The naked misogyny of of pressuring women to breastfeed

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Another day, another misogynistic effort to pressure women to breastfeed. Today it is The Guardian piece Low UK breastfeeding rates down to social pressures over routine and sleep.

Speaking at the British Science Festival, Amy Brown of Swansea University said:

“We are told by so-called experts that you should get your baby in a feeding routine and your baby should not wake up at nights,” said Brown. “But that is really incompatible for breastfeeding. If you try and feed them less, you make less milk. You need to feed at night to make enough milk.”

Why do women stop breastfeeding?

The Right puts women into religious purdah. The Left puts women in the purdah of biological essentialism.

Speaking ahead of the publication of her book, Breastfeeding Uncovered, Brown said that while a large proportion of mothers struggle to breastfeed, few of them have underlying conditions that prevent the process.

Surveying around 300 women who had stopped breastfeeding in the first six months, Brown found that around 80% cited pain and difficulty as contributing, while 40% referenced public attitudes, 60% lack of support from others and 20% blamed embarrassment. (my emphasis)

Brown then proceeds to ignore her findings that 80% women stop because breastfeeding because of pain and difficulty! Apparently that’s just the price that “Nature” wants women to pay.

She speaks disparagingly of women’s exhaustion and desire for a life besides mothering:

We are told by so-called experts that you should get your baby in a feeding routine and your baby should not wake up at nights,” said Brown. “But that is really incompatible for breastfeeding. If you try and feed them less, you make less milk. You need to feed at night to make enough milk…

Not to be outdone:

Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at the National Childbirth Trust, agreed that frequent feeding is necessary. “It is obviously easier for everyone if they begin to sleep more during the night, but if you are fully breastfeeding you will have to feed for at least once and probably two or three times during the night,” she said. “The daily patterns will come, but it won’t be in the first few days or the very first weeks.”

Exhaustion and inability to do anything besides breastfeeding is just another price that “Nature” demands.

Lactivists have fallen back on the racist, eugenics argument first advanced by Grantly Dick-Read to promote natural childbirth: Over-civilized white women have been socialized to betray their biological purpose.

Grantly Dick-Read believed that pain in labor was all in women’s heads. White women of the “better” classes had been socialized to believe that childbirth was painful, while primitive (read: black) women understood that their purpose was to produce and nurture babies and therefore had painless labors.

Grantly Dick-Read made up his theory to counter what he perceived as women’s failure to achieve their “biological purpose,” agitating for political and economic rights instead.

In other words, get back home, get pregnant, and stay there. Your needs, desires, intellect and talents don’t matter.

Lactivists are saying something similar: Get back home and breastfeed. Your needs, desires, intellect and talents don’t matter.

Why do lactivists and other natural parenting advocate seek to imprison women in their reproductive biology?

One of the greatest achievements of the 20th Century was the political and economic emancipation of women.

Of course, it only occurred for some women in some countries, but it was a milestone, nonetheless. For the first time in human history, women were finally judged for something other than the function of their breasts, uteri and vaginas.

Seismic change is rarely accomplished without backlash and the emancipation of women is no different. On the Right, there has been a retreat into religious fundamentalism, forcibly preventing women from taking their place in the wider world by convincing them that God intends for them to stay home bearing and raising children.

On the Left, there has been a retreat into “natural parenting,” attempting to force women back into the home by appealing to biological essentialism, hectoring women that “Nature” intends for them to stay home bearing and raising children.

The Right puts women into religious purdah, restricted to the home. The natural parenting advocates on the Left put women in the purdah of biological essentialism.

Forcing women back into the home to breastfeed is justified by appeals to “science,” but the science on breastfeeding benefits is weak, conflicting and riddled by confounding variables. That includes the “science” of the oft cited Lancet paper that claimed that exclusive breastfeeding could save 800,000 infant lives per year.

Really?

The overwhelming majority of infant deaths occur in the poorest countries where breastfeeding rates approach 100%. How exactly is enforced, exclusive, extended breastfeeding going to save lives in the UK or the US where vanishingly few infants die of non-accidental causes of death? The lactivists don’t say.

In truth, the health benefits of breastfeeding in countries like the UK and the US are trivial, limited to 8% fewer colds and 8% fewer episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants in the first year. In other words, the majority of infants will experience NO health benefit from breastfeeding.

No matter. The “science” is merely the cudgel used to force women back into their biological purdah.

The way forward is that we need a complete societal change to how we look at breastfeeding, how we accept it, but also how we accept and value mothering in general,” said Brown …

No, the way forward is that we need a complete societal change to how we look at WOMEN. They are more than their breasts, uteri and vaginas.

HER baby, HER body, HER breasts, HER choice.

Anything else is misogyny masquerading as concern for babies.

  • Regarding healthcare professionals ignoring the fact that “80% women stop because breastfeeding because of pain and difficulty”, I gave birth by caesarean section (another sin committed by those who reject the doctrine of The Noble Savage), and was bombarded with “breast is best” propaganda at every opportunity.
    I gave birth prematurely, and produced very little milk. My child was taken to NICU immediately. In spite of the midwives recognising that I wasn’t producing enough to make even a dribble in the breast pump (let alone feed a tiny human!), they still kept pushing the breastfeeding message. I felt like I was being constantly judged, because my body wouldn’t do what it was “supposed” to do. One brave midwife, and every doctor I spoke with, said that it was ok to bottle feed, and there was no evidence that it would lead to a worse outcome for my child. I do wonder how long the NICU staff would have allowed this situation to continue with an already sick child.
    It so obviously looks like a policy imposed on our health service, with little to back it up. It’s just another type of woo-woo targeted at women, which unfortunately has been given credence by its incorporation in healthcare policy. The government must think women are really stupid.

