The biggest problem with The Leaky Boob’s lie

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Last Friday’s post on The Leaky Boob’s lie has generated a lot of discussion about Jessica Martin-Weber and her lie that she exclusively breastfed 6 children while the reality was that she often used bottles and sometimes used formula.

There are lots of problems with that lie, but one problem is bigger than all the others.

First the small problems:

1. It is wrong to lie

That pretty much goes without saying. Lying is not a good way to relate to others. It is a fundamental violation of their trust and has long term consequences. People will be much less likely to trust you going forward.

2. It is wrong to hold yourself out as a role model

Our heroes have feet of clay; that’s hardly news, but it is still disappointing. That’s why anyone who presumes to hold herself out as a lactivist hero as Martin-Weber did should be very sure that she is modeling the behavior that she extols. Martin-Weber knew the entire time that she was presenting herself as a hero, she was actually engaging in the very behavior she was ostentatiously condemning in print.

3. It is wrong to value process over outcome

Of course this is standard operating procedure for natural childbirth advocates and lactivists. Instead of judging their mothering skills by how their children turn out (which raises the possibility that they might not end up being declared perfect mothers), they evaluate their mothering skills by comparison with an arbitrary ideal. That way they can preen of their motherly perfection without the pesky need to wait until their children grow up and see how they turn out.

But most importantly:

4. The Leaky Boob’s Lie demonstrates that lactivism isn’t about breastfeeding, and it isn’t even about babies. It’s about mothers and their own self-image.

Why was Jessica Martin-Ellis writing about her breastfeeding experiences in the first place? It wasn’t to benefit her children since they couldn’t care less how random strangers view their mother. And it wasn’t to help other mothers with their breastfeeding difficulties since Martin-Weber refused to be honest about her own.

Martin-Weber was writing (dishonestly) about her breastfeeding experiences in order to bask in the adulation of strangers and boost her own self-esteem. That’s because lactivism isn’t about feeding and it isn’t about babies. It’s about some women trying to convince themselves that they are better than other women and grossly inflating the benefits and value of breastfeeding in order to do it. Breastfeeding isn’t that important to babies, but it’s desperately important to lactivists.

Lactivism is about image and new mothers would benefit greatly by realizing that. No mother should feel guilty about breastfeeding, because it is trivial in the overall scheme of child rearing. Those who wish to convince you differently have their OWN best interests at heart, not yours and not your children’s. In fact, they are so concerned about their own interests that they are willing to lie to maintain those interests.

  • Circle City Mama

    Strictly out of curiosity, do you have any evidence to substantiate your claim that Jessica Martin-Weber didn’t exclusively breastfeed her children? Also, aren’t you broad stroking when you say that lactivism isn’t about feeding, nor is it about babies? You’re an MD; it would stand to figure that you would be well aware of the fact that breastmilk is the most beneficial source of nutrition for newborns. However, there are women that cannot breastfeed there children and there are others that do not want to, for whatever reasons. I have never shamed a mother for choosing bottles or formula over exclusively breastfeeding. It’s insulting that you would make such a gross generalization.

  • Tash

    Erm…she’s talked about her mixed feeding etc in the past, I’ve seen articles before where she clearly stated that.

  • agree with the posting, thank you for the information

  • Leara

    I have a question, Lactation consultants always carry on about “Nipple confusion” in that if you bottle feed and breast feed or heavens forbid use a pacifier, the baby will somehow become ‘confused’ and wont be able to breastfeed properly. That is complete rubbish isn’t it?

  • TT

    Hello again (unsuccessful attempt at commenting yesterday)
    I felt the need to explain why the breastfeeding pressure at the hospital makes sense. I think we’ve established that nature is not perfect; milk production is not perfect and it can be sabotaged. Not enough stimulation and the milk never comes in, not enough stimulation and milk production stops. It is great if you can both breastfeed and supplement but for many women adding formula to the equation eventually makes breastfeeding impossible. For other women, it does not. A nurse etc has no way of knowing how it will turn out so it makes sense to do what they can to establish breastfeeding. After that, the mother does have a choice of keeping it up, stopping it, or supplementing with formula. If breastfeeding is not established then there is never really a choice to be made. It sucks but that’s how it works.
    Another thought I wanted to share: I think in the case of (food) allergies, specifically cow milk allergy, it is important to exclusively breastfeed for the first few weeks. You don’t have to do it for months (definitely not for years) but it does makes a statistical difference if you stick with BF at the beginnning.

    • KarenJJ

      Can you back up your claim that exclusively breastfeeding during those first few weeks makes a difference to long term breastfeeding rates?

      Would you change your mind if more recent research were to show something contrary to what you wrote in this comment?

      What if a little bit of judicial use of formula in those first few weeks actually improves breastfeeding rates in the long term?

      • Busbus

        I believe there was a study discussed on SOB maybe a year ago that showed breastfeeding rates to go up for mothers who supplemented a little in the first few days (I think one hypothesis was less exhaustion and another that there are less problems with initial weight gain). Maybe someone knows the link?

        • KarenJJ
          • KarenJJ

            It’s interesting to read about the droves of breastfeeding advocates that are now recommending that new, exhausted mothers with hungry, distressed babies now include some formula supplementation in those first few weeks due to newer evidence showing the increased long term breastfeeding rates. Heaps of breastfeeding advocates now changing their minds so that new mums and babies have an easier time establishing breastfeeding to their long term benefits. HEAPS! It’s wonderful to see…

      • TT

        “Can you back up your claim that exclusively breastfeeding during those first few weeks makes a difference to long term breastfeeding rates?”
        I did not claim that breastfeeding exclusively during the first few weeks makes a difference to long term breastfeeding rates. I did claim that it makes a difference to whether some children will develop cow milk allergy. This is what my daughter’s allergist says, but I do not have any links to give you.

        I also thought -and claimed more or less- that establishing breastfeeding is a necessary condition for continuing breastfeeding and that establishing breastfeeding requires ‘on-demand’ breastfeeding sessions during the first few *days* (and can be sabotaged by formula feeding). It looks like I was wrong about that, so I retract my comment.
        My first daughter has cow milk allergy so my plan is to exclusively breastfeed my second child, due soon. I will however bring my own hypoallergenic (probably extensively hydrolysed) formula to the hospital with me in case things don’t work out and I need to supplement.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      No, pressure is never justified.

      First, women are grownups. You can tell them about the feedback mechanism involved in breastfeeding and they can take that information into account when deciding what they wish to do.

      Second, the milk is going to come in regardless. I’m not aware of any data that shows that frequent nursing is required to stimulate initial milk production.

      • anh

        my milk never came in fully because my daughter never latched correctly and I didn’t pump enough. Could be anecdotal, but I’ve gotten the impression my low supply was because of my daughter’s inability to nurse effectively

        • fiftyfifty1

          I can’t speak to your individual case, but there are cultures where colostrum is believed to be bad for the child and women are forbidden to breastfeed and babies are supplemented (typically with gruel or goat milk) until milk comes in. And milk still comes in. The milk coming in is hormonal. The milk supply *staying in* is feedback.

          • anh

            ah, that makes sense. I was able to pump more in the very first days (when I found the energy to do so) and then it dwindled to nothing. my daughter was not so great at the nursing 🙂

          • TT

            From what I have gathered from my own experience and my reading, there are wild variations among women as to how this plays out. I hadn’t realised milk always comes in, although I did get a tablet to prevent this from happening after a late abortion so I knew it was a possibility, I just didn’t know it was fact of life.

            The way I see it, my mother’s generation (I am 37) was very fond of formula so what we are now witnessing is a backlash against this. I can understand BF nazism in this context, even if I cannot justify it. As far as primitive cultures are concerned, I think the best strategy they have come up with is to hand over the baby to another lactating mother for a snack until your own milk comes in. Concocting breast milk substitutes is not a good idea, for the same reason that the benefits of breastfeeding are far from trivial in developing countries (as opposed to developped ones). Death without weeping” by Scheper-Hughes illustrates this pretty well.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “my mother’s generation (I am 37) was very fond of formula so what we are now witnessing is a backlash against this. I can understand BF nazism in this context”
            I disagree. Today’s lactivism goes to an extreme that cannot be explained by the normal generational fluctuations in practices. There is something other than “backlash” motivating it. I agree with Dr. Amy’s assessment that that something is desire to grab status by putting others down.

