The unspeakable cruelty of lactivists

Cruel Rubber Stamp

I have a dear friend who is a breast cancer oncologist. It is hardly unusual for women to cry in her office, but one incident that she shared truly shocked me.

When my friend opened the exam room door, her patient was already crying. No, she wasn’t feeling ill. No, her disease was not progressing. In fact, she had come to the appointment eager to celebrate her progress. Why, then, was she crying?

When she checked in at the front desk of the office, the secretary had looked at her and blurted out, “You’re bald! What happened to your beautiful hair?”

How could the secretary be so unthinkingly cruel? Obviously her hair had fallen out from chemotherapy.

That topped my list for clueless cruelty until yesterday. That’s when I read Why I don’t breastfeed, if you must know, by Emily Wax-Thibodeau.

Wax-Thibodeau has also battled breast cancer. She was subjected to unfathomable cruelty, not from a medical secretary, but from people who ought to know better, lactation consultants.

The truth is, I’m a breast cancer survivor, and after a double mastectomy with reconstruction, which probably saved my life, I simply wasn’t able to breast-feed…

Five years after the operation that saved her life:

… We were cleared to try getting pregnant. But because chemotherapy ravages fertility and I was now 37, we found ourselves saving money and signing up for in vitro fertilization.

It took two rounds of IVF to get pregnant.

On Jan. 29, 2014, I gave birth to a 71 / 2-pound baby boy who had a head full of light brown hair and whose ravenous appetite and old-man snore we instantly found mesmerizing, maybe in a way only parents could.

“You never gave up,” my husband said, laughing as he watched Lincoln gulp down his first two-ounce serving of formula, which my husband fed to him.

As the two of them cuddled afterward, I was in a mood that I can describe only as postpartum elation.

That is, until those I jokingly call the “breast-feeding nazis” came marching in to my room.

Despite her medical history:

“You really should breast-feed,” the hospital’s lactation consultants, a.k.a. “lactivists,” said.

When I simply said, “I’m going to do formula,” they didn’t want to leave it at that.

So holding my day-old newborn on what was one of the most blissful days of my life, I had to tell the aggressive band of well-intentioned strangers my whole cancer saga.

You might think that would have shut them up. You would be wrong.

“Just try,” they advised. “Let’s hope you get some milk.”

“It may come out anyway, or through your armpits,” another advised later …

These are supposed health professionals. Their ignorance is astounding — mastectomy removes all breast tissue, even the tail of the breast that extends into the armpit — but their cruelty is truly mind-boggling. What’s next, chiding a paraplegic to get out of that wheelchair and exercise?

But as I’ve written many times in the past, many lactation consultants aren’t healthcare professionals. They are laypeople who had an easy time breastfeeding and enjoy feeling morally superior to other mothers. Shaming is integral to lactivism because shaming others is integral to the self-image of lactivists. All their so-called “baby friendly” initiatives — locking up formula in hospitals, mandating lectures on the benefits of breastfeeding to exhausted new mothers, abolishing well baby nurseries — aren’t friendly to babies, and they certainly aren’t friendly to mothers; they are friendly ONLY to lactivists.

Wax-Thibodeau almost feels relieved at having an “acceptable” reason for not breastfeeding.

As Jezebel’s Tracie Egan Morrissey wrote: “What those lactivist [expletive] conveniently forget to tell people — in their ongoing campaign of castigating bottle-feeding mothers as unnatural and ignorant, masking their concern-trolling as “support” — is that breastfeeding, for many women, is an incredibly painful, almost traumatizing endeavor. It was all so miserable and I associated that misery with my new baby, whom I secretly resented.”

Others literally lowered their voices to a whisper, confessing as if they had committed a crime that they supplemented breast-feeding with formula.

Why did they feel they had to whisper? In many ways, it reminded me of the stigma that comes with having a C-section.

The comparison is telling. Lactivists are often natural childbirth advocates, too. And in the same way that they grossly inflate the benefits of breastfeeding, they grossly exaggerate the “risks” of C-sections.

Many years ago I read Harold Kushner’s outstanding book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Kushner offered an important insight into why people saying unspeakably cruel things to those who suffer misfortune. When confronted with someone who has suffered a tragedy, people often say “It could have been worse” but they mean “it could have been me.” In other words, many cruel remarks directed toward others are actually self-referential.

That is precisely what is going on with the shaming and blaming so beloved of lactivists and lactation consultants. Their comments, and even many of their “scientific” claims are self-referential. They reflect the need for lactivists and lactation consultants to boost their own self-esteem by criticizing others, often under the guise of “support.”

I have bad news for lactivists. In industrialized countries, the benefits of breastfeeding, while real, are trivial. Lactivists are not superior to other mothers; they are just women who chose one excellent form of infant nutrition over another excellent form of nutrition. They wield guilt, not for the benefit of babies, and certainly not for the benefit of mothers. They wield guilt for the benefit of themselves. Their cruelty comes from their self-absorption and those who are victims of that cruelty should not despair.

How you feed your baby is irrelevant. How you love your baby is what counts!

  • sdsures

    …out the armpits. Seriously???

  • Mom o’ lots

    A part I really like about the referenced article is when Wax-Thibodeau refers to a quote from another article: “Medical literature looks nothing like the popular literature.” True in so many areas.

  • FormerPhysicist
    • Bugsy

      “I support people before I support a feeding method.”

      -Love it. Thanks for sharing.

      • FormerPhysicist

        I really appreciated her mea culpa. Yes, many breastfed babies get bottles. Even bottles of formula.

    • MLE

      The fear of their own community’s reaction makes me wonder how they could ever discount FF mothers who feel shamed.

  • Bugsy

    I breastfed my 2-year-old until I made the decision to wean him a few days shy of his birthday…but would I ever join the lactivist forces? Heck, no. My toxicophobe friend joined La Leche League and became obsessed with it, eventually becoming one of their leaders. The self-righteousness she had from extended breastfeeding was off-putting.

    Notice that I said “I” weaned my son. Anyone read “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”? Horribly judgmental. If I took that book seriously, I would be jailed for forcing my 2-year-old to wean when he wasn’t ready. Thankfully it was a gift from my LLL friend, so I read the book bemusedly instead…

    • RNMomma

      I’ve been fortunate, I guess. My local LLL leaders are pretty non judgmental. They seem satisfied with supporting moms who choose to do any form of breastfeeding, and state that supplementing is often a part of breastfeeding. I’ve had no issues with BF though, so perhaps I’ve just never seen they lactivist side of the group. That being said, I have mentioned a few times that I decided to supplement when I go out due to the stress of trying to find time to pump, and was never given a hard time.

      • Bugsy

        It’s awesome that yours were supportive. I have to admit that I reached out to the LC at my paediatrician’s office a few times and received pretty positive, non-judgmental support. However, to this day I’ve refused to reach out to La Leche League. After seeing how militant and judgmental my friend had become after joining LLL, there’s no way I want that anywhere near my family.

    • Bombshellrisa

      That book was on the recommended reading list my OB’s office gave me. Did you get the creeps by the use of the phrase “breastfeeding couple” when referring to the mother and her baby?

  • ForgetfulGuest

    If I hadn’t come across crazy lactivists myself, I would have trouble even believing this story – that’s how ridiculous it sounds. It reads like a bad joke or maybe an urban myth. Unfortunately, as we all know, these stories are real. Hopefully there will come a day when they are simply that – stories about the bad old days when some lactivists were horrible bullies.

  • Amy

    I was sooooo thankful when the last LC I saw showed me how to bottle feed. I hadn’t planned on it, and had no idea how to.

    • guest

      you didn’t know how to put a bottle in a baby’s mouth?

      • RKD314

        Learning how to bottle feed includes: how to put the bottles together, how to clean them, approximately how many oz your kid should get per day and per feed, how long the milk can stay out.

        It certainly isn’t rocket science, but imagine you’re a first time parent who is already overwhelmed and panicked. And especially imagine if you had planned on feeding your baby in a whole different way, which you read up on for months. And now you have to do something different. Kind of nice if someone just says, “Hey, it’s ok, you’re going to bottlefeed. It’s not that hard, look, here’s how you do it.”

        • DaisyGrrl

          On the subject of assembling bottles: imagine you’re a babysitter with a hungry niece who doesn’t realize there’s an extra sealing ring missing from the bottle. Then milk ends up all over baby and aunt, with very little going in the baby. Yup, just imagine this totally hypothetical scenario…

          • Cobalt

            Also totally hypothetical: some bottles have little solid plastic discs that go between the bottle and the ring for storing milk. A nipple can still fit over the disc, but now the disc isn’t obvious. Babysitter cannot figure out why the baby is screaming for food but won’t settle down and take the bottle…

          • An Actual Attorney

            Hypothetically, a sleepy Actual mom might do that too.

          • MichelleJo

            Wasn’t hypothetical for me. My year old daughter was having tubes inserted in her ears; a minor procedure but done under a general so she had to be fasting. Tough for baby, but she had a morning appointment. My husband took her and I prepared a full bottle and bag of pretzels for them to take along. On their way back home, my husband called me and said that she wouldn’t stop crying. She’d had a few pretzels, but wouldn’t give more than a couple of sucks at the bottle.. When they arrived home, I picked up the bottle, and I could have cried. I had prepared the bottle and totally out of rote inserted the disk like I did whenever we went out. My husband though was clueless; he’d only ever done a night feed. I removed the disk and she absolutely lunged for the bottle, and gulped it down in one shot. So if you’re going to give bottle
            feedg training, don’t forget the Dad’s!

        • KarenJJ

          And on the topic of total hypotheticals, exhausted first time mum is told to supplement bottles but not told to toss the contents of the bottle after an hour. Hard to tell if there was any additional vomit, due to vomitty newborn, but it couldn’t have helped in the heat we get here. Hypothetically..

          • Young CC Prof

            Yup, bottle-feeding isn’t rocket science, but there are a lot of ways to do it wrong if you’ve never done it before.

            And studies show that most mothers, even those who intend to do exclusive direct breastfeeding, will wind up using a bottle at some point. (Even those who do exclusively breastfeed will probably wind up doing bottles of expressed milk at some point.) So, it should be something that all mothers know before leaving the hospital.