    • guest

      I don’t know about your NICU, but mine wouldn’t tolerate it at all. Either the mother sent down enough milk for a scheduled feeding and they used that, or she didn’t and the baby got formula. It wasn’t presented as an option. I’m not sure what they would have done had I been mobile enough to go down there and have a fit about “not one drop!” (not that I would have), but I seriously doubt they would have allowed it to get far. They might have allowed a baby to eat slightly less than they would have provided with formula, but not much.

      • Thank goodness your NICU operated on the basis of evidence rather than wishful thinking. Are you in the UK?

    • Anna

      So similar to my story except that my birth was not premature and my baby was doing fine. But like you I made little milk and encountered the same attitude. I was told to try harder like one hundred times. God, I was recovering from surgery! Had it even made sense to try (and I do believe it didn’t cause in a week after birth I was still making little milk) it was up to ME to decide whether I was willing to exhaust my body even more or whether I was willing to rest and let my husband bottle feed our daughter.

  • Julia B

    What a confusing article. Breastfeeding is not incompatible with following a routine, and does not even translate to less sleep for mothers. Nor can formula-fed babies be expected to sleep through the night in the first few months. These breastfeeding proponents are actually implying that formula feeding translates to better infant and parental sleep, and cannot be used in a routine.

    Doan T, Gay CL, Kennedy HP, Newman J, Lee KA. Nighttime breastfeeding behavior is associated with more nocturnal sleep among first-time mothers at one month postpartum. J Clin Sleep Med. 2014 Mar 15;10(3):313-9. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.3538. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24634630

    Brown A, Harries V. Infant sleep and night feeding patterns during later infancy: association with breastfeeding frequency, daytime complementary food intake, and infant weight. Breastfeed Med. 2015 Jun;10(5):246-52. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2014.0153. Epub 2015 May 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25973527

  • MB

    When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to breastfeed, but was open to the possibility that it might not work out for me. But, I was committed. I went to the prenatal breastfeeding class offered by my hospital (BFHI, fyi). The woman who taught this class (she was in her 30’s maybe? don’t know if that matters) literally took the time to tell all the male partners specifically during the class that had taken the time to join that “there will come a time when your wife is weeping and wants you to help in some way. The most important thing to remember is that YOU CAN’T HELP.”

    Verbatim.

    No joke. Every guy (there were like four or five in the class) raised their hands and were appalled. Everyone was shocked by this. They didn’t understand this. Some couples raised their hands together and asked questions to the effect of, “you know, we thought we might bottle feed at night so we could share the most difficult load.” Nearly EVERYONE in the class was under the impression that they might be able to supplement with formula, especially during the most difficult (i.e. night times) of feeding.

    The Lactation lady thing whatever she was took the time to explain that not breastfeeding at night or any length of time would absolutely lead to your breastmilk drying up and being unable to breastfeed ultimately.

    What the hell kind of lesson is that? It’s at a fucking lie! It’s some tactic that these women are using to trap other women into being the sole providers for their infants.

    I shall not use acronym in this case. WHAT THE FUCK. Are you literally kidding me. It is the most obvious subversion of the equality of men and women in child rearing that I have ever seen in my entire life.

    My 13 mos. old and I are still nursing. It was misery for me until he had the necessity to bottle feed at 3 mos. when he went to nursery school, and I went back to work. I wish we had combo bottlefed/breastfed from the beginning to make the transition to nursery school easier, not to mention the lions share of night feedings between my husband and I more balanced.

    These people are crazy.

    • Chi

      We got a similar lecture from the woman running the antenatal class my husband and I attended.

      Apparently it’s a thing here in New Zealand that any antenatal classes that receive funding from the government (which is like all of them) are absolutely 100% not allowed to even MENTION formula at any point during the classes and that if anyone even asks about it, the discussion is shut down and taken back to the wonderful, cheap, easy NORMAL breastfeeding that EVERY mother is miraculously supposed to be able to do.

      It would be better if they accepted the reality that some parents are going to need to supplement and teach new parents how to properly sanitize a bottle and it’s parts and how to properly make up a serving of formula. Because it’s amazing how many people simply do not have a clue about how it’s done.

      • Jules B

        That was exactly the kind of message I got in the prenatal breastfeeding/baby care class I attended. And when I ended up needing to use formula (due to low supply), I had no idea how to make up a bottle – because I had been told that if I was committed to breastfeeding, formula would never be necessary.

        It is so ridiculous that in baby care classes, a basic skill like making up a bottle is not taught.

    • Heidi

      Both baby and I needed husband to feed some bottles! My “wonderful” vaginal birth resulted in quite a bit of pain the first few weeks so I was on hydrocodone. I was also still trying to get a real supply through pumping so I’d get up in the middle of the night to pump. I’d doze off at the pump. I absolutely did not feel like it was safe for me to do the feedings at night doped up and sleep deprived. My husband didn’t pump, of course, and wasn’t taking narcotics so he was a heck of a lot more able to be alert enough for those 12am, 2am, and 4am feedings.

  • MB

    I <3 Dr. Amy.

  • Kesiana

    Off-topic question: are there any LEGIT nutritionist certification programs, preferably that don’t require a 6-year degree?

    My mom wants to switch careers, but problem is she’s bought into a fair bit of woo. I’m hoping I can find and talk her into a reasonably scientific program… assuming there IS such a thing.

    • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

      I’ve seen four year bachelor of science degrees in Nutrition Science. I think the only people selling shorter ones are places are online universities that are ITT Tech or University of Phoenix by a different name.

    • AA

      In USA, that would be studying to be a Registered Dietician.

    • Roadstergal

      Unfortunately, Nutritionist is pretty much the label of a woo-peddler in the States. As AA notes, Registered Dietician is a real certification, ‘nutritionist’ is just a thing you can call yourself no matter what your education.

  • Fleur

    Thanks for this. There was another Guardian piece yesterday which caught me at a bad moment so that my morning ended up in tears: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/09/breastfeeding-drive-could-save-nhs-40m-a-year
    My understanding is that the NHS budget for 2015-2016 was over a hundred billion, so 40 million is a drop in the ocean for the NHS, but it stings to be told that I’m a drain on society because I’m too busy trying to get back in my jeans and keep my partner happy to breastfeed.

