False dichotomy: the favorite logical fallacy of the natural childbirth and breastfeeding industries


Natural childbirth advocates and lactivists don’t do nuance. For them, everything is black or white. You’re either with them or against them.

Consider the response of The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to my comments on their recent piece It’s time to disarm the formula industry.

The piece itself is a classic example of rallying the faithful by invoking an outside enemy. Rather than take responsibility for the shaming and humiliation of women and the outrageous exaggerations of the purported benefits of breastfeeding, both integral to lactivism, professional lactivists try to divert attention from their own deceptions and deficiencies by blaming their failures on “the other.”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If you aren’t agreeing, you’re “bullying.”[/pullquote]

When I tried to direct them back on track — demanding scientific evidence that their claim that if more women breastfed we could save hundreds of infant lives and billions of healthcare dollars — they invoked their favorite logical fallacy, false dichotomy.

What is a false dichotomy? It’s when a range of possible options is deliberately reduced to only two extremes. In the case of breastfeeding, the range is everything between “breastfeeding is the perfect way for every mother to feed every child” and “breastfeeding is a terrible way for every mother to feed every child.” The false dichotomy is presenting the extremes as the only two options.

How does it work? In the case of the ABM, whenever I ask for scientific evidence for the claim that breastfeeding has tremendous public health benefits, ABM members respond by accusing me of hating breastfeeding or trying to sabotage it.

Dr. Casey Rosen-Carole writes:

However, I would hope that you can at least agree that advertising campaigns designed to undermine a woman’s confidence in her own body are sadly off-target and should not be tolerated. After all, aren’t we all on the side of our patients, not industry?

False dichotomy: if you’re not with us in demonizing formula, you are against the wellbeing of babies.

Dr. Anne Eglash writes:

Have you ever thought about what your diet will look like when/if you are 90 years old? How would you feel if the doctor of your nursing home/assisted living (or maybe you will be lucky enough to stay at home with in home care) puts you on a formula diet of 6 servings of Ensure or Glycerna per day, as opposed to 5 servings of fruits and veggies, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats each day? If you believe that Ensure or Boost is a good substitute for a healthy balanced diet, that would explain why you believe that a diet of infant formula can lead to equal health outcomes as breastfeeding.

She seems completely unaware that there’s a range of options between those two starkly opposing choices.

Dr. Eglash is so angry that I dare question the perfection of breastfeeding that she is reduced to libeling me:

You know as well as those of us reading this blog that your rants are analogous to those of anti-climate change individuals, choosing to ignore carefully evaluated science, for your own personal gains. Breastfeeding specialists don’t become wealthy from their research and support of breastfeeding. Much of our time spent advocating to improve infant and maternal health is done thru volunteerism. You, on the other hand, can easily rake in money by promoting large multinational corporations.

In this laughably fallacious view, you either promote breastfeeding or a are a corporate shill for the formula industry. Eglash seems to be incapable of even imaging that a physician could promote breastfeeding and choose it for her own children as I did, while recognizing that it isn’t the right choice for every mother and every baby.

Dr. Melissa Bartick, who has made extraordinary claims about the public health benefits of breastfeeding that she has been unable to substantiate with scientific evidence insists:

I would like to see Amy Tuteur obtain grant funding and conduct actual scientific research and publish it in a peer review journal so she would understand how it is actually done and what goes into this process. She has repeatedly demonstrated that she has no such understanding of science.

Because in the world devoid of nuance that lactivists inhabit you either agree with Dr. Bartick and her compatriots or you don’t understand science. It seems to have never occurred to her that I disagree precisely because I DO understand science and she hasn’t provided any.

The natural childbirth industry is also a world devoid of nuance.

I was recently interviewed by Medscape (a division of WebMD) and they titled the interview Ob/Gyn Wants Women to Stop Feeling Guilty About the Birthing Process. That title is made up of simple words, easy to understand, but members of the natural childbirth industry affect not to understand them.

Deborah Gedel-Beer, CNM writes:

As a nurse-midwife I find this “interview” disturbing and degrading. Instead of supporting services which help to educate and empower women, Dr. Tuteur expresses a patronizing point of view and pretends to reference this with scientic articles.

False dichotomy: if you don’t promote guilt among childbearing women, you oppose education and empowerment. That false dichotomy is especially ironic because I believe that making women feel guilty about their childbirth choices is the OPPOSITE of educating and empowering them.

New Zealand nurse midwife Robin Jones insists:

Dr. Tuteur is well known in childbirth circles for her unswerving belief in the superiority of obstetric care for women (as opposed to midwifery or any other sort of care). As a professional with strong beliefs she should know better than to take her experiences of her own four births and extrapolate these into data that she then applies to all other women. She could try to appreciate that for most women (who do not have her extensive pro-obstetric socialisation) the emotional content of their pregnancy/labour/birth experiences are dependent on their outcome vs their expectations, which will have been influenced by factors not at all under their control (such as their care providers preferences that they may not be aware of).

False dichotomy: either you want women to feel guilty about their childbirth choices or you think obstetric care is perfect.

Nurse Practitioner Holly E goes even further:

Dr. Tuteur is one of many people who find it inconvenient to witness the emotional fallout that occurs when the women she (sexually) violated and coerced are in recovery. Yes, women, the doctor said stop having feelings!

False dichotomy: if you aren’t making women feel guilty about not choosing unmedicated vaginal birth, you are promoting sexual violation and coercion!

Childbirth educator Amy Haas says:

Here’s the problem. There is a long history with this particular retired physician. She has bashed, bullied, belittled, and just been down right nasty to anyone who attempted to have an intellectual conversation with her about research, that differs from her opinion. She is known as a spin doctor in our industry. Fellow researchers stopped attempting to even communicate with her a long time ago, because there was no logical conversation that one could have. If she did not bash you, her cohort would. Promoting someone with such a skewed point of view ends up invalidating the few points she might have. All of this is not about guilt, but control. Her way or the highway. This is not the way to have a professional discourse about health care matters.

False dichotomy: if you aren’t agreeing, you’re “bullying.” Their way or the highway.

In the world of lactivism and natural childbirth, there is no nuance and no shades of gray, but in the real world, there are a range of choices available to women.

For professional lactivists and natural childbirth advocates you’re either with them or against them.

I’m neither because I’m with BABIES and WOMEN.

172 Responses to “False dichotomy: the favorite logical fallacy of the natural childbirth and breastfeeding industries”

  1. Walter
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  2. jsterritt
    May 31, 2016 at 1:10 am #

    Dr Tuteur, you have done an excellent job in this post of diagramming the fallacious and flawed logic of your critics. So it is with great respect that I (reluctantly) chime in about the specific fallacies you’ve identified for censure as false dichotomies.

    Dr. Casey Rosen-Carole constructs a classic straw man argument (false dichotomy is of course incorporated under the straw man heading, but I am playing “fallacy bingo” and taxonomy is important).

    Dr. Eglash’s red herring/straw man is more a false equivalence than a false dichotomy per se — she is making a false analogy by inventing an equivalence between two utterly disparate things. She is also committing a naturalistic fallacy (what’s wrong with Ensure?) and a Nirvana fallacy. All of her nonsense is wrapped up in attempts to affirm the consequent (a formal and fatal flaw in logic) and a pathetic and cynical appeal to emotion. Dr. Eglash goes on to employ the mother of all bad arguments: the pharma shill gambit. This is not a false dichotomy, merely the laziest of ad hominems. Instead of debating facts, Eglash accuses her opponent of selling out babies’ health for cash. This is the hallmark of an asshole, not an authority.

    Dr. Melissa Bartick is somewhat famous for using the term “evidence-based” only when the evidence at hand supports her own conclusions. I find it funny that she derides you, Dr Tuteur, for not undertaking a methodologically flawed fishing expedition of your own. I have read her (and Reinhold’s) paper twice and cannot find anything but equivocal results and biased conclusions. Her’s is just a straight ad hom (or abusive fallacy). Shame on her!

    CNW, Deborah Gedel-Beer, dismisses your advocacy as an argument from authority. She doesn’t even bother to argue for her position — it is enough that you wounded her feelings!

    Nurse midwife Robin Jones accuses you of extrapolating an anecdotal fallacy from your own births, disregarding your clinical and credentialed authority and expertise. I cannot consider this anything but an ad hominem (a sexist, diminishing one at that). It is ironic that someone arguing for the bespoke uniqueness of each birth experience would so marginalize your own. She goes on to correctly say that births are necessarily subject to factors beyond anyone’s control, but immediately blows this obvious and crucial fact by blaming poor outcomes on Big OB (uncaring, greedy MDs). These are sales tactics, not science-based medicine.

