When lactivists lie

Fingers Crossed

She’s hardly the first prominent person to lie in order to maintain her place in the natural parenting pantheon.

Actress Kate Winslet lied about the birth of her first baby Mia because she was ashamed of her C-section.

Attachment parenting guru Katie Granju (MamaPundit) lied by omission about her late son’s drug use, painting a picture of an idyllic family life that was anything but.

Now comes word that Jessica Martin-Weber of The Leaky Boob has lied about breastfeeding, and she is ashamed (The Romanticized Myth of What Constitutes Successful Breastfeeding- An Apology.)

… My shame is that I upheld an artificial picture of what it looked like to successfully breastfeed and called it supporting the WHO Code.

My shame is that my actions supported the WHO Code more than they supported women, babies, and families….

Screw shame. I’m done. And I’m sorry. I’m deeply sorry that it has taken 3 years for me to find my courage to take the stand I live but never shared here. I’m sorry that I’ve not been honest…

For every single one of my 6 beautiful children, bottles and breast have been a part of me reaching my goals. And not just because I had to go back to work. I choose to go back to work, I love working and am a better parent when I work, but even when I didn’t work outside the home, I elected to partially bottle feed my milk to my baby. This was a positive thing for me as I get physically stimulated very easily and as an introvert found the need to create some space for myself. I did better mentally and emotionally, which meant I was in a healthier place mentally and emotionally to parent my children. It was the best healthy choice for us. I have never, not once, regretted it. Today, with a breastfeeding 2.5 year old, I also don’t believe it ever interfered with our breastfeeding nor did bottles have a negative impact on me reaching my breastfeeding goals.

In fact, I firmly believe that without bottles, I would have quit breastfeeding early on.

That’s particularly ironic in light of what Martin-Weber wrote early this year in a guest post on The Fearless Formula Feeder’s Blog:

… Sometimes tough love really isn’t tough love, it’s a power trip down false-sense-of-superiority lane.

Even those purporting to support families. Birth, breastfeeding, and, ironically, gentle parenting advocates, far too often resort to shaming other parents. Because that makes sense, something negative is going to have a lasting, positive impact. Undermining parents’ confidence surely is going to result in change for the better, right?

Wrong.

It may get your website page views, it may increase your “talking about” numbers on Facebook, it may even get people pinning your content on Pinterest. But helping people? … Shaming is intentionally trying to make someone not only feel guilt but to internalize it as believing that somehow they are bad/lazy/stupid/unloving/pathetic/unloveable/worthless as a result. Ultimately, shaming comes from a desire to see someone feel bad about themselves…

The Leaky Boob isn’t about that kind of passion. The information, images, stories, and interactions we share are meant to inspire and encourage people. While we can’t control nor are we responsible for the emotions of others, we don’t intentionally try to manipulate others’ feelings.

Yet at the same moment that Martin-Weber was declaring that she doesn’t intentionally try to manipulate others’ feelings, she was busily manipulating others’ feelings.

To her credit, Martin-Weber is eloquent in her understanding of what she has done:

Through The Leaky Boob I have contributed to a beautiful yet often unattainable depiction of what it looks like to breastfeed. In my attempt to normalize breastfeeding and provide support up what breastfeeding looks like, I have held up at the breast breastfeeding as being more beautiful, more important, more viable, more worthy of sharing and discussing and promoting than any other infant feeding methodology…

… [F]or the last 4 years as The Leaky Boob I have not been entirely honest with you. As a public voice in breastfeeding support, I have contributed to a mythical image of breastfeeding. I wish I could say it wasn’t intentional but it was and of the 4 years I’ve been doing The Leaky Boob, I have wrestled with this for three years. Motivated by fear, I allowed myself to present a picture of my breastfeeding journey and an idealized image of “successful” breastfeeding that simply wasn’t true. Well, not true for me anyway and likely not true for many of you. And I know holding that ideal up was damaging for some and a sort of betrayal for others. It wasn’t that I overtly lied, it was more of an omission of truth. I was wrong to do so and I am sorry.

She is deeply insightful about her motivation:

Leakies I am sorry I never shared images of my babies and other babies receiving bottles. I was wrong to only ever present a side of my infant feeding journey that was safe for me as a public breastfeeding supporter. Anxious that I would be inviting drama and attacks from other breastfeeding supporters, educators, blogs, organizations, and my own readers, I didn’t want to risk being accused of being a WHO Code violator by posting pictures of my babies with their bottles. Specially since I do make some income from The Leaky Boob, I was concerned that if I ever even showed bottle feeding some would think it was sending the wrong message.

But message or not, this is the truth: my babies, all 6 of them, got bottles. One got mostly formula in her bottles. Back when I was attending women as they had their babies, often I was helping a new mother and baby pair with their first few feedings while my baby was at home getting a bottle of my milk…

She ends with a heartfelt apology:

By intentionally keeping that part of my breastfeeding journey quiet, by not sharing images of my baby receiving a bottle, by just sharing images of my babies feeding only at my breasts, and by neglecting the real life bottled-up aspects of the breastfeeding journeys of others, I perpetuated a romanticized myth of what constitutes successful breastfeeding.

I am sorry. Please forgive me.

With all my love, sincerely,

~Jessica

What can we learn from this episode?

First, many natural parenting advocates are not honest about what they really do. They hold up an ideal of birth, or breastfeeding, or attachment parenting that is unachievable even by them.

Second, a great deal of natural parenting is not about what is good for babies. The natural parenting advocates who lie about what they’ve been doing are good parents; the fact that they’ve done what is best for their children demonstrates that they care above all for the wellbeing of their children, and that their commitment to ideology comes in second.

Third, natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting is about women boosting their own self esteem by projecting an image of themselves as “better” mothers than other women. It’s about competition among sanctimommies, and the many women who are hurt by it are collateral damage.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, natural parenting advocacy has created a world where women feel compelled to lie in order to preserve their status among their peers. Instead of sharing true images of birth. breastfeeding and parenting, they present a carefully curated image designed to impress.

The take home message, in my view, is this:

Every mother needs to do what she thinks is best for her child and herself, without regard to what other women insist is correct. That’s what Jessica Martin-Weber did even if she didn’t have the courage to admit it.

The next step is creating a world in which is doesn’t take courage to admit that you put your children ahead of your ideology.

  • fearlessformulafeeder

    I don’t know – I think a lot of people are misconstruing Jessica’s post. As a disclaimer, I consider Jessica a friend (one of my only real friends in the breastfeeding advocacy community, actually), but that only effects my opinion in that I know her heart. And that’s sort of the point of my comment, here – I know her heart. It’s a good one. And her post, as I see it, needs to be looked at in context. To have the leader of the biggest social media breastfeeding org come out and admit that she thinks we’re selling women a romanticized version of breastfeeding, and then cop to her own role in this scenario, is a BIG step.

    I was never a member of TLB for obvious reasons, but I will say that even in my early years as the FFF I never ran into an issue with the page, the blog, or the admins. Sure, the comments on the FB page from fans can be really offensive, but that’s true of my own page too. I can’t stand when people judge me or my stance on things based on a few bad eggs, you know? And if you delete everything that makes you look bad, you’re complicit in censorship. It’s tough.

    As for the post itself- I get how frustrating it is that Jessica’s admission is somehow inflammatory – because why the hell should it be an issue that she used bottles, or non-WHO code compliant bottles? And the fact that she had to clarify that it was her own milk might come off as her being formula unfriendly, but I think it was more to make the point that for some BF advocates, even pumped milk in a bottle isn’t good enough. That’s not how SHE feels- it’s how many people reading her page feel. She is their leader, she needs to speak their language, meet them where they are at.

    Lastly, there are many things I said, did or believed in the early years of FFF that now make me cringe. I hope that I grow, I evolve, and I admit when I’ve been wrong. I think that is what makes a good blogger AND a good advocate – and IMO, Jessica is both of those things. I think we need to give her a chance to finish this evolution – because she has the power to truly change the things that those of us on this page who’ve been hurt by BF advocacy are constantly fighting.

    • guestS

      I really appreciate her honesty and the fact that she has apologised and that this may have the power to change some breastfeeding advocacy.

