Lactivists fight back

Blank book cover isolated on white

Breastfeeding has become an industry, an industry predicated on gross exaggeration of the benefits of breastfeeding in first world countries.

Now that the misrepresentations of the scientific evidence have been pointed out in a national forum (Overselling Breast-feeding by Courtney Jung) lactivists are doing what any industry would do: they’re fighting back to retain market share.

The science is pretty clear that the benefits of breastfeeding in first world countries are trivial; lactivists are not attempting to prove otherwise, because they can’t. Instead, they’re fighting back with weak arguments and logical fallacies. In fact, the arguments are so predictable that they could write a playbook:

“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”


Step 1. Reframe the issue

The issue under discussion is whether lactivists have oversold the benefits of breastfeeding. They have, but they don’t want to address that point. Instead they reframe the issue as opposition to breastfeeding itself.

Melissa Bartick, MD:

It’s become routine: a big anti-breastfeeding piece comes out in a major publication …

The Boob Geek:

How to write an anti-breastfeeding article

Step 2: Appeal to authority

“Because they said so” is a logical fallacy, not an argument. Yes, consensus involving major medical organizations can be an important issue when defending empirical claims like “vaccines are safe and effective.” But when the claim under discussion is “medical authorities have overstated the benefits of breastfeeding,” trumpeting the fact that major medical organizations agree with each other is not a defense.

Julie Taylor, President Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine:

For strong evidence that breast-feeding is by far the optimal nutrition choice to support maternal-child health, consult the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization.

Step 3: Imply guilt by association

Is there any industry more despised than the infant formula industry? Therefore, insist that those who question the overselling of breastfeeding are influenced by or in league with the infant formula industry.

Casey Rosen-Carole, MD:

… Courtney Jung’s op-ed… posits a false dichotomy, supported by formula advertising, that the true battleground for breastfeeding exists between “lactivists” and mothers who choose to, or must, formula feed their infants…

It is unclear why discourse on the “minimal” or “moderate” effects of breastfeeding continues; it is likely related to influence from both personal experiences of writers and influence from formula marketing.

The Boob Geek:

Remember, though, that no formula company has ever undermined breastfeeding by providing free samples of their products. There is no proof that advertising affects us in any way.

Elizabeth Grattan:

Jung feeds this fallacy to a tee when she neglects to address the tactics of the Infant Formula Council specifically targeting breastfeeding families.

Step 4: Denial

Lactivists are making women who choose infant formula feel bad by exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding? No, they’re not.

Dr. Rosen-Carole:

This argument posits … that the true battleground for breastfeeding exists between “lactivists” and mothers who choose to, or must, formula feed their infants. Rather, breastfeeding advocacy today focuses on the social conditions that prevent women around the world from being able to make choices that support their health and empowerment, and the futures of their babies.

Dr. Bartick:

It only takes one “lactivist” to piss off a journalist. You never know who might turn around and write that next full page op-ed for the New York Times.

Grattan:

Jung positions those who don’t breastfeed as the victims in society… This lets her pander to the masses by convincing them that they are the ones more deserving of the attention. Again, this approach isn’t new, it’s quite common. This martyr complex is a well known deflect as a way for people to completely avoid social justice.

These writers would do well to keep in mind the immortal words of comedian Louis CK:

“When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

Step 5: Never address the actual issue

Dr. Rosen-Carole:

It is unclear why discourse on the “minimal” or “moderate” effects of breastfeeding continues … I will not engage this discourse here, as it is clear from every medical expert panel in every country in the world that the benefits of breastfeeding for health of mother and baby

English to English translation: I can’t rebut the claim.

I’m not surprised that lactivists are running scared. Jung has pointed out two of the dirty secrets of lactivism: the real benefits of breastfeeding are trivial and breastfeeding is being promoted by an industry that profits from it. There is no way to disprove these claims because they are true. But that doesn’t stop lactivists from trying.

What’s the take away message for the rest of us?

Be aware of the lactivist playbook — reframing, appealing to authority, guilt by association, denial and refusal to address the scientific claims. The tide is turning, and inevitably the truth about the overselling of breastfeeding will out.


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  • auntbea

    “Pander” is such a disgusting word. Anyone who wants to seriously discuss evidence needs to ban it from their arguments.

  • fearlessformulafeeder

    YES. Thank you, Amy. This past week has been like one, long game of lactivist bingo. Just wait until your book comes out. 😉

  • Amy

    I breastfed each of my children past age three and for the most part loved it, and would do the same again if given the chance for a do-over. Yet the most common response I get from lactivists when I point out that as a I high school teacher I have no clue which students were breastfed and which weren’t, is that I must be bitter of my own lack of success with breastfeeding.

    Can’t decide whether that’s funny or sad.

    • mythsayer

      It’s sad, because they are serious.

  • mythsayer

    FYI Elizabeth grattan is tweeting about this. Not specifically by name but it’s clear.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Jung feeds this fallacy to a tee when she neglects to address the
    tactics of the Infant Formula Council specifically targeting
    breastfeeding families.

    I breast fed for 2 years and never once felt the least pressure to formula feed or even heard of the Infant Formula Council before. Is it even a real thing? And how did they miss propagandizing to me? I feel most left out.

    • LizzieSt

      Someone is actually claiming that the “Infant Formula Council” sends out shills to stop mothers from breast-feeding? I can’t say I’m surprised. That’s a pretty standard type of conspiracy-theory-mongering. Other examples can be found on Facebook every day: “Big Pharma is pushing your pediatrician to give too many vaccines too soon.” “Monsanto is conspiring to poison us all with GMOs” etc. etc.

    • Daleth

      WTF? There is no such thing as the “Infant Formula Council.” Google it.

      There is an “Infant Nutrition Council,” and as the name implies they support BF, FF or combo feeding: http://infantnutrition.org/

  • crazy grad mama

    NPR decided to run a response piece interviewing James McKenna, the king of co-sleeping nonsense, who starts going on about how formula-fed babies are five times more likely to DIE in the first year… I got so mad that I couldn’t finish reading. (I’m going to have to look up the study he was referencing, because that can’t possibly be true developed countries.)

    • Andrea Riley

      You are not alone, that piece gave me a rage stroke. Dr. Amy, please take him down, I’m so sick of his name popping up everywhere.

      • crazy grad mama

        “You are not alone” are some of the best words in the English language. Thank you.

      • fearlessformulafeeder

        Also- don’t you love how they all get on Jung, Wolf, Morris, and myself (thank god Dr. A won’t suffer this fate, another reason I can’t wait for her book to come out) for being political scientists/journalists/sociologists rather than MDs? And what is James McKenna, pray tell? Ah, right. An anthropologist.

        Funny, that.

    • crazy grad mama

      To follow up: I read the full study (hooray for university subscriptions to academic journals!) and discovered, as predicted, that McKenna’s take-away message completely misses the point. (And that part of the study itself is questionable.)

      It’s a study looking at racial differences in breastfeeding preferences in the U.S. The authors find that black women are significantly less likely to breastfeed compared to white women, even when differences in socioeconomic status and other factors are taken into account. So far, reasonable.

      The authors then go on to try to explain the higher infant mortality rate among black babies with ONLY birth weight and breastfeeding as variables. No inclusion of family income or any of the other countless factors that are affected by race in the U.S. Plus, they’re not using the same group of babies for both variables: the breastfeeding rates are based on children that survived to at least 18 months, while the infant mortality rates are drawn from census data / survival tables.

      So no, not breastfeeding your baby does not make him or her five times more likely to die.

      • yentavegan

        thank you for deconstructing this study. Intuitively (viscerally?) we know there could not possibly be a 5 times higher death rate for formula fed babies.

