Are lactivist campaigns abusive?

Woman sitting alone and depressed

Breastfeeding is great. Lactivism not so much.

Breastfeeding is about feeding a baby. Lactivism is about pressuring women to use their body in lactivist approved, ways. Breastfeeding support is undeniably good. Lactivist pressure can be frighteningly abusive.

Sadly the abusive nature of lactivism is not a side effect; it’s a feature.

Indeed, lactivist pressure shares a disturbing number of characteristics of psychological abuse.* Even more disturbing, the abusive nature of lactivism is not a side effect; it’s a feature. It seeks to control women’s behavior in the exact same ways as many male abusers seek to control women’s behavior.

This website Out of the Fog, about escaping abusive behavior, defines emotional abuse:

Any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG).

Emotional abuse is designed to benefit the abuser at the expense of the abused.

One of the foundational documents of contemporary lactivism, Diane Weissinger’s Watch Your Language, is a veritable primer on emotional abuse. It explains in detail how to use fear, obligation and guilt to force women to breastfeed.

Weissinger acknowledges that lactivists want to control women:

All of us within the profession want breastfeeding to be our biological reference point. We want it to be the cultural norm; we want human milk to be made available to all human babies, regardless of other circumstances…(my emphasis)

That phrase, “regardless of other circumstances,” makes it clear that lactivists aim to force women to breastfeed and do not care about the physical and psychological toll of forced breastfeeding has on mothers. They apparently consider emotional abuse to be a reasonable approach to promoting breastfeeding.

The website offers a list of abusive tactics. It is disturbing to see how many of them are routinely employed by lactivists, including:

1. Thought policing: This is the foundational tactic and Weissinger waxes poetic on techniques of thought control:

When we … say that breastfeeding is the best possible way to feed babies because it provides their ideal food, perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition, the logical response is, “So what?” Our own experience tells us that optimal is not necessary. Normal is fine, and implied in this language is the absolute normalcy and thus safety and adequacy-of artificial feeding… Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior. Those are difficult words, but they have an appropriate place in our vocabulary.

What better way to ensure fear, obligation and guilt than to insist that infant formula is “deficient, incomplete, and inferior”?

Lactivist thought policing goes far beyond the mere use of words. It’s a key principle of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), which mandates that staff must be trained to substitute their clinical judgment on what is best for a specific baby with a relentless effort to promote breastfeeding.

The acme of lactivist thought policing is a breastfeeding contract. The Fraser Health System in Canada tried to implement such a contract containing phrases like:

Although most babies grow on formula, studies show the routine use of formula comes with some risks to both mothers and babies…

Even one feed of formula can damage (baby’s gut) coating and make illness more likely…

Babies who do not receive breast milk are more likely to get significant illness and disease…

Beyond thought control, these phrases exemplify another trait of emotion abuse: lying.

2. Lying: Lactivists lie routinely in promoting breastfeeding. Yes, breastfeeding is beneficial, but in first world countries with access to clean water the benefits for term babies are trivial. Honesty is unlikely to promote the fear, obligation and guilt desire by lactivist so they lie instead. This deprives women of the opportunity to make informed decisions about breastfeeding since the information they are given is proganda, not scientific evidence.

3. Invalidation: In the world of lactivism, women’s thoughts, needs and values are dismissed out of hand. Maternal exhaustion? Who cares. Maternal need to return to work? Just pump. A history of maternal sexual abuse that leads a woman to avoid anyone touching her breasts? She should just get over it. Mothers’ feelings aren’t simply irrelevant; they are invalid.

4. Gaslighting: This is a specialized form of invalidation that involves denying reality. A mother says her baby is hungry? Tell her all babies scream like that. A mother worries that she is not producing enough breastmilk? Lie and say that all women produce enough milk. A mother needs medication incompatible with breastfeeding? Tell her she doesn’t really need it. In other words, lactivists refuse to accept the lived reality of breastfeeding for many women, substituting preferred beliefs instead.

5. Alienation attempts to extend thought control efforts by encouraging distrust of anyone who places the needs of mothers and babies above the effort to promote breastfeeding. Mother-in-law expresses fear that baby is losing weight? Tell her to mind her own business. Pediatrician recommends formula to prevent dehydration and life-threatening hypernatremia? Ignore him. Friends tell you to stop being so hard on yourself? Drop them. Those who place the needs of mothers and babies first are obviously not suitable allies in promoting the fear, obligation and guilt needed to force women to breastfeed.

6. Projection: This plays a more subtle role in lactivist emotional abuse. Whenever their abusive tactics are exposed lactivists respond by insisting that they are the victims and that critics are “anti-breastfeeding,” as if anyone opposes breastfeeding itself. Like many abusers, when lactivists are confronted with evidence of their abusive tactics they seek refuge in self-pity.

These are not the only emotional abusive tactics used to promote breastfeeding, but they are among the most prominent. Rather then treating women as autonomous individuals with their own needs and desires, emotional abusers treat women as less beings who exist to be manipulated to satisfy the abuser’s own needs. Rather than treating women as autonomous individuals with their own needs and desires, lactivists treat women as milk dispensers who exist to be manipulated into breastfeeding by deploying fear, obligation and guilt.

Like all emotional abusers, lactivists deploy thought control, lying, gaslighting and alienation to exert control. Why? Weissinger has told us: lactivists “want human milk to be made available to all human babies, regardless of other circumstances,” the actual needs of mothers and babies be damned.

 

* I am not suggesting in any way that the emotional abuse meted out by lactivists has anywhere near the destructive effects of the emotional abuse that can occur within personal relationships.

  • Sunina

    I live in an area where up until a few months ago, no mothers were seen by a lactation consultant at the hospital, and where formula is standard. We have no la leche league here. Without so called lactivists here, how can breastfeeding moms ever hope to get the support they so desperantly want? Your definition of lactivism makes me sad because that is not what I have seen in my life with my mother as a la leche league leader (not here). I have never experienced that kind of lactivism. Lactivists I know have always listened to the concerns of the mother and respected their feelings. Lactivism in my mind is just women who want breastfeeding women to have the right to nurse in public without being shamed and to get easy access to breastfeeding help. This makes me very sad that the word has such a negative connotation on this blog. We owe our breastfeeding rights in this country to so called lactivists. Just my two cents.

    • survivor

      So, because you have not seen it, it doesn’t exist huh? Nice job gaslighting. Look at the various comments sections and let me tell my story.

      I was bullied with both children because I chose formula due to a variety of reasons I feel no need to justify. I had LCs harass me at the hospital when I had signs on the door saying no LCs, bitches just barged into my room. Nurses kept “forgetting” the formula even though it was in my chart. My husband and mother were kind enough to flip their shit and stop both types of bullshit happening to me.

      I literally was told that they hoped my girls would die or get sick. I was told that they wanted to call DCFS on me. I had a bottle smacked out of my hand in the middle of a feeding not once but twice. I have had hands laid on me, people scream and call me horrible things in front of my kids in a variety of public places. I had some asshole pimple faced teen cashier feel it was his place to lecture me about the formula I was buying. I was driven to near suicide and was hospitalized for three weeks when my first daughter was only four months old. Cause – constant harassment when I went out in public that I refused to and literally went crazy being home 24/7.

      That is lactivism as it has presented itself to me. And don’t reply with some #notalllactivists shit. Because the majority of the supposed good ones either support this behavior or refuse to speak up about it. And until they stop writing articles on how to harass those who don’t breastfeed and write articles condeming those tactics, they can all just go to hell. They took away the first five months of binding with my daughter because of their cruelty.

      And anyone offended by my language can sod off as well.

      • Chi

        I am so sorry that you had such a horrible experience. And sadly you’re not alone either. What Sunina up there fails to realize (and you put so eloquently) is that this kind of abuse does NOT happen in a vacuum. Because lactivism is firmly entrenched in health care systems all around the world and it seems that women the world over fall for its crap.

        I was told by the local milk-sharing community that I was poisoning my child. That she would forever refuse the breast if I gave her just one bottle. It wasn’t until she’d lost 15% of her birth weight (seriously, and the ONLY reason she wasn’t dehydrated was because she was at my breast CONSTANTLY and my milk was very watery) that my midwife of all people had to be the voice of reason and sent my husband to get a tin of formula.

        It’s horrible how quickly communities that claim to support mothers go to shaming them if a mother doesn’t do what’s expected of them by said communities.

        And that really sucks. Being a first-time parent is really hard and the last thing you need is people knocking you down for things you do or don’t do (which, also, at the end of the day are NONE of their business anyway).

        • survivor

          Not just the healthcare system, society at large. Like I said, some punk 17 year old was lecturing me, and I’m not sure his balls had even dropped yet. Got him fired on the spot, btw, luckily his manager was pretty pissed after I told him what he’d said to me and bye bye birdie. The fact that society at large thinks its perfectly acceptable to come up to me, a perfect stranger and them with zero medical training and tell ME how to raise MY child, when my child is well fed, well taken care of and well loved just makes me sick.

        • Sunina

          It’s horrible the terrible things you and others commenting here have been through. When I counsel mothers, I often tell them to follow their instincts when breastfeeding and if they feel their baby needs formula, then give them formula!!! I am sure those kinds of things have happened here at one time or another, I have just never seen them. Everyone around where I live seems so anti breastfeeding–I hear it all the time–it’s gross, not normal, not natural, baby is too old, you can’t because,,,,,, the list goes on. But I appreciate all of your input because I need to make sure that we don’t send that message of forcing breastfeeding on anyone!!! That is horrible and I would never want to do that to anyone.

          • Roadstergal

            Pendulums swing really hard, and it can be difficult to stop them in a good ‘fed is best’ middle ground.

          • Heidi

            I come from a place that isn’t zealous about breastfeeding either and my experience with lactation consultants wasn’t extreme. One grated on my nerves, but it wasn’t because she was pushing any agenda. My lunch arrived just as she came in the room to show me how to use an SNS when we knew I’d have to supplement for hypoglycemia. She really should have come back later but she tried for probably 45 minutes or so to get the baby to take to it (he hated it, I hated it!) while my hot food got cold and my ice cream melted. I was not amused. She wasn’t pushy, though – just a bit oblivious. The hospital nurses were all kind to me, and I’ve personally not gotten any flack for buying formula, mixing formula in public or bottle feeding. But I think location has a lot to do with it. I imagine an LLL meeting could vary wildly based just on location.

      • Heidi

        That is awful. A lactation consultant should consult women who want to breastfeed and who it is possible for, both physically and mentally. They should also be knowledgeable about safe and proper formula and bottle preparation and consult formula feeders sans judgment and shame. I sincerely hope you are doing much better now!