    The accusation of sexual coercion from Nurse Practitioner Holly E. is closest to a classic false dichotomy argument, but even she can’t resist an ad hom attack on you for telling patients to “stop having feelings!”

    Finally, there’s Amy Haas, who makes a false assertion, argument from repetition, and a circular ad hominem (aka, assuming the conclusion).

    So that’s tonight’s mansplaining edition of logical fallacy bingo — all of which is to say: when you are being criticized with such unsound logic and beset from all sides with such vapid arguments, you are clearly disseminating your message and winning the debate on clear, unambiguous logic.

    Well done!

  3. Cody
    May 27, 2016 at 8:47 pm #

    Oh boy is this ever true in my experience as a doula. I got into this line of work because I wished that I had better support during my first birth, and so that is what I do. I provide support. I don’t care whether clients want or don’t want pain relief. Or if they want to breastfeed or don’t. It’s not my birth. Women always ask me how I had my kids and that makes me nervous, because who cares? I’m not them. I do a lot of deprogramming and I do a lot pep talks.

    The problem is that some doulas and childbirth educators feed into this problem and it makes me angry because having and raising kids is challenging enough without women having to keep up with the fake other women on the internet. Doulas in my area are having these discussions too.

    FYI I happen to know a great private lactation consultant who considers herself an infant feeding specialist and advises on formula and bottles too.

    Change is starting to happen in the industry and its bcasue women and families want help, and guilting people for their choices is not helpful.http://www.pcmch.on.ca/vbac-survey

  4. fiftyfifty1
    May 27, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

    Loved this part especially in your reply:

    “I find the efforts to browbeat African-American mothers into breastfeeding to be particularly egregious. The problem of infant mortality among African-American babies is complex involving poverty, structural racism, limited access to healthcare, biological propensity to prematurity and other factors. There’s absolutely no evidence that it has anything to do with breastfeeding rates, which, of course are reflections of privilege.

    Blaming the behavior of black women (their “failure to breastfeed”) for the deaths of their babies is both unscientific and unspeakably cruel. Privileged Western, white women make their own choices normative because they have the power to do so, not because the choices of privileged Western, white women are actually superior.”


  5. CSN0116
    May 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

    OT: Thoughts on uterine ablation? Would you do it?

    I’m done DONE having children and experience some pretty horrible periods – full 7 days long, crazy heavy on days 2-3, and such achiness in my public region that I can’t function normal on days 2-3. I’ve always had heavy periods, since adolescence :/

    My doctor is comfortable performig the ablation and has suggested I take at least 3 months of the pill to thin the lining, making the procedure more effective. I have at least 4 girlfriends who have had the procedure with fabulous results – as in no more periods. I want that! I need that!

    I was all set to proceed, clear conscience, until I learned that removing the lining of the uterus *could* make future uterine cancer harder to detect via routine testings and women who are diagnosed post-ablation are more likely to die of uterine cancer (due to later, more advanced diagnoses). OMG.

    Is it a risk you would advise taking? (I will be meeting with my doctor again to discuss this and schedule or not from there).

    • Roadstergal
      May 26, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

      I had this discussion with my OB (turning 40 this year, zero desire for kids, zero desire for periods). I went in wanting it, but after the discussion, ended up not doing it.
      Have you discussed non-ablation options to remove your period? I went from Implanon, which was becoming less effective over time, to Skyla, as my OB suggested at least trying it first. It’s been fantastic – the insertion sucked, and I had some spotty bleeding for about a month, and then nothing at all. Complete amenorrhea, no hormonal mood swings.

      I do have a mid-30s lesbian friend who did ablation in her late 20s (being openly gay apparently got her a lot less of the ‘oh, you might change your mind about kids’ than I got when I wanted permanent-ish BC in my 20s), and although she enjoys the lack of periods, she says she gets the same hormonal mood swings that she got pre-ablation. Dunno if that’s the common experience, but it seems reasonable?

      • CSN0116
        May 26, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

        Thank you!

        I don’t get any mood issues, my symptoms are strictly physical and extreme(ish). My doctor was quick to point out that I’m “only” 29 and the lining could grow back, but I would never be a candidate for the surgery again :/

        I’m done with the pill. It nearly stops my period but I was on and off it for 10 years. I’m not interested in any more hormone approaches. That leaves me with the non-hormone implants, I suppose? I was never interested in them because I heard they hurt to have placed and I’m a pussy 😛 Can I get general anesthesia for the placement?! 😉

        • Roadstergal
          May 26, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

          Just IMO, but I’d talk to your doc some more… I mean, the implant hormones, from what I understand (and I’m hoping that Dr Kitty or one of the other docs will weigh in) can be profoundly different in subjective experience from the oral ones. The Pill wasn’t terrible for me, but it definitely had some suboptimal side effects. Skyla (nullip version of Mirena) is levonorgestrel-only in a plastic IUD, rather than the estrogen/progesterone Pill. Aside from the one wanted side effect (no period), I haven’t had any at all. And I love the ‘set it and forget it for three years’ (more if it’s Mirena) nature of it.

          Insertion was damn sucky. The OB said it’s easier if you’ve had a kid. :p But once it was in, it was ‘fuggedaboutit.’

          And yes, that sounds similar to what my OB said – I should wait until I’m closer to menopause for the surgery to really be worthwhile (I’m turning 40 this year).

          • Dr Kitty
            May 27, 2016 at 7:59 am #

            Ok…separate issues here.

            Endometrial ablation, when it works, works very well. When it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work AND it might take some options (like IUS) off the table if you have scarring or adhesions.

            The younger you have an ablation, the higher the likelihood it will fail eventually.

            Even if it works you also have to continue to use reliable contraception (your choice) until menopause in order to ensure you don’t have a pregnancy implant in the myometrium. Any intra-uterine pregnancy post ablation could be potentially life threatening and you would probably be advised to terminate- if you didn’t it would be a very high risk pregnancy.

            While combined pills are associated with increased rates of breast cancer and clots, the long acting progesterone only methods aren’t to the same extent, and reducing your lifetime number of ovulations is probably protective for endometrial and uterine cancer.

            I’ve had two Mirenas, was amenorrheic with both and loved them, although both had to be inserted under anaesthetic and the second one had to be removed under anaesthetic because my cervix did not play ball. I’m still a big fan of them.

            I now have Nexplanon, inserted 3 months post partum- and haven’t noticed ANY side effects as yet. I don’t have periods, but as I’m still nursing I can’t put that down to the Nexplanon alone.

            The benefit of the LARCS is that if you don’t like them, you can have them easily removed and the endometrial ablation option is still open.

            If your ablation fails your options might be fewer, and you might be signing up to sterilisation or hormonal contraception too.

            I don’t know you, I don’t know your medical history or your life circumstances and family history.
            Whatever decision you make, you need to be happy with it.

            BUT, if it were me, I’d save the ablation for the final option and at least give an IUS or implant a go first- if it doesn’t work, you have less to lose and if you do end up opting for the ablation it will be having tried all the less drastic options.

          • CandiO
            May 27, 2016 at 8:30 am #

            I like both. I am on my third Nexplanon and I had an ablation last year. I cannot stop hormonal birth control due to severe endometriosis and I was getting some breakthrough bleeding with my Nexplanon that was becoming a problem. So post ablation I haven’t had any problems. Oh and I am 40. If the endometrial lining grows back, I can have a second ablation which will hopefully get me through to menopause.

            And why no hysterectomy you ask? Because I work with too many women with moderate to severe prolapse, most of whom are post hysterectomy. I will keep my uterus. I figure the scar tissue is what will help keep my bladder and uterus from falling out later, lol.

        • Charybdis
          May 26, 2016 at 7:37 pm #

          The hormonal effects of the Mirena (I’m on my second one. They are awesome!) and Skyla are localized to the uterus. They aren’t systemic like the pill, so there aren’t the hormonal side effects.

          I had my first one installed at my 6 week post-partum checkup and I don’t remember it being too uncomfortable. I had a CS, so my cervix had never effaced/dilated. My second one was a bit more painful probably because they removed the first one then inserted the second one. It was like a cross between a pap smear using the little brush collection thing and bad period cramps. My OB said that they can do an insertion after your period, as it is a little easier and less painful then.

          I had 2 days of antibiotics and took ibuprofen for the discomfort. I just check for the “tail” monthly to make sure it is still in place, and DH says he can’t feel the tail during sex. No more periods, nothing to remember to take, easy all the way around.

