But breastfeeding has to be superior … otherwise I’m not superior

image

Professor Charlotte Faircloth has written a simple, tightly argued piece cautioning us not to moralize infant feeding, and lactivists have become unhinged.

Faircloth merely states the obvious in Breastfeeding doesn’t determine a child’s future, so we should stop pretending like it does:

…[T]he assumption that how a woman feeds her baby in the early months will have life-long physical (and psychological) implications – a message echoed by the host of “experts” that now colonize early parenting – means that many women feel a huge sense of obligation to breastfeed (and therefore creating the two rather unappealing options of being “smug” or “guilty.”) …

[H]ow a mother feeds her baby is just one small part of the parenting jigsaw, and not one that will determine her child’s future outcomes. Women need infant feeding support that starts from them and their family’s needs, not more governmental hectoring, or sensationalist spats in the media, which just continue to fuel this already over-heated, destructive debate.

Faircloth is no stranger to decying efforts to moralize infant feeding. In her paper ‘What Science Says is Best’: Parenting Practices, Scientific Authority and Maternal Identity Faircloth explains the meaning of “the science” of breastfeeding to lactivists. “The science” is simply a convenient cudgel which lactivists use to metaphorically hammer away at women who do not follow their example:

The scientific benefits of breastfeeding and attachment parenting serve as a (seemingly) morally neutral cannon about which mothers can defend their mothering choices and ‘spread the word’ about appropriate parenting.

In the minds of lactivists, “the science” turns breastfeeding from a choice to an obligation.

When ‘science’ says something is healthiest for infants, it has the effect, for [lactivists], of shutting down debate; that is, it dictates what parents should do.

… [U]nder the assumption that science contains ‘no emotional content’, a wealth of agencies with an interest in parenting – from policy makers and ‘experts’ to groups of parents themselves – now have a language by which to make what might better be termed moral judgements about appropriate childcare practices. [But] ‘Science’ is not a straightforward rationale in the regulation of behaviour, rather, it is one that requires rigorous sociological questioning and debate in delimiting the parameters of this ‘is’ and the ‘ought’.

In Contextualising risk, constructing choice: Breastfeeding and good mothering in risk society. Stephanie Knaak, a sociologist, explains that breastfeeding promotion in first world countries is not about what an infant eats.

… this discourse is not a benign communique about the relative benefits of breastfeeding, but an ideologically infused, moral discourse about what it means to be a ‘good mother’ in an advanced capitalist society.

Lactivists have gone far beyond simple attempts to educated women about the benefits of breastfeeding. They have explicitly framed one feeding choice as “good” and another as “bad.” And they imply that only those women who make “good” choices can be good mothers.

… [T]his association of breastfeeding with ‘good mothering’ and formula feeding with ‘not so good mothering’ has been argued to be a key characteristic of today’s dominant infant feeding discourse. In large part, this can be attributed to the fact that pro-breastfeeding discourse is organised and mediated by: (a) a moralising public health ideology; and (b) the ‘ideology of intensive mothering’, today’s dominant parenting ideology.

In other words, breastfeeding promotion is not about nourishment and it’s not even about babies. It’s about mothers and how they wish to see themselves. Simply put, if breastfeeding is not vastly superior to infant formula, lactivists are not vastly superior to other mothers. Hence the vicious responses to Faircloth’s piece.

One commentor in particular regurgitates the greatest hits of lactivist propaganda:

Bottle fed infants are far more likely to have speech impediments, especially in boys.No one thrives on bottle milk, they survive it. Try measuring their tooth and bone density and checking how overcrowded their lower jaws are if you think they are thriving. And a woman dying every 20 minutes in the UK from breastcancer, a disease that doesn’t exist in fully breastfeeding cultures, well they’re hardly thriving are they?

And:

You are wrong to say their bodies fail them. Hospitals are overheated overlit and staffed by strangers so overuse is made of anaesthetic. All these make breastfeeding an uphill struggle. On release from hospital they are advised to feed with very restricted access to the breast, the last feed at night is advised and unnaturally long gaps between feeds.Without frequent enough feeds no woman’s body can produce enough milk. It is the health service that fails women, not their bodies.As for your mother in law, you may be confusing confidence and independence with not being close.

And my favorite:

The hormones of breastfeeding promote a sense of goodwill which is designed to be directed towards the baby. They are called the love hormones and they are released during breastfeeding. A bottle feeding mother can be caring, but she doesn’t have nature working in her favour, always a disadvantage when you are exhausted and in constant demand by another person.

Personally, the love I had for my babies was so overwhelming that nothing could dimish it, and I hardly had to rely on hormones to support that love.

The truth about breastfeeding in industrialized countries is that it is the designer handbag of parenting. Is it better than formula feeding? Marginally, as designer handbags are marginally better than run of the mill handbags. But the differences are trivial, and just as a regular handbag is an excellent way to carry your wallet and car keys, formula feeding is an excellent way to nourish an infant. Designer handbags convey status in a world where some women are desperate to feel superior to others, and breastfeeding conveys status in a world where some mothers are desperate to feel superior to other mothers.

These women moralize infant feeding because it makes them feel better about themselves. For them, breastfeeding has to be superior, otherwise they’re not superior … and that is simply intolerable.

  • Francesca Violi

    “Try
    measuring their tooth and bone density and checking how overcrowded
    their lower jaws are if you think they are thriving.”
    What about instead sharing with us the measurements YOU made, ’cause you surely must have plenty of them to back up these amazing claims, right?

  • Chi

    Breastfeeding makes you love your baby?

    Sorry, I would like to respectfully rebut that. I struggled for 2 months to exclusively breastfeed. My daughter was nursing what seemed to be around the clock…

    And I was starting to hate her, starting to hate the fact I couldn’t put her down and have any time to myself. I hated the fact she wasn’t sleeping longer than 20 minutes, hated that I was ‘failing’ to be a good mother. Oh and she never ONCE looked at me while she was breastfeeding.

    As soon as I gave her a bottle, she started sleeping longer. She started putting on weight. She started looking at me and smiling. And I started to love her more because I could appreciate her for what she was, instead of seeing her as this thing that was constantly joined to me.

    Formula helped her thrive. Breastmilk did not.

    So any lactivists who want to tell me that I’m not a good mother, or that I poisoned my child, you can go talk a long walk off a short pier. Give me respected, peer-reviewed science on the benefits of breastfeeding, or just sit down, shut up and stop judging me for a choice that was best for my family, my daughter, and me.

  • Wombat

    Wait, crowded teeth is supposed to be from bottle feeding? Can I like wish away my terrible wisdom teeth then? Since this is for every time, every baby?!? It must be impossible that I have teeth getting shoved sideways in the front now.

    I never needed braces as a kid, but I sure might now if I don’t hurry up and get these little demons cut out (dental insurance sure sucks). But breastfeeding benefits are for life?!? What can I believe, if not the omnipresent They version of Science routed through ideologue zealots!?

  • Michael Clark

    My personal encounter with the illogic of lactivism came when I was doing my OB rotation in medical school. We were being told how important it was to not stop breastfeeding at all, because even with breast milk, botte nipples were too easy to suck from and sometimes babies would refuse to go back to the breast.

    Thinking about post-docs and grad students who had kids and the undue burden it placed on women, it seemed to me a simple technical problem. Make a bottle nipple with similar delivery characteristics to a human nipple during breastfeeding. That way banked breastmilk ( or even, gasp, maybe formula once in a while) could be used without getting the baby adapted to easier sucking. And it even if mom produced all the milk, dad could help feed. So she could do things like work in the lab or go to scientific meetings.

    Great idea, right? Wrong. I asked why don’t we just make a bottle that delivered like a real nipple to give new families more flexibility. Based on the anger on her face and tone of her voice you would have thought I had suggested we head down to the nursery, pick up a few of the smaller babies, bathe them in marinade and throw them on the barbecue. “That doe NOT promote breastfeeding, and that’s what BEST for the BABY!” I realized then that bottle nipple issue was a red herring. I came away from that rotation feeling that OB was the most obnoxiously paternalistic field of medicine. But that the paternalism of the MDs was the least of it.

    • Josie

      “… I asked why don’t we just make a bottle that delivered like a real nipple to give new families more flexibility. Based on the anger on her… ”

      Was it a midwife you asked?

      Why didn’t anyone ask what was best for the mother?

      • Michael Clark

        We were being given a presentation on breastfeeding by a member of the “Lactation consultant team.” They were nursing staff but I don’t know how many, if any, were midwives. During the presentation, there wasn’t any actual mom there to ask what she wanted. Looking back om the whole OB rotation, I don’t recall anyone ever asking a woman what was best for her.

      • Michael Clark

        As for why they didn’t ask what was best for the mother, I got the impression it was a combination of two factors:
        1: they’d already decided they knew what was best for the mother
        And
        2: they didn’t give a rats ass what the mother thought

  • MaineJen

    Breast cancer…doesn’t…exist…in cultures that primarily breastfeed? What is that woman smoking?

    The farther my children get from infancy…the more I realize how very LITTLE it matters how our infants are fed. Watching my 5 year old’s tee ball game (adorable!!), I would challenge anyone to pick out the breastfed kids from the formula fed kids. The c section kids from the natural birth kids. The AP kids from the free range kids.

    Are your kids fed? Clothed? Sheltered? Safe from immediate danger? Loved beyond reason? Then you have done your job as a parent.

    • momofone

      “Breast cancer…doesn’t…exist…in cultures that primarily breastfeed? What is that woman smoking?”

      Amen. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure breast cancer exists in any culture in which people have breasts.

      • demodocus

        Including the occasional male, I’d presume

        • momofone

          True. It’s not just a female issue.

      • Allie

        Breast cancer exists in every place where the average lifespan of women is long enough to reach the age where it starts to manifest itself: 50-60 years.
        In places where women are statistically morelikekely to die earlier (death in childbirth, starvation, AIDS,…) there is very little breast cancer.Also less formula feeding. Only on planet lactivist is that a good thing.

