The irrational worship of breastmilk

Praying for the sun.

A visitor from outer space might be forgiven for thinking that breastfeeding is a fundamentalist religion.

What do I mean?

Breastfeeding is routinely touted as having “magic” powers. Breastfeeding advocates (lactivists) have continually come forward with ever more outrageous claims about the benefits of breastmilk. At the same time, they’ve dreamt up ever more stringent requirements around breastfeeding to make what was once modestly difficult even harder. And they’ve justified it all by invoking a past that never existed.

The real benefits of breastfeeding are never enough for breastfeeding advocates.

It’s almost as if they cannot tolerate the idea that breastfeeding, a bodily function, is no more likely to be perfect than any other bodily function. It’s absurd when you think about it. We know that pregnancy has a natural miscarriage rate of 20%. That means that 1 in 5 pregnancies end in the death of the embryo and most women will have at least one miscarriage in their reproductive lives. There’s no reason to think that breastfeeding is any more magical than pregnancy, but that hasn’t stopped the outrageous claims.

Consider this recent piece on the website BlogHer, 15 Magical Benefits of Breastfeeding. The piece is filled with lie after lie after lie.

Breastfeeding does NOT promote bonding. There’s no evidence to support that claim, zip, zero, nada. Lactivists just made it up.

Breastfeeding is NOT nature’s greatest protector. Consider that the countries with the highest breastfeeding rates have the HIGHEST infant mortality rates. The truth is that our brain is nature’s greatest protector. Only countries with easy access to technology (including infant formula) have low rates of infant mortality.

Breastfeeding does NOT provide any greater support for developing brains than formula. That’s hardly surprising since formula is designed to mimic breastmilk as closely as possible.

Breastfed babies do NOT have better facial muscle and speech development compared to formula fed babies.

There’s NO evidence that breastfeeding is more environmentally friendly than formula feeding. Sure you cut out the cow and the packaging of formula, but the calories have to come from somewhere. In breastfeeding, they come from the food the mother eats, which is obviously more elaborate and requires more elaborate packing materials than grass.

Breastfeeding mothers do NOT get more sleep. That is absolutely nonsensical. A bottle feeding mother can get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep every night so long as there is someone else with whom she can share bottlefeeding duties. That lactivists would even make such a ridiculous claim is a testament to their desperation to inflate the benefits of breastfeeding.

Perhaps the most outrageous lie currently making the rounds is the theory of spit backwash.

Breastfeeding researcher Katie Hinde and others have noted that when babies are sick, the antibodies content of breastmilk rises. They’ve fabricated an extraordinary mechanism for how the baby communicated to its mother that it was sick. Their theory is known as “spit backwash.” Baby saliva is literally sucked into the breast where the mother’s body senses the pathogen and makes antibodies in response. There is NO evidence of any kind, zip, zero, nada that spit backwash occurs.

There’s a far simpler explanation for Hinde’s observations. It’s hard for two people to be much closer than a mother and her feeding infant. If a baby has a cold, for example, the mother can simply breathe in the virus expelled when the baby sneezes and make antibodies to the virus to protect herself from the cold. Those antibodies then end up in the breastmilk incidentally as a result of being in the mother’s bloodstream. If researchers had looked, they would likely have found that the father and siblings were making the same antibodies as the mother, not to transmit them to the baby, but to protect themselves.

That would be impressive enough, but the real benefits of breastfeeding are never enough for breastfeeding advocates.

Breastmilk worship is like a religion, but how is it like a fundamentalist religion?

Activists are constantly creating ever more arcane restrictions for breastfeeding itself in the breastfeeding version of asceticism: You must breastfeed in the first hour! You must breastfeed exclusively! Even one bottle of formula is risky! Never use a pacifier! You must breastfeed exclusively for 4 months! … no for 6 months! … no for a year! Food before one is just for fun!

There is no evidence that breastfeeding needs to be surrounded by so many restrictions. There is no evidence that breastfeeding is such a tenuous behavior among babies that a pacifier or bottle of formula will ruin the breastfeeding relationship. These restrictions are part of the oneupsmanship beloved of breastfeeding advocates and have nothing to do with what is good for babies.

The outrageous claims and the ridiculous restrictions are justified by appeals to “Nature.” But the “Nature” that lactivists envision never existed. Nature is filled with infant death in spite of breastfeeding and in some cases because of breastfeeding. Not all mothers make enough milk to fully nourish a baby. Not all babies can extract enough milk from the breast to fully nourish themselves. Moreover, indigenous peoples around the world have always given babies fluids in addition to breastmilk. There’s very little about contemporary breastfeeding that recapitulates breastfeeding in nature.

There’s absolutely nothing magical about breastfeeding, and the endless efforts of lactivists to insist that there is tells us more about their need for self-justification than about breastfeeding itself.

If they want to worship something about the human body, they ought to worship the brain. It is our brains and the resultant technology that save countless infant lives each year, NOT breastfeeding.

  • lawyer jane

    If the antibodies in breastmilk were so amazing, we’d see a lot more difference in infections between breastfed and formula fed babies than we do. As it is, the research is pretty clear that breastmilk does slightly reduce gastro illnesses and ear infections through passive immunity, but that’s it. In some cases that might be a worthwhile reason to breastfeed – it’s one reason I did, because my husband is partially deaf due to ear infections he had as a baby, so I figured that there may be added benefit in avoiding ear infections for my particular kid. But it really doesn’t do anyone any good to make up unsupported theories beyond the actual evidence.

  • Mandy

    Agreed. It’s just biological.

  • There is nothing wrong with using formula in the West, where the water is clean. The main problem with formula is in third-world countries, where it is sometimes aggressively marketed. There there are serious santiation issues, sometimes resistant to boiling and other water sterilization techniques, and breast milk is far safer.

    But no problem with formula as long as you have modern santitation and clear water.

  • Emma

    Hmm…a lactivist in my family told me for the longest time that my baby wasn’t receiving any antibodies from my breastmilk due to the fact that I was exclusively pumping as opposed to directly breastfeeding. Other lactivists online and in real-life said similar things – that in order for my baby to receive the potentially life-saving antibodies (yes, “potentially lifesaving” they said), my baby needed to be directly latched on to my breast, to allow her saliva and germs to backwash in to my nipple and signal my body to make the proper antibodies she needed that would then be passed back to her. Seemed like pumping was pointless according to them, so I soon gave up and switched to formula (which brought along even more harsh judgement, but it worked out so much better for me and my daughter).

    My question is, if this simpler explanation about the antibodies is true, would that have meant that by just being in close contact with my baby, my body would’ve made the antibodies anyways – regardless of my baby not being on my nipple – which then could’ve been passed through the breastmilk I pumped and fed her via bottle?

    • Canary0

      Antibodies are fundamentally proteins. When they go through anyone’s digestive system, I would think they behave like any other protein and get broken down into their component amino acids by protease enzymes in the small intestine before they even hit the bloodstream. The baby would use said amino acids to make their own antibodies in response to whatever pathogen they’re exposed to, but they would use the amino acids from any other source for the same purpose and a myriad others.

      I don’t mind being corrected if I’m wrong, but this is how it should go IIRC.

      • swbarnes2

        You are right that diabetics don’t eat insulin, they inject it, exactly because it would be digested.

        But there is a component of the immune system that works in your stomach. Infant rotavirus vaccine is given by mouth, as was the old sugar cube polio vaccine. Makes sense, as both of those are primarily GI tract infections (it’s kind of a fluke when polio infects the nerves, usually, it’s jut a stomach bug).

        So some vaccines are effective given by mouth, but I’m guessing they work by priming immune system cells in the stomach. So I guess if antibodies from mom’s stomach circulated to the breast tissue, they might end up in breastmilk. And there seems to be a small, but probably real lowered infection rate in breastfed babies, so that’s a decent explanation for it.

        The idea of large amounts of material transferring from baby to mother seems not very plausible, and if baby is already infected with something, I would think that baby would either be better or in serious trouble by the time mom got around to making antibodies for it.

    • Monica

      Kind of makes you wonder why donor milk is okay in so many lactivists eyes or really the gold standard for those who don’t produce enough milk. Why is a strangers milk better than formula? Unscreened strangers milk at that. Always moving those goal posts.

  • sugarskull

    I was placed with brothers through foster care, when they were 11 and 12. Neither sucked on my boob ever. And yet we are incredibly bonded. And that is after they were physically, mentally and sexually abused; no to mention neglected by given one meal a day and no healthcare. So if kids that have no reason to trust and have bonding issues to begin with can bond with someone, so can brand new babies with zero trauma – no boobs required.

  • Juana

    Now to get snarky…

    “7. ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY
    Do you know methane from cows contributes more to global warming than cars? By breastfeeding you’ll be reducing “emissions” from cows, not to mention the reductions in packaging, BPA-lined cans, land and feed for cows,
    refrigeration, transport…the list goes on.”

    Is that still true if I eat the cow because I need calories for breastfeeding?

    (And now to something not completely different: I think that lactulose should be forbidden because it’s environmentally unfriendly.)

    #1: bonding because oxytocin…
    Isn’t oxytocin also released during an orgasm? That means orgasms make me feel maternal? Where is the rally for sexual satisfaction for mothers?

    • Elizabeth A

      In order to feed ME, food has to come to the grocery store in trucks, often refrigerated ones (because I shop the edges of the grocery store like I’m told I’m supposed to). Lined cardboard cans of shelf-stable powder are probably BETTER for the environment than my favorite breastfeeding snacks (almonds, greek yogurt, and single-serving containers of UHT organic chocolate milk).

      • guest

        That, plus I personally eat a lot of dairy, so breastfeeding doesn’t really cut down on emissions from cows.

    • Amy

      Further…..many breastfeeding mothers end up feeling “touched out” by the end of the day from all that nipple sucking. That could easily lead to a lot less sex. Even more so if the baby is sleeping in the parents’ bed and mom is nursing on demand all night.

    • Daleth

      Do you know methane from cows contributes more to global warming than cars? By breastfeeding you’ll be reducing “emissions” from cows

      Oh please. You’re only reducing emissions if you don’t eat milk, yogurt, cheese or beef. And even then you’re not really reducing them, since your personal reduced consumption isn’t going to cause the American dairy industry to downsize its cow population.

  • Juana

    “Breastfeeding is freaking hard. No doubt about it. But health
    professionals agree exclusive breastfeeding for six months is best for
    babies. That means no formula. No water. No food. Just breast milk. Most women begin nursing their babies but by 3 months only 32% are exclusively breastfeeding. And by 6 months it drops to 12%.”

