How the tyranny of lactivism led one woman to use her friend as a wet nurse


Elisa Albert wrote a powerful piece for The Guardian entitled My friend breastfed my baby.

The writing is lyrical, the author’s anguish is palpable and the story has a happy ending.

Unfortunately, Albert never questions the real cause of her misery, her unflective acceptance of the anti-feminist propaganda of the natural parenting movement.

Albert had an unintentionally unassisted homebirth of a healthy son because her midwife failed to show up (how many times have we heard that story?).

…I gave birth at home, after a 13-hour posterior, or back-to-back, labour, which the long-practising, well-respected midwife did not bother to attend…

She had difficulty breastfeeding. Her son languished for an entire month, underfed most of that time.

At a week-and-a-half old, my baby began to lose weight. Breastfeeding was not going well. This was not abnormal, we were reassured… One lactation consultant offered advice that was contradicted by a second, whose advice was contradicted by a third. I should use a breast pump every two hours. I should supplement with formula. I should neither pump nor supplement; I should let him get so hungry he would do whatever it took to latch properly. Around and around we went.

Albert sunk into despair:

The imperative to feed my baby from myself blotted out the sun.

She was touchingly grateful when her best friend breastfed her baby.

I handed the baby to her and collapsed into a nearby chair to sob and thank her and sob and thank her, over and over again. The baby drank and drank and drank. His latch was indeed shallow, but she had a surfeit of compensatory milk…

The baby was no doubt grateful to finally eat his fill. Albert spent the next 3 months working strenuously toward exclusively breastfeeding her baby.

I supplemented with formula until I got nursing on track, which took three months, biweekly follow-ups, a hospital-grade rental pump, and a level of determination and commitment I was proud to discover I had…

At no point in what were literally months of misery did Albert ever question the toxic, anti-feminist assumptions that were the real cause of her anguish. Sadly, her story will probably contribute the to the anguish of other mothers who find themselves in the same situation.

Why did Albert, undoubtedly an otherwise sensible woman, come to feel that breastfeeding was so important that it “blotted out the sun”?

It’s pretty simple actually. She believed the New Age version of age old sexism: that a woman’s worth resides in her uterus, vagina and breasts.

I was supposed to accept that, because breastfeeding was exceedingly difficult, I could not do it. I was supposed to concede to that potent cocktail of bad advice that devalues the functional power of the female body. To which I said, and still say: no.

“Valuing the functional power of the female body” is profoundly retrograde. We should be valuing the power of the female mind and character, and relegating reproductive choices to what they are: personal choices that tell us NOTHING about whether a woman is a good woman or even a good mother.

Ms. Albert does not question the absurd propaganda of the lactivist movement that refuses to recognize that not all woman and not all babies can successfully breastfeed and the wholesale rewriting of history to blame formula use on formula manufacturers.

For most of human history, wet nurses were exceedingly common. The best of the best made an excellent living as highly prized employees. Sisters and good friends nursed each other’s babies as a matter of convenience. But 100 years of aggressive formula marketing has effectively erased the tradition of women helping each other in this way.

No, for most of human history, babies who had trouble breastfeeding were not rescued by wet nurses; they died. Wet nurses were not exceedingly common. They were an affectation of privileged women who didn’t want to breastfeed, an aristocracy who hired other women (or used slaves) to do offload what they viewed as an animal function onto lesser beings whom they viewed as closer to animals.

Formula was invented NOT as a substitute for breastfeeding, but as a substitute for everything under the sun, much of it dangerous, that was being used to feed infants who couldn’t successfully breastfeed, or whose mothers had died in childbirth.

Formula companies never had to market aggressively because the need for formula is so high. The marketing that formula companies do is NOT to convince women to bottlefeed, it is to convince women who were going to bottlefeed anyway to choose one brand over another.

Albert does not question the fact that lactivism gives short shrift to infant suffering. Her baby was starving, literally since babies should not lose weight. That suffering could have been entirely averted by using formula as soon as it became apparent that Albert was not producing enough breastmilk. But lactivism insists that there is no amount of infant agony (and that’s what hunger is for infants) that is not justified by the purported benefits of breastmilk, which in first world countries are actually trivial.

Albert no doubt views her story as one of female triumph where one woman assisted another until she, through months of misery and perseverence, ultimately breastfed her infant exclusively.

But there is another way to look at this story, one that I suspect is closer to the truth:

It’s a triumph of the toxic propaganda of the breastfeeding industry, the one that makes 100% of its income from convincing women to breastfeed. It’s a story of infant starvation and suffering that could have been averted by feeding the baby formula. It is a story of maternal misery and feelings of inadequacy that rests entirely on the exaggeration of the small benefits of breastfeeding, and the sexist belief that women should be judged by the function of their reproductive organs.

This is not a story of the power of women. It is a story of their loss of power to a philosophy that harms women and harms babies, and is so insidious that even women as sophisticated as Albert fail to recognize for it for what it is: yet another way to make money by inducing women’s anxiety about their bodies.

395 Responses to “How the tyranny of lactivism led one woman to use her friend as a wet nurse”

  1. Daleth
    March 30, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

    Isn’t this interesting:Report warns of ‘serious health risks’ associated with online breast milk
    “When it comes to feeding young infants, it is hotly argued that “breast
    is best.” Many new mothers, however, are unable to breastfeed or find
    the practice difficult. As a result, some mothers purchase human breast
    milk online with the belief that it is better for their baby than
    formula. But in a report published in The BMJ, experts claim such breast milk can pose serious health risks to infants.”

  2. Sadlady
    March 21, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    That happened to me. But I was too isolated to have a wet nurse. There is nothing wrong with being desperate to give your offspring the best thing to east. That is just responsible parenting. Nothing to do with feminism and worth tied up in body parts. I gave my failure to thrive baby baby’s only organic formula because I cannot stand corn syrup. That was me doing my best. I had beliefs and research and I stuch to my guns. I stuck to my guns and kept lactating until my baby got a bigger face. All she needed was a bigger face. But they can’t get bigger while starving can they?

  3. Mariana
    March 19, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    I took my daughter to my paediatrician (yes, the same one that took care of me when I was a baby!). She was a month old and losing weight. I was guilt ridden about formula, feeling like an utter failure. He looked me in the eye and said: “historically, babies of moms who do not have enough milk die of starvation at 4 months. It’s a horrible death. Pick a formula, and feed this child. You don’t need to feel guilty. If anyone asks say it’s doctor-mandated that you bottle feed.” He was so sweet to give me permission to quit! I was still too stupid to let go of the guilt, and used that stupid sns for 6 months… But at least my baby got the food she needed.

  4. Mariana
    March 19, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    I was that mother, but I didn’t have a friend to breastfeed my baby for me. My daughter was hungry and losing weight, I was tired and miserable, she nursed all the time. I feel guilty for not giving her formula sooner, for fighting a lost battle to breastfeed her. I fed her formula via a sns for 6 months! That’s six months of cleaning tubing, taping it to my breast and worrying every second of the day that she was not getting enough breast milk. I was out of my mind… I shouldn’t have been so stupid, I should have fed her with bottles and enjoyed the freedom that comes with that. With my second baby I was determined to either breastfeed or bottle feed, but I would never want to use the sns again! The second time around I had more milk, he nursed and used a bottle with formula when I was tired. He nursed until 10 months and quit on his own.

    Never again do I want to use a sns! If I have more babies, I’ll either nurse them with my breast or use a bottle. No more guilt about formula either.

  5. Pt82
    March 18, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    This article gave the the courage to give my 11 month old a bottle. My supply has been dwindling and the evenings have been awful for us. She was thirsty and hungry and would spend hours nursing. I just kept thinking I needed to trudge through and my supply would up itseld. I forced lactation cookies down and drank water and took vitamins. Nothing has increased my supply. After reading this I promotly gave my baby 6 ounces of formula. And we’re both happier.

    • Daleth
      March 18, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      Yay you!

      It’s so sad that there are people who think breastfeeding your baby is more important than FEEDING your baby. I’m very glad you stopped drinking that Kool-Aid.

      • fiftyfifty1
        March 18, 2015 at 11:49 am #

        The problem is that the push for exclusive breastfeeding is NOT a “Kool-aid” issue. It’s not a fringe or cult-like belief any longer. The push has gone mainstream, and the misinformation is being promoted by mainstream sources like a sensible mother should be able to rely on. Pt82 thought she could and should push to bring back her supply in the way she did not because she had swallowed the Koolaid, but because that is what professionals like lactation consultants will tell you. As Anne Catherine says below:

        “It is not just the breastfeeding industry and fringy lactivists who promote breastfeeding as being preventive for chronic disease, obesity and low IQ. This idea the breastfeeding is the ticket to a healthy child, and the idea that every women is able to and should breastfeed comes from some pretty mainstream sources like HHS and the AAP (and subsequently WIC and many MD’s)”

        • Ash
          March 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

          Not only a healthy child…the BEST CHILD. Yes, it feeds into the idea that by the parents “ideal” actions, the parents can shape a child into a certain product that will be successful (financially, social status, physical health).

          • Roadstergal
            March 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

            That’s a very good point. I’ve shared the data showing no real differences in long-term outcomes with breast vs bottle, and the rhetoric that come back is still about “But why not give them the _best_?”

            It’s this pervasive notion in society currently that breastmilk is not a mixture of fat, water, sugar, protein, and some vitamins, but is some sort of magic potion.

          • Daleth
            March 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

            Have you seen the nutjobs who sometimes post things on parenting sites like, “Whenever my LO gets an ear infection I just squirt some breast milk into his ear”?

            Apparently in addition to being The Best Food, breastmilk is now an antibiotic and antiviral agent. As opposed to being a naturally sugar-rich medium in which any bacteria in your LO’s ear would love to grow.

          • Liz Leyden
            March 19, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

            The doula who taught my childbirth class apparently cured her baby’s conjunctivitis with colostrum.

          • Daleth
            March 20, 2015 at 10:50 am #

            Because breast milk is magic! It’s so magic I’m almost surprised breast milk isn’t a major plot device in the Harry Potter books.

          • Somewhereinthemiddle
            March 21, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

            I’ve used breastmilk on a minor case of pink eye out of curiousity and it did go away. Not sure if it was the breastmilk or it would have gone away on it’s own, eh *shrug*. It was not effective against a more serious case however.

          • me
            March 22, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

            My mom always used plain cow’s milk to remove the “crusties” associated with pink eye – just warm a little bit of milk (not too hot!) and dip cotton balls, and gently wipe away the crusties away so the child can open her eyes (the lactic acid in the milk apparently helps break down the gunk so it can be removed gently).

            I do this with my own children (never used breast milk – silly me, if I went thru the trouble of pumping I wanted the baby to eat it, not to use it on the 5 year old’s eyeballs!) And since most cases of conjunctivitis will clear on their own in a matter of days… yeah – ANY kind of milk “cures” pink eye, lol.

            Now, if the pink eye is severe (a lot of pain, blurred vision, high fever)… get thee to thy physician! But as a simple home remedy for mild cases that will clear on their own? Milk works. Any kind you have on hand (well, not almond or soy but those aren’t really “milk” in the first place). Why waste boob juice?

          • JJ
            March 18, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

            Someone just posted this gem on facebook so I know it is true! I hope my first child is not homeless since I had to quit BFing him at 9 weeks.

            “The longer babies breastfeed, the more they achieve in life – major study”


        • Daleth
          March 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

          Yeah, you’re completely right.

    • Allie P
      March 18, 2015 at 11:41 am #

      What Daleth said. I called the emergency number of my local LLL one day, desperate to her someone tell me I was not a bad mother. Bless this woman’s heart. She asked me why I wanted to breastfeed, told me (the first person to tell me this!) that feeding my baby, that making sure my baby was NOT hungry, was my number one priority, and that nothing about giving my starving baby a bottle of formula was going to keep me from breastfeeding if that’s what I wanted. And she was right.

      There are lots of horror stories out there about LC and LLL people (I have a few), but this is one of the good ones.

      • Anne Catherine
        March 18, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

        I had a similar experience with LLL about 20 years ago–she was great— and gave me ‘permission’ to quit breastfeeding–she said “a mother always does the best she can”. It’s too bad all breastfeeding advocates are not as supportive.

  6. Anne Catherine
    March 18, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Women going to extremes to give their children only breastmilk because they live in
    fear that they will do irrevocable harm to their babies if they feed
    them formula will only lessen when the misinformation stops.

    It is not just the breastfeeding industry and fringy lactivists who promote breastfeeding as being preventive for chronic disease, obesity and low IQ. This idea the breastfeeding is the ticket to a healthy child, and the idea that every women is able to and should breastfeed comes from some pretty mainstream sources like HHS and the AAP (and subsequently WIC and many MD’s)

    I find it appalling that those who should and do know better are basically misleading women (as well as the health professionals counseling them).

    Below is a table form the latest AAP Policy Statement and the Surgeon Generals Call to Action. Fact checking the references is quite interesting. Associations are subistued for causal relationships and numbers are used before accounting for variables. Often the research cited is old/and or inconclusive.

    If you feel as I do please contact these organizations and urge them to update these publications so that they better reflect reality ….

    Surgeon Generals CTA –Appendix 2

    AAP Table 2

  7. LibrarianSarah
    March 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    Am I the only one who is disturbed by the lack of commenters on that article saying how nucking futs it was?

    • Elizabeth A
      March 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm #


    • Who?
      March 17, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

      Honestly, what is there to say but ‘glad no one’s dead, btw that was nucking futs’.

    • AllieFoyle
      March 18, 2015 at 10:36 am #


    • Ash
      March 18, 2015 at 11:59 am #

      The older comments tend to be more negative, so to speak–it may be a result of the article first being read by regular readers, then the article gets linked to by pro-breastfeeding websites.

  8. Becky Schwantes-An
    March 17, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Thank-you for this piece. It is excellent!

  9. lawyer jane
    March 17, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    I actually think letter her friend nurse her baby was the sanest thing she did in this whole saga! At least it meant the baby was fed and she got some rest. The rest of the story is just bizarre. The author seems to view childbirth and breastfeeding as some sort of crucible that can fix all the other problems she has in her life. When the fact is, the women who are on a tougher road are exactly the ones for whom things like formula can be an immense blessing.

  10. The Computer Ate My Nym
    March 17, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    after a 13-hour posterior, or back-to-back, labour,

    Something just struck me about this bit: 13 hours is shorter than average for a first labor. The author described it as posterior, which I presume it was, but honestly it sounds like this was a fairly normal labor and delivery. Yet she appears to be trying to suggest that it was an unusually difficult labor. Why? Is this a way of excusing herself for not having a painless, ograsmic labor? To emphasize that she’s not a wimp where pain is concerned so we’ll take her report of pain and distress seriously? Why should any woman feel the need to excuse her pain that way? This demand that women be stoic and not complain about pain may not be what the traditional gender roles demand, but it’s not feminist to demand that women deny pain the way that men have been forced to deny their pain for centuries. Let’s all just acknowledge that labor, depression, and major injuries hurt, shall we?

    • Busbus
      March 17, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

      I don’t know anything about her labor, of course, but I have the impression that a LOT of women do not expect labor to be as painful as it turns out to be (me included, for my first labor) and that this has a lot to do with what is said in natural childbirth classes and circles.

      One of my acquaintances, who had planned a birth center birth but needed to be at the hospital afterall due to preeclampsia, spent a long time wondering why her labor became so painful after a while when she had been coping so well in the beginning, and why she ultimately needed the epidural (her theory centered on all the ways that the hospital was different from the birth center). I do believe that labor is differently painful for different women (first off, baby’s position and other factors do have an effect, but moreover, menstrual cramps also affect women very differently, so why not labor?), but I also pointed out that labor starts out light but then becomes more and more painful for just about everyone, until it is literally excruciating for the vast majority of women, and that, most likely, it would have ultimately become just as painful no matter what. It seemed like I was the first person in her circle to say that (and being that I had two homebirths myself, which upped my “cred,” ahem, it did seem to help her a bit to hear my perspective).

      Goes to show how the NCB narrative can make people believe that the hospital (or any other factor, for that matter), was responsible for the fact that their labor was awful when, truthfully, labor just is terribly awful for almost everyone (even when, if your lucky, the baby in your arms might make you forget some of it later on). It’s the whole “labor is going to be your most precious experience” BS that sets up unrealistic expectations and the belief that if labor wasn’t quite so amazing, something or someone (most likely the mother herself) must have been at fault. Ugh.

      • Medwife
        March 17, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

        Yes. All that bullshit about “pressure” and “waves of strong sensation” may get you through prodrome, but by transition, labor effing hurts, call it what you will. There is no mistaking the pain. Labor’s going to hurt!

      • Who?
        March 17, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

        Labour really, really hurts, even when it is quick (6 hours both times for me) and goes well. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell something.

      • tomato
        March 18, 2015 at 1:01 am #

        It’s just like how “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” had me convinced that breastfeeding was not supposed to hurt — when it did (it was excruciating), I melted down over it for two weeks, convinced it was going terribly rather than normally. Why is the La Leche League/midwifery camp so intent on convincing us that painful things shouldn’t be painful??

        • JJ
          March 18, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

          Breastfeeding is painful for me every time I have a baby for the first week. I always get a scab somewhere and latching on hurts. I’ve had midwives check and the latch was correct all three babies. Why do women have to deny that all this stuff HURTS! I guess it would be bad for NCB business.

      • JJ
        March 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

        Yes to this! The natural Bradley childbirth techniques did squat for me with my first. I was raised that being tough was very important, played sports continously, and had some bad injures where people thought I had a pretty high pain tolerance. I watched those peaceful birth videos and thought I would tap into my inner athlete and “just do it”! I was in utter shock how painful my labor was. My baby was posterior and I do think that made it worse, but lets just say if I had a birth video they would show it in high schools to scare them into abstinence! I was in so much pain I was frozen in one position and screaming. Super zen homebirth experience!

        I loathe the idea that if labor hurts the mother is fearful, needs to let go, ect… lf we could mentally block out pain we could eliminate all anesthesia and pan killers! I practically crushed my shoulder and it still hurt even though I was not afraid.

      • Somewhereinthemiddle
        March 21, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

        I have a friend who doesn’t experience very much pain in labor. She has had three children two of which were induced labors and has never gotten anywhere near feeling like she needed pain meds. And it has nothing at all to do with ideology for her, just the way she experiences birth. I always look at her like she has 3 heads whenever she talks about it and of course I’m just a *touch* jealous because my labors hurt like hell, lol!