    • rh1985

      The anthropologist who is only an academic doctor, not a medical doctor, yet continues to give his OPINION on a MEDICAL issue – ugh!

      • Chi

        Mansplaining at it’s very best.

    • LizzieSt

      That reminds me so much of that bogus 1980s headline that screamed “Women over 40 are more likely to be killed by terrorists than to get married!” It’s meant to grab attention, to bring about compliance by striking fear into the hearts of readers. And it has precious little to do with the truth.

    • Megan

      You know, I am starting to get really sick of NPR and their quasi-lactivism. This is the second time in a few weeks they’ve aired BS like this. They won’t be getting my money this pledge drive.

      • SporkParade

        You should write to them and tell them why!

      • fearlessformulafeeder

        You know what? Me too. ME TOO.

      • StephanieA

        Can someone tell me more about him? I read his work about a year ago and had instant guilt. We did CIO with our son at 6 months and it really saved out family’s sanity, but after reading his stuff I felt awful. My son is 2 now and is very attached to my husband and I, but I still feel bad that we don’t let him sleep with us.

        Edit: meant to reply to crazy grad mama.

        • Who?

          Someone very perceptively pointed out the other day that many of the same people who claim CIO is destructive will also leave a child to starve (crying all the while) if breastfeeding isn’t going so well.

          We all do our best, your boy sounds great.

  • Gene

    The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has a booth at the American Academy of Pediatrics national meeting in DC this weekend. I’m going. So…should I engage in an intellectual discussion about breastfeeding, flash them as I snootily saunter by, or dress up in some floaty flowered thing and whip out my breast pump and stage a lovely photo op?

    And just as an interesting aside…I do wonder if they will provide a place for me to pump…since, you know, the AAP is so pro-breastfeeding. Snarky, but still a legitimate question.

    • Megan

      You could always set up and pump at the ABM booth. Just saying…

      • araikwao

        But pumping’s not REAL breastfeeding..

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      IIRC, ASH provided me with an empty room with a “do not disturb” sign on the door when I wanted to feed the critter in private. If the AAP fails to provide something adequate tell them that the hematologists showed them up.

    • Charybdis

      I would be sorely tempted to dress in a floaty, flowery thing, have a garland/wreath of artificial/silk flowers in my hair and sit nearby with a basket of formula samples. And cookies, because the dark side has, you know, cookies. Regular ones, not lactation cookies, of course.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Dr. Bartick continues to dodge and weave:

    • OttawaAlison

      Well it’s hard to answer directly when reality doesn’t match your ideology.

    • mostlyclueless
      • Amy M

        Thank you, this is exactly what I was thinking!

    • fiftyfifty1

      Dodge and weave? More like whine and stamp.

    • Sue

      Her argument sounds very much like those trying to promote homeopathy: there’s more research to be done / science just hasn’t caught up yet / there’s not enough research money because Big Pharma / etc etc

  • Medwife

    I gave birth to #2 almost two weeks ago and am breastfeeding her. I feel a responsibility to report on something: HER POOP SMELLS LIKE POOP. I mean, it’s not a full fledged grown up poop smell, but it’s not nice. It’s sure not popcorn. Other than that, it’s been easy, much more than the first time around. Significantly, I offer a pacifier when she seems to just want to suck, lactation consultant advice/orders be damned, so my nipples aren’t hanging in shreds. It makes all the difference.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “HER POOP SMELLS LIKE POOP. ”

      Have you ever taken antibiotics in your life? Or did your mother ever? Because probably that’s the reason. Ruined gut flora passed from generation to generation like syphilis.

      • Medwife

        Worse, I was a c/s. My microbiome was devastated from age one. My poop smells bad and now so does my daughter’s! If only I’d been born vaginally… Assuming I lived through being a vaginal breech…

        • Anna

          I was a transverse. According to the NCB I shouldn’t have even been given the chance to live. But maybe my mom could have vaginal births later if she lived through her first… I do honor my mom for fighting for that c-section, which was not a common thing those days.

          • Medwife

            Labor would have made you turn longitudinal, at least if your mom was hopping up and down on one leg through contractions. Too bad some people don’t give their bodies a chance to work as designed! /s

          • araikwao

            What, you didn’t know how to be born? Babies always know how/when/where to be born 😛

      • AirPlant

        I have the UTI from hell come to kill us all right now so natch I got the good drugs. I told my coworkers when they asked what the deal was with the water and the kefir and the getting up every five minutes and someone actually gave me the micro biome speech. Fuck that noise, my kids poop can smell bad, whatever, I like having kidneys

    • fiftyfifty1

      Congrats!!!

    • Amazed

      Congrats! Welcome, Medbaby!

    • Megan

      Congrats! FWIW, I always thought my daughter’s poop smelled like poop, despite the BS about breastfed babies having poo that was white and smelled like roses (or something like that). Glad things are going well!

    • JJ

      Congrats Medwife! I had my baby almost 2 weeks ago and I am really loving nursing her since I combo feed 1/2 the time and use a pacifier a little. No nipple confusion and I have done this since she was 2 days old! I wish I did this with my other 3 babies but I believed the lactivist LIES that formula was toxic and “just one bottle” would ruin everything. I feel so much more well rested and I am actually enjoying my life postpartum.

      • Megan

        I am so glad to hear all these accounts of successful happy combo feeding and paci use. I am hoping for that myself this time around! Amen to getting actual rest! It is so underrated in lactivist-/AP-/NCB-land.

        • Medwife

          Heck yeah, we’re doing fine figuring out what works for our baby and family rather than LC dogma. Don’t let yourself be intimidated away from that.

        • Blue Chocobo

          I breastfed and introduced bottles of formula and the pacifier before leaving the hospital. I breastfed when convenient, bottle fed when convenient (at least once a week, up to twice a day), pumped only in the first 6 weeks for my own comfort, and used the paci for 100% of the baby’s comfort sucking needs. I did make an effort in the first two months to get enough milk out each day to keep the supply reasonable, either by nursing or pumping.

          Currently nursing a toddler, but likely to wean soon because I’m done.

          Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

        • SporkParade

          Yes, yes it is. I was lucky that my LC actually meant it when she said she supported combo-feeding. She taught me how to make a bottle of formula, gave some basic tips on scheduling, and it made my life just so much easier.

      • fiftyfifty1

        congrats!

      • araikwao

        Congratulations, that’s great to hear!

      • Inmara

        Congratulations!
        God bless that pediatric nurse who heard that I’m nursing baby to sleep during the night and strongly encouraged to use pacifier, otherwise I’ll regret it later. She was right, baby is falling asleep with paci, I’m better rested and no nipple confusion (also, husband takes over 2 feedings so I have more sleep and more time to myself). We had kind of a nursing strike from week 8 to 11 when baby was fussing and crying and almost refusing breast in the evening and afternoon but seems that it’s over and we’re back to reasonable “eat all you can from boob and top up with bottle” schedule.

      • Allie P

        I combo fed my baby from the day I got home from the hospital (stupid BFI rules!) until she was about a month and a half old, and we’ve been pretty much exclusively BFing ever since (she’s had maybe half a dozen bottles in the last two months). What we did is nurse, and then, if she was still hungry, give a bottle. She also got a bottle on the few occasions I was not around and she was hungry. I have pumped maybe four or five times. I hate pumping.

        STILL won’t take a paci. She’s not fooled by anything that doesn’t have milk coming out of it. But she’ll take the born free bottle, the little enfamil nipple, whatever. Nipple confusion is BS. The trick, actually, is to give them a variety from a young age.

        And her poops are regular levels of stinky but her gas is LETHAL. Room clearing farts from such a small being, it’s unreal.

