How mothers became rivals and what we can do about it

Two girls looking each other angry

For the longest time, I was one of the few bloggers writing about the perverse and inappropriate pressures of natural parenting. But as the response to World Breastfeeding Week indicates, the tide is finally turning.

In the last few months, we’ve seen:

Of course there’s still plenty of trash like this from Elizabeth Grattan writing about opposition to World Breastfeeding Week:

“Big Mama” has created and promoted rivalry as their premier marketing technique, and it’s working!

And every single time you hijack this cause to remind the world that you made a different choice, you HURT so many families who are not out to get you.

Don’t you care about that? Because I do…

I care that someone wants to pit mom against mom.

So fuck them.

And since you are doing it too, fuck you…

I am DAMN PROUD that I breastfeed. I have every reason in the world to be…

So, yeah then, fuck you…

Fuck you for feeling the need to boast this week online that you didn’t breastfeed and your kids are just fine. Fuck you for saying you support nursing “except”, “unless”, or “if” one more time…

Fuck you.

Grattan is furious we won’t let her use breastfeeding to bolster her fragile self-esteem as a better mommy than you.

Then there’s this, We Are Not Rivals, by Claire Kirby:

There is no wrong way. There is just your way. Sometimes it’s a choice, sometimes it’s a circumstance. We all parent differently. But we are all the same in that we are doing our best.

We all agonise over the decisions we make. We all feel the guilt that comes with being a parent. We all occasionally wish we could leave the house with a smaller bag. We all love our children with a passion we didn’t know we were capable of. We all cry on their first day of school.

We are not rivals. We are mothers.

It’s an eloquent plea to stop tearing each other apart over our mothering decisions, but sadly it does not reflect reality.

We are rivals because some people WANT us to be rivals, and they are using every method at their disposal, hijacking hospitals, exaggerating public health messages and subverting science to MAKE us rivals.

Who are they? The childbirth and breastfeeding industries, of course. The mothering counterpart to Big Pharma: “Big Mama.”

Don’t think they’re industries? That’s because we associate industry with large corporations. The truth is that midwives are an industry, doulas are an industry, childbirth educators are an industry, lactation consultants are an industry and lactation credentialing organizations are an industry. Like all industries they have trade unions, public relations personnel and lobbyists. True, they don’t make billions of dollars, but as industries they make tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, and for many, 100% of their income comes from convincing mothers that we ARE rivals … for the title of best mother.

They have labored to imbue every mothering decision with incredible importance. They’ve subverted science to pretend that unmedicated vaginal birth is “better” for babies and to pretend that “breast is best.” They’ve hijacked hospitals to promote the only form of birth they can profit from, natural childbirth. They’ve hijacked hospitals to promote the only form of infant feeding they can profit from, breastfeeding. Like Big Pharma, “Big Mama” grossly exaggerates the health benefits of the products they promote and grossly minimizes the dangers of those same products.

They’ve created a Mothering Mystique every bit as soul crushing as the Feminine Mystique so eloquently described by Betty Friedan.

Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis of The Feminine Mystique and several chapters have particular relevance to the creation of mothering rivalry:

Friedan shows that advertisers tried to encourage housewives to think of themselves as professionals who needed many specialized products in order to do their jobs, while discouraging housewives from having actual careers, since that would mean they would not spend as much time and effort on housework and therefore would not buy as many household products, cutting into advertisers’ profits.

Friedan interviews several full-time housewives, finding that although they are not fulfilled by their housework, they are all extremely busy with it. She postulates that these women unconsciously stretch their home duties to fill the time available, because the feminine mystique has taught women that this is their role, and if they ever complete their tasks they will become unneeded.

“Big Mama,” the childbirth and lactation industries, encourages mothers to think of themselves as needing many specialized services and products in order to be “good” mothers, while discouraging them from having actual careers, which would interfere with their ability to consume the services and goods offered by the industry. Hence the need for books, experts for hire, and continuous physical proximity to infants and small children.

The childbirth and lactation industries insist on practices that fill 24 hours in each and every day, from extended breastfeeding, to constantly carrying young children, to letting them sleep in the parental bed on a regular basis. “Big Mama” insists that this is women’s role and if they ever complete these tasks, which used to be confined to infancy, they will become unneeded.

The childbirth and lactation industries strengthen the perceived need for their services and products by proclaiming that mothers who use their services and products are better than other mothers. “Big Mama” has created and promoted rivalry as their premier marketing technique … and it’s working!

One of the central conceits of the childbirth and lactation industries is that its goods and services help women recapitulate mothering in nature, mimicking child rearing among indigenous peoples. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In indigenous societies, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Mothers are not meant to be rivals.

It takes a village of women of all ages, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunties, to raise a child. In contemporary parenting, it takes a single mother, battling for supremacy in the mommy wars, buying the products and services of the childbirth and lactation industries, to raise a child.

We can reject the trap that these industries have set for us.

We can reject the divisive tactics of “Big Mama.”

We can end the rivalry that the childbirth and lactation industries encourage.

It’s time for mothers to return to supporting each other.

That’s better for our babies and better for us!

  • fiona ball

    Strange. I live in the UK, and breastfeeding is still promoted as optimum.

    I can tell you, we DO NOT have a “Big Mama” industry in the same way. Midwives, are part of the NHS. Doulas barely make a living, as they are rarely used. We have breastfeeding charities, sure, but all those breastfeeding counsellors are mainly volunteers, who do it for *free*. There are a few who work in the NHS, but their salary is less than a nurse.

    Strange you don’t mention formula. How much does the formula industry make, again? £billions?

    • Fallow

      Well if you don’t believe it, it’s not real, right? That’s a convenient way to look at reality. All those women who complain about the “big mama” phenomenon are liars or idiots, and fiona ball’s perceptions are the correct ones. Add a little conspiracy theory on the end of your statement, and the crazy cake is fulled frosted.

    • Cobalt

      How many women are encouraged to not have hospital births, can’t choose to see an OB, are denied epidurals by the midwives they can’t escape? The government itself is blindly pushing breastfeeding as optimum.

      Nope, definitely no Big Mama there.

      • fiona ball

        Strange, when I asked for a homebirth, I was told I was not allowed one – this is not uncommon in the UK.

        Fortunately, women in the UK have a right to a home birth, as there are no laws forcing a woman to go into hospital to give birth.

        Unfortunately I had complications, and I had a hospital birth.

        I have heard of women being denied pain relief though, but in my experience this is often due to staff shortages, and the anesthetists being busy.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “I have heard of women being denied pain relief though, but in my experience this is often due to staff shortages, and the anesthetists being busy.”

          Are men denied pain relief for their knee replacements, colonoscopies and kidney stones? Or do people seem to be “busy” only when the pain involves women and childbirth?

          • Sarah

            Exactly. The fact that we tolerate a system where this happens so often is inextricably linked to the underlying attitude that epidurals are in themselves undesirable for whatever reason.

          • SporkParade

            Wasn’t there a scandal with UK midwifery students bragging about how the cheated women out of requested pain relief? If I remember correctly, saying that the anesthetists were all “busy” was a common way. The hospital being “busy” is also a common trick to force women who requested C-sections into unwanted vaginal deliveries.

        • Sarah

          It’s not that strange really. We have in the UK both a homebirth system that doesn’t extend to anyone other than low risk women, and a culture of failing to provide women labouring in hospital with the pain relief they ask for. They’re not mutually exclusive. You do seem to be operating from the position that because some women in the UK don’t get the unmedicalised birth and/or breastfeeding support they need, that means those of us who want the opposite can’t possibly have any complaints either.

        • Roadstergal

          “Fortunately, women in the UK have a right to a home birth, as there are no laws forcing a woman to go into hospital to give birth.”