          • TT

            Well it was interesting to me that my mother often despaired with me for not giving formula to my daughter; to her formula is rich, thick, nutricious all-you-can-eat milk whereas breastmilk is this watery, rationed liquid that you produce if you try hard enough which is not worth it. And to illustrate her point she told me how a doctor told her mother, my grandmother, that all this breastfeeding was ruining her health. She did breastfeed 7 children so he had a point. But on the other hand I doubt all 7 of them would have survived into toddlerhood if she had fed them cow milk and gruel in the 30’s and 40’s.
            So in my case I got pressure from my mother to bottle feed, pressure from online forums to breastfeed and pressure from lactation consultants to let my daughter suck at my breasts as often as possible in-between dry pumping sessions with a hospital grade pump to restore my milk supply which had dwindled to nothing at 6 months through no fault of my own (did not work).
            I do not live in the US however.

    • SporkParade

      I gave birth last week (hi, everybody) and I almost gave up breastfeeding specifically because of pressure to breastfeed. The nurses were forbidden from promoting supplementation with formula and, because of when I gave birth, it was over 24 hours until I could speak with a lactation consultant. I was terrified I would literally drop my baby from exhaustion, but the nurse in the nursery made it seem like I would never be able to breastfeed if I supplemented just this once after over an hour of hand-expressing and spoon feeding colostrum with no end in sight. G-d bless the nurse on the second night who asked if I wanted to top him up with a bottle, and when asked if there were any risks responded, “My job is to tell you to breastfeed.”

      • Jocelyn

        Ugh. Sorry for the bad experience. And congratulations on your new baby!!

    • RSM

      NOPE there is ZERO reason for pressure. It is inappropriate. You should get good info, and the support you need. nothing more.

  • mythsayer

    Please stop the ad hominem attacks.

    Now, I did some research on the Leaky Boob website. Some. If you’ve got more than I saw, please feel free to put it on here.

    What did I find on formula? Well…I found decent support for formula feeding…but we already knew that. I don’t think anyone here has said Jessica is mean or even not supportive of formula feeders. Some said, in response to the other post, that she was way better than most.

    Here is my issue…and it’s been my issue since she made her apology. You may think it’s about lack of pictures but underneath it’s about a lot more than that. If it was solely about pictures of bottle feeding, why did she go out of her way to say she fed her children formula? I’ll tell you why. Because if she’d left formula out completely, she’d still have been lying.

    Here’s the thing: BM can be fed two basic ways – breast or bottle/cup. Formula is stuck with the bottle. So if she just says she also used bottles, her readers would rightfully assume, AS MANY DID, that she was putting breast milk ONLY in those bottles.

    So, to fully clear the air, she said she fed her kids formula. I didn’t see one post from Jessica where she admitted to formula feeding. I saw other women say they did. But not her. Maybe she said it somewhere. But to a casual or new reader, that’s not good enough. You know why? Because of paragraphs like this:

    “A few months ago at a speaking engagement at an event with a “natural” parenting bent, a woman came up to talk to me. Her voice and posture were defensive from the beginning and she led with “I’ve heard of you but I’ve never been to your site or online community because I knew what I would hear there. I heard you today and I was surprised, I expected you to try to make me feel bad because I use formula. What would you say to me if I told you I used formula? Because I know that makes me the odd one out here and everyone thinks I’m lazy and give my baby poison.” I told her that I would say I was glad she was feeding her baby and I was certain she was doing what was right for her family according to her specific set of circumstances. I told her that I respected her and I understood what it was like being the odd one out in a setting. By the end of our conversation we hugged and took a selfie together. She had opened up about the breastfeeding challenges she was having and I shared some ideas and resources that could help her with those challenges should she so choose. It didn’t matter if she was going to increase her breastfeeding and cut back on the formula, what mattered was that she was heard, she wasn’t alone, and she felt respected and supported. My place was not to judge, pressure, or shame, my place was to respectfully care.”

    That’s from http://theleakyboob.com/category/formula/.. The feb 7 article.

    Where does she say “I won’t judge you BECAUSE I USED FORMULA TOO?” Oh…wait. She doesn’t. That whole article is about how we shouldn’t judge formula feeders. Where does she say she’s one, too? Maybe it’s hiding in there, but I didn’t see it.

    So my point is that even if she hasn’t hidden her formula feeding, neither has she been actively open about it. And now she has been. So that apology is about much more than pictures. It’s about full disclosure. You are willfully ignoring that. Show me a place where she says, MANY TIMES SO EVEN NEW AND CASUAL READERS WILL SEE IT, that she formula fed.

    Omissions can be just as bad as active lies. I think she’s a good person. I truly believe she supports all women. I also think she could more actively say and show she formula fed. If she doesn’t, she’s still contributing to the problem.

    • Smoochagator

      Exactly this. Perhaps she never hid it, so a person who’s been following her blog for years would know that she once formula fed one of her kids… but what about new and/or casual readers? They’re going to get the idea that her kids are completely BF. I mean, the name of the site is The Leaky Boob, not the Leaky Boob and an occasional can of Similac.

  • Sara M.

    A statement and a question:
    1. I recently found this blog and I enjoy it because it is in line with my own birthing and parenting philosophy. I put myself in the position of this other blog’s readers to see what they were feeling. I thought about how upset I would be if Dr. Amy wrote an apology blog about how she has assisted hundreds of births inside a special treehouse so the mother can feel like she is “above nature” some other crazy gobbly gook. I would have lots of negative feelings. I can only imagine the various emotions these struggling moms at “Leaky Boob” are feeling, hence the cognitive dissonance.

    2. Help me out here, why do hospitals push breastfeeding so hard? Breastfeeding didn’t feel beneficial to me until a couple of weeks into it at home. I hated it and I didn’t start to like it until I supplemented with formula more often. The RNs were great but they were so into breastfeeding that they appeared to be slightly upset when formula was necessary for one of mine. There was no need to for everyone, me included to feel that bad. So just…why?

    • Hiro

      I’ve got no answer to you for n°2, but can I just offer up my wholehearted backing of that question? My daughter is now six weeks old, and I was taken aback by the level of breastfeeding pressure I got at the maternité. I live in France and on the whole the breastfeeding hysteria is less here. Most people don’t blink when I tell them I do mixed feeding. I boob the kid a little here, a little there, but she’s getting lots of formula and most people don’t give a flying eff. But at the maternité…wow, the nurses were up on me about it all the time, each of them with a different and conflicting piece of advice. I had to go and ask for bottles of formula for my baby, and every, single, time they would ask me if I was putting her to the breast before I gave the bottle and then they’d dole out the bottles sparingly. I was stuck there for five days and it got so I felt I was asking for some sort of contraband!

      I was flat out lying, eventually, just to avoid any lectures or unnecessary conversation with any nurses on duty about what I should or should not be doing with my own damn body. I feel really unhappy about my treatment there and their continual implication (and occasional flat out insistance) that I was “ruining” my milk supply and thus jeopardising my baby’s health, and that I was being reckless by doing mixed feeding. I was really gobsmacked.

  • Kris

    Helpful hint. .. read an article before critiquing it. Jessica has never made a single claim to not having bottle fed or using formula. She has always been very upfront about that. The only thing she didn’t do was show pictures of those feedings. Try doing some research. Look up the TLB creed. I know it is probably impossible for you to understand the concept, but Jessica has always supported mothers first and foremost. No matter what their personal parenting journey looks like.
    Your misrepresentation and inability to comprehend basic writing makes you look like an idiot. Your willingness to flaunt your ignorance just makes you look pathetic and sad.

    • mythsayer

      For some reason my response was put above instead of here. But look for your name and you’ll see why I disagre with your assessment…with a citation to another of Jessica’s articles.

    • mythsayer

      I read down further and did see that in December of 2013 she did say she fed her daughter formula. I still stand by what I said though. 1) unless she is actively open, CONSISTENTLY, and not just on and off (and that includes telling that mom in her other post, quoted above, that she formula fed), it’s not enough for any but the most dedicated readers to know about, 2) that post still implies breast milk is a better choice, if at all possible. The “science” is compelling. It can make you more confident, etc! I’m not sure that post is an endorsement of formula feeding.

      And I have never argued over the creed. I never said she and the site don’t support formula feeders. I said that unless she is vocal about her formula use, there’s a strong implication that she considers BF better. And she clearly does. Feeling that way isnt the same as supporting choice. She supports choice…it just feels as though she stays away from discussing her use of formula if she can. It’s like she’ll discuss if need be…not otherwise.