        • survivor

          It has been five years since #2 was born. I make sure I speak up when I see other women getting abused like this, though more caution when I have the kids with me without my husband or another adult who can remove them from the situation. I had to step in when some 6’4 guy was screaming at a woman about 5′ at most. Yeah, because acting like a scary monster is really getting your point across. Mall security had to threaten him to leave or be forcibly escorted off the premises. And this shit is just ACCEPTED. No one fucking steps in, or they gang up!

      • moto_librarian

        You should file a formal complaint. Now. I regret that I did not report the LC that I dealt with after my first child, who grabbed and twisted my breast without my permission, criticized my initial attempt at breastfeeding, and was generally an awful person. I, too, was in no position to advocate for myself after a cervical laceration requiring surgery and a serious pph that nearly required transfusion. This bullshit must end.

    • momofone

      “I have never experienced that kind of lactivism.”

      Well, then, it must not exist.

      “Without so called lactivists here, how can breastfeeding moms ever hope to get the support they so desperantly want?”

      Hmmm. They could ask? If someone comes to me and needs help, and I help them, that’s support. If I seek them out and preach about what they should be doing, that’s proselytizing and overstepping.

      • Sunina

        Around here, they are just beginning to get resources needed to support mothers in the hospital. Prior to this, most mothers couldn’t see an LC at the hospital even if they asked unfortunately. Many women have been told just to give up and formula feed. None of the staff or doctors had any sort of breastfeeding training. I had one doctor tell me that my daughter was obese and I needed to stop breastfeeding here at 3 months. When I had a miscarriage, I was told, that my phone call could’ve waited until Monday (it was Saturday night). That was an extreme example, but you get the idea. That is what I have seen here –but I am just having my eyes opened to what it is like elsewhere. After reading the stories here, it’s sad and horrible that these people take breastfeeding support overboard!

        • momofone

          At the hospital where my son was born, I got the “don’t make such a big deal of it; just give him formula” and was upset (there was no LC). Now, looking back, I had no idea how fortunate I was. The push for breastfeeding at all costs defies all reason. I’m so sorry you had that response about your miscarriage.

        • Heidi_storage

          That’s lousy, and it’s actually very akin to lactivism problems: Your needs and desires were not considered, and you weren’t supported or treated with respect. That’s exactly our complaint with lactivism.

    • Azuran

      I would encourage you to stick around and read the stories that many people here have posted about their horrible experiences with Lactivism.
      You are lucky if you’ve never experienced something like this. And you are right that Lactivist should offer breastfeeding support. But sadly, many are really outright abusive, and the rest of the lactivist community are not doing enough to shut those people up and call them out as abusive.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      lactivist doesn’t mean what you think it means. Lactivist is to breastfeeding advocate as fundamentalist is to regular church goer. Only one thinks you are automatically going to hell if you don’t do things their way

      • Sunina

        Thank you for that explanation. I am sad to hear this is so. My mother was a lll leader and had to fight for everything regarding breastfeeding (and I would’ve called her a lactivist by those standards) but it seems as if some people have taken that fight overboard perhaps. I am a trained CLC and in the class it was emphasized that everything you said had to be backed by evidence so I assumed all (or at least most) “lactivists” thought the same way but I am beginning to see that may not be the case. It is very sad it has come to this point, hearing these womens stories. It’s terrible.

        • skye

          It’s so overboard the common person on the street feels they need to lecture women for formula feeding. I live in crunchy L.A. and I have seen formula feeding women confronted at anywhere from Target to a restaurant. Luckily I am one for confronting morons, so I have no issues getting in their face and telling them to leave the (usually shaking and/or crying) woman alone.

          Breastfeeding has become a moral imperative in many places. Thus, everyone thinks it is their business. This is what those lactivists you support so much have done.

          And don’t get me started on LLL. I have had several friends go to them for advice and were told they needed to quit their jobs, not pump. Yep, even the single mom because apparently living off welfare is a better future than a mother with a high paying job, excellent medical benefits and living an area with the best schools in the county. It was started by Catholic women to teach them their place was in the home, they hated women being in the workforce. So not supporting an organization with loony beginnings they still support.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And don’t get me started on LLL. I have had several friends go to them for advice

            I remember when I was young and naive after our first was born. My wife attended a weekly mom’s meeting, organized by the local LC. It was a place to socialize, share stories, and to get help with breastfeeding. Everyone who went there was pro-breastfeeding, and it was an all around boob fest.

            One of my wife’s friends from there also tried LLL. I thought, hey, that sounds like a good thing. Supporting breastfeeding, I’m all for that. Yeah, no. She discovered all the crap that goes with it, and realized these folks are all too way out there.

            Remember, this was someone who was totally pro-breastfeeding and her kids are all breastfed. But LLL? Way too extreme. The fringe.

          • Elaine

            I exclusively breastfed both my kids. I went to one LLL meeting. The general attitude towards formula bothered me. Also this one particular woman made some comments about the babies who died due to contaminated formula and how “if they’d been breastfed, they wouldn’t have died”. This woman had stated that her goal was to be an LLL leader herself at some point, and the leaders who were there didn’t rein her in. I never went back. Just because I personally did not use formula did not mean I thought other people should be criticized for it. I did regularly attend a group hosted by a local hospital and led by their outpatient IBCLC. She was always very quick to say that she was not anti-formula and she would not tolerate any negative comments about formula in the group. I recall she prefaced most or all meetings by reminding people of this.

    • Heidi

      I support women’s right to breastfeed in public and to breastfeed beyond one year. But I would never call myself a lactivist and after having viewed LLL website trying to produce more breast milk I would not support them in a million years. Their “inspirational” stories were not healthy for me. I felt like LLL gaslighted me and it was just the website! I also support the free breast pump provided by the ACA and having more lactation consultants. But a lactation consultant should be a medical professional and not have an agenda. They should know when to advise a woman that breastfeeding does not appear to be working if it’s not working, to support her either supplementing or exclusively formula feeding, to be aware when breastfeeding is taking too much of a toll her on physically and/or mentally. An LC should know when a baby is at risk of losing too much weight and support interventions.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Unfortunately even a lot of medical professionals seem to have swallowed the Breastmilk is magic BS. Too many of them think it will help: prevent illness, prevent obesity, boost your child’s IQ a few points, prevent allergies/asthma, prevent breastfeeding women from developing breast cancer.
        And too many people don’t seem to make it clear to breastfeeding women that their babies probably need Vitamin D supplements and possibly iron.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          To be clear, I do realize the breastfeeding MAY prevent a few colds or gastrointestinal upsets. But that’s also going to depend on a lot of other things, if you have to go back to work by the time your baby is 6 weeks and your baby is in day care with other children they are going to catch more illnesses. if you have a preschooler or school age child who goes to nursery or grammar school they are going to bring more stuff home that your baby is going to catch. On the other hand if the baby is your first and you are a stay at home mom with a smaller social circle and your kid is exposed to fewer other/older kids they won’t start catching all the crap until they are a little older.

          • Heidi

            Yeah, but no one should be even exaggerating those benefits. I’ve read that the average baby gets 7 colds in its first year, but day care babies can get up to 12 a year. If breastfeeding reduces it by 8%, the average baby isn’t going to be helped at all and the daycare breastfed baby might get one less. Some women may not consider that beneficial enough and I sure wouldn’t blame them!

          • Daleth

            Our twins, who got probably 90-95% formula/5-10% breastmilk for their first 3-4 months and 100% formula afterwards got one cold in their first year, most likely because they didn’t go to daycare/preschool until they were two.

          • Heidi

            My 13 month son has yet to have his first illness. He was primarily formula fed for the first seven months and then exclusively formula fed. He doesn’t go to daycare either. I figure when he starts either preschool or kindergarten, he’ll be playing catch-up on colds and stomach bugs while his daycare peers will have already “paid their dues.”

          • Daleth

            His peers will probably keep right on getting sick just like he does. Daycare illnesses generally aren’t the kind of illness that you become immune to after having it. Colds, gastroenteritis, strep, etc., they just keep on coming.

          • Heidi_storage

            In the nine months that my daughter received only my expressed breastmilk, she got about 10 colds, plus flu. (They were all from church.) After my supply ceased (from pregnancy), she got formula–and no illnesses.

            Voila! Formula clearly prevents colds! (Of course, those last three months were out of cold/flu season….)

          • Heidi

            Quit undermining breastfeeding with your real life stories! Something something populations, not individuals!

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            My kid only got 3 colds in her first year but one turned into a lovely double ear infection. That was fun…My husband and I took turns sleeping on the floor of the living room with her as she was too restless for a regular bed and screamed in her crib.

          • Heidi

            I remember ear infections! I got them regularly as a young child. I think the last one I had was at 13 after not having them for years. I remember wanting to tell everyone in the urgent care waiting to STFU.

          • Steph858

            Wooists have a rather strange attitude towards infectious illnesses.

            Unvaccinated Kid catches Measles: Well, that’s OK, it’ll build up their immune system. Better than getting MMR.

            Formula Fed Kid catches a Cold: It’s the end of the world! The poor darling is suffering so much, and it could all have been avoided if only mummy had exclusively breastfed.

          • Dr Kitty

            LOL!

            I have to go to bed now, but this is a wonderful point.

        • Heidi

          Yep. I think a discussion of feeding should go something along the lines of, “Do you know how you would like to feed your child?” “Yes, I want to exclusively formula feed.” “Great, we’ll send someone in to discuss how to prepare bottles and formula! If you change your mind, we’d be happy to accommodate that as well.” Or, “Yes, I would like to breastfeed. That’s great. We’ll send in a lactation consultant to give you some pointers. She’ll go over formula preparation with you just as knowledge.” Then the lactation consultant would go over safety issues with formula, such as using too much or too little powder, go over how long it can be refrigerated, at room temp, etc., but would also go over signs to look out for regarding too little breast milk and other helpful, possibly life-saving stuff. If the mom says, “I am not sure which feeding method I’d like,” then the LC can go over the tangible and proven risks and benefits of each feeding method that tightly controlled studies support and the results can be repeated.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            All that sounds good, I wish they would also add something about early supplementation and combo feeding. I have a friend who is expecting twins in a few months and unfortunately here in the Northeast(at least where I live) an awful lot of the crunchy/hippie, not based at all in actual scientific fact stuff has become accepted as “fact”. ( I’m perfectly ok with people doing what’s best for their family, I’m not ok with Health care providers thinking starving/dehydrating a newborn is OK. I am not OK with lying to women to try to force them to breastfeed)

            I would like for my friend’s HCP to make sure she know’s the challenges of nursing twins(I know a lot of people do, but since she is planning on going back to work when they are 3 months she will have to find time and space to pump if she wants to continue) She is the main breadwinner for her family.

          • Heidi

            From observation alone, it really seems rare to physically be able to provide enough breast milk for twins. I can’t even imagine feeding one for an hour then feeding the other one for an hour then having to start all over again to feed baby #1 again if you do make enough milk.