        • Mom o’ lots

          Well-put, RKD314! I have eight kids and breastfed them all. So I should know how to care for a baby, right? Well, when I started babysitting grandkids (breast/bottle combo feeding), I had SO MANY questions about bottle feeding and was really stressed about it until I “got” the routine for the baby. (P.S. When I did get it, I was amazed by the convenience of it, and wanted to ask my younger self why she hadn’t done this, too.)

        • Amy

          RKD314 Yep. You’re reply is perfect. I only studied breastfeeding. I had ZERO intention of formula feeding. I was in a horrible state mentally and physically and my baby was not making dirty diapers. I needed help, and I got it from an LC.

      • Bottle-feeding, like breastfeeding, isn’t about shoving a nipple in a baby’s mouth. Some babies need to be paced, some do best in a side-lying position, sometimes slow-flow nipple are best in the beginning while they are working on that whole suck-swallow-breathe thing. Sure, most term babies aren’t really fragile feeders, but they still deserve a better experience than just having a bottle stuck in their mouth, liquids pouring into their mouths, not allowing them to coordinate their efforts and regulate their intake. Simply sticking a bottle in a baby’s mouth can lead to feeding aversions and failure to thrive. Bottle-feeding is an art just like breastfeeding. Lay down and have someone pour some bottled water in your mouth and see how you like it.

        • RKD314

          Absolutely right and so well-said! My daughter had to be held or placed on a pillow in a specific position, was a very slow eater, for the first 3 months had to be burped throughout the feed and not just after, always needed a slower flow nipple than the package recommended. They are people, not milk-drinking machines, from the day they are born.

      • I’m curious about the intention of your question. I understand misunderstandings in tone and content are common when we’re dealing strictly with the written word…but your comment seems attacky towards Amy – as this post probably seems attacky towards you. And yes, I’m feeling a little defensive and protective of a mom who shared her experience. To me, your comment insinuated she’s a moron because she didn’t know “how to put a bottle” in her baby’s mouth. Can you clarify the motive behind your question? I’m just trying to understand where you were coming from with that comment. Maybe you were being sarcastic, maybe you were being serious. I’d like to know. Thanks!

      • Amy

        I didn’t know how to hold the baby or how to hold the bottle. I didn’t know how much formula to make per feeding, since I only studied how to breastfeed. Got any more questions?

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          *raises hand*
          That makes two of us. Also, it’s nearly impossible to find out how much formula a baby should be eating, and online calculators, according to my pediatrician, are often wrong.
          How friggin’ difficult would it be to give a mom a sheet of paper saying “a baby who weighs X-Y pounds should be drinking approximately A-B ounces of formula per day?”
          I remember calling DD’s ped frustrated to the point of tears because DD wasn’t drinking the 32 ounces per day that the online calculators suggested, and I just couldn’t make her no matter how much I offered her, and the kid kept. spitting. up. I know all babies spit up…but I’m talking all the time!
          Ah, well, it turned out that she should be drinking a much more likely (for her size/appetite) 20-24 ounces a day…but no one had told me that, and there was nowhere for me to get that information.
          I didn’t know how long bottles could be left out before tossing them, didn’t know if it was ok to let her take a few sips from it (ah, newborns, gotta love ’em) and then put it back in the fridge, didn’t know how to mix up the bottles (though at least the formula carton told me that much)…nothing. And all the information I could find was pretty much “Breast is Best! If you feel like quitting, call the LLL!”
          Or, from another pediatrician in the practice, “Oh, here’s a pamphlet for a local mom’s support center! For just $500, they’ll do a personalized lactaction consultation with you, and for $750, they’ll do a series of house calls!”
          *snort* For $750, I’d expect someone to give me a week of nighttime nannying. I guess they must charge what the market will support, but this particular market wasn’t supporting them. I just wanted to know how best to feed my baby, since EBFing wasn’t going to work.

          • D/

            *sprayed milk from my (decades-ago-dried-up) armpit, then slipped and fell in it* … This was suggested the other day as the new Coke out the nose exclamation

            $500.00 for a lactation visit?! Where in the world? Certainly doesn’t reflect anything *any* market around me would support. Unless I’d have to travel up a mountain pass for an hour on a jackass to come to you! But then I’d still feel obligated to do your dishes, run some laundry, and throw dinner in the crockpot before I left.

            I’m so sorry you had such a struggle with feeding your baby, and if we shared the same neck of the woods I’d have so loved to be able to help you sort it all out!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Best I could figure is that this was in a Really Big Business City in the US, where there are a fair number of very wealthy people. Clearly, I gave off vibes that were a good deal wealthier than my budget would suggest. :p I’m guessing based on what I see in the waiting room and the general economics of that area of the city that many of their patients are *extremely* well-off and wouldn’t really bat an eye at that price.
            Me, I opted for having DH go out and buy a canister of formula ($15), order a pizza ($12) while I figured out how to deal with the bottles, and saved the remaining $473. Call me low-brow, but a $500 consultation was *not* gonna happen. I imagine that there were other much less expensive LCs in the area, but by that point I was tired and drained from the whole new-mom no-sleep C-section-recovery thing and emotionally fragile from getting shamed by hospital LCs and RNs.
            Believe me, I would have appreciated having someone kind and sane around to help! From what I see here, your patients are lucky to have you. 🙂

  • Sara

    Lactivists may be horrible, but LC’s can be useful. Where I delivered, the lactation nurses are RN’s and are usually the best people to ask about how medications can affect a nursing baby, etc. I can appreciate their value for helping with BFing problems, but LC’s should definitely not be walking around the hospital on patrol.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      I have mentioned in the past that I actually have a soft spot for LCs, having had good experiences with them, and therefore I tend to be a little more forgiving. However, I fear that the profession is dangerously close to falling for Bofa’s Law: anything that is defended with “not everyone who does this is bad” has a serious problem.

      They clearly aren’t to the level of chiropractors or CPMs, but they are starting to get toward the edge.

      • Sara

        I think it’s a field that deserves a clear distinction between people who have attended a workshop or two, read some books or organized nurse-ins, and those professionals with actual medical knowledge who understand the ethics required of a medical caregiver.

        • DiomedesV

          If they deserve that distinction then they need to make it themselves.

          • Sara

            I agree.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            And that is what brings us back to Bofa’s Law. The “not everyone is a loon” is a complete copout, and doesn’t address the problem of the profession, as opposed to the individuals.

            I’ve pointed out before that there is a actually an organization of hairdressers, just as an example, that includes as a stated goal to advance the profession. Hairdressers care about their profession.

            And then there are those that say, “Don’t lump me in with the loons that make up a lot of the profession”

      • D/

        Bofa, thanks for sharing that soft spot. I seriously needed to hear that (particularly crappy day today).

        I must admit this is a hard place for me to hang out most of the time. In fact, it’s the most uncomfortable place I have ever been that I continue to voluntarily subject myself to. I initially cringe at every breastfeeding post and on occasion will even reflexively snap the browser tab shut. I wait for someone to make some blanket statement that all LCs are pretending to be professionals, are breast Nazis or whatever. I assume this includes me since I am one. It’s hard to not take those kind of comments personally, and some days they could drive me into the ground if I let them.

        But you know what? I need (and want) to know if families are left feeling this way after LCs care for them. Because as hard as my job is, it doesn’t remotely touch the place a mom who wants to breastfeed is when it falls apart for her, and knowing where I screw up helps me make struggling through breastfeeding suck less for the next family.

        I was a happier LC before I knew we were hanging over the cliff’s edge, but I don’t think I was a better one … So thanks for telling me that too!

        • DiomedesV

          What kind of training to do you have? What is the standard level of training for LCs? It sounds to me like it’s all over the place.

          A profession that wants to be respected needs to have 1) high standards of admittance; 2) thorough educational standards; 3) rigorous standards for completion and examination; and 4) a willingness to push bad actors out of the field.

          If anyone can say that they are an LC then none of these criteria are being met. Midwifery has the same problem, but the CNMs still won’t repudiate the CPMs. I guess I feel badly for individual actors in this drama, but by and large, I don’t sympathize with professions like that.

          And I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that in general, any profession that is primarily staffed by women for women is going to meet lower standards of intelligence and professionalism than professions that welcome both sexes and serve both as well. In an era where women can enter almost any field, LCs and midwives, which are generally fields that require less training than their counterparts like nursing and doctors, will simply be of lower quality.

          • D/

            I’ve been an RN for 27 years and spent over half of it in the Nursery/NICU, found an interest in breastfeeding about 20 years ago and have been working as a hospital-based IBCLC for the last 13 years. I love helping families breastfeed, am generally good at what I do (always want to do better though) but truthfully would have been unlikely to have ever left the NICU were it not for the loss of my hearing.

            I don’t disagree with the assessment that the LC profession is all over the place, and I don’t expect any possibility of change without licensure. Even then the degree of woo infestation would still be a problem.

          • Young CC Prof

            Definitely, both things are an issue. One is the well-developed literature which is not based in a real scientific method, which means that there just isn’t enough information about what really works for breastfeeding problems. The other is loose professional standards.

            FWIW, I saw two LCs during my son’s newborn days. One was a flake, the other was helpful, compassionate and practical during the worst day of my life. In the end I wound up not really breastfeeding, but that’s OK.

          • DiomedesV

            You are a member of a highly respected profession–nursing. I think it’s fantastic that you also have a specialty in infant feeding. You are heads and shoulders above anyone who goes into LC without nursing qualifications.

            Why is it permitted? I’m pretty sure that restricting to people with an RN would go very, very far toward tamping down the woo, since I would think that an RN would have experience with infants that are really ill.

            I am sorry for my tone. I just feel that any profession that wants to be taken seriously needs to take the steps above.

          • D/

            No need to apologize for your tone. Nothing you said missed the mark.

          • AlisonCummins

            I think OBs are primarily women, and L&D nurses definitely are. So I don’t think that “by women for women” is the dividing line here.

          • DiomedesV

            OBs and L&D nurses are capable of treating men if the need arises. Both have extensive clinical training that includes working with men. Some OBs do treat men for pelvic pain. CPMs and LCs have no ability to treat men for anything.

          • DiomedesV

            Not only that, but the “by women for women” seems to come with some philosophical garbage that has no place in medicine and would not be tolerated in other fields.

        • Stacy48918

          Thank you for being willing to be uncomfortable. That you are willing to consider other effects of LC recommendations is really great.

