The antediluvian sexism of the lactivist movement

bearing and breastfeeding babies

Lactivism, like all natural parenting, suffers from three serious flaws:

1. It perverts the scientific evidence to support pre-approved conclusions
2. It is an industry that relentlessly markets its own services
3. It is deeply sexist and retrograde

Don’t believe me? Consider this latest attempt by lactivists to move the goal posts, appearing in the Pacific Standard, The Unseen Consequences of Pumping Breast Milk. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it … and it’s meant to.

Exclusive pumping is becoming more popular among American moms, often seen as a way moms can “have it all.” Meanwhile, the effects on maternal and infant health—and workplace policies—are rarely discussed.

You thought that breastfeeding made you a good mother? Fool! The only good mother is one who sacrifices her career and her income to stay home 24/7/365 with her baby.

Problematically, the rise of pumping also implies that moms don’t need as much time at home to spend with their babies—they can simply pump, store, and go back to work. What most moms may not know is that beneath the perceived convenience of pumping, there are potential consequences both for workplace norms and for the health of themselves and their infants. There’s an assumption that bottle-feeding breast milk to a child is equivalent to breastfeeding, but that may not be the case.

Oh, the horror! Women don’t have to be with their babies 24/7/365 in order to provide them with the benefits of breastmilk. That can’t be right; there must be some way we can make women who work feel that they are not giving their children the very best, and not so incidentally, proclaim the overweening sense of superiority of lactivists. Hence the claim that feeding a baby pumped breast might MAY not be the same as breastfeeding.

It’s a trifecta! Lactivists have managed to pervert the scientific evidence, market their own services and advance their antediluvian sexism all in a single claim.

Let’s take a look at the scientific evidence, but before we do, let’s examine what we would need to see in order to conclude that pumped breastmilk is inferior to the breastmilk of women who love their babies enough to stay home instead of putting their own trivial, selfish need for income and/or career on hold.

That’s going to be hard to do since in industrialized countries the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial, amount to nothing more than a fewer episodes of colds and diarrheal illness among infants in the first year. You’d have to show that the babies whose mother fed them breastmilk exclusively and never pumped were appreciably healthier than those who received pumped breast milk.

Are there any studies that demonstrate this? Of course not, since it isn’t true.

What evidence does the author of this piece marshal to support her assertion?

There’s a commentary in a public health journal that makes the bizarre claim that:

Milk expression may also be problematic for mothers, and it may be particularly problematic for infants if they are fed too much, fed milk of an inappropriate composition, or fed milk that is contaminated. (my emphasis)

The authors then proceed to offer NO EVIDENCE that this is happening.

Nonetheless, they offer the truly obnoxious suggestion that:

To characterize women’s behavior related to milk expression, it may be necessary to develop a new vocabulary for breastfeeding so as to distinguish milk extracted from the breast by the baby from that extracted by a pump for feeding to the baby at a later time.

Wouldn’t want those selfish, self-absorbed, career- women who are pumping to imagine that they are providing “real” breastmilk, would we?

Then there is a commentary in The Journal of Human Lactation entitled New Insights into the Risk of Feeding Infants by Bottle discussing a study published elsewhere.

[T]hose who received human milk by bottle only gained 89 g (P = .02) more than their breastfed only counterparts, respectively.

So babies fed breastmilk from a bottle reportedly gained of 3 ounces/month more than babies who received breastmilk directly from the breast. That’s not very impressive when you consider that the babies’ weights were based on maternal recall and may not be accurate.

That’s it. No other data was presented to support the claim that there is any difference between breastmilk from a bottle and breastmilk from a breast. That doesn’t stop lactivists:

“Promotion of breast-milk feeding as identical to breastfeeding is misleading,” says Virginia Thorley, a lactation consultant and honorary research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia. “The new challenge is to use language accurately, and tell mothers the truth that feeding their milk to their babies by bottle is less than equivalent to breastfeeding.”

Thorley has written extensively on the potential perils of “normalizing” the separation of breast milk from breasts. She says that bottle-feeding of breast milk has a place in specific circumstances, such as when a baby is unable to adequately stimulate the mother’s milk supply, or in cases like Boss’, where a baby is unable to nurse directly. And while she agrees bottled breast milk is better than infant formula, “breastfeeding is about more than the milk.” Babies don’t just breastfeed for nutrition; they nurse for comfort, closeness, soothing, and security.

And what “perils” might those be. Thorley doesn’t mention any, but we can guess. One peril is that women who pump instead of breastfeed might not need the services of a lactation consultant. Lactation consultants have a habit of making claims that result in profit for themselves. They grossly exaggerate the benefits of breastfeeding; they grossly exaggerate the “risks” of formula feeding. They attempt to punish women who will never be their clients by banning formula gift bags, locking up formula in hospitals, and denigrate women who can’t or won’t breastfeed.

The chief peril, of course, is that “normalizing” the separation of breast milk from breasts actually normalizes working while mothering. And we all know that “good” mothers never work. “Good” mothers give up income, career and self-actualization in favor of staying home, having babies (vaginally, without pain medication, of course!), breastfeeding (no pumping allowed), baby wearing, and welcoming them to the family bed. “Good” mothers judge themselves and others by the functions of their breasts, vaginas and uteri. Their intellect and their character are irrelevant.

The piece concludes with a flourish of the viciousness for which lactivism has become known:

The three infant-feeding options available—formula, pumped breast milk, and breastfeeding—likely fall on a continuum of good, better, best… For parents who have the luxury of truly choosing any feeding method, it’s fine to choose exclusive pumping in the same way that it’s fine to choose formula, as long as they understand the differences in health outcomes. The problem is that for exclusively pumped milk, moms need to understand there’s still a lot we don’t know.

“I feel like I both succeeded and failed. Many moms can’t or won’t exclusively pump for as long as I did, but I still feel like I failed at breastfeeding,” Boss says. “I realize I did the best that I could. And that’s all our kids can ask from us.”

There is NO EVIDENCE that feeding babies pumped breast milk is in any way inferior to breast milk directly from the breast, but the dirty little secret of lactivism is that it has nothing to do with babies or even with breastfeeding. Lactivism is all about lactivists and their desperate need to feel better than other mothers, about hating and hurting women who make choices different than theirs, and it rests on an antediluvian, sexist conviction that a woman’s place is in the home, bearing (vaginally! without pain medication!) and nourishing babies, and ignoring their own wishes and needs.

The fact that such shaming aligns with their never ending attempts to market their services is purely coincidental.

  • Gill

    This is THE BEST article i’ve read in this subject. THANKNYOU!!!

  • annajrc

    Well, I had a baby with assisted reproduction(sorta), had Cesarean, was unable to breastfeed, and when I was, the milk dried up within a month. I went back to work, sending the child to daycare. The pain loving milkmaids could have impaled me for all these things!!!
    Oh. And I believe in medical science and rational reasoning too.

    • Amy M

      Pain Loving Milkmaids=awesome name for a band

      • annajrc

        lol. kinky.

  • Allie P

    Also, as the morning sickness has started, I find I’m crankier than usual today. Who wants to come by and scrub my roasting pan, because the combo of rancid turkey fat and Dawn dish soap makes me want to hurl.

    • annajrc

      It’s simple. Don’t do it.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        There is a reason why I always buy a disposable roasting pan for Thanksgiving…

        • annajrc

          I make husband wash it. If no husband, Honda robot would do.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I make husband wash it.

            Which is why I would have you use one of the disposable aluminium pans … 🙂

            If no husband, Honda robot would do.

            …must….resist….sex….joke…..AAAAAAARRRRRGGHHHHH!

            Damn, can;t do it.

            That’s what my wife says about her electric toothbrush.

          • annajrc

            wow, talented wife!! Get two objectives at one time.

        • sdsures

          AMEN!

    • MaineJen

      Oh hell no. Not with morning sickness. I hope you got someone else to do that???