    I always wonder why it’s just 32% exclusively breastfed babies at 3 months.
    Wait, maybe it’s because they set the bar for exclusive breastfeeding SO DAMN FREAKING HIGH???
    I mean, I basically breastfed both #1 and #2 exclusively. #1 got pumped breastmilk because she couldn’t figure out how to latch, and by 5 months I had to feed additional formula because my supply tanked due to a bout of mastitis (from “exactly enough” to “just not enough”). #2 breastfed like a champ, and is still going at 10 months (but I started her on solids with 4 months, so no exclusive bf till 6 months either). But both got formula in those first days (#1 because of underweight and icterus, #2 because I wanted it so).
    So they were basically never ever in those stats as “exclusively breastfed”, not even until 3 months, and that’s because of the first days of life.
    Even though I consider their feeding histories a success, because they got a whole lot of breastmilk. Thank you, WHO.

    (I always love that lactivist motto of “Every drop counts”, until they pause to think: “Wait… nope, doesn’t count.”)

    • Elizabeth A

      I strongly suspect that MOST families introduce some kind of solids before 6 months, so those 6 month rates are always going to be low.

      Three months is the point where babies start daycare if their parents have 12-week FMLA maternity leaves. It is a very common point for the introduction of formula. Which isn’t crazy.

      • CSN0116

        Given the research, is it even ethical to promote no food before 6 months? Doesn’t introduction at the 4 month mark produce better outcomes?

        I swear that rich white kids are allergic to every fucking thing known to man because their parents are the most likely to comply with these recommendations. I swear these recommendations are actually harming kids.

        • Roadstergal

          I’m totally with you on that. I wonder often if the EBF drive is harming kids.

          • Heidi

            I hate that phrase used, “Food before one is just for fun.” No, it’s not, especially in infants who were EBF until 4-6 months! It’s actually needed for the iron stores that are depleted, which in some EBF babies is closer to 4 months than 6 months.

        • Madtowngirl

          Not to mention, recent research suggests delaying solid foods can actually contribute to increased food allergies.

  • Are you nuts

    It’s so unfortunate that the OB’s office distributes literature with many of these very claims, stamped with the hospital’s logo.

    • Laura

      Mine does the same thing. Makes me crazy. Can’t wait to fight with the lactation consultants, who I’ve heard are incredibly pushy, when I deliver my twins this fall.

  • Fleur

    Wait, now they’re arguing that breastfeeding mums get more sleep?! I thought I was meant to be the shit mum sticking a bottle in my poor baby’s mouth just so I can get a good night’s sleep. Can I have some martyrdom points now? I mean, here I am soldiering through disturbed nights at the moment whilst she has a growth spurt, and I could be having all that extra sleep if I’d only cave in and shove a boob in her mouth!

    • demodocus

      only if you co-sleep, and really, some kids are *not* fun to sleep beside.

      • Erin

        My son would kick my section scar as a very small baby (he was long). As a toddler he’s given me a black eye when we fell asleep together one night. He woke up and booted me in the face. I do bruise easily but you could see toe shaped bruises on my cheekbone if you looked closely enough.

        I imagine I’d get a better nights sleep taking a bag of ferrets to bed.

        • Irène Delse

          When I still had my cats, it was usual for them to get under the covers with me in the winter. I would wake up sandwiched by the two of them, never feeling the cold. They were a lot more quiet sleepers than most babies.

        • Mariana

          Bag of ferrets! That’s my kids! Lol. I get about zero sleep when they are in my bed (and they are 3 and 5 years old)

      • FormerPhysicist

        I co-slept because I kept falling asleep and dropping the baby while feeding. But feeding overnight once teeth come in – baby bottle mouth isn’t just for bottle-fed babies and now I have some pretty serious dental bills. 🙁

  • Tori

    Breast milk never runs out? So how could I not be able to produce a life-sustaining quantity for my baby, if breastmilk never runs out?

    • demodocus

      Because it’s always being generated or something. The problem is, some women have springs that can refresh a community and some just have a small seep that’s barely enough to keep a violet alive.

      • Tori

        Good analogy. I’ve got a seep that’s supposed to be able to let an oak tree thrive then – so not happening!

  • Sue

    “Vision defects”??

    • Irène Delse

      That’s a new one. Maybe some breastmilk gets squirted in the baby’s eyes?

  • Box of Salt

    Can someone explain to me how Gillett’s #15 Nighttime Nursing = Happier Babies goes with #14 Babies Get More Sleep? How does a baby waking up to nurse overnight get more sleep?

    • Charybdis

      It’s the cosleeping. Supposedly, neither Mom nor baby wake completely to nurse, so that equals more sleep for everyone. Or something like that.

      • Box of Salt

        It’s nice that her baby never needed burping while co-sleeping

        • Monkey Professor for a Head

          Minimonkey spat up after every feed for the first few months. If we had co-slept, I would have had to buy a new mattress.

        • Fleur

          Back when I was combo feeding, I kept reading that babies don’t need burping after a breastfeed. My daughter never seemed to get that memo.

          • Charybdis

            It’s because of the combo feeding, you see. The formula is what introduces the air that requires burping the baby.

            That, or maybe you shouldn’t use Perrier to mix the formula. 😛

          • guest

            That’s bullshit. My son was on only breastmilk and I had to stop several times per feed to burp him just decrease his amount of spit-up slightly. And such burps! They rivaled any adult’s.

      • CSN0116

        Babies suffocate or choke to death (drown) all the time while moms nurse unconscious and lying down. I saw three in the 6 months I was in the MEs office. That shit is belly sleeping, bumpers, and blankets on steroids

        • Fleur

          That’s terrible. I keep seeing a persistent myth on breastfeeding forums that it’s impossible for a nursing mother to suffocate her own baby, because her bond with her baby is so much deeper and more sensitive that, even if she is unconscious, she will instantly wake if her baby is in danger. Personally, I only exclusively breastfed for five days but, during my brief, snatched moments of sleep in that period, you could have run a truck over me and I wouldn’t have woken up.

          • momofone

            I remember reading posts on the La Leche forum about this. Mothers are so deeply bonded that they could never not know their baby was in danger. Fathers, on the other hand, should probably just sleep in another room. Since being fathers, you know, they aren’t attuned to their babies at all.

          • Fleur

            Yup, the whole thing is ridiculously sexist/ insulting to fathers. Plus it’s such a cruel message to send to women who lose their babies to that kind of accident: “nope, you didn’t just make a judgement call when you were half-mad with sleep-deprivation and get unlucky – you obviously didn’t have a deep enough bond with your baby”.

          • Clorinda

            And that directly contradicts her claim that you get a lessened response to adrenaline. I was reading that as saying – “Oh, no biggie. The shelves just fell on him. Let me wrap up what I’m writing on this blog before I go see what happened.” That may not be what the actual study said (one of the few linked to) but that is the way I read how she wrote it.

          • Fleur

            God knows why a lessened response to adrenaline would be such a good thing once you have a tiny person crawling around trying to find creative ways to damage itself…

          • Nick Sanders

            So you don’t OD stroke out? 😛

          • Heidi

            They also claim BF babies are safe to co-sleep because they get less infections. I understand that something like a cold does increase the chances of SIDS but their claims make no sense. Less isn’t none! I’m pretty sure to see less infections, you have to look at the whole population because 8% less of six colds (which I’ve read before is the average for an infant during their first year) for example is 5.44 colds. Well, a baby is going to get five colds or get six colds, not 5.44.

          • Fleur

            Not to mention that there are other factors affecting how many infections a baby is going to have in its first year, so it’s not as simple as “a breastfed baby is going to get sick less” in any individual case. My friend’s baby (EBF, home water-birth, worn several hours a day) has had multiple colds because her big brother started school shortly after she was born.

          • Heidi

            Yep. So far at almost 8 months, my baby has had zero illness. Up until the last week or two, he had small amounts of breast milk almost daily since I could pump a little but was primarily formula fed (and of course, according to many lactivists, while breast milk is supernatural, formula is its kryptonite). I give the BM zero credit. I am a stay at home mom. Baby gets out in public once or twice a week, I’d guess, but isn’t in close contact with sick children or really much of anyone. I know, though, that when school starts, he’ll probably pick up quite a few bugs!

          • demodocus

            my 8 week old and i are just getting over a cold her big brother so generously shared

          • Heidi

            Ugh! I guess I have me getting sick to look forward to, also! Glad you all are about over it, though.

          • Roadstergal

            Ugh. And the evil other side of that is, if a mother does suffocate her own baby, it’s because she wasn’t sufficiently ‘bonded.’

          • Fleur

            Just posted a comment below to the same effect before I saw this – I agree entirely and I think it’s incredibly cruel.

          • Gene

            It’s a myth. I’ve coded and pronounced ebf infants who were smothered while they were cosleeping.

  • Charybdis

    OT: I now have a new reference point for pain and “discomfort”

    Infected shingles. On my foot. Secondary staph infection causing heat, redness and swelling in addition to the searing burning of shingles.

    This sucks. A lot.

    • momofone

      That sounds miserable. I hope you get some relief soon.

    • BeatriceC

      Owie.

    • MI Dawn

      OUCH! So sorry to read this. Many gentle hugs and hopes that medications help you soon.

  • BeatriceC

    My parrot gazes into my eyes and vomits up “crop milk” which she tries to feed me with. I mean, I know it’s not breastfeeding, but it’s natural and promotes bonding, so I should drink it, right?

    • Charybdis

      Incorporated into a cup of coffee or tea, of course. 😛

      • BeatriceC

        That would go against nature! She needs to vomit it right into my mouth. (I love birds, but man they can be gross).

      • Amy

        Yerba mate or a hot carob drink only. Tea and coffee aren’t earthy-crunchy enough.

    • Irène Delse

      That’s adorable… and gross, too! XD

  • Clorinda

    #1 – so I don’t love the child I lost 5 hours after birth as much as my living children because I failed to breastfeed.

    #2 – Must have snuck formula into my breasts because #1 & #5 have eczema issues, #3 has asthma and #4 may have asthma.

    #4 – Two of my kids couldn’t say any consonants for the longest time. Couldn’t be understood by others besides me until around age 3 for one and 4-5 for the other. Must have snuck formula into my breasts for those as well. And it must have been that same formula that is making my oldest require braces.

    #8 – and increases the chances of mothers going bonkers from lack of sleep. #1 and #5 ate so often that I was close to dangerous on the roads. And there was no other way to get to appointments. And no one else could feed the child and give me a break, because breastfeeding.

    #9 – What weight loss

    #11 – and lack of sleep has shown an increased chance of developing PPD. So which is it?

    #12 – Yep. Let’s get them used to snacks and treats to cure any temper tantrums, boo-boos or hurt feelings. That’s going to help the obesity epidemic.

