I’m a momivist!

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Lactivism has a problem. It privileges process over outcome.

It is no longer enough to raise a healthy, happy, well-adjusted child who becomes a healthy, happy, well-adjusted adult. How you raise that child, specifically how you feed that child, has assumed outsize importance.

Prior to lactivism, there was no right way or wrong way to feed an infant. Properly prepared infant formula was considered no better and no worse than breastfeeding. Since the advent of lactivism, there is only one right way to feed a baby, and it is women’s ability and willingness to emulate a fantasized version of paleo infant feeding that supposedly determines whether they will be good mothers, and whether their babies will bond to them and they to their babies.

Does that sound familiar? It should because it bears great similarity to natural childbirth and homebirth advocacy.

The point of childbirth is no longer seen as having a baby, but instead, the specific process by which you have a baby has developed outsized, and in my view thoroughly misplaced, importance. Birth has become a performance. Process is privileged over outcome.

Prior to Grantly Dick-Read, there was no right way and no wrong way to have a baby. Any birth in which both the mother and baby survived was a good birth. Dick-Read, and the string of old white men who followed him (Fernand Lamaze, William Bradley, Michel Odent, etc.) changed that. Now women are encouraged to judge themselves and other women by faithfulness to a carefully scripted performance of birth: no pain relief, no C-sections, no interventions of any kind. Women have been taught that it is their ability to emulate a fantasized version of paleo-childbirth that determines whether they will be good mothers, and whether their babies will bond to them and they to their babies.

I, on the other hand, am a momivist.

What’s a momivist?

A momivist privileges people over process. Specifically, a momivist privileges mothers and what works for them and their families than over any specific process for giving birth to and raising children.

When you think about it, it is difficult to understand why women have allowed others to evaluate and render moral judgments over whether the process they are using in giving birth and raising their children is optimal. But when you consider that there is an entire industry complete with products, courses and cadres of health paraprofessionals designed to support the “correct” way to give birth and to feed and nurture children, it isn’t so surprising after all.

That industry is only profitable to the extent that it convinces women that there is a right and a wrong way to give birth or feed a baby. In order to preserve and increase their profits, they engage in massive and well funded marketing campaigns to make women feel badly about doing anything any other way but their way. In contrast, there’s not a lot of money in putting mothers ahead of process. You can’t sell books, products and courses to people who think that they can raise perfectly happy and healthy children without the guidance of moral arbiters.

It’s just an extension of the marketing principles applied to other products. Want to sell mouthwash? Convince people that without using mouthwash, they will have bad breath, and be social failures with no chance of having sex with attractive people.

What to sell natural childbirth? Convince women that without natural childbirth, they will fail at their very first task of motherhood and be unable to bond with their own children.

Want to sell lactivism? Convince people that, contrary to the scientific evidence, breastfeeding supposedly has massive benefits and formula feeding supposedly has massive risks. Make it difficult for women to obtain formula in hospitals, and, above all, shame them with threats that their formula fed children will be sick, dumb, and socially maladjusted.

Natural childbirth, homebirth, lactivism and attachment parenting privilege processes because they make money from promoting those processes.

Momivism privileges mothers over process and there’s not a lot of money to be made in telling people they are doing fine and don’t need any special products, books or courses.

Momivism, by encouraging respect for individual mothers and the personal choices of others, does not allow one mother to feel superior to another mother for parenting the “right” way.

Momivism, by recognizing that there are many right ways to give birth and raise children, deprives some women of the opportunity to publicly shame other women for not mirroring their own choices back to them.

Momivism has a lot of downsides for the industries that promote feelings of inadequacy, shame and depression, but only upsides for mothers.

Imagine a world where mothers support each other instead of tearing each other down. Imagine a world where mothering choices are judged based on the actual effect on specific children, not grossly inflated theoretical risks and benefits. Imagine a world where mothers recognize each other as having different needs, aspirations and desires and respected those differences.

We could have that world if we were all momivists instead of advocates for a preferred method of parenting.

  • Torey

    You do realize that there’s far more money to be made in the formula industry than there is in the “breastfeeding industry,” right? Formula, bottles, bottle sterilizers, bottle warmers, etc. All of those are money makers. Lactating breasts are not. The argument that people promote breastfeeding to make money just doesn’t hold water. Breastfeeding is the ultimate money saver, not formula.

    • Elizabeth A

      I exclusively breast fed my first for 7 months. The exercise required a breast pump, bottles, nipples, warmers, all the formula stuff, just not the formula. Medela and lansinoh made their buck, believe me.

      Breastfeeding is cheap only if you discount the value of a woman’s time in the first place, but for a lot of families, there are also some serious cash expenditures.

    • Happy Sheep

      Breastfeeding is only a money saver if the mother’s time is worth nothing.
      It may not be as big of an industry, but to an individual, there could easily be more money in promoting breastfeeding instead of formula. LCs, herbs, makers of nursing wear etc are just a few I can think of.

    • AlisonCummins

      Any individual person will make money doing whatever it is they are doing.

      If I run a drugstore I will make money selling formula, bottles, nipple cream and nursing pads. The formula probably makes me more money (it might be one of those things where I have to take a very low margin because shoppers will go elsewhere for better prices) but I make money on all of it.

      If I’m a dairy farmer I will make money selling milk to formula companies.

      If I am a lactation consultant I will make money on consultations and selling breast pumps.

      You are right to be cautious about information about the benefits of formula provided by pharmaceutical companies. By the same logic, you are also right to be cautious about information about the benefits of breastfeeding provided by lactation consultants.

      • AlisonCummins

        I piqued my own curiosity and googled “infant formula loss leader.” Apparently that’s a thing. Some US retailers sell formula at a loss to make sure their customers don’t go elsewhere. They are most definitely not selling breastfeeding accessories at a loss.

        http://www.ers.usda.gov/ersDownloadHandler.ashx?file=/media/330246/fanrr39-1_1_.pdf
        The size of the retail markups in percentage terms varied by type and manufacturer. Carnation brands of infant formula had a higher retail markup than did Mead Johnson and Ross brands. Since the wholesale prices of Carnation are generally lower than the two other brands, retailers can mark Carnation products up more and still price them lower than the Ross and Mead Johnson brands. In addition, liquid concentrate forms of formula (both milk- and soy-based) had higher markups than powdered forms of formula for all manufacturers. All categories of formula had positive average annual retail markups at the national level. However, in many individual market areas, the retail prices of some infant formula products were priced below their listed wholesale prices, suggesting that many retailers use infant formula as loss leaders to attract customers into their stores.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      But many of the people making money in the breastfeeding industry don’t have the option of making money in the formula industry. So for them, 100% of their income comes from promoting breastfeeding. If that’s not an economic incentive, I don’t know what is.

  • Allie P

    this was the woo I fell for. I felt positively ZERO guilt or ambivalence about my full package of prenatal interventions — all the testing money could buy, advanced medical ultrasound screenings, determining the sex at the anatomy scan (along with all the organs), planned epidural, post dates induction, none of it. If I didn’t need a c-section, fine, but I wasn’t going to fight one if indicated… and then I had the baby and bought the whole breastfeeding thing hook line and sinker. I fought and fought and my baby went hungry because no matter what i did I could not make enough milk. It was nearly two months before i realized that the lactivist line was as much BS as I already understoof the natural birth line was. I have no idea how they got me. I’m a pretty rational, skeptical person, and I was looking at my pedi askance as she recommended formula and feeling guilty and like a failure every time i gave my infant a bottle.

    • MamaBear

      I fell for the breastfeeding BS too. I fell it way back in highschool when I took parenting class. My teacher was a nice woman, but she made it clear “breast is best”. I should have questioned it at the time, but I was 17, and didn’t really give it much thought until I was 25 and pregnant with my first. When asked later in the pregnancy how I was going to feed I said breast and cited every reason for it like a mindless robot. I choose breastfeeding because I felt like I would be a bad mom if I didn’t. I didn’t want my kids to be fat ( I struggle with weight issues), I didn’t want my kids to be dumb, and I wanted them to be healthy. I thought I was doing the right thing. When my daughter was born I tried and tried. It was so painful, but not do to bad latch according to the nurses. My baby was starving, but I go not figure it out for the life of me. Lactation came down, yelled at me for interrupting their lunch break, threw nipple shields at me with no instruction whatsoever, and never came. My daughter was screaming and hungry. I am forever thankful to the nurse who ran to get me bottle, educated me on what formula to use, and being the only person in that hospital for not making me feel like crap. I formula fed both of my kids and never regretted it. Lactivist can take their “breastfeed at all cost” attitude and suck it (no pun intended).

