Want to end the breastfeeding wars? Here’s the first step.

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Lactivists are shocked, shocked that anyone might think that there is a war going on over infant feeding.

Casey Rosen-Carole, MD of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) insists:

I am therefore saddened that media discourse on breastfeeding continues to undermine women by putting forth articles supporting the notion that a battleground exists between mothers…

How could formula feeding mothers have gotten the idea there is a breastfeeding war going on?

Imagine if a hospital that treated gay people designated itself “traditional marriage friendly.”

  • Maybe it’s because lactivists ignore what women tell them about breastfeeding difficulties and insist that they must be doing it wrong.
  • Maybe it’s because lactivists ignore what women tell them about breastfeeding difficulties and insist that they aren’t getting enough support.
  • Maybe it’s because lactivists ignore what women tell them about breastfeeding difficulties and insist that formula companies are undermining breastfeeding.
  • Maybe it’s because lactivists ignore what women tell them about feeling shamed and blamed and lactivists deny it.
  • Maybe it’s because lactivists ignore what women tell them about feeling shamed and blamed and lactivists insist the media has made it up.

But there’s something very simple that they could do to dispel the belief that they are shaming and cruel, clinging desperately to the notion that breastfeeding makes them better mothers than women who don’t breastfeeding:

They could change the name of the “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative” to the “Breastfeeding Friendly Hospital Initiative”.

What is the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)?

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global program … to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. It recognizes and awards birthing facilities who successfully implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

In other words, it is an organization designed to promote breastfeeding.

If it’s supposed to promote breastfeeding, why is it called “baby friendly”? It’s called “baby friendly” as a deliberate slap in the face to women who choose formula.

Imagine if a rehabilitation facility that treated people in wheelchairs designated itself “walking friendly.”
Imagine if a hospital that treated gay people designated itself “traditional marriage friendly.”
Or how about a weight loss camp that called itself “thin friendly”?

I suspect most people would have no trouble recognizing the designations as deliberate attempts at shaming.

The ABM tweeted this quote from Dr. Melissa Bartick:

Bartick tweet

Let’s replace zeaolotry with compassion and understanding, and meet every mom where she it.

Compassion?

How compassionate is it to label a breastfeeding initiative “baby-friendly”? It’s not compassionate. It’s humiliating and that’s no accident.

Lactivists need to change the BFHI to the “breastfeeding friendly hospital initiative.” It’s easy; it’s a sign of a commitment to end the breastfeeding wars; and they won’t even have to change the initials of the program.

The next step?

End all punitive hospital practices: no more locking up formula, no more making women sign releases attesting to the superiority of breastmilk in order to obtain formula, no more banning of formula gifts (a ban that hurts the poor and women of color more than anyone else).

I’m not holding my breath. Lactivism represents a last bastion of socially sanctioned bullying. Lactivists are enjoying every delicious opportunity to proclaim their superiority over women who choose (or are forced by medical circumstances to choose) infant formula.

But as long as the BFHI is designated “baby friendly,” all pious attempts to deny or decry the breastfeeding wars will be nothing more than hypocrisy.


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  • KarenJJ

    I hope I never ever write a letter like this to my kids. It seems to me that she DOES mind most of that stuff. Perhaps she should have worked in a job she enjoys, taken the drugs while giving birth and fed him formula rather than try to martyr herself in an effort to emotionally blackmail him for being a 10yo smart arse.

    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/24/a-letter-to-my-10-year-old-son-who-needs-to-hear-a-few-home-truths?CMP=fb_gu

    • Mishimoo

      That is disgusting. My eldest is a witty, cheeky 9 year old who is a normal kid, so she doesn’t always think about what she says or how she says it. To be honest, it makes me happy even though it’s frustrating because it is normal for kids that age to be testing out what they can get away with. I love that she doesn’t have to weigh her words or guard her expressions, and I love that she doesn’t have to mask her reactions. It means she feels safe and loved enough to figure out who she wants to be. Yes, she can be disrespectful, but all it takes is “Hey dude, that’s not cool. Would you like it if someone treated you like that? Try again please.” not a passive-aggressive guilt-tripping public letter.

    • Azuran

      Sounds to me like she does, in fact, mind about all those sacrifice and pain she had. Otherwise she wouldn’t have wrote such a long letter about it.

    • Sue

      Ugh. That is pathological. The ten year old is responsible for their won behaviour, but definitely is not responsible for the mother’s choices. He is particularly not responsible for her martyrdom. And doing that in public? Just makes me shudder.

    • RMY

      Never have children for them to be grateful to you.

