Why I do what I do

empathy word

An email from a reader, reprinted with permission:

I had my first child, a daughter, via C-section in early March. A few weeks later, I came across your website while Googling “does a C-section make me a bad mom” during a tear-filled late-night feeding session.

From adolescence, I had been taught that to have a C-section is to have “failed” as a woman. I had been taught that women should give birth at home, even if their previous birth was a C-section. I had been taught that midwives were the only acceptable providers of care because doctors would only want to schedule women for C-sections so that they could get to their golf game or not stay up late. I had been taught that not breastfeeding your child was tantamount to abuse, and that like having a C-section, formula feeding was done only by lazy moms who couldn’t be bothered. I had been taught that C-sections were almost never medically indicated, and that I should expect to spend my entire pregnancy and labor fighting off a scalpel-happy doctor who wanted to tie me to my bed during labor and delivery. I had been taught that if a C-section was actually medically necessary, it was a terrible tragedy that a mother could only recover from after many years of unhappiness and a HBAC. I had been taught that every mother could breastfeed if she just tried hard enough.

When my OB, who, incidentally, is quite supportive of natural childbirth, told me at my 39 week appointment that my daughter had flipped and was transverse footling breech and that we needed to schedule a C-section, I understood. She wasn’t eligible for an external version, and I knew intellectually that a C-section was the correct decision. We went in for the C-section, my husband was at my side throughout, and my daughter was placed on my chest to nurse within minutes of her birth. It was a beautiful, beautiful birth. The staff and doctor couldn’t have been kinder, my daughter was beautiful, and my husband and I were both thrilled.

Two days later, my daughter had lost over 10% of her body weight. She screamed inconsolably between multiple-hour-long nursing sessions which never left her satisfied; she’d fall into an exhausted sleep for perhaps twenty minutes, then wake up to scream and nurse for hours again. The nurses told me this was normal, the lactation consultants told me over and over again that I just needed to keep offering her the breast (I hadn’t showered in over 72 hours because she was on the breast all the time, but somehow she wasn’t being offered the breast enough?) and that I should pump when she wasn’t nursing to build up my supply. By the third day, our very pro-breastfeeding pediatrician told me to supplement so that she could gain enough weight back to go home. Now, my husband and I live an hour from the hospital. I was told that my choices were to a) supplement with formula and then bring her home when I was discharged or b) get discharged and leave her at the hospital to be fed until she gained enough weight back. Of course I chose to supplement! Insanely, the LC I saw later that day, after my daughter had fallen into her first contented, deep sleep following (shockingly enough) her first real feed, was visibly disappointed that I’d “given up” by feeding my daughter formula after she’d nursed and screamed for hours that afternoon. In my opinion, what nursing relationship we might ever have would be rather better if we were in the same house instead of being separated by an hour’s drive, but that didn’t seem to be the opinion of the LC.

Fast forward a few weeks. I was still supplementing via a tube system (a wretched device if I ever met one), was pumping anytime my daughter hadn’t nursed for an hour, was inhaling fenugreek, blessed thistle, oatmeal, and Mother’s Milk Tea like it was chocolate…and was producing very, very little milk. I was exhausted from never getting more than an hour or two’s sleep and was miserable from the yeast infection I’d gotten in my breasts, around my incision, and in my vagina from the combination of the tube system (impossible to sterilize, and harboring yeast) and showering maybe once every two or three days due to nursing incessantly. My OB very gently told me that I, and no one else, could make the decision on how to feed my baby, and that it was ok to stop nursing when I wanted to stop nursing.

It was at about this time that I started Googling “does a C-section make me a bad mom” over…and over…and over again during those late-night feeding sessions. I was so tired. According to everything I’d ever been told, I was a failure as a mother. I loved my daughter, but I wanted to cry every time she cried because I knew she’d want to eat and it would hurt so badly to feed her. I wanted to cry because I had “failed” to have the right kind of birth, because I couldn’t even feed her properly, because I was so ashamed to have been so stupid as to have a baby when I couldn’t take care of her properly. I loved her so much, and was sure I was failing her so badly. Never mind that we both would have died without the C-section. Never mind that since I wasn’t producing enough milk, I was making formula at 2 AM so that my daughter wouldn’t be hungry. Never mind that I got up with her a half-dozen times a night when she cried, that I walked the floor and sang to her for hours to try to console her and get her to sleep, that I danced with her to my favorite songs during her fussy evenings, or that I took her for strolls around our neighborhood to show her how beautiful the world is in spring. No: I had a C-section and I wasn’t exclusively nursing. Therefore, I must be a failure as a mother.

I found your site, and spent the next week or two’s worth of late-night feeds reading it. Yes, you’re blunt, even harsh in tone sometimes. Having read a lot of your posts and articles, though, I can understand why: you’re passionate about a subject that is worth being passionate about! Also, your “Ode to C-section Mothers,” which was the article I first saw on your website, really helped me readjust my thinking. Having a C-section doesn’t make me a bad mother. Not being able to nurse exclusively doesn’t make me a bad mother. These were very new ideas to me, which is really sad if you think about it.

After countless plugged ducts, a breast abscess and mastitis, I stopped nursing a few weeks ago and feel better about life than I had since my daughter was born. My daughter is thriving, is way ahead of her milestones, is growing like a weed, and has a happy, healthy mother who knows that it doesn’t matter how her baby got here or how her baby’s fed: what matters is that she is here, she is fed developmentally-appropriate food, and she has two parents who love her. She isn’t, despite the claims of the more insane birth activists and lactivists, going to grow up obese, stupid, allergic to every substance known to man, and sociopathic to boot because she came via C-section or was only partly nursed for a few months.

There’s a lot of emotion on both “sides” of parenting, and you address both that and the science behind birth and feeding with a rational tone and scientific facts rather than the usual mishmash that surrounds anything having to do with the medical aspects of parenting. (I actually had someone send me a link to a “study” that “proved” that autism is caused by Pitocin. Riiiight.) With future kids, I’ll discuss with my OB whether I’ll have a RCS or try for a VBAC. I’m not sure at this point which I’ll do. Either way, if I have a healthy baby at the end of it, I’ll be a happy camper. Period. As he very wisely told me towards the end of this pregnancy, “I understand your desire for a natural childbirth, and support it. However, remember to keep it in perspective. It’s much, much better to wish you had a certain type of birth experience than it is to wish that something hadn’t happened to you or the baby.” Smart man. Would you believe that no one had even suggested that to me before? Talk about priorities.

Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication. I’ll keep reading your blog, and I’ve pointed a number of other moms in your direction, too. I’m sorry for this ridiculously long novel of an email, but hope it’ll encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing. You really do make a difference.

189 Responses to “Why I do what I do”

  1. Felicitasz
    September 14, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    TWO. THUMBS. UP. Oh, my, there is just nothing else I can say.

  2. PeggySue
    August 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Well, here’s a story I heard a few months ago that will let you know that your work is not yet done… This happened somewhere in the Western part of the US; Mom with first pregnancy decided around the beginning of her third trimester to go with a homebirth with a homebirth midwife. Don’t know the “credential” but it sure wasn’t CNM. Mom had been troubled with nausea and vomiting during the pregnancy which subsided shortly after the homebirth midwife counseled her on “nutrition.” She said to her family, all those months with the doctor and no one talked to me about nutrition; they just didn’t care. Of course nausea/vomiting NEVER slows down in the third trimester, right? Baby was born over 41 weeks, at home. A small problem ensued wherein the cord “tore away from” the placenta after the birth. Baby was fine (cord was clamped) but Mom was rushed to the hospital for a manual placenta extraction and two units of blood. She survived but was told by the doctors at the hospital that she wouldn’t be fully recovered for 2 – 3 months. And? She’d do it again because the homebirth midwife told her there would have been NO WAY TO SEE THIS COMING. I related the story to a friend who’s an old L and D nurse who said, “LIKE HELL.” She told me that fetal monitoring might have produced abnormal tracings in time to have a C-section and eliminate the hemorrhage… So keep it up!

    • Captain Obvious
      August 3, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

      Speaking of cords, this midwife has a lot to learn, still. She herself avulsed a cord in her training, because she doesn’t know any better. Doesn’t address hypercoiled, hypocoiled, short, or vasa previas. Cord compression DOES occur in labor, not only at delivery as she states. What the hell is a variable decel, but cord compression. I wod like to see Dr Amy trash her years of cord research, haha


      • PeggySue
        August 5, 2014 at 3:06 am #

        Thinking? She was thinking? That article sounded pretty wacky to me.

      • Lynn Ratcliffe
        August 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

        that’s because she is writing midwifery management of NUCAL cords & the ones you mentioned are not relevant for her article

  3. Beth S
    August 1, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    I could’ve written parts of this letter myself. I found this site when I was googling arguments against the anti-vax nonsense that had seemed to infiltrate my seemingly educated family. From there I found a place where I was told that it doesn’t make me less of a woman because I couldn’t breast feed. In fact I was told it’s just as good to feed your child formula as to feed them breast milk.
    I found a place where it was okay for me to have scheduled a C-section because of medical indications for myself.
    This site saved me from feeling as if I was a failure as a mother, it saved me from believing that if you were born a woman you can breast feed, which actually I was just told yesterday, oh and I was also told I should change the seizure medication cocktail I’m on just so I could breast feed never mind it took me years to find that cocktail and I want to be there for my child. I wasn’t made to feel guilty for making vaccinating children my hill to die on after my own father’s death of a VPD (he was contraindicated for vaccination due to a double lung transplant.)

  4. Anna T
    August 1, 2014 at 4:32 am #

    Implying that a C-section and lack of breastfeeding constitute failure at motherhood is an insult to adoptive mothers all over the world.

    • Beth S
      August 1, 2014 at 9:16 am #

      Yeah my eldest daughter would go off if she’d read that. She was adopted at birth because I was fifteen when I had her, and her adoptive parents are her world. I’m her birth mother and we have a relationship, but the relationship with her real parents is so much stronger, and I would have it no other way.

  5. Sue
    August 1, 2014 at 3:44 am #

    Acknowledging Dr Amy’s enormous drive, energy and competence in this area, I am here for much the same reasons – to add support and additional perspectives, but mainly to gain more insight and spread the word about the harms of radical-NCB.

  6. Lisa
    August 1, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    “I was so ashamed to have been so stupid as to have a baby when I couldn’t take care of her properly.” Tears came to my eyes when I read this. It was exactly how I felt during those first — terrible — months, but it was only in reading this that I understood those feelings for what they really were. And with that understanding comes a kind of peace. Thank you, anonymous letter writer, thank you.