          • Heidi

            I remember when I first brought my son home, I’d put him on the left breast for 30 or 45 minutes, switch breasts and leave him on for just as long and he never would quit nursing so then I’d whip out the bottle and he’d almost take as much as if I hadn’t nursed him at all. I didn’t maintain that insanity for too long.

          • Erin

            Both my Great Grandmother and my husband’s Grandmother successfully breastfed twins for almost two years. From what I can tell, both of them just lay around for ages with a twin stuck to each nipple. Sounds like my idea of hell.

          • Chant de la Mer

            I probably could’ve provided enough breast milk for twins. I had major oversupply and had to block feed my poor babies so they didn’t drown and actually emptied a breast. The trick with breastfeeding twins is that they need match up with a mother that has a lot of capacity for milk and the patience to breastfeed all the time to make the whole thing work. I would’ve hated being stuck feeding babies all day, I hated it when it was just one, I would have gone crazy if there had been two at a time.

          • Daleth

            I had twins. Despite ample support and long maternity leave by US standards (4 months), BF’ing just did not work. I wasn’t making enough milk for both of them, and on top of that, they HATED tandem nursing. It made them cry even though they weren’t touching each other or getting in each other’s way.

            I don’t know how I would have survived if I’d had to nurse EACH twin separately, 12 times a day, for 30-60 minutes (call it 45 average) each time. And that’s not even counting the time spent pumping–which was awful: I hated sitting there chained to a pump while other people (husband and mother-in-law) cuddled my babies.

            If your friend wants to reach out, point her here and I’ll gladly talk to her. My twins got probably 90-95% formula for the first 3-4 months, then 100% formula after that, and here’s how that worked out:

            – They only got one cold in their entire first year, and no diarrhea at all.

            – They grew fat and happy almost immediately, and since age 2 months they’ve been consistently high on the growth charts (90+ percentile for height, 70+ percentile for weight).

            – They started sleeping through the night (6-9 hours at a stretch) before they were 4 months old.

            – I actually got some sleep too, since using formula meant my husband and mother-in-law (or whoever was helping) could feed them while I slept.

            – They got all the Vitamin D, iron, and other nutrients they needed (nutrient deficiencies are a risk with exclusively breastfed babies, but not formula fed ones–here’s a NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/health/research/26rick.html).

            – Now, at almost 2 and a half, they’re lively, happy, very healthy (no allergies, very few colds), tall, slim, incredibly verbal, and doing great in their Montessori preschool.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Thank you, I will try to get her to take a look at the site and your advice. Thank you, this is great info to have!

          • Roadstergal

            I hear SO MUCH about ‘nipple confusion’ and the rest of that BS from my lactivist, LLL-attending friend. Combo feeding is simply not a possibility and a pacifier will ruin the breastfeeding relationship, according to her local LLL.

            She’s still nursing her oldest, as far as I know, despite giving her a paci when she was younger. I think she keeps that as a ‘dirty little secret’ from the group.

          • momofone

            My son was given a pacifier in the hospital (by the nurses, despite our request not to! It turned out to be the best thing they could’ve done.), AND formula, despite my absolute commitment to exclusive breastfeeding. We even gave him formula when we went home. I ended up breastfeeding for 21 months. I can’t say other people don’t have issues with nipple confusion, but it was not a thing for us, though I made myself miserable worrying about it. But then, he was born by c-section, so obviously the damage had been done. 🙂

          • Heidi

            My son didn’t have nipple confusion either. Eventually he figured out the boobs were simply not worth the effort! He latched and suckled just fine but he wised up and refused. And I decided to respect his decision, as much as I wanted to breastfeed him straight from the tap.

          • Sunina

            That is too bad that she is hearing that message from her LLL. Is it possible that some of these lactivists that are extreme fundamentalists, if you will, are kinda advocating like an extreme attachment -style parents? I mean, is that a close comparison? That attachment type of parenting does not sit right with me. I mean, I did a lot of those things—baby wearing and the like but I would definitely not advocate those things for everyone! And I would not consider myself an attachment type parent. It is interesting.

          • Roadstergal

            I dunno how to rate them, just that she’s getting that message from LLL and they’re the big BF organization in town.

            What upsets me – in addition to what’s discussed below – is that, eg, a woman who would be really happy combo-feeding would learn from these women that once a bottle is in the picture, she should just quit any BF at all. I suppose the idea is that they want all BF babies to be exclusively BF, but taking out any of the middle ground is maddening.

          • CSN0116

            This website and Fed is Best (along with others) has inspired me to write a book on formula feeding, for which there is not a single one, by the way. There are a handful of books that discuss infant feeding, but solids and other foods are discussed alongside formula. And “Guilt-Free Bottle Feeding” is great but very light on the mechanics of actually formula feeding.

            Anyway, I’m getting ready to hand it over to a book doctor (as I’ll be self-publishing) and I hope it will help the 1 in 4 women who will never breast feed, as well as the 85% of women who will introduce formula at some point in the first year.

            I cover all the mechanics of bottles and nipples, formula selection, every formula on the US market, how to switch, generic vs name brand, formula safety, tons and tons of topics – but a huge section is on combo feeding, supplementation (planned and unplanned) and how to breast feed part-time… which I have taught countless women to do, from birth, without issue.

            Lactivists should send me a thank-you card because I have kept more women breastfeeding for 1-2 years by teaching them how to formula feed. Sound contradictory? It’s not.

          • Dr Kitty

            Good for you!

            Sounds like a very useful resource. Maybe you could consider putting excerpts or a very abbreviated version online.

          • “Nipple Confusion” is the name of my band

          • shay simmons

            TMI.

          • sdsures

            What about “Shit Moms”? 😛

          • Daleth

            Even if pacifiers harmed the breastfeeding relationship, which they don’t, they reduce the risk of SIDS. As someone who prefers a living, formula-fed baby to a dead breastfed one, I’m going to go with the pacifiers.

            And FWIW, my twins spontaneously decided they didn’t want pacifiers anymore somewhere around age 16 months. I’ve heard people express concern about how to persuade the kid to stop using binkies, but that was not an issue for us at all. I would’ve been fine if they wanted to keep using binkies after they started preschool (age 2), or take binkies to preschool with them for that matter, but by then they weren’t interested.

          • sdsures

            My twin niece and nephew rearranged the furniture in their nursery around age 2, barricaded the door shut, and fell asleep. 😀

          • Daleth

            Awesome. Ok, kinda scary for the parents I’m sure, but awesome since it all ended well.

          • sdsures

            It was hilarious in retrospect!

          • sdsures

            They’re almost 7 now, and decided they want to have the same bedroom, so they have judiciously divided it down the middle, with bookshelves in the middle. Isn’t that adorable?

          • Amazed

            For a while, Amazing Niece had “face confusion”, Like, crunching her nose and wondering why she could suddenly see her mom as she drank from her bottle. She’s never had “nipple confusion”, though. She’d take anything with food inside. But she knew the roles – grandma gave her the bottle, mom wentwith breasts and then wow, Mom and bottle at the same time! What’s your face doing here, Mom?

          • sdsures

            ^^ Perfect!!!!!

        • Heidi_storage

          Yes. My least-favorite OBGYN told me she wanted me to breastfeed at least a little, because of the immune protection.

      • Sunina

        I am so sorry that so many women have had such horrible experiences! I agree that LCs need to know when to encourage a mother to quit and help a mother deal with her own feelings about it. An LC should definitely know these things. I am a CLC and in all my training, books and classes we talked about those kinds of issues-especially respecting a mother’s feelings, supplementing with formula when necessary and baby’s weight!!!! Especially with regards to baby’s weight. Ty for your comment.

        • Heidi

          I am glad you are committed to being an LC like that then!

    • sdsures

      Please define “support” in this context. What does it entail?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Cheerleading.

        I don’t know if that is the support they want, but that is basically the support they get.

        • sdsures

          Yeesh. So in other words, diddly squat.

  • Allison

    I had a baby two months ago. Knowing that breastmilk offers few–if any benefits–over formula and after nearly starving my firstborn child when he was born thanks to constantly being pushed the lactivist agenda, I decided to exclusively formula feed my second born. My choice to formula feed was in my chart since week 12 of pregnancy.

    After my baby was born–after the pain of an unplanned, precipitous, unmedicated delivery and during the shock and exhaustion–the obstetrician began lecturing me that I should be breastfeeding and then began interrogating me on why I had made my choice and telling me how wrong I was and how all of my answers to her questions about why I did not want to breastfeed were insufficient or wrong. Waiting until I was most vulnerable and most emotional to bring it up and then making me feel like absolute garbage . . . that was abuse. I am still in shock that it happened and that I let it happen to me without fighting back.

    • Inmara

      It’s no wonder you “let it happen” because you were exhausted and vulnerable (and that’s exactly why you were preyed upon at that time). I’m usually a no-bullshit person but looking back at my postpartum experience I too let many things slide that I now find outrageous.

      If you can find a time and energy, consider filing a complaint about that obstetrician – you can’t turn back time for yourself, but maybe you can save other mothers from her antics.

    • Daleth

      That’s just horrible and I agree with Inmara that it was abuse and that it merits a complaint.

    • guest

      Agree with other posters, write a complaint. In normal life, I don’t tolerate people trying to push me around, but post-partum, with physical and mental exhaustion and hormones wreaking havoc on me, I tolerated things I would never normally. I don’t think you “let” it happen to you, people abused you and the situation and it is not your fault and you shouldn’t feel you didn’t respond “correctly.” There is nothing you did wrong in this situation! Now that you are back to your normal self, I would definitely complain, complain, complain. You will help some other mother down the road in the same situation.

  • Hannah

    Stories like those posted here are actually kind of making me grateful I’ve only just found out that my medication isn’t safe for BFing. I assumed it would be, given it’s safe for pregnancy, but apparently not. I was getting worried because my local hospital is going for BFHI certification, and my goal was to combo feed. Being told I can’t has taken a weight off my chest at this point. But I’m still preparing for battle, and telling my husband the things I’ve learned and read on this website so he can be prepped too. He’s also over 6 foot and built like a bear, so his preparing to rage is comforting. Only seen him rage once or twice (not at me) and it’s f***ing terrifying. It’s sad that my hospitals policies have made me feel that I might have to, as I call it, “release the bear”.

    • Chi

      It’s great that your hubby is ready and willing to advocate (fight) for you if it becomes necessary.

      I’m hoping that you won’t need to, but I’m sure it must be a relief to have that backup if you need it.

      Best of luck to you for a safe delivery and healthy baby 🙂

      • Hannah

        Yep, and having seen him in action, I feel pretty safe 🙂 Sicced him on some stranger who was making pervy comments at me once, the guy practically shat him self in the middle of Burger King. It was hilarious.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Here’s hoping the staff at your hospital are the sensible sort!