  • OldTimeRN

    Also not directly related to this post, but I read this and wondered if anyone hear had heard this story and could add more details. I’m assuming there has to be more to this story.

    http://medicalkidnap.com/2014/11/25/breastfed-homebirthed-babies-taken-away-from-parents-for-not-using-hospital/

    • An Actual Attorney
      • Samantha06

        “On November 6, CPS showed up at the front door while Erica was softly singing and playing her guitar to her resting babies.”

        I knew where this was going as soon as I read this. The parents are allowed only supervised visits, so my guess is there’s a lot more than meets the eye in this case. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the hearing on Dec 1 (I think that’s the date).

        • Dr Kitty

          The EMTs probably saw something in the house that spooked them, and then when the parents declined to take their new twins to the hospital for assessment, they felt they had to call CPS.

          Maybe they were concerned about a cold, dirty house.
          Maybe they were concerned that the older child’s eczema looked untreated or infected, or that he looked under fed.
          Maybe they had concerns about the parental affects or behaviour towards the kids.

          What I will say is that I cannot imagine optimal nutrition is going to be provided if you are one of three children being breast fed by the same person.

          If you are a 10 month old whose mother got pregnant within weeks of your birth and who has been exclusively breast feeding you throughout her pregnancy, and if you have severe eczema that is being treated with “natural remedies” I would imagine you might well look skinny, itchy, red raw and miserable, which is often enough to give health professionals pause for thought and worries about neglect.

          • Samantha06

            Yep, and EMT’s see a lot, so it had to be a pretty bad situation for them to call CPS. From what I’ve seen as a case manager, CPS doesn’t apprehend kids unless the situation is pretty dire.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            But the parents deny they did anything wrong!

            Because, you know, parents investigated by CPS always admit when they have done something wrong.

          • Samantha06

            Now, now, of course they didn’t do anything wrong! Everybody on the internet says so!
            And we all know those crazy EMT’s and CPS are all part of Big Medicine and in on that big conspiracy thing… jeez..

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      The snopes article AAA posted kind of says it. It’s seems too outlandish to be true as they described (which in itself is contradictory or suggestive) so there is undoubtedly more to it.

      It’s like the typical “Silly school administrators overreact to something that’s NotABigDeal(TM)” story. Sure, when you hear the story from the complaining mother after her kid got detention, it sounds silly. However, when the full story comes out, it’s inevitably the case where the poor innocent baby isn’t nearly as innocent as mom claims he is.

      • Kq

        I disagree – there are a LOT of kids getting screwed over by “zero tolerance” rules getting carried to absurd extremes.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          You hear that claimed all the time, but when the full story comes out, it inevitably is not kids getting screwed over nearly to the extreme that is claimed.

          There’s almost always more to it.

    • annajrc

      What ELSE would you want, milk expressed with it? lol

    • Box of Salt

      Two words: medical neglect.

      “The Rengos have chosen a wholesome, holistic lifestyle, based in their
      Christian faith.”

      Do you think their story might turn out better than this one?

      http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/19/nation/la-na-nn-philadelphia-faith-healing-couple-sentenced-20140219

      I don’t.

    • Bombshellrisa

      From what I read on Facebook, she had a previous birth center birth with the first one and was repulsed by how they insisted on monitoring her and had protocols. Since there are many more CPMs than CNMs with birth center privileges and Bellingham is super crunchy, I am guessing those protocols were not too strict. It sounds like from the wording, home birth is being used for UC and since she was carrying twins, maybe there was a CPM who would not attend her at home. And they called the paramedics to check the twins out when they were born because there was no midwife there.

      • Bugsy

        ‘Bellingham is super crunchy, ‘

        Not completely related, but I think about this every time we visit the Bellingham Farmer’s Market (which I absolutely adore, BTW). My little boy is fully vaccinated, but measles and whooping cough are very much on my mind when I’m there…

        • Bombshellrisa

          I have a cousin with two home birthed, EBF, clothed diapered non vaxed children who lives in Bellingham. She has been pestering us to come on up and visit so she can see my son. I have hesitated because I don’t want to hear how superior she feels her parenting is and areas that are known to be full of unvaxed kids are ones I avoid.

          • Bugsy

            I’m completely with you on that…that’s why I avoided playdates w/ my long-time friend who became a similar type of mother. Your post is a good reminder for me. Our trips to B’ham are generally limited to Costco, the mall and Trader Joe’s, and they probably would be reduced if we start hearing about illness outbreaks in the area.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I do believe that Snohomish county has more cases of whopping cough and measles than Whatcom county (where Bellingham is). Make sure to look for the stats on the public health website before you come down.
            I have never been to that farmer’s market or to Trader Joes in Bellingham. We visit Vancouver a few times a year and drive through. It would be nice to stop and snacks there instead of being starved once we get through the border crossing and my husband making a bee line for Tim Horton’s.

          • Bugsy

            That’s a good point – I’ll check out the stats. We were just there this AM, but I haven’t heard much in the way of illnesses right now.

            Do you guys have Nexus? It’s seriously our saving grace, making border crossing actually tolerable. Your husband’s Tim Horton’s is my Trader Joe’s, I think – not to be missed across the border!

          • Bombshellrisa

            The stats are updates monthly, so you will get a good idea what is happening.
            We don’t have Nexus, but we are considering getting it just because I hate getting harrassed by the border agents trying to get back in the US. I don’t know why, but I am always the random person who gets pulled aside at the airport (only in the US, never in Canada or France or anywhere else) or at the border for a random search.

    • Bugsy

      Wait, she was attempting to breastfeed not 1, not 2 but THREE infants, there was concerns about them being underweight… and the mom wasn’t concerned? Oh my gosh.

    • Bugsy

      …and this post in the comments section to the article is a gem. Love the part about her being a medical professional, as well as the research links that link back to the same website. Sigh.

      “Here is an example email to the Govenor, change to suit your circumstances. A petition would be a good idea. Dear Governor Inslee, I am concerned about a case I have read about and ask that you give it your urgent attention. Erica and Cleave Rengoshttp have had their three children forcably removed from them without apparent good reason or evidence of abuse. I am a medical professional (Registered Midwife) and would like to highlight the many damaging physical and psychological ill effects of removing breastfeeding children from their parents. Please see below for a summary of the story ://medicalkidnap.com/2014/11/25/breastfed-homebirthed-babies-taken-away-from-parents-for-not-using-hospital/ I look forward to your earliest response.

      – See more at: http://medicalkidnap.com/2014/11/25/breastfed-homebirthed-babies-taken-away-from-parents-for-not-using-hospital/#sthash.KXKmPDKf.dpuf

  • Guesteleh

    Not directly related to this post but recently it occurred to me that a good reason to encourage poor women to breastfeed as long as possible is that the food the baby is weaned to is often of poor quality. I work in a poor area and often see really young toddlers, 1-2 years old, eating chips and drinking Kool-Aid or soda. Those babies would likely benefit from extended nursing if the moms can pull it off. Of course there are all the barriers we’ve discussed here of time, space to pump, needing to work, working inflexible jobs, etc. so not blaming the mothers at all. And of course this isn’t a problem affluent families have. But interesting to see how complex the whole decision to BF becomes in the context of class and poverty.

    • Stephanie

      I thought the opposite. If food is scarce, mom is likely eating limited quantities of healthy foods and may even potentially be malnourished herself.Formula is complete and nutritionally balanced.

      • Guesteleh

        Poorer families who feed infants formula are more likely to wean early (younger than four months). Even though formula is nutritionally balanced, it doesn’t matter if the baby stops getting it too early.

        http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S0002-8223(09)01551-X/abstract

        Strong evidence was found for six determinants of early weaning (ie, young maternal age, low maternal education, low socioeconomic status, absence or short duration of breastfeeding, maternal smoking, and lack of information or advice from health care providers) and for two determinants of early introduction of unmodified cow’s milk (ie, low maternal education and low socioeconomic status).

    • RKD314

      I believe that this is one of the reasons for the WHO’s recommendation to BF for 2 years. Limited access to enough/nutritious food after weaning, along with the sanitation of bottles/water, is much more of a concern in developing countries (the WHO has to make recommendations for the whole world, of course). I have heard some lactivists co-opt this reason to BF even when it obviously doesn’t apply, making blanket statements that BM is more nutritious than food.