  7. Amy
    August 1, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    I made a lot (some would say “too much” milk), but this post really resonated with me. I was made to feel like a failure for my first c-section (though ironically enough not my failed VBAC attempt, maybe because I was going for a VBAC at all?), and horribly shamed for pumping exclusively for the first two months of my daughter’s life because she couldn’t latch. Had I followed the NCB playbook, my first daughter would almost certainly be dead, and there’s a chance I would be too. Can’t get much worse parenting than that.

    • Sue
      August 1, 2014 at 3:45 am #

      Clearly not a Lactivist – one can never have ”too much milk”!

      • Spamamander
        August 2, 2014 at 12:02 am #

        It sure as hell can feel like it when your breasts are about to explode! lol

      • Smoochagator
        August 3, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

        Or too little, right? Because only 1% of women are truly unable to breastfeed… the rest of us are just making it up to get out of doing the hard work of breastfeeding.

  8. Allie
    July 31, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    You sound like a great mom to me. Keep up the good work!

  9. Smoochagator
    July 31, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    “I understand your desire for a natural childbirth, and support it. However, remember to keep it in perspective. It’s much, much better to wish you had a certain type of birth experience than it is to wish that something hadn’t happened to you or the baby.”

    Wow. Yes. That is an excellent way of framing things for moms who are heartbroken about not having the birth experience they’d hoped for – and it is important to validate their feelings – but who know they’d do it all over again in a heartbeat to keep their baby safe.

  10. July 31, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    I really appreciate what you do – you provide much needed perspective and advocacy for informed choice that ultimately protects the health and well-being of women and their babies. Thank-you.

  11. Amy Tuteur, MD
    July 31, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    OT: A podcast of my interview with Feminist Current


    • Lori
      July 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

      Listening! I love Meghan Murphy!

    • Smoochagator
      August 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      I just got a chance to listen to this today and I LOVED it. I really like hearing the voices of writers I follow because then I can read their words and imagine them saying it.

      I was wondering what sources you’d cite for Grantly Dick-Read’s stance as a eugenicist? Is it something that’s obvious in Childbirth Without Fear (which I haven’t read) or have you encountered some other writings by him that aren’t as widely circulated?

    • Smoochagator
      August 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

      Never mind my question about Dick-Read & eugenics. I did some digging on the net and the archives of this blog and found some very interesting sources. Thanks!

  12. CanDoc
    July 31, 2014 at 8:45 pm #


  13. Sue
    July 31, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Thank you so much for this awesome bit of insight. Radical-NCB ideology does HARM. It not only kills babies, it destroys the lives of families. Ironically, sometimes it’s women who care the most about doing the best for their baby are the most vulnerable to this ideology. So destructive.

  14. wookie130
    July 31, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    This post could have been written by me, under virtually identical circumstances…this blog has really provided me with some reality, and some refreshing perspective.

  15. DiomedesV
    July 31, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    I think one of the difficulties for many moms is that pregnancy/childbirth is their first real contact with medicine and the hospital. I’ve found that women who have already had experience with chronic illness (like myself) are better equipped in some ways to manage this. By the time I had my kid I had seen many specialists and had time to grapple with the idea that my body could never be considered perfect. Also, I had learned that I do not have to share my medical history with anyone at all, and that in general the less said the better.

    Remember, if someone asks you why you had an induction, why you had a C-section, etc: you do not have to tell them anything, and you certainly don’t owe them the truth. It’s none of their business. There are all sorts of good reasons for not sharing your private medical history with the people around you, and that includes many of your friends and family.

    As I stated below, if I was ever asked about any aspect of my pregnancy or the fact that I had a C-section, I simply stated that my pregnancy was high risk (true) and that we had decided that X course of action was the best balance between benefit and risk. I also have the “comfort” of knowing that without my C-section, neither of us would have survived.. I regularly tell people how grateful I am that I live in a time and place where I have access to first-rate medical care, and that usually induces people to drop it.

    Most people know that asking for details of other people’s medical history is rude, but for some reason pregnancy and childbirth represent an exception to many people. That is not right. Pleasantly reminding people of that fact is doing a service to yourself and others.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
      July 31, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      “Why did you have a c-section?”
      “Because I could” <- that's my wife

    • Roadstergal
      July 31, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

      “I think one of the difficulties for many moms is that pregnancy/childbirth is their first real contact with medicine and the hospital.”

      It’s an interesting thought. When I was a little girl, my mom would often point out to me the hospital I was born in, and it was always a very pleasing place in my mind. _This is where I came into this world_. I was the youngest of four, and the women in my mom’s family have a history of easy births of multiple babies, so I have no reason to believe my birth was anything but straightforward – but she had me in a hospital anyway just to be sure. And so I always had positive associations with the hospital. Even when my mom later died in that same hospital of aggressive cancer – I knew she died _despite_ the best they could do, and that it was the best place she could have been.

      I’ve had to have some surgeries for various issues – the two most recent were to set and pin/plate broken bones – and I’ve found them to be lovely experiences. I was broken, and they fixed me. I know this is all a bit rambling, but – it’s such an odd thing for me to think of hospitals as bad, evil places. I found this site partly because of people I love having that viewpoint, and me not understanding it. “I want to have my baby at home in a pool of water instead.” But… why??

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        July 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

        I love this perspective! Despite the LCs I described above, I feel very similarly about the hospital where I had my daughter. Her pediatrician and my OB have their offices across the street from it in a building that has a street bridge to the hospital, and when we go for her checkups I always feel happy walking in because this is where I was handed my daughter for the first time; this is where I had so many nice prenatal appointments; this is where those nurses, especially those sweet, sweet OR and recovery nurses, took such good care of us. They handed me my daughter, and I carried her out of there. Two hundred years ago, my husband would have been making funeral arrangements for his wife and daughter; thanks to them, his biggest concern the evening we were discharged was to pick up the right brands of chocolate and formula respectively. 😀

        • Guest
          August 1, 2014 at 5:52 am #

          You lucky lucky person! My first time round, I didn’t even get peanut butter on toast. *sniffle*

        • Amy M
          August 1, 2014 at 7:34 am #

          I had a complicated pregnancy and spent a month living in the hospital on hospital bedrest. Despite that, I agree with this, and believe the staff there had my (and my babies’) best interests at heart. Sure it was scary and boring (in between scary episodes), but it was the safest place and they were doing their best to see that we all came through safely. I was treated with the utmost kindness for my entire stay and again when I went back to actually give birth.

          The next time I went to that hospital, was to the ED for asthma complications. Again, scary and boring at intervals, but I never doubted they would help me. It was way nicer to be on the L&D floor.

      • jenny
        August 1, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

        I always point out the hospital where my daughter was born to her. She loves it. My son was born there too. I had another child who was born in my kitchen and lived 4 days in the NICU of a different hospital. I love that hospital. I love going there, walking the halls, passing by the door of the NICU. That is the place where my daughter lived, where people loved her and cared for her and gave her the best chance at life possible. This is the place where she died too. Like you I feel that it was the best place she could have been, and I only wish she could have been born there too.

    • guest
      July 31, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      So true, many people have no boundaries. They have no qualms about asking a pregnant woman they don’t even know all about her labor and birth plans, then giving their “advice”. And even more disturbing are the ones who feel it’s OK to touch a pregnant woman’s belly without her permission! I think most people mean well in those instances.. it’s the “awww, she’s having a baby” thing, but really! If I don’t know you, I sure don’t want you touching me!!

  16. onerose03
    July 31, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    The childbirth instructor at the hospital I delivered at pushed NCB so hard and was so anti C-section that when I found out I was having a C-section I thought I might not be allowed to stay in the maternity ward afterwards! I assumed it was the hospital’s official stance. And like you my C-section experience was very joyful. I found this place afterwards when I was trying to reconcile what the birth instructor said and dealing with comments from nosy moms. I am so glad you were able to find some reassurance so you can enjoy your baby!

    • guest
      August 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

      It may be worth it to speak to hospital administration about this. They may not be aware the childbirth educator is taking such a radical stance. There was a similar issue at a hospital I worked. The “educator” was a doula who was giving blatantly erroneous information including telling parents the “only way” they could receive pain medicine during labor was by a “shot in the butt”! After three patient complaints, she was gone!

  17. Sara
    July 31, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    This sounds about right, to me. Most of my latest cousins have been birthed either at home, in water, or both. So whenever I was telling family members I was going to be induced for medical reasons, and then they heard that my labor was “long,” I started getting panicked emails saying “don’t let them cut you! that baby knows when she needs to come!” Thankfully, for me, I didn’t see these emails until 3 days postpartum. If I had gotten a Csection, the ongoing unnecessary concern from family members would have been outright obnoxious and probably truly depressing, I’m sure.

    I’m still receiving condolences for my long labor. Ugh.

    I have a lot of empathy for moms who have to field all of the emotional static surrounding birth/feeding while also trying to care for themselves and a newborn postpartum.

    • Stacy48918
      July 31, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

      My sister-in-law is currently 40+1 and “anti-intervention”…she’s seeing a CNM, thankfully at a major university hospital so I’m not as worried as I would be if she was out of hospital, but still…it’s the lingering guilt I know she will feel if she asks for an epidural or needs a C-section that really makes me sad. She’s about to have her first baby. This should be a wonderfully joyous time. And instead she’s worried about being a “failure” if she wants pain relief. 🙁

      • Sara
        July 31, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

        It gets really complicated when someone is making labor announcements on social media during the labor, then the story has to be scrubbed afterward to fit some ideal or socially acceptable reason for whatever the outcome. I watched this happen recently.

        People are definitely setting themselves and their loved ones up for this horrible, totally unnecessary birth guilt.

        • Stacy48918
          July 31, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

          I’m going to send her an email tonight…up beat and “this starts your parenting life, which is what matters most, not this ONE day”.

          I’ve had 2 unmedicated vaginal births, one at home. Watching my son put his face underwater for the first time ever at his swim class today I couldn’t care less how he was born (this was a BIG deal for him!). He’s my son and I love him and it’s the rest of life that matters. Hard to see when you’re about to pop with your first baby…and I didn’t see it then either…but I feel like I need to send her some kind of encouragement.

          I was deep in the woo when I had my son and thankfully I had the perfect woo NCB birth/BFing experience…but if I hadn’t? There wouldn’t have been anyone I could talk to about it. It would have been really hard for me. Even if she doesn’t see the need for it now, if there’s a dark day after
          the birth or if breastfeeding doesn’t work out I’d like there to be
          someone that has told her it’s OK…you’re still a great mom. 🙂

          • Smoochagator
            August 3, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

            I had a great natural birth experience with both of my kids (in spite of the home-to-hospital transfer with my son) but I “failed” at breastfeeding. It’s a joke now, I tell people that my breasts are purely ornamental, but I really felt that I had done something wrong and if I’d only been more dedicated and tried harder I could have breastfed. I’m lucky that I was not completely surrounded by crunchy mamas, but I did feel more “apologetic” around those who were committed breastfeeders.