          It’s the same here – nobody forces women to go to the hospital. Women have a full right to birth wherever they like – at home, in a stream, at the top of Kilimanjaro. I’m aware of women in the UK who are encouraged to VBAC at home, with the full support of midwives. I’m watching it unfold right now with all of the feelings that watching a good friend plan to drive drunk with her baby unstrapped in the passenger seat would bring. Yes, it’s more likely than not that they’ll be okay. But it’s still a risk that wrenches my heart.

          • Wren

            That does surprise me.
            I was told the day after my C-section with my now 9 1/2 year old that I would be a good candidate for a VBAC (he was footling breech) but I was also told then and later when I was pregnant with my now 8 year old that having had a C-section ruled me out for a home birth. I lived under 2 miles from the hospital at the time, and there was a strong home-birth team of midwives locally.

          • Roadstergal

            Maybe it’s a regional thing? A friend of hers had a Magic Healing HBAC in a kiddie pool, and the story of how awesome it was made the rounds in the community. Wasn’t there a Twitter thing recently where some UK midwives were proudly posting about supporting a woman in her HBA3C?

            Even the Birthplace study couldn’t make HBAC look safe. But her NCB community cites the Birthplace study as showing that home birth is always safer than hospital, full stop. (It does say a lot, to me, that the _primary outcome_ of the analysis was vaginal birth. And they only do stats on a composite outcome of stillbirth + APGAR < 7 at 5 minutes. You have to dig deeply into the article to note that there were four dead babies in the home cohort, and none in the hospital cohort.)

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26213223

          • Wren

            Is this NHS midwives? I know there are some private midwives in London who have little respect for risk.

          • Roadstergal
    • Sarah

      UK based commentators are in plentiful supply round these parts, so please don’t imagine the situation in our country isn’t frequently discussed on this blog. Plenty of us have a lot to say about the creep of what Amy describes as ‘Big Mama’ in our country. It is, certainly, happening quite differently here than in the US. But many of us have experienced forced NCB and epidural denial, or at the very least negativity from medical professionals in the face of our refusal to worship at the altar of unmedicated vaginal birth. We have experienced exaggeration and sometimes outright lies about breastfeeding, aimed at getting us to do it whether we want to or not. These things have happened, and they have happened to us. So don’t tell us it isn’t raining when some of us have distinctly damp legs.

      • fiona ball

        There are people who believe in NCB and are against epidurals, in the UK, I do not deny this. But it I don’t see it make big business in the UK, like Amy proposes it does. As our NHS allows mothers to access homebirth and birth choice.

        That’s not to say I find some NCB advocates worrisome, or sometimes dangerous, with their advice. I am against anybody who doesn’t allow a mother to birth how she chooses – regardless of where or how. And anyone who opposes that, is against body autonomy.

        And please, do not write like the other sides of the coin are perfect and are not part of this so-called “Big Mama”. Many mothers have unfortunately experienced medical interventions that they didn’t agree with, or weren’t informed on the risks correctly, and sometimes have adverse outcomes. These interventions, often cost, money. That isn’t to say these interventions don’t save lives, but we cannot be impartial if we do not look towards both sides.

        Do you know, in the UK, formula manufacturers spend £20 per baby on advertising – the Government spends 14p. And you’re telling me that breastfeeding is being pushed on you, in a massive scale? It’s like comparing that rain, to a hurricane.

        And, tell me about these “lies about breastfeeding”, that you have experienced, to get you to breastfeed. I can probably tell you similarly as many about formula – from sleeping through to curing GERD/reflux, or negative lies about breastfeeding, like how much you can pump is an indication of supply, that similarly end-up with a mother moving from breastfeeding to formula.

        • Wren

          Another UK resident here.
          Do you know, in the UK, even formula ads push breast being best? Is that counted in your advertising for breastfeeding? I thought not.
          Most midwives are a part of the NHS, granted, but that does not at all prevent territory battles between midwives and OBs. C-sections can be very difficult to access, and maternal request sections are largely unavailable in the UK (it is possible if travel to London and going private is an option).

          • Linden

            In fact, I don’t think they can advertise for EFF at all, only for “follow-on milk” (for 6+ months). The wording is always “Breastmilk is best for your baby and there is nothing else like it (literally that phrase). If you want to move on from breastmilk…”
            I had to go back to work at 3 months. I pumped for 3 more months, switched to combination feeding until giving up BF at 13 months. If I were still trying to supply his full milk needs, I’d be out of a job. Face it: formula companies are making money because they have a product that is healthy and convenient for most families, and life-saving for some babies.

        • Sarah

          Do you think that lies from formula manufacturers somehow cancel out lies about breastfeeding from the NHS? They’re not mutually exclusive. You ask for example. For a start, I was told that a baby will always get milk from a breast more effectively than a pump, in a leaflet I was given. This is wrong. I spoke to midwives who denied there was a distinction between correlation and causation, although I suppose it’s possible this was ignorance rather than outright lies. Breastfeeding absolutely was pushed on me on a massive scale, by the NHS. I am not asking you if you think this is true, I am telling you that it is.

          As for your comment about not seeing it become big business, the NHS is big business. More so as we get increasing privatisation through the back door. This means when the NHS push things, as they undoubtedly do breastfeeding and unepiduralled vaginal birth for low risk women, they’re doing it because they think there’s a business case.

          I’m also interested to hear more about these lies about babies sleeping through with formula. I know there’s been research on older babies, but as far as I know there hasn’t been much done with younger ones at all. I didn’t think we were in a position to say whether anyone making claims about formula fed younger babies sleeping better was a liar or not.

    • Linden

      Strange. I live in the UK, and the Conservative government is looking every which way to cut costs, with little regard for outcome. Homebirth is starting to get pushed at the highest level (NICE), without informing women of the risks of dead or brain-damaged babies. Hey, it is not like the government can’t cut benefits to disabled people or their carers (it is doing just that).
      I paid £££ for a National Childbirth Trust course (NCT is a charity), so I could meet women I could network with.
      My friend had PPD either triggered by, or exacerbated by a bully of a midwife, who valued breastfeeding above the welfare of her charges.
      I live in the UK, and the Royal College of Midwives is peeved that too many of us wimmins is having epidurals.
      I live in the UK, and when midwives failed babies spectacularly. They and their organization the RCM doubled down when their noses were rubbed in their failures. They learnt nothing and they keep on harassing people who have lost the most.
      Midwives in the UK need to clear out these “bad apples” and get rid of the barbarians in their representative body.

  • TsuDhoNimh

    “The truth is that midwives are an industry, doulas are an industry,
    childbirth educators are an industry, lactation consultants are an
    industry and lactation credentialing organizations are an industry.”

    More like medieval guilds … extremely resistant to change, rely on personal transmission of the tradition via apprenticeships, and very interested in keeping out the competition to maximize profits.

  • Inmara

    OT – I have a baby! And want to say huge thank you to Dr. Amy and wonderful community in this blog which helped me escape the lure of woo (in early pregnancy I was planning waterbirth, seriously) and set my priorities straight. I chose to give birth in country’s biggest birthing hospital so there are operation rooms, NICU and lots of staff available in case something goes wrong. Also, I wrote a birth plan which stated “I trust you, medical professionals, to help me in case Mother Nature screws something, so better intervene sooner than later”. Head OB of the shift specifically came into our room to say that this is the best birth plan she has seen (apparently, others are listing which interventions to avoid and demanding playlist of whale songs or something).

    Labor and delivery went well but I could cope with it unmedicated only because of my goldstar husband who kept massaging my back during Every. Single. Contraction! In general I even can’t believe how uneventful and complication free was my pregnancy and birth, only toll on my body is 3 minor stitches and few kg baby weight. Breastfeeding goes well so far, though baby loves cluster feeding (and here I can answer question raised in comments “Where are husbands and fathers in this AP and EBF philosophy?” Well, husband is taking care of household and bringing me food while I’m sitting with baby attached to my boob; also he’s great at soothing fussy baby. Yes, we have 10 days paternal leave, sorry Americans, you deserve it too).