      • Hannah

        Here’s hoping… unfortunately Dr. Amy has featured them here in the same articles as Morecambe Bay. So battle is being prepped for. Here’s hoping for pleasantly surprised.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Oh dear. That’s not a good sign. Good luck

          • Hannah

            Thanks. It’s why the husband is getting a crash course in everything I’ve learned here the past few years 🙂

    • indigosky

      You’re not safe. Some psycho will tell you to stop taking your meds so you can breastfeed. You’ll be harassed as to why you think you need them, and/or told that they really are safe for breastfeeding.

      • Hannah

        This is why I’m training my husband in advance 🙂 But I also have no issue with telling someone their statements are bullshit to their face. Without my meds, I sleep 12+ hours a night and am in unbearable pain the rest of the day. If I go long enough without, I could die (lupus with a history of nephritis). It is far more important to me that I be around for my baby. If it’s confirmed with my rheumatologist that it’s not safe (consultant said not, but to double check), then I’ll be banning lactivists from coming to me. One good thing about being sick, I’ve learned how to stick up for myself and to call bullshit when I see it.

        • Roadstergal

          Oh, lordy. If nephritis continues uncontrolled, you could end up with ESRD, and after pregnancies, you’re likely to be sensitized and have a harder time getting a transplant. You’re doing the right thing both short- and long-term by taking your meds instead of BF!

    • MayonnaiseJane

      The stuff I’m on is questionable for both pregnancy and breastfeeding, but apparently some people they decide mom needs it enough to justify the risk. I’ll probably go off mine, and then back on before the end of maternity leave so I can get back to work in the best shape… and go to full time formula at that point. Having mentioned that to a new mother friend of mine, she was still encouraging me to try and pump enough in the early days to carry the baby thru as long as possible after I’m back on the meds. I’m not even pregnant yet. Chill. Trust me, the kid is better off on formula than with mum off their psyc meds.

      • Heidi

        You do what you want, of course! But pumping for me was a huge drain on time and energy that could have been spent with the baby. I think so many of us regret giving our life away to that thing instead of investing in sleep and being with our babies.

        • MayonnaiseJane

          Oh I’m soooo not pumping my brains out like that. That was my point. Friend is on the Lactavist woo. Pretty hardcore to be so adamantly “encouraging” me to pump for my future baby when I have one, when I’m neither pregnant nor yet trying to be!

  • Jules B

    Back in my teens, I was in a very emotionally abusive relationship (which I did not realize was abusive until years later) – and I did indeed have a sense of deja vu when dealing with the lactivists I encountered after I had my daughter. At first I could not identify what their tactics reminded me of, but once it clicked in my mind, it made more sense.

    Still, until I found Dr. Amy’s articles on here about this topic, I still had a seed a doubt that maybe they really were just trying to help and I was just being a postpartum hormonal sensitive sally…i.e., maybe it was fault after all.

    And that is why these tactics are so terrible and insidious – even if you know or strongly suspect their approach is abusive, it can still affect you negatively.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    What the hell is “artificial feeding” anyway? If you’re actually feeding someone food, you’re not “artificially feeding” them. You’re feeding them for real!

    • StephanieJR

      Artificial feeding for artificial babies! Robot babies!

      • Heidi

        If we have robot babies, we can program them to never disappoint us with their humanness! We can program them to never eat too much, to have super high IQ, to never make a bad decision, to never have any of those pesky health issues caused by not enough kale and chia seeds or too much “shit” food!

      • BZZZT GA GA BOOP BOOP

  • childfreebychoice

    This was on a friend’s Facebook feed, so I am going to give another perspective.

    I’m going to say right now that this shit is exactly why my husband and I are choosing to not have kids. There are other factors of course but this is a big one. I was severely bullied as a child by both classmates AND teachers, finally got the help I needed to restore my self esteem and build confidence, and still fight depression and anxiety and have been diagnosed with PTSD. I am not going to put myself in a position where I will relapse if I can help it, and I can certainly help it in this case.

    And I am not the only woman who thinks like this. This insane push to make mothers into nothing but breeders and childcare providers at the sake of their personality and sanity is a large factor in today’s crowd deciding to eschew children. We are tired of people refusing to let women be equals and will not give them one more outlet to knock us back to the Z list when it comes to our rights and status.

    • Spamamander, pro fun ruiner

      Women can be the absolute worst enemies of women. My adult daughter is very clear in her desire to not have children. And that’s FINE. Nobody should EVER be pushed into that role if it is not what they desire. It equates well with the lactivist issue- other people insisting what is “right” and in the process making women into objects defined by their biology.

      • MI Dawn

        One daughter broke off a relationship when BF started talking about “when we have kids next year” and Daughter said “I don’t want to have children.” BF was appalled and basically said ‘my way or the highway.’. ..She took the highway and is quite happy about it!

        And I support her choices! It’s her body, her choice.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Dude was seriously tone deaf. Demodocus has always known that I’d prefer to have kids, but that I wanted him more than any theoretical children. Eventually, he decided he wanted them too, so here we are. Me pushing back then would’ve pushed him away too. On the other hand “when we have kids next year” would’ve pissed me off, too. Who died and made him boss, anyway? (Dem wasn’t childfree so much as nervous about kids in general)

        • It’s a pretty good thing they stumbled over that one! If their goals were that different, they were both just killing time.

          • Roadstergal

            That was always a #1 priority when it came to dating, for me.

            I ended a relationship really amicably with a boy who was lovely and we had great fun, but he knew he wanted kids. He now has a wife who wants kids as well, and he’s still really lovely and we’re still friends.

    • StephanieJR

      I hope you get better and stay better. I don’t want children either, for various reasons, and it’s not so bad. Maybe you can find a way to still be involved in a child’s life after a while, if it won’t be too painful for you and you want to.

      • guest

        I didn’t want children for a long time either and then changed my mind and now have 2. I can tell you this, being the cool “aunt” was better all around. I love my children, but I would never tell anyone life can’t be complete without them. Also, I can totally see why some people don’t like children and don’t want to hang around them. Having been on both sides of the fence, I firmly believe all the badgering of childfree people to have children is out of jealously.

        • Madtowngirl

          Thank you for posting this. I have one child, but after infertility and now recurrent miscarriage, we are questioning whether we *really* want a second. If we go for it, it will definitely be through a fertility clinic, which means money that we could be spending on the one that’s here.

          I wish people would leave the child free by choice people alone. I totally agree that the badgering come from a place of jealously, or over romanticized visions of cousins/friends/etc.

          • Roadstergal

            I’m one of the more cynical people you’ll meet, but I’m all on board with the ‘it takes a village’ HRC stuff. Good aunts and uncles and friends and the like all contribute in an important way to the lives of the children they interact with, IMO!

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            And then there’s the nosy questions about whether you’re going to have more or why do you have so many. Some days MYOB is really appropriate

        • fishcake

          I would get so irritated at people who tried to convince me to have a child before I was ready. It was chilling to realize that they were encouraging it for their own entertainment or enjoyment, because a baby would be cute or fun for them to see every once in a while. Or they didn’t want to feel alone because they were new parents. Were they going to truly be there for me when I needed them post-partum? Some were, most weren’t!

        • StephanieJR

          I plan on being the best aunt ever to my brother’s kids (though probably not at babysitting!), and I get on fairly well with older children. I just don’t want any of my own.

          It’s not that I don’t like children, or parents. I’m not good with people in general, and some traits of small children make me anxious. I try my best to not step on any toes.

          I just don’t like people acting like I have to have children, like I don’t know my own mind and do not own my own body. Today we were shopping, and during conversation, the server revealed she wouldn’t have had children if she hadn’t had an accident. I didn’t think much about the fact her daughter knows it- that has to be awfully damaging to the self esteem. It’s not my business one way or the other if an accidental pregnancy is kept, but her attitude just put me up the wrong way. She acted like I didn’t have a choice, like if I got pregnant, I wouldn’t make a different choice. It’s hard to explain, but it was just very irritating.

          What’s even funnier is that I’m a virgin, and actually asexual- I am unlikely to ever want to have sex, and if I ever do, you bet your sweet ass I’m not getting or staying pregnant.

  • Brooke

    “I am not suggesting in any way that the emotional abuse meted out by lactivists has anywhere near the destructive effects of the emotional abuse that can occur within personal relationships” then why call it that? Regardless of circumstances does not mean they want to force women to breastfeed it means they want breast milk or human milk as they call it to be available to all babies whether that is from their mother’s breasts or throughou milk donation. The rest of this is equally frought with misinterpretations and out right false information.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Precious few of us have enough to share. How much have you donated?

    • Mel

      *sighs*

      If breast milk is so incredibly important for newborn health and survival, why can’t researchers or educators pick out breast-fed toddlers from formula fed toddlers?

      If there was a strong or even a weak correlation, we’d be able to link something like IQ or a developmental index to the percentage of breast milk a child received compared to total intake of food.

      You can link all sorts of things like socio-economic status, maternal educational achievement, maternal age at first birth, and lead blood level to IQ and development – but once you control for those, the breast milk advantage disappears.

      • Brooke

        So you finally found a study showing that breastfeeding and formula feeding are equal? Do share.

        • fiftyfifty1

          The discordant sib study.

          • Brooke

            Do you have a link?

          • swbarnes2

            It’s been talked about here a thousand times already: But in case an honest person is interested:

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4077166/

            This is the same paper as Mel’s, but this site should be free for everyone.

          • moto_librarian

            As if you’re actually going to read it. Right.

          • fiftyfifty1

            She’s not going to read it. We’ve already referenced this study multiple times. Dr. Tuteur has a entire post devoted to it.

          • Daleth

            Brooke, just so you know, the discordant siblings study didn’t find that breastmilk and formula were equal; it actually found that they were equal/statistically indistinguishable EXCEPT that breastfed kids were MORE likely to have asthma than formula fed ones.

          • Charybdis

            That will cause her head to explode. Breastmilk CAN’T cause any harm, because REASONS!

            *Waits for Earthshattering Boom*

          • Roadstergal

            I’ve linked the discordant sib and PROBIT studies to you before.

        • Mel

          http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/sibbreast.htm

          (This is an overview from the sponsoring institution.)

          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953614000549 (This is the link for the actual paper. I do not have a copy I can share with you right now since I am on leave from my academic institution, however, it is available on ResearchGate under the author’s name)

          • Gatita

            Don’t bother. I’ve linked that study for her before. Makes no difference.

          • Mel

            It’s no extra work for me – I’ve saved both links before. Perhaps she’ll read it one of these times. If not, someone else may someday.

            Hope springs eternal 🙂

        • Sarah

          Ooh, you know what else we’re still waiting for someone to finally share? Evidence for that 5% section rate claim.