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Mini monkey has been exclusively breastfed from the start, and I swear his poop is getting smellier as time goes by. I’m thinking of trialling solids soon, so I’m sure that’ll be a whole new level of stinkiness.

    • moto_librarian

      Congratulations on baby number two!

      • Medwife

        Thank you!

    • FrequentFlyer

      Congratulations!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Wait, mom’s mood is better when her nipples aren’t shredded???
      WHO’D’A THUNK IT?! Remarkable scientific discovery! Quick, someone, write a paper!
      In all seriousness, I’m glad things have been easier for you. 🙂 Congrats!

    • Mishimoo

      Congratulations on the new arrival! So glad she’s willing to take a pacifier, it makes a huge difference.

    • crazy grad mama

      My breastfed baby’s poop smelled OK for about two weeks, then permanently turned into some seriously toxic sulfur-smelling stuff. I laugh whenever I read that BF poop smells “good.”

      Also, yay pacifiers!

    • araikwao

      Congratulations!!

    • Inmara

      Congratulations!
      My baby’s poop smelled not that bad even in first weeks of combo feeding but now it’s, well, yes – poop. Anyway, there won’t be that much difference when introducing solids.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Congratulations! I don’t remember a whole lot about baby poop, either because I blocked it out or because my partner did most of the diapers, but I’m absolutely certain that I would never confuse the smell of my 100% breast fed for 9 months baby’s poop with popcorn. TMI: I’ve never found the smell of poop all that offensive, except when it contains C difficile, but none of it, not the most fragrant (in a good sense) poop in the world, ever smells like something that you should be eating. If it does something has gone badly wrong somewhere.

    • Sue

      Great news, Medwife. Congrats!!

  • OttawaAlison

    Here is what I found going through my own experience 9 years ago:
    It’s your fault because you let x happen (x can be an epidural, a csection, formula supplementation, not doing immediate skin to skin, not having the baby literally feeding on your 24/7).
    Breastfeeding supply problems are rare, thus even if you have shown signs of low-supply, you don’t, because breastfeeding supply problems are rare.
    It’s your fault because you aren’t trying hard enough.
    We aren’t being mean to you, you’re being too sensitive. Only you can make your self feel inferior (after saying something like “moms who formula feed are lazy and uneducated and formula is a terrible artificial substitute for breastmilk. I loved my child, so I wanted what is best for her so I breastfed, I mean who wouldn’t”).
    It’s still all your fault.
    You were completely not supported by society and you have never seen breastfeeding in action (Alison Note – whether or not this was or wasn’t the case – my mom breastfed us back in the day, it was my normal but whatevs, that didn’t fit in their dialogue).
    It still is all your fault by the way.

    • lilin

      Yeah. There’s also the assertion that breastfeeding isn’t painful. You found it painful? Then you did it wrong. We know you did it wrong because breastfeeding isn’t painful.

      • Dr Kitty

        Yeah…no.
        Big lie.

        I cannot be alone in this.
        BF hurt like a MF for the first week with both babies (although less with #2).
        Then somewhere between ok and uncomfortable for a few weeks.
        Then absolutely fine from six weeks onwards.

        I think that my babies need time to perfect the process and my nipples need time to toughen up and get used to nursing.

        At no time were there any obvious issues with latch or supply or anything else, and nothing changed except time.

        It hurt at the start, it doesn’t now.
        This is hardly unusual, but certainly isn’t because something was “wrong” that had to be “fixed” by an expert.

        Oh, and baby # 2 has slept through the night twice this week…which is pretty good for 8weeks. He’s also growing rapidly out of his clothes and is very easy all around. He’ll take EBM in a bottle no problem (4oz in under 3 minutes last night) but has no interest in pacifiers after briefly accepting one, despite my best efforts.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          *pats Baby Kitty affectionately* Good baby! Keep those good sleep habits going!

          • Blue Chocobo

            A well sleeping baby is joyous gift!

          • Dr Kitty

            He’s a dream.
            Really, just the easiest baby… cluster feeds which co-incident with trying to cook and eat dinner excepted.

        • Toni35

          You’re not alone at all! I’m currently nursing baby #4 (she’s almost 3 months now) and every single time it hurt like hell for about the first week (despite no latch problems or even cracked nipples), then it was simply uncomfortable for a few weeks, and somewhere between 4-6 weeks it stopped being uncomfortable altogether. IDK why they (lactavists) can’t simply be honest with women and tell us that, yes, it will hurt at first, but it will also improve after a week or so and before you know it, it won’t be uncomfortable at all (assuming everything is going well). Okay, that might turn some women off, but for most women I think knowing what to expect, what is normal, and having an endpoint for the pain would actually *help*. With my first I was so concerned something was “wrong” because it’s “not supposed to hurt if you are doing it right”…… what a load.

          Mine will take a bottle from DH happily, but not from me (she gives me that ‘you’re kidding me, right?’ look if I try, lol, she seems to know DH is ‘defective’ and makes no milk). But, no, pacifiers cause fits of rage for her, lol. None of my girls were fooled by the paci….

          • Sue

            You ladies have the language all wrong. It;s not really “pain” – just empowering nipple-labour – just some “tightenings”.

          • Dr Kitty

            Luckily for me, my mother and grandmother had both BF three children and told me it would get better after a month.
            I did not, however, take my grandmother’s advice to scrub my nipples with a nail brush to toughen them up while I was pregnant… Because ow!

          • JJ

            My MIL told me to toughen my nipples too!

        • Squillo

          You are so not alone. BF was agony for a few weeks for me — worse than labor because it went on and on and on and my son cluster-fed like crazy. I was humiliated because I sobbed through every session, alarming my poor husband.

          I was only able to continue because I had a good LC who advised using nipple shields.

      • JJ

        I have nursed 4 babies and have been told their latch was great and I can hear them gulping milk. My nipples hurt the first week every time. Since I am combo feeding this time at least I did not get cracked bleeding nipples during the first week. I did not want to go through that again.

    • AirPlant

      Never forget the classic “how would human have survived if breastfeeding isn’t perfect?”

    • Allie P

      This is the best post ever.

      • KarenJJ

        Exactly the breastfeeding messages I was hearing. Absolutely spot on.

  • Anna

    There’s one thing that really bothers me about lactivists. They often encourage moms to starve a new born baby so that the baby would learn to latch. Seems cruel and inhuman to me. It’s like: learn to latch properly or die. Especially hard for those babies who have been bottle fed at the nursery when mom was in the ICU like my daughter and me. Or moms with flat nipples. I think getting nutrition (any) is vital for a newborn and more important than breastfeeding at all costs. As for their judgment… Couldn’t care less. My daughter is happy, healthy and GROWING not losing weight. This means I am a good enough mom.

    • Mel

      What is the connection between a baby is hungry and distracted and the speed of learning to latch?

      On our farm, all calves receive their first feeding through a gastric tube within a few hours of birth. Most of them learn (~75%) how to latch effectively by the end of the second day. The majority of the remainder pick it up early on the third day. If a calf seems hungry before he/she learns to latch, we give them another tube feeding after trying a bottle for a few minutes.

      It’s really pointless to starve a calf. They need the liquid and calories plus if they are overly hungry they will become worked up and it is harder for them to learn to latch.

      I’m assuming human babies work the same way – a “normally” hungry baby – “Hey, it’s time for my next meal” – will learn to latch more easily than a starving baby.

      • Amazed

        This logic reminds me of me. Looks like they want to teach the baby to “tought it out”. Yeah, just like me when the Intruder and I were left to our own devices for a few hours and I told my mom I was going to cook. I made macaroni which I adored and he hated. And I told him, “That’s what we have. Eat it or starve, your choice.” He starved for a while. Then, he ate.

