Check out my Reddit AMA and the Slate piece on Push Back

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Sorry I’ve been AWOL this morning, but I’ve spent 6 hours furiously typing answers to hundreds of questions on a Reddit Ask Me Anything.

You can read it here:

Dr. Amy’s Reddit AMA

Also, Elissa Strauss of Slate interviewed me for this piece that was just posted:

Birth Is Not Performance Art

  • lawyer jane

    I loved this Reddit! There’s something to be said about the more informal conversational approach. Have you ever thought about doing a podcast?

  • Tilly McBride

    I am SO happy to have found your voice! As a mother to two boys (8 and 6) both born by C-section (fail no.1) and both fed formula (fail no. 2) you cannot begin to imagine how much pleasure and reassurance I took from the Slate and Reddit pieces. THANK YOU!! By the way, I further failed by having two boys and no girls, but that’s another story.

  • Elisabetta Aurora

    Dr. Amy, is there a place where I can email you questions that might not be covered in your blog or book?

    Specifically, I remember once you saying that the television was always on in your house. I have always had a no television rule, but I am pregnant with the second and am very sick a lot. I don’t have the energy to entertain my toddler that I had a few months ago and I find that a cartoon here and there gets me much needed sleep, baths, or a date with the toilet (I mean to vomit).

    I have been feeling guilty about this and would really love to be told that it’s okay. But maybe it’s not. Sometimes I let her watch up to three hours a day (not in one chunk but broken up throughout the day) and she is only 2. I do try to interact and play with her whenever I can. I try to be balanced, but sometimes I think I’m slipping and letting her watch more and more.

    Is this just something I’m feeling guilty about unnecessarily like so many other things about intensive mothering? I remember the TV always being on in my house growing up and both my brother and I have college degrees.

    • MI Dawn

      We often had the TV on when my children were little, or put in videos (Winnie the Pooh were favorites), or Disney channel. While I vetted what the kids watched, I never thought they’d be damaged by TV time, as long as it wasn’t constant. Since you interact with your toddler, I think you’re fine. You’re not neglecting or ignoring her.

      I hate that parents today feel guilty for needing “me” time. If I had to put the kid in a playpen to get things done (shower, vomit, or nap), I did it. And both my kids grew up healthy, happy, well-attached, and college degrees.

      Take it easy on yourself. A happy mother is much more important to the toddler than your constant attention. She can learn to amuse herself with TV, lots of cardboard books to “read”, pots, pans, and toys.

    • cookiebaker

      I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my first two kids, so when I was pregnant with the 2nd, you better believe I used the TV to entertain my first when I was feeling sick (all the time!)

      I have 6 kids and we don’t limit screen time. As long as chores and schoolwork are done, they can spend their leisure watching TV or playing on a tablet, if they want. Even when the older kids are at school, I often leave the tv on for my toddler and preschooler. They still have access to toys, crafts and a fenced yard, if they choose.

      We’re a family of introverts and I strongly encourage the kids to play with each other or independently rather than depend on an adult for entertainment. I’m constantly interacting with the kids all day, but I very rarely sit down and play with them. The TV hasn’t seemed to do any harm. My oldest is in high school. Of the ones I have in school, they have good study habits, normal social skills, great report cards, they play sports, they have normal body weights and have all tested into the gifted program. So lifetime access to the Disney channel has not made them fat, stupid or unable to interact with their peers.

      Go easy on yourself, Elisabetta. Do whatever you need to get through the day.

      • Elisabetta Aurora

        Thanks!

        I have HG too. I’m due June 15th and I’m still vomiting. I have medication which works, but knocks me out – hence multiple catnaps throughout the day. We completely and thoroughly childproofed our home after a horrible scare once where I woke up to find her squirting an entire bottle of toilet bowl cleaner over her head. I felt terrible about that too. So the cartoons make me feel a little bit safer since I always worry there is one cabinet somewhere that I might have forgotten to check. With the cartoons, I know she’ll sit quietly for 30-40 min.

    • demodocus

      I’m depressed and not incidentally pregnant with #2. I’m afraid her big brother ends up watching quite a lot of tv, too. You seem to be balancing fairly well.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      It’s fine. You’re taking care of your toddler and yourself and using the tools at hand to do so. If you don’t want her watching cartoons all day, see if she’s into nature shows. I watched quite a lot of David Attenborough with my kiddo when she was a toddler. Animals sometimes hold their attention. If she prefers Dora, don’t sweat that either.