          • CSN0116
            May 26, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

            But having been on hormonal birth control throughout my twenties (though pregnant for much of it, haha) and remaining on additional hormones for 15-20 MORE years — is that healthy? Surely the body is not designed to undergo decades worth? This is why I had convinced myself to abandon hormonal options of any kind…

          • Azuran
            May 26, 2016 at 8:52 pm #

            That’s probably something to discuss with your doctor. I have no idea. But I’ve never heard anyone talking about any maximum amount of time someone can take the pill or other hormonal contraception. Just as we often say, just because it’s not the ‘natural’ way doesn’t mean it’s bad.
            There are probably risks and benefits to both. So you’ll have to decide which risks you want to take.
            If anything you could test the mirena/skyla it and then have the ablation later if you don’t like it.

          • Who?
            May 26, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

            I went on the pill at 19, was on it (apart from when trying to get pregnant) until 52; then about 6 weeks off it and on hrt.

            I had periods similar to yours, with bellybutton to knee pain and heavy bleeding for 7-10 days, and midcycle pain that left me passed out. Oh and premenstrual dysphoria that left me unable to park my car or choose anything at the supermarket. My cycle was about 45 days.

            I’m at the low end of my bmi range, no family history of heart attack or stroke or cancer, I exercise and eat right, drink minimal alcohol.

            For me the quality of life issues are huge. My menopause symptoms were so miserable I didn’t want to live for another 30 years like that (entirely seriously).

            I see it as a yearly thing-checkups etc, and have had no problems with the hormones. It’s not healthy to be in pain, bleeding and miserable for a chunk of time either, even if it is natural, or normal for you.

          • Charybdis
            May 26, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

            I was on the pill for 17+ years and then got pregnant within 3 months of stopping it. Then I got the Mirena and have been using it for 12+ years. It is my understanding that the hormonal effect is extremely localized to the uterine lining, although it would be something to ask your doctor about.

          • sdsures
            May 26, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

            What about a low-dose progesterone-only pill (POP)? It eliminated my periods entirely.

          • Ariana Ramos
            May 27, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

            I tried one of those for 1 year… I spotted every 2-3 weeks, had cramps and my skin suddenly decided I wasn’t done with puberty (as in, it has never been so oily and full of pimples in my life and I’m 28). I’ve just got my new prescription and I’m going back to the 2 hormones pill, at least with those I know when I’m gonna need a pad.

          • Heidi
            May 27, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

            I had the exact same experience with progestin-only except I think by the end of the year the spotting was becoming even worse and I think I was getting ovarian cysts every month.

          • guest
            May 27, 2016 at 12:00 am #

            I’m not a doctor, but your body is on hormones whether or not you take hormonal birth control. Your body makes them. So your body is certainly “designed” to undergo decades of hormone fluctuations. I know of know studies that say the length of time someone is on the pill matters. After 40, some doctors want you off because of increased stroke risk (that’s why I’m not on them now), but not because it’s unhealthy in the way you’re thinking.

          • Roadstergal
            May 27, 2016 at 11:01 am #

            Anecdote ahoy – I was on the Pill since my late teens, LARC from mid-30s to basically 40 now (intend to stay on until menopause), and my physical and gynecological health could not be better.

          • guest
            May 26, 2016 at 11:58 pm #

            I’m getting my first Mirena in June, and I really REALLY hope I’m one of the women who stops menstruating. I am done with bleeding. I have heavy periods, but not heavy enough for any doctor to care. I have more than the number of kids I intended to have, I have a career that suffers from the time I have to take one week a month to deal with heavy flow, cramps, and diarrhea, and menopause is still eight years away.

        • CharlotteB
          May 26, 2016 at 9:34 pm #

          For what it’s worth, when I got the Mirena, it was probably one of the easiest gynecological situations I’ve ever experienced. I was chatting with the CNM, and asked “hey where are we in the process?” And she said she was clipping the string (as in, almost done.). I couldn’t believe it. I’d prepared for far worse, but insertion was nothing. I did take 2 aleve ahead of time, but I was shocked–I’m usually a pretty big wuss when it comes to physical pain, so it’s not like I’m super tough.

          I know it’s different for everybody, but it seems like there are a lot of horror stories out there. I have had a baby, so there’s that, but I got it put in more than a year after he was born.

          Granted, I’m still spotting more than I’d like (2ish weeks/month) and it’s been 9 months or so since I got it, so I’m not thrilled with that.

          • StephanieA
            May 26, 2016 at 10:27 pm #

            My first Mirena insert was okay, this second time was awful. But maybe that had more to do with the muscle damage from my son’s giant head than the insertion itself.
            That sucks you’re still spotting. My friend got hers taken out for that reason. Who wants to have to remember to wear a pad every day?

          • Chant de la Mer
            May 28, 2016 at 1:58 am #

            My first mirena was pretty painful and difficult. My second and third ones were easy and painless. My first one was done when about 8 years after my first was born and the subsequent ones were done with 8 months of giving birth. My doctor mentioned that the cervix is a bit “numb”for a year or so after birth and that was why it was so much less painful, plus I guess she didn’t have to pry it open the following times. Was a nice benefit!

        • Megan
          May 26, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

          The non-hormone IUD (Paragard) will not stop your bleeding and may actually make it heavier (a common side effect. The reason the other IUD’s help bleeding (and they do help in about 75% of women with heavy bleeding IIRC) is because of the hormones. The progestin in them works locally so you are much less likely to have systemic side effects, though it’s not unheard of.

          • J.B.
            May 27, 2016 at 9:17 am #

            I got Mirena because I had awful hormonal swings starting at ovulation and continuing until my period started. The constant local progesterone has been a lifesaver for me. I bled for 7ish weeks after insertion but have had minimal periods since.

          • Gatita
            May 27, 2016 at 9:48 am #

            My Ob Gyn warned me against hormonal IUDs because in her experience women who had trouble with oral contraceptives didn’t do well with them.

    • Mishimoo
      May 27, 2016 at 4:21 am #

      I did initially consider it, but knowing my luck, it would grow back and be worse. Now that I’m studying and returning to work, I’m going to have to have a discussion with my doctor because I don’t want my period to impact on my career and I’m completely over being down for a week each cycle. Ideally, I want a partial hysterectomy leaving the ovaries as I don’t go into surgical menopause (hormone treatments and I don’t have the best track record) and the cervix if possible. I’m not particularly emotionally attached to my uterus, so it seems like a good idea and I think it will make my life better.

    • CanDoc
      May 27, 2016 at 8:19 am #

      I’m hesitant to provide medical advice, so I won’t. But I think you have a lot to think about and need some information:
      1) Women under age 40 have the highest risk of failure of ablation, with rates of future surgery (mainly hysterectomy) for pain/bleeding approaching 25-30% (numbers vary by source/population).
      2) A levonorgestrel IUD/IUS is an excellent option for women who want menstrual improvement and research shoes efficacy similar to ablation, although it takes a little longer (3-6 months) to take effect.
      3) Your concern about difficulties detecting endometrial cancer may have merit. We just don’t have enough research to know if ablation decreases the risk of cancer or not (because it might, given that it destroys much of the endometrium, or uterine lining, where most cancers of the uterus start), but if it also makes cancers harder to diagnose.

  6. Who?
    May 26, 2016 at 5:53 pm #

    Well my word, what a selection of people you have upset Dr T.

    From the laughable first quote-as I look at advertising directed at women, most of it is designed to make us feel bad about our bodies or our choices-through the diet scarer and on to the ultimate cry for a ‘professional discourse’.

    I’d say you’re right on track to give women the material they need to make the choices that will work for themselves and their family.

    The louder the shrieking, the closer you are to the mark.

  7. Jen
    May 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    I breastfeed my daughter, and find most of the rhetoric annoying, and the benefits of breastfeeding overblown. No breastmilk doesn’t have superpowers! My mantra is love and feed your baby, whether that be formula, breastmilk, or both. I feel that overselling the benefits and being dishonest about the difficulties of breastfeeding backfires. Why can’t we have a candid conversation? Just because someone calls out for bullshitting doesn’t make them a bully.

  8. mostlyclueless
    May 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    OT: bottle feeding breastmilk is linked to more ear infections than straight-from-boob breastmilk — almost like breastmilk isn’t a magical elixir that protects against ear infections:


    • Heidi
      May 26, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      Heh, I think a lot of them actually believe boobs have sensors in them when the baby suckles and analyzes baby’s saliva and magically spits out breast milk with very specific antibodies so if you feed from a bottle, boobs can’t work their ~*~***magic***~*~.

      • Sean Jungian
        May 26, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

        Oh, they absolutely do believe this, that breast milk is capable of morphing on-the-fly to produce any and all antibodies or nutritional factors a baby needs on the basis of saliva alone.

      • Puffin
        May 28, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

        On my due date club board (a group which is surprisingly science-friendly, generally) one mom was going on about how when you tandem feed a neonate and a toddler, your breasts will sense which child is nursing and deliver either colostrum or full fat milk.