    Only disappointment came from postpartum stay in hospital where there was piss poor support for first time mothers – nobody cared if I actually know how to take care of baby, also only breastfeeding ‘support’ was neonatologist who grabbed my boob, made sure that I have milk and rattled “Feed baby every 2 hours 15-20 min each breast”, and then disappeared until next morning. Who would think so, given all the booklets dispatched at the hospital where breastfeeding is praised and formula not even mentioned… Only when baby lost weight because of spitting up all the milk, nurse came to visit us more often and made sure that baby is improving. Good that they at least are giving formula bottles if babies are loosing weight because of insufficient milk, though I have heard horror stories of shaming and ridiculing mothers who want to FF from the beginning.

    • demodocus

      Congrats!

      ETA: 2 hours for 15-20 minutes on each was something I kept hearing, too, but if you have oversupply or a sleeping baby, I recommend ignoring that!

      • Inmara

        I have cluster feeding baby, so we’re nursing on demand but getting more sleep in between. Apparently I have to consult LC to see if we’re doing it right, though, hope that she won’t be the lactivist warrior type.

    • Sue

      Wonderful! Best wishes to you and the tiny one!

    • Cobalt

      Congratulations!

    • Amazed

      Congrats! Welcome, little one!

    • Roadstergal

      “Labor and delivery went well but I could cope with it unmedicated only because of my goldstar husband who kept massaging my back during Every. Single. Contraction!”

      But wait – you were in the hospital, they always kick your husband out and force an epidural on you! :p
      Congratulations!

      • Inmara

        In Latvia, you have to ask and sometimes insist on epidural (and pay out of pocket whereas l&d services themselves are for free), and in many regional hospitals epidural is not available at all. NCBers dream , right? Husbands present in labor is comparatively recent thing, good that all hospitals accept it now.

        • Conga-rats! Hope all continues to go well!

          • Inmara

            Thanks! We have figured out some feeding issues, and baby is gaining weight like a pro!

  • Lena

    OT: Article on the “dangers” of EFM: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122532/most-common-childbirth-practice-us-unnecessary-dangerous

    @DrJaneChi on twitter claims that all OBs acknowledge lack of benefit.

    • Lena

      I’m seeing on twitter the claim that the only reasons hospitals still do EFM is because they don’t have enough nurses to make Intermittent fetal auscultation feasible. Assuming it’s true that continuous EMF is “bad,” I’m not seeing the problem, then. Lack of staff is an issue, what’s wrong with solutions that deal with that.

      • Inmara

        It was exactly my case; as I was laboring in very busy hospital midwife came in only from time to time and used external EMF for longer periods of time. Very uncomfortable as I had to lie on my side instead of kneeling or relaxing in shower, but I’d rather suffer through some painful contractions than risk my baby. EMF was in place during pushing stage too, but then I was on my back anyway, and it was very assuring to see that baby’s hearth rate is fine.

      • jenny

        Maybe in some places it is due to staffing? Our local hospital typically staffs nurses 1:1 with actively laboring patients. When doing cEFM, nurses have to visualize the patient and document the maternal heart rate, fetal heart rate, and quality of the tracing at the same frequency they would have to with IA. When a mom is pushing, a nurse is usually there the whole time, assessing, documenting, assisting the mom and the provider, and sometimes even holding the monitor on the mom so it traces correctly. It doesn’t seem that it’s really less work, although I’m willing to be corrected.

        • Young CC Prof

          At the hospital where my son was born, they had this giant screen at the nurse’s station that allowed one person to watch every cEFM strip in the delivery ward simultaneously.

          • jenny

            Yes, that is one of the advantages of cEFM. At the hospital I mentioned above, every room actually shows all the traces for every other room. So no matter where you are you can see all the traces. But the nurses are still 1:1 with the patients, because they still need nursing care in addition to monitoring. Plus you need staff to react to emergencies. Cefm doesn’t do much good if there’s no one to take you to the OR. I am sure it happens somewhere, where a place is really understaffed and uses cefm but it doesnt’ strike me as a really safe practice.

    • Cobalt

      Continuous EFM is dangerous if you’d rather miss preventable fetal death than do a cesarean that is retrospectively unnecessary.

      If you’re one to err on the side of safety, and are willing to accept the higher “unnecessary” cesarean rate as the cost of lower mortality rates, EFM is a relatively safe and easy tool.

      At some point, you find the balance, which is probably where we are now.

      • Lena

        Exactly. I’m following the discussion twitter now and no one has yet to bring that up. There’s zero acknowledgment that if intermittent monitoring (assuming it’s really is “better” than continuous) isn’t an option because of lack of staff, then EFM is absolutely necessary for more than just a hospital’s bottom line. No monitoring = dead or brain damaged babies. NO ONE is talking about that.

        • Cobalt

          So EFM does just as good a job as having someone stand there the whole time, without having to have someone stand there the whole time.

          What is there to complain about?

    • Ash

      ACOG says that although EFM doesn’t lower the rate of CP, it lowers the rate of neonatal seizures (Dr A also has a blog post summarizing this meta analysis). Seizures are bad.

  • Allie P

    As long as we’re cataloguing the lactavist lies…. let’s chalk one up for “breastfeeding is cheap.” Sure, if you’re home and never use a bottle. Just got off the phone with my insurance — my “insurance subsidized” breast pump (NOT the brand I’d like, btw) will run me, at 20% coinsurance, $20 a month. (Better than the $80 a month I paid before ACA with my last baby, but not by much!) So that’s $240 for the year of BFing I’d like to do. (And let us assume that I won’t have to buy formula on top of that, which I did last time, since pumping SUCKS.) The brand I do want is $250 straight up on Amazon. Plus bottles and other accoutrement (probably another $100?)

    • Amy

      I’ve got you beat. (Because RIVALRY!) My oldest couldn’t latch until she was almost two months old. I really REALLY wanted to breastfeed, and my doc managed to convince my insurance to cover a hospital-grade pump rental in full for a year. Okay, sounds great. Except I had massive oversupply. We ended up having to buy a whole freezer to store the extra milk– $600 bucks.

      Now, we’ve kept the thing and use it to put up garden and CSA produce, but still…..a whole freezer. Cheap my butt.

      I was obviously kidding about the rivalry thing 🙂

      • Young CC Prof

        Yeah, we bought a mini-fridge during my exclusive pumping phase, so I wouldn’t have to run up and down the stairs at 3am while holding a baby. (And now the darned thing is cluttering the basement.) I suppose it might have been useful either way, but still…

        • LibrarianSarah

          Can I have it? I could use it when I am watching tv and I really want a drink or a sandwich but the kitchen is aaaalllll the way over there on thee other side of the roompartment. Actually never mind I’ll never remember to keep it stocked.

        • Roadstergal

          Garage fridge!

    • Cobalt

      Not using formula is cheaper like not owning a car is cheaper. There’s a lot more variables than just the cost of formula. You could save thousands…or spend thousands extra.

      • Mac Sherbert

        My sanity was worth the cost of formula.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Don’t forget the cost of the LCs, if you need help. Then of course, the cost of a good nursing bra and for me I had to buy clothes I felt comfort level nursing in public in. Plus, those expensive fashionable nursing covers. Sure not everyone needs those things to BF, but most women want them.

      • Dr Kitty

        Forget expensive nursing covers.
        Cheap Jersey infinity scarf from accessory store of your choice, a muslin or pashmina will all work perfectly well…if you have a baby that will tolerate being covered (I didn’t).

        • demodocus

          I bought a couple yards of fabric and made my own. But then, I quilt and can reuse it easily. Right now, they’re toddler bed flat sheets. 🙂

      • SporkParade

        In all fairness, most women need new bras after pregnancy anyway. I changed bra sizes twice during pregnancy alone.