      However, when I was a young new Mum, struggling with my first and breastfeeding, beating myself up over every bottle I gave and feeling like i was failing at the very first and most important thing I had to do as a Mother, these sorts of pages really affected me. If she had just been honest about the fact that she gave bottles or that “One got mostly formula in her bottles” it would have changed everything and I could have enjoyed that time a lot more.

      So, glad she’s come out and said these things and that she understands that it is a big thing. There have been consequences for many people, as surely I’m not alone, as a result of her dishonesty. Like you, I hope that this goes some way to changing the face of some lactivism.

    • Amy

      I understand what you mean, and I agree. I don’t think anything on her page is outwardly cruel to formula feeders. I don’t personally know her, and I think that she is probably a really nice person. I stopped reading BF pages when I realized that it wasn’t working out for me, and switched to FFF (And thanks from the bottom of my heart for being there fore me). But I really think that she should talk about why one of her children was mostly fed formula. Not that anyone has to explain, like ever, but I wish she would feel compelled to use her visibility to support all moms.

    • mythsayer

      SHE DID NOT USE HER OWN MILK ALL OF THE TIME! THAT is my issue. And it’s not with her… I am not a member of the page, so this isn’t my fight. She came clean and that’s totally cool. But she is still allowing her commenters to imply that BM is better. A good half of them completely ignored the formula statements. They keep saying things like “at least it was your BM in the bottle! good job!” And she says “thank you! I’m glad you still support me!” That is just basically confirming the lactivist stand point. Those commenters are clearly missing the bigger issue here and she’s just letting them do it. And you know what? They are allowed to feel that way, honestly. But my concern is that they either completely missed the formula part or they are willfully ignoring it. And her point, I think, in making this admission, was to continue to help women… ALL women. And she is seeing her core group still push the lactivist agenda. They are allowed to do that. But I think if she really wanted to help formula feeders or supplementers, she should continue to say “but remember, I also formula fed… and my point is that’s okay!” And she’s not doing that.

  • lizdexia

    Hold the phone – now it’s not good enough to feed your babies breastmilk, I’m supposed to need to confess to and apologize for feeding them expressed breastmilk through a bottle? I just can’t keep up with all the various insane things I’m supposed to be experiencing guilt for as a mother.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      Remember, the thing she was claimed to be hiding was that she was using “non-approved” bottles. Like anyone actually knows or cares what the WHO rules are for bottles.

      But of course that isn’t it. She was actually trying to hide the fact that she was using bottles of any sort, not because she was trying to avoid experiencing the guilt that others would lay on her, but so she could continue to lay the guilt on everyone.

    • mythsayer

      AND for supplementing with formula. Why do people keep missing that part of the post? That was the most important part, IMO!

  • Linden

    These stories, these little fibs matter: I’m a new mum, and have been breastfeeding for 3.5 months. When one evening away can wipe out all your frozen milk stocks, or you’re panicking as you use your breastpump that your baby will go hungry if you don’t get enough, it is a very stressful situation.
    Despite having no major physical problems and a very supportive husband, I might have given up on breastfeeding, had it not been for a friend saying, “You know there is nothing wrong with having a few bottles of ready-made formula for emergencies, right?” It sounds stupid, but it was like a revelation.
    I’m back at work, and I’m still breastfeeding. I wouldn’t be able to, without a fallback option.

  • realitycheque

    I’ve noticed a trend with things like this. The people I know to have the most difficulty behind doors tend to be the ones who post the most heavily sanitised, “picture perfect” stuff on social media and blogs. There’s nothing wrong with omitting negative information on social media
    – I like to be private in that respect too – but they always
    manage to take it to the most extreme degree.

    At times I pity them, because they’ve probably bought into the same obscene expectations that they’re perpetuating (whether consciously or otherwise); other times I feel angry – especially when I see them doling out advice to new, struggling, doe-eyed mothers who view them as some sort of parenting god, all the while beating themselves up because they can’t fulfill the unrealistically high expectations those people promote in the first place.

    I read a study some time back that observed a correlation between impression management behaviour on social media and reduced self-esteem scores. I can’t help but wonder if this is somehow related. I’d love to see some psychology research into extremist parenting philosophies and things like maternal/marital satisfaction.

    • KarenJJ

      The most interesting one I have come across was someone that had a very messy personal life that came out after she’d been scamming thousands through various blogs etc.

    • guesty

      Yep. I’m convinced that the super sancti-crunches have the most skeletons. I know many. The worst one, you know the type: daily links on FB to the AlphaP, the dangers of: formula (it’s on the same level as giving your kids cigarettes, you know), time-outs, benefits of: cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, homeopathic treatments, etc. etc.

      She preaches daily to her 500+ FB ‘friends’ about parenting. What most don’t know, is that her mother left when she was a toddler, she struggles with anxiety/self esteem & home, AND contrary to her super attachment parenting image, she ships her two pre-schoolers off to full time daycare everyday while she sits @ home on maternity leave, taking selfies with her infant doing ‘skin to skin’ & breastfeeding in her wrap.

      The woman needs counselling & some very helpful meds, online she projects her image as an all conquering, all knowing, child raising deity.

  • fiftyfifty1

    I just went and read the comments to Jessica Martin-Weber’s “apology” post and boy is it a big old self-congratulatory fest all disguised as me-too apologies. Just like Jessica, a bunch of moms all “admitting” that they too didn’t ALWAYS feed their babies breastmilk directly from the breast but sometimes (gasp) fed that breastmilk from bottles! It’s all a bunch of thinly disguised bragging, “confessing” things like being invited to speak at a conference and leaving the baby for a day with dad and a pumped stockpile, or exclusively pumping and bottling for a year for a child with cranio-facial abnormalities. BARF! Will the bullshit hand wringing never end?

    Lactivism = Self Promotion
    Faux apologies = Self Promotion

    • Sara M.

      You mean like this:
      I would like to apologize for having my mom watch the twins for a couple hours when they were 4 days old so my husband could get me out of the house and possibly stop crying. Also for not trusting my own body and signing the C-section consent form the minute I got induced. Finally for not eating all organic foods with this pregnancy and not planning the HB that will make it all perfect.

      But mainly I would like to apologize for lying in the above paragraph because I am sorry for NONE of those things.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Or the one who “admitted” that her first daughter was formula fed…..because she adopted her as a 5 year old. I wish I were joking.

        • Sara M.

          So she gave a 5 year old formula? Stupid girl! She should apologize for that!

        • Hold up. She was adopted? So, in other words, there was absolutely no merit in discussing the way she was fed? I read her stupid post the other night, and I thought it was interesting that she mentioned how her oldest daughter was bottle fed, on formula…and never circled back to that. That was the first time I had ever been on that site, I didn’t know this Leaky Boob creeper or her family. She shouldn’t assume all readers are “forever-followers” and know everything about her crazy boob life. What a crock of shit. Extremists are extremists are extremists. Everything in moderation….that’s the way to live the good life!

          • Smoochagator

            It was a commenter who mentioned FF an adopted child. I believe the Leaky Boob’s kids are her own biological children.

        • And if I have to read another mom mention, “my milk” again I’m going to puke.

        • Smoochagator

          I think the child was five months old.

  • Dr Kitty

    I know some people here have mentioned that they felt there wasn’t information available about safe formula feeding.

    Have you seen the UK Public Health Agency’s “Birth to Five” book?
    Every new mother gets one, with every baby, in the UK.
    While there is a lot about BF, there are also step by step instructions for making bottles etc.
    I recommend people read it (hey, just because you are given it, doesn’t mean you read it) all the time.
    Here’s the infant feeding chapter.

    http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/Chapter%201%20Feeding%20your%20baby.pdf

    • Joy

      Once again, where are all these resources for those of us in the UK. I certainly did not get, nor ever was told about, Birth to Five.

      • Joy

        I looked it up. In England they haven’t given them out since at least 2012. They could have at least told me about the website though. Apparently, there also used to be a pregnancy book as well. That would have been nice.

        • Dr Kitty

          They’re still giving them out in Northern Ireland (maybe they just had them stockpiled) and I assumed England was the same. Anyhow, I have the website bookmarked and give it out happily to everyone.