        • momofone

          Yeah, dying before you can develop it does wonders for the stats. And for some people it will be much earlier. (Says the outlier.)

        • Francesca Violi

          Well, of course women in developing countries are so healthy not only due to the high breastfeeding rate, but also because most births are unmedicated, and they have no vaccines, antibiotics or evil chemicals, and because of their gluten-free diet.

    • LizzieSt

      According to that bit of lactivist logic, the incidence of breast cancer in Norway should have sharply declined – plummeted! – in the last 20 years, as rates of breastfeeding dramatically increased.This does not appear to be the case:

      http://www.kreftregisteret.no/en/The-Registries/Cancer-Statistics/

    • Michael Clark

      I couldn’t agree more. But then again I’m a refusenik against the cult of maximum parenting where no burden is too great, no effect size too small.

  • Josie

    Sorry for multiple posts but this thought just came to me:

    Why don’t more patients sue hospitals if they not handing out formula?

    • demodocus

      If it’s the goody bag you mean, those are sort of considered gifts, so you probably don’t have much of a leg to stand on to sue with. I tossed half the stuff in ours (I really dislike the 1950s comic book Indian Chief Wahoo that was emblazoned on the onesie).
      If there is no formula in the building and you’ve got one of those kids who needs to eat more than Mom can supply, there may be more for legal grounds.

      • Jen

        My Son lost 10% of his body weight because my milk didnt come in for 4days in the hospital. Id had a C-Section. WHen I asked for formula the nurse told me he didnt need it and that it would just hinder breast feeding. I think we both would have been more successful if we had been allowed to supplement earlier. With my next child Im bringing formula and bottles with me and wont let the nurses bully me into starving my child if my milk doesnt come in right away.

        • demodocus

          I hear you; mine took 5 days

        • Mattie

          Just a note that milk generally doesn’t come in right away, it’s day 3-5 with colostrum up to that point (for first baby, can be quicker with subsequent babies). Some babies need supplemental feeding before the milk comes in, some don’t but expect to need it and you won’t have a mad-dash to the shop in the middle of the night and you’ll have a calmer, happier baby and you’ll be calmer and happier too 🙂

          • Jen

            Totally agree! I actually had the formula and bottles already bought at home. I was planning to give breast feeding a go, but was mostly planning to combo feed. I just assumed that if my son needed food the hospital would provide. Thats the way it was when my sisters were born. Things have changed and not for the better

          • bbb0420

            My due date is this coming Saturday and I’m interested in combo feeding…did you find that it worked for you? I was thinking, when I go back to work after my 12 weeks of mat leave, of nursing my baby in the morning and evening and relying on formula during the day…I don’t really have a good place to pump at work. Just interested in how combo feeding works for others because I haven’t found a lot of info on it.

          • Squillo

            FWIW, I combo-fed my first, and it worked fine. I had initially intended EBF and pump, but found I couldn’t produce enough pumped milk to sustain him at daycare. I fed him just before dropping him off at daycare, then at night, and he was happy as a clam. No nipple confusion, and he self-weaned at about 18 mos. I had no supply problems, but I have heard of women who do if they aren’t bf or pumping during the work hours.

            Good luck!

          • Inmara

            How did you calculate amount of formula to give your baby? I know where to look for guidelines in case of EFF, but with combo you should somehow know amount of breastmilk to calculate how much to top off?

          • An Actual Attorney

            With mine, if I fed formula before, I just gave him a few ounces to take the edge/hysteria/panic off. If after, just till he was done. When he was full, he stopped. If he gulped it all down, and kept at the bottle, i put more in.

          • Jen

            I loved combo feeding. We had latch issues in the beginning so I had to pump and feed breast milk that way. We usually gave him formula for his middle of the night feeds and I would breast feed during the day. If he was hungry and my boobs were full I fed him breast milk. If they weren’t then we gave him formula. To be honest I only breast fed him the first 2 months though. I work full time and am the breadwinner while my husband stays home full time. We had no intentions of continuing to breast feed when I went back to work. My son is healthy and happy with no allergies, no colds, no ear infections and I highly doubt it has anything to do with how he was fed. My advice is be flexible. You wont know what works best for your family til your baby arrives. It’s way easier for dad or other family members to bond with baby and give you a break to take care of yourself if they can help feed baby. Baby does best with a happy family overall. My son never cared one iota if he was eating breast milk or bottle.Take care of yourself and congratulations!

          • Kelly

            My friend gave formula during the day at daycare and nursed when she was home.

    • Allie P

      I know even in the baby friendly hospitals if your baby is diagnosed with FTT or is in the NICU, formula will be made available. But it’s part of the drill for BF hospitals. It’s ALL ABOUT THE BREASTFEEDING.

      • Josie

        Thanks for the reply but you can’t force a woman to breastfeed.

        It’s just I’ve heart some women complain that the nurses and midwives won’t hand out formula even when asked.

  • Josie

    Check out this story from 2010. Denise Van Outen is a British television presenter and also stars in musicals. She is interviewed about being bullied for not breastfeeding:

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/denise-van-outen-i-was-bullied-252049

    excerpt in case the link doesn’t work for some:

    “It’s been three months since Denise Van Outen hit the headlines for, shock, horror, deciding to stop breastfeeding her baby after less than a month. And, boy, is she livid about the backlash, after it was reported she gave up because she didn’t want to be seen feeding baby Betsy in public.

    ‘Which just wasn’t true,’ she points out. ‘I did say it was an added factor, but I had my own personal reasons: it wasn’t working for me and it wasn’t working for our baby. If you try to breastfeed and it’s not working, then you don’t feel particularly good about yourself,’ she continues. ‘So to be then almost bullied…’ Denise trails off, clearly furious about what happened next.

    ‘About four or five weeks after it was publicly announced I was no longer breastfeeding, I got a letter from the NHS saying they were being supportive of me, but basically, they were very disappointed I’d stopped. They sent me a mug saying, “Keep calm and carry on breastfeeding”, and wrote, in a very personal message addressed to me, my husband and my daughter, that they think it’s due to the lack of support from partners and if I could just go back to it, if Lee makes me a nice cup of tea and gives me support, it wouldn’t be so difficult. So, basically, they were not just criticising me, but my husband, too.

    ‘And it also said, “Did you know that breastfeeding encourages weight loss?”,’ Denise exclaims. ‘Why would you put that in a letter to a woman when she’s just had a baby? I mean, I’m lucky because I’ve slimmed down, but the last thing I was thinking about was losing weight. I just wanted to get some sleep. And look after my baby. I wasn’t thinking, “I’m desperate to lose weight, I’ll get her on the boob!” I’ve kept the letter, because I think it’s a disgrace,’ she rails.

    And it wasn’t just faceless bureaucrats who felt able to judge Den. ‘It was other mums, too,’ Denise tells us. ‘And midwives sometimes can be very rude and abrupt when you choose not to do it. I’ve had friends whose mothers have also bullied them into doing it and partners who’ve bullied them… It’s really weird how people get on their high horse about breastfeeding.’”

    • Roadstergal

      Good on her. How hideous that she experienced that – and that so many other women must be experiencing it, too. :

      • Josie

        Who in the NHS had the arrogance and ignorance to send a letter out like that?

        Just exactly what do these people do all day that they have the time to write a letter like that and send it out to ONE woman?

        Why not put the money into training midwives so there will be no more incidents like “Morcambe Bay”?

    • Daleth

      How APPALLING. A letter from the f*cking NHS?!?!?! Seriously?!

    • Sarah

      Fuck me, that is disgusting.

    • Tiffany Aching

      WOW. This is unfuckingbelievable. The mug-sent-by-NHS part is HORRIFIC. I wonder wht NCB proponent who are so quick to denounce any intervention as “birth rape” aren’t more concerned by such an invasion of intimacy by the state. I really wonder what Michel Foucault would have made of this…

      • LibrarianSarah

        I would have sent them a mug that said “Keep Calm and Go Fuck Yourself” even if I had to pay for it to be made.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Hell, I’d contribute to getting several dozen made at a discount rate if I could get a few of them afterwards. 😀

    • Michael Clark

      Nothing brings out the nanny like babies. And it there is one thing the nanny-all up-in-your-business likes is to tell someone they are parenting wrong. My wife and I were lucky in regards to breastfeeding. She needed to be on multiple medications at the time. So whenever the topic would start to come up, we nixed it by saying she needed to be on medication and that doesn’t mix with breastfeeding. If the person was drifting into obnoxious moralizing, it would be delivered with the tone of ‘you idiot! Do you want to poison our baby?!?’ Didn’t happen more than twice but man did it feel good to see them scurry off tail between legs!

  • Josie

    Either those comments were written by people taking the mickey (pulling someone’s leg), or we need to start getting very concerned about the mentality of people who think breastfeeding is some magic potion that will produce humans with superman abilities.

    Since when did breastfeeding become like a cult? Why can’t people think for themselves? The problem here is that it’s not just cult followers who are being duped but they are punishing every mother as well some who definitely don’t want to be in the Cult of Breastfeeding.

    The Dept. of Health in every country seems to be spouting lies just to get women to breastfeed when the science just doesn’t seem to back up their claims.

    Why is this the case? Why is so much money being spent on forcing women to breastfeed when there is really no point in a Western Country?

    Wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on training and hiring more doctors so there would be fewer deaths? Fewer brain damaged babies?

    I think it may be a trend like “Keeping up with the Joneses” but why the medical profession are trying to bully women into doing it, is very puzzling. Wouldn’t it be better to work on campaigns like “No Smoking”, “Exercise More” or “Eat less Foods that make you Obese”.

    I think that it’s just easier to bully a new mother who is exhausted, in pain, hormonal and who is lacking in expertise about being a parent. Lactivists are cowards. If they went up to a person smoking and tried to take the cigarette off them they would probably get a punch in the face and they know it!

  • KarenJJ

    I love how Professor Fairclough writes. Very direct and blunt and to the point. Fantastic stuff! I hope we see more and more people standing up to this. With people like Dr Grunebaum and Professor Fairclough both standing against this puffed-up, romanticised, toxic version of childbirth and motherhood I have some hope for the mothers of the future.