      Tweens live in a magical world where money grows on trees, and adults have nothing better to do than meet their needs and wants.

    • LizzieSt

      Holy martyrdom, Batman! This woman is worse than Duane’s mother from A Prairie Home Companion!

      Kids will talk back, lady, especially when they get to the age when it’s time to start testing out boundaries. Welcome to life on Planet Earth.

    • demodocus

      Shooting pains while you suckled? To her 10 year old. Seriously? I seem to remember being painfully embarrassed by everything that referred to the possibility that I didn’t hatch from an egg at 3 and wouldn’t stay in the same form forever at that age. Anyone taking bets on whether his classmates have already figured out this is him?

    • Sarah

      Oh dear god- it’s passive aggressiveness x1000

    • Who?

      The martyr’s badge is polished to a fierce shine.

      As I read it, I wondered how the child is to respect her, if she respects herself so little. The role she has given herself can’t be easy, and getting off the roundabout won’t be easy either.

    • LibrarianSarah

      JFC! And once again the kid would be much better off if she didn’t do half of that shit and took care of herself instead. The “I did so much for you attitude so you should be eternally grateful for me” attitude is 100xs worse than formula feeding, epidurals, putting the kid in daycare, etc. The bright side of this is that Mum X is probably upper-middle class so the kid will be able to afford a good therapist.

    • Amy

      Lemme edit that for her:

      Dear son:

      The reason you should treat me with a basic level of respect is because everyone deserves to be treated with a basic level of respect. Full stop.

      I will always try my best to do the same with you and your brother, and I would appreciate you respectfully informing me if I don’t. I hope this will lead to better communication within our family.

      Love,
      Mum

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        Indeed.
        I once had that discussion with my younger sister. We come from a very dysfunctional family, but she’s much younger. The first time she came to visit me as an adult, she gave me serious attitude and rudeness. She was genuinely SHOCKED when I sat her down, said that I didn’t allow anyone to treat anyone else like that in my house, and that from now on she was to treat me with basic courtesy and respect at all times, period, as I would her. I also said that if I didn’t, I expected her to call me on it and I’d apologize if it was warranted, but that that standard applied to her as well.
        She was stunned, not to mention furious, because no one had ever told her that that level of basic courtesy and respect was SOP among adults. Took her a while to cool down, but a couple of years later she actually thanked me for the kick in the butt I gave her.

    • AirPlant

      The short version that I am getting from this is “I made a series of needlessly joyless and painful parenting choices that I was promised would make you perfect and somehow you turned out not perfect and that is crushing my entire worldview”

  • auntbea

    What a compelling argument.

    • fearlessformulafeeder

      Actually, I hear “darn, I wish I had formula fed” (although it’s usually DAMN, I wish I had formula fed) almost daily. So… yeah.

      • lilin

        I’ve also heard that. At the very least I’ve heard, “I wish I had supplemented/switched to formula sooner.” But we don’t support their point of view, so we don’t count.

        So we all have to take it as a fact that women will regret using formula and will never regret breastfeeding because if we don’t, their cute little spin about how this is “mother friendly” and “baby friendly” goes right down the toilet.

        • SporkParade

          “As a combo-feeder, I seriously consider switching to formula every time one of you breastfeeding advocates opens your damn mouths.” How’s that one?

      • auntbea

        Right? It would have been so much EASIER.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Here’s another one then:

        Damn, I wish I had formula fed. I am sad I wasted all those countless hours for a full year, in pain, attached to a pump, rather than enjoying my beautiful child. I can never get those hours back.

        • Megan

          Amen!

        • KarenJJ

          My biggest regret of my eldest child’s babyhood was trying to breastfeed and feeling like I was failing and trying to pump while my infant sat in her bouncer crying for me 🙁 I gave up trying to pump unless my husband was also home, but ended up spending time sitting on the couch pumping in my evenings instead of enjoying an evening walk or just relaxing with a glass of wine. My kid was hungry, I was chronically anaemic and had an undiagnosed underlying syndrome. I was never going to “successfully” breastfeed. Massive waste of time and effort and heartache.

          • Megan

            That was my story exactly. In hindsight, I regret pumping while my baby cried for m more than I’d ever have regretted not breastfeeding if I’d been smart enough to stop sooner.

      • auntbea

        It’s almost like when people realize you are about to give them a lecture on breastfeeding, they don’t find it particularly appealing to tell you anything but what you want to hear.

    • Sarah

      Tenner says Bartick is also one of the ‘adoptive mothers should induce lactation’ brigade. It’s only easy to bring your milk in if you didn’t give birth to the baby. If you did, as soon as your milk dries up it’s impossible to relactate.