    #13 – HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! That’s funny. 40-45 extra minutes of sleep per night? When I wake up every hour and a half to feed a starving child, I get MORE sleep than if they slept for 3-4 hours at a stretch? How does that math work out?

    #14 – See above. Oh, wait. Babies get to sleep during the day too so that might be true. But moms who have jobs or more than one child don’t get to.

    #15 – Must be why #2 screamed from 10pm-2am for 2 months straight starting at birth, and then reduced it slowly over time to merely screaming from 10 pm – midnight at around 4-5 months.

  • Erin

    Well I was obviously doing it wrong as I totally failed on 1, 6, 11 and 13.

    Got asked the other day about feeding number 2. Told her I was planning on formula feeding from day 1. You would have thought I told her I wanted to sacrifice kittens to “The Whisperer in the Darkness”. Apparently my plan for baby to go to Daddy and then not to me until I’m fully conscious (i..e more than 1 hour after birth) makes me a Monster too.

    Yay for “Mental Health” midwives whose definition of “supportive” varies from mine by a rather large margin.

    • Azuran

      My plan to ‘try breastfeeding and stop if it doesn’t work for me’ is earning me very weird looks and comments in my family. My mom even told me I was stubbornly rigid in my idea.

      • Amy M

        Bleah…do what works for you. I tried breastfeeding and stopped when it didn’t work. My children are fine. Maybe they would have had one less ear infection…but the ear infections they did have didn’t leave any lasting damage. I don’t really believe that breastfeeding makes a difference, IQ wise, but even if it does, it seems to be a matter of a few points. I”m not worried that my children have missed out on something crucial. And that bonding thing is total crap—anyone can bond with a baby, including men, and the only one of the myriad of potentially bonded people is the mom. I don’t know many people who only have an emotional connection with their moms and no one else. Clearly, breastfeeding is not critical for that.

        • Allie

          I know someone like that – Norman Bates : )

        • Azuran

          I don’t thinks she’s too much into the ‘healthy’ part of the woo. I was formula fed from 1 month old due to severe reaction to breastmilk and I’ve basically been the healthiest and most successful of her kids.
          Mostly her point was that Breastfeeding is more practical. To which my answer was: Yea sure, when it goes well. Which she brushed away with basically: ‘It went well for me, it will go well for you.’

          I’ve also laughed and flat out refused to give birth at home. Despite my aunt pushing me too (she wanted to do it herself but couldn’t for some reason) and both my mother and grandmother bemoaning that I won’t let my baby be born in the same house my grandmother was born into.

          • Pamela J Draper

            Your mom’s argument is completely ridiculous. My mom has done nothing but brag about how she BF me and my brother for a year each. And when I was preggo with my first she was so darn excited I would be BF too.

            Let me tell you, the shizz ended me up in the hospital with the worst case of mastitis my OB had seen. I had to be away from my baby for a WEEK. Not to mention the surgery and scars.

            I’m preggo again and she told me she hopes I trying BF again. I was like, “are you nuts?” Do I need to whip out my scar? It it NOT worth it for me to try again. Noooo thank you.

            Point being, just because it worked for your ma is no indication of how well it will work for you.

            I really do hope you try it though. And I mean that honestly, not snarky.

        • Pamela J Draper

          The bonding this is definitely crap. I can attest that my LO and I bonded BETTER once I had to give up BF and pumping. He never really got what he needed from me and as soon as he took a bottle of formula, I honestly promise you our entire relationship changed for the better. I think the poor kid wasn’t getting what he needed from me, as desperate as I was to give him breast milk.

      • Roadstergal

        The most stubbornly rigid thing you could do is to give something a try and see if it works…?

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Do what works for you, I sorta tried in the hospital because some of the nurses were pushing it hard but they also had the ready to feed nursettes and sealed nipples in my daughters bassinet. Daughter was combo fed for our 1 and 1/2 days in the hospital and formula fed completely when I took her home. She’s healthy and smart and almost done with her Engineering degree. Survey sample of one, but it worked for us.

        I think the books, puzzles, chemistry sets , museums, park visits and reading to her every night had a lot more to do with her doing well in school than what she was fed as an infant. Being lucky enough to be born to middle class parents with disposable income and living in a town with a great school system has a lot to do with it as well

    • Charybdis

      You know, I would like to be able to tell all of these people to go straight to hell, do NOT pass Go, do not collect $200 on your behalf.

      Because their obtuseness is seriously anger-making. Your restraint is admirable.

      • Erin

        To be fair. she didn’t put it quite so bluntly. She had assumed that it was the “evil doctors” forcing the GA (no idea how she reached that conclusion because I’ve read my notes and the Consultant is pretty clear she thinks it’s the worse plan ever!!!!) and was horrified when I explained it wasn’t.

        Between her and the person I met who believes that victims of “birth rape” should be allowed into that unit they’ve set up in London for rape victims, I’ve had a good week.

        What fascinates me about the majority of midwives I’ve encountered (with one or two notable and fabulous exceptions) is that they are only supportive if you’re pursuing their idea of childbirth and/or breastfeeding.

        That just wouldn’t work in the vast majority of careers. I wouldn’t have lasted two seconds working with Homeless families if I’d tried to blackmail, force and bitch my beliefs on them and it shouldn’t be working in midwifery.

    • J.B.

      Blech. Blech, blech blech. I hope you can complain to this horrible person’s supervisor and never ever see her again.

  • Brooke

    Not. A. Single. Citation. I don’t think anyone worships breast milk, but the benefits of it over formula are clear and well established scientifically speaking. So many logical fallacies here, it’s just incredible. Most of these so called “benefits” of breastfeeding that are being challenged here are not even benefits that breastfeeding groups say exist (again, citations?). Its easy to attack a group of people if you just make them up and claim they believe in things they don’t believe. Also as far as supporting developing brains formula companies only started adding DHA recently. We don’t even know how much DHA babies need or if it varies during infancy and early childhood.

    • Irène Delse

      ” Most of these so called “benefits” of breastfeeding that are being challenged here are not even benefits that breastfeeding groups say exist (again, citations?). ”

      Oh yes, there are lactivists who makes those claims. See the link to the article about the “15 magical benefits of BF”?
      By the way, where are *your* citations for those “clear and well established” benefits?

      • Brooke

        Really because I breastfed my daughter for 3 years and my son for almost a year now, I follow the La Leche League on Facebook and a bunch of other breastfeeding groups, while they’ve made some of these claims with evidence to support them, some of those claims have never been made or are poorly worded.

        Just google breastfeeding benefits in Google Scholar or the NIH website. You’ll find plenty of studies. Not to mention the only study I’ve seen contradicting the benefits of breastfeeding was the Sibling Study of which the babies were only breastfed an average of 4 months which is less than the recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding followed by a year plus of breastfeeding along with solid foods. The other studies that have been cited by people like “Dr” Amy actually show benefits to breastfeeding just that those benefits occur only while the baby is being breastfed which is still significant considering the first few years of a child’s life are critical.

        • guest

          Critical for what?

          • Brooke

            Their survival, mental and physical development. Wow.

          • swbarnes2

            Sigh. One fewer ear infection in the first year is not “critical to survival, mental or physical development”. If your choice is between say, one fewer ear infection, and reducing the odds of your kid having a life-threatening peanut allergy, most parents will say that the latter is more critical for survival and mental and physical development. And how do you reduce the odds of developing a life-threatening peanut allergy? Introduce peanuts BEFORE six months, according to the AAAAI

          • Brooke

            There’s only been one very recent study that looked at allergies and early introduction of solid foods. Peanut allergies are very rare. Ear infections are common and that is not the only thing breastfeeding helps prevent or the only benefit to breastfeeding.

          • swbarnes2

            Umm, 2008 is not “recent” in this context. That’s when the AAP changed its recommendations. And 2% is not rare when you are talking about something that could kill a child.

            But okay, use the PROBIT studies, what other benefits did it show, and more importantly, what benefits did they look for and NOT FIND.

          • corblimeybot

            Peanut allergies are a lot deadlier than ear infections. The stakes are much higher than you seem to understand.

          • Madtowngirl

            I’m not sure what you think “very rare” means, but peanut allergies are not rare. They occur in 1%-2% of children in the U.S. http://www.medicinenet.com/peanut_allergy/article.htm

            Interestingly, that’s less common then the “very rare” inability to produce enough milk to fully nourish a newborn (5%).

          • Roadstergal

            I quoted a quickie non-exhaustive list of studies on the introduction of solids to reduce the risk of allergies a few posts above.

          • Azuran

            Sure, But despite peanut allergies being rare and ear infections common, In absolute numbers, way more people die of anaphylactic choc due to peanuts than they do of complications from an ear infection.
            Without counting all the prevention that comes with living with peanut allergies. If they had to choose, I’m pretty sure most parents would take recurrent ear infection over peanut allergy.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            I had chronic otitis media as a child, which caused hearing impairment and speech delay – luckily it was resolved by an operation to remove my adenoids. My son might be taking after me – his last audiology test showed fluid in his right ear, and we’re waiting on a repeat test next month. Even so, knowing the impact that a food allergy can have on people’s lives, I think I would choose ear infections over a peanut allergy.

            And btw, I was breastfed, as is my son.

          • MI Dawn

            Yeah, both of my daughters had their first ear infection while being EBF. Thanks to genetics. Eldest ended up with at T&A, youngest finally outgrew them.

          • Azuran

            Both of my cousins and both of my brothers had recurrent ear problems as kid. All 4 of them where EBF.

          • Irène Delse

            Peanut allergies are so rare that all foodstuffs must carry a warning label if they contain even traces of nuts. Yeah, no benefits in prevention, here.
            /Snark

          • Irène Delse

            Wow indeed. Brooke the lactivist who does claim magical benefits from EBF. Oh wait, I thought lactivists never did that!

        • swbarnes2

          Did you look at the PROBIT studies? A whole lot of “We didn’t see any benefit” for everything significant they thought to look at.

          If your best argument is “4000 discordant sibling pairs is not powerful enough to see the tiny effects that you get in the most extreme cases of exclusively breastfeeding” then you’ve pretty much lost the argument.

          • Brooke

            The PROBIT studies actually show statistically significant benefits to breastfeeding when it came to the benefits they were actually studying. The argument that “Dr” Amy and others have made is that since they didn’t look for or mention other benefits that other studies have shown that those benefits don’t exist. That’s false. The sibling study again only looked at babies who on average were breastfed for a period of 4 months. Knowing that long term benefits to breastfeeding are most significant in babies that are breastfed for 6 months or longer means that such a study really doesn’t prove anything. Besides which that’s cherry picking the data.