        The difference? He was 6. And he was physically able to eat the macaroni. He simply didn’t like the taste. Nothing like a baby who CANNOT latch and so cannot eat.

        • AirPlant

          It is almost like they think babies don’t latch out of pure SPITE.

          • Amazed

            We have this story here, about the father who taught his sons to call Woe if their cart broke in the woods. So they shouted and shouted but she didn’t come. At the end, they had to repair the cart themselves. THAT was Woe’s help.

            Of course, it supposites that the sons taught this lesson knew that they had fingers. I am not sure about babies… Are they supposed to shout, Woe, come heop me! and at the end suck it up and do the deed themselves?

          • Angharad

            Well, they ascribe a lot of wisdom to babies (babies know when to be born, etc). So that must mean that if the baby isn’t latching correctly, it’s not because the baby can’t- it must be nipple confusion or spite.

          • AirPlant

            or a tongue/lip/cheek tie. It doesn’t matter if eight doctors couldn’t find anything, just keep cutting things until matters improve.

          • Medwife

            Or laziness.

      • Megan

        I agree with this. When my daughter was shrieking with hunger before we realized just how low my supply was, she was absolutely not interested in trying to work for breastmilk and learn to latch (and there are studies to back up that formula can improve a breastfeeding relationship). She would’ve been better off and probably latched better, sooner, if I had given her some formula and she wasn’t crazed with hunger. I look back on it now and feel horrible, but hey, lesson learned for the current uterine tenant!!

        • PrimaryCareDoc

          I’m so grateful to the great nurses at my non-baby-friendly hospital, because when my son was doing the same thing, screaming so much with hunger that he was going nuts and wouldn’t latch, they taught me to squirt some of that evil formula into his mouth. Like magic, he would calm down and latch.

          • Megan

            Yes, this time I will be bringing my own evil formula so I can squirt it in this kiddo’s mouth if needed. 🙂

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        It was definitely true for my DD, at least. She was so hungry all the time that focusing on latching was near-impossible, plus there wasn’t really much in there anyway, so any latching she did wasn’t rewarded, meaning an increase in the frantic screaming. Bleh. That was not a fun few months.

      • Heck, this is even true of *adults.* For my husband, there is a very fine line between “hungry enough to want something to eat” and “too hungry to be able to figure out what to eat.” He reaches a certain level and just can’t process cooking vs takeout vs shoving his hand in the pretzel bag, and generally ends up eating nothing at all until someone else has made a decision for him.

        Food needs are best met well before a person gets frantic with hunger – and that’s just in the short term, i.e. waiting too long to decide what’s for dinner. How letting babies stay hungry for hours or days will help them learn to latch is just beyond me.

    • Shawna Mathieu

      I’ve wondered the same thing. My LC kept berating me on “giving in” because I’d break down and give my screaming son a bottle of breast milk after trying to get him to latch on for an hour.

      • Megan

        And yet, CIO is viewed as barbaric and training mothers to ignore their “natural response” to their babies’ cries. But to them it’s OK to ignore your baby’s cries of hunger in the name of EBF.


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      • yentavegan

        I know of no lactation educators that would ever advise toughing it out with a non-latching infant. Prove to me that a lactation professional told you to let a baby scream in hunger. I am calling your bluff.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          It happened over and over again at the hospital when I had DD. Not only wasn’t she latching most of the time (and when she did, she’d usually latch on, suck once or twice, then pull off and scream), but her weight dropped by more than 10%, and she was screaming in hunger for hours. I got a pretty nasty attitude from both the LCs and some of the nurses for following the pediatrician’s orders by giving her some formula via SNS. And I was already feeling like a horrible, lousy mom for giving her formula because I’d swallowed the lie lock, stock, and barrel that only bad mothers used formula and that it would give DD horrible health issues for the rest of her life.
          Can I prove it? Well, no, I don’t have video. But it happened.
          I’ve also mentioned before on here the friend who breastfeeds, but whose milk usually takes 5+ days to come in. Each of her kids so far has gotten early jaundice as a result. With the last one, the ped said to give kiddo a bottle of formula and then retest bili levels at the appropriate timeframe. Not to *not* breastfeed, mind you, but keep latching her before and after the bottle; the bilirubin needed to clear her system, period.
          “Okay, no problem, that’s what we did last time,” said my friend and her DH. They rang for the nurse who then, despite pediatrician orders saying the baby needed formula, refused to give them any because “we don’t allow formula here; this is a breastfeeding-friendly hospital.” Dad offered to go get formula. “No, we won’t allow that either.”
          Mom finally had to throw enough of a fit to get early discharge, but that took a while. By the time they got the baby to the pediatrician’s office, the bilirubin was high enough that she had to be re-admitted. All because a nurse refused to follow the damn orders and get the kid a bottle. I should add that once my friend’s milk came in, she exceeded her own initial breastfeeding goals, time-wise, because it went so well–it just takes a little while for her milk to come in, as it does many women.
          Now, the ped did call the hospital and raise holy hell about this, but that’s two people I know of who had medical staff so focused on breastfeeding that they couldn’t see the bigger and far more important picture. I can’t imagine we’re the only ones.

          • Hilary

            So are you not allowed to bring your own formula to BFI hospitals?? What about pacifiers?

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I suspect this was more a nurse being an idiot than an official policy. If you look at the *actual* BFI requirements, they do lock up formula, but you’re supposed to get it on request. You’d bring your own paci. However, as with most such things, it’s best to see how exactly your local hospital is implementing BFI. BFI, for example, doesn’t ban night nurseries, but that’s how a lot of hospitals carry it out. (Read: save $$ on staffing a night nursery and use BFI as an excuse.)

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Also, I have heard of some who don’t want you to bring powdered formula because it’s considered an inhalation hazard (erm, if I’m at the point of snorting formula powder, I probably need an intervention anyway), but don’t mind you bringing the RTF bottles. They’re supposed to provide them anyway, but some parents prefer to bring their own to avoid drama.

          • D/

            Inhalation hazard?! Wow, I guess maybe if you were half asleep and powdered a dust cloud straight out onto them like talc or something … Now if this was a legitimate concern I’d definitely need to broaden my how to (not) use formula scenarios a quite a bit because if you don’t nip it at the inhalation hazard level it’s just a hop and a skip to becoming an explosion.

            BTW, I snorted when I read this 😉

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Glad I gave you a laugh. 😉
            I mean, if you’re a *really*-out there lactivist, I guess you might think that it’s one step from RTF bottles to doing formula lines off your compact mirror on the over-bed table? :p

          • Hilary

            LOL. Next time my son skips his nap I am going to try snorting formula and see if it helps. I guess RTF is safer for newborns anyway, no?

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Technically, I suppose, at least in the first world. If you clean the bottles appropriately and use clean water to make the powdered version, though, the risks are negligible.
            Of course, it does eliminate the chance of user error in those early recovery-from-birth/sleep deprivation days, so there’s that.

          • Hilary

            Ah, I was under the impression that RTF is sterile while powdered formula is not and can be contaminated with cronobacter bacteria.

          • Ash

            My understanding is Necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants is rare, but dangerous, and RTF is safer in this population than powder formula, although I’m not sure why.

          • Hilary

            NEC is only one possible outcome of the cronobacter bacteria … it can also cause septicemia (sp?) and meningitis, I believe …

            And actually NEC is not rare in preterm babies. It is rare in full-term; in preterm babies it is relatively common.

          • demodocus

            it is a fine powder, after all. Not quite as fine as talcum powder maybe, but I don’t think I’d want a snootful anyway.

        • LibrarianSarah

          What do you want her to do yenta? Go back in time with a digital video camera, videotape the exchange, post the exchange on youtube and embed the video into a comment? How the hell is she going to “prove” to you that this happened to her?