        • demodocus
          May 28, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

          Sigh indeed. And if you argue, you’re being mean.

        • Roadstergal
          May 30, 2016 at 11:29 am #

          If my breasts are that smart, I expect them to do my taxes.

    • Heidi
      May 26, 2016 at 5:10 pm #

      On Facebook, there was some story circulating about the “magic” of breast milk where a lady’s milk turned yellow when her baby was sick because she believes her body was making colostrum again to heal her baby. She believes her milk was yellow from the antibodies. Last I checked, colostrum was yellow from vitamin A. If your breast milk is yellow, it’s from pus, which is caused by antibodies, but not ones to heal your kid. It’s because you have an infection in your milk duct or something. So it sounded like she had mastitis.

      • Roadstergal
        May 26, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

        A lot of the composition of pus is dying immune cells spilling out their insides. Yum!

        • Heidi
          May 26, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

          I bet! If it tastes anything like it smells. . . I’m sure it had a “complex, umami” flavor according to the lactivists.

          • Charybdis
            May 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

            And yet they think formula is the worst thing you can feed your baby,

            I think breastmilk containing blood and pus would be worse.

          • Heidi
            May 26, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

            Yep, except they are in denial about it being pus. It’s colostrum!!! My breasts just *knew* to make colostrum again!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 26, 2016 at 9:12 pm #

            I’d love to hear the explanation for why my wife’s milk turned green.

            I mean, shamrock shake green.

            And my son quit nursing right then, at 10 mos. Apparently, her body didn’t change her milk correctly.

          • Guest
            May 27, 2016 at 12:04 am #

            If you eat enough green veggies, it can turn milk green. I don’t know about THAT green, though.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 27, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

            And that certainly was NOT the explanation.

          • sdsures
            May 29, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

            My urine once turned green from eating Lucky Charms.

          • Nick Sanders
            May 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

            I once learned first hand that a B vitamin overdose turns it neon yellow. As in, turn off the lights and I think it’ll glow…

          • Irène Delse
            May 29, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

            Eww. Not the benefits of vitamins commonly expected!

          • sdsures
            May 30, 2016 at 4:46 pm #


          • Sarah
            May 29, 2016 at 12:44 pm #

            It was a statement in solidarity with the Irish people. As a member of the diaspora, I am touched.

          • Roadstergal
            May 30, 2016 at 11:29 am #

            Did the milk taste like whiskey?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 30, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

            My wife has Irish heritage, but it’s Orange Irish

          • Dr Kitty
            May 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm #

            You mean Ulster Scots 😉

          • Sarah
            May 30, 2016 at 2:19 pm #

            Oh dear. Perhaps her bosoms were rebelling, then. Or maybe she’s not as Orange as she thinks!

          • sdsures
            May 26, 2016 at 10:43 pm #


          • Wombat
            May 28, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

            Well, I mean, depending on if you define blood vs blood products (same with pus, really) that line is already pretty blurred…

            Just because it’s natural (and perfectly normal) doesn’t mean it can’t also be a bit gross. No knock on breastmilk/feeding, just saying sometimes some passing squickyness is reasonable c:

          • Charybdis
            May 29, 2016 at 11:01 am #

            True, not knocking breastfeeding at all, if it works for you. I just find it odd that the general advice seems to be “don’t worry about feeding your baby if your nipples are bleeding or if you have mastitis or a yeast infection/thrush and there is pus in your milk; it is just fine for baby to keep nursing”. I mean, ewww! I could understand “pump and dump” until the infection resolves/cracked, fissured nipples stop bleeding and heal, but the advice is to “keep at it! Won’t hurt the baby a bit”!

            If someone presented you with thick, odd smelling, blood-tinged milk for your cereal or coffee/tea and told you that it was just fine, don’t worry about it, it’s perfectly normal and is okay to consume, wouldn’t you be a bit hesitant to use it?

            To me, it is similar to what my dental hygenist told me once. She said that you wouldn’t believe the number of people who don’t/won’t brush teeth as often as they are supposed to and as a result, have major tartar buildup that she has to chisel off. She asked one such patient if she spread the tartar/calculus on a cracker, would he eat it. He looked at her like she had lost her damn mind and said “Oh, hell no!” She then asked him why, if he wouldn’t eat it, he didn’t mind it being in his mouth all the time. He said he hadn’t thought about it that way before.

            If *your* milk is not something YOU would taste/drink/sample because of blood or pus in the milk, why would you think it okay for your baby to consume?

          • Wombat
            May 30, 2016 at 3:10 am #

            Oh no, I totally agree, I was just having a bit of a laugh that this ‘perfect and glorious’ substance is really pretty gross when broken down literally.

            What’s a little extra blood and pus juice in your, well, blood and pus juice?

            I get it, and we get over it (although I wouldn’t blame a mom here if she couldn’t/didn’t want to since we have an abundance of great alternatives!), but yeah, it can ALL really be rather eww, no reason to push it further up that scale if you don’t want to by feeding your kid when there’s such a clear signal. That being said, most medical advice seems to be pretty wishy washy either way (although I do wonder how much that’s influence by ‘can’t ever say don’t breastfeed, they’ll /survive/’) so if an individual wants to, go ahead I guess? Soo not for me though. Especially trying to pretend it was a miracle, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

          • demodocus
            May 30, 2016 at 8:49 am #

            Even perfectly fine, I didn’t want my milk. Too damned sweet

          • Azuran
            May 28, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

            Maybe they think blood in bm is a positive thing because it raises the iron content?

      • Megan
        May 26, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

        Or the milk just had higher fat content.

    • CSN0116
      May 26, 2016 at 5:36 pm #

      Bottle propping. Feed upright and proper and you won’t have the ear issues. I would venture to guess that flat side lying nursing could produce the same issues, if done habitually.

      Though babies who get ear infections seem to get them recurring, despite feeding style. I seem to see kids who get them a ton or not at all/very rarely. Like extremes?

      • Who?
        May 26, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

        My ebf son had loads for years. I think all the tubes in his head are not to maker’s ideal specs.

        He grew out of them then went on to have tonsilitis, out came the tonsils and he’s been great ever since.

      • Guest
        May 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm #

        One of my kids got ear infection after ear infection until I stopped breastfeeding him lying down. He never had another single ear infection. It could have been a coincidence but I doubt it.

      • Inmara
        May 27, 2016 at 1:22 am #

        Ha, turns out that we have done the right thing incidentally! Somehow my husband started to bottle feed baby propped on legs while semi-lying in bed, and so it went on; it also made one arm free to, ahem, browse phone during looong feedings. N=1 example – 9+ months, and no incidents of otitis media (we don’t have other children so the exposure to germs is minimal).

    • Sue
      May 27, 2016 at 2:24 am #

      The methodology here was a survey mailed to the families at 12 months. The otitis media diagnoses did not appear to have been confirmed, and families were asked to estimate the number of episodes of otitis media and diarrhoea over the first year, presumable from memory. They had a 62% response rate, which is OK for surveys, but not a full sample. Only 6.5% were fed by onoe method exclusively for the full year.

      So, I get the point about how breast milk loses its magic in the presence of air, but the study isn;t very strong anyway.

    • Puffin
      May 28, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

      My exclusively breastfed second kid had over a dozen ear infections in her first two years (she weaned at 2 years) and she remains prone to ear infections now.

      Since individual anecdotes are equivalent to massive amounts of data for a lot of mom-bullying advocates, I just thought I’d throw this out there.

  9. Megan
    May 26, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    Also, if they’re correct that women don’t understand that there’s no difference between brand and generic formula, for instance, shouldn’t the answer be better formula education? Why is the answer, no formula advertising; breastfeed more! That doesn’t even fix the problem. We know the majority of babies get formula at some point in their first year. This is because it’s hard to breastfeed and work and because many moms have problems breastfeeding. I just don’t see how their answer follows their premise.

    • Heidi
      May 26, 2016 at 4:41 pm #

      And if formula advertising ceased in its entirety, women would still know it existed. I personally never see formula advertising except for what I went out of my way to sign up for because I’ll take those $5 coupons and free samples. I still knew it existed. I’ve seen women use it my whole life. We mostly watch PBS and Netflix, so I don’t see commercials for much of anything yet i still know deodorant, cereals, toothbrushes & toothpastes, and cleaning products exist, and I still am “stupid” enough to buy them!

      It’s almost like they are getting their causes mixed up. Fine, if they are anti-capitalist and they hate corporations in general. However, that doesn’t mean formula is unhealthy and unneeded.