          • swbarnes2

            Liar. The main author of the PROBIT studies has an interview posted HERE

            http://www.skepticalob.com/2016/02/dr-michael-kramer-talks-about-lactivism-and-what-he-says-might-surprise-you.html

            “Dr. Kramer is emphatic that breastfeeding does NOT prevent obesity, does NOT prevent allergies, and does NOT prevent asthma.”

            He says that because THEY STUDIED that, and found nothing.

            Again, if your best argument is “The advantages of breastfeeding are so supremely delicate that they are totally undetectable in a huge study if even the slightest morsel of solid food passes the lips of a single child, so in order to get them, you have to up your risk of your child having a dangerous potentially fatal allergy”, then you’ve lost.

          • CSN0116

            BEING DEEMED STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE FINDING IS SIGNIFICANT. FUCK!!

            For instance, if an association is statistically significant at “an increase of 5 IQ points” – that is NOT a significant finding. It does not provide evidence to encourage women to breast feed, because 5 IQ points are not significant. They’re irrelevant. So, congrats. You can affirm that breast feeding causes a statistically significant increase in non-significant IQ points.

            What happens when you run the model to look at statistical significance of significant IQ points of 15 or more? It is no longer statistically significant. So, congrats again. You can affirm that breast feeding causes a statistically insignificant increase in significant IQ points.

            This is exactly what the PROBIT found.

            Learn the fun words before you use them.

          • Irène Delse

            ^ So much this. Biology is messy, a statistical difference that doesn’t extend to a difference in real life is not the signal, it’s just noise.

          • Sue

            “Brooke” – what was the magnitude of the benefits found in PROBIT and how long did they last?

            If you bothered to read beyond your own nose you would see that it has always been acknowledged here that there were some benefits found in that study, but they were small and short-lived. AND, the Bofa condition: “all other things being equal”.

        • Roadstergal

          “6 months of exclusive breastfeeding”

          If you want your kids not to have allergies, the current science suggests 6+ months of nothing but tit juice is not a good starting point. 4 months, definitely not later than 6, is the time you want to start exposing kids to potential food allergens.

          The LEAP study showed that consumption of peanut between 4 and 11 months of age reduced the incidence of peanut allergy. (NEJM, 2015; 372:803-813)

          In kids at risk for sensitization, exposure to peanut and perhaps egg before 4 months reduced the risk of allergy to each of them (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2011 May;127(5):1203-10.e5)

          Exposure of children to cooked egg at 4-6 months of age reduced the risk of egg allergy vs exposure after 6 months: J Allergy Clin Immunol 2010 Oct;126(4):807-13

          “Children who were first exposed to cereals after 6 months of age had an increased risk of wheat allergy compared with children first exposed to cereals before 6 months of age (after controlling for confounders including a family history of allergic disorders and history of food allergy before 6 months of age).” (Pediatrics 2006 Jun;117(6):2175-82.)

          “A delayed introduction of solids (past 4 or 6 months) was not associated with decreased odds for asthma, allergic rhinitis, or sensitization against food or inhalant allergens at 6 years of age. On the contrary, food sensitization was more frequent in children who were introduced to solids later” – Pediatrics, 2008 Jan;121(1):e44-52

          Therefore, the 4 months of exclusive breastfeeding that you’re denigrating seems about right.

          “the first few years of a child’s life are critical.”

          That’s true. And formula is a good tool one can use to make sure the child has enough nutrition to grow and develop.

        • corblimeybot

          Putting “Dr” in quotes is a real baby move, Brooke. You might have cleaned up your discourse a bit, but you can’t totally hide how nasty you are.

        • momofone

          Referring to her as “Dr.” does not change the fact that she is, in fact, a real doctor. I think she might have found Exhibit A for this post. You can’t even entertain the possibility that breastfeeding might not be magical–in fact, it might not make a difference at all. The horror!

        • Sue

          “Brooke”, if you google “breastfeeding benefits”, of course you will turn up the papers that purport to show benefits – that’s how a search works.

          Real-Dr Amy any many others here actually know how to critically evaluate research. And we know what it shows.

        • Irène Delse

          Brooke: “Lactivists don’t claim magical benefits for breastmilk, I know it, I’m one of them.”

          Me: “Look at the blog post Dr. Amy was critiquing. That’s magical benefits.”

          Brooke: “No true lactivist, la la la!”

          I rest my case.

        • Sarah

          Which claims have never been made, and how will you be proving that?

    • guest

      Oh, Brookie-poo. So are so cute with your persistent idiocy.

      • Brooke

        That’s a really intelligent response…

        • Azuran

          Almost as ‘intelligent’ as your post.
          At some point, all the studies and facts Dr. Tuteur is talking about in this post have been the subject of previous posts and have been linked, quoted, explained and debunked in other blog posts multiple times.
          Honestly you’ve posting BS here long enough that you probably saw many of those studies being quoted and linked multiple time already. So you are really just being purposefully blind to make a false arguments.

        • Sarah

          You wouldn’t know an intelligent response if it sat on your face and wiggled. Whilst reading Probit to you.

        • guest

          I don’t waste typing energy on lost causes.

    • Clorinda

      Which one are you talking about? The BlogHer post had no citations that I could see. And the “benefits” being challenged here? Are the ones being CLAIMED by the post Dr. Tuteur is rebutting. So your claim that nobody on the lactivist side claims these benefits is an outright falsehood.

      As for the DHA? That is what science does. It investigates. Teases out more details and refines things so that the differences get narrower and narrower. Dr. Tuteur has never claimed that formula NEVER had problems.

    • CSN0116

      LOL she’s rebutting a post in copy/paste format that didn’t use citations.

      You always show up to impress.

    • Box of Salt

      Brooke: They added the DHA recently? They were advertising that when my older kid was an infant. That kid is 12 years old now.

      • BeatriceC

        It was the new thing when MK was a newborn, if I recall correctly. He’s 15. I don’t recall seeing it two years previously when OK was a baby, but I wasn’t paying much attention as he was breastfed except for a few small bottles in the first couple weeks. MK was the only one who got any amount of formula, when I had to wean him because I was pregnant again and my body couldn’t handle both. But I was a busy, exhausted mother of a herd of little ones, so I could be mixing up my timelines. At any rate, it was the new thing when one of my kids was a baby, so we have it narrowed down to a three year time span.

        • MI Dawn

          DHA wasn’t in formula when my kids were babies over 25 years ago. I EBF 6 weeks, then combo fed for 4-6 months. Formula till age 1. Strange, they both graduated from very good universities with honors or high honors. Can’t imagine that EBF for longer would have changed that.

          It’s possible DHA has benefits. But I don’t honestly know if they are as large as touted.

  • Zornorph

    Hey, I invite anybody who is interested to worship my penis 🙂

  • CSN0116

    So stop traffic.

    Per the spit-backwash theory, if I was nursing at all, or producing any amount of milk as a woman (which could be induced), I could take an infant – any infant – who is sick with “X, Y or Z” and latch him to my breast. Doing so would signal my body to produce antibodies to help *him* fight “X, Y, or Z,” but he’s not my infant, so I’m not going to continue nursing him. I could use him to initiate the antibodies and them harbor them all for myself!

    Or, when I get sick with “X, Y or Z” I could go on Craigslist to find a baby simultaneously sick with it. Then I could latch him a couple of times to help expedite my recovery time.

    So…I could actually latch a bunch of sick infants and use them to vaccinate myself!

  • Ceridwen

    I’ve gotten into arguments with people claiming breastfeeding is free before and they ALWAYS discount the extra calories mom needs to produce the breastmilk (and related expense for the extra food). To the point that even when I bring up those calories they will tell me they aren’t actually necessary! Apparently breastmilk is so magical it just materializes inside mom without need for any caloric input.

    • Elizabeth A

      Breastfeeding is only free if you discount the value of a woman’s time.

      During some of the time that I breastfed my son, I was working for an hourly wage. My work hours were constrained by the operating hours of his daycare, so I couldn’t arrive early or stay late to make up for time lost to pumping breaks. I earned $26/hour, and went off the clock 1 hour every workday (2 30 minute breaks) in order to pump.

      Breastfeeding cost me $130/week, not including food, breast pump, nursing pads, etc.

      (I was also in business school while breast feeding my son. I have never attempted to calculate the lifetime cost of all the networking I was unable to do while I was locked in a closet pumping breast milk, but I suspect it would be substantial.)

      • Ceridwen

        Even ignoring my time, the extra money I had to spend on food (because I’m already too thin and my child was drinking 35oz or more a day!), and the fact that I could have gotten a substantial amount of formula for free through WIC because graduate student stipends are crap, all of which bias things in favor of breastfeeding I *still* did not break even on breastfeeding my son vs. formula feeding him until he was 9 months old. The cost of all the stuff needed to work and breastfeed adds up shockingly quickly.

        • Brooke

          WIC now gives women extra checks for food if they are breastfeeding to make up for the extra calories versus formula. Also the formula checks don’t increase as the baby gets older. So many families end up feeding their kids solid foods too early to make up the difference.

          • Irène Delse

            The AAP guidelines recommend to start solids between 4 and 6 months, so there’s that. By the way, you *should* be outraged on behalf of families that formula feed that the WIC doesn’t adequately meet their needs. Be careful, you’re trying to sound factual and not remotely like an ideological lactivist, but your agenda is showing!

          • Brooke

            They did a study and found that parents were actually starting out their babies on solids even before 4 months due to the high cost of formula http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/health/many-babies-fed-solid-food-too-soon-cdc-finds.html?_r=0

            I’m more outraged that most low income mothers are not even really given a choice between formula or breast milk to begin with.

          • corblimeybot

            I’m outraged that both my local WIC offices treat formula feeders like shitty, selfish, lazy women who are too stupid to know what’s best for their kids and their lives.

          • Brooke

            That’s generally the way most low income people are treated regardless of how they or if they chose to parent TBH.

          • Sarah

            That must mean WIC doing it is ok, then.

          • Irène Delse

            More reason for you to go bang on the WIC door, then. But maybe you don’t want them to really offer a choice of formula or breast. After all, you didn’t deny having a lactivist agenda.

          • Sarah

            Careful now. You’ve just acknowledged the existence of a potential causative mechanism for worse health outcomes experienced by ff babies that isn’t the formula itself. That’s a very slippery slope.

          • guest

            In that case, you should be hounding WIC to start increasing the formula benefit as the baby gets older and needs to eat more. Are you doing that?

        • guest

          When I was a graduate student, the state I was in specifically excluded students from qualifying for WIC and other benefits.

      • Brooke

        In most states employers are required to provide you with two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch if you are an hourly employee. So you didn’t actually lose any money because even if you weren’t pumping you should have been asked to take those breaks anyways.