      Let’s put it this way: if she isn’t omitting it, wouldn’t she actively say “breast feeding is great! I also formula fed, and that was the right choice for me at the time. I’ll support you no matter what!” Wouldn’t she be saying that IN NEARLY EVERY POST? Don’t get me wrong…I think she feels that sentiment. I really do. I just feel like she either knows saying it a lot will lose her core readership of avid lactivists OR she’s still not fully okay with her need for formula, deep down. I think it’s the former.

    • mythsayer

      And as a final point, I think you are confusing support with example. She has shown quite often that she SUPPORTS any choice. She could also be leading by example. I think she has been less than diligent in that department. I agree… She’s not hiding her formula use. She’s also not shouting it from the rooftops… But she does that with her breast feeding.

      She’s open and vocal and LEADING BY EXAMPLE with her stories of breast feeding. And then every once in awhile she’ll throw in an anecdote about those few times she used formula. bc with the number of kids she has, it sure feels like they were comparatively few and far between times…again, I’m talking COMPARATIVELY…of course I realize exclusively formula feeding one child from 5months is a long time, time wise. But short in the larger scheme of things since she’s clearly spent more time total breast feeding.

  • Laura McCoy

    I’m surprised you have the audacity to speak from a high horse when you either didn’t read the article or lack the reading comprehension to understand it.
    Although, based on your past behaviour, I really shouldn’t have been surprised at all.

  • KarenJJ

    Did she claim she exclusively breastfed six children? I thought she didn’t claim to have exclusively breastfed, just that she didn’t show photos of bottle feeding? I don’t read that blog so I have only followed the discussion of what has been written on The Leaky Boob on here.

    • KarenJJ

      “the-romanticized-myth-of-what-constitutes-successful-breastfeeding”
      The title is off-putting. So was her baby that received “mostly formula” a “failure” at breastfeeding, or a success as per her title? And why the heck is she still thinking in those terms? Was her last baby the one mostly fed formula? Is she admitting now because she feels less than stellar about her latest attempt to breastfeed and now, and only now, that she has actually experienced it herself can she finally sympathise with other mothers?

  • sdsures

    Doesn’t EBFing include the process of expressing BM and sticking it into a bottle?

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      Yeah, but you have to the correct bottle, that is approved by the WHO, apparently. Because if you don’t do that, then you have to hide it in shame.

      • sdsures

        Let me guess, with a fancy-schmancy official WHO endorsement on the bottle?

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          No idea, because I’ve never heard of the concept myself.

          I know that there are recommendations against BPA in plastic bottles, but we just got glass ones to avoid that.

          Personally, I had never heard of any “WHO approved” bottles before, and, apparently from the comments to her post, not many had. Therefore, count me among those who aren’t buying the claim that she didn’t show the bottle feeding pictures because they weren’t WHO approved, but because she was trying to portray the image that she wouldn’t even use a bottle…

      • AlisonCummins

        There’s no such thing as a WHO-approved bottle. She was concerned that she would be violating the WHO code on marketing formula that says not to publish photographs of babies being bottle fed.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          OK, that makes it even stupider.

          She isn’t “marketing” formula. What next? She isn’t going to record the football game on her DVR because she doesn’t have the expressed, written consent of the commissioner?

          What a disingenuous, lying sack of shit.

        • Cobalt

          There are no WHO approved bottles because no company that makes them is willing to follow the WHO marketing rules.

    • Amy

      Oh no! Not according to all the extremists I encountered when I was pumping for my first due to inverted nipples. Eight weeks of all the disadvantages of both bottles and breasts (had to clean the bottles, had to express regularly, etc), to be told it “wasn’t enough” by many sanctimommies.

      In retrospect I think I’m glad the sanctimommies were so mean, because it helped me see how horrible the entire crunchy-for-crunchy’s-sake movement is.

      • sdsures

        Nowadays they have those automatic bottle sterilizers. 😀

    • Aussiedoc

      Not according to the lactation consultant who told me I wasn’t a breastfeeding mother after I managed to exclusively pump for my son who couldn’t breastfeed for six months.

      Boy was her face red when she encountered me in a professional capacity three months later (after I made a complaint – after a LOT of crying. Oh and a week more severe pain before I managed to pluck up the courage to go back again and find someone willing to help me with what turned out to be bad thrush. And yes, as you can see – I work in the same area as these people.).

      I’m fond of saying I copped shit for breastfeeding ing public, I copped shit for bottlefeeding in public and I copped shit for expressing. Apparently the whole world wanted my son to starve. Thanks world!

      • guest

        You poor thing! How horrible that must have been! What a rotten LC, I hope she was disciplined in some way. And people just need to SHUT THE *F* UP about a mother’s feeding choice and just support them!!!!!!! I despise lacto-nazis. My neighbor’s mother was telling me that her daughter never produced more than a few drops despite pumping for days, was severely sleep-deprived, and totally miserable, so they formula-fed. When the public health nurse did a home visit, she told the girl she needed to “do whatever it takes to breast feed” and shamed her for formula feeding. So the mother stood up to the PHN and said, “what about my daughter’s health? She is miserable, she can’t care for her baby in this state” and the PHN told her “too bad, breast-feeding should be her FIRST priority” so the mother gave her a piece of her mind and booted her out of the house! The baby is a healthy, happy 8 month old..

      • sdsures

        I’d have kicked that LC’s ass SO hard.

    • Lion

      Yes it does. The WHO definition is receiving only breastmilk and necessary medications.

  • MaineJen

    You hit the nail on the head with this one.

  • Kq

    Semi OT – saw this on notalwaysright.com and it made me happy:

    Human Kindness Is A Simple Formula

    RETAIL | TX, USA | AT THE CHECKOUT, AWESOME CUSTOMERS, FAMILY & KIDS, FOOD & DRINK, MONEY

    (A couple with a small child comes up to my register with a WIC transaction, which goes through without a problem until…)

    Me: “I am sorry but your formula didn’t go through.”

    (The couple is buying nine containers of formula at around $18 each.)

    Mother: What? Let me see.

    (I show them the slip and the starting balance, which shows no formula was offered through the program.)

    Father: “Great… and it’s Sunday so we can’t call them. Well, take off all but one and we’ll talk to them tomorrow.”

    (I nod and take allow them to purchase just the one can of formula with the rest of their items.)

    Me: “I’m sorry about that but h—”

    (At this moment the next customers in line, both 20ish year old females cut in.)

    Female #1: *handing me $20* “I’ll buy one of them.”

    Mother: *shocked* “Y… you don’t have—”

    Female #2: *doing the same* “We had parents that were just like you; please allow us to help.”

    Mother: *nearly to tears* “N… no, please don’t.”

    (Eventually, the pair got the mother to the accept the gifts, and when the pair was done with their regular purchases, I still couldn’t believe what happened and that there were still people who believed in the simple formula of human kindness!)

    • Smoochagator

      Best. Ever.

    • Sara M.

      How precious! Formula for is so expensive, bless those girls!

  • Ellen Mary

    Breastfeeding is VERY important to my children. Not that it makes a huge difference in their future, but it is/was important to them, the way a favorite stuffed animal is. My issue with framing BF as trivial is that it says to mothers who DO devote significant time & effort to BF that ‘you are wasting your time’.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Do you think that bottlefeeding is less important to bottlefed babies?

      • Ellen Mary

        No, I don’t at all . . . They develop a similar attachment to bottles & loveys although it can’t last as long with bottles, as bottles really should be retired after a year for oral health and nursing can continue into the preschool years . . .

        However, I think there is an issue if, as a woman, I am supposed to be more proud of growing food in a garden than making it with my body . . . It is an issue of women’s work being devalued. Breastfeeding wasn’t that hard for me, on the continuum of BF difficulty, and I fancy I even derived some BC risk reduction from the endeavor, but it was LABOR. That is the issue with using the word ‘trivial’ with regard to it for me . . . It is more arduous than preparing bottles (at least for me), it happens more often than a child would be fed from a bottle & it was mostly incompatible (in this world) with labor outside the home (and labor inside the home quite often). Still, I didn’t then feel and I don’t now feel, like it was a wasteful use of my time . . . And I don’t feel that affirming other’s choices with regard to BF requires me to devalue my own . . .