    • guest

      I sometimes feel guilty about how much TV my toddlers watch, but I’m A) a single parent, and B) a media scholar. It’s impossible for me to not have them watch TV. I also grew up watching way more TV than the current recommendations, and I don’t think my growth was stunted. Your kid will be fine. When you have the energy, you will turn it off and interact with her (and eventually them). You can also make TV viewing less passive by integrating it into your conversations with your daughter and the play you do at other times. I use TV a lot to cook dinner, so I have my toddlers tell me about what they watched as we eat, like asking friends about a movie they saw recently.

      • Elisabetta Aurora

        Thanks!

        I like that idea as well and will try it!

      • DelphiniumFalcon

        I was the kid with a lot of screen time because of my mom’s repeat miscarriages in short succession and then hyperemesis gravidarum she couldn’t exactly chase me around all the time. Dad was working usually holding up power lines so he couldn’t exactly drop and run when needed.

        Im really going to date myself with these examples to any younger commented but I actually have a lot of good memories of that time and didnt really know Mom was sick. We played a lot of CalecoVision together and I had Sesame Street games on the NES that kept me occupied for hours and I was at least learning things. The shape games helped a lot with my spacial awareness.l, actually. When Dad was home or Mom was feeling good there’s quite a few videos of me happily dancing away to MTV.

        Dad also taught me to use the computer with a custom DOS set up when I was about three where I’d just press a number and it would load my games. I had tons and they did help a lot in helping keep me occupied when Mom was sick. Tons of letters/reading and math games. He also gave me the old betamax and showed me how to use it so I could watch Winnie the Pooh and change the tapes myself and rewind and fast forward without having to force someone to get up. Plus Dad and I loved Looney Toons and we bonded a lot watching them. And I only have the slightest want to drop anvils on people! But with the whackos that come parachuting in here I doubt Looney Toons is sorely to blame.

        My mom and dad were still very involved in my life but for that year and a half time it could be harder than other times when my dad was just a beginning journeyman lineman and my mom had all those reproductive issues that just take so much out of you physically and emotionally. I don’t resent them for using the tools they had. Mom was finally able to have my sister, she and Dad decided two kids were good, and Mom was able to focus on us without driving her health into the ground trying to have another baby.

        And well a love for for computers and video games led to my husband and I meeting on a gaming fan site online so it wasn’t all a wash since my parents absolutely adore him too.

    • lawyer jane

      Don’t worry about it! 3 hours split up when you’re pregnant or nursing does not seem crazy to me. I don’t even have the excuse of another baby, but I let my 3.5 year old regularly watch so I can make dinner, straighten up the house, drink coffee and read the paper for a few minutes on a Sunday … I try to cap it at 1 hour on weekdays and 2 hrs on the weekends, but in your situation I would not have the least problem with doing a little more. I’d say the vast majority of my mom friends do the same thing … and they are all highly educated, highly conscientious moms.

      Also, something people don’t usually talk about, I think that TV is actually a good thing for my kid! It’s fun for him and he gets to relax. Sometimes we watch a show I also like together and it’s bonding fun for us. It also sparks his imagination – we have lots of conversations about the characters and tell stories about them later on. As they get older they can also actually learn from educational programming. Not to mention, I’ve learned some good parenting tips myself from Daniel Tiger!

      • Elisabetta Aurora

        Thanks for this!

        I was wondering also if it might in fact be a little bit good for her too. We are a bilingual family and so I always have her watch the cartoons in German because I figure since I’m home with her all day she is getting more English. I’ve noticed that since I’ve been letting her watch cartoons she has been speaking a lot more German. So I think it might even out the playing field a tad between her papa and me. I also care a lot about content. I always have her watch Netflix rather than regular television with commercials and I avoid violent or otherwise age inappropriate stuff.

    • Charybdis

      I wouldn’t worry about it too much. We almost always had the TV on (still do, a lot of the time) and we watched a wide variety of stuff. Nova, Mythbusters, Through the Wormhole, Cosmos, Animal Planet shows, Outrageous Acts of Science, How It’s Made, Dirty Jobs, Forensic Files, a whole gamut of interesting, mostly educational type shows. It helps that DH and I love those types of shows, so it was what we would be watching anyway. DS loved (and still does love) to watch those type shows. He’ll ask questions about what we’ve seen on commercials and we will discuss and talk about *whatever*: dog breeds, cat breeds, dog training, electricity, Lake Erie Water Snake, whatever.