    • JJ
      March 18, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

      My first child was posterior and it hurt SO much worse than my other labors. It was hours of feeling like my tailbone was breaking. My sister had a posterior child and said it still hurt her back even with the epidural.

  11. OBDoc
    March 17, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    Dr. Tuteur,
    I agree with this wholeheartedly, and am in the midst of another go-round of avoiding the “baby-friendly” initiative at my hospital. What I am having a hard time finding in my (admittedly cursory, so far) literature search is the raw data or absolute risks/benefits associated with breastfeeding/not breastfeeding. I think most of us (obstetricians) who take a mintue to read and think about it know that the benefits to breastfeeding exclusively are there, but fairly insignificant from a clinical perspective. However, almost every paper reports the relative risks only (there’s the red flag for you right off the bat). Do you have any insight as to how I can track down the absolute numbers? Thanks for doing what you do.

    • CrownedMedwife
      March 17, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      I am in the midst of the same challenge with my institution’s pursuit of BFHI. It is LC and administratively driven without input or notification of providers. I only recently became aware of the renewed BFHI objective at my institution, because of the feedback from my patient. Breastfeeding was difficult with her first baby after a struggle with supply issues. She committed herself to lactivist ideology to the detriment of her own well-being (sleep deprivation and PPD) and her baby (remained below birthweight through the age of 6 weeks). We had a lot of discussion during this pregnancy, which was laden with multiple risk factors. During the pregnancy she reached the conclusion to attempt breastfeeding, but recognized her own health and well-being of the baby would override overzealous pursuits of EBF. Her perspective was very different this time, having reflected on how miserable the situation had made her and her daughter, as well as the ever-looming risks associated with the current pregnancy. It was a dramatic shift in her thought process to come to the realization that the end goal would be a live & neurologically intact baby that she would like to attempt EBF, but that she would not put her or the baby through it again at all costs. She accepted formula feeding was a very real possibility and she was very much ok with that decision, as long as it meant her baby was being fed. Cue the BFHI when breastfeeding wasn’t working out for either…she was provided an entire lecture on the benefits of breastmilk and when it became medically necessary to supplement the baby, she was pressured into using breast milk from a donor bank at the hospital. One crazy lactivist with the backing of the pursuit of BFHI sent her on a downward spiral after she had worked so hard at overcoming prior beliefs and accepted that formula might be best for her baby. She was ok with formula, her baby was term and months of processing undone in an instant.

      The majority of my patients breastfeed, but it’s there choice to do so. I can already see the challenge BFHI is going to make it to be sure that remains their choice and not ideological pressure in an institution.

      • Busbus
        March 17, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

        That is so sad.

        • CrownedMedwife
          March 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

          Yes, it really is sad. I won’t go into details, but there were many factors complicating her pregnancy, all of which she had no control over, but combined created a scenario with a significant risk for IUFD. The one factor she did have control over was how she would feed her baby, breast if it worked and formula if it didn’t. She was very happy with her decision. I really wish RNs and LCs who push BFHI could see these mothers a few times in the first few weeks PP. Maybe then they could see what damage their rhetoric does to the psyche of a new mother and what a mess it is to clean up to get them back on track. All in the name of Breast is Best, but without any consideration of what is best for each mother and her baby.

          • Medwife
            March 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

            One of my patients comes to my mind. She was pretty severely mentally ill and stopped taking all her drugs when she learned she was pregnant. She fully planned to resume treatment as soon as that baby was out of her body. Her meds were just not compatible with breastfeeding. The pain that that woman went through, weighing the magic of breastfeeding against her mental health, was terrible. It took weeks of counseling (so much for 15 minute prenatal visits!) for her to come to terms with it. I would have strangled anyone who sent that down the drain!

          • CrownedMedwife
            March 17, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

            Love your reference to ‘magic of breastfeeding’, because that is pretty much how I responded. When I was informed my patient was encourage to use donor milk in lieu of formula when she had requested it, I lost it a bit. Went to the Charge RN and LC and asked why her baby wasn’t given formula as the mother had requested. The response was ‘because we have donor milk now’ to which I responded ‘And what is so damn magical about donor milk that makes it worth ignoring a mother’s request for formula and messing with her psyche?. Response, “…but it’s breastmilk”. Oh, FFS.

          • KarenJJ
            March 17, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

            At my hospital I was on this exhausting feed-pump schedule to build up demand. During the last 24 hours I was able to “exclusively breastfeed” my baby. Mainly because she was sleeping due to being so exhausted after all that screaming and feeding. I asked about information about expressing and supplementing and was refused it because I was “exclusively breastfeeding” and apparently that sort of knowledge can undermine breastfeeding.

            So I feel I was set up to fail in way, because what was being done to get me to “exclusively breastfeed” was unsustainable once I left the hospital. Even for donor milk, it’s not going to continue past a few days at most for a healthy full term infant, so what would be the real benefits avoiding formula for that day or two?

          • Sarah
            March 20, 2015 at 3:44 am #

            Magic virgin gut.

          • CrownedMedwife
            March 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

            Not sure how feeding methods were included in your curriculum, but mine encouraged scripting as “What questions do you have about bf’ing your baby?” and to use assumed endorsement by an authority figure (CNM) to increase bf’ing normalcy. Needless to say my counseling on feeding methods is more along the lines of “How are your planning to feed your baby” with a followup to address questions. Works as a great prompt with mothers who plan to formula feed because they usually feel the need to defend their decision, along with a hint of an apologetic tone. It opens the door for a discussion of how she came to her decision, affirm her ability to know what is best for her baby and address any peer pressures she’s experienced to the contrary.

          • KarenJJ
            March 17, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

            “The pain that that woman went through, weighing the magic of breastfeeding against her mental health, was terrible. ”

            I was having an incredibly difficult time trying to work out the same thing. When you are trying to work out what the individual risks are to giving your child formula vs going without your medication, all that population stuff about 3 point increase in IQ, a few colds, and even risk of obesity (still gets used) become irrelevant over real risks of the medication in breastmilk.

            I ended up leaving the weighing up of it to a paediatric immunologist. It shouldn’t have been that bloody hard, but it was so difficult to work out.

          • JJ
            March 18, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

            Medwife and CrownedMedwife: I can relate to both of those patients. I had severe PPD/PPA after my first and the pressure to BF and do everything AP/natural/perfect really contributed (I had a homebirth so all that stuff was the way to go). I was so exhausted from 24-7 intensive AP mothering. On top of that, my hb midwife was doing a study on mattress chemicals getting into breastmilk. So my anxious brain saw danger everywhere.

            I had to resolve to use formula if I wanted after this baby is born because I had another lighter brush with PPD after baby#3 (still trying to AP/natural/homeschool ect). I really just should have weaned her in hindsight and done more self-care. I am actually going to write up a form to give my husband, sister, and OB that says if I start exhibiting symptoms to remind me of my promise to myself to use formula and get immediate help. I am even getting bottles and a can of formula to keep on hand this time.

            Thanks for looking out for women like us. I truly appreciate it. I feel like NCB really did me wrong until I found my way out of all the woo 2 years ago. I agree the rhetoric is damaging and the word needs to get out.

          • Kelly
            March 20, 2015 at 11:33 am #

            That is one of my fears with this next child and why I don’t even want to try one time to nurse. I am afraid that I will be emotionally unable to make the right decision and make it harder for myself and my family. I know myself and I am an all or nothing kind of person. I am looking forward to that first two weeks to be easier than it has been the last two times where I cried everyday over breastfeeding.

          • JJ
            March 20, 2015 at 11:47 am #

            Do whatever is best for you Kelly. You are not obligated to even try and nurse if you don’t want to. Moms count too.

            “I am afraid that I will be emotionally unable to make the right decision and make it harder for myself and my family.”

            Me too. That is why I am writing up a contract. I cannot put myself or my family through cycles of my mental issues if they can be managed by something as simple as formula and sleep.

    • Sue
      March 17, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

      Many ppl quote the PROBIT trial from JAMA 2001:

      “Infants from the intervention sites were significantly more likely than control infants to be breastfed to any degree at 12 months (19.7% vs 11.4%; adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.32-0.69), were more likely to be exclusively breastfed at 3 months (43.3% vs 6.4%; P<.001) and at 6 months (7.9% vs 0.6%; P = .01), and had a significant reduction in the risk of 1 or more gastrointestinal tract infections (9.1% vs 13.2%; adjusted OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.40-0.91) and of atopic eczema (3.3% vs 6.3%; adjusted OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.31-0.95), but no significant reduction in respiratory tract infection (intervention group, 39.2%; control group, 39.4%; adjusted OR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.59-1.28)."

      For infective outcomes, a difference between 9% vs 13% having one or more gastro episodes in the first twelve months. In other words, 91% of the exclusively BF group and 87% of the non-EBF group had NO gastro episodes.

    • Allie P
      March 18, 2015 at 11:46 am #

      The BFHI is pissing me off right now, too, and I’m just a pregnant woman who recently discovered that my hospital has gone “baby friendly” between my last baby and this one. Well, at least I know now what crap I need to pack and what “support staff” I need to bring because they will no longer provide or allow it!

  12. Tiffany Aching
    March 17, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    Thank you so much for your blog. I live in France where the pressure to breastfeed, if not as high as in the US, has really been growing these last 10 years, especially amongst the most privileged. I have a condition that I’d rather not share with the people I know, and won’t be able to breastfeed : I’m not even pregnant yet, only trying to and I already dread all the well-meaning advice and not so well-meaning jugement I will receive if and when I have a baby…

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

      “I have a condition that I’d rather not share with the people I know, and won’t be able to breastfeed”
      This is why I think we all need to band together. Whether we breastfeed or formula feed or combo feed. Whatever our reasons happen to be. We mothers should not feel like we need to give account for what works best for us.
      Rude Person: Do you plan to breastfeed?
      Mother: Oh, I’m sure we’ll come up with what works best for our family. Thanks for understanding. (end of discussion)
      Rude Person: I see you are bottle feeding. Why?
      Mother: Like all mothers, I’ve chosen to what works best for my family. Thanks for understanding. (end of discussion)
      Rude Person: I see you are breastfeeding, that is so great, it’s the healthiest way.
      Mother: Every mother chooses what is healthiest for her individual family.

      • Cobalt
        March 18, 2015 at 10:06 am #

        Yes! I’m trying to implement this idea in my life. I’m lucky in that I wanted to breastfeed and could do so easily. I sometimes get unmerited praise based purely on the magic of breastmilk, or other breastfeeding moms make stupid comments about how superior we must be because of breastmilk, and I now make a point of shutting that down when it happens.

        I used to basically ignore that kind of stuff and do whatever I was doing because it was working, but reading the stories here and at FFF have made it important to me to not just ignore it. The whole dialog needs to change, so I’m going to have a voice and it’s going to be for supporting families, not ideologies.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 18, 2015 at 10:52 am #

          Of course, the whole problem with the examples that fiftyfify1 gave is, why in the hell is the person even butting in in the first place?

          If you feel a need to engage a person feeding their baby, isn’t the proper approach, “Oh, look at the cute little baby!”

          That’s what I would be thinking, not “oh, she’s feeding him in X way”

          • Cobalt
            March 18, 2015 at 11:01 am #

            That’s were we need to be. It should not be acceptable and common to ask questions like that, especially since the motivation behind asking is ideological compliance.

          • Tiffany Aching
            March 18, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

            So true. In French it is very common to use the verb “feed” to mean “breastfeed”, so people sometimes ask questions which sound really weird like “Do you feed him / her ?” or “Do you intend to feed him / her ?”. To which one of my friend answered one day “Wait, what ? Am I supposed to do that ? Nobody told me about it !”, which I found hilarious.

    • toni
      March 18, 2015 at 10:38 am #

      I think France is probably the best place to be if you’re worried about being judged. The vast majority don’t give a s**t if you breastfeed or not, if anything there will be more negativity about breastfeeding past the newborn stage than about formula which is the norm.

      • Tiffany Aching
        March 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

        Well, it’s a little more complicated than that. While it is true that bottle-feeding is generally not frown upon, breastfeeding is becoming the cultural norm amongst the college-educated, high-revenue women. Practically all of my friends breastfed (I’m in my mid-thirties), and wanted to have unmedicated childbirth (which many of them eventually thought to be a not such a good idea after a few hours of labor). One of her, a highly educated college professor, is so deep in the woo since the birth of her son that I can hardly stand to listen to her talking about it – she had very little medical monitoring during her pregnancy, gave birth vaginally after a very long labor to a 9.9 lb baby while she’s a petite, 5.2 ft woman, and thought that it was exactly the best care she could have – that a c-section would have been a catastrophy. This birth happened in a parisian hospital which is much praised by the advocates of “natural” childbirth and which is, from what I was told by a former nurse there, bullying women into breastfeeding (we also have the “baby friendly hospital” label here).
        The midwives associations also demand the possibility to open midwives-led birth centers. While they are well-trained (it take a 5 years college curriculum to become a midwife, the 1st year being common with the medical students), the profession is (from what I gathered discussing with young midwives and student midwives) very much influenced by the natural childbirth ideology.
        So I think the paradigm is slowly shifting. And the stance Elisabeth Badinter takes on the choice to bootle-feed isn’t necessarily helping, her positions on other issues making her little-liked in progressive and intellectual circles.

        • Tiffany Aching
          March 18, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

          And just after I wrote that comment I saw an article in the french, supposedly serious newspaper Le Monde stating that breastfed children have a higher IQ.

        • toni
          March 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

          well it doesn’t surprise me that childbirth woo and lactivism is gaining ground in some circles there, it is becoming more mainstream everywhere.. but I still think of all the places in the world france is where you will receive the least amount of scorn for bottle feeding.

      • Spiderpigmom
        March 18, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

        True, that. Breastfeed a newborn (or don’t), nobody gives a damn except a handful of extremists you can easily ignore. Breastfeed past 3 months, people start watching you funny and asking you when you plan to stop. Breastfeed past 6 months and everyone thinks you’re insane.

  13. Kathleen
    March 17, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    That poor, poor baby. I successfully breastfed both of my kids (still am with my second) and if I didn’t have enough milk and he was starving I would have murdered someone for formula to feed them, if I had to. But then, I guess I care more about my baby than about my cred as a nursing mom.

    • Spiderpigmom
      March 18, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

      I feel this last sentence was unnecessary. Most likely, this woman was led to believe that formula was akin to rat poison, and was convinced she was doing the best for her baby by withdrawing it from him.
      That’s incredibly stupid, I know. But I see nothing in this story suggesting she didn’t care for her baby.

  14. Sue
    March 17, 2015 at 7:13 am #

    Since we know that the benefits of exclusive BFing in our societies is relatively small, how does the risk-benefit go when the poor infant is being starved over three months? The studies attempting to link BF with cognitive development are fairly dodgy, but the links between starvation and delay are strong.

    • NoLongerCrunching
      March 17, 2015 at 8:08 am #

      Terrible. Google infant starvation. It drives me insane when LCs make mothers think exclusive breastfeeding is more important than adequate nutrition. Whatever happened to respecting the mother’s instinct? Mothers almost always know when their baby isn’t getting enough milk and it is extremely painful for them to see their baby fail to thrive.

      • fiftyfifty1
        March 17, 2015 at 9:05 am #

        I doubt there was ever a time during human history before now when 100% breastfed was a goal. Should we pretend that our prehistoric ancestors had lactation consultants who urged them not to supplement out of concerns of Gut Flora Purity? Even cavemen can chew up some meat and stick it in a baby’s mouth. And I bet they did.

        • KarenJJ
          March 17, 2015 at 10:20 am #

          “According to research supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), sticky rice first chewed by the mother is fed to about 25 percent of infants within the first five months after delivery and for many, as early as the first week of life.
          “In the most severe cases, women feed their infants sticky rice immediately after birth in rural areas of Savannakhet,” Phouthong Ratanavong, of the National Centre of Mother and Child Health, told IRIN.”

          THESE are the sorts of practises that the WHO is trying to eradicate. Not supplementing formula made with clean water for starving babies in developed countries.

          • Sue
            March 17, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

            The choices, in the absence of safe clean-water-formula mix, when BF fails, are home-made substitute, other mammal milk, wet nurse, or starvation.

            BTW – has anyone heard about the latest silliness of an Aus celeb chef who has put out a recipe for home-made BM substitute that includes bone broth and liver? The publisher has pulled the book after being told that the stuff may be Vit A toxic and certainly not a complete food for babies. This is how far some people go to promote and alternative to the EBIL formula.

          • Poogles
            March 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

            “put out a recipe for home-made BM substitute that includes bone broth and liver? The publisher has pulled the book after being told that the stuff may be Vit A toxic and certainly not a complete food for babies.”

            B-b-b-but…it’s the Paleo diet – how could it possibly be bad??? /sarcasm

          • Liz Leyden
            March 19, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

            I know milk isn’t Paleo (thanks to my Paleo Evangelist sister), but I thought cave mamas breastfed their babies.

  15. SuperGDZ
    March 17, 2015 at 4:49 am #

    ‘I half-expected Miranda to lord it over me, having been so strong and capable when I was so incapable, so broken.’

    This is what the ability to breastfeed means to Albert – strength, capability and the right to lord it over other women.

  16. SporkParade
    March 17, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    I have to admit, when I first saw today’s headline, I assumed it was the story going around on Facebook written by a woman who provided breastmilk for her best friend’s child. The best friend wasn’t producing enough milk and couldn’t get government assistance for formula. In that case, I can’t blame the mother for asking her best friend for help.

  17. Elisabetta Aurora
    March 17, 2015 at 3:13 am #

    Of course everyone has heard the story about formula companies going to third world countries, dressing sales girls up as nurses, and giving out free samples. These poor women in Africa or Somalia or wherever are hood winked into using the free samples only to have their milk dry up as a result. When they return to the formula companies to ask for more free samples, just like stories about drug pushers, the formula companies now inform them that they must buy the milk, and then the poor babies all starve to death. It was Nestle, right?

    The only thing is, after having nursed a baby I find that there are couple of things that don’t ring true in the narrative.