          There is a reason that anecdotes aren’t considered evidence but saying “I refused to believe this thing happened to you because it goes against my personal experience so you need to prove to me you are not making this up” is pretty shitty. In fact, I would say your comment borders on gaslighting. Not cool yenta. Not cool.

          • yentavegan

            Either hospitals are safe professionally staffed places to give birth in and are the appropriate site for caring for a newborn or they are not and perhaps if a mother wants to avoid lactatvists she should homebirth unassisted. Pick a side.

          • Who?

            Little extreme there.

            I agree with your comment above that we can all be a bit fuzzy at times, particularly times of physical challenge and great change, like childbirth. Just as one woman will swear blind she was bullied into interventions, another will remember being bullied into breastfeeding when it was hurting or apparently not successful.

            Doesn’t mean that providers can’t be more mindful of how they communicate.

            Also doesn’t mean if the mother of a newborn looks a nurse straight in the eye and ask for a bottle of formula for your baby and she won’t give you one, for any or no reason at all, the problem is your perception.

          • Hilary

            Because reality is black and white and everything is either good all the time or bad all the time.

          • Megan

            Because if the OB’s are good and the pediatricians are good, the LC’s and/or nurses must be good too. Because you know, the people who staff hospitals aren’t individuals or anything. So if you have a bad experience with one staff member (or even one department) and not the others, then it must just be your perception. Yeah, that makes sense… (Sarcasm)

          • mythsayer

            Because the ones who say homebirth is best are clearly going to support bottle feeding for anon-latching infant, right?

          • LibrarianSarah

            False dichotomy is false. Just because hospitals are the safest place to give birth to a baby and largely staffed by professionals doesn’t mean that all hospital staff at every hospital in America always behaves professionally. And just because this woman was treated horribly by a lactation consultant doesn’t mean she would have been better off giving birth unassisted.
            I thought you were better than this yenta. I am disappointed in you.

          • Angharad

            Personally I experienced a wide range within the same hospital. There was a lactation consultant who dismissed my fears that the baby couldn’t breathe because her nose was smashed up against my breast and said that all babies can latch, but there was also the nurse who spent a good half hour with me trying to get my daughter latched, and especially the nurse who told me that my daughter would love me because I’m her mother and I was feeding her, not based on how she was fed.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            No, it’s not an either-or. Hospitals are the safest places to give birth, and unfortunately they happen to have widely adopted this formula-is-the-devil political opinion, probably in no small part because it goes hand-in-hand with lower staffing rates.
            Ergo, I’ll give birth in a hospital next time, but I’ll also have in my paperwork explicit instructions not to let a LC in my room. I refuse to even speak to one after what happened when DD was born. If they don’t like it, too bad. I’d be willing to listen to some rational suggestions on breastfeeding, but I’m not willing to have them threaten my kid’s life via grossly unsafe cosleeping practices and emotional blackmail for following the pediatrician’s (who, I might add, was breastfeeding her toddler at the time) directions.

          • moto_librarian

            I am really confused, yenta. I had a shitty experience with a hospital LC. I view that as an indictment of the breastfeeding industry. I think the BFI is bullshit, but I fail to see how speaking out against maltreatment spawned by NCB means we should all just UC.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yenta, I know I’ve shared here before about my experience with the IBCLCs based at the hospital where I gave birth to my first. My child had an abnormal suck and one told me it was due to allowing the epidural, but that luckily she had a friend who did craniosacral therapy who could reverse the damage I had done to the baby’s brain (and for a good price!). When I told her I was considering supplementing with formula she went on a long conspiracy theory rant about how I shouldn’t because the Germans were intentionally leaving micronutrients out of formula to brain-damage Jewish babies. The other diagnosed me with “systemic thrush” by having me put my nipple in a cup of warm water mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar, and since my pain decreased with that, it was a sure thing that I had yeast everywhere inside my ducts and that I needed to get my primary to put me on a month long course of fluconazole while simultaneously using gentian violet on my baby twice daily (in reality I had crush injury triggered raynauds that was only correctly diagnosed by another LC).

            So am I making this up? Lying? Remembering wrong? Is my husband remembering wrong too, or can we trust what he says because he’s not a postpartum woman? I had a difficult birth with many complications. Should I just have UCed?

            Why do you find it so hard to accept when people report bad treatment from their LCs?

          • yentavegan

            I am being schooled today and I believe your experience is closer to the truth. Paid professional lactation consultants try to justify their fee by over advising, making shit up and tapping into the woo. So glad I never jumped ship to become a paid LC,

          • SporkParade

            I don’t understand the contradiction in saying that the CNMs and OBs at my local hospital are professional, but the RNs doing the aftercare are psychotic bitches and I would have been better off at home.

          • Kesiana

            Why? What’s wrong with calling out hospitals on having SOME bad policies, while still being otherwise safe and reliable? Your thinking is awfully black and white, and life generally isn’t that simple.

          • Taysha

            I guess I should be happy the LC at my hospital thought me a lost cause. She came in several days after my c-sec, sniffed at me over needing a nipple shield and my twins not latching, gave me the same look my cat does when he smells something gross at my son having been fed formula for low blood sugar (because I had a bad reaction to the anti-emetics) and basically told me she shouldn’t waste her time with me because I had already ruined the breastfeeding chance by feeding my kids formula when I couldn’t even sit, let alone hold them.
            Made up my mind to not BF on the way home from the hospital, since her instructions were to BF for 45 min per breast per child. Every 2 hours. I would have been breastfeeding 24/7.
            Instead, I bought a pump, and i EBFd exclusively for 6 months. Not as easy as it sounds.

        • lilin

          You don’t know of any lactation educators that would do that? It’s almost like your experience isn’t relevant to other people’s experience!

          • yentavegan

            You all want to create a hostile environment that seems to exist only in your minds. Mothers post partum have fuzzy memories and believe they were told things about breastfeeding that are not true. Really a hospital based nurse really told you to starve your infant into submission? You are all as crazy as a bunch of homebirthers.who claim hospitals are aggressive mean and hostile.

          • lilin

            “That never happened to you! You’re just crazy! Who could trust a post partum woman? She doesn’t know what really happened to her.”

            You couldn’t be doing a better job of selling us on the nastiness of lactivists.

          • Blue Chocobo

            Go to any breastfeeding support group, RUN BY AN LC, on Facebook and ask what you should do if your newborn won’t latch and has been screaming for an hour and might be losing weight.

            You’ll get a ton of variations of “tongue tie!” and “you’re doing it wrong” and “just keep trying”and “are you cosleeping-you should be cosleeping”.

            You’ll even get some “don’t weigh the baby more than every two weeks” and “tell the pediatrician you’re supplementing but don’t actually give any formula ever”.

            See what happens when someone recommends formula in a bottle.

            See what advice the ADMIN, WHO IS AN LC, posts and supports. See how the ADMIN, WHO IS AN LC handles posts of incredibly dangerous advice. Then you’ll have personal experience.

          • yentavegan

            I agree with you on this point. THe internet lactation community is frustratingly stubborn and stupid. The amateurs diagnose without any evidence and they do scare the mothers half to death. I give you that. I would hope that professionally educated Nurses with lactation certification would bring sanity and balance to the field of breastfeeding support.

          • Petanque

            I would hope so too, but in my experience that wasn’t the case.

          • Hilary

            I loved my hospital LC, but I attended La Leche meetings for months, well past the fuzzy postpartum memory period. They are not professional LCs but they definitely had the mindset that you should keep trying to breastfeed no matter what, even if the baby was crying a lot, losing weight, etc, and giving a bottle was not a solution but would make the problem worse. It’s not hard for me to imagine some professional LCs having this mindset, too.