            So yes, you will be invaluable to your friend if/when she needs reassurance that she doesn’t have to give birth or feed her child “the right way” to be a wonderful mom.

          • D/
            August 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

            Had this very thing recently with a mom. Anyone listening would have picked up on how *ridiculously* hard she had worked trying to breastfeed her 3 year old and how *torturously* long her futile efforts had gone on. Every sentence had a “I know what I did wrong last time”, a “this time I’m going to be a better mom”, or “I know to work harder”.

            Absolutely heartbreaking to the point I stopped her, literally in the middle of a sentence. I *never* do that, but she’d been tortured for 3 years, and I wasn’t going to have her go another second without hearing that she was already an *great* mom, did nothing wrong, and couldn’t have worked harder even if she had wanted to! Told her the only thing she was absolutely going to do this time was make sure she enjoyed her baby! To which she lunged at me and kept me in a full minute, sobbing bear hug.

            If having the moms I work with feel that bad about themselves was the best I could do, I’d quit tomorrow! Oh, and I’m whatever the complete opposite of touchy-feely is, but I hugged her every day that I saw her.

          • Smoochagator
            August 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

            I am so glad that you were there to encourage her! Sometimes we just need a little bit of affirmation from another person to realize that yes, we really did do our best and that’s more than enough.

          • D/
            August 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

            Me too! I actually got to see (hug) her again when she came back the next week for the baby’s hearing screen … Smiling and beaming, talking about how great the baby was doing and how great she was feeling. Didn’t even realize until she left that we never once talked about how the breastfeeding turned out.

            Some days I’m such a rotten lactation consultant …

          • FormerPhysicist
            August 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

            That’s wonderful.

          • D/
            August 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

            Totally OT
            Your screen name made me remember a great lesson one of my very favorite professors shared with me.

            “You can be the greatest physicist the world has known, be the best teacher, have the most attentive, dedicated chimpanzee sitting in the front row all semester, and you are still never going to teach him physics.”

            … in response to me getting frustrated with my performance as a lab assistant 🙂

          • KarenJJ
            August 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

            My absolute favourite nurse in hospital was the one who said “you are doing everything right, it takes two to learn to breastfeed and these things can take time” – it was exactly the jolt of confidence I needed to keep trying – that said there was also a lot wrong with the lactation education at the hospital I went to – so the highlight was someone finally telling me I was doing OK even though it wasn’t working too well.

          • August 4, 2014 at 12:15 am #

            I always tell women that, while a baby has a sucking reflex* from birth, he will suck on ANYTHING and often initially cannot recognize a human nipple as being the thing he ought to be sucking, and that it can take up to two weeks for him [not mother] to learn how to breastfeed properly.
            *I also tell them that a “reflex” is, by definition, not something requiring conscious thought, which a newborn, by definition, is not capable of anyway. Babies are not born “Knowing” how to efficiently breastfeed.

            My feelings about both doulas and lactation consultants, over the years, have become increasingly less positive — largely because of the bumf they too often dispense instead of real knowledge and support.

          • Trixie
            August 4, 2014 at 7:03 am #

            A nursery nurse I hadn’t met before appeared in my room with my daughter on our second night to tell me that my baby had a “discoordinated suck.” The kid had been nursing and filling diapers like a champ all day, so I asked her how she had come to that conclusion without watching her nurse. She said, “I stuck my finger in her mouth and she pushed it back out.” I proceeded to show her how well the baby was nursing and pointed out that maybe she just didn’t want something that wasn’t a nipple in her mouth?
            Anyway, she was 5 oz over birthweight by the end of the first week, and never would take a bottle or a pacifier.

          • D/
            August 4, 2014 at 9:36 am #

            Good for you! Can’t (or at least shouldn’t) fix what’s not broken!

            I seldom, if ever, put my finger in a baby’s mouth … and certainly never before watching a feeding. If a kid’s nursing well why would I want her to have her learn to suck a finger? … It’s not like I see that many 1 1/2″ nipples with bones in them, you know?

          • Trixie
            August 4, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

            If I had been a first time mom and wasn’t more confident, she could’ve really freaked me out. I hope she doesn’t do that anymore.

          • D/
            August 4, 2014 at 9:14 am #

            Love it! In fact, some of the little buggers actually seemed convinced that those little fingers, lips, and tongue they’ve been practicing on *forever* are actually better than the nipple even after they have recognized it. And I always remind the moms with preemies that it’s probably not two weeks after delivery, but oftentimes closer to term.

            Those first two weeks are the key if a mom is breastfeeding … work on feeding baby, protect the milk supply, then decide what you want to do for the long-term after those first weeks have passed.

          • D/
            August 4, 2014 at 9:26 am #

            Oh, and I *really* hate that your opinion of lactation consultants is less than positive, although I do understand.

            I think that’s probably what kept me in the corner at this party (been here for a long time) just smiling and nodding (with up-votes) but lips tightly pursed … In the real world there would probably have been some whispering, “You think maybe she’s mute or something?” 😉

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 4, 2014 at 10:42 am #

            Oh, and I *really* hate that your opinion of lactation consultants is less than positive, although I do understand.

            LC’s are right on the edge of Bofa’s Law, I think (“if your defense of a profession is “not all of them are bad” then that profession has a problem”). Maybe it’s because I’m influenced by our local LC, who is really good, but my impression of LCs is that it is more “yeah, there are some really bad ones, but for the most part, they do a great job”

            But I think that there are more of those “really bad ones” than in a lot of professions, and I can understand the pessimism.

          • D/
            August 4, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

            No sir/ma’am (sorry, really don’t have anyone straight over here), I believe you are wrong on your assessment of the LC profession. We are, in fact, actually over that cliff’s edge, hanging on a tree root, and evidently planning to just let go.

            I am only just realizing this though as I’ve been living my lactation life in the hospital setting isolated in a pocket of those “good ones, happily assuming that my reality was the norm.

            My light bulb moment came after I recently recommended a pediatric PT/OT/ST evaluation for a baby with some terrible sucking issues. Not in any way my specialty, so I started looking around, saw EVERYONE “talking” about “CST/ bodywork” and THIS video was the first thing I ran into: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH1U-Kbz6IY

            4:30- 4:55 almost made me swallow my tongue! WTH!

            Followed the breadcrumbs back and ended up meeting a “Dr Upledger”. OMG! Anyone, I mean anyone, who does not recognize the problem with ANYTHING based on that crock-of-crap meister’s “teachings” is full of just that! SO glad I didn’t just suggest (or agree with someone asking about) finding a CST therapist.

            I’m seeing that out of the hospital setting, professional lactation services are really becoming some kind of multi-level marketing arrangement. “Take these twelve $800 course and increase your skills / referrals”, “Now take this $1000 dollar course to train other low-level practitioners and have the expertise to then help everyone understand why it’s so important.”

            Don’t have a remote clue what to do about it. For now I’m including intentional assessment of woo-exposure and just trying to counteract it, if I can, one family, nurse, friend … at a time.

          • An Actual Attorney
            August 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

            My favorite CST bs: https://www.craniosacraltherapy.org/Babies.htm

            Key quotes:

            “The therapist must find out the story of the birth but without the infant present. Otherwise it can be retraumatizing to the infant.”

            “The infant just went through a very intense experience and wants to tell the story. Someone needs to listen and the infant needs to know it’s being heard for healing to occur.”

            “The infant just went through a very intense experience and wants to tell the story. Someone needs to listen and the infant needs to know it’s being heard for healing to occur.”

            I found this website because I was looking up CST after my son was born. I didn’t know what it was. My boss gave me a baby present of three hours of gift certificates to a local massage place. He had been informed that it was a gift most new mother would appreciate. They offered CST, in addition to the regular things like Swedish and deep tissue. I showed him the website (to giggle over) and he informed me that if I made a reservation for CST, he would steal the gift certificates back. We then spent years giggling over who was going to apologize for our birth trauma.

          • D/
            August 4, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

            Personally I’m confused why you would need to quiz the poor little fellow with “Do you know what I do?” especially if you know you’re going to need to explain it to him. Although I do understand that making sure the parents are prepared for the fact that the babies incapable of responding adequately have suffered shock (and, I assume, are likely to need extended therapy to address that).

            The “interesting” history of CST is on that site too. What I can’t understand though is how/ why so many seemingly reasonable people are falling for this kind of mess.Right now I’m off “enjoying” the world of shamans: http://www.bodyspiritawareness.com/shamanism101.html

            Out of curiosity looked to see if one was close to me, and found a completely normal looking fellow with a beautiful website who can evidently discover and awaken (with rattles, bells and drums) any negative energy entities that may be attached to my muscles (or bones), remove them and even visit the spirit world to retrieve any part of my soul lost through trauma. Oh, and he can even remove curses and hexes too. All for only $100.00 per visit!

            Asked my daughter to look it over and her only comment was, “Boy, that “Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express are accepted at the time of your appointment” really stands out since he put it in red!

          • D/
            August 4, 2014 at 8:58 am #

            Always better to start with the “everything” you’re doing right” part of an assessment. Sure don’t want to do something crazy and mess that up … then what?

            So glad someone gave you that piece of confidence when you needed. Sorry it couldn’t have come as the very first words from the LC, because it should have!

    • Guesteleh
      August 1, 2014 at 9:42 am #

      I know you’re related to these folks but seriously, emailing a woman anti CS warnings MID-LABOR is the most assholish thing I can imagine.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
        August 1, 2014 at 11:04 am #

        There was a reason why we kept the details of what was going on with our pregnancy as close to the vest as possible. People were told about things on a need-to-know basis only, with that understanding.

        We weren’t all that interested in random contributions, even from friends or relations.

        • Sara
          August 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

          People used to keep all kinds of details close to the vest, and that’s no longer the case in general. The culture is so intrusive these days.

          Ultimately, women should be able to share their pregnancy concerns with whomever they choose. There are legit reasons for this, too, like when a condition is hereditary and family health history is meaningful. It would be nice if there wasn’t an insane backlash of other people’s opinion and preferences in response, though. The thing that’s most obnoxious is when the people who have had the information or experience shared with them, go on public social media to spout off about it.

          I’m still smoldering in anger over the fact that someone I invited to be present at my birth was updating details of my cervical dilation and intervention choices live for all the world to see via the smartphone. This was all done without my knowledge or permission. I don’t use a smartphone and constant connectedness is not something I factored in. Similar to the situation I mentioned below where another friend’s family members were doing that, and the birth story was edited later after the mom had a chance to review.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

            I agree with you. We SHOULD be able to share various information, but in practice, it doesn’t work that well, as you show.

            The solution is either for people not to be idiots, or to take control yourself and shut them out.

            Unfortunately, I don’t expect people to not be idiots.