    Ever try giving up nursing cold turkey? I did. It was horrible. My breasts grew to the size of basketballs. Well, one did. The other only made it to cantaloup size. They leaked and leaked and leaked. They grew hot and feverish. So did the rest of me. It felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my chest. I couldn’t hold my baby at all. My mother-in-law had to feed her for me. It took three days to get over the worst of it and another two weeks for the swelling to go down, and a whopping six months for the milk to dry up completely. But, a can of formula only lasts for five days with exclusive use.

    Does anybody else find it suspicious that 1.) the women of this third world region would give up nursing cold turkey, and 2.) that their milk would dry up in as little as five days? Unless, the women who used the formula samples were already having problems with milk supply and maybe that is why the formula companies were marketing to them in the first place?

    • Esther
      March 17, 2015 at 4:39 am #


      Dr. Dana Raphael, founder of the Human
      Lactation Center and an advocate of breastfeeding, ridiculed the idea
      that a Nestle boycott could help poor mothers in the Third World. Women
      in poor countries are experts at keeping children alive, she said;
      they’re not likely to be bamboozled by advertising by Nestle or anything

      She said that most poor women supplement
      their breastfeeding with whatever is at hand—whether it be free samples
      of infant formula, or the water that’s left in the pot after boiling
      rice, or whatever. Their problem is lack of access to clean water or
      pasteurized cow’s milk, and lack of money to buy sufficient food
      generally. Boycotting Nestle isn’t going to change this one way or the
      other, she said.

      • Guestll
        March 17, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

        Dana Raphael, PhD, is, among other things, an anthropologist credited with coining the term ‘doula.’

        Most women in LDCs who supplement do due to economic constraints or cultural expectations, and/or undernutrition. Boycotting Nestle won’t fix that, but I doubt anyone ever believed that it would. As a result of the boycott, the first international marketing code was passed. Advocacy can be a game-changer.

        This is a terrific book, for anyone who is interested in the subject:

    • Amazed
      March 17, 2015 at 7:56 am #

      I find it suspicious. I clearly remember my mother breastfeeding The Intruder, aka younger brother. I tried to remedy the situation and feed him something delicious – a bun. But the point is, it happened well after her milk came in – a month after his birth (very hard, almost dying with PPH). Natural functions cannot be suppressed so easily if they’re working in the first place. I would love for my hair to stay coloured in the roots but alas, it isn’t happening.

      • Medwife
        March 17, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

        If you’re not very well nourished in the first place, not everything works well. Breastfeeding takes big time calories.

    • Guestll
      March 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

      Nestle and other formula-producing companies are guilty of what you describe. It’s not a made-up story, it happened. Formula companies still continue to market in LDCs, and it continues to be a real problem for women and their babies. As for a can lasting for 5 days, I had to laugh — in a less developed country, sadly, it is often made to last much longer.

      • Guestll
        March 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

        Does anybody else find it suspicious that 1.) the women of this third world region would give up nursing cold turkey, and 2.) that their milk would dry up in as little as five days?

        They don’t give it up cold turkey. They supplement until their supply, which would not be on par with yours, dwindles to nothing.

        I just want to say here, I like it when Dr. Amy writes about breastfeeding. I breastfed for 18 months and I was happy to do it and happy to quit (painlessly, not much milk left at the end). But in the zeal to protect a woman’s choice, to defend her bodily autonomy and attack the breast-is-best-at-all-costs ideology, sometimes, comments like this…too far in the other direction. What formula companies did and continue to do in LDCs, I have witnessed firsthand. It’s despicable and it harms and kills babies.

        • Elisabetta Aurora
          March 18, 2015 at 4:40 am #

          I guess my thoughts on that are, if they don’t give up cold turkey and go for a very long time without nursing then they would still have milk. Yes, the supply would be lower, but with frequent nursing the supply could be brought back up. The baby would be pissed, certainly, and would demand to be fed all the time, which would then bring the supply back up. The baby might lose weight and it would most certainly be terribly stressful for the mother and child, but likely the baby wouldn’t die as a result. Unless, the woman didn’t make enough milk to begin with and/or the baby was already malnourished. Then, she would have needed to supplement anyway. In that case the free samples and give-aways would benefit her.

          I don’t think that it’s going to far to critique a common narrative. Nor do I speak out with skepticism as some sort of support for women’s bodily autonomy propaganda. I say so because narratives like this, while starting out with a grain of truth, often get twisted and blown out of proportion and used in their own sort of propaganda. When it comes to breastfeeding, there is a lot out there to make mothers breastfeed out of fear and a lot of demonizing formula manufacturers. I am skeptical that is all.

          I am, however, very interested in what you witnessed firsthand. Where was it that you were living/working, and what happened?

          • Guestll
            March 18, 2015 at 11:46 am #

            It goes a couple of ways. 1. The nursing mother, already undernourished and lacking support, suffers from low supply. Instead of correcting the problem (proper nutrition, guidance on how to breastfeed, education on why it matters) she begins to supplement. Because her supply is already poor, it dwindles to nothing. Because she cannot afford the cost of formula, she stretches it. The result to the infant is devastating. 2. For cultural or economic reasons (having to work is one) the mother begins to supplement. Her supply may or may not be adequate. Let’s say she can afford formula, but she lacks potable water. Again, the result to the infant is catastrophic.

            The free samples and give-aways don’t benefit her. They don’t address the root problems, they simply cause more by pretending to address them.

            “I don’t think that it’s going to far to critique a common narrative. Nor do I speak out with skepticism as some sort of support for women’s bodily autonomy propaganda. I say so because narratives like this, while starting out with a grain of truth, often get twisted and blown out of proportion and used in their own sort of propaganda. When it comes to breastfeeding, there is a lot out there to make mothers breastfeed out of fear and a lot of demonizing formula manufacturers. I am skeptical that is all.”

            You are conflating the controversy with formula marketing in a developed country with formula marketing in less developed country and while this probably isn’t interesting to you, this is one of my biggest pet peeves. They are not even remotely the same. I don’t care how a woman chooses to feed her baby in Canada, the USA, Sweden, England, the list goes on. I don’t care if Nestle or Danone send expectant mothers free samples, or advertise in magazines. I don’t care if they have a float in the Macy’s parade. It is categorically not the same playing field in a LDC. Be as skeptical as you want to be about lactivists in developed countries. But please understand, the reality for a dyad in a LDC is often very different.

            “I am, however, very interested in what you witnessed firsthand. Where was it that you were living/working, and what happened?”

            My brother and his wife ran a clinic outside of Kinshasa in the 1990s, then one after that in Zimbabwe. As a university student visiting them in what was then Zaire, I witnessed a formula rep in discussions with my sister-in-law. He wanted to leave free samples and information for the mothers. He was denied. Incidentally, the pamphlets he wanted to distribute were written in English. The primary languages spoken in that area are Lingala and French. I work for an international NGO and have traveled extensively to LDCs. I have seen formula pamphlets in Ghana and Laos. I work with health workers who see the effects of formula supplementation on a pretty regular basis.

      • Elisabetta Aurora
        March 18, 2015 at 4:31 am #

        I must be missing something here. I don’t see what’s devious about receiving a free bottle after buying two packages of formula. Maybe you meant to post a different advertisement? Or there is something subtle that I don’t understand?

        • Guestll
          March 18, 2015 at 11:12 am #

          Nigeria in the early 70s. Recovering from the devastating effects of a civil war. Low literacy rates, food shortages, rampant poverty. The majority of urban wage earners make minimum wage. Cost of formula feeding an infant at 3 months estimated at 30% of said wages. Cost at 6 months rises to 47% of wages (Cameron and Hofvander, 1971). In case that’s still too subtle for you, I will spell it out — it is despicable to market formula to a population who cannot afford and/or is unable to use it properly.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 18, 2015 at 11:34 am #

            I’m confused. Why even market to a population that can’t afford your product?

          • Guestll
            March 18, 2015 at 11:50 am #

            One of the big problems we see with formula in LDCs is stretching. The mother purchases a can, but cannot afford to feed it as directed, so she stretches it to last longer, leading to undernutrition.

  18. March 17, 2015 at 12:55 am #

    Am I the only one horrified at all this untested bodily secretion being pumped into infants?

    • Therese
      March 17, 2015 at 1:06 am #

      I think if it’s a close friend that you trust, the risks can’t be much higher than feeding your own untested bodily secretions to your baby.

      • Who?
        March 17, 2015 at 1:17 am #

        Amazed pointed out earlier they had only been friends a few months. Unless an extraordinarily close and confiding relationship arose in that time, I wonder if the author relied on her friend’s implied middle class niceness for health data?

        • Therese
          March 17, 2015 at 1:28 am #

          So they met shortly before they both became pregnant, so that would be at least 10 months. I think that’s enough time to become close friends if you see each other frequently during that time. Yes, maybe she could really be an HIV+ heroin addict that is hiding it all underneath a cover of middle class niceness for months on end as she spends time with her new friend, but I don’t know if the odds of that happening are really high enough to justify the concern on our part. I’m much more concerned with how sickly the baby looks even well past the time his mom should have mastered breastfeeding. Hopefully, her friend’s baby is just abnormally massive and her baby isn’t really as tiny as he looks in comparison.

          • Who?
            March 17, 2015 at 2:13 am #

            How long can viruses etc linger in the blood if you are otherwise apparently well? Because if it is longer than no time at all, this is surely an issue.

          • Mishimoo
            March 17, 2015 at 7:12 am #

            HIV can take up to 3 months to show up in bloodwork, but when I was first pregnant, the tests had a warning that it can take up to 6 months to test as positive.

          • Amazed
            March 17, 2015 at 9:07 am #

            Did she become close enough friends with Miranda’s husband, as well? I mean, being friends with the one who has the potential to spread some… things to Miranda should be important to such a caring mother.

            Even at the time the rich and privileged employed wet nurses, they did so according to the best knowledge of their time – their wet nurses were healthy, placid (very important for the baby’s further development!) and so on. You can bet your ass that had they had access to what we know today, they would have been screening the wet nurses AND their entire families for anything that could endanger the baby.

        • yentavegan
          March 17, 2015 at 7:19 am #

          I discourage casual milk sharing. Even something so mild as thrush can wreck havoc when spread from one woman to another’s infant.

      • Guesteleh
        March 17, 2015 at 1:44 am #

        NO. Nice people get diseases. Nice people have unprotected sex. Nice people are married to closeted gay men having unprotected sex. Nice people get cheated on. Nice people can have a drug history that they’ve moved past and that you don’t know about. Please, everyone, stop acting like you can tell whether someone is disease free just by looking at them or knowing how nice they are. Hep C and HIV don’t give a fuck. Seriously, this shit drives me crazy.

        • Who?
          March 17, 2015 at 2:11 am #

          Yes, my friend got hpv twice from her cheating husband. The first time she had baby-brain and went into denial, the second time though she did not hesitate.

          • Guesteleh
            March 17, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

            I have a friend whose father died of AIDS. He was diagnosed in the late stages because he wasn’t considered to be at risk because he’d been married for 40 years and was a devout Catholic. Turned out he’d been seeing male prostitutes. Didn’t infect his wife because they hadn’t had sex for years. And you know what? He was nice. Incredibly kind and polite and a loving father. Generous. A good person. People please wake up! Human beings are complicated and fallible and you can be a good person and make bad choices and yes, get deadly diseases.

          • Medwife
            March 17, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

            You mean HSV? Herpes? (Although being infected twice doesn’t make sense). HPV causes cancer but it doesn’t kill fetuses. Herpes on the other hand…

          • Guesteleh
            March 17, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

            I think she means that she didn’t know her husband was cheating and gave her an STD just to illustrate the point that “nice” people can get diseases and you’d never know by looking at them.

          • Who?
            March 17, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

            Yes that’s it. She suspected for a while he’d been up to no good, and he’d been denying it. Unfortunately for him, lab results don’t lie. And after she was clear of the first lot (we used to call them warts, is that HPV?) she got them again.

            So sad about your friend’s dad, the shock for the whole family must have been terrible, on top of the loss.

        • KarenJJ
          March 17, 2015 at 5:47 am #

          Yep and even the people you’re closest to might not be completely open. We had a relative (quite sad, she had a child) that passed away in the early 90s from “cancer”. It’s only recently come out amongst family that it was AIDS.

          • Amy M
            March 17, 2015 at 7:30 am #

            Yeah, my husband has an uncle who has HIV. He’s openly gay now, and everyone knows the whole story, but about 10yrs ago, my MIL told us he had cancer—uncle’s sibs (including MIL) were/are from a generation where gay-ness was a thing to hide and be ashamed of. None of the younger generation was bothered at all by his being gay and we were simply saddened by the fact that he is sick with HIV because though he’s managing it well, there are times he gets quite ill.

      • Sarah
        March 17, 2015 at 4:19 am #

        Not in the slightest. Because it’s not just about trusting the friend, but also any partner she may have too.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        March 17, 2015 at 11:09 am #

        The one thing we know for sure about the friend is that she had unprotected sex at least once. That means she could have HIV. Or hepatitis C. Or syphilis. Niceness isn’t protective against disease. The odds are probably low, but they’re certainly nonzero. Unlike formula.

        • Dr Sarah
          March 17, 2015 at 11:57 am #

          Well, pregnant women in the UK are tested for HIV, so it’s incredibly unlikely she’d have that and not know it. But, yeah, it’s a big reason why I wouldn’t be happy with wet-nursing.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            March 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

            So she at least knows her status…assuming she didn’t contract HIV after getting tested…and that she isn’t a slow seroconverter who was tested too early…and that she isn’t an HIV denialist who thought that she wasn’t doing any damage by breast feeding even if she does have HIV. Too many “if”s.

      • March 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

        But your own secretions are tested shortly before birth, aren’t they? Not breast milk, obviously, but as far as communicable diseases?

        As much as I love my best friend, and I do love her like a sister, I wouldn’t feel great about being exposed to any diseases she might have unknowingly picked up from a partner who unknowingly picked up from someone else who knowingly picked it up, etc.

      • DiomedesV
        March 18, 2015 at 11:59 am #

        Do you trust your close friend’s husband, too?

    • SporkParade
      March 17, 2015 at 3:20 am #

      Meh. I’m only horrified because there is such a thing as safe, affordable formula. Otherwise, it’s pretty hard for me to be horrified by something my own mother-in-law did because it was the best choice at the time.

      • March 17, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

        Yes, the fact that there’s a safe alternative is what makes it so stupid, especially given everything we now know about immunity and the diseases that can be spread through breast milk.

    • Sue
      March 17, 2015 at 11:52 pm #

      Theoretically, yes, but aren’t all new OB patients screened for infectious diseases as part of their ante-natal work-up?

      There are different issues about this wetnursing-at-a-distance, and the desperation it reflects, but in-hospital donor milk would be much safer than that sourced unofficially in the community, no?

      • March 18, 2015 at 1:24 am #

        Which was why I wrote “untested,” to be fair.

        Giving a baby safe donor breast milk is completely fine, even if I think formula would be less of a hassle; just pulling a boob out and going to town is reckless and frankly stupid in a community with ready alternatives.

  19. JJ
    March 17, 2015 at 12:35 am #

    How does a midwife not make it to a 13 hour labor in time!? Not enough notice?

    Also, it is not really practical to be nursing other people’s babies. My sister cannot breastfeed but I don’t think she wants to move in with me so I can wet nurse her baby for a year. When I had to quit breastfeeding my first, due to taking (multiple) PPD medications, I am glad I did not have to locate a lactating friend just for my child’s survival. My mom just went and got some (soy!) formula and my son was fed and happy. He even reads way above grade level and is great at sports! I know it’s hard to believe!

    • Amazed
      March 17, 2015 at 8:00 am #

      Now, now, would you stop lying? We all know your kid cannot be anything else but unhealthy, unattached and… did I mention obese?

  20. Nana+2
    March 17, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    Seriously we all just need to stop hating on each other !!! The biggest problem with breastfeeding is it is a learned art. And sadly in this day and age there is so little done to help mothers prepare before baby arrives and in those first few hard learning weeks. in the old days when everyone breastfed a woman would have spent her whole life surrounded from childhood with women babes on the breast. The first time I witnessed a women breastfeeding when I was 11 in the 70’s I ran strait to my mother sure I had witnessed some perverted sort of child abuse! As times changed my kids were pumped and fed , formula fed and gloriously breastfed ( I say this because it was the easiest when I learned how and it was damn hard to learn) If we all just put all of our dramatic guilting and shaming away , started making breastfeeding classes as universal as birthing classes and honestly let women know the breastfeeding isn’t best for every mom/ babe. we could change a generation for the better!

    • Amazed
      March 17, 2015 at 12:09 am #

      No. The biggest problem with breastfeeding is that it doesn’t always work and when it doesn’t work, a baby might get malnourished and suffer harsh consequences in their most vulnerable age while their clueless mother focuses on her own trials and feels a glorious martyr. Hopefully, finally it will work out and she’ll get the chance to take to internet and crow about her achievement, still not realizing what she had subjected her baby to.

      “In the old days when everyone breastfed”. When would that be? Not in the history of the world. All breastfeeding classes in the world would not have done a damned thing to fill my grandmother’s dried breasts when her first was 40 days old. She fed him with whatever she could find. Evul formula did not exist then, so he occasionally got bread soaked in wine. How is that better than formula? But it had to do because sometimes, there WASN’T anything else.

    • SporkParade
      March 17, 2015 at 3:45 am #

      I’m calling bull***. My childbirth class covered breastfeeding and I gave birth in a hospital that made all L&D nurses and midwives learn lactation consulting. I was also surrounded by women who breastfed. The childbirth class and the hospital staff were the ones who pushed breastfeeding when it was dangerous. However, the women who breastfed (because they had no good alternative to breastfeeding) were very supportive of supplementing with formula because they had seen all the ways lactation doesn’t always work out.

    • SuperGDZ
      March 17, 2015 at 4:37 am #

      A learned art? Get over yourself. It’s a bodily function.

    • Amy M
      March 17, 2015 at 7:34 am #

      Breastfeeding classes ARE as universal as birth classes—often they are the same class. The hospital where I had my children wasn’t (and isn’t) even BFHI, and every morning at 10am–breastfeeding class for new moms. That was aside from the prenatal breastfeeding prep class, and the birth prep classes that included breastfeeding. And the LCs and nurses that were there to help as well.

    • DaisyGrrl
      March 17, 2015 at 8:09 am #

      The biggest problem with breastfeeding is that it doesn’t work for everyone. As you know, there are many reasons why breastfeeding won’t work for women but the pressure to breastfeed is immense. Why not offer judgement-free support that prioritizes the baby having a safe food supply and the mother being guilt-free?