      • StephanieA
        May 26, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

        We don’t have cable and I don’t care for TV so I’ve never seen a formula commercial. I never really even knew what brands of formula there were until I had to buy some for my son (even while pregnant I had no idea what was available). I tried to breastfeed my him and hated it so we bought some formula- because our baby needed to eat. Not because I was swayed by advertising.

        • Megan
          May 26, 2016 at 10:33 pm #

          I have Directv (and had cable prior) and I’ve never seen a formula commercial. I read the pregnancy magazine in our waiting room every month of my first pregnancy and never saw a formula ad (though I saw lots of breastfeeding paraphernalia ads). The only samples I got were because I requested them and the coupons, and also from Motherhood Maternity. (One caveat, I don’t have FB.) I’m not saying formula ads don’t exist, but I doubt they’re the huge widespread problem they’re made out to be.

          • J.B.
            May 27, 2016 at 9:25 am #

            The creepiness of big data. I got some coupons from my regular grocery store about “planning to supplement your breastfed baby?”. Presumably they put together that I sometimes bought baby things but never formula therefore…

          • Heidi
            May 27, 2016 at 9:47 am #

            My grocery store’s attempt at relevant ads and coupons has been off. I kept getting coupons for toddler formula and advanced Gerber foods when he was 2 months old.

          • Dr Kitty
            May 27, 2016 at 9:49 am #

            I like the UK version better.
            They just send me coupons for stuff I buy a lot of, without presuming anything by it.

            Unfortunately that seems to mostly be milk, cat food, bananas, coffee, SPAM and tinned fruit.

            I have a feeling that the purchases I make for the food bank might be screwing up their data a bit.

          • Roadstergal
            May 30, 2016 at 11:31 am #

            I have seen so many ads for Cialis, adalimumab, and vedolizumab – not a one for formula.

    • CSN0116
      May 26, 2016 at 7:51 pm #

      I need to expose the generic “secret” to the masses — it is my new mission 😉

      So many people struggle to keep afloat but narrowly miss the WIC income cutoff – others like to save – and others just like fucking over big corporations – I need to guide all of these people lol…

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        May 28, 2016 at 10:09 am #

        Pre-DD, I had every intention of EBF. Not a drop of formula would ever touch her lips, blahblahblah.
        Then reality, along with a near-nonexistent milk supply, hit, meaning that DH was sent out on a formula run. I told him to get Similac, as that’s what DD had been started on at the hospital, and she’d been tolerating it well.
        Ever the accountant, DH called me from the store. “Umm, there’s a store brand here, and it’s $14 rather than $26 for the same amount, and when I look at the ingredient breakdowns they’re exactly the same…can we just use the store brand?”
        I said a cautious “yes, as long as you’re willing to go back out to get the name brand if DD doesn’t tolerate the generic,” and voila! Far, far cheaper formula, and chemically identical to the brand-name stuff. I thought I was doing spectacularly well in saving that much (and/or leveraging Babies R Us occasional spectacular sales) until I read one of our poster’s here describing her Target success. Dang! I’ll definitely be doing that in a couple of weeks; only reason I’m not stocking up in advance is that I want to make sure that baby will be fine on a certain brand before I lay in a supply of it.

        • starling
          May 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm #

          Cheapest option is Sam’s Club store brand–48 oz for $22.58, if I recall correctly. Even better than Target. I order a six-pack online every two months or so, and it’s delivered for free.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm #

            Oooooooh, thanks! *takes note*

  10. Megan
    May 26, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    The entire basis of the article presumes that women can’t make educated decisions and will change their decision to breastfeed from a single sample. Plus, they also mention in their own article that the formula companies see more women going back to work as beneficial for their market share. Clearly they see what lactivists cannot: the biggest reason (aside from physical reasons/inability) women don’t breastfeed is inconvenience, especially for working moms. Are they really so dumb that they believe most moms give formula because they’ve been coerced into thinking it’s healthier?? These people have their collective heads up their collective tushies.

  11. lawyer jane
    May 26, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    Infuriating!! If one of those ladies wants to come over and personally do all my housework and laundry so I can have the time to breastfeed, that’s fine with me. Or maybe pay me in dollars for the time and energy I expend. Otherwise STFU about what I do with my OWN BODY!!

  12. TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya
    May 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm #

    A whole lot of projection going on with these people!

  13. moto_librarian
    May 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    “Dr. Tuteur is one of many people who find it inconvenient to witness the emotional fallout that occurs when the women she (sexually) violated and coerced are in recovery. Yes, women, the doctor said stop having feelings!”

    Wow. I really hope that Holly E isn’t actually a practicing NP. I know it shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but I remain gobsmacked when a supposed healthcare professional compares obstetric intervention with sexual assault. This disgusts me so much.

    • demodocus
      May 26, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

      It’s one thing if it triggers your memories of sexual assault, but for heaven’s sake. I hate being touched, I resisted a pap as long as possible, but some crap you have to deal with if you want a baby so badly you do IVF.

      • Erin
        May 27, 2016 at 4:31 am #

        That’s a very good point and one that was made to me recently by a Doctor friend. Along the lines of if you can’t face spinals, c sections, obstetricians and hospital stays, don’t get pregnant. Obviously I just smiled and thought about putting hemlock in his tea.

        • Irène Delse
          May 27, 2016 at 7:04 am #

          I know at least one young woman who doesn’t want to get pregnant because even the most simple and uncomplicated birth sounds traumatic to her. She had her mother’s pregnancies as comparison, btw: four unmedicated vaginal deliveries. Which, to her, means painful, undignified, dangerous.

        • demodocus
          May 27, 2016 at 7:36 am #

          Now, now, no hemlock. You could just slip tabasco sauce in 😉
          It’s obviously a difficult decision for you and I wish you the best of luck either way you decide. *hugs*

          • Erin
            May 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm #

            He eats mayonnaise and pickled cucumber sandwiches, he’d probably like Tabasco tea.

            Might try it to see.

          • demodocus
            May 27, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

            Blech! Is he pregnant? 😉

        • T.
          May 27, 2016 at 9:53 am #

          I understand your feelings but… I kinda think your Doctor friend is right :S

          • Erin
            May 27, 2016 at 11:59 am #

            Oh I know that and so does he…hence the desire to poison him.

    • Erin
      May 27, 2016 at 4:24 am #

      It stems from their narrative of “interventions” a fate worse than death I think, I mean how else can they make themselves the victim to explain to their “mama” friends that they didn’t have the easy birth they “deserved”.

      Makes me angry because I know that those behaviours hurt me getting help. I was so incoherent at the beginning the Psychiatrist I’m still seeing thought I was an entitled bitch upset at my birth plans being foiled. On managing to get me to talk, he apologised but it slowed things down when I needed help the most.

      I have an acquaintance planning a vbac at the moment. Apparently I’m unsupportive because I described it as “trying for a vbac”…she was “sexually” abused during the birth of her last child. She cant understand why I’m not more sympathetic.

  14. AirPlant
    May 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    Remember: telling women that formula/csection/hospital anything will make their babies sickly, fat, and stupid is just facts.
    Telling women that they are good mothers if they love their babies and their specific lady part choices hold no bearing? BULLYING.

  15. CharlotteB
    May 26, 2016 at 1:52 pm #

    Also, re: tone. I’ve actually learned a lot about being more assertive and direct in language from reading here. The only reason Dr. Amy’s tone is criticized is because she’s a women, which is another example (to me) of the NCB industry’s deeply misogynistic view of women, where there’s no room for differing opinions or dissent.

    • guest
      May 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

      Yeah, I get into a lot of online arguments where my assertiveness and directness is attacked. When I participate anonymously, I’m often assumed to be male and get less pushback.

    • Irène Delse
      May 27, 2016 at 2:58 am #

      You’re right, it’s very common to dismiss women as “emotional” and “nasty” when they’re just being assertive, not sugar-coating their words.

  16. CharlotteB
    May 26, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

    I note that Dr. Eglash ALSO assumes that in-home care at 90 is preferable to an assisted living arrangement. I realize there are many factors that affect the quality of care for the elderly, but my grandparents were fortunate enough to be able to afford a wonderful assisted living facility, where they made many friends and lived out their days much more comfortably and socially than they would have at home. They ate better, too.

    I know that’s not what this article is about, but that comment really stuck out to me. I also know the physical and emotional toll that caring for my grandparents took on my mom (even when they had in-home care) compared to being able to go and visit and not have to worry about every little thing.

    It’s almost like…people have different circumstances! and needs!

    • LeighW
      May 26, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      I’m trying to talk my grandfather into moving around the corner from me so I can take better care of him since we refuses any kind of homecare (won’t even let me hire a housekeeper to come in once or twice a week).