        Just tell me why a woman would BF if we frame the activity as a trivial one? Like most humans, I like to engage in labor I regard as important . . .

        • mythsayer

          We just said no one is doing that! If it’s not trivial to you, then it’s not trivial! But don’t trivialize formula for others, and I don’t think you are. So what’s the issue?

        • attitude devant

          I couldn’t breast feed, so I bottle fed, and I’m here to tell you my kids were not attached to their bottles. They were attached to me. If they had to make the choice they would have chosen me over food. They are still very attached to me.

          • Ellen Mary

            I didn’t mean to imply that all babies do not attach to their caregivers, they absolutely do. <3 Dr. A specifically asked about the attachment of Bottle Fed babies to their bottles . . .

          • Box of Salt

            Ellen Mary, “Dr. A specifically asked about the attachment of Bottle Fed babies to their bottles . . .”

            No she didn’t.
            Scroll up.

            She asked about bottleFEEDING.

            The difference is that it’s the feeding aspect that’s important, not the bottle or the breast.

          • Ellen Mary

            My mistake 🙁 . . . I am just going to get on about my morning, filled with arduous activity of trivial import . . . I am probably more sensitive because I don’t really find the 6-12 month period of nursing that enjoyable, and that is what I am in right now . . . I feel like it is worth it because the 1-3 period of nursing is a pleasure and a breeze for me, but right now I am in the (IMO) worst part and regarding it as trivial actually makes me sorta want to cry, not to be dramatic, just be be accurate. <3

          • lawyer jane

            I know what you were trying to say Ellen Mary! Some babies REALLY love the boob! We call them boob addicts 🙂 Strangely, my son wasn’t super into nursing as an infant and self-weaned before a year, but now as a toddler really loves his pacifier and conned the nanny into giving him a daily “ba ba” (with snuggles) long after her should have been getting it. I think different babies have different levels of need to suck, and it seems like toddlers sometimes benefit even more than babies from the closeness, which sort of makes me wish I didn’t wean him.

          • nervoussubject

            If you don’t find it enjoyable, then switch to formula.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            If you don’t find it enjoyable, then switch to formula.

            yeah, but then how can she play the “mommy martyr” card?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Ellen Mary, you seem to be illustrating my point, which is that lactivists breastfeed because they want to be praised for it. It’s about them, not their babies.

            Why can’t you simply feed your babies the way that you believe is right for them and for you? Why do you feel that other women need to recognize you for breastfeeding? Why do you feel that pointing out that the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial in first world countries somehow diminishes you?

          • Ellen Mary

            It is silly to think that I would just ennnnjoyyyy BF @ every session. Did you? Sometimes it is a real PIA! I don’t need to be praised for it, I just need it to be valued as but one form of important work that mothers engage in. It isn’t like the world is running around validating vacuuming & dishwashing either. I really struggle with feeling like most of what I do as a mother is not very important, which is definitely why I spend too much time online discussing issues of the day. However I am not totally convinced the answer to that is academia or career & full time childcare. Valuing Breastfeeding is an important part of valuing my experience @ home. It certainly is easier to value than laundry & dishes . . .

            When my child is under 1, it is also the form of labor with the clearest monetary value.

          • Ellen Mary

            Regarding children as ‘outcomes’ is also a little problematic. What if my child becomes ill with something that is not preventable & passes. That would be a terrible outcome but it wouldn’t mean I wasn’t an excellent mother . . .

          • KarenJJ

            Well yes, they could be hit by a runaway bus tomorrow. Will it have mattered if they were breastfed or bottlefed? Would anyone be less heartbroken?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Feeding children is important work. Human life could not continue if children were not fed.

            What is TRIVIAL is the difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding.

          • Feeding a child is valuable labor. How you feed that child is irrelevant. Why should we value breastfeeding over bottlefeeding (breastmilk or formula), when they have nearly identical outcomes?

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Valuing Breastfeeding is an important part of valuing my experience @ home.”

            Are you saying that your experience at home wouldn’t be valuable if your weren’t breastfeeding? Like if you weren’t breastfeeding there would be “no good reason” for you to be home? Or am I reading that wrong?

          • Ellen Mary

            It would have been more appealing to me to work/study outside the home if I wasn’t wild about Breastfeeding back when I made the choice. Now my DH’s earning power does dwarf mine by several orders of magnitude, at least currently, but BF was a part of my calculus for sure. Since I basically loathe household chores & love intellectual pursuits, it was a fairly large part.

          • Smoochagator

            I had to tell a friend of mine this recently: It’s okay to work just because you want to work! She was saying that she wasn’t sure if it made sense to go back to work because most of her wages would be going to child care, so it’s not like her pay would impact the household budget very much. But she was bored at home and wanted to work, and there is nothing wrong with that. I have to work but I also enjoy getting out of the house and being off the Mommy clock for a bit. I did stay at home with my daughter for the first ten months of her life, and even though I formula fed that whole time, my entire family joked that my daughter liked me the best. Of course now she is a year and a half old and has decided that daddy is her favorite because mommy is the one that makes her go to bed LOL. All that to say that your choices are valuable because they have value to you and your family. You don’t have a checklist of perfect mommy action items other than “meet baby’s needs” (food, clothing, shelter) and “love baby.” When you do those things, you are a success, regardless of whether you’re staying home or working, breastfeeding or bottlefeeding.

          • KarenJJ

            I did that. We don’t *need* me to work, but I’ve been able to continue my career through having little kids and the extra financially stability is reassuring. I don’t cope well without work and without the structure, so meeting my needs has also help the family financially and kept us all happier than if I was at home.

          • Elizabeth A

            Breast feeding wasn’t always enjoyable for me, but it was mostly enjoyable. On the balance of each day, breast feeding came out positive while I did it. When I stopped feeling that way, I stopped breast feeding.

            I can think of lots of reasons to value your work in the home. Childcare is insanely expensive, and flexible child care is hard to buy. Before my kids started public school, childcare was the biggest item on our budget, about twice the size of our mortgage. And I only have two of them.

            Children need a lot of things in the early years. An adult in the home doing this work enables the other parent to do more outside work – I have personal examples all over that one too – and it sometimes makes more sense for a family to invest resources so that one person can majorly build their career (as opposed to investing so that two people can annoy their bosses and be unable to ever work over time while the entire family is stressed as hell).

            I can price out laundry and dishes for you about eight different ways, but it bugs me too that no one sings hymns to those chores.

          • Elizabeth A

            When my child is under 1, it is also the form of labor with the clearest monetary value.

            The more I look at this sentence, the more it bugs me.

            YOUR TIME HAS VALUE.

            Your time isn’t valuable only when it replaces commodities that would otherwise come from the grocery store.

            If you weren’t at home caring for your child/ren, you would have to find someone else to care for them. That person would be paid. It is very common for people to contribute unpaid labor to a family economy. Sadly, it is also common for people to undervalue those labor contributions. I prefer not to be one of those people, and see no reason why you should undervalue the work you do.

          • KarenJJ

            Do you feel the need to justify why you stay at home with your kids and make sacrifices to do so? I wish parents didn’t feel this way. Kids need kind, compassionate, caring people in their lives to raise them to be independent and responsible human beings. The people that are doing this work need to get enjoyment and satisfaction from what they are doing because it is important. Adding layers of “good parenting” in the form of trivial things like breastfeeding vs formula feeding, jarred food vs homemade casseroles, home made clothes etc vs shop bought is just adding “busywork” with no meaning for the parent at home.

            Raising kids should be a joy and should give parents choices in how they raise their kids. It shouldn’t be a competition in drudgery and people (especially women) shouldn’t need to choose the path of highest resistance to “justify” their making sacrifices to raise their kids.. I don’t know what the answer is but I wish parents, especially mothers, didn’t feel this way.

          • Smoochagator

            What is valuable is feeding and caring for your child. Regardless of how you feed him/her. Choose to breastfeed, choose to bottle feed. As long as you are providing sustenance for and nurturing your child, you and your time are valuable!