        • Mac Sherbert

          Yes. But I also needed a different bra after I weaned too. And for me it was much harder to find a good nursing than just s regular bra.

        • fiftyfifty1

          Weird, I’ve always been the same size. Granted, before all the pregnancy stuff the tissue was in these round lumps and now it’s kind of in long hanging strip type things that I need to hoist up and put inside the cups. But the total size is the same.

      • Dr Kitty

        I’m a big believer in M&S nursing bras.

        These things stretch- anywhere from my 28DD early pregnancy to my 30G breastfeeding was easily accommodated in comfort.

        2 packs of those and I’m good, although, admittedly, they are not attractive.

        http://www.marksandspencer.com/2-pack-maternity-non-wired-santoni-full-cup-bras/p/p22278630

        • An Actual Attorney

          But, do they have any actual support? I don’t want to give myself a black eye when I run up the stairs.

          • Dr Kitty

            They’re actually pretty good- the same sort of Lycra stuff they make control underwear out of. Certainly, I don’t have any issues and I am not a small-chested person. They aren’t quite sports bra level, but definitely supportive, and very comfy.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Thanks. I already get UK regular bras (Curvy Kate for the win!) so I’ll dive all in and order from M&S. Why can American companies not make decent bras? I’m not a jingoist, I just hate having to wait for underwear to clear customs.

          • toni

            tell me about it! the US do not do well with bras. I mean I guess it’s fine if you’re between a 34-40 A-DD but I’d bet that doesn’t even cover a majority of us. Apart from crumpets and my family of course I miss Rigby &Peller and Bravissimo the most. Even debenhams. I was shopping at Target with my husband’s cousin who is a teeny slip of a thing and she picked out a 34B, insisted that was the right size. No where on her body is there a 34inch circumference. I got her a voucher for the little bra company. Nordstrom is the only dept store I’ve been impressed with so far but there isn’t one near here. woe is me.

            M&S used to be very limited. Must have upped their game since I lived there.

    • Kelly

      Me too. My mom bought the pump ($300) and the freezer for the overflow ($200). The starter pack for pumping ($30), having to buy every size of shield ($30 each) etc. You get the point. Plus, I always spend more money on food for myself to offset the calorie output. For this child, I am going to pay $60 for formula a month and pay $20 for bottles. I would guess that it all evens out in the end but the time it takes is so much different. I know this number can be different for all people depending on their situation but for me, formula is so much cheaper on my time and pocketbook.

    • Dr Kitty

      Because I am cheap, I have bought a double breast pump off EBay, with new milk collection kits for hygiene. This is one of the hospital grade pumps where the construction of it means that this will be perfectly safe, because milk is kept within the kits ( and I’ve sterilised the hell out of it anyway).
      It worked out MUCH cheaper.

      EBay has quite the selection of BNIB or “Only used once” pumps from people who clearly found BF a lot harder than they thought…but only after spending £250 on a breast pump and accessories.

      Also a fair selection on EBay of broken pumps “for parts” from those who are on their third or fourth one!

    • Sarah

      Even if you’re at home and never use a bottle, you might need a fuckton of breast pads and lanolin.

      • Dr Kitty

        Or you might be like me…
        While I had excellent supply, I never leaked. Not once, and went through exactly half a tube of lanolin.
        My mother was the same, and I should have listened to her when she told me I was wasting my money buying breast pads and cream.

        Breastmilk collection bags though…those things aren’t cheap.

        • Gene

          I use ziplock snack sized bags. They hold 3oz and freeze flat very well. They also thaw VERY fast and it’s easy to thaw 1-3 bags for whatever kiddo wants. Works like a charm!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            OT, but this is also an awesome way to store 1-2 servings of food for reheating later–think beans, rice, soup, that sort of thing.

        • Allie P

          i never leak or used lanolin either. i know I’m producing milk because I can feel my engorgement, my baby sometimes spits it up, she is gaining weight and I can hear her swallowing, but I have never seen a single drop of breastmilk on my breasts, I cannot hand express or manually pump. When people talk about using a “squirt of breastmilk” on minor skin irritations, I have to laugh. Can they squirt their milk like a water gun? As far as I can tell, ti’s invisible and magic.

          • Inmara

            Thank you for assurance, I’m into the end of first week with baby and wondering about when the leaking will came. Baby is feeding fine, I can express milk manually but nothing leaks – now I’ll know that it can be that way. Lanolin is my friend, though.

          • Idigia

            You made me laugh badly. Yes, I express milk from my breasts like a weapon, sometimes even put it in the coffee. It even gets out on its own if I’m badly engorged and expressing the other side. With my first baby, everything had little white dots all over the bedroom and living room.

        • demodocus

          I can *still* express milk, and he’s been weaned for a year. Hoping menopause will make it stop

    • RMY

      The fact that I will always be the working mom was what made me think that if I carried, breastfeeding shouldn’t happen (additionally, I work in a tiny branch with all men, so no lactation room currently, and it’d be really awkward). When we briefly talked about my wife carrying, she would breastfeed, because she’d be home with the kid during the day anyway(no pump required) and really hates doing dishes.

      I think the decision to breastfeed or use formula is very personal.

  • An Actual Attorney

    Totally OT. Docs, is this a reputable journal?http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/uog.1896/abstract;jsessionid=766B25FF531560DAC7E8D2323F746E2F.f01t01

    I found this article following Wikipedia links. I haven’t taken a biology class since high school and I was still appalled that this study could get published.

    • Roadstergal

      “Bonding was evaluated by analysis of extent of prenatal image sharing”

      http://i.lvme.me/v8ccqht.jpg

      • Young CC Prof

        That is so absurd. Women are more likely to share clear and detailed pictures rather than ones that are tough to see, therefore the good pictures make them more bonded to their unborn children?

        Maybe it went something like this: “Hey, researchers, I’ve got a whole lot of 3D ultrasound machines to sell. Can you do some studies showing they have benefits? I don’t care what benefits, just enough to convince a bean-counter who isn’t a doctor.”

    • Amy

      Wiley’s a textbook company. We have a couple of their calculus texts as samples, but I haven’t been super impressed.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Wiley does some journals, too. That’s not really the issue.

    • Haelmoon

      As an MFM, I do appreciate the value of 3D/4D ultrasound. We can definitely get better pictures. I don’t know that it makes it easier to bond, but it definitely is helpful for some of my super anxious (previous loss moms) who felt they didn’t get as much time with the babies they lost, so it allows them to “see” the current baby as a baby sooner (rather than traditional fetal imaging). I believe the 3D picture would be shared more because they are more easily understood – they can look like a photo.
      For moms with a fetus with an anomaly, it does help with the bonding. If the baby has a cleft, the mom can imaging all sorts of variations, especially if they go online. With 3-D, I can show them their baby – then when the baby is born, they know what to expect. It is the same reason we offer tours of the NICU prior to planned or expected preterm deliveries – it removed the unknown.

      • An Actual Attorney

        I can understand that totally. And I assume that there are other important uses. I just thought this study was silly.

      • demodocus

        I can understand how it would help parents adjust to an anomaly, although i found the 3d deeply creepy. *much* preferred the regular US picture.

        • Cobalt

          I don’t like the 3d either. A friend of got them done twice a month starting at 16 weeks at a boutique place (I can’t imagine what that cost!), and was always showing me the dozens of pics she got each time. I didn’t have a nice but effective way to get her to stop, but I thought the 3d pics were anything but cute.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I remember seeing portfolios of 3D pictures coupled with the baby pictures with the “see how they look just like your baby!” message.

            1) Even for those, I wasn’t all that impressed. And these are supposed to be the best cases?
            2) And with those, I can kind of see it, but then again, since pretty much all babies just look like grumpy old men anyway, it’s not hard to have some resemblance. There was just as much resemblance with the picture on the page before. If you gave the US pic, it’s not like I could pick the actual baby out of a lineup or anything.