      As for your anecdotal evidence, um, wow. 40 years ago you thought breastfeeding was strange therefore it’s still viewed as an undesirable act by society? Here’s my counter-anecdote. I saw my siblings being breastfed in the 80’s. Most of my friends and family today breastfeed. One friend felt such immense pressure to breastfeed that she contemplated skipping her first social outing in months because she didn’t have any pumped breast milk for her infant (who was staying home).

      Breastfeeding is normal. Formula feeding is normal. Starving your baby in hopes of exclusively breastfeeding is pathological.

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 17, 2015 at 9:29 am #

      Nope. I grew up in an entirely breastfed family. Almost all my mom’s friends were breastfeeders. My youngest sibs were born when I was a teenager. My mom hosted La Leche League meetings. So I saw lots and lots of breastfeeding and heard lots and lots of troubleshooting. None of this “learning” kept my first child from having breastfeeding problems or me ending up with problems due to his abnormal latch and suck. And nobody could fix it, not my mother, not LLL leaders, not multiple lactation consultants. My next baby knew how to breastfeed from day #1. I held the baby with its mouth anywhere near the nipple and voila! Any idiot could do it. It was like Brooke Shields from the Blue Lagoon (except that I was much less good looking).

    • anotheramy
      March 17, 2015 at 10:08 am #

      If what you say is true, I should’ve been able to exclusively breastfeed 2 of my 3 babies. I took classes, read books, saw LCs, joined LLL after a tough experience with my first. I couldn’t ebf b/ c my body just wasn’t able, for reasons I have no desire to shAre with an internet stranger. My sister had similar, but more severe problems than me. Our mom and many aunts bf, too. The rhetoric that with proper education/ support anyone can bf is hurtful and false. Truth is bfing just doesn’t work for everyone.

      • KarenJJ
        March 17, 2015 at 10:12 am #

        I find a lot of people of an older generation (I’m assuming Nana+2 is of the age of having grandkids), have vastly underestimated the current push of breastfeeding and breastfeeding education mothers today are receiving and can’t understand why people are now speaking out against the pressure new mothers are under with regards to breastfeeding.

        • Susan
          March 17, 2015 at 11:15 am #

          I can say with certainty that things are vastly different now. My three were born in 1979, 1982,1998 and though mommy shaming and competitive mothering existed it really does seem to me it’s worse for today’s moms. Where I live, mostly, it’s the formula feeders who are most marginalized. I want to tell the baby friendly people that the risks of shame to a mother and child outweigh the risks of formula. Recently came across something mandating we use that language “risks of formula” which of course is meant to shame. I am all for moms breastfeeding and feeling comfortable enough to breastfeed whoever they want. But the problem now is buying formula or using it labels moms as failures or lesser beings. The education we all need is in empathy and kindness.

          • Susan
            March 17, 2015 at 11:19 am #

            Perhaps I should say “wherever”.. Whoever even I am not cool with!

    • AllieFoyle
      March 17, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

      I agree that offering more help and support to new mothers and less shame and guilt would be wonderful. But….I don’t know that what’s needed is more breastfeeding instruction. I had no familiarity or explicit knowledge of BF when I had my first, but it was just obvious and intuitive. No one needed to instruct me; I just did it and that was that.

      Now, when I had my last baby, the hospital and staff were very invested in BF, and made sure to discuss it and document it at every opportunity. Again though, they had nothing helpful to offer. I didn’t need advice on what to do or how to do it. What I could have used was some compassionate soul who would have taken the baby for a bit so I could sleep, since my husband had to be home with our older child and the baby wanted to do nothing but nurse or scream. But the nurses insisted that the baby remain with me 24/7 and not have anything but breastmilk. By the next day my breasts were blistered and bleeding, which was a real impediment to BF successfully, but again, absolutely no one in the super-pro-BF hospital had anything useful to offer that could help with the problem.

      This is not 1972. Women have heard that BF is best many, many times. It’s pretty commonplace, even in public, these days. Pro-BF propaganda is not helpful. What women actually need is real support and information–sensible advice about infant feeding, humane maternity/paternity leave, social support and connection.

  21. KeeperOfTheBooks
    March 16, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    *sighs happily*
    And this is why I come to the Skeptical OB.
    DH and I are planning on TTC for kiddo #2 in a few months. Since I’d like to try to BF this kid, I joined the local LLL group on Facebook. I don’t know many moms in the area, and I figured…how bad could it be? I mean, sure, they’d probably be crunchier than I am, but so are most moms I know, and I get along perfectly well with them, and it would be nice to have someone local I could ask for help with breastfeeding rather than dropping hundreds of bucks on a LC who, judging by their peers who “helped” me with DD, may be totally unhelpful…
    Yeah, right. In the last week, I have seen one exhausted, stressed mom told by a leader to pump EIGHT TIMES A DAY to help her supply, another exhausted mom of a 15-month-old told that it’s normal for her kid to still be waking up 5-6x/night to nurse, and someone raving about the awesomeness of a local high-risk OB who apparently has no problem with his patients…wait for it…opting out of all ultrasounds. (Note to self: good to know so that if my awesome OB retires before I’m finished with kids, I can avoid that moron like the plague.)
    Honestly, this sort of idiocy is enough to make me formula feed the next one exclusively. I had such a horrible time with DD and breastfeeding that I am genuinely terrified of what might happen if history repeats itself with a future baby while I have a toddler in the house. I have to remind myself that it will be okay, and that if the next kid seems hungry, I can give a freaking bottle and it won’t be the end of the world, and in any case, I’ll be on antidepressants, thankyouverymuch. I seriously wonder if I might not need antidepressants if the mentality that “ONLY BAD MOMS FORMULA FEED” wasn’t so utterly ingrained in our culture and therefore, me, however illogical I admit it is.
    The sound of a hungry baby screaming for food is one of the most gut-wrenching there is. I still remember hearing DD scream what I later learned was her “hunger cry” for hours, and hearing nurse after LC after nurse after LC tell me that “that’s normal, she’s not really hungry, you just need to nurse her more”–even though I was producing virtually nothing. I’m grateful every day that DD can’t remember that, and that I live in a place with easy access to formula and clean water. Just remembering that sound does very, very bad things to my state of mind, and I wasn’t even the one in pain.

    • Elizabeth A
      March 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      “that’s normal, she’s not really hungry, you just need to nurse her more”

      HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE? She’s not “really hungry”, you just need to be feeding her all the time.


      Them, not you. You’re doing fine. If a list of ways I am an officially bad mom would help you feel better about your entirely sensible plans, we can probably all chip in.

      (Sometimes, when DS has bad days, I take him to Burger King. Of course, then I have to take DD the next day, because I can’t play favorites. The most advanced logical analysis my children have done to date involves determining whether my distribution method for a shared slice of Hershey’s pie is fair. Per my kids, the “half for me, half for you” division results in Mom getting twice as much pie as either of them, so I am not actually being fair, I am hoodwinking them into complicity with a radical social inequity. The amount of Hershey’s pie involved in reaching this conclusion, and the ingredient list for that item, make formula use look even more trivial than it genuinely is.)

      • Allie
        March 17, 2015 at 9:26 am #

        Oh, you want a go? We’ll go. I see your Burger King and Hershey’s pie and raise you potato chips, “sceam” (ice cream) and TV, which are things that buy me 5 minutes of peace and sanity with my LO (she’s 2). “We’re all bad mothers under these fancy linens, Mr. Snedwick” (Mr. Jorkin, Scrooge (1951), revised).

        • Elizabeth A
          March 17, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

          I recently had a school counselor describe my 7 yo as “exposed to an age-appropriate amount of age-inappropriate material,” which I think was fancy talk for “you let him watch Kitchen Nightmares with you sometimes when he can’t sleep.”

    • KarenJJ
      March 16, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

      “The sound of a hungry baby screaming for food is one of the most gut-wrenching there is.”

      Yes – and for women struggling with breastfeeding they are hearing an awful lot of this. It’s incredibly distressing and to be told to “keep doing what you’re doing” or “pump more” goes completely against a mother’s instincts to care for her baby and feed them. Horrible advice.

    • Mac Sherbert
      March 16, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

      I had a terrible time nursing #1. Anyway, with number #2 I said I would try it and I’d it didn’t work just change over to formula. To my surprise #2 was much easier nurse! My milk still didn’t come in for 4-5 days, but thanks to info from posters here I dupplemented and refused to pump 24/7. I nursed #2 for 18 months, but much of the time the bab was actually combo fed. So, if it’s something you want to try again it might go better the 2nd time. If not, just go to formula… will go on and everyone will be fine.

      • Who?
        March 17, 2015 at 12:21 am #

        My experience was exactly the same. Number 1 was so hard-pain everywhere, bleeding nipples, big hungry baby etc. We solely breastfed for six months then moved on to food and formula from a sippy cup. Number 2 had at least a bottle a day (usually as I went to bed to buy an hour or two more of straight sleep). It was great. She also went on to food at six months, and had a bottle at night until about a year.

    • yentavegan
      March 17, 2015 at 7:08 am #

      Why do so many woman want to breastfeed even when struggling with bleeding cracked nipples and infants with uncoordinated non productive suckling? These mothers seek out LLL for support to continue breastfeeding and these mothers seek out LLL for advice on how to maintain and build a milk supply when their infants are not suckling productively. So yes, taken out of context it does look bizarre to tell a mother to express her milk 8 times a day but that is what it takes to build a milk supply when the infant is not suckling. And if an infant is wetting multiple diapers a day and having multiple bowel movements per day in the early weeks and is gaining weight , their heart piercing cry is not indicative of a starving infant. I know that is a lot of “ifs” but infants do cry for reasons other than hunger. However if the infant is not a coordinated nurser and not gaining weight and not wetting/stooling and if mother has cracked bleeding nipples and if she never experienced full engorged breasts than all the power pumping in the world will not kick up her supply to meet the needs of her infant and it is time to consider an alternative feeding source. Like formula.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        March 17, 2015 at 10:14 am #

        Should have clarified a bit. Per the poster, the kid’s eating just fine, good latch and so forth; the problem is that mom doesn’t have much supply. Kid was put on formula sup because he was losing weight despite nursing all the time, and the silly pediatrician thought this was a bad thing. Therefore, the ped is clearly unsupportive of nursing and doesn’t know what he’s doing. *snorts*
        Re the crying: at least with DD, it took me a bit, but after about a week or two of getting to know her, I could differentiate her “I’m hungry” cry (short, rapid “wahs”) from her “I have a dirty diaper” cry (drawn-out howls) from her generic “My tummy may be full and my diaper dry, but I am *not* a happy baby and I’m letting the world know all about it” cry (miserable sobbing). All of them were really sad, but the “hunger” one was the one that kicked my mommy-panic-hormones into overdrive. I wish it hadn’t taken me two weeks to learn the difference, because I, being a FTM with no experienced mom to help, assumed that all crying=hunger, and couldn’t figure out why she’d refuse food if she was hungry. (Of course, being a baby and therefore, as DH says affectionately, an idiot, she would occasionally take a snit and refuse to eat even when hungry, but that’s babies for ya.)

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 17, 2015 at 9:31 am #

      “Note to self: good to know so that if my awesome OB retires before I’m finished with kids, I can avoid that moron like the plague”

      Don’t be so sure that OB really is OK with patients opting out of ultrasounds. He may just be choosing his battles. For a low risk woman with known dates and no desire for prenatal anomaly screening, skipping the first tri dating U/S and later anatomical scan would be the least of my worries.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        March 17, 2015 at 10:03 am #

        The poster is self-described high risk OB patient,. To be fair, though, I don’t know what exactly made her high risk, so as you say he may be picking his battles.

        • Amy M
          March 17, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

          Also, he can’t MAKE even the high risk patient do any procedure unless she consents. If the patient is simply refusing and the doctor is letting it go, and still keeping the woman on as a patient, she may be interpreting it as “Ok with patients opting out of ultrasounds.”

  22. Elizabeth A
    March 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    Sorry for the double comment.

    This is another story about a woman with breastfeeding problems who is advised to try a solution (pumping every two hours) that leaves her sleep deprived.

    Human bodies do not function well on exhaustion. If we want women to have good milk supplies, it would be logical (yes?) to assure that they have the resources they need – food, water, rest – for optimal function. Instead, LC’s screw with them by suggesting that sleep is for bad mothers, and then women have supply problems, which LCs address with supplements, drugs, and rental machinery.

    Frantic babies have terrible latches. Getting a baby to be un-frantic can really help a ton. So a little formula – maybe even just half an ounce – to take the edge off hunger can really help a kiddo calm down enough to figure out a working latch.


    I would totally read a book about the crapassitude of shitty midwives, and whatever constitutes appropriate revenge.

    • SuperGDZ
      March 17, 2015 at 4:39 am #

      My milk supply was markedly dependent on how much sleep I’d had. Yes, regular nursing stimulates milk supply. But there is a point where more is worse, not better.

    • Allie
      March 17, 2015 at 9:35 am #

      “a little formula – maybe even just half an ounce – to take the edge off hunger can really help a kiddo calm down enough to figure out a working latch” – That worked beautifully for us, and was the best decision we made, thanks to a wonderfully sane and practical RN who was on shift the day we were discharged from the hospital. She brought us the formula and the bottle. Some of her colleagues were skeptical but she brushed them off saying “that baby is hungry”. We eventually figured out the latch and I nursed for almost 23 months. Is there even any reliable evidence that all that pumping increases supply at all? Somehow, I doubt it.

      • Amy M
        March 17, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

        I don’t know, with the pumping. I know that pumping doesn’t work well for all women. I tried to exclusively pump and never managed to get much milk out. There was some there—I had constantly plugged ducts, and some engorgement. I had heard the whole “supply and demand” thing, so I thought it would work like that with a pump, because how could a breast know the difference? If something was sucking milk out, then the breast should replace the milk, right? Maybe it would have worked if the pump had actually sucked the milk out? To this day, I have no idea if I had a normal supply and just wasn’t pumping right, or whatever, but after 4 weeks of that nonsense, the effort put in for the tiny output was NOT worth it.

  23. Elizabeth A
    March 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

    I keep seeing ads for Albert’s book, and I am honestly terrified to think what’s in it. She seems really hung up on natural parenting. I understand how people get there, and natural parenting can sound really beautiful, but the more important word in the last sentence is “hung.” I have no more desire to see another woman crucified on ideals than I do to watch any other execution.

    A distractingly large portion of my brain is screaming things in all caps about how formula is far better than starving and the benefits of breastfeeding mostly disappear when we control for confounding factors.

    Once, while my daughter was in the NICU, a senior neonatologist down the hall started roaring – I will never know what actually was going on, but I caught the general theme quite clearly: “NO HUNGRY BABIES IN MY UNIT.” Some days I want to turn that man loose on the whole entire world.

    • Amazed
      March 16, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

      Same here. Her book scares me in advance. But I am not scared about her alone. I am actually quite scared about the baby. Frankly, from the way she wrote her story, I didn’t get the vibe that she had any idea that she was tormenting him. He was losing weight, he was shrunken – that was it. She much prefers delving into her own trials.

      I got the vibe of someone who was so brainwashed that she had no idea what she did to her child then and she still had none when writing her disgusting piece of work. And that might be… dangerous.

      • Elizabeth A
        March 16, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

        The cover art references both “The Yellow Wallpaper” and post-partum hemorrhage. I don’t know what’s underneath it, but I promise it’s not good.

  24. Stacy48918
    March 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    OT, but I am thrilled to report that I now have two vaccinated children. 😀

    • Amazed
      March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      Congrats! So happy for you. You went a long way since the first days you mentioned you wanted to get them vaxxed but you couldn’t convince your husband.

    • Who?
      March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm #


    • Busbus
      March 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

      Yay! That’s awsome! 🙂 I’ve come a long way myself when I think back to the things I used to believe. I know it’s not easy to make such changes, and I believe it’s a testament to one’s strength to be able to review and change one’s mind in the light of new evidence.

    • Guestelehs
      March 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

      You are so inspiring. It’s like every time you post another update I hear the Rocky theme rising in the background and I start pumping my fists. Go. You.

      • Stacy48918
        March 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

        I need to be listening to the Rocky theme more apparently. I’ve had some tough days lately, related to the divorce. So I needed today. Today was definitely a triumph.

    • Mishimoo
      March 17, 2015 at 7:52 am #

      Awesome!! Congratulations and thank you. I am so proud of you, you’re an amazing person and an awesome mum.

    • Roadstergal
      March 17, 2015 at 11:25 am #

      It’s been really lovely to see your journey. It must be so tough, but I hope it keeps going well!

    • Guestll
      March 17, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

      Yay!!! 🙂

    • kristina
      March 26, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

      Long time lurker here. But big gratz to you! I’ve been reading your story all along and am so thrilled for you that you’ve won this battle for your kids!!! You’re an awesome mom!!

  25. Amazed
    March 16, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    A disgusting story. I couldn’t make it past the part where people told her that her baby was starving and all this woman did was push the boob in. She didn’t even get the baby to the MD, no doubt because the MD would have recommended supplementing.

    How old is her child now? I could feel for her thanks to hormones messing her up and not a damned “professional” knowing what to do, so how could she not be confused? But if her baby isn’t a baby anymore… I cannot fathom how anyone could starve their baby and not hiding under a rock when they had gathered their wits, instead turning it into a part of a touching story of how breastfeeding, even if not by the mother, rocks.

    Don’t get me started about all the cows (milking ones!) in the comment section crowing how empowering and wonderful this is. I see nothing empowerful in a starviing baby. But maybe ut’s just me being weird this way.

    • Liz Leyden
      March 16, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

      The doc actually recommended formula feeding.

      “The paediatrician told me to give up and formula feed. That suggestion sent me into a tailspin: I had been fed with formula as a baby myself, and I wanted every kind of distance from my own upbringing. This was going to be different. This was a fresh start. This was ours, and it was new, and it was pure. The imperative to feed my baby from myself blotted out the sun. It was implied by several people in my orbit that this kind of purist thinking was crazy, which only cemented my determination. A line from the poet Muriel Rukeyser ricocheted through my mind: “Pay attention to what they tell you to forget.””