    Actually, as far as I can see, the biggest factors governing how many minor illnesses a baby has in the first few months are: (1) whether it’s in daycare and (2) whether it has older siblings at school or nursery. My daughter was nearly exposed to a nasty cold when she was a few weeks old because a friend was planning on bringing her nine month old daughter (homebirth, EBF, full-on AP) round to visit without mentioning that she had a cough and runny nose – when I checked in advance, my friend apologised and admitted she’d become very offhand about coughs and colds because her daughter had had several in the first six months, due to having a sibling at nursery school.

    So, if we want to reduce the “burden” that sick babies place on the NHS, I’d have thought that a good start would be (i) supporting maternity rights so that women only have to go back to work in the first few months after childbirth if they want to, and (ii) requiring companies to have more family-friendly policies so parents don’t send sick kids to school for lack of other options. But guilt-tripping new mothers over breastfeeding is probably easier, right?

    • Laura J

      Ugh at least the mom should have let you know. We let our sister know of any sniffle or cough, or fever. My daughter tends to catch stuff when we are at the library, the keyboards are loaded with germs. I kinda expressed my disproval when a mom had her 2yr old son at the keyboards and a pretty nasty cough.

      • Fleur

        Yeah, I was pretty damn annoyed. Oddly enough, those of my friends and family who don’t have kids were generally really considerate about not exposing my daughter to germs when she was small, whereas a lot of my mum friends had to be nagged about it. Most of them have older kids so I guess they’ve just given up on trying to prevent the sniffles. And some of them are kind of into the woo, so they probably have all kinds of romantic ideas about germs and immunity. Sigh.

        • Laura J

          I’m waiting for the day when we all have strep or something like that…or some nasty cold. CHurch nursery toys are bad for germs too.

        • Box of Salt

          Fleur “Most of them have older kids so I guess they’ve just given up on trying to prevent the sniffles”

          If you ever have a second child. It’s not a crunchy AP thing – it’s reality.

          Unless you plan to deprive the older child of developmental opportunities and social interaction, you cannot avoid exposing the younger one.

          The flip side of this is by the time the younger one is old enough for preschool, they’ve been through many of the colds already.

          • Fleur

            Oh definitely – I completely appreciate that you can’t stop second kids catching everything going, and didn’t intend to suggest otherwise! What bugged me was when other mums assumed, without asking first, that I’d be equally laid-back about my not-yet-vaccinated baby being exposed to their babies’ older siblings’ classmates’ germs, and when they made me feel that I was some kind of neurotic mother for following the health visitor’s advice re handwashing and crowded public spaces in the early days. They’re good friends, though – I think they’ve just forgotten how anxious and germ-phobic they were themselves with their own firstborns.

          • Kelly

            I have three kids and refused to go see my friend’s new baby because my kids were getting a cold one by one. It is one thing when your older child is bringing home germs but absolutely another to knowingly bring a sick child in with a newborn.

          • Amazed

            Yeah, because the world revolves all around them and their own kids, eh?

            A few weeks ago, I suddenly called a friend and her kid (almost three) and told her that I had found myself taking care of Amazing Niece for the day unexpectedly, so if they wanted to come and meet her, that was the moment. She actually called me from her front door, she and kid (also her third) ready and all to tell me that he had had a bug a few days ago. She had simply forgotten about it but now that she remembered, no, they weren’t coming.

            I thought it was just common sense to not expose other kids to your own sick ones. Isn’t that the reason the parents of a sick child are supposed to keep them home from daycare and preschool? No one should make the decision for other people’s kids.

        • guest

          After a while, you just can’t stay home anymore and you stop worrying about every little sniffle, it’s true. i’d have more consideration for visiting a newborn in its home, but any public place is fair game – we can’t stay home every time one of my kids has the sniffles.

    • Sarah

      Couldn’t help but notice she’s from the same faculty that produced the much touted research showing bf babies wake less in the night than ff babies, focusing in no way conveniently on 6-12 months old rather than newborns…

      But as usual, pretence that we can control for social factors and confounders, because that’s much easier than doing something about having some of the worst levels of social inequality in the Western world.

  • If there’s one thing the comments to this post show, it’s that “one size doesn’t fit all”. I saw this with my own children, and I’ve seen it endlessly during my career. Simple common sense dictates that a mother should do WHAT WORKS BEST.

    One of the great advantages of the third child (some can achieve it by #2, but most don’t) is that you throw the books away and stop listening to advice, but trust your instincts and common sense. It’s just a shame you have to go through all that nonsense first

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild
    • Sarah

      Please Santa yes. I’ve been such a good girl all year.

  • graysmama

    Baby #1: Primary lactation failure due to insufficient glandular tissue. Had to be completely formula fed as I never made more than a few drops. Was a horrible sleeper. Still woke at least once a night until the age of 3. After 3, he started just having trouble sleeping. We would fight him to fall asleep until 1 am every night. At the age of 5 after being assessed by a developmental pediatrician at the children’s hospital’s neurodevelopmental behavioral center after dealing with years of developmental delays, he was diagnosed with severe ADHD. His doctor said that he had been born with his brain wired differently and this was why he slept like crap his whole life. Put him on Intuniv and he started sleeping like a normal child. Sleeps 10-11 hours a night now at the age of 6.

    Baby #2: Currently 4 weeks old. Am having a small amount more success producing breast milk but after consulting with lactation consultants am aware I will never be able to exclusively breastfeed. I am fine with this and credit having lactation consultants who supported combo feeding rather than harassing me for not exclusively breastfeeding for why I am still combo feeding rather than completely formula feeding. Had they not been understanding and supportive I would have given up. She gets around 75% formula, 25% breastmilk. Still wakes every 2-3 hours to feed just like all the exclusively breast feed babies her age do.

