is a difference between not liking peaches

            It’s not just that I “don’t like peaches,” they make me gag or even throw up.

            And this whole “don’t talk about it because you might hurt other people’s feelings” is exactly the problem, Lynnette. No, she SHOULD talk about it, she NEEDS to talk about it. Others NEED to hear that some moms have problems with breastfeeding, some physical, some emotional.

            You are advocating exactly what we are fighting against. Instead of shaming her for admitting her feelings, why not try to help? Instead of “protecting” others from hearing such bad things, why not try to help them understand how others can feel differently?

            It’s pretty interesting, your “knee-jerk” reaction was to have your feelings hurt. My “knee-jerk” reaction was, wow, I wonder what’s going to make her have that type of response? I will say, my initial thought was like Dr. Amy’s, possible sexual abuse.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I do see your point. When I think of it in terms of a mother needing to feed formula for an underweight baby, and feeling like formula is poison (because of prior brainwashing), I think it’s good for her to be able to express her feelings and get support, rather than being bashed by a bunch of people passionate about the legitimacy of formula feeding.

            I guess it just strikes a primal chord in me when I hear of people associating breastfeeding with incest. I have had to deal with random bystanders (not often, thank god) being disgusted by my lovingly breastfeeding my babies, so I will admit to being very sensitive about people using that kind of language, no matter how justified it may be for her personal situation.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And it strikes a bad chord with me when someone who claims to be a lactation consultant cannot appreciate that women can have very personal emotional responses to breastfeeding, whether triggered by past trauma or not, and thinks that such feelings need to be hidden away from your delicate flowers?

            And I find your comparison of a woman who attempted to breastfeed but found it personally uncomfortable to judgmental bystanders who are offended by the sight of a partially bare breast in public to be pretty obnoxious.

            I hope you step back and reconsider what you are trying to accomplish as a lactation consultant, because, as others have mentioned, you apparently are so focused on supporting breastfeeding that you are failing to support women.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I support all mothers to make the PRIVATE decision to feed their babies they way they want for any reason they want, and I also prefer that people not PUBLICLY compare any feeding choice to incest for god’s sake.

            Just because I have a personal emotional reaction here does not mean I am unsupportive of her feelings and feeding choices. I am allowed to have my own emotional response to published statements on the internet, which is an entirely different thing than working with a mother in a situation where I feel that I have a sacred duty to support HER feelings, whatever they are.

          • LukesCook

            Saying that it offended you is one thing. Saying that women shouldn’t make these statements publicly is altogether another.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Yep, shame on her for expressing how she felt honestly. She should know that we cannot ever say anything negative about breastfeeding in public because we will hurt the feelings of those who breastfeed.

          • Susan

            Good comments. I’ve known rare people who appeared to be unable to not see breastfeeding in a seemingly erotic light. I’m not sure how I feel about her public comments about how it felt for her. When read out of context, the first way I read it, I was dismayed. But in context it seems she is being perhaps too honest. But having met women who really couldn’t make a choice to just see breasts as a way to feed the baby and knowing that for these women breastfeeding is indeed a miserable duty imposed by a feeling of guilt…. could she be doing those women a favor by saying this is how it felt, to her? The word incest is horrible, but I think what’s she’s trying to say might be that she couldn’t make the change to seeing breasts in a non erotic way. She’s not alone. If she can’t change her mindset then formula feeding is absolutely a better choice and maybe that minority of women do need a voice.

            On a bigger level though I believe the best way for society to change in such a way that women are less likely to have problems like this is to normalize breastfeeding. If we grow up seeing babies breastfeed, breastfeeding is seen in the media, it’s just as accepted as formula feeding in public or private….then I suspect there would be less women who feel like she does.

            I think the benefits of breastfeeding may be overstated but I don’t think I’d describe them as trivial. I have adult children and a teen, they were all breastfed at least a year and half. I found it a great choice for me and my family. It may seem trivial now… but to new parents starting out the decision is a very big deal. The health benefits may be overstated but they are real and there are many choices we make when our children are all potential to give them small but real benefits.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I loved your response here. Much more balanced than my knee-jerk reaction. And you’re right that even if the benefits of BF are slight, it does feel like a very big decision to new parents.

          • LovleAnjel

            Okay, Lynnette, here you go: I am an abuse survivor. Just the thought of breastfeeding makes me uncomfortable. Not seeing other people breastfeed, the thought of a child grabbing and sucking on my breasts. You know why? Because a family member did that to me as a child. I feel disgust about it. Moakler saying those things? They resonate with me. I understand how she feels. She has made me see my feelings as valid and worthwhile. Seeing things like you wrote, makes me angry. I should just keep it to myself? My feelings are only valid if I don’t share them? Women who share these things are terrible people oppressing those poor, poor women who don’t jump and cringe and slap their husband’s hands when they touch them without permission? The women who might have a segment of society giving them the hairy eyeball, and not a gut reaction of disgust and resentment TOWARD THEIR OWN CHILD? You make me absolutely dread talking to ANY lactation consultant at all, if you are representative of their training. I will probably just tell the nurses to keep them out of my room.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I am very sorry that what I said was hurtful to you. I am sorry that you had to endure abuse by people who should have protected you. I dont blame you at all for not wanting LCs in your room, and I think it is a smart idea. If you decided to try bf, it’s probably best to do it in a place where you feel safe and your privacy is secure.