    • Megan

      I’m happy to say it: Darn, I wish I’d formula fed!!

    • demodocus

      I do not regret the bfing. I chose to and I was always aware I could stop. However, I do *not* wish I nursed the kid longer. Not one moment more!

    • Megan

      The other thing is, sometimes we don’t meet our goals because they just aren’t possible. This was the case with breastfeeding for me and all my efforts to fight that logical conclusion only made me and my whole family miserable. I may have had a goal as a younger girl to be a professional dancer, but at age 35, that’s not going to happen (and truthfully my life has turned out better for not following that path). Sometes goals change. Sometimes it’s useful to realize that circumstances change that prevent the completion of a goal. Sometimes it’s better when you realize a goal is truly not possible, it’s better to reframe the issue and move on. Continuing to try to meet a goal you’ll never meet is counterproductive.

      • Megan

        ETA, my breastfeeding goals in particular changed throught my breastfeeding experience. My initial goal was a year, then the time dropped to three months because it was clear I’d be lucky to make it that’s far, then it changed to having a breastfeeding relationship (not just a relationship with my pump) at all, then it changed to my family getting to be sane and just enjoying our beautiful child without making our feeding method the only thing that mattered. So yeah, if they’d asked me in the beginning, I would not have met my goals but if they’d asked me a few months ago, then I did.

        • What you describe is called “growing p”. Inflexibility is a sign of immaturity.

      • Amy M

        I didn’t even HAVE any breastfeeding goals. My goals were to have my children fed and for me to get as much sleep as possible. Those goals were met. I also had a goal (sort of subconsciously) that I wouldn’t end up with PPD. I failed that one, but I still believe it would have been so much worse if I’d been trying to breastfeed.

    • Kelly

      I really wish I had fed my first two kids formula from the first day. There, I refuted that stupid comment. My friend also wishes she just went to formula even though she breastfed easily.

    • Gatita

      I wish I had gone to formula from day 1. It wasn’t going to happen for us no matter how much I tried (kid had as-yet undiagnosed apraxia) so instead of enjoying him I made myself fucking miserable and became depressed. Up yours, BF “Medicine”

    • the wingless one

      I wish I had formula fed. If I had, perhaps I could have preserved more kidney function and wouldn’t be so torn as to whether or not my body can handle another baby.

    • Tosca

      I wish I had formula fed. My second baby was huge from birth and grew quickly; he needed an insane amount of milk. I had no supply problems, but his little newborn tummy just could not hold enough to keep his enormous body fueled for long. By the time he was 6 weeks old he was putting on a pound a week and needing a full feed every two hours around the clock. I found out why sleep deprivation is used as torture.

      If someone else had been able to give him a few bottles, I would have been less of a zombie.

    • Nick Sanders

      Early what?

    • antigone23

      Um, the WHO code is the opposite of treating formula like other products. I don’t even understand this statement. TONS of other products are marketed with free samples, yes, including food. Am I the only one who got tons of samples of breast pads, nipple cream, diaper cream, wipes, and various other things from the hospital?

    • Lizz

      I wish I had formula fed my oldest from the beginning or at least had quit when I WANTED TO, not pushed things for everyone else till I sank into postpartum psychosis. I can hardly remember the first 4 months of my son’s life because I spent it going in and out of a flashback or worse. I would really like those months back but I can’t get them so I guess I have to settle with never doing that again.

  • FrequentFlyer

    Instead of “baby friendly hospital initiative” or “breastfeeding friendly hospital initiative “, how about “breastfeeding enforcement initiative”? Would that be more accurate?

    • KarenJJ

      Do you value your autonomy and ability to make decisions about your baby’s care? If you don’t then try the BFHI! Let someone else make all the choices about what you feed your baby, whether you co-sleep or use a pacifier and then punish you and your baby when you step out of line.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Breastfeeding coercion initiative

  • Mel

    “optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. ”

    WE ARE NOT EWES!

    Stop treating adult human women like sheep.

    People keep bringing up “early critical bonding periods” like that’s an actual thing in humans. It’s not. Allow me to paint what a hospital would actually look like if a woman “missed” an early critical bonding time after a CS.