          I had an easy time breastfeeding my first, a hard time with my second. I don’t know if I will ever have a third…but already I worry about my ability to breastfeed and whether or not I’ll get push-back in the hospital for wanting to supplement with formula. That’s not good.

        • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

          I would tell you the same thing that I tell everyone who is PAST the edge:

          I should think you would WANT to rid the group of the loons. They are making you and your profession look bad.

          You see the nasty BFing stories here, I would think, if you are an LC, your response would be, “Damn, we gotta put an end to that!”

          And, don’t take this personally, I don’t want to hear the defense of “we aren’t all like that.” The reason this is coming up is because, it may not be you, but too many of the others are, and who is going to fix it if not you?

          If you want to people to not have a bad impression of LCs as a profession, then the profession, and that includes you as a member, has to step up and get it to change.

          • D/

            Only in the last six months have I had any personal exposure to LCs other than RN/ IBCLCs with long-standing Maternal-Child backgrounds. I was blissfully ignorant of how intertwined my profession has become in all of this.

            I really don’t take your criticisms personally, and you’ll not get a “but, but not me” defense here. I truly appreciate and use those criticisms to influence my personal practice, but as much as it shames me I can’t fight for my profession. Frankly it’s literally all I can do most days to stand up for the individual families I’m working with, hold looniness at bay in my own neck of the woods, find professional gratification in just being the best LC I can personally be, and hope to keep my job.

        • nervoussubject

          If a new mother tells you to leave her hospital room, do you immediately go? If you see another LC, or a nurse, bullying a mother who doesn’t want to breastfeed, do you stand up to them and bring her some formula?

          • D/

            It is not unusual for the LCs at my hospital to be involved with FF babies that are having difficulty bottle feeding. I’ve never had a family ask me to leave, but if one ever did then yes I would leave. When I end up in formula feeding families’ rooms in error (which recently is happening on a regular basis with blanket orders for “Lactation consultation, if breastfeeding”), I simply offer my congratulations and remind them to enjoy their baby.

            I’ve never bullied any mother about breastfeeding regardless of her intended feeding plan, nor have I been faced with a nurse or LC partner doing so. Beyond the fact none of us subscribe to that sort of philosophy, we simply have too few LCs available for far too many breastfeeding mothers to actually provide decent care to the ones who are actively asking for help.

            Recently though I have been beating my head against a wall as the only voice questioning why we have chosen a quality standard of 100% of breastfeeding mothers to exclusively feed breastmilk without formula supplementation. I certainly have no trouble imagining that will influence an imposed change in practice that I will not be able to support and expect to find myself having to deal with.

        • NoLongerCrunching

          I feel the same way. This blog has improved how I care for patients…but man is it hard to read sometimes!

        • moto_librarian

          The LCs that are great at what they do are a true asset! I know of at least one who is working to get licensure passed in her home state so there will be standards and a mechanism for reporting LCs who are bad actors. I had a bad experience with one in the hospital after my first, and it took me getting to know some other LCs to realize that not all of them were like the one that I had to deal with. Keep doing what you’re doing – you are going to help change your profession for the better.

    • Trixie

      I too have had wonderful experiences with nurse LCs in real life. With my last baby, I got a home visit from one of the hospital ones at 2 days after discharge. She checked both of us out, weighed the baby, took my vital signs, etc. Then she asked, “how are you feeding the baby, and what can I help with?” She was prepared to answer questions whether I was BF or not. She was great!

      • Squillo

        I had a great one who had no problem recommending nipple shields to give me time to heal, which is the only reason I was able to continue. The idea was that if it allowed me to continue bf, great, even if it reduced my supply and the baby needed some formula (didn’t happen). At that point, the only other option would have been to quit.

        The woman who taught the BF class at our hospital was good, too. Very no-nonsense. They were both older European women, and I wonder if they were somewhat less driven by BF ideology than some of the newer generation of LCs.

    • Techniques in breastfeeding, and how to teach it, were an integral part both of my RN education and my midwifery qualification. LCs are a fairly recent innovation, and, like doulas, IMO are of dubious value. Working nights on postpartum, I very frequently had to repair damage done during the daytime by overzealous LCs.

      • Sara

        I know it’s true that they aren’t uniquely knowledgeable, but I assume there should be some benefit from specializing if that’s a service that’s needed and if hospitals are seeing any benefit from having staff to address feeding issues specifically.

        But I don’t see why they shouldn’t all be nurses like Trixie mentioned, who help with any feeding issues in an unbiased way.

        • NoLongerCrunching

          Some of my nurse colleagues are the most judgmental lactivists around. Having an RN, in my experience, is completely unrelated to how zealous one is about breastfeeding.

      • Trixie

        I think infant feeding specialists with nurse-level education are a great idea. I got some very dubious, outdated BF advice from the postpartum RNs in the hospitals I delivered in.

        • RKD314

          Yes, this would be great, and ideal if they were trained in infant/child nutrition in the first year in general. My daughter is 7 mo old now, and a lot of the questions we “save up” to ask at her pediatrician visits involve food. It would be nice if there was someone to call who is a real qualified professional in this case, but a doctor isn’t needed.

      • Burgundy

        I had 2 great LCs and they were both Postpartum CNM. I had a crazy one who was not a RN nor CNM. Just my bias, but LCs should have postpartum experience so they can help moms better.

  • Allie P

    Congratulations. I’m staring at the screen with my mouth open. “it may come out of your armpits?” Jeez. You know how you can fill out DNR forms at a hospital? There should be a DNSLC (do not send lactation consultants) form, too.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      So from now one, if someone posts something really crazy, instead of saying that we spit our (coke, coffee, crystal lite) on our keyboard or monitor, should we say we sprayed it out of our armpits?

      • Trixie

        I vote yes.
        I think the phrase “spraying out your armpits” can also be used as a substitute for “talking out your ass”

    • nervoussubject

      I agree there really should be such a form. Everyone is anti-bullying these days, except for those interacting with new moms 🙁

  • Anna T

    I don’t get this… I just don’t. Is there no limit to ignorance?? Those first words, “I had breast cancer”, should have been enough. The proper and humble response should have been, “I’m sorry. So very happy to see you are well and healthy today. Enjoy your baby.”

    It seems there really are no limits. I’ve even heard some stories about adoptive mothers who stimulated their breasts with a pump for weeks or months, to be able to lactate for the adopted child. It’s nuts:

    “Induced lactation depends on the successful replication of the biological process.

    If you have a number of months to prepare, your health care provider might prescribe hormone therapy — such as supplemental estrogen or progesterone — to mimic the effects of pregnancy. Hormone therapy can last six months or more.

    About two months before you expect to start breast-feeding, you’ll likely stop hormone therapy and begin pumping your breasts with a hospital-grade electric breast pump. This stimulation encourages the production and release of prolactin.”

    Hormone therapy??? I’m speechless.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      I don’t get this… I just don’t. Is there no limit to ignorance?? Those first words, “I had breast cancer”, should have been enough. The proper and humble response should have been, “I’m sorry. So very happy to see you are well and healthy today. Enjoy your baby.”

      and

      “What can I do to help you?”

    • Medwife

      I’m wondering what that hormone therapy might do to a woman’s breast cancer risk.

    • nervoussubject

      I’d like to see the lactofascists try to bully adoptive fathers into breastfeeding.

      • Sara

        I’ve seen someone comment that a grandmother who ended up being a caretaker for her newborn grandchild should try ‘relactating.’

        • Young CC Prof

          Right. Because clearly breastfeeding is the #1 consideration of someone in that situation. Not trying to endure newborn care when you’re in your 50s or 60s, or dealing with whatever happened to the child’s parents.

    • RNMomma

      Breast cancer aside, I think that as long as people aren’t suggesting randomly that a pending adoptive mom tries pumping so she can breast feed it’s an option that should be encouraged. If you are unable to conceive and carry a child, but want to put forth the effort to breastfeed, it should be (reasonably) encouraged. I know a girl who did just this and she has breastfed two adopted infants. Her first actually was having problems feeding with a bottle for the first couple days of life, but for some reason latched right away onto adopting mom. A wonderful NICU nurse said, “Looks like she was just waiting for mom.” It was an incredible moment for my friend. To reemphasize though, that was something she chose entirely for herself.

      • Young CC Prof

        Yeah, I agree that if a woman wants to do it, it’s fine. BUT, she should go into it knowing that adoptive nursing probably has a lower success rate than nursing by biological mothers, and nobody should go around being like, “Hey, it’s a good option for everybody!”

        • RNMomma

          I completely agree. It’s rare for this to work out well and should be treated that way.

        • NoLongerCrunching

          It depends on how you define success. Exclusive breastfeeding is pretty unlikely, but some milk production and a baby who enjoys suckling from mom are very doable.

  • DaisyGrrl

    Before reading this article, I had hoped that BFI hospitals at least knew better than to try to promote breastfeeding when it is not medically possible (or advisable). But here we are. Sigh.

  • Bella Alger

    My son had a lip tie, tongue tie and the jaw C1 and C2s weren’t positioned properly. The hospital staff failed to tell me this, instead forced him on my breast over and over and over causing both baby and I severe frustration. Not to mention I was suffering from postpartum depression (thank God it only lasted 1 week). I also suffer from Pure-O which showed its ugly face during those early days. They didn’t take the baby to the nursery even though I was a hot mess, slept in the bathroom because any sound he made would wake me, I would cry all the time and even freaked out one morning when a nurse asked me to hold him. All I needed was one night of rest. I pumped for 7 weeks straight with a hospital grade pump until I found an incredible lactation consultant who referred me out to specialists and was not judgmental. I almost didn’t breastfeed due to the hospital nurses. They were so pushy. Instead of being helpful, they used guilt to ‘encourage’ breastfeeding. Before leaving the hospital, one of the few laid back nurses told me to get a HG pump. Every situation is different. I have a friend who wants to have a baby but she suffers from severe depression. She would have to be back on the pills as soon as the baby comes out. I need to tell her about telling nurses to fuck off. A healthy momma is more important than milk. I plan on breastfeeding my boy until he weans off alone, however this isn’t for everyone. It’s hard for me not to judge perfectly healthy moms, however I am working on that.

    • NoLongerCrunching

      Many antidepressants are ok during pregnancy… I took mine with all 3 kids.