      He’s determined to stay in the house and refuses to even discuss assisted living, but refusing any help at all pretty much guarantees he’ll be in a home before too long.

      Just because some of his friends can stay home and be fine doesn’t mean that he can. His circumstances are different.

      I don’t know who’s harder to deal with, preschoolers or seniors.

      • AnnaPDE
        May 26, 2016 at 9:07 pm #

        Seniors. preschoolers you can just pick up and carry if needed.

    • BeatriceC
      May 26, 2016 at 2:52 pm #

      We are currently facing the need to move my 85yo MIL out of her home. She’s relatively healthy, but she’s just not really able to keep up by herself. Her house is about 3200 square feet, which is a lot of work, even with just her in it. And she’s getting more than a little forgetful. In-home care really isn’t a reasonable option. She needs somebody available more often than an hour a few times a week. She needs options for meals that she doesn’t have to make herself. She doesn’t need a nursing home, but she does need assisted living. It’s sad to face moving out of the home she bought over 50 years ago, but it’s time. She will be much better off with a one or two bedroom condo that has services available for meals, transportation and other things of that nature.

      • Charybdis
        May 26, 2016 at 6:47 pm #

        I got a lady I work with a gift certificate from these people because she was having back surgery and she lives by herself. I didn’t want her to worry about having to get groceries, cook, etc while she was recovering ( her family live quite a distance away) in the middle of winter. She said the food was really good and that they had a pretty good variety of choices.


        It might relieve some of the stress of worrying about meals and cooking whilst things are getting sorted.

        • BeatriceC
          May 26, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

          In spit of her protests to the contrary, she can afford to hire help. She just won’t. It’s frustrating. At the moment we are trying to convince her to make some changes that would make staying in her house a while longer more feasible. It’s a fiv bedroom house with three bedrooms on the the second floor and two on the first. The master is on the s come floor and that’s her room. If she moved into one of the rooms downstairs she would be at less of a fall risk and also have more energy too cook and upkeep the house because she wouldn’t be going up and down stairs all day. Hiring a housekeeper would be another thing. I’ve gone in and cleaned all the bathrooms when we visit because she simply can’t see and maneuver well enough anymore to really get all the corners and she misses spots frequently. Her daughters, who live closer come over to help as well, and take her to the grocery store or medical appointments, but a transportation service would give her a lot more independence. Aging sucks, and she’s doing it about as gracefully as possible, but it’s still no fun.

    • T.
      May 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

      Also depending on circumstances Ensure or Boost can be a better choice than “five healthy meals” a day. In some case people can’t swallow or keep down what they eat, including seniors.

      Forcing somebody who can’t eat a “healthy meal” to do so is simply cruel.

      As always, the fact that circumstances may change what is “optimal” seems to go way above the NCB crew.

      • CS
        May 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

        My grandmother who had a catastrophic stroke but didn’t die till months later would have agreed with you.

      • Heidi
        May 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

        Just a couple of months ago, out of nowhere I experienced super sensitive teeth, which may have been caused by breastfeeding, although I can’t really prove or disprove the cause but the dentist couldn’t find a problem, and I had Ensure daily for a meal or two during that time. I wasn’t going to start pureeing all my foods and I was getting burnt out on pureed soups. And I dared to give my baby my breast milk even though I was consuming it!

      • RNMeg
        May 26, 2016 at 11:16 pm #

        If I were elderly and in a nursing home, and I was unable to eat whole-food meals full of vegetables, meat, bread, etc., I certainly would drink Ensure for 5 meals a day and I’d be glad a nutritious alternative was available. Kind of like how formula, a nutritious alternative to breast milk, is available to babies who can’t tolerate breast milk (or whose mothers can’t or don’t want to breastfeed). Imagine that.

    • Monkey Professor for a Head
      May 26, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

      My maternal grandmother spent the last 6 weeks of her life in a nursing home when she could no longer live alone due to medical issues. My parents offered to have her live with us, but she chose not to – to feel like a burden on her family (not that she would have been) would have been terrible for her. They did a wonderful job there. I know not all facilities are perfect, but they’re not all awful either.

      I think being a carer for a loved one is one of the hardest jobs in the world.

      • demodocus
        May 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

        Mom chose to live in a nursing home/hospice place for the same reason. Don’t remember how long, but less than that; she went from diagnosis to death in only 2 months long.

    • Fleur
      May 26, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

      I believe the last three years of my grandfather’s life, when he was living in an assisted living facility, were among the very best. His fifty-year marriage to my grandmother wasn’t a very happy one – I adored her but she lived a very spartan, puritanical life and expected him to do the same. Whilst my grandfather mourned her when she passed away, he went on to have no fewer than three late-life romances (this in his eighties), many good friends in the facility and he was even engaged at the time of his death. So yes, different things work for different people.

    • Irène Delse
      May 27, 2016 at 3:07 am #

      It may or may not be a coincidence that assisting an elderly person is still largely a task that falls to women in the family. Even when they’re not living close, sometimes. My mom was the one who was expected to find a solution for her aged father when his health failed, even though she lived 800 km away, had young children to take care of, and her brother was close by. I remember some tense conversations on the phone until they found an assisted living facility that would take the old man and where he agreed to go.

    • Dr Kitty
      May 27, 2016 at 5:04 am #

      My grandmother, at 100 and with severe dementia, is still fully mobile under her own steam. She walks, and walks FAST- it seems to be something she enjoys.

      She lived with my parents until her mid 90s, when it became apparent that unless someone was with her 24/7 she was going to wander and get lost. It was her decision to go to a care home, and the two she has been in have been great to her. The staff will take turns walking with her- in bad weather they walk laps of the corridors, in good weather she does circuits of the internal courtyard.

      Too often “in home care” involves a frail elderly person left in bed or in a chair for hours at a time waiting for the 3 or 4 times a day a carer will call to feed, wash, dress and toilet them. In home care for someone like my grandmother would mean locking her in a house and taking away one of the few pleasures left to her.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      May 27, 2016 at 9:29 am #

      My grandmother lived in an assisted living facility for the last 3-4 years of her life. She had friends there and a lot of options about how autonomous she wanted to be (i.e. she had a kitchen in her apartment and there was a cafeteria in the facility) and it meant she didn’t have to keep up a house any more. And when she snapped her hip at almost 95, she was found quickly and was able to at least die out of pain and surrounded by her family rather than lying on the floor until she died alone. All things considered, a good choice for her.

      My great aunt, currently 101, still lives at home and complains that she never gets any time to herself because relatives keep popping in. She may die any day–heck, she may be dead now and I just haven’t heard about it–but until then she’s living her life on her own terms and is comfortable with the situation.

      In short, it depends on the situation. Kind of like the decision of how to feed your baby.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        May 27, 2016 at 10:26 am #

        I have some elderly relatives who live in a similar sort of facility, and love it. It’s a small apartment, with a full kitchen, so when my aunt feels like cooking, as she often does, she can create one of her absolutely wonderful meals then and there. On the other hand, if she wants the evening off, she and my uncle will head over to the (very nice) cafeteria and have dinner with friends there. The apartment has a guest room, so their kids and grandkid can come visit for a few days. There are also pull-cords in every room, so should either of them fall, they can have help there ASAP. Basically, it’s totally independent living with a safety net–a very good thing, in both their and my opinion!

  17. guest
    May 26, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

    I’m not arguing with the science of 5-6 servings of fruit and veg a day, but if I were in a nursing home with no control over my diet and that’s what I got, I’d be *very* disappointed. My body does not handle fruits and vegetables very well. I have oral allergy syndrome to a lot of the ones commonly served raw, for instance. Other causes painful bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. (I have a diagnosis of IBS.) It is possible for me to still meet the 5-6 servings a day and avoid these foods, but it takes careful planning and a limited diet – which an institution is unlikely to be able to accommodate, and it makes eating a pretty joyless experience for me.

    If a treatment ever becomes available that allows me to put more of these foods back into my body, I surely will. But I’m not eating Doritos and Hershey bars as it is – my diet is still reasonably healthy. All other things being equal, it’s not optimal, but all other things are not equal.

    • Azuran
      May 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm #

      I like how they are comparing ensure with solid food. Because newborn babies eat fruit and veggies, it is known.

      • Irène Delse
        May 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

        Don’t you see, breastmilk is magic, once it’s passed the lips of a newborn, it becomes fresh fruit and whole grain (gluten free, of course). 😀

      • guest
        May 26, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

        Maybe I should be on a breastmilk-only diet (*shudder*) given my issues.

        • BeatriceC
          May 26, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

          Wait! Maybe that’s what I should be feeding MK instead of nutrition drinks. Never mind he’s. 5’11” 14 year old. Massive quantities of breastmilk will cure everything.