          • Hilary

            Oh and I was told that it was just a normal variation that my 5 month old spent literally all day nursing, spending 40+ minutes at a time on one side and hungry again half an hour later, until he was exhausted. When he was evaluated by an hospital SLP, she immediately noticed indications of reflux and aspiration that were missed by both the LLL consultants and the professional LC who came to my home through our home visiting program.

          • Megan

            You know those hormonal women…just can’t trust ’em…. I hear they’re bad drivers too…

          • LibrarianSarah

            This right here is gaslighting and it is considered a form of emotional abuse. You should be ashamed.

          • mom2many

            Yenta…are you having a baaaad day…or you’ve been hacked. Either way, get well.

          • anh

            happy to send you a picture of my daughter at a month old. she’s skeletal. because her effing NP who was also a IBCLC told us to stop using any supplements because she would “eat when she gets hungry”. If my feeble little female brain isn’t trustworthy, I can get my husband to attest to the same thing. we were following medical advice to the letter. but sure, I’m making it up.

          • yentavegan

            Sue the bitch!

          • yentavegan

            Thank you for confirming a theory I have been postulating… Paid lactation specialists are by and large one degree away from being , no they are charlatans and the IBCLC certification is not worth the paper it is printed on. I did not want to believe this at first but from everything I am reading I see that LC’s are a danger to mothers and their infants.

          • Megan

            Breastfeeding advocacy has caused this I think. Because the party line is that “all women can breastfeed” and “women just need more support from lactation professionals” I’m sure there is pressure to try anything, safe and scientific backing or not, to get moms breastfeeding. Because otherwise, they’d be forced to admit that the things they posit may not actually be true. When all else fails, then they blame mom for not trying hard enough.

          • SporkParade

            My baby was screaming in hunger after an hour of being spoon-fed colostrum. I told the hospital nurse, who was also trained in providing breastfeeding assistance, that I was afraid of dropping him from exhaustion and maybe it would be better to give him a bottle at this point and start afresh tomorrow. I was told, “If you want to breastfeed, you need to breastfeed, even if it takes three hours.” And then given the stink-eye for saying I was going to take a five minute break to change out of my blood-soaked hospital gown. This was followed by an entire day of being told that all his symptoms of dehydration were totally normal and it was my fault he wasn’t able to stay awake long enough to latch. By the second night, he had lost 10% of his birth weight, and even then, the nurse was only willing to indirectly suggest a bottle because, “My job is to tell you to breastfeed.”

            Your statement is gaslighting, pure and simple, and I do not take kindly to gaslighting. Please stop being a fucking bitch and go back to normal.

          • Madtowngirl

            My preterm, underweight baby was also showing signs of dehydration. I also got told it was “totally normal” even though I was feeding her constantly. Funny how later that night, they pushed me into using donor milk. I regret not pushing for formula instead, but I had swallowed the Kool-aid.

          • Daleth

            It also exists on the web–see all the links I just posted. So no, not just in our minds.

        • Megan

          Wow, this is a very rude comment. On par with TAP.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Also, while I’m not sure if you would classify LLL leaders as “professionals,” I spent some time on the local page before I’d had it to here with the stupid and left. One of the things that spurred me to leave was that not one of the leaders thought it might be a problem that a member’s kid had dropped from the 75th to the 5th percentile over six months. In fact, everyone on that thread except yours truly was posting variations on “if the pediatrician suggests formula, fire him! Trust your mama gut!”

          • yentavegan

            The creation of lactation professionals RUINED La Leche League. LLL used to be a place where mothers comfortable in their status as lay leaders would gather at eachother’s homes, swap recipes for whole wheat bread, learn about breastfeeding from tried and true resources and let our kids run amok. I cringe everytime I hear or see a LLL leader talk about herbal remedies, tongue ties and power pumping. If one more leader recommends cranial sacral therapy I will call her out on being guilty of practicing witch craft and magical conjuring of spirits. I grow weary of clucking hens dismissing the advice/ instructions from a pediatrician..who after all is the baby’s doctor and not the mother’s breastfeeding buddy.

          • An Actual Attorney

            My ibclc did suggest some formula. But she also suggested csc and had me take lots of fenugreek, despite thyroid and blood sugar issues.

          • yentavegan

            Your IBCLC is guilty of giving out bad advice . But then that is what I would expect from a person who is trying to earn money from a here to fore free -folksy- information sharing paradigm.

          • An Actual Attorney

            You can’t have it both ways. You can’t demand “lactation professionals” and then blame professionals for earning money.

        • D/

          So as a peer-to-peer counselor, if Shawna shared her story with you IRL would you “call her bluff and demand proof”? Hell, I wouldn’t do that if she said I, personally, was the one who advised her not to feed her non-latching infant and leave him to scream in hunger … even though there is absolutely no way anyone has ever been given that advice by me.

          Over the years in my personal practice I’ve heard enough variations of Shawna’s story to have NO trouble believing this is the take-away some mothers are left with, no trouble at all.

          So I am calling you out as well on this one, yenta.

          • yentavegan

            I would berate any professional Lactation consultant if I find out they were giving out harmful instructions. I have asked mothers to share with me privately who exactly did they speak to in the lactation industry that had recommended CST or nipple shields or finger feeding, power pumping, fenugreek, domperidone ect…I have yet to come across(ok I know that does not mean it has not happened) an LC that told a mom to starve her infant into submission.

          • Megan

            I was specifically told by a hospital LC that my baby was a “lazy nurser” and “when she gets hungry enough she’ll get it.” Can’t prove it for you though so perhaps you won’t believe me.

          • Daleth

            They tell you not to use formula at all because it might somehow disturb the oh-so-delicate breastfeeding relationship. They tell you babies aren’t really supposed to eat much at all because their stomachs are so tiny, and after all, if babies were meant to eat much, evolution/God would not have made it take up to 3 days for mom’s milk to come in. (Nevermind the fact that evolution didn’t design us to live in nuclear families–in a typical large extended family/tribe, there would be multiple women lactating at any given time, and most likely other women would feed your baby while you rested and recuperated from birth.)

            Don’t believe me? Try this link:

            https://babiesfirstlactation.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-newborns-stomach/

            “Many families feel the need to supplement their baby; maybe they are concerned with the frequent feedings, or feeling pressured from their doctor or family. I often hear my clients comment that they hear their well-meaning family members say “The baby is crying again, she must be hungry” or “The baby is fussing, are you sure you have milk?” or “the baby just ate an hour ago, you must not have enough if he is hungry already.” This can create, or further feed the insecurity a new mother may already be feeling, and often leads to unnecessary supplementation.”

          • Blue Chocobo

            Milk taking 3-5 days to come in may be the “evolutionary sign” that humans are supposed to recover for a few days after birth before starting the metabolic drain of lactation, and the baby “should” nurse elsewhere for a few days. Hence, the BFHI is “UNNATURAL”.

          • CharlotteB

            I think it’s crazy that much of the AP/lactivist talk is allllll about “listening to your mama instincts!!” when it comes to co-sleeping, CIO…but the minute you give your baby a bottle because they are HUNGRY you are told that you’re wrong, baby’s not ACTUALLY hungry because their stomach is the size of a thimble or cherry or walnut or whatever.

          • Hilary

            You’re against nipple shields? Why?

          • yentavegan

            Nipple shields were originally promoted as a device to help an infant who was being bottle fed transition to being breast fed. Most mothers I speak to who are using nipple shields are not being told that the nipple shield interferes with milk production and if long term breastfeeding is a mother’s goal she might have to hand express and or pump to keep her supply growing. Nipple shields do have there place but so many times they are being used indiscriminately and without thought to how much harder an infant has to work to get his calories in when a nipple shield is in use.