      • moto_librarian

        Took Zoloft through both of my pregnancies as well.

        • just me

          Also safe for b/f (not saying people should b/f, just saying antidepressants don’t preclude it and people shouldn’t avoid ADs in order to b/f). You can do both, if you wish.

    • DiomedesV

      “It’s hard for me not to judge perfectly healthy moms, however I am working on that.”

      The reality is that you don’t know who is “healthy” and who’s not at least half the time. And the people you know don’t owe you an explanation of anything.

      Maybe you should wonder why it’s so important to you what other mothers do. Do you care if wealthy women work?

      • Siri

        If you have fertility problems, do you judge women who limit the number of pregnancies they have? And I agree about not judging by appearances; ‘perfectly healthy’ is a massive assumption and very often wrong.

        • Amazed

          Here is the time for a sign, I think. “I cannot breastfeed because I have this or that and oh, I do want to look healthy and not on the death’s door.” Right across the forehead.

          So now women should not make efforts to look nice and, you know, not ill, because heavens forbid they look perfectly healthy and not breastfeeding ! A well-meaning mom will always be there to judge them.

        • DiomedesV

          Or do you judge women who have abortions?

      • Bella Alger

        True, but I did help a friend out by giving her milk and lending her my pump. She stopped breastfeeding because ‘baby was allergic to her milk’, but then put the baby on cow’s milk formula. WTF! Now she’s out going to concerts and all over the place. It’s hard not to judge people who act that way.

        • FormerPhysicist

          Act what way? Like they can still have fun? Like they don’t melt into puddles of goo while staying at home 24/7 with a newborn? The baby is on a healthy food, presumably being cared for by a competent adult while the mom is out, and the mom is enjoying music.

          Frankly, I’m jealous.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Frankly, I’m jealous.

            That’s my response, too.

            I feel the same way about people who are able to do things because they have grandparents handy for babysitting. Are they supposed to change their behavior because there are those of us who do not have handy babysitters? Should I “judge” them because they are able to do things I am not?

            Or should I be happy for them because they are able to do these things?

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Are they supposed to change their behavior because there are those of us who do not have handy babysitters? Should I “judge” them because they are able to do things I am not?”
            Yes, according to Attachment Parenting philosophy.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “Now she’s out going to concerts and all over the place. It’s hard not to judge people who act that way.”
          I’ve found it easier not to be resentful when I am truly happy with my own choices and my own needs are being met. That’s something that doesn’t always come easily to those of us who struggle a bit with martyr complexes 😉

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Shit, I don’t even bother trying not to be resentful. For example, my response to my nephew and his wife, who live right next to his parents, and therefore their kids can hang out at their grandparents’ house all the time while they go off and do things is, “You suck. Must be rough.” And their response is, “Yeah, it’s awesome.”

            Actually, they really do appreciate being able to do it, because they know they are fortunate to have such opportunities. Good for them, but, you know, they still suck.

          • Bella Alger

            I actually deleted my comment because people are getting all bent out of shape. They’re judging me for judging. I guess the way I see it is that if I was able to do it, anyone (who does not have a medical condition) can. It is a bit of a martyr complex. LOL

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            I guess the way I see it is that if I was able to do it, anyone (who does not have a medical condition) can.

            So you think she is a liar about the milk allergy? Or that she is lazy and didn’t try hard enough?

            Why does it matter to you if she didn’t try hard enough?

          • Bella Alger

            I wrote this long reply, but realized that you are trolling on everyone’s comments.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Or you could answer the questions that people are asking you.

          • MLE

            Bofa trolling? You can’t troll if you’re a resident.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            Bofa trolling? You can’t troll if you’re a resident.

            Oh yeah? Challenge accep…

            Nope, I don’t have time. Sorry.

          • An Actual Attorney

            I don’t think Bofa’s trolling you or anyone. Perhaps you don’t understand what trolling is.

            I too wonder, why do you think your friend was a liar?

          • Amazed

            Maybe my grandmother should have tried harder when she went dry with her baby only 40 odd days old. I daresay she would have loved to have formula available. Instead, she fed the kid animal milk and bread soaked in wine because that was what she did.

            Lucky us. Now, we can afford not to try hard enough and the only tangible consequence would be some free time on our hands, as opposed to feed our babies whatever we have just to keep them alive.

          • FormerPhysicist

            And many of us do not accept that martyrdom is a reasonable goal. You’re lol’ing, but it’s not coming across as rueful or humble to me. Maybe she had a medical condition, maybe she didn’t and she’s trying to avoid an argument with you. In either case, formula is really a fine food (if you have access to clean water).

            Go ahead, judge me for buying a rotisserie chicken and reading a book instead of cooking dinner for my kids from ‘scratch’.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            But at what cost? And who else but the mom should determine whether the cost to herself (and to the baby, father, and siblings who have an unhappy mother) is worth it?

          • Stacy48918

            Maybe anyone “can”…but they just don’t want to. It’s a woman’s right to do with her own body what she wants.

          • DiomedesV

            Cheer up. We all judge someone for something. I judge mothers that I think make motherhood too difficult. I enjoy that.

            On an unrelated aside, I judge people’s financial habits. To be fair, they’re people who make their financial problems my problem. But I’m still too judgmental about it. Doesn’t phase them too much. Makes me very unhappy.

          • Stacy48918

            “they’re people who make their financial problems my problem”
            Haha, yea I definitely do this too. My mantra though is “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on your part.”

        • An Actual Attorney

          So, do you judge her because you don’t believe her reason, you think should have lactated better, or you think she shouldn’t go out away from her baby?

          Frankly, any of those three makes you human, but not a very nice one.

        • Jocelyn

          I honestly don’t understand what there is to judge in her story.

        • AlisonCummins

          You’re probably feeling judgmental because at some level think that her pleasure is being paid for with her child’s suffering.

          Do you have any special reason to think her child is suffering? Mothers are not the only people who can care well for babies and children — and they shouldn’t be. Children are best off being confident there is a network of people they can trust to care for them well.

    • MichelleJo

      Every time I hear a story like yours, where the mother’s precious first days and weeks with their baby read like a horror story, I try to take a few deep breaths and stay calm, but the truth is that they rile me up like nothing else. BF nazis – demons dressed up as angels.

      • Bella Alger

        I know. It was very hard. Especially since my husband isn’t very helpful. Throughout my entire pregnancy and after (except during birth of course) I felt like a single mom. But I am happy that I was able to do it.

    • Joy

      I know what you mean about judging. It isn’t so much judging for me as jealousy. My friend had a baby six weeks ago and they are out hiking. I wanted to section hike a local trail this summer, when my baby was about 8 months old. She was such a slow feeder it was just never going to happen and it makes me sad. Same with going to all these mother and baby classes. But, I am also so very grateful she doesn’t have CF, so then I have guilt over feeling bad about not getting out because it could be so much worse.

    • Sara

      I understand why your knee-jerk reaction might be judgment. A good response, for yourself and for them (if they seem to be asking for a response/sympathy, which sometimes happens) is that formula is very healthy for babies.

      I agree with the others about judging a woman as “perfectly healthy.” You may or may not know details about her health, but that is always a wrong judgment in my view. I have a neighbor with Crohn’s disease who looks perfectly healthy (what I really mean is she’s very attractive.) To oversimplify, she stays thin because her bowels don’t digest half of what she eats.

    • Smoochagator

      I second what someone said already about some antidepressants being okay during pregnancy… but your friend and her doctor should talk at length about what sorts of drugs she takes and what her options are. For some people, a low dose SSRI like Zoloft works great during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For others, different options (which are not pregnancy or breastfeeding-friendly) are necessary to stay on an even keel, and for some people, finding the right balance of drugs to manage different issues (mental health or otherwise) can be a challenge and changing one medication affects the whole lot. Absolutely your friend should be encouraged to find a way to realize her dream of becoming a mom, but at the same time if she and her doctor do decide on a course of treatment that precludes breastfeeding she should be 100% confident in telling nurses (or anyone else) that she has chosen to formula feed, the ‘why’ is none of their business, and she doesn’t need their encouragement/guilt/questions, full-stop.

  • MichelleJo

    Talking about people saying stupid, clueless and downright cruel things to someone vulnerable, it reminded me of what someone once told me.
    Fifteen years ago, I got to know a lady of my age, a quiet, intelligent, lovely person. Only after knowing her for several months, did she tell me of what she had been through. The (unfathomable)loss of her first two children. The first, a girl, was stillborn, after a regular pre-natal visit in which her (competent, respected and experienced) doctor could not find a heartbeat. After an emergency U/S, she was induced, and labored for 24 hours to give birth to her dead daughter. 18 months later, she joyfully greeted her second beautiful daughter following a problem free pregnancy and labor, and had readily submitted to any extra testing her doctor thought prudent throughout the pregnancy. A week later, she found her daughter dead in her crib. When I got to know her, she had a healthy baby boy of a few months old, her third pregnancy outcome. She told me that she holds nothing against the unbelievable comments people had said, ‘maybe it’s genetic’, ‘did you consult with Dr. Whoever’, and so on. She said that people treated her like she was someone who needed taking care of, assuming, due to her shy nature that she was clueless. As a friend, I knew that she had a rare kind of quiet common sense (we should see a more of it), and had done the best she could to try and avoid another tragic outcome. What she did tell me was that when attempting to say the right thing to anyone in a tragic or difficult situation, as a rule of the thumb, never, ever, start a sentence with ‘but at least’. Whatever is going to follow those words will say that it could have been worse. A grieving person is grieving what they have lost. They need comfort for that. Telling them that it could have been worse only induces guilt and does nothing to relieve the agony they are presently in. As a post script, her teenage son is now an older brother to three lovely sisters.

    • Cobalt

      The only “at least” that was any comfort to us after our daughter’s accident was that she lost brain function before she could suffer. There’s no way to put a positive spin on the loss of a child.

      • MichelleJo

        Even that ‘at least’ was probably something you tried to comfort yourselves with; it is definitely not something that should have been pointed out to you by someone else. The only thing to say, if anything at all, is something like ‘ I am so, so, sorry’, or maybe a gentle hug. No questioning the details, no judgement, and no advice.

        • AlisonCummins

          Yes.

