Which saves more lives in the US: formula or breastmilk?

Happy boy

Lactivists are constantly waxing poetic about the lifesaving benefits of breastmilk. The truth is rather different. If infant formula disappeared tomorrow from the United States, tens of thousands of babies would die; if breastmilk disappeared tomorrow, not a single term baby would die from properly prepared infant formula.

Infant formula saves far more lives in the US than breastmilk ever could.

How can that be?

Let’s break it down:

1. Despite lactivist claims, there is no evidence that even a single term infant has ever died for lack of breastmilk.

Sure, breastmilk has benefits even in countries with clean water supplies. (It is the contaminated water used to prepared formula in developing countries that kills babies, not the formula itself.) But the benefits of breastmilk are restricted to approximately 8% fewer colds and episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants. The other purported benefits touted by lactivists are based on evidence that is weak, conflicting and riddled with confounders.

2. Despite lactivist claims, there’s no evidence that breastmilk is the “perfect food.”

True, breastmilk is the food that evolved to feed human infants, but evolution does not do perfection. Evolution is based on the survival of the fittest, NOT the survival of everyone. If every single baby were breastfed, many would die.

Why? In order for breastmilk to be perfect, it would always be present in the perfect amounts, and all babies would be perfectly capable of extracting it from the breast. However, we know that 5% (1 in 20) women don’t make enough breastmilk to fully nourish a baby, and some babies have issues like low muscle tone that make it impossible for them to successfully breastfeed. When these circumstances occur in nature, babies simply die. In contrast, when infant formula is available, no baby will succumb to dehydration, malnutrition or failure to thrive.

Babies who can’t tolerate lactose or are affected by inborn errors of metabolism can survive on formula because there are a variety of types of infant formula that can meet their needs. If they were restricted to breastmilk, they wouldn’t survive at all.

Even using conservative estimate of 5% if babies who don’t thrive on exclusive breastfeeding, we can calculate that if formula disappeared tomorrow, 200,000 infants EACH YEAR would be at serious risk for malnutrition, stunting of growth and intellectual development, and even death. If breastmilk disappeared, no one would die or have stunted growth or intellectual development as a result.

3. Formula improves the lives of other family members.

Despite lactivist claims, breastmilk is not free. It’s only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing, and since most women work, their time is worth quite a bit.

A woman who is exclusively breastfeeding is a woman whose ability to work may be severely compromised. That’s not a problem if she has a spouse with a high paying job, but it’s definitely a problem for women whose families depend upon their income for food, clothing, rent, heat and medical care. Yes, formula costs money, but most working women can earn enough to pay for formula and have money left over to feed, clothe, house and provide medical care for other children as well.

4. Formula improves the lives of women.

The birth control pill, safe C-sections and infant formula have made feminism possible. Without them, women are at the mercy of biology. When women can easily control their own reproduction, easily survive childbearing, and aren’t forced to choose between children and education/employment, the quality and length of their lives rise dramatically.

Breastfeeding is still an excellent source of nutrition for infants, but it is beneficial ONLY for women who can successfully breastfeed and want to breastfeed. Formula is an excellent source of infant nutrition that has several additional benefits. Formula can save the lives of babies who might starve to death on breastmilk; it improves the lives of women; and it often improves the lives of other children in the family as well.

Despite the incessant gabbling about the benefits of breastfeeding, infant formula saves far more lives in the US than breastmilk ever could.

If breastfeeding disappeared tomorrow, no one’s life would change appreciably. If formula disappeared tomorrow, tens of thousands of American babies would die each and every year.

Ironic, isn’t it?

  • Thank you for this.

  • ConcernedDiva

    Could you link any research about 8% fewer colds and diarrhea? This is fascinating and I feel kinda tricked at this point.

  • Bri

    Holy hell, “lactivist” is now a term? You people need to get a life.

  • Tokyobelle

    I don’t know if I’m one of the 5% who can’t produce any milk, or if I just had enough contra-indicators to make breastfeeding success highly unlikely (born at 38 weeks, c-section, LGA, hypothyroid, PCOS, no lactation consultant available, and baby boy with a latching problem-we love to say that he sucks at sucking 😉 ), but after a week of trying to breast feed and fruitless pumping (not so much as a damned drop), I gave up on breastfeeding entirely, and embraced formula. Thus, I can say that my boy would be dead without formula as that is the only form of sustenance he has ever known and while I regret that I couldn’t even attempt breastfeeding to see if I even liked it, I have no regrets about my decision to embrace formula given my reality. I just wish that I could try one of the generic formulas I’ve read so much about, because $12 less a container is no joke. But alas, no generic formula at the exchange, and retailers won’t ship it outside CONUS.

    • Krista

      When I was formula feeding my daughter, it was one of the greatest things to discover that there is a federal law making all infant formula meet certain basic nutritional guidelines. I was a single mom and failed at BF because (1) I had to work and (2) I didn’t have any support from my partner and (3) couldn’t get my baby to latch. Enfamil was like buying a nice new pair of jeans every 10-14 days and then throwing them away! Switched to generic as soon as I left my ex. So when I had my son last summer, I really wanted to try breastfeeding again but I wasn’t terribly concerned about giving him formula if I had to/decided BF wasn’t for me. Lo and behold, he was a great nurser after some good coaching from LCs and friends, but he had horrible milk/soy protein intolerance. Which meant formula was *SO* expensive and not covered by insurance. I don’t know what I would have done without the all the resources available to me with both my kids, including my husband. Feeding babies is damned difficult, one way or another.

      • Gatita

        It really should be covered by insurance. It’s a medical need. It drives me crazy that it isn’t covered.

        • Krista

          If Viagra is covered, then specialized formula that keeps babies alive should be covered. Period.

  • demodocus

    If you enjoy it (at least after the first handful of weeks that most women find painful) have at it. You’re in the majority these days, and certainly in my town. But please, don’t congratulate me if i am bfing or castigate me if i’m using a bottle.

    Part of me wishes i was part of the majority who actually kind of like nursing. I got more than enough to satisfy my kid until he started demanding solids (at barely 4 months in his case) and I’ll certainly be the same with his sister. If she’s a preemie (for whom breastmilk has clear benefits), i might be able to pump (pumping came easily to me) but breastfeeding is pretty clearly a trigger for my depression. For my unemployed self, bfing would sound ideal, and there are some (small) benefits, except in my poor looney brain.

    • Erin

      Here people see to fall roughly into two categories, love it and do it for at least nine months or don’t produce enough. As someone with an oversupply who hated it, I’ve fallen foul of both. In fact this morning discussing 2nd babies someone said “well you’ll have mental health support from birth this time so you’ve no excuse not to breastfeed”. Had she not had a really rough time herself plus a baby who was hospitalized by her lack of milk she would have been wearing my cup of tea.

      • moto_librarian

        She still would have been wearing my cup of tea. And I would have told her to fuck right off. How in the hell can she have gained no empathy after an experience like that?

      • Dr Kitty

        You are a bigger person than me for letting that one go.

        But yes, I agree, BF seems to break down to the people who struggle on for two to eight weeks until it becomes clear that formula is going to be an easier option, or it comes easily and you keep on until you have had enough.

        Since NHS midwives leave the picture at three to six weeks postpartum, I really don’t think they are aware how many of their “successes” switch to formula as soon as they stop being nagged to keep BF.

        A colleague and I were just discussing how “not meeting breastfeeding goals that I didn’t even set, but were enforced on me by peer pressure, and now I feel like a failure” is the new source of tears at the six week GP check.

        We’re both on the “good mothers feed their children. If your baby is thriving you are a good mother.”

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          But yes, I agree, BF seems to break down to the people who struggle on for two to eight weeks until it becomes clear that formula is going to be an easier option, or it comes easily and you keep on until you have had enough.

          When my first son was about 6 weeks old, I remember very clearly my wife struggling with breastfeeding, and it was exactly that: this is going to change, or it is going to end, because I can’t take any more.

          Fortunately, upon consultation with the LC, they discovered a change in technique that she could do (she had been doing it according the to the book, and the book didn’t apply to her), and immediately it got better.

          However, if it hadn’t, she would have quit within the week.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      The baby will be fine, as long as you feed her. Decide whether to formula or breast feed depending on what seems best to you at the time. The kid will be better off with a happy mother who bottle feeds than a depressed mother who breast feeds so don’t listen to anyone who wants to give you crap about formula feeding. They’re idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Your brain isn’t looney! It balances (or doesn’t) chemicals in a way that makes certain processes more difficult or impossible. (It’s how I look at pregnancy. My brain doesn’t do well with the chemical process of pregnancy, thus severe depression during pregnancy). You are being realistic about what will work for you and that is awesome.

      • demodocus

        oh, i am, just not this consistently or this bad most of the time. Or as I joke in my better moods, hey, my self-esteem’s only in the basement, not the sub-basement. But thanks for the thoughts

        • Bombshellrisa

          I do understand. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since the teen years but what I felt during pregnancy was the scariest thing I have ever felt. I hope that the care you are getting helps you. ((And if you have a craving for lasagne again, make a big warning before the post. I craved lasagne for a week after the last post like that))

    • pandapanda

      You’re not loony! I didn’t even care to try. Why bother when there is formula? Especially if there is a chance your depression will be triggered! Your mental health comes first, especially if you will be the primary caregiver.

    • StephanieA

      It’s okay to just not enjoy it! I don’t. My baby is one month old today, and we are slowly moving to formula (to help prevent engorgement). BFing has been fairly easy this time around, but I just don’t like it. I don’t like being the primary caregiver for night wake ups, I don’t like being tethered to the couch all day, and going out and about it a hassle when breastfeeding- there has to be a clean place to sit and my toddler has to somehow sit with me for 30+ minutes. That’s not happening when I know my grocery shopping time is limited with two kids.

  • Puffin

    I breastfed my two kids for two years each. It wasn’t without challenges, but it worked for us. I’m currently pregnant with what I hope will be our third child (I do not have a good pregnancy track record) and I am also in medical school. I’m due just a few weeks before I start clerkship – the clinical rotation part of my education. I’ll return to school pretty much as soon as I heal from my c/s while my husband will stay home.

    When I’m working up to 80 hours a week learning to care for patients, if I find time to pump, that’s a bonus. We will almost certainly use formula a significant amount, and may switch over completely if it becomes necessary. I am immensely glad that I have the options I do – a safe caesarean after two deliveries complicated by placental problems, the ability to continue my schooling even as we grow our family, the fact that my husband can take eight months paid paternity leave to stay home with our infant – and I know that if formula is a choice that will work for our family, our baby will be just fine, no matter all the blustering to the contrary.

  • manabanana

    OT: The ACNM just posted to this on their FB page.

    http://ijpr.org/post/denied-vaginal-birth-after-cesarean#stream/0

    The story says that the woman just finished “medical school.”
    But it’s Oregon, so that meant some sort of naturopathic thingamagjiggy. She’s an ND.

    • Bombshellrisa

      She is an ND.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Do NDs in Oregon really have prescribing rights? Dear god!

      • PrimaryCareDoc

        Yup. They also do in NH, where I practice.

        Notice the article is by Jennifer Margulis.

        • Dr Kitty

          Prescribing rights to prescribe conventional medications?
          Or just woo?

          A naturopathic doctor is not a medical doctor and she didn’t attend medical school.

          They didn’t mention option number 3…travel outside Klamath Falls to a VBAC appropriate hospital. Which seems like a large omission.
          As was the total lack of any mention of the risks of a HBAC gone wrong…

          What is the plan if baby #2 also gets stuck and the choice is between an instrumental delivery or CS? If a CS was the right choice first time (even though the obstetrician’s preference was for vacuum) why would you put yourself in a position where neither option is easily available?

          Also the family physician and their “CS babies have lots of GI problems”… Yeah, any evidence for that claim?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            They didn’t mention option number 3…travel outside Klamath Falls to a VBAC appropriate hospital. Which seems like a large omission.

            This is the basis for the Joy Szabo “birth rape” claim. She could not find a local hospital that would do VBACS (because of lack of resources) and therefore claimed that they “forced” her to have a c-section (how that is “birth rape” is left for the reader, because I don’t know how it works).