  • Pregnant Guest

    OT but the providers I’ve seen have been driving me nuts and I don’t even know what to think anymore:

    How likely is it that my 12 week sono is more accurate for dating purposes than an early (supposedly 6w1d) sono? At 12 and 20 weeks, baby measured a week ahead of early sono, and now at 24w, measures 2 weeks ahead. I have a history of diet controlled GD, but passed a 12wGCT and 23w 3hr GTT (w/all nml values except a low 3 hr). Have been monitoring my sugars at home, but w/expired strips b/c my ins. won’t cover new ones w/o a diagnosis, and have had a few borderline fasting # (low 90s, mostly on days I wake up w/N/V) but mostly nml otherwise. I self tested during the 3 hour and my monitor read about 20 points higher than the lab for all values (would have still been passing, only the 1 hour was officially high, even by my monitor). They keep telling me my sugars must be high to be measuring so big, but I can’t seem to get evidence of that. They’ve also casually mentioned changing my EDD but haven’t done so yet. (Was nursing when I conceived, no LMP to go by.)

    No one seems terribly concerned, but not knowing what is going on has me terribly stressed out. I will suck it up and go pay out of pocket for a new monitor/strips. Besides that and watching my diet, is there anything else I should be doing/thinking about at this point?

    • Cobalt

      The very early (5-8 week) sonos are supposed to be the most accurate for dating because there hasn’t been enough time for all the natural individual variation to widen the normal range.

      Growth later has a lot more variation, and doesn’t always happen evenly. A baby can have a growth spurt a little earlier than average, which is totally fine. Measurements over time will give you a better picture. Also, a week or two ahead is not much difference in actual size at this point, typically millimeters. It is way too early for your baby to be “too big”.

      As for diet, see what your doctor thinks of your sugar records and meal plan. There is a wide range of “good enough” though, so don’t feel like you have to plan to the tiniest detail. And expired strips are more likely to be inaccurate, if you must test get new ones.

    • There is a 10% variation between a glucometer and a venous sample for blood sugar, so don’t be so concerned. Talk to your doctor, but if your A1c value is good, you might be able to test your blood sugar twice weekly rather than every day.

    • Dr Kitty

      Early scans are more accurate for dates, they are also more accurate for inter-operator variability (the later the scan, the more likely two people will get different results).

      The later the scan the less likely it is to represent reality, and don’t forget that scans accurate +/- a certain amount.

      Maybe you just grow big babies without GDM (perfectly possible).
      Maybe you have GDM this time and the tests just haven’t picked it up.
      Maybe the baby is smaller than the scans suggest (possible…but also it could be bigger).

      What is highly UNLIKELY is that the dates are wrong, so I wouldn’t be in a hurry to let them change the EDD.

      Will they repeat a GTT or diagnose you based on glucometer readings with in-date strips?

      It will do no harm to stick rigidly to the GDM diet in the meantime.

    • Megan

      I don’t know if you’re in the US but Walmart has a cheap flu older and strips with the brand name ReliOn if your insurance is giving you problems. You can buy any strips over the counter too so if you have a meter and the insurance is giving you the runaround but you need strips you could always buy them. I know the Freestyle Lite strips have also gotten pretty cheap, at least in my area.

      • Megan

        That was supposed to say “glucometer” not flu older. Sorry. I thought I caught all of the autocorrect crap but I guess not…

    • MJ

      I had diet-controlled GD with my first baby and he was up over nine pound. I had no sign of GD with two subsequent pregnancies but kept myself on a loose GD diet anyway. Those two babies were big as well (40 weeker just over 9 pounds, and 37 week at 8 pounds). I think perhaps I just make big babies, and maybe you do too – but I agree with other posters that it doesn’t hurt to keep on the diet.

  • namaste863

    I think that there might be something even more insidious going on underneath the surface of all this. Lactivists seem to believe that EBF will make their kid some sort of “Amazing Amy” (Apologies fore the Gone Girl reference), which is something no kid could ever hope to be. And when you get right down to it, “Amazing Amy” is so perfect, she’s boring. “Actual Amy” is way more interesting, albeit psycho. I guess it’s to point out that these people seem to see their kids more as trophies or trained ponies to be paraded around and shown off to the Joneses for playing Mozart at 6 rather than as actual human beings with weaknesses as well as strengths. The best gift one can give their children is to see and love them for the individuals they are.

    • MaineJen

      I think you’re right…but I hated that book. 😛

  • adoptivemom

    This pisses me off to no end. We adopted our son at 10 (bounced through the foster system from birth forward). So according to these harpies, just because I have never put him or any child to my breast means that I can never be a devoted and loving mother?! They can kiss my ass.

    Professor Faircloth and Dr. Amy – keep doing what you’re doing, calling out these idiots.

    • Roadstergal

      “So according to these harpies, just because I have never put him or any child to my breast means that I can never be a devoted and loving mother?!”

      According to my lactivist friend, it’s the other way around. Mums who truly love their children naturally gravitate towards EBF/AP/homeschooling. I’m not sure which angle is more fucked up.

    • FrederickBPerez

      Your first choice skepticalob Find Here

  • sdsures

    Who has proven that breast cancer doesn’t exist in “fully breastfeeding cultures” (whatever those are – can someone please tell me)?

    My favourite comment (and the one where my jaw dropped):

    “And a woman dying every 20 minutes in the UK from breastcancer, a disease that doesn’t exist in fully breastfeeding cultures, well they’re hardly thriving are they?”

    • momofone

      The idea that breastfeeding is some magical elixir for mothers or babies drives me nuts. I know this is really petty, but I have taken perverse delight in the reactions of a couple of people who made the smug assumption that my mastectomies were somehow the result of not breastfeeding. “Oh no, I breastfed for 21 months!” (big smile) And their faces fall. Butbutbut it’s not supposed to happen that way!

      • Gatita

        Who. the. FUCK. would insinuate that to a cancer survivor? FUCK those people, seriously.

        • momofone

          I really think it’s just a function of how desperately people cling to what they believe to be true–and the need to believe that they’re protected by doing the “right” things.

          • Gatita

            It’s also a function of being a complete asshole.

          • Elizabeth A

            People have a lot of need, when you tell them that something terrible has happened to you, to come up with a narrative that explains why that thing will not happen to them. Read a few news articles about shootings or car accidents if you want examples.

            I have also had people suggest that maybe my cancer could have been prevented by something. Lentils come up pretty often. Kale. Sugar. Attitude is another popular one. I hear a mroe general “breast feeding would reduce rates of breast cancer!” a lot, although no one has tried to tack it to me specifically.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I agree. I strongly suspect that the “logic” goes something like this:
            1. I don’t want cancer.
            2. She got cancer.
            3. She must have done something wrong that made her get cancer.
            4. I’ve done everything right, so I won’t get cancer.
            Threaten that paradigm and they could get pretty unpleasant. Because if you did everything right and still got cancer, they can get cancer too and that won’t do (see above).

          • Inmara

            It’s officially called “just world theory” (google, there are some really good articles about it) and applies not only to cancers but also to other bad things happening to [other] people [who apparently did something wrong and deserve it]. My friend, cancer survivor, shared some links, and this theory really nails what she had to endure with relatives and acquaintances playing health gurus and pointing out reasons why she got cancer. Do I have to say she was pissed to no end?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I think sometimes the need for a just world goes so deep that people would rather blame themselvs than admit that it was random: They’ll think “I should have eaten more kale” or “I should have only eaten organic kale” or “I should have stayed away from power lines” or who knows what else rather than admit that it was just a fluke that a cell in their body got out of control and nothing they did or didn’t do could have changed that.

          • FrequentFlyer

            I think wanting things to be just is part of it. If I do all of the “right” things, I should be rewarded with good health. I shouldn’t be sick like those lesser people who are not as good and “right” as me. I think the randomness of life is too much for some people to handle. There are some things we can control or at least influence, but a lot of things in life just happen and all we can control is our response. That can be scary but instead of acknowledging and dealing with that reality, a lot of people frantically create more rules to follow. If they can focus on following all the rules , then maybe it eases their anxiety?

          • demodocus

            An acquaintance, on learning about my mother’s pancreatic cancer, asked if she drank a lot of soda, because she’d heard that too much soda causes it. Mom was diagnosed a couple weeks earlier, on my birthday, and survived just 2 months. The sanctimonious air got to me the most.

          • momofone

            What a gut punch. I’m so sorry.

          • demodocus

            Thanks.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Methinks that acquaintance could use one of the mugs we were discussing upthread. 😉
            In all seriousness, I’m sorry. That sounds like an awful few months. And *what* a birthday present…ugh.

          • demodocus

            I wasn’t told that it was actually on my birthday until fairly recently. I thought it was on Mom’s, which is several days later.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I’m sorry. Pancreatic cancer is the absolute worst.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Though I found out earlier today that a friend of mine from high school just died of ovarian cancer so I’m not loving ovarian cancer right now either. Cancer is just crap.

      • indigosky

        A friend of mine breastfed five kids for nearly 8 years. But when breast cancer runs in your family, no amount of breastfeeding is going to stop it.

        I wish I could say I couldn’t believe people would blame someone for their own breast cancer, but unfortunately nowadays I can.

      • Allie P

        The mind goggles. They truly believe breastfeeding will help them not get cancer? I mean, REALLY, that’s a thing people believe? I live with the woos down in Wooville and I’ve never heard that one.

      • sdsures

        They seriously thought that? OMG.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Short answer: no one.

    • Dr Kitty

      Breast and cervical cancer are the most common cancers in African Women.

      “In several sub-Saharan African countries, however, breast cancer
      has now become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in
      women” (taking over from cervical cancer).

      Cite:http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-031574.pdf

      So… I call shenanigans on that particular claim about “fully breast feeding cultures”.