          • Poogles

            “I dont blame you at all for not wanting LCs in your room, and I think it
            is a smart idea. If you decided to try bf, it’s probably best to do it
            in a place where you feel safe and your privacy is secure.”

            Ideally, she should be able to feel both safe and secure while still receiving professional support for bf’ing (if such support is desired, of course) – it should never have to be either/or. I really think all LC’s should have training on dealing with sexual abuse/rape survivors – it only seems logical and perhaps even necessary, considering the focus of their work.

          • fiftyfifty1

            ” I also prefer that people not PUBLICLY compare any feeding choice to incest for god’s sake.”

            But breastfeeding has a number of sexual ties. Why hide it? It can be the elephant in the room for a lot of people. Breastfeeding involves nipples which are an erogenous zone and used in sex play for most women. Breastfeeding releases oxytocin which is the same hormone released with orgasm. An infant sucking can cause arousal and even orgasm in some women. Even in cultures where breastfeeding is very much the norm and out in the open, there are jokes equating breastfeeding with sexual acts “e.g. mamame”. Many lactivists themselves love to play up the erotic nature of breastfeeding, describing the baby in almost a post-coital bliss after a feed and bragging that “nothing can match the bonding”, and making their husbands sound like unwanted suitors.

            For better or for worse, breastfeeding has sexual ties. Getting offended will not change that fact.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I agree with you. But there is a world of difference between a physical reactions in the body and deliberate sexual abuse of a child.

          • theNormalDistribution

            What are you talking about? No one said anything about deliberate sexual abuse of a child.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Moakler did.

          • theNormalDistribution

            No. She didn’t. Unless you have a quote that wasn’t in that article…?

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I think people are probably tired of my opinions on the subject, and I’ve already explained my reaction to her words.

          • theNormalDistribution

            I think that people disagreed with your having taken offense to the use of the word “incest”, and that in the post I responded to, you moved on to equivocate incest with sexual abuse in an attempt to make your point. As if Moakler was implying that women who breastfeed are abusing their children (and therefore your offense is justified).

            If you need to put words in her mouth to justify why you don’t like what she said, maybe you should reevaluate your stance.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            “equivocate incest with sexual abuse ”

            Isnt incest sexual abuse of a child by a parent?

          • theNormalDistribution

            Isnt incest sexual abuse of a child by a parent?
            No. Sexual abuse of a child by a parent is incest. Can you not see how those two statements differ? (Hint: one act is a subset of the other.)

            Incest itself is sexual activity between close relatives. You can correctly infer from her comment that breastfeeding felt sexual, but there is nothing in what she said that implies that she thinks her breastfeeding was abusive or that any other mother who breastfeeds is ‘deliberately abusing a child’. In fact, her comment makes it quite clear that she does not think that is the case.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Yes, I understand that.

          • Amazed

            Then maybe you should lovingly breastfeed your children in private? You know, baring your perfect breastfeeding breast may hurt someone who has a tiny imperfection in their own that might be impeding their breastfeeding.

            Funny, people who looked at me with most disdain when I went around braless under the sundress were mothers who breastfed all over the city. It made sense to them, I imagine – they fed their children and I was going around trying to be a freaking sex bomb… I certainly never took it to heart and I never felt compelled to explain that when it’s this time of month, my breasts are too sensitive and bra causes me pain. Breasts are sexual in any other context but breastfeeding!

            By the way, I find it funny that you felt you should explicitly explain that you breastfed ‘lovingly’. What other possibility is there? Breastfeeding ‘with hate’?

          • HM

            You sound like a great lactation consultant, Lynette. You admitted immediately that you had not considered sexual abuse, and it sounds like now that you realize that this could be something affecting people you were with, you will be supportive. You are obviously very open to the opinions of others. Somehow I doubt that if someone had come to you face to face and said what Moakler said that you would tell her not to share her feelings. I could be totally off base here of course, but that’s what I got from these posts.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I really appreciate that. I am not perfect obviously but I’m always willing to examine my assumptions to improve my care of patients in one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. And i do believe my personal emotions have 0 impact on my interactions with patients. I am there to provide HER care and listen to HER feelings, not think about my own.

          • fiftyfifty1

            ” We all need to start wrapping our brains around the concept that ALL infant feeding is loving nourishment ”

            Absolutely. And also those of us who care for women need to wrap our brains around the concept that denying breastfeeding’s sexual ties does more harm than good.

        • suchende

          >We should just be careful not to say things publicly that would hurt other moms’ feelings.