  • Rlbobg
    • Ottawa Alison

      Very few do. The vast majority deliver in hospitals. A lot of obgyns will have scheduled c/sections in fact!
      You can always find the few exceptions out there, but the author is trying to represent it as something it’s not.

      • Rlbobg

        Yes– the fear is for women to read that and decide “even doctors think it’s better to birth at home!”

        • Ottawa Alison

          Even after watching BOBB and sort of wanting the experience, I could see there was a disconnect. How could homebirth really be safer, what if something bad happened? Is this really the evidence, that homebirth is safer? How does this make sense? When I found this blog in 2009, I was like “thank god, doctors aren’t endorsing homebirth and it’s only a small minority that do”. It was a revelation!
          Unfortunately the diehard homebirth writers like to present that it’s doctors who are always in the wrong and who are not following the evidence (often by presenting standards of practice that went out the window 30 years ago).

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Yeah I wonder where the hell they get their info about current hospital delivery standards. I gave birth 20 years ago in California, in an inner city Catholic hospital. I labored and delivered in a nice bedroom looking room, there was no shaving, no enema, I got an epidural because I asked for it, I got them to delay eye drops because I asked for that. I only got an episiotomy because her was is distress and they needed to get her out quick. I had rooming in and they pushed breastfeeding, in1994…i realized that’s only my experience.

        • Stacy48918

          There’s a family practice doctor in my state that opposes vaccination and supports raw milk and homemade formula.

          So freakin’ what.

          She’s probably the ONLY doctor in the state that is such a crackpot. The fact that she exists doesn’t matter. The fact that she’s the only one means I shouldn’t take a single thing she says seriously.

          If there are SOME healthcare professionals giving birth at home, it doesn’t matter. Of the total number of doctors they are by far the minority.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      In these types of stories, you have to watch out for what I call “The Usual Suspects” approach. Some reporter is trying to make something into a story so they will go out and find the biggest names of the counter-position and write about them, and then they typically balance them with the mainstream position from the local medical folks.

      For example, in a vaccination article, you find comments from someone like Jay Gordon, Bob Sears or Joe Mercola dismissing vaccines, and for the pro-vaccine case, they call the local pediatrician office here in town.

      In a birth article, it’s Michael Odent or Biter or (that dr in Missouri who is a vocal support of HB but won’t attend them herself) for the anti-medical side, and then a call to the local hospital to the position of the OB community.

      So when you read articles like this, look out for The Usual Suspects (TM). What it tells you is that you are talking about a contrary opinion that is so uncommon in the field that there are only a few people who reporters can go to to find out about it.

  • Aussiedoc

    Well great. Fuck everyone. I pumped exclusively for six months because my son could not breastfeed for anatomical reasons. And because I am stubborn. It was hard work. I eventually,my packed it in because I got gastro and lost my supply and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    But I knew the evidence and I knew the best benefits were in the first six months for breast milk so I damned well did it.

    And I got told I wasn’t a breast feeding mother when I showed up, in tears, with bleeding nipples and got no help for a thrush infection until a fortnight later when I found someone who actually cared.

    I’m so glad you’re all so perfect and you’re breasts worked and your babies could do it.

    Fuck off and take your judgement elsewhere.

    And if you don’t like the anger and the use of the f word? Not my fucking problem. I have had it. I did the best I could and I am so sick of being told implicitly and explicitly by people who were LUCKY. That it wasnt enough. And I’ll lay good odds I’m not the only fed up mother.

    • Aussiedoc

      Sorry guys. I think that article hit a few buttons. Time to curl up and cry about failing again. Damn lactivists.

      • Mishimoo

        You didn’t fail! You’re an awesome mum, you worked really hard to breastfeed, and you damn well did. Pumping is really hard work and anyone who says that it doesn’t making you a ‘real’ breastfeeding mum should take their smug satisfaction and real-ness into a huge patch of real spinifex.

      • Cobalt

        The only difference between atthebreastfed and breastmilkfed is the extra work pumping moms put into it. That’s not failing, that’s working harder than others might need to to achieve a goal you set (milk in baby, preferably 6 month’s worth).

        And no, it’s not fair that some women have to struggle to breastfeed and some don’t. And it’s really ignorant of moms whose breastmilk cost was low to denigrate mothers whose breastmilk costs were high.

        For you, that milk was very expensive. You paid dearly for it. That’s not failing. And choosing to stop because the cost outweighs the value isn’t failing either, it’s making a different choice.

      • Sue

        Aussiedoc – your child has a super-smart and determined mother who really cares. What could be better?

      • Somewhereinthemiddle

        Do not apologize for being angry, for having a strong reaction, for standing up for yourself! I don’t think you need me to validate your choices and decisions, but the collective “we” support you as we should be supporting *all* women who feed their babies healthy, appropriate food. I’ll say it with you. FUCK THEM AND THIER BULLSHIT. My body, my baby, my breasts, my career, my life, my mother fucking choice and they FUCK OFF for thinking that they deserve a (stupid, moronic, obnoxious) say based in nothing but distorted, self-important, assholery.

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, This isn’t about standing up for *my* feeding choices, it’s about standing up for and with women who deserve better than the “information” being spouted. The end.

    • realitycheque

      These people are the adult equivalent of high school bullies. They need to drag other people down – by whatever means possible – to make themselves feel superior. They project an image of martyrdom and act like the only way to be a “good” mother is to sacrifice all of your needs and cease to be an individual human being.

      If they weren’t slamming pumping, it would be something else: It would be that you hadn’t used cloth nappies, that you fed your baby non-“organic” vegetables, that you purchased plastic toys, didn’t bedshare, etc. There will always be something for them to pick on, because they rely on this feeling of superiority to fuel their egos. You could follow 99% of their “rules”, and I guarantee you, they would go over you with a fine-toothed comb and find something that you hadn’t done “right”.

      It’s all a guilt-laden game of one-upmanship. They keep their place at the top of their perceived “parenting pyramid of perfection” by convincing everyone who is “beneath them” that their practices are superior, and that other choices are borderline abusive. They have a vested interest in kicking others down, because if no one believes their BS – if no one is left feeling guilty or inferior – then they lose their status and smug sense of superiority. Try not to fall for it, Aussiedoc. I’m sure you’re doing an amazing job and that your son is happy and healthy.

      • OldTimeRN

        I have a “friend” who I just shake my head at while I read her posts on FB or listen to her talk.

        She’s is your picture perfect hippie, crunchie, tree hugging, baby wearing, home birther, attachment parenting, home schooling, breast feeding mother you’ll ever meet. She believes very strongly in everything I mentioned above. She will preach all the benefits till the cows come home. You’d think her life was perfect.

        Ha! But it’s so not. On FB she complains about being tired because the kids kept her up all night. Well that’s what happens when kids are in your bed every night. That’s what happens when you let your 18month old nurse all night long because she has no idea how to self soothe. She complains her house is a mess or her kids are driving her crazy. Well that’s what happens when you refuse to raise your voice or don’t set rules and let your child run around. She is also homeschooling because she didn’t feel comfortable with what was being taught in school.She fills us in every time one of her kids are sick, which is a lot. So much for extended breastfeeding. My point in all of this is she has all these beliefs but never looks in the mirror at her beliefs when something isn’t “normal”. She doesn’t seem to understand that you reap what you sow. She’s fast to blame and diagnosis the problems of other moms/babies/families but doesn’t seem to understand her choices also come with consequences.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          I always wonder what these parents who are invested so totally in every minute detail of their kids lives, are going to do when their kids go to college or get a job and a roommate or get married? I would hope they would take that time and energy and do something they enjoy. Go back to school or start a business, volunteer at the local school, or food bank or animal shelter. But of the parents I know who are like this they will be the ones calling the college IT help desk because little Jimmy or Joanie’s laptop is not working…and yes I am not kidding

        • Gill

          LOVE THIS!