          • momofone
            May 26, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

            That relactation is going to be hell, don’t you know.

          • BeatriceC
            May 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

            Spaghetti noodles hurt when they’re forcefully expelled through your nose. I shouldn’t have read that while eating.

          • Charybdis
            May 26, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

            I think he’d require a regular cup now, instead of a bottle or sippy cup.

            Or just sneak it into a smoothie…

          • Azuran
            May 26, 2016 at 7:13 pm #

            But we all know breastmilk looses all it’s magical properties if it’s not directly from the source 😉

    • Irène Delse
      May 26, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      Makes me think that some of the residents at the elderly care facility will not be able to eat the carefully crafted diet they’re invoking here, some because they’re paralysed, others because of digestive track issues. There’s a reason Ensure and other replacements were invented after all.

      • guest
        May 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm #


      • Sean Jungian
        May 26, 2016 at 5:19 pm #

        During chemo my mom relied on Ensure to keep her weight up.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          May 26, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

          DH is chronically underweight. He’s healthy overall; he just can eat all sorts of junk food, and never break 125 pounds at almost 6 feet. When stressed, he forgets to eat and starts to lose weight…and he doesn’t have weight to lose, as those numbers suggest! I got him started on high-calorie meal replacement shakes for breakfast and the occasional snack. Yes, they’re designed for those on chemo or for seniors who have a hard time eating, but you know what? They have a lot of protein, vitamins, and calories, DH can chug one in seconds (no fussing about it taking too long to eat), and he no longer looks skeletal after a bad week at work, so I say win-win!

    • StephanieA
      May 26, 2016 at 9:33 pm #

      Does fiber constipate anyone else? I can eat fruits and vegetables okay in moderation, but when I try to eat a lot I am horribly uncomfortable. Gas, bloating, and no bowel movements. I know this because I was a vegan for a bit (eating tons of vegetables) and my body seriously never adjusted. When I went back to eating like a normal person my GI system went back to normal too. Extra fiber does not help me at all.

      • guest
        May 27, 2016 at 12:07 am #

        It has the opposite effect on me, but from what I understand, IBS can go either way with fiber.

        • Dr Kitty
          May 28, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

          If you have IBS, there is some evidence to support a low FODMAP diet.
          I will warn you, it is neither easy, nor intuitive, nor cheap, and sticking strictly tonit is likely to be a headache.

          Still, it might be worth checking out.

          • Who?
            May 28, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

            We did FODMAP for a while when my daughter had gut issues. The interesting part for me was reintroducing things. I learnt that my stomach feels better when I eat less gluten-not none, but say not more than once a day; and that nuts, in any more than very small amounts, give me diarrhea(sp).

            It’s more a regime than a diet. We did it with a dietician, and it was an interesting exercise. It was fiddly and expensive to do, but I got some benefit out of it. And I didn’t have gut trouble to start with!

            So definitely worth a try if you do.

      • May 28, 2016 at 10:31 am #

        You have just blown my mind. I have had issues with constipation over the last few years, and I just keep eating more and more fiber, but it never seems to get better……I had no idea this was a thing. Time to back off the fiber!

        • StephanieA
          May 28, 2016 at 9:03 pm #

          It’s weird but it really does make me feel awful. I tend towards constipation and fiber just makes everything 10x worse.

  18. May 26, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    I am amazed at how these women have managed to create a strawman out of Dr. Amy then proceed to use ad hominem attacks about the strawman they created as signs that her argument is wrong.

    Added strange points for putting the word interview in quotes and implying that Dr. Amy’s birth experience is limited to the four she had herself…..

    • BeatriceC
      May 26, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

      I am sometimes tempted to go back to teaching after reading what they say. Obviously we are failing to teach basic reading comprehension skills. Granted I teach math, but still. And yes, Dr. Amy can be abrasive. Who cares? This idea that women can’t handle simple facts and plain language pisses me off more than anything else.

      • May 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

        Yeah, I really don’t get the “she sounds angry so lets not listen” idea. Maybe she’s angry because shit’s fucked up? (excuse my language)

        • BeatriceC
          May 26, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

          I’ve said this before, but I think one of the reasons I like her so much is that she reminds me of my grandmother (the non-evil one). My grandmother wasn’t exactly nice, but she was incredible. She was an airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corps, back when they called it that, in the late 30’s through the end of WWII. She was in a regular unit, not a specialty men’s unit. Think of the personality it took to pull that off. While she wasn’t your stereotypical cookie-baking grandma, without women like her, we would be much worse off today. I think of Dr. Amy as this generation’s answer to women like my grandmother a few generations ago, who fought for women’s issues even in the face of extreme harassment. I shy away from confrontation, and I’m extraordinarily grateful for the women like Dr. Amy who can stand up and fight.

        • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya
          May 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

          She doesn’t even ever sound angry to me, just very straightforward. Exasperated, at times. But never bullying, offensive, or angry.

          • May 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

            I haven’t ever found her to be bullying. Offensive, insulting, and angry though, yes. The Ima Frawd satire pieces, for instance, are insulting and could definitely offend people. The heartbreaking posts about preventable deaths are often angry in tone.

            I just fail to see why Dr. Amy being angry, offensive, and insulting (especially since it’s only some of the time) invalidates anything she has to say.

          • Who?
            May 26, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

            There’s a few strings to that bow I think. First, people don’t cope so well with straightforward women. Which is of course ‘people’s’ problem to deal with, but in for example a negotiation it can be useful to moderate tone to get more of what one wants. This is not, however, a negotiation.

            Then, these people sell loving sweetness. They sell caring, and fuzzy stuff, and pale pink and blue pretty. Dr T is stripping that away to expose the emptiness behind it. She is smashing their window dressing.

            It was interesting to watch the interview footage on here a month or two ago. An elegant lady of a certain age spoke softly and warmly, and with passion, about parenting and birth and women’s choices. It was interesting to see the the gap between the written word and the living woman. Dr T on a speaking tour is the hobbyists’ worst nightmare.

      • guest
        May 26, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

        Don’t go back to teaching. Or, at least, if you do, prepare for a demoralizing experience. I wish I’d done something else. I guess I could still sell out and move into admin.

        • BeatriceC
          May 26, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

          I loved my kids, but hated what the public school system has become. I was lucky and had an amazing principal, but there was only so much she could do. I left teaching for the corporate world because I needed a job with more flexibility than teaching provides, and even that proved to be too much to manage with my kids’ medical needs. Thankfully MrC is happy to pay most of the bills so I can stay home and take care of them (not that I’m happy when he has to help pay for stuff that I normally pay for, but he does it with a smile.)

          • guest
            May 26, 2016 at 2:32 pm #

            If I get tenure, I’ll stick it out, I guess. An admin schedule is much less flexible than what I have now. Don’t mind anything I say right now; I’m in the middle of grading final essays. One of them used 16 point font to try and fool me into thinking it was sufficiently well-developed.

          • BeatriceC
            May 26, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

            Here’s a funny story that might make you feel better. I went to a boarding school in high school. I graduated in 1993, so before computers were ubiquitous. My school had two computers available for student use in the library. Papers were not expected to be word processed. For my term paper in government and economics the teacher said the paper could be written in “anything but graphite.” It was to be a minimum of 7500 words. I followed his rules exactly and wrote my final draft in yellow highlighter.

          • Charybdis
            May 26, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

            My senior year honor’s English paper had to be three pages long, no more no less, typewritten (I graduated in 1986), with proper margins. My topic was Chopin. I used my Dad’s secretary’s typewriter because you could select either Elite or Pica type. I used Pica type because it was slightly larger. I also increased the side margins by a mm or two.

            It worked like a charm.

          • CSN0116
            May 26, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

            Kate Chopin is probably my favorite author. I nearly memorized “The Awakening” by age 12 😉

            I read that book with my 7-year-olds lol!

          • Amazed
            May 26, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

            Another funny story: from time to time, I get texts from people who minimize them to have them take as little space as possible. In the beginning, we often had the following conversation: Me: That’s 12 pages. They: No, it’s 7. Me: It’s 1800 symbols, including intervals. They: Why so? You see, they pay me according to the number of pages I translate.

            Now, I just say: Let’s be clear, the standard here, in this country, is that a page consists of 1800 symbols, including intervals. It doesn’t matter that you have enlarged/decreased the text to whatever. That’s the payment basics.

            I have to admit that most of the people who tried to get me shafted over that did it when I was pretty young. I guess that when they see my experience now, they won’t think I don’t know the standard, to my detriment.

