Lactivist gaslighting in the wake of a suicide due to breastfeeding pressure

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Let’s try a thought experiment.

Imagine I told you a story about a 16 year old girl who committed suicide because she was bullied for being overweight. She felt herself to be surrounded by messages that women who aren’t thin are worthless. She was surrounded by peers who claimed she was ugly and worthless. Everyone in her life, including her parents and her doctor, told her that she could be thin if she only tried harder. She drown herself because she could no longer bear the pain.

I have yet to see a single lactivist acknowledge that pressure to breastfeed was a significant factor in Leung’s tragic death.

Would your first response be to insist that she needed more support in dieting? Or would you conclude that she needed more support in recognizing that her weight was not a marker of her worth?

I’d conclude the second: that the societal pressure to be thin was toxic and that young women should be taught to love themselves regardless of weight.

The first response is a form of gaslighting. It’s denying the lived reality of the young woman who died. It’s denying the pernicious effect of the pressure to be thin. It’s refusing to take a hard look at a society that relentlessly undermines the self-worth of young women by judging them on their appearance first and foremost.

I’ve conjured this example in the wake of the lactivist response to the suicide of Florence Leung, a young mother whose lived reality was unbearable pressure to breastfeed when she could not do so exclusively. I have yet to see a single lactivist acknowledge that pressure to breastfeed was a significant factor in Leung’s tragic death.

All I’ve seen is gaslighting.

It wasn’t pressure to exclusively breastfeed in the face of her inability to do so that led to her suicide;

…if she had only received more lactation support she could have breastfed exclusively.

…if only she had received more mental health support she would have persisted and ultimately breastfed exclusively.

…there must be more to the story. Pressure to breastfeed was not the reason she took her own life.

Or even more egregious:

Facts are facts; if she wasn’t breastfeeding exclusively she wasn’t giving her baby the best.

I had difficulty breastfeeding; I persevered a was ultimately successful.

Or my personal favorite, the repulsive humble brag posted on the Leung’s memorial Facebook page:

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Breastfeeding 18 months and still going. I feel for the mothers who are unable to nurse their babies, no need to make them feel bad about it.

Lactivists seem to be unable to come to grips with scientific reality: the benefits of breastfeeding in first world countries are trivial.

In the face of lactivist insistence that breastfeeding is lifesaving, I’ve challenged them to point to the term babies whose lives have been saved. No one can do it.

In the fact of lactivist insistence that “breast is best,” I’ve pointed out that dehydration and starving from insufficient breastmilk is unhealthy for babies and guilt is unhealthy for mothers. No one has a response.

In the face of lactivist insistence that breastfeeding pressure led to Leung’s suicide, I’ve pointed out that they are gaslighting, denying the lived reality of a suffering women. No one appears to care.

It’s remarkable when you think about it. Lactivists, the same people who insist that failure to breastfeed is caused by lack of support, the same people who have rearranged the world to blare support for breastfeeding in the face of every mother and every healthcare provider, the same people who have banned formula gifts in hospitals because the mere sight of formula could undermine a woman’s will to breastfeed are suddenly denying that breastfeeding pressure could impact a mother’s mental health.

How ironic that the same people who are relentlessly “normalizing” breastfeeding so that some mothers feel supported could claim that is impossible that those efforts could make other mothers who can’t or don’t wish to breastfeed feel unsupported, worthless and suicidal.

It makes sense, though, when you realize that breastfeeding is not about what’s good for babies and mothers. It’s about what’s good for lactivists, their profits and their self-image.

We’ve come to realize the pernicious effect that idealizing thinness has on they psyches of young women. It’s long past time to recognize the pernicious effect of idealizing breastfeeding has on the psyches of mothers. How many more babies and mothers have to be harmed before lactivists acknowledge that breastfeeding “support” can be toxic and even deadly?

  • Jules B

    Just out of curiosity the other day, I went and looked at some pictures of my daughter as a newborn, since it had been awhile since I looked at her early baby pics, and I figured I might be able to look at them a bit more objectively now (it being nearly five years later now). I was specifically looking at them to see how healthy/alert etc she looked in the first 2.5 months of months when I was still struggling to exclusively breastfeed (against my better judgement – I could tell she was never fully satisfied…she cried so much, even right after feeds) – and I have to say I was shocked by what I saw in those pictures. Like, I felt a a bit ill looking at them.

    What I see, looking at those pics now, is a very small/thin baby. A baby who looked borderline malnourished, and even slightly dehydrated. A very sleepy/non-alert baby who was definitely NOT happy when awake.

    Then, suddenly at the point when I introduced formula I see a very quick (like, within a week or so) turnaround: Very alert, lots of smiles etc. Still small but more robust-looking somehow. The change is remarkable.