    *A newborn baby is lying in the middle of the floor of the hallway, screaming its lungs out. The baby has been dressed by a nurse, but doesn’t have a blanket or a hat or anything. A nurse scoops it up and checks the name bracelet. She carries it into the nearest room.*

    Nurse: “Ms. Rose- your baby was out in the hallway.”
    Ms. Rose: “Oh, that’s not my baby. I don’t have a baby.”
    Nurse: “Now, Ms. Rose, the baby has your name on the bracelet.”
    Ms. Rose: *leans over and sniffs at the baby in the nurse’s arms* “Nope. That’s not my baby. My baby smells different than that.”
    Nurse: No, no. This is your baby. Here’s a picture of you giving birth to the baby. *shows picture.*
    Ms. Rose: “Well, that baby in the picture may be mine – but it’s not the baby here in the room. You should get rid of that baby. It’s too noisy. What a stupid baby. My baby was a lot better than that.”
    *The nurse attempts to place the baby next to Ms. Rose. Ms. Rose blocks the nurse from putting the baby on the bed.*
    Ms. Rose: DON’T put that baby next to me. I don’t want to touch it. Put it back in the hallway.
    Nurse: “Well, I’ll put it in the bassinet.” *puts baby in bassinet*
    Ms. Rose: “Fine with me. ” *shoves bassinet in to the hallway and walks out the hospital without looking back.*

    • Amy M

      Also, bonding implies that it goes BOTH ways, so the baby in the hallway will never be able to recognize his mother because of that C section or formula or whatever. Meanwhile, in real life, newborn babies will generally take food from ANYONE who offers it, and they are not reported as having separation anxiety until much older. Despite this, most babies develop attachments to people who spend a lot of time with them. It should be obvious that the early minutes and maybe even months, don’t have much effect on the baby’s ability to form bonds. When the baby is hungry, it doesn’t care who feeds it, as long as its fed.

      • Mel

        Bonding researchers have long determined that moms are more finicky about bonding with babies than babies are about choosing caretakers.

        Calves are born with some rather vague cues into “what’s mom”. An object is likely to be mom if it is 1) moving, 2) making the “mom moo”, 3) providing food, and 4) bigger than the calf, 5) moving the calf’s fur. This leads to calves deciding that the farm dumpster is “mom” since it’s bigger than they are. You can also get a calf to follow you by ruffling their fur up, making the “mom moo” which is a low chesty rumble, let it suck on a finger and start walking.

        On the flip side, cows have never accidently attached to, say, the dog or a rake we left in an alleyway as a calf. They have much more specific cues like “looks like a calf”, “smells like a calf”, “moves like a healthy calf” and “tries to nurse and stand”. In fact, when a calf is born with a possible brain injury, the cows often know before we do. Normally, dairy cows who are close to giving birth are interested in calves. If the calf is dying, though, the cows ignore it. Mother nature is pretty brutal; cows don’t waste time on calves that won’t survive. If the calf dies suddenly, the cow will sniff and lick it for 20 minutes, leave for 10-20 minutes, come back and sniff and lick for 20 minutes. If the calf is non-responsive, the cow leaves and never shows any sign of grief.

        Animals aren’t humans.

        • LizzieSt

          My infancy would have appalled most of these lactivists and bonding-period fear-mongers. I spent much of it in the care of my grandparents because my mother was quite young and prone to depression and anxiety. She needed some periods of time off, to not be surgically attached to a baby at all times. The arrangement made everyone happy, even though it meant that I was never breastfed. I did develop a very strong bond with my grandparents, which lasted until my grandfather died last year. That means far, far more to me than breastmilk.

          • Tumbling

            My childhood would have appalled most bonding activists as well! I was born in the 1960s, in a place where a working mother was a relative rarity–particularly to a 3 month old child. My mother always made sure that I had a *great* caregiver while she worked, and I bonded with all of them; lovely women! And I bonded with my mother. Love is not an exclusive thing.

      • Gatita

        You reminded me of the first time my son truly recognized me. He was crying in his swing and when he spotted me he stopped and gave me a huge smile. That was one of my favorite memories of his babyhood.

        • demodocus

          My kiddo gave me a leaf last week. First present. 🙂

    • Rachele Willoughby

      “Well, that baby in the picture may be mine – but it’s not the baby here in the room. You should get rid of that baby. It’s too noisy. What a stupid baby. My baby was a lot better than that.”

      I laughed to hard at this.

      • Mel

        That was based on a cow we had named Josie. Josie was a great milking cow – and a horrible mother (not that that really matters in a dairy cow). She liked calves a lot but refused to have anything to do with her babies. She’d get trapped between pens trying to get to a baby that wasn’t hers while her baby was mooing for attention in the same pen.

        • Charybdis

          Seeing that you have dairy cows, have you had to skin a dead calf and then attach the skin to an orphan/twin calf so the dead calf’s mother will adopt the disguised calf? Though I think that is a beef industry trick.

          I enjoyed my Dairy Production class in college, so I love your cow/calf stories.