  • LMS1953

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18310164/

    From a google search on “the effects of prolonged breast feeding”. Their conclusion was that there was no difference in either benefits nor adverse effects in either group. There are other articles cited at the bottom that I have not yet explored. One about dental caries may prove interesting.

  • LMS1953

    In the past several years, I have had the opportunity to provide locums coverage from New England to the Deep South to the Rockies. I have been impressed by how much the patients’ attitudes vary by region. New England is awash with unicorn sprinkles and WOO and such crunchy-granola BS that it can drive a rational person to distraction. The Deep South is far and away the most accepting of a paternalistic approach to obstetrics “I don’t know, you’re the Doctor – what do you think I should do” ? I haven’t quite gotten the West down yet. Generally, most of the states are divided into rural farm and cattle land populated with conservatives and the urban areas which are insanely liberal and progressive. Oregon is a prime example. Its twin sister state, several thousand miles to the East is Vermont. They lead the nation in percentage of home births and far left extremist obstetric attitudes – to paraphrase Cuomo.

    • ngozi

      “The Deep South is far and away the most accepting of a paternalistic approach to obstetrics “I don’t know, you’re the Doctor – what do you think I should do” ?”
      And when you don’t have that attitude as a patient, you are viewed with suspicion, especially if you are black. Sorry to bring race into it, but that has been my experience over and over again with doctors who don’t like to be questioned. I am talking about questioning decisions in order to understand my own health and treatments, not just engaging doctors in silly arguments.

    • AlisonCummins

      Do you have examples of “insanely liberal and progressive”?

      Or “far left extremist obstetric attitudes”? You don’t mean home birth, because that’s as much a fundie christian thing as a dirty hippie thing. It’s more about rejecting the status quo than about economic theory.

      • LMS1953

        I have plenty.

  • Jessica

    Whoa, wait, what? Is this post claiming that formula and breastmilk are equally good for a baby? How about the hundreds of new studies every year announcing new, hitherto unknown breastmilk benefits? Formula’s not bad, but it’s simply wrong to try to claim no added benefit to breastfeeding. It’s also wrong to lump mothers who breastfeed with mothers she sees as “unfit,” who “mindlessly” dare to make their own decisions. I’ve had an induction and epidural. I’m had an emergency c-section. But I’ve breastfed all my babies for as long as I could, and that was because SCIENCE and MEDICAL LITERATURE, not some pissy obgyn, told me how good it was for both baby and mother.

    • KarenJJ

      “it’s simply wrong to try to claim no added benefit to breastfeeding. ”

      Yes it is wrong to claim that (all things being equal). I think you’ll notice that nobody is saying that.

      Can you name hundreds of studies were released last year that claimed new, previously unknown, benefits to breastmilk? Even just a fraction of these “hundreds”. Perhaps choose the top ten studies.

      Perhaps you were exaggerating? It seems to be part of the territory when people claim that breastfeeding has massive benefits over formula.

    • LMS1953

      Is their any test or assessment that can reliably distinguish between a breast fed baby and bottle fed baby when they attain, say, age 18?

      • Karen in SC

        Or even age 5, or 3?

        • LMS1953

          Karen, I considered that age group, but since many lactivists breast feed until that age group and even beyond, I suspected there might be such assessments. Moreover, they may well show detrimental effects to such extended breast feeding as regards social integration.

          • Trixie

            How would breastfeeding a 3 year old affect their social integration? Most nursing 3 year olds nurse about once a day, typically at bedtime. I’m not sure what that would have to do with their interaction with their peers.

          • Therese

            Well, you see, the 3 year old will have a deep sense of shame at still being breastfed and this will hinder his or her ability to form friendships with other 3 year olds.

          • Therese

            That was sarcasm, btw.

          • LMS1953

            Well, the age group extended to 5 in the post I responded to. And it could go to 7 and beyond. I think most rational people would agree that there comes an age when children should be weaned from the breast. Most mammals – a distinguishing characteristic of that order of fauna being the mammary gland, have in innate sense of that.

          • Young CC Prof

            I would think that if you have permanent teeth, you ought to be weaned. Just a sort of absolute upper limit there.

          • Trixie

            I really think there’s only a tiny, tiny fraction of even extended breastfeeders whose children nurse much past age 3. A few to age 4, virtually none by age 5. You can’t force a child to nurse who doesn’t want to, and eventually they all lose interest. Of course, weaning earlier is fine, but I don’t think we need to be directing moral outrage at this imaginary problem of children nursing too long. Other than that one weird video that made the rounds years ago, I’m pretty sure there’s no kid who is still nursing at age 7. If you’re going to compare us to other mammals, by various metrics, humans even “in nature” actually tend to wean earlier than other mammals with relatively large brains. For example, we generally wean years before the baby teeth start to fall out.

    • Paloma

      Medical literature has only proved clear benefits for specific situations, it reduces the risks of several respiratory disorders in preterm babies and also for necrotic bowel (sorry, I don’t remember the exact term in english, in spanish it is enterocolitis necrotizante), also on preterm babies. Those are the ones that have a good evidence to prove them.
      Everything else that has been asociated has only been a statiscal association, and that isn’t enough unless it is further investigated and research shows there are no confounding factors, although it is a good way to know what to reasearch about. I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself, because I’m not used to talking in medical terms in english (I’m spanish).
      I think what Dr. Tuteur referrs to is the fact that there is no actual good evidence in favour of breastfeeding on a full-term healthy baby when compared to formula feeding. But of course, breastfeeding has many benefits, some of them obvious (it’s free, for one thing), some proven (preterm children and prevention of certain disorders) and some that have been attributed but not yet proven (almost everything else). If a family decides that they want to formula feed a baby for no reason other than they prefer it, there is no evidence that says it is worse than any other option ;)

    • auntbea

      For every SCIENCE that shows a benefit, there are multiple SCIENCES that show no effect, an effect that is vanishly small for an individual baby or mother, and/or an effect that is likely to result from the fact that breastfeeding mothers tend to be whiter, richer and more educated, not anything to do with breastfeeding itself.

  • GiddyUpGo123

    OT: Anyone seen the Alpha Parent’s rant about how all those who oppose her are dumb because they use fallacies of logic? I almost choked. I wish I had time to go through her posts and those of other similarly minded folks and give her some examples from her own mouth for each item on her list.

    • theNormalDistribution

      The problem I have with TAP is that her posts are sooooo long and full of sooooo much bullshit. And she makes them sound legitimate with link after link to this study or that. I couldn’t address it without addressing every. single. error. And reviewing every single study. I just don’t have time for that, and even if I did, the rage would probably kill me.

      • Young CC Prof

        That’s what we call a Gish Gallop. Epic essays of wrong, too long for anyone to counter in full.

      • rh1985

        I almost want to wish for her to have a child that cannot breastfeed but I would feel too sorry for the child.

  • Daniel Seely

    You’re a Quackivist Skank. You must lose a lot of babies from being scared to death with your ugly assed face being the first thing they ever see. People are much better off going with an unassisted home birth than ever relying on a medical ghoul such as yourself!

    • Box of Salt

      Daniel Seely, again: when did insults become arguments?

    • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

      NCB is so feminist

    • Sue

      It’s great when these people post – reminds us of the mentality of some people out there.

    • Siri

      I like the way you capitalise Quacktivist Skank, Dan; it lends your Puerile Insult an Air of Je ne sais Quoi.

    • moto_librarian

      Somebody’s got his panties in a bunch!

    • Paloma

      Yes, that is exactly the problem with labour, that children think the person assisting the birth is ugly!! You got it just right! Oh wait…

    • BeatlesFan

      Not that your ad hominem attack had any validity to begin with, but if you haven’t been visiting this site long enough to know that Dr. Amy has been retired for years and doesn’t deliver babies anymore, perhaps it would be prudent for you to actually read some of her posts before spewing vitriol?

    • auntbea

      A skank? Really? The early 90′s called. They want their insults back.

    • ngozi

      This is the most immature post I have ever read on this site. You are sad.

    • Mominoma

      Interesting, perhaps, that I misread your name as Daniel Seedy at first. That name seems to fit better, too.

    • Squillo

      Daniel,

      Your reaction to this post suggests that you’re suffering from a condition that is, sadly, all too common in this day and age. Unfortunately, it’s been swept under the carpet, its sufferers hidden away, or even laughed at. But no more.

      You’re not alone any more, Daniel. And you don’t have to hide in shame. Help is available. You can reclaim your life.

      All you have to do, Daniel, is fill out this simple form, post it on your blog, or even better, your Reddit, and someone will get back to you.

      I’m almost sure of it.

