You know pressure to breastfeed is intolerable when Kim Kardashian can’t own her decision to quit

Pressure

First we heard that the singer Adele, a smart, powerful woman, found the pressure to breastfeed “fu**ing ridiculous.”

Now comes evidence that even Kim Kardashian is vulnerable to that same intolerable pressure. Kardashian, another extroardinarily powerful woman, could not bring herself to own her decision to stop breastfeeding her son Saint. Instead she blamed her two year old for “forcing” her to quit.

She blamed her two year old for “forcing” her to quit.

According to Yahoo News, North West Forced Kim Kardashian To Stop Breastfeeding Baby Saint:

…Kim has now admitted that she was forced to stop breastfeeding Saint because her two-year-old daughter, North, was getting too jealous…

Speaking on her sister’s chat show Kocktails With Khloe, Kim explained: “North West stopped that for me. You’ll die when I tell you what she did. First of all she’d cry so much and try to pull him off me.

Kim quit and then North had a change of heart:

“She said to me this weekend: ‘Mummy, I’m not mad anymore. You can feed baby brother and I won’t cry.’ And I was like: ‘Honey, the milk’s all dried up.’”

I don’t believe for an instant that North “forced” Kim to quit. Toddlers are often jealous of baby siblings and are not shy about expressing that jealousy. I’ve heard everything from “let’s send the baby back to the hospital!” to “let’s throw the baby in the trash!”

It never occurred to me, nor to any other mother of young children, to take directions from a toddler on how to treat a baby. I suspect that if North had begged her mother to put the baby in the closet, she wouldn’t have done it. And I suspect that if North begs her mother not to go out for work or celebrity appearances, Kardashian does not give in. It is not credible that she stopped breastfeeding Saint because North made her do it.

Kardashian stopped breastfeeding Saint because SHE wanted to stop breastfeeding. Perhaps she found it painful; perhaps she found it inconvenient; perhaps she wanted her body back; or perhaps she had no specific reason at all. It ought to be her choice to use her breasts when and how she wishes to use them.

But it’s not. The breastfeeding industry, including lactation consultants, La Leche League, and the so-called Baby Friendly Hospital Iniative have struggling mightily to thoroughly moralize breastfeeding. They’ve exaggerated the benefits far beyond what the scientific evidence shows. They conjured speculative “risks” to formula feeding. Most importantly, they’ve drummed it into everyone’s heads that the “good” mother breastfeeds.

Not every mother can breastfeed (5-15% of women don’t make enough breastmilk) and not every mother wants to breastfeed or breastfeed for an extended amount of time. But the pressure to breastfeed is crushing. Adele couldn’t bear it and apparently Kim Kardashian can’t bear it, either.

The ultimate irony is that breastfeeding has nothing to do with being a good mother. Breastfeeding is one of two excellent ways to feed an infant. Two generations of Americans were raised nearly entirely on infant formula and infant health parameters improved steadily during that time period. Breastfeeding is integral to the philosophy of attachment parenting, but the psychologists who elucidated Attachment Theory never looked at what an infant was fed, merely that it was fed. They found that mother-infant attachment occurred spontaneously when the “good enough” mother met the baby’s needs for food, protection and love. No special foods or parenting behaviors are required.

You know the pressure to breastfeed has become intolerable with Kim Kardashian is afraid to own her own decision to stop. If powerful women like Kardashian are being crushed by the pressure, average women don’t stand a chance.

We’ve got to push back against the breastfeeding industry that has moralized breastfeeding and return women’s breasts to women’s control.

  • Sarah

    OT, but has anyone seen this?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36120247

    Poor baby had a lucky escape, it must surely have been a bacteria soup!

    • Amazed

      I can’t believe this mother. Frozen milk? Milk that can become liquid indeed? Courting all the bacteria to celebrate? 15 litres of
      breastmilk expressed who know how long before lugged along in a plane? They probably saved this baby’s health but the crybaby of a mother wouldn’t know it, of course, because – liquid gold. Taking food off her child’s mouth? Perhaps she should have gone to a dramatic school. And her faithful cheerleeding crowd, hugging her and being “so sorry”. Doesn”t any of them have an ounce of sense?

      • Sarah

        The bit about taking food out of her baby’s mouth especially perturbed me. She presumably is taking her breasts back home with her.