    Formula fed babies sleeping better is not necessarily true and not why women give up breastfeeding.

    • Madtowngirl

      I wish someone would have told my baby that formula fed babies sleep better. She still sleeps like crap, and hasn’t had formula for a good 2 months now.

      • Mariana

        My formula-fed daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was 3. She wasn’t waking up to eat, she is just wired like me, I’m a light sleeper and have trouble falling back asleep. My son had way less formula than her, and is wired like his dad, a sound sleeper who falls asleep before his head even hits the pillow! (Oh how I envy them!).

    • RMY

      Mom sleeps better if Dad (or another person) can handle a nighttime feeding. I don’t know anyone who claims formula protects babies from any sleep problems.

      • Laura J

        We would switch off nightfeedings…but if a momma gets her night sleep…feels like she can function.

    • MB

      You’re doing great, lady. Know that. Love makes mothers of us all. Not breastmilk.

  • MaineJen

    We are just women…who cares about our pain/inconvenience/wasted potential? /sarc

  • Dr Kitty

    #1 slept through the night from 5 months, never had formula in her life and was breastfed until somewhere between 13 and 17 months. I don’t recall exactly when I weaned her off the breast but it was at the point when she was running up to me and pulling at my top when I came home, which was not cool.

    #2 only started sleeping through the night at 11 months (with CIO, a blackout blind and a strict bed time routine when all else failed). He got some formula from 7 months because he was active and crawling and keeping up with his requirements required hours of pumping, vast quantities of food for me and almost no sleep. I was losing weight and miserable, he was losing weight and miserable, formula was great, but despite 500-750mls of formula he was still waking 2 or 3 times a night for a breast feed until about six weeks ago.
    At almost 13 months he still comes into my bed every morning at 6am for an hour of cuddles and breast milk, and will still nurse for comfort if he is really upset, but he’s now down to sleep from 7:30pm and sleeps through.

    It wasn’t “society” that influenced my different approaches to feeding my children, it was common sense.

    • Sarah

      You just needed some more empowerment, is all.

    • MB

      Bravo, great mothering, and lots of love for your babies.

  • Amy

    I would quibble with one point. The natural movement is prevalent on the far left AND the far right. After all, Kate Tietje is an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian. So are natural heroes like The Pioneer Woman and the Sears family.

    • Guest

      Pioneer woman is an all natural lunatic? I love her cook books and stuff. I know she home schooled and has a huge garden and other natural type things, but she never struck me as a fundy dangerous nature loon. And this is not an arguement against what you said. This is more of a I am a fangirl and am afraid I have been mislead and oblivious kind of thing. I only read the parts of her blog I find interesting so I skip the homeschool stuff. But I will stop going at all if she is spreading nutter ideas on the parts I havent been reading.

      • Amy

        I don’t know how nutty she is per se, but she’s definitely right of center and very popular with a lot of right-wing Christian women.

      • RMY

        Lunatics have figured out how to present themselves better these days, see the Duggars, they’re crazy religious, but don’t talk about it as much, so they had a cute little TV show about cooking massive amounts of food, doing a lot of laundry, and transporting many kids around.

  • Heidi

    OT but do they make convertible car seats with a base? I got a coupon to get a sizable chunk off from Target that expires in a couple of days plus they are actually having a sale on them. I’ve been putting it off because I’m totally lost when it comes to choosing. I really like the base thing since we can put one in the in-laws car and all they have to do is click it in once baby is in correctly.

    • CSN0116

      I’ve only ever seen infant car seats with bases :/

      • Heidi

        Yeah, it looks like Graco makes one called Smart Seat. It’s about $300! So I think I’ll just recycle my coupon and just get a bigger, much cheaper car seat when the time comes. I think the one we have now goes to 30 lbs.

        • CSN0116

          Ha, I’d buy 3-4 convertible car seats with the $300 and plop one in everyone’s car who will ever drive baby 😛

          • Heidi

            Sooo, I actually found a really good deal on one. With coupon + sale + my 5% red card discount, I was getting ready to have a cart seat for $46, tax included. And OF COURSE, Target’s website isn’t working. This happens to me all the time with them.

          • CSN0116

            I just watched the Graco video on that Smart Seat …it’s cool and all that it lasts a kid like 10 years, but in my experience, car seats don’t hold up that well for that long. Also, isn’t the car seat Nazi camp’s main argument with “expiration” that the harness integrity does not remain after ~5 years or something? I watched the entire video and they didn’t explain that the harnesses were made of anything special to give the car seat have a 10 year life. Hmmmm…

            The entire car seat market weirds me out though. It’s like a competition of who can play on fear the most and compliment said fear with sleek designs, European ingenuity, trendy prints, additional padding, and cup holders. And the price tags?! Just odd.

          • Heidi

            My policy on most anything that I know has to be highly regulated is cheapest.

          • CSN0116

            This is a very good policy 😉

          • Kelly

            I think it depends on the car seat about how long it lasts but I agree with you, the car seat market is ridiculous. I have found that the cheaper car seats are the easiest to install and clean which I have found to by my selling points.

          • guest

            I love my Britax for installation and ease of strapping kid in and out. I bought it a few years ago on clearance because it was a model they were fazing out so it was cheap (for a Britax). We have about 4 brands of car seats that we have used, and this is the only one that I can take out and put in the car in minutes without too much effort or worrying that it is not installed correctly. I have lots of pain in my hands and it is the only one that I can reliably tighten and loosen correctly when putting the kid in and out. I recommend it to everyone. I recently walked through the car seat aisle and about fainted when I saw how much prices have increased in the last few years. Luckily, the Britax will make it through 2 kids so I will not have to buy any more.

          • AnnaPDE

            That harness material degradation argument is grade 1 BS. They’re made of the same material as car seat belts, and those don’t break down in decades.