          When my mother died much younger than expected after a sudden five-week illness, we were devastated. Then talking with friends about their mothers I realized … this way we know she’ll never have Alzheimer’s. I shared that with my father, who got comfort from it.

          I don’t think I’d have taken kindly to someone who told me “at least she didn’t get Alzheimer‘s” in response to learning of the loss of the smartest, wisest and least judgemental person I’ve ever known.

          • Dr Kitty

            My parents take comfort from the fact that my sister was spared from the miserable, painful life she would have suffered. But no, that doesn’t mean her death was “a blessing”,as someone once put it, and no, my little sister’s birth three years later didn’t “make up” for our loss.

            People can be cruel, not deliberately, but just from being thoughtless.

          • guest

            You’re so right. When my father passed away, a nurse said that to me, and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. Yes, it was a blessing, he suffered terribly, but that was not the appropriate thing to say.

          • Sara

            I’m so sorry about your mother.

            I have an “at least” for my brother, too. A few of them maybe. It’s all just logical stuff that doesn’t help with the grief. I would still rather have him here.

        • Cobalt

          True. And most of the dumb stuff people said soon after it happened was obviously meant to be comforting, even if painfully clumsy. What makes me angry is the people who think I should have a time limit on my grief. How can you stop loving a child, stop feeling their absence, stop wishing it wasn’t true? Those are the people that I want to punch in the face.

          • That sucks. I’d love to hear about your daughter’s life. What was her name? What was the coolest thing about her?

          • Cobalt

            I don’t do names online, but I can tell you she was just the most outrageously friendly person I have ever known, loved meeting new people, and really cared about them. On a trip to the grocery store I would always have to watch her more than the younger ones, because she would get into conversations with anyone, tell her life story, invite them over for dinner. She just genuinely loved people, saw friends everywhere. And so brave, she would push herself to try things that scared her, like the roller coaster at the fair or the big water slide. And then get her little brother to try it, she’d make him brave too. She’d talk him through it, hold his hand, convince him he could. Queen of the pep talk. She was an avid reader, not just kid’s books but also my old textbooks and anything else she came across, so many nights I turned the light off after she fell asleep on a book. She’d hoard them, half of our library would be in her room. Now the books stay where I leave them, and it’s just so wrong. It is good to talk about her. I want people to know she was here, that she is a part of us, that she matters.

          • What was her favorite non-kid book? Or, favorite book in general? Or favorite topic?

          • Cobalt

            Anything having to do with birds or horses, especially scientific type books. We actually got her an encyclopedia set for her birthday one year. Cats, dogs, fish, reptiles, and dinosaurs were also high on the list. Her and her sister caught a giant corn snake three summers ago, brought it in the house to show me. She read my farrier textbook and asked about a million questions. She’d pop quiz me on the equine skeleton, and loved interrogating the vet. When we got the farm we got chickens and ducks (hard to say no when you’re on an actual small farm, she made really good points in her lobbying efforts) and she’d do lectures on how they grew inside the eggs in the incubator for the two younger kids, whether they asked or not. She wanted to candle the eggs every day, just to check on the babies, but was very pragmatic when the foxes reduced our flocks now and then. She wanted to be a biologist, I thought she would have been great having a TV show about animals, like Steve Erwin. It wasn’t just about knowing and being good to them, she had to share her enthusiasm. Really what good is it to know the whole life story of a bullfrog, and find an actual big fat bullfrog, and not have anyone to share it with?

          • DiomedesV

            She sounds like a marvelous kid.

          • An animal girl! She sounds so curious. What an amazing person to know and be around. I’m sure she is missed terribly by so many, and I am so sorry she’s not hosting her own animal show on NatGeo right now! Keep talking about her. You can always talk about her here!!! Thanks for letting us get to know her a little. She sounds like one of a kind. : )

          • KarenJJ

            Oh that made me teary. She sounds like a beautiful and fun-loving soul and I’m sorry for you loss.

          • Brix

            She sounds like a lovely human being. What a blessing to have had such a beautiful soul for a daughter. Thank you for sharing a little bit of her with us.

          • Dr Kitty

            She sounds like a very special girl. You must be so proud of her.
            Talk about her all you want here, I for one will enjoy hearing about her. Thank you for sharing.

          • Amazed

            She sounds gorgeous. I am so sorry for your loss.

          • moto_librarian

            I am so very sorry, Cobalt. Thank you for sharing you lovely daughter with us.

          • RNMomma

            The time limit thing gets me too. I lost my mom at age 11 and still miss her terribly almost two decades later. It’s so insensitive to hear “but that was a long time ago, right?” whenever I mention to someone that I’m having a difficult day in that I’m missing my mom a lot.

            Also, I read some of your descriptions of your daughter. She’s sounds incredible. Like my kind of girl. (My mom used to encourage the adventurous outdoor side of ourselves – three girls – to the point where we would catch tarantulas and bring them home where my mom would bust out the encyclopedia for us to read all about them while we all stared at this giant spider in a bucket in our kitchen.) Thank you for sharing her with us.

          • Cobalt

            Grief is an expression of love. How do you stop grieving someone you can’t stop loving?

            And I always thought childhood should be full of critter companions, covered in mud, twigs in hair, scabby knees, and books under covers after bedtime. It makes for a messy house, but I love watching them grow in it. She explored everything.

    • Sally RNC-NIC

      You know, stories like this are so important. I’m so thankful for my Bereavement Coordinator who has taught all of us nurses to NOT say things like this. To instead say, “I’m sorry. Tell me about your daughters. Do they look like your son? What were their names.” Allowing moms to be MOMS, even to kiddos that didn’t make it. And to look the shit right in the eye…acknowledge the grief, don’t make an excuse for it or try and make it better, because it’s not going to be better. One of my favorite moms has delivered three babies at my hospital. Amazing couple. First baby was delivered stillborn at 36 weeks. Second baby induced a little early, hung with us in the NICU, our Bereavement Coordinator would come visit and just hug mama and say, “She looks SO much like Monica!” And not in a sad way, in a smiling happy way! Remembering the babies moms have lost is so important…but it’s something people need to understand is appropriate and therapeutic. I think people usually are well-intending when they try and make situations like this better. There’s a great NFP group called Now I Law Me Down to Sleep…we use them whenever there is a loss. They also put out a ton of great info. for families and friends trying to figure out just what to say….because it is really hard. It’s just an education thing. http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/families/services-for-families/?gclid=CIyl3pPFrcECFQcPaQod5ZMArg

      • MichelleJo

        I’m on a roll now, but what you said on focusing on the babies that mother’s have lost, and showing an interest in them so that the mother’s feel comfortable talking about their precious but lifeless babies, brought to mind the exact point that I saw on a notice several years ago. A family lost their exceptional husband and father to a suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem. At the Shivah, (Jewish week of mourning observed by all first degree relatives of the person who has passed away,) there was a notice up asking visitors to ‘restrict talk to the person Binyomin was, and about his life’. The last thing this family wanted to do was rehash over and over again the details of his cruel, gruesome death. The week of mourning is to process what has been lost, and the focus is only on that. People find it extremely therapeutic, and in Israel, and possibly around the world too, the Shivah week is practiced by nearly all Jews, whether they are otherwise observant or not. Because all anyone wants to do after the loss of a loved one is to talk about them and remember them, not to act as if it hasn’t happened, ‘be brave and strong’ and show up at work the next day.

        • Am I understanding you correctly, that during this Shivah, mourners were asked NOT to bring up the deceased? I thought that was the whole point of sitting Shivah? To honor the person who died!

          • MichelleJo

            No, they were asked to restrict discussion to the person and life of their loved one, and not talk about the circumstances of his death, which obviously was what had been happening. Typically, I imagine, because people felt they had to say something but didn’t know what, and were bringing up the subject that would do nothing to comfort the family.

          • Ahhhh, ok. I get it. Well that’s good, I think. Celebrate the person – period. What took that person away is not the main topic. The person is.

      • Brix

        God bless you.

      • RNMomma

        I asked a coworker I didn’t know very well if she had kids on Mothers Day. “No, none that are living anyway” was her response. I told her that still counted, and that I hoped her day goes as well as possible. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I just added more pain to an already difficult day. Turns out she had lost triplets late in her second trimester the previous summer. Still, I appreciate what you are saying. It’s incredibly important to show people that those who died matter to more than just the immediate family. My mom died when I was young and I’ve always felt alone in my grief. Meeting people who express appreciation for my mother’s life, even if they never knew her, is incredibly healing for me. I’d consider it even more critical to show that support of moms who experienced miscarriage, stillborn, or early infant loss.

        • You know, it’s possible that your acknowledging she was still a mama was one of the only bright spots on what was surely a really hard day for her. It was going to be a painful day regardless, you inquiring about her life probably didn’t make it any worse, it sounds like you said the perfect thing! Maybe next time you get the opportunity, you can ask her about the triplets. Maybe she never gets the opportunity to talk about them. She may be yearning for someone to acknowledge them, and to talk about them. She may not be, but maybe she just needs to talk about them, you know? Do you have lots of memories of your mom? How old were you when she died? I’ve seen a lot of really sad things as a NICU nurse. It’s always so sad when a baby dies, so so sad. But I will say that personally for me, the one death I’ll never be able to shake as a nurse was the death of a young first time mom from HELLP Syndrome. Every life is precious, clearly. But for me, moms are the most precious. My 95 year old grandma recently passed away, and my 70 year old daddy misses her every day. He’ll live only a fraction of his life without her, but the loss will still be great. I think my point is, losing your mom as a young girl is a big deal. As big of a deal as losing a baby. I hope you have precious memories of your mom and are able to talk about her every day. You deserve that!

  • Kira

    I was actually present for the incident that got LLL banned from the hospital where I had my kids (and still volunteer at). A lactivist came into the NICU, completely unsolicited (!!!), and harassed my micorpreemie daughter’s neighbor’s mom about giving her baby breastmilk. This woman’s baby was premature because she discovered she had cancer while she was pregnant and they had to deliver him so she could start chemo. She was still undergoing chemo when this happened, as well as being the mom to a critically ill infant. They messed with the wrong mom, because she raised holy hell and made sure they would never harass another mom in that hospital. Ironically, she had arranged to get him breastmilk from a milk bank.

    Now all breastfeeding questions/concerns/problems are handled by a postpartum RN.

    • Guesteleh

      *speechless*

    • Sally RNC-NIC

      Super mom! I love it.