          • Sara
            August 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

            Trial and error. I think I’ve learned my lesson.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

            The idea that people are sharing around details of your ongoing labor makes about as much sense to me as them telling everyone about your menstrual cycle.

            Someone’s Facebook status…
            “Sara just borrowed a tampon from me because her period came early and caught her unprepared…”

          • D/
            August 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

            I think there’s actually an emoticon for that, isn’t there?

  18. Are you nuts
    July 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    I can so relate. I’m expecting my first and have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Cue the guilt even though I don’t have any “risk factors” for GD, except for being older than 25. Did I have too much cereal? Too many bananas? Too many snickers bars? Then, I wasn’t able to manage with diet and exercise so I’m now on insulin. Cue more guilt. If only I had tried harder.
    And now I’m being told that I’ll be induced between 38 and 39 weeks to avoid a giant baby, and apparently the placenta deteriorates faster in women with GD. I know that early inductions increase the risk of c-sections and I have spent an embarrassing number of hours agonizing/crying/losing sleep over this fact. Then I step back and try to figure out why I’m so upset at the possibility of a c-section. Is it the surgery itself? No, honestly the thought of surgery horrifies me less than the thought of a long labor and possibility of tearing, etc. Is it the recovery? Not really, I have plenty of help from hubby and mom, and even a nanny who can start early if need be. Do I think my child will be any less healthy after a c-section than after a vaginal birth? No I really don’t.
    What it comes down to, I think, is I’m really dreading having to answer question from nosy people, even well-meaning nosy people about why I was induced, why I had to have a c-section if I do, etc. I don’t know why I care but I do. So thank you, Dr. Amy, and friends who post here, for giving this crazy pregnant lady a dose of reality. Much appreciated!!!

    • Young CC Prof
      July 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      Actually, medically necessary inductions may DECREASE your chances of c-section. Induced labor is more likely to end in c-section than spontaneous, but, since you can’t choose to go into spontaneous labor, induction turns out to be better than “wait and see.”

      • Are you nuts
        July 31, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

        Right, for me personally the odds of c-section are better if I’m induced early rather than having a 10 pound baby at 40 weeks. But compared to a “normal” mom, they’re higher.

        • Sara
          July 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

          Yep, this is how my midwife and I discussed the risks in my situation. I could go for the induction, or face the possibility of a crash c-section andor all kinds of other interventions. So I was induced, and it turned out well just so you know. My labor was “long” because I was induced, but not dreadful since I was prepared for that. Ultimately, when you make the decision that it’s the safer choice, then the induction does kind of give you MORE control over your labor, not less. I really enjoyed being able to get a full night’s sleep and plan ahead of time, which made a huge difference in postpartum sleep deprivation, compared to my first spontaneous birth.

    • DiomedesV
      July 31, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      I understand your apprehension. Just a few years from now this will all seem very unimportant, just inconvenient. My kid is 2 and I rarely discuss her birth with anyone, and then I usually find that I’m the one who brought it up.

      If you’re really concerned about people’s questions, I would suggest telling them that your pregnancy was high-risk, and that you weighed the risks and benefits with your doctor and decided on X. I discovered that when I did that people usually didn’t ask me what “high risk” meant. Which is good, because it was a private matter and I didn’t want to discuss it. There will always be nosy people, but then you can say something to the effect of “I’m just glad we both made it here healthy and happy.” Most people will be too polite to press you.

      • Sue
        August 1, 2014 at 3:48 am #

        Good perspective Diomedes. The challenge of toddlerhood certainly puts birth in the background, then there’s school, teenagehood….

    • mtbakergirl
      July 31, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      I think its also very human to be upset about losing control of your body to a potential health issue or risk factor. Pregnancy puts so much stress on the body that it is often the first time that a woman develops health issues.There is a not insignificant mental stress that comes with the realization that things can go wrong with our body that are out of our control. Couple this with major life and role changes and a major hormone stew it is no wonder it is hard to wrap your head around it. Be kind to yourself and start thinking of snappy retorts for any busybodies so you don’t get ambushed! As an option: “thanks so much for your opinion on my induction, tell me, when did you graduate from medical school?” 🙂

    • Alexicographer
      July 31, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

      It can be hard to avoid sharing details in a small community, I know, but even that you were induced or had a c-section delivery (if you do) is actually private information, right? I’m not saying I think you can keep such details completely under wraps but you certainly shouldn’t feel proactively obligated to share them. As a c-section mom myself, my (admittedly possibly inaccurate) recollection is that it wasn’t THAT difficult to focus on my joys at the birth of my son and the various pros and cons of his early days, and to steer clear of any detailed discussion of his delivery. Frankly in my case that process was grueling quite independent of its progression to a c-section and it was much more fun to talk about him than it. I’d advocate (if necessary) inane repetition a-la Miss Manners of whatever you want to talk about concerning the early days of motherhood (when those are the days you’re in, update as needed) over discussion of the delivery, if the latter is not what you want to discuss.

      And my experience has been that as long as you’re at peace with how your new baby arrives, it very rapidly becomes a footnote, nothing more.

      I hope your induction will progress smoothly and that motherhood will bring with it vast joy.

    • desiree
      July 31, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

      I love when my mom friends ask about my birth and I can tell them what amazing, life-changing, joyful and wonderful c-sections I had. Some of the really pro-natural birth (homebirthers, militant VBAC-ers) don’t even know how to respond. They just kind of smile and then say something about their natural births. But some of them are really surprised because they haven’t even heard other women speak positively about their c-sections. Now at our local La Leche meetings, whenever an expectant mom is expecting or worried about a c-section, they enthusiastically tell her about my experiences and to not worry.

      So if anyone asks you about a section in the event that you have one, just tell them the truth–it was earth-shattering, life-changing, and whatever else it will be for you. There are a lot of women who need to hear that positivity!

      • NoLongerCrunching
        August 1, 2014 at 6:15 am #

        Absolutely. Speak truth to power, as the Quakers say. They think they have the power because our culture tells them natural is better, but you can educate them that the culture is not right about everything. If they hear a bunch of moms like you tell a similar story, it may sink in, or at least plant a seed. Isn’t that what Dr. Amy is doing too?

      • Guesteleh
        August 1, 2014 at 9:47 am #

        Love love love this. Perfect response. Not defensive but still shuts them up.

      • Smoochagator
        August 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

        “Now at our local La Leche meetings, whenever an expectant mom is expecting or worried about a c-section, they enthusiastically tell her about my experiences and to not worry.”

        Yay! Glad to hear that your story is being used to encourage other women.

    • Thankfulmom
      August 1, 2014 at 1:08 am #

      You can tell them the risk of still birth after 38 weeks is increased for diabetic moms and you didn’t want to take any chances with your baby’s life.

      I remember trying so hard not to go on insulin during my pregnancy. Turned out, it was a relief to be able to eat some carbs without getting excessively high numbers.

    • FellowGDMom
      August 1, 2014 at 10:44 am #

      So much empathy. I had severe GD with my boy (now 2). Managed aggressively with insulin and diet and exercise. Coming to terms with having GD was We weren’t worried about his size, really, I was fortunate to avoid overgrowth, but my doctors were concerned about placental deterioration and other factors, so I was induced at 39 weeks. Induction terrified me way more than either unmedicated childbirth or c-section, for some reason that I can’t quite explain yet. Part of it was the fact that, at the time, I had bought into quite a bit of the NCB stuff. Not enough to refuse the induction or anything like that, but enough to be scared of “interventions.”

      Anyhow, it did end up in a long labor followed by c-section for me (it may not go like this for you, obviously). The labor was hard and tiring, finding out I needed the c-section was scary, but the experience as a whole was beautiful. It was amazing. My boy was healthy and beautiful. Throughout the labor and the surgery, my doctors and nurses were so empowering – in the truest sense of the word – and wonderful.

      Later on, I started to feel a lot of regret about it, in a way, due to friends having NCB, etc., and some doubts about the way things had gone. This site helped me so much in getting perspective and coming to grips with that, in trusting the way that I felt at the time. My baby’s birth was as beautiful as any other. Nay-sayers can’t take away the fact that you are being brave for the sake of your baby’s health. I wish you all the best for your pregnancy and delivery.

    • MJ
      August 3, 2014 at 4:50 am #

      I had GD with my first and was induced at 40+ weeks.
      I was also induced for other reasons with my second and third children – one at 40 weeks on the nose and one at 37 weeks.
      No c-sections and two of the births were unmedicated (and one involved a lovely epidural!).
      I’m commenting only to let you know that an induction ‘birth experience’ can be as variable and individual as any other kind. And like some other commenters said, as time wears on the way your children were born becomes more and more irrelevant (mine are 10, 7, and 2) now.
      Very best wishes to you – just do the best you know how to each day and one day soon you will be holding your beautiful baby in your arms.

  19. MichelleJo
    July 31, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    Although the letter writer keeps repeating that she was taught all the NCB junk, I’ll bet any teenage girl ‘knows’ the same. Natural birth good, C-section bad. Painful good, painkillers bad. Breastfeeding good, formula feeding bad. And so on. I can say it about myself as well, that although I wasn’t consciously aware that these were my positions, when I entered the child bearing stage of life, I realized that they most definitely were. It’s only when things started to go pear shaped for me that I started to question my ‘knowledge’. And since then I have gone all the way, and seen how everything the NCB crowd claim is total nonsense. Yet I am the ‘extreme’ one in the family. I keep my mouth firmly closed most of the time, yet I have from time to time tried to make someone feel better when not everything went according to their dreams, and I once told someone to try a little formula in order for her and her baby get a little sleep. And this makes be ‘biased’, ‘extreme’, ‘opinionated’. My younger sister, who has yet to have her first child, said to me recently, ‘If I want to nurse my baby, then I will!’. To which I responded that she could do whatever she wanted, and didn’t have to make an issue of it. But she claimed that to me she did, because I was ‘against nursing’. I didn’t bother arguing, but I did say that she would do herself good by changing that statement to ‘If I want to nurse, I will try.’ Who knows, maybe she’ll remember that one day and allow herself a little peek under their blanket statements, and reveal them for what they are. But why, why, why, is this attitude so pervasive? What do the NCB crowd have that not only most people believe them, but get so passionate, even so righteous about it? That if anyone shows the slightest dissent, they are dangerous, and are to be shunned and avoided. WHY??