            That she had the option to go to a different city to find a hospital that would do VBACS didn’t matter. She wanted it her way.

            As was the total lack of any mention of the risks of a HBAC gone wrong…

            “The local hospital does not consider it safe enough to do a VBACS. Therefore, I’ll go to a less-equipped birthing center instead.”

            That logic always boggles my mind.

          • Roadstergal

            No kidding. So many of these stories – “I was risked out of VBAC, so I decided to do it at home.”

            And yea, it’s been mentioned before but it never hurts to do it again – if you want a specialized medical service, you have to travel. Specialized services tend to be consolidated centrally.

            If Improving Birth really wanted to do what the tin says, they’d do fundraisers for low-income women to get a cheap hotel or local mom room-share near a VBAC-equipped hospital and help with travel, if the woman is a good candidate who just lacks proximity.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And yea, it’s been mentioned before but it never hurts to do it again – if you want a specialized medical service, you have to travel. Specialized services tend to be consolidated centrally.

            With our second, the OB said, I can’t do VBACS at this (local) hospital because they don’t have the adequate safety resources. If you want to do a VBACS, you will need to go the hospital in the city (an hour away).

            See how mean she was?

          • Roadstergal

            Rapist.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Yeah, all she could think about was the scary bad stuff! Fear mongering!

          • Bombshellrisa

            And not just travel, they would make sure that the families had meals and childcare covered for the time that the woman would be away. It’s a huge undertaking to up and go to another location to access healthcare if you have a family back home. Someone has to get those older kids to school, get groceries and do the laundry plus the other million things it takes to run a household.

          • Dr Kitty

            Do you know what happens to the children of single mothers with no support system who have to be admitted for extended bed rest?
            Foster care.

            No interest from the improving birth people about THAT.

          • guest

            DON’T TERRIFY ME LIKE THAT!

          • nomofear

            ! I never thought about them….geez

          • Who?

            If you characterised it as insane entitlement, instead of logic, it would all fall into place.

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            Conventional drugs. Including narcotics and TPN.

          • Dr Kitty

            Well, I hope they carry malpractice insurance like MDs, because that is a disaster waiting to happen.

            If properly trained doctors with years of experience can make medication errors, the chances are NDs are going to be BAD at polypharmacy.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Wha? Do ND schools even have a pharm course? Do they know, for example, which medications can cause torades if given together? Which ones interact with coumadin? What side effects to expect from opiate use, acute and chronic? This just all seems like a bad plan.

          • Ob in OZ

            Same comment I made for the article. I should link the study, but a c-section at full dilation has a very high repeat rate for those who try labour. About 80%.

      • Roadstergal

        NDs are pushing for prescribing rights states-wide. It’s good money, getting paid like a doctor without all that troublesome study and work.

        I like Orac’s comment – “ND = Not a Doctor.”

  • Margo

    But don’t we need the likes of Brooke to comment? Sure not everyone can Breastfeed………(hi Amazed)….not everyone wants to Breastfeed. Women should not feel guilty if they choose to formula feed or have to formula feed, but hell, it’s great that some women Breastfeed…….if there ever was a formula crisis we would all be in the shit…You go Brooke!!! Keep on plugging away at the alternative view. Balance of opinion is a good thing.

    • Bombshellrisa

      Have you read all her comments?

      • Margo

        Yep read it all. Don’t agree with all of it. I know just how hard it is for women to breast feed and work, it’s damn hard. Not all women have work situations where Breastfeeding is possible. Women in NZ are really put under pressure to Breastfeed, hospitals ask that you bring in your own bottles if you want to formula feed. Women have to sign forms if they want to formula feed. Women are made to feel guilty if they formula feed. I have visited women at home who literally “hung in there” in hospital, Breastfeeding when actually they wanted to formula feed but were under pressure not to, but when they got home they switched to formula. Part of my job is to one on one educate those women on how to formula feed safely because that education is not on the post natal ward agenda (generally speaking)……in fact, not on the antenatal agenda either. The push to Breastfeed is good ….well that’s what I believe, but not at the expense of choice, and, unfortunately we have strayed into breast is best and anyone who does not agree with that is left out in the cold. A woman in a post natal ward in Nz who is formula feeding by choice is a very lonely woman indeed, and that is not right.

        • Bombshellrisa

          No Margo, you need to go back and read every one of her comments. Not just this comment, then you might understand why she is getting the response that she does.

        • Nick Sanders

          The thing is, Brooke is relentlessly and mindlessly oppositional to anything Dr. Tuteur writes.There could be an article tomorrow about not bungee jumping in the third trimester, and if Brooke commented at all, it would likely be about the benefits of sudden velocity changes for resolving obstructed labor. She utterly ignores facts, refuses to support any of her extremely wild claims, and has displayed absolutely zero capacity for self-reflection. Her “balance” is neither needed nor helpful.

          • Margo

            I used the wrong word, maybe I could have used “different point of view” but makes for a lively dx?

          • Chi

            It’s hardly a ‘discussion’ if she drops her idiocy and then refuses to engage further.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            That’s the thing. I’d find Brooke much less objectionable if she’d support her statements and engage in a discussion. Well, I would have found her less objectionable except after the episode with the one woman who is having fertility problems I have a hard time finding Brooke other than objectionable. But a theoretical hard core lactivist who wanted to engage and was respectful, that person I’d find unobjectionable and potentially an asset to the discussion.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            It’s not really “lively discussion” when one person makes shit up and the others have to call them out on it.

          • Unsurprised

            Dr. Tuteur makes shit up and it makes for lively discussion indeed. Look at all these comments on pretty much anything she writes. Wild claims with no support or nuance create tons of discussion in general – just look at Trump. You like it when it’s what you want to hear, just like people are saying here. Then it’s boldly speaking the truth.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            So, what claims do you consider to be false or unsupported, unsurprised? Specifics. Simply saying that Dr. Tuteur “makes shit up” is completely unconvincing and a bit banal.

          • Charybdis

            Can you give an example of her “making shit up”?

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Dr. Tuteur makes shit up”

            For example…..?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Here, let me fix that for you. What you meant to say was:

            Natural childbirth advocates like myself are scared out of our minds about Dr. Tuteur. We can rebut a single thing she says, so we are reduced to claiming that she makes stuff up even though we can never specify a single thing she made up.

            See? Isn’t that more accurate.

            The people who are like Trump are natural childbirth advocates such as yourself who can’t tolerate criticism of any kind and make wild, unsubstantiated accusations to the acclaim of their equally ignorant colleagues.

          • momofone

            I think you meant “can’t rebut…” in the second paragraph.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Because unassisted child birth and not vaccinating are simply a different point of view, not dangerous at all.

          • Amazed

            Different point of view? This thingy opened its mouth and screeched that Dr Amy should be ashamed for sabotaging breastfeeding after we’ve just had more than one firsthand account for women whose children were harmed or, in a physician mom’s, permanently harmed by exclusive breastfeeding. That’s different point of view?

            The Brookie beast is a privilleged asshole who opposes any attempt at moderation. I should be astounded that you, as a medical professional, cheer on a “different point of view” that threatens children’s lives and health due to malnutrition or the decision of the Brookes of the world to oppose vaccination but I’ve read enough of the things you post here not know it isn’t unexpected for you.

          • Gatita

            Also, she’s dumb as rocks. The line about if vaccines are so good why don’t we vaccinate against smallpox anymore just about caused me to sprain my eyes because they rolled so hard.

        • Chi

          This is very true. In my antenatal class, when I asked about preparing formula safely I was given the line that all women can breastfeed and therefore we would be fine and NEVER need formula. I get the impression it’s because those antenatal classes get government funding and as such are not even allowed to MENTION formula feeding, let alone talk about it.

          Not surprisingly, that self-same antenatal class also pushed the line that if you get an epidural this is the ‘cascade of interventions’ that it’ll cause, scaring the majority of us out of asking for them, and making us believe that with the natural hormones and maybe a little bit of NOS, we’d all be FINE.

          In the post-natal ward, I hand expressed colostrum into a syringe because my daughter would not latch. I then pumped to ‘force’ my milk to come in. And they wouldn’t even give me a nipple shield until the last night to try and avoid ‘confusion’.

          Oh and the lactation consultant at the hospital? Came in, dropped off a poster on correct latching technique and considered her job done. No observing the latch, no suggestions for improvement. And of course she wasn’t allowed to check for tongue-tie so that wasn’t even mentioned. And of course, the WHOLE time I was there, no one DARED suggest that maybe a top-up of formula would help.

          Because of this stupid ‘breast is best’ mentality, I STRUGGLED with breastfeeding for 6 whole weeks. My daughter was attached to my breast 40 minutes out of every 60. My nipples were shredded and bleeding from her poor latch and she was still screaming with hunger. She wasn’t gaining weight and was basically only getting enough to keep herself hydrated. I was barely eating, not sleeping and at the end of my tether. Not to mention making myself crazy trying to pump when she wasn’t on the breast.

          My midwife actually had to come in and give me permission to give my daughter a bottle of formula. And once it was correctly made up, I couldn’t bring myself to give that first bottle to her – the midwife had to. While I sat in the bath and cried.

          As you said, the pressure to breastfeed here in NZ is crazy harsh. Commenters like Brooke who parachute in here and accuse those of us who went to formula (for whatever reason) of poisoning our babies, that they’re going to be obese/stupid etc.

          She doesn’t provide balance. She provides a prime example of the entitlement and superiority complex that underscores the entire lactivist movement. Brooke believes that all women either need to sacrifice their career to breastfeed, or find a magical job where they can either pump relentlessly or even bring the baby to work! Which is simply unrealistic, especially for those in wage jobs.

          She spouts off a lot of ‘facts’ but refuses to back them up with hard evidence.

          To put it simply, Brooke is a troll. Although, I don’t understand why she keeps coming back when she gets repeatedly schooled on ACTUAL science and statistics.

          • Margo

            Maybe I should have said Brooke has a different point of view, rather than balance. Your experience is one of many many women. The thing is midwives need to think for themselves and not toe the party line all the time, Breastfeeding is one of those areas where midwives, in my opinion, have been told over and over again is THE ONLY acceptable way to nourish a baby. Peer review looks very closely at Breastfeeding stats. Formula fed babies are sometimes assumed to be the fault of the midwife who has not supported or educated a woman enough, the fact that the woman might have chosen to formula feed or had to formula feed doesn’t seem to count for anything.

          • guest

            The Earth being flat is a “different point of view.” But knowing what we know now, there’s no reason to give that idea the time of day, and allowing anyone who still believes it equal air time (so to speak) risks spreading patently false information. And for what?

          • Who?

            Well in the case you describe, whoever is managing the midwife needs some pretty strict management themselves-how dare they assume women have not an opinion of their own, and that midwives will have total sway over all their decisions.

          • LibrarianSarah

            In one of Brooke first comments here, she threw another woman’s infertility in her face. Do you feel good about yourself defending such a woman. Or is basic human decency a worthy sacrifice on the alter of breastfeeding?

            Since that post she has made no effort to engage in any meaningful debate or discussion but instead just throws out a snarky or disrespectful comment and parachutes out.

            But hey if you feel good defending such a person then go ahead. I’m just going to sit here and think less of you for it.

            P.S. Peer review doesn’t “do” anything because it is, like nature, not sentient. It is a process used in academic publish to reduce error but it is not the end all be all of evaluating information. There are plenty of peer reviewed papers that are utter garbage.

          • Margo

            Not defending Brooke, just saying makes for lively dx. Never ever said I was defending her, if I was to defend her I would say so. When midwives are reviewed every two years in nz, a midwife sits in front of another midwife and a consumer and they go over the midwife’s stats and her practice is robustly looked at . My point was some midwives toe the party line re Breastfeeding because they don’t want to fall short in the face of fierce Breastfeeding advocates, which is not right, of course it’s not right, but lots of campaigning has led to women and midwives feeling intimidated. But, let me be clear, not defending Brooke.

          • Amazed

            Lively discussion? Would you point me to a post where your new buddy actually discusses something? Anything? Because it sure looks like she parachutes in, says something idiotic and overprivileged, parachutes out and never, NEVER answer the people that reply to her nonsense. That’s discussion how?