    • theadequatemother

      There are certain kinds of privileges that healthcare workers can have. For example, physicians can have admitting priv or full priv without admitting (that’s me, I can’t admit patients to beds under my care but I can treat them and access their health record) or just chart priv (can see patients, read chart and write recommendations but not actively order tests or treatment). I wonder if part of the problem is that lactivists are often classified as volunteers (ie not professionals*) and so have NO chart access. Hence can’t know and don’t really care about personal medical histories. It’s easy for me to see how a group of people could perpetuate “knowledge” while leaving out the effect of pre-existing and active medical conditions and not learning to ask about it if they have no access to the chart.
      *okay I realize that the entire problem is that lactivists aren’t professionals

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        I wonder if part of the problem is that lactivists are often classified as volunteers (ie not professionals*) and so have NO chart access.

        Sound like glorified candystripers, to me.

        (Are there still such things as candystripers?)

      • guest

        The ones I have worked with have either been RN’s with ICBLC certification or non-nurses with the same certification. They do have access to charts.

  • attitude devant

    It’s depressing how much of an issue this is for my patients. So many times a mother will bring up breastfeeding in a very gingerly fashion before her delivery and worry that she might be harassed over her choice to use formula. I just tell them all to repeat the phrase, “My doctor and I have discussed the issue and she told me not to breastfeed, and I am going to do what my doctor said.” Much as I hate pulling rank on the rest of the team, it’s pretty effective, and makes the mother more comfortable knowing someone is firmly taking her side.

    • TsuDhoNimh

      ^^^^^ Good way to close off the hassle – firmly announce the decision without details. Then shut up … do not engage in any discussion of why. If they pry, repeat the statement.

      If you go into specific reasons, they will whip out the list of “things to say to formula feeding moms to make them see the light”. If you start answering their list, that means they have a hope of making your change your mind and redouble the efforts.

      Don’t open that can-a-wurmz !

      A variant, which works well, includes a firm “request” for respect.
      “My doctor/doctors and I have discussed the issue, and we decided that formula feeding is in this infant’s best interest. Please respect this decision.”

      This leaves it open for you to say, “I asked you to respect the decision my doctor and I made about infant feeding. It is not your decision to make.”

      And hang up, walk out, or show them the door.

      • Anka

        My plan for next time (if I am so lucky) is to put a note in my chart
        that nobody is allowed to talk about breastfeeding to me AT ALL unless I
        initiate the conversation, and if they do I will contact Patient
        Relations and CBC Go Public and sue for mental and emotional cruelty.
        I’m planning to deliver at my same aspirationally “baby-friendly”
        hospital again, partly because they’re supposed to be the most
        medically
        advanced in the area, and partly because I’m determined to make them
        conform to my wishes for me this time or else pay for having f*cked up
        so badly for me and countless others. (They pretty much drove me to PPD, which I still have, with their lactivism.)

    • guest

      You should have uncontested authority over the matter. Period. BFI does not consider the patient’s psychological status, it should. Picture this: a patient on SSRI’s (+professional) counselling for 20 years+ to control major depressive & anxiety disorder. Finally (late 30’s) is stable & strong enough to attempt pregnancy sans medication (her goal). The patient struggles psychologically throughout the pregnancy, obsesses (to the point where she’s hospitalized twice) about Herpes transmission during vaginal birth, & imagined diseases, etc. Water breaks 3 weeks early, CS, phototherapy. Extreme difficulty breastfeeding, high bili, no bowel movements (infant) nasogastric tube is suggested, mother inquires about formula multiple times, is strongly discouraged. Since giving birth she is experiencing severe anxiety attacks (shaking, crying, fear of holding baby, fear of baby starving, etc.), multiple times a day. It comes to a head the night she is informed that they are going to insert the nasogastric tube, she has the most severe attack yet. She screams to get her a bottle, nurse finally complies. SSRI’s are reintroduced.

      Baby begins feeding extremely well, mother stabilizes within hours, bili drops quickly with minimal photo, bowel movements begin.

      It’s almost criminal how hard the lactivist agenda is pushed, with zero regard for the mother (or the baby in this case).

      • Medwife

        Why wasn’t she encouraged to stay on her SSRI in the first place, is what I’d like to know. I mean, come on! She was SICK. How many harms from untreated depression does someone have to suffer to go back on their cat c medication?

        • guest

          She was encouraged. It was her decision (she wanted to eliminate prenatal exposure to SSRI’s & she is also a medical professional). Point is that she experienced more difficulty (mentally), in the 4 days postpartum than the entire 8+ months of her pregnancy. She had planned on breastfeeding. When it was apparent that she was having excessive difficulty (mentally & physically), with it, she was still pushed to try beyond her ‘breaking point’.

          • guest

            When I first started working in L&D/PP, I was very fortunate to work with a wonderful lactation consultant who was in no way, shape or form, a “lacto-nazi.” She was the most gracious, easy-going lady and really made moms feel at ease and supported with whatever they chose. That’s how it should be.

      • Joy

        This is interesting to me because my baby didn’t pass meconium and instead of supplementing they went straight to CF and/or Hirshsprungs. We had to stay in for this issue and the next day she stopped wetting. I asked for formula; they tried to cup feed. I made my husband bring in the nursettes, but by that point she was too weak and needed an NG tube. All the tests came back normal. I think she just wasn’t getting anything at all. I didn’t have any anxiety issues going into it, but I certainly have had some hard times since. I can only imagine what it would have been like if you had difficulties already.

      • attitude devant

        What happened to the old idea that by taking care of the mother you take care of the baby? This is insane.

        • guest

          ‘taking care of the mother you take care of the baby’ sometimes contradicts BFI policy.

          This case (there are many more like it) is from a BFI hospital, the nurses were RN/LC’s. They are instructed (as per BFI policy), to increase breastfeeding rates. Their training does not recognize or accept women who ‘want’ to use formula (as in the case above). I don’t believe that the individual nurses are ‘lactivists’, they simply aren’t trained to make proper assessments. The greatest issue is that hospitals adopt the ‘lactivist’ policies.

      • Smoochagator

        I have a little bit of a rage reading this, as I could have easily been that mother considering my history with OCD and difficulties with breastfeeding.

    • Dr Kitty

      I see people during their pregnancies and 6 weeks post partum ( and then ever after).
      If we’ve discussed infant feeding, post partum I ask if things went to plan. If we haven’t I’ll ask “Breast feeding/ bottle feeding/ bit of both? How’s that going?”. No judgement.
      If it’s going to plan I’ll congratulate them, if it isn’t I’ll tell them the goal is a happy mum and a happy baby, and you do whatever works and don’t sweat it.

      The most together new mother I have ever seen- seriously the child, mum and pram were all colour co ordinated, she had a full face of makeup and a full vintage roller-set hairdo, and charts of the child’s daily weight, sleep, feed and nappy schedule- told me she went to formula because she was freaking out about storing and re-heating EBM, and was spending all her time sterilising, scalding, boiling and scrubbing. When both her hands and nipples were bleeding she decided it was time to call it a day. They bought an automatic bottle maker, her husband did all the night feeds and everything was fine.

      You don’t know what will make people choose one feeding method over another, and it might not be what you think.

    • araikwao

      I felt very privileged to help a mother recently during my GP rotation – she’d recently had her fourth, baby wasn’t gaining well, mum had mastitis, she knew that formula would be needed (as she had for her others), but was reluctant because she felt guilty. Her face just lit up with a huge smile of relief as I explained to her that all she needed to do was to feed her baby in a safe and appropriate way, which suited them and the family. This could be some formula or all formula. She was delighted. It made me puzzle again over the pervasiveness of this crazy lactivist thing.

    • KarenJJ

      I used that line. It was a bit wishy-washy about whether I bottle-feed or formula feed but a Paediatric Immunologist looked into it for me and decided that on balance the benefits to breastfeeding were small enough and the risks of a newish medication were unknown enough that he’d recommend formula feeding. It’s a relief to have that – in spite of the lactation nurse pulling out the big book of breastfeeding contra-indications and telling me to trying some breastfeeding help-line – I already had a clear decision from someone that new about the medical history, the medication in question and had also looked into the breastfeeding issue.

      • KarenJj

        Holy heck typo-city. Apologies. Was trying to type this between dramas.

    • D/

      A friend once mentioned she was tired of having to justify to an overbearing co-worker why she was also feeding formula to her (breastfed) baby. Told her to try, “I’ve discussed this with my LC, and she told me he’s too young for Yoo Hoo.”

  • Suzi Screendoor

    What I wonder (and maybe someone has an answer) is how much lactation advice is science-based? Obviously, some of the sketchier LCs we hear about are making stuff up as they go along, but when they dole out advice for “proper” latch, dealing with flat or inverted nipples, effect of pumping on milk production, etc. how much of that is based on research?

    • Are you nuts

      Anecdote here… I had very conflicting advice from LCs in the hospital.

      “Your nipples are flat and you need to nurse with a nipple shield.” Next LC, “they’re really not flat and you shouldn’t get in the habit of using a shield.”

      “Strip your baby down to a diaper and get her good and upset so she’ll stay awake at the breast.” Then, “wait until your baby calms down because if she’s angry she’ll never latch.”

      “If your nipple is shaped like a tube of lipstick after nursing you’re doing it wrong.” Vs “some women’s anatomy is just like that and you may not have a perfectly round nipple after nursing.”

      • Amy M

        Why do they hate nipple shields? If they work, and the baby can nurse, who cares?

        • Guesteleh

          They say it interferes with milk production. But if using shields means the difference between some bf and none at all, they should be used. But everything gets presented in such black and white terms. Virgin gut and all that bullshit.

          • Amy M

            How could a piece of plastic on the outside of the breast interfere with milk production? The baby still has to suck to get the milk, and will eat as long as its hungry, no? And they always trot out the old saw of “supply and demand” even though many of us have experienced otherwise. Despite that, its true for most, so if the baby is demanding, the breast should supply no matter what you stick on it?

          • Guesteleh

            Supposedly babies don’t suck as efficiently with a shield. Not that I believe this bullshit. A friend of mine used shields to establish BF because she had breast implants and it worked like a dream. Meanwhile my nipples were literally scabbed and bleeding and my shitty, shitty LC warned me off nipple shields and also told me I couldn’t combo feed.