      Obesity, alcohol, early menarche, late menopause, hormonal therapies, delayed childbearing and smaller family sizes, increasing life expectancy, increased detection rates and family history all have more to do with breast cancer incidence that breast feeding.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        So… I call shenanigans on that particular claim about “fully breast feeding cultures”.

        Of course it is shenanigans. Or, more to the point, it is made up. There is no basis for it, just like the claim that sharks don’t get cancer. Of course they do. But someone made it up, for self-serving purposes, and someone believed it unquestioningly, again for self-serving purposes.

        If you want to stop it, just ask for a source. There is none. It’s just asserted here and there.

      • sdsures

        Understood, and thanks for the explanation.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      The risk of breast cancer is lower in women who complete a pregnancy and breast feed when they are younger* (<30 or 45-50) who are the ones most at risk, partly because there is less diagnosis so more people dying mysteriously of some illness associated with wasting and lumps but that is never called “cancer”.

      *Probably. Mostly. There is some evidence that there is actually an increased risk of the aggressive triple negative breast cancer in Hispanic women who breast feed for longer periods of time. Now they tell me.

      • sdsures

        In other words, people don’t live long enough to die of diseases that would normally strike a relatively older population? Yeah, I can see how that works, but lactivists twist it to suit their own agenda to use the “noble savage” angle.

  • Willow Schwartz

    I took the 20 hour breasfeeding education required to gain the “Baby Friendly” designation a few years ago.
    I was taught that even one bottle of formula could cause possibly permanent damage to a baby’s immune system when the formula passes through the baby’s ‘leaky gut’. I was taught that formula is “not sterile” and could contain deadly sakazackii bacteria. (I aksed if nipples were sterile and was told that the mom’s antibodies accommodated for that.)
    In the very small portion of the program entitled “Support for the Non-Breasfeeding Woman”, I was provided a list of water one is not allowed to use when mixing formula. That list included things like “designer”, “run off”, and carbonated, amongst others. I do not recall that I was told what water I could use.
    Instructions for mixing a bottle of formula were scarily complicated. You can only make one bottle at a time. You have to use a sterile scoop and place the powder into a sterile bottle. You need to add the nipple and ring using sterile tongs.
    I felt much of this caution was ridiculous in the care of a healthy, full term baby. Preemies, of course, would be a whole ‘nother story.
    Because of our Baby Friendly designation, the new moms are “very strongly compelled” to room in, exclusively breastfeed as frequently as every 2 hours, and must sign consents for pacifiers or formula feeds. Some of these new moms grouse to the nurses that they are being ‘forced’ or ‘pushed’ to comply and can’t wait to go home.
    I’m quite sure breastfeeding is a great decision… if it is the right decision for you, your baby and your family.

    • Toni35

      If the formula isn’t sterile (and so what that it isn’t – is any food anyone ever eats “sterile”? WT literal F??) then what on earth is the logic behind the scoop, bottle, nipple, and tongs, etc, being sterile? Won’t they become non-sterile the moment they come in contact with the dirty, dirty formula anyway?

      If this is the derp they are telling HCPs, what are they telling women?

      • Medwife

        I’m imagining bottle prep and feeding with true sterile technique. Hilarious.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Circling the baby’s mouth x3 with the iodine swabs followed by blue fenestrated drape, size 6.5 sterile gloves applied in the standard fashion to the mother’s hands by the nurse…

          • Megan

            I give my baby a Hibiclens shot before every bottle. 😉

        • Liz Leyden

          Just put the baby on TPN.

      • Back in the days when mothers made up a 24 hour supply of a formula made of evaporated milk, water, and sugar, sterility was an issue because it could easily spoil.

        It’s a very different world today.

    • anotheramy

      Such a shame ! I’m sure they didn’t teach you how to or how much to supplement so baby thrives but still maintains nursing (if that’s what mom wants.) It’s really hard for moms to find info on how much to supplement while nursing. That’s an area that could actually help some moms, but instead there’s this bizarre emphasis on *exclusively* nursing.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        I’d love to know more about combo feeding – I had my son 4 days ago and I think that introducing a little bit of formula may actually help me power through these difficult first days. I think this concept that one drop of formula undoes any goodness from however many litres of breastmilk is ridiculous and has no evidence base whatsoever. Right now I’m having some issues – painful latch, engorgement and bad sleep deprivation (on top of a pretty big PPH – trying to look after a newborn while suffering from symptomatic anaemia really sucks, luckily got transfused before leaving hospital). I suspect that the odd bottle of formula could let me and my traumatised nipples have a break, but I’m not sure how that’ll work with the engorgemdnt. I’m going to get in contact with the lactation consultants in the morning but even though I have my own knowledge to back myself up I’m weirdly nervous to mention the f word.

        • Inmara

          I would like to have more information about combo feeding too – in case it’s necessary. And how to get an infant feeding both from breast and from bottle without refusing any of them – remember reading in one forum about babies who plainly refuse bottle when mom (after some months of devotional EBF) wants to leave them with other caregiver, hell no, I don’t want to be in such situation!
          And, of course, congratulations with your brand new baby – hope you’ll figure out feeding and will be a happy mom with happy baby soon!

          • Cobalt

            Newborns will latch on to anything they are physically capable of latching on to. Breasts, bottles, fingers, pacifiers, noses, whatever. If they can, they will.

            Introduce whatever you want them to use in the first few days, and keep exposing them to all their options periodically so they don’t forget how each one works. The longer you wait, the harder it is for them to learn a new latch.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            DD had a particular fondness for DH’s biceps, and used to be absolutely furious that she couldn’t get anything out of them. 😀

          • Michele

            Mine used to try to latch on to freckles on my arm.

          • Daleth

            That’s so cute. My babies are currently into our noses and my cheeks.

          • Inmara

            In birthing class midwife told about baby who was given to new dad for skin-to-skin, and baby latched to dad’s nipple. His wife is lucky, because now he can really grasp how painful a latch may be!

          • Megan

            My DD did this too!! She also tried his nipple through his shirt but always had the most fondness for his bicep! She was so pissed that neither gave her milk!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Ohhhh yeah. She made it perfectly clear that she was sure DH was just holding out on her and not letting her get milk from his bicep, and that anatomy/physiology had nothing whatsoever to do with it. 😀

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            DS keeps going for his own hands even when there’s a nipple right in front of him.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Heh. I remember when DD discovered her fingers. It was great, in that that was pretty much what started some very good sleeping habits: she’d wake up, and self-soothe herself back to sleep by sucking on them. Problem is, she kept trying to nurse with them in her mouth, and that didn’t work so well…I’d have to hold down her hands while shoving the nipple in her mouth, and she’d be furious about that until she got some milk, Baby ADD kicked in, and she forgot about her fingers.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          From what I understand, in my area something that drives the local LC’s batshit crazy is that a) it’s considered totally normal among Latinas to have the grandma/aunt/mom’s sister/whoever feed the newborn a bottle at night for the first week or thereabouts. Mom nurses during the day and once or so at night during that time. As a result, mom isn’t totally exhausted, mom gets more sleep after labor/C-section/or both, mom is more likely to keep breastfeeding as a result…and she usually does, as the majority of Latina women in our area do breastfeed for a relatively long time. I’m sure this is a combination of having the support and help of extended family and the rest/lack of pressure to produce milk that second lest the baby start screaming in hunger. Like I said, the local LCs absolutely hate this, but ya can’t argue with the fact that it certainly seems to work well.

          • Daleth

            If the local LC’s hate having moms, grandmas, aunts etc. all pitch in to keep baby fed and help New Mom rest and recuperate, they are out of their minds.

            My theory is this: human beings did not evolve to have ONE WOMAN (new mom) 100% responsible for all Baby’s feedings from birth on. Humans evolved to live in tribes/very extended families, and in groups like that it is very unusual for there to be only one woman lactating at a time. My guess is that in nature–apparently the favorite place of NCB types, including many LC’s–grandmas, aunts, sisters, etc. would have all taken turns nursing New Baby while New Mom got some sleep.

            And they probably did so from day 1–in other words babies are NOT meant to starve for a few days until New Mom’s milk comes in.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Ah, but you see, if New Mom doesn’t feed the baby nonstop all day and all night with no breaks at all, New Mom’s milk supply won’t get established. And giving New Baby even a single bottle of formula Ruins Their Leaky Gut For All Time. *rolls eyes*

          • Daleth

            It’s amazing how the only thing that supposedly has that effect is formula. You can introduce cereal at five months, you feed them pureed veggies and meat at six months, yogurt at nine months, whole cow milk at 12 months, and they eat this (in addition to boob juice) every day… and it all has NO NEGATIVE EFFECT WHATSOEVER, but if AT ANY POINT you tip a bottle of formula towards their lips, their digestive system is forever compromised.

          • Julia

            This sounds like a wonderful and practical solution!

          • Fallow

            YES. I heard about that when my baby was already about 8 months old, but I thought it was GREAT. Those women are geniuses. The LCs need to step off and let them do it their way.

            Supplementing
            worked so well for us, that if I ever had another kid, I’d combo feed
            from the beginning without hesitation. It gave me a break that I
            desperately needed. My dad, stepmother, and husband helped me carry the
            newborn feeding load, and it was a godsend. Supplementing DID make it possible for me to breastfeed at all. It took a lot of pressure off and made breastfeeding compatible with our lives.

            My PPH meant that I never had a full supply, even though I went through
            engorgement and got a blood transfusion. I had a great lactation consultant in
            the hospital who told me my body was probably too screwed up to do EBF,
            and told me to supplement. It was the best possible solution for us, with or without my PPH of doom.

            (Later, I had a shitty LC at our
            daughter’s pediatrician who sort of told me I was a breastfeeding
            failure because I was lazy. After she heard how sick I’d been and how
            much blood I’d lost, she changed her tune. But still. Evil.)

          • Fallow

            Jesus H. Christ, I hate it when I arrange my paragraphs in a different order and forget it will screw up the formatting for no reason.

          • The penny dropped for me when my first child, at two weeks of age, after nursing round the clock, got a bottle because we were not in a place where breastfeeding was possible. He drank 240 cc, burped, and went to sleep for four hours, the first time since he’d been born.
            I just don’t produce adequate amounts of milk for 4kilo babies.