          • Hilary

            Huh. OK. I used a silicone nipple shield for several months with success but I have flat nipples and my son was a preemie who was used to bottles. I didn’t know they were used for other things.

          • yentavegan

            Your experience and your infant are unique. I can see how a professional lactation consultant was an asset in your situation, which is not easily extrapolated to other indiscriminate use of a nipple shield.

          • CharlotteB

            Here’s the thing though–without a nipple shield, I probably would have stopped breastfeeding in the first 24 hours. I was told plenty of times (and read) that the shields *could* inhibit milk production, but considering that it was they only way I could breastfeed at all for the first 6-10 weeks, well, I didn’t care.

            If I ever have another kid, I’m thinking I’ll go straight to formula or at least combo-feeding. It was NOT worth it. Not at all.

          • D/

            Yeah, nothing wrong with professionals questioning each other *professionally*.

            Although as one of those professional Lactation consultants (and incidentally a well paid one) whom you’ve been trash talking today, I’m not at all confident that choosing to “berate” me would be the best option in approaching a discussion of any plan of care that I’ve recommended. And to be clear here I do indeed have some patients for whom a nipple shield or judicious use of finger feeds or “power pumping” might be used.

            You never answered my question, yenta. How are you going to respond to a story like this IRL?

            For the record I consider peer counselors to be a cog in the lactation industry’s machine too. Unpaid participation does not exempt you from providing appropriate and *compassionate* care to the mothers you are interacting with. You singled Shawna out to call her a liar “to her face” in a virtual room full of people. As far as I’m concerned you have deserved every bit of the berating that’s been dished out on this thread and more … and Shawna deserves an apology if you have such a thing in you!

          • Taysha

            I’ve seen LCs in several groups I’ve been in encourage starvation to break out of a nursing strike.
            Literally tell mothers not to feed solids to children in the 6-12 month range in order to get them back on the breast when they might nurse less and eat more.

        • Anna

          How should she prove it? Provide a record or what? Don’t pretend you don’t know there’s a whole bunch of people out there who claim that formula is deadly and must be banned altogether.

        • Petanque

          I had a very similar advice given to me both by a lactation consultant and then the Breastfeeding Association representative. Can’t prove it though.

        • Daleth

          More choice tidbits (a.k.a. bullshit):

          “Keep in mind that formula does come with its own set of risks, and every mother needs to be aware of those so she can make a truly informed decision on whether to use it or not. The use of formula can, and often does, sabatage and/or shorten the nursing relationship, not to mention the various health risks.”

          http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/infant-formula/

          And a chiropractor enlightens us that “Formula Feeding Doubles Infant Deaths in America”:

          http://babyreference.com/formula-feeding-doubles-infant-deaths-in-america/

          • Blue Chocobo

            And never mind the recent studies that a bit up supplementation in the beginning actually results in more women breastfeeding, and for longer.

        • Daleth

          And here’s something straight from a professional lactation consultant:

          “Supplementation of the Breastfed Baby
          “Just One Bottle Won’t Hurt”—or Will It?”
          Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC

          Of course, her conclusion is that it will.

          http://www.naba-breastfeeding.org/images/Just%20One%20Bottle.pdf

          Likewise:
          A Fresh Look at the Risks of Artificial Infant Feeding
          Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC
          http://jhl.sagepub.com/content/9/2/97.abstract

        • Shawna Mathieu

          How, exactly, would I go about “proving” to you what the LC told me? You’re no more able to “prove” that lactation consultants would never tell a woman that, if her baby is hungry enough, he’ll latch. If you read more of the comments here, you’d see I am far from the only one who had this experience. No one appreciates being called a liar, either implicitly or explicitly. No one appreciates being told their experience didn’t exist because it’s inconvenient.to believe it happened.

          • OttawaAlison

            One of my biggest issues back in the day, I flatly was told I was wrong.
            You don’t have to prove anything…

          • D/

            I really wish I had a better response for you here, Shawna … All I can say is your experience and your perspective on it is an absolutely real (and unfortunately a shared) one. I’m so sorry you didn’t get what you needed from the LCs taking care of you, and that you found yourself on the receiving end of this conversation. I truly hate hearing all of these stories, but at the same time appreciate you sharing your perspective and making me a better LC in the process.

        • Daleth

          Still more:

          Supplementing during the first few days and/or taking the baby off the breast – even briefly—can be a slippery slope leading to breastfeeding problems and failure, often causing more problems than it attempts to solve. Firstly, it can wreck your confidence in your body’s and little babe’s ability to breastfeed without the help of artificial milk. Basically, being told that formula is needed can be the equivalent of being told that you or your milk are just not enough for your baby. Many mothers lose their confidence right then and there — especially first-time mothers — and never fully get it back. They wind up doubting their ability to satisfy their babies in general and give up nursing prematurely. There are many reliable studies which prove that giving even one bottle of formula in the early days of life (Hall et al, 2002; Hornell et al, 2001).. will have the effect of shortening the overall duration that that mother breastfeeds.”

          http://www.bestforbabes.org/fast-facts-how-to-deal-with-common-breastfeeding-issues/

  • I decided to give you some more ad revenue. Just to laugh out loud at your characterizations. I take that back: If you weren’t actually exploiting women with your intellectually dishonesty, maybe it would be funny. I’m not a lavtivist. I said exactly as much in the same piece you clipped from context on. Cheers to the four cents this comment brought you!

    • Mel

      What an excellent description of number 5! Glad to see you fall back on the “I can’t argue the claim, so I’ll insult the author.”

    • Amazed

      How many dollars peddling the party line brings you, Elizabeth dear? I didn’t see the breastfeeding industry being mentioned on the site where you gush about your own awesomeness. Why so modest? Don’t you want the world to know what a great thing you are for the industry?

    • mostlyclueless

      Welcome to the discussion! Have you a response to the content of the article?

    • Sarah

      Glad to see you take a break from appropriating Black Lives Matter, Elizabeth. We understand. Being cluelessly racist can be really tiring.

    • moto_librarian

      You are a lactivist, and lactivists owe me an apology. People like you LIED to me about breastfeeding. You claimed that it would improve my children’s IQs, keep them from getting asthma or becoming obese, that it would allow us to bond better. You also claimed that low supply is rare, that if I only tried harder, breastfeeding would work. You recommended unproven and even dangerous supplements (fenugreek is contraindicated for asthmatics), accused me of being selfish, of feeding my children poison. Dr. Amy doesn’t need to make anything up – you betray your real motives whenever you open your mouth. Since you can’t actually rebut anything, you resort to ad hominems.

      • Megan

        Yup, lied to me too. Fenugreek is also no trecommended for women with thyroid issues (me) but it was suggested to me anyway, along with super expensive goat’s rue and illegally compounded Domperidone. Donor milk from unscreened donors was also recommended. I was told that my supply would catch up if only I pumped more, tried power pumping (I was already pumping every 2 hours) or if onyl I would rent their hospital grade pump. Meanwhile, my daughter continued to lose weight and eventually was hospitalized for jaundice and dehydration. We did do donor milk from two friends for a while but it wasn’t until I switched to formula that my baby ever got above the 3rd percentile for weight. So, yeah, thanks lactivism!

        • Madtowngirl

          Omg I had no idea that Fenugreek was not recommended for women with thyroid issues. I bought some out of desperation when I was trying to build up a supply. I stopped taking it pretty quickly, since it had no effect anyway, but I had no idea. The more I look into this, the angrier I get with the people who tried to push me to breastfeed at all costs. I really WAS lied to.

          • OttawaAlison

            It is not recommended for people with blood sugar issues either.

          • Shawna Mathieu

            Yeah. My LC knew I’d had gestational diabetes and still told me to take the stuff, assuring me it was totally harmless.