    • Somewhereinthemiddle

      I think using the fuck word is an appropriate response when confronted with self important assholes such as these. Carry on.

    • Who?

      Thanks for sharing this. I too am stubborn, and bf way longer than reason dictated.

      The perfect are incredibly tedious.

  • Allie P

    I do agree that the promotion of pumping makes it seem like it’s something that any woman can do. It’s just another pressure on women to mother in a particular way. “Can’t you just pump?” My lactations consultant had me on some kind of ridiculous pumping schedule to “increase supply” because she believed pumping was superior. My LLL lady (who, unlike my LC, did not blame my low supply on taking medicine after birth for my episiotomy and told me that I could feed as much or as little breast milk as I felt comfortable making, told me that though she nursed 4 kids and was a freaking LLL rep, she could never manage to pump. No, we can’t just pump.

  • Anna T

    Feeding pumped breastmilk is definitely inferior to breastfeeding in the sense that it’s less convenient. For me, one major advantage of breastfeeding was exactly this: no bottles, no storing, freezing, thawing, reheating… no hassle. Pumping is also, I believe, less convenient than giving formula (because if you formula-feed, you save the time you would have spent pumping, and powdered formula is easier to store than milk in liquid form).

    One thing I can perhaps guess (though I have no proof of it) is that in the long-term, it’s easier to keep breastfeeding than pumping. Direct contact with the baby and infant suckling are *supposed* to boost milk supply, while being physically away from the baby *might* reduce it. I can personally attest that while breastfeeding, I always experienced strong letdown (as in baby sputtering and pulling back and everything getting drenched in milk…), while on the few times I pumped (in order to store extra milk for Yom Kippur, say) I could never have a proper letdown. Then I figured out the trick: breastfeed baby from one side, pump at the same time from the other.

    • And I never had either let-down nor engorgement. Women vary. That’s the whole point — you do what works best for you, and whatever that is, that’s the “correct” way.

    • Haelmoon

      Less convenient is relative. I was a resident and my husband was a stay-at-home parent. I was more con isn’t for me to pump than breast feed. My baby was premature, had NEC and was severely IUGR. There were enough benefits to justify pumping, plus for me it was easy. Because of her weight, she needed fortified breast milk, can’t do that without pumping. There is no universal best choice – each family/situation is different. It is important to feed your child. How you do it is nobody’s business (provided of course what you are feeding them is appropriate).

      • Anna T

        Definitely in such circumstances I’d pump too, for as long as needed! I meant a normal woman with a normal healthy baby who’s going back to work, say, and wonders whether she should pump or just have the baby eat formula while she is away.

        • Cobalt

          I tried pumping for daycare with the last one. Pumping itself was easy for me physically, but getting a place to do so wasn’t and I just wasn’t into pumping. We switched to formula for daytime within 6 weeks of my going back to work, and half of that time she was just emptying out the freezer supply.

    • OldTimeRN

      Pardon me but I don’t believe this to be true. I’ve seen mothers whose babies spend months in NICUs, who only visit them for a few hrs a day that have no problem with milk supply. They might pump once or twice at the hospital while visiting but the majority of their pumping in done at home.

      • Young CC Prof

        Universally true, no, but I find it plausible that supply issues are more common among mothers exclusive-pumping for NICU babies. (Of course, many NICU babies are starting on like 5 mL feeds, so there’s some time to build up supply.)

        I managed to produce well initially, but then my supply plateaued at half a liter a day. I think that if I’d been successful with direct feeding, I could have made more.

      • Cobalt

        Some boobs just don’t like pumps. Pumps work well, mechanically, for some, but certainly not all.

        • Allie P

          Wait, you mean women’s breasts, like any other organ, don’t always work in a uniform manner, across all female human beings on the planet? Sacrebleu!!

        • prolifefeminist

          And sometimes, even in the same woman, boobs respond unequally to a pump. I exclusively pumped for over a year from my preemie. I could pump for 25 min and get 10+ oz out of my right side, but my left side (with lots of coaxing and sweet talk) could maaaaybe crank out 3-4 oz. The NICU IBCLC said that’s really common. So omg maybe we’re NOT all the same?!? 😉

          And yea, pumping is hard freaking work. Way harder than feeding straight from the tap.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And yea, pumping is hard freaking work. Way harder than feeding straight from the tap.

            This is another one of those circumstances where I say man, what is it with these people who are basically eating their young?

            Call me crazy, but I would think those people who are pumping in order to provide breastmilk for their baby and facilitating breastfeeding should be celebrated for the effort they are putting forth. I mean, you would think that compared to the likely alternative, that they just use formula, it should be considered a good thing, right?

            Apparently I am different, but from a pro-breastfeeding perspective, I have to see their efforts as commendable. They are finding ways to facilitate breastfeeding even in those circumstances where it is challenging. Why wouldn’t those who promote breastfeeding be in favor of that?

            Oh, that’s a rhetorical question, of course, because it begs the actual question. Is it really about breastfeeding? Or is it maybe something else…?

    • SuperGDZ

      It’s only less convenient if you find it convenient to take your baby to work.

  • Zornorph

    I had a woman once try to convince me that the milk as it came out of the breast was different at the start of the sucking than at the end. That the body ‘knew’ how much to express and when the baby would be full, it would be sending a different consistency of milk to the baby to signal that it was time to stop sucking. And that by putting it in a bottle and mixing it all up, this ‘benefit’ was lost. I am very proud that I managed to keep a straight face, but it was hard. I probably could only manage that feat because my mother breastfed me.

    • Elaine

      That’s mostly true though. The milk at the beginning of a feeding (foremilk) is more watery. Fat migrates back in the breast over time, so as a feeding continues, the milk gets fattier. The milk at the end of a feeding (hindmilk) is fattier. And this fattier milk can help baby feel more full. Babies who consistently get too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk, maybe because mom is overproducing, can be gassy and suffer poor weight gain. And the different consistencies are mixed together in a bottle. I wouldn’t rail about how awful it is to mix the consistencies, but I think it’s worthwhile to be aware of. It does lead to various things, for instance, that if one pumps for only a few minutes, that milk is going to be mostly foremilk, and to be aware of that when deciding what to feed the baby. I know I at one point froze a couple of batches of expressed milk that were very heavy on foremilk, and my son didn’t want to drink them when they were thawed, probably because he was used to getting fattier milk from a bottle, and we had to mix them with milk from a different pumping.

      • Kate

        Yep. This is why I always make sure to pump until empty. Well, that and preventing blocked ducts/mastitis.

        • sdsures

          I grew up on a farm, and we hand-milked our herd of goats (then pasteurized it, then kept some for ourselves and sold the rest), also milking until empty. I was never told why that was so. I do know that the goats were much more comfortable after being milked.

      • Zornorph

        Ah! I’ve learned something. Thanks.

      • Elizabeth A

        I had a massive case of oversupply, and we had huge problems with foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. I thought the foremilk/hindmilk distinction sounded silly, until I examined a collection of 4 bottles that had resulted from one pumping session. The first pumped contained milk so watery that it looked pale green. The second pair contained visibly thicker milk.

        I tossed a lot of foremilk.

        • Sue

          So much for ”breasts know how to feed babies”.

    • Cobalt

      I think the water content decreases and the fat content increases on a continuum over the course of a feed. No magic prescient breasts, though. Water just moves through the ducts faster. It gets mixed up inside the baby instead of in the bottle, and usually averages out to “good enough”.

    • guest

      I have read once a related discussion on a website. They said when baby’s saliva touch the nipple the magical breast will analyze it (somehow!!) and know what the baby needs !!!. They were talking about it seriously. It wasn’t not about foremilk and hidmilk at all. I think this is what she meant.

  • Sue

    The lactivists are using a tricky technique called ”moving the goalposts”.