          There’s Emma’s Diary (http://www.emmasdiary.co.uk/), which, while it is mostly advertising, does have some useful information, and most women will get a paper copy from their GP or Midwife during pregnancy.

          • Joy

            We got Emma’s Diary. It came with a ton of coupons and free samples of Ovaltine , decaf tea, and random pouches of smelly lotions. I never got the second pregnancy pack because they were always out ; I got the third in the hospital. I never picked up the family pack, but maybe I should now. The whole pregnancy I kept getting coupons for Ovaltine, which prompted many A Christmas Story joke.

          • Dr Kitty

            Oh, the randomness of Bounty packs!
            I got lots of samples for Ariel liquid in mine- the one detergent guaranteed to bring me out in a rash, so worse than useless to me- I gave them to the local food bank.

          • Joy

            noI really feel like pulling out the family one from last November and claiming it from Asda so I can get the extra clothes that they give. Even though my baby will clearly not fit them.

  • SisterMorphine

    I’m not too impressed by these “fauxpapologies”–reminds me of that line of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s: “All censor of a man [or Sanctimommy’s] self is oblique praise, it is given in order to show how much he can spare.”

    Yes, nice they finally admitted it. But I spent my son’s babyhood years living in a university town where the NCB/BF/AP Alphabet Police Mommy Wars were in full swing. I recall one AP mother telling me condescendingly, “I wouldn’t even know HOW to fix a bottle!” Good for you, sister, but I don’t think I should be required to defend private medical choices just to be accepted by the “right” playgroup. I remember once being given a copy of Katie Granju’s book with the suggestion that I’d “get something out of it.” I believe the “it” was guilt & tears and the determination that now I would just have to be much better at “Parenting: The Competitive Sport” in order for my son not to end up in jail or hating me for all the damage I did. Is this really what we’ve come to? Can’t we be supportive of each other’s choices?

    • Amy M

      What do you mean by supportive though? Maybe you (general you) do what works for you and leave me (general me) out of it, and I offer the same courtesy to you. I mean this for the general population—I suspect my parenting style is a lot like yours (not anywhere near AP), but the thing is, with the exception of vaccines (I am pro-vaccine), I don’t care how other people raise their children. I don’t need anyone’s support or validation and they shouldn’t need mine. I guess if we are speaking in very broad terms, we can all be supportive, if supportive means “being ok with however someone is doing something because whatever she is doing is totally legal and adequate and then minding our own business.”

      I totally agree with you about the fauxpologies, and I think it is terrible what those women you knew did. They behaved obnoxiously. But they were never going to support you unless you got in line, and that’s not really support.
      I’m sure you found real friends, who actually support you as a person, not the actions you do or do not perform wrt parenting. You don’t need false “support” from jerks who only want to lord it over others…tell them to stick it. I hope this is coming across right…it’s not an attack on you, SisterMorphine, but frustration at the AP Alphabet Police (love that!) Mommy Brigade that lives to cause turmoil.

      • Kq

        True, but that doesn’t help when you get cut off by what you trusted were your friends

        • SisterMorphine

          KQ & Bugsthe Alpby, maybe we could form a “Recovering Judged Mom” forum? 😉 on FB???

          Actua;;y, Amy M., my son’s first six years, ubtil we moved to the metro DC area, were BEYOND lonely. We lived in a subdivision that was just about perfect for SAHMs–pool, park, clubhouse with mom’s and craft days, a food co-op that doubled as a juice bar/hangout, even an area for sledding in winter. It was especially nice for moms in one-car households, like myself, who were otherwise stranded during the day. Except….except no, I didn’t make other friends b/c the Alphabet Police kind of ran the show. Now of course it wasn’t as if they would have driven me off w. pitchforks & shotguns, but I did get a lot of looks, comments (for my own good, of course) and condescending advice. It’s not as if these women were longtime friends who cut me off, but I ended up pretty much a stranger in a strange land. It wasn’t until my son was 6 ad we moved to a much more diverse town in the metro DC area that I finally developed a circle of supportive friends, and for the mother of an only child that’s a long time to be alone.

          Any M.—yes, I am supportive of other’s parenting choices as long as they do not involve abuse! I believe there are good practices w/in AP–though both a vaginal delivery & BF were off the table for me from thr

          • Amy M

            I answered (long) above, but I think this is coming down to semantics.
            I am totally down with others’ parenting choices too, barring abuse. To me, this means minding my business—keeping advice to myself unless asked, and recognizing that the vast majority of children turn out fine no matter what the parents do. I don’t know if that is actually support, since I am not actively encouraging any particular behavior.

        • Dr Kitty

          True.
          As an adult it can be a lot harder to make new friends if you lose your entire circle of friends.

      • Smoochagator

        “I don’t need anyone’s support or validation and they shouldn’t need mine.”
        I’m not even sure I can agree with that in theory. I have met some people, few and far between, who need very little in the way of encouragement from their families and peers, but the vast majority of folks seem to need some sort of validation in life, especially for something as difficult and confusing as parenting. Some folks honestly don’t care what anyone else thinks, and boy do I envy them, but I need to know that the people I spend a lot of time with think I’m generally likable and not a completely parenting failure.

        • Amy M

          Well, maybe I worded it wrong or too strongly. What I was trying to get at was: we don’t all need to cheerlead and tell every woman that we totally agree with what she is doing and rain down compliments because of her choices. Often, in online forums, that’s what “support” seems to mean, at least to some.

          I certainly have friends who have done things differently with their children. For example, some of my friends have breastfed, and I formula fed. We didn’t go around patting each other on the back every time a baby needed feeding. We didn’t even discuss it. We just went about our business and continued to be friends. I suppose you could say I supported my breastfeeding friends by making sure they had a place to nurse in my house, if they weren’t comfortable whipping it out in front of other people. But they were completely neutral on my choice to formula feed because what support could they offer? I was ok with formula feeding, and it wasn’t difficult to do.

          Is simply being ok with other people’s choices and minding our business support? I wasn’t classifying it as such, which is why I have been saying “I don’t need support.” If it IS support, however, then yes, we should all support each other.

          What I would consider support would be when my friend would listen to me, if I had a hard day, after a sleepless night up with the baby. It would also be support if she helped me with something, so I could get some rest. To me, support means some kind of action (including listening/being there), and we should support our friends in general, regardless of what they are doing. All new mothers need support—hopefully, they have a network of family and friends that will give it. Not necessarily specific to feeding choice, just because its hard to become a new parent.

          • Smoochagator

            I guess that’s the issue – the word “support” can kind of be loaded and amorphous. Like, I’m not even 100% sure what I meant, but I think that being okay with someone else’s choices and minding our (my) own business is a good start. It seems like some people don’t get ANY of that from their personal, real life, circle of friends and family, and that’s really sad. Being a new parent, as you said, is HARD, and being told (subtly or outright) that you’re doing it all wrong because you don’t subscribe to a particular parenting philosophy can be really damaging.

          • Amy M

            Yeah. I definitely made too broad a statement earlier. I agree with you, and most here, that everyone needs support: friends and family who care and help out and who will be there no matter what.

            What I don’t need, is people to tell me that every choice I make is the best choice, or the right choice, or the choice they would make. I don’t need support for specific, individual decisions, I need support AS an individual.

        • sdsures

          It takes a lot of chutzpah to not care what other people think, and doing so is extremely difficult.

    • Bugsy

      SisterMorphine, I can relate to you completely. I wish we’d known each other in our kids’ babyhood!

      My toxicophobe friend (who I posted on last week on this site) fits in 100% with the people you describe. The past 3 years of being pregnant and having my son have been horrid from the friendship standpoint – I felt judged every time I made a decision that didn’t support her AP philosophies, and received a “That’s great! You handled it correctly!” when I was acted in accordance with what she deems proper. So much for having a friendship – I felt more like she saw her role as to educate and give me proper parenting guidance. The irony of it is that I came into parenting with a master’s in education and 10+ years of experience with kids/education, while she’s always hated children and stayed far away from them.

      She and I have split over the past few months…I so miss my friend and our 25+ year friendship, but couldn’t stand the ideologies that had enveloped her. I’m sure she would view me as judgmental for not being willing to accept her, AP and all. AP and all, I was there for her until she crossed lines and started judging/criticizing every aspect of how I raise my own son. I’ve watched it ruin her. Why on earth would I embrace that myself?