          • Mishimoo

            I’ve heard of it done with sheep too, with varying levels of success.

          • Empliau

            I read it in James Herriot books. Man, I loved those.

            When I was a kid we had four ewes, which had lambs every year. (Birth in February in an unheated barn – so not intelligent design!) We never had to go through this, though – my conclusion is that we were damn lucky.

          • demodocus

            It wasn’t the excellent sanitation of your barn? and the whale song?

          • Empliau

            We kids mostly shoveled the 100% GMO-free organic manure as punishment when we were in trouble. Perhaps it was the wonderful microbiome we thereby created for the animals (they were extremely healthy, very few vet visits). Hygiene hypothesis FTW!

          • Mishimoo

            I think I heard it first from either my grandma or my uncle, then from other people over the years. I’m collecting those books slowly, James Herriot is a brilliant author and its interesting to see how far veterinary medicine has come.

            Very lucky! Must have been the Lamaze classes.

          • Mel

            In dairy cows, we remove the calf from the mom quickly after birth and raise the calves ourselves. So, honestly, we work at preventing bonding between the mom and calf.

            If I ran a beef farm, I’d keep a dairy breed cow around for rejected calves. Dairy cows are under no selection pressure to raise a calf and so they’ve developed a much more casual attitude towards unrelated calves nursing from them. Plus, they can produce enough milk for 2-3 calves for years at a time.

          • Suzi Screendoor

            My parents do this, but they are in the beef industry. A lot of times it is possible to foster without skinning the dead calf though. Cows can be pretty flexible.

            I have to continually remind my parents that I am not a cow, because they are constantly drawing comparisons between my pregnancy/breastfeeding experiences and that of their livestock. It’s annoying, but sometimes illuminating.

      • Nick Sanders
    • Valerie

      Yeah- “bonding” in itself is not really a measurable outcome. If they are talking about some real physical or mental health issue for the mother or child they should reference that. Say (if it were true) “Early skin-to-skin contact reduces the rates of adolescent drug use” or “Newborn hat-wearing increases risk of PPD.”

      I think they like to talk about these unquantifiable “pros” of breastfeeding, like bonding, that it’s natural, the physiological norm, etc, because the actual data on costs and benefits are just not that compelling.

      • lilin

        So much yes for this. “We detect high levels of bondonium after natural childbirth! It’s forty percent more nurturitious.”

        • Liz Leyden

          It’s got electrolytes!

          • Hilary

            It’s what babies crave!

          • AirPlant

            Delicious paper?

        • Bugsy

          Yes, but is it GMO-free!?

          • lilin

            Better than that. Natural birth is a GMO-repellent!

      • Becky05

        Well, you could argue that attachment is a measurable outcome. Different kinds of attachment reactions (secure, insecure, avoidant, etc.) between mother and child have been documented and linked to later behavioral and mental health outcomes. But they have nothing to do with breastfeeding vs not.

    • Liz Leyden

      Failure of human babies to bond to their mothers is Reactive Attachment Disorder. It’s often found in children who were raised in institutions or foster care. It’s usually caused by extreme neglect and/or frequent changes in caregivers, not a mother’s failure to breastfeed.
      http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/915447-overview

      • I am ashamed to admit that I bought the “bonding” thing hook, line and sinker when my first was an infant. He was born via C section, had to go to NICU, breastfeeding wasn’t immediately successful, and then he was a touch colicky despite my constant AP-style attempts to soothe him (breastfeeding, babywearing, etc.). Clearly this meant I was a Bad Mother and he would never bond to me.

        At his 4-month checkup I actually asked my pediatrician about RAD. She was dumbfounded. I don’t think she actually replied at all. Her reaction definitely helped bring me back to reality.

        • Mishimoo

          I did too, because I thought my mother hated me due to missing the bonding period and I didn’t want to fall into the same behaviours with my kids. Nope, she’s just a bad parent and I can do better, so I do.


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        • Hilary

          I could have written this almost verbatim.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I was sure that DD hated me from the time she was born. I was her mom, so she was supposed to stop crying if I picked her up, right?
          Ha.

          • That’s it exactly. And it takes you to really, really dark places when you let that train of thought play out while unsuccessfully trying to soothe a crying baby at 3 in the morning (nothing good happens at 3 in the morning).

      • LeighW

        Well holy sh*t. That explains so much about my childhood.

    • Nick Sanders

      You mean I can’t shear you for wool? Well then what the hell do you have to offer, anyway?

      • Roadstergal

        You’re a baaaaad man.

        • Nick Sanders

          You’re making me feel sheepish.

    • Megan

      Love it.