          Respectfully, I couldn’t disagree more. If you’re damaged by a Playboy Bunny discussing her negative feelings about breastfeeding, you might need to toughen up.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Maybe I am sensitive.. but I would think many people would feel sensitive to someone saying they felt x parenting choice feels incestuous. How would you feel if you feel if you were physically affectionate to your kids, and someone made the comparison of parental hugging and kissing to incest? I’m not saying she shouldn’t feel that way personally; I’m just saying that using that word can be hurtful to others.

          • suchende

            And I am just saying if people are hurt by her very hedged language, that was clearly supportive of breastfeeding moms generally, they are either oversensitive or looking for something to get upset about.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            How would you feel if a breastfeeder said “when I fed my kids a bottle of formula in the hospital, I felt it was like committing a sex act on my child, but I support and celebrate other moms who want to do it.” Do you not see how that could feel hurtful?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            No. I honestly don’t.

            My response is, “Really? I can’t relate at all…”

          • Not My Normal Nym

            You’ve obviously had no training in working with sexual abuse victims. I think that all IBCLC’s should be trained in that area because women with a sex abuse history don’t just find breastfeeding difficult, they can have problems with a lot of parenting chores, like changing diapers, bathing children, etc. Medical schools now train students on how to work with rape and sexual abuse victims given that medical procedures are often triggering. You work with women’s breasts! How can you not understand the issues that can arise for victims and still do your job well? The fact is you can’t. I hope you do some soul searching on this because you could really cause someone some deep emotional hurt if you don’t address these issues appropriately in your practice.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            You’re right, I have not had much training in working with abuse victims, aside from reading and attending lectures. I will consider what you are saying. However, don’t you think there is a difference between making public statements that other (possibly also sexually abused) mothers could hear and feel triggered by? All of us moms grow up in a culture where breasts are sexualized and we have to overcome that if we want to breastfeed. I feel that making public statements like this can be hurtful to mothers who are trying hard to overcome the oversexualization of their breasts.

          • Amazed

            All of us moms grow up in a culture where breasts are sexualized and we have to overcome that if we want to breastfeed.

            Lovely. Really lovely.

            Lynette, do you have ANY idea of what being a sexual abuse survivor even feels? You don’t, do you? Well, I do, although, thank God, I wasn’t treated to the whole schedule and it wasn’t a family member. Believe me, there is no room for comparing ‘all of you moms’ to sexual abuse survivor moms.

            All of us girls have to overcome the initial awkwardness of our budding sexuality but it’s very different when you’re a girl who was, as a 9-year-old, pinned down naked on the bed by the 17-year-old neighbour. Believe me, the primal revulsion one feels at seeing a boy’s hands reaching for her has nothing to do with awkwardness. I believe you can make the analogy with your own words on your own.

            It isn’t a matter of will. It’s a reaction of mind and body that far exceeds the restraints placed on us by culture. I suspect the circumstances surrounding my experience might be part of the reason why being massaged feels gross to me. It feels like a violation, no matter who does it – a man, a woman, or even my own boyfriend. I get that for other people, massage is a lovely and relaxing experience. It isn’t to me. And I have described my feelings about my experience without anyone feeling criticized that I’m calling them people whp enjoy being violated. That’s how I feel when it’s about ME.

            Same with this woman.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I don’t, and I am so sorry that that happened to you as a child. I in no way meant to suggest that my reaction to her words was in any way as primal as the reaction that an actual survivor would feel. I wonder if I should delete my comments to avoid causing more harm to survivors like you who have been through so much.

          • Amazed

            No, Lynette, don’t delete your comments. They don’t do any harm to me, although I cannot speak for women who are real survivors. We have them here. Fortunately, I am not one of them in the strict meaning of the word.

            Just try to think about it in a different way and make use of it in your work with women who’s been through bad experiences, would you? It really isn’t a matter of will in the meaning we give to enduring painful procedures or even resist the chocolate of our dreams in our strive for better health, It’s different. It’s deeper. And, fortunately, women like this are in the minority, so the other mothers should not feel critisized. If anything, its mostly a critics against the circumstances of the past, not other women’s breastfeeding choices.

          • LukesCook

            Yes, breasts are sexualized. They’re a major erogenous zone. Abuse aside, for most women this is something to enjoy and celebrate just as much as breast feeding is, and will be an integral part of their lives for much longer than breast feeding for all but the most radical breast feeders. For many of us, the sexual and feeding aspects of our breasts don’t overlap in any meaningful way. For others they do, in all kinds of ways they may find unacceptable, whether because they find their engorged, inflamed and bleeding breasts unsexy (at a stage of their lives when they’re probably finding much about their bodies unsexy, and breasts might just be a bridge too far), because it ruins sex or them if they’re leaking and letting down all over the place, or because the sensation of suckling stimulates sexual feelings that they don’t want in any context that involves their baby. If the overlap is unacceptable, then either the sexual function or the feeding function has to give, and I don’t think it’s obvious that it should be the sexual.