            Or do you mean the lovely conversation here discussiing Brooke? It’s been lively, for certain.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            As others have said, Brooke does not lead to “lively discussion.” In fact, I can tell you as someone who has responded to every single one of her posts in the last couple weeks (except for one yesterday, that I will address today), she has not contributed to any discussion. All she does is come in and throw out a few really dumb comments, typically strawmen, but always something silly, and then never responds to any of the feedback.

            That’s not discussion.

            OTOH, let’s make no mistake, Margo. You aren’t fooling anyone. You know as well as I do that, yes, you ARE defending her, because agree with her. You think the same things, and you like the fact that Brooke will say them and take the heat.

          • Unsurprised

            I don’t know who Brooke is, but Dr. Tuteur’s blogging style is incendiary. She thrives on conflict and makes tons of emotionally loaded but unsupported assertions about topics people feel strongly about. Why be appalled when conflict then shows up in the comments? Of course someone with the radically opposite view is going to show up. Dr. Tuteur’s posts are like troll comments, just as the OP rather than a comment.

          • Charybdis

            As do the folks who parachute in her to “educate” us on all the over-hyped NCB/EBF at all costs/AP/BFHI benefits that are trivial at best and completely negligible at worst.

            Science supports what Dr. Tuteur posts about, unlike those who post mommy blogs and anecdata as good science references/citations.

          • moto_librarian

            Maybe if midwives would quit pushing this ridiculous “all-natural” agenda, they could quit worrying about getting “blamed” for something so idiotic as whether or not a child is breastfed or formula fed. Maybe you need to take a serious look at what metrics you are using to judge performance. I think most women want midwives who will get them and their children through birth safely. Frankly, that’s the only metric that has true importance.

          • Bombshellrisa

            I don’t know why midwives feel the need at all to weigh in on breastfeeding, it’s really a matter for pediatricians and neonatologists since it’s about the feeding of a baby.

        • moto_librarian

          Personally, I think this push to breastfeed while working full time is horse shit. If a woman really wants to do it and works at a job where it’s feasible, fine, but I think it’s fair to say that many women would prefer more time with their child than sitting in their office pumping. How can you honestly say that the push to breastfeed is good when you see how much it is hurting women?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            I managed to work full time while breastfeeding but I had 1. oversupply 2 A LOT of help and 3. a flexible job. Anyone who does not have the above is going to have problems with breast feeding and working full time. And, of course, the one baby care item that MUST be done by the mother (or at least the person who bore the child since rarely transmen do complete pregnancies) is breast feeding. Hmm…perhaps a little secondary agenda behind the push to breast feed for an extended time?

          • Roadstergal

            I don’t think it’s little or secondary. There’s a lot of nastiness behind guilt to EBF and AP.

          • Margo

            I said the push to Breastfeed is good, but not at the expense of choice, I think we have gone too far with our promotion of breast is best and are now imposing upon woman’s choice but not giving equal dx time to formula. There are no posters are advertising permitted to be displayed re formula and midwives are encouraged to dx formula feeding strictly on a one to one basis, and that is not right!

      • CSN0116

        From hanging out on Dr. T’s FB page, I am nearly certain Brooke is actually “Brooke Elizabeth” from PA. The writing and the inability to formulate true opposition are consistent. The age I assumed she was is right as well.

        And might I say, she lives up to my EVERY expectation! Exhibit A:

      • CSN0116

        From hanging out on Dr. T’s FB page, I am nearly certain that “Brooke” is actually “Brooke Elizabeth” from PA. The writing and the inability to formulate true opposition are consistent (See one of Dr. T’s most recent FB posts). The age I assumed she had to be is aligned as well. Also, the fact that Brooke Elizabeth has been a mother since whopping September.

        However, might I say – if I’m correct – she lives up to my EVERY expectation! Exhibit A:

    • Nick Sanders
    • guest

      Someone as unbalanced as Brooke is not providing a balance of opinion. She’s an extremist loon, and her opinions are uninformed.

    • Who?

      My struggle with what is at first blush a perfectly reasonable assertion is that Dr T’s position on breastfeeding is so reasonable as to barely require much challenge:

      ‘if you want to breastfeed, give it a good go. If you find it isn’t working, either combo feed or go to formula. If you find you hate it, or otherwise don’t want to or can’t carry on, go to formula. A fed baby is a happy, well, thriving baby.’

      Hardly extreme.

    • Amazed

      Hi Margo… you’ve been operating under the assumption that I’m a poor, guilt-wrecked mom who suffers hell because she cannot breastfeed? Sorry to break your bubble honey but you and your buddy Brooke are barking under the wrong tree. If you think Brooke’s view is just alternative, you’re as evil as the beasty thing is. I’ll give you the benefit of doubt, though, and suppose that you didn’t know what the little shit told a woman who was perfectly polite to her and said that she had troubles conceiving in one of its very posts here?

      • Heidi_storage

        What did she say? I’m curious. It seems the height of callousness to twit a woman about her fertility problems.

        • Amazed

          “Since you’ve never had the privilege of giving birth, you…” Frankly, I can’t remember the rest of that garbage.

          • Heidi_storage

            Wowee. I think my two-year-old is more tactful and empathetic.

      • Margo

        Thanks Amazed for benefit of doubt re Brooke. I was in error, I had not read that comment re infertility so I apologise. I don’t think you are a guilt ridden mum…..just someone who doesn’t like my style of writing……the dot thing, which is why I said Hi amazed in post because I did the dot thing! That was me being flippant. I am not a buddy of Brooke’s I find most of what she says comes from a narrow point of view, but I enjoy reading all the diverse comments on this site, it makes it interesting. Hope that clarifies my position.

    • moto_librarian

      Oh, spare us the sanctimony, Margo! You and Brooke are cut from the same cloth, and you are both tiresome. If there had been a formula crisis when my kids were infants, yes, it would have been a crisis for us because I am truly unable to breastfeed. But by all means, keep putting out that particular boogie man.

      In the United States, it would be of far greater benefit to advocate for paid parental leave than to continue pushing breastfeeding at all costs. Pointing that out isn’t bullying.

    • Megan

      I don’t understand why we need to keep debating breastfeeding vs. formula feeding at all. In my opinion, we’ll know when we’ve made real progress when it isn’t even a big enough deal to routinely argue about. It is a personal parenting decision and the scientific literature doesn’t support the heated debate we see over the issue (and let me be clear, I mean in the context of current lactivism in the developed world, not developing third world nations where breastfeeding really does change outcomes). It will be a fine day when people get as worked up over how a mom feeds her baby as they do over whether she uses Pampers or Huggies.

      • demodocus

        True eco parents use cloth diapers!

        • momofone

          REAL parents do elimination communication! They’re so in sync with their little snowflakes that they never have to use a diaper!

    • fiftyfifty1

      “..if there ever was a formula crisis we would all be in the shit.”

      Yes, if there were ever a formula crisis (e.g. a natural or government disaster so severe that formula was no longer able to be produced or distributed) we would all be in the shit. We would ALL be in the shit. ALL of us-kids, adults, old people, pets, breastfed babies, formula fed babies– we would all be in an apocalypse situation. This holds true for any major product you could name. If we had an apocalypse so severe that no gasoline was available, do you think that people who owned bicycles would have lives that went on as usual? Would an apocalypse that made meat unavailable be no problem vegetarians? Should there be government health campaigns warning people to swear off of meat and gasoline “just in case”?

    • Brooke

      You know there’s a reply option right? Lol. Thanks for feeding into my narcissism

  • Deborah

    Hi Dr Amy – typo in the first section “but the benefits of formula are restricted to 8% fewer colds…” think you meant “benefits of breastfeeding” there.
    Really love your site – I read it every day – it keeps me grounded in my practice, as even though I extricated myself from much of the woo surrounding birth years ago, I am still working amongst others who are submerged in it.
    Thankyou 🙂

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thanks! Fixed it.

  • Dr Kitty

    OT: has UK post dates guest checked back in yet?
    I’m crossing everything for a safe delivery.

    • Megan

      I don’t see anything new from her in the vaginal seeding article where she posted before. I hope everything is ok. I was worried about her too.

    • BeatriceC

      Add me to the list of people worried about her.

    • Who?

      Checked that thread last night and no.

      Hoping she is in happy well post baby fug and will return in a week or so with good news.

  • An Actual Attorney

    OT rant: I’m in the hospital for the 3rd week day in a row (not overnight, which would be much cheaper for me) being monitored for pre-eclampsia. I’m 36w5d, but everyone wants to wait until 37 weeks, basically because of the Joint Commission. I don’t mind waiting 2 days so much, I’ll get a pedicure. But I’m really quite sick of sitting around here, watching my blood pressure keep creeping up.

    • Megan

      I’m having similar issues. At 35w4d and blood pressure keeps creeping. I meet criteria for gestational hypertension but my doc has not yet given me the diagnosis in my chart and keeps talking about delivery at 39 weeks. Last pregnancy I had oligohydramnios due to gestational hypertension and had to be induced at 37 weeks. AFI on Friday was 10 which is technically normal but the low end. I’m not optimistic about making it past 38 weeks and I’m worried the stupid 39-week rule is about to read it’s ugly head…

      Hang in there. Pedicure sounds like a great plan! Please keep us posted!

      • Tokyobelle

        I had my boy 7 weeks ago at a military treatment facility overseas, and now I’m quite curious to read how other’s experiences differed from mine-like yours seems to be. When my BP first crept into the elevated range at 36w, they immediately slapped the GH label on me, and recommended a c-section at 39 weeks, but gave me the option to still wait for things to happen naturally while continuing to monitor me. When it went higher again the next week, that became a “strongly recommended” elective c/s at 38w with even more frequent monitoring to see if they didn’t need to pull him before. I held steady and he was born at 38w2d via c/s. But what strikes me as odd is that your doc seems reluctant to label you, while mine did so immediately, while recommending a c/s. I wonder if my experience would be more like yours had I delivered him Stateside.

        • Megan

          Probably would depend on where you deliver. I think it’s mostly due to the 39-week rule at this point. Our health system is pretty strict about it, having been one of the first adopters of the rule. Drives me batty, these silly rules that tie the hands of doctors and their patients.

          • Tokyobelle

            God forbid health care providers and patients with the most knowledge about the particulars about their specific situations make the decision best for those involved. Much better to let some suit with little knowledge about the situation make the ultimate call. /s Hope you get what’s best for you and baby.

    • BeatriceC

      I honestly think my oldest would have been better off if he’d been taken earlier. He was born at 36 weeks (I don’t recall the days anymore) after two months of intermittent pre-term labor. My blood pressure had been creeping up and they kept me on a magnesium sulfate drip for both the blood pressure and the preterm labor. I’ve always wondered if he wouldn’t have had the shoulder dystocia if he’d been taken at 34 weeks, when the blood pressure issues started, since he’d have been slightly smaller. Maybe not, but I wonder. Most of his issues (collapsed lung, extremely low heart rate, seizures for a couple years blamed on lack of oxygen during birth) can be blamed on the birth complication, not the pre-term birth.

      • Hilary

        It’s hard to know. My son was born at 34 weeks by an otherwise uncomplicated elective c-section (after they tried to slow down the labor with magnesium but couldn’t) and has a bunch of problems. He was on oxygen for 18 months and has developmental delays, among other things. Some of it I’m sure is from being premature, even though he was moderate/late preterm. How do you make these trade-offs, when waiting and not-waiting can both be harmful? We do the best we can, the doctors (hopefully) do the best they can, and what happens happens.

        • BeatriceC

          Oh, I know. My doctors were awesome with all of my pregnancies, so I know they made the best decision they could. Thankfully neither the oldest or the middle (32 weeks) have any complications lasting from prematurity. The youngest one has some very mild issues from prematurity (he was 24 weeks, so that in itself is a miracle). The medical issues the oldest and youngest do have are from a genetic bone disease and completely unrelated to being early. The middle kid is pushing 6 feet tall and figure skates, dances ballet and plays high school football. You’d never guess by looking at him how he started out in life.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Best wishes for a safe end of pregnancy and delivery and a healthy baby. Please do let us know how it goes. I suffered preeclampsia too, we are both perfect now but I know how hard it is. Lots of hugs.