          • Megan

            I’m sure they never bothered to look at your medical history or the contraindications (relative or otherwise) for fenugreek. They generally have a cookbook “prescription” for supply issues and none of it is based on science or safety data as far as I know. This, IMO, is the biggest problem with breastfeeding support. There is no science base regarding how to fix latch issues, how to identify low supply and how to fix it (if that’s even possible) and what the true incidence is of supply issues. It’s all based on “expert” opinion, in other words, category C evidence at best. I think that a lot of us have a very good reason to be angry with the state of breastfeeding activism.

          • moto_librarian

            The hospital LC knew that I was recovering from a pph, and she had access to my chart. She had absolutely no excuse.

          • Megan

            Oh, I totally agree that there’s no excuse; I was just pointing out that this is their usual song and dance and that we should be angry. If they’re going to recommend interventions like medications (and lets face it, supplements are medications), then they need to take responsibility for weighing the safety of doing that for each individual patient, just like doctors have to.

      • LOL. I’ve never advocated that breastfeeding did any such thing. In fact, I’ve always argued that that argument is a misnomer. The issue is AUTONOMY.

        That means, it’s rather irrelevant why a woman chooses to or chooses not to or can’t or won’t or will or whatever when it comes to her own body. The only “benefit” that is relevant is MILK. It is for brain growth in mammals. If you can find an alternative to human milk that’s safe, cool. I don’t care. Provided you don’t enslave a wet nurse that is. Because: AUTONOMY.

        I said as much in the piece she linked. Maybe, read more on your own instead of believing what someone tells you without proper research yourself?

        I also didn’t ad hom (look the fallacy up). I specifically addressed her false claim of a title I’ve never held and spoke to her straw man – which you bought hook line and sinker.

        I’m contributing another four cents with this comment so maybe she can buy a book on critical thinking or something if they all add up.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “it’s rather irrelevant why a woman chooses to or chooses not to or can’t or won’t or will or whatever when it comes to her own body. ”

          Tell us more. Why do you think that a woman’s reasons for doing what she does with her body are “irrelevant”? What do you mean when you say that the only thing “that is relevant is MILK”? Please flesh this out.

        • Who?

          There is a safe alternative to human breast milk.

          It’s called formula.

          You can buy it pretty much anywhere in the comfortable middle class world you inhabit, I don’t doubt.

          And I take it you are fine with paying a wet nurse a fair salary for the use of her body. Enslaving anyone is not legal, or appropriate.

          • No shit. Alteady said as much. Turning off notifications. Take a critical thinking course. Your reply was practically redundant. PS: legality isn’t an argument. Slaves were legal. Jung forgot all about them. I didn’t. Because: AUTOMONY. We’re done.

          • Who?

            Easy, thanks for playing!

          • Sue

            Embarrasses herself, doesn;t she?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Because: AUTOMONY.

            Or, more specifically, because Grattan does not think that women should have autonomy. She thinks the average woman is so weak willed and easily influenced that simply getting a sample of formula at the hospital will keep her from breast feeding. (Hey, EG: the samples-yep, plural-the hospital gave me sat around for 2 years then got dumped.) She thinks that women are unable to make a choice that works for them given access to all information so she wants to limit their choices. Sorry, but whatever else breast feeding advocacy is about, it is simply NOT about autonomy. Choosing to breast OR formula feed is what autonomy is about. Being forced or coerced into one choice? Not so much.

        • Life Tip

          You say in your article that formula samples “sabotage women’s reproductive decisions.”

          How stupid do you think women are, exactly?

          • AirPlant

            To be fair, I received a free carabineer at a career fair once and now through no personal desire of my own I have been forced to become a mountain climber.

          • nomofear

            No frigging way, me too! I can’t even do a pull up, yet here I am in hundred dollar shoes trying to pull myself up boulders.

            On the other hand, I got a free keychain from a reading contest when I was a kid, and now have two cars and a house. Soooooooo

          • mythsayer

            Seriously. She really seems to think the availability of formula means women’s autonomy has been removed. It’s just soooo dumb. It’s worse than the articles that just claim formula is the wrong choice. She’s actually accusing formula feeders of having essentially no intelligent thoughts of their own.

        • moto_librarian

          This from the woman who claims that formula feeders who discuss the awful ways that they have been treated by lactivists have a martyr complex….

        • Sue

          “Milk is for brain growth in mammals”. Yep – both breast milk and formula milk. Does one grow brains better than the other? Nope.

          Actually, both breast milk and formula result in total body growth – brain, limbs, organs, skin – all of it. That’s why we eat.

        • Taysha

          Autonomy: the ability to decide what is best for me and mine without coercion.

          Forcing women to breastfeed is coercion.
          Removing access to formula when requested is coercion.

          Now, what was that thing about autonomy?

      • Joy

        Or asthma, or people with peanut allergies.

      • D/

        So sorry about *everything*, moto_ (and others) . Mothers really deserve so much better!

        Fenugreek is not appropriate for individuals with peanut allergies, asthma, diabetes, GI issues (IBS, Chron’s, etc), hypo- or hyperthyroid, pregnancy, or those taking an anticoagulant Rx or MAOIs, in particular, but really with any Rx since- especially with dried forms of fenugreek- it can reduce Rx absorption … (think thyroid meds, anti hypertensives, birth control).

        Regarding peanut allergies I read something a while back in one of the immunology journals suggesting that fenugreek could even sensitize individuals to peanuts/ legumes, meaning it may *cause* other allergies to develop,

        Many LCs do go out on a limb and recommend that women take 6-12 (500+ mg) capsules (total) per day … that’s up to 7 GRAMS! Fact is, my pharmaceutical “expertise” is not remotely adequate to argue the case for that. Well that and the fact that, “it is not proven to have any positive effect on milk supply or nursing.”

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          The local LLL leader had me taking 4 capsules 4x per day. Aside from some truly *fascinating* GI results and my sweat reeking of maple syrup, it did sod-all. I thought that was annoying, but I suppose that I should be grateful I didn’t develop peanut allergies to boot. *facepalm*

    • MaineJen

      I love how you tried to equate formula feeders with men’s rights activists and the anti-gay marriage crowd, by saying that their claims of persecution are all equally valid. Talk about LOL characterizations…

    • mythsayer

      Let me see if I’ve got this right. In your blog post, you argue:

      1) breast milk is essential for brain development without actually citing any real proof of that claim. It’s been shown time and again that the benefits ARE minimal (and your insistence that milk is necessary proves you ARE a lactivist…you clearly think formula is inferior);

      2) women don’t breastfeed because their autonomy has been destroyed. This is a stupid, stupid argument. Women who want to breastfeed WILL breastfeed. By saying women choose formula because they feel that choice has been removed you are insulting women’s ability to make a decision about formula vs breast milk. The fact is that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone and women who choose formula shouldn’t be made to feel that decision was based on anything other than their own thoughts and desires. It’s not an institutional problem. It’s just not.

      There were some other silly points but I think that’s the basic idea.

      • Who?

        Oh now mythsayer how is eg to pursue her agenda if you keep quoting her in such a way ie accurately?

        Anyway, apparently in the interests of future discussion she has turned off her alerts, so, like a toddler who thinks no one can see her when she covers her eyes, eg now believes all our responses are non-existent.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      You’ve got a point: The quote is MUCH worse in context. Did you really mean to say that any woman who can not successfully breast feed should just let her kid die in order to better the species? Because that’s how your post reads. Milk production is NOT a requirement for all mammals. Many mammals will feed the babies of others, even other species, at need. Humans have learned how to synthesize a milk substitute that is functionally equivalent to human breast milk. There is no need to let babies go hungry just because the mother is unable or unwilling to exclusively nurse them.