          • demodocus

            We had 1 and just got really good at installing it. Granted, I didn’t bother with the tethers, but then not all the cars we rode in have them.

          • Kelly

            We have the tethers but since we are constantly moving car seats, I would rather use the seat belt. I can’t install with the latch without a second person.

        • J.B.

          I would go ahead and buy a cheap convertible seat with the coupon. I gave up on the infant seat by several months old because it was so heavy to carry around, and a folding stroller becomes easier. Since kiddo was small we kept the infant seat for a while for travel.

        • Mattie

          just had a look at the video, that seems so complicated, is ISOFix not a thing in the US? A lot of carseats in Europe have that now, although they are more expensive. Significantly easier and safer though 🙂

          • Heidi

            We have it. We call it LATCH. Our cars, both Corollas, only have it in the left and right back seats, though. We put the baby in the middle for now.

          • Mattie

            having a quick google, there are differences in the ‘hooks’, isofix hooks are kinda like mechanical ‘crocodile clips’ they’re super easy to install 🙂 yeh, they do often only have it on the side seats, which is a shame cause the middle is the safest place for a carseat

    • MB

      This is fucking OT, but I live in a Michiganian area where there are just lakes all over. Yet also we are slightly rural. So there are sort of hillbilly peeps living next to super crazy wealthy people on the lakes.

      Yesterday I pulled up next to a monster truck that said: ” ‘Merica! Two Time World War Champs!”. The day before, another monster truck with text in duct tape on the back bumper: “HONK IF YR HORNY”.

      We live in a rather in-between suburban area, but, not gonna lie, this dynamic cracks me up. Brings me joy.

      Anyway, was dropping my baby off at nursery school the other day and a guy was driving a dune buggy. I see tons of people driving street legal dune buggies around. I was super concerned that he was dropping his kid off at day care, of course. So I peeked at what he was driving (Dune buggies, totally open basically). No joke, this thing had a custom kiddy harness built into the middle of the two main seats. WTF. Hillbillies. Sometimes, you have to heart them.

  • Zornorph

    The real thing is how much other people try to make it their business. My niece is about to give birth (November) to a baby boy. Things I have NOT asked her include:
    Are you going to breastfeed him?
    Are you going to circumcise him?
    Will you be co-sleeping/baby-wearing?
    You know that CIO is considered a war crime?

    The only think that I will be asking is ‘How can I help?’

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      “When can I come to visit?”

      • Roadstergal

        “Any boosters I need first?”

    • J.B.

      Any preference on what kind of diapers I send you?

    • demodocus

      Would you like any hand-me-downs?

    • guest

      Any pizza places or take out places in the area that you are a big fan of?

    • Mariana

      What kind of baby clothes you need? (I loved when people asked me that!)

  • If the goal is the promotion of health, why does health of the mother get thrown out in favour of health of the infant. This translates into, health of children and men matter, the health of adult women – not so much. Sleep deprivation has health consequences. Further, if sleep patterns are not established in favour of “attachment” – then is it 4, 5, or 6 years before the mother is getting a full night of rest? What does that do for her health? Her career? Her well-being?

    • Dr Kitty

      Well, we know female shift workers have higher risk of breast cancer…
      Can’t imagine 12 months of sleeping in 2hr stretches is particularly good for you.

      • suzanne

        I breastfed my youngest for 10 months (til she started biting!) and she was a nightmare. Even when she was on solids she’d still want a feed every 2 hours, including overnight. She slept in our bed simply because it was easier than getting up 5 times a night.
        I had to go back to work when she was 7 months old , 3 days after returning from my dads funeral, and I had a 3 year old to look after.

        In hindsight I honestly don’t know how I made it through that year, between sleep deprivation, grief, an unsupportive workplace and a threenager I was close to the edge.

        I now fully understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture!

      • Allie

        12 months would have been an improvement for me. Try 22 1/2 months : /

    • Cartman36

      Us womenz aren’t suppose to have (or want) a career besides motherhood.

    • RED_Peril87

      That is an excellent point. I don’t recall my mother ever telling me about any of this naturalistic-fallacy-as-a-way-to-control-women when I was growing up, but now she even sees it affecting her patients’ (sorry, “Clients” – it’s supposedly far less stigmatizing for the mentally ill to exclusively claim that moniker!) as a Psych RN.

      Like, if someone who needs antipsychotics to function becomes pregnant, the Mental Health Team will do all they can to help protect the baby in utero – but the mother is frequently suffering herself by the end of the pregnancy. It’s quite common for Lactivist types to make already vulnerable women feel too guilty to resume a meds regime which will increase the chances of them retaining custody of their own child, because to use formula, no matter how extenuating the circumstances is seen as an abomination. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Lactivists & Mental Illness Denialists overlapped somewhat.

  • Daleth

    Ok, this is OT too, but still great to see in the mainstream media: a study shows that 37 weeks is the safest time to deliver dichorionic twins (i.e., fraternal twins and about 30% of identicals), and 36 weeks is safest for monochorionic twins (about 70% of identicals). With dichorionic twins, “Waiting one more week [past week 37] led to 8.8 additional deaths for every 1,000 births.” That is a HUGE NUMBER! Almost 1/100!!!

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2016/09/07/having-twins-37-is-the-magic-number/#37759eb5629e

    • Roadstergal

      1:100 is a huge number for infant deaths. (Unless you’re the Birthplace study and want to say HBAC is safe.)

    • Taysha

      I can only say my di/di were delivered at 37w3d and that was as far as the MFM would be comfortable letting me go (while heavily monitored).

      I always trusted him. Now I’m even more thankful.

      • Amy M

        I have mono/di twins, but they came on their own at 36wks
        . 🙂

    • Mel

      My twin and I were mono/di twins back in the good ol’ days when twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome could only be diagnosed after birth. Mom went into labor at 28(ish) weeks and has always felt bad that we were born so early.