          • When both my grandchildren were born, I did the night feeding several times a week for the first couple of weeks. In fact, I had the baby sleep at my house a few times. That way everyone got some rest, and my daughter could have some uninterrupted quality time with the baby’s big sister.

        • momofone

          I’m no help with combo feeding, but congratulations!

        • Do whatever you WANT to in order to feel better. You’re doing the important part already, it doesn’t matter HOW it’s done because YOU’RE the one loving and taking care of your baby.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Thanks for the support! I’m fine with the idea of formula feeding, but I’d like to try to make breastfeeding work – in some ways more for future convenience than for health reasons. I got my husband to buy some bottles and formula the day I left hospital so it’s there if it gets too much for me, but until this engorgement settles I think I should probably hold off. Maybe when my husband goes back to work

          • An Actual Attorney

            FWIW, I never had enough supply in the beginning, or maybe it just took us a while to get the hang of it. I would feed Actual Kid some formula, and then let him finish up on the breast. Overnights, my wife gave him pumped milk or formula, depending on what was available. I prized sleep, being a high risk of PPD. Either one would go in a bottle, in a bag with an ice pack, hung off her side of the bed, so when he cried, she didn’t have to go far. He BF for almost 2 years. And now at 5 finds the whole idea revolting.

          • Cobalt

            This is when a breast pump is nice. Use it to express to get your engorgement down to where you’re comfortable! I pumped once a day, just before bed, as close to empty as I could get. Do whatever you want with the milk. You could also plan to have your husband handle the next feed (ready to feed formula being the easiest to use, frozen breast milk the hardest) after you pump so you can get more sleep in a row.

          • Michele

            For a little bit of help with the engorgement, I used these breast shells in between feedings: http://www.amazon.com/Philips-Avent-Comfort-Breast-Shell/dp/B000058DQJ
            You can also use them to catch leaking from the other side when you’re nursing. I stored the milk in the fridge so that DH could give a bottle in the evenings when I needed more sleep or I needed to have some time without anyone else touching me.
            Just don’t bend over if you’re using the ones with ventilation holes or you will leak milk out of the holes.

        • Angharad

          I combo fed my daughter for six months (I stopped because she has bad food allergies and I was tired of restricting my diet so severely). It was OK after about four or five weeks of a rough start (I also had a difficult delivery and that’s about how long it took me to start feeling better, which is probably related). When I had bad engorgement I would pump before feeding her because she had terrible latch issues anyway and the rock-hard breasts made things worse and I personally found pumping less painful than nursing her. I always tried breastfeeding first and then after she or I got tired of breastfeeding I would give her as much formula as she needed to top her off (usually between one to two ounces of formula) and maybe pump if I still felt full. My husband also would get up in the night to feed her the milk I had pumped throughout the day, as well as any extra formula she needed. Of course this is all just my personal experience, and what works for you may be entirely different.
          I was also lucky to get a really good lactation consultant on my second try (the first one was a lactivist who said and did all kinds of crazy things to me). I found it really hard to advocate for myself when dealing with my first lactation consultant, but my husband arranged to have me see a different one who was supportive of combo-feeding. They do exist, so if your lactation consultant isn’t working out, keep looking for a new one (if you want to). Best of luck and congratulations on your little one!

        • Julia

          First of all, congrats! I combo-fed for the first couple of weeks because it took a while for me to make adequate amounts of milk. If baby was still hungry after nursing for a while, we fed him formula until full. No regrets! Happy baby, my husband could do some feeds and after a while baby wasn’t hungry after nursing anymore. So contrary to what some lactivists want you to believe, it didn’t adversely affect my supply. But even if it had, it sure beats having a hungry crying baby.

        • araikwao

          Congratulations!!I have no relevant advice to you, but hope that the wonderful moments outweigh the miserable ones in the beginnings of parenthood 🙂

        • Mishimoo

          Congratulations on your new arrival!! Hope things are much easier from now on and that you get some sleep soon. Feed him whichever way is comfortable for you, all that matters is that he’s eating. I found that expressing a little before feeds while engorged made it easier for my babies to latch, as did laying on my side to feed.

        • demodocus

          Congrats! Like a couple others mentioned, I bf’d first and then used the bottle to top him off. (My milk came in slowly. Still hasn’t left yet. grr.) If it hurt too much, I just expressed a bit and used the bottle.

        • Alexicographer

          Congratulations on your new arrival — so sorry to hear about the PPH.

          I had the opposite problem (low supply) but combo fed from a week in thanks to helpful LCs (who said, “This baby is hungry” and gave me bottles of formula.). They provided me with a “supplemental nursing system” (aka a syringe with a tube) and the idea was that I needed to insert the tube into my son’s mouth when he was nursing so I could add formula (which I had put in the syringe) to what he was getting (not much from my breasts!) while nursing.

          Once he needed more than 10cc’s extra per feeding (the amount the syringe held), I switched to using a bottle. Whether he’d have been OK with bottle from the git-go (and not have that interfere with his desire to nurse) or not, I have no idea. So our routine was — nurse, then give him a bottle while I pumped (to increase supply).

          In hindsight it was kind of exhausting. It worked, he nursed until he weaned himself at about 14 months. He also got formula throughout (well, cow’s milk once he was a year), as my supply never got up to being enough.

          Anyway, that’s my background, but your situation sounds different. Could you not pump some before nursing (as some others have suggested) and either save the milk to use as needed or discard it if you don’t want to fool with that? The using formula bit is easy, of course. I cannot speak to whether a supplemental nursing system is better than just swapping out nipple/bottle, but it’s an option if you want to try it — though they so require an annoyingly decent amount of coordination to use, in my experience.

          Good luck to you.

        • Who?

          Hope you’ve had some sleep.

          Congratulations, sorry about these difficult days.

          No relevant advice except to remember to look after yourself and be kind to yourself. If kindness to your poor nipples takes the shape of a bottle of formula, that sounds good.

        • Some of the posts below give good advice, but let me suggest several things. If you are engorged, pump and save (freeze) extra milk. If the baby’s latch is poor, use the pumped milk as supplement, via bottle. The other big advantage of giving a bottle with EBM is that someone else can feed the baby so you can get a decent amount of rest. Exhaustion does impact the amount of milk production. It normally takes a couple of weeks for the body match production and demand in any case.

          If part of the problem is that you have less than ideal nipples, and he’s becoming frantic with hunger, a breast pump (1) helps draw the nipple out, for a better latch, and (2) giving him a couple of sucks on the bottle will quieten him a bit so he can latch on better. Also, try nipple shields, which relieve some of the trauma on your nipples, and also are easier to suck on, for the baby. Remember, it’s the milk, not the manner of delivery, which is important.

          Babies have to be taught to overeat. If you nurse on both sides, he will take the amount of supplement, whether EBM or formula, that he needs. Try 60 cc in a bottle at first. He may only want a half –or even less.

        • Amazed

          No advice here but congratulation on Mini Monkey! Hope you feel better soon.

        • Allie P

          Good luck. The SNS (little hoses you attach to your boob) were hellish, so I gave them up and switched to bottles and never had a “nipple confusion problem. I combo fed successfully for ten months. Do not fear giving your baby the occasional small bottle of formula to “top them off” if they are still hungry after a feed. My LLL leader suggested nursing FIRST, because that’s when they were hungriest and would suck hardest (but if you’re engorged, you might pump a bit so it’s easier on them), and then bottle feeding after.

        • moto_librarian

          Congratulations on your baby! Sorry to hear that you had a pph. One word of advice: be sure that your doctor checks your iron at your postpartum follow up. My midwives did not, and I was still anemic 18 months post-birth.

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          Thanks everyone for your well wishes. Quick update- Little monkey and me are doing really well. We did a 1 on 1 session with the community midwife which was much more helpful than the hospital lactation consultant and I’m breastfeeding much better now. I ended up not going with formula as the engorgement was so bad, but we have it under control now. I still have formula and a bottle in the cupboard and once I get a bit more established with breastfeeding I might sub in the occasional bottle to give me a break, but I’m happy things are working out right now.

          On my online birth month club I started a breastfeeding support thread, but the one ground rule I put in place was no formula bashing. There are so many women out there struggling with breastfeeding, for something so natural it sure is bloody hard! It’s also sad to see several women there admitting that they feel like failures for not managing to exclusively breastfeed – luckily the group has been really supportive and those women have been told that they are doing a great job.

          • Conga-rats on your new baby!

        • Casual Verbosity

          You’ve got a tonne of great advice here, and having never lactated I can’t personally add to it. What I will say is that the Fed Is Best Foundation has some great resources for combination feeding if you’re still looking for more information and support.

          Best of luck and congratulations on the new addition!

    • Long before the Breastfeeding Nazis went on steroids, I discovered that a very large number of mothers agreed to just about everything the hospital nurse or midwife said, anything for a quiet life, and went home and did what they had intended to do all along.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        I just want to say that “Breastfeeding Nazis on Steroids” sounds like a very, very bad soft core porn/exploitation movie. And that it probably says something horrible about me that a) my mind went there and b) I felt the need to share the pain with you. (Passes brain bleach.)

    • Montserrat Blanco

      I am the mother of a combo fed preemie. No one ever tried formula to be sterile even at the hospital. It was of course clean, but not sterile. Very very very clean but not sterile.

    • Liz Leyden

      Isn’t ready-to-feed formula sterile? Either way, it only matters if the baby is premature, and then only for a few weeks.

    • Amy M

      Isn’t that whole “leaky gut” thing entirely made up? I know that, say, celiacs could have inflammation in their guts, which can interfere with digestion and prevent some nutrients from being absorbed. But the vast majority of babies aren’t celiac.

      • Inmara

        Here is a good take on this mythical “leaky gut” that naturopaths love so much https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/leaky-bowel/

        TL;DR – there actually is such condition but it’s extremely rare and causes serious health problems; everything else ascribed to leaky gut is a scam diagnosis to sell supplements and promote fad diets.