      • Amazed
        March 16, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

        Oh yes. I was talking about the period after, when EVERYONE saw that there was something wrong with the baby. No doubt she was terrified that a new MD would repeat the advice the first one gave her and the first one, of course, would just say it again.

      • Jocelyn
        March 16, 2015 at 9:30 pm #

        “It was implied by several people…that this kind of purist thinking was crazy.” Um. Yes.

      • Elizabeth A
        March 16, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

        Her terrible parents probably let her breathe air. Is she planning to do *that* to her own baby?

      • lilin
        March 16, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

        I guess an article entitled “How I Starved My Baby For My Sense of Catharsis” wouldn’t work as well.

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 9:56 pm #

        How many of her “advisors” told her to forget the pediatrician’s advice, education, experience, and interest in her baby’s welfare? To forget the imperative to FEED THE BABY.

      • KarenJJ
        March 16, 2015 at 11:10 pm #

        One of the worst things about lactivism is how “breastfeeding support” means undermining a paediatrician’s advice to feed their baby.

      • Roadstergal
        March 17, 2015 at 11:27 am #

        “I had been fed with formula as a baby myself, and I wanted every kind of distance from my own upbringing.”

        Okay, that is sickening and illuminating at the same time.

      • Tiffany Aching
        March 17, 2015 at 11:38 am #

        “This was going to be different. This was a fresh start. And of course, this was all about me and the way I was brought up – not about my baby and her needs”.

  26. Who?
    March 16, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

    This poor woman had a rotten time, that midwife was a piece of work. Reading the article she was so bereft of support, it was just sad.

    What struck me was the echo chamber she was in: midwife (who the author clung to, despite her evident lack of interest), lactation consultants, round and round they went, waiting for something to change.

    I also wondered what if her lovely friend with the delightful mum had said to her ‘honey, the baby is starving, you go out and have a look at the roses/fishpond/cat and we’ll be sorted when you get back’ and gave him a bottle? Would she have been so grateful and happy? Or horrified that her starving baby was being poisoned? I hope the former but it’s hard to unpick.

    And where in this was her partner while all this was going on? Did I miss something in the article?

    • Amazed
      March 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

      She chose to stay in the echo chamber, though. The doctor told her that she should formula feed, because breastfeeding was not working. She freaked out and instead kept tormenting her baby and herself.

      She was told what she should do. She actively chose listening to the weirdos because she didn’t want her little bubble of the greatest mama-baby-breastmilk intimacy broken. Even when it was not working.

      • Who?
        March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

        Oh she did, and I felt reading the article she still doesn’t acknowledge just how dangerous it was, though she can see it was ‘crazy’, which is a rather unhelpful takeaway message.

        I’m more interested that she got a free pass out of it thanks to her friend who took on feeding the baby. She seems to have idealised her friend’s life to quite an extent, was the milk part of that particular magic circle? How would it have otherwise resolved? Would she have tolerated someone equivalent to that friend giving a bottle rather than breastfeeding-would that have broken the spell? Would she have let the baby fade away completely?

        If someone came to her now with a starving baby, would she urgently counsel feeding with a bottle, or finding a compliant alternative breast?

        • Amazed
          March 16, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

          I was more impressed that this was a NEW friend. I do have friends who are model wives now but when we were younger, they were quite… let’s say wild. Unprotected sex with numerous men, some of them tried drugs. I don’t care. Their life, their choice. But even if I felt that it was in my child’s best interest to be breastfed, I wouldn’t choose them. Just because… you never know. But someone who only met them a few months before they both gave birth? How would they know?

          How could she know that this idealized but new friend’s bodily fluids would not present danger?

          • Who?
            March 16, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

            What a nightmare-let’s hope he’s come out okay and his mum has calmed down a little.

            And dad got a bit less uninvolved.

        • Busbus
          March 16, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

          What I don’t get is that she DID eventually supplement with formula (and get breastfeeding back on track, too). So… what had changed?? Oddly, she doesn’t say. But that seems like an important question to ask.

          • Who?
            March 16, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

            Oh who knows? Maybe she realised a not starving baby was a great improvement on the earlier model, but then why tell the story in such detail? Cautionary tale? In case someone else in the same spot read it and saw the light?

      • NoLongerCrunching
        March 17, 2015 at 8:14 am #

        It’s so crazy, because a little formula usually helps babies have enough energy to nurse well. Lethargic babies don’t have the energy to stimulate a copious milk supply, leading to a vicious cycle of underfeeding and permanently low supply.

        • Amazed
          March 17, 2015 at 9:03 am #

          That’s my understanding as well.

    • Amazed
      March 16, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

      You didn’t miss a thing. From what I saw, he stuck there, nodded at her ideas, soothed the crying child, watched her going overboard with exaustion and starving their son and never said a thing. Perhaps he’s one of the men who think that babies are inherently women’s territory.

      Just like she couldn’t make the difference between wanting to feed her baby from her own breast and actually achieving it, he seems unable to make the difference between being a considerate husband and a spineless plant sitting idle while his child was being endangered.

  27. Bugsy
    March 16, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    Completely OT:

    Perusing babycenter’s birth boards, came across a gem (from the Nov 2015 boards) from a mom who declares herself to be low-risk and doesn’t want to pay for prenatal care that she doesn’t believe is necessary. The other moms express concern, including that her kids could be taken away for neglect.

    Her reply? “Well what if I do all the prenatal care myself? It is absolutely possible to learn you know… In fact, I’m looking at books on the topic right now. I would not be the first.”


    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      March 16, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

      Two of my favorites: David Hermann and Bryan Cullin

    • Liz Leyden
      March 16, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

      Does she plan to do her own blood draws? How about ultrasounds?

      • Bugsy
        March 16, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

        Heh, one of the other moms said – in trying to show that it’s a global OB or midwife fee, and not a la carte – that there are things such as glucose & bp monitoring, and checking for heartbeat, that can be done at home. I sadly fear it’ll just give this mom more ideas.

        Most people are thankfully really coming down on her for how foolish she’s being.

  28. Therese
    March 16, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    It’s painful to see the pictures of the two babies side by side in that article. Why does the author’s baby remain so thin if she is supplementing with both formula and her friends’ breastmilk??

    • Annie
      March 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

      He didn’t look that thin to me. My son gained an ounce a day per day from two weeks to two months and he looked like that at about a month old.

  29. Usually AD
    March 16, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    So, could I crowd source a question about this painting? This is one in a series, generally attributed to the Fontainebleau School (one signed by Francois Clouet) regarding the pregnancy of Diane de Poitiers, the influential mistress of Henri II of France. I know of at least five. One in the Louvre, one in the Uffizi, one in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, the other two in regional museums. I puzzle over these. Why were they painted? And why so many on this theme? I’m interested in Diane, who was so important that she took care of Henri’s correspondence and signed his letters “Henridiane” and I’m interested in what these paintings tell us about the period

    (attitude devant)

    • Guesteleh
      March 16, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

      Cool question but unfortunately the painting didn’t link. Can you post?

      • Guesteleh
        March 16, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

        Durr, just realized you meant the painting at the top of the post. Never mind. #emilylitella

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 16, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

      I wondered the same thing myself (without realizing this was one of a series, which makes it all the more intriguing). Who decided to include the wet nurse and why? The artist? Diane deP herself? Henri II? This including of the wet nurse can’t have been a normal theme if this was the only European painting Dr. T could find on this theme. The look on the face of the wet nurse is so interesting. What can it all possibly mean?

      • Amazed
        March 16, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

        It isn’t Diane de Poitiers, it’s Gabrielle de Estrees. I think Henri IV wanted to marry her after procuring a divorce from Margaret of Valois. My guess is that the baby (and the wetnurse, by extension) were Gabrielle’s own idea. Perhaps she wanted to boost her fertility and her healthy children by Henri. But of course, she didn’t breastfeed herself.

        Another charming painting of this variety is that of Anne of Austria and her niece and daughter in-law Marie Therese of Austria with the newborn Dauphene.

        • Usually AD
          March 16, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

          You are absolutely correct. I was mixing up my Henrys. Gabrielle it is. If you google-image her, all of the pics come up. But why do they exist?

          • Amazed
            March 16, 2015 at 11:54 pm #

            My guess is that he was flaunting her in poses he wouldn’t flaunt a queen in. Being a royal mistress was being a beautifu attribute that was allowed more freedom and expected to do different things than the royal wife. Still, in the famous bath picture she seems to be holding his coronation ring, meaning that he had already pledged he’d marry her.

          • Usually AD
            March 17, 2015 at 11:18 am #

            Did some more reading. He had divorced his wife and WAS going to marry her. She was pregnant with her fourth child by him. But it was at this time that she died (eclampsia, some say), and their son was stillborn—so all these pictures of her with bBy? Never happened. She was 26

          • Amazed
            March 17, 2015 at 11:26 am #

            Thanks! That’s what one gets when writing without bothering to check. My memory played a trick on me.

            What was this about bBy? It did happen. With her first children, I mean. Through her three children, she became the ancestress of a powerful branch. Interestingly enough, her son was known as Duke of Beaufort – the same name John Gaunt’s offspring by Katherine Swynford held in England. Of course, that was in France.

  30. Kim
    March 16, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    Shame on you for deciding what is and what isn’t “antifeminist” for anyone. I understand the point underneath the language but that’s really despicable (and inaccurate) to call someone “anti-feminist” because you disagree.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      March 16, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

      Perhaps you could explain why you think it is NOT anti-feminist, and address the points that Dr Amy made in the post?

      Actually, I find it curious that you big objection is the “despicable” act of calling someone anti-feminist, and that it is inaccurate is just a parenthetical.

      • Annie
        March 17, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

        I don’t think it’s anti-feminist to find power in the female body. While feminism isn’t an individualized movement, the principles of feminism DO change based on who is talking. There are many tensions and movements within “feminism.” The type of feminism that Dr. Tuteur is talking about, the type that finds no value in “the functional power of the female body,” and focuses entirely on “the power of the female mind and character,” is a type of feminism that really came together in the 1970s. Many more contemporary, third-wave feminists would disagree with that limited notion of feminism.

        I take issue with the author’s demonization of formula advertising and idealization of wet nursing. It is historically inaccurate. And it I think her hatred of formula detracts from her larger point, which is that women are extremely isolated after they give birth.

        The author of this essay was struggling and desperate and she found power after she reached out to other moms. That is the point of her essay. And I agree with it. I don’t believe we are meant to make this transition alone. We should be
        with mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters, cousins, friends, at least
        SOMEBODY who can help us figure this thing out. Unfortunately, the world
        is no longer organized that way — we lack the village.

        I think it is very patronizing (and perhaps a bit anti-feminist) for Dr. Amy to come in and say, “you are just a victim of lactivism.” She really wanted to nurse! Nursing can be awesome, even if it isn’t nutritionally superior to formula in a meaningful way. It isn’t worth starving your baby for, but it can be, for many women, a profoundly empowering experience. It is something she wanted to experience and I understand why she went to great lengths to make it happen. And she DID recognize that she needed to get food into her baby and so she had her friend nurse him — and she also wanted an experienced nurser to check her latch, which makes sense. And she did combo feed for a few months!

        I get the sense that if she had nearly starved her baby for a week or so and then formula fed and said, “to hell with lactivism,” we would all be cheering her and not questioning why she let her baby starve for so long. But instead she starved her baby, started feeding him, and then committed herself to breastfeeding, and we are all attacking her.

        As I said, there is a lot about Albert’s essay I don’t like, but I think the commenters here are being a bit harsh.

        • KarenJJ
          March 17, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

          Are we attacking her or lactivism and the way it frames conversation about being a “good mother” ? Many of us combo fed after a disastrous start to breastfeeding.

        • SporkParade
          March 18, 2015 at 4:13 am #

          It may not be anti-feminist to find power in the female body, but it sure as hell is ableist.

    • Nick Sanders
      March 16, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

      I realize I’m a dude, and I don’t want to “mansplain”, but as I understand it, feminism is not an individualized movement. The principles of what are and aren’t feminist don’t change based on who is being talked about. And the principles of feminism are equal agency and liberation from externally imposed control. Therefore, anything declaring that women must do a specific thing, is antifeminist, whether that thing is submit to male social dominance or raise their children one specific way. It is their right to decide how they proceed with their lives, not mine, not yours, not the cult of NCB.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      March 16, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

      It’s not anti-feminist because I disagree with it. It’s anti-feminist because it judges women by the function of their reproductive organs, not their intellects or characters.

      Everyone would recognize judging women by the size of their breasts as sexists; it not much different to judge them by the function of their breasts.

  31. Micky
    March 16, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    The bit that really annoys me about the lactivist movement is that they refuse to call weight loss and dehydration in a small infant what it really is: Starvation. Any child of any other age that needs to be admitted to hospital for drastic weight loss and dehydration would raise huge red flags and (hopefully) doctors and parents alike would do everything they could to figure out what’s happening and get the kid’s weight back up. But with a newborn… ‘oh it’s normal’ (i.e. seriously, losing half your body weight and not putting it back on is totally normal!), ‘don’t let them give baby formula’ (i.e., starve your kid some more!) and ‘just keep at it’ (i.e. if you’re not miserable then you’re a quitter). Anyone who convinces a mother to not feed her child formula (especially against medical advice) to the point where the child needs to go to hospital should be arrested and charged with child endangerment. I’m sick of it all!

    • Cobalt
      March 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

      “Anyone who convinces a mother to not feed her child formula (especially against medical advice) to the point where the child needs to go to hospital should be arrested and charged with child endangerment.”

      There’s some messiness involved in this, but I agree. LCs that advocate starving a baby should suffer consequences.

      • Froggggggg
        March 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

        I wonder if some of those LCs have ever tried going without adequate hydration/nutrition for as long they think babies should. It would be a simple experiment, but I doubt any of them would be willing to consider it.

        And the thing is, under normal cirumstances a parent refusing to feed their child to the point of weight loss and utter misery would attract scrutiny and may get in trouble, and rightly so. Yet somehow it’s OK to do this right at the beginning of a child’s life, when they’re at their most vulnerable? Not a nice welcome to the world, and an astounding double standard.

      • NoLongerCrunching
        March 17, 2015 at 8:18 am #

        There is a form on the IBLCE website to complain about LCs.

    • Young CC Prof
      March 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm #

      Even some pediatricians are unwilling or unable to tell the truth about dehydrated or malnourished newborns, the lactivist propaganda is so pernicious. A friend and I both had nursing failures, and both of us had a pediatrician offer inappropriate and dangerous reassurances. My baby is OK now, but hers had a very long fight and had to be fed every 2 hours until he was a year old to make up for it.

      • Kelly
        March 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

        That is so terrible. If your pediatrician is not able to point you in the right direction, who is?

      • NoLongerCrunching
        March 17, 2015 at 8:18 am #

        I see this too, pediatricians being too extremely supportive of breastfeeding.

        • D/
          March 17, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

          This is a new and completely frustrating development for me. Couldn’t believe it recently when one of my very favorite Peds was ignoring my concerns about continuation of a (non) feeding plan.

          “Just give it one more day. Don’t worry, I’ll see them in the office tomorrow.” … This for a 4-5 day old with 16+% weight loss and no signs of milk coming in yet! Had to use the words “we are starving this baby” to finally get his attention.

  32. Tosca
    March 16, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Historically, the use of wet nurses is even more anti-feminist than Amy’s description. It was recognised that breastfeeding had a contraceptive effect. Aristocratic women were discouraged from breastfeeding, because their main function was to breed sons for their husband. Breastfeeding got in the way of them getting pregnant again.

  33. Cobalt
    March 16, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    I have a baby feeding question:

    My breastfed six month old is very difficult about taking a bottle, and has been for months. I think we just didn’t do it often enough early on, but he’s usually with me and is also well started on baby food, so I wouldn’t worry about it, except for the iron and vitamin D issue. He hates the vitamin drops and won’t eat baby food that has them mixed in. If I feed enough cereal to get near the 100% level according to the nutrition info on the box he gets constipated, badly. I would like to just give him some formula to fill in the rest, but he’s a butthead about taking the bottle.

    Has anyone else here worried about this? Anyone have any tips on getting those damned drops actually into the baby? I thought about putting formula powder into the baby food, but I don’t know how safe that is, it being designed to be diluted.

    Should I even be worried about this?

    • Daleth
      March 16, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

      Do you make cereal (oatmeal, rice porridge etc.) for him? You can use warm formula instead of water to make them. By which I mean, make formula using the powder and water, and use that to prepare the cereal.

      Alternately, check the formula directions and see how much to use to get 100% of the daily requirements. Can you use that much, distributing it into all his baby food throughout the day?

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

        I’m mixing the cereals with the regular baby food, he won’t eat them plain, or even with breastmilk. Haven’t tried with formula, maybe I got discouraged too soon.

        • baileylamb
          March 16, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

          I had the same issue.

        • Daleth
          March 16, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

          Looking at one of my leftover Similac boxes, it shows the nutrients as “nutrients per 100 calories (5 ounces).” So if babies are supposed to eat 28-32oz of formula, call it 30oz, and thus multiply all the nutrients by 6 to see what the daily allowance should be.

    • Allie P
      March 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      Try a cup? Or a spoon? My brother never took a bottle, because it wasn’t a “big boy” thing to do. But he saw me using a cup and my other brother using a sippy and was all about those! Arrange to be around a toddler using a sippy cup and make it look cool. On the plus side, you won’t have to wean him off bottles!

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

        I actually just bought some sippies, have been debating the best introduction. Everything is always better if another baby has it, mine’s one of two babies out of the six in my circle born since June that likes a pacifier, but the others invariably try to snatch his when they want nothing to do with them otherwise.

    • baileylamb
      March 16, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

      At some point (after being cleared by his pediatrician) we gave my son similar organic (it is sweet w/out a fishy after taste) with a half of banana. For constipation we gave him some pear juice. This was all at the suggestion of his dr.. Yogurt was also one of his first foods that helped. My little guy was a very big 6 month old, so he needed a lot of food, but he hated cereal. Edited to add my son drank from a cup or sippy cup, no bottle after three months.

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

        Hadn’t thought of yogurt, that’s a good idea.

    • demodocus' spouse
      March 16, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

      I mixed a little formula powder with my kiddo’s purees. Worked well with our frequent rice-lentils-veggie-chicken dinner

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

        It seems like a really easy solution, I just worry (anxiety is an issue for me) about it being too strong. It’s hard to believe in life actually being so straightforward.