      It wasn’t until the last year that mom stumbled upon the TTTS website and found out that her OB and the neonatologist weren’t trying to make her feel better when they said that our early delivery saved our lives; we were at the point where untreated severe TTTS like we had reached a nearly 90% fatality rate if the pregnancy continued.

      • Daleth

        Omg wow. You and your mom were so lucky!

    • CSN0116

      Mo-di delivery by 36.6 is a “cause” so near and dear. It’s amazing the number of women who struggle to get their doctors to comply 🙁 And the NCB-ers?! Psssshhhh overdue is a status symbol to them. I’ve seen mo-di’s born in the 40th week in a tub in the living room from that crowd. Fucking criminal.

      • Daleth

        Yes, I fought like hell but my MFM team would not schedule a c-section before 37w0 days, and since that was a holiday weekend they were going to make me wait until the Tuesday, 37w4 days. I was freaking out: so close, so far along that they would obviously be fine, but hospital policy was making me run the risk of stillbirth for NOTHING! Fortunately I developed full-blown pre-e in the space of one day and got sent up for a c-section at 36w6.

  • Laura J

    Great article on the subject for women who are able to breastfeed. Baby # 1 was C-section, and due to infection and blood transfusion because of lost iron, I could not produce enough. I dried up after 4-5 months. Baby # 2 now 6 months old, different scenario and still making lots. I know nothing of labor pain since both babies were C-section. The only pain that I recall is the excruciating gas pains after surgery had me spasm in ways I never thought I could. Couldn’t move or sleep. The nurse, loved her and all the staff there. She knew what was happening and just held me till the pain stopped.

    • Old Lady

      I expected to be waking up at night for years but no, all three of my children slept through the night after a few months. It was a surprise and I have to say I did feel in some way that I must have done something wrong the first time but I’ve since gotten away from trying to be the perfect mother who makes things harder for myself than necessary. Most of the time. Gas pains were also the worst part of it for me, and no one had even mentioned that would happen.

      • Sean Jungian

        I had a similar experience, I was at least mentally girded for getting up at night for the first year, but then at 4 months he just started sleeping through the night. At first I kind of panicked OMG WHY HASN’T HE WOKEN UP YET lol but I got used to that all-night sleeping right quick.

        The only problem was having enormously over-full breasts in the morning (and wet sheets in my own bed from leaking) for a few days until I got used to the new schedule. (So much for breasts instantly responding to baby’s needs, /eyeroll/)

        • Laura J

          Wow! We always have a bottle ready for him if he wakes in the night, but so far so good. Right now he is fussy after the shots yesterday and a big week of outings. Poor lil bug he’s so tired!

        • Old Lady

          Sadly the first time around I got less sleep when they started sleeping through the night because I was working nights and had anticipated on more naps during the day. I couldn’t afford daycare so I had to leave work. No regrets though, I appreciate the time I have with them.

      • Megan

        Meanwhile, I figured my first kid had to be pressed to night wean and do CIO at 8 months (which worked really well for us) because I’d done something wrong. This time around I did everything “right” according to the “sleep people” and my 6 month old has still only slept through the night a few times. Looks like we’ll be doing the same thing with her. I wish I was one of the lucky people to have good sleepers but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because hubby and I were both crappy sleepers too.

        • Sean Jungian

          I won’t lie, I had a FANTASTIC sleeper – 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. like clockwork from around 10 months or so. But the trade-off was: incredibly picky eater. Even his tough-as-nails North Dakota farm wife grandmother couldn’t hold out as long as this kid. He would never whine, or complain about being hungry, he simply would not eat.

          • Laura J

            Ugh waiting for our son to start his eating. He is 6 months old now. The nurse said he is ok to start some cereal, but he’s not sitting up solid and his head is still wobbly. Nothing wrong waiting a bit longer for that… h
            Sounds like you had a good sleeper baby.

        • J.B.

          My kids too. I just think they’re really smart and too busy to sleep.

        • Old Lady

          I’ve been kind of thinking that maybe it’s genetic myself. We certainly didn’t do anything special to get them to sleep through the night. Husband and I sleep well for the most part.

      • Laura J

        That’s really good they slept good. Do you recall a Dr. Denmark? She lived fifteen minutes from us. She was well known and amazing lady.

        • Old Lady

          Leila Denmark? Never heard of her before but she sounds pretty impressive from her wiki.

          • Laura J

            I wish I got a chance to meet her. SHe lived 20 minutes from us. I think all who want to practice medicine should take notes from her http://drleiladenmark.com/

  • sdsures

    Great post!

  • Daleth

    OT, but this is a great article about how it’s feminist to use the medical resources available to us:

    http://www.glamour.com/story/freezing-my-eggs-was-the-best-decision-ive-made

    • Stephanie Rotherham

      Neat!

  • Amy M

    Where are these health experts telling women to get into a feeding routine, and that newborns should be sleeping through the night? I never heard that. I knew that newborns don’t sleep through the night, and I think most pregnant women know or at least learn that before the baby comes. And as for feeding routine, it seems that “feeding on demand” is the general advice, at least here in the US. That goes for formula or breastfeeding. Anecdotally, my babies put themselves on a schedule, they fussed for food every 3hrs like clockwork, after the first 2-3weeks. I imagine most babies develop feeding patterns, which allow the parents to anticipate when they are likely to demand food next?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I remember hearing “try to establish a routine” but never heard “don’t feed them if they are hungry is it’s not on the schedule” or “feed them even if they aren’t hungry.”

      And we tried our damndest to establish a routine. And just when we would get it figured out, it would change.

      • Amy M

        Yeah, we had that to some degree, where they would change it up, but we were lucky–eating-wise they were pretty predictable. They tended to change what the “witching hour” was, or their sleeping pattern. What was most important in my house was that the twins were on the same schedule as each other, even if they altered their routine a bit. There was one month that was an exception, but otherwise, they did synchronize.