    • mtbakergirl
      July 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

      When I read this I thought the same thing! I love reading here and it has been a huge education for me. However, it has made some aspects of my life harder living in a really crunchy province where even the government and obstetrics providers toe the line on NCB.
      Even at work I have to work hard to remain calm when my boss randomly comments that C-sections are bad for babies and that a lack of access to an epidural isn’t a big issue, even if it is because nurses are lying to patients and delaying it until it is “too late”!!!!
      It boggles my mind because these women (and some men) are so evidence-based in all other aspects of their health care choices, but for some reason the NCB dogma is so entrenched they can’t even see the disconnect between their stances on immunization (prevention of disease is good, public health officials use good evidence to make decisions, public health physicians and nurses can/should be trusted) and their opposing stances when it comes to childbirth (we do too many C-sections aka prevention of brain damage or death is less important than a vaginal birth, all obstetrical practices are just based on doctor convenience (aka the college is just making things up), we can’t trust ob docs and nurses because they are just hurrying labour so they can get out of these/ make more money). And to challenge any of their beliefs is tantamount to saying that everyone should get a C-section, and that you hate breastfeeding. It is really a puzzling blind spot, and I’m not sure what my response should be some times, and I am so glad for this community some days when it seems like the world has gone mad.

      • Young CC Prof
        July 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

        I hear that. I was at mommy/baby today, and met a new lady. She was so proud of how she fought off induction until 42 weeks, and delivered a nine-pounder with no pain medication.

        With meconium aspiration.


        • DiomedesV
          July 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

          No, no, you want to hear that stuff! You want to know whom you don’t need to bother getting to know better. Seriously.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
          July 31, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

          Good time to leave the group, making sure that the leader or organizer knows why. You want to be part of a fun group, and have no time to put up with nonsense like that.

          • Young CC Prof
            July 31, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

            Thing is, this woman doesn’t seem to be a kook overall. This kind of thinking is getting so freaking mainstream! Also, I’m not entirely sure she’s made the connection between mec and delaying induction too long.

          • mtbakergirl
            August 1, 2014 at 12:24 am #

            Yes! That is the thing. For some reason critical thinking is not applied to this one area, but it is everywhere else.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 1, 2014 at 8:05 am #

            OK, but somehow, you can’t let it go unaddressed in some way.

            Unless you speak up, she is going to continue thinking that way. And others are going to think so, too.

          • yugaya
            August 1, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

            If you were to speak up and address all that is wrong with that statement in most of the prominent online childbirth communities you would soon be deleted, banned and kicked out for not being supportive enough of other people’s birth choices.

            That’s why it’s becoming the mainstream attitude in real life too, which is kinda horrifying thing to witness.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 1, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

            If you were to speak up and address all that is wrong with that
            statement in most of the prominent online childbirth communities you
            would soon be deleted, banned and kicked out for not being supportive
            enough of other people’s birth choices.

            Very likely.


            when that happens, there will be others who will see that happen, and question it. “YCCP is a great person, how could you kick her out?” “Because she wasn’t supportive enough.” “Yeah, but what she said was right”

            We see it happening here all the time. Look at how people view groups where lots of comments and commentors are deleted? Even people within the group start realizing that this is unfair.

            Sure, YCCP would be kicked out of the group. But others would also be upset about that, because they a) like YCCP, and b) don’t want to hear that other crap, too, but are too polite to speak up.

          • yugaya
            August 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

            Every time someone speaks up counts. The outrage that followed the death of Gavin Michael and so many people speaking up about it is the only thing that has prevented these “expert in normal childbirth” idiots from continuing to crowdsource life and death emergencies and killing more babies. It’s a slow process and it will be years if not decades before there is a definite shift in public perception.

            In the meantime, I am always thinking of that one expectant mom who comes here to read, or to laugh at us being so unbelievably “uneducated”, or just wants to check how mean that evil dr. Amy really is, and then after reading comments and the other side sinks in she drops her lay CPM midwife and opts for a qualified medical provider and delivers her baby far, far more safely.

      • Guesteleh
        August 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

        nurses are lying to patients and delaying it until it is “too late”!!!!

        So they regularly torture women. That’s horrifying.

        • yugaya
          August 1, 2014 at 11:12 am #

          The feminist breeder does that to her doula clients. And they love it!!!!

    • guesting
      July 31, 2014 at 3:49 pm #

      Because parenting is a marker of status. And humans are status seeking. If you have the time and money to do AP, hire a servant (I mean, doula), be cheerleading and ego-fed with a midwife, celebrate your healthy body, nurse on demand…then you’re probably not a low social class peon.

      At least, that’s part of the conclusion I’ve come to. Ego makes things very important. I know it’s how the NCB myths hooked me, if I’m honest with myself. I said I didn’t want a medal, but I did want attention and affirmation that I did the “right” things.

      • Sara
        July 31, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

        Hm, but then the NCB crowd (Business of Being Born) says c-sections and formula are for rich/selfish ladies who don’t want to bother with vaginal birth– too posh to push, etc– or breastfeeding. So if you’re good at NCB you can choose to either be humble natural mothering martyr OR high-class super-informed natural mothering extraordinaire… depending on your political persuasion, I suppose.

        And then there are those other women.

        • Kate
          July 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

          Maybe slightly OT…but I finally watched this movie today (I’m also 36 weeks pregnant)…did they seriously say that I’m naive for not caring how I give birth and that I will love my baby less if I have an epidural/induction/C-section?

          • Sara
            July 31, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

            Yes, that is their contention. One of the most offensive, too.

          • Stacy48918
            July 31, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

            Yes, in that way they manage to guilt people after the fact who were otherwise completely content with their birth experience. Perhaps for your first child you didn’t really care the specifics of the birth, just that you had a baby. But then you see BoBB and realize that you were just a gullible noob and the doctors and nurses totally birth raped you…now you’re guilty about your first birth AND planning a healing second birth. Nuts.

          • Young CC Prof
            July 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

            Exactly. That’s one of the worst things NCB does in my mind: Retroactive birth trauma.

          • Beenthere
            August 1, 2014 at 10:55 am #

            You are not even kidding.

          • Sara
            July 31, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

            And you’re made to wonder how much more you would love your child if you had birthed at home with candles and incense.

          • yugaya
            August 1, 2014 at 11:04 am #

            And now you are a paying client of a lay midwife, a doula, a childbirth educator, aVBAC Facts quack, a lactation consultant, a friendly essential oils dealer, a birth trauma distance healer, a blogging feminist/breeding advocate, a vaccine “aware” chiropractor, a celebrity who has written a book on totally awesome childbearing and child-rearing…and all it took was watching one pseudo-documentary. I’ll admit it, BOBB is perfect marketing.

      • Guesteleh
        August 1, 2014 at 9:50 am #

        Ding ding ding. You got it. It’s a class signifier. And good on you for being self aware enough to understand your motivations. That kind of self examination is hard to do.

    • Junebug
      July 31, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      Until I was 22 I was adamant that I would have c sections if I had kids. Then I met my ex boyfriend’s mom, who made having 2 sections sound like a fate worse than death. Somehow that crazy bitch planted this seed in my head and without joining any birth boards, parenting groups, or anything else when I was 28 I decided on a homebirth to avoid an unnecessary section.

      Funny how one conversation can pretty much set for a cascade that ruins your life 6 years later.

      • Smoochagator
        August 3, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

        I was first exposed to home birth yeeeeeeeears ago by a woman who went to my church. I asked why she gave birth at home, and she was like, “Oh, it’s nice to have all your things around, and as many friends and family members as you like, and you can eat whatever you want and play your own music,” and I was sold. Add to that episodes of “A Baby Story” from… Lifetime? TLC? Can’t remember… but I do remember distinctly that moms who chose to forego pain relief were much more emotional when the baby was born… BECAUSE IT HURT. But the calm epidural moms just seemed so blasé that I decided as a college student with no immediate plans to procreate that I wanted to have an unmedicated home birth.

        Then a friend laughed at me and said there was no way I’d be able to have a natural birth because I popped Ibuprofen like candy when I had menstrual cramps. And it felt like she’d thrown down a gauntlet. I had something to PROVE.

        In the future I also read some horrifying posts online about “birth rape” and talked to more crunchy moms, which served as confirmation bias. But yes, just one conversation can change the course of your life forever.

  20. guest
    July 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    I’d like to put my word in for Dr. Amy right here. For me, it didn’t start with anything around birth. It started when I realized that HPV caused cervical cancer, which had killed someone dear to me. (I’m old enough that I grew up in a world that didn’t know about the HPV-cancer connection) A few years ago, I read that circumcised men are far less likely to harbor HPV (true all over the world, including here) and then watched the community I’d grown up admiring – midwives and natural family living types – collectively stick their fingers in their ears while shouting “No, no, no, no, no!” Some bizarre things happened involving Mothering’s defense of Christine Maggiore’s position on AIDS, in which they used an animal pathologist and an historian to render medical opinions. The anti-vaccine movement was exploding. And somwhere in there, Dr. Amy was commenting on some fairly ridiculous Babble essays by people like Jennifer Margulies and Denise Schipani. And I realized – despite what I’d grown up believing – scientific evidence is scientific evidence. Studying and quoting science may not make you popular, and it may not make you friends. But I’d rather be unpopular than dishonest.

    • Sue
      July 31, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Me too, ”guest”. It was whining about Dr Amy from an anti-vax organisation that brought me here…and I have never left!

    • Sara
      July 31, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

      “Studying and quoting science may not make you popular, and it may not
      make you friends. But I’d rather be unpopular than dishonest.”

      I love this. I am definitely losing friends lately because I so annoyingly demand evidence, or counter with evidence, whenever they post deceitful memes all over the web.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
        July 31, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

        My SIL has stopped sending me all those moronic emails, after I kept responding with a link to snopes.

        I don’t know how much she sends them on to others, but she’s learned to not send that crap to me.

        • KarenJJ
          July 31, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

          “My SIL has stopped sending me all those moronic emails, after I kept responding with a link to snopes.”

          I did that to a family member. I no longer get those types of emails either. I’m hoping he learnt to check Snopes first.

          • Sue
            August 1, 2014 at 3:51 am #

            Hadn’t seen that site before – it’s great! And anything that stops them sending on all those moronic emails has to be good, no?

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 1, 2014 at 8:09 am #

            . I no longer get those types of emails either. I’m hoping he learnt to check Snopes first.

            I’m hoping so, too.

            You would think that, because there was a snopes article for pretty much every single one she sent, that she would get the idea that these chain emails are all pretty much bs, but I don’t know if that happened or she just got pissed at me.

        • Amy M
          August 1, 2014 at 7:41 am #

          Ha! Same with my mom!

        • Deborah
          August 1, 2014 at 11:22 am #

          For some of my friends I just reply ‘Don’t make me Snopes you!’ which translates to ‘I already checked this on Snopes, it’s BS, but i won’t post the actual link because it’s a little obnoxious to do so.’

        • VeritasLiberat
          August 3, 2014 at 8:42 am #


  21. July 31, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    “It was at about this time that I started Googling “does a C-section make me a bad mom” over…and over…and over again during those late-night feeding sessions. I was so tired. According to everything I’d ever been told, I was a failure as a mother. ”

    Ugh…. tears :*(

    How I wish the natural unmedicated childbirth movement was really about empowering women and being OK with trying to have a birth that is just different than what is “typical”…… not better, not a more superior way, not a way that will make them a better mother, not a way that will make their baby more bonded….. none of that nonsense.