        • Irène Delse

          You should work on your reading comprehension: she explained she needed twice 30 minutes just to pump. Now working moms not only have to pump during the breaks intended for lunch, going to the toilet or just plain resting (human beings do need those, not being robots), but they also have to be record-setting pumpers, fast enough to squeeze the pumping sessions in mere minutes! Hey, breastmilk is magic!

          • Brooke

            Plenty of women eat and pump at the same time. You’re blaming me for a situation caused by employers I have zero control over.

          • momofone

            And if they don’t want to? I pumped for a long time, but I actually liked having meals like a separate human. Sometimes I even had lunch with other people, just for fun!

          • Charybdis

            Nope, just taking you to task for your cavalier, condescending and flippant attitude and responses to others real-life experiences in regards to pumping at work.

            I work in a biohazardous area. I couldn’t pump at work, even if I had wanted to.

          • Nick Sanders

            I read your post in the sidebar, and without having seen one bit of the conversation leading to it, I could tell your were replying to Brooke. That’s kinda fun.

          • Bombshellrisa

            It’s a special kind of fun, since it’s always good for a laugh.
            OT: did you try the magic shave powder?
            Really OT: this year’s round of limited edition Lay’s potato chips is available at the store. We talked about this last year and this yeqr’s line up is even more….interesting. Haven’t tried them but I did take a pic while I was shopping at the Kroger with my two year old.

          • Nick Sanders

            Yeah, I’ve tried the powder. It works, but I need practice getting it right. My last attempt came out pretty patchy. Luckily, there was a sale on it and I wound up with a whole bunch of cans.

            And my mom just came home last night with a bag of each of the 4 new flavors. I’m really looking forward to tasting all of them, because they all sound interesting!

          • Sue

            “You’re blaming me for a situation caused by employers I have zero control over.”

            No, “Brooke”. You have complete control over whether you post erroneous and aggressive comments on a blog thread. Complete control.

          • Irène Delse

            No, *you* are blaming women who aren’t breastfeeding and pumping superheroes. Because that’s what your comments amount to. Lunch breaks are already short, especially if you don’t eat at your workplace. How dare women use their breaks for themselves (go pee, eat, rest, make a phone call, whatever) instead of devoting 100℅ of that time to the holy task of pumping! Yeah, I wonder too.

          • Amazed

            Were YOU one of those women, Brookie thingy? Or are you just talking out of your rear ends, repeating the battle cry of all breastfeeding warriors? Why do I get the memory that you were comfortably tucked away home, with your own things and time to eat and go to the loo apart from breastfeeding before you started preaching on women who are telling you how things are for a vast part of the rest of pumping womankind or pumping womanlkind wannabe?

          • Sarah

            No, we’re blaming you for talking bollocks about that situation. You have total control over talking shit.

          • Amy

            Nobody’s blaming you for how difficult it is to pump while holding down a job. We’re blaming you for pretending that it’s not difficult (or that because something “shouldn’t” be difficult it’s somehow the fault of those who find it difficult) and for continuing to change the parameters of the argument.

            Even in this comment– people have pointed out to you how difficult it is to use up all your break time to pump, and you come back with “plenty of women eat an pump at the same time.” Who are these plenty of women? How do you know?

          • FEDUP MD

            Couldn’t do it. My breasts are so large and pendulous, especially when I am nursing, that I have to support their weight with my hands, otherwise the phalanges fall off. Yes, this includes with a bra on and/or those “hands free” apparatus, which clearly were not made for the greatly endowed. I’ve seen other smaller breasted women pump hands free but I never could through 2 kids.

        • guest

          We’ve explained to you before that not all women are hourly employees, Brooke.

          • Brooke

            I’m responding to a comment about hourly employment. If you’re salary than it wouldn’t affect you. Why don’t you log in instead of commenting as a guest.

          • MI Dawn

            Even hourly employees, which I was, don’t always get to TAKE those breaks, Brooke. See my comment above.

          • Elizabeth A

            I was an hourly employee, so that’s relevant, but I do fall squarely in the category of “professional employee,” which is one the categories generally exempt from required break time laws. (Executive, administrative and professional employees, as well as outside sales people, are usually exempt). Aside from the fact that law regarding breaks varies from state to state (my state requires only one 30 minute break per shift for shifts exceeding 6 hours in length, for employees to whom the law applies at all).

            And at that, it was better than the conditions I imposed on myself while freelancing. They made the most demanding of employers look like a big, fuzzy teddy bear, but that’s the reality of independent contracting.

          • Michele

            If you’re salary, under federal law they don’t even technically have to allow you break time and space to pump.

          • AA

            Yep, Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which is the part about break time for pumping women does not apply to workers Exempt Under Section 7(i) From Overtime Under The FLSA . That’s federal law, there may be State laws that pre-empt it.

        • corblimeybot

          Such breaks are impossible at my workplace. That’s not how my job is structured. If you clock out to pump, you clock out the rest of the day. You lose the entire rest of the day’s pay. On paper, they claim you can have pump breaks. In reality, it’s basically impossible to accommodate.

          But tell everyone more about how you know their lives better than they do.

        • swbarnes2

          Unless a woman is lucky enough to have her own totally private area to pump, she has to set up and tear down her set-up every time. You can’t do that and pump in 15 minutes. You need at least 25 minutes. More if you have to walk a ways to find a sink to rinse things in. So you are saying that pumping women deserve absolutely zero breaks.

          And that’s if a woman works at a place where breaks like that are feasible and they actually let her take them. Most women do not have labor lawyer fairies who can just float in to gently force managers to comply with labor laws.

          • Azuran

            Yea, screw that dog that just got hit by a car, it’s my pumping break, it just has to hang on to it’s life until I’m done.

        • momofone

          Are you seriously telling her what she lost, or didn’t? You are a piece of work.

        • Azuran

          I’ve never pumped, But even I can see that 15 minutes is not much to pump.
          So maybe you can lump them up in two 30 minutes breaks. But that still sound like a short time, especially when you factor in the time to actually get everything ready, pump, then clean up the equipment. And you have to eat at some point. Probably go to the bathroom as well. What if you need to pump more than twice in your work day?

        • Elizabeth A

          As with most hourly work in the professional realm, however, I was not asked to take those breaks. No one was. Instead, I was given work to do, and told that billable hours were an important metric for my continued employment.

        • MI Dawn

          That’s all very well and good, IF you can take those breaks. As a nurse, there were many times when I worked 8+ hours with NO breaks. You can’t say “oh, don’t have your baby now, I need to go pump” to a woman in labor. Yes, I got paid for not taking those breaks, but I still didn’t get to take them. And there are many other jobs like that.

        • Heidi

          That might sound good on paper, Brooke, but that 15 minute break isn’t what you think it is. If you work in healthcare, you aren’t guaranteed that break. In fact, as a nurse’s assistant/ER tech, I don’t think I got even one 15 minute break ONCE. Actually, in TN where I live now, I don’t we are guaranteed anything but one 30 minute *unpaid* lunch break. Most states isn’t all states so don’t presume Elizabeth lived in a state that provided paid breaks. If you work in healthcare, labor laws don’t apply in the same way. They can work you more hours than other jobs, too, because of the nature of it. Healthcare isn’t a small field either. When I was a paralegal, those two 15 minute breaks weren’t taken as two 15 minute breaks. Instead, since I either had to bill the client or the firm at all times, they considered those breaks to be taken up by bathroom and coffee breaks, not pumping breaks! This was a huge firm in NYC so I doubt they would risk breaking labor laws. Plus, some of us like to eat during our lunch break, and if we are breastfeeding, especially need to eat. And all this assumes that women can extract enough milk in 10 minutes or less because by the time you set up and take it apart, you aren’t left with 15 minutes of pumping time.

    • Amy

      That’s like when people claim that homeschooling is “free” because you can get curriculum resources on the internet and at the library. Baah, who needs that pesky salary the mom could bring in? Likewise, exclusive breastfeeding assumes mom won’t have a job, or if she does, that pumping will be easy and convenient.

      • Brooke

        Pumping should be easy and convenient. Its employers who are not interested in accommodating working mothers and the companies who make breastpumps that are to blame for that.

        • Irène Delse

          Great. So go tell them, don’t lecture the readers of this blog. And in the meantime, don’t guilt-trip women who can’t pump at work and can’t afford to not work.

          • Brooke

            That’s literally what breastfeeding groups have been trying to do for the last decade which is why I think it’s bullshit to demonize them here. No one should be put in that situation.

          • AlisonCummins

            To be clear Brooke, you are stating that for the last decade, breastfeeding groups have not been setting working mothers up to feel guilty? That if there had been *no* breastfeeding groups working for the past decade, the rate of guilt feeling among working mothers would actually be higher? That todays working mothers feel less guilty for not EBFing than their mothers did?

            That’s what you mean?

          • CSN0116

            Acid trippppppp

          • Roadstergal

            “That’s literally what breastfeeding groups have been trying to do for the last decade ”

            Which breastfeeding groups? My friend’s La Leche group is very much against women working. They want to keep the status quo, as the harder it is to pump and work, the more they can push their line of ‘real mothers stay at home,’ in keeping with the dictates of the original Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding.

          • MaineJen

            No. No. They have been browbeating women in hospitals, scolding women who don’t want to or can’t breastfeed. I never hear a peep from LLL about making things easier for working breastfeeding moms, or making family leave policies more fair. No, it’s all “breast is best” and “if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong” and “well, daycare isn’t really cost effective anyway, it’s cheaper just to stay home.”

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Upvoted by this SAHM. So freaking true.

          • Azuran

            Were are we demonizing women who pump at work? Claiming that some women don’t want to or can’t is not being unsupporting. It’s being realistic and accepting that everyone has different circumstances and therefore can make different choices, and they should be supported whatever that choice is.

          • Irène Delse

            Demonize whom? Lactivists? Maybe if they spent less time telling women to EBF for 6+ months or they compromise their baby’s “survival, mental and biological development£ (your words) when the research shows nothing of the sort, maybe if they refrained from scare tactics and falsehoods, they’d be taken more seriously.

          • Amy

            Not remotely. Instead, new mothers are told that it’s better to quit their jobs. Work-related expenses are inflated (apparently, everyone spends thousands a year on business attire and eats out every day when they’re working) and unrealistic money-saving proposals (get rid of your car! never buy new clothes!) are proposed. Children’s media are policed, and protests organized, over baby dolls coming with bottles and bottles being used as baby-related symbols on cards/gifts/etc. Hospitals are lobbied into pretending formula should only be used as a last resort in dire emergencies.