    • Somewhereinthemiddle
      March 16, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

      Can you try a different product? I know I’ve used vit D drops that taste like nothing to put in food or drinks but I don’t routinely supplement with iron. But, adding a little liquid formula seems like it would be good. Have you had his iron levels tested? Maybe try that before worrying too much about supplementing?

      • toni
        March 16, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

        yes mine hated the enfamil vit d drops. bad taste and they have to swallow a whole ml. ‘carlson’ vit d drops are pretty much tasteless and you only need one drop. you can get them on amazon, drugstore dot com etc. i don’t know about iron supplements though. they taste even worse and stain everything. I never found a carlson type equivalent for iron

        • Cobalt
          March 16, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

          I honestly never considered an alternative brand of drops, I just got the Enfamil ones. I will look into the Carlson drops, thanks!

    • Dr Kitty
      March 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

      Make up the formula, then use it instead of milk or water to make porridge, rice pudding, mix with fruit purée, make Mac and cheese etc.

      Get the kiddo eating meat and dark leafy veg as soon as you can.
      Mine loved minced beef and gravy with diced carrots and peas, creamed spinach and broccoli.

      Have you tried a sippy cup?
      My daughter never really got the hang of bottles, but would happily drink from sippy cups and doidy cups from about six months.

      Stuff nipple confusion, #2 is getting EBM in a bottle as soon as possible.
      Waiting until six weeks before giving a bottle was unknowingly making a rod for my own back. Not doing that again!

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

        We were doing a daily bottle for the first five weeks, but I got tired of pumping, emptied out the freezer, then was too cheap to buy formula when the breastmilk from the tap was basically free. It was also easier to just latch him on then to make bottles, and we were home together pretty much all the time, and I just went one meal at a time. Days went by, blurred into weeks, and the little booger refused bottles when reintroduced at 4 months. We started solids instead of pushing the bottle issue, but I was kinda counting on cereals to be the vitamin balancer once we discovered his distaste for the drops.

        If I ever do this again, I’m paying for the daily formula bottle once the milk stash runs out!

        I’m going to start meat minces as soon as some teeth show up. He doesn’t like the baby food meats, and I honestly can’t blame him. I tried a bite, and I think cheap dog food would taste better. They also don’t really have much iron.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 16, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

          With our kids, I tried all the babyfood they ate first. The meats were awful. I’ve never tried cheap dog food (nor expensive, for that matter) to be able to compare.

          The prunes were awesome.

          • Cobalt
            March 16, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

            My favorite is pears with raspberries. I gave my older son prunes once. He shat so much afterwards I’m scared to feed them now. I understand that’s not how it always goes, but that’s how he went.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 16, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

            We didn’t have any problems with the kids and the prunes, but all I knew is that I really liked it.

          • Deborah
            March 16, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

            That pears-with-raspberries flavor was AWESOME. I always wanted to make tarts with it.

          • Roadstergal
            March 16, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

            “I’ve never tried cheap dog food (nor expensive, for that matter) to be able to compare.”

            I highly recommend Ann Hodgman’s timeless essay, No Wonder They Call Me A Bitch.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

            I always wonder about dog food marketed with “New Meatier Flavor”

            Who did the taste test?

          • Amazed
            March 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

            The tale goes that once, I was left with my uncle and his family as my parents were to the theatre (I know, I know, not attached. But then, with my dad doing lots of the stuff there was never a chance for me to bond to my mom properly.) My cousin tried my puree and spat it, exclaiming indignantly, “But Auntie is so nice! Why is she feeding the poor baby this?” Laughter ensued. A few minutes later, I resisted all the attempts to be fed puree and announced, “I don’t want puree, I want meaD balls.”

            I still hate puree of any variety. I don’t care that it’s for adults now. It’s still vile.

          • SuperGDZ
            March 17, 2015 at 4:59 am #

            I remember loving bottled fruit purees when I was a kid, and helping myself to bottles out the cupboard. They could only have been bought for my (2 years) younger sister, so unless my parents were feeding their toddlers bottled puree (stranger things have happened), I must have been no more than 3 or so.

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

          You don’t need to wait for the teeth. Just grind the meat up good.

          Another option is Flinstones with iron. One tablet has 18mg of iron. One serving (1 ml) of poly-vi-sol with iron has 10mg. You could grind up a half tablet of Flintstones with iron into powder, mix it into a little paste or sprinkle on something and see if he will take it. Buy the Flintstones with iron, not Flintstones Complete, as the Flintstones Complete has a more mineral/metallic taste.

          • Cobalt
            March 16, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

            I already have those, I’ll see how it goes. Thanks!

      • KarenJJ
        March 16, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

        The children’s nurse told me that one way to get meat into a baby that isn’t taking it too well is to cook and freeze some steak and then grate it frozen into porridge or yoghurt or whatever. It worked fairly well for us.

        • Dr Kitty
          March 17, 2015 at 3:09 am #

          My sister went through an interesting phase when she was being weaned.
          She ate anything, so long as it was mixed with either parsnips, banana or chopped liver.

        • SuperGDZ
          March 17, 2015 at 4:57 am #

          Liver isn’t fibrous like muscle meat – it blends easily into a puree. I used chicken livers, which have less Vit A than beef liver.

    • SuperGDZ
      March 17, 2015 at 4:55 am #

      I put the drops straight into the baby’s mouth.

      My son wouldn’t drink from a bottle at all, but he would drink from a sippy cup (there are ones with softer, more flexible spouts), as long as the substance in the cup wasn’t breastmilk. He refused point blank to drink breastmilk from any receptacle other than a breast.

      • Cobalt
        March 18, 2015 at 10:19 am #

        Drops come straight back out, plus tears and screams and stains. You’d think I’d poured hot coffee down his throat he way he acts.

    • Elisabetta Aurora
      March 18, 2015 at 5:11 am #

      Yes, I had this same thing too. Baby was seven months along and on top of what you are describing, both the baby and I were infected with a bad yeast infection. I had it all over my nipples and she had it in her mouth. The cures were ridiculous. I had a prescription from the pediatrician that I was supposed to coat the baby’s mouth after she fed and then my nipples. Unfortunately, my baby always nursed herself to sleep. So when I tried to coat her mouth after nursing, it would wake her up and then she would want to nurse again. Never ending vicious circle. The natural cures were equally unsuitable. One was that I was supposed to spritz my nipples with vinegar and let them air dry. Haha! Really? That only works if you never leave your house with your baby and even then if you can stand to hang out in your home topless. At the time for us, we were staying with my in-laws because we had just moved to my husband’s country and were in the middle of buying a house. So while my in-laws are German and toplessness is seen as far more casual than it was in the US, it still wasn’t an option for me.

      Well needless to say, I decided to quit nursing after about a month of painful feedings for both my baby and me. Baby was losing weight because she could hardly stand to nurse anymore. But she adamantly refused the bottle. I was very worried about. I kept trying to offer her the bottle and she would push it away and then out of desperation I would offer her my breast and around and around the merry go round we’d go.

      One day, I bound my breasts, did everything the nursing sites advise one not to do and decided to quit cold turkey. I thought my baby was pretty smart (still do!) and figured she wouldn’t let herself starve. If there simply was no breast to turn to, she would give up and accept the bottle. I also held her close and talked to her very seriously about the issue. I explained to her that we were moving to bottle feedings because nursing wasn’t working anymore. I told her that I understood that she loved to nurse and there were times that I loved it too. But I promised her that we would still have a strong bond and that we could cuddle whenever she liked and not just during feedings. She might have only been seven months old, but I really think she understood. She took the bottle that morning and aside from a few last longing looks at my breasts over the course of the next couple of weeks (they swelled and were enormous, so I could hardly blame her), we never went back.

      So (after that long round about story, sorry) in answer to your question. For us, I found that I could not get my daughter to do both nursing and bottles. As long as there were breasts available, she strongly held out. I ended up quitting breastfeeding all together. I’m not suggesting you do that, I’m just saying it was what worked for us. In the end it wound up being a lot easier than I thought. Quitting cold turkey was hard but over quickly, kind of like ripping off a band-aid. The infection that had been plaguing us for a month cleared up in a few days. My daughter’s health and disposition were not affected. I actually regretted breastfeeding overall because it caused more drama in my life than I needed. The issues outlined here were only the tip of the iceberg for us. There were times that I did love nursing, but for the most part I put my family through hell and back in my determination to nurse exclusively. I did it. But the success was bittersweet. Looking back I wonder what I missed. I was so determined to nurse because I didn’t want to miss out on such an important experience, but doing so meant that I spent the first seven months of my daughter’s precious little life (my first seven months as a first time parent as well as my husband’s) seven months that we will never get back, in chronic agony.

      So yeah, I was successful. Woo Hoo me. But, I lost something far more precious in the struggle.

      • Cobalt
        March 18, 2015 at 10:14 am #

        I am sorry you had such a rough time, and for so long. Breast is NOT always best!

  34. lilin
    March 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    ” The best of the best made an excellent living as highly prized employees. Sisters and good friends nursed each other’s babies as a matter of convenience. But 100 years of aggressive formula marketing has effectively erased the tradition of women helping each other in this way.”

    Nope. A lot of things “erased the tradition.” The fact that women no longer have a baby a year did. The fact that women control their fertility so it’s relatively uncommon to have synchronous babies did. The fact that women can pick up and travel, and therefore don’t live down the road from someone they know well did.

    And a good thing, too. I sure as hell don’t want to be expected or asked to let my friend’s baby suck on my tits, with the helpful reminder that the baby will go hungry if I don’t do it.

    • Guesteleh
      March 16, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

      They also didn’t make an excellent living. It was the poorest women who worked as wet nurses and it was anxiety over their health and personal habits that partially drove the development of formula. Read more here: One caveat: the author makes a lot of claims regarding the risks of formula feeding that just aren’t true.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD
        March 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

        The painting illustrates the fact that wet nurses were not held in esteem. The women in the foreground are a mistress of Henri IV and her sister. Notice that they are light skinned, fine featured, and dressed in beautiful clothes. The wet nurse in the background is swarthy, unattractive and dressed poorly.

        When I was looking for pictures of wet nurses to illustrate this piece, this painting was one of the few that portrayed only white women. The typical historical picture of a wet nurse is a black women enslaved and nursing a white woman’s baby because she had no choice.

    • Sarah
      March 17, 2015 at 5:00 am #

      This was also pre HIV.

  35. namaste863
    March 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Hmmmmmm, donor breastmilk…..let’s try some word association……HIV, Hepatitis, drugs, alcohol…God knows what else….all transmissible via breastmilk. I’d take a formula fed baby over an HIV+ baby any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    • Trixie
      March 16, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Just my usual plug for safe, screened donor breastmilk, which is lifesaving for preemies and those with special medical conditions. I agree completely about peer to peer sharing!

      • Sullivan ThePoop
        March 16, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

        With my second I had a ridiculous amount of milk and donated to the hospital for preemies.

        • KarenJJ
          March 16, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

          That’s awesome, but far out it’s annoying that lactivists so readily acknowledge over supply and the ability of women to make enough milk for their own babies as well as many others (tandem nursing!!!11!) yet undersupply is “so incredibly rare”.

          • Roadstergal
            March 17, 2015 at 11:41 am #

            It’s the same way they always note that the baby could be smaller than the ultrasound estimate, but ignore that it could be bigger by the same range of error.

  36. Inmara
    March 16, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    Slightly OT but about feeding babies – is there an ultimate book on baby feeding that first time mother should buy? Which would cover breastfeeding, formula feeding and combo feeding and provide practical advice? It’s quite clear that medical establishment in my country is into “breast is best” thinking and I would like to make sure that I have some solid information source at hand if necessary to make decisions about how to feed baby.

    • Allie P
      March 16, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

      Stay away from Ina, which is the famous one.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      March 16, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

      It’s quite clear that medical establishment in my country is into “breast is best” thinking

      Are you sure? Be sure to distinguish the positions of things like health advocacy organizations from “the medical establishment.” For example, have you asked a pediatrician? Our pediatrician, who was a Fellow of the AAP so very familiar with the AAP recommendations, gave us great advice about formula feeding and combo feeding.

      Of course if consult with Lactation Consultants, they are going to push breastfeeding on you. But that’s because that’s what they do. Pediatricians, however, are focused on the health of your child, and so will focus on that.

      • Inmara
        March 17, 2015 at 1:29 am #

        Well, if the biggest birthing hospital of country provides breastfeeding classes and if in their 3 sentence description one is “breastfeeding advantages” then I’m suspicious. Also, friend of mine who had problems with breastfeeding and milk supply complained about being bullied for “not giving your children the best” and it was almost 10 years ago when nobody had heard of doulas and lactation consultants. Of course, I hope that there are reasonable pediatricians in hospital and in my town but primary care after birth is provided by midwives and nurses, and I’ll feel better being prepared for various scenarios.

    • KarenJJ
      March 16, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

      “Baby Love” by Robin Barker is the only book I recommend. She’s an experienced Maternal and Children’s Health Nurse and provides practical advice without layers of judgement, presents options and leaves it to people to make up their own minds. Most controversial part of her book is the “teething is not that big a deal” part.

      • Inmara
        March 17, 2015 at 1:23 am #

        Tank you!

      • araikwao
        March 17, 2015 at 1:57 am #

        Funny, Dr Clay Jones on SBM wrote a post awhile back with exactly that approach to teething. It is very counter-cultural! I found it quite paradigm-shifting.

  37. The Computer Ate My Nym
    March 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Another thought: Breast feeding is hard on a woman’s body. I had a good time breast feeding, being one of those women who can produce milk easily and in a good supply. For some reason, I was also lucky enough never to have pain when I breast fed. That being said, I still am glad that “wet nurse” isn’t a career path I would ever have to choose. Total calorie and vitamin requirements during lactation are crazy and while there calcium deficiency and bone loss are usually transient for modern women, that’s because we have the luxury of not lactating continually and therefore have time to recover bone density and calcium levels. A wet nurse in a Victorian era foundling hospital who was trying to feed 10 infants at once and continually (new ones were always coming in) wasn’t going to be so lucky. I was hungry all the time while breast feeding and lost weight, even in the early 21st century US, land of the free and home of the fat. What must it be like in times and places where there is not enough food? No, the era when wet nurses were available was no utopia, not even for women who could afford them and certainly not for the wet nurses themselves.

  38. mandywintink
    March 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    “Aggressive marketing of formulas in developing countries contributed to a global decline in breastfeeding” comes right from this academic source:

    • theadequatemother
      March 16, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

      If formula was removed from the marketplace breAst feeding rates would go up. But would that be mostly because more women would breastfeed or mostly because infants that were not successful breastfeeders or whose mothers couldn’t produce would starve? A rate can go up by increasing the numerator or decreasing the denominator. Unless breastfeeding rate stats are accompanied by infant mortality and esp deaths by starvation they don’t mean much. That article you linked to, published by Lamaze, is hardly an unbiased take on this very complex an important issue.

      • mandywintink
        March 17, 2015 at 9:13 am #

        I’m not sure what your point is. Are you questioning the significant data that exists to support breastfeeding over formula? Or the fact that it was in a journal published by a journal put out by Lamaze, which referenced several prestigious, high-impact, peer-reviewed medical-journal studies? Or are you failing to question the marketing associated formula? Perhaps, instead, the focus should be on finding a solution for starving infants that does not increase their rates of SIDS, allergies, or diabetes or interfere with their cognitive abilities. Of course, few people want to alter the stats so they look good on paper if infants are still starving but arguing over the well-documented effects of breastfeeding over formula does not seem to be a good use of time. Perhaps, what might be better, is focussing on adequate education and access to nutritious food in general, which is currently not the focus of our conventional medical system. That, combined with other efforts to improve health and wellbeing, might better serve society.

        • KarenJJ
          March 17, 2015 at 10:09 am #

          “access to nutritious food in general, which is currently not the focus of our conventional medical system. ”

          What does this mean? Doctors have always recommended a balanced diet and to ‘eat your greens’. Or do you mean access for people in poverty, in which case how is that an issue for the “conventional medical system”?

          • mandywintink
            March 17, 2015 at 10:40 am #

            I mean, 1) that the conventional medical training provides very little nutrition-based curriculum. When they do, it’s often through electives. That needs to change. It is changing but it needs to be more of a focus. But curriculum is often shaped by financial donors and vegetables have hard time getting together to provide money to medical training. 🙂 and 2) yes, access to nutritious foods by people in poverty IS a problem. How is that an issue? How is it not an issue? It should be. What we bring into our bodies is a huge part of health. How is this NOT a medical issue?

          • Ash
            March 17, 2015 at 10:47 am #

            I’m not sure where exactlhy conventional medical training (as in medical school and residency, I assume fails). For example, obesity is a major problem for many North Americans.

            I think most physicians would agree that decreasing the amount of sweetened beverages, “junk” food, eating more vegetables is important. However, we also know that the majority of people do not lose weight even with very aggressive intervention (coaching, dietician meetings, etc). I don’t think this is due to lack of education among the medical community.

          • Roadstergal
            March 17, 2015 at 11:44 am #

            Classes in nutrition are a pre-requisite in medical school these days. Where do you think they are deficient? I’ve generally gotten solid and sensible nutrition advice from docs.

            The issue of the availability of healthy food to people living in poverty is a serious issue that needs to be addressed, but I don’t see the connection to doctors’ training.

          • KarenJJ
            March 17, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

            But a lot of what people see as “nutrition” as posted in the tabloids and newpapers and as promoted by naturopaths and “nutritionists” is junk science, marketing and faddish. Of course doctors aren’t going to spend half an hour reviewing your intake of carbs and recommending quinoa and coconut oil. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. If you need more assistance with special diets (eg diabetic, coeliac, allergies etc) a doctor will refer you to a dietician. If you want to feel that you are eating superior carbs/proteins then the rest of us plebs than sure, go and talk to someone that loves reading all those nonsense fad diets.

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 17, 2015 at 11:20 am #

          “Perhaps, instead, the focus should be on finding a solution for starving infants that does not increase their rates of SIDS, allergies, or diabetes or interfere with their cognitive abilities”

          The best studies we have (the discordant sib studies and the randomized Belarus PROBIT study) prove that formula does NOT increase allergies, diabetes or decrease IQ. SIDS is a rare enough event that it could not be studied with even these large studies, but likely the difference in SIDS between breastfed and formula-fed babies is due to confounders as well. I have seen these confounders first hand. I work at a school-based clinic with poor teen mothers. Almost all formula feed. Many do not have a crib for their babies (mother and baby may sleep on a couch together). Almost all of them come from a culture where grandmother tells them to put baby to sleep on his stomach.