          • God forbid that anyone else having those feelings would feel any less weird or alone. What you are doing is invalidating someone else’s feelings and experiences by claiming that they affect you. They are HER feelings. And she doesn’t have to be a sexual abuse sufferer for them to be valid feelings.

          • suchende

            I would think that person had a bottle fetish.

            I didn’t want to get personal, but a few times when I have been BFing I felt a sexual, I dunno, pang. Just like, an electric sexual, orgasmic feeling. I tried not to think about it and it went away quickly. I remember briefly thinking, OMG am I having pedophiliac thoughts? But I quickly dismissed it. I always enjoyed nipple play during sex, so I guess it isn’t that odd. But it’s NICE to hear another mom be willing to talk about it, because I never was until right now. If it always happened when I was nursing though, I would have quit immediately.

          • An Actual Attorney

            No, I really don’t. What if I said to you, “it’s great that you run marathons, but every time I try to job it reminds me of the time I tried to outrun my rapist. So instead of running I do pilates.” How the hell is that offensive to you?

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            That makes sense. All I can say is that mothering choices are often criticized and judged in our society and I am not immune to feeling an emotional reaction on the subject.

          • So instead you want to critique and judge someone else’s feelings? There is a huge difference between someone saying they don’t want to breastfeed because breasts are sexual and someone saying that they didn’t want to breastfeed because THEY were unable to separate the sexual and breastfeeding roles of THEIR OWN BREASTS. I would even go so far as to say that a woman doesn’t have to be a sexual abuse survivor and shouldn’t have to “try it” before making their own decision on the matter.

          • LukesCook

            Or even “I don’t know how you run marathons, I hate being sweaty and sticky”. Would a runner be offended?

          • LukesCook

            I don’t think so. I think that there are plenty of parents who have the same sort of issues about nudity in front of their children, bathing with their children, kissing on the lips, rubbing or stroking backs and feet, playful nibbling of ears or anything else that might carry a sexual connotation to a particular person, however idiosyncratic. I doubt that a parent who didn’t have the same qualms would feel judged or hurt for a single instant – there’s a super-sensitivity about breastfeeding. There are also women who describe inadvertent and unwanted feelings of sexual arousal during breastfeeding. If that were to happen to me, it would certainly feel incestuous.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            This is an interesting take. My kids regularly shower with their mom or me, usually both at the same time. How would I feel if someone said that showering with their kids made them feel icky or something? Especially if they caveated it with “if that’s what toots your boat, then I’m all for it.”

            I think it goes back to my comment about the bottle feeding: I can’t relate. It doesn’t make ME feel icky, and they aren’t suggesting I am wrong, so whatever.

            It would be different if they said that a 4 year old boy showering with mom or dad is harmful or generally bad or something, but that is clearly not the case here.

            There’s no accounting for how something makes someone else feel, whether it’s breastfeeding or bathing or eating peaches.

          • Actually, there was a poster on here who said she felt uncomfortable with showing physical affection to her children for precisely that reason. Somehow, everyone managed not to be offended.

          • Sarah, PharmD, RPh

            If a rape survivor told you that she could no longer have sexual intercourse with a man because of the negative associations, would you accuse her of condemning YOUR sexual relationship with your partner?

          • Amazed

            She might. I’ve had people being offended by my explanation that I was a regular at the gym because I didn’t like the way I looked. After an injury I put on a lot of weight. I don’t care that someone is fat. I just don’t like it when I’m fat, And when someone asks me how I feel about my workouts and I say I am pleased I am more flexible and I no longer gasp when I climb the stairs, I don’t mean that they are not mobile and they struggle for breath. I mean that I was not and I did.

            But I’ve been oversensitive on other occasions when in fact no one meant to offend me. We people can be weird when we least expect it

          • Wren

            If someone claimed my cuddling and kissing my kids was incest I would just dismiss them as being clearly idiotic, unless of course it was someone who could potentially remove my children from my care. In this case though, it wasn’t someone discussing me and my kids, or you and yours, but their own personal feelings.

        • Not My Normal Nym

          I find your attitude appalling considering it’s likely a significant number of women who come to you for breastfeeding support have a history of sexual abuse. Should they shut up because it might hurt your feelings? I seriously question your ability to provide sound, professional breastfeeding support to those women.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Of course not. There is a big difference between making a public statement, and sharing your private feelings with a professional charged with helping you in an intimate way. I completely get her *feeling* that way. Completely and totally. What I don’t get is the choice to put those words out there in public. No mother should have to hear a public statement that her feeding choice reminds someone of incest. I hope that reassures you, because I am 1000% supportive and compassionate about my patients’ feelings about their own bodies.

          • Cellist

            “What I don’t get is the choice to put those words out there in public”
            Because there will be other women who feel EXACTLY the same way…and now they know that they are not alone.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Point taken.