  • Darkling

    In one of my university courses I had a professor stop in the middle of teaching to tell every young women in the class that she needs to breast feed when she has kids. Yeah, because a class on parasitology is a totally appropriate time and place to tell young women what to do with their bodies.

    • RMY

      I had that happen in my immunology class. At least the teacher was female though, and pregnant. But still, she totally oversold it.

    • Sarah

      There’s never an inappropriate time to tell women what to do with their bodies.

    • araikwao

      Wellll, fetuses are parasites, I guess….?

      • Darkling

        That breast-feeding toddler from the TIMES cover did look rather like an ectoparasite to me, but then I’m obviously biased.

    • indigosky

      And when it came to professor evaluation time, I would have let said professor have it in the written comments. And reported it to the department as well.

  • Sue

    Message to competitive parenters:

    Virtually all parents, all over the world, love their children fiercely and intensely, whatever their parenting culture is.

  • Rosalind Dalefield

    Being able to breastfeed successfully made me lucky, not superior.

  • EllenL

    Mine were eating cereal and fruit from 6 weeks. They were formula fed, and as I recall, switched to whole milk at about 4 months.

    It’s a wonder they speak, think, and are able to function in society.

    Of course, things have improved since those days. I’m all for progress. Formula is better, nursing women have breast pumps and consultants, everyone has boppie pillows. It’s all good. There’s no need to become hysterical over other people’s feeding choices.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    Oh man… Well let’s see on bone density.

    Me: Breastfed, normal density. Broke my tailbone as a kid.

    Sister: Bottlefed from birth. Bones like freaking Wolverine. Does Brazilian Jujitsu and MMA. Never broken even a toe.

    Me: Breastfed and had braces for three years. Still have some minor overcrowding issues on my lower jaw.

    Sister: Bottlefed with a naturally straight smile the envy of every kid that’s ever had braces.

    Guess we grew up in opposite world or something.

    And I guess breastfeeding cultures don’t have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations either? Seems to be a gene set that has a variety of mutations across many racial and ethnic origins.

    Quick! Breastfeed faster! That’ll stop the BRCA genes in their tracks!

    • indigosky

      I was formula fed and I have yet to break a bone in over 30 years. I am a spectacular klutz and was and still am one heck of a tomboy. I have been taken to the doctor or hospital on multiple occasions and the doctors have always been shocked that I didn’t at least chip a bone with the other injuries that I come in with.

  • RMY

    I had/have speech issues and was breastfed.

    I don’t get the pride in exclusivity, I see it but I don’t understand why that’s something to be proud of. To me it seems as silly as being proud of being able to roll your tongue. Some people have that ability, some don’t it’s not a reflection of your efforts or worth.

    My wife and I are looking into fostering with being open to adoption, we definitely will have to formula feed if we get a kid that young. Like, there is no other option legally.

    I’ve had blogging friends who tried to induce lactation in the non-gestational mom, and it’s worked for exactly nobody, with all the meds and consultants, etc. So I’m guessing the great and vast majority of adoptive mothers don’t breastfeed, but still manage to generally love their children.

    • Gozi

      I was completely and utterly formula feed from newborn to weaning. Not only do I not have speech problems, public speaking has been one of my strengths. I have in the past received scholarships for speeches I’ve written and delivered. I probably could have, and may still consider, a career that involves a lot of public speaking.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Believe me, if you have a baby to take care of you will have literally A MILLION problems. Try to reduce feeding problems with formula. Inducing lactation is a nightmare and you do not want to be doing that on top of taking care of a baby. I did two days of power pumping and almost lost my mind during them. It was awful, and during those two days my baby was mostly with my husband. It is not worth it, you are supossed to spend more than those two days if you did not give birth so it must be hell. Learn how to formula feed properly and worry about other things.

      And by the way yes, you will love your children. A LOT. You will love them even when they behave like hell and even when they are literally kicking on one of your fresh scars. You will love them no matter what. And it does not matter if they were born from you or not. I would love my son regardless how he had arrived.

  • Sarah1035

    I’m not a speech language pathologist, but as a parent of a boy with an expressive language delay I can tell you there IS a link between bottle feeding and future language issues. My boy couldn’t breastfeed and could barely bottle feed and it is related to his speech issues. But they are putting the cart before the horse. His oral motor problems caused him not to breast feed, not the other way around.

    • Gatita

      My son had the same issues. Another example of correlation vs. causation.

    • indigosky

      Totally agree. And the whole crap about c-sections causing autism…no, more likely that since autistic babies have larger heads, they can’t be birthed vaginally. But people with agendas don’t care about facts.

  • anotheramy

    This attitude doesn’t just apply to breastfeeding. It is rampant in heated debates online about when to start pureed foods, at 4 mos or 6 mos, homemade or store bought baby food, or “baby-led weaning”. There are lots of accusations of “being uniformed” and “do your research!” And “doctors don’t know everything/ you need a new doctor”. All for literally a few months of feeding choices. Really?! Really?!
    I think those other choices are all about mothers feeling superior, not about the food. You’re spot-on, Dr. Amy.a

    • Gatita

      I used jarred food because it was convenient and I hate all the homemade baby food business, it’s so damned annoying! If you have the time and enjoy doing it, go for it but stop wanking on about it.

      • Liz Leyden

        WIC gave us jarred food, and we used it.

      • Kathleen

        I LOVED making my daughter homemade baby food. We used pouches when traveling for convenience. My son got shafted – he RARELY got homemade baby food and usually survived by just eating what we had, cut very, very tiny (tinily?) and had way more pouches. With him I was THRILLED when he started to refuse all pureed foods at 10 months or so-
        I don’t think I EVER bragged about it. Who has time with one or more children to get all superior about baby food?

      • guest

        I used the jarred food because I looked at the labels and they had exactly the same things I would put into my homemade versions, and nothing more. All this scare talk about added chemicals, rice, etc. Nope. Jarred peas: Peas, water. The end. So yeah, I took the convenient route in that case. Peas, water. How can that not be healthy?

      • Toni35

        I did a combo of “baby led weaning” and purees (some homemade, some jarred). I did wait until about 5.5-6 mos before starting, so spoon-feeding wasn’t really necessary (I HATE HATE HATE spoon feeding! Messy, time consuming, tedious, gross. Did I mention I hate it? It was “cute” the first few times with my oldest child, but once the novelty wears off (the first time you get pureed peas spit all over you comes to mind), you just want the kid to feed herself while you get to eat you own damned dinner while it’s still hot!). I’d mostly just mash up or cut into small pieces whatever we were having that was appropriate, put it on the high chair tray, and let them go for it. With the second and third child it was necessity – I couldn’t very well feed baby while cooking dinner (can’t be in two places at once), and the older child(ren) needed assistance too – cutting up meat, etc. Not to mention I wanted to be able to actually eat with my family, not later after I was done feeding baby. And my dh feels the same way about purees as I do (g.r.o.s.s.), so really, baby led weaning made sense for everyone. I did make up few large batches of purees for the freezer (homemade is cheaper, if you have the time) and did buy some jarred purees (mostly for variety and convenience – the jars need no refrigeration so they can be tossed in a diaper bag) for those meals when there really wasn’t anything the baby could reasonably have and for sitters or when we would go out.

        Point being – we did what made sense for our family and used the convenience of jarred foods where it made sense, the economy of homemade purees where that made sense, and mostly just let the kids figure out the whole food thing on their own so it would be less work for us. What can I say? We’re lazy 😉 We were doing what was most convenient for us as parents so, definitely not superior, lol.

      • sdsures

        Didn’t you know? It’s ALL about wanking. 😛

      • Sarah

        I never used jarred food because giving the baby bits of fruit, veg, toast and what we were having was convenient for me. Saved ever having to get anything in specifically for baby. This time round, we’ll use jars if it makes life easier and not if it doesn’t. What’s most convenient is different for everyone.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          “What’s most convenient is different for everyone.” EXACTLY. Back when DD was a newborn/small baby, I’d hear all the time that breastfeeding is most convenient because all you have to do is pop the kid on the boob, no muss, no prep, no fuss. In an ideal situation, yes, this is true. If getting the baby on the boob involved long, drawn-out fights over whether or not she’s going to eat, pain from infections, long (like, none under an hour) nursing sessions, etc…then no, it’s not convenient, not at all. Different strokes for different mom/baby dyads…how hard is this?

    • Cobalt

      The baby-led weaning trend, typically expressed as “food made specifically to be safe and developmentally appropriate for babies is evil” is second only to elimination communication (“Diapers are evil! It’s easier and better to never use them at all!”) in pure ridiculousness.

      Breastfeeding, formula, safety of medication during birth, surgical concerns, these I can understand a parent with no medical background having questions about to be able to make the right choice for their situation.

      But not knowing if you can use baby food or a diaper (not when or what kind, but ever) in a culture where EVERYONE is using them and has been for generations? That’s just absurd.

      • Allie P

        I think I did “baby led weaning” for my first, but it was more like, I put little bits of food in front of her and let her eat what she wanted. Some of it was gerber. Some of it was oatmeal. Some of it was cooked carrots I mushed with the back of the fork. Some of it was little puffs of rice cereal. There wasn’t anything difficult or time consuming about it.

        • Kelly

          Plus, it really depends on the child. My first struggled more and it took her until she was almost three to chew regular pieces of meat. We joked that our second would be able to eat steak before she was a year old. Just go with the flow, with what you are comfortable with and most kids will be fine.

    • Angharad

      We found one feeding product that said it was for mothers who want to feed their baby fresh food, not “fast food from a jar.” OK, then… I hadn’t ever realized before that 100% fruit or vegetable counted as fast food, or that just because something is convenient it must be unhealthy.

      • demodocus

        I still buy some of those pouches because it’s so little muss or fuss, and he’s 19 months. Great for a snack between choir practices and church service without getting the pews dirty.

        • Kelly

          Me too. They are a great snack and keep the child from going crazy from being a bit hungry. We only use them when we are out and about. They are expensive but I they are so convenient.