    • Toni35

      I’m torn on this…. Yes, 500 oz is an absurd amount and I understand TSA (or the UK equivalent) putting limits on the amount of breastmilk a person can carry on. But why should a woman have to have her baby with her in order to bring back milk she pumped on a trip? If the milk is solidly frozen and kept that way (well iced, in a cooler), or even fresh but kept cool, it shouldn’t pose a risk to the baby (freshly expressed milk can be kept for up to 24 hours in a cooler). In this case, yeah most of that 500 oz had likely already “expired” anyway (and if it does thaw while travelling it needs to be used within 24 hours), but what about more reasonable amounts? 100 ml is appx 3 oz, and I don’t know how many 3 oz bags of breastmilk you can fit into a right sized clear plastic bag, along with whatever other toiletry items you are carrying on. If she had only been forced to toss out 20 oz, would that change things?

      • AA

        Here are the TSA rules about breastmilk, formula, and juice

        https://www.tsa.gov/node/1947

      • Sarah

        Well, one good reason is that it goes against the flight safety regulations that have been in place, for very good reason, since 2006. Nobody was stopping her checking in liquids, frozen solid breastmilk or the mixture of the two she apparently had. She could’ve put it in her hold baggage, however unwise it might be to feed it to her baby when she got home. Nobody was stopping her bringing in pumped milk with her (although it might have been a different story in Australia!). She just didn’t want to pay for it.

        If you actually have a baby with you and it’s a long flight, you can take enough for the journey in 100ml bottles. There is a reason the rules are as they are. A 14kg block of ice or whatever it was could be a pretty usefully lethal weapon in the right hands. Of course nobody should be allowed to bring that on a plane! Even assuming the person wanting to bring it on doesn’t have violent intentions, and that’s not an assumption security should ever make, if it fell out of the overhead locker it could kill someone. If this woman had been allowed to do what she wanted to do, next time anyone wants to hijack a plane using liquids as part of their plan, they just say it’s breastmilk and they’re all clear.

        • Amazed

          Last month, the bus I was in had to make a sharp turn to avoid a huge gaping hole in the road. A heavy hand baggage flew from the designated space overhead and slid half the way down the isle. I actually saw it fall. For a terrible moment, I thought it would hit someone. I spent the rest of the trip nervously looking above my head for my own hand baggage and that of the people closest to me.

          There are reasons why hand baggage should be limited in size and weight. As you say, it could be a lethal weapon in the right hands – or just in the hands of blind chance, like a sudden maneuvre. Almost 15 litres of frozen substance is not safe for anyone – and I guess it wasn’t the only hand baggage this woman carried.

          No way should it have been allowed on board this way.

    • Megan

      I don’t understand why she couldn’t have just put the frozen milk in her checked luggage. Depending on the length of the trip and how you pack it, you probably could have ti stay frozen for the entirety of many flights. I mean, it really sucks to have that much milk pitched (probably more than I was able to pump my entire 7 month breastfeeding experience with my daughter) but those are the rules and have been for quite some time. My parents were pretty disappointed when they were forced to dump an entire 2L bottle of tequila on their way back from Mexico too (and some would call that liquid gold as well!) but that’s how it goes when you don’t follow the rules. TSA doesn’t care.

      • Sarah

        Presumably a mixture of not wanting to pay for it and special snowflakeism. With a bit of white privilege in there maybe: she doesn’t look like a terrorist after all!

    • Who?
      • Sarah

        See, that wouldn’t bother me really. Occasionally, women on long flights are going to have to pump to maintain supply and/or prevent engorgement. For how often this would happen, it’s not realistic or fair to expect an airline to maintain a separate pumping room on a plane. The cost of reducing the seats by 3 or whatever would be passed on to passengers, and if there was no dedicated room but women weren’t allowed to pump in their seat, I wouldn’t be happy to wait 15 minutes for the toilet because someone was expressing in there. The best solution all round is clearly such women pumping in their seats, since the other two options would inconvenience other flyers more. I suppose I wouldn’t like the noise if someone were doing it overnight, but no more or less so than eg a whiny toddler or a snorer, and those are both parts of the general public that you don’t have the right to not encounter if you go on a public plane.

        There aren’t the same security concerns with freshly pumped milk either. The woman could either chuck it if she’s pumping and dumping, or put it in small bottles and freeze it using a cool bag she’s brought on as hand luggage allowance.

  • swbarnes2

    I have to say, I’m not thrilled with the topic of this article. It’s one thing to say of a woman’s story “Her medical claims about her pregnancy/childbirth are greatly at odds with the scientific evidence, and the medical specifics given”. But that isn’t this. If any woman says “This is why I stopped”, we really should start with the premise that the woman is accurately representing her feelings, and respect what she says about her own feelings.
    Really, all this does is give the NCB’ers ammo to say “Dr. Amy doesn’t listen to or care what women say about their breastfeeding experience; she accuses them of lying under the pressure of a sinister cabal of pushers if their reasoning doesn’t fit with her narrative.”