          • Not My Normal Nym

            It doesn’t reassure me at all because you are reinforcing the culture of shame around sexual abuse. It’s okay, maybe, to whisper it behind closed doors to a professional but heaven forbid you discuss it in public because it will make other people uncomfortable. I give Moakler a lot of credit for putting it out there because she’s going to get crapped on by people like you who clutch their pearls and want victims to shut up.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Aren’t the feelings of people who don’t like having their parenting choices equated with incest important too? I am trying to see things from your point of view; why can’t you show me the same respect?

          • Cellist

            Because she never equated your parenting choices with incest. She talked about HER own gut feeling/reaction to breastfeeding HER children. this was clearly not a choice that she made. From the way you have reacted to this piece you would think that she had said that people who chose to breastfeed were commiting incest with their children. If she had said that, I would be outraged and offended. BUT SHE DIDN’T!!!!!

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I am considering the idea that I may be oversensitive here … but I think MY gut reaction to this is valid too. I never said she shouldn’t feel this way; I do understand it. I just can’t help but have a strong emotional reaction when someone chooses to associate the way I choose to feed my baby and the heinous act of incest.

          • Poogles

            ” I just can’t help but have a strong emotional reaction when someone chooses to associate the way I choose to feed my baby and the heinous act of incest.”

            She didn’t though, and I don’t know why you can’t seem to see this. She did not, at all, associate the way YOU choose to feed your baby with incest; she associated the FEELINGS she personally experienced while SHE breastfed with incest. She does not find the act of breastfeeding incestuous, she found her own personal reaction to personally breastfeeding to bring up incestuous feelings.

            And, yes, I am an incest survivor. I do not yet have any children, but I definitely worry about the possibility of having this same issue if/when I attempt to breastfeed. On one hand, I have no issues with sex-play when it comes to my breasts, but at the same time I can’t even give myself a breast exam without feeling like I’m going to throw up. You can’t always predict the way you will respond to various situations when you’re a sexual abuse survivor. And being told we should only talk about those reactions in private, with professionals, is extremely offensive. Incest survivors have lived with the most terrible secrets, have constantly been told by society not to say anything (explicitly or implicitly), we generally can’t share our pasts and experiences because there is still such a culture of shame surrounding us. Please don’t contribute to this.

          • Eddie

            OK, you’ve already gotten a ton of responses, so what’s one more?! I have two points:

            1) Honestly, I think you are being oversensitive. I say this as someone who has been oversensitive in the past. You’re taking something personally that was not intended to be taken that way. This woman shared her experience, which is hers to share, and has no bearing whatsoever on women who don’t feel the way she feels. For a whole set of reasons, already mentioned by many others, I am not surprised that someone in her line of work might feel the way she feels. That she has the experience she has with BF in no way invalidates the wonderful experience that many other women have. Just as their wonderful experience in no way invalidates the terrible experience yet other women have. The universe is big enough to contain all sides without any conflict whatsoever. The universe is not a dichotomy.

            I’ve had reactions similar to yours in the past in different forums, for totally different topics of course, and I’ve been called out for being oversensitive on those topics. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, and it’s VERY easy to become defensive or feel attacked. Please, step back, take some deep breaths, remember this is only the internet. There were times when I had to wait a day, or a week, or frankly even a month (I used to be VERY oversensitive about some topics; I’ve grown a thicker skin in my middle age) and then re-read everything with the perspective of time.

            You know what? I’ve been wrong before. I’ll be wrong again. This is true for you too. And everyone here. (Maybe except for Bofa. 🙂 It’s not the end of the world. It’s really not. My goal, when I discover I was wrong, is to fess up and move on. That’s how I put it behind me rather than carrying it with me like a broken limb.

            2) Abuse survivors (I am not one, but I have known many in my life) have to live in this world. They have to live in the real world. If we coddle them, protect them from anything that could ever be triggering by policing what everyone says in public, then we are not really being respectful or helpful, IMHO, however well intentioned we are. Doing that is treating them like children, or perhaps like lesser adults. We show more respect and IMHO more love by helping them be strong than we do by preventing anything from being said that *might* (I stress might) trigger someone.

            To really treat people with respect, and as adults, we have to be able to have real conversations, sharing the awkward and uncomfortable and even potentially triggering topics. Life can be complicated and messy — at least if you’re doing it right — and it’s counterproductive to try to hide that.

          • Poogles

            Eddie, I wish I could vote that up more than once. Thank you.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            Eddie, your post really made me think, and I appreciate you writing it. Obviously I was wrong in some way, since so many people were offended, but is it “wrong” to have an emotional reaction? Why is Moakler allowed to have her reaction, but I am not allowed to have my reaction to what she said? Both of our reactions are based on emotion, not facts. I am not suggesting that what I feel is as strong as what a potential victim of sexual abuse would feel; just that I am entitled to have an illogical emotional reaction to someone associating the way I fed my kids with incest.