          • Smoochagator

            As moms, we do things that aren’t super enjoyable because we believe they’re important, and it doesn’t much matter what anyone else thinks. It probably makes little difference for my child’s health and well-being if I bathe her every night or once a week, and it’s likely no one else would notice if she was a little extra dusty in between washings. But I think it needs to be done at least every other night, so I do it, even though it interferes with all the things I need/want to do in the evenings (like cook dinner, eat dinner, fold & put away laundry, read & comment on The Skeptical OB, play solitaire on the computer and/or watch Jeopardy). If someone looked at your child, they probably wouldn’t have any idea whether he/she was breast or bottle-fed. But it’s important to you, and you should do it for that reason alone, so long as the benefits in your mind & heart outweigh the difficulty you’re having at this point. If your goal is to breastfeed your kids exclusively for the first year of their lives, then go for it. If there is difficulty along the way, and you get through that difficulty, it’s okay to be proud of yourself for reaching your personal goal. (It’s also okay to change your goals if the difficulty is overwhelming.) No one wants to take away your personal sense of accomplishment. We only want to guard ourselves and other moms from the attacks of people who would say that breastfeeding exclusively is the only acceptable way of nurturing a child and that moms who choose to feed their children formula are inferior moms.

          • Well, it’s important to you to breastfeed even while you don’t like doing it. It doesn’t actually have very many benefits to your kids on an objective level, but you care about it so you do it. No one is denigrating your choice to do something you find unpleasant because you find it important. We just don’t think you should be applauded for it either! It’s a value neutral choice- bottlefeed, breastfeed, so long as the baby gets fed it doesn’t matter how you do it. Neither is better than the other and neither deserves praise or condemnation.

          • moto_librarian

            I am sorry that you do not find nursing enjoyable right now. There is nothing wrong with admitting that. Many women do not find it pleasurable. Maybe this explains why you seem to need to have your choices celebrated?

          • NoLongerCrunching

            Marlow proved that babies get more attached to comfort than to a food object.

        • Anonymous

          I think the more important question is, why would that matter? If a woman would only breastfeed because she’s under the mistaken impression that the benefits are more than trivial, and armed with the truth she decides not to, that is not actually a bad thing.

        • Cobalt

          Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding has trivial differences as far as outcomes for the baby for nutrition, development, overall health, attachment etc. in any area with access to clean water and regulated formula. For moms (and families) breastfeeding vs. formula feeding can have have major implications for resources such as time, money, and stress management for either choice. Adding pointless guilt (in either direction) does nothing to improve benefits for babies, moms, or families and skews the perception of the goal: a happy, healthy baby in a happy, healthy home.

        • Amy

          “Just tell me why a woman would BF if we frame the activity as a trivial one?”

          The same reason I knit and cook gourmet meals from scratch and still, as an adult in my 30s, attend Irish stepdancing lessons and practice Chopin nocturnes on my piano. Because *I* enjoy engaging in the activities. I enjoy the challenge of learning a particularly difficult passage or how to knit a new pattern. I enjoy the sweaters I make and the meals I cook. But in the grand scheme of things, they are, in fact, trivial to my long-term health and happiness.

          I enjoyed nursing my children, and they enjoyed nursing. I’m glad there were some small nutritional and health benefits they derived from it, and I really enjoyed being able to quaff chocolate malted frappes every few days and still drop weight. But in the long term, it doesn’t make me super mom, and it’s not what makes them the amazing kids they are today.

        • fiftyfifty1

          ” I think there is an issue if, as a woman, I am supposed to be more proud of growing food in a garden than making it with my body ”

          Gardening your own veggies vs. buying them is trivial too. Garden if you like it, but don’t pretend it makes you a better mother than those who buy veggies at a local store or produce stand. Likewise with breastfeeding.

        • Stacy48918

          Well gardening is a waste of time and money too. Unless you are producing and preserving on a pretty large scale anything you’re growing in your backyard is a waste of time and money compared to buying something in a store, food is so cheap. Now, I agree that gardening is an enjoyable hobby and I do it myself – it’s value is that I enjoy it…but the food is no more nutritious and costs more. There is no inherent “betterness” to garden your own food. And there is no inherent “betterness” to breastfeeding. If you enjoy it – great. Find the value solely in the enjoyment it brings. And don’t look down on those for whom it does not bring the same enjoyment. Just as I don’t look down on those that don’t enjoy gardening.

          Also…gardening DOES actually take work to get ANYTHING. I woke up 3 days postpartum and WHAM I had milk. Not the same at all.

          • Smoochagator

            Whereas some of us never had milk (or enough to keep our child alive). I’m always kind of jealous when moms mention their oversupply and engorgement.

          • Ellen Mary

            You are saying the majority of what I do during the day is not work. It is work. It requires patience, the ability to tolerate suckling, it requires that I arrange my schedule around being with the baby every three hours, etc. It is work. Actually producing the milk happens automatically but if I stopped doing the work of nursing, my body would stop doing the work of producing milk.

            Something doesn’t have to be the lowest cost, most efficient way of accomplishing a goal to be other than a waste of time.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Something doesn’t have to be the lowest cost, most efficient way of accomplishing a goal to be other than a waste of time.”

            Oh course not. Efficiency is not the only important thing, enjoyment is also important. That’s why Stacy herself gardens, because she loves it.

            In contrast, it sounds as if you dislike breastfeeding (at least after the first early months). But you’ve chosen to do it, and that’s your choice. But nobody else should have to pretend that your choice has important consequences (medical or emotional) to make you feel better about choosing to do something you dislike.

          • Stacy48918

            “Efficiency is not the only important thing, enjoyment is also important. That’s why Stacy herself gardens, because she loves it.”
            Exactly. I also knit and crochet. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has seen me busy on a project and told me “Do you know how much you make per hour? That’s like a $200 baby hat. Just go buy one!”

            But I LOVE to do it. And yes it’s “work”, but it’s enjoyable work. But I don’t think my hats are “better” than a store bought hat just because I “worked” at it. It’s “better” **TO ME** because I made it for my child. Someone else prefers to buy their child’s hats at a store, what do I care? Doesn’t make my hat better than their hat.

          • Elizabeth A

            Something doesn’t have to be the lowest cost, most efficient way of accomplishing a goal to be other than a waste of time.

            Of course not.

            People keep offering up crafting and cooking examples here – sometimes we take a labor intensive route to a desired result for reasons that make sense to us personally, and may not apply to other people. That’s awesome. But when shit hits the fan, remember what the important part is, and remember to value the correct thing.

            The end goal of feeding a baby is to nourish the child. Breastfeeding is one way to do that, and if you want to do it that way, absolutely, go ahead. In the final analysis, though, the fact that I preferred breast feeding to formula feeding makes about as much difference as the fact that I prefer handknit socks to bought ones. I should exercise my preference to the best of my ability, and I shouldn’t get snobby about people who buy socks in stores.

          • Kq

            Do you really not see how many of us here bf or ebf, currently or in the past?

          • It IS work. For sure.

            The first couple weeks of breastfeeding SUCKED. I almost believed my little sweetie had razorblades on those gums….and don’t get me started on the fear, loathing ad guilt….”I can’t even feed my BAAAAA-BBB-YYY!”

            But that was like, maybe two weeks. Had that BS gone on longer I’d have said, “Well, hell, this sure just isn’t worth is, I am done here!”

            Amazingly…the clouds parted and I breasted that kiddo until 14 months….with the help of formula supplementation!

            I never had success with pumping. So, on the days I worked, somehow arrangements were always made for me to get my boob hooked up with the kid.

            And it worked.

            And I was able to juggle both…because I was transparent with my co-workers and management as to what my new-mama-needs were. It was a ton of work….but also super manageable.

            You’re at home, and that’s great.

            I worked, and that sure, that was great for me.
            Scratch that…I work, and sure, that’s great for me.

            I’ve been a little bit of everything over the last five years. A stay at home mom, a full time NICU nurse, and now a part-time NICU nurse/part-time NNP student who has finally figured out how to balance this whole work/life thing. I’m better when I’m balancing. I need to be home as much as I need to be on the floor with my babies. Being a NICU nurse is my passion, and I cannot imagine life away from my unit. It makes me SUCH a better mama.

            You seem restless. Apologetic even.
            I just hope you’re not ignoring your existence…

            Keep in touch…

        • Aussiedoc

          My son makes eye contact with me, just FYI. Not the bottle. He’s attached to me.

          And the idea that bottles are more dangerous for oral health than breastfeeding is ludicrous – both are dangerous. It’s the timing that’s the issue. Believe me children that continue breastfeeding down to sleep get just as many dental caries as bottlefed children.

    • Melissa

      The fact that something is trivial in terms of outcomes doesn’t mean you are wasting your time doing it.