            Let me tell you, all of that was a HUGE help to me when I had inverted nipples and was looking for actual support in establishing breastfeeding. I had to figure things out on my own as I went along. In general, breastfeeding was far more successful when I IGNORED the “helpful advice” (quit my job, never ever use nipple shields, pumping was a poor substitute for “real” breastfeeding, don’t worry about the baby being skinny or jaundiced since it’s a “variation of normal”) from breastfeeding organizations. So yes, I will demonize them here.

          • corblimeybot

            It’s barely a stretch to demonize people who appear to be actual demons.

        • guest

          It’s not that simple, Brooke. Some jobs really aren’t conducive to that many breaks, or don’t have ready access to a private area and sink. What if someone is a bus driver? A contractor who needs to work on-site? an ER doc who has no control over how many patients will come in during her shift? Some of these women might find a way to make it work, but it won’t be easy. It isn’t just because employers don’t *want* to make it easy.

        • AlisonCummins

          Where I live, families get a year of maternity leave (a mix of fully-paid, partly paid and unpaid, to be taken by mother or co-parent or both). There is also publicly subsidized daycare for 9 CAD/day (less than 7 USD/day).

          Wouldn’t that be so much better for everyone and allow every family to make the choices best for them? Why make individual employers responsible for their employees’ infant care choices?

        • Roadstergal

          “Pumping should be easy and convenient.”

          And unicorns should fart rainbows. Sometimes pumping is really uncomfortable and tedious, and sometimes it’s not possible. Sometimes breastfeeding is excruciatingly painful, and sometimes women just don’t make enough milk. Sometimes the biological mom has a great career, and the other parent is better suited to be the stay-at-home one. Sometimes it’s hard to get by unless they both work. Giving accurate information about the risks and benefits of formula and breastmilk (and yes, EBF has risks) would allow women to make informed decisions about what’s best for them, and allow them to be the parent they want to be.

          Congratulations, you breast-fed. You don’t get a gold star, you get two kids. For a lifetime. When they’re thirty, nobody but you will know or care the extent to which their nipples were in your mouth. Nobody can tell who was breast-fed vs formula-fed at my work.

          • Amy

            Same– I’m a teacher, high school. I have no idea who was breastfed and who wasn’t. Nor do I care.

          • corblimeybot

            I strongly suspect Brooke will never let this part of her life go. She apparently has nothing else that gives her life meaning. Her kids are definitely going to hear about her noble breastfeeding crusades. Maybe everyone in her life will, too. Maybe she’ll be like the stereotype of the high school football star who never achieves any greater personal high, and never talks about anything else for the rest of their life.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Uncle Rico from “Napolean Dynamite”!

          • Heidi

            I’m a stay at home. It’s not easy and convenient even then! There’s no employer to blame. My baby could care less that I was pumping. He would interrupt me. But even if he was complying, it wasn’t fun. I could put whatever I wanted on Netflix but I would have rather scrubbed a toilet than to watch my favorite TV show while I pumped! I don’t know if it was the noise, the not being able to move, the tubes coming loose if I even rearranged in the slightest, or just knowing I was stuck for a period of time attached, but it was never enjoyable. I’ve stopped for a couple of weeks now and put up that stupid almost dead pump, but I’m contemplating re-enacting that scene from Office Space with the bat and copier but with the pump.

        • Mrs.Katt the Cat

          Nah. I’d rather spend the extra few hours a day actually interacting with my baby instead of being hooked to a machine that requires me to sit still and do practically nothing.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            This. I’m pretty sure that DD was a happier baby, and in the long term, perhaps a happier kid, because I tossed the pump and played/snuggled with her after a couple of weeks. Prior to that, I’d nurse her, then set her down to scream while I pumped, ‘cos it was good for her. Or something. Funny, she sure *seemed* to be enjoying life more when Mommy could actually spend time with her…

          • Mrs.Katt the Cat

            Exactly! After a few times when I had to stop pumping to calm MiniKatt (hubby has migraines occasionally which make holding a wailing infant, um, uncomfortable) I decided to give it up. Tried the whole hold baby on one side while pumping thing too. Yes, great, because handling a squirmy newborn and a bunch of tubes simultaneously makes for an enjoyable and bond inducing experience for all involved.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          What reason would a company that manufacturers breastpumps have to exist if they didn’t make a profit on their product?

        • Azuran

          I’m sure my boss would be very accommodating to pumping. But they can’t control the number of people who come in for consultation nor the time needed to address their pet’s problem. So I can’t have a consistent break time. I actually never have break time, and I often barely have time to actually eat.
          When someone walk in with an emergency or when one of my cases decides to go south, I have to be available instantly. So despite the worlds best intention, pumping at my work is not something that can be done. As is the case for many other types of jobs, even with the worlds best intention.

          And are you actually suggesting that breastpump companies are making uneffective and painfull breastpump on purpose?

          • Monkey Professor for a Head

            My husband is a surgeon, and he was recently asked by a med student how he got through long operations without having pee breaks. He answered that when you don’t have time to eat and drink, not having pee breaks isn’t an issue.
            One of his colleagues had a baby a few weeks before I did. Despite her desire to breastfeed and all the protections of Australian law, she switched to formula a few weeks after going back to work as it just was not possible to do her job and pump.

          • corblimeybot

            Exactly, my boss is actually really supportive of pumping, but it’s completely impossible to accommodate in our workplace. Because of the nature of the work itself.

        • Ceridwen

          Have you ever actually even been in the same room with a breast pump? What ridiculous fantasy world do you live in where “Pumping should be easy and convenient” is a remotely true statement? Even pumping so that I can go out for dinner with my husband is annoying and tedious.

        • StephanieA

          Are you serious? I hated pumping at home, let alone trying to do it at work. My friend was dedicated to breastfeeding her daughter, but stopped at 4 months because she was having anxiety about keeping a pumping schedule going at work- and her work allowed pump breaks. Even working for an understanding company it was too much stress.

        • MI Dawn

          Don’t end up in the ER, then, Brooke. After all, those nurses with infants need to go pump, not take care of bleeding, dying, sick people.

        • J.B.

          I had the perfect setup for pumping – my own office and work that could be done on the computer. I HATED it. Attaching items to me, dealing with the pain (vasospasm is a lot worse when pumping then when feeding a baby from the tap), needing to squeeze in time when I was trying to do things for my JOB. Which I like because of the intellectual engagement, not to mention the $ that pays for private school for the kid who wasn’t getting enough support in public…

          If I had another child I would not pump. I might breastfeed initially but wouldn’t stress about going to formula. And it would be ok. Really.

        • Amy

          You’re right, employers could and should do more. But whether or not pumping *should* be easy doesn’t mean it *is* easy. And even in a supportive work environment, sometimes the nature of a particular job doesn’t mesh well with pumping. I am a teacher and have always taught in schools with rotating schedules. When I was breastfeeding, I had to use prep time to pump, and the stretches I had to go varied wildly depending on the day– and I was in a relatively privileged position.

          As far as pump design goes, are you an engineer? Some women just don’t respond well to a pump. Blaming companies for not dumping more money into R&D to cater to a small segment of the population, when the necessary price increases to pumps would likely tip the scales in favor of formula feeding anyway……seems like a waste of time to me. Why not just….stop exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding and making women who use formula feel bad?

    • Megan

      “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Literally and figuratively!!

    • demodocus

      Perfect way to loose that pregnancy gain!
      /sarcasm

      • Elizabeth A

        I had massive oversupply (pumped 30-40 ounces a day, nursed on top of that when we were home) and dropped to my lowest adult weight ever while breastfeeding. I was one bitchy, starving nursing lady though. Would not recommend.

        • demodocus

          me too

    • Brooke

      Its only an extra 500 calories. To put things in perspective that’s 4 slices of bacon or one frappichino from Starbucks.

      • Irène Delse

        Starbucks? Dear, the mothers who don’t have money for extra food for themselves don’t have the luxury to go to Starbucks. Especially to spend what money they have on empty calories.

        • Brooke

          Considering the average cost of formula is between $1,500 and $2,000 a year a parent could go to Starbucks, order a $5 drink, 5 days a week and still spend less money than they would if they fed their baby formula.

          I was using that as a visual example only. If you knew anything about food insecurity you’d know that one of the major issues is that people are eating calorie dense but nutritionally poor food generally speaking. Mothers that are really struggling in the US thankfully are able to get WIC which provides them with extra WIC checks if they are breastfeeding.

          • Amy M

            Maybe the price has gone up over the last 8yrs, but I formula fed my twins for 1500-2K over their first year. But that was two babies, so one should be half that. I’m not saying that’s cheap, but I think you are overestimating.

          • Brooke

            Ah everything has gone up in the past 8 years it’s called inflation. I went by the reported averages I found online. It is probably less if you used genetic powdered formula, more if a baby had to be given liquid or hyper allergenic formula.

          • Charybdis

            Hypoallergenic. It’s HYPOallergenic. I don’t know if I would feed a baby genetic powdered formula or hyperallergenic formula either.

            And your formula costs are out of whack as well.

          • CSN0116

            I feed mine genetically modified generic, perhaps that counts?

          • Charybdis

            200% of the RDA of rBGH! Plus it helps make your baby more drought tolerant AND increases insect resistance.

          • Nick Sanders

            Coming soon, bruise resistance!

          • Nick Sanders

            Hyperallergenic formula, now with 50% more urushiol!

          • MI Dawn

            LOL! Nick, how do you THINK of these things? (I’m itching just thinking about this, and I’m not allergic to this plant – that I know of. At least, past exposures haven’t caused problems, but there’s always a first time.)

          • Irène Delse

            Pro tip: think before writing and read before posting. Or you will end up with that fascinating product, hyper allergenic formula! XD

          • cookiebaker

            My youngest JUST turned one, so I just finished buying formula on a regular basis. It cost us just under $600 for the entire year. That was July 2015- July 2016. We qualify for no assistance, so every dime came out of our pockets.

            Ironically, my 2 formula fed babies were infinitely healthier than my breastfed babies. Neither one has ever had a cold, or diarrhea, or an ear infection. My 4 breastfed babies had constant colds that inevitably led to ear infections.

            I used to be like you. I swallowed all the false data and I spent 6.5 years breastfeeding my first 4 kids. Imagine my shock when I couldn’t breastfeed my 5th or 6th kid. No one had more experience or knowledge than I did, but the milk wouldn’t come. Just because you can nurse now does not mean you always will and where will you turn when your hungry baby is shrinking before your eyes? I will always be grateful for formula.

          • cookiebaker

            The amount spent on formula is irrelevant anyway. My 2nd child, my first son, never got a drop of formula. He’s a teenager and an athlete and it costs A LOT of money to feed him.

            Eventually you have to spend real money to feed kids.