    • Who?

      I get that.

      I thought it was interesting she offered a reason/excuse at all. Rather than just saying nothing specific about feeding, or saying ‘She’s loving her bottles’ or whatever, and leaving it at that.

      The fact she felt the need to mention it, then explain it, might well be part of the issue Dr T is highlighting.

  • niteseer

    I worked in a newborn nursery (back when such things existed!) and I can recall a day when a female pediatrician blew up because a mother only planned to breastfeed until she returned to work, because pumping at work would be too difficult. The mother was a flight attendant. I can just imagine her trying to pump (where, in the galley? In that coffin sized toilet? in between her duties, which keep her busy for hours with no stop). The pediatrician shouted “Why do these mothers even have babies, if they aren’t going to take care of them?”

    I wanted to point out (but didn’t, because I wanted to keep my job) that many mothers would judge her the same way. Her baby was just a few months old, and she was working, not bringing it to work with her and wearing it in a sling all day, and she wasn’t planning to quit work to home school it, or any of the many things that a “good” mother is “supposed” to do.

    So, in her eyes, unless you planned to breastfeed your baby, you shouldn’t even be bringing it into the world.

    • Chi

      And sadly that is the battle cry of a lot of lactivists even now.

      It doesn’t matter to them if you’re a survivor of sexual trauma and are triggered by anything touching your breast. It doesn’t matter if you have to return to work because you need 2 incomes to survive. It doesn’t matter that you just plain don’t want to breastfeed or, god forbid, want your partner to have a hand in the feedings.

      To them, if you’re not even going to TRY to breastfeed you are automatically a ‘shitmom’.

    • Erin

      That was partly why I didn’t go back to work. Whilst in theory my employer was hugely supportive of pumping, in practice I spent 90% of the day out the office in such fun locations as police stations, psychiatric hospitals, homeless shelters and drop ins. As much as the law might be okay with me sitting down in a room full of policemen, social workers and doctors, saying hi and then whipping the breast pump out, I wouldn’t be.

      Although when we were in the office we had to share a fridge with 5 other milk stealing teams, so when a colleague came back from maternity leave we decanted our milk into bottles with breast milk labels which stopped the thievery almost instantly. It did mean we got some weird looks when making our tea though…

  • Mariana

    Talking about toddler jealousy… My 2 year-old was so jealous of her baby brother that she would drink whatever breast milk I could manage to express (I always tried to express some during the day so my husband could feed him one bottle at night). She hated the taste (I could see her gag), but she drank it all… Just to be like her baby brother. I had to hide some milk from her to save it for the bottle at night… Then I switched to giving him formula once or twice a day.

  • BeatriceC

    Random thoughts from the Evil Attack Parrot ™:

    Why don’t you silly humans just eat and then throw up in your babies’ mouths? It’s far easier that way!

    • AirPlant

      Random thought from my cat: “have you considered eating your young?”

      • BeatriceC

        Now that I have teenagers, I have to say your cat might be on to something.

  • D’s Squirrel Food

    On the same topic, some sad thoughts from an ashamed formula feeder.

    http://www.rebeccasumner.com/home/shame-is-a-thiefor-misadventures-in-early-parenthood

    She’s using “toddler formula” for her infant. Is there a substantial difference between infant formula and toddler formula, or is that just marketing?

    • rh1985

      Infant formula has a stricter FDA approval process.

    • There

      I think in this case it’s just marketing. This company wants to appeal to the crunchies by making a big deal of not marketing to infants. Not sure about mainstream toddler formulas though.

    • swbarnes2

      I think the consensus is that most toddlers should be able to get enough nutrition from solid foods and regular whole milk starting at about age 1, so they don’t need expensive toddler formula. Its just a gimmick to keep parents buying formula.

    • Mrs.Katt the Cat

      I was reading the nutritional values between the newborn 0-3mo and infant 3mo+ for the same brand, trying to decide how much newborn to buy before going to infant. Only 2 listed nutrients were off by a bit, don’t remember which ones. I didn’t see much of a difference.

      Maybe toddler formula is designed as a supplement for older babies that also eat other foods?

  • namaste863

    Could you lovelies explain to me how these morons ever became famous? Yes, Robert Kardashian was part of OJ’s “Dream Team,” but he’s way long gone, so how did that translate to a trashy reality tv show?

    • MaineJen

      I honestly have no idea. I don’t know what they do or why they do it, and I’ve never seen their show (shows?). They seem awful. But people seem to like them.

