Progress ending lactimidation, but there’s still a long way to go


Kudos to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for taking a small step toward ending lactimidation, the ongoing lactivist campaign to “encourage” women to breastfeed by shaming and browbeating them into making the choice that the intimidators approve.

In a Practice Bulletin entitled Optimizing Support for Breastfeeding as Part of Obstetric Practice, ACOG states:

Obstetrician–gynecologists and other obstetric care providers should support each woman’s informed decision about whether to initiate or continue breastfeeding, recognizing that she is uniquely qualified to decide whether exclusive breastfeeding, mixed feeding, or formula feeding is optimal for her and her infant.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#D21A24″ class=”” size=””]Deciding how to use their own breasts is integral to women’s bodily autonomy.[/pullquote]

Why are mothers uniquely qualified to make that decision? Because deciding how to use their own breasts is integral to their bodily autonomy.

As Tara Haelle notes in a piece for Forbes:

Such a seemingly simple change — let each individual woman decide the best way to feed her infant — would seem obvious, but it hasn’t been the norm in the medical community for more than a decade. The constant refrain of “breast is best,” whether explicitly stated or only implied, has often ended up a bludgeon to women’s self-confidence and competence as mothers. However well-intentioned, the message that all women should breastfeed or at least want to breastfeed their babies has become a source of shaming and blaming those who don’t.

It’s first step and only a tiny one. Within the same Practice Bulletin that appears to caution against shaming formula feeders, there’s a whole lot of shaming going on:

Breastfeeding is optimal and appropriate for most women.

No, didn’t we just acknowledge that the woman HERSELF decides what is optimal?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) strongly encourages women to breastfeed …

Why is ACOG strongly encouraging women to do something that has only minimal benefits? They don’t “strongly encourage” women to avoid homebirth even though that might kill their babies; why are they strongly encouraging breastfeeding?

Because they are still responding to pressure from the breastfeeding industry.

For example:

The World Health Organization’s “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” should be integrated into maternity care to increase the likelihood that a woman achieves her personal breastfeeding goals.

But those steps, integral to the deliberately named-to-shame “Baby Friendly” Hospital Initiative embrace shaming tactics.

Enabling women to breastfeed is also a public health priority because, on a population level, interruption of lactation is associated with adverse health outcomes for the woman and her child, including higher maternal risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, and greater infant risks of infectious disease, sudden infant death syndrome, and metabolic disease.

It shouldn’t be a public health priority because those “benefits” are very small and far from proven.

Clearly, ACOG still has a long, long way to go before rejects the shaming tactics so beloved of lactivists, their organizations, and their allies . For example:

Consider this label, created in what was undoubtedly viewed an act of public service, Pro-Breastfeeding Ads Come With Produce-Style Freshness Stickers for Your Boobs:

Breasts and supermarket produce go well together in advertising lately.

A few month ago, we saw melons in a grocery store made up to look like breasts for a breast cancer awareness campaign. Now, we’ve got the opposite—produce-style freshness stickers that new moms can attach to their boobs as part of a pro-breastfeeding campaign.

BooneOakley in Charlotte, N.C., agency created the campaign, and is handing out the stickers—as well as related wall posters—free of charge to all “baby-friendly” hospitals. (Women and Babies Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., is the first to accept them.) Along with giving info about the health benefits of breastfeeding, the stickers also have a practical purpose—nursing moms can place them on one breast at a time to remind them which breast to feed their baby from next.

The stickers carry a “100% natural” claim, along with the line, “The best nutrition for your baby is you.” They come in three colors, with three different health messages—claiming that breastfeeding reduces a baby’s risk of obesity by 24 percent, of SIDS by 36 percent, and of asthma by 26 percent.

Except that breastfeeding does NOT decrease a baby’s risk of obesity or asthma.


Another not-so-subtle effort at lactimidation. What’s next? “Good Mother” stickers for their foreheads?

It has given me an idea, though. I’m thinking about making stickers to be affixed by mothers to the doors of their hospital rooms (see above):

My baby, my body, my breasts, my choice … and none of your damn business!