          • demodocus

            I sincerely thought my newborn was a little old man for a moment. Couldn’t figure out why he was lying sprawled over my belly. Then my brain re-engaged

          • An Actual Attorney

            On that note, this story is what started me down my path of clicking: http://jezebel.com/thanks-to-a-creepy-ultrasound-expectant-parents-are-no-1723684037

  • Rebelle

    This reminds me of an awful conversation I overheard between a woman and a child of about 12 in a grocery store parking lot while I was putting my groceries into the car. They were parked next to me and were doing the same.

    I quickly learned the woman had been a friend of the girl’s mom, and that the mom had recently passed away. It actually seeemed like they had been shopping for food and supplies for a post-funeral reception based on the paper plates and styrofoam cups.

    The woman told the girl that she and her mom had been really where they talked several times a day, for 8 years or something.

    And the girl asked her finally why she stopped talking to her mom and she replied that it became impossible to stay friends with her after her own kids were born because THEY HAD DIFFERENT PARENTING STYLES!

    I wanted to weep.

    How sad for everyone involved. They let disagreements over trivial shit get between them, and now the one lady is dead, and they lost years of friendship over trivial bullshit.

    I’m guessing the dead mom gave her friend shit over how she was parenting because she had her kids later on, but the woman talked about remembering when the girl and her brother were born and seeing them when they are much younger but they started talking again when her mom got sick.

    It took a terminal illness to get these ladies back together. That’s not right; they never ought to have stopped being friends. It shows there’s something seriously wrong with our culture and modern discourse about parenting. Lactivism is contributing to the divide.

    I think the proponents of “breast is best” and lactivist propaganda need to take a step back and consider that their campaigning is bad for families, it’d bad for human relationships and it’s bad for female friendships.

    Same goes for attachment parents, natural parents or really anyone who mocks, criticizes or denounces a parent for how they parent.

    The’s response to the lady surprised me too.

    She replied: “Oh, okay, I can understand that.”

    HOW ON EARTH COULD A KID THAT AGE COMPREHEND PARENTING STYLES? HOW IS SHE EVEN AWARE OF THEM? WHY DOES SHE THINK DITCHING A FRIEND OVER PARENTING STYLE IS UNDERSTANDABLE OR LEGIT?”

    Has the concept of parenting styles seeped so deep into our culture that pre-pubescent girls are familiar with them? If so, UGH!

    On a side note, will toy marketers heed this call? Does that mean we’re going to see attachment parenting barbie or Crunchy Mama Barbie, complete with sling, cloth diapers and breast pads? Maybe the Barbie say “Vaccines cause autism” or “I had a homebirth.” Skipper can say “When I grow up, I’m going to breastfeed exclusively.”

    Anyhow, the woman chatted a bit more about how she was there helping their father out while he took care of the “arrangements”. The dead woman’s husband called her for help. That tells me the woman had truly been extremely close with his dead wife.

    So sad….

    • jhr

      In light of Dr. Amy’s article, I understand your interpretation and sharing of the conversation that you heard.
      “Having different parenting styles” could mean something else. When my oldest daughter was a toddler, in the mid 1970’s, there was a parenting theory that discouraged parents (mothers, primarily), from saying “no” and from intervening in disputes, preferring, rather, to “let the environment give him/her logical feedback on his/her behavior.” So there were mothers who would watch their 18 month- 3 year olds hurt or body slam another child and expect the other child to fight back, thus giving her child “negative” feedback without the need for maternal intervention. My child did not hit back but, as an early talker, said “no hitting!” and “stop hitting” while the perpetrator gleefully smashed her repeatedly in the face with a metal tonka truck. This–or other aggressive acts by this kid– had happened numerous times during play group. One day, I had enough. When I grabbed my child out of the fray, the other mother had no problem judging me as having been manipulated my child to solve her problems…” (she had a child development degree…). After responding that if she let her child treat their puppy that way, I would call animal control, and that my child’s purpose in life was not to serve as a petri dish for her child’s growth as an autonomous being, the play date, and in most ways, the relationship, ended between us as moms. Based on our parenting style, unfortunately…

      • Rebelle

        That’s exactly it! You just provided a perfect example. You had a friend who subscribed to a rigid set of beliefs about parenting based on some weird fad theory, and used it to judge you, call you a bad parent, and the friendship ended.

        I hope you hadn’t considered her a close friend because that would have been a terrible betrayal.

        I still think it’s an unnecessary end of a friendship and it probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the emergence of that particular parenting style fad. I wonder if your former friend still subscribes to the same beliefs and if she tries to preach them to her own kids while they raise her grandkids, or if she regrets how she treated you.

        The same thing happens now too but over breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby-led weaning, sling wearing, natural
        childbirth, etc.

        It’s stupid.

      • Who?

        You’ve described a huge clash of values, way beyond parenting style. And well done for pointing it out in such a clear way.

        This ‘never say no’ thing was big with one of my closest friends, who was raised in a very negative environment and was keen to avoid it for her kids. She felt if they never heard ‘no’ they would grow up more positive and assertive.

        My mum asked how the children would learn to defend and protect themselves if they didn’t know that it was okay and sometimes really important to say ‘no’-if someone is hurting you, or doing something you don’t like or that makes you uncomfortable.

        My friend considered this, noted that saying ‘no’ when she really should was something she struggled with in her own life and relationship with her husband, and toned it way down, with great results. She wasn’t an idealogue, just someone trying to do better than she had experienced.

        • Young CC Prof

          Yeah, I have one friend who was raised by a clearly abusive single parent. He doesn’t have children, but has talked about it in the past, and he’s said some really strange things about childrearing. Like, I don’t think he really gets that it’s possible to discipline kids and work to modify their behavior without being abusive.

        • Kesiana

          She felt if they never heard ‘no’ they would grow up more positive and assertive.

          Yikes, that sounds… ineffective. I have read a saner version of same, though–the parents avoided actually saying the word “no” as much as possible, but replaced it with phrases like “not for babies,” “don’t touch,” “we don’t ___,” etc. Thus, actually saying “No!” made their toddler stop in her tracks, because she understood this was serious.

          For that family, at least, it seemed to work well enough… both on the human kid, and on the owl. XD (Source: Wesley the Owl, a true story.)

    • Guesty

      A very good friend of mine told me at my daughter’s baptism that by the time she was 5, I’d only have friends who parented the way I did. I thought she was crazy. I was so open-minded and accepting! Anyone could be our friend! –Nope. Turns out I absolutely cannot deal with kids I can’t discipline or who won’t follow the rules of my home. It’s too hard. I’ve lost friends over it, but nobody’s sorry. Our styles didn’t jibe, so we moved on.

      • Rebelle

        That’s too bad. It really is, and I know you will be offended but I don’t think you cared all that much about the friends you moved on from in the first place.

        i actually find it offensive that you ditched friends because their kids had behavioural issues. Are you the type who would ditch a friend if they had a child with a disability? There’s no way of proving the parents were responsible for your inability to disciipline kids in your own house.

        Sounds to me like you ditched friends because you didn’t like their kids, but you can tell yourself it’s parenting style if you want.

        • Cobalt

          It doesn’t matter who’s responsible. If you absolutely cannot deal with the consequences, then it’s not like anyone is really benefiting from continuing the relationship. If it’s too hard, it’s too hard.

          • FormerPhysicist

            I’ve had to (mostly) drop casual friends because we couldn’t see each other with children along. No big issues, just – my kid hated playing with hers. And it was a casual friendship so it was easier to move on than to let my kid be uncomfortable and angry until she blurted out something hurtful.