            Even though this is just the internet, I really take it to heart, because I respect the posters on this blog tremendously, and helping mothers breastfeed is my calling.

          • auntbea

            There is no problem with your feeling. The thing that people are reacting to is that you followed that up with a statement that because of YOUR feelings, SHE should not say what she said in public. Moakler, on the other hand, did not translate her reaction into any kind of statement about what others should or should not do.

          • Amazed

            For god’s sake, Lynette, no one said anything about the WAY you feed your children, She was speaking about the FEELING she got when she fed HER child.

            You aren’t suggesting that what you feel is as strong as what a potential victim of sexual abuse would feel? Funny, in your first post I answered to, you basically said ‘woman up, we’re all moms and had to deal with our sexualizing oh, the people stared at me when I breastfed, the horror!’ You equated your hurt feelings with the feelings of someone possibly abused. Please do not pretend that you didn’t.

            You are not entitled have your reaction because it wasn’t about you, It was about her. Frankly, I think she was more diplomatic than I would have been. She said that she supported breastfeeding. I suspect I wouldn’t have thought to make this point clear.

            It isn’t about you and it isn’t about breastfeeding. It is about her. Isn’t it what health care providers are all about? It’s about the individual patient.

          • Wren

            Lynette, I think you need to take a second before going with your gut reaction to what you read. You reacted to the words “incest” and “breastfeeding” being used together and ignored the context. There was no claim that breastfeeding was incest, only that one individual woman felt that way, and she went on to support breastfeeding in general.
            The whole topic of her potentially being an abuse survivor has been raised, but really that is a red herring. It doesn’t matter why she feels that way for herself personally. Implying she needs a reason to feel that way takes away from the whole idea that women can and should control their own bodies, including how they feel about them.

          • Poogles

            “someone associating the way I fed my kids with incest.”

            But she didn’t! She did NOT associate the way YOU fed your kids with anything! You keep taking her feelings about her own breastfeeding experience and applying it to yourself and other women – THAT is the problem. Well, and that you feel that women who feel that way shouldn’t talk about it publicly.

          • Eddie

            It is not “wrong” to have an emotional reaction. The difference is that you are saying what she should and shouldn’t say, and she is not asserting what anyone should or shouldn’t say or do. That is the key difference between her reaction and yours.

            You are absolutely entitled to have any kind of emotional reaction to this. (Although others are equally entitled to comment on it, to react to your reaction.) When you start to proscribe others’ behavior, however, it changes the nature of the discussion. The discussions then is no longer solely about your reaction, but instead about your proscription. (There’s a word I don’t get to use every day.) That’s what happened here.

            This appears to be triggering to you, because it is causing a very large emotional reaction that is out of proportion (IMHO) to the point she is trying to make. She is talking about her experience, not anyone else’s, but you seem to hear it as if she is talking about YOUR experience, as if your experience is somehow tainted because of her experience. It’s not. To find an analogy in a totally unrelated realm, if you love amusement parks but a friend hates them due to a tragic accident in her childhood in an amusement park, does her experience in any way touch or invalidate yours? No. Similarly, Moakler’s reaction, for whatever reasons she has it, only reflects on her.

            I am allergic to chicken. (Allergy tested and everything. Actual allergy, not an intolerance.) Therefore, I don’t eat it. That doesn’t mean I care if other people eat chicken. My allergy should not cause anyone else to change their own eating habits, nor to even reflect on them. My allergy is private to me. It doesn’t affect other people. Moakler’s reaction falls into that same category. She can talk about her reaction, just as I can talk about my allergy, and both discussions don’t have one iota of relevance to what anyone else “should” do, or what their experience “should” be.

            If I talked about my allergy and someone who loved eating chicken got upset and said I was saying their favorite food was harmful to people, I would be confused. It’s harmful to me. That is my experience. My experience has no relevance to anyone who is not allergic.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            I was not trying to “proscribe” anyone from sharing their feelings. I believe in the legal right to free speech. I just think everyone needs to be careful not to use inflammatory words. I know that most people here disagree with me, since she was talking about her personal feelings and not about what other mothers do, but I think she could have shared her feelings by simply saying that breastfeeding felt deeply uncomfortable instead of dropping the incest bomb.

        • Isilzha

          Back in the early/mid 90s that sounds very much like the reaction from people when I didn’t eat meat (sometimes I didn’t even have to say I was a vegetarian, just have the audacity to refuse something with meat in it). Many of them reacted like MY choices somehow were a judgement of theirs. Somehow my choice to not eat meat made many people defensive about their choice to eat it. Then, often, they’d turn around and attack me, giving me the 3rd degree about why I was a vegetarian. As vegetarianism became more mainstream I did encounter less and less of that type of reaction thankfully!

          So, I completely and utterly disagree that we shouldn’t say things publicly that would “hurt” other mom’s feelings. I’m sure there are other women who are relieved to find that they are not the only ones who feel the way she does. Their feelings are their own and just because they feel that way doesn’t just magically make breastfeeding incestuous.