    • OkayFine

      It is really strange for grown ass folks who have lives of their own to obssess over how other people’s children are fed. It has been demonstrated that formula is a a very good source of nutrition, especially when combined with a safe water source. Why in the world do you nutjobs care so much about this? It’s utterly ridiculous. I’ve breastfed 4 children and even I can’t be bothered to give any thought to how someone is feeding their babies. Where do you guys go once the child is past the breastfeeding phase? Do you camp out in school lunch rooms and restaurants making sure every meal is “optimal”? Yeah, didn’t think so. The obsession is weird and pathetic.

      • Mel

        Alas – they do sometimes. I wouldn’t mind except that sometimes that brightly colored cereal with added sugar is the only thing I can get a kid with autism to be interested enough to eat. You know, that cereal they removed because it was unhealthy….

        • Dr Kitty

          Isn’t it funny that ASD either seems to make people want beige, bland foods in only a few textures, or really strong flavoured and coloured food?

          My one of my sister’s flat mates at uni was on the spectrum. He was a beige eater- chips ( French fries, not crisps) one particular brand of cheese, one particular brand of white bread with one particular brand of butter and one particular brand of multivitamin. That was the entirety of his diet. He was perfectly healthy, but an absolute nightmare if they wanted to go out for dinner as a group (he usually had chips if at all possible).

          My kiddo’s school has those lunch plates with separate compartments for different foods as an ASD-friendly measure. There were a couple of kids who would melt down if different foods touched on the plate, so they replaced the standard plates with those ones.

          • MI Dawn

            I have a friend whose child eats essentially 3 meals: hamburger (plain, no bun), chicken fingers or hot dogs. Along with those they will eat rice, pasta, carrots, broccoli. As long as there is no sauce, butter, liquid of any kind on the vegetables. Thin, healthy, participates in all kinds of activities. Oh, and was bottle fed from the first day.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “He was a beige eater” …”kids who would melt down if different foods touched on the plate,”

            Scolds always ask what these children would have done back in the Good Ol’ Days Before Children Were Spoiled. Turns out they probably would have done fine. I recently took my kids to the local history museum where we learned what people in our area typically ate 100-150 years ago. It was lots and lots of plain bread. Per capita consumption was 1 full loaf daily. Further back it was lots and lots of beige gruel.

          • Dr Kitty

            Yup, the potato famine was a big deal because the Irish diet was basically just potatoes with bacon or fish as an occasional treat, butter and milk only if you had a cow, and nettles, seaweed, apples and carrots if you could get hold of them.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            he potato famine was a big deal because the Irish diet was basically just potatoes with bacon or fish as an occasional treat, butter and milk only if you had a cow,

            If you had a cow, did you feed it potatoes? 🙂

      • Brooke

        Well…actually…some of us have tried to get our local schools to change what’s on the menu in the cafeteria. Its pretty bad.

        • Box of Salt

          Brooke “some of us have tried to get our local schools to change what’s on the menu in the cafeteria”

          Here’s a thought: Feed your kids.

          Teach your kids how to feed themselves.

          You (or they) don’t like what the school offers for lunch? Provide them the ingredients to make their own. A third grader can do this – I did. My kids do.

          The school’s primary task is not to put food into your kid’s belly – it’s to give them information to put into their brains.

        • Dr Kitty

          In what way?
          Lack of choice, low quality ingredients, poorly prepared, not tasty?

          School meals have to be prepared in bulk on a shoestring, and they have to be calorie dense enough to service kids for whom it will be their only meal of the day. No good giving quinoa and avocado salad to a kid who hasn’t had breakfast and won’t have dinner.

          My kid’s school meal cost £2.55 a day and she has a choice of two main courses, a vegetarian option, salad, bread, fruit and yogurt or pudding. It’s standard stuff- cowboy casserole, fish and chips, sloppy joes, spaghetti bolognese, Irish stew, chicken curry etc. The puddings tend to be some sort of warm sponge cake and ice cream or custard.

          We get a menu for the term, she picks the days she wants dinner, and picks her own lunch the days she doesn’t. She likes the food, mostly.

          If she takes a packed lunch it will have a piece of fruit, some cheese or yogurt, some pre-cooked cocktail sausages, breadsticks or pretzels and a treat (a Kinder bar or a sweet biscuit).

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            School meals have to be prepared in bulk on a shoestring, and they have to be calorie dense enough to service kids for whom it will be their only meal of the day.

            Add in another feature: kids have to be willing to eat it.

            No good giving quinoa and avocado salad to a kid who hasn’t had breakfast and won’t have dinner.

            Or will end up in the garbage can. Even kids who are hungry can be picky eaters.

            We get a menu for the term, she picks the days she wants dinner, and picks her own lunch the days she doesn’t. She likes the food, mostly.

            Your description sounds a lot like our situation. Details are not quite the same of course, reflecting the difference between UK and US, but same in concept. Our hot lunches have three options (hot lunch, sandwich or salad), and they sure as hell don’t get chicken curry (chicken nuggets, yes). Bread, fruit, the occasional cookie.

            The biggest complaint I would have is that it is terribly bland, because they don’t use any salt. Sorry, mashed potatoes without salt don’t cut it. And I don’t have first hand experience, but I have heard from multiple sources (teachers and kids) that the pizza leaves a lot to be desired. Pretty sad when the kids bring a sack lunch on pizza day (I give my kids crap – we spent a week at Disney and they ate pizza every stinking day; we come home and they won’t eat pizza at school)

            When I go to lunch with them, I bring my own salt.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Do you camp out in school lunch rooms and restaurants making sure every meal is “optimal”? Yeah, didn’t think so.

        Actually, some of them basically do do that. Except it’s more about making sure that unvirtuous food from cafeterias and restaurants never passes their offspring’s lips. Actually trying to ensure healthy food for everyone at their children’s school (if they send them to school…) would be far too civic-minded, which they are generally not into. Plus, reality running into their ridiculously high bar for what constitutes “healthy” is no fun. If you can’t make everyone eat organic, grass-fed everything, what’s the point? Trying to simply cut back the amount of sugar, or finding ways to include more fruits and vegetables (organic not necessary) in the meals in ways that are palatable to the children (healthy food is only healthy if you eat it), or finding ways to encourage milk (pasteurized!) over pop and juice? Such feasible, incremental measures bore them.

        Working with kids first in teaching and then in social work, I’ve been in a few cafeterias in my day. I was thrilled when kids drank unflavored milk, or when the cafeteria offered them bananas or sometimes fresh pineapple chunks, which they liked–they did not have the same affection for the mushy, tasteless vegetables under the warming lights. High sugar fruits, yes, and not much variety but some produce is better than none. But that’s an approach that’s lost on a lot of crunchy supposed food activists, for whom it’s artisanal, local, organic, grass-fed the works or bust–even if that doesn’t actually help the children in this country who are most vulnerable.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Except it’s more about making sure that unvirtuous food from cafeterias and restaurants never passes their offspring’s lips.

          I go to lunch with my kids at school about once a month. Many of their classmates bring sack lunches. It’s probably 1/4 of the class that does. The others all did some version of the cafeteria lunch.

          But to the point: of all the kids having sack lunches brought from home, I have NEVER seen a single one that would be considered especially healthy. They are all the usual things – some version of sandwiches, juice boxes, those “Lunchable” things. They might have a piece of fruit in them. That’s what we do when we send lunches; our older guy will eat a container of raspberries; that is the healthiest of any lunch I’ve seen. He also brings caso dillas or butter sandwich and jell-o, so, no, not especially healthy there either.

          So if people are wanted to make sure to avoid unvirtuous cafeteria food, they aren’t providing very good alternatives.

          High sugar fruits, yes, and not much variety but some produce is better than none.

          The health problem in the US today is NOT that we eat too many high sugar fruits or canned vegetables. It’s that we eat potato chips and french fries instead. Replace all the french fries with canned peaches and we’d be far healthier. Except me, because canned peaches, or any peaches, make me gag.

          And I can tell you that my 6 and 8 yo boys prefer the “mushy, tasteless vegetables” over anything fresh. We’ve tried fresh green beans or peas. No way. They do prefer fresh pears and peaches over the canned, however.

          • Sean Jungian

            Not super-related, but I used to go have lunch with my son about once a month, too, when he was in elementary school. The kids all treated me like a rock star!!

            And I didn’t see many sack lunches, one girl is diabetic so she always carries snacks but mostly they all just eat the things they like from the school lunches. The sack lunches all have some version of chips or crackers or cookies or something. Not super healthy but not particularly poisonous or anything. When I would pack a lunch I did largely the same thing – I cared more about packing stuff he’d actually eat rather than things that would get me “Good Parent Bonus Points” from other adults.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            One of the kids asked me once if I was Adam Sandler. I told him yes. He asked me what my favorite character was in [Adam Sandler’s recent movie, which I don’t even know]. I told him they were all great and I couldn’t choose. He bought it.

          • Sean Jungian

            Ha! They are so funny! And they love when the routine gets broken up by Big Stars like you & me lol.

          • Roadstergal

            Kids are picky in ways that don’t always make sense. But anything that involves them eating more fruits and veggies is a win, IMO. Kids like mushy boiled veggies? Give them mushy boiled veggies. Kids like frozen fruit in yogurt? Hey, good stuff. You only have time to cook for them if you use canned corn? Canned corn is great and convenient and healthy!

          • Heidi

            No compromise! Either kids are eating organic quinoa and kale bakes with a side of raw microgreens for lunch or they may as well be eating rat turds and Twinkies for every meal. /s

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            You’d like to think, but apparently for some, no that’s not good enough.

            I understand that some kids are more likely to eat fresh veggies than canned, but then again, my kids aren’t.

            My younger guy’s favorite meal is beef and broccoli from Panda Express. And he eats all the broccoli. How can I complain about that? He won’t eat that many vegetables at home (although he has veggies for every meal).

            Similarly, my older guy will ask for raspberries for a snack. They are expensive, yes, but I’m happy to let him do it.

            As you say, any fruits and veggies you can get them to eat is a win.

      • mabelcruet

        A friend of mine has a child with a metabolic disease, an enzyme deficiency that means their diet is quite restricted, so he has to take packed lunches to school. The school makes the kids with packed lunches eat in a supervised area in the canteen, and they are supervised by lunchtime monitors (parent volunteers, not teachers). One supervisor decided that his lunch box wasn’t suitable as he had no carbohydrates, and despite the kid telling her he wasn’t allowed to eat them, she tried to bully him into eating crackers, he was in tears about it. My friend complained, obviously, it could have made her boy really unwell, but nothing came of it. He now carries a laminated information card in his lunchbox just in case, but an 8 year old who already feels different shouldn’t have to be scared of the adults looking after him.

        • J.B.

          Poor kid.

        • sdsures

          The hell???? Making kids eat in a separate room from the others sounds horrible!