    Lactivist: you have to stay home and breast feed so your baby won’t get serious infections and so you can transmit the magicness

    Mother: bottle-fed babies in my circle don’t get many infections

    Lactivist: Maybe, but they still won’t get the magicness

    Mother: Yes they will, I’ll express and they can still get my milk

    Lactivist: But the plastic in the bottle has this special toxic chemical that neutralises magicness

    Mother: it’s OK, I don’t have that type of bottle

    Lactivist: but…but…

    • sdsures

      LOL

  • Kesiana

    Milk expression may also be problematic for mothers, and it may
    be particularly problematic for infants if they are fed too much, fed
    milk of an inappropriate composition, or fed milk that is contaminated.

    Aren’t all of these issues also potential problems with non-pumped breast milk? Babies can over-fill their stomachs if mom’s supply allows it, not every baby can be adequately nourished by breast milk for various medical reasons, and contamination can happen by anything from medication to food that baby is sensitive/allergic to.

    (Technically, pumping could raise the risk of baby getting contaminated milk compared to direct-from-the-source feeding, but yeah. FORMULA SHOULD NOT BE CONTROVERSIAL!!)

    • Kelly

      I thought breast milk was magical and could cure all diseases including those that were on a bottle?

      • Allie

        Ha! I guess it loses some of its mojo if it’s separated from the mother ship for too long. I often wondered about the cleanliness of my breasts in the early days since I rarely bothered to shower.My LO was a real spitter-upper, though, so we were both constantly showered in breast milk. Even better than unicorn farts : )

        • Cobalt

          Yeah, inside the bra of a nursing mother in the first month or so postpartum is not a clean and shiny place. I wondered about it, but was too tired to really care.

        • Sarah

          Clearly you just needed to put your boobs in the steriliser.

        • Mishimoo

          100% serious, but my mother-in-law used to gross me out by refusing a burpcloth and rubbing spat-up breastmilk from my babies into her skin because “It’s natural and healthy”

          • KarenJJ

            Wow. That is gross.

    • Elaine

      Milk directly from the breast can’t get contaminated by, say, dirty bottles or by not being stored correctly.

      I’m not sure about a baby getting overfull from nursing. You can’t make a baby nurse, they just latch off when they’re done or if the milk is flowing too fast. Versus putting a bottle in their mouth and they have to keep swallowing.

      • Sarah

        Have to keep swallowing? You obviously never met my offspring. She didn’t get that particular memo.

        • Elaine

          I’ve read advice on how to tell when a baby is done with their bottle and they say to take it out of the baby’s mouth when they start spitting it out or stop sucking, rather than repeatedly sticking it back in, rattling it around in their mouth, etc. That advice wouldn’t have to be given if there weren’t some parents who were trying to get their baby to finish the bottle when the baby no longer wanted more.

          Obviously, in these instances, it doesn’t matter what’s in the bottle.

          With breastfeeding, I suppose a nursing mom could maybe get a few drops to go into baby’s mouth after baby has latched off, if she really tried to, but I don’t think that is a common practice.

          • Sarah

            Yes, some parents. As in, not all. When you say babies ‘have’ to keep swallowing if bottle fed, that doesn’t leave any room for a category of babies who don’t. I can personally assure you that they exist!

      • SporkParade

        No, breastfed babies can definitely overeat. During growth spurts, some babies cluster feed. Mine will still eat at the same frequency, but eat much more. He will cry if I don’t let him eat to the point of spitting up. Then he will spit up and cry for more. Also, while it is true that bottle nipples control the flow rate of milk, it is the baby who controls whether any milk flows, so they do not have to keep swallowing.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          A great story shared by an old friend and me is the time on New Years Eve when she had just finished feeding her 1 mo old baby, and I was holding and rocking her, and she went volcano spewage. This was basically The Exorcist like spewage, and she basically spit out everything she had just ate.

          • prolifefeminist

            I’ll bet that was the pivotal moment when you realized, “damn…I really want to have kids of my own!” It’s moments like that that make you see just how fun parenting is!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Luckily, I was just able to hand her off at the time…

            Our kids never did that, fortunately. Unfortunately, theirs came out the other end.

            However, I will say that you know you are a parent when you come back from changing a diaper laughing, and when the other asks you why you tell them because it was the nastiest, stinkiest diaper you’ve ever seen. I laughed about that one for a week. Man that was nasty.

      • Box of Salt

        Elaine, could you explain why breastfed babies who “just latch off when they’re done” spit up?

        • Elaine

          Because spitting up is very common and isn’t in and of itself a sign of overeating.

      • Human nipples are not sterile, even if the milk is.

        • guest

          And many mothers and babies get candida infection on nipples and tongue.

      • guest

        Babies can’t control the flow of the artificial nipple but they do control when to stop sucking and swallowing and they push the nipple with tongue or stop and move away for older infants.

      • An Actual Attorney

        They have to suck the bottle to get milk out. So they can stop.

        • Amy M

          And spit the nipple out when they are done. At least mine always did.

      • FormerPhysicist

        I assure you that a breast-fed infant can overfeed. Especially if they like to comfort nurse when they don’t need milk.

      • SuperGDZ

        But according to the LCs “Babies don’t just breastfeed for nutrition; they nurse for comfort, closeness, soothing, and security” – classic “comfort eating”.

  • carr528

    Could I have moved in with these morons after I had my babies so I could afford to stay home? I’m the main breadwinner in our house, so if I don’t go back to work, then we don’t have a home anymore. With my last two, taking the six weeks was a stress on our budget, since I didn’t have enough sick leave to cover my maternity leave. Perhaps, instead of making new moms feel guilty for trying to still BF while working, they need to talk about the fact that the US has NO paid maternity leave. I wouldn’t have pumped if I could have stayed home with my babies for six months. But, unfortunately, we need food and electricity.

  • realitycheque

    Slightly OT: Someone ‘Liked’ this on my FB the other day, and I raged so hard I could barely even read through the whole thing at first.

    She basically says, “I’m not trying to make you feel guilty/no one can make you feel guilty without your permission” and then describes the “consequences” of not breastfeeding (your baby will develop disease) and compares formula feeding to smoking.

    I’m so glad my son is past BF/FF age and I don’t have to deal with these zealots directly anymore. I cringe to imagine going through the whole BF/FF stuff again if I have more children.

    http://www.pinkymckay.com/not-breastfeeding-not-guilty/

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      “Nobody can make me feel guilty without my permission, but you’re an asshole whether I think so or not.”

      as we used to say in the old days, PLONK

    • realitycheque

      She also posted this on her FB page. I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds a bit… off? How does your body differentiate between your baby and your dog? What if I touch my coffee table and then put my hands to my mouth? Is my body now making perfect breastmilk for my coffee table? How does your body differentiate between the microorganisms specific to your baby, and any other ones you come into contact with during your day? So many questions.

      https://www.facebook.com/pinky.mckay.fanpage/posts/10152671437588153

      • Young CC Prof

        No, probably not true.

        • Cobalt

          Well, it’s probably sort of true. Your body does respond to environmental germ threats by producing immune system cells, and some of those end up in the milk. Some of those germs come from the baby. It’s the “perfectly tailored” extra special milk from magical breastfeeding kisses that’s bull.

          It’s a blind system: if you encounter it, your body probably defends against it, the baby might be exposed to your defenses, the baby might benefit from that if the cells survive digestion.

      • Amy M

        Wouldn’t your body be exposed to the same microorganisms that your baby’s body is? At least if its an infant and home with you? You (general you) probably transfer more microorganisms to the baby than the other way around, since you touch more surfaces than an infant (that isn’t mobile) touches. You wouldn’t need to be exposed to germs by kissing the baby’s hands, you already were when you touched the doorknob and then touched the baby’s hands, and you already made or are making antibodies to them, if necessary.

        Let’s say your 6mos old goes to day care and comes home with a cold and then gives it to you, because you kissed her face and she sneezed on you. Breastfeeding her won’t really help, her body will make antibodies to the virus on its own by the time your immune system kicks in and does it for you. Also most of the antibodies passed through breastmilk are IgA, which are more protective of the gut, and not so much against colds. And of course, the fact that she is breastfed won’t prevent her from getting the cold in the first place if she is exposed to a group of children on a regular basis.