    • demodocus

      Um, nope. Never heard of them until another show I ran across was mocking various reality tv and talk shows.

    • Charybdis

      Oh, but it is a trashy reality tv show empire! Keeping Up With the Kardashians! Kim and Kourtney Take The Hamptons! Kourtney and Khloe Take Manhattan! Kocktails With Khloe! I think there have been a couple more.

      No, I don’t watch them, I just see them as I’m scrolling through the cable guide on TV. I think a lot of it started with Kim’s sex tape and the size of her ass (is it real? How does she wear clothes?).

      Add into that Mom-ager Kris, stepdad/mom Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn Jenner, two younger girls itching to get famous, well, voila! Instant reality tv empire.

    • Sean Jungian

      Well, AFAIK, they – Kim and her mother, at least – are kind of marketing geniuses. Yes, there was Robert Kardashian and the fame of OJ (Kris was Nicole Brown’s friend), but also Kim made a sex tape with a young man and she’s just been able to capitalize on that. They optimized their network – people they knew, friendships – and leveraged a little bit of notoriety into pretty much gargantuan hate-fame.

      I really don’t get the hate for them. I mean, yes, they are vapid, shallow, etc. – as far as we’re shown – but they’ve parlayed some iffy situations into solid gold. That alone gets some respect from me.

      I don’t follow them and I don’t really know why anyone would, but I’m AWARE of them, certainly. I don’t think a single one of them gives a microscopic shit that everyone in the U.S. seems to hate them. They seem to love each other. To all appearances, Kim and Khourtney are pretty good moms. I like the Khloe girl because she’s just tall and gangly and I think she’s pretty funny. Their family seems fairly important to each of them.

    • MI Dawn

      To be honest, I wouldn’t know any of them if I was next to them in the street. I’ve heard the names, and that’s really all. But I am still appalled at what they named their children. North and Saint? Really? I feel sorry for the kids as they get older. The teasing will be merciless.

      • MaineJen

        Nope; those kids will be surrounded by handlers for the rest of their lives.

    • AA

      Kim Kardashian was way ahead of the pack when it came to social media. For example, it’s now very common to have Youtube videos and websites about what makeup individuals use to make certain “looks”, beauty products people use, etc. Kim was doing that on her personal website way before that was a mainstream thing. Before that, celebrities did not reach out directly to individuals in the way they do now on Twitter or other media platforms. So you could leave a comment on Kim’s website “Hey, what lipstick shade do you wear?” and she would make a blog post about. The Kardashians have been on the forefront of selfie and social media culture, and have profited from it.

  • Kq

    Damnit, I kind of hate that I have to keep being all “Yay Kim Kardashian” because I thoroughly dislike the lifestyle she endorses. But she keeps being reasonable about motherhood.

    Damn this blog, continuing to challenge my preconceived notions…

    • AirPlant

      You know, I actually have a huge soft spot for Kim Kardashian. Like she is objectively terrible, but she has found a way to make a metric fuck ton of money off of it and not change a single thing about her life or her self and that is kind of something I can get behind.

      • MaineJen

        Kind of like “I don’t agree with what you’re saying in any way, shape or form, but I respect the hell out of you for saying it.”

        • AirPlant

          I am also a sucker for a good love story, and she and Kanye seem genuinely head over heals in love with one another. These two emotionally stunted narcissists with absolutely no redeeming qualities found each other in this crazy world and their love has to be some kind of intensely unconditional whirlwind for them to not only put up with the other but stay so transparently enraptured with each other and with the life that they are building together and that just makes me believe in true love.
          .
          That said, I really miss Kim’s old face, and she needs to stop letting Kanye put her in beige bodysuits. True love is one thing, crimes of fashion are another.

      • Mishimoo

        I also love that she keeps her money separate from Kanye’s which has sparked conversation about the idea, and hopefully that will keep people from being screwed over (as much) if their partner walks out.

        • Sonja Henie

          I think many professional women keep their money separate from their spouse’s. I’m talking women of Kim’s financial means, mind you.

      • Dr Kitty

        I get that.
        Sort of “Good for you, playing to your strengths, working with what you have, and doing the best you can”.

        Which, by the way, is a very useful compliment which you can use in those “I can’t think of anything nice to say, but I can’t stay quiet” moments.

  • Amy

    “Two generations of Americans were raised nearly entirely on infant
    formula and infant health parameters improved steadily during that time
    period.”