  • MichelleJo

    I personally to do not discuss how I feed, hold or sleep my baby, because I find these facts to be insignificant to anyone else but my baby. And as a totally unapologetic epidural taker, formula feeder, stroller pusher and baby’s own bed owner, when someone in a conversation of women starts with the NCB stuff, I just walk away and leave them to it. And because I am so comfortable with the way I do things, without showing a trace of guilt, no-one starts with me. I think pressure is just as much about how you feel it, as to what was actually said. If a women doesn’t know what to think, then anything she does not the promoted right way will send her on a guilt trip. I got through fully formula feeding all my babies, and in all that time, I got *one* comment from someone. I never felt judged, although it could be that people did judge me, but I couldn’t care less.Women need solid facts based on real evidence so that they can laugh off all the rest. Just like we can laugh off the idea that people can stay young if they really wanted to, and old wrinkled people just didn’t try hard enough.

    Real education is the key. This site is fantastic, but there needs to be far more out there if we want to compete in scope and reach with the NCB have.

  • Stacy

    I think that much of fanatical NCB, and AP parenting, the privileging of nature, organics, herbs and living “simply” as well as the hatred for modern medicine, education, cars, TV, and capitalism, has particular roots.

    It comes from the lowered expectations and the low socioeconomic position of most of the people that follow these beliefs most seriously. It allows them an identity in which their disadvantage is now cloaked in superiority.

    Follow me here- there are some very visible all natural moms. from the uber wealthy, to the middle class mom, we have all seen them, out there, selling this idea. But the bulk of the “back to nature”, AP, NCB, moms are often very low income. I look at the group here and for every 1 middle class mom, there are 10 barely making it. These are the most strident, least forgiving, most sanctimonious of all.

    All of a sudden, their choices can be claimed as superior, instead of things they are stuck with due to their SES. They aren’t just as cool and superior as the uber wealthy, they are better than them, because their beliefs are followed more intensely. They have an automatic group of friends, and something to believe in.

    They are poor, and dont work, because they are good AP parents, not because they can’t get jobs. They use herbs and home remedies because they arent insured. They don’t drive, or only have one ratty car, because they don’t want to pollute. They claim organics are superior, because spending tons of time getting cheap food from co-ops wouldn’t be worth it otherwise, and they can act superior for their food choices as well. They have small homes, often without TVs or heat/Ac, because they want to limit their carbon footprint and media influence.
    They loathe all the institutions that they feel are responsible for their current position, hence the unschooling, etc.

    I know this varies, but everywhere I have lived, this has been accurate.

    • Stacy

      And of course, BF is cheaper if you’re always home, and allows you to feel superior to all those working, or career moms that FF or pump. They aren’t using poison after all.

      And on and on.

      I cannot edit above and missed a few things: they can’t afford a better car, and can’t afford a nicer home or a decent TV, so they use those reasons why they are bad. They do believe them too. its not a conscious choice to claim these choices for their own self esteem.

      • Trixie

        I wonder sometimes if being anti-vax in this subset of moms also has something to do with not having insurance for well child visits.

        Then there are people who home birth to stay off the grid so they won’t give their children the mark of the beast or something. I know of one woman with a military spouse whose child could have had insurance. She UBAC’d and was too lazy to get the child a birth certificate, or enroll it in health insurance, and she never took it to any well child checkupscheckups because she doesn’t believe in vaccines. Her plan stopped working when the child needed an emergency room visit. Insurance wouldn’t pay, since the child wasn’t enrolled, and so she took to FB to ask for donations since they couldn’t afford the ER bill.

        • Melissa

          Human minds do a great job of convincing people of what they want to believe. I’m sure that a lot of seemingly illogical stances (like anti-vax, anti-hospital, anti-OB) have a basis in something else. My niece was looking at homebirth and talking about the amazing benefits of it, until she found out that her co-pay for a hospital birth was only 1500. Then she was all about hospitals. She never openly mentioned being concerned about a bill, but it clearly was driving her to the homebirth woo. But it is somehow weirdly more accepted (especially in her part of the country) to say that you’re doing a homebirth to be more natural than to admit you are worried about finances. Or are worried about a positive drug screen at the hospital (what I believe the motivation was for my very 420-friendly college roommate who homebirthed).

        • Mindy

          I hate to sound glib….but what is a UBAC??

          • Trixie

            Unassisted (home) birth after caesarian.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “I wonder sometimes if being anti-vax in this subset of moms also has something to do with not having insurance for well child visits.”

          Vaccinations are free to kids under 18 who don’t have insurance in my state. No need to see the doctor even, just the nurse so no charge at all.

        • Ennis Demeter

          I know an anti-vaxxer who I think “unschools” out of pure laziness.

          • Trixie

            Yep. And then talks about how college is nothing but an indoctrination factory, to justify the fact that unschool will never teach her kid enough math to get into college, right? I have yet to get a satisfactory answer as to how one can unschool higher math. It seems to me that unschool math gives you just enough competency to double a recipe.

          • Ennis Demeter

            There are already blogs of homeschool and unschool graduates popping up, debunking how great it is. I heard an interview of a woman once who said she was shicked and embarrassed at how poorly educated she was by her parents. Here’s one: http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/

          • Trixie

            I’ve read that blog before, it’s great! And horrifying.

      • OBPI Mama

        Then I’m in big trouble because I formula fed and I stay at home with my kiddos! What a silly excuse I have of “lack of milk glands”…

    • Ennis Demeter

      It’s a religion

    • Therese

      Some of that might be correct for some people, but most of it sounds like a bit of a stretch. How do you get cheap food from co-ops in exchange for spending lots of your time? That’s not a method that most crunchy people use in getting their organic food, however it may work (and I would like to know because I could use some cheap food, organic or not). If you are low income, your children qualify for Medicaid or low cost health insurance, so that doesn’t explain crunchy people’s refusal to take their kids to the doctor. And being low income doesn’t really stop anyone from owning a TV. 99% of the population owns a TV and that includes millions of low income people. Besides, most crunchy people have a TV, they just (claim) to not let their kids watch it ever.

      • Trixie

        Most communities have garden plots you can rent cheaply to grow your own vegetables.
        As far as TVs, if you’re willing to have an old, non flat screen one, they’re giving them away on Craigslist.

        • Therese

          I didn’t think of gardening because she specifically said “co-op”. Maybe there are gardening co-ops? Where I live a co-op is a natural food type store with high priced items, so I was thinking of that.

          • Ennis Demeter

            Community Supported Agriculture is a cheap, co-op-ish way of getting far fresh food, possible organic.

          • Trixie

            Our CSAs seem fairly expensive compared to going to the various farm stands yourself. Perhaps that’s different elsewhere.

          • Therese

            Yeah, I’m familiar with CSAs but it costs money (I think I saw $500 to do it for the entire summer) and all the time it takes is the time to drive there and have your box loaded up. Doesn’t sound like what the OP was referring to, but her post made so little sense so who knows. Perhaps there are CSAs that accept volunteering en lieu of paying the fee. I wonder how she would explain why rich people will buy organics, if the poor are only doing it because it’s somehow free/cheap. It can’t be free for everyone, someone is subsidizing the cost.

      • AlisonCummins

        I used to do it when I was a student. Members would place orders, we’d buy large quantities of something, then volunteer our time to repackage it in smaller quantities and distribute it. It takes off the retail markup.

    • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

      Rich people are the ones who romaticize poverty. Being poor is HORRIBLE and most people are desperately trying to escape poverty, not find reasons to glorify it. Jeez. I can tell you haven’t spent much time being broke, or even living on the wrong side of town. Where do you get this bs?

      • Mishimoo

        One of the crunchiest mums I know does, so they are out there.

        • jenny

          Yep, I know way more than a few moms like this both in real life and online. There’s a lot of crossover between, like crust punks and super crunchy types too.

      • Ennis Demeter

        You´re right, but I know who she is talking about. I think of them as downwardly mobile people for whom NCB, homeschooling, etc. become a sort of justification for their stagnation.

        • meglo91

          Yeah, I’ve met these folks too. I just think they probably don’t represent the majority of NCBers.

    • LMS1953

      Stacey. I have to disagree. I have taken care of the poorest of America’s poor in the course of my career in Texas and Mississippi. They are generally African American and Hispanic. NCB is typically the last thing they are interested in. Likewise, there is a lot of white poverty there too and they generally start to plead for an induction at 37 weeks and want an epidural with the first contraction. OTOH, those that come in with detailed birth plans are most always yuppie WASPS – and it is a running joke in the OB community that the risk of a C-section is directly proportional to the length of the birth plan. I have also found that lesbian couples have disproportionate demands for NCB since it is part and parcel of their female empowerment psyche.