      • Kq

        Can I say I wish I could have known any mom’s (aside from staceyjw, love u girl) in person who didn’t ice me for my birth/motherhood views? Almost destroyed me, my marriage and my mothering relationship to be ostracised.

      • sdsures

        You could well be describing my crunchy mother-in-law, who, thankfully, did NOT pass on her craziness to my husband. She will be made to get her vaccinations before being allowed near our children.

  • OldTimeRN

    What next? She admits she send her babies back to the nursery ?

    But no need Momma’s your secret is safe with us nursery nurses. We’ve read your birth plan and respected it. We just didn’t demand you follow through on it when you just wanted to move your bowels for the first time in peace.

    • Sara M.

      Ha! I asked the RNs to take my babies while I slept, oh boy did I get eye rolls from my hippie dippy friends when I mentioned that one.

      • sdsures

        I want to punch your hippy dippy friends. Do you mind? *evil grin*

    • Dr Kitty

      The high point of my night shifts in OB Gyn was going to the nursery to feed the well babies, which I did whenever I had a spare 15 minutes.
      Night shifts were usually the worst in terms of bad stuff happening (a 3am emergency D&C for a late miscarriage, or an emergency CS with a baby in distress were pretty common).
      Holding a warm, happy baby for a feed usually made me feel better, and the midwives manning the nursery never said no to an extra hand.

      • sdsures

        Nurseries and the NICU always look to me like hydroponic baby farms. XD

  • Amazed

    A commenter who claims to have worked NICU has this to say, ” If for some reason you need formula, just realize it is no where near
    the same as breastmilk, but, must meet minimum nutritional requirements.
    Any amount of breastmilk can help digest formula, and the protective
    properties are life long!!”

    Fucking bitch. If she ever worked in a NICU, I hope she was a cleaning woman. The thought of someone being so uneducated, condescending and able to do so much harm makes me want to curl up and cry.

    Anyone who’s willing can quote me over there.

    • MayMama

      That makes me angry. You know what didn’t even meet “minimal nutritional requirements”? My measly almost 1 ounce of breast milk that I could pump over the course of a day. Oh. And it looked like skim milk

      • Amazed

        Now, you’ll have to be your child’s devoted slave for the rest of his/her life to atone a little for your grievous sin. Oh wait, that’s what REAL AP moms do anyway.

        Come to think of it, those pictured of her kids feeding the baby might have another use. Show AP moms that older children want to be involved, and not only by bringing nappies anc adorable clothes over for the baby whose needs, of course, only mama can meet.

        The Intruder, otherwise known as Baby Brother, arrived when I was four year old. My mom says I pitied the poor thing so much for having to eat – gasp! – milk that I tried to feed him a bun – the bestest thing ever in my mind.

        And you know what? That was not even formula! My mom’s milk. I seem to not have given a damn that she fed him poison (not even formula but powdered milk. There was no formula on the market) throughout his first month. I must not have been breastfed long enough. Really, can you see another explanation for being so ST|UPID?

        • Sara M.

          One reason could be was because your mother wasn’t an AP and trusting you, her precious princess, to be behave in a natural way. She should have accepted that a child knows WAY more than us idiot adults and that feeding the baby according to your own instincts was contributing to society. She probably didn’t even brag about your genius at the next play date so other moms could feel bad.

          Or the other reason could quite possibly be because you were four years old and didn’t comprehend a baby’s feeding needs. Your mother took great care of you and the fussy new houseguest and did the best the she could.

          You pick whichever explanation you like.

          • Amazed

            The first one is the key – I’m sure of it! In fact, my mom was born extremely small for the 50s and went home (in another settlement) without her own mom who was discharged more than a month later. It comes without saying that breastfeeding in this first month was totally unreachable goal. But my grandmother would have been surely happy to have the fact that her baby was being fed foods that didn’t even meet the minimal requirements the then unexisting formula meets rubbed in her face.

            Oh wait, she was too happy to have a child, finally, and stay alive herself to care too much.

          • Sara M.

            That’s an incredible story! Your mom made it through as a small baby in the 50s! Your grandmother lived through apparently a tough birth. What is all this griping about breastfeeding again? I am too busy being happy about babies thriving.

            With my 2nd born twin, the nurse apologized profusely for giving him formula, but she believed he needed it, and then apologized some more. I was to thrilled to hear that he was eating, because my milk wasn’t helping my jaundiced newborn. No apologies needed.

          • Amazed

            No apologies needed, indeed. If they had been starving your newborn, apologies wouldn’t have been enough.

            Unfortunately, that was my grandmother’s only viable pregnancy. Today, it might have been different. But it was then.

            My other grandmother’s story is even more incredible. With her second, she hopped onto the donkey cart to go to the nearest town where recently, a maternity ward had been opened. She spent a few days in the town before dragging herself to the hospital to ask why the hell she wasn’t giving birth. They had a look and said, “You ARE!” At which she was about to sit down and explain just how stupid they were and how they didn’t know anything – and they pushed her back up before she could sit on the baby’s head. She had been having some pains for a while but she simply didn’t recognize them as strong enough to be contractions.

            With her third, she was damned terrified that she might enter the cowshed and give birth right there, with the cow in attendance!

            Good times. Of course, as a common sense peasant woman, she had seen too much to believe that nature intended all the best for her and hers.

          • Mishimoo

            My Mormor was a miracle baby – her mother was giving birth at home, and out popped a foot! My oldefar (great-granddad) hustled her off to hospital in hope of saving her. They didn’t expect Mormor to be alive and okay, but in all the fuss, she’d turned and slid right out head first and healthy!

          • Amazed

            Wow, that’s amazing! And you see? They headed for the hospital as soon as they saw something was wrong. All those years ago…

          • Dr Kitty

            My grandfather was born in 1898, probably at about 35 weeks gestation. He spent his first few weeks of life in a cotton wool lined shoebox beside the fire, being fed with an eye dropper. By all the available experience of the time, he was one of those babies that wasn’t meant to live.

            Ironically, he was the only member of his family that survived the Holocaust.

          • Smoochagator

            I have occasionally heard stories of premature babies born in the era before hospital birth and NICUs, and they sound much like the story you relate here… kept warm, fed with an eyedropper, and lived in spite of the odds. I think the NCBers point to these stories as proof of the inherent safety of life and birth, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of premature babies born in those days DID. NOT. SURVIVE. That sort of thing was not the norm – no one took it for granted that even healthy, full-term childrenw ould survive their birth day or their first year, let alone a baby born a month or two early.

          • Mishimoo

            And recognised that it was sheer luck that they had a good outcome, not anything that they’d done! It’s one of the family near-miss stories that reminds us to be grateful for the advances in medicine.

    • amazonmom

      I’m not surprised , but disappointed. Stuff like that is why I have mothers cry on my shoulder and fathers begging me to help their wives. Once a family has decided they trust you not to judge them they confess the problems they are having. Lactation issues happen pretty often in NICU.

      • Elizabeth A

        Of course they do! And while breast milk really does have benefits for preemies, they cannot do without food. There’s is something in my heart that’s always warmed by the memory of the old-school neonatalogist roaring “No hungry babies in my unit!”

    • “If for some reason you need formula?” I want to know what NICU and what level she worked in. If mom isn’t producing milk, or can’t breastfeed, or doesn’t WANT to breastfeed, we HAVE to use formula. These fragile kiddos HAVE TO EAT. They don’t have the brown fat supplies to wait it out. Many micro-preemie moms take a while to produce milk! And if we’re going up on feeds, and the supply isn’t there…we supplement. I’ve yet to meet a mom who protests that. Keeping their guts sterile for too long is no bueno. And, most preemies go home on a bottle of 24 calorie or even higher, even if they home at corrected age of 40 weeks…and are breastfeeding champs!

      WTF?

    • Trying to get back on her blog, but receiving a “fatal error.” Can get on the site, just not the blog…..eeeeeeenteresting.

      • Amazed

        Works for me. But there was the same “fatal error” earlier.

        Try again.

  • Sara M.