          • Kesiana

            In retrospect, I wonder what the fallout was when my mom was on the phone with a friend of hers, trying to arrange a get-together… and in the background, I screamed that I hated said friend’s daughter, so loudly that the mom heard me.

        • demodocus

          If anyone in my family couldn’t deal with my husband’s blindness, we’d avoid them as much as they’d avoid us. We don’t want to deal with their vapors.

          • Cobalt

            I have a kid who is “that kid”. I don’t want friends that will be secretly (or not) cringing when we meet up. Or worse, deliberately not using or sabotaging the management techniques that work for him because they “believe” in a different style.

            Take us as we are or move along.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I dunno. A relatively extreme example, I grant, but I’ve distanced friends over this. They had an autistic son who *could* behave gently and kindly, but who reverted to very manipulative and cruel behavior if he didn’t get what he wanted. Believe me, the autism had nothing to do with the behavior in this instance. For background, he was severely mentally retarded (like, IQ at the 2-3 year old range or so) and had some other issues. He was also a *big* kid–very strong, and almost 6 feet tall.
          The parents were more than a little overwhelmed (thank you so very much, people who convinced the parents that Good Christian Parents Don’t Send Their Children To Public School, Even For Special Ed Services), and as a result, they tended not to really respond to him unless he was behaving negatively, so he’d behave negatively to get attention. Killing small animals, hitting people, deliberately causing pain, that sort of thing. Now, when I took care of him, I’d keep him busy: take him outside, have him help me move stuff/do yardwork, or if we were inside, give him things to do to help me. And when he did a job well and you told him so, the kid would BEAM; he was so proud of himself, and he lapped up the positive feedback like it was candy.
          I also learned that he had a fondness for renaissance polyphony, and would sit perfectly still and listen to it happily for 30-40 minutes at a time. I have no idea why, but it made him very happy and didn’t do any harm, so how awesome is that?
          On the other hand, when his parents were around, he’d hit them to get attention. If we were at my house, he’d throw my belongings around (until, funnily, I told him firmly to stop, and then gave him something constructive to do, and then he’d do it). However, once I had DD, I was afraid of what he might do to her if he got jealous, which he often was if someone wasn’t paying him attention. As I said, he’s very big and strong, and his parents don’t control him. The idea of him losing his temper next to a fragile baby for even a moment was terrifying, and I knew his parents wouldn’t even try to keep him under control. As a result, I deliberately put a lot of distance in the relationship.

      • Tumbling

        I don’t have children, but most of my friends do. If I had to drop all my friends who had obnoxious, out-of-control kids, I would lose most of my friends. My work-around is that I visit their homes more often than their families come to mine (and I keep a BIG stock of toys for kids of all ages, for use in a separate room).

  • Betheny Amyotte

    I only recently found your blog, Dr. Amy, and let me tell you… the difference between me before and me after is night and day. Before, I second-guessed my science and evidenced-based birthing plan – I tortured myself over the fact that I absolutely do not want to breastfeed, and I would spend hours on end reading all of the ‘mommy wars’ BS about natural childbirth and breastfeeding. I would lose sleep and shed tears and spent so much time kicking myself and trying to convince myself that what I feel is right isn’t right. Then, I found you, and I finally feel empowered. I finally know that I’m not alone. That my feelings of guilt and persecution are actually purposefully elicited by an industry that runs solely on the guilt ant ignorance of the general public. Thank you… thank you for setting me free, and for being an advocate for women like me
    Also, I’m outraged and pissed off that I have no choice but to give birth in a ‘baby friendly’ hospital. I am interested to see how that’s going to turn out.

    • pinky

      What it means is that you will be encouraged to keep your baby close so you learn his or her feeding cues, to have skin to skin contact which encourages bonding hormones and be shown how to make up formula and to feed your baby safely. Good luck, and enjoy your baby.

      • Cobalt

        It may also mean not being able to use the nursery, no matter how exhausted you are, because there isn’t one (and bringing your own 24/7 help may or may not be possible-find out).

        It may mean being told to have the baby in bed with you, even if you are very tired, sore, or on medication, because of the “skin to skin is the only true way to bond with your baby” lie (your baby will love you, and you will love your baby, the same even if you sleep through your whole hospital stay with the baby elsewhere).

        It may mean having to sign a release or get a doctor’s approval to use formula in the hospital (find out, consider bringing your own if needed).

        It may mean having LCs question your choices and pressure you to comply with their desires (be ready to turn them away if they are unsupportive or judgemental).

        • Toni35

          I am SO glad the hospital I delivered my fourth child in (just over a week ago) was baby UNfriendly. Yes, I gave birth without meds (I’m fortunate to have relatively easy labors). Yes this will be the fourth time I’ve breastfed (I racked up a cumulative 6.5 years between my 3 older children). But I went into labor early Sunday evening and delivered early Monday morning. By 2 am on Tuesday, when baby cried every time I put her in the fish tank thing, I didn’t hesitate to hit the call button (she had been fed not a half hour prior) and asked my lovely night shift nurse to please take her to the nursery for a few hours so I could get some proper sleep. She was brought back at 5 am, I was in a much better state (no longer worried about dropping her or falling asleep in the hospital bed with her), and all is well, thankyouverymuch. I love the idea of rooming in, and I did room in with my other children (maybe getting older really does mean less energy, lol). But as an adult human being and the parent of this child, I am uniquely qualified to know when my fatigue is creating a dangerous situation. Had I been told that the nursery wasn’t available…. yeah, IDK what I would have done. That few hours may not seem like much, but it may very well have prevented a serious situation!

          I wonder how many dropped babies (or god forbid unsafe sleeping tragedies) it will take for the nursery to open back up…

          • Kelly

            I agree and I love the new name for the bassinet, the fish tank.

          • Young CC Prof

            Newborn souls, living in a fishbowl…

          • Sarah

            Year after year. Crying out with the same old sounds…

          • Amy M

            What have we found? The same old tears. Wish the nursery was here.

          • demodocus

            well, if they were conceived in a petri dish, it might feel a bit homey 😉

          • araikwao

            Congratulations on your new family member!! Here’s to a quick recovery for you and a settled newborn!

          • demodocus

            Congrats!

            Eta: I dropped my toddler a couple weeks ago when I was overtired and tripped at the playground. He has a broken leg. 🙁

          • Cobalt

            Oh no! What a terrible experience for both of you!

          • Daleth

            Oh no!! I’m so sorry!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! I hope you both recover soon! If it makes you feel any better, I’ve nearly fallen down the stairs with DD several times…exhaustion is awful. 🙁

          • Toni35

            Oh! I’m so sorry that happened. Hope he heals quickly!

          • Roadstergal

            “I am SO glad the hospital I delivered my fourth child in (just over a week ago) was baby Unfriendly.”

            We were on I-80 a little while ago, and my husband saw a massive billboard promoting so-and-so hospital as Baby Friendly, with the requisite picture of a woman snuggling a perfect chubby blue-eyed Caucasian baby. He got all irritated at the term – “What, are they saying they just slap babies around at other hospitals?” It didn’t help things when I tried to explain to him what it does mean…

          • Young CC Prof

            Yes. Hospitals which are not Baby Friendly hate all babies and everyone who works there just does it for the money. *sarcasm”

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh yeah. DH is the oldest of quite a lot of siblings, so he has a very common-sense approach to parenting. When I told him some of the stuff one could expect at a BF hospital, particularly “Sure, mom might just have had a C-section and is therefore on morphine, but that’s no reason she shouldn’t a) bedshare and b) be expected to get out of bed fifty-seven times a night to do all the newborn care herself!” he rolls his eyes so hard one worries they may stick there.

      • Kq

        It may also mean being deprived of sleep until she’s hallucinating and having her needs and desires mocked and ignored. That happens too.