            Anyway, I’m sure I spent more on co-pays for the constant dr visits with him in his first year than I ever would have spent on formula.

          • Amy

            No. Some things, mainly electronics, go DOWN in cost over time as their production becomes more streamlined and less expensive. That also applies to some foods, depending on how rare they are.

            And Starbucks costs HAVE gone up. I’m kind of addicted to coffee, so I’m up to date on how much it costs me.

          • corblimeybot

            What WIC actually does is penalize women who don’t exclusively breastfeed, lecture them, and treat them like careless idiots who don’t know their own needs and don’t care about their children.

          • CSN0116

            Those are lactivist formula numbers. Any formula feeder can discredit them in under 2 seconds. Generic will cost you ~$500 per year and name brand ~$950.

          • LeighW

            Less if you use coupons and you’re able to stock up when it’s on sale

          • CSN0116

            Oh, frig yeah. I just finished out a kid – $400 for 1 year, or just about a dollar a day.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Plus if you are part of a Buy Nothing or those community type pages, people who don’t use their formula samples are always giving way the ones they receive. Plenty of people giving away the $5-$8 off Catalina coupons for formula on those sites too.

          • Irène Delse

            You’re pulling those numbers out of where, pray tell? Between the WIC formula checks and generic formula, it’s a lot less than $1,500 per year. See the real life examples given by people on this blog.

            But hey, thanks for the scare tactics! Formula will bankrupt you and make your child idiot, what an endorsement!

          • Sarah

            On what planet is that the average cost? Presumably the one where a section rate of above 5% is dangerous. Still waiting for the receipts on that one, btw.

          • Daleth

            Considering the average cost of formula is between $1,500 and $2,000 a year a parent could go to Starbucks, order a $5 drink, 5 days a week and still spend less money than they would if they fed their baby formula.

            Would you feed a Starbucks frappucino to your baby? If not, why suggest that nursing mothers supplement their calories with a $5 cup of what’s basically pure sugar? That’s how babies end up with rickets (soft bones due to vitamin D deficiency), iron deficiency, etc.

            The reason formula is expensive is because it contains every nutrient babies need, in the amounts they need it. It’s the opposite of empty calories.

            Also, I agree with Amy M that you’re overestimating the cost. We fed our twins fancy-pants biodynamic formula imported from Switzerland and it still didn’t cost $1500-$2k a year.

          • Bombshellrisa

            http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-food-packages-maximum-monthly-allowances
            This is the maximum monthly allowances for WIC checks. Bacon and Starbucks are not listed on it. You do get tuna fish if you are breast feeding but only $11 for fruits and vegetables.

          • Heidi

            Brooke, you contradict yourself at every turn. At one moment you are the liberal crusader concerned about women and especially poor women, and the next, you are a conservative stereotype blaming women for not pumping or breastfeeding when obviously they could because these labor laws and social programs you think you know so well give them that ability.

      • guest

        That’s misleading. It isn’t “just” four slices of bacon. This link has pictures of various 500 calorie meals/snacks: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-500-calories-really-looks-like-different-foods.html

        And that’s 500 extra calories PER DAY. And more if you have multiples. I, for one, can’t afford a Starbucks latte every day.

      • CSN0116

        One pig produces ~320 bacon slices. So, at 4 slices, one pig can provide for 80 breast feeding moms’ caloric needs per day.

        There are ~4,000,000 babies born in the US every year and 100% of them should be breast fed for at least 6 months, of course.

        6 months has ~180 days

        4,000,000 nursing moms / 80 bacon rations = 50,000 pigs per day needed to feed them

        50,000 pigs per day * 180 days of nursing = 9,000,000 pigs

        9,000,000 pigs must be fed, raised, slaughtered, packaged, driven, shelved, cashed out, bagged, driven home, fried, and served … to sustain breast feeding.

        #savethepigs

        • Juana

          Have you accounted for the other edible parts of the pig? Bacon for the others, I’ll take the filet.
          (And the farting cow’s filet as well.)
          On the other hand, there are Muslim women who’d rather eat those pretty sweet little lambs – at least _they_ are saving some pigs.

          Seriously, I can’t upvote but I just fell under the table.

      • Ceridwen

        Except its not. My son was eating ~35 oz of breastmilk a day. If we assume that that milk has 20 calories an oz thats 700 calories a day. IF my body were perfectly efficient at producing milk. It isn’t. Realistically I’ve ended up needing closer to 1000 extra calories per day to feed ONE baby and I’m not all that exceptional in this. So now we’re up to 8 slices of bacon or 2 frappachinos EVERY DAY. Huh, getting expensive isn’t it?

        If we go look up some numbers we find that poor Americans spend ~$4 per person per day on food (Americans who are better off spend $8/day or more). That’s for ~2000 calories. So we can relatively reasonably assume that in order to add 500-1000 calories to her diet with a balanced nutrient profile we’re talking about $1-4 extra per day to breastfeed. If she exclusively breastfeeds for 6 months that’s $180-700 on food for mom to be able to breastfeed. It’s not crazy amounts of money but it’s NOT free and it could be used to buy a pretty decent amount of formula. And again, that’s WITHOUT factoring in any other costs to breastfeeding!

        In some of these arguments I’ve been told that I cannot count the extra calories needed because Americans are overweight and can just use their extra pounds to produce milk. This ignores two things. First, a substantial number of women aren’t overweight or obese so no matter what they will HAVE to eat more to breastfeed. I am in this category. Even with extra calories I lost more weight than I was comfortable with while nursing. Second, most women who are nursing *do* eat more, regardless of whether they are specifically trying to because of nursing or not. I don’t know whether this is set hormonally or what, but it seems disingenuous to pretend it isn’t true even if some of those women theoretically could avoid eating the extra calories because they weigh enough to nurse without them. Their bodies don’t seem to know that.

        I’m hardly someone who is out there trying to force formula on people or dissuade women from breastfeeding. I nursed my first child until she was 9 months, when we started combo feeding until she was 14 months and I weaned her. I am currently nursing my 10 month old son who has only had a bottle of formula a couple of times to make sure he didn’t react in case we needed to supplement in a pinch. I’ve donated hundreds of ounces of milk to a local milk bank. But I cannot abide by people who want to discount the substantial emotional and financial expenses associated with breastfeeding, especially for working women.

        • Heidi

          I already don’t produce anywhere near enough. On average, I can make 8 oz. a day if I pump around the clock. But I noticed if we went out to eat where I might consume over a 1000 calories for the meal, I might luck up and produce an extra ounce or two the next day. So maybe if I ate thousands of calories a day, I could produce enough, but at what cost? I’m personally not willing to gain 5 lbs. of weight a week or something to breastfeed!

      • Juana

        Yeah, it’s totally not stressful nor any work to feel constantly hungry because you can’t freaking eat as much as you’re hungry. I must have imagined that all with my first baby.

        It’s only an extra 500 calories. To put things in perspective, that’s one freaking full meal for me!

      • Heidi

        I know you’re vegan and all, but no bacon I’ve seen is that calorically dense. The kind I buy has 70 calories in two slices. The thicker cut kind usually has 70 or 80 calories a slice. One frappacino or all that bacon actually is pretty expensive, more than I spend on formula.

      • Azuran

        Actually, let’s do a little bit of math here. To get 500 calories from a Starbucks frappuchino, you actually need a Venti size caramel frappuchino or something equivalent. It cost 4.95$
        On a yearly basis, if you have to get one per day, that’s 1800$
        Funny how it falls exactly in what you say formula costs. So your own example is actually working against you.

        But I’m not an idiot like you. I understand that the amount of money one spends on either the additional calories needed to produce the breastmilk or buy formula will be different for each family, depending on the type of food, brand of formula, the accessories they need and the monetary value of the mother’s time. So for some people, formula will be less expensive then breastfeeding, for others it will be more. There is no 1 size fits all answer.

      • Heidi_storage

        Hey, we should give her credit. I remember one post where she was insisting that breastfeeding women didn’t need extra food; this is a step in the right direction!

        Of course, I had to take in a lot more than 500 calories of nutritious food, because I was producing insane amounts of milk, but even so….

        • Bombshellrisa

          I thought it was Nikkilee that said that women didn’t need extra food, but it’s all starting to blur with which troll said what.

          • Heidi_storage

            Oh, maybe you’re right. Sorry!

      • Amy

        And how much is that frappuccino? Over four bucks. That’s $28 a week, times 26 weeks (6 months), or $728. More than the cost of formula for the same time period.

      • Michele

        Bwahahaha only 500 calories. I probably ate 1000+ extra while pumping and was still hungry all the time and losing weight. Only time in my life I’ve had trouble eating enough instead of having to watch what I eat.
        Also, wtf kind of bacon are you seeing that is 500 calories for 4 slices. That’s like 10+ slices of bacon.

  • critter8875

    When was “bonding” invented? I don’t recall it from 20 or more years ago.

    • AlisonCummins

      As I recall I think it was invented about thirty years ago, based on observations of abused children. A disproportionate number of them had had problems as neonates and had stayed in hospital for extended periods when they were born while their mothers went home to care for their other children and work. When they finally went home with their mothers they’d had little or no contact for weeks or months, and had special needs.

      The researcher developed a hypothesis that a bonding window exists and that mothers will not be able to parent appropriately if they do not bond with the infant in the first few days.

      How this has become today’s “breastfeed while the cord is still pulsing or your family is DOOMED” I don’t know. More data? Or simply the general idea that “if some contact is necessary before a certain age, then more contact as early as possible is better?”

      • Mel

        I think the change came in part because people rarely read the actual material on human bonding outside of academia and often the material prepared for general consumption oversimplifies the material while ignoring bias.

        So, for example, Bowlby hypothesized that human infants bond readily to adults because infants are so damn helpless that infants that did not get an adult to care for them became wolf food. No one really objects to that hypothesis; the problem came in how his idealization of middle-class, White families affected how that bonding occurred. Bowlby argued that infants are predisposed to attach to a primary caregiver (the mother) who provides for all the babies needs. He presented case studies from various cultures worldwide that supported the mother-centric view while overlooking the more standard model of “Mom breast-feeds and provides some care, lots of other people who are mostly related help out with the baby from the start.” It doesn’t take much to move from Bowlby’s statements to “Mothers should breastfeed, wear babies and disdain all outside help”…

    • Joey__Blow

      The initial secretion of great fluids has a very strong effect on a child’s immune system. And later secretions have a proper balance of fat and proteins a baby needs. Bonding? Sure, at about five years old..