    C-section? Epidural? Unmedicated? It has no bearing on how much you will love your baby and how much THEY will LOVE YOU.

    • MLE
      July 31, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

      How can they do this to women at one of the most insecure and vulnerable times of their lives? It’s truly cruel.

      • guest
        July 31, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

        Very cruel indeed. I think a lot of them are misogynists and sociopaths. What else can explain their horrible behavior toward women and their babies?

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
        July 31, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

        How can they do this to women at one of the most insecure and vulnerable times of their lives?

        Because they can have the biggest effect that way.

        It’s like guys who take advantage of women with “daddy issues” or whatever other insecurities they can take advantage of. Except that guys that do that are generally recognized as creeps.

        • Sue
          August 1, 2014 at 3:52 am #

          That’s it, Bofa! It’s exactly because people are insecure and vulnerable that they can have so much effect.

        • MLE
          August 1, 2014 at 4:48 am #

          I know, I’m having one of those “don’t you care that you’re hurting people” moments. No, they don’t. They will kill you or your kid and sweep you right under the rug.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
            August 1, 2014 at 11:24 am #

            They will kill you or your kid and sweep you right under the rug.

            This is clearly the case with the on-line groups. It’s real easy to sit behind a computer screen and pontificate on and on with other people’s lives, because there’s no consequences for it. You think the folks at MDC have any stake in your outcome? Not in the least. If things go great, you come back and tell them how great they are. If things go bad, you come back and tell them, they can just delete you, as if you don’t exist. They celebrate the successes, but hang the bad outcomes out to dry, and move on to the next.

            At least your friends “in real life” have to face your pain, and will be affected by something that affects you. And every time they see you, it will remind them of what happened.

            In the internet world, however, you can avoid all that. In these moderated places, you can just delete them from your lives.

            Advice that comes from a source with no stake in the outcome is absolutely awful. Even here, you can say that Dr Amy is giving good advice, but, in the end, talk to your doctor. Why? Because your doctor has a stake in your outcome. We can be all empathetic we want, but, in the end, when it comes down to it, empathy isn’t enough. You also need responsibility.

    • fiftyfifty1
      July 31, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

      “How I wish the natural unmedicated childbirth movement was really about empowering women and being OK with trying to have a birth that is just different than what is “typical”…… not better, not a more superior way, ”

      I’ve gotten to the point that I wonder if such a thing is even possible. Is it really possible to try for an NCB birth without in some corner of your heart believing it makes you better or that your birth will be superior? Birthing is so tainted by moralizing that it seems impossible. And the lies about the evils of interventions are so widespread that I no longer believe women when they say that they want to avoid them due to idiosyncratic reasons that have nothing to do with NCB. The last friend who told me that ended up sending all her friends a mass text immediately after the baby was born not with weight, or time of birth, or “baby and mom doing well” but rather with the message “No Epidural!!!”.

      The only birth plan that in my mind isn’t suspect is “I’ll see how it goes.”

  22. Therese
    July 31, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    I wonder who taught her from adolescence to be into NCB? If her parents were that type it seems strange they would wait until adolescence! Don’t they usually start as young as possible? I also wonder why if she was taught that midwives were the only acceptable option why she was seeing an OB in the first place and why she was so accepting when her OB told it would be a c-section. It sounds like the c-section didn’t even bother her until she had trouble breastfeeding. Seems like someone that suspicious of doctors would put up a little more resistance and act a little more devastated. What are factors that would cause someone to be ineligible for a version? On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like anything anyone would lie about so I assume it must be true. Just definitely doesn’t sound like your typical NCBer.

    • Siri
      July 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

      It sounds, to be honest, a bit scripted. It doesn’t ring true to me.

      • lawyer jane
        July 31, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

        Not to me. There are definitely large crunchy communities on the West Coast where a girl could be indoctrinated into this stuff. I was without really meaning to be! My family wasn’t part of some crazy cult, just a normal Northern California culture. It’s really pervasive. And the breastfeeding part rings especially true. Moms are going to insane lengths to BF these days, egged on by LCs.

        • guest
          July 31, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

          How many Therese’s are there in this convo? This sounds all too real to me. If you grew up in the “Our Bodies Ourselves” era, it was easy to get a smart feminist upbringing combined with an anti male establishment consciousness – and that included lots of things connected to medicine. But any smart person learns from experience, too – especially an experience with as many highs and lows as this one.

          • Therese
            July 31, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

            You are seeing multiple Thereses? That is funny because I am seeing multiple Amazeds replying to each other. I think it is just Discus being weird.

          • Amazed
            July 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

            I am not sure. I think Disqus is being weird (usually, a refresh sorts this out) but I do think there is a guest who has chosen to post under the name Amazed. At least, that’s what my refreshed page keeps telling me.

            Refresh and see what happens.

          • Therese
            July 31, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

            Ok, that has changed some of the names for me.

          • Also Amazed
            July 31, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

            I chose the nomiker Amazed on my own. So there are at least two of us here who are Amazed. I’m Amazed at SadLady’s gall.

          • Amazed
            July 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm #

            I was Amazed at someone else’s gall about three years ago. Each time I tell myself I nothing NCB can Amaze me anymore, I am proven Amazingly wrong.

        • Therese
          July 31, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

          Yeah, but then she doesn’t act like someone indoctrinated. The crunchies I know would be coming home and standing on their heads and sitting bags of frozen peas on their stomachs to get the baby to turn. They would be bemoaning the lack of skills in breech births that OBs possess. They would be insisting that if a c-section is required, that it wait until labor occurs to make sure the baby is truly ready to be born. I have never come across someone indoctrinated to the degree that she describes who is so nonplussed. She says she understood it was necessary and described it as a beautiful birth.

          • lawyer jane
            July 31, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

            Wellll … there’s a big difference between abstract beliefs, and what you actually do when faced with the situation. It’s a small minority that would reject a c-section when your doctor tells you it is literally physically impossible to deliver any other way. If she never actively pursued these beliefs for herself, then I can see how she’d easily accept the c-section. It sounds like the indoctrination really came back to haunt her later on, when she was sleep deprived and struggling with BF. That’s kind of how the mind works – you just start dwelling on things later on when you’re stressed. This is more or less what happened to me: in the moment I wanted induction & epidural & pacifiers & formula, contrary to what I thought I wanted, and then later on started to dwell on it.

          • Therese
            July 31, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

            Yes, it does seem like most of the crunchies I know came into it in their adults, so maybe that would explain why she wasn’t as passionate about it as someone who came to believe in it through their own “research”.

        • Alcharisi
          July 31, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

          Nor I. My dad started giving me the NCB line in my early teens, if memory serves. Interspersed with very nice intimations that part of the reason I was a socially awkward, tightly would klutz was that I wasn’t born underwater.

          • Sara
            July 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

            The waterbirth would have made you graceful, like a swan, I guess?

          • Alcharisi
            July 31, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

            Well, he believed the line (I think it was from Igor Charkovsky) that being born into a more “natural” environment where one could swim out of the womb meant setting yourself up to achieve your proper physical potential, and thus feeling more at home in the world. Or something.

          • yugaya
            August 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm #


            I admire people who are able to work their way out of the damage of growing up hearing such things from their parents.

          • Alcharisi
            August 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

            I mean, I also got quite a lot of positive feedback from my dad. He genuinely saw it as a matter of “if only my beloved daughter hadn’t been denied this amazing opportunity.” Fortunately for everyone involved I was denied said “opportunity,” as I was over 2 weeks postdates with mec and a nuchal cord.

        • Jenny_from_da_Bloc
          July 31, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

          It’s here in the Midwest too and her email rings very true to me. I’ve had people say the most ignorant things to me for not attempting any type of labor with my first child because it was dangerous and contraindicated medically. Thankfully, I have always had my families support even though out of 7 aunts and 5 older cousins I’m the only one who had a c-section. I have their support because nobody gives a crap how I gave birth only that my baby was healthy and alive.

      • Danielle
        July 31, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

        It rings true to me. I didn’t grow up with it from birth–my parents lean a bit “crunchy” but my mom’s pregnancies were too complicated for anyone to worry about the safety of hospitals. But when our family home schooled, I started reading some of the fundamentalist / rural family life type newsletters and publications that a certain segment of the movement produces, and home birth was all over the place in it. So I certainly thought about these things during my teenage years. It was just in the water. (I’ve reflected many times, long after, how different yet similar the fundamentalist, up tight about sex, ultra-conservative, establishment-fearing grassroots and the freewheeling crunchy grassroots are! In some ways their ideas are opposite, but they are attracted to the same birth practices, home made objects, foods, and concerns about bodily purity/contamination.)

        • Danielle
          July 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

          I also knew a girl who wanted to be a Dr., but her anti-college education for girls parents wanted her to become a certified professional midwife. I lost track of her soon after; I don’t now if she became an apprentice out of high school to a midwife or if she escaped to college.

          • yugaya
            August 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

            “anti-college education for girls parents”

            FFS. Internet does not often make me want to strangle people, but there ya go.

      • Alexicographer
        July 31, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

        I don’t know, it’s not that different from my own experience, with the following exceptions: (a) I had a successful version (at 37w5d I was very “late” for a version so would guess that gestational age alone might have been a pretty strong indication against the OP having one); (b) in my case it was the CNM who had supported me throughout most of my 36-hour labor who talked me through (on her lunch hour the day after my son was born, I thank her so much) the fact that I’d ended up choosing a (non-emergency, but clearly medically indicated) c-section; and (c) the lactation consultants at the hospital were the ones who advised me, after a week struggling to BF exclusively, that my son needed supplemental formula (and introduced me to that, yes, wretched tube system). And I lacked a “crunchy” or religious background, beyond a basic “Our Bodies, Ourselves” kind of upbringing.

      • Stacy48918
        July 31, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

        Rings very true to me. I noted above my 40+1 sister-in-law, deep in fundamental Baptist circles, anti-intervention, anti-epidural. There is a LOT of anti-doctor, anti-vaccine, pro-natural birth/homebirth within fundamental religious groups.

        I think my sister-in-law is probably 22 or 23 years old…so indoctrinated into NCB stuff through teenage years I’m sure.

        • Sara
          July 31, 2014 at 8:17 pm #

          Yes, there is! My husband is a pastor and we’re reformed Baptists (fundamentalist, pretty much). I’ve noticed this trend in some of our circles. The thing that baffles me is that a lot of these ideas are very spiritually-based and not Biblical whatsoever, but I think that point is lost in this emerging fundie culture. I’ve also seen NCB culture eventually draw people away from their Christian beliefs, presumably *because* of the obvious spiritual undercurrent that goes along with this kind of woo.