    • AirPlant

      Can I pay you to recap all NCB nonsense from the perspective of the human sheep mom?

      • Rachele Willoughby

        I would buy that book.

  • oceanbreeze

    I got dealt this load of crock. None of the hospitals around me are officially baby friendly, but all subscribe to the tactics. So I had zero choice. It is bad I strongly considered a home birth because a co-worker’s home birth midwife was completely supportive of her formula feeding from birth?

    It was “required” that they say the lecture to me and got mad when I ignored them. I told them they said they had to say it, not that I had to listen. I refused to sign their formula form and when they threatened that meant no formula – yes, let’s threaten a mother to let a newborn starve – I whipped out my hospital bag full of RTF bottles and told them they couldn’t scare me into breastfeeding. They realized after that that they lost, and a nurse on the next shift who was supportive of formula moms brought me the equivalent of 2 weeks of RTF! So between what I bought and the hospital gave me, I didn’t have to mix formula for those first six weeks. That did wonders for our sleep.

    I give full credit to the Fearless Formula Feeder for encouraging bringing one’s own formula.

    • Rachele Willoughby

      I always breastfed in the hospital because my milk supply is okay for the first couple weeks but after trying and failing to breastfeed four kids I did the same sort of thing for my fifth. I bought a months worth of RTF bottles and told my husband that the minute he saw me cry *one single tear* over breastfeeding he was to take the baby away from me and give her a bottle. It was the most peaceful, best postpartum period I’ve ever had.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Dr. Bartick says: “We need to recognize that biases and opinions exist of both “sides” of this debate.”

    That’s the same false equivalence used by anti-vaxxers and creationists.

  • Bugsy

    Very nice post. Would like to add to one of your points:

    “How could formula feeding mothers have gotten the idea there is a breastfeeding war going on?”

    It’s not just moms who formula feed who see this war. I breastfed #1 for 2 years and plan to do so with #2. Breastfeeding moms are also very much subjected to this discourse – from hospital pre-birth classes that don’t acknowledge other options for feeding, pushy lactation consultants, family members who push La Leche League mantra and other moms who smugly deride anyone who doesn’t breastfeed as long as they do. The breastfeeding wars are very evident to so many of us new moms (no matter how we feed our children), and it’s such a miserable way to enter into parenthood.

    • Blue Chocobo

      The message to expectant mothers from lactivists is quite clear:

      You’re either for us, or we’re against you.

    • Anna

      First question you get asked as a new mom: do you breastfeed? When you say no: Oh really (sighing) but how come? But did you try “x” and “y”? You know you should really take everything easy now, don’t do anything in the house, don’t shop, just relax and dedicate all your time to bf. What!? Not going to even try!? (nearly screaming) But don’t you know that breastmilk cures all illnesses/provides the mother-infant bonding/rules out low IQ and obesity!?…..long lecture, blah-blah-blah…. Oh, I guess I’m just wasting my time here. (looking away) YOU simply don’t want to make an effort. Bye-bye, need to be running, breastfeed my 4-year old. (false smile)

      Now this is a bit of a caricature certainly, not everyone will go this far in violating your borders. But people do ask this sacramental question like THAT is the one thing that determines you as a mother.

      • namaste863

        My hope is that we can reach a point where a simple “None of your damn business” is enough of a reason.

    • Medwife

      A woman who was in the pedi’s waiting room with her week old baby while I was there with my two weeker said hello, sized me up as she put her baby to breast, and asked, “are you nursing her?” So off putting, even when the answer is yes. It’s like she was feeling out if we were on the same side. If I’d been formula feeding it would have dropped the temperature in that room a few degrees.

      • LeighW

        When my daughter was a few weeks old I went out for lunch with my Nana and a friend of hers from church. Kiddo was starting to fuss so I pull out a bottle…
        Nosey church lady..
        “You’re not using formula are you?”
        Me..
        “God no! This is Baileys with a bit of Kaluha mixed in”

        I thought she was going to have a fit right there at the table, and my Nana nearly spit out her tea.

    • Hilary

      Agreed. I was/am a breastfeeding mom, exclusively pumping mom, and formula feeding mom. I did different combinations of these things at different times for the same child. EBF moms/lactivists would either ignore me (if I was bottlefeeding) or assume that I was “one of them” (if I was breastfeeding) and feel free to say nasty things about bottles/formula around me. And then I would take my son to the doctor or WIC and they would ask …

      “Are you breastfeeding or formula feeding?”

      and I would say …

      “Yes.”

      Seriously, let’s ditch the labels and the clubs and just feed the babies.