    At my 6 week check up after my twins were born, the doctor asked how I was coping emotionally. Before I could answer my husband said “It got better after she started using formula.” I thought about it for a minute and realized he was right.

  • DiomedesV

    I disagree that the piece was an act of courage. Jessica Martin-Weber has created a persona for herself amongst a very selective audience of like-minded individuals. Copping to not being quite the person you claimed to be — and as others points out, she doesn’t really take responsibility for her misrepresentation, because she implies it was all in the cause of promoting WHO-code bottles — is not courage.

    I’m sorry, but the internet is not real life. Anyone can turn it off. Many people are courageous in their daily lives. They stand up to abusive partners, they advocate for their kids despite failing public schools and indifferent administrators, they are low wage workers with very little bargaining power that still do everything in their power to take care of their kids…. these people have real problems in life. Feeling guilty that your rock star persona within a very limited readership was not quite real: that is not a real problem. Pretending that it is and that revealing the truth has relieved you from “shame” removes all meaning from that word.

    With one exception, there was no meaningful pushback from her readers, as I’m sure she knew there wouldn’t be.

    The equivalent of Jessica Martin-Weber’s post would be a woman who keeps a blog that advocates a very strict dietary regimen confessing to eating a cookie now and again. Only people who are indoctrinated into a similar mindset would see that as a courageous act.

  • Sara

    So according to her, this was all concealed over some WHO code violation? That’s hard to believe. If it’s so challenging to find a bottle from a manufacturer doesn’t violate WHO code, wouldn’t that be something that moms could get together and make a big fuss over, and provide resources for other moms who wanted to be ideologically consistent?

    Oh yeah, but then that would involve admitting that you feed your baby from bottles.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      I agree, I don’t get it.

      These people are so friggin nuts that they will judge someone who is obviously their ally on the basis of what brand of bottle she uses?

      Even when I first read it, I couldn’t figure out what the actual “admission” was.

    • Joy

      What bottles don’t violate the WHO code? Are we all supposed to get our information from some guy on the street? No one is allowed to advertise ever because someone, somewhere might see it and think that formula feeding is better even though only a deaf, blind, mute in a bell jar hasn’t heard breast is best?

  • RSM

    Better than never.
    I am sure this happens all the time, but few will ever cop to it.

  • KarenJJ

    I think one thing to keep in mind when reading blogs/statuses on social media etc is that what you are mostly reading is self-promotion. There might be a community service announcement in there somewhere that is helpful, but you need to be aware that you are reading a persona and a fantasised account of how people actually live.

    Even Dr Amy says that her persona on here is different to how she is in real life. I wouldn’t expect anything less from any other blogger.

    • KarenJJ

      And sorry that sounded really obvious and a bit condescending, point was made more with the intention of preempting visitors.

    • Sara

      I kept a blog for awhile. I’d agree with your statement. You have to commit to some sort of unnaturally consistent appearance if you want a regular and expanding readership. I figured out I couldn’t do it. Blogging or social media.

  • jhr

    Jessica Martin-Weber has done a service to her readers beyond what she may presently understand. Dr. Amy nailed it. Jessica’s choice of moderation and reasonableness in her actual life, despite her blog persona, her coming “out,” and her poignantly honest disclosure, will resonate more with her followers, many of whom would find anything said by Dr. Amy to be anathema. So be it. Getting the message out has always been Dr. Amy’s goal.

  • Bugsy

    “Third, natural childbirth, lactivism and attachment parenting is about women boosting their own self esteem by projecting an image of themselves as “better” mothers than other women. It’s about competition among sanctimommies, and the many women who are hurt by it are collateral damage.”

    -Well said.

  • Cobalt

    Better late than never. Any move towards moderation, honesty, and ending the shaming of mothers (and fathers) making perfectly reasonable parenting choices based on the needs of the individual family should be supported and encouraged.

  • Are you nuts

    Good grief. Where the hell did this go so wrong that feeding your baby breastmilk via a bottle is something to hide? If not for pumping and bottles, my breastfeeding journey would have ended after about five days. It never occurred to me to feel guilty about it.

    • mythsayer

      The real admission is the formula feeding. And it’s driving me nuts that half her commenters are still saying things like “we all bottle feed sometimes! It’s still breast milk!”

      • Kris

        Actually, Jessica has always talked about formula feeding her first. She has never hidden the fact that all of her children have had bottles, some with breastmilk, some with formula.
        If you read the actual article, rather than these spun snippets, she is in no way apologizing for bottle feeding her babies, nor does she feel guilt about it,. She is apologizing for not showing pictures of it. Pictures she obviously took at the time. A person who is embarrassed or ashamed of their child ever having a bottle wouldn’t take pictures to commemorate it.

        She never lied. She just showed images that would not create backlash from judgemental people like the author of this piece.

        • Sara

          Are you telling that to all of the people commenting on her blog?

        • Anj Fabian

          The narrative of “I mostly FFed my first one, but the others got (nearly) pure liquid gold.”

          falls into the “Know better, do better.” narrative.

          Would people be nearly so understanding if the child who got formula was the third one instead of the first? They couldn’t write that off as a novice mistake then.

          The culture is the problem and for every Fearless Formula Feeder who wants every baby fed there are multiple Breast Is Best bloggers who think formula is an inferior substitute and synonymous with failure.

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            he narrative of “I mostly FFed my first one, but the others got (nearly) pure liquid gold.”

            falls into the “Know better, do better.” narrative.

            Personally, i categorize it in the “reformed sinner” category. Everyone loves a reformed sinner.

          • LibrarianSarah

            Everyone loves a reformed sinner

            But unreformed sinners are so much more fun to hang out with!

          • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

            “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun…”

          • Smoochagator

            Yeah, and as far as I can tell, she did not specifically say in the linked article that it was her first child who got formula. She says, “ONE of the kids got mostly formula.” I think the wording is different on purpose. She may have partially FF her first, but it seems that he/she was not the only one.

          • mythsayer

            Yup!

        • Box of Salt

          Kris, you’re obviously a fan of Leaky Boob, and I understand you want to cKris, you’re obviously a fan of Leaky Boob, and I understand you want to conclude your comment supportive of Jessica Martin-Weber with strong, supportive wording, but can we think about what you wrote: “She just showed images that would not create backlash from judgemental people like the author of this piece.” ?

          The author of this piece, whose take home message is in part: “Every mother needs to do what she thinks is best for her child and herself, without regard to what other women insist is correct.”

          Where’s the judgment in that?

          • Box of Salt

            Apologies for poor copy editing. I hope the message is still clear.

        • mythsayer

          I read her “admission”. I am not a Leaky Boob reader because my kid is 4. But I have to say that I would be SHOCKED to find a bunch of posts admitting to formula feeding. I’m not saying she ever said it was wrong, or that she ever even said she’d never done it. I think it was an omission. Please show me posts where she explicitly says she formula fed (supplemented) with ANY of her kids. To me this isn’t about pictures. Maybe it’s because I’m not one of her readers. My opinion is that words can be just as powerful and unless she is actively supporting supplementation, the formula issue is HUGE.

  • TsuDhoNimh

    That took courage to write and publish … maybe it will make her fans back off on the romancing the breastmilk and shaming the women who choose not to do it or partially do it.

    • Siri

      I disagree – I think it’s a fauxpology, and required no courage whatsoever. It had one aim and one only, namely to garner yet more praise and backpats for the author. And judging by the vast majority of the comments, it achieved precisely that.

  • Dr Kitty

    In the UK at least, the very sad death of Peaches Geldof-Cohen was proof that you can be an AP proponent, a loving mother and a heroin addict.

    Who knows, maybe part of what prevented her seeking help was the image she had constructed as the perfect AP mother who wouldn’t repeat her own mother’s mistakes.

    • Guestll

      Peaches did get help, though. She was on methadone for two and a half years before her heroin overdose. She just relapsed and she wasn’t lucky. There but for the grace of (insert deity here) go many of us.

      • Sara

        True. This is what I was thinking when I read her story.

    • Somewhereinthemiddle

      Sadly, I know several people who called themselve “AP” parents who have addiction problems. Fathers and mothers both. It is terribly, terribly sad. Becoming a parent does not cure people of addiction and I think sometimes the conditions of parenting can exacerbate substance abuse problems. My brother is one where becoming a parent triggered him to drink more, and more, and more.