    • Allie

      I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s wealthy, privileged people in industrial nations that are turning their backs on the accoutrements of privilege as the middle class has burgeoned and more and more people can afford those privileges. A perfect example is weight. At the turn of the last century, it was difficult to be chubby. Many people were living hand to mouth and being chubby was a sign of wealth and station. So rich girls were chubby and poor girls aspired to be (Anne of Green Gables is forever fantasizing about having elbow dimples). However, now that junk calories are cheap and readily accessible and it’s easy for anyone from any walk of life to be fat, the wealthy want to be thin, and they have taken it to the nth degree. Case in point: American Apparel doesn’t want to make larger sizes, not so much because they are fat-shaming (which is just a side-effect) but because they want their brand associated with wealthy consumers of a certain social standing. They don’t want to devalue the brand by making larger sizes so that any old Tom, Dick or Harry can wear it. They are excluding “lower class” people not by pricing the clothes out of their range, but by sizing the clothes out of their range. That’s my theory, anyway.

  • Antigonos CNM

    Sign me up as a momivist. Although, I have to admit, that the word sounds like it is a Norwegian alcoholic beverage

    • Siri

      Antigonos, der tar du skikkelig feil! D’ekke no’n drink som heter det på norsk.

      • Dr Kitty

        I had Norwegian roommates briefly when I was in uni.
        Aquavit, pinnekjøtt, snus and death metal featured heavily.
        I became fond of the first two, never got a taste for the music and never tried the snus.

        • Siri

          You’re a sensible girl! I’m teetotal, so no aquavit, but pinnekjøtt I do love. Bizarrely, the commenter below has a username that means Aron Intact Foreskin in Norwegian. I mean, what are the odds of that?! There are only 4 million of us in the world!

          • auntbea

            More importantly, what are the odds that he could come up with a screen name that does not describe his genitalia? I know I found it difficult. SIgned, Auntbea Who Doesn’t Believe in Brazilians.

        • Zornorph

          I am a fan of the DumDum Boys, but they are not really death metal.

          • Siri

            Bless you, Zornorph! I went to one of their concerts in the early days, at home in Lillehammer. Reminds me of my misspent youth.

      • Antigonos CNM

        Zei gesunt!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Momivist and lutefisk?

  • Aron Hele Forhuden

    I disagree with the idea that no matter what a mother chooses to do, there is no right or wrong, and that we should all just support her no matter what. Uhm, no. Sorry, that’s BS. Should we support mothers who abuse their kids? Should we support mothers who rape and get pregnant by their sons? Should we support mothers who make their sons and daughters have sex, on video? There are certain things that are right, and wrong. Formula is not better than breast milk, it therefore should not be promoted as being better. I don’t attack women who Can’t breast feed, I’m just saying that if you Can do it, that’s the better choice. That’s all.

    • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

      Arguing the absurd to make your point does not make your point – the morally repugnant is not the same as those things that are “free choices”. There are laws against child abuse, against incest, against child pornography – and it is right that there should be. Feeding formula is not in that category and you demonstrate a lack of critical thinking by believing that one can support free choices whle still being absolutely against completely criminal and immoral behaviour.

    • rh1985

      And what if the mother physically can, but it causes her mental health issues? Or she takes medication that passes into breast milk? It is just not so simple that you can say BF is always better because nutritional value is not the only factor to consider.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I didn’t say that there is no right or wrong. I said that there are many ways to raise happy well adjusted children and we should judge right and wrong by how the child fares, not how the mother performs.

    • Box of Salt

      Is abuse pornography and rape as you state here, or CIO as you claim in a comment downthread?

      I can’t take your opinions seriously if you can’t tell the difference.

    • doctorsaregood

      The blanket statement “Formula is not better than breastmilk” is not true in all cases. There are women with breastmilk problems, not because of medicines, just based on how their body works. I know this because I had problems breast feeding. It wasn’t until the problem surfaced that I learned the truth that sometimes formula will be a better source of nutrition for your baby. I know it’s not advertised because of the bias toward forcing women to breastfeed, which is why I am against that bias.

    • OBPI Mama

      Formula is better than my breastmilk… all 2 Tbsp. of it! I love having 4 children (who would have died without formula). And, obviously, arguing about formula vs. breastmilk in a paragraph where you include child porn and rape is absolutely ridiculous.

    • doctorsaregood

      You can also think about it this way…things go wrong with every part of the human body. Bones break, cells get infected, stuff isn’t connected right. We know this. However, there’s a strange belief out there that mother’s breasts and infants digestive tracts are somehow always perfect in form and function. Just like you wouldn’t look at a person in a wheelchair with disdain and think “they’re not even trying to walk” I think it’s terrible to look at a woman who’s bottle feeding and assume that she’s not even trying.

    • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

      You’re seriously comparing mom’s who formula feed to mom’s who rape their children?

      What the actual fuck.

      • Siri

        Aron is an intactivist. Do you need to know more than that? (Yes, I suppose you do). I agree with the WTF.

        • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

          No, that’s enough to explain it.

    • Jessica

      I could do it, but I don’t want to. If it’s second best, then it is a pretty damn good second best. My three-year-old is healthy, loves people and is wicked smart. I’m pregnant with number 2 and will dust off my beloved bottles again. I know myself well enough that if I tried to breastfeed, I’d end up resenting my kids and everyone else within a 30 foot radius.

      So is there a formula feeder registry that I need to be on, so I can be tracked? XD

    • moto_librarian

      Um, abuse is not a “parenting choice” – it is a crime. The same goes for incest, molestation, etc. If you can’t tell the difference between these things and legitimate parenting choices, you’ve got a big problem.

      Breastmilk is marginally better than formula in the developed world, but it’s not really “better” if it the difficulties associated with it outweigh that small benefit. Is it better for a woman to continue in her career and feed her infant formula? Economic data suggests that taking even a short break costs a woman a lot in future earnings, if she ever gets back into the workforce at all. This is just one example – there are plenty of others.

      Also, you say you don’t attack women who “can’t” breastfeed. Not that it’s any of your business, but how do you feel about women who simply choose not to breastfeed?

    • meglo91

      Your comment is so stupid I’m not sure how to approach it. But I will try,

      No one here is saying that they support child rapists. Child rape is a horrible crime. Formula feeding, however, is not. And no one is promoting formula as better than breastmilk. They are, however, roughly equivalent. There are some situations where breastmilk is better — like if the baby is premature or has some breathing difficulties or immune disorders. Otherwise, they’re about the same.

  • Trixie

    While I agree with the sentiment Dr. Amy is expressing here, I’m not sure I agree with the statement that formula was considered “no better and no worse” than breastmilk before modern lactivism. Depending on the time and the social class, there has always been moralizing and status attached to the preferred method of feeding a baby. During the Great Depression, my great grandmother was proud that she could still afford infant milk, despite not having much else, because she thought breastfeeding was for low class peasants. I know another woman who was told by a doctor many years ago that because her breasts were large, her milk would be too greasy and her baby would be scared of them. Even longer ago, being able to afford a wet nurse carried status.

    It’s also true that until relatively recently, it was hard to get accurate advice for common breastfeeding problems from medical professionals. My mom was a LLL leader in the 80s, and is not at all judgemental or “lactivist” or anti-science. I spent my childhood reading Nancy Drew in the corner while she went to people’s homes and helped them out. There was never any lecturing or shaming, she just tried to understand what people’s goals were and to help them get there. She spent most of her time trying to help people with common concerns like inverted nipples or getting babies to latch, because at the time, LLL was the only place many women could find help for those things. Just like the NCB movement had some things right (like allowing a support person with the laboring mother, using CNMs for low risk women, not automatically keeping all babies in the nursery, etc.), the movement to demand better breastfeeding help had some things right. The problem is that as hospitals and doctors have incorporated those ideas, the “outsiders” have to keep moving farther and farther towards crazy to continue to justify their existence.

    • Stacey

      NCB may have been (in part) a response to the paternalistic conditions back then, but the change in mainstream medicine was because ALL of medicine became less paternalistic and more patient focused. Had there never been NCB, there would still have been change in OB care. We didn’t need to go backwards (no pain relief and MWs) to move forward (caring, some female, OBs and good epidurals).

      (I assume you mean CNMs for those that want them, and babies in room when desired. )

      • Trixie

        Yes, to your comment in parentheses, that is what I meant. In my grandmother’s day they only brought you the baby every 4 hours and you had no say in it. Which of course, isn’t really often enough to breastfeed a newborn, and they kept you for a whole week, and by the end, most women weren’t nursing, even if they started out trying. My grandma still has the discharge card that says, “feed at 6, 10, and 2, am and pm.”. Luckily she had a massive oversupply, and she actually did end up nursing like she wanted to for about 6 months each time, despite that rather rocky start.
        But you’re absolutely right about the paternalism being the biggest and most important change.