    • moto_librarian

      Ugh. I hope that you get to deliver soon.

      • An Actual Attorney

        Update: cs scheduled for tomorrow morning. Feeling crappy but well enough to drag myself to a pedicure!

        • Roadstergal

          Here’s hoping for an uneventful birth and lots of snuggles after!

        • Megan

          Oh good. Glad that Actual Baby will be delivered soon! Enjoy your pedicure and here’s hoping for a boring delivery and postpartum.

        • Dr Kitty

          Best wishes for a safe and uneventful arrival!
          I’m sure your oldest can’t wait!
          I do hope your wife is better than my husband at all the hanging around before surgery.

          • An Actual Attorney

            We’re both pretty awful at it, too be honest. But we’ve both got candy crush!

          • Bombshellrisa

            Best wishes for your whole family!
            Soda crush is my go to right now. Even my two year old likes seeing it.

          • Dr Kitty

            Better than my husband’s obsessive need to pace and drink coffee. He was the probably most caffeinated man in Ireland that morning by the time both babies arrived.

        • Gatita

          Happy birthing! Glad you’re finally getting to the finish line.

        • Mishimoo

          Oh awesome!! Hope everything goes smoothly and that you get to snuggle bub in your arms soon.

  • Brooke

    1) I’ve never seen a lactivist claim that babies would die without breastmilk. I have seen WHO say that 800,000 lives could be saved including thousands in developed countries if more women breastfed their babies.
    2) Actually there is, breastmilk provides all of the nutrition a baby needs up until the first year of life. Breastmilk has the right amount of protein, fats and carbohydrates, DHA, etc its easier to digest than formula, it contains antibodies when mother/baby is sick aka it provides babies with passive immunity. The most common allergens are soy and dairy. Which are what all commerical formulas use as a base.
    3) No. Its not. Women can choose to pump, work from home, telecommute, work at a job where they are able to bring their young children or in every other developed country use paid maternity leave so they do not lose their income. In the US for very low income women on welfare the work requirements are lifted for the first following their baby’s birth. Breastfeeding mothers are also given extra help from WIC even if they make above the poverty line. Low income families are the most likely to live in areas with poor water quality, air pollution, poor healthcare etc. Breastfeeding for low income women means less missed days of work taking care of sick children, less doctors visits whose copays they cannot afford, makes their children less likely to become harmed by low water quality and pollution. For low income women it means more money in their pockets because they are not spending it on formula. Studies have shown that parents who formula feed often start their babies on solid foods to early because of its high cost. Studies have shown long term health benefits for mothers who breastfeed as well. Telling low income women who are already at a higher risk of hypertension and breast cancer not to breastfeed which can lower that risk, not to breastfeed when they are not going to be able to access the same level of healthcare to treat these diseases than low income women seems unconscionable. Dead mothers and dead babies (formula fed babies are at a higher risk of SIDS deaths) are not good for other members of a woman and her child’s family.
    4) Formula has nothing to do with feminism. How in the hell is telling women that they are incapable of producing enough milk to feed their babies and they will starve their newborns feminism? How is deciding for women that working immediately following the birth of their babies before they’ve even had a chance to recover and popping a bottle of formula in a babies mouth feminism? How is telling women they are attention seeking for breastfeeding feminism? How is using your blog at a platform to humiliate and degrade breastfeeding mothers feminism? Guess what? My mother, my sister and I are ALL feminists. We ALL breastfed our kids. Including on the the steps of my state’s capital building in a rally in support of a breastfeeding bill that made breastfeeding in public legal and required businesses to provide women private spaces to pump at work, a bill put forward by a woman representative in our state assembly and organized by our local NOW chapter headed by an amazing MOM of two beautiful children, the second of which she gave birth to unassisted.

    If you are really a feminist please please please volunteer for Planned Parenthood, become an abortion doctor, volunteer for Doctors Without Boarders, teach other women to become OB/GYNs there’s a million different things you could do to improve the lives of women and this blog is not one. REAL feminists SUPPORT other women and encourage them to make their own choices with ACCURATE information. They don’t bully and ridicule.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      “The most sensible thing for you to do,” continued the woman, “would be to return to your home and use another dishpan, learn to cook cookies as other people cook cookies, without the aid of magic. But if you cannot be happy without the magic dishpan you have lost, you are likely to learn more about it in the Emerald City than at any other place in Oz.”

    • momofone

      “I’ve never seen a lactivist claim that babies would die without breastmilk.”

      Speaking of claims, I’ve never seen you back up one you’ve made, and I can think of several of those. Not that we aren’t all on the edges of our seats to hear your thoughts on feminism, but we’re waiting with bated breath to hear you elaborate on all kinds of things you’ve already said. Surely if you had time to write the novel above, you could throw in some long-awaited enlightenment.

    • MI Dawn

      No, Brooke, it’s not that easy. I breastfed, *had* to return to work at 6 weeks. I worked midnights so baby was bottle fed by her daddy while I was gone. 6-8 hours of daycare while I slept meant she was nursed maybe 1-2 times a day. She quit nursing at 6 months. If I didn’t have to return to work, maybe I could have breastfed longer. But, like so many other families living paycheck to paycheck, and both needing to work (in fact, the 6 weeks I was off work really hurt financially, since they were also unpaid), breastfeeding lost to food, shelter, and heat.

      She wasn’t harmed by it…graduated Summa cum laude from a major university, got her master’s degree and is working. I think she was OK on formula.

    • CSN0116

      You’re not capable of producing this much text.

      Quick. Someone plug this monstrosity into Google and see the various places from which it’s copied.

      And of all the bullshit up there, kuddos on “go be an abortion doctor” lolololol

    • yentavegan

      you had me nodding my head in agreement up until the crap about unassisted birth.

    • Sarah

      Breastmilk doesn’t even come close to producing all the nutrition a baby needs for the first twelve months. Not nearly enough iron unless you scarf down litres and litres a day. They don’t.

      Also, all these women who can choose all these breastfeeding friendly jobs, are they the same ones who could definitely afford $200 upfront to see the LC because they can spend $300 a year on formula? I’d just like to know what level of utterly unchecked privilege we’re dealing with today.

      • swbarnes2

        On this planet, most women can’t just tell their bosses “Oh, my infant is turning your workplace into a nursery for the next 2 years so I can breastfeed”.
        And if breastmilk was such magical protection against childhood disease, why did babies die of them for thousands and thousands of years, while exclusive breastfeeding was the norm?

        • Sarah

          Hatting.

          • Mel

            I love that making knit fabric hats for my soon-to-be-born niece and nephew constitutes a distinctive danger to their bonding skills.

            I’m making a heap of hats. Super-fun, really easy and the extras can go to my local free clothing bank where they are short on hats.

          • Sarah

            I hope you’re knitting one with a big woolly epidural needle in it.

      • Roadstergal

        I don’t know why, but for all the wrong in that large block of unedited text, the thing that’s grating most on me is her use of ‘less’ where she should have used ‘fewer.’ Maybe because she thinks she’s oh-so-speshul-and-smarter than the bottlefed folk.

        OK, and the allergy to apostrophes.

        • Sarah

          I liked the bit about how all those low income women can telecommute. That was my absolute favourite.

          • Roadstergal

            Retail establishments are well-known for allowing their minimum-wage workers to telecommute.

          • Dr Kitty

            It is super safe to have infants around the deep fat fryers in McDonald’s, why couldn’t you bring your infant to work in a sling?

          • Roadstergal

            It really is a good thought exercise to imagine the lowest level of job that gives maternity leave, telecommute options, and/or private pumping breaks. You’re already looking at a person in a fairly advantaged position overall, with advantages that will pass on to the baby regardless of BM vs formula.

          • Who?

            Around here, with most of the professions oversubscribed, even the high level well paid jobs with opportunities like that are drying up. Why would an employer tolerate things they find inconvenient when there are a queue of people prepared to do exactly what is required, when and where it is required, with no special conditions?

            That said, telecommuting is getting big as technology improves and floor space in town is more expensive than IT solutions. Which is great for those it works for, not so good for those who would, for all sorts of reasons, rather go to the office.

          • Dr Kitty

            Telecommuting would not work for me, for fairly obvious reasons.
            Nor would bringing my baby to work.
            I’m one of the bosses, but the nature of my job simply doesn’t allow those options.

            I’m going to try to pump during my lunch hour, because I have a private office with a lockable door and access to a fridge, but we’ll see if supply can keep up with demand.

            On days when I have several house calls or an emergency over lunch, pumping will take a backseat to actually saving lives, which is my job. I’ll pump when he’s asleep or send frozen milk or formula the next day, whatever works.

          • Who?

            The whole idea is mad. As others have canvassed here, clients/patients don’t want to know about your children, how they are fed, or your arrangements re your bosoms, in no particular order.

            In Brooke’s world, you’re Better Off At Home, regardless of the work you do for your patients and your own mental and professional and financial (again, in no particular order) well being.

          • Dr Kitty

            What is the point of those extra IQ points your baby supposedly gains from being BF if she never gets to use them?

            Parenting is many good things, but it is not a great challenge for the intellect.

          • Who?

            Exactly.

          • Mel

            I worked as a HS teacher in a fairly progressive state. -You have 6 weeks paid maternity and up to 12 unpaid. You do have 3 months of unpaid summer break so late winter/early spring pregnancies are ideal. Late fall due dates suck.
            – Telecommuting? Nope.
            – Private pumping breaks? Does pumping before school, during your planning period, at lunch and 30 seconds after the last bell rings in your empty classroom count? No?

          • fiftyfifty1

            “lowest level of job that gives…[…]…telecommute options”

            phone sex worker?
            (does such a thing even still exist?)

          • Roadstergal

            I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, but having a gurgling or squalling baby in the same room would be a very specific clientele indeed.

          • An Actual Attorney

            I think that it’s all on web cam, and there’s probably a market for bfing cam girls, but I prefer not to ever know about it.

          • Mishimoo

            I have been informed that lactating strippers make more money, and that “You should do it for the money. After all, your nights aren’t busy.” (2 hourly feedings of 45 minutes each at that point in time)

          • BeatriceC

            There’s a whole kink around lactation. I think it’s weird, but as long as they’re not involving the actual baby, then consenting adults can do as they wish.

          • Mishimoo

            I agree, I’m just biased because it was really pushy and a “you lactate, you need to be into this AND profit from it.” Which is creepy enough without mentioning that it was my father lecturing me.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Uh wow. Yep, that’s… Odd

          • Mishimoo

            Yup! Part of why I have completely cut contact and refuse to have anything to do with him ever again.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Solid decision!

          • Bombshellrisa

            Working in a tanning salon? You could stash your infant behind the counter or in a room not being used, sit on an unlit tanning bed to nurse or pump (the doors lock) and there is usually a fridge you could store milk in.

          • MaineJen

            According to late night TV…yes

          • Bombshellrisa

            In that case you would just have to figure out how to wear the sling so it safely lays across the back. That baby only needs to be up front for feeds anyway : )

          • An Actual Attorney

            My mail carrier totes could have just pulled over to pump or brought her 2 week old with her.

          • Who?

            They’re on motorbikes here, no trouble w the baby in the sling, little helmet for it, but of course hatting is v bad…

          • BeatriceC

            They’re mostly on foot here. Adding a baby to the already heavy mail bag should be no problem, right?

          • Roadstergal

            Hmph. A true feminist would be a femail carrier.

          • Mel

            I know the grocery store I worked at for years as a cashier would have been on-board with telecommuting as long as I did it for free.

          • Sarah

            There you are then, no excuses.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Hmm, guess a woman doing paint less dent repair or mobile auto paint work COULD bring her baby to work. The baby could hang out in whatever car they were working on. Wonder if they make tiny versions of the respirators my husband wears?

          • Who?

            Even worse than hatting though, surely.

            And if a breastfed baby is with its mama, could any silly old chemicals (or even falling off mum’s work motor bike, or the boiling oil she’s doing fries in) hurt the baby?

          • Bombshellrisa

            I guess it’s the new version of the women dropping their babies in the fields where they work

        • Who?