      I hadn’t even heard of this lady so I googled her. Sad, sad story.

      • jhr

        Addictive personalities also become addicted to ideologies. Read Eric Hoffers’ The True Believer.

        • sdsures

          Good book, that.

        • Somewhereinthemiddle

          Thanks! I’ll check it out.

        • Smoochagator

          Very good point.

  • Siri

    Well whoopy bloody doo; colour me underwhelmed. She still has to boast about her breastfed 2.5-year-old and all the bottles of ‘my milk’, and then throws the ‘one baby got mostly formula’ like a bloody bone to those poor bitches who didn’t ‘overcome all the boobytraps and end up breastfeeding/excusively pumping for x number of months/years/bloody decades’. Self-indulgent, passive-aggressive, attention-seeking rubbish.

    • mythsayer

      Seriously. It’s practically hidden compared to the other stuff. And when people comment and say things like “you still fed them your milk! Good for you! I have never given a bottle, but I still support you!” it really irritates me. And then her response is “thank you!!” Instead, she should be saying “look… your response still implies that breast milk is better… I just said I formula fed my kids. I’m glad you support me… I just wanted to remind you that healthy kids are the goal, not breast milk feeding!”

      • Kris

        Actually, her response was ” It wouldn’t have matter either way, but thank you”. If you are going to quote, get it right.

        • mythsayer

          Sigh… it was a paraphrase. I’m sorry the quotation marks confused you. I should have said “her response was BASICALLY ‘thank you'”. My god. You are really looking to nit pick.

          What I find interesting is that my original quoted statement was “SAY THINGS LIKE” and then I paraphrased a bunch of comments. So I thought everyone would understand that the “thank you” was also paraphrased in response to my condensed and paraphrased commenter statements.

  • DiomedesV

    The only thing that saddens me is that Jessica Martin-Weber is even in a position to influence how other women view their mothering efforts. It’s truly absurd.

    She did lie, and it did harm people. But the reality is that her life and however dishonestly she portrays it shouldn’t be that important to anyone but herself.

  • Anonymous

    Most of the commentators are pretty nice on that article. One lady is very, very angry.

    • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

      And I can sympathize with her. She was harmed by the attitude that was promoted.

      Actually, i am reminded of Quiz Show, where the dude went before congress and spilled his guts about cheating on the game show, and everyone on the panel was all like, “You are so brave” and “I’m proud of you for coming clean” and then there was the old guy who says,

      I’m happy that you’ve made the statement. But I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. See, I don’t think an adult of your intelligence should be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth.

    • Amy

      I’m trying to leave a reply to her. It would appear that this site isn’t moderated otherwise that comment wouldn’t make it through…but we’ll see if mine shows up.

      • The Bofa, Being of the Sofa

        If the Leaky Boob person had any dignity, she’d come to that commentor’s defense, and say, yes, you are right. I deserve that. I know that it’s too late now and that the harm has been done, but know that I’m sorry. But you are right to hate me for what I’ve done.

        That’s the response I’d like to see.

    • Siri

      And every one of those ‘nice’ commenters is queuing up to show off her marvellous achievements in breastfeeding against all odds/overcoming boobytraps/donating breastmilk/etc etc ad nauseam. Oh, the false honesty/modesty of the ‘I fed my baby bottles of breastmilk; mea culpa’ boast! It lines right up with the ‘I’m not perfect, I once fed my kids a … gasp … microwave meal!’ boast and the ‘I’m not perfect, I once let my kids … gasp … watch a DVD!’ boast. Smug, smugger, smuggest. Barf.

      • Bugsy

        Siri: “‘I’m not perfect, I once fed my kids a … gasp … microwave meal!’ boast and the ‘I’m not perfect, I once let my kids … gasp … watch a DVD!'”

        Hahaha…spot on! Can you imagine the horrors of a microwave meal or a DVD? What would they think of my 2-year-old adoring “The Big Bang Theory”? Ruining the child for life, clearly.

        • Siri

          Ranks right up there?! Surely you mean ‘was directly caused by’? Lol.

    • Cobalt

      The angry one has a point, though, and I think it’s important for that response to be seen and acknowledged. The unrealistic expectations have caused a lot of unnecessary pain, expressing it is perfectly valid and helps demonstrate why things really need to change.

      • mythsayer

        If you guys mean the comment on the actual website, that girl is really angry. And the person who responded is a bitch. She basically said “I came here for support and breast feeding is hard, but I kept at it and I did it! And I don’t let others’ opinions get me down (implication is that the OP is a weak person who just let everyone get her depressed)! And there are lots of other resources… you should have looked at other websites! It’s ALL YOUR FAULT that you got depressed!”

        That pisses me off because she judged her for being “weak” and what other websites was she supposed to go to??? That’s the point! People read what they read… and this girl felt like she HAD to breastfeed and a lot of the reason why is websites like this. She clearly wasn’t in a position to find another website. It’s like the women who need “healing home births”. Yeah… there are plenty of websites that say healthy babies are the end goal and how you give birth shouldn’t define you. But they don’t listen to those websites… because they aren’t ready to listen to them. So it wouldn’t have mattered if this girl had read another website. She felt like she HAD to breast feed because other women told her she had to. I hate judgmental people.

        • Anj Fabian

          Yes. She implied that the Angry Commenter should have kept jumping through every fucking hoop in order to attain the Holy Grail of breastfeeding – preferably exclusive breastfeeding, straight from the boob.

          While some women do find the help they need to get to that ultimate goal, others spend a huge chunk of time and energy and do not. What do they get for their sacrifice? Nothing. Not even “I’m impressed how hard you worked!”. Nope. If you don’t make the summit, the most vocal lactivists don’t care how hard you tried. Second place doesn’t count.

    • mythsayer

      Who was angry and what did she say?

    • Guesteleh

      The angry lady has a right to be angry and now I’m angry at the person who replied with the usual “no one can make you feel bad against your will” bullshit.

      • Stacy48918

        That’s a lie just like “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”

        Liar, liar pants on fire.

    • Bodnoirbabe

      I’m that angry commentator. I could give two shits about the replies to my comment. I commend The Leaky Boob for posting the comment rather than ignoring it, and in that I think it’s an admission that she understands my anger. It would be great to get a direct response, but I understand if she doesn’t. There’s a lot of vitriol from me in that post.

      • MDP

        Thank you, Bodnoirbabe, for your comment at The Leaky Boob. I was in the
        very same situation after my son was born: dealing with severe depression and milk
        supply problems; my son starving; my husband terrified. And like you, the very
        “experts” I looked to for help told me the same “liquid
        gold”/ oh noes nipple confusion! /breast-feeding is sooooooo convenient/ formula
        is sewer water bullshit. My family suffered because of it, and I’m also very
        angry about it.

        • Bugsy

          MDP: The amount of lies and guilt-tripping they put new moms under is frankly abusive. I hold a bit of anger for similar lies I was fed…and am sorry for all that you went through.

          • MDP

            Thank you for your compassion. It took me a few years to stop punishing myself for being a breast feeding “failure.”

        • Bodnoirbabe

          I wish more women would speak out about the anger. They think I’m nuts because I ” let someone make me feel bad”. What they don’t understand is it’s not just me and it’s not one person. It’s the entire industry.

          • mythsayer

            Did you see my response? Did she post it?

      • Hey @Bodnoirbabe I responded to your comment there too and commend Leaky for letting the discussion go. I really felt everything you had to say and cheered how palpable and honest it was. I could totally relate to all points. Nobody thinks you are nuts, it was clear to me that you’re angry. Lots of us are. We feel betrayed by the so-called supportive resources that we were counting on to give us good council.

        It’s definitely not just you. I posted on my FB wall and it got a huge response, all from people who feel just like you. Why didn’t more comment on Leaky’s post? I think it’s because you essentially said everything that needed to be said.

        I’ll also defend Leaky and say hey – this is a GREAT FIRST STEP. Hypocritical? Sure. But the same machine that has made many of us feel like crappy failed parents also compelled her silence. And she’s not being silent now. FANTASTIC. Maybe this will help others talk more honestly about it. Because this shame spiral and judgement about breastfeeding is the last thing any parent struggling with nursing needs.