  • Momivist Jody

    I am a MOMIVIST. I always have been. Always will be. Who wants to help with this campaign? Thanks Amy for starting this much needed conversation!!!

  • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

    I just wish there was some vegan formula available out there. The use of abused animals in the making of the product complicates the ethics of it a lot for me. That has nothing to do with how good someone is at being a mom or what they are doing for their kids though!

    • Trixie

      Soy formula isn’t vegan?
      If dairy farming bothers you, what about goat milk? There’s no such thing as factory goat farming.

      • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth
        • Trixie

          Please explain to me how soy formula isn’t vegan? Also, a vegan diet isn’t appropriate or nutritionally complete for a toddler, as it’s almost impossible for them to get enough nutrition that way (unless a large portion of their diet is breast milk or soy formula, but now you’re saying soy formula is out).
          As far as one anecdote from the Daily Mail, which isn’t even in the US, I’m not sure that’s good enough evidence for me that there’s widespread goat abuse. I live near a lot of rather idyllic goat farms.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            Soy formula uses vitamins from animal-derived sources.

          • Mishimoo

            Apparently, quite a lot of the soy that we eat is GMO as well.

          • Box of Salt

            What does GMO have to do with being vegan? GMO is used for crops – i.e., plants. Not animals.

          • Mishimoo

            I have heard it raised as an issue by vegans (“You’re not a twue vegan if you eat GMO crops”) and so added to the guess as to why soy formula doesn’t count as vegan.

          • theNormalDistribution

            What’s your point?

          • Mishimoo

            Already answered that in reply to Box of Salt :)

    • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

      Bwuh? Abused animals? Not a joke, actual wtf.

      • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

        yes, seriously. Its horrific. http://www.mercyforanimals.org/dairy/
        its extremely graphic, watch at your own discretion.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Yes, you’ve already been told about how this is not actually reflective of real practice, by people who actually farm.

          • http://shameonbetterbirth.wordpress.com/ Shameon Betterbirth

            I’ve been told that pigs ‘cant even feel the punches’ by people who actually farm them, too. People can’t do the work while recognizing the cruelty. If these problems were not common then it wouldn’t be illegal to film inside farms in Utah and other states (ag-gag laws). These places get caught over and over and over again and people still think its a rarity.

          • Trixie

            So throughout the entirety of human history, all people who have cared for domesticated farm animals have abused them, because it’s impossible to do the work without deluding yourself?

          • OBPI Mama

            I don’t know about pigs, but some livestock do have a higher pain tolerance. You’d be surprised by the lack of “annoyance” lambs have when they are docked and banded!!! Same with steers… we band to castrate them as well. It’s like it annoys them for 10 minutes then they are back to usual. And sometimes you have to slap (I’ve never had to punch) a cow on the behind to get them moving. It’s better than being backed up into and/or trampled.

          • Trixie

            This is a good point. To compare it to the pets most people are familiar with, it’d be cruel and possibly fatal to pick up a human by the skin on the back of their neck. On the other hand (with bottom support for a heavier cat), it’s a humane and safe way to keep a cat calm, even if they don’t exactly love it. Vets and animal control officers even use clamps for the back of the neck when they neeto handle feral cats.

          • Nashira

            When I rode horses, I met more than one horse who liked getting slapped or scratched quite hard on the itchy spots on their necks. On a human, it would’ve left bruises and scrapes; on the horse, it… made the itchy spot go away.

        • Fuzzy

          Oh for christs sake. I know real actual dairy farmers, as I live in a farming area and run my own farm. Abused animals are NOT profitable and the farms don’t do well.

          Disbudding? Yeah, we do that. The animal bawls for a minute. No big deal—-anesthetic is dangerous. Or you can band them, which works but they have to get older first. I band tails on the lambs, as once you’ve seen an animal with flystrike, you will too. Ditto banding males not needed to breed. It’s uncomfortable for a minute. That’s all.

          Your intensive farming needed to feed everyone vegan—where do you intend to get your fertilizer? Manure does very well. How do you intend to account for the habitat destruction? Not much lives in a plowed field. Well-managed pasture supports an entire ecosystem.

          • AlisonCummins

            Not everyone is great; some people are overloaded; some people shouldn’t be trusted with animals.

            I have relatives who every year adopt a bull calf from a nearby dairy farm and lovingly raise it to maturity. I would eat their beef any day.

            The dairy farm lets them have the calves for free. They used to be able to put bull calves at the side of the road for pickup by veal producers, but the veal market isn’t big enough to make that profitable any more. So now they put their bull calves in a pen at the end of the barn and wait for them to starve to death. Yes, really. The dairy cows might be treated like queens, I have no idea, but if they can’t even afford bullets for the calves I have doubts about the care the cows are getting. I don’t want to buy their milk.
            I don’t know anyone who claims that battery hens have fulfilling lives.

          • Trixie

            Right, but starving animals to death is already illegal, because it’s abuse. That’s not a reflection on modern agriculture, that’s a reflection on those people being assholes.

          • AlisonCummins

            My point is that it happens.

          • Trixie

            So have your relatives called the local animal welfare enforcement officer about it? Because I can’t imagine that’s legal anywhere.

          • AlisonCummins

            That’s a good question. I don’t know.

          • Trixie

            Yeah because if not, they’re complicit, unless they’re saving every calf.

          • AlisonCummins

            Agreed.

          • SJC

            Alison, not only are they complicit in the abuse, but you are too. You know that this happens, you know how to find out exactly who is doing this, and your response has been … to stop buying all milk. That does exactly nothing to stop the abuse or to ease the suffering of those calves.

            Please report these animal abusers!

            [So sorry if the above sounds harsh. I write the above because at one point in the long distant past I too didn't report animal abuse. It is too late to remedy that long past abuse, and I bitterly regret not putting a stop to it. Please don't repeat my terrible lack of courage.]

          • AlisonCummins

            SJC – Agreed, in principle.

            My relatives live in New York state; I live in Quebec. While I could find out what the relevant reporting agency is I don’t know anything about the farm.

            I do know that my relatives were very concerned and so is their vet. I don’t know what ultimately happened but I’m pretty sure something did. I will find out.

          • OBPI Mama

            You do have control. Buy raw milk and pasteurize it yourself if you’d like. There are also small ran dairies in many states that sell specialty milk (such as lowest temp pasteurization, etc). You can call them up, ask what farms they get their milk from, and ask about their practices.

          • Trixie

            Raw milk dairies aren’t inherently less abusive than dairies that send their milk to be pasteurized.

          • OBPI Mama

            Many people who sell raw milk just have a few cows that they pasture or a very small dairy. And most would be happy to show you their practices and farm…

          • Trixie

            What’s your definition of small?

          • OBPI Mama

            20-40 head. Most of the Amish in my area have a dairy this small (a number of “English” dairies in my area as well). The cows are out on pasture (as it’s more manageable at this number) and come in to be milked. We used to run a dairy of 20 milk cows, but sold all but 3 milk cows when our company wanted us to increase in cows and update our equipment.

          • Trixie

            In my area raw milk has gotten so popular that some of them have more like 100 head. At the same time, there’s smaller herds that aren’t raw, or the farmers put out a specialty product like yogurt that has to be pasteurized by law.

          • AlisonCummins

            No, I’m not going to buy raw milk and pasteurize it. It’s a lot more practical for me as an urban consumer to cut back on the dairy and eat more greens.

          • Mariana Baca

            I’m an urban consumer, and my local supermarkets (not just whole foods or hippie mart) carry both industrial milk as well as local small-farm milk. Other options are signing up for a CSA, contacting your local Dairy council for info on local farms, going to farmer’s markets, etc. The urban consumer is not without options other than “not drinking milk”.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            I get milk delivered from a small local organic farm that’s been delivering milk for generations. I pretty much just use it for coffee, though.

          • OBPI Mama

            In my state, bull calves are sold VERY cheaply to other farms who fatten out or graze the calves and sell them for a crap load times the price they bought them for. It’s very profitable and much more common then what you are saying. Again, I think the dairy near you would be in the minority…

          • AmyP

            My great-grandma used to do that back in the late 80s–she’d get about half a dozen or a dozen baby Holstein steers from a dairy and fatten them up for sale. It was a nice manageable hobby farm for an 80-something lady to manage.

            I’ve never heard of anybody just starving baby bulls to death, although my family is more beef than dairy oriented. That’s dumb, especially now that there’s Craigslist. I bet those people’s farm finances were in a complete shambles.

          • Guest

            I would buy milk that was Non-Asshole-Farmer Certified. Like looking for a “no rBST” or organic label.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            That was me.