          Thanks and thanks. If you’re going to indulge in huge blocks of text, at least use english.

      • MaineJen

        We’re talking to someone who spent an entire weekday afternoon breastfeeding on the state house steps.

      • yentavegan

        Then how come my exclusively breastfed children were never iron deficient or needed vitamins? They were all routinely blood tested and doctor made no comment about their needing or lacking anything? I do believe that breastmilk is not deficient, at least mine wasn’t, and i don’t think I am all that special.

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          At what age did you introduce solid foods? Babies have sufficient iron stores for 6 months, after that they need to take in more iron through solid food.

          • yentavegan

            I was a hard-core baby led weaning mother..my kids did not eat real food until they were old enough to actually grab it themselves…the last baby did not eat solid foods until about 18 months old , None of my kids were eating anything other than breastmilk at 6 months.

          • Dr Kitty

            I’ve seen an 18month old child with rickets and severe iron deficiency anaemia in Ireland.
            Child was of Indian heritage, entire family were vegan and he’d only started solids at a year.

            You were lucky, they were not.

          • yentavegan

            I am not lucky. I am one of many many die hard LLL parents who breastfed exclusively until baby’s could self feed. The parents who’s baby had rickets because they were vegans!!! Vegans who did not supplement their deficient diet. That is crazy, And for the record I do not condone veganism for pregnant/lactating women.

        • guest

          Because for one thing, not all infants have the exact same health results from the same diet. So some level of iron in breast milk may get some infants by just fine for quite a while (my guess is they somehow were born with a larger store), while others can’t. Doesn’t make it the perfect food. Because after all, how come my daughter WAS iron deficient when she was exclusively breastfed AND supplemented with iron?

          Not all kids are the same. But exclusive breastfeeding past a certain age is a risk for anemia.

        • Who?

          Can I ask why babies were routinely having blood tests? I’ve never known that to happen unless they are (quite) unwell.

          • yentavegan

            it is very routine to test for iron/vitamin levels for babies at one year of age. It is routine here in USA.

        • Bombshellrisa

          It depends on what the recommendations were when your kids were babies. The suggestion now is that all breastfed babies are supplemented with vitamin D.

        • Sarah

          Presumably because they were born with sufficient stocks to last the first six months or so, as is normal for term babies, and by the time they’d exhausted that they were getting iron from other sources. I’m not sure the relatively small amount of iron in breastmilk has to be characterised as a deficiency per se though. In the normal order of things, a baby would be consuming more than breastmilk by the time the stocks have run out. We’ve just evolved a system where we get our iron from elsewhere, and remember too much iron can be a problem too.

    • MaineJen

      You are living in a dream world, where all women are able to “choose to pump, work from home, telecommute, work at a job where they are able to bring their young children”. In what world are young children allowed in any workplace, apart from a daycare? In what world is every mother staying home to breastfeed their child exclusively?

      Do you know how much paraphernalia goes along with pumping? Bottles, flanges, hoses etc. Milk freezer bags. Not doable for someone with low income.

      Guess what else isn’t feminist? Shaming other women because they don’t *want to* do with their bodies exactly what you think they should do with their bodies. If I don’t want to breastfeed or birth unassisted, if I want to go back to work and start supplementing with formula, that’s my choice and there shouldn’t be any shame associated with that. Right? Or is that not the “right” kind of feminism?

    • demodocus

      It’s also feminist to accept “i loathe breastfeeding” as a legitimate reason to use formula.

      • guest

        God, how I loathed it.

    • Spamamander

      This IS giving women choices- supporting their decision to breastfeed IF they desire to and can make it work, and refusing to guilt those who cannot or choose not to do so. This is telling the truth- that some women do not produce enough, and if they can’t, that’s just fine. They have options. Options= feminism.

      And I’ll remember fondly your dream world where every woman can pump if she wants to at work, or can telecommute. OR should WANT to. It’s just as legitimate of a choice to WANT to return to work. Feminism!

      This will be the same dream world where people like me, suffering from severe PPD after the birth of a child she did not know had Down syndrome, can magically not be crying hysterically trying to get her low muscle tone infant to latch, and find joy in being attached to a pump like a cow (which is how I personally felt. Others would not.). But instead of that dream world, I stopped trying to do things that contributed to my stress, including breastfeeding or pumping, went on medication, and put my life back together.

    • Azuran

      So, as you say, real feminism is supporting other women and encourage them to make their own choice with accurate information.
      Formula feeding is a perfectly acceptable way of feeding your baby, therefore, as a feminist, shouldn’t you support any women who decide that formula is the best choice for her?

      • MaineJen

        Actually to me, there is nothing *less* feminist than drawing all of your self worth from a bodily function over which you have no conscious control…like whether your breasts produce enough milk to nourish a baby. Or how “well” you birth.

        Self worth should come from things that happen because of your conscious effort. Like actually *raising* a child, not just giving birth.

        • BeatriceC

          “Self worth should come from things that happen because of your conscious effort. Like actually *raising* a child, not just giving birth.”

          Where’s that “standing ovation” button when you need it.

          On the feminist trope, when the kids get past school age, women get attacked when they *don’t* work. Actually, they get attacked when they do work too. I can’t count the number of times I was told I should make getting a husband my priority during my single mother days, so I could stay home with my kids. Now that I’ve done that and MrC and I have decided that me staying home is the best thing for our family, I get blasted because I’m “wasting all the money and years I spent on university and grad school”.

          • AirPlant

            We couldn’t have anybody feeling good about their hard thought out choices. Judging women is the national pastime and without it anarchy would reign.

          • BeatriceC

            Pretty much. As far as I’m concerned “they” can stuff it. I do the best I can with what I have. I’m not perfect (oh, boy, am I not perfect…all hell broke loose a week ago when my oldest made an incredibly stupid and life-altering decision), but I do my best.

            Oh, and that kid who made the incredibly stupid and potentially life-ruining decision was breastfed for almost 13 months; exclusively if you don’t count the couple of supplementary bottles to calm him down enough to learn to latch properly (on breasts bigger than he was). Maybe I should blame those few ounces of formula for his current troubles.

          • Who?

            Hope he comes through it in one piece. It’s hard to watch the decisions sometimes. And it’s fair enough to lose it occasionally-no one is perfect, including you or them.

          • BeatriceC

            Thanks. I wish I could afford a better lawyer. *sigh* I spend a lot of money to finance the middle kid’s figure skating, and some of that money is sorely needed right now. Here’s hoping that it all works out.

          • Who?

            Me too. Hopefully the lesson won’t be too hard on him-maybe just hard enough to help remind him make better decisions in future.

          • BeatriceC

            Well, he’s already learning that Mom’s rules are pretty darned reasonable. In the one and only time I’ve ever been thankful to have a disabled kid, the spinal deformities convinced the judge that he was better off at home with me taking care of him, so he’s home instead of in Juvie hall (there was a fight…that’s all I’m going to say online). However, the rules of home supervision are draconian. He can’t hang out with friends, he can’t talk on the phone, he can’t use social media. This is like the most extreme form of grounding you can imagine. If I go anywhere with him I have to call the parole officer to let him know where I’m going and what time I expect to be back, then call when I return. They show up at the door a couple times a day to make sure he’s here. It sucks, but at least he’s home. The next court date is Friday, but that’s just a “readiness” hearing, not the actual trial.

          • Who?

            Go Mum!! He’s lucky to have you, which he may not realise quite yet but bumping up against the criminal justice system is not a fun experience.

            Hope you’re all okay-it can’t be easy on anyone in the house living like that.

            Sounds like he’ll have some time to reflect. And sounds like the lawyer is doing fine. More expensive doesn’t always mean better.

          • BeatriceC

            In the Juvenile courts, parents get a chance to speak as well as the client and the lawyer. The lawyer did motion to have him released to home supervision, but she bumbled her way through it. Of course, she didn’t have much time to prepare, and the disease is complicated, so she missed some important points. The judge appeared to be rolling his eyes at her, and nodding in agreement with the prosecution when they said they objected to sending him home. Then I got a chance to talk. My contribution is what changed the judge’s mind. The kid is lucky he’s got a well educated and well spoken mother. Of course, while it’s stressful to us, this is another example of how education levels make a difference in everything. A kid with the same issues who didn’t have a parent who could go to bat for them like that wouldn’t have had the same outcome. But that’s a whole ‘nother debate.

          • Who?

            It’s certainly complex. Juvie isn’t a great place for anyone, and even without his health issues it would be a hard ride for him.

            All crossed things are on the upswing.

          • BeatriceC

            Thanks. He’s a good kid who made a stupid choice in the heat of the moment. There’s been several positive things that have happened in the last week, so I’m hoping it continues on that trend.

            And now I need to go get a shower and drag everybody to the ice arena, since I can’t leave the oldest home alone anymore and the youngest gets bored and finds ways of making trouble if he’s left without company for too long. I think I’m going to skate today, just to work off some aggression. (It’s amazing how getting going really fast then doing a hockey stop, which sprays ice everywhere helps one’s mood).

          • Who?

            Enjoy it.

          • BeatriceC

            Thanks. I did. I even managed to complete a 3-turn and a halfway decent outside edge spiral on my left foot, though I almost bit it trying to do that 3-turn. Real skaters make it look so easy! The arena staff convinced me to take a class starting this Wednesday. It’s actually cheaper to pay for a class, which gives you access to all the public sessions during the class term, than it is to pay for public sessions twice a week. I figured why not. I can do some simple stuff and enjoy puttering around the arena, so maybe being able to do some basic tricks will make it more fun. Plus it gets me moving more regularly and costs less than a gym membership.

          • Who?

            Sounds great. You’ll enjoy the class, particularly with everyhing else you’re dealing with it’s nice to have your own thing to do and a skill to develop.

          • BeatriceC

            I think I will. Middle kid spends a lot of time at the ice arena, and when he was 6 or 7 I decided to buy myself a pair of skates and teach myself how to skate so I wouldn’t be bored while he practiced (at least during public sessions). I can’t do much, but it is fun, so I think I’ll enjoy it and it will be a good outlet.

          • Amazed

            Good luck, Beatrice! It wasn’t easy for me being a teen and it cannot be easy to be the mom of one… err, three.

          • BeatriceC

            Thanks. And yeah, three teens in the house are pretty crazy. Actually, it’s more like 4, as the middle kid’s girlfriend spends enough time here that she actually has chores to do and I’ve been teaching her how to cook. Tonight’s accomplishment was an actually very tasty chicken and broccoli Alfredo, with the sauce made from scratch (the grocery store had some high end parmesan cheese on clearance so I could afford to cook a “real” sauce”.) I fail to tell her how tricky things can be and she picks things up pretty fast. I only admitted to her after we were done how easy it is to ruin an alfredo sauce. Sometimes I’m evil like that.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Sending you strength and courage and luck during this time.

          • Mishimoo

            Argh! Hope it all works out okay and the lesson sticks. So sorry that you’re going through this, especially with everything else.

          • Who?

            Also meant to say, on a far lighter note, we are being woken a moment before 5am by rainbow lorikeets feeding in the trees out the back of our house; they stay until mid-morning and then move to the trees at the front around 2pm, where they stay until dark.

            Very loud, very shrieky. Am seriously considering going out to get away from them.

          • Mel

            We have house sparrows that nest in the vent above our oven yearly. They seem to produce 3-4 broods a year that shriek every time a parent returns with food. I pointed at the empty vent space yesterday and *gently* reminded my husband that if he didn’t cover the vent before the birdies returned, he’d be hand-raising their chicks in his office using a blender and insects he could catch around the farm.

            He got supplies to cover the vent.

          • Who?

            Well, yes. We own neither stand of trees, otherwise right now I’d be calling in the chainsaws. The trees are lovely, but for the next few weeks, home to some very rowdy visitors.

          • Mishimoo

            I’m taking out our golden cane palms once the weather cools down. The bats came to feast the other night, one managed to get his head wedged in the fence, and our dog bit it. The run around to find out about quarantine was ridiculous and ended with Biosecurity telling me that: “Oh, only 1% carry lyssavirus, it’s highly unlikely that this bat has it.”
            Yes, but if it has managed to get stuck in a wooden fence then I think the likelihood of it being a sick bat just got a bit higher. Also, as much as I like bats, the people who rescue them are like antivaxxers – “No, we’re taking it to see if it can be rehabilitated. We don’t like to test the sick/injured/dead ones because then the Government uses a positive result as an excuse to cull the bats.”