  • Amy

    It seems that you are implying that there is a correlation between high infant mortality rates with high breastfeeding rates. The more babies that are breastfed the more will die? You should list the countries that you are talking about. There are probably greater factors causing the high infant mortality rates. Lack of resources, poverty, (I’m only listing a few) and the only option these women have is to breastfeeding. You should stick to using examples of the population of people who this blog caters to, people that have the money and resources to buy formula. Or please come to one of these countries and use your wonderful OB knowledge and be part of a change.

    • Elizabeth A

      There is a correlation between high mortality rates and high breastfeeding rates – the harder it is to access safely prepared infant formula, the more mothers will breastfeed, and the harder it is to access safely prepared infant formula, the more infants will die. In both cases, the cause is the difficulty of access. This is acknowledged in the original post, when Dr. Tuteur writes “Only countries with easy access to technology (including infant formula) have low rates of infant mortality.”

    • swbarnes2

      Looking at worldwide country level data, there absolutely IS a correlation between breastfeeding and infant mortality, which is why Dr. Tuteur talked about countries, not “within the US” or “in developed countries”. But correlation does not equal causality, of course, and Dr. Tuteur is well aware.

      When breastfeeding advocates routinely cite evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding in developing countries as applicable to first world countries (which it’s not) it’s only fair to explicitly point out what the data really shows when you look at those countries.

      For instance, When you search KellyMom, a site which, as you say, caters to people who have the resources and money to buy formula, and look to see what they say about breastfeeding while HIV positive, you have to look very very hard to find the AAP and CDC recommendations, which says that HIV+ mothers should not breastfeed, period. What Kellymom does show you, the posts which are tagged with the HIV tags, are posts about studies in Kenya and India, where dirty water is so dangerous, that avoiding it in favor of breastfeeding is a little bit preferable (especially if mom is on ARV therapy)

      Do you have anything to say about Kellymom hiding data relevant to the US to push pro-breastfeeding advice that is dangerous for American babies?

    • demodocus

      It’s not so much that breastfeeding in itself is a cause of high mortality, but it clearly isn’t a prevention either, which is Dr. T’s point.

    • CSN0116

      “You should stick to using examples of the population of people who this blog caters to, people that have the money and resources to buy formula.”

      Because we can’t set aside our privilege long enough to contemplate the suffering that is being a new mom in a developing nation with limited access to clean water and food. Nope – lattes, Enfamil, and Uppababy Vistas it is for us!

      GTFO. Countries with the highest breast feeding rates have the highest infant mortality rates because, contrary to the “magic” thesis, breast milk can NOT be created out of nothing or near nothing. And many moms will NOT make enough milk to sustain a baby. The mortality rates are proof positive that the human body is flawed, breast milk is not magic, and only those who can use technology (FORMULA instead dirty water, wet rice, or rooibos tea) to circumvent the fuck ups of nature are able to survive.

      • Mel

        To me, there’s always been an added level of sadistic denial around maternal resources and breast milk production. Here in the US, we glorify a mother giving everything up for her baby with the implication that maternal deprivation is all that is really needed to raise a baby.

        In reality, biology plays its own game. When a nursing mother begins to starve, her body uses the needed nutrients to keep the mother alive at the expense of the nutrient level of the breast milk. The only way to reverse the process is to intake more nutrients – not how much the mother wants the baby to survive, not how much the mother is willing to sacrifice. Those things don’t matter to biology.

        Biology will let a woman throw herself in front of a moving vehicle to save a child’s life; it will not let her produce breast milk to save an infant at the expense of her life.

      • Amy

        I’m not sure what “Uppababy Vistas” are and you are missing my point. These two populations can’t be fairly compared.
        “GTFO” If countries focused on getting mothers adequate nutrition and aid it would make a huge difference. The human body isn’t flawed, things don’t always work out perfectly but to saw the human body is flawed is a bit of an overstatement. Yes I completely agree not all mothers will be able to produce enough milk to feed their baby. If we focused on getting mothers adequate post-partum care, including nutrition. Making post-partum depression evaluation a more normal process and talked about issue and didn’t isolate new moms to figure it all out on their own things would be hugely different.
        Please watch Formula for Disaster. There is a huge problem with formula companies marketing and pushing formula on poor mothers vs encouraging and supporting breastfeeding. I also understand that this is a video from the Philippines where exactly they are mixing formula with dirty water, and other things.
        My original point is that Dr. Amy is saying there is a direct correlation between high breastfeeding rates and infant mortality. No that is not a correct interpretation of the data. She is using it as sensationalism. There are many other factors that these countries have a high infant mortality rate. If I am wrong please show me the study that says because these women are exclusively breastfeeding their baby they are killing their baby.

        • MI Dawn

          Oh, for pete’s sake, Amy. What Dr Amy is trying to point out is that breastmilk *isn’t* magic and isn’t perfect and ISN’T the best way to feed ALL babies.

          It’s a very good way to feed babies in countries where other options aren’t good (dirty/unsafe water, disease, lack of food). But it isn’t perfect, even then. A lot of babies still die, even though they are EBF, because of the other reasons, whereas the lactivists try to make it sound like “if you only breastfeed, your baby will live forever no matter what”.

          And before you make any assumptions: I breastfed both of my children, switching to combo feeding when I had to go back to work at 6 weeks. (Nurses rarely got breaks long enough to pump in those days, and FMLA didn’t exist. Nor did short term disability, to be paid at least a little for time off).

          • Amy

            Oh for pete sake you are totally missing my point. She is using a comparison/correlation that there are so many other factors involved that it shouldn’t be used. I never said breastfeeding was the perfect way. I have also worked with woman in a variety of settings in the US and Internationally. I understand that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone and mental health of mom and adequate food breast or bottle is first priority.
            My problem is that she is implying that breastfeeding is causing a high infant mortality rate.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No, you totally missed the point. I never implied that breastfeeding causes high infant mortality. I pointed out that the countries with the highest breastfeeding rates have the highest mortality rates to illustrate the main point of the piece, which is that the benefits of breastfeeding have been massively exaggerated.

        • Bombshellrisa

          It’s a very expensive form of baby transportation aka stroller

    • Amy

      Just clarifying, there are two of us with the same username here. I’m the other one.

      And your comment pretty much underscores the point Dr. Amy was making: correlation does NOT equal causation.

  • OttawaAlison

    I wish the bonding myth would die in a fire since it’s something that scared the crap out of me with my eldest daughter. Funnily enough 10 years later we are well bonded and she is acting very age appropriate. At camp she wrote me notes (6 -nights away), that she missed me sooooooooooooo much. Then when I dropped her off at daycamp for the past two days my daughter has given me the look of “mom, you’re lingering too long, please go”. That said we do tons of stuff together and she trusts me to confide in me. Our bond has also evolved over the years. Her bond with my husband/her dad has evolved too and they are super close.
    Not only that, I lost her baby sister at term (stillborn unknown reasons) and the amount of grief I felt and still feel is a testament to the love and bond I have with her, even though I never saw her alive outside of my uterus, let alone breastfed her.

    • Daleth

      I’m so sorry about your lost baby.

    • Guest

      I’ll never understand the bonding myth either. My neighbors adopted a 4 month old; by NCB standards, the child should hate her parents and be an emotional disaster area. And yet! She thinks they’re the best, and is thriving.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Bonding with an unborn baby is without a doubt, a thing. You’re right, the bond begins in the mind, not at the breast.

    • Elizabeth A

      I *haaaate* all the crap about bonding.

      1. Bonding is never defined. No one has ever told me what it means to bond with a baby, or how we can determine whether bonding has or has not occurred. They have just emphasized the bonding is massively important. It’s a terribly vital thing that we cannot meaningfully evaluate – which is a horrible oxymoron and therefore probably a lie. Bonding is a thing that parents are told to be anxious about, but cannot do anything to address.

      2. Emotional connection can and does develop between human beings in a wide variety of circumstances at absolutely all stages of life. While individuals experience varying levels of ease in forming those connections (for a wide variety of reasons), it takes hard work and unusual circumstances to destroy that ability completely. Individuals who have difficulty forming emotional connections in some circumstances (i.e., while experiencing post-partum depression) commonly recover, and are able to build or rebuild emotional connections when they do.

      3. Specifically concerning breast feeding and bonding: People who do not breastfeed nonetheless form deep, lasting, and satisfying emotional connections with babies. This is a thing that happens frequently, between babies, and anyone who spends significant time with them. Or who is just plain pre-disposed (i.e., geographically distant aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, parents’ college roommates, and anyone else who thinks they have sufficient standing with a child’s parents to get away with indulging a desire to be emotionally involved.)

      4. It is quite some time before the lack of an emotional connection with a parent will have a problematic effect on a child who is physically safe and well-cared for. Infants aren’t so much going to notice if their parents aren’t feeling it right now, so there is a generous slice of time during which parents can seek help for emotional distance and other difficulties before there is any risk of long-term effects of that issue for their children. (PPD and so on should be treated as soon as possible for a variety of reasons, but children and parents both do quite well even if emotional attachment doesn’t arise until a child is several months old.)

      • Fleur

        I’ve read a load of articles and blogs pushing the whole “breastfeeding results in better bonding” thing and they’ve almost all used a ridiculously circular definition of “bonding”, i.e. their understanding of bonding is that it’s the feeling of having a tiny, defenceless baby sucking at your breast and knowing that it’s entirely dependent on your milk for survival. If that’s your definition of the mother-baby bond then, yeah, you can’t do that with a formula-fed baby. But what an incredibly reductive view of the possibilities of the parent-child relationship! (My plans for quality time with my five-month-old daughter this weekend involve chicken hand puppets, pitching a tent on the village green so we can mess around with grass and leaves, and lots and lots of Elvis. I was never a fan but babies seem to love him.)

    • Mel

      My twin sister never got breast milk because her digestive system was really, really out-of-whack from being a preemie. I got some breast milk before raising twins became too crazy to mix pumping with formula and my youngest brother was EBF.

      We all turned out fine.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      (((random internet stranger hugs))) I’m sorry for your loss. I had an early miscarriage last year, and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Losing a child at term? Without at all belittling my feelings about my lost, early baby…I can’t imagine. I’m sorry. 🙁

    • Tori

      So sorry for your loss.

    • Fleur

      I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. My parents lost my big brother shortly after birth. I’ve always been aware that the fact that my mum never got to meet him outside her womb doesn’t mean that she loves him any less than me, just differently so.

    • Stephanie Rotherham

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Daleth

    The truth is that our brain is nature’s greatest protector. Only countries with easy access to technology (including infant formula) have low rates of infant mortality.

    Omg I love that. Zing! The truth hurts!

  • Madtowngirl

    Well she did get one thing right – the title of her piece. Because let’s face it, the only thing that is going to support such outrageous claims is magic, not science.

  • Cartman36

    Another standing ovation! Thank you so much for the work you do! You are a sensible voice of reason!!