          • mabelcruet

            It’s in the main dining hall with all the other kids, but its like a ante-room, sort of partitioned off, and only those kids with packed lunches can eat in there. Everyone else eating school dinners has to use the main room-effectively it means that you might be separated from your friends at lunch. I honestly can’t see what the purpose of it is, unless they are worried about allergies, maybe the packed lunch eaters have allergies and need to be protected from the nuts/dairy/gluten laden school lunches?

          • Chant de la Mer

            More likely that they could be bringing in allergens in their packed lunches that would be in the school lunch. Although a group that is bringing in a lunch is the more likely group to have the allergies so I am likely wrong.

          • sdsures

            Such allergies have been around forever, and they didn’t need to isolate and ostracize kids back when I was that age because the kids were smart enough to not touch stuff they were allergic to.

          • sdsures

            What is the rate of Celiac disease in minors in America? Or is making their kids go gluten-free a meaningless fad?

          • mabelcruet

            I’m in the UK-her boy actually has a disaccharidase deficiency which took ages to be properly diagnosed. It was initially thought to be coeliac because his duodenal biopsy showed changes, but he didn’t have the right serology, and because colonoscopy was normal they ruled out inflammatory bowel disease.

            He is a very sensible boy and is great at sticking to his diet, but from what I heard, the supervisor parent decided for herself that his lunch box wasn’t suitably balanced and needed carbs, and told him he wasn’t allowed to leave the table until he had a proper lunch.

          • Dr Kitty

            Infuriating.

            Kiddo#1’s teachers sent me a note in P1 saying they were concerned that I hadn’t read the healthy eating policy, because kiddo will have an Oreo or a Kinder bar or a packet of crisps. I told them I had read it, didn’t agree with it and was sending a nutritionally balanced meal with a treat, because I don’t agree with the idea of teaching children that some foods are “bad”.

            Rather than trying to force a kid to eat something, a note in the lunchbox or a chat with the teacher would have been more appropriate.

          • sdsures

            Supervisor parent sounds like an idiot.

    • Mel

      Why hasn’t society taken up gathering enough milk through milk donation for every non-breast fed infant?

      Long story short: The cost of reducing slightly the number of minor illnesses in term infants is not worth the costs and risks associated with using milk donors.

      Long story:
      Benefits of term infants being breastfed that has been shown through rigorous scientific studies is one fewer cold per six infants and one fewer gastrointestinal illness per 25 babies in the first year of life.

      Do these benefits hold from breast milk donation? Uncertain- the proposed mechanism for why these illnesses are decreased in BF infants is that the mom’s immune system passes antibodies into breast milk that mom and baby are exposed to in day-to-day life. With the high mutation rate in both cold and gastrointestinal viruses, it’s pretty unlikely that a milk donor is exposed to the same viruses as the mom/baby dyad the milk is donated to.

      What are the drawbacks of using milk donation for term infants assuming enough supply exists for term and preterm infants?
      – Breast milk can transmit both human TB and HIV. There is no fool-proof way to screen every donor every time they submit breast milk for both pathogens therefore there is some small but possible risk of transmitting a serious disease to a term infant.
      – Breast milk can be contaminated by bacteria during pumping, storage and preparation for feeding. That’s why donor milk is pasteurized. That’s also why the cost of breast milk is over $3 per oz in hospitals: sterilizing many small batches of human milk is very expensive, but pooling human breast milk raises the risk of disease transmission.
      -The cost of testing donors at the beginning of milk submission, shipping of milk from donor to bank and bank to recipient, pasteurization and storage of milk at the bank is expensive.

      • Gatita

        Wet nurses/milk donors have always been problematic for a lot of reasons. Check out these links:

        A Social History of Wet Nursing in America: https://books.google.com/books?id=ncYJPOd3dHkC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

        “Mercenary Hirelings” or “A Great Blessing”?: Doctors’ and Mothers’ Conflicted Perceptions of Wet Nurses and the Ramifications for Infant Feeding in Chicago, 1871-1961: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3789462?mag=lifesaving-horrifying-history-wet-nurses&seq=6#page_scan_tab_contents

        • moto_librarian

          You could say that I started waking up after wondering why women of color did not trust the medical establishment. White people don’t remember (or don’t want to remember) that women of color had to feed their masters’ children, often at the expense of their own.

      • Sheven

        This is a great point. Opportunity cost is a real thing. The government could probably fund a breastmilk-for-all scheme, but dollar for dollar they could do so much more good with a free vaccination program, or a healthy school (and summer) lunch program, or a scholarship program. The money to promote breastfeeding comes from somewhere.

        • Aine

          ‘Free vaccination program ‘? You mean routine childhood vaccination is not free in USA? I’m horrified.

          • Daleth

            It is free if you have insurance. Obamacare mandated that it be free. I’m not sure what people do who don’t have insurance, although thanks to Obamacare there are fewer and fewer of them.

          • Sheven

            Me too, but sadly that doesn’t make it not true. Damn everything right now.

          • Chant de la Mer

            There are different programs that vary by state, in my state vaccines are free for everyone 18 and under, and a few allowances that go up to age 21.

    • Mel

      And last – breast milk isn’t a panacea for preterm infants, unfortunately.

      My Spawn-boy is doing great. He’s gaining weight like a champ, slowly figuring out that whole breathing thing and spending his spare time figuring out new ways to set off false alarms.

      Two of his nursery buddies, though, have not done well.

      Champ was born at 25 weeks gestation and was diagnosed with a bad case of NEC today.

      Birdie was born at 27 weeks gestation one week after Spawn and never quite got the hang of eating although she breathed liked a pro. We joked that Birdie and Spawn should do parallel skin-to-skin next to each other so they could transfer breathing and eating skills horizontally in the same way bacteria transfer genes. We also joked that we’d have to protect Birdie from Spawn since she weighed less at 5 weeks that Spawn did at his lowest weight and Spawn might decide to try and eat her. Heartrendingly, Birdie had a bradycardia that she couldn’t recover from because she just ran out of energy and passed away a few nights ago.

      Birdie, Champ and Spawn have three things in common; premature birth, amazing medical care and exclusive breast milk consumption – including human breast milk fortifier made from breast milk.

      Breast-milk wasn’t enough to protect Birdie or Champ. Breast-milk alone wasn’t enough to save Spawn’s life.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        poor babies, especially Birdie.

      • Spamamander, pro fun ruiner

        Heartbreaking 🙁 so glad to hear that your guy is doing great, but this blind faith in breast milk that some seem to have is extremely troubling, and this only proves how wrong it is.

        • Roadstergal

          What’s really evil to me is that Birdie’s parents will be hearing, through the rest of their lives, about how magic breastmilk is, and how it ‘prevents NEC,’ etc. I can see how mom might internalize that – did I not pump enough? Did I eat the wrong things? What did _I_ do wrong?

          Straight-out evil.

      • Heidi

        I really hope Champ pulls through the NEC! I can only imagine the nightmare Champ’s family is experiencing. I had a brother born at 23 weeks in the early 90s. Unfortunately he had so many brain hemorrhages he never got any kind of milk before passing.

        • Mel

          I’m so sorry you lost your brother.

          We’ve got our fingers crossed for Champ; he’s a strong little dude and I hope he can make it through the next few days.

          • Sarah

            Yes. I have a lot of hope based on what you’ve said. Let’s all keep fingers firmly crossed.

          • Heidi

            Thanks. I have a wonderful, healthy sister now thanks to modern medicine that allowed my mom to carry her to early term. 🙂

      • Gatita

        🙁 That’s so sad. Poor Birdie.

      • momofone

        I’m so glad Spawn is doing well, and will be pulling for Champ and hoping for comfort for Birdie’s family. 🙁

      • Box of Salt

        My condolences to Birdie’s family, and my best wishes for Champ.

      • When I worked in an NICU in the 80s, we had several cases of NEC that were not helped — and indeed, there was some evidence that the breast milk might have been a contributory factor — by breast milk. I have always been skeptical about the benefits of BF for NEC ever since.

        • moto_librarian

          Did I read somewhere that not all breastmilk protects against NEC? That there’s an enzyme or gene that must be present that is not universal?

          • Roadstergal

            It’s true that not all breastmilk protects against NEC. There are some good strong hypotheses about the protective factors, and in all cases, there are varying levels of the factors in all breast milk tested, which is fully in keeping with what both Mel and Antigonos note – that breastmilk has an effect on risk at a population level, but that this says little about an individual woman’s milk helping an individual preemie.
            I anticipate that, in our lifetimes, we will have formula that is more consistent at preventing NEC than breastmilk. I also anticipate that when that happens, lactivists will protest its use and tell women that it’s bad for their preemies.

      • Mishimoo

        Oh Birdie <3 my condolences to her family (and to you too). I hope that Champ pulls through with as few problems as possible, and that Spawn continues to do well.

      • MI Dawn

        Glad to read Spawn is doing well; he’ll figure out that breathing thing eventually. Sad to read about Champ and Birdie. Hope Champ is doing better. Heartbreaking about Birdie – her poor parents.

      • Amazed

        My condolences to Birdie’s family and my hope for Champ. For Spawn, I am just happy that he’s passing milestones – and yes, these are kind of milestones, just different from what we think usually.

      • moto_librarian

        I’m so sorry about Birdie. Hoping that Champ keeps making improvements, and that Spawn keeps doing so well.

      • sdsures

        I’m so sorry about Birdie.

      • Christy

        I’m so sorry about sweet little Birdie.

      • Daleth

        I’m so sorry about Birdie. Her poor parents. I hope Champ gets well soon.

    • Heidi

      I want all children to have pork bologna, whether or not their parents might be vegetarian, against processed foods, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or just don’t eat pork.

      Hey, Brooke, I don’t want my child to have another woman’s milk. It is absolutely not acceptable to his father or me. I fed him an appropriate substitute for breast milk. He is well-nourished, healthy and loved. It’s not your or lactivists fucking business!

    • momofone

      Brooke, there is a really cool thing you can try: Feed your kid/s what you want them to have. If you believe breastfeeding is best, knock yourself out. If you think formula is the way to go, rock on. If you don’t want your kid/s eating cafeteria lunches, send them with what you want them to have. I can assure you other people will be doing the same, and minding their own damn business about it.

      • Mel

        But, momofone, what fun is that? Why do what’s best for your own kids when forcing your beliefs on others is so much more satisfying?

        • momofone

          Good point. I have nothing. 😀

      • shay simmons

        Except that by not making the same choice Brooke does, we are telling her that her choice is wrong. If it were the right choice, we’d all be doing it.

        Isn’t that how it works? //s//

    • Box of Salt

      Brooke “frought”

      No: fraught.
      I freely admit I’m a typo queen.
      But if you want to use fancy vocabulary, learn to spell them!