          • Who?

            What a nightmare. We haven’t had a lot of bats this year-must all be at your place-but with the dog they freak me out. And as you say, if it’s on the ground or otherwise stuck, it’s more likely to be a sick one.

            What does your vet think? Do you keep the dog on ‘rabies watch’ until the incubation period passes?

          • Mishimoo

            Our vet told us to call biosecurity, but we’ll talk to him further this afternoon because they’re due for their normal vaccines anyway. From what I found online, it’s basically “watch for neurological symptoms, it’s never been recorded in dogs outside of a study.”

          • Who?

            Hope it goes okay-so many unknowns. Your dogs are big, I think? Mine you could put in a pillow case and take to the vet if he was displaying neurological symptoms, bigger dogs are trickier though.

          • Mishimoo

            Thanks, I hope so too! Yup, we have weimaraners, but thankfully it was Danny who bit it. He has this thing for doing stuff he shouldn’t and having it hardly bother him. He licks cane toads, pinches high-grade chocolate, charges through rough leaf pineapples without a scratch, and only had a mild allergic reaction to a wolf spider bite.

          • BeatriceC

            My vet gave me tranquilizers for emergency use back when I still had giant breed dogs (mastiffs and a st bernard/japanese akita mix). I never had to use them though.

            Mishimoo, I hope everything winds up being fine for your dogs.

          • Mishimoo

            Thank you! I’ll ask him about those too, just in case. It’s handy that our vet is my former boss – he knows he can trust us, I know how good he is, and he’s blunt.

          • Amazed

            I hope all ends OK for doggy. Fingers crossed!

          • Mishimoo

            Thanks! Our vet was pretty happy with his health, and said it was highly unlikely that he’s caught lyssavirus. Since Biosecurity wasn’t interested, it’s unlikely he’ll get sick from Hendra Virus either, because they usually collect and euthanise animals exposed to that. (Plus every case has gone bat to horse to dog, and there’s no known cases of direct natural infection). I feel so much better about it all, our vet wouldn’t joke about it if there was a serious issue.

          • Who?

            Good news. Danny’s legend continues to grow!

          • BeatriceC

            Sounds like my ongoing irritation with mockingbirds outside my bedroom window at 3am.

          • Erin

            I got told recently that I should be ashamed of myself because the State paid for my education and instead of working I’m taking my son to various activities and lunching with other lazy selfish Mothers. Gave me a certain amount of malicious glee to tell her the State is also paying my second degree which I’m doing atm. Oh and the number of people who have told me I’m hurting his social skills by not putting him in nursery even though he spends around 7 hours a week as a minimum in the company of other children has shocked even horribly cynical me. Interestingly when I tell them I’m looking into volunteering a couple of hours a week and will obviously be looking into childcare to cover that.. It seems that doesn’t count. I must be getting paid and paying tax.

            I can’t win. Doesn’t matter that I’m studying, helping out with groups and planning on volunteering in the summer as well as dealing with the mental health issues my son’s arrival reawoke and magnified. Nope I’m a lazy lady who got lucky and ensnared a man with a high enough income so I could stay at home all day according to a self proclaimed feminist acquaintance. Isn’t sisterhood awesome..

          • moto_librarian

            As said above, raising children who will grow into functional adults is absolutely an accomplishment. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. How they are born or what they are fed – those are NOT accomplishments.

    • Dr Kitty

      Oh Brooke, honey, no.

      How can you support and encourage unassisted childbirth (which has a not insignificant death rate) while, at the same time saying that encouraging formula feeding is unconscionable because formula feeding is associated with a higher risk of SIDS (association is not the same as causation) which is less likely to result in death or disability than UC.

      I’m a feminist, I think that women have the right to make whichever choices about her body she wishes to, but after having had impartial information about any known risks or benefits.

      But I still think anyone who supports UC but not formula feeding on the grounds of *safety* is making erroneous judgements and absolutely isn’t able to accurately assess information about risks and benefits.

    • Spamamander

      To put it bluntly, your “feminism” reeks of privilege.

    • Monkey Professor for a Head

      Who is telling women not to breastfeed? I don’t think anyone here would say that if a woman wants to breastfeed and if the child is getting adequate nutrition, that she shouldn’t beastfeed. All this article is saying is that there are other options, and that you don’t have to breastfeed if (for whatever reason) it doesn’t work for you or your child. What is wrong with that?

      • Madtowngirl

        Giving women a choice isn’t feminism! Forcing women to do what *I* think is right is feminism!

    • Bombshellrisa

      “Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long! I use it when I’m swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga. It’s comfortable, leak-proof, non-slip and it makes me feel so feminine and pretty! Since I’ve begun using these pens, men have found me more attractive and approchable. It has given me soft skin and manageable hair and it has really given me the self-esteem I needed to start a book club and flirt with the bag-boy at my local market. My drawings of kittens and ponies have improved, and now that I’m writing my last name hyphenated with the Robert Pattinson’s last name, I really believe he may some day marry me! I’m positively giddy. Those smart men in marketing have come up with a pen that my lady parts can really identify with.”

      • Who?

        Take a bow.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Bofa is the genius behind this idea. It’s a little like what I ended up doing with he who shall not be named. I got tired of his endless BS and would simply copy and paste his stupidity back to him.

          • Who?

            This also has the added bonus-and I take nothing from Bofa’s originating genius-of particular aptness.

            If he who shall not be named returns, we could post some of those gummy bear reviews…

          • Bombshellrisa

            I am contemplating posting some of those if this particular beast continues her unbelievably stupid comments.

      • demodocus

        comments from that silly Bic pens for _her_? Those are highly amusing.

        • Bombshellrisa

          Yes!
          Although you can just do a dynamic list on Amazon and the best reviews will pop up. I really couldn’t decide between this one and the top one for the banana slicer.

    • Taysha

      1) I’ve never seen a lactivist claim that babies would die without
      breastmilk.
      Funny – “formula is evil” “formula causes sids” “formula causes autoimmune diseases” “formula makes your kids dumb” Should I go on? FROM YOUR OWN COMMENT: ” (formula fed
      babies are at a higher risk of SIDS deaths)”

      2) Actually there is, breastmilk provides all of the
      nutrition a baby needs up until the first year of life.
      Please explain allergies to maternal milk necessitating maternal diets of elimination. Breastmilk, if it were the best thing, would not suffer from this

      3) No. Its not. Women can choose to pump, work from home,
      telecommute, work at a job where they are able to bring their young
      children or in every other developed country use paid maternity leave so
      they do not lose their income.

      Where the hell do you find these jobs? I mean, I can’t see women on low incomes doing this. Seriously, your privilege, honey. Your privilege.

      4) Formula has nothing to do with feminism. How in the hell is telling women that they are incapable of producing enough milk to feed their babies and they will starve their newborns feminism?

      No, honey, that’s the line the lactivists use. Formula allows mothers to go back to work, to not be tied to home and hearth, to delegate childcare duties with the father and so much more.

      “Guess what? My mother, my sister and I are ALL feminists. We ALL breastfed our kids.”

      Good for you. Have a cookie. Now get off other women’s breasts.

      “our local NOW chapter headed by an amazing MOM of two

      beautiful children, the second of which she gave birth to unassisted.”

      Wow. You have someone so irresponsible in power?

      • Chi

        Have to say, that “Get off other women’s breasts” comment totally wins the internet for me today.

        Well said.

        • AirPlant

          I choose to believe that the expression “Calm your tits” was invented in reaction to lactivist bullshit.

    • Are you nuts

      Sign me up for one of those jobs where I can bring my kids! Oh wait, those really don’t exist do they?

      • Dr Kitty

        There is one I can think of.
        Nanny or childminder, where you can look after other people’s kids at the same time as looking after your own.
        Wouldn’t be the job for me though.

        I can think of lots of jobs where none of Brooke’s helpful suggestions would work. Beat cop, paramedic, cabin crew, chef…all renowned for their regular break schedule, proximity to private pumping spaces and safe milk storage facilities and telecommuting opportunities.

      • BeatriceC

        Well, I did actually bring my kids to work with me a lot when they were little. I taught part time at a community college in the evenings. I often times didn’t have babysitting. A trio of the full time professors who had office hours in the evening pitched in to help me out when I had to bring them in.

        • Roadstergal

          My mom took me to the lab at grad school when I was a toddler when my siblings couldn’t look after me. I have a few little memories of playing under the bench. But money was tight, she really wanted her PhD, it was a fruit fly lab, and OSHA was a little different back then.

        • guest

          My colleagues would feed my children to the wolves if I tried that.

        • Amazed

          I spent a good deal of my childhood in the classroom where my mom taught English. The rub is, I was old enough not to make noise. I was a distraction, though. A cute little kid who was more interesting than them boring verbs. My mom got absolutely furious when she caught me giving help, though! THAT, she hadn’t expected. But she learned from this: when a student came to our house, I was not allowed to even sniff the door of her office and they were absolutely forbidden to go to my room when they had a form to fill or text to write.

          It was the same with the Intruder, four years later. But he had the bad luck of going through a rebellious stage when two or something. He would not sit quietly, upon which my mom solved the problem by yanking him off the desk, dragging him in the hall and slapping him so hard that the entire floor heard. She enjoyed an unusually obedient flock of students for a good deal of time afterwards… No doubt the Brookes of the world will go faint with indignation because that SO not good-mom-like. Screw it job and being in a tight spot.

          Kids in mom’s work place are a given, sometimes. You simpy don’t have a choice. Doesn’t make it a preferred choice or one that goes with no problems. That’s what the Brookes don’t understand.

          Do you remember that professor who chose to bring a sick baby along, breastfed in class and called persecution?

    • guest

      Brooke has not seen much.

      • Chi

        Except her own privileged world where women can work from home.

        C’mon Brooke, let’s be honest. You think all women should stop working to raise their kids. Because the fact that low income families exist is just a myth right?

        • guest

          Women can “choose” to work from home. You just go to your boss and say “Boss, I am choosing to work from home because I have this baby.” And bosses everywhere will just smile and say “Sounds good!”

          • Who?

            ahem ‘…sounds good! I am choosing to stop your pay until I see you again…’

          • Chi

            “And ‘choosing’ to fill your position with someone less demanding who’ll probably work for less in this current economy. Bonus!”

          • FEDUP MD

            “Sick children, please cease being sick while I am home with my baby. I can’t come take care of you in the clinic or hospital so just hang tight. I will just sit at home and guess what you might have over the phone while I nurse my baby.”

          • Azuran

            I guess I’ll have an anesthesia machine build up in my bedroom (that could be useful for my insomnia) and a radiography installed in the shower so I can work from home.

          • guest

            See, and a great deal of my work involves writing – books and essays, specifically. “Working from home” means *someone else* watches the kids while I do it. Have you ever tried to write a scholarly essay while kids are running around shrieking and Raffi is playing in the background? It cannot be done.

          • demodocus

            It’s hard to read this blog with 1 kid running around and demanding Curious George.

          • guest

            Right? Maybe I should just bring my kids to the applicant interviews I’m helping conduct over the next few weeks. They would certainly never try to climb on the office furniture or start fighting over the crayons and screeching while I’m trying to get someone to tell me why they want to work for us.

      • Bombshellrisa

        Especially the “extra help” from WIC for breastfeeding. Give me a break. And WIC pays for formula.

    • guest

      I’m opposed to Doctors without Boarders – do you know how much medical school costs these days? And then you want to deny them the chance to reduce their living expenses a bit by taking in a boarder? Shame on you.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Good point! I myself was a boarder during medical school, and then bought a house and took in boarders during residency. Made a huge difference.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “If you are really a feminist please please please volunteer for Planned Parenthood, become an abortion doctor, volunteer for Doctors Without Boarders [sic], teach other women to become OB/GYNs ”

      So funny you mention that. Being a doctor, I happen to have close friends who have done all of these things. The one who is an abortion doctor at PP had primary lactational failure with her first. He ended up in the hospital with hypernatremic dehydration. Formula saved his life. The friend with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) was glad to have formula available because her psychiatric condition has required a med that is contraindicated in breastfeeding. It’s quite possible that formula saved *her* life. The friend who is now an OB/GYN program director supplemented with formula when she couldn’t produce enough during Q3 rotations as she finished residency. All 3 are feminists, all 3 support formula. So what’s your point?