      I also think it is good to let kids see that we adults can and do watch TV, enjoy it and sometimes watch something that is purely indulgent. It helps in teaching/modeling moderation. Nothing wrong with taking a couple of “fuckitols” and watching Hogan’s Heroes or Carol Burnette on ME TV.

    • Angharad

      I have happy memories of watching tv and movies as a child. It was a shared experience with my siblings and we would pretend to be our favorite characters. On weekends we would have family movie nights and my dad would make popcorn and my mom would make ice cream sundaes and we would snack and watch. It’s hard for me to believe that something that created genuinely lovely memories for me can be so bad for children (this is how I justify to my husband that our toddler watches tv occasionally even though she’s in the under-two forbidden age range).

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      You know, there can be a lot of hours in a day, and you can do your best to entertain your kid through stimulating activities, but there is only so much that can be done. Even for parents who are feeling well. Especially for an only child, who you can’t expect to have self-directed play on their own for too long. So what can you do?

      For screen time, what I’ve always said is that kids TV today is so much better than when I was little. I remember in first grade watching TV game shows when I was home from school. My kids would never do that now, because they don’t have to. Some combination of Sprout TV, Disney Jr and PBS Kids will provide entertainment and it is generally kid appropriate (Disney Jr daytime is not always so).

      3 hrs a day and not all in a chunk? No biggie. I would only make sure to turn the TV off during mealtime. Family meals without distraction are a good habit to create.

      But jeez, think of the day. Let’s say you have a good sleeper who sleeps 12 hours at night and takes an hour nap. Three meals might get you 2 more hours. That’s still 9 hours that you have to occupy with something to do. A 2 yo doesn’t have the attention span for long-time self-directed play. Maybe you can get them to play by themselves for an hour. That’s STILL 8 hours that you are having to entertain them. So they watch 3 hours of TV? Do you really think that 5 hours of playtime interactions with you per day are not enough? Heck, you could even sit with them and watch TV together in places, where you could talk and still interact, and it doesn’t count the mealtime interactions.

      • Elisabetta Aurora

        You’re right. It’s a lot of hours to fill. The funny thing is, sometimes I get the impression that she doesn’t mind that I’m sick. I spend a lot of time reading to her. It’s my favorite activity at this point because it means I can lay on the couch with her. Other activities are sitting in the window and talking about the birdies. So many birdies. It’s her favorite. Our one major outing is a daily walk to the grocery store. If I’m having a good day, we walk to the park and I sit and let her play. When I was healthy, I was always on the go doing something. I’m a pretty active person normally and I was always cramming as much into a day as I could. Now that I’ve been sick for months, things have slowed way, way down, but weirdly, she seems happier.

      • Jules B

        I used to do that sort of “how much time will X and Y take up?” math every day with my (only) child, haha. Now she is almost four and can entertain herself pretty well, and she is in preschool two mornings a week, it is not too bad…but those rainy winter days when she was between 18 months-2.5 years old were LONG. Before I had her, I thought it would be easy-peasy to stick to the “no screens until two” rule but I caved at around 19-20 months (Elmo was the gateway drug, hah). As you say, there are so many hours to fill. Nowadays she gets about 2 hours a day (split up into smaller chunks), and I have mostly left the guilt behind because I really do so much with her throughout the day – park outings, walks, play gyms, crafts, helping me cook etc etc. She is active, happy, healthy, verbal and smart – clearly her time with Toopy and Bino (a Canadian kids show that is bonkers, but in a good way) has not done her any harm thus far.

  • Susan

    Both excellent. I have to admit I smiled reading the answer about your true self being more the voice in your book. I can’t wait to read it! Congrats!

  • Rachele Willoughby

    I’ll have you know, there was laundry to fold and exams to study for in my house today!

    No really, I learned some cool stuff today and I can’t wait until the book arrives tomorrow.

  • Liz Leyden

    I don’t do Reddit, but I liked the Slate piece.

    • canaduck

      You can read the reddit link without an account, fwiw.