          • Trixie

            This really was an issue with the old style shields, or shields that are the wrong size.

          • Trixie

            The breast tends to let down better for a wet mouth. Just like many women can transfer more milk while nursing than they can from pumping.

        • D/

          Some babies do transfer inadequate amounts of milk through nipple shields, and this can gradually diminish production over time and decrease intake even more. This was consistently an issue with older type nipple shields and still is occasionally with the new thin-silicone ones (especially if they are inappropriately sized or applied).

          Over the years I have seen many babies do beautifully nursing long-term exclusively with nipple shields, but I have also seen many do well initially and then be referred for a consult after the 2 month pediatrician appointment for inadequate weight gain and have production diminished to the point it cannot be recovered (or certainly not recovered easily).

          It’s a tool. One of many choices to consider in addressing breastfeeding problems. It’s a great way to get some babies on the breast that would have no option to otherwise. In my experience though they do warrant attention as to whether they are continuing to work well over time … if a mother’s plan is long-term exclusive breastmilk feeding, that is.

        • Life Tip

          I think there could be a problem if a mom is given a nipple shield with no info about using it. I was given the shields in the hospital, which was helpful because my nipples are flat-ish and my baby was struggling to latch. Using the shield, he was able to nurse and things got better. But I didn’t know that they might cause inadequate milk supply or that they might only be needed short term. After a few months, my baby’s suck got stronger and he was pulling my nipples through the little holes and causing me to bleed. Pretty painful 🙁

      • Trixie

        The nipple being lipstick shaped after nursing has more to do with the baby’s mouth size and anatomy than it does with the woman’s anatomy, though.

    • TsuDhoNimh

      Probably very little. If the baby gets enough milk, the latch was OK and the nipples worked just fine, regardless of shape. This is not a dairy goat competition for “Miss Beautiful Udder”.

      There IS solid research that shows the demand influences the supply (with a lag of a couple of days), but only after lactation gets going, which is 30-40 hours after a vaginal birth, a bit later for c-sections and high-stress births. (a day to three days) I found nothing showing that early pumping was any better than doing nothing.

      This shows up over and over in old medical books – there was no expectation that a baby would nurse immediately, nor that the mother would be producing milk (especially a first-timer). And no one was freaking out about it.

      From a 1907 book by a Fellow of the Royal Obstetrical Society: ” In a first confinement there
      is, until the third day, but very little milk; although there is usually
      on that day, and for two or three days afterwards, a great deal of
      swelling, of hardness, of distention, and uneasiness of the breasts; in
      consequence of which, in a first confinement, both care and attention are needed.”

      Before the milk came in, the care and attention was sleep, light meals, and more sleep. The care and attention after the milk arrived was nursing briefly every hour an a half, warm compresses and gentle massage if needed … not a sump pump!

      So this nonsense of keeping the mum awake and pumping for the first couple of days after birth is just stupid. It’s as much an intervention into the mother’s birthing experience as an epidural. She needs to sleep, baby needs to sleep and the lactivists need to STFU and get out of her room.

      You can whack people with this statement from that same book: “Many a bosom has been made uncomfortable, irritable, swollen, and even
      has sometimes gathered***, by the nurse’s interference and meddling.
      Meddlesome midwifery is bad, and I am quite sure that meddlesome
      breast-tending is equally so. A nurse, in her wisdom, fancies that by
      rubbing, by pressing, by squeezing, by fingering, by liniment, and by
      drawing, that she does great good, while in reality, in the majority of
      cases, by such interference she does great harm.”

      *** infection and scarring of the milk ducts, leading to a puckered appearance and loss of lactation in that section. Far more a problem then than now.

      • Bella Alger

        AMEN MY FRIEND!!!! AMEN! After I gave birth to my son I was in hell.

        Lol to “most beautiful utter”

        • Liz Leyden

          My state fair includes livestock competitions. Criteria for cows includes udder size, roundness, and symmetry.

          • Amy M

            I’ve got nothing on Mel, but I did work on a dairy farm for about 6mos in college, and some of the cows were “3-titted ‘uns” (they had four teats, but one chamber didn’t work)and others had such bizarre udder shapes we could tell who they were just by looking at the udder.

      • Trixie

        ” If the baby gets enough milk, the latch was OK and the nipples worked just fine, regardless of shape”

        This is mostly true, to the degree that it’s not also causing pain or damage to the mother. A lipstick shaped nipple after nursing can be a sign of too much compression of the end of the nipple which can lead to vasospasms and other problems for the mom.

      • Young CC Prof

        Tell that to the lactivist who showed up for our skin-on-skin in post-op and started squeezing my nipples without asking me. And honestly, I considered than an inappropriate violation of my bodily integrity, as well as unhelpful. (I already knew how to hand-express, thanks.) I don’t care if I’m 2/3 naked in a hospital bed, if it isn’t a medical emergency, freaking ask before you touch me.

        Then she watched the baby lick the colostrum off my nipple, declared the situation a success, and breezed out again, while decrying any and all feeding aids.

        • TsuDhoNimh

          ” started squeezing my nipples without asking me.” !!!!!

          That deserves a solid whack upside the face … with the excuse “you startled me”.

          • Smoochagator

            It deserves a report to the hospital and perhaps even charges filed for assault. NOT OKAY.

      • At the time I graduated from nursing school [1967] it was my hospital’s practice to not give a baby ANYTHING for 12 hours, then two feeds of water, and only then begin breast or bottle milk. The rationale was to allow the baby to get rid of all the mucus in the stomach, and [hopefully] pass some meconium. It worked quite well, since, as I’ve written before, most babies aren’t all that hungry at birth. It’s amazing how much crud babies can have inside.
        Now, of course, if they don’t have a fantastic “nursing experience” in the delivery room, they’ll be scarred for life.

        • Medwife

          Nursing right out of the womb is certainly not life-scarring. At my sons birth, my son and I were both too shell-shocked to do much other than sort of stare at each other (I did find it pretty magical though). That said, that rationale is really silly. Colostrum helps stimulate babies to pass meconium.

          • Surprisingly few babies, unless they were very large, seemed to have a problem with hypoglycemia, in which case we gave 5% glucose and water. Babies generally don’t like plain water anyway and often refused it. We also gave bottles straight from the fridge; warming was held to be unnecessary and possibly even dangerous.

            The point is that theories change. Work “in the business” long enough and things seem to go full circle. Protocols for labor management with premature rupture of membranes — immediate induction; wait 12 hours, wait 24 hours for onset of spontaneous labor or induction — back to immediate induction. Feed a baby immediately after birth, wait for a while, and so on. Looking back, quite a lot of the time I don’t think it mattered all that much. Babies seemed to do OK regardless.

        • Trixie

          Both mine were super interested from the moment they got the chance. But wouldn’t giving them no food for that long cause blood sugar issues for lots of babies?

    • Joy

      I heard over and over how my baby had a great latch. I never had pain; her ears wiggled. I mean, you know, she didn’t actually transfer any milk and only ever lost weight while EBFing. But the latch was great!

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Same thing here. *sigh*

    • fiftyfifty1

      I can’t speak to the issues of latch and inverted nipples, but I can speak to the LC idea of breast pain being caused by breast infections from candida/thrush. This idea is based on next to nothing in terms of science, and yet women are frequently “diagnosed” with this problem and told to ask their primaries for anti-yeast prescriptions. I know this because that was what 2 IBCLCs diagnosed my breast pain to be before I was finally given the correct diagnosis (crush injury-triggered Raynauds) by a differnt LC. I was told to treat myself with a *month* of daily fluconazole pills and paint my nipple and the baby’s mouth with gentian violet.

      • Young CC Prof

        Thrush on the nipples is a very real condition. It’s also apparent on visual inspection, and frequently accompanied by oral thrush in the baby.

        Candida inside the body is basically impossible, unless you are so immunocompromised that a trip to the grocery store could kill you.

        • Trixie

          Yeah, “ductal thrush” is not a real thing. “Thrush” can also be a staph infection of the nipple that settles in after trauma.

      • Medwife

        Daily Diflucan for a MONTH? That is crazy talk.

  • Trixie

    As some regulars here know, I’m a former milk bank donor, which is something I’m proud to have been able to do to help preemies who really needed it. So, I follow the HMBANA on Facebook. (Human Milk Banking Association of North America). Mostly they post stuff about new milk banks opening, or banks with shortages, or the benefits of donor milk in NICUs. But this time they posted an article about how cruel circumcision is. Which has zero to do with milk donation. I commented, pointing out that a baby’s need for donor milk had nothing to do with its parents’ opinion on circumcision, and that in a time when milk bank donors are scarce, they probably should not be alienating the 50% of parents who circumcise. I mentioned that I was a former donor.

    My comment was deleted and I was banned.

    It’s extremely disappointing to see an organization whose stated mission I support go off the deep end.

    • moto_librarian

      This is simply awful. I am sorry to hear this.

    • Zornorph

      Because to them, the breast milk is only part of a whole package. If you don’t but every part of it, you are disqualified in their eyes.

      • Trixie

        Yeah. It’s just very disappointing. Using human milk to help prevent NEC is an area where breastfeeding really does save lives in the developed world. That should be enough of a mission.

        • wookie130

          I’m sorry, Trixie. That’s a shame.

    • Amy M

      Like was for support, not because I think was they did was good.

  • Rita Rippetoe

    I have an inspiration. It is physically possible to induce lactation in a male. Difficult, but possible. So–if fathers _really_ loved their babies they would help with the breastfeeding. Okay–can we stand back and watch lactivist heads explode while trying to decide whether this is good–because human milk is absolutely the only proper food for human infants; or bad–because if men can do it too mothers will lose some of their “women are special” glitter.

    • Roadstergal
      • guest

        I love family guy…I wonder if there’s any episodes about natural childbirth? lol!!

        • Amy

          No, but Stewie has made comments to the effect of how he hopes he was a c-section with the shape of his head.

          There was an episode about how disgusting he thought formula was, too. Lois was sick of nursing and tried to wean him to formula, and he would have none of it, going so far as to sneak up on her with a breast pump. I think that one could be taken either way– lactivists would see it as confirmation that breast milk is ZOMG TEH BEST, while feminists would see it as an indictment of reducing a woman to her biological functions.