    • Madtowngirl

      #2 – False, false, false. When I was trying to breastfeed, I was told to take multivitamins, iron, and vitamin D supplements in order to make sure the baby got these vitamins…because, wait for it – breast milk doesn’t automatically have these nutrients!

      I don’t normally respond to you, because you’ve made it pretty clear that you have a serious case of denial and confirmation bias. But if you’re going to accuse someone of giving out false information, then you shouldn’t be providing false information of your own.

      • Inmara

        It’s well known fact that babies get very little iron from breastmilk (even if mom doesn’t have any problems with iron levels) so introducing solids at 6 months is crucial to avoid iron deficiency and any growth delays it can cause. Claiming that breastmilk provides all necessary nutrients up to 1 year is blatant lie, and can actually harm babies.

        • Roadstergal

          And EBF for up to 1 year might promote allergies:

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26859367

          “In a recent prospective controlled study, regular consumption of peanut protein in infants from 4-11 months of age with atopic dermatitis or egg allergy, was associated with lower prevalence of peanut allergy (1.9%) at 60 months of age compared with peanut avoidance (13.7%). Other studies demonstrated that earlier introduction of cow’s milk protein and egg powder were also associated with decreased risk for milk and egg allergy, respectively.”

    • mythsayer

      formula feeding is feminist because, years ago, it allowed women to get out of the house and get a job if they wanted to. They no longer had to choose to stay home to feed the baby all the time.

      You do realize not everyone can pump, right? My daughter would’ve starved if I’d tried to just pump. She would’ve starved if I’d obsessively only breastfed. Since I’m not insane, I smartly chose to pump, supplement with breastmill, and primarily use formula since there was no way I would ever make enough milk (want proof? My daughter didn’t gain an ounce for an entire month while I tried to breastfeed her).

    • FEDUP MD

      Brooke, I gotta tell you, I did not make a decision about a career, or even a particular job, based on whether I could breastfeed my then hypothetical children. That is about as anti feminist as it comes. Incidentally, I made it work with pumping, because I couldn’t exactly drag my babies around a hospital full of sick kids all day. But if I couldn’t have made it work, I would have chosen my career. I work in an underserved specialty. If every woman stayed home in my field who had kids, we would be 50% even shorter staffed than we are.

    • Grace Adieu

      I breastfed my son but it was hard for me to produce enough milk. I was fortunate enough to have six months’ paid maternity leave (not statutory, but negotiated with my employer) because there is absolutely no way I would have been able to work at home or at all while exhausted and clusterfeeding around the clock. And mine is a job that lends itself to working at home under ordinary circumstances.

      • Inmara

        I have very, very accommodating employer, we can negotiate working from home part-time, adjusting working hours or doing our errands during the day if necessary. Yet even with that level of flexibility I wouldn’t be able to resume working at 3 months postpartum, or even 6 months without sending baby to daycare or hiring nanny. Similarly to you, I was breastfeeding for hours every day because of low supply, and even with supplementing it took forever to feed baby; now with EFF it’s easier but baby is very mobile and I have to watch him closely when he’s not content in Pack’n’Play anymore. I’m helping colleagues with some projects from time to time, but I can do it only when baby naps or is put into bed at 7-8 PM (and working every day would take any chance from me to rest or do basic chores). So babies and work don’t mix very well, breastfeeding or not.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      The most common allergens are soy and dairy.

      Hate to tell you this, but breast milk is a dairy product. Contains lactose just like any other mammal’s milk. It might be less immunogenic but if the problem is waning lactose tolerance (which shouldn’t be but maybe with extended breast feeding you can start to see issues?) If it’s that horrible enzyme deficiency, the name I’m not coming up with right now, it’ll be a problem for either breast or other mammal milk. Formula, unlike breast milk, can be made without dairy or soy and this is done for children with allergies.

      • Inmara

        Galactosemia is the name, if I recall correctly.
        To be honest, cow milk (and dairy) allergy is caused by proteins, not lactose, but it’s actually quite rare, with 2-3% infants affected http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083222/ For newborns who have severe allergies to something not identifiable with first eliminations from mom’s diet, low allergen (hydrolized protein or amino-acid based) formula may be the best bet anyway (it was the case with Fearless Formula Feeder, I can’t find the link to her story at the moment).

        • The Computer Ate My Nym

          Thank you! I think milk of any sort may be dubious in PKU as well. Anyway, you’re right, the allergic issues are more often proteins than lactose, primary lactose intolerance being extremely rare for evolutionary reasons.

          • Inmara

            I looked it up once, number of galactosemia affected infants is low indeed – Finland supposedly has one of highest in the world and it’s around 1 in 60’000.

          • Dr Kitty

            Irish Travellers also have high rates of galactosaemia, which is an issue in a community which has low levels of literacy, distrusts doctors and if they still Travel, prefer to move as soon as possible after a birth.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      volunteer for Doctors Without Boarders

      Actually, MSF doctors aren’t volunteers. It’s a paid position. Not well paid, of course, but there are people who make working for MSF their career. Of course, doing so is completely incompatible with breast feeding unless you think taking a baby to an Ebola ridden region or place that is actively being bombed is a good idea.

      • MaineJen

        Incidentally, how many doctors actually take in boarders nowadays? I’m thinking not many. 😉

    • cookiebaker

      I’ve had a job that allowed me to bring my children to work and I currently have a job working from home. It is EXTRAORDINARILY difficult to do quality work and be a quality parent simultaneously. One or the other will always suffer. A tantruming toddler doesn’t care if you have a deadline or you have a scheduled conference call.

      I’m lucky that my jobs were only part time and were not necessary for the stability of our family. The one that allowed me to bring my children was working in the front office of a local lactation consultant, so I answered phones, fitted bras, rented pumps, etc. My oldest was 2 and my youngest was 4 months and breastfed. Breastfeeding was fine, of course, because it was a LC office! Only the UPS man seemed uncomfortable with it, all our customers were other breastfeeding women, but I can’t imagine what another type of office would think of it. Breastfeeding still makes some people uncomfortable, so I imagine some customers would go elsewhere rather than deal with a woman nursing. Even as a person supportive of breastfeeding, when I’m a customer, I wouldn’t want my doctor nursing during my eye exam, I’d want their undivided attention to be about me and my health. I ended up leaving that job when my kids got older and were frustrated being confined to the office, so would act out. Also, I got tired of the endless parenting advice from the sanctimonious LC.

      The job I work now is from home and very part time. I have 6 kids, so I’m very, very busy during the day. I only work during nap time or after everyone is in bed. This leaves me with little to no down time for myself to enjoy my hobbies, spend time with my husband, or get enough sleep. I sometime fanticize about working in an office without distractions and with only adults, but I don’t make enough money for daycare, so I just keep struggling on until I can get them all in school, then I’ll be able to work more hours and can work on more interesting projects.

      Working with kids around is much, much harder than working without kids. It’s not a handy solution for every working mother. It’s extremely stressful to try to be a stellar employee providing quality work and keep your kids calm, quiet and playing independently the entire workday.

    • moto_librarian

      Do you know why so many people hate working mothers? Because of the stupid shit that you are advocating. Bringing children into the office is a huge distraction, not just for the mother, but for everyone else. Working from home with kids – forget about it. I’ve tried this a number of times when I’ve been home with sick kids and it’s not productive.

      I’m also sick of you claiming that breastfeeding is going to be some magic bullet for kids in daycare. We have yet to see research that controls for this particular confounder, and illnesses spread like wildfire through daycare whether kids are breastfed or not.

      If you were a real feminist, you could acknowledge the very real difficulties that working mothers face rather than continuing to assert that their most important responsibility is providing breastmilk. Breastfeeding isn’t free. My time is valuable. Women working hourly jobs don’t get paid for pumping breaks. Few of us have paid maternity leave. You have a lot of nerve telling me that I’m not providing ACCURATE information when you are completely fucking incapable of providing any evidence to support the drivel that you spew. And do you really expect me to be impressed that the head of your NOW chapter had an unassisted birth? That’s not an accomplishment. She won the biological lottery and was able to have a healthy child despite being an idiot. Getting a degree is an accomplishment. Having a career is an accomplishment. Raising functional, healthy children is an accomplishment (and one that doesn’t have a damned thing to do with how the baby was birthed or how it was fed). Biological essentialism is an insult to every feminist who has busted her ass to be more than a baby-making factory. How dare you!

    • Valerie

      I get the impression that you need to paint everything in black and white- if somebody isn’t with you 100%, they are against you, and everything they say must be wrong. You are completely missing the nuance of every argument. You self-identify as a feminist, so the things you don’t agree with are anti-feminist, regardless of what they actually mean and how they affect the lives of women.

      I don’t speak for everybody, but most people on here support breastfeeding for any mother who choses it, eg, rights to breastfeed in public, workplace protections for pumping and maternity leave, and the best possible troubleshooting support. What we don’t support is bulling mothers into breastfeeding when they have decided it is not in their best interests for whatever reason. We don’t support prioritizing breastfeeding over the health of mothers and babies. Informing a mother who is not making enough milk that she is not making enough milk has nothing to do with feminism- it’s about making sure an infant doesn’t starve. It is unethical to withhold that information. Even if we accepted this baseless “only 5% of women don’t make enough milk” myth, that is still 1 out of 20 babies starving. You are OK with that because it appeals to your black-and-white sense of feminism? It’s not ever OK to tell a woman that she can’t do something?

    • Dr Kitty

      As to allergies.
      Had a breast fed baby patient that could only safely have breast milk if his mother totally eliminated soy, eggs, dairy, nuts, shellfish, bananas, legumes, kiwi and wheat from her diet. And mum was vegetarian, so bang went almost all of her dietary protein, iron, calcium and vitamin D.

      In the end it made more sense (and since hypo-allergenic formula is free on NHS prescription) for her baby to get special formula than for her to continue a restrictive diet, losing weight and becoming anaemic in the process, in order to feed him what could only have been suboptimally nutritious breast milk.

      Call me crazy, but if the choice is between hypo-allergenic formula and eating an insanely expensive restrictive diet which isn’t meeting MY nutritional needs, never mind the baby’s needs… Formula wins.

      • moto_librarian

        My sons were both allergic to dairy and soy as infants. Even if I had been able to breastfeed, would I have been able to stick to a limited diet? I doubt it. According to lactivists, that makes me lazy.

    • indigosky

      Actually yes, formula has everything to do with feminism. It meant I was able to keep a job without having to waste my time with pumping breaks. I was able to go back to work right after my 12 weeks, get back on top of everything in just two, and be promoted six months after returning from maternity leave, thus giving me a higher paycheck and more flexible schedule and telecommuting options. If I had had to pump during that time, I would have never gotten that promotion.

      I LIKE going to work. I love my job. I wanted to go back earlier, to be honest, because I was bored to death at home. Newborns are boring, why does no one tell moms this? And why would I want to bring my baby to work? How would I get anything done?

      And that thing about formula kids being more sick is bull. My daughter was sick exactly once in her first year of life – we all got a cold. She was in daycare at exactly 12 weeks on, and that cold came from my husband’s jerk of a co-worker who sits next to him who was out of sick leave because he called in “sick” when he really was going on vacation.

  • Daleth

    Another reason breastmilk isn’t the perfect food is that it doesn’t contain enough iron, and very often doesn’t contain enough vitamin D, for a baby to thrive.

    • yentavegan

      it is rare for well fed mothers to have exclusively breastfed infants suffer from rickets. it is rare !!! otherwise we would be seeing all those La Leche League babies suffering with rickets,

      • Amazed

        But it happens. In my own health files, there were some concerns about rickets looming near when I was an exclusively breastfed baby. My mom simply said, “Fine honey, you can stay with your mom but the baby and I go to my parents where there is SUN and not nearly this much humidity.” The change in location changed it all and I was a thriving baby next time they took notes. Sure, it wasn’t caused by breastfeeding. But it wasn’t breastfeeding that prevented it either, as miraculous as it’s supposed to be.