  • Jules B

    Slightly off-topic, and apologies if this has been linked before, but does anyone have any thoughts on the new breastfeeding study out of Brazil published in The Lancet? A number of news outlets have covered it, here is one link: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/18/brazil-longer-babies-breastfed-more-achieve-in-life-major-study (I wanted to read the study itself but it is behind a paywall, it seems). Thoughts?
    Edited to add: Oops, maybe not such a new study…in any case, the article I read first (not the one I just linked to, cannot find the one I read initially, argh) was published today and referenced the same stat of “800,000 babies could be saved a year by breastfeeding.” Which seems an…odd claim.

  • momofone

    Wonderful! I’m still reading, but I love what you’ve done!

  • Deborah

    Absolutely bloody brilliant. Dr Amy, you have made my day. Congratulations!
    Haven’t time now to read all those comments but what a wonderful response. I looking forward to coming home and going through them all.

  • Alenushka

    Thank you so much for mentioning improving care for patients who do not speak English. Their care is often lacking and it is rarely mentioned by anyone.

  • BeatriceC

    I’m working my way through the AMA slowly but surely. I think I’ve gotten to the point where the NCB crowd swarms in. It angers me to the point where I have to walk away. Maybe it’s a good thing I slept through the AMA itself and couldn’t participate live.

    • Valerie

      Yeah. I wanted to get a reddit account just to respond to some of them- particularly the ones asserting that the formula industry “depends 100% on convincing mothers not to breastfeed.” What utter nonsense! That’s like saying that “the automobile industry depends 100% on convincing people not to use greener transportation like public transportation, walking, or cycling.” People have preferences. Beyond that, there is a pretty long list of circumstances where exclusive breastfeeding is not a legal or healthy option, and some cases where special formula is the only food allowing a baby to thrive. No convincing necessary.

    • DelphiniumFalcon

      Gotta love when the BA in anthropology came crashing in claiming to “expose” Dr. Amy and no don’t listen to her listen to meeeeee!

      My best friend has a BA in anthropology with an emphasis in cultural myths and how they came about. If I asked her to give me expert advice on how to raise a child, the microbiome, and to correct an MD she’d probably laugh for a full minute before giving me that “wtf is wrong with you?” look and say, “No.”

      • D/

        I really thought that might be Kathy Dettwyler for a sec until I noticed the B.A. designation … She’s got a real thing for those “Dr Evil” “air quotes” around every other word too.

        Speaking of evil, she’s back at it again offering up her exquisitely simple solution of ‘Don’t have children’ to women who don’t want to breastfeed … and describing making the choice to formula feed as abuse and neglect comparable to giving a kid access to guns, bleach, and pit bulls.

        She is truly a vicious piece of work.

  • CSN0116

    And Dr. T, can I just say this – I don’t consider an OBGYN an “authority” on infant feeding or childrearing practices – no (though I *do* grant you authority regarding child birth, epidurals, home birth, etc.). HOWEVER, what I feel you actually bring to the table, which makes you 100% relevant, is the level of education and training (no matter how “outdated”) necessary to critically analyze and interpret information, and provide feedback. At the end of the day, that’s what you do here. You look at “highly praised” scientific evidence and you discuss it for what it’s worth. Why that’s so goddam offensive is beyond me. And you are more than qualified to do that. (It just helps that you do it exceptionally well ;))

    A lot of people are “qualified” to do what you do, they just don’t have the balls.

  • mostlyclueless

    I loved the AMA. Just a suggestion, if you end up going back to it, I think some links to your more data-driven posts would be popular.

    • CSN0116

      I agree. Though how does one “prove” that natural parenting is a dominant ideology? I don’t think any study has ever counted up the parenting ideologies people identify with, one-by-one. The fact that some of those posters are so argumentative that they can’t realize that natural parenting initiatives can be observed as woven throughout policies, recommendations, blogs, baby registries , physician’s offices, millions of comments online …that they don’t need to be “quantified” …it’s just frustrating.

      And you can see when all the lactivists got tipped off that Dr. T was hosting. They swarmed in and just started making the same fucking accusations and comments, over and over and over.

      I learned a lot in the AMA – mostly that society is not, by any means, comfortable with having the current status quo challenged! It pisses them straight off.

      • mostlyclueless

        Well, I think the things that are not answerable by science need not be addressed. Where data exist to substantiate a position, I think it best to supply them.