    • SporkParade

      I breastfed 85% of the time, and I have yet to read anything written to “support” breastfeeding women that hasn’t made me want to switch completely to formula. But if you say, “As someone who mostly breastfeeds and supplements with formula, this isn’t supportive; it’s a slap in the face,” then *you’re* the mean one.

    • Erin

      Agreed. I wanted to breastfeed until I actually had a baby to feed but I found their tactics so annoying I almost changed my mind mid pregnancy. The midwife who took my ante-natal class told us that she didn’t expect to see half of us at the feeding class because it was so focused on breastfeeding and she was right, worse though was that the women who didn’t come to that one then didn’t come to the rest of the classes so missed out on some useful information.

      Also given that I imagine you could make a child fairly ill by not sterilizing/preparing formula properly, I find it negligent that it’s not discussed ante-natally especially since the NHS likes to shove first time mothers out asap.

  • LeighW

    Yep, baby friendly. Not new-mother friendly, since most expect you to keep the baby in the room with you, while you’re exhausted, in pain, and trying to recover from labor and delivery.

    When my daughter was born I caught hell from a nurse after leaving her alone while I went to the bathroom, but that same day when I asked if someone could keep an eye on her while I showered, I was told I wouldn’t have a nurse at home with me so I “needed to figure out how to do things” on my own.

    • Bombshellrisa

      This happened to me too, the bathroom was in the room but I was expected to wheel the bassinet into the bathroom with me if I wanted to use the toilet or shower. What I found about “baby friendly” was that they expect everyone will have a support person in the hospital with them for the entire stay and have no alternative plan of care for patients that don’t have that luxury.

      • aceinva

        UGH. I’m due to deliver at a “baby friendly” hospital in 3-5 weeks, and I’m dreading that. The postpartum rooms are small, and are DOUBLES, so there’s potentially NO room for a support person, and two new mothers and babies. Guess I’m just supposed to let my roomie babysit while I shower?

        • Inmara

          Well, yes, that’s how it was in my postpartum stay in hospital. Worse, hospital staff actually encouraged cosleeping (in narrow beds) if it was hard for mom to get up (one of us was post C-section and expected to take care of herself and baby), and we were expected to leave babies as they are at the moment when our queue to get doctor check-up came. Hospital was very busy and I suspect that family rooms were assigned to those moms who paid out of pocket for contracts with particular midwife or doctor. So I was stuck for 4 days with little attention from staff during the day and absolutely no help during nights. Only chance to send baby to nursery to get some sleep was for moms who literally passed out from blood loss, others had to figure it on our own.

          • yentavegan

            are you in the USA?

          • Inmara

            No, in Europe. Actually, my experience is more due to lack of funding and resources in healthcare but part of it definitely can be explained by lactivism and attachment parenting ideology which seeps into decision making level of healthcare system.

          • nomofear

            That is such a recipe for SIDS.

      • Increasingly, it seems, hospitals expect friends or family to do most of what used to be called “bedside care” and was done by nurses. I found this out when I had my hip replaced and rarely got any assistance or care during my post-op period. After my urinary catheter was removed, when I rang for help to get to the toilet [I’d only been “dangled” for a few minutes but never out of bed on my own], I was told to manage myself; so I promptly peed in bed and rang again to have the staff change the sheets. When I complained to the head nurse she wondered why I hadn’t arranged for someone from my family to be with me.

        • Liz Leyden

          Nursing homes are worse. When my mother was on hospice she was too weak to hold a fork or direct it to her mouth, but she still wanted to eat. Despite numerous requests, the staff refused to feed her. At mealtimes they would drop a tray on her bedside table, then pick it up an hour later. If I or one of my sisters wasn’t there, Mom didn’t eat.

          • namaste863

            That’s disgusting. I’d prosecute for elder abuse.

          • That happened to me too. Catering staff are supposed to put the tray on the bedside table, NOT move the table to where a bedridden patient can get to it. 25 minutes later they return to take it away, whether touched or not. For 48 hours after hip surgery, I couldn’t get to the bedside table, and unless I was lucky enough to get someone — usually someone else’s visitor — to move the tray, I didn’t eat.

            This is not the kind of nursing I was taught to give, but I suppose someone with all kinds of advanced degrees is too posh to do something infra dig like helping a patient eat. [It also has to do with the reduction in trained nursing staff, where one RN is in charge of a “team” of unskilled aides]

          • Amazed

            Both Liz’s situation and yours sound terrible. What kind of nursing is this? What kind of human being would leave someone unable to eat because they couldn’t be bothered to place the tray a little closer?