    • BeatlesFan

      I respectfully disagree; she didn’t say she considers breastfeeding to be incestuous or immoral, she said it felt that way for HER when SHE did it. She was not making a blanket statement. I never felt incestuous or immoral during the brief times I breastfed, but I have a thing about having my breasts, especially my nipples, touched. I don’t even like it when my husband does it- for lack of a better term, it skeeves me out. I’m not sure why. I certainly support breastfeeding for any woman who wants to do it, but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy having my own nipples sucked on.

    • Cellist

      I think that she went out of her way to make it clear that she supports breastfeeding, but that this was how SHE felt when she tried it. At no point did she state that breastfeeding is incestuous or immoral as a general rule. It was simply that when she tried it she had a very negative emotional reaction and she felt that HER personal feelings towards breastfeeding her own baby ought to be respected as much as any one elses personal feelings towards breastfeeding their own babies.
      Also, it certainly is not uncommon for victims of rape or sexual abuse to be ‘triggered’ by breastfeeding.

      • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

        Yes, very good points. However, if someone had a gut emotional reaction to bottle/formula feeding that would be hurtful for others to hear, I think they should keep it to themselves.

        I guess I’m conflicted, because I do understand the sexual abuse triggered reaction and moms should feel supported in their feelings… but I also feel that using those words publicly can be very hurtful to moms who want to feel supported in breastfeeding.

        • How is her experience hurtful to you? How does her bad experience with breast feeding detract in any way from your experience– or any one else’s? Should everyone who has had a bad experience breastfeeding stay quiet, then? You know, so they aren’t hurtful to moms who want to feel supported in breastfeeding…
          Support means acknowledging both the positive and negative experiences.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            It is not hurtful to me at all that she felt that way; what is hurtful is that she chose to put those words out there. Mothers already have to experience random bystanders being disgusted with how they feed their babies — whether breast (gross!) or formula (poison!) — I think we should all be careful about what we say about any kind of feeding. Or parenting in general. Not “stay quiet” — just be careful about the words we choose.

          • Mac Sherbert

            I think she has every right to say how she felt about breastfeeding. She is not the only woman to feel that way. I breastfeed, but my cousin doesn’t. She never even attempted it for one latch because she felt is was gross…However, she has never said one negative thing about my breastfeeding around her. She is tolerant of other people’s choices. I wish other’s would be as tolerant of her choice in how she feeds her children. I would also add that as much as we would like to think breast are for babies they do have other roles to play. I think it is perfectly reasonable that someone might not be able to use them in a multitasking kind of way.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Support means acknowledging both the positive and negative experiences.”
            This is what it comes down to for me. I think we need to be able to speek freely. Right now the party line from lactivists is “No way is breastfeeding sexual. No way, no how! If you notice any connection you are either a pervert or have sadly internalized the patriarchy. Breastfeeding is the loving act of feeding your baby and is. in. no. way. related. to. anything. sexual.!”
            I understand the motivation behind breastfeeding supporters wanting to push in the “it’s not sexual” direction. But in the end I think it backfires. In my opinion it backfires in the same way that the line “Rape is not about anything sexual, it’s about power” backfires.

        • suchende

          I am trying to understand the analogy. “When I fed my baby formula, I felt like I was doing something horribly wrong and unnatural. Though I will stand in arms with women and support their right to formula feed and think it’s great.”

          I just… I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As a combo-feeder myself.

          • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

            “When I fed my baby formula, I felt like I was doing something horribly
            wrong and unnatural. Though I will stand in arms with women and support
            their right to formula feed and think it’s great.”

            I would find that just as offensive. Even if I felt that way personally about formula, I would never say that publicly. Mothers need support about their feeding choices, period.

          • I still feel uncomfortable with formula. I wish I still had breast milk to give. But I certainly don’t have the time it took to do it successfully with #2 and that is just the way it is.
            The problem with the analogy is that if one is uncomfortable with breastfeeding, there is a good alternative. If one is uncomfortable formula feeding, there may not be an alternative if the mom doesn’t have enough milk.

          • Sue

            Miriam – I wish you didn’t have to feel uncomfortable. I’ve told this story before – but here it is again.

            As the daughter of southern Italian migrants of peasant background, I had always assumed that I had been breastfed forever – which must contribute to my excellent health (along with the home-grown vegetables). It was only when I had my own daughter that my mother told me my story – I had cried so much, the early childhood nurse advised her to give me formula, so I was only BF for a few weeks.

            But I thrived, remain exceptionally healthy, and still cry! (but not as much).

          • Wren

            What about formula makes you feel uncomfortable?
            When my son quit nursing at 9 months I finally had to give him formula because I refused to follow advice to starve him until he went back to it. I was so invested in “breast is best” and in my identity as a mother including breast feeding that I literally cried when I bought formula. He thrived on it and we moved on. He’s 7 now. There is no way you could observe his class and tell me which kids got formula, which got breastmilk and which got a mix. You just can’t. The differences are made to sound so huge, but if you can’t even see them just a few years later, how huge can they really be?