      If it turns out that reading nightly to your children is trivial in terms of outcomes it doesn’t mean that you are wasting your time doing it. We do lots of things that don’t have significant positive results because we enjoy doing them. Making a home made Halloween costume is certainly trivial, but I greatly enjoyed the fact my Mom devoted the time to doing it and I could help. We have a lot of great memories. It was a good experience for us because we enjoyed the experience, not because it was a great outcome.

      If the fact that breastfeeding doesn’t confer greater long term benefits over bottle feeding means, to you, that it was a waste of time then don’t you want the information to be shared with mothers in the future so they can make an informed choice and not feel pressured to do something that they will later learn wasn’t that important?

      • AmyH

        Wow, you said it really well in this comment. I EBF till 10 months (failure, I know) and count myself as basically a b’fing mom. And it was important to me. Not a super big deal, but honestly something I did feel good about doing. At the same time it gripes me when I see other moms stressing about choosing or having to FF.

        The lady I know who convinced her teen daughter to feed her baby watered-down cow’s milk because it was “no different”? I judge that lady. But not the formula feeding moms. And I feel like you’ve managed to convey the concept of why that can be important to me while recognizing that other moms’ babies aren’t “missing out.”

        Your mom made you Halloween costumes. My mom made me fancy birthday cakes. My mom didn’t judge moms who made birthday cakes out of a box or bought them from Walmart…. Anyway, you nailed it.

      • Tosca

        I agree entirely with you but, as a teacher, I have to say that “reading nightly to your children” is not something that has trivial outcomes. It teaches your children important pre-reading skills (like knowing English is read top to bottom and left to right) and makes it much easier for them to learn to read. It is also one of the best ways to foster a love of reading. It is sooooooooo much more important to intellectual development than breastfeeding could ever be!

        • toni

          The point is that *if* it turns out in the future that the benefits of reading to your children were greatly exaggerated it wouldn’t mean reading to your children was a waste of time. It would still have been enjoyable, quality time together.

        • Amazed

          An anecdote here (natural people love anecdotes, after all!) When I was little, my dad didn’t read me nightly (he and my mom did so many times a day). But he recounted moments of our history, turned to tales, every night. This was the very thing that made me love history – an interest that progressed throughout school, sent me to university (in a related field) and is still very important in my life. But even if it wasn’t, I doubt he would have considered it wasted time. He just enjoyed it, and so did I.

          Now, it’s me recounting history for him.

        • sdsures

          I can attest to the fact that being read to as a child fostered my love of reading.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            I can attest to the fact that not being read to as a child had no negative impact on my love of reading.

          • D/

            I was rarely if ever read to as a child, but devoured every book I could get my hands on even before starting school. Read to my own children … One’s a librarian, another considers books only fit to prop up wobbly tables. Go figure 😉

          • Amazed

            My dad was such a child – never read to, an avid reader. Many years ago, when my grandma who had spent her entire life farming, retired, we asked her what she was going to do now. “I’m going to read!” she said. Turned out that with three children and exhausting job, she simply never had the time before. In a few years, she devoured my dad’s library and went to mine.

            All of a sudden, some things became clear.

          • D/

            My grandparents raised me for the majority of my childhood. My grandfather was illiterate. He made his mark “x” on any farming contracts until his seventies when he had first-grade me teach him how to scribble out his three letter first name, something we were both very proud of. He never wanted to read himself and frequently raised hell about me wasting kerosene just to read all those books after dark until he had me start reading stories aloud to him, that is. After that he’d keep me up reading to him night after night. I *loved* those story times and by fourth grade had read him every fiction book in the elementary school’s library!

          • Amazed

            That’s a wonderful story and a memory I suppose you cherish. Looks like you should.

            My other grandmother is a retired teacher and one of the people who taught me to read. Till this day, I give her a copy of each book I have ever translated.

          • D/

            Most definitely among the fond memories, and I’m thoroughly enjoying seeing the love of books come full circle as a grandparent myself.

            Thanks for sharing your stories. They are lovely 🙂

          • FormerPhysicist

            *sniff* That’s awesome.

          • LOVE this! Do tell…what was his favorite read? (I’m imagining something by Mark Twain or maybe Harper Lee or maybe The Boxcar Children.)

            I.MUST.KNOW ! ! !

          • D/

            He just loved stories … any story, almost every story. He never wanted to look at any pictures though. “Don’t bother with that. Just read!”

            I remember him being so surprised when Little House went on after the first book. He did, in fact, enjoy the Boxcar Children for a bit, but then said it was too much of the same thing after a while. I only remember him asking me to read one book a second time, Pit Pony, one of the first I read to him.

            He was a rough old cob of a man, truthfully, mean most days. But he’d laugh out loud, lean forward on the edge of the chair, root for the underdog, get still and quiet (but never shed a tear) as every story came and went. So glad I made that deal with him so he’d let me “waste” all of his kerosene for all those years.

            Thanks for bringing that all to mind.

          • Amazed

            I remember the time my brother started showing interest in reading. He wanted to be like me, in everything. Which included being able to read his own books. And no, picture books didn’t fly all that much. He loved them, but he wanted to read books with many, many words, like the rest of us. At four, his reading was flawless and he was convinced that he was ready to start 1st grade (here, children start it at 7 or 6 if their birthday falls near the end of the year).

            He started school at 5. And I have to say that his enthusiasm didn’t last long. His love for reading remained, though.

        • Melissa

          I suspect that actual research would show that the act of nightly reading itself doesn’t have an actual impact on literacy once you control for everything else. If you are in a household where literacy is not respected then a forced nightly reading isn’t going to confer benefits.

          There’s a statistic about how homes with more books have children who do better is school. That doesn’t mean that forcing books into every home would cause all children to do better. It’s just that these things (ownership of books, nightly reading) correlate with homes where literacy is important. I thought that Freaknomics discussed this in the book, but it might have been a podcast.

          • freaky

            Yup, that was in Freakonomics or the sequel.

      • Kupo

        My FiL has certain ambivalences with the choices in his life. Decreasing his cholesterol intake, eating healthy, sparingly eating his favourite foods. All potentially prolonging his lifespan.

        My MiL made similar choices, including giving up smoking. She experienced a lingering illness, and made more changes/restrictions to her lifestyle. At Christmas, diagnosed with cancer. After New Year, diagnosed as terminal cancer. Just before Easter, she met her second granddaughter for the first time. They smiled at each other. MiL died a few days later.

        Is it trivial that she decided to take up smoking in her 20’s? Is it trivial she spent months of lifestyle changes treating an incorrect diagnosis? Is it trivial we busted ourselves getting to her deathbed?
        I still don’t know. I’m glad to be able to tell my daughter she met her grandma.

        My FiL is philosophical about the latest food demon: sugar. He’s sure he won’t live long enough to worry about the cumulative effect on him.

    • mythsayer

      No. I have to disagree completely. No one is treating it as trivial. Most of us are saying that all forms of feeding baby are equally important. Lactivists tend to look down up those who formula feed. NO ONE is looking down up breast feeders. In fact, they are placed on this pedestal by the natural community, while the rest of us are expected to grovel around on the ground under it, apparently. We all say that if you want to BF, more power to you. Of course it’s not a waste of time! You are feeding the baby! But when you start losing sleep, and the baby starts starving, and everyone thinks you’ve lost your mind… it’s time to stop. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. You should be able to just pop open a can of formula and put it and some water in a bottle and feed the baby! How is ANYONE trivializing BF? If anything, lactivists trivialize formula feeding!

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        NO ONE is looking down up breast feeders. In fact, they are placed on this pedestal by the natural community, while the rest of us are expected to grovel around on the ground under it, apparently.

        Exactly. This is exactly it. “Failure to praise you for doing X” does not mean that we are “looking down” on X.

      • Boobs For Everyone

        This. A lot of people feel like their feelings are invalidated if people make different decisions than they do, or don’t attach the exact same logic/importance to something that they do. Things should be important to you because they’re important to you, not because you’re being validated and praised by everyone around you.
        (General You, not specific you, of course.)

    • anh

      If you are killing yourself to breast feed because you think it’s going to make your children super genius humanitarians who do Iron Man competitions, then yeah, I’d probably tell you you’re wasting your time.

      If you are killing yourself to breast feed because you cherish the time it gives you with your children and makes you happy, then there is no way I’d say you were wasting your time.