      If you cannot figure out how to express your ideas coherently, you can’t expect anyone to take them seriously.

    • MI Dawn

      Baloney, Brooke. You would happily shame any mother who whips out a bottle of formula instead of a boob or pumped breast milk. To be honest, I’d MUCH rather give my child formula instead of milk bank milk. That should be kept for those medically fragile neonates and infants who really need it. My children were healthy and happy on breast milk and formula.

    • Emilie Bishop

      No, Brooke, if you deliver at a BFHI facility and you don’t bring your own formula with you, breastfeeding is your only option. You are, in fact, bullied and lied to so that they can check a box when you go home that you are exclusively breastfeeding. If your kid winds up back in the hospital later, that’s not a box on the form, so no biggie. This behavior caused emotional damage to me and physical damage to my son, all with no benefit to either of us. I would call that abuse. You’re free to have a different definition, but I’m going with Dr. Amy’s.

    • sdsures

      Donor milk in hospitals is reserved for preterm babies. Full-term babies have no medical need for it.

    • MayonnaiseJane

      My baseboard heater isn’t nearly as hot as my stove, doesn’t mean the heater isn’t also hot. It’s a matter of degrees Brooke. There’s more than “no abuse” and “relationship level effects of abuse.” There’s a spectrum in between.

  • Carolyn the Red

    When I was exhausted and my daughter was admitted to the NICU because one cup of formula didn’t bring up her blood sugar, I was trapped in a bed facing a sign telling the inferiority of formula and view important room sharing is.

    Great way to make a new mother feel horrible. I cried.

    • Mel

      I’m with you on that one.

      I was in a special OB care unit for a week after my son was born at 26 weeks. I was waiting for my blood pressure to come down from the stratosphere; he was in an adjoining hospital attached to life-support equipment. To go see Spawn, I had to walk past two separate BFHI metal plaques (English and Spanish) extolling feeding breast milk immediately after birth (didn’t happen; probably would have drowned or suffocated him), room-sharing (didn’t happen) and the evils of artificial nipples and pacis (Spawn loves his paci; I love that he loves his paci; his nurses love that I love that he loves his paci).

      I don’t buy any of that shit and I still felt like shit every time I passed those damn signs.

      I also had an LC who was really into the idea of me pumping every two hours around the clock – severe hypertension, anemia and recovery from abdominal surgery be damned. Probably because she’s bought the “if you don’t pump 12x a day during the first two weeks, your breasts will never produce milk” and “NICU moms can’t increase supply after 3 weeks” tropes that have very little support.

      Well, I pumped in 2-3 hour increments during the day and 4 hour blocks at night while I was in the hospital and 6-8 times a day once I was home. I’ve produced breast milk. I’ve slowly increased supply over time and I’m well on track to be producing enough to feed Spawn when he reaches newborn size.

      • J.B.

        The crunchy lactation consultant I saw after my first kid gave me a hard time about the paci, said try to offer the breast instead. I did – for one day. She was attached to me her every waking minute of the day. The paci came back quickly. Until she figured out how to suck her fingers, then those were in her mouth all day.

    • sdsures

      Oh Jesus that sounds horrible!

  • rachelelkington

    As an abuse survivor myself, I am coming to realise that I was horribly re-traumatised by my 6-day stay at a “Baby Friendly Hospital.” Being told my concerns were invalid and the pain I was experiencing was ‘normal’ – and therefore acceptable, even desirable – was almost worse than the pain itself. Thank you for calling Lactavism what it is.

    • Allie

      I’m very sorry that you had to go through that. I, for one, am sick to death of the lack of adequate pain relief in medical care, which is especially bad (probably the worst) for labouring women, but also tends to be bad for women in general, especially older women experiencing chronic, debilitating pain. There seems to be this attitude that we should just suck it up and if we ask for pain relief we’re told we don’t need it. Don’t tell me what I need and don’t need. Just outline the options, the risks and benefits, and let me make up my own mind.

    • J.B.

      I’m so sorry. Glad you found and read this and feel some support even at this late date.

  • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

    “perfectly balanced for optimal infant nutrition”

    ummm nope.

    If it were perfect then babies would not need the Vitamin K shot at birth, to prevent early vitamin K deficiency bleeding, I believe breastmilk is also deficient in Vitamin D and sometimes, iron (Additionally this is not magic, if the breastfeeding woman is not getting enough Vitamin D or Iron then her breastmilk is not going to have enough Vitamin D or Iron.)

    https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/recommendations/vitamin_d.htm

    https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/aap-clinical-report-diagnosis-and-prevention-of-iron-2010.pdf

    • Roadstergal

      There also seems to be this notion floating around that breasts are perfect filtration systems. When DrT asked about term infants saved by breastfeeding on FB, a lot of people brought up Flint – which seems rather backwards, as RTF or formula made with bottled water is a lot safer than breastmilk from moms with lead in their systems!

      • Heidi

        Who cares about babies older than six months who drink and eat food prepared with water even if they are still breastfed, toddlers, older children, and adults affected by lead in their water!

        • Roadstergal

          There was an NPR story at the time about a plumber’s union who volunteered to go and install water filters on the taps of affected residents. I remember thinking at the time, those people have done more for babies than any lactivist could dream. The whole family gets safer water, and the babies are better off however they’re fed.

      • Heidi

        It seems like they want to have it both ways, too. Breast milk is perfectly filtered when it comes to lead (or needed but adverse medications or marijuana or HIV) , but omigod, you better not consume food that hasn’t been blessed by the organic, superfood god if you do breastfeed.

      • SporkParade

        Yeah, but can the residents of Flint afford bottled water to make formula? I have no opinion on this as I don’t know how much lead is actually transferred in breast milk.

  • yay_vaccines

    Are they abusive? Yes.

    I was harmed by my hospital’s breastfeeding class, due to the MANY lies told by the instructor.

    At the hospital, I was harmed by the lactation consultant, who didn’t realize she was smothering my baby, emotionally traumatized me, then waltzed out.

    At home, I was traumatized by my first lactation consultant, who put me on the horrific nurse/pump/bottlefeed schedule, and didn’t warn how terrible it is. She further harmed me by having me do pre and post weigh ins with EVERY feeding. When I asked about formula, she encouraged milksharing (Nope.).

    I was harmed by the new mom group that included several lactation consultants, when they referred to a baby who refused a bottle as “smart,” at the same time my “stupid” baby was drinking a bottle of pumped milk.

    I was finally saved by a lactation consultant who pushed formula at me and told me to sleep instead of pump. Of all the people who I interacted with, she was the only one who looked at me and saw me as a person with needs.

    TLDR: fuck lactivism.

    • Emilie Bishop

      I am so sorry. I too was on the nurse-bottle-pump regimen. My husband or my mom was able to be with me and help for the first few weeks so we made it work, but once it was just me and my son, I couldn’t do it anymore. My son would scream when I put him down to pump–bottle, breast, he didn’t care as long as he was full and being held. I wish I would have thrown that damn pump out the window and just cuddled my newborn like we both wanted. That schedule is one of the most inhumane, abusive lactivist tools out there, and it still makes my blood boil almost two years later.

      • yay_vaccines

        It is VERY inhumane. It also chained me to my home, when I’m by nature a very social person. The LC just kept chirping words of encouragement, meanwhile I was in tears most of the time. The pre and post weights were especially horrible. My kid would nurse for thirty minutes, I’d weigh her, only to see she’d drunk half an ounce. I would then pump 4 or 5 ounces. You see, it was “her fault.” And since I had been brainwashed into thinking this would be easy, and all would be fine, I was MAD AT MY BABY for making this hard. Really. Mad at my infant child.

        I absolutely regret that I breastfed her. It’s my #1 regret for how I’ve raised her. If I could do it over, I would have gone to formula once things started going south. I feel like I might have enjoyed her baby year if I had been willing.

        • Emilie Bishop

          I didn’t have to do the weighs like you did, probably because he started gaining as soon as we supplemented. I never knew how much he got nursing, but I could only pump an ounce or ounce-and-a-half at a time afterward. That wasn’t because he ate so much, I just had low supply. I have IGT, which I figured out myself long after the fact by reading this and other blogs. Not one of the 5-10 LCs I saw at my BFHI hospital told me IGT was a thing or that my boobs are pretty much textbook examples.

          I, too, wish I’d just stopped breastfeeding when we learned he’d lost 11% of his body weight on day 3 of life and was dehydrated. I wanted to, but I and the lactivists around me kept whispering “try harder.” I knew formula was fine, but I just wanted to give my baby “the best.” Such a terrible load to put on a new mom, insisting her body and her baby’s body work right or else they’ll be second-best forever. If that isn’t abusive, I don’t know what is.

          • Roadstergal

            A rested and sane mom is ‘the best,’ IMO.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            or as sane as possible

          • Amazed

            What they don’t get when they’re talking about good ole’ times of “everyone breastfed or employed a wet nurse” is that there literally wasn’t any other choice. They claim breastfeeding is good for mother’s mental health as well but I doubt many of those who had the bad luck of having troubles breastfeeding before the times of formula were rested and sane. I am quite sure it was more like, oh my, is he/she going to live? Oh my, he/she is just a little more yellow and sleepy today. Was the milk today enough? I think part of the allure of those times is that moms who had trouble breastfeeding suffered.

            When all is said and done, a rested and sane mom isn’t the best, it’s the worst thing for lactivists because it undermines their own “sacrifices”, as Patricia Rhodes said gushingly to the Kelsie thing. Because if breast isn’t best, they not only aren’t best but they come across as rather stupid, suffering for nothing.

          • Heidi

            There was a recipe for formula back in the Roman days. They’ve also found bottles the Egyptians made. Inadequate breast milk and other breastfeeding issues have plagued all mammals since mammals came onto the scene I’m sure.

            I watched a PBS documentary on snowmonkeys and a mother snowmonkey essentially adopted an orphan. But it was so heartbreaking – she could only make enough milk to sustain her son so to save him she had to quit nursing the orphan who eventually died.

          • Amazed

            Heartbreaking indeed. And contradicts the supply equals demand mantra, at that.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes, a thriving healthy baby and a happy rested mother is such a rebuke to them. (Why that lazy bitch can leave baby with grandma and grandpa and go out for a nice dinner, even overnight, and the whole lot of them have nothing but smiles on their faces afterwards!!) They cope by consoling themselves that such happiness and health is bound to end in diabetes, or leukemia or some similar disaster.