        • Petanque

          Yep, that comes close to my experience too unfortunately. I was told by each new midwife that I was doing it all wrong & that’s why it was so excruciatingly painful, but the only advice I could get from LC’s and later on the breastfeeding association was “just keep trying”.

      • demodocus

        Being half-naked did not encourage bonding with me. WIth a single exception, I really hate being naked.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thank you! That’s what the blog is all about!

    • Rebelle

      I gave birth in a hospital that follows BFI.

      I suspect you will be asked prior if you plan to breastfeed. If you do, then expect:
      – skin to skin will be forced on you, even if you are exhausted
      or feel terrible or are in too much and want to postpone it
      – If your baby needs formula because of low blood sugar or because your milk hasn’t come in, then the baby will be cup fed by a nurse. they wont allow use if a bottle or nipple BUT they will ask your permission. you can say no
      – if you want to formula feed your baby, you have to sin a form declaring you recognize formula feeding is inferiror and you recognize you will responsible for purchasing the formula
      – when/if you need a bottle. you will have to leave your room and go to the nursing station and ask, even if you are alone, in pain and have problems with mobility
      – you will have to room-in and you are unlikely to get staff to agree to watch your baby while you’re asleep
      – breastfeeding classes involve everyone sitting around topless so if you’re not comfortable being around lots of naked chicks then you will find it uncomfortable
      – I would bring your own formula with you to the hospital, just so you don’t have to engage with the BFI program (Just in case you’re in Ontario, bring a ready to feed. Similac or Enfamil. Bring piles of disposable teats. Bring about 5 or 6 boxes of the 2 oz bottles.
      – Usually the nurses will be a lot nicer after you declare you are going to breastfeed. You have to really be emphatic.Then many of them will seem relieved and tell you it’s okay not to breastfeed and recount stories, and some might tell you how to get more formula samples
      – BFi propaganda posters will be everywhere, but not to the extent you would see in a dictatorship
      – Oh,you may get your nipple grabbed without anyone asking

      Good luck! I hope your birth goes well!

    • Seattle Mom

      My last was born in a baby friendly hospital where I had an elective C-section (breech for first birth), the nurses offered to take her from me so I could have a long bath and sleep. They offered to give her formula during that time as well as a pacifier. However they also put her in bed with me because she didn’t like the bassinet, (I couldn’t lift her out of it) and I got an organic baby blanket instead of formula samples. I don’t remember breastfeeding being particularly pushed, but I was looking forward to breastfeeding so there was that.

      • Melanie

        It was ok to give your baby formula though because she was already RUINED by being born by c section obviously (!)

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Oh, man. That sounds like heaven! My hospital told me when I had DD that they were working to become BFHI certified, so they probably are now, and I’m dreading dealing with some of that nonsense. If I could have an experience like that…bliss!
        As a side note, WHAT is with the idea of having the bassinet so high off the ground in proportion to the bed that a woman of average height (I’m 5’3″) can’t get baby in/out of the bassinet while sitting in bed? Seriously, that is such a stupid design.

    • Sarah

      I’m similarly outraged that I had no choice either.

  • mostlyclueless

    OT, but it looks like Ricki Lake’s newest propaganda piece is officially in production: http://www.redbookmag.com/body/pregnancy-fertility/features/a39113/ricki-lakes-documentary-on-birth-control/

  • Ennis Demeter

    I breastfed, and I can´t wrap my head around feeling proud of it.

    • Erin

      Whilst I had emotional issues with my breastfeeding, I’ve never been able to understand that either because I succeeded due to circumstances out of my control. I didn’t do anything different to friends of mine who couldn’t breastfeed, it was just luck and how is getting lucky anything to be proud of it? Sure it’s nice but it’s nothing to be shoved in other people’s faces.
      It’s the same with people telling women who had “interesting” labours that it was their own fault for not being relaxed, happy, having faith in their bodies etc etc… nope, if your baby is stuck on your pelvic bone or at a fancy angle or just plain distressed no amount of happiness will change that.

      • Roadstergal

        I think people are scared to admit that a lot of what happens in life is blind chance. Being able to successfully breastfeed, having an easy delivery, getting breast cancer, being born to reasonably affluent parents so you get a good start on a career vs to disadvantaged ones…

        Saying ‘it all would have worked out if only you had done x, y, z, and worked hard,’ is their way of not admitting that it could just have easily have been them, if they hadn’t been lucky.

    • Sarah

      I can understand this. It’s kind of a weird thing to be proud of in and of itself. I think we should all be proud of keeping our kids happy and fed, no matter how it’s done. It sounds simple, but we all know it’s not always easy.

    • Julia

      People use “being proud” synonymously with “being happy or glad about” something. Pride is too close to hubris.

      • Tumbling

        Yes, I’ve been flabberghasted reading in the newspapers about people who are proud to have won the lottery. How is that something that they personally influenced in any way, beyond buying a ticket?

    • S

      Exactly what i was thinking. I was on an extremely restricted diet for a couple of months, and a somewhat restricted diet for longer, because i really wanted to breastfeed my younger child and it took awhile to figure out what he was sensitive to (FPIES). He’s still nursing at over a year old, and he’s grown out of all his food sensitivities. I’m not proud; i’m grateful that i had that choice!

      • S

        Skimming through her blog, it sounds like she received some hurtful comments about breastfeeding in front of others, and it took a bit of a personal journey for her to feel comfortable doing it. Maybe it’s her (supposed) self-confidence that she’s proud of. I can understand that. Though her obnoxious defensiveness doesn’t really indicate self-confidence to me…

      • Allie P

        the day I have to seriously restrict my diet to breastfeed (as opposed to just staying away from tuna, etc.) is the day my daughter starts an exclusive relationship with Enfamil. I’m not going to feed my kid food that’s not good for her (my breastmilk on a regular diet) nor subject her to the crazy I’d turn if I had to militantly guard my every bite.

        • S

          It was a bit insane, but apparently we are a bit insane because we kind of enjoyed the challenge. My older child was a bit disappointed when we went back to normal baking — there’s way more ingredients to measure when you are wheat/dairy/egg free, and measuring is fun!

          Seriously, though, i wouldn’t recommend it to any other mom, unless she truly understood that formula is an equally healthy option for the baby, and unless she felt she could keep herself healthy.

          We kept a can of Nutramigen just in case, and i was advised by our pediatric gastroenterologist that an occasional accidental exposure would not harm the baby — so there was no militant guarding. =)

          I apologize if my comments were offensive to you or anyone else. The point i meant to make was that having gone to some trouble to breastfeed, i still consider it a highly personal decision and nothing to be particularly proud of. Next time i’ll just say that and skip all the details!

          • Rebelle

            No, but trying to frame it as “liking a challenge” implies others weren’t up to the challenge.

            You still come off as smug.

            I guarantee you there are both formula feeders and other breastfeeders who faced more feeding challenges than you.

            There are people with disabilities and people who have babies with disabilities who overcome far more obstacles. It’s great that you have the luxury of tuming feeding your child into a personal challenge but many women don’t live in the kind of circumstances that enable them to turn infant feeding into a game.

          • S

            I’ll admit my wording was poor (I was trying to keep a light tone), and i appreciate your feedback on that. As i said before, i was grateful to have the options i did. I am quite aware of how privileged i was to have that choice.

  • OttawaAlison

    That Gratton piece came out a few years ago and it still angers me. I support breastfeeding, as in I support a society that accepts it, access too help etc, but I don’t support it as the only way a mom must feed a child, thus I get a huge eff-you from her.
    In her piece she said since the majority are using formula, that breastfeeding women are obviously the ones at a societal and cultural disadvantage, I’m not saying there aren’t societal barriers for women working full-time from birth. I think it absolutely is wrong for women to be treated badly due to breastfeeding in public. However, I think it’s like being at a healthy weight (for this argument I am using the BMI standards which we know are not perfect, I’m at my healthiest when my BMI is above 25… shocker), currently the majority of the population in North America is above a healthy weight. That said, it still doesn’t mean that suddenly overweight and obese people are not being shamed about it. In fact, people trot out that statistic that most people are overweight and obese to additionally shame people. Overweight and obese people are treated as less valuable and less worthy, just like formula feeding mothers are.
    Thanks for pointing our her BS.