      No one says it’s trivial; they just assert (truthfully) that the health benefits are trivial

    • Smoochagator

      I have a lot of respect for people who do put in significant time and effort to breastfeed. Several of my friends exclusively pumped, and quite a few of my friends exclusively BF (their kids wouldn’t take bottles and/or they weren’t able to get much milk when trying to use a pump). It was important to them to provide breastmilk for their babies, and they worked hard at it, and I applaud them for reaching those personal goals.

      I think what Dr. Tuteur is saying is that then much-touted health benefits of breastfeeding are actually rather minimal, especially in developed countries, so women who do not want to breastfeed or can’t do so should not feel that they have failed as mothers.

      • Trixie

        I know someone who has spent months EPing for preemie twins while working full time. Now that is hard work.

        • Smoochagator

          For real!

    • Zoey

      I don’t think anyone would say that a mother that spends significant time and effort to breastfeed her baby is wasting her time, if breastfeeding is important to her and she wants to do it.

      And if women were more aware of the actual (minimal) health benefits of breastfeeding or less afraid to use formula, then it is possible that some women might decide that devoting significant time and effort to breastfeeding IS wasting their time. But that’s their right to make an informed decision.

      It just reminds me of the whole lactivist idea that women are so weak that they can’t even see a bottle or a container of formula, otherwise they will just give up and stop breastfeeding. I think women deserve more credit than this.

    • LibrarianSarah

      A lot of things that people devote significant time and effort into are trivial. I am currently knitting my niece a baby blanket. The pattern is difficult and it will probably take me hours and hours of time and a whole lot of swearing and taking out stitches to complete. But you are not going to see me saying that hand knitted blankets are “perfect” and the aunties that give their nieces and nephews store bought blankets don’t bond with them as much. I realize at the end of the day the blanket I give her is just going to be thrown up on. But I enjoy knitting and I like making thing for my family. That is what makes it not a waste of my time.

    • Trixie

      Feeding your children in a way you both enjoy is not a waste of time.

    • Susan

      I don’t think I would choose the word “trivial” in characterizing the benefits of breastfeeding to expectant parents either. Trivial is in the eye of the beholder. I am really glad I breastfed my children too and I still see nothing trivial about it. But, I in no way feel my kids are superior beings to who they would have been had they been formula fed nor do I believe I am more attached to them or they to me now as adults/teens. With perspective I can see how the word “trivial” fits but I have to admit I am not entirely comfortable with it as a characterization of the benefits of breastfeeding. Perhaps if I were doctor Amy ( not my blog! ) I would say “vastly exaggerated” as how I would characterize the way breastfeeding benefits are presented. I do remember the days when there wasn’t support for breastfeeding and women felt marginalized for choosing breastfeeding. I don’t want a return to that; I wish we could live in a world where women could feel supported when they choose a healthy method of baby feeding that’s right for them no matter whether that is breast or bottle or both.

      • Roadstergal

        To be fair, though, there’s a difference between ‘trivial’ and ‘vastly exaggerated.’ If the activists were saying that breast milk can re-grow amputated limbs and cure metastatic cancer, then the benefits could be said to be ‘vastly exaggerated’ even if they were non-trivial. From the data I’ve seen, the benefits are indeed ‘trivial.’ Which, as everyone has said, does not mean that breastfeeding is useless, or not important, or not a very good thing and important part of your bond if it works for you! But that those who don’t want to or can’t are not depriving their baby of anything important. That is the crux of using the term ‘trivial,’ IMO.

    • Mom2Many

      Formula feeding is VERY important to my foster children. Not that it makes a huge difference in their future, but it is/was important to them, the way a favorite stuffed animal is….
      When I get a malnourished infant and they greedily suck back bottle upon bottle, you can imagine that cradling them while they regain the pounds they have lost through neglect is nothing short of precious for both of us.
      Once again, I think you miss the point of an article. WHY would we create an environment where something that has NO substantial lasting effect has to be shamed into being considered sub-par, even to the point of lying about it?
      Breastfeeding Fanatics need to own their agenda…just like Dr. Amy says so much more eloquently than I can.

      • I love that you are helping and loving kiddos who need to be helped and loved. You’re inspiring and I’m grateful for peeps like you. Cheers to YOU!

    • Boobs For Everyone

      I’m glad you were able to feed your children in a way that mattered to you, but that’s the important part – *feeding and bonding with your children.* Whether you do it with a breast or a bottle is ultimately irrelevant, as long as you bond. The effort has tremendous meaning, the specific way in which the effort is expressed is … well, trivial, ultimately.

    • Elaine

      Well… you can like what you like and believe it is important, while respecting the right of another to feel otherwise. And that’s a two-way street. Or it should be. Lately I have been saying “I think nursing is great, but it’s not for everyone.” Who is it not for? Those for whom it doesn’t work, or who just don’t want to. We are all different. Someone else’s choice not to breastfeed isn’t about me, either, or a referendum on my choice.

    • Kupo

      Feeding a baby is important. The method of feeding – so the baby is nourished – is important.

      My baby loves her boob time with me. She enjoys chewing on her (empty) bottle. When she turns 1yo, she’s really going to enjoy bottle time even more when it is filled with commercial milk.

      Myself, I’m over this EBF business. Just like I’m so over the ‘pregnancy’ thing. Once was a learning curve. Twice was another experience. No more kids. /unquote

    • rachel

      My reasons for breastfeeding are entirely selfish and trivial. They have nothing to do will my children’s future. I enjoy eating and am loving indulging and still losing the baby weight. I appreciate the “me” time. Not the bonding (although that is nice but I formula-fed my older children and bonded just fine). It’s the fact that with this third and last child I can scoop her out of her grandmothers’ arms and say “she needs to eat” and get my fix again. I can sit on the couch and enjoy a 45 minute feeding while my husband gives the big boys their bath because “the baby needs to eat again”. I can close my office door during lunch to pump and expect fewer interruptions (doing it right now). The cost savings are negligible and my daughter will never care if I breastfed her but right now I’m loving it entirely for me. When that changes I’ll add formula to the grocery list.

  • mythsayer

    This is what I posted on the Leaky Boob’s FB page on this “admission”. Seeing all these people still say that bottles are fine because she still used BM really pissed me off. They clearly missed the entire point… well… her point was what she said, that she also used bottles… and sometimes formula. But I see the formula admissions as the REAL issue. The bottle thing… ehh. A lot of people said they assumed she was pumping. But I bet you most didn’t assume she was using formula. So for them to just willfully ignore that part of her admission is amazing to me. So… here is my rant to them. I don’t know if it stayed up on the FB page.