    • Roadstergal

      I’m going through another round of Friends Having Babies, and even for the ones who are first-time parents, they’re told by their family and HCPs to brace themselves for getting no sleep in the newborn period…

      (Our work has good-for-the-US maternity leave.)

    • swbarnes2

      I never heard that either, not about newborns. “Feed on demand, or more often if doctor tells you so” and “Baby will be waking up at night to feed for months” is what I heard a lot of. It’s not till they are older that it’s “babies like routines”

    • Old Lady

      I suspect it’s much like the horror stories midwives like to tell. It was standard practice once upon a time like enemas and shaving but it’s been a long time since. A new mother wouldn’t necessarily know though, especially if her reference point was only her own mother.

    • guest

      I definitely heard a lot about getting babies on a schedule in the multiples group. The stakes are higher there, though, and for the early infant days, you do it this way: When one baby wants to nurse, you nurse the other one too even if they are not giving cues. This includes waking them up if they are asleep. This way, no infant is forced to endure hunger unnecessarily, but both (or all) are eating and likely sleeping at the same time.

      • Amy M

        Oh me too–I definitely wanted my twins synch’ed. But we let them tell us when they were hungry–which was usually at the same time.

        • guest

          In the beginning I couldn’t let mine tell me, because for the first two weeks they sometimes wouldn’t wake to eat, and they needed to eat every three hours at least. That ability to sleep through feeding time did not apply to nights, somehow. But yeah, other than a specific medical need you wait until one baby wants to eat, and then wake the other(s) and offer food. If they don’t want it they won’t eat it (again, excepting some really newly newborns who need to be encouraged). My daughter was usually the one to be woken, and she was never anything but pleasantly surprised to wake up with food *right there* waiting for her.

      • guest

        I should have said “feed” instead of “nurse.” The advice is the same no matter what the method of feeding.

  • CSN0116

    What newborn doesn’t wake 1-3 times per night to feed? You mean to tell me that breast fed newborns are able to peacefully sleep uninterrupted for 12 hours from birth, and they’re sooooo good at it that moms’ milk is drying up as a result?

    Hahahahahaha.

    Maybe she’s referring to the nine-month-olds who are still breast feeding four times a night while incoherent, exhausted mom is told to “keep at it, baby needs it, this too shall pass”. Because many of *those* moms will tell the kid to bug off and force a stop to the frequent overnight feeds. But I can’t say that I have *ever* found a breast fed newborn who needs for food so infrequently overnight that his mom’s milk dries up. But then we’d have to consider the alternative — supply issues — and we all know that shit isn’t real…

    • CSN0116

      …and schedules save lives. We schedule from birth (and EFF).

      I had children to add to my life, not to run it. A schedule allows me to exist and achieve (easier) outside of motherhood. And I fucking LOVE existing elsewhere.

      • Maud Pie

        Scheduling certainly saved my life.

        Around DD’s birth, an acquaintance of her dad advised us to establish a schedule right away. This was an older man, retired from a military career. We privately laughed at this advice. So old fashioned! How silly of him to apply military notions to baby care.

        Two weeks after birth, consisting of unsuccessful breastfeeding, exhaustion, severe PPD, and a LC recommended supplemental feeding system that aggravated all of the above, I wasn’t laughing. The follow-your-instincts approach was failing miserably, so I decided to try full on formula feeding (from a bottle, none of that supplemental syringe torture) on a schedule. By day 2, I knew I was on the right track. The old AF guy knew what he was talking about. The PPD didn’t go away, but it downgraded from severe to manageable.

        The spouse (now XH) got all judgmental , but he couldn’t deny there was marked improvement.

        • CSN0116

          “The old AF guy”

          ROFLMFAO

          • AA

            I think she meant a different kind of “old AF” but it’s funny in the Millennial definition as well!

          • Maud Pie

            Oh, dear, I should have teen daughter review my postings for a unintentional vulgarities. [Face red with embarrassment.]

            He was retired from the Air Force!

          • CSN0116

            OMG the fact that didn’t even see Air Force…

            This is upsetting lol

          • Charybdis

            Air Force was the first thing I thought of…

          • Heidi

            Air Force didn’t cross my mind. I just thought he must be really old and she wanted to stress that!

          • Sean Jungian

            Air Force was my first thought – I guess you can tell our relative ages from that!

        • Kelly

          i tried to put my first two on schedules and it never worked. I didn’t try with the third. They did sleep well just never woke up at the same time until much later. The unpredictability worsened my PPD too.

          • Maud Pie

            I’m sorry that it went that way for you. PPD is horrible. I don’t claim that I had any parental talent that made scheduling work for me. I was just lucky that it agreed with my baby.

          • Kelly

            I wished my babies would but now that I know what to expect with my kids, it has made my PPD much better. Well, that and medicine. I didn’t obsess over trying to get them to sleep well or that they would never get on a schedule because it always worked out in the end. I do have to say that I have very good sleepers and that I can’t take credit for it.

      • antigone23

        I’m a scheduler too. They told me every 2-3 hours at the hospital, and that’s what I did. If they got hungry earlier, then I’d feed them earlier. If they weren’t hungry then they didn’t eat. The only exception is at night, at night I only initiated feedings when they awoke hungry. It worked great for me, added some predictability to my life, which is important to me, and the babies fell into the schedule easily. And fortunately for me both of them started sleeping 6-8 hour stretches by the time they were 6-8 weeks old.

    • Laura J

      I am going to look into a cranial expert for our baby boy…he’s mild but we don’t want a mild flat head…thanks so much for the other thread comment.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        You aren’t suggesting a chiropractor, are you?

        Although I have to say, I have no idea how this follows from the comment to which you are responding.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    Brown then proceeds to ignore her findings that 80% women stop because breastfeeding because of pain and difficulty! Apparently that’s just the price that “Nature” wants women to pay.

    But…but…but…Lactation consultations tell us that breastfeeding SHOULD NOT HURT!