    • Bugsy

      Oh gosh, I’m so sorry you’ve encountered one of those people. The “I’m not trying to make you feel guilty/no one can make you feel guilty without your permission” frustrates me. In other words, “I refuse to take responsibility for my actions and their effects on others.”

      I knew a lactivist like this, who happened to be married to a toxicophobe. Their behaviour is so incredibly off-putting and self-righteous. Best advice I can give? Unfriend them if you can. For the peace of mind, it’s wonderful.

    • Amy M

      Wow, what a jerk. I looked at the comments, and someone came right out and said “Well, since you believe women should be informed of all their options, shouldn’t that include formula, pumping, combo feeding, etc? Those are options too.” And hypocrite pinky says ‘Well no, formula shouldn’t be considered an option like a stroller, we shouldn’t be giving women information about that.’ At least she’s honest about her one-sided informed consent stance?

      • Amy M

        Here’s what I wrote over there, in case it gets deleted:

        What conditions , do you suppose, could be prevented by breastfeeding? I can think of a bunch of horrible diseases that can be prevented by vaccination. I can think of several conditions that a few studies correlated with formula feeding, and a few studies didn’t. I’m pretty sure that no amount of breastmilk would prevent the random colds my children pick up at school sometimes. Oh well.

        Meanwhile, informed consent. To me, that means being made aware of all options available and all the risks and benefits that go along with it. If only one option and only the benefits of that option are being promoted, that is certainly not informed consent. That is propaganda. During WW2, the axis powers tried to confiscate all radios from the citizens of the countries they occupied, and any public broadcasts, leaflets, or broadcasting to their own populations were full of propaganda about how victorious the axis was and how many battles they had won. It was all fake, an attempt to fool the populace.

        Formula feeding, combo feeding and breast feeding are all valid choices, and the pros and cons (the real ones, not trumped up cons for formula and overstated pros for breastfeeding) should be available to new mothers. Then they, using their brains, can make choices like the adults they are. Withholding information is patronizing and treats women as children, as though they can’t be trusted to make the “right” decision. The right decision for one woman is not the same as the right decision for another.

  • sdsures

    Skimming the PSMag article has led me to conclude that it is trying to drive mothers completely insane by shredding into the tiniest, most neurotically-possible (non-existent) differences between feeding the baby directly from the breast (“Yay – you’re the bestest Momma EVER!!!!!!”) and expressing milk from the same breasts into a bottle and placing the bottle into your baby’s mouth, from which it can draw precisely the same nourishment (“You’re a horrible mother!”).

    I guess babies and moms can’t possibly bond with a bottle in the way. The fathers have no hope whatsoever of bonding with their baby, since they’ll only ever be able to bottle-feed.

    Don’t new moms have enough to deal with? Just feed the kid already: breast milk or formula. It won’t notice any difference.

    • I don’t know if it’s still in print, but a British psychiatrist named Dr Ann Dally wrote a book called “Inventing Motherhood” in which she showed that the whole concept that the only suitable person to raise a child is its biological mother 24/7/365 was developed when the soldiers came home from WWI and WWII and wanted their jobs back from the women who had filled them for the duration. Al sorts of neuroses were supposed to be engendered in “abandoned” children whose mothers were so unnatural as to work outside the home.

  • Dr Kitty

    I took six months maternity leave, and, while I enjoyed spending time with my daughter, I could not have done any longer.

    The majority of infant care and housework is boring and repetitive.
    Until you have a child old enough to have a conversation with, it is also lonely and isolating.

    If you can find joy and satisfaction and zen-like fulfilment in nappy changing and doing laundry, good for you.
    I can’t.
    There just wasn’t enough going on to keep me intellectually stimulated.
    I know that I am not SAHM material. I would be miserable.

    My child deserves a mother who is being the best version of herself possible, not someone who feels like she’s had to turn off major parts of her brain.

    • prolifefeminist

      “I know that I am not SAHM material. I would be miserable.”

      Same here, Dr. Kitty. I was a SAHM with my first, and it was miserable – I was clinically depressed, isolated, lonely, and felt like “my life” and who I was didn’t exist anymore. I was young (21) and thought I had to live up to the whole “natural mama” ideal or else I’d be a failure as a mother. What a horrible thing for a new mom to have to deal with.

      Now, a decade and a half later, I’m still mothering (my youngest just turned three)…but now I’m also working my way through school and owning/running a successful startup business. I feel challenged and I LOVE it. I don’t feel guilty anymore at all because I’m not living up to someone else’s idea of how I should be parenting. My children are fed, clothed, educated, and most importantly, they know they are LOVED. I think we teach our kids something really important when we follow our own dreams; I don’t think much good comes of making yourself a martyr for your kids.

      I love raising children, but I love doing other things too. I love watching my company grow because of the decisions I make and the hard work I do. I love that my daughter can come to work with me and see her mom be the boss, and come home with me and bake a pumpkin pie. I love showing her that women can be strong, tough, and smart, and also tender, funny, and creative. I love that my children are learning that we all have different talents that make the world a better place, and that it’s no one else’s job to decide exactly how they contribute – that responsibility (and honor) is theirs alone. You take something away from a person when you dictate that for them.

    • Bugsy

      I’m a stay-at-home mom who completely agrees. While I love my son and am glad to be home with him, I do struggle to gain much satisfaction from being home with him non-stop. (I’d falsely assumed that i would love every minute of it.) I would _never_ advise a new mom to stay at home simply because some people believe it’s what’s best for the child. In my mind, having a mom who’s happy and successful, however she chooses to define it, is much more important.

    • SporkParade

      Less than two months in, I am already going crazy with boredom. It’s a little better now that we can leave the house, but going out honestly feels more like I am trying to entertain myself with a baby attached to me. He doesn’t get cardboard books — he gets the exciting story of how Helen Keller camped outside of the White House to promote women’s sufferage. Because otherwise this baby will never hear language because I have diddly squat to say to him.

      • Box of Salt

        SporkParade “Less than two months in, I am already going crazy with boredom”

        It gets better.
        Get some time for you. I mean YOU: SporkParade!

        Then you’ll have energy for both of you, plural.

        The days are long – the weeks are short, when you look back on them later.

        • SporkParade

          Thanks. I probably do need to get more alone time. I’m mostly just venting because today is a cluster feeding day. 🙂

      • Young CC Prof

        It definitely gets more fun when they start to develop personality. And some families just do better when mother works and baby is exposed to other interesting adults.

      • demodocus’ spouse

        My LO heard a murder mystery and a history of WWI when he was that age. 🙂 About month 3 he took to staring at one of the cardboard books quite intently for a minute or two. The book has strong, high contrast animal pictures. Now he chews on it. Ahh, the true love of 12 month olds.

    • Amy M

      Ah yes, oatmeal brain. I remember that from when my boys were infants.

  • Amy

    My first couldn’t latch. I had really really badly inverted nipples. I thought I’d have to give up on breastfeeding entirely, but exclusive pumping made it possible for me to maintain my milk supply until my daughter’s mouth grew big enough to latch. She nursed until she was three.

    And, well, I’d say you’d have no idea how many militant, judgmental lactivists spent the entire time I was pumping telling me that I wasn’t “really” breastfeeding, that it didn’t count (even though it was all of the disadvantages of both breast and formula feeding, with almost none of the conveniences of either), that if I tried harder or hadn’t had a c-section or whatever my daughter would be able to nurse.

    Luckily, they all defriended me on Facebook for not being crunchy enough, so I don’t have to deal with their self-congratulatory posts about what awesome moms they are for having breastfed their (now) teenagers over a decade ago.

    • RKD314

      Wow, I guess we should add “inverted nipples” to the list of drastic side effects of a c-section, huh? “Beware the cascade of interventions, it can actually go back in time and alter aspects of your physiology that existed prior to delivery!” Sarcasm off, I know where you’re coming from, my daughter never latched without a shield and even that was not a success. The BFing I did was only possible thanks to pumping.

  • Vg2010

    So, according to lactivists and AP parents, there is 0 bonding between premies and their parents? or adopted children and their parents?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      So, according to lactivists and AP parents, there is 0 bonding between
      premmies and their parents? or adopted children and their parents?