      • indigosky

        Really? I think my ped might disagree with you. We were discussing Vitamin D deficiency (I have it, even being out in the sun all the time here in San Diego, go figure) and we got to talking about the kids who now have health issues because hey didn’t get enough Vitamin D as infants. He said that the problem has increased with increased breastfeeding rates, and that all breastfeeding moms are prescribed Vitamin D drops now as a precaution.

      • Daleth

        Yes, it’s rare for a woman’s vitamin D deficiency to be so severe that the baby develops rickets. It’s not so rare for the baby to merely be deficient, but not severely enough for its bone development to be affected.

        But none of those things happen to formula-fed babies, because formula contains enough vitamin D.

  • Dr Kitty

    Back to work today.
    Baby took all 8oz of EBM and two spoonfeeds for his childminder, as well as the porridge I fed him for breakfast, and has been asleep since I collected him at 5. I’ve even managed to pump 8oz for tomorrow.

    Seriously getting baby, older child and myself ready on time this morning, doing the job I love and coming home to a dinner I made in the slow cooker feels like a proper achievement.

    Staying home and feeding the baby was nice, but didn’t feel like an achievement.

    • CSN0116

      “Spoonfeeds,” “porridge,” and “childminder” gahhhh you people talk so cool!

    • SF Mom & Psychologist

      Congratulations on going back to a job you love and taking care of your family! Getting all that done truly IS an achievement.

    • Mishimoo

      Congratulations! That sounds lovely, albeit busy, and it’s great that you’re back at work with everything running smoothly.

  • mostlyclueless

    I agree with the general concept but regarding #1, pre-term babies who died of NEC count as lives lost. The way it’s written it sounds like only term babies “count.”

    • AirPlant

      I also feel like an argument could be made that there actually are babies in the world who would die if breastmilk were to disappear tomorrow. There are still parts of the world where formula is unsafe or unavailable and babies in those regions would definitely suffer its absence.
      I don’t want to be nitpicky, it feels like a disconnect in phrasing, but the statement that breastmilk could go away and babies would be just fine is really only true in developed nations for families with the resources to easily obtain formula.

      • Roadstergal

        I agree with you, but I also see Dr T’s point – the lactivists aren’t trying to make life better for disadvantaged women. They’re trying to guilt the women in the developed world into exclusively breastfeeding their term infants.

        • AirPlant

          I agree with the point 100%, I just feel like the scope of the argument could have been a little better specified. As a regular reader of this blog I know that she is referring to the first world, but that is not explicitly stated in the point. Without framing the point as applying specifically to infants in the developed world the point can be applied to all situations, and it is not true for all situations.
          I think the specificity serves that larger point that there are times when lactation fails, and without formula those babies will die. Lack of breastmilk does kill term babies, and formula is the thing that we have to save them.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            As the title indicates, it’s about the US, but I just edited the second sentence to make that even clearer.

          • AirPlant

            Sorry, I re-read the body of text to see if I missed the reference, but I did not think to reread the title.

          • Roadstergal

            Thinking about it more, formula never killed babies in the developing world, either. Lack of access to clean water and/or formula did.

      • CSN0116

        I read it and that she was speaking to a very limited audience, the audience with which lactivist are so preoccupied: term infants in developed, first world, privileged nations. In that case, her comments are spot on.

      • Sarah

        Of course there are such babies in the world, but this is about the US.

        • mostlyclueless

          Unfortunately, as I think we are all acutely aware, access to clean water isn’t as much of a sure thing in the US as we might have thought it was :/

          • Roadstergal

            I am not having much luck finding information on how well environmental lead is transmitted to breastmilk. Just that it is – as one would expect…
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25072821

          • Sarah

            Well no, but even in areas like Flint women would have more chance of accessing premade formula and/or bottled water than eg women in rural Niger. One of the most insidious things about Flint is that babies may have been affected whether through water used to make formula or their mother’s breastmilk.

    • Roadstergal

      I think the article made it clear that we were talking about term babies in the developed world, which is where the lactivists are most active, and I’m cool with that framing for that reason.

      And even for pre-terms, not all breastmilk is protective. Some is, some isn’t.

      • mostlyclueless

        It just seems like an arbitrary distinction to me to only include term babies, especially given that 1 in 9 babies are born preterm in the US. Their lives are part of the public health discourse and if you’re sincerely evaluating the costs/benefits of formula/breastmilk as a public health question, as opposed to an ideological one, then those lives need to be part of the equation. Arbitrarily excluding them because they aren’t part of the narrative is exactly the kind of dumb un-logic that the NCB crowd does; I think this blog is better than that.

        • CSN0116

          I evaluated the research and never batted an eye when choosing to EFF my pre-term (36+0 week) twins. My understanding is the NEC-breast milk link is much more impressive in premature babies, which is of course a smaller population.

        • BeatriceC

          However it’s reasonable to only discuss term babies here because the benefits of breastmilk for preterm babies are greater. The argument is that for *term* babies, there’s little to no difference, so allowing *term* babies to be injured or died because of an idealistic view of breastmilk is misguided at best and criminal at worst. This isn’t the only area where research on preterm infants has been extrapolated to term infants with possible negative outcomes, so it is important to make a distinction between the two populations.

          • Roadstergal

            I’d even hypothesize that these two uses are sometimes at odds. Human milk that is donated or sold for a term baby is milk that isn’t donated to a bank for premature infants.

  • Amy M

    I’ve seen it with my own eyes, but it never ceases to amaze me that some women value breastfeeding more than they value babies. There are the ones who say “If you aren’t planning on breastfeeding, why have children at all?” They continue to be ardent lactivists, long after their children are weaned. They need to get a grip, because what a baby eats in its first year of life is just a drop in the bucket in terms of parenting decisions, and will have no effect on what kind of adult the kid grows up to become. Do they really believe that by breastfeeding the infant (and practicing Sears AP), the teenager won’t get into trouble? Or is it more that they are so focused on babies that they can’t/won’t recognize that those babies grow up and will need a lot more than breastmilk to become healthy adults?

    • Madtowngirl

      I feel like it’s an offshoot of the current fad that insists diet changes will cure everything.

    • ArmyChick

      Oh but didn’t you know? There are no breastfed people in jail and on top of that, we all know that when applying for college and employment, the first question is “Were you breastfed?”
      When it comes to lactivism, the only goal is to feel superior. That’s why they’re so vocal about it: “See? I am a great mother because I breastfed my snowflake for 834957 months!”. You see it all over on these mommy boards….They write down what they feel is an accomplishment “breastfeeding, cloth diapering, APing mother to 2 littles”…as if it that will matter in 10, 20, 30 years.
      Whatever makes them sleep at night, I guess….

      • Amy M

        Yeah…it would be funny to see signatures like: “PhD in engineering, CEO of start-up company, retired at 38, started the X Foundation charity..”

      • Sarah

        If only breastfeeding did keep people out of prison. My ebf’d cousin would be having a much better time of his 20s than he currently is.

      • Roadstergal

        Ooh, I hate it when they ask me the EBF question at interviews and I can’t provide Certification Of Platinum Boobies.

    • Brooke

      I might not have lived long enough to become an adult if my mother didn’t breastfeed me as a preemie in the NICU so there’s that.

      • MI Dawn

        I’m sure the formula in the nursery would have kept you alive just fine, Brooke

      • Sarah

        I thought you argued in favour of breastfeeding?

      • Azuran

        I might not have lived long enough to celebrate my 1st birthday if my mother had kept breastfeeding me, so there’s that.

        Really, why can’t you just accept that different people have different circumstances and that breastfeeding is not always the best answer.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        No one is saying that people shouldn’t breastfeed, just that there are other options.

      • LibrarianSarah

        And I definitely wouldn’t have lived long enough to become an adult if my father didn’t formula feed me while my mother was in the ICU.

        I don’t know why I’m bothering to respond to you when you just come here and make passive aggressive comments without actually engaging in any actual discussion with anyone. Maybe it is time for you to stop acting like a spoiled child and get on with your life. You have been throwing this little tantrum for months now. It’s time to grow up.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        There could be no doubt of the fact:
        Princess Ozma, the lovely girl ruler of the Fairyland of Oz, was lost. She had completely disappeared. Not one of her subjects—not even her closest friends—knew what had become of her.

      • indigosky

        Really? Then what about all those preemie babies in the NICU getting FORMULA and coming out alive? My neighbor is a nurse in the Level 3 NICU here. She said that most babies are given formula, or if they have breastmilk for them they still mix in formula.

        So unfortunately for us, you would have lived either way to come here with your drivel and insult everyone you come in contact with.

        • Brooke

          Maybe because I was born several decades ago when babies were dying in the NICU or after they left the hospital from things like RSV. Did you even bother to think before posting that I’m old enough to have kids so we’re talking about 2 or 3 decades ago here? No of course not. Just like I haven’t insulted anyone here but been insulted because god forbid I don’t agree that its totally OK to make false claims like that babies are starving to death because their moms failed to produce milk AND had NO IDEA their babies were hungry.

          • MI Dawn

            Brooke: I worked in NICUs. Babies died in NICU because *their lungs didn’t work* not because of formula vs breast. Do you remember the Kennedy baby? Do you remember why he died? Do you know what causes RSV? Don’t sit there and tell medical personnel who WORKED there how it should have been.

            It’s NOT a false claim that babies may be starving to death. Have you ever heard of failure to thrive? Do you know what causes it?

            By the way – I’m trained as a CNM. I delivered a lot of babies. I was pro-feeding the way the mother chose to feed, because a happy mother makes a happy mother-baby dyad. Breast? Fine. I’ll support you, help you get a lactation consultant, give tips from my own breastfeeding days. Bottle? Fine. I’ll support you, teach you how to make sure you prepare the formula correctly for your baby’s health, and how to identify any issues.

            I was pro vaginal birth as much as possible. I was pro C-section when needed, pro-epidural if the mom wanted one. Natural childbirth? Fine, if you want that, as long as the end result is a healthy mother AND a healthy baby. I’ve also talked exhausted women who wanted no medications into taking something so they could rest and recoup energy. Walking, eating, showers? All fine. But I’m going to push for EFM if I feel something is not going well with the baby. You, I can ask. Your baby only has 1 way to talk to me while in the uterus, and the baby’s language is JUST as important as yours.

            You lose more people with your hard line than I ever lost as a midwife. While I don’t always agree with Dr Amy, I respect her training and knowledge.

          • guest

            I hate to defend Brooke in the slightest, but there is good evidence that breast milk prevents NEC in preemies. It therefore *can* be life saving for them. Dr. Amy has acknowledged this. It just doesn’t translate that because it saves a few preemie lives it’s the final word in all infant feeding choices. Brooke cannot, of course, know that breastmilk saved her specifically. But it’s possible.

    • Sean Jungian

      Everyone wants a simple solution to complicated issues.

  • demodocus

    Somewhat on topic, i mentioned to my ob this morning that i was going to use formula this time around because last time i never liked it and with the mental stuff going on… Anyway, he just nodded and said a lot of women do, and then we got into a conversation about ppd, my likelihood of getting it, and maybe I should start zoloft a few weeks before i’m due to head that one off. And i teased my husband (who attended this one) that he should start xanax now. That boy gets sympathy hormones.

    • Megan

      Glad your OB was supportive!

    • moto_librarian

      I’m so glad that you and your OB have a plan!

    • Sean Jungian

      Very glad your ob didn’t make a big deal out of it.

      Also, I read this:

      “and maybe I should start zoloft a few weeks before”

      as:

      “and maybe I should start vodka a few weeks before”

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        That could work too, lol,
        As it turned out, I ended up taking zoloft starting that March, and I’m still on it.
        eta: I decided to get my own nym rather than borrowing the spouse’s nym.

  • sdsures

    Zapped them again! Love you!

  • CSN0116

    Awww shit. You’ve up and done it now, Dr. T. Love it!

    • Sarah

      Indeed. There are times when one wishes Gina would return.