      • Who?

        You’ve touched on something very important here-in this world, the more inconvenient/uncomfortable/expensive a choice is, the ‘better’. If you’re prepared to take on those things, you are a Good Mum.

        Fwiw, in my experience there are plenty of parenting experiences that are unavoidably inconvenient/uncomfortable/expensive, so no need to embark on them deliberately.

      • Inmara

        Oh yes, I got that snarking about jarred foods in aforementioned parenting class too. FWIW, our situation is different though, because we have maternity leave up to 1 or even 1,5 years so making your own baby food is indeed cheaper than buying it in jars, and mothers have time for that. But anyway, the mentality “if it’s in a jar and has an expiration date longer than 1 month, it’s bad” annoys me. Pasteurization much?

      • Currently my daughter and her family are in the US, and my 1 year old grandson is getting “commercially prepared” baby food for the first time in his life. My daughter reports that she’s afraid that he won’t want Grandma’s Best when they return, he’s gobbling up the Gerber

      • Liz Leyden

        My kids had real fast food (Wendy’s) for dinner last night. I’m such a bad Mom.

        • Angharad

          Oh, I’m sure I’ll be right there occasionally once the little one is a bit older. I don’t have any problem with fast food in moderation, especially when the day has been long and full of work and childcare. Sometimes there’s just not time or energy to cook as well.

    • Zen

      Somewhat related: my cousin had her second son on a milk-only diet for a long time after he was born, but the kid would spit up ALL the time. My father, having been around the horn a few times in the kids department, and serving as babysitter one week (when the kid was probably on the other side of 6 months old), decided to teach the little bugger to eat baby cereal. Almost instantly, the kid spit up MUCH less of what went into him. I’m sure there are certain situations when milk just doesn’t work as well; this appeared to be one of them.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        With her ped’s approval, I introduced DD to baby cereal at 4 months. She spat up practically nonstop before that. Just a spoonful or two of baby oatmeal or baby rice cereal (Gasp! Horror! Poison! AAAAGH!) after a bottle made a world of difference. From what I gathered, having something slightly thicker on top of the milk in her stomach acted as a sort of dam/stopgap so that it wouldn’t be so easy for milk to come back up. She was happier, and I was most definitely happier to not spend half my day scrubbing spitup out of the carpet/furniture/my clothes/her clothes and blankets.

        • Kelly

          Mine told me to feed mine at four months because she was drinking so much milk. She comes highly recommended. I will trust her over someone over the internet.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Ditto! She emphasized not to force it, if DD still tongue-thrust solid food out just try it again next week, etc. Perfectly common-sense to me. Almost like DD’s ped knew what she was talking about, or something…

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I’ve mentioned this before, but my (now 98 years old) aunt told me how she fed her babies mashed potatoes – when they were one week old.

        Now, she did have a son die at 45 from a brain aneurysm and her oldest daughter died of a heart attack at 65. Probably related …

    • Tiffany Aching

      I also think that this fixation on feeding can be revelatory of a problem bordering on the eating disorder. I mean, who is that obsessed with food, its quantity and its nature ? My ex-anorexic sister was obsessed with exclusive breastfeeding with her son, her greatest fear being that “bottle-fed babies are more likely to become obese”. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
      And then when breastfeeding is difficult, feeding becomes the main preoccupation of the parents, though it’s not the baby’s sole need. If the parents are too tired and preoccupied by breastfeeding to spend time happily cuddling their new baby, it is definitely not worth it.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Eh, I tried to do “baby-led weaning”, but it turned out that baby was more the follower type. At least as far as weaning went.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD
    • Azuran

      So…..they looked for skeletons in your closet and found your public internet blog?

      • Sue

        Exactly!

        They went to an open internet site…and…read stuff!

        • Who?

          Is this what they mean by Doing Your Research?

    • Megan

      Wow. That is a strange video. Perhaps instead of making that they could’ve done some actual scientific reading?

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Awww cute! Someone learned how to use Windows Movie Maker and Photoshop!

      Looking good as the Evil Queen though. Her cape was bitchin.

    • Zen

      What a strange Facebook page. I guess everyone needs a way to express themselves…even unwashed, socially awkward 28-year-old male virgins such as I expect the creator of that FB page is.

      Sorry, that last part was just me being salty. Carry on folks.

    • Brix

      They really don’t care about sounding like lunatics. Bizarre.

    • Sue

      Is this some eight-yr-old’s school project?

    • Cobalt

      They did a follow-up post and, in the comments to that, basically said they cannot argue the science at all, so they just argue tone (which they called arguing logical fallacies, but described as ‘you’re not nice to my ideology so I pretend I’m humiliating you to feel better’).

      I’m not impressed.

    • Tiffany Aching

      Well, we now know that they are as proficient in editing as they are in obstetrics.

    • Liz Leyden

      That video was so bad it was hysterical.

  • demodocus

    Over heated hospitals? Mine were just warm enough that I wasn’t shivering. and I prefer professionals I do not know outside of their jobs to look at my genitals. My nurse friend who’s in the middle of midwife school (cnm level) and another friend’s ob/gyn husband are the last professionals I’d want to see. (And not least because the nurse is getting far, far too much woo in her classes. She posts Ina Mae stuff on FB)

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Do you have to keep asking for the heated blankets too? I always need one when I end up in the ER.

      • Mishimoo

        My husband once ended up with 3 heated blankets and myself next to him to warm him up in ER because 2 bags of cool saline caused a temperature drop (he didn’t have a fever to begin with). The doctor was not impressed and suggested I climb into the bed while he went and found a nurse.

      • When I was in the ER Sunday, they had a heated blanket for me without my asking. (Tooth abscess went straight to jaw infection, but I didn’t know that right away. I was admitted for 2 days. on IV antibiotics. Sigh. Nice warm blankies…)

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          Ow…so much ow! Glad to hear you’re doing better though!

          • Thanks! They know what they’re about. They didn’t have a room for me until the next AM, so a kind RN swiped a hospital bed for me to sleep in in the ER cubicle I was in.

          • Thanks! Too bad I couldn’t have my cats visit. They had heated blankies on the units also. At home ours are cat-heated. No more pain, but I predict a mondo case of yeasty beasties in my very near future. No woo for me: heavy-duty drugs for that too!

    • Megan

      Our LDRP rooms all have separate patient-controlled thermostats so I was comfortable throughout my entire stay. My poor hubby was probably freezing while I labored but he never complained!

  • Inmara

    This is so spot on today! I just returned from birthing/parenting class, where today’s topic was breastfeeding and newborn care. What they basically managed to say during the discussion was that “If mother is not breastfeeding her baby, then she isn’t really a mother” (btw, it was man who said it). Fortunately, I was not the only one protesting, though my point about proven fact that at least 5% women can’t breastfeed due to physiological reasons was bashed with “milk is produced in your head, clearly these women have psychological issues”. Also, to leave baby with someone other and pumped breastmilk is acceptable only if you are in hospital or similar life threatening situation (I was going to ask for practical advice how to manage breast- and bottle feeding from the very beginning so I don’t end up with baby who refuses bottle when it’s necessary, but didn’t dare). At the end, though, midwife had to admit that “Formula fed babies are just fine”, but meanwhile we all got booklet “Breastfeeding ABC” issued by Ministry of Health and in the end it contains chapter “Why formula feeding is bad”, listing almost all of lactivist repertoire (obesity, diabetes, speech impediment etc). And their list of references? Several WHO guidelines and recommendations, apparently based on situation in under developed countries but applied to all, as in with C-sections.
    Ugh, rant off. I got my first Braxton-Hicks contraction today, right after the class – I guess it was totally rage-induced.

    • Wren

      If milk is produced in the head, then I assume all fathers can breastfeed successfully too. They have heads!

    • Uggghhh.

      *hug*

      • Inmara

        Thanks! I’m just bracing myself for all the agenda that I’ll probably encounter postpartum – better to be prepared!

    • guest

      If you’re producing milk in your head, you’re gonna be dead in short order. My god, imagine the swelling!

    • Allie P

      NEVER GO BACK THERE. Who has time for that shit?

      • Inmara

        I’m going there because it’s for free, and among agenda there are quite a lot of practical info which I haven’t read in other sources so far. And better to know what to expect from midwives when the time comes, and prepare myself and husband for an argument if necessary!

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          I did antenatal and breastfeeding classes for the same reason. They were useful, although a bit too touchy freely crunchy for mine and my husband’s tastes (oxytocin has become a running joke in our house). But I did get annoyed that they spent at least half of the 2 hour breastfeeding class extolling its virtues. Seriously, we’re here because we’re pro breastfeeding, you can stop shilling it!

        • Allie P

          I had that same feeling with my first baby (though my class wasn’t free) but NOTHING was useful, nothing at all. It was lies and propaganda, and labor was nothing like their textbook description anyway.

          • Inmara

            Ugh, I feel you! Fortunately, in my class they were not that much trying to describe all labor but rather give advice when it’s time to head to hospital and what the actual process of signing in looks like. Also, this midwife has enough experience with interventions and didn’t try to scare us, just said that everything what’s done is necessary for mom and baby (duh, of course!).

          • Allie P

            Even that was lies in my Lamaze class. The instructor told us NOT to go to the hospital “until the very last minute”, to lie to our doctor if our water broke (“they’ll start the clock ticking”), to take castor oil milkshakes to induce labor (and severe diarrhea, one imagines), etc. It was mind-boggling.

          • Inmara

            OMG! Then it’s definitely better to watch breathing exercise tutorials in Youtube and skip anything else.

  • LizzieSt

    That’s exactly it: Breastfeeding, especially the much-vaunted “breastfeeding exclusively for six months,” is a status symbol in the US and other developed countries. It signals that a mother has ample time, money, and social support in order to do so. There’s a reason that all of the breastfeeding study headlines in the media trumpet findings such as “Breastmilk will make your baby SMART!” and “Breastfed kids EARN MORE MONEY!” and “Breastfed kids become THIN ADULTS!” because those are all things that reflect high status in our culture. Have you ever seen a headline that screamed “Breastfed babies more likely to give up their seats on the bus to the elderly and disabled!” or “Breastfed kids grow up to put in more volunteer hours at schools / soup kitchens / animal shelters!” I haven’t.