          • Roadstergal

            They had BF vs FF in the Simpsons, in that episode where the hipsters come to Springfield. The Breastapo have conniptions when they find out Marge is bottle-feeding Maggie, and Marge has to hold the formula bottle like a gun to get out alive. I laughed and enjoyed the episode greatly (as someone who lives in a high-hipster-density area), but was a little annoyed at the very end on a few levels, when they implied that Bart was a ‘bad kid’ because he was bottle-fed and Lisa was a ‘good kid’ because she was breast-fed.

    • Cobalt

      Oh dear. Somewhere a BFI executive’s brain is splitting itself trying to find a way to make this a thing and then to make it the mom’s fault when it doesn’t work.

    • Therese

      Good luck convincing men to go along.

  • Zornorph

    I find with people like this, you have to shut them off the moment they start up and you see where they are going. They will twist and use whatever loaded language they can come up with to try and guilt you. I was speaking to a friend of mine over the weekend asking her advice about a particular baby-sitter because I have an event next Saturday and for some reason (rather out of character) she was suggesting I shouldn’t get one and should take my LO to the event. Now, I take him lots of places, but had decided that this wouldn’t be one of them and simply ignored her hints until she said ‘Well, if you want to exclude him for your own convenience, I guess you can.’ I don’t get ‘daddy guilt’ so this dart went right over me, but it annoyed me that she even tried it. I just dryly said, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing.’
    I just find it’s best to take and defang that sort of language – when an intactavist suggested that circumcision was mutilation, I just said, ‘Yes, well, I had my son’s penis mutilated, you know. I’m quite pleased with it.’ Because I’m a dude, I didn’t get much from lactavists, but I did have one who suggested I should move heaven and earth to use donor milk. I told them I was ‘happy with the powdered poison, thanks’.

    • Cobalt

      You spent time and did research to be able to pay someone so you could exclude your child for the sake of convenience?

      Sounds like good parenting to me.

  • 2boyz

    BRCA runs in my husband’s family and in the last few years, several of his relatives have made the difficult decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy. One of them had a child a couple of years later. A postpartum ward nurse told her she had to try before resorting to formula. She replied, I don’t think breastfeeding can be done without breasts. The nurse apologized an brought the formula, and she just chalked it up to an overworked hospital worker who failed to read the medical chart. But she has also been subjected to statements that she shouldn’t have had a child if she already knew giving him the best was not possible…

    • Amy M

      Sickos. (the ones who suggest she not have children if there wouldn’t be breast milk.)

    • moto_librarian

      If someone said that to me, they would have gotten punched in the throat…

    • Amy

      Two years ago an ex-friend of mine invited me to join a new online forum for feminists within her church (even though I am not a member of that church; they wanted outside feminists to join in the conversation too). She was not the founder nor the administrator of the group, but she did post a lot of thread starters. One of the first was, “Is lactivism feminist?” Most of us, myself included, responded that activism directed at improving maternity leave, mandating pumping breaks for women who have returned to work, and reducing restrictions on breastfeeding in public were all feminist, but that shaming mothers was not.

      One of my ex-friend’s other friends an IBCLC with a *degree in women’s studies* began checking off item after item on your typical NCB sanctimommy bingo board, going so far as to say that women who work outside the home and can’t breastfeed on demand shouldn’t have children. My ex-friend defended this completely indefensible position. In a feminist group.

      I’m still a member of the group– both the ex-friend and the IBCLC are gone, complaining that the group didn’t support “choices” in childrearing enough.

  • Amy M

    I saw that article yesterday and was just appalled. How can they not know that “mastectomy” means “no breasts”? Even with reconstruction, so the woman might look like she has breasts, obviously they do not lactate—no such thing as a mammary gland transplant. I am a lay-person who didn’t even breastfeed beyond 3 days in the hospital and I know that.

    Besides, as has been said here many many times–it shouldn’t matter. If the woman (any woman) says to the doctor/nurse/LC that she will be formula feeding her baby, the correct response is: Ok! Can I get you anything? Congratulations on your beautiful baby and let me know if you need help preparing a bottle.

    • guest

      You are so right. I had a major wake-up call myself. I was caring for a woman in labor and right after delivery, the babe was skin to skin and I said, would you like to try to breast feed now? The woman said, no, I’m going to bottle-feed. I was really embarrassed as I realized I didn’t even ask her how she was planning to feed her baby! Most women in the hospital I worked in at the time breast-fed and were anxious to do so asap after the delivery, so I mistakenly assumed she was going to BF too. I apologized to her and have never made that mistake again! Lesson learned..

      • Anj Fabian

        Always
        Read
        The
        Chart.

        I still remember the commenter who had an OB come in to her room and try to lift her gown to check her incision. She’d had a vaginal birth.

        • guest

          I do know that. This particular mom had a precip delivery. She came in and delivered as soon as she got on the bed.

          • Anj Fabian

            Ah, I see!

            No offense intended.

          • guest

            None taken, thanks.

        • Amy M

          That might have been me…or at least I had something similar. The OB asked to see my incision, though I’d had a vaginal birth.

  • moto_librarian

    Lactation consultants as a profession have the same problems as midwifery – the “we’re not all like that” syndrome. I know that Minnesota is working towards licensure of LCs in the hopes that standardization will weed out the bad actors. There are lots of women that want to breastfeed and welcome the aid of LCs, so why do so many of them feel the need to bully women who have decided that they don’t want to? I find it mind-boggling that so many supposed feminists throw the idea of bodily autonomy out the window the second that a woman becomes pregnant/gives birth. It’s my body, and simply saying “I don’t want to breastfeed” is reason enough.

    • Amy M

      Women only have bodily autonomy if they are choosing NCB-approved methods. Then, they have autonomy to choose where and how to give birth, when too since they usually are opposed to inductions. She also has the autonomy to choose to nurse in public.

      But if she picks the wrong choice? Uh-uh. Little girl, you are clearly ignorant and need others to decide what is best for you.

  • Pktaxwench

    I have breast cancer too (delayed mastectomy until December, life happens) but with my newborn in the hospital in August, I had these bullies in my room too. They tried to tell me cancer doesn’t affect milk despite the fact I have 5 tumors the size of golf balls compressing/blocking ducts making things painful even if milk could be trusted. My husband had to bring me formula. I encourage everyone to avoid Ivinson Hospital in Laramie WY.
    They also told me I needed to try a VBAC because they didn’t have the staff around for a c section, so that should give you an idea of how idiotic rural hospitals are. (I did get my C, I aked for a epidural , told them to wake me when they had he staff for surgery, and went to sleep while my husband dealt with them.)

    • moto_librarian

      I hope that you filed a formal complaint! This type of treatment is completely unprofessional, and proves that these LCs simply make shit up. There is no reason that you should have been harassed in this way.

      Good luck with your mastectomy in December! I hope that the cancer makes a hasty retreat so you can enjoy your children.

      • Pktaxwench

        I slammed them in the survey a 3rd party company sent out, and I have started writing up a formal complaint to submit to everyone I can think of. Just haven’t finished it. Been a little busy. In addition to cancer/new baby, the Army decided to uproot us. Again. I hate the Army….

        • Bombshellrisa

          Make sure you are sending that complaint to the nurse managers of L&D and postpartum and the nursing supervisors of the hospital.

    • anne

      Congratulations on your new baby and speedy recovery in December!

    • Amazed

      Congratulations and good luck before, in, and after December!

    • Anj Fabian

      Go husband!

      Yes, that excuse is illogical to anyone who knows what the ACOG recommendations are for VBACs. I’d be tempted to start sobbing “Oh my god I’m going to die. My baby is going to die! I’ll rupture and have to watch the strip go flat BECAUSE YOU FOOLS DON’T HAVE THE OPERATING ROOM STAFFED!”.

      • Pktaxwench

        Seemed insane to me, but they told me when I got there the risk was minimal… I was way past transition – which is where the danger of rupture is – and was actively trying to hold baby in until husband could get home (he was out of state, 4 hours away.). Seeing as I had the first contraction an hour before that, apparently I do things fast.

        Scary to think that as I had to drive myself to the hospital in crippling pain, I could have ruptured and bled out in the middle of nowhere at 4 am….

    • Cobalt

      Have to try a VBAC because there’s no staff around for a section? That’s inviting disaster. Back when we lived in the middle of nowhere, our town hospital had a very high cesarean rate, because the only two doctors that delivered babies in the area scheduled a lot of cesareans to avoid that scenario. If you were high risk and didn’t want to plan for a cesarean they sent you to the big hospital in the next county.

      • Pktaxwench

        I tried to get a transfer to my preferred hospital 200 miles away (baby showed up 2 weeks before scheduled date, he was supposed to be born in Denver) but it would have been a 3 hour ambulance ride, and the hospital’s one helicopter was out on a call on I-80. The epidural did its evil job of slowing things down (which was a good thing!!!) and I got my C. And it was AFTER a lady who came in a few hours after me needed an emergency one. No rush at that point, as baby and I were looking good.

    • namaste863

      I’ll be sending warm wishes your way for a successful, speedy, and painless course of treatment. All the best, and congrats on the new baby.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Congratulations on the baby!!!!

      And I wish you a quick recovery from breast cancer.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    Lactating out of her armpits…the stupidity knows no bounds.

    • km

      Seriously! How could she even say that ?

    • T.

      And what an ugly, ugly image.

      • Amazed

        Total ugliness. Feed your baby sweaty milk. Oh and take care not to suffocate him/her whole you aren’t seeing them because head is, you know, under your…

        Uck.

        Brings to mind an especially insane traditions in some rural parts over here. If you salt the baby, they’re saved from sweating for a lifetime!

        Yes, I mean exactly what you think I mean. Rub some salt into the baby’s skin and leave it at that. Hopefully, they won’t end up in the ER because salt, you know, bloody BURNS skin away…

        • Medwife

          Fun fact, mammary glands evolved from sweat glands! (But they’ve changed a lot since then)

    • Sally RNC-NIC

      Wouldn’t latching onto armpit skin cause serious nipple confusion?

      Lord.have.mercy.

    • Cobalt

      Slightly OT, but my armpits tingle when I nurse, like pins-and-needles plus mosquito bites. Not at let down, but the feeling gets progressively stronger the longer a feed lasts. Also got worse with each kid. Weirds me out every time.