          I’m thankful my church is mostly much older people, country folk. They have their own prejudices for sure but the NCB and anti-vaccine thing is not an issue at all.

        • Siri
          August 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

          Thanks for that perspective, Stacy! My background is so different. I love how the internet lets you access other people’s experiences so readily.

      • KarenJJ
        July 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

        It rings true to me too. My family is not at all “crunchy”. They like science and are generally a pragmatic group of professionals, farmers and retired farmers (in Australia – so there’s not a religious element either). My mum received poor (and chauvinistic) care back in the 70s and had c-sections (her obgyn also lied on her medical chart – which she put in a complaint about).

        And then she had PND and focussed on the c-sections a LOT and fell down the NCB rabbit hole (read books like “Silent Knife” and the Grantley Dick-Read one). At the same time we kept hitting brick walls with doctors and specialists as to what was going on with my siblings and I. Doctors often didn’t believe her and didn’t believe us when we described out symptoms. It turned out to be a periodic fever syndrome – a very rare issue with your immune system. We just stopped talking to doctors about the more confusing stuff so that we weren’t perceived as being hypochondriac, lying patients.

        So I grew up thinking c-sections made you miserable and feel like a failure, that doctors didn’t know everything and didn’t believe you and couldn’t be trusted to know how to care for you – eg my fevers were triggered by cold and I was always trying to warm up when I felt a fever coming on. This worked *for me* but wasn’t what doctors learn to do (my specialist actually described my attempts to prevent flares as “warming techniques” in the paper they ended up writing about it)..

        When I brought up homebirth, my husband was immediately against the idea. So instead we did a hypnobirthing course – which was all woo. But thankfully the midwife running the course was not completely anti-doctor and told me to “trust my doctors and medical team” which was exactly what I needed to hear (my guess is about half the women on that course had medical anxieties).

        And I had a c-section after labour wasn’t going too well and it was such a positive experience and the staff were so celebratory it was just a lovely moment when our child was born. About 12 months after that we finally got a name for what had been going on our whole lives and I finally ended up seeing some amazing specialists who listened to all the symptoms and got them checked out thoroughly (and found some really odd things that had been going on – such as pappilledema) and then started raising awareness about these types or rare diseases.

        So now I’m a big fan and I suspect my mum has come around a bit too.

        • Siri
          August 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

          That’s interesting, thanks, Karen! 🙂

    • NoLongerCrunching
      July 31, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

      Anytime either of my parents talked about my birth, NCB propaganda was in there. They were both quite proud.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks
      July 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      I’m the author, and I can explain a bit of that. 😉 I probably should have explained more in the original email, but you saw how long it was already…

      My parents were (are) religious in the extreme, and taught me by implication that anything having to do with the female body, menstruation, childbirth, etc was dirty and shameful. When I was a young teenager, I met a woman who a) became a sort of surrogate mother to me, b) was genuinely very kind, and c) was neck-deep in the NCB/breastfeeding/natural-and-organic-everything woo. As you might imagine, this stuff is pretty heady to someone coming from the background I did, and I embraced it wholeheartedly.

      I ended up with an OB through a combination of factors: DH wasn’t at all okay with the idea of homebirth, and the local CNM in-hospital practice was too busy to see me for my first few appointments, so they told me to go to an OB for the first appointment, ultrasound, etc and then call them in a couple of months. I called an OB who, rumor had it, was NCB-friendly. This OB was so pleasant, respectful, and knowledgeable at that first appointment that I decided then and there to hire him. He was (and is) NCB-friendly and a strong supporter of VBACs if that’s what the mom wants and she’s eligible, but more importantly, he’s a good doctor.

      I had very little time between the decision to have the C-section and the actual C-section, and since I spent most of it frantically preparing for having a baby in the house while recovering from abdominal surgery, I wasn’t able to really get upset about it, and assumed that would happen later. Then the C-section happened, and her birth was so beautiful that I wasn’t upset by it happening that way. I was only upset later, when I tried to reconcile my feelings about her birth (all positive) with what I’d heard all my post-pubescent life (all negative, “birth rape,” etc). The hormonal stew I was in postpartum and with breastfeeding didn’t help, either, and nor did the lack of sleep or of any kind of support. (I have no contact with my parents now, and while DH is wonderful, he couldn’t BF and was at work all day.) I didn’t mention it in the email, but breastfeeding always triggered strong feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression in me; I’m not sure if that was a genuinely hormonal thing, or a past-issues thing, but either way, I felt anxious, stressed, and depressed all. the. time. when breastfeeding–which *was* all the time for the first few weeks! As a result of all these things, I became fixated on the BFing and Csection, thinking that maybe I wouldn’t be such a “bad mom” if only I could BF completely, or if I’d had the C-section.

      Once again, apologies for the novel, but I hope this clears a few things up. 🙂

      • Therese
        July 31, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

        Thanks! Makes a lot more sense now!

        • Daleth
          July 31, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

          One thing I want to mention–not about the OP’s personal story, but just about your question re: why someone would be “ineligible for a version.” I’m pregnant with twins, one of whom is almost never head down–since they’re mono-di twins I get ultrasounds every two weeks, and this baby just loves being breech or transverse. My doctors have been encouraging me to try VB, saying that they can do a version if necessary…

          …but here’s the thing: when I actually looked this up on PubMed and other reputable sources, and looked on forums where women talk about having had versions, I decided I absolutely did not want to try that.

          Why? Because it carries a bunch of serious risks for the baby that I’m not comfortable with (especially the risk of placental abruption and causing or tightening knots in the cord), it’s less likely to work in first-time moms like me than in ones who have had kids before, even if it works initially the baby could flip again, and if it doesn’t work then the BEST-case scenario is I’ll have both a VB (Twin A) and a CS (Twin B) to recover from. For a singleton mom, the best-case if it doesn’t work is an emergency c-section during labor, which is more dangerous for the mom than a pre-labor scheduled c-section. And according to the moms who have had it, whether it works or not the process is extremely painful.

          I have no idea whether any of those concerns came up for the OP, but I just wanted to point out that eligibility or ineligibility are far from the only issues to consider.

          • Dr Kitty
            August 1, 2014 at 7:02 am #

            From one UK guideline I found

            Absolute contraindications to ECV :

            Obvious need for L.S.C.S
            Antepartum haemorrhage within the last 7 days
            Abnormal cardiotography
            Major uterine anomaly
            Ruptured membranes
            Multiple pregnancy (except delivery of the second twin)

            Relative Contra-indications:

            Small for gestational age foetus with abnormal Doppler parameters
            Proteinuric pre-eclampsia
            Major foetal anomalies
            Scarred Uterus
            Unstable lie

            So, in short, there are a bunch of reasons why ECV may not be a safe choice and would rule someone out, (also short cords and anterior placentas can make the whole thing riskier and more technically difficult).

  23. NoLongerCrunching
    July 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I am a lactation consultant, and I am appalled at both the lack of basic infant health knowledge and the lack of empathy of those horrible women. Where they even IBCLCs? If so contact me and I will point you toward where to file a complaint. You and your baby deserved so much better than to be treated like that, and it is a testament to you as a mother that you went ahead and ignored their advice and did what was best for your baby in the end. Hugs.

    • UsernameError
      July 31, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

      I had a similar experience with my last birth and the LC’s at the hospital. Never mind I breastfed 3 previous children until they were all over a year old, including a previous 36 weeker. Never mind that my husband is a neonatologist and very well educated on how to feed babies. When I had my last child, he was also 36 weeks (I have complicated pregnancies, he was a scheduled induction), and at a very great risk of severe jaundice. I had 2 previous babies who had billi levels over 22, and he was premature, and I am rh sensitized. The LC visits every new mom. She happened to come in when my son was sleeping, peacefully, in his little bed, and she immediately started asking me if I ever held him. Then she told me to take my top off, strip him naked so we could do skin to skin while she watched. I refused. Seriously, I’m not going topless in front of a complete stranger. She told me we would never succeed at breastfeeding, and that she wasn’t coming back to see me. A little while later my son started developing jaundice, and was at risk of being admitted for light therapy. My husband and I talked about it, and decided to supplement him to try to keep the levels down enough that he would not need admission. You’d think I had asked to start taking crack right there in the hospital. The INTERN came in to talk me out of using formula, and he had to write a prescription for each bottle of formula.

      In the end, he breastfed for 14 months. And he avoided light therapy my .10 of a point. I’m not sure in what world it is better to hospitalize a baby, than to give him a few bottles of formula. Or even formula feed completely. But that seems to be where LC have gone these days.

      • Dr Kitty
        August 1, 2014 at 7:06 am #

        You’d think “this baby’s father is a neonatologist. We’re fine with formula supplements until his bili falls because breastfeeding is less of a priority for us than reducing the severity of his jaundice” would have shut down the intern.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa
          August 1, 2014 at 8:17 am #

          This is the thing that bothers me about these stories. The OB recommends something, and the doula or midwife comes in and tells them to do something different. A pediatrician tells them they should supplement, the LC or nurse gives them a hard time about it.

          The answer is, this is what the doctor has recommended. I am going to follow the doctor’s advice, so shut your annoying trap.

          • UsernameError
            August 1, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

            We had a lot of those types of issues there because the residency programs there had some issues. But also, just because my husband and I come to a care decision for our baby, doesn’t mean that it has “doctor approval.” Since he is the father, he technically can’t make health care decisions for our kids above what other parents have the right to do. He doesn’t go on record as the physician overseeing our care.

        • UsernameError
          August 1, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

          The problem, is that the hospital was striving to keep the “baby friendly” designation. So, although my husband was technically the intern’s boss (teaching hospital), he was also following the hospital procedures. He told me he is required to go in every time a mom requests formula and tell her why it is bad for the baby, and then he is required to write a prescription for each nurser bottle that is used. Oddly enough, even though they were very militant about breastfeeding, there was no breastmilk fridge in the unit, they had to take it to NICU to do that, and NICU moms got space priority. They also had to get the LC’s approval for a breastpump, because their LC’s don’t believe in breast pumps, you are just supposed to nurse non-stop. Total cluster. Honest to God, without the support of my husband, I’m not sure what would have happened to our baby. The whole hospital was a woo-infested nightmare. He doesn’t work there anymore, by the way.

          On another note, this was the first baby we had used formula supplementation with, and he was by far my best newborn nurser. I think because he was able to get some calories from the formula, he had the energy to learn to nurse. Also, I think I read here on the SOB that Hispanic moms tend to supplement until their milk comes in, and they have higher rates of successful breastfeeding. Probably because the babies were not starving and lethargic because of caloric deficiencies, and able to nurse. It takes a lot of energy for a baby to latch on and nurse!