          • OBPI Mama

            As a farmer, I would have to agree that abused animals are not profitable animals. I think that abusive farms are in the minority.

          • Mishimoo

            Personally, I’d prefer the discomfort of disbudding to the damage that can be done by horned cattle that are cranky, disagreeing with herd structure, or just trying to scratch an itch. I live in Australia and flystrike is a big deal here. So, for me, docking lambs is the lesser evil.
            As for castration? The only downside is the period of discomfort; in the long run, it is a kind choice that contributes to the animal’s quality of life.

          • KarenJJ

            Flystrike causes horrific injury (I’ve seen it in a sheep that was injured by a crow). In my experience farmers don’t enjoy hurting animals.

          • Mishimoo

            I worked in a vet surgery as a pet groomer/receptionist/assistant before becoming a stay at home mum, and yes, flystrike really is horrific. I’ve seen cats and dogs with it and it is rather awful.

  • theadequatemother

    How much of the guilt that women feel around the birth experience/ breastfeeding difficulties do you guys think is due to untreated depression?

    I think quite a bit. Ruminating and feelings of guilt, inadequacy, etc are symptoms of depression. PPD is very common. Birth is intense…it makes sense to me that baby blues and PPD would commonly focus on that intense experience.

    I say this from my own ancedata…baby one was a vacuum delivery due to late decels during pushing. Intellectually, I know just enough OB that I KNOW yanking him out was the right thing to do but when I was all emotional afterwards, I focused on the feeling of helplessness I had. Why? Its not like I didn’t try to push him out on my own. Just couldn’t do it and I did feel inadequate. Especially leading up to the birth of no 2 I really had this sense that I needed to push out a kid on my own. And I’m smart and I’ve been reading here for years. But I ruminated.

    After the scary precipitous birth of no 2. I felt pretty low again…like no one understood what I had been through and it was affecting my ability to “bond” with and enjoy my baby.

    But guess what? After talking to my GP and two weeks of altering my brain chemistry I feel like the best mother in the world (slight exaggeration). Looking back I had low level PPD with no 1 also. So how many of these situations that we discuss here with derision (healing HBAC! etc) could have been fixed with more aggressive diagnosis and treatment of PPD?

    • Trixie

      That’s a great point!

    • LostInAustin

      Maybe the PPD that is not due to previous mental health issues. I had severe PPD, like lost my job, my mind, and almost my life, PPD. I didnt have any thoughts about my inadequacy, nor NCB, or any such guilt. Just horrible, black, depression.
      But I have bipolar disorder, and it wasn’t treated adequately before or after delivery. And once I realized what was going on, I had already lost my job and insurance, so I sent the next 6 months suffering with no access to any help*.
      So while I can see those things being PPD, or maybe low grade, not quite PPD, I think it’s different than PPD with origins in previous mental illness dx.

      * Where I lived, to see a public doc was a 6mo wait, minimum. Forget hospitilzation unless they picked you up off the ground after you failed to die from jumping out a window, then maybe you got 72 hours before being turfed. Merely saying you were gonna kill yourself and/or others, was not enough! Ask me how I know….

    • LynnetteHafkenIBCLC

      Off the top of my head, I’d say that some 30% of moms I see score pretty high on the EPDS screening tool for PPD.

      • KarenJJ

        I wonder about the questions that they ask new mums when screening for mental health. The questions I was answering were things like, “Are you enjoying your normal activities as you’ve always done?” or something similar. I of course answered “Yes” – I felt absolute bliss when I was doing normal activities and was incredibly happy when I left the baby with my husband to get out of the house. Inside the house with the baby, I loved her but was floundering in those early days.

        So I don’t think it was normal depression, but dealing with a challenging baby with little support and the only guidance I was getting kept telling me that I was doing things wrong. The things I was “doing wrong” seems so incredibly common with hindsight – cat napping baby during the day that was difficult to get down for naps and low breastmilk supply – neither could be really “fixed” and wasting my efforts trying to change any of that instead of coping and looking after myself looks pointless in retrospect.

        But instead I was pumping to increase supply and trying to ‘resettle’ for 40 minutes in a darkened room in the middle of the day. I’d have been much better off topping up with formula and walking to the park.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Some birth ruminating may be caused by postpartum depression. But I think some postpartum depressions are triggered by the outsized importance NCB and lactivists place on doing it “perfectly”. What came first, the chicken or the egg?

  • Dr Kitty

    I was born by emergency CS
    I was breast fed for a maximum of 4 months ( there are 14 months between my sister and I, my mother went back to work when I was 3 months old).
    I have an interesting congenital abnormality of the spine.

    I have WONDERFUL parents who I am very close too, an AMAZING husband, a GREAT career and I am mother to The Most Perfect Child Ever tm.

    I don’t think any of the things in the first paragraph have any bearing on any of the things in the second paragraph, except for the CS, because I wouldn’t have survived at all without it.

  • Dr Kitty

    In a day when I have had to do a looked-after-child medical for siblings being put in emergency foster care because of neglect I really can’t get exercised about the difference between such inconsequential things as the choice whether or not to exclusively breastfeed, or have an epidural.

    Your kids don’t need perfection.
    Good enough is, actually, good enough.

    If your kids have safe food and weather appropriate clothing and unconditional love and effective medicine they are already winning.
    No need to best yourself or anyone else up about the minor details.

  • Paloma

    I really don’t understand what these people think about mothers who use formula. Do they really believe someone would purposely choose a method that is worse for their own child without having considered all the options and weighed the benefits of each of them? Yes, breastfeeding has its benefits, no one can doubt that, but if someone isn’t able to or doesn’t want to do it, who do they think they are to judge other peoples lives? Formula doesn’t hurt anyone, especially a baby who needs food. And really, if they really believe the only way a mother has of bonding with a child is through BF they must not be very intelligent anyway. I love my mom because she is my mom, she is the one who helped me learn to read, who taught me what was right and what was wrong, who helped me get through college and was there at my graduation to cheer for me. I don’t care if she breastfed me or gave me formula, I care that she was my mom for the many many years that came after that and the ones that are left. No one says “I love my mom because she breastfed me so well”. Never in my life have I heard that, ever.
    But again, these are mostly the same people who value their own experience in birth over the health of their child so I guess they think everyone else is just as selfish.

    • GiddyUpGo123

      What hurts a baby is the stress of trying to nurse from a mother who is in pain and who is horribly stressed because she’s been guilted and bullied into doing something that isn’t the right choice for her.

      When I was trying to breastfeed I would give my baby one bottle a day. It was only during that one bottle that I felt relaxed and snuggly and able to truly enjoy my baby. That should tell you right there which feeding choice would have been the right one for us, if only I’d listened to my heart instead of the people who were bullying and shaming me into making the wrong decision.

      • Young CC Prof

        Indeed. I love bottle-feeding my baby. I love watching him suck at it like eating is the most important thing in the universe, I love watching him push the empty bottle out of his mouth and let his eyes drift shut, sated and happy. I did not enjoy hour-long nursing sessions that were 75% screaming.

  • Zornorph

    I really don’t get all of it, you know. When I set out to become a parent, I looked at my life and my particular circumstances and made some choices based on those. Certainly a one-size-fits-all approach can’t work in parenting. Of the things that I do that show up in the AP list (room sharing, putting baby in a carrier), I’m not specifically ‘proud’ of those any more than I am ‘ashamed’ of the big no-nos (circumcising, formula feeding). I am reasonably proud of the job I am doing as a parent overall, but that’s not made up of different components, it’s an overall thing and it’s really not about the parts. People who see my baby notice that he is well fed, usually smiling and happy and kept neat and groomed (I’m a dude, we’re assumed to have lower standards in that last category).
    To the extent that I ever compare parenting methods with other parents, it’s not so there can be judgement, it’s because I have a specific issue that I’d like advice on – I was asking my neighbor yesterday about what were the most effective ways to baby-proof the house, for example. I suppose an AP would tell me that either I should never let the baby out of my grasp so no baby-proofing was needed or that whatever I do, I must never put him in a playpen or behind a gate. But this wasn’t a person like that and so her and her husband gave me some great tips (they have two boys 4 and 3, so perfect people to get advice from).
    And on that score, why the heck is my baby yanking his socks off today? It’s bloody cold and I’m getting ready to duct-take them around his ankles.

    • Dr Kitty
    • auntbea

      My toddler is going through an adamant no-sock phase right now. I have no idea what the deal is. I just figure that by now she knows whether she is cold or not, and unless I see actual signs of frostnip she can keep them off. (Note: she only gets to be sockless inside. Outside her socks are kept on by her shoes.)