    • Allie P
      March 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

      Yeah, that’s probably obliquely referring (note the lack of citation!) to the infamous Nestle incident, where marketers dressed up in nurse’s outfits visited women in hospitals in developing countries and told them their milk was no good. It’s also about 50 years ago. This is not how formula companies market today — in many cases, due to laws passed after such incidents.

    • baileylamb
      March 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

      My grandmother was a domestic, do you thinkshe had the luxury to breast feed her 14 kids, or the five she watched all day? Nope, she made some concoction with condensed milk and rice cereal. I think a lot of domestic workers had to do the same thing. Sure she took the youngest to work with her (they were nice people btw) but it wasn’t like someone like her coud have their boob out feeding an infant on demand. I think sometimes researchers need to work with historians to get a better picture of what life was like for non middle class people, especially minorities. Edited to add that she did try to breasted the first 6 weeks w/ reduced work…

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        March 16, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

        My (95 year old) aunt told me about how she gave her kids mashed potatoes when they were 1 week old.

        Not quite EBF

        • baileylamb
          March 16, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

          My dad took care of most of his siblings. His stories about the various home made formulas people used are hilarious. Apparently there were mommy wars about adding olive oil or the various ratios to mix up. When formula first came out my grandmother was an early adapter.

        • SuperGDZ
          March 17, 2015 at 5:07 am #

          My aunt (slightly younger) went back to work at when my cousin was 10 weeks old, leaving him in the care of a daymother who fed all the babies in her care with bottles of cows’ milk, which was apparently a completely normal and acceptable thing to do at the time.

          • Julia
            March 17, 2015 at 9:29 am #

            I recently found a list my mother made of what she fed me in addition to formula (in the 70s). By 10 weeks old I was getting crackers and apples to munch on. I guess my mom was waaay ahead of the curve in terms of baby-led weaning, haha.

          • KarenJJ
            March 17, 2015 at 10:15 am #

            My neighbour did that for the first few weeks until she went to the nurse and got told she should be purchasing formula.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      March 16, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

      That’s not a peer reviewed medical journal. It is propaganda from an organization that profits from promoting natural parenting.

  39. LibrarianSarah
    March 16, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    To paraphrase Chris Rock, formula companies don’t sell formula. Formula companies offer formula.

  40. Mac Sherbert
    March 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    Wow. Oh Wow. This has got to be the worse/cruelest advice ever in the land of LCs and BF. Anyone who has ever heard the cry of a hungry infant can tell you it’s a gut wrenching thing. Not to mention that a hungry newborn is so frantic that there’s no way it can figure anything out.

    “I should neither pump nor supplement; I should let him get so hungry he would do whatever it took to latch properly.”

    • Daleth
      March 16, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

      Isn’t that horrible? How could anyone stand doing that to their babies? It’s probably how some parents can stand performing exorcisms on their toddlers–because they’ve been brainwashed into believing the complete delusion that it REALLY MATTERS that their kids [insert dogma here: “never taste formula” or “have demons removed from them”].

  41. Ash
    March 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    FFS people, if you tell others that there is NO WAY to lactate and supplement with formula, you’re going to have much fewer lactating women…

    • Twilight
      March 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      Who said there is no way to lactate? No-one. All everyone here is saying is it’s ok to use formula if you can’t breastfeed!?

      • Ash
        March 16, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

        Not directed at commenters on this blog–was directed at the link commenter.

        • Twilight
          March 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

          oops sorry, Link wouldn’t open.

          • Ash
            March 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

            In short: original poster has 5 day old newborn, newborn is having trouble latching, so mom is putting the baby on the breast and pumping afterwards. Milk supply still isn’t great. Original poster gave formula as a supplement and baby was fine. Mom is continuing to put baby to breast & pump. OP was planning to contact a lactation consultant after the weekend and wonders if it is OK to keep pumping/nursing and supplement with formula.

            Response from other commenters:
            “You cannot feed formula between now and Monday and hope to continue
            breastfeeding. ”

            ” Please seek help and stop with the formula for now until you meet with someone.”


          • Allie P
            March 16, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

            Those commenters are LYING. That is EXACTLY what I did and I breastfed for 10 months.

          • Daleth
            March 16, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

            Did you go onto that reddit thread and say so? That’d be great if you had time. Wipe out ignorance at the source.

          • Ash
            March 16, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

            @allie_p:disqus , you must be a handmaiden of Nestle to say such things.

          • Roadstergal
            March 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

            I now have a new Halloween costume.

          • Roadstergal
            March 16, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

            A: I would totally wear that, and B: I’m having such flashbacks – I _loved_ sweetened condensed milk when I was a kid. I would put it in coffee when I was in college, but my love affair ended shortly after that.

          • SuperGDZ
            March 17, 2015 at 5:08 am #

            I still love it now.

          • KarenJJ
            March 17, 2015 at 5:58 am #

            Me too. In fact I craved it during my first pregnancy and bought a tin purely for myself to indulge. I think it lasted less than a week.

    • LibrarianSarah
      March 16, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Ahh reddit, the butthole of the internet.

    • anotheramy
      March 16, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

      Yes! I see so many moms posting on baby center saying “I have to switch to formula and feel so guilty about it, but I just can’t make enough milk”. Or mom’s who SHOULD supplement (infant weight loss) but don’t b/c “formula is a slippery slope” and “doctors are undermining my bfing success” etc, etc. It drives me batty! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, FFS.

  42. Michele
    March 16, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    OT – Can anyone help me think of the downsides of adding 5-10 oz of breastmilk/day to my almost 3 year old’s cup (he normally has 1% or 2% milk). Lack of vitamin D in it is what I’ve come up with so far.
    I’ve got an oversupply again with his little brother and I don’t qualify to donate it to a milk bank (due to anti-depressant) and I’m not willing to donate to strangers informally. I hate to just throw it out but I need to slow down the freezer accumulation.

    • Montserrat Blanco
      March 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      I can not think of any downsides of it. At 3 years old his main source of vitamin D should be the rest of the food anyway, like fish for example.

    • AllieFoyle
      March 16, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      The only downside is that he’d be receiving a small amount of the antidepressant. It’s probably safe, but since it isn’t necessary I’d probably skip it myself.

    • Cobalt
      March 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

      After a certain age, milk is milk, I don’t think human vs. cow matters too much, and if it’s safe enough for the baby, it’s safe enough for the toddler. A daily multivitamin or otherwise varied diet should even out any specific vitamin concerns.

      You might mix it with the cow’s milk though, get the benefits of both.

  43. lilin
    March 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

    A lot of wet nurses recruited by rich families were women who had just had a baby. Guess what happened to their babies? If you’re paying someone to produce milk for your child, you better believe that you insist your kid eats before their kid does. The children of wet nurses were often supplemented with rice or wheat gruel. They would have loved formula, back in the day.

    • KarenJJ
      March 17, 2015 at 5:34 am #

      I remember reading an account of someone hiring a wet nurse and how her baby looked so chubby and healthy and how they felt guilty because so many wet nurse’s babies sickened or died after they took on another’s baby.

  44. Twilight
    March 16, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    I also can’t understand why so-called “lactation” experts call themselves consultants?

    AFAIK know you can only call yourself a consultant if you have a medical degree and have worked years in a hospital and specialise in a particular area of medicine.

    • Mattie
      March 16, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

      I think it’s because they consult with the mother, although agree that in a medical setting it could be confusing to people.

  45. Twilight
    March 16, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    I would like to ask Dr. Amy and everyone else:

    Can’t a baby get physical and mental developmental problems by not feeding it correctly?

    I have read so may stories about babies who were starving for weeks or even months on end because their mother couldn’t breastfeed and didn’t want to supplement or replace with formula.

    Can this cause long term problems for a baby?

    • moira
      March 16, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

      I actually just posted this in reply to someone else, as I had the same train of thought as you:

      Wouldn’t malnutrition or starvation cause a whole lot more damage than a bottle of formula? With how quickly babies grow, that seems like it would have long-lasting effects that may translate into issues during adulthood.

      • MegaMechaMeg
        March 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

        I thought that the IQ difference between formula and breastmilk was ascribed to the fact that formula was slightly harder for the baby to digest and so the nutrients didn’t get used as efficiently. I could be crazy, I do not have sources for that information outside of the vauge memory of reading it somewhere, but yeah. If that slight nutritional inefficiency causes issues you would think that gross malnutrition would be a problem in the brain department.

        • Allie P
          March 16, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

          I think the issue is the confounders in that study. Breastfeeding moms tend to be more privileged moms, so there is more of an emphasis on childhood development, etc., in general. When confounders are addressed, differences vanish.

      • Twilight
        March 16, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

        Thanks Moira

        People should look at these articles for misleading information on bottle feeding!

        This is the photo that caused a lot of controversy.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

          Was reading the comments on the first post. What a bunch of sanctimonious tripe. FFS.

          And the commentor Becky was angry and mean because she had the audacity to correct someone’s incorrect claim about HFCS in formula.

          (the person didn’t know the difference between HFCS and actual corn syrup (of the non-high fructose variety); but Becky is mean for correcting her)

        • Liz Leyden
          March 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

          I’m sure the situation in picture #2 had nothing at all to do with a culture that has favored males over females for centuries. /sarcasm

    • Julia
      March 16, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      Most likely, yes. For example, studies in rats have shown that postnatal starvation can cause lasting changes in brain myelination. Controlled studies in humans are obviously not possible, but it has been shown that living through famines in early life is associated with all sorts of health issues, such as diabetes, mental health problems and hormonal abnormalities. How much an influence a relatively brief period of starvation has is hard to say though.

      • araikwao
        March 16, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

        Yes, and in humans, malnutrition is associated with reduction in IQ and cognition, a failure to meet genetic potential. So is iron deficiency… Whether these results can be extrapolated to those starving in the drive to BF is unknown, but you wonder whether those three extra IQ points would get cancelled out..

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      March 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      I don’t know if there any data on this, but it can’t be good. There’s benefits of breastfeeding are trivial compared to the harms of starving.

      The biggest irony is that natural parenting is supposed to be about responding to the baby’s natural needs and there is nothing it needs more than food, but lactivists apparently think it’s okay to let a baby starve.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      March 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

      As Dr Amy says, there probably isn’t much data on this, BUT then again, the lactivists and the like are the ones who are the first to jump on every little thing as being catastrophic – nipples are evil, one drop of formula, CIO scars babies for life, etc, but hey, starvation? Nah….

      I’m more on the side of babies are pretty robust, and can withstand a lot of bizarre stuff, but you would think that the “babies are irreversibly harmed if they ride in a stroller” crowd would find it more of a problem.

      • Cobalt
        March 16, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

        If it’s “convenient” for the mother, it is irreparably and catastrophically harmful for the baby. If it makes the mother suffer, then the baby’s fine.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      March 16, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

      Any vitamin the mother doesn’t have the baby can’t get. So, for example, a vegan woman with a low B12 supply risks causing her baby brain damage if she exclusively breast feeds without making sure her B12 stores are adequate (though this can be done with a simple oral supplement if the issue is just that she’s not eating animal products…it’s more complicated if the vitamin is not being absorbed properly.)

      • just me
        March 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

        Ok I think this is unnecessary fear mongering not unlike lactivists’ take on FF. The myth of the B12 deficient vegan. I’m 100% vegan and EBF 2 kids 5 mo each no problems and pedi didn’t bat an eye.

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm #

          “The myth of the B12 deficient vegan.”

          Not every vegan is B12 deficient, indeed most aren’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s a myth. I’ve seen it.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          March 17, 2015 at 9:23 am #

          It is, alas, no myth. It is fortunately rare because the body is very very good at absorbing B12 (as long as everything is functioning properly) and B12 is used in literally only something like 3-4 reactions in the body and is highly conserved so it takes years of absolutely no B12 intake to develop a deficiency. But it can happen. I’m not saying eat animal products, but if you don’t, supplement your B12. (B12 in supplements is, incidentally, made from bacteria so there’s no animal exploitation involved.)

        • March 18, 2015 at 2:00 am #

          It isn’t always a myth. A baby died in France a few years back after being exclusively breastfed by a vegan mother.

          Sometimes veganism isn’t an issue. Other times, it leads to malnourished babies. And occasionally, it kills.

          • just me
            March 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

            Yes. There’s that one story. But did they test the mother’s blood or breastmilk to prove she was deficient? All I’ve seen is that the baby died of bronchitis and was tested to be deficient in A and B12. Also it seems the parents were negligent in not getting the baby treatment. But there’s a big leap to she killed the baby with her deficient breast milk. Maybe she didn’t feed it enough. Plus, even if it were the case that her milk was deficient and that killed the baby, that’s one case. One. Where the controlled scientific study? The documented other deaths proven to be caused by the mother being vegan? This is no different than an anecdote of a baby bring killed by tainted formula or a botched hospital delivery.

          • March 18, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

            Yes, they tested the mom. Yes, she was deficient. Isn’t one case enough to prove that it’s possible, even if it isn’t common? You argued that veganism never killed babies. One case disproves your assertion.

          • just me
            March 18, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

            Evidence? You’ve seen the analytical reports or court transcript? And even if this is true, *veganism* didn’t kill the baby. Geez. Are you a lobbyist for the meat industry or something?

          • March 20, 2015 at 2:11 am #

            Yeah, the court reports exist. No, I’m not a lobby for the meat industry. That’s absurd. If people want to be vegan, have at! I’m just pointing out that you were wrong. Veganism can and did kill a baby due to vitamin deficiencies in the mother’s breast milk. As I said, this is very rare. However, you argued that veganism could not cause harm. Obviously, it can. It did.

    • Allie P
      March 16, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      I think most of the data on this is about people in developing nations who feed their babies things other than breastmilk or formula (sprite, for example, was one horrible case in Haiti post earthquake). There are also the occasional reports of abused children starving or being brain damaged by being fed “watered down” formula because of fear of fat intake (fat is brain!). Failure to Thrive is the most common diagnosis of babies who aren’t getting enough on the breast and aren’t being supplemented. Thankfully, in developed countries it’s a rare problem.

    • Guestll
      March 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

      Yes, absolutely, particularly in LDCs.

  46. March 16, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Desperate times will lead to desperate measures, but Dr. Amy is quite right to point out that this is manufactured desperation, the primary product of the Natural Childbirth Industry.

    • Roadstergal
      March 16, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

      A true desperate time is your baby starving and no good options available. Having a good option available but having it blacklisted as ‘failure’ is, exactly as you say, a manufactured desperation. It makes me so angry.

      I love the pediatrician who blogged about formula and called it ‘science milk.’ It just says it so well. We have science milk, now, so babies don’t have to starve!

  47. moira
    March 16, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    My body “failed” me with its inability to get pregnant, so I used my intelligence to stop when my insurance would no longer cover fertility treatments. We instead adopted an adorable five year old girl from the foster system who is the light of our life. I found that I did not fail one bit, as my body and its biological functions are not what define me as a woman.

    And the greatest apart was, by that time, there was no one judging me over formula, cloth diapers, babywearing or daycare.

    • RMY
      March 16, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

      Thank you, I’m very happy to read this. My wife and I have been trying to conceive with me carrying and are on the last cycle we can really afford of fertility treatment. It’s great to hear a happily-ever-after foster-adopt story. It made my day. 🙂

  48. Julia
    March 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I can sort of give the mother a pass for initially letting her kid starve, because critical thinking skills can suffer post partum… However, why didn’t the *father* put his foot down and get that kid some formula? Ensuring his child’s well-being is his job, too, all the more if mom is in such bad shape.

    • Allie P
      March 16, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

      New moms get a pass. I indulged myself in some crazy thinking post partum, and it was all around breastfeeding. That was the NCB crazy hole — not birth, but lactation — I tripped and fell into. Then I found FFF and SkOB and remembered that I’m not a lunatic.

      • Kelly
        March 16, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

        Me too. I have decided that I will only pump if my babies are preemies because the research supports the additional benefit. I will formula feed otherwise. If I don’t make a hard stance on it now, I know I will be swept up by emotions and will not be able to make a good decision with the next baby.

  49. The Computer Ate My Nym
    March 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Semi off topic, but…re “valuing the functional power of the female body” business: I had a c-section. That means that one part of my body failed to do its job properly–I wasn’t ever going to give birth vaginally because the baby was in the wrong position and the labor wasn’t going right. But my (womanly) brain gave consent for the c-section that saved both our lives. Why is my brain’s ability to make a decision that saves us any less valuable than my body apparently would be if it were capable of churning out a baby per year with no help? There is no feminism in this position.

    • Daleth
      March 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      High five!!!! You’re so right!

    • Sarah
      March 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

      Much as I agree, sometimes sections are due to the baby not the mother anyway. I could no doubt have huffed my second daughter out well enough. From the sole perspective of my reproductive organs, labour was proceeding smoothly and promptly. But thanks to her dipping heart rate, tangled cord and meconium, she’d have probably been dead. Still, at least it would’ve been a beautiful spontaneous birth! Glad I took the EMCS instead…

  50. Amy M
    March 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    “Medicating women for quite reasonable emotional responses to quite unreasonable situations seems backwards. ”

    That’s the part that caught my attention. I’m not a doctor, I don’t know if she had PPD, but from what she wrote, she sounded miserable, and was certainly someone who should have been screened for PPD. And yeah, developing PPD is (though I hesitate to use the word reasonable) not an unexpected response to that sort of situation, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed. PPD is a mental illness and sometimes, the only thing that will help is medication. Why shouldn’t we give medication to women if they need it? That statement seems anti-feminist as well: Grin and bear it, lady, big girls don’t cry? You are just being a hysterical hormonal woman, you don’t need meds for that?

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      March 16, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

      I agree. Depression is painful. We don’t expect people to put up with physical pain, even when it’s “normal” (with the interesting exception of pain in childbirth), why should we demand that mental anguish just be lived with?

      • Sarah
        March 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

        And pain in breastfeeding, obviously.

    • Julia
      March 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

      That sentence really caught my eye, too. PPD, as well as other forms of depression and mental illness are serious and deserve treatment, not eye-rolling or a “stupid pink ribbon” as she put it. Huh? What an unfortunate attitude.