    And, of course, it’s easy.

    What this survey tells us is that, it doesn’t matter what SHOULD be, what matters is that a) it does hurt, and/or b) it isn’t easy.

    I wonder how many of the 60% that cited “lack of support” are referring to LCs who deny their complaints, and simply harp on how it is easy and it shouldn’t hurt? That is a serious lack of support, I agree. But it is what we hear from LCs.

    How are women supposed to respond when they find they’ve been lied to?

    • BeatriceC

      I’ve said it before, but this is pretty much the only place where my evil mother got things right. She was honest with me, saying something to the effect of “yup, this is gonna suck for a while. Let’s see what you can do to make it more tolerable”. If it weren’t for my mother being real with me with my oldest, I wouldn’t have breastfed any of my kids.

    • Roadstergal

      “Women have choices. Men have responsibilities.”

      “Oh, really? Okay, well, then, l choose for _you_ to have the baby. That´s my choice. You have the baby. You get fat. _You_ breast-feed until your nipples are sore. l´ll go back to work.”

      • Charybdis

        I absolutely LOVE that movie! “You made me play SECOND BASE!!”

        • Roadstergal

          “It’s an electric ear-cleaner.”

          • Charybdis

            “It’s awfully BIG!”

    • Maud Pie

      It’s sheer hypocrisy that lactation zealots blame insufficient breastfeeding support when their own lactation consultants have no clue about practical and helpful solutions to BF problems. I guess that when they complain of lack of support, they mean that too many people think formula isn’t evil.

    • nomofear

      Since LCs aren’t actually part of a subspecialty of medicine, they really get away with a lack of uniform knowledge. You get a good one, like i did on my third try, and you get expert knowledge and lack of judgement – when this lady saw the state of my nips six weeks in, she said “oh honey. They are not supposed to look like that this far in. I can’t believe you kept at it- I would have switched to formula!” But she quickly diagnosed jaw reflex issues in my daughter, and referred us to occupational therapy (I think it was occupational – it was a while ago). That physical therapy possibly avoided future eating issues and/or speech impediments, too, which was awesome!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Our LC was even pretty good, but even she peddled the “Breast feeding shouldn’t hurt” crap. Granted, if it did hurt, you could go to her and she did try to figure out why. And she did.

        But that was why I considered her a good one – she said it shouldn’t hurt, but then she also said if it does hurt, we need to resolve it.

        • Mattie

          I think saying ‘it shouldn’t hurt’ is very different from saying ‘it doesn’t hurt’. The former acknowledges that the pain is present, however it is also not a welcome aspect of BFing, so it becomes a ‘how can we fix it’. The latter is just about ignoring a woman’s experience, which doesn’t solve anything.

  • Anna

    “In truth, the health benefits of breastfeeding in countries like the UK and the US are trivial, limited to 8% fewer colds and 8% fewer episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants in the first year. In other words, the majority of infants will experience NO health benefit from breastfeeding.”

    Can you show a cite for that? I’m not doubting you, I’d just like proof to show others.

    • CSN0116

      I’m sure she’ll provide you proper citation, but much of this comes out of the Kramer PROBIT series if you want to take a peek in the meantime.

      • Roadstergal

        And the discordant sibling study.

        And basic biology…

    • Gatita
      • Roadstergal

        I didn’t know fivethirtyeight had taken this on – Brava!

  • Cartman36

    I feel like sometimes my comment is always the same but here goes. Standing ovation!!! Wonderful article! The way breastfeeding is being marketed in the US is sexist and it’s really insensitive to the fact that different women have different needs. I had a colleague tell me the other day that breastfeeding is cheaper for low income women and I almost laughed in her face. The milk may be free but the time to nurse when you are working a low wage or non-professional job is absolutely not free and neither are nursing pads, a breast pump etc.

    • Roadstergal

      I often think that the most precious thing low-income people have is time. If you’re not low-income, you forget (or just don’t know) how much time it takes to get to work, to work enough to make ends meet, to get food, to take clothes to the laundromat, etc. Breastfeeding is time-intensive, and that’s the LAST thing low-income women have!

      • Heidi

        There’s a lot of assuming low income people, especially those that who need government programs like welfare and WIC, don’t and refuse to work. I’ve worked minimum wage jobs but was able to live with my parents and didn’t have any children to support so I didn’t need to seek out extra assistance. But I worked with so many people who worked so hard and still needed food stamps. These are the people who jumped at the chance to pick up extra hours to get overtime. They many times had side jobs, too. I sure can’t imagine them finding time to pump or being able to sacrifice an hour or two or three of pay to pump at work.

    • RudyTooty

      As an LC and RN I find myself in a position where I’m supposed to be spewing the latest BFHI nonsense and exclusive BFing at all costs – and ya know, I just really hate policing women’s bodies. I hate being a paternalistic a-hole. And that’s what I feel like so often – when the hospital policies are supposed to dictate the care we provide.

      I like to support breastfeeding. I really do. But I want to support it as a choice, as a decision, as a desire of the woman. And if she doesn’t want to do it – FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER – she should be able to opt out. Sheesh. Can you feel my frustration with this?

      Been having this ‘conversation’ with my peers lately, and it’s positively exasperating.

      • Roadstergal

        I know this is really crass, but I compare breastfeeding to anal sex. It can be really enjoyable and a great bonding experience, and some people can use help when starting out to make it hurt less. But nobody should be pressured or blackmailed into it!

        • RudyTooty

          Totally crass.

          I love it!

      • Sean Jungian

        I always love hearing from the sensible, rational LCs! Hear hear!

        • RudyTooty

          I find myself doing lactation counseling less and less often. I don’t like pressuring women to do things they don’t want to do. Unfortunately, that’s the way the lactation “profession” has been established. Guilt-mongering. I’m over it.

      • corblimeybot

        I feel like you helpful and professional LCs need to start a support group for each other.