      • GiddyUpGo123

        I used to get looks whenever I showed up to the grocery store in January with my barefoot toddler. I don’t know what people expected. I tried lace-up high tops with double knots and everything else I could think of to keep shoes and socks on that kid. I never went the duct-tape route but I’m pretty sure she’d have defeated that one in less than 30 seconds. To this day (she’s now five) she still runs around barefoot in January. Of course we live in California where it’s currently 70 degrees so it’s not really a huge deal–even on colder days it doesn’t really get cold enough that I’d been too concerned about her being barefoot just in the time it takes us to go from the parking lot to the store.

      • sdsures

        I’ve heard it has something to do with how their brains perceive touch stimulus as they grow, similar to toddlers not liking veggies for a time because they taste bitter – taste buds developing and growing. No references atm I’m afraid, but I will try and chase something down. Thoughts?

        • auntbea

          She is becoming more resistant to clothing in general, and seems to have particular problems with certain kinds of sleeves. So perhaps.

      • Durango

        My youngest wore only flip-flops or rubber boots-no-socks through kindergarten. It was a battle I chose not to fight.

    • Trixie

      Eh, if his feet are cold, he’ll leave them on. I wouldn’t sweat it at all.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Wait until he starts taking his pants off. I don’t get it, but for some reason, the instant my 3 yo comes in the door, he first pulls off his socks and throws them in the washing machine and the takes off his pants and leaves them whereever he is standing.

      At least he leaves his undies on for now.

      • Zornorph

        I think all little boys are nudists at heart. My neighbor’s sons think nothing of stripping at every opportunity.

        • AlisonCummins

          So you think this is a boy thing and not a toddler thing?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Parents with girls will have to weigh in. All I have are two boys, and they both tend to be naked a lot.

          • Box of Salt

            I have known toddler nudists of both genders.

          • Trixie

            I think it has more to do with how much nudity parents are willing to tolerate from either sex, rather than the impulses of small children being different by gender. I think most parents are faster to crack down on girl nudity than boy nudity. Just my observation.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I can’t say what I’d do, but note that my guys only strip to their undies.

          • Mishimoo

            My older girls (5 + 7) like to run around in just shorts at home in summer, because their dad does, but only when there are no visitors.

          • Meerkat

            I agree! I have a 16 month old boy, and he has to have “naked time” every day. He just runs around and squeals happily, and cries really hard when I try to dress him for bed!

          • Dr Kitty

            My daughter went through a phase of stripping off and running around in the altogether in the summer. I don’t care, inside the house.

            When she took it outside into the garden we came up with the “Who wants to see your bottom? Nobody!” Song.

            The Irish winter and being grown up enough for a school uniform seem to have dampened the enthusiasm for nudism.

          • MaineJen

            My toddler girl (about to turn 2) loves nothing better than to pull off her jammies and diaper and run full-tilt away from Mom and Dad. :) She thinks it’s hilarious; I suspect what she’s enjoying is our reactions, the “Hey, come back here, nakey!” and so forth. That, and her jammies are the easiest article of clothing to remove…she also has a problem keeping zippered sweatshirts on, so I suspect it’s more of a hey-look-what-I-can-do thing. Aren’t toddlers fun???

        • Trixie

          I think most toddlers are that way regardless of sex.

          • Zornorph

            Quite probably, but my experience with girls is practically nil.

          • AlisonCummins

            So are you going to assume that all of your child’s behaviours are specifically boy behaviours until proven otherwise? That if he likes/dislikes being carried/ wearing clothes/ breadsticks/ swimming/ naps that it’s because he’s a little boy and not because he’s a child of a certain age or a person with preferences?

      • Amy M

        Oh mine always ask to be “underwear boys” by 6pm, and we live in cold, cold, Polar Vortex New England.

      • auntbea

        If mine loses her pants, her diapers last for about 15 seconds. Nakedness is a slippery slope to rugs with pee on them.

        • Meerkat

          I once let my son air this bum out while I went to the bathroom to pee. It took 2 minutes, and I knew all was well because he was “reading” his favorite book out loud. When I came back, I cried. He managed to make a huge stinky pile and mush it with his feet. I thank doody gods that he didn’t have a chance to smear it on our new sofa and that we have hardwood floors.

          • auntbea

            Okay, you win!

    • Box of Salt

      Socks are over rated.

      • Ainsley Nicholson

        Duct tape is good; Super glue works too.

        • Young CC Prof

          My mother claims that my father once got so tired of me removing footwear that he tied my shoes a bit overly tight, so my feet were blue when he took them off. I’m not entirely sure I believe this story, but they do insist that I fought the good fight against all footwear from about birth to age 4, and went through a full nudist phase in the middle of that.

          • Mishimoo

            It’s seriously hot here at the moment and my 6 month old munchkin is a fan of being nude, so I was going to let him just chill in his nappy. New rule: Pants at all times! He has figured out how to take his nappy off and fling it away.

  • Amy M

    Funny how the lactivist contingent is always saying how the stupid formula feeders are duped by the formula marketing. “It’s not YOUR fault! Formula marketing is EVERYWHERE and it is marketed as NORMAL! OMG!.” (The subtext being that you are too dumb to recognize insidious marketing ploys, and if you were smarter, you wouldn’t have fallen for it and would, of course, be breastfeeding.) There’s a reason why companies pay millions for advertising: because it works, and no one is immune.

    • wookie130

      Where IS all of this formula marketing, exactly? I’ve had my butt parked in front of the tube all day, and I’ve yet to see one infant formula television commercial. I’ve also had my nose plastered in a couple of magazines, and I don’t recall seeing any formula advertisements. So, apparently, it’s not “everywhere.”

      • Amy M

        I know right? I did see it in parent magazines back when my boys were babies and I was reading those, but that’s about it. And I signed up for free coupons, so they routinely sent me mail and email, but I volunteered for that. It is not on tv, that’s for sure.

    • KarenJJ

      No formula advertising in Australia, yet I don’t know that our breastfeeding rates are much higher? Although formula companies seem to be attempting a “work around” by advertising “toddler formula”. Apparently infant formula advertising is banned but once you get to 12 months all bets are off and they can advertise formulated milk.

      • Mishimoo

        Even then, the advertising always starts off by pointing out that (paraphrased) “everyone knows that breastfeeding is best, but when you’re ready to move on or supplement…”. It’s also on the packaging for formula, which could be really stressful for mums that formula feed.

  • http://Www.awaitingjuno.blogspot.com/ Mrs. W

    Slow clap… Although I would argue that indeed there is a market for telling mothers that they have choices and that whatever choice they make is okay provided they have done so from a position of the best interest of themselves and their families with quality information. This blog clearly demonstrates that – as does the Fearless Formula Feeder’s and her book (Bottled Up). Feminism has a market, why wouldn’t mominism? Surely, a lot of mothers and mother interested organizations (ie. Birth Trauma Canada/UK) would back this kind of thing. Surely TED might like a mominist speech..

    • Paloma

      I completely agree. A TED speach on this would be really good. TEDMed would be interested for sure, and would really get the word spread on empowering women to not feel guilty for their choices, even though other mothers may think differently and try to bring them down :)

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        I’d be more than happy to give a speech like that if someone would invite me.

  • auntbea

    And the parachuters complaining incoherently and with oddly mean “humor” that you don’t believe women should have the choice to homebirth or breastfeed will be here in 3…2…1!

  • Mel

    Dear lactivists,

    I am a high-school teacher who has worked with a wide variety of students. This next statement may shock you: I have no flipping idea which teenagers were breast-fed and which were formula-fed. NO IDEA.

    Breast-feeding isn’t a magic elixir. You can breast-feed exclusively/on-demand/ whatever until the kid is old enough to start school and I’ll still have no idea if you did that by the time the kid is 13.

    I can give you a few tips: Don’t abuse your children. Don’t let other people abuse your children. If your kid reports abuse, believe them. Be sure your kids have the basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing, and emotional safety. If you can’t give them one of those four, seek help. There are lots of resources out there for the big four. Because abuse and neglect DO leave scars.

    Love,
    Mel

    • Rochester mama

      I HATE that AP takes normal parenting practices and puts them in the same category as REAL neglect and abuse. Using a swing or crib does not produce the same result as babies left to cry for hours each day of their life in dirty diapers.

      • Aron Hele Forhuden

        It’s not the swing or the crib I would have a problem with, it’s CIO that I have a problem with. CIO is abuse. Babies communicate, they don’t manipulate.

        • Karen in SC

          Your judgement is showing. Sometimes you need to put the baby down in a safe place and walk away for a short interval. That is not abuse.

          And I haven’t read up on the subject but babies are pretty smart and I’m not so sure they can’t manipulate.