          • Amazed

            There might be something else in play as well. I looked at the Kelsie thing’s profile photo and she looks quite rounded. As someone who has struggled with their weight – at one point, I weighed freaking 92 kilos and this isn’t a typo, I do mean 92 – and still is above what is considered optimal weight I get the longing for a magical potion that will make this particular problem right. For their kids, at least. I don’t know what you, as a doctor, would say but from my anecdotes, my own included, it takes much more effort to turn to eating more healthily (in my case, it’s the sweet tooth that I have and that had spinned out of any control at one (prolonged) point, in my friends’ cases it’s other things) than just take the pill. I suppose it feels much better to think that your kid will be a healthy weight if you just breastfeed. It nicely avoids the thought of creating healthy eating habits AND the problems of “oh my, she ate this bar of chocolate, she’s RUINED for life!” because I have seen this as well and it downright scared me. Obsessing over this single bar of chocolate that ruined your diet? If your diet is so easily foiled, then it must not have been a very good diet to start with. I’ve been met with downright hostility as I’ve said this to RL friends. They do want the magical diet, magical pills, magical whatnot that can be compromised by this one sweet.

            A little like breastfeeding being compromised by this single bottle of formula, right?

          • fiftyfifty1

            “I weight freaking 92 kilos and this isn’t a typo, I do mean 92 – ”

            I’m genuinely confused. You seem to be saying that 92 kilos is almost impossible to believe? Isn’t that only like right around 200 pounds? Am I doing the math wrong or maybe did you mean 192 kilos?

            But to your larger point–I do think that the “breastfeeding prevents obesity” promise it one that really manipulates a lot of women. Our society has so much fat phobia, and it fits right into our shaming narrative about what causes fatness: Self-indulgent eating caused by “taking the easy way out” when it comes to food. But none of it is true. Breastfeeding doesn’t prevent obesity: the randomized Belarus PROBIT study actually found more overweight/obesity in the BREASTfeeding group. Besides, obesity is not the boogyman everyone believes it is. Modest obesity is perfectly compatible with a long, healthy, active life. Actually many studies show that the longest life spans happen in people right on the border between “overweight” and “obese” (BMI ~30). It takes pretty severe obesity for it to be a real longevity problem.

          • Amazed

            Your math is flawless. But the combination of 200 pounds, 168 cm and the fact that the extra weight went almost entirely in my lower part does make a stunning difference between my pictures of that time (when I was 20) and the way I look now, 20 kilos less.Mind you, my weight is still concentrated on my lower part and there is a fat chance that I’d starve myself to death to achieve the silhouette fashion magazines tell me I should strive for.

            The thing is, although I was never into the lose it or die camp, I was miserable enough with the situation that had I had a child back then, I might have jumped at everything that promised me they wouldn’t have to face it. That *I* could do it for them, somehow. Hell, nowadays I am ready to starve for Amazing Niece when I won’t do it for myself and NEVER wanted to do it, even in my fattest period. I can totally see how this partucular promise night entice women with genuine or imagined weight problems. My weight did pose a problem for me because it impeded with some of my favourite activities – but there was the “looking bad” problem as well. IOW, vanity. I can totally see how this plays into women’s emotions. They can do it for their baby! Breastfeed, breastfeed, breastfeed, and they’ll be BEAUTIFUL! I’m saying beautiful and not healthy because it’s my firm conviction that a good deal of people’s problems related with weight are not health but looks-related. Our fat-shaming culture does have a lot to answer for.

            In this vein, I think the modest obesity isn’t that bad thing doesn’t get a lot of attention because our fat fobia is mainly about looks. Health just isn’t a factor.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes it’s about appearance stigma. Because a BMI of ~32 with a lower part distribution (i.e. pear shaped) is actually a recipe for longevity.

          • Amazed

            Indeed. An anecdata: when I was this weight (gaining it in just a few months) and my feet hurt when I happened to walk for a few hours (a favourite way to relax) and there were some other impediments, the results from my annual GP examinations were as perfect as ever. Nothing wrong with my health. The genuine, existing problems just weren’t a blip on the radar of science. Perhaps after a number of years, they would have become but my new weight didn’t automatically bring them on. Unbelievable, I know.

          • sdsures

            I struggle with this daily because I am technically overweight, pear-shaped, and anorexic. I hate food.

          • Amazed

            So you get both the legitimate condition AND the moral failure? And I get it that anorexia came with being overweight? Thanks a lot, fat-phobia society.

          • sdsures

            Yep. My surgery will not refer me to treatment for anorexia because my BMI is too high. :'( They are using a method of allocating resources – but it doesn’t make dealing with it any easier.

            Thank god my husband loves me and loves my body just the way it is (except when it causes me pain).

          • Heidi

            Breastfed or not, most of us have habits to cope that aren’t healthful. Some of us drink too much, some of smoke, some us do drugs, some of us eat too much. My paternal grandmother breastfed 4 out of 5 of her children. It didn’t keep her children from smoking, struggling with their weight or from abusing alcohol and drugs. But you know, the one uncle who was obese and who had negative health consequences as a result was still healthier than the aunt who has struggled with alcoholism and smoking. He was able to take the weight off with gastric bypass and reversed most of the negatives. I don’t think my aunt will be able to restore her liver, bone density or stomach lining even if she quit forever today.

          • FormerPhysicist

            I weight just about 93 Kg. At 157 cm. And fuck everyone who deems me worthless at this weight. (Unfortunately, that includes me. I’ve drunk the kool-aid and can’t seem to get sane.)

          • Amazed

            That’s the problem I have with fat-obsessive culture. Who are people to think that anyone ELSE is worthless because of their weight? If anyone restricted themselves to think that THEY need to lose weight, I wouldn’t mind this much. But I gather it’s either undermining the stellar quality of one’s own efforts (if they’re slim) or feeling alone in being worthless if weight isn’t a measure of “betterness”. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut about people’s complaints of failing their diets because I found out I come across either as “I want you to be fat because I am!”, or “I don’t appreciate your dilligence at becoming even slimmer than you already are!” Took me quite a while to understand it, though, because as I struggled with my own weight, the last thing I had in my mind was other people’s.

            I guess it’s the same with breasfeeding “envy”.

          • sdsures

            *hugs* I’m overweight and anorexic, but cannot get medical treatment for it because apparently only underweight people should get it on the NHS. :'( Technically, they are allocating resources as they see medically fit, but that doesn’t make life easier.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Hugs to you too.

        • AnnaPDE

          This eaten-to-pumped ratio is what my kid managed, too. (While biting my nipples bloody. Yay actively denied massive tongue tie.) But I had to buy the scales myself to find out because the hospital and LCs thought that test weighing would “confuse” me. And then they were quite surprised that a) kid’s weight wasn’t going the right way, and b) I started feeding formula while my husband got rude enough to actually get access to a doctor who sorted out the tongue.
          You have my sympathies, this kind of experience sucks!

    • Heidi_storage

      Ugh. That’s awful. I’m sorry you were subjected to that. New parenthood can be rough, but that cadre of lactivists made it just nightmarish for you, apparently. And why, why, why does anyone believe that sticking a boob in a baby’s mouth is magical? I just don’t get it, not even after reading material from lactivists and researchers.

      Me, I pumped exclusively for my first two kids. With the first one, I tried direct breastfeeding, but she just wasn’t getting enough and I had about 3 hours of sleep in the 24. I started feeling woozy and almost like I was going to pass out; when I called the obgyn on duty, she told me firmly to get some sleep. Now.

    • sdsures

      Encouraging milk sharing sounds really dangerous.

  • Madtowngirl

    The insane vitriol that was directed at you on Facebook page yesterday exemplifies so much of this. It was entertaining, but also quite disgusting. Resorting to making comments about people’s looks, and that one awful comment that a baby was better off dead than on formula…it was horrific.

    It really is emotional abuse.

    • Inmara

      Wait, someone really wrote “better dead than formula fed”? Like, seriously?

      • Madtowngirl

        They sure did! And on today’s post, someone is defending that nastiness.

        • Emilie Bishop

          BUT claiming not to defend it in the same breath–did you catch that part? Seriously, they can’t help themselves.

          • Azuran

            Oh look, there’s our Brooke claiming that what people tell you online isn’t emotional harassment.

          • Heidi

            The same Brooke who always accuses Dr. Amy of harassment for daring to speak out against the crazy crap some of these homebirthers and lactivists do!

          • Amazed

            And posters on Dr Amy’s page for harassing her. The Kelsie thing is resorting to the same tactics now.

            They both disgust.

          • Gatita

            Brooke’s obsession with taking down Amy is getting unhinged. It’s creepy. I’d actually be concerned about her. It’s kind of stalkerish, tbh.

          • Amazed

            And there is even a poster trying to engage her in a friendly way. I wouldn’t bother. Assholes deserve to be shamed and laughed out of town, not get more attention. That’s what they thrive on.

            The Kelsie thing is a human waste and the poster’s kindness and willingness to lose her time amaze me.

      • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

        Lactivism is a tit based cult at this point. To these people, depriving your kid of boob juice is like telling the Pope you didn’t have your kid baptised. You and junior are going to burn in a lactose intolerant hell.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      there are reasons why I’m ignoring it at the moment.

    • Erin

      In my misspent youth I played a lot of computer games and my husband and I still dabble when we’ve got the time. We like on-line player versus player and thus have over the years seen a lot of abuse from people who can’t handle having their avatar killed.

      Reading those Facebook pages was an education.

      • Madtowngirl

        Hello fellow pvp enthusiast. 😀

    • Allie

      Anyone who would suggest that all the beautiful, loving, joyful children I know who were bottle fed would be better off… I can’t even type the word… is disgustingly inhuman.
      I have no idea if I were breastfed or not, nor do I nor anyone I know care. And I’m pretty awesome too, if I do say so myself : )

  • Sean Jungian

    This is a fascinating parallel. Thank you.

  • sdsures

    Lactivism is seriously a cult.

    • Mel

      My husband and I have been laughingly creating a book titled “A Male Dairy Farmer’s + A Female Evolutionary Biologist’s Guide to Lactation in Humans”.

      Chapter One: Your Lactation Consultant is Probably a Cult Member; How to Prepare, Interact and Survive

      Chapter Two: Mammalian Milk Production Basics

      Chapter Three: Why Evolution Would Weed Out Breasts that Work as Lactivists Claim

      Chapter Four: Formula – Nectar of the Gods for Kids and Calves

      Bonus Appendix: Lactivist Bingo Card

      • Chi

        I would totally buy and read that book! You should totally do it!!

      • An Actual Attorney

        For the love of God, please do this!

      • SporkParade

        Please actually publish this!

      • Dr Kitty

        Oh please, please do this!!!

      • MI Dawn

        I would SOOOO buy this and give it to my daughters!

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Daughter and son!

      • Sean Jungian

        I want to read that right now! Especially curious about why evolution would weed out Sewper-Bewbs!

      • FormerPhysicist

        Yes, I want the book too!

      • Christy

        Can I reserve my copy now?

  • BeatriceC

    There appears to be a typo. Where your list starts with “1. Though Policing”, there needs to be a t at the end, as I’m assuming you meant “thought policing”.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thanks! Fixed it.