            An acquaintance of mine has an appointment for colonoscopy soon. I intended to offer to either accompany her or go to her place to take care of her bedridden mother while she was at the hospital. Now I think that perhaps I should offer that someone else stays with her mom as I go with her. I’ve heard that colonoscopy is not a breeze in the air, she might need something. At the very minimum, she might need some assistance getting to the taxi afterwards.

        • anotheramy

          That’s appalling! And talk about a fall risk!

        • SporkParade

          This is honestly my main hesitation in requesting a C-section next time I have a kid. I was shocked that the nurses didn’t seem to think their job involved any nursing. I had to chase them down the hallways just to get some pain medication and a frozen pad. And I was in a room with two other women, so there wouldn’t have been any room for my husband to stay with me anyway (he technically wouldn’t have been allowed to, but families were breaking that rule left and right).

          • Drop me a line at sarahm at actcom dot co dot il and I might be able to give you some tips on how to cope. C/Ss are now being discharged as early as 72 hours [you have the staples removed at kupat holim] if you are OK. And, sometimes you luck out and give birth during a slow period.
            If you need a C/S, you need a C/S.

          • Erin

            I had a debrief with a Midwifery manager to get a better handle on what went wrong with my son’s arrival and during that we discussed future pregnancies. Apparently as a second timer, I would have the option to be discharged 24 hours after a c-section.

            I stayed about 80 hours last time and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have been worse off with a herd of sheep looking after me.

          • Without a system where home visits by a CNM or health visitor are done on a daily basis and there is a home support network where the new mother has someone with her 24/7, I don’t think discharge 24 hours after a C/S is really sensible for either the mother or baby. But I do agree that home can seem a better place to recuperate than the hospital — this is one of the areas where I think hospitals can become a lot better. Medscape just had an article about whether hospitalization actually can make people sicker — the contention being that the noise of all the various monitors and machines make rest nearly impossible; the food is usually lousy, and patients are often kept fasting [because additional tests might be ordered] for far too long.

            In my daughter’s case, she got early discharge after C/S because the staff knew I would be with her all the time, but having a “resident CNM” on hand is quite rare!

        • Anna

          That’s at least understandable. In my hospital relatives were not allowed AND no post-op care was provided AND no proper nursery for tha babies.

    • oceanbreeze

      The hospital got pissed with me when I left my *husband* with the baby when I showered. Acted like my husband was too stupid to watch the baby that was being formula fed for 10 minutes. It was great to tell the idiot nurses that until I gave birth, I had never held a baby much less been around any children under the age of seven and my husband had helped take care of his two nephews and three of his cousins’ kids since birth. So if there was anyone unsafe to leave around the baby, it was me. The look on their faces was priceless.

      • mythsayer

        Here’s what I don’t get. You can’t leave baby in the bassinet for 5 minutes to go to the bathroom in the hospital but it’s okay to put the baby in a crib at home to sleep for hours alone? The baby is probably sleeping while you’re in the bathroom anyway.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          And even if not, it simply won’t cause Junior a lifelong trauma to learn at an early age that Mommy Gets To Pee, Too.

          • Kelly

            My poor third baby. She has ended up crying more because I have to tend to the other two kids at times. I still get my showers and bathroom time too. I just take my showers after I feed her knowing that she will most likely not be crying for the next three hours. I got yelled at as well for not taking my baby in to the bathroom while I went at a non-baby friendly hospital. I really did not get it at all.

      • FEDUP MD

        Yeah, they would really have gotten it from me. As a society we bemoan men not doing their share with childcare, then we turn around and act like fathers are completely incompetent when they do do something. Bull, my husband is as capable a human being as I am, and actually did almost everything other than feeds (I BFed) for the first few weeks for our first kid I was so weak from PPH and c-section. And he had never even held a newborn before and I am a pediatric specialist, and I still knew he would do great.

    • Amy M

      And at home, you’d leave the baby safely napping in a crib or whatnot, so you could shower. (at least I did, though I would shower as quickly as possible) So clearly, you HAD figured out how to do things on your own with no nursing support.

  • RMY

    They want the breastfeeding wars to end by them being declared the victors.

    • Megan

      Actually, I sometimes think they don’t want the wars to end at all, because then they can’t make others feel bad while simultaneously making themselves feel good and getting attention.

    • yentavegan

      The NAtural Birth / ORganic Living / Lactation Supremacy industry will never be satisfied..they just move the goal posts and declare a rematch.

      • RMY

        They want an unconditional surrender. Then they’d start fighting each other (which they still do now a little with treating breastmilk from the bottle as inferior to breastmilk expressed by the infant nursing (I’m not sure if there’s a term for that)).