          • Antigonos CNM

            My middle child has been a master manipulator since the day she was born. The other two, not so much. And no, I’m not joking.
            In a small child, it is not usually a conscious act at first. But the bigger they are, the more deliberate it is. I don’t know why. Insecurity? But that begs the question of why some children suffer more from insecurity than others, all things being equal. Why are some people optimists and others pessimists?

          • C T
        • Dr Kitty

          Positively reinforcing a child with food, cuddles and a lullaby when it wakes in the night is giving it a good reason to wake.

          Allowing a child to learn to self soothe, responding to a waking child with neutral behaviour and keeping a good bedtime routine may get a child to sleep through the night sooner.

          If YOU personally don’t want to use CIO, that’s fine.
          I think you’re probably making a rod for your own back, but if it’s working for you and everyone is getting enough sleep, go for it.

          Maybe hold off the judgement of other people though. I think you’re missing the point of this post.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            One thing that amazed me when I first became a parent is how we have to teach our children pretty much everything. That includes self soothing.

            Keep in mind, almost no one actually “sleeps through the night.” Pretty much everyone, including kids, wake up a time or two. The key making it through the night is not to never wake up, but to be able to fall back asleep easily. We all need to be able to do that.

          • Trixie

            I don’t feel like I ever had to teach my kids that. They figured it out on their own when they were ready. They’re better sleepers than I ever was or will be. I think it’s luck of the draw, mostly. I do know that when they did wake up, it was because they were actually hungry, and when they stopped being hungry, they slept all night.

          • Meerkat

            My friend didn’t sleep train her son who was a really bad sleeper. He still comes to her bed at night, and he is 8. When she had her second son last year she started sleep training as soon as she could.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          It’s not abuse. It may be something that you don’t want to do with your children, but to call it abuse it is insupportable, and diminishes the evil of real abuse.

        • Meerkat

          No, it’s not an abuse. My son was sleep trained using a CIO method. I was really against it until we both stopped sleeping and I was depressed and loosing my mind. I was a bad mother when I was sleep deprived. I was too tired to talk, play and sing to my son, I felt like a zombie. He was exhausted, too, because in order to fall asleep he needed me. The CIO methods are not about ignoring a baby until he is too exhausted to cry anymore. It is a whole system of creating a schedule, soothing routines, enforcing age appropriate bed time, etc. I started the process when my son was 4.5 months old, and it took several days of low grade whining for him to learn how to fall asleep. His longest whining session was 25 munites, on and off, on the first night. Now he is a toddler. I put him to bed, give him his lovey, and leave the room. He sings himself to sleep with lullabies. He doesn’t ever cry when I put him in his crib anymore. He actually smiles. He is rested and happy, and so am I.

        • auntbea

          My baby frequently gets upset when she can’t have cookies. I have no doubt that she genuinely wants cookies, has developmentally- appropriate trouble with disappointment, and is simply expressing her desires the only way she knows how. Does that mean I should give her cookies? Is that good for her?

          Similarly, must I give my daughter the snuggles or playtime she wants when it is time for sleep, simply because she wants it? Is that good for her?

        • OBPI Mama

          As a person who has grown up all their life with foster siblings and seen the traumatic effects of actual abuse, I have to STRONGLY disagree that CIO is abuse… That actually made me laugh!

        • http://kumquatwriter.wordpress.com/ Kumquatwriter

          Oh good. Please explain (citing sources) that sleep training is abuse.

        • AlisonCummins

          I’m actually with you on this one, assuming you come from the sort of religious background I’m thinking of.
          Does any of this sound familiar?
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/08/little-bundles-of-sin-evangelical-child-rearing.html
          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/04/some-quotes-from-michael-pearl.html

          You’re right, babies cry to communicate. They aren’t sinful or manipulative and they don’t need to be punished for crying.

          However, someone can struggle with teaching an infant to self-soothe and fall back to sleep without thinking of it as a discipline problem. I have known babies who would get hungry, be fed, play a bit, get sleepy, be put down and fall asleep. They knew how to go to sleep on their own. If they woke up in the night they could look around a bit and then doze back off without difficulty.

          I have also known babies who would get hungry, be fed and fall asleep during the meal. They would be put down to sleep, and when they woke up they didn’t know how to doze off again without a bottle or breast. They had never learned it in the ordinary course of events. When it became time to teach it, it was complicated because the babies had no idea that they were being taught something and had no motivation to learn it. Letting a baby cry it out is hard on everyone but can be part of the way some children learn to put themselves to sleep. Ideally it only takes a few miserable days and it’s done.

          Sometimes a child cannot be soothed and to retain some sanity the parent may need to put in earplugs and go into another room. The child is not being bad but neither is the parent is able to help. This kind of very unhappy situation can last for months. It’s not abuse.

          Letting a baby cry can be abusive, you’re right. Punishing a baby for crying or for waking is pretty much always abusive, you’re right. The thing is, when people talk about CIO they can mean a whole range of things.

          It’s like “spanking.” Even if we all agree that nobody ever needs to spank a child and that there’s always a better method of dealing with things, we can still distinguish between a very occasional quick smack for a child who is doing something dangerous and Michael Pearl style child abuse.

          The first might not be perfect, ideal parenting but it’s good enough. The latter … never acceptable in any context. But both are called “spanking.”

          “CIO” can also mean different things. Before getting upset about abuse it’s worth understanding a little more about the context.

        • Siri

          Babies are not a separate species; they are fully fledged human beings. The full spectrum of interpersonal relations is available to them, from simple communication to much more complex interaction, including manipulation. CiO is not abusive when applied to a baby who has the maturity to benefit from it.

        • Carolyn the Red

          Yes, my daughter communicates “I’m tired, but I still want to play” by crying. If she’s clearly tired and getting fussy, and I put her down in a secure, quiet, dark room, she cries for 5-10 minutes unless we time it just right. Once she settles down, she lies down, sometimes snuggles her bear, and falls asleep for the nap or night.

          She also cries bloody murder if I won’t let her walk down the up escalator, eat the cat food or a leaf, run across the parking lot, or grab my mug of hot tea. She’s 14 months old, she has a very limited vocabulary. She’s not manipulating us, but staying up all night and being cranky for the whole next day isn’t an option.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          NO it’s really not if you are just giving them a few minutes to wind down. My daughter(who is 19 and in college now) had 2 speeds, Fast Forward and Off but it took a few minutes maybe 5 or 10 , for her to transition between the two. She was very active and did everything early but she also got very fractious when she was tired and cried even if held/walked etc.

          What she needed was a few quiet, unstimulated moments to let her brain turn off. Give her those minutes and she took a 2 hour nap during the day or slept well almost every night. Try to walk , hold, play with her when she was over tired and she got more and more anxious and upset. (And yes its hard to listen to your baby cry but if they are fed, dry, clean and its just the sorta droning “I’m tired but I am not giving in to it!” cry, it might be better for both parent and baby to let them learn to get to sleep) Babies need sleep. And a baby that won’t go to sleep unless you walk/rock/etc is going to mean a baby that can’t get them self back to sleep when they wake for a few minutes at night..which means exhausted parents sometimes.

          And from just my experience, limited though it may be, letting a tired baby cry for 5 to 10 minutes does NOT hurt them or your relationship with them. My daughter is an independent, happy young woman and we still have a lot of fun together.

          Your mileage may vary, every kid’s different.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Something that helped especially as she went from infant to older baby(6 or 8 months?) was reading her a story, often one of the same three or four books before putting her to bed. We’re going on a Bear Hunt, Good night moon, Pat the Bunny were all favorites. As she got older it was Fox in Sox, Green eggs and ham, A porcupine named Fluffy, Tacky the penguin and Princess Smarty pants. So it was here’s your bear and blanky, lets read a story, nite nite. She really liked the routine. And it helped when we moved(military, moved alot) that her bedtime routine stayed the same.

            Just don’t ever lose Mr Bear! I bought 3 extras when I saw she had gotten attached to that stuffed animal.

    • DaisyGrrl

      Anecdata time! My dad was adopted by his aunt and uncle after his parents weren’t able to care for him (they already had many many children and I think his birth mom had complications during/after delivery). Since he was adopted, he was almost certainly formula fed. His birth mother, being poor, would have almost certainly breastfed his siblings.

      Fast forward 40+ years to a picture taken at a family reunion. My dad stood head and shoulders above all of his blood siblings. He is also not sicker, dumber or less successful than any of the others. Access to better nutrition as a child almost certainly accounts for the height difference since my generation is also taller (with fewer children born to each parent and better nutrition).

      So, anecdotal for sure, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the formula didn’t do my dad any long term harm.