    • AllieFoyle
      March 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

      I read it differently. A lot of discrete environmental things were factoring into her situation–from shock and disappointment at the way things went with birth (the midwife’s behavior, particularly), physical difficulties with breastfeeding, concern over her baby’s health, plus lack of useful and consistent breastfeeding advice and support–in addition to just the normal demands of becoming a parent and caring for a newborn. Calling it PPD and taking medication might have been helpful, but it wouldn’t acknowledge or address any of those factors, or the possibility that it makes more sense to think of her as having a normal reaction to a stressful situation than it does to think of her as having a mental illness.

      • Roadstergal
        March 16, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

        I don’t know how PPD is treated, but when I had PTSD – the meds weren’t ‘take this pill and feel better,’ it was ‘take this pill to help stabilize you so we can work on the issues.’ Is that how PPD is handled? As in, the meds are a tool, rather than a fixit?

        • AllieFoyle
          March 16, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

          Oh, I’m not against meds or treating PPD or any other illness, mental or otherwise. I’m just saying that I thought she was trying to express that she felt her distress was more a reasonable reaction to a difficult situation than an organic depression, and that people’s suggestions that she had PPD were sort of overly reductionist.

          • jenny
            March 16, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

            I think that is exactly what she was saying. But I find it’s not an either/or. Long term stress, grief, trauma, etc, can deplete seretonin. Meds can make a useful tool for putting one’s life back together, even when the feelings are reasonable and normal feelings to have.

        • moto_librarian
          March 16, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

          That is how major depression is handled. I couldn’t focus on the issues until I had achieved a level of stability with medication.

        • Kelly
          March 16, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

          For me, it was take the pill but here is a therapist we can set you up. I declined on the therapist but the meds worked great. I am too afraid to wean off though and that is where therapy would probably help. I had PPD.

      • Amy M
        March 16, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

        Ok, that makes sense, I didn’t see it that way. It’s hard to tell from the way its written.

  51. Ennis Demeter
    March 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Almost all of the comments are about how beautiful a solution wet nursing was. I can’t think of a more cumbersome solution, especially for the friend.

    • Daleth
      March 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

      I also wonder how you broach delicate topics with the friend such as, do you have any communicable diseases and are you on any medications or illegal drugs?

      • Ennis Demeter
        March 16, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

        Can you live with us for a few weeks?

        • Francesca Violi
          March 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

          I might open an agency specialised in wetnurse au-pair girls.

          • March 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

            You would probably be able to make it very profitable.

        • Daleth
          March 16, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

          Do you need me to ask your friend if she has hepatitis or CMV, or if she’s on antidepressants or pain killers, or…?

      • Sarah
        March 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

        And how can I be certain that any sexual partner you may have had since you were last tested has been refraining from sex with other people or use of intravenous drugs?

    • DiomedesV
      March 16, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

      A close friend once offered to pump for my babies, should we have children at the same time (we didn’t, and it would have been too much work for her to be worth it to me). She is the ONLY person I would ever accept milk from. And by the time I had my own kid, I didn’t care enough. We were so happy with formula.

  52. Daleth
    March 16, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    I came across this after reading that Guardian essay:

    “Breastfed babies cry more, laugh less, and generally have “more challenging temperaments” than formula-fed infants, a study has found. But such behaviour is normal, and mothers should learn to cope with it rather than reach for the bottle, according to researchers.”

    Oh, we should, should we? May I just address an elegant “fuck you” to those researchers? I prefer my cheerful, vocal little boys to any baby (including themselves, back when we were combo-feeding) who cries more, laughs less and has a more challenging temperament.

    One thing I’ve noticed, since switching my twins to Holle formula (imported from Germany, made from the milk of cows who eat nothing but Alpine pasture grasses and local hay) instead of their previous Similac/breast milk combo, is that I have to cut and/or file their fingernails and toenails EVERY SINGLE DAY. Oh, and they’ve jumped from 40th-ish percentile for height/weight to 70-80th-ish percentile. Seems they’re getting better nutrition than they were when my boobs and Similac were feeding them.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      March 16, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

      Hmm…my small one was “challenging” as a baby. I assumed it was because I have a challenging temprament myself and passed it to the poor kid, but now I wonder whether I should have formula fed. Might not have helped–I was producing more than the poor kid could eat so I don’t think the fussiness was hunger.

      • Daleth
        March 16, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

        That’s interesting. I’m not sure they’re saying that breastfed babies are more “challenging” because they’re hungrier, and I have no clue how they determined that formula-fed babies “may be overnourished.” In women with normal (or excess) supply babies stop drinking when they’ve had enough, even though you could keep feeding them… and the same is true when you’re feeding formula (I can’t count how many bottles were not quite finished by the time my babies stopped eating and drifted off to sleep).

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          March 16, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

          I remember seeing something a while ago where volunteers in a study got all their nutrition through drinking a “milkshake” through what was basically a straw in the wall so that they had no clues about when to stop except when they weren’t hungry any more. Most people underate for a couple of days then ate enough to maintain their weight. I suspect babies have the same internal ability to regulate what they eat if given access to the right food. Maybe formula is a little higher in calories and messes with the system a little (sort of like eating fried food every day)? I’m guessing here and am dubious about my own guess since I’d expect formula makers to specifically make the formula of a similar caloric content to breast milk. The old “nipple confusion” thing? But then why do babies who get breast milk in a bottle not have this problem? Eh, I think I’m going to have to go with “I don’t know” as an answer.

          • Daleth
            March 16, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

            I think formula is designed to be as close to breastmilk as possible, i.e., same calories, fat, vitamins, etc. as good breastmilk. I say “good” breastmilk because some women don’t produce good breastmilk–there was one who posted on Fearless Formula Feeder about her nearly starving baby and her discovery that her breast milk had only about 10 calories per ounce, vs. the 19-22 calories found in formula and good breast milk.

            I’ve long wondered about the effect of “breast is best” on the children of lower-income women, who are very likely to be less well nourished than most middle and upper-income women who choose to breastfeed. Isn’t formula more nourishing than the breastmilk of a vitamin D and/or calcium-deficient poor woman who lives on McDonald’s and Frosted Flakes? I read a few years ago about a woman whose baby became bowlegged and was diagnosed with rickets because the mom was deficient in vitamin D, as millions of women are.

            It also occurred to me, since I switched to this uber-organic formula from Germany (called Holle), that it’s probably better for my kids than my own milk would be, since it’s made from the milk of pasture-fed Alpine cattle… as opposed to the milk of a woman who has spent most of her life in polluted cities, probably has flame retardant in her boob milk, and has, more frequently than she’d like to admit, eaten in a pinch at Qdoba!

          • Ash
            March 16, 2015 at 1:52 pm #


            Aren’t you engaging in the same type of “this way of feeding my baby is THE BEST” by talking about “a woman who has spent most of her life in polluted cities, probably has
            flame retardant in her boob milk, and has, more frequently than she’d
            like to admit, eaten in a pinch at Qdoba!”

            There’s no need to put down women who don’t use the same type of formula as you or don’t eat the same type of food….

          • Daleth
            March 16, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

            Dude, I was talking about myself! I’m the one who has lived most of my life in polluted cities, eaten at Qdoba, etc. This line of thinking was my way of consoling myself for being unable to produce enough milk for both my boys.

          • Allie P
            March 16, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

            Qdoba is bad for breastmilk?

            I’m sure your formula is fine. I just don’t know if I’m going to get all excited about Swiss grasses’ effect after going through four ruminant stomachs, being processed into breastmilk, then dehydrated. Chemicals are chemicals — this isn’t the difference between drugstore milk and farmer’s market milk. Anything missing from Similac having not come from alpine organic cows is going to be added in separately. That’s how fortification works, and the FDA requires specific nutritional needs from formula.

          • Daleth
            March 16, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

            The Qdoba part was tongue in cheek. The “living in cities”/flame retardant part wasn’t–I vaguely recall a study that found most American women had flame retardant in their breast milk, and I’m regularly exposed to pollutants that Alpine cows (or, presumably, rural Alpine/Rockies/etc. people) aren’t.

        • Mac Sherbert
          March 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

          My baby never stopped before the bottle was empty!! He would eat and eat and eat. He would cry if it was missing an ounce….Of course, when he over ate a lot of it came back up later.

        • SuperGDZ
          March 17, 2015 at 5:21 am #

          I’m quite sure that some (all?) babies comfort eat to a degree, especially as they get a little older – a nursing 3 year old is surely not eating because they require the nourishment?

    • demodocus' spouse
      March 16, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

      What an odd study. Was it a sound one? If it is, my breast fed boy is an outlier, since people keep telling us he’s one of the happiest babies they’ve ever met. Except when I’m late with the food! Or taking away such fun toys as Daddy’s cane, my knitting project, or the electrical cords.

      • Daleth
        March 16, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

        Either he’s an outlier, or he would have been even MORE cheerful on formula! Assuming the study’s methodology was sound, that is.

      • Daleth
        March 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

        The Guardian article was a complete fail at linking to the study, but I was able to find it at last:

        Breastfeeding and Infant Temperament at Age Three Months

        Blandine de Lauzon-Guillain, Katrien Wijndaele, Matthew Clark, Carlo L. Acerini, Ieuan A. Hughes, David B. Dunger, Jonathan C. Wells, Ken K. Ong
        Published Jan. 10, 2012

    • Mac Sherbert
      March 16, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

      Oh that explains so much for me! That completely describes that difference between my second BF baby girl and first formula fed baby boy! lol I just figured it was her personality. Now I can blame it all on BF.

    • baileylamb
      March 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      I’ve found the British are more honest in their breast feeding materials.

  53. Francesca Violi
    March 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    Poor baby, indeed… A typical lactivist argument is that the way infants are fed in their first months will affect and determine their future life in almost all and every aspect (bonding with mother,personality, health, intelligence…). But it’s ok that rather than having a bottle of formula some babies live their first weeks on earth experiencing constant unsatisfaction, frustration, suffering, because their mother fails to fully satisfy their basic needs? Beats me, really.

    • Daleth
      March 16, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

      I know, seriously. Why would you not supplement your baby until your milk came in/your breasts healed? Oh right… because lactivists have convinced you that formula is eeeeevil.

      • MegaMechaMeg
        March 16, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

        I have a secret theory that is completely unsubstantiated that babies really are not designed to nurse exclusively from the mother before her milk comes in. Get the colostrum into the baby sure, but give mom a couple days to heal and recover and maybe sleep through the night, have another mother top off the kid and then when the good stuff gets there that is when mom takes over.
        Nothing about this theory is based in reality, it just seems like a special kind of crazy to expect a person who has gone through childbirth to immediately take on the physically and emotionally taxing work of caring for a newborn by herself, particularly when we have always been social creatures and in the way past there would probably have always been a nursing mother around and three to five days seems an awful long wait for a proper sized feeding.
        So with that particular piece of crazy theory floating in my head, early formula use seems perfectly consistant with a healthy breastfeeding relationship.

        • Daleth
          March 16, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

          That actually makes sense.

        • SuperGDZ
          March 17, 2015 at 5:23 am #

          It sounds nice, but until relatively recently humans grouped together in pretty small bands, and babies were more spaced than in later agricultural communities – more like one pregnancy every 3 years than one every year. So I don’t think it would have been a given that there was another lactating mother available.

    • moira
      March 16, 2015 at 1:38 pm #

      I don’t understand either. Wouldn’t malnutrition or starvation cause a whole lot more damage than a bottle of formula? With how quickly babies grow, that seems like it would have long-lasting effects that may translate into issues during adulthood.

  54. Anonymous
    March 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Just wondering Amy, but why is it that these midwives always seem to fail to show up. It doesn’t seem like they’re all that busy.

    • Daleth
      March 16, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

      The CNM my mom hired for my birth showed up, but went home a few hours before I was born to get some sleep, insisting that I wasn’t going to arrive until after dawn. WRONG. I was “caught” by my dad, a carpenter. Which just goes to show you how much expertise is required to catch a baby when all goes well.

      It’s when all DOESN’T go well that you need someone with training and expertise. In other words, when “normal birth” goes awry… as it too often does, and typically with little or no warning.

      It blows my mind that a licensed CNM thought it was appropriate to leave a first-time mother in labor alone (but for her husband) at home overnight. But anyway, yeah, I’m piping up to illustrate that it does happen, even with CNM’s.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      March 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

      The thing is, if a midwife has two clients but they both go into labor at the same time and she is supposed to deliver both at home, there’s just no way for it to happen. Another advantage of the hospital: central location so you can monitor both at once simply by moving from one room to the other.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        March 16, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

        Yeah, but considering that midwives only have 3-4 clients a month, it’s not overbooking that’s causing them to miss deliveries. And they aren’t even claiming that. It’s more like to be a kid’s soccer game.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          March 16, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

          True enough, but even if the midwife involved is completely honest and does her best to show up in a timely manner for every labor and delivery, the situation is such that she’s going to fail sometimes. And if she has no backup at all (and backup is discouraged because of the “having a relationship with the person who does the delivery” aspect of the NCB propoganda), then she will have to simply abandon some patients. I don’t think this is ethical, even without the soccer game problem (which I think you’re completely right about).

        • March 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

          Here’s what I don’t get – this occurred in the UK, a place where midwives are integrated into the system, a place where client load is low…why is it that they don’t have a back up midwife on-call in the event two clients go into labour at once? Or why wasn’t the woman directed to proceed to hospital due to the unavailability of her midwife? An unassisted homebirth should not happen in the context of a 12 hour labour.

          • Daleth
            March 16, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

            It actually happened in New York. It was published in a UK paper but happened in NYC. Still, same question: send the woman to a hospital if you, the midwife, can’t get there and have no backup!

          • Dr Kitty
            March 16, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

            Do you know, I knew before I read it that the author was American and that this didn’t take place in the UK.

            The midwife not turning up, three different LCs and no mention of a health visitor or GP… Very definitely not British.

            BTW, you don’t get to opt out of HV visits and your baby being weighed.

          • Joy
            March 16, 2015 at 6:18 pm #

            I know women who opted out of HV visits, but I don’t know at what stage.

          • SuperGDZ
            March 17, 2015 at 5:24 am #

            My understanding is that in the UK 2 midwives are required to attend a home birth.

  55. Allie P
    March 16, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    To be fair, though formula marketing might *currently* not set out to sabotage breastfeeding, it was not always so. Like much of NCB propaganda, they like to use scare tactics based on decades-old medical insanity, like we all still live in the Mad Men era (forced shaving/enemas, etc.). And yeah, we don’t have wetnurses around anymore, because we have cans of formula, and that’s cheaper and easier and safer, too.

    I’m a fan of formula. I attribute formula to helping me breastfeed my baby for ten months. I’m also a fan of formula because this country does jack-all to support breastfeeding moms. All they do is try to scare non-breastfeeding moms. My sister is a social worker specializing in teenage mothers, and she doesn’t give a crap about her clients’ breastfeeding rates, though the state really, really wants her to, by cutting off WIC funding and all kinds of crap. What she cares about is making sure her girls don’t drop out of high school. High school is hard enough for a fifteen year old mom without putting nursing or pumping pressure on her. Any imagined benefit from breastfeeding these children is NOT going to make up for their mother not having a diploma.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      March 16, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Wet nurses are the prime example of why it WASN’T marketing that led women to switch from breast to bottle. Since the beginning of time, there were women who couldn’t or didn’t want to breastfeed. If they had money, they could hire someone to do it for them. The search for breastmilk subsitutes and wet nurses started thousands of years before formula ever existed.

      I don’t mean to imply that formula companies are anything other than businesses, but it seems to me that the lactivist insistence that it was marketing that led to the switch to formula is like insisting that it is the existence of prostitutes led to adultery.

      • Cartman36
        March 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

        I agree. I find the idea that the marketing of formula will sabotage breastfeeding as absurd as the idea that teaching sex ed will encourage kids to have sex.

      • Sarah
        March 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

        Yes. Unfortunately, a lot of people are unable to separate their understandable revulsion at the way formula companies have behaved from the reality of the situation. There’s a market for formula because there always has been and always will be not only women who can’t breastfeed, but who don’t want to.

  56. demodocus' spouse
    March 16, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    That poor woman! And her even more unfortunate baby! Such pain over something now so easily fixed. And not by eating more oatmeal and drinking fenugreek 17 times a day. Obviously, she’s not one to trust obs, sadly. But no, most women do not produce enough more to feed a second baby, and I’m betting wet nurses were often loss mothers. In our hunter-gatherer days, there might only be one baby in a group of a dozen or two. There’d be more in a village, but what if no one has much oversupply? It’s not like pee, where you add more water in one end, more comes out the other. And another mother is going to want to feed *her* child first, before yours, even if she’s your favorite sister.
    My mom did double nurse me and another newborn for a bit, but she had massive oversupply. And that’s besides the latch issues. (apparently, I was reasonably successful, preemie though I was)

    • FormerPhysicist
      March 16, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

      I had a massive oversupply, but I had enough to do with my own little one. I didn’t donate to the milk bank because of the hassle, and I wouldn’t have nursed a friend’s infant for weeks when there was healthy formula available. If it was a matter of life or death, sure. But despite NCB/Lactivist propaganda, lack of breast-milk supply in the first world ISN’T a matter of life or death.

    • Tsu Dho Nimh
      March 16, 2015 at 9:02 pm #

      ” I’m betting wet nurses were often loss mothers”

      Or they handed the baby off to relatives, knowing it would be fed what passed for infant food, because they were desperate for the money, room and food that being a wet nurse would bring.

      This 5-part series, written in 1953, looks at infant feeding, wet nurses, and breast feeding from antiquity to the year he was writing in.

      He also did “Lactation and Heredity”

    • SuperGDZ
      March 17, 2015 at 5:25 am #

      Fenugreek is disgusting. I use it occasionally as one of many spices in a curry, but you’d have to be deranged to consume it on its own.

      • Inmara
        March 17, 2015 at 5:53 am #

        Interesting how herbal supplements for breastfeeding vary around the globe, in my area (northeastern Europe) it’s caraway that has been used for centuries. My grandmother had to nurse my mother right after World War II when food supplies were scarce, she said she drank caraway tea by liters and never had milk depletion despite lack of food for herself.

      • yentavegan
        March 17, 2015 at 7:22 am #

        Deranged? No. Hoodwinked? Yes. There are no scientific studies validating the use of any herbs/off lable medications for lactation.

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