        • demodocus
          May 27, 2016 at 7:52 am #

          I’m already demoralized, and I’ve only substitute and student taught

      • StephanieA
        May 26, 2016 at 9:43 pm #

        Most adults I know do not know how to think critically at all. For an example, I used to work with a very capable nurse that when on to be an NP in orthopedics. She was very competent and a skilled nurse. When we became friends on Facebook I saw she posted a ton of anti-Obama articles and memes. It took me a couple minutes of Googling reputable sites that discredited her articles. She has a master’s degree, you would think she would know to think critically and check and make sure the things she’s sharing on Facebook are accurate? Most people I know are like this. My mom readily believed an anti-flu vaccine article that was misspelled. People don’t know to read a bibliography to see if the sources are crap or if the studies are strong. I recently explained to my mom what makes a study strong and what doesn’t (ie, a questionnaire is not a strong research method). Kids need to be taught these things.

        • BeatriceC
          May 26, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

          I whole-heartedly agree, but in an effort not to completely derail the comments, I will refrain from typing out a mini-dissertation on what I believe is wrong with the American public education system and how I think we should fix it. I did my best with the students I had, but even 400 or so students a year for 10 years isn’t even a whole drop in the bucket.

          • StephanieA
            May 26, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

            Oh I do not fault teachers at all. I hope I didn’t come across that way. I think teachers are insanely overworked and underpaid and do the best they can. I actually really enjoy hearing teacher’s opinions on the state of our educational system.

          • BeatriceC
            May 26, 2016 at 10:22 pm #

            I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that I thought you were blaming teachers. The reality is that there are bad teachers, just as there are bad people in every profession, but the roadblocks we face go far beyond what any teacher individually can overcome. Like you said, most of us do the best we can with what we have. Many of us, including me, leave. I was a good teacher serving a woefully underserved population. I loved those kids as much as I love my own kids, but there’s no way I’d go back unless something drastic changes, and I’m far from the only former teacher that feels that way.

          • StephanieA
            May 26, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

            My best friend is a teacher. She has developed anxiety issues since starting her teaching job. She’s at her school until 9 or 10 pm every night. She loves her job and her kids and that’s the reasons she stays late and works so hard, but I don’t know how long she can do that for before it starts to take too much of a toll on her.

          • BeatriceC
            May 26, 2016 at 10:29 pm #

            She can’t. She actually needs to scale back. It’s a harsh reality, but she’s going to burn out and possibly even more negatively affect her health. If she’s working that long, there’s something going wrong. She needs to reach out for help on how to reduce her workload. There’s a couple really good forums for teachers. My favorite is the discussion board on AtoZTeacherStuff. I don’t participate on that one anymore (though I’m technically still a moderator there), but it’s a great source of support. They can help her figure out how to re-organize her day to get everything done without killing herself.

          • StephanieA
            May 26, 2016 at 10:32 pm #

            Thank you! I’ll definitely pass that site along to her. She has mentioned that her teacher’s aide is worthless, so that might be part of the reason she’s struggling.

          • BeatriceC
            May 26, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

            You’re welcome. Tell her if she joins to look for users named: MrsC (not me), Leighball, MonsieurTeacher, TeacherGroupie, Caesar, kcjo, catnfiddle, and smalltowngal. I think most of those people are still active, and they’re all personal friends, so I know they’ll give good, solid advise (though two are Canadian, so while they can help with some things, there are other things unique to the US system that they won’t be much help with). There are others who’s usernames I can’t recall, but she won’t go wrong seeking out those people.

          • Mishimoo
            May 27, 2016 at 4:00 am #

            My sister is currently in a similar position. She’s advocating for change pretty hard and hopefully things will change for the better given the situation in the community. I personally think it’s ridiculous and rather limiting to teach Indigenous Australian kids using an American curriculum (American spelling and Imperial measurements); so I want it scrapped too.

          • BeatriceC
            May 27, 2016 at 4:03 am #

            I think “asinine” is the right word here.

          • Mishimoo
            May 27, 2016 at 4:05 am #

            Apparently the intent is to roll it out Australia-wide for Indigenous kids, which will further limit already disadvantaged children! It’s utterly ridiculous.

          • BeatriceC
            May 27, 2016 at 4:07 am #

            I can’t even respond coherently to that. Where to start on the wrong things? There’s too many. I will just sit here slack jawed.

          • Who?
            May 27, 2016 at 6:21 pm #

            Is she okay? Not among the group who have been evacuated? It’s a terrible situation up there, hope some wise people can find a way forward for that community.

            Good to see you here btw. Work still going well?

          • Mishimoo
            May 27, 2016 at 9:41 pm #

            She’s in the evacuated group, but the media isn’t being exactly honest in the reporting. She’s had situations where she has gone to the police station or called for help and they’ve just battened down the hatches and ignored the calls. It’s frustrating. My sister and her husband haven’t had any issues – they even leave their bikes unlocked while doing visits or going to the shops, and no one touches them even though all the kids want to borrow the bikes or hitch a lift on them. My brother-in-law was nearly carjacked once by a very drunk guy, and was like “Lol nope” and drove off.

            All the teachers voted to stay against what their union demanded; it took an order from the Director-General to get them out. She was going to stay in the town and just not teach, but her families asked her to not risk her career. She had a huge cry with her kids, and is going to be doing relief work for another school in a different remote town until next term. The executive principal (because it’s a group of academies) tried to hand her this huge workload and completely lost it at her twice when she said “No, you’re mistaken. I am not staying and I told HR that twice. Even if I were, I wouldn’t be teaching, I’d be helping the community where needed.”. Then he tried to guilt trip her and she laughed it off because with parents like ours, we’re kind of immune to that. She’s down for a wedding today which was planned months ago, so we’re going to lunch tomorrow, I’m so excited.

            Work placement is awesome, everyone is still telling me to apply as soon as there is an opening and “Hopefully you’ll come and work with us soon!” which is lovely. One more week, then I’m finishing assessments and waiting for results.

          • Who?
            May 27, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

            I’m so glad she’s okay. It’s great she can stay working, the new school will be delighted to see some extra help.

            The police are a bit tied up I think. They can’t incarcerate the offenders in the watchhouse for fear they will die in custody, as people who drink to excess and fight are prone to do, regardless of race. Remove the underage ones and we’re back to ‘stolen generation’. They don’t feel confident using their ‘force multipliers’: no one wants to be the guy who has someone die after what, in any other situation, would be an effective, and safe, intervention. And minus a small army, going in for a confrontation with none of those strategies available is potentially suicide.

            It seems like a comparatively small group are messing with, and holding to ransom, an entire community.

            Great work is going well for you! All crossed an opening comes up soon that you can slot into. And good luck with exams/assessment.

            Enjoy the day with your sister tomorrow.

            And this lovely weather-autumn might finally be here.

          • Mishimoo
            May 27, 2016 at 11:24 pm #

            “It seems like a comparatively small group are messing with, and holding to ransom, an entire community.” – exactly! That’s what the Wik Mother’s Group are also saying, but you’re also right that it’s a very difficult situation to deal with. As my sister said: “The change needs to come from within the community otherwise it’s not a genuine change.”

          • Charybdis
            May 27, 2016 at 9:26 am #

            Does “an asinine save nine” or is that strictly reserved for stitches?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            May 27, 2016 at 9:41 am #

            In my personal, purely anecdotal experience, I have encountered two teachers that were just vile and/or incompetent*, several who were mediocre, and quite a lot that were good to stellar. And that’s in public schools in Texas for K-8th grade. I bailed to a private school, which I paid for with my SAT scores, in high school.

            *One bullied my best friend in 6th grade. Bullying a student is not acceptable in a teacher, especially a grade school teacher. The other was this very strange sexist who announced on the first day of class that boys were just naturally better at history than girls. Also that she needed a husband. To a 5th grade class. Yeah, late elementary school had its share of not so great ones. OTOH, the only teacher who actually tried to address my “not diagnosed because the diagnosis wasn’t well known in the psychiatric much less the lay community” Asperger’s was also my 4th and 5th grade teacher. So there was a certain amount of balance.

        • demodocus
          May 27, 2016 at 7:48 am #

          My nurse stepmother’s doing this too. Sometimes I wonder why she doesn’t just check snopes immediately.

  19. Sarah
    May 26, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

    I wonder if Ms Haas could point us to some people who’ve attempted an intellectual conversation with Dr Amy about research differing from her opinion. Shit stirring, strawmen constructing, whining bullshitting doesn’t qualify.

    • Sue
      May 27, 2016 at 2:29 am #

      I suspect they know they’re not across the research to the extent Dr Amy is – or anywhere near.

  20. J.
    May 26, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    If they want to use the phrase “sexual violation and coercion,” it would apply better to women who are forced into a vaginal birth because hospitals want to lower their c-section rate. Maternal request c-sections should be a right.

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