    ________________________________________________________

    A
    selection of comments (please don’t feel bad if I’ve picked yours…
    it’s just a selection): ** ” I have fed my baby with my body exclusively
    (except solid foods) sometimes we just have to use a tool to do that.”
    ** “But quite honestly, I’ve never assumed
    that when you post your sweet pics of nursing Sugarbaby, that she never
    had a bottle too…..in fact, when anyone says “I’m still
    breastfeeding,” I take it as SOME, ALL, or MOST feedings are still from
    the breast…..it’s definitely MY NORMAL anyway. My 10 month old has
    only had a handful of bottles (begrudgingly ), and I’m SO in need of
    some alone time that I might go crazy!!!! I can’t imagine how I would
    have gotten this far without a few “breaks.” I think to support
    breastfeeding, we need to support moms who WANT to breastfeed, and that
    includes offering the whole picture from everyone’s experiences.” **
    “bottle feeding breast milk is still breast feeding even if it isn’t at
    breast feeding.” ** “The thought never even crossed my mind that you
    weren’t giving any bottles – I think you’ve mentioned pumping in the
    past, I just assumed. I exclusively pumped for 9 months and my baby also
    only drank from “WHO code violating bottles” (first time ever hearing
    about this btw!!), but I still say I nursed her for 9 months. It was my
    milk nevertheless. No need to apologize Jessica, in my book.” ** “But
    I’m confused on why you would ever feel ashamed for putting your milk in
    a bottle for your family to feed your babies. That’s breastfeeding” **
    “Part of normalizing breastfeeding is taking away this breast or nothing
    stigma. Breastfeeding mamas own bottles, of course we do. We don’t have
    to create this image that we all just walk around baby wearing 24/7 and
    never give a bottle. In a way I’m sad that you hadn’t portrayed this
    before, but now I hope that more women are inspired to breastfeed
    because it’s not a stagnant set of criteria. It’s a choice that has a
    spectrum of options to for every family, every mama, every baby. Thank
    you for bringing that to light. I’m sure many mamas having kept their
    bottles in the dark and now they’ll lose that shame.” HERE IS MY GRIPE:
    Some people have acknowledged that formula feeding is fine… feed the
    baby. HOWEVER, the comments I quoted are STILL lactivist in nature. Did
    these commenters miss Jessica’s statement where she said one of her
    children was mostly fed formula? Now I don’t have an issue with that at
    all. I tried to breastfeed and if I’d been able to, it would have been a
    blessing. My daughter ended up having a fierce milk protein allergy.
    Unfortunately, I never made enough milk. I am not a proponent of breast
    feeding per se, so I didn’t care if I had to feed her formula, but I
    gave breastfeeding a try, actually enjoyed it, and she wasn’t allergic
    to breastmilk, so yes, I’d have happily EBF if I could have. But I had
    to mostly feed with formula and supplement with breast milk, just
    because my daughter liked it… it was mostly for comfort… not really
    for anything else. So I really, truly couldn’t care less if a baby is
    formula fed or breast fed. Whatever works best for your situation. But
    to basically respond to this “admission” by saying “bottle fed breast
    milk is still breast milk” is MISSING THE POINT. The main admission here
    wasn’t that she used a bottle. If you are so hung up on breast feeding
    that you think how the baby gets breast milk into his/her body actually
    matters, you really should rethink your priorities in life. And I think
    that’s more or less proven by the comments here (that such is a stupid
    belief… as pretty much everyone has said, it’s still breast milk, so
    who cares if a bottle is involved?). The real admission here is that SHE
    FED HER BABY FORMULA. And a lot of the comments acknowledge that and
    say it’s fine. AND IT IS FINE… because it is HER baby and she can feed
    her baby whatever she wants. But if you read this “admission” and then
    comment with “oh I don’t care if you fed your baby breast milk with a
    bottle! You still did good! It’s still breast milk and that’s all that
    matters!”, which is basically what the comments I selected above (and
    there are more…. many more) imply, then you are still part of the
    problem of causing other women to feel guilt. If these commenters
    actually believed that formula was fine, they could have removed the
    statements like “I have fed my baby with my body exclusively (except
    solid foods) sometimes we just have to use a tool to do that”.
    Statements like that are just perpetuating the problem. How about this
    comment? “I have to admit that I control images from early in our
    daughters life of her bottle feeding. She also had a dummy at about 4
    months for a while. I relactated and by 6 months she was ebf. But I’ve
    struggled to make peace with it being part of our story. The pictures of
    you and sugar baby breastfeeding were inspiring to me on my journey.
    And maybe I did LONG to be a bit more like you. But I’ve never been able
    to pump worth a damn. So I couldn’t pump and take those much needed
    breaks, (which we all need).” So…… this mother “struggled to make
    peace” with her need to pump and use a bottle. WHAT????? WHY???? THIS
    SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN. No one should EVER feel bad about how or what they
    are feeding their infant. If it is BM or formula, from the breast, or
    from a bottle, or from a cup, WHO CARES? Do you truly not see the issue
    here? That if someone is feeling guilty about feeding her baby breast
    milk from a bottle that we have taken this way, way too far? And if
    someone tries to argue that these commenters probably don’t judge
    formula feeders, my question is: why did they strongly, strongly imply
    that breast milk is still superior? And if your response is that it
    clearly IS superior… then you’re also perpetuating the problem. The
    proper response to something like this is “however you want to feed your
    baby is fine…. the important thing is that your baby is healthy and
    fed and it doesn’t matter how or what your baby is being fed.” I applaud
    her for making this admission… it was difficult.

    • Kq

      WORD. Well said!!!

    • Amy M

      I saw that, and thought it was very insightful.

    • guest

      Excellent post! I hope the lacto-nazis get it. The whole NCB/homebirth?lactivist/back to the dark ages thing is really insane. It’s all about competitiveness and control.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Lactivism is such a pathetically easy way to boost your ego. It’s fail-proof. If you hold yourself out as a role model, and women do what you say, then you can preen yourself about being an amazing mentor vital to the cause. And if women FAIL to do what you say, then you can preen yourself about how much better you are.

  • Amy M

    I saw some of the comments on the leakyboob facebook page. The vast majority were fans of Weber’s, and they said one of two things, validating the author’s feelings: 1)Oh, its ok that you used bottles! At least your breast milk was in there. or 2)”There’s a WHO code for bottles?”

    For some reason, many felt it necessary to say “Oh, I totally understand. I am so ashamed that my exclusively breastfed baby (21mos now!) refuses to take a bottle or a pacifier because (fill in some totally bogus reason that is actually a humble-brag here).” I guess they had to show they were better mothers than those who used bottles.

    They ignored the formula bit altogether…’cause its still ok to believe you are a superior mother if your baby is getting breast milk, even from a bottle. SOME of us have to work after all.

    If the blogger had admitted to something really bad, something she routinely “educates” against, and genuinely apologized, she would probably lose a portion of her readership. They would recognize the hypocrisy, and they would also be disgusted by whatever heinous act she committed (using formula at night or something) and could no longer see her as a leader.

    • mythsayer

      I don’t know if they allowed my comment to stand… I haven’t gone back to look.

      But I posted a very long rant, with some selections of comments pulled out, about their avoidance of the formula issue. Some people did say “however you feed your baby is cool!” But a lot of other ones somehow completely missed the formula statement. Willful blindness or something.

      I basically told them that a comment like “who cares if you used a bottle? It’s still your breast milk and that’s all that matters!” was perpetuating the problem. It still implies that formula is bad and only BM is acceptable.

      And then I told them that if they tried to say that’s not what those comments mean, they shouldn’t have limited their comment to BM.

      And I pointed out a couple of comments where the person actually said “I have felt so guilty about using a bottle! I’ve only done it a couple times! I don’t think your a bad mom! I’ve also exclusively fed my baby BM… I had to get over using a bottle, but I told myself it’s still BM, so it’s okay!”

      I mean, really??? This person felt guilty about using a BOTTLE with BM. That is ridiculous. Absolutely insane.

      • Amy M

        Yeah, I said above, I saw your comment (didn’t realize you were from the SOB community). It was nice to see someone who wasn’t kissing the blogger’s toes, or humble-bragging about her breastfeeding awesomeness.

  • Smoochagator

    Regarding #3: how children turn out in the end has only so much to do with what kind of parent you are. There’s the influences of genetics plus the child’s friends and other caregivers, their teachers, the culture in which they grow up, etc. Amazingly, some kids who are abused and/or neglected still turn out to be productive members of society and some kids with awesome parents still have profound developmental, physical, and emotional struggles. It is the height of egocentrism to think that as a parent, you can control every single thing that happens to your child and mold him/her into exactly the person you want him/her to be. It’s not just egocentric, it’s dangerous – you are setting yourself and your child up for a world of disappointment.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Exactly! And so if you are planning to use your supposed superiority in mothering as your source of ego boost, you better not leave it up to chance. Use short-term “Quality Indicators” like natural birth and exclusive breastfeeding as the “proof”.

    • Bugsy

      …of course, don’t forget how much the purity of your household water and air factor in to how your children turn out!

      (tongue in cheek, of course)

      • Smoochagator

        Most definitely! And your GMO-free diet…

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      It is the height of egocentrism to think that as a parent, you can control every single thing that happens to your child and mold him/her into exactly the person you want him/her to be.

      The idea is so completely contrary to everything I have encountered as a parent that it doesn’t even make sense. Parenting has been the one most absolutely humbling thing I have ever experienced.

      First, to have the arrogance to think that I have complete control is really silly. Second, to have the arrogance to think I WANT complete control is probably even sillier.

      I don’t even WANT my kids to be what I would make them to be. I want them to learn and take from others, and be much BETTER than anything I could get them to be.

    • DiomedesV

      The genetics and sociological literatures are actually quite clear on this. Barring extreme abuse, the primary factor underlying a child’s temperament–where that word encompasses many different traits–is genetics. Moreover, the primary factors influencing a child’s success are: genetics, economic status, and education level of parents. For most kids, those things are basically set once they’re born.

      At heart, I believe most people understand this. But they don’t really want to believe it. They want to believe that children are blank slates.