        • theNormalDistribution

          I don’t think “using those words publicly” is any less hurtful to breastfeeding moms than a women talking about breastfeeding being a wonderful bonding experience would be hurtful to someone who feels like Moakler does. Women should be supported in their choice, regardless of what it is. And to do that, their feelings about either choice, whether positive or negative, need to be respected.

      • quadrophenic

        I hadn’t thought of the potential abuse aspects for her, but my thinking was this: she’s a model/actress. She’s famous because of her body. EVERYONE sexualizies her breasts. She TRIED to breastfeed and didn’t feel right about it. After a lifetime of having your breasts mean sex and attracting men, when you suddenly have an infant suckling it may come off a little icky. Is this society’s fault? Maybe. Is she perpetuating the sexualization of women’s breasts by making this statement publicly? Possibly, but I don’t think it was intentional. What I saw was a brutally honest confession about how she felt. Who am I to say her feelings aren’t legitimate? I wholly disagree with society’s insistence that breasts are only to be used as men’s playthings, but that doesn’t mean someone doesn’t have a right to react that way to breastfeeding when she has internalized society’s message.

    • Isilzha

      I’m also just flabbergasted that you’d say that a woman expressing her feelings and thoughts on a subject amounts to verbal abuse. Really?

    • An Actual Attorney

      To paraphrase Indigo Montoya, I do not think you have any effing clue what verbal abuse is.

    • Kerlyssa

      It made perfect sense to me when I read it. I wouldn’t even assume past sexual abuse. It is perfectly possible to experience sexual arousal due to nipple stimulation, even by a baby, and if that ever happened to me there’s no way in hell I’d continue BFing if there was any other option. Of feckin’ course it would _feel_ incestual, it’s her baby!

      Toughen up. It’s just as valid to dislike something as like it, and you have no business saying she should shut up so you don’t have to think about how some people don’t like to do the same things as you. I mean, how could someone even have a conversation that way? ‘I tried BFing, and it was fabulous, I tried formula, and of course it was fabulous too. Now I exclusively BF.’ Something seem to be missing there?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        (I’m glad that someone else has noticed that those types of conversations are really boring; it was standard fare on the parenting boards, because you couldn’t dare say anything remotely contrary to anyone else, so all it became was, what I called, “a list of everyone’s favorite color.”

        “Hey everyone, I like blue!”
        “Wonderful, I am a fan of red!”
        “Red? Me, too, I like red.”
        “Personally, I prefer green.”
        etc

        If you had the audacity to suggest that, in your opinion, red was an ugly color, you would get run off for “not being supportive”)

        • Sue

          Or maybe if your favorite color was puce?

    • Staceyjw

      I think her opinion is weird but verbally abusive? Oh, come on. She is allowed to feel that way about HER body, she never said anything about it being immoral for anyone else.

    • Something From Nothing

      You sound ridiculous. She didn’t say that someone else breastfeeding a baby was incestuous or immoral, she said that she felt those things when trying to breastfeed. There is a distinct difference. That’s not verbal abuse, she simply expressing how she felt, and she is perfectly entitled to her own feelings. She goes on to say she supports breastfeeding. Why are people so quick to jump all over each other?

  • Kalacirya

    People seem flabbergasted that you claim the benefits of breastfeeding are small, demand you show proof, but they themselves point to absolutely no evidence at all that breastfeeding has more sizable benefits.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      But, but, but they read it on the internet so it must be true!

      • Kalacirya

        I really should spend some time reading more of these papers to take a look at their statistical quality. I pulled up one a couple of weeks ago on breastfeeding and its purported relationship to all cause mortality and SIDS mortality. The paper claims that breastfeeding has a protective benefit, and they give an odds ratio of like .84 or so. But that was just the point estimate, the confidence interval about the estimate was large enough to include the null value of 1. So really their conclusion should have been “We suspect breastfeeding may have a protective benefit, but our study was insufficiently powered to prove it.” I suppose that one isn’t as publishable.

        • carovee

          How do you get published saying that something is protective when your reported confidence interval (CI) includes one? The CI is a measure of, well, confidence. That is, it tells us how accurate the point estimate is likely to be. An Odd’s ratio close to 1.0 would indicate no effect of breastfeeding. So you need to prove that your estimate really is different than one and not just slightly smaller due to chance. The CI gives you that information. If the interval contains 1.0 then its a good sign that your point estimate is not really different and you probably aren’t finding a real effect.

  • motherbear

    The irony, oh, the irony!

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Actually, I find the outsize hypocrisy of homebirth advocates to be truly amazing. The same people who whine that they were traumatized by a heplock in their hand respond to women who find breastfeeding to be agonizing with, “So what? If you really loved your baby you would do it anyway.”