    Have you read this article by Slate’s Education columnist Rebecca Schuman? She is trying to be fair, I think, but her pride in her ability to lactate radiates off the screen: “I didn’t fall for formula advertisements like those unfortunate proles who were seduced by that Similac video, poor dear things!”

    Perhaps I’m oversimplifying, you can judge for yourself:

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/06/a_century_of_formula_advertising_it_s_always_gone_straight_for_the_new_mother.2.html

    • demodocus

      Thin adults, *snicker* None of Mom’s bf’d babies are thin adults

    • Cobalt

      The impression she gives me is that she’s fishing for offense, so she can stand mightily against the awful manipulations and temptation of Similac.

      What’s next, side-eyeing Houghton-Mifflin because so many of their books contain gratuitous use of the word “formula”?

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Oh I love messing with these people. I know several people who had preventative mastectomies or are considering them due to their risk factors (all female members of their family developing early breast cancer type of risks.)

      I look really sad and say, “Poor *friend name here*… I wish she didn’t have to have that preventative mastectomy. She never got a chance to even try to breastfeed. I hope she doesn’t feel like less of a mother because of it…”

      Shuts them up reeeeaaaally fast and they have the most mortified look on their face as it finally dawns on them the entire implications of what they said. Oh and my friends that have gone through the mastectomies tend to high five me after hearing about it so they don’t mind at all.

    • Liz Leyden

      OMG! You mean advertisers try to convince people to buy things? Say it ain’t so!

  • Azuran

    All of this hormone and bonding talk does raise a question: How do fathers manage to love their babies?
    They don’t carry them in their belly, they don’t give birth to them (naturally or otherwise), they don’t get skin to skin contact the moment the bay is born, they don’t breastfeed and they don’t get the magical love hormone from labour or breastfeeding. How could they do it?
    So, that leave us with 3 possibilities
    -Fathers simply do not have the ability to care for their babies whatsoever
    -Fathers are incredible creatures for being capable to love their kids without all of those
    -Mother’s are absolutely horrible creatures for being unable to love their babies unless they go through all of the above.

    • Angharad

      I have many people and some animals I love, and I only ever gave birth to one of them. Weird how that works.

      • Sarah

        Are you quite certain you didn’t give birth to the cat?

        • Angharad

          I’d hope I would remember that.

          • Angharad

            Here’s a truly bizarre story about a woman in the 18th century who convinced several doctors she had given birth to rabbits.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Toft

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Aaaaaaaaand here we have the single weirdest thing I’ve read on the internet in the last year, and that’s saying something.
            Can’t you just see that article as clickbait, though? “This woman thought she was in labor; you won’t BELIEVE what happened next!”

          • Angharad

            And for the first time ever, the answer to the clickbait title would be “No, I truly can’t believe it! And my mind is actually blown!”

          • Sarah

            Unless you had an epidural and it interfered with the bonding process.

          • Daleth

            I would choose an elective c-section when giving birth to a cat. Claws, man! An epidural can’t save me from claws.

          • sdsures

            *massive gigglefit*

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      If you were to see me with my 6 yo over the years, you would have thought that I delivered him vaginally and breastfed him for two years, we are so “bonded.” In fact, his mom had a c-section and EBF him for 3 mos and after that he was combo fed.

      The same is true for our 4 yo. I love him as much, but he is more of a mommy’s boy.

      • sdsures

        My neutered male cat alternates between being a mama’s boy and a daddy’s boy.

    • Poogles

      I can’t believe how many lactivists and homebirth advocates seem to think oxytocin is a birth-breastfeeding-and-skin-to-skin-only hormone.

  • Dear Dr. Amy, lactivists are unhinged, whether they are “provoked” or not. I think being unhinged is part of the definition of “lactivists”

  • Mel

    Wait…..

    Breast cancer doesn’t exist in countries without infant formula?

    Wrong. So. Wrong.

    Plus, it shows up in the historical record all the time.

    • Gatita

      Also, breast cancer is primarily seen in women over 50. If you have a society where a significant number of women are dying before 50, you’re going to see less breast cancer (and less cancer in general). These assholes…

  • Angharad

    I got lots of extra oxytocin when I was induced. All good mothers should be induced so they can get extra oxytocin to help them love their babies more! Sure, mothers who went into labor spontaneously may be caring, but they don’t have the advantage of extra love hormones.

    • Azuran

      Doesn’t count, it’s not ‘natural’ Clearly your body knows this and is reacting negatively to this fake hormone, making you develop hate for your baby.

      • Houston Mom

        Can’t we just tell the mothers who have “compromised” their bonding with birth interventions and formula to pet their dogs and supplement their “love hormones” naturally? Apparently all we have to do is look at our pups -http://m.sciencemag.org/content/348/6232/333.abstract
        which reminds me it is time for a snuggle with my dog.

        • Mishimoo

          You can also buy oxytocin sprays to help soothe anxious dogs.

          They seem to be a bit hit and miss: my sister’s dog curls up and seem stoned, whereas my dogs are like “Oh, that’s nice. You have a thing. Good for you buddy!” and have absolutely no interest in sniffing it.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        Damn, that syntocin infusion I had the other day has probably completely messed up my ability to bond with my newborn forever. I should have asked them to treat my PPH with cinnamon breath and positive thoughts instead.

        (Btw me and baby are doing great despite some scares. Hurray for hospitals, transfusions and interventions! But I shudder to think what could have happened if I had had a home birth.)

        • Cobalt

          Congrats on the little one!

          Glad you had the timely medical treatment needed and everything worked out well.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            Thanks!
            Ironic after spending the last few months of this pregnancy hanging out on this site, but I ended up being a good example of a textbook low risk pregnancy that got scary very very fast. My son started decelling during pushing as his cord was round his neck twice, I needed an episiotomy to get him out quickly and then I had a 1.6litre PPH. But because I had prompt treatment my son came out screaming with a 1min Apgar of 9, I’m still alive and I still have my uterus (and an intact sphincter) – so all in all I had a positive birth experience.

      • Poogles

        “Doesn’t count, it’s not ‘natural’ Clearly your body knows this ”

        I have seen some OOH birth advocates claim that pitocin causes your body to stop producing the “natural” oxytocin….

        • Azuran

          Well….That might actually be somewhat slightly true.
          Negative feedback is important in the production of hormones by the body. When you inject someone with an hormone, the presence of the hormone in the blood will tell the body to stop/decrease production of it.
          However, those negative feed back are short term. And anyway, if you are receiving pitocin, it’s mainly because your body is not producing enough. The body also does not know the difference between ‘real’ and ‘fake’ hormone. When the pitocin will be gone, the normal production will take over right away.

  • Azuran

    My favorite comment to the article was the person who said that making the father wake up at night to bottle feed the baby was dangerous. Because since the father is not ‘breastfeeding’ he’s not producing magical breastfeeding hormone that makes him love his baby and helps him get back to sleep after breastfeeding. Therefore the father will be sleep deprived and start resenting his baby and be at an increased risk of shaking it.

    • LizzieSt

      My goodness, it’s a miracle that I survived my childhood at all! Now I know what to write in my dad’s father’s day card this year: “Dead Dad, Thank you for getting up to feed me formula in the middle of the night and not shaking me to death. You’re all right. Love, Lizzie.”

      • Amazed

        Same here! My mother breastfed exclusively with both of us but at night, my dad was the one who got up for bringing us to her to breastfeed. Glamorous all-natural births with babies that were in no way big for her because such a thing doesn’t happen left her too weak to safely handle us at night. So he got up. Every. Single. Time.

        Plus all the times we woke up and just cried for no reason at all, of course. He was the one who soothed us.

        I’ll buy him a huge box of chocolates for managing not to kill us on purpose.

      • Gozi

        I think you have given Hallmark an idea…

        • Liz Leyden

          I still remember the father’s day card that started with “Too the father of my children,” then continued “You could have run. Lots of men do. Instead you chose to stay and raise your children. And for that, I thank you.”
          Seriously. It was from Hallmark’s “Mahogany” collection.

          • Megan

            Wow. Just wow…

        • DelphiniumFalcon

          If this existed I’d so need to send this to my dad along with the “Go the Fuck to Sleep” book. It’d give him a good laugh.

    • guest

      Hmmm. My dad told me that when he was doing the night feedings with me he would take me to a chair in the living room, and once he fell asleep while still holding me (and felt incredibly guilty about what might have happened). His lack of hormones and breast milk doesn’t seem to have kept him from falling back to sleep at all.

      • Sue

        ANd clearly you benefied from double parental love during feeding, not half-love.

  • Sarah

    I was going to say that the person who thinks breast cancer doesn’t exist in fully breastfeeding cultures must be on glue. Then it occurred to me that there actually aren’t any fully breastfeeding cultures: there are cultures where almost all women breastfeed at least sometimes, but there isn’t a single one where every baby is exclusively breastfed and receives nothing else until solids time. Does that make her technically not wrong despite her massive ignorance?

  • guest

    My nephew was born thousands of miles away from me and I didn’t get to meet him in person until he was three months old, and had absolutely zero pregnancy or nursing hormones coursing through my body. And yet, I still love him and think he’s special.

  • Psychae

    One of my favourite midwives who I work with tells patients ‘The only wrong decision you can make about feeding your baby is…not to feed your baby.’ (We’re in Australia, so clean water etc isn’t an issue). I’ve taken to stealing that line for my own women!

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      Some lactation consultants act like it is better to starve the baby than to supplement with formula. I am not sure how starving could be good for anyone, let alone an infant who is rapidly growing.

      • araikwao

        Yes, we know starvation is bad for the brain as evidenced by failure to achieve genetic potential in developing countries. But how chronic does it have to be to cause those effects, I wonder..