    And the most ironic thing? The woo crowd loves, LOVES, to crow about the “alarming” rates of autism and allergies today, and compare them unfavorable to rates in the mid to late 20th century. When most babies had formula, people smoked in cars, and cry-it-out was par for the course. So if correlation really did imply causation, one could conclude that AP practices, extended breastfeeding, and an all-natural diet are to blame for these alarming rates.

  • guest

    A woman of Kardashian’s means can easily afford to have a mother’s helper or whatever else to keep her toddler busy while she nurses. She was not in any way “forced” to stop nursing Saint because of her older child’s jealousy.

    If the only reason she stopped breastfeeding is because she wanted to spend more time with her toddler, that’s totally fine. I can’t stand her media personality, but she shouldn’t have to justify her choice like this.

  • Zornorph

    Maybe Kanye wanted her boobs back? No, scratch that thought, he’s a gay fish.

  • Megan

    I actually can kind of buy her argument. I felt extreme guilt when my now almost 6 week old latched on immediately and well and I did try the breastfeed her, much finger sister’s dismay. I felt guilty because i could never breastfeed my older daughter well. She never latched until she was months old and even then it was a poor latch and I had very little milk. This is one of the ways that the breastfeeding=bonding argument backfires. None of us wants to play favorites with our kids. She hated that I nursed my younger daughter and I felt guilty splitting my attentions and so a small part of my reason for quitting was my toddler. I believe Fearless Formula Feeder mentioned this as part of her reason for FF her second as well.
    http://www.fearlessformulafeeder.com/2011/01/the-big-reveal/

  • AirPlant

    It is common knowledge that Kim had a boob job, right? Like no judgment, she looks great and seems happy, but breast surgery of any kind complicates breastfeeding. If I had to make a guess I would probably say the toddler gambit is a cover for “the most recent boob job means that anything touching my nipples feels like numb and nervy fire and the idea of using them as a chew toy for my infant son for even one more day makes me want to throw him into a well” and I think we all know how well that soundbite would go over in the media.

    • Amy M

      Couldn’t breast surgery also interfere with milk production? Reduction for sure, but could augmentation also?

      • AirPlant

        It can, but I think it depends on the surgery type? Like a lift will because they cut off and move the nipple, but a submuscular implant will probably be just fine? My entire knowledge of breast enhancement comes from my mom who got a hatchet job in her early thirties and made me promise to never ever ever do the same.

  • yentavegan

    I sympathize with Kim,( never thought I’d ever write that sentence). Wealthy privileged mothers are expected to breastfeed. Breastfeeding has become our standard to bare, our obligation of nobility. For wealthy privileged mothers you better have some good excuse for not breastfeeding. Pain, or inconvenience are not acceptable reasons for formula feeding. For Kim Kardashian her only safe out is to blame the emotional needs of her toddler. We’ll buy that.

    • Spamamander

      The irony being it used to be only the peasants who nursed their babies, that was for farm animals! I can’t be seen doing something so base and vile, that is for the wet nurse! Then later it “poor women nurse, wealthy women buy formula”. How the feelings towards women shape the narrative.

      • yentavegan

        indeed. The narrative has changed dramatically.

      • Sean Jungian

        Same with things like lobster – once a bottom-feeding animal that only the filthy poors would eat, now considered a delicacy. Same for oysters, sushi, sweetbreads, etc.

        • AirPlant

          So I like to make what I call my “White Trash Cheese Plate” where I pair fancy cheeses with cheap snacks whenever I have to bring something to a party and I was feeling super clever because whether you know it or not fruit snacks pair amazingly well with a nice gouda and pretzel goldfish crackers are like magic in chevre, but then I went to a trendy type restaurant and they had the exact same thing on the menu and I am completely horrorstruck that the fancies are taking away my cheeseplate.
          .
          The proletariat will rise over this injustice, mark my words.

          • Phoenix Fourleaf

            Genius ideas won’t be held back for long.

          • Megan

            Can I steal your idea for our next get together (whenever that may be, with a toddler and a newborn)?

          • AirPlant

            OMG, that cheese plate goes over super well with toddlers! Just double up of the cheep stuff and cut up some string cheese and mozzarella pearls and make a mini plate and then put pictures on facebook of your little one being pretentious. If you can get them to hold a mini wine bottle all the better!

          • Megan

            That is awesome. My daughter loves to pull the bottle of Angostura bitters off the shelf. (Maybe cause it’s her size?) Maybe we’ll snap a pic with that as we have no use for any less than a full-sized bottle of wine around here these days!

          • AirPlant

            Full size is even better! I have a picture of my friend’s kid at about two in a giant foofy dress, holding a giant wine bottle and throwing a fit and I will treasure it all my days.