          • Ash
            August 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

            At “baby friendly” hospitals, I wouldn’t be surprised if formula soon requires an attending to physically consult with the parents to sign the BS consent form.

            This “Baby Friendly” stuff is all BS, meant to pacify the NCB movement and decrease staffing costs (no nursery)

    • Guesteleh
      July 31, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

      I had a similar experience with an IBCLC. Unfortunately I do think there’s a problem with the types of people who are drawn to the profession.

  24. Sadlady
    July 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    I bet she Googled the best formula possible since she wanted to bf so bad. I know I did. I supplement for 2 months while pumping. Went from 2 oz to 8 oz finally after all that time. No idea we were.in a starvation cycle where baby’s bad latch caused longer feedings, but less stimulus, shrinking my supply! She was on the breast all the time but it was useless! Formula got her back to breast, but if it didn’t work, I was really happy with the brand I chose after reading up on the gi.index of chosen carbohydrates in the. Formula etc etc. No corn syrup for us! I think it puts your mind at ease when you make conscientious feeding choices, and know you picked the best one possible at the time. Same goes for birth.

    • July 31, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      It doesn’t matter whether the baby gets 50 cc of breast milk per feed, or 200. He/she gets your antibodies in whatever quantity you produce. It doesn’t matter whether it is your nipple in his/her mouth, or a bottle nipple. The bottle, whether glass or plastic, doesn’t affect the chemical, hormonal, or antibody constituents in the breast milk. And then, if the breast milk supply is inadequate for the baby’s growth needs, supplement! He’s got your goodies in the breast milk you supply.

      It’s just common sense.

      • Amazed
        July 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

        Or 1 cc. Or even, on a good day, 2cc! It’s all moot. The mother is past the point where the antibodies do any good, so I think she can safely (for her mental health) do complete formula now and be a happier, healthier mother. Antibodies are nice, yes, but if the mother is wearing herself trying to produce food for a starving child, then it’s a good time to get help feeding. And formula is damn good at doing just that!

        • Beth S
          August 1, 2014 at 9:09 am #

          Dude I wish I could make 1 cc of breast milk, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I think all my boobs can make is powdered milk.

      • Young CC Prof
        July 31, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

        That was pretty much my thinking. For one month, all the milk I could produce went into him, plus as much formula as was necessary to fill his belly. He got some antibodies, he got enough nutrition.

        Then, because he still hadn’t figured out how to eat directly
        from the breast and I had NO interest in long-term pumping, I switched to only formula.

    • Amazed
      July 31, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

      Congratulations on a post that so effectively makes the mother question her own choices of formula!

    • Siri
      July 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

      How do you pick the best birth possible? And all infant formulas are fine; you’re not giving your baby some massive advantage by being snobbish about brands. And why be so passive-aggressive? What if she DIDN’T google the ‘best’ formula? I know I didn’t!

      • Guesteleh
        July 31, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

        My husband googled formula when I ran into major BF problems and found out that formula is so heavily regulated by the FDA that there isn’t any meaningful nutritional difference between brands (with the exception of special formulas for babies with health issues). So I followed their advice and bought it from Costco, which was half the price of regular formula. And my kid is fine, of course.

    • Amazed
      July 31, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Are you sad for the mothers who didn’t consult Dr Google to wisely choose the best formula possible? I apologize if I am wrong but your post just screams passive agressive to me.

      • Sadlady
        July 31, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

        exactly the opposite. I would have named the brand if I was a miss bossy pants expert about it. Then I would be telling everyone with my zero credentials what to feed their baby, No thanks. How could I be an expert if I had just learned I would have to formula feed? I am just saying I went through the motions of reading up on different ingredient so I could feel better about my “failure” to breastfeed properly. It was a comfort measure if anything. But looking back I do stand by my brand of choice, probably because she loved it and it stayed down. However, I had no idea a doctor had to advise you on WHICH brand of formula to feed your baby (that is what you imply when you mention Dr. Google and formula) I thought they were all FDA approved and you only need doctor advice if your child is special needs or reacts negatively to the first one…is that not how it works? I thought we were free to choose any one of them. So my judgment on “the best” for my child is OK. Isn’t Dr. Google what NCB wooers use? I’m trying to steer clear of that. I realize my verbiage “I bet” sound presumptuous and may have an inferred negative tone, but I actually meant “I bet” because I related to the OP. No sarcasm or anything meant. You have given me something to think about though, maybe “Failure to Thrive” IS a special need and I should have asked “which kind?” when the pediatrician said to supplement with a formula. I just thought she was a normal, but hungry baby.

        • NoLongerCrunching
          August 1, 2014 at 6:19 am #

          fwiw, I didn’t get anything negative from your post. If I didn’t already know that the FDA requires all formulas to be “best,” I would have been researching the shit out of formula to find the best one.

        • Amazed
          August 1, 2014 at 9:04 am #

          Sorry, I just bristle each time when I see the word “google” as a synomym of “trying to find information on what to do”. I am all for using google to reassure yourself that your decision – made after consulting with competent professionals – is OK. But too often, “google something” is used as “research something. If you don’t google it, you didn’t really care enough to find out the truth about something”. Never mind that “truth” and “google truth” are two different species ever so often. They aren’t equal, yet people who google every decision of theirs often try to make others feel less concerned about making the right decision that their glorious selves are.

          I apologize for getting you wrong.

          • Beth S
            August 1, 2014 at 9:08 am #

            Did you know that apparently most of the country buys organic? Or that the only good kind of formula to feed your child is the expensive organic stuff that doesn’t have GMOs or corn syrup? Yeah I heard these arguments yesterday and about puked. Do I use google more than I should, yes, however I also talk to my pediatrician and get his recommendations. Of course right now I’m having to use the expensive soy stuff because DD is lactose intolerant.

          • Amazed
            August 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

            Oh organic is the last rage here, too! They try to sell it to me – literally and figuratively speaking – and I look at them and say, “It might be organic but it doesn’t make it better. In fact, I doubt that it’s even healthy. I bet it isn’t REALLY organic.” When they start explaining, I cut them off, “I’ve grown up in the country and please would you stop trying to convince me that this thing is a tomato? It might be organic but it isn’t a tomato. It doesn’t taste like one.” Shuts them up pretty fast.

            Never will I google organic in my life. I swear half people who swear in organic had never had a real apple in their life.

          • Young CC Prof
            August 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

            Buy a bag of organic potato chips! They’re cooked in GMO-free corn oil!

            Or, you know, buy some real food.

          • Amazed
            August 1, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

            I can’t, Professor Prof, sir. I mean, I literally can’t. You know what they say, what your mom teaches you stays with you forever. And my mom taught me that potato chips are poison. They really were, for my brother when we were children. Because of his condition, potato chips were never served in our house, as well as all those lovely greasy foods drowned in spices. I avoid them to this very day – I only put salt in my food.

            I am doomed. No organic potato chips for me! I’ll forever be sick and obese.

            On the bright side, I just had a bar of lovely chocolate that is unorganic by nature. I count that as real food and no, I will NOT google it.

    • Amy
      July 31, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Which brand is the best, exactly?

      Honestly, corn syrup alone would have been much better for my baby than having to rely on what came out of my breasts.

      • Also Amazed
        July 31, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

        I’m sure that there was a lot of calories and antibodies in my 1 cc and less offerings, but the kidlets still needed fuel. And water. With them not being lactose intolerant, I had no need to get a lactose-free formula — and those are the only ones with corn syrup in them.

        Despite what Sadlady implies the best formula for your child is the one that stays down with the least tummy ache and bother. Sadly, sometimes even Breast Milk is not the best food for a particular tummy.

        • Amy
          August 1, 2014 at 10:30 am #

          My baby was exclusively formula fed from 4 weeks on. I never googled what would be the best or even looked at the ingredients. It didn’t matter. She would not make wet diapers when I nursed her. I was not going to let her have a stroke from dehydration. She’s alive and healthy. Everything else is irrelevant.

    • MLE
      July 31, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

      Pretty sure I ate sweetened condensed milk and water since nothing else agreed with me, and I was hospitalized a few times for dehydration from severe diarrhea before the magic sugar was applied. Mom probably should have abandoned me because of the shame spiral I sent her into.

      • Beth S
        August 1, 2014 at 9:13 am #

        Yeah, the first formula my mom fed me after my great-grandmother of all people told her she was basically starving me to death with her breast milk, which she was, I’d gone from 7 pounds 6 ounces to 6 pounds 5 ounces in less than two weeks, was sweetened condensed milk, water and a little bit of rice cereal. Granted Mom used it as a temporary fix to calm me down until she could make it to the store that same day to get formula, but she said it was the first time I’d eaten and not cried in days and that night she got the first few hours of sleep she’d had in three weeks.

    • antigone23
      July 31, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

      What exactly is the purpose of this post? Corn syrup is used in formula as an alternative carbohydrate source for babies who have a sensitivity to lactose. Most standard formulas use lactose. There is exactly one lactose-free formula that uses a carbohydrate source other than corn syrup. This formula was found to contain dangerous levels of arsenic from rice a few years ago. They have supposedly taken care of this problem but it just goes to show you that things aren’t always as healthy as they sound. I’ve also heard many babies find this particular formula quite constipating, so it’s not a great option for all babies with lactose sensitivity, nevermind the fact that there is no generic and it’s quite expensive. There really is no need to shame people for using formula that has corn syrup.

  25. Amy M
    July 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Wow, I’m so glad the letter writer reached the conclusions she did! Letter-writer–you are a great mom, and don’t let any insecure harpies tell you differently. Enjoy your baby!

  26. Capricia
    July 31, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Dr Amy and her blog had exactly the same effect on me. I had vaginal births but I had low milk supply with both my boys. I still mourn the breastfeeding relationships I wished I had had but I know I am not a bad mother and that my boys are growing up healthy, intelligent and, most importantly, loved.

  27. July 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    This letter moved me to tears.

  28. sleuther
    July 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    Reading your story I recognized a lot of the same themes from my own story: c-section, fussy child who HATED nursing/loved bottles of formula (probably because I had no supply and it never did come in), pain, bleeding nipples, guilt over being a bad mom, the whole nine yards.

    You are correct, none of this matters worth a damn as long as you, your partner, your baby, and your pediatrician are happy. My kids are now age 9 and 7 and are happy and healthy, smart and funny and compassionate. Most of the competitive-parenting BS goes straight out the window once kids start school, probably because you become wiser about with whom you spend your online & real-life time, but also because truly IT DOESN’T MATTER if you breastfed or bottlefed or combo-fed. I challenge anyone to go to a kindergarten classroom and try to figure out who got breastfed – you can’t. You won’t. It doesn’t matter.

  29. Cobalt
    July 31, 2014 at 12:01 pm #

    I want to hug this woman.

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