      If you ask them this question explicitly, they will deny it. However, it is an inevitable consequence of their position.

    • Amy M

      Dads too, and other family members! Don’t forget all the people who aren’t Mom that can’t breastfeed the baby, and therefore can’t bond with it!

    • sdsures

      I was born at 28 weeks. I’m relatively sane. I think…Maybe we better double-check. I could be a serial killer.

      • Sarah

        There’s always time.

    • Sue

      Not to mention all the smart, sassy people who were born during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, when formula was popular and breastfeeding rates were much lower than they are today.

      Should we ask for their Nobel prizes back?

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    So the main benefit of breastfeeding over giving EBM from a bottle is that…babies don’t eat as much they want, so it keeps them from gaining weight?

    So much for all the great antibodies and nutrients that are perfectly tuned to your baby’s needs, we can’t let them have too much of them.

    Since when is growth restriction of babies due to food restriction a good thing?

    • araikwao

      There was a study in Pediatrics a few years back that looked at obesity in FF vs EP vs BF kids, and it was highest to lowest in that same order. Can’t remember all the details and how good it was, but the speed of weight gain seems to feed into the effects of the Barker hypothesis. So if you are LBW, but then stack on the weight quickly, it seems to be worse that LBW alone in terms of risk of CVD, obesity, T2DM, HT in later life.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        I believe that’s the same study.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        And more recent, better controlled studies, such as the Belarus study and concordant sibling studies, have shown the opposite effect, if anything, that BF babies are more likely to end up obese.

        • araikwao

          Obviously the lactivists aren’t going to start waxing lyrical on those ones any time soon..

    • sdsures

      If feeding at the breast, does the baby “spit the nipple out” like it would do with the bottle once it’s had enough?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        While some babies certainly quit eating at the breast, the results suggest that they aren’t eating until they are content, because when given the ability to eat until satisfied, they eat more.

        That makes sense, of course, because babies at the breast will eat either until they are content OR until their is no milk.

      • Cobalt

        Mine does. Sometimes he still wants to suck, though, so he’ll latch on, suck, then let go when milk comes out, wait, then repeat. That’s when he gets the pacifier.

        That’s just this baby though, the last one nursed until she passed out, usually halfway through the second breast. If I ran out before she was done she would express her dissatisfaction.

        • SporkParade

          Lucky. Mine just stops sucking and starts gnawing my nipples off. I’ve had bruises.

          • sdsures

            Naughty baby! Yeow!

          • Cobalt

            He used to gnaw me, but he quit in favor of the on/off spray milk everywhere trick. Milk would come out even when gnawing, which did not please his highness. He didn’t do it hard enough to bruise, though, thank goodness.

    • Bugsy

      When it’s EBF, of course. That’s when a lack of weight gain is a good thing…simply because you’re modelling the “perfect” mom.

      EBF was a disaster for us long-term. My now 2-year-old son is barely on the growth charts because he consistently wanted milk at the expense of solids, and because I’d been indoctrinated that “breast is best.” I was determined to not give up, and my son paid the price. Between 6 months and 18 months (when he should have been gaining roughly 1 lb/month), he gained less than 2 lbs. It was only our astute new GP who realized that the breastfeeding was causing more harm than good, and who finally convinced me to push solids and then to wean him.

      He’s gained 5 lbs in the 7 months since our new doctor came into our lives, thankfully. Still a peanut, but growing happily and healthily.

      Of course, I assume lactivists would criticize me for not doing an effective enough job of continuing the breastfeeding, even if it were at the expense of my son’s health.

      • Anj Fabian

        ^^
        I’ve been suspecting that some extended BFing is due to this preference by the child. Extending BFing as long as possible is supported by some groups, I’ve seen commenters advise that mothers shouldn’t worry about picky eating and slow growth because breast milk is such a wonderful food!

        When someone describes their 18 month old as “feeding like a newborn” and being “constantly on the boob” I cringe. The complaint is usually annoyance, not concern about eating habits.

  • MLE

    Un bleeping real.

  • Somewhereinthemiddle

    I read this complete and utter bullshit last week when someone I know posted it on FB. There is NO evidence given, just some other asshole’s anti-feminist, non evidence based, STUPID opinion masquerading as information. I have breastfed three children, using a pump or bottle infrequently, so my reaction isn’t based in defending my feeding choices. It is, however, to stand up for and with the women these idiots are targeting with their utter stupidity.

  • Kate

    I think this is the first article I’ve seen highlighted here that really angered me. My son refused to nurse. So I EP. And I work my butt off doing so. It is utterly ridiculous that all the work I put in FOR MY CHILD is still not “good enough”.

    My son is healthy and thriving, btw. And we are bonded just fine.

  • Dr Kitty

    Given all our recent activity on an old posts, with some parachuters with very *specific* agendas, I’m just going to put this here without comment.

    The winner of the 2014 Sakharov humanitarian prize is Dr Denis Mukwege, a doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo. His work is with women who have suffered from rape and sexual assault.

    http://www.europarl.ie/en/news_events/news/press_releases_2014/october/sakharov_winner_2014.html;jsessionid=574C5F7C8EF73BA7B9EFBC163D1A05AB

  • Kq

    I just want to use Tina Fey’s term “Teat Nazis” here. Disgusting, the lows these lactivists will sink to.

  • Trixie

    Contaminated pumped milk — like the kind you get off of Facebook from strangers.

    • sdsures

      When I was in the NICU as a preemie, my mom had enough breast milk left over to feed the entire population of babies there, so she expressed and donated it. YAY, MOM!!

      • RKD314

        Hospital =/= facebook.

        • sdsures

          No kidding.

  • attitude devant

    Having had only 6 weeks off with each of my children, and having been to Scandinavia and talked to mothers there, I wish fervently that we had more reasonable (and paid!) parental leave in this country. Having said that, shaming those of us who work because we can’t fit some nostalgia-based upper-class model of stay-at-home motherhood? Yeah, eff that noise.

  • moto_librarian

    Anyone who implies that I did not snuggle and bond with my children while formula feeding is simply an asshole. I think it is past time to call these sanctimonious morons out for perpetuating misinformation. We don’t need to apologize or offer excuses for why we formula feed, combo feed, or pump. We don’t need to be bullied or shamed. The evidence is on our side.

    • Cobalt

      I spend way more time actually looking at the baby when bottle feeding. When breastfeeding, I can kinda set-and-forget until baby’s done. Bottle feeding is more interactive.

      • Not only that. I’ve been watching both my grandchildren, who have had Grandma babysitting them since birth. As infants, both received breast milk in a bottle [daughter has severely inverted, not to mention gigantic, nipples, and nothing works but pumping]. When a woman holds an infant to the breast, if she’s doing it properly, the baby is facing her nipple , NOT looking at her face. A bottle-fed baby is in almost constant eye contact with the person feeding him/her.

        • me

          That may well be true while they are very little, but as they get bigger they do look up at you while nursing. And by the time they are 6-9 mos they can turn their heads slightly (and sometimes not so slightly… ouch) without unlatching, so you do get that eye contact during breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong – I agree that bonding has less to do with feeding method (scratch that – NOTHING to do with feeding method) and more to do with, well, everything else. But no point in making it out as tho breastfeeding necessarily *hinders* bonding in some way; lest we start being like these a-holes that claim formula feeding is a hindrance.

          • Cobalt

            True, but the notes on positioning is important. Some moms really do try to face a newborn for eye contact and bonding while breastfeeding, with typically a lot of frustrating and not a lot of successful feeding.

            Going tummy to tummy and putting the baby eye to eye with your (imaginary) bicep tattoo is not always intuitive.

            And my three month old sometimes yanks his head around looking for my husband if he hears his voice. He does not unlatch first. It is not a habit I appreciate.

          • sdsures

            “And my three month old sometimes yanks his head around looking for my husband if he hears his voice. He does not unlatch first. It is not a habit I appreciate.”

            Ouch!!!!