        • Bodnoirbabe

          Thank you. I’ve learned through the ensuing years that I’m not alone but it is always very nice to hear someone acknowledge what happened. Please keep vocalizing. It means a lot to those who are afraid to speak up and for those who are sharing.

  • Alannah

    I respect the Leaky Boob. Coming out like that took guts. She did a very wrong thing, but she apologized like a grown up. And in the process she called all those other photoshopped, soft-focus, unicorn-farting lactivists out on their bullsh*t. Slow clap for her!

    • Amy

      I want her to be honest about why one of her children was fed formula though. Because the lactivist mentality is all women can nurse and those who don’t are lazy/uneducated or taken in by hospital samples. She is clearly none of thee above. I want her to confirm what we all know which is that sometimes you simply cannot breastfeed or pump enough, or at all, and holy shit it doesn’t matter anyway.

      • mythsayer

        Did you read the comments to her post? EVERYONE is ignoring that statement. That irritates me.

  • mythsayer

    In Kate Winslet’s case, I didn’t take it that she was lying because she thinks C-Sections are bad, but more because she was feeling that same judgment and pressure other women feel after they have a CS. IMO, she is an example of someone who bowed to the pressure… she admitted she did a disservice to women by lying about it because she IS famous and she should be a role model… and she tried to use her admission as a way to try to stop the bullying about it. She said if other women didn’t act that way towards those who get CS, she wouldn’t have felt the need to lie… and that all needs to change.

  • moto_librarian

    I give Jessica a lot of credit for admitting to it and apologizing for it. I think that she has always presented a far more balanced viewpoint than the majority of breastfeeding advocates with a prominent web presence (e.g., TAP). She also took a ton of heat for linking to the post by the breast cancer survivor who called out lactivists for being bullies.

    The one thing that has hurt me as a formula feeding mom has been this idea that you don’t bond with your baby as well if you aren’t breast feeding. There seems to be this idea that formula feeders just prop the baby’s bottle up and leave, or that we always get someone else to feed our baby because we are too busy. That is not true, and it does hurt. I have enjoyed many a quiet moment snuggling my sons, admiring their tiny fingers and toes, gazing into their big eyes, all while nourishing them from a bottle. My husband, parents, and close friends have also been able to enjoy these moments with our children because of bottles. It makes me feel sad that she felt like she couldn’t share those beautiful pictures of her older children who were so clearly delighted to be feeding their younger siblings. Those are precious and lovely moments between siblings, and it makes me very angry to think that the lactivist agenda was allowed to intrude on them.

    • MLE

      Yes, that whole line made me cry all the time while pregnant because I was afraid that I would fail at breast feeding and then my son wouldn’t love me. That’s an evil thing to do to a mother. In reality, bottle feeding might have assisted with bonding since I was more wrapped up in toe curling pain than getting to gaze lovingly at my child as I always imagined myself doing.

    • Smoochagator

      Regardless of that fact that I formula fed both of my children, I can probably count on one hand how many times I had my husband give them a bottle or get up with them in the middle of the night. You can still be the primary caregiver (and the baby’s favorite person a.k.a. food source) even when you are not physically creating the food with your body. Being a formula feeding mom doesn’t make you any less of a mom.

      • Smoochagator

        And to clarify: I’m not saying that moms have to be the child’s primary caregiver, or that dads shouldn’t pull night duty, or blah blah blah any of that. I’m just saying that my relationship with my kids looked a lot more like a SAHM with a nursling than the stereotypical career woman tossing a bottle of formula at her kiddo so she could climb the corporate ladder… you figure out what works for you, for your kids (the newest one and the older ones), your partner, etc. There’s a lot of moving parts in a family, and each family has to figure out what’s going to keep it all moving when a new person is added to the mix. Sacrificing health, relationships, career, etc. on the altar of BREASTFEEDING is just plain old stupid.

      • Alannah

        So the only good moms who create bonds with their children are the ones who do all the nightfeeds while their partner snoozes away?

        Have fun on your guilt trip, but I`m not coming with you. My husband has done exactly 50% of all the night feeds my child has ever had.

        I am still an excellent mother and my bond with my child could not be stronger. Neither could his.

        Mother-martyrhood (with breast and bottle) does not equal good parenting.

        • Somewhereinthemiddle

          I think you may be unnecessarily reading a good bit into Smooch’s comments. I do not see a guilt trip *at all* or her speaking about anything other than what worked for her family. She is defending herself against the folks who say that bottle feeders don’t bond with their babies or assume that the babies are always being fed by someone else. Take a step back and re-read and understand that her comments do not reflect at all on your choices. Her comments have *zero* to do with what works for you and your family.

        • Smoochagator

          Please read my comment below. I’m not saying that you have to be a martyr to be a good mom.

    • Mel

      I’m not a parent, but damn, I’ve bonded with a whole bunch of teenagers over the years. Never breast-feed any of them, either.

      • Amazed

        Today, one of the women in my zumba class brought a young girl over. Where did you find her, I asked since I knew she only had a son. Turned out it was one of the students who frequented her lunch shop. Actually, at the moment the girl was shockingly not bonded to her own mom. Her mom didn’t understand her, was too old-fashioned, treated her like a prisoner, etc. I call that being a teen (been there, done that. Turned out my mom was just as thrilled with teen me as teen me was with her). But maybe she wasn’t breastfed/

    • Amy M

      Even with twins, we didn’t “bottle prop.” We did figure out a way to feed them both at once, but if there were two people available to feed, then each baby got held close and cuddled. This scenario happened at least at bedtime every day. And when they were older and could hold their own bottles, we were feeding them solids, so we sat with them for that. And when they graduated to high chairs, those were at the table. I can’t think of any point where we left one of the babies with a bottle and walked away for any length of time. Eating (at least some of the meals) has always been a family activity, which fosters bonding.

    • TsuDhoNimh

      “There seems to be this idea that formula feeders just prop the baby’s bottle up and leave,”

      My SO claims to have mastered the art of attaching his twin boys to their soundly sleeping mother without waking her up.

      • Cobalt

        This is totally possible. In fact, in happens in my house most nights around 3 am (except for the twins part).

    • Mariana Baca

      And to be fair, even if one *did* prop a bottle up, not being there every second the baby is eating doesn’t mean they are a bad mom or didn’t bond with their child, or didn’t spend countless non-feeding hours doing all the snuggling and staring needed. Heck, I’ve seen many women breastfeeding while surfing the web, watching tv, napping, etc. I don’t see why formula feeding is only ok if you are paying 100% attention to the child.

      Food is amazing and necessary and a great bonding activity for humans. But, especially ones where one is sleep deprived, in a hurry, or busy, every meal doesn’t need to be a perfect kodak moment. *And that is ok*! Regardless of the mechanism for feeding.

    • jhr

      It is truly the “message” not the “medium” in feeding a baby. The nutrition, the love that you describe, not the means of conveyance.

    • Zoey

      I breastfed both of my babies, but I can tell you that I was not actively bonding with either one of them for hours every day while they sucked on me. I have some friends that told me that they were so enraptured with their child’s adorable face as they were feeding that they did nothing else ever, but I was mostly playing games on my iPhone, reading, or watching TV. I would probably have had to be more actively paying attention to them if I did bottle feed. Breastfeeding did not automatically equal bonding, at least not for me.

      • Cobalt

        With bottle feeding I have to pay a lot more attention to the eating process, holding both baby and bottle at a good angle, watching that the nipple is full of liquid and not air, that liquid is not leaking out because I didn’t assemble correctly, etc. Definitely way more time spent watching the little one. Breastfeeding directly from the breast, once latched and comfy, allows me to lay back and read or surf the net. Or be asleep if my husband is on duty. Breastfeeding doesn’t mean a constant mutual admiration society party of two. It’s just the easiest way for me to get nutrition into the baby for that particular meal.

      • KarenJJ

        I was miserable breastfeeding. My daughter was feeding all day and flaking out asleep. Literally feeding for 2 hours and sleeping for 20 minutes and trying to feed again. She was a determined little soul even back then 🙂

        She wasn’t putting on weight in spite of our efforts and I started supplementing with bottles and cutting the breastfeeds short. Bottlefeeding was marvellous – I finally felt like a mother and could stare at her beautiful little face and look into her big grey-blue eyes. We combo fed until she was six months.