    • Liz Leyden

      For a woman who claims not to care how other women feed their children, she is very, very angry about formula feeders popping up during World Breastfeeding Week.

      • Steph

        YES!

  • Sarah

    Hey Elizabeth, fuck your white arse for appropriating ‘Black Lives Matter’.

  • Gatita

    Fuck you for feeling the need to boast this week online that you didn’t breastfeed and your kids are just fine.

    This is so crazy I’m not even sure what to say about it.

    • Mac Sherbert

      Well, clearly she’s upset that FF kids turnout fine. After all the Bf she did and FF kids turnout find too! Crap. It was all for nothing and she can’t superior anymore. (All above is sarcasm. I think she’s just claiming the FF are doing what they’ve accused the BFs of doing?).

    • Anj Fabian

      Translation:
      “Get out of my light! This is MY stage! MY show! MY issue!”.

  • Gatita

    The Feminine Mystique is a perfect reference because the natural mothering paradigm really is retrograde and anti-feminist. The emphasis on biological destiny and intensive parenting that makes it impossible for women to be economically independent is horrifying on so many levels. There’s also the whole class aspect to it because only a small subset of women have the economic means to parent this way, yet they are setting the standards that are used to judge all women.

  • Amy M

    Mothering is made out to be a zero-sum game: If breastfeeding = good mother, then formula feeding HAS to = bad mother, otherwise how could we distinguish the good mothers from the bad ones? Of course its not a zero-sum game—most mothers are good mothers. There’s no limit to how many good mothers there can be.

    I think the comparison to the Feminine Mystique (the bit about the housewives stretching their work and making it more complicated) is very spot-on. I know there are people who believe they need to do everything in the hardest and most time consuming way possible, and some of them seem to do that because they have nothing better to do. So, to justify that, they have to believe that their way makes them better mothers (who love their kids more than you love yours) and yields “better” (smarter, healthier,etc) children. If one could get similar results with “shortcuts” and efficiency, then why would anyone put so much effort in? Obviously, more effort = more love and better kids. Less effort=lazy and selfish mother and inferior children.

    • Sarah

      The fact that some moms look down on other moms who don’t make, store, freeze their own baby food is evidence of this. The comments on baby food recalls are always riddled with “well, if you grew it, pureed it, and stored it yourself you wouldn’t have to worry about poisoning your kids!” I guess I should also make my own airbags for my car and install them myself , because I have no one to blame but me if one of them malfunctions.

      • Amy M

        Well driving around is just as dangerous as feeding the kids GMOs! You should walk, carrying the kids on your back (even if you have a lot of children) or ride a horse, that lives free-range on your property. You would need to learn leather-working to make the tack yourself–modern manufactured leather is full of toxins.

      • FormerPhysicist

        Because I have to pedantically point this out every time someone mentions growing your own food, especially for infants – please, people, test your soil! I live in New England, and my area has been settled a long, long time. And my soil is reasonably safe for growing many vegetables, but not recommended for root crops or leafy greens like kale and spinach.
        I guess the “natural mamas” would say I should just move.

        • Mel

          Many urban, suburban and rural areas have dangerous lead levels in the soil due to the use of lead gasoline. To grow food in these areas, you need to build raised beds with soil that has safe lead levels.

        • Empliau

          New arrival to New England and found this out after planting. Only have strawberries and tomatoes this year, though, and have found out (Google research! I am a botanist now!) that fruits are less likely to have metals etc. than leaves and roots. So I am going to eat the tomatoes.

      • Young CC Prof

        Dangerous errors in home preparation probably far exceed factory recalls of packaged foods. Which isn’t to say cooking is dangerous, just that there are no guarantees.

        • Roadstergal

          Nobody sends out a press release when a kid gets sick because their mom made a mistake in the canning process.

        • Mel

          Yeah. I’ve never heard of a botulism outbreak from processed food in the US in a half century. Lots from bad home canning.

          I love canning my own food. I am also very cautious and use tested recipes.

    • Ennis Demeter

      I agree. It´s a deep unease with the fact that we have fewer children and mothering and keeping house isn’t an extremely labor intensive life long job anymore. I think the homeschooling movement is also a manifestation of that for many (not all, obviously).

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Mothering is made out to be a zero-sum game: If breastfeeding = good mother, then formula feeding HAS to = bad mother, otherwise how could we distinguish the good mothers from the bad ones? Of course its not a zero-sum game—most mothers are good mothers. There’s no limit to how many good mothers there can be.

      This is similar to what I have said about the “use your instincts, they are usually right” advice. It’s great as far as it goes, but too often, it is interpreted as “…and anything else is wrong.” No. That’s not true. The reason it works so well as advice is because there are lots of right answers, and few actually wrong ones.

  • Mel

    What I’ve noticed about BigMama? The usefulness of husbands, fathers, grandfathers and all other men is completely ignored.

    My dad will be the first to admit he didn’t know much about babies when my sis and I were born – but he learned quickly. We have adorable pictures of him trying to clean me up after a feeding while I happily tucked my chubby chin deep into my neck.

    He’s the sole reason my youngest brother – the croupy, asthmatic, poor sleeper – wasn’t left out for the wolves. Every night, he’d toss a thin blanket over Bro’s head and walk him for a hour or more in the cold, dry air singing the Three Little Kittens song until Bro fell asleep.

    He learned how to braid hair to because he felt it wasn’t fair that Mom had to take care of both of us girl’s hair. Honestly, he was pretty awful at at, but he was clearly proud of his skills.

    Dad is a teacher and so was our primary care giver during the summers. He taught me most of what I know about cooking. I have memories of sitting in the back seat of the car listening to NPR with Dad as he’d try and teach us to differentiate between the sounds of different instruments. He worked as a ‘head counselor” at a local parks department and tried to create fun and occasionally academic fun times for the local kid.

    My dad is the reason I hope to start a family with my husband some day and the reason I can point to that NCB is inherently flawed. Babies don’t need “Mom” as much as they need love.

    • Gatita

      Your dad sounds wonderful! How lucky you were to have him.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      He learned how to braid hair to because he felt it wasn’t fair that Mom had to take care of both of us girl’s hair. Honestly, he was pretty awful at at, but he was clearly proud of his skills.

      My main regret about not having a daughter is because I will miss out on things like this. I’d love to braid their hair.

      My guys don’t let their hair grow long enough to braid. Not sure a daughter would, but at least there’s a chance.

    • Sue

      Yep. It’s about “Mama” but not “parent”. Very revealing.

  • CJ

    Dr. Amy. Do you know what your blog has accomplished?
    I’m pregnant and having my first baby in Febuary.
    I fully intend to have pain medication. I don’t suffer through a headache why would I suffer through child birth. I’d like a vaginal delivery but I know it won’t be the end of everything if I have a c-section. (I only want a vaginal birth because it tends to be easier to recover from them and I need to eat back to work quick.)
    Your blog has taught me that it’s ok to want to breast feed, which I do. But it’s equally okay if that doesn’t work out. It doesn’t mean that I failed or I’m less of a mother for it.
    Your blog has taught me that being a parent isn’t a competition. It’s a journey and as long as my child, my family, and myself are happy and healthy we are doing it the right way.

    So thank you Dr. Amy for being such a wonderful teacher.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      You made my day!!

    • Sue

      Wonderful! THIS is the answer to “why do you persist?”. The zealots and ideologues refuse to learn, no matter how good the teacher is. But those with insight have the capacity to respond to reasoned argument and evidence.