          • Cobalt

            Yeah, it hurts, and it’s becoming grounds for immediately terminating the feeding session. The baby seems to have bonded with his father well enough that he is willing to interrupt breastfeeding to see someone who only feeds him a few times a month, and with a bottle, no less.

          • Sarah

            I think that’s the point at which I’d be making my husband induce lactation.

          • Cobalt

            If only we could. I get “touched out” faster than he does, and he’s just better at babies than I am. Biology got us backwards.

          • rachel

            I call it “niplash”. Happens all the time with my 10 month old. I’m constantly asking her older brothers to go play somewhere else while she’s feeding.

          • I didn’t mean to imply that lack of eye to eye contact hinders bonding…just that a baby is held differently when being breastfed or bottle fed. Besides, I think the whole “bonding” phenomenon is more on the side of the mother/caregiver than that of the baby, at least initially. A newborn just wants its needs met, who does the job on a regular basis is the one the baby responds to. Recognition by the baby of its primary caregiver takes a while to develop.

    • Sue

      Don’t they also get that fathers can spend additional ”bonding” time with their baby if they can feed the expressed milk (or formula)?

      How rational is it to imagine that only mother-love is important in child development? It flies in the face of decades of feminism and general development theory.

    • Allie

      Babies bond quite readily to anyone who gives them TLC on a regular basis. My LO has bonded charmingly with my father-in- law, as have her cousins. We call him the baby whispered. And no, he hasn’t got any breasts ; )

      • Allie

        Whoops, ‘whisperer’

  • Mel

    I find these stupid articles infuriating. While the authors are working at insulting mothers, they also end up insulting those of us who “survived” being formula fed.

    I was some combination of breast and formula fed. My twin sister was exclusively formula fed due to digestive issues after being born prematurely. We are both doing more than fine, thank you very much.

  • Elaine

    No discussion, of course, of the fact that the vast majority of moms who EP do so because direct nursing was really difficult for some reason, so direct nursing was basically not an option for them anyway, and really the more appropriate comparison would be whether EPing is healthier than giving formula.

    • RKD314

      Yeah, exactly. No one just wakes up one day and says, “Welp, this nursing thing is going great, but I think I’ll just hook myself up to this here milk machine every few hours so that I can feel like a cow. That sounds like a fun time.”

  • anh

    How the hell does anyone make the claim this movement is in any way a feminist one? According to these loonies there is ONE freaking single way to be a woman. That’s just fucking bollocks. Seriously, it’s starting to get farcical the way they are systematically narrowing and narrowing, chipping away at what gains women have made. Gah, what will it take to get them to wake up to this??

    Feminism: the notion that one’s sex or gender shouldn’t exclusively dictate one’s path, one’s right’s, or one’s opportunities

  • theadequatemother

    You know I see a positive in this. The more these ridiculous attacks on women are published the easier it is going to become for working moms, moms who pump, moms who formula feed, and moms who combo feed to shrug off any guilt associated with their choices. And also, the more lactivists try to push women down and dada out of the picture, the more dads and other non-lactating parents, may stand up and call them on their bs. It’s not just misogynistic, it’s profoundly anti-inclusive of adopted parents, same sex and transgendered couples and negates the contributions of the “second” parent whoever they may be.

    To try to imply that my infant wasn’t getting cuddles, reassurance etc when drinking a bottle with my husband, the grandmother or our caregiver profoundly insults these individuals.

    • Ash

      From a brief Internet search, it appears that no one approves of this article. Yay.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I agree. See also the anti-hatting wingnuts. The more you can spread that information around, coupled with “how stupid can you be?” the less they will be taken seriously.

  • Bioactress

    I love that they claim pumping is “convenient”, I truly needed a good laugh today.

    • theadequatemother

      I know. The reason I stopped pumping was that it took too much time away from cuddles and playtime!

    • Young CC Prof

      There are some ways in which breastfeeding is more convenient than bottle, there are some ways formula is more convenient than breast. Pump and feed is every inconvenience of both, with a few special inconveniences of its own, like not being able to go more than a few hours without access to electricity and refrigeration.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        “It’s very simple. Scissors cuts paper. Paper covers rock. Rock crushes lizard. Lizard poisons Spock. Spock smashes scissors. Scissors decapitates lizard. Lizard eats paper. Paper disproves Spock. Spock vaporizes rock. And as it always has, rock crushes scissors.”

      • Cobalt

        It’s like burning wood for fuel. Wood that grew free in nature, sure, but needs felled, bucked, chopped, split, stacked, brought in, and then lit.

        Pumping means following all the food safety protocols of bottles, plus the extra dishes, plus feeding the pump, plus feeding the baby. If one more person tells me to just pump I’m going to go bonkers.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          It’s like burning wood for fuel. Wood that grew free in nature, sure,
          but needs felled, bucked, chopped, split, stacked, brought in, and then
          lit.

          For sure. We had a woodburner in my dad’s shop growing up, because it was cheaper than using the gas furnace. But the number of man-hours that went into stockpiling all the wood needed was outrageous. We would have 4 – 5 of us out cutting and hauling all day every Saturday in September through Thanksgiving, in addition to splitting it all. But hey, since we were kids we weren’t going to be doing anything else of value…

          That doesn’t count the time spent because you had to add wood to the fire every 3 hours during the day, or every 5 hours at night.

    • OttawaAlison

      I stopped pumping (was pumping to increase supply) because I was being taken away from my daughter and sleep, both of which were more important to me.
      I have friends who were dedicated pumping moms and they worked super hard at it. In no way was it convenient for any of them.

  • rudefly

    I can now use this as my excuse on why I formula fed instead of pumped. I mean, I guess using formula so I would have time with my baby after work stead of hooked up to a pump for hours has been the wrong answer all this time. I can just tell them that pumping is the same as formula feeding practically and cite this study.

    • Young CC Prof

      It’s closer to being a study than a great deal of what the extreme crunchies “cite.”

  • Amy M

    Yeah, I saw this article last week and saw through the weak facade of “concern” about “best for baby” to the true message: “real mothers stay home and nurse all day.” I can’t even with this anymore.

    I don’t get angry for myself, I am long past that stage and really don’t care what those jerks think of me But everytime another one of these articles comes out, I worry about all the new moms and moms-to-be who will see it and internalize it, and believe it. Most new moms don’t have the experience to develop the thick skin necessary to navigate the treacherous waters of New Parenthood, and its heartbreaking that petty jerks like these can wound some of the new moms very deeply. It’s frustrating too, that the petty jerks actively prey on the new mom crowd because they KNOW they are easy targets. I want to be a shield between the petty jerks and new moms, and help them find their confidence so this stuff doesn’t bother them, but I don’t know how.

    • Amy M

      *One thing I do know: Don’t tell the new moms that Eleanor Roosevelt quote about how you can only be made to feel inferior with your consent. Even if you mean that other people shouldn’t determine your self worth or something like that. It’s used so often to wound (old Eleanor is probably rolling over in her grave), I wonder if some poor new mother somewhere, struggling with PPD, thinks Eleanor Roosevelt was the original Sanctimommy.

      • mom4474

        Thank you! I completely agree with that. I rarely see that quote used in the spirit it was intended. Now, it just gives people a license to be assholes.

  • GiddyUpGo123

    New research by G. Upgo, senior fellow and FLW, PDC, indicates that breastfeeding may create epigenetic changes in lactating mothers, resulting in serious and often self-important feelings of superiority and overall dickishness.

  • Young CC Prof

    I found that article just bizarre. It wasn’t that the evidence presented was bad, but that there was no evidence presented at all, not even a pretense. Paragraph after paragraph of rampant speculation that it might be bad, along with a call to stop doing it.

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s a pseudoscientific condemnation of working mothers.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    Infuriating.

  • Cobalt

    These people make me want to crack open a can of Ensure.

    • Sue

      ..and pour it over their heads.

  • Cobalt

    In the first paragraph, ‘seriously’ should be ‘serious’ and ‘relentless’ should be ‘relentlessly’.

    Otherwise excellent.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thanks!