        Bonding is not a one-size fits all – at the newborn stage it’s about the mother’s sense of duty and love towards her child. Surely individual mothers are the best judge of that.

        • Sara

          I like bottle feeding better too. I can see her face. I can get comfortable. She doesn’t care either way. It works out for everyone.

          Plus her dad and older brother love feeding her, too. That’s a wonderful thing to watch. I can no longer wrap my mind around all the drama associated with feeding a baby.

      • Lizard

        Ha ha – yep. As soon as I mastered tandem feeding twin infants, most nursing sessions were devoted to Angry Birds. My kids nursed with their eyes closed anyway. We bonded fine, just not because of or while nursing (and I later got sick of being a milk cow and switched to formula).

    • Jennifer2

      The only time I propped a bottle was when I was trying to pump at the same time as feed my son. When I switched to formula, there was no bottle propping. Trust me, we bonded just fine. Probably better actually since I wasn’t a crying mess every feeding.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I never propped a bottle, but I remember very clearly pumping on the couch with my daughter lying on a boppy pillow in front of me. Both of us were sobbing–she because I wasn’t picking her up and she was hungry, me because she was crying *again*, I was in pain and not producing much of anything, and I was so. damn. tired.
        I’m so glad I went to straight formula feeding.

        • Stacy48918

          I will readily admit to propping my daughter’s bottle when we switched to formula (4 months old). Here’s your bottle, here’s a big wet kiss on the forehead, I’ve gotta make dinner/help your brother/sweep the floor/pay bills/etc.

          I enjoyed breastfeeding…but there’s not a lot else you can get done at the same time.

          We’re pretty bonded still. 🙂

          • Bombshellrisa

            I have done more bottle propping lately and I feel like I can actually get a few things done. Baby boy enjoys sucking down the bottle chilling with Mickey Mouse clubhouse on, I like having a few free minutes.

          • Kris

            You do know that bottle propping isn’t about lack of bonding,right? It is about not having a baby overeat against his will or worse; choke and die. It does happen. Is getting the laundry folded worth that risk?

          • Bombshellrisa

            I don’t fold laundry, but thank you for your concern.

          • Stacy48918

            Well my 14 month old still weighs just 17 pounds so we’re doing ok in the “overeating” department and in a 700sq foot house I’m never too far away. However did she survive…

          • Bombshellrisa

            Yeah, I didn’t think you meant you prop up the bottle and then leave the house to go chat with the neighbor.

          • Kelly

            You can take your kid, prop the bottle up, and fold the laundry next to them. You then can fix any problems they have. Both my kids ate the same amount whether or not we hold them or propped them up. My second eats better when she is not being held sometimes because she gets too distracted by everything. I did not prop their bottle when they were young and had no control but once they got more control of their bodies, they were able to be propped up without problems. Once again, don’t give your child a bottle and leave and basically use common sense about what your child is able to do.

          • Medwife

            That is true. Propping bottles is a bad idea. Choking hazard. Ask any pediatrician.

          • Kelly

            We pleaded with my second to hold her bottle so that she could stop dropping it as it was propped up. I never did the whole look in their eyes as I feed either of my kids. Feeding them was boring to me. I bond with my kids in different ways I guess.

          • Bombshellrisa

            My little guy wants to hold the bottle, but he can’t hold the Tommy Tippee bottles well. He does better with the other kinds.
            Feeding him is boring to me too. I like feeding him solids but bottle feeding is just not that exciting.

          • Kelly

            I am so glad someone feels the same way. I never felt that need to have those feelings when I fed them with a bottle and I never felt guilty that I didn’t. I did feel a lot more guilt over not nursing the first one and felt that I missed out on that bonding experience. I now know that it does not matter. That I bond with my children just fine but not in the way that is portrayed by the media and books.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I completely understand. There are so many amazing moments in motherhood, there have to be some things that are not exciting or wonderful to balance it out (otherwise I would probably have 20)

        • AlisonCummins

          When did pumping start? Somewhere in the mid-to late-eighties maybe?

          What I was taught in the early eighties was that most of the wonderful qualities of breastfeeding were in the breast. Milk changes composition over the course of a feed, the baby will not be overfed because you aren’t trying to get it to finish a bottle, and … I don’t remember. Whatever. But if you were bottle-feeding you might as well use formula.

          Who came up with the crazy idea that you were supposed to pump instead of enjoying your baby?

          I know mothers of twins who pumped instead of breastfeeding and it worked for them. One was a lawyer and worked full-time. She’d come home at the end of the day, hook herself up to an electric milking machine and watch three hours ov videos.

          • AlisonCummins

            [can’t edit]

            She’d leave their father enough bottles of milk in the fridge to feed both babies (!). That made sense to me — she wasn’t giving up playtime to milk.

            But this newfangled thing of pumping *instead of* doing more value-added stuff? (Hey, so it’s been thirty years. So I’m old.) Are women being taught that the most they can hope to do for a child is to produce milk? Why are they buying it?

          • KarenJJ

            No idea when it started. My mum thought it was nuts and she trained as a midwife in the 70s.Come to think of it she also grew up on a farm with dairy cows, so yeah.

          • Amy M

            I remember seeing my mom pump when my sister was born. That was in 1980.

          • Sara

            I know ladies in their mid- 70’s who claimed they had to pump to relieve mastitis and engorgement. In the 1960’s, I’m thinking?

          • AlisonCummins

            Yes, that makes sense. But that doesn’t sound anything like KeeperOfTheBooks’ experience.

          • Guest

            Well, one of these women was collecting it because she couldn’t directly feed her baby. It sounded like it went on for awhile and was mostly a horrible experience. For whatever reason she did not switch straight to formula.

          • toni

            Mia Farrow is shown using one in Rosemary’s Baby, so they were definitely around before the 80s.

          • Fuzzy

            The breast pumps in the 80’s were a lot more primitive than now. Pumping was definitely not the norm. I was given a hand pump that looked like a bicycle born in 1981—-by my last kid in 1989 I had an electric thing with an adapter. Single boob and it was really expensive. of course, I locked myself in the med room to pump….

      • AlisonCummins

        IIRC, the idea of a critical period for bonding is from the seventies. It came from someone who studied neglected infants and documented that many of them had been separated from their mothers for extended periods after birth, typically because they were sick and needed hospital care. Aside from the problematic nature of the data (caring for a sick or disabled child might provide stressors completely independent of separation) the critical period was estimated to be about two weeks. Not twenty minutes.

        When did this become the supposed justification for the obsession with immediate skin-to-skin and constant breastfeeding? Were the original findings backed up by subsequent work shortening the critical period and heightening its urgency? Or is it all wild extrapolation?

        • Ob in OZ

          Would love to know more about this. Skin to skin never made any medical sense to me. Don’t mind it and would never get Iin the way, but people are making it out to be som sort of race, and if something goes wrong in the future ( breastfeeding, bonding, etc) it will be becwise there was a 20 second delay in skin to skin! Am waiting for the first law suit over this issue.

          • KarenJJ

            I requested it and did it with my first after our emergency c-section. To be honest it was a bit cold in the operating theatre (and my daughter reacted to the cold with a distinctive rash – she has the same immune issue i have) plus it didn’t really amaze me so much as her being there and I felt a bit silly… I didn’t request it for my second (elective c-section) and didn’t miss it. We got plenty of cuddles in later.

          • Amy M

            My understanding was that skin-to-skin was beneficial for preemies, and then these people extrapolated that to healthy full termers. I can’t imagine its a bad thing (to have skin-to-skin time), but of course, it doesn’t seem vital. And cuddling with clothing on is still cuddling.

          • AlisonCummins

            That’s kangaroo care, right? For when you don’t have a hospital and incubator? Or when you want to take the baby out of the incubator, skin-to-skin works for temperature regulation so you don’t need to panic?

            … Looked it up. Kangaroo care helps preemies sleep better so they cry less and gain weight better. And yes, it helps parents feel connected more than just looking at the baby in an incubator.