    And I admit I cried after this realization. I used to have guilt for not EBF. Now I feel guilty for not supplementing earlier (right away!). But I also have anger – I was a first-time mom who had little idea of how newborns should look and behave. But I saw countless professionals in those early weeks, from public health nurses to various LC’s, to my OB and my doctor. All of them examined this baby who was clearly not doing all that well – but who was not yet failing to thrive so I guess no red flags popped up…and no one thought to say anything. Lactivism has infiltrated so deeply that not one of them felt comfortable saying the obvious: your baby is not getting quite enough nutrition. Because them they would be accused of “interfering with the breast-feeding relationship” and/or “pushing formula.” Ugh, it all makes me so sad and angry.

  • Wasnomofear

    OT. Friend had a RCS scheduled for this coming week but felt contractions early last week (during week 38) and went in. Baby HR fine, light contractions. They told her they’d give her some IV fluids and probably send her home after an hour. Then, after starting fluids, back to back contractions and baby’s HR dropped and wasn’t coming back up. They crash section and try to resus for half an hour but baby’s gone. She wakes up and they say there were no symptoms of placental abruption til it was too late. I’m just hoping to hear that nothing sounds off about this and that yes, rare and tragic things can happen. I wonder if the IV fluids caused her placenta to push away, like a rush of fluid was the final straw for an ailing organ? Or, if they were picking up on symptoms but didn’t want to freak her out, thus raising her blood pressure, by telling her? I’m not a doctor and I don’t know if that’s how things work… We’re just so heartbroken. Her poor husband was at work because they didn’t think anything was going on, and she was out cold, so no one even got to see the birth except staff.

    They also, apparently, didn’t give her the meds to stop lactation? She’s terribly engorged. Are those meds still given?

    I’m going to delete this after we talk, on the tiny chance that she, or someone she knows, ever sees it!

    • Guest

      They don’t typically give medication to prevent lactation any longer but Sudafed helps a lot plus tight sports bras and cold compresses. I also doubt they would have kept medical information from her unless it was a really disreputable Hospital. I once asked a doctor at the hospital if I might have not been told full details about a condition to prevent me from being panicked or upset and he said it would have been grossly unethical to do such a thing so I don’t think it’s common. I was told the full details by the way the doctor just had questions that I couldn’t answer because it was an emergency situation.

      I’m so sorry for your friend, that’s a worst nightmare situation and I can’t even imagine how much sorrow they have. They’re in my thoughts for what it’s worth.
      I don’t know about the IV fluids precipitating further abruption but there are doctors on this board that might be able to give their insight.

      • Wasnomofear

        Thank you for telling me! Grief has my mind going everywhere, so it’s comforting to hear that it’s tragic, but not likely the fault of anything specific. At least she was already at the hospital when it went sideways, so she’ll never be able to blame herself for not being in the right place at the right time.

        • Guest

          I don’t know if it is better or worse when losses like this have no real reason for happening. Your friend did nothing wrong but then there’s always that what if question that is so hard to answer and sometimes doesn’t have any answer. You are a good friend for trying to understand the situation better so you can help your friend.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          They’re in my thoughts as well. My parents’ 1st was also lost very late.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        I remember the only time my ob looked mad in my presence was when I told him that I had no idea who it was who caught my baby. Since the ob and the resident I had been introduced to were there too, I assumed she had enough skills. Dr. E thinks it likely she was a junior resident following a 3rd doc rather than a midwife.

    • fiftyfifty1

      The IV fluids would not have caused an abruption.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Could it be argued that the dehydration that resulting in getting IV fluids in the first place could have caused the abruption?

        • Wasnomofear

          Her first was high risk due to Wharton’s jelly, TOL to section, but they weren’t classifying this one as high risk. Just out of nowhere.

          • Wasnomofear

            Ha, on second look, idk why I stuck that statement in there.

        • fiftyfifty1

          no

      • Wasnomofear

        Thank you!

    • Wasnomofear

      Thanks for your answers. I’m going to delete this comment now. I appreciate the peace of mind.

  • Heidi_storage

    OT: I know it’s a lay publication, but could Parents please stop publishing this garbage?! A well-meaning lady from church sent me this link when I mentioned that I was worried about my five-week-old baby catching my two-year-old’s cold.

    http://www.parents.com/baby/all-about-babies/amazing-moms-breastmilk-adjusted-for-her-sick-baby/

    I’m just hoping that this is a cold that I’ve already had, and that my baby has some passive immunity left from my placenta. But geez–“My milk turned yellow! Like colostrum!” What nonsense.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      When our second was about 10 mos old, my wife’s milk turned green. Like a Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s.

      Apparently, it also didn’t taste good because our son quit breastfeeding then, too.

      • Heidi

        I’m upset my breast milk never had fun rainbow colors! All I managed to do was turn son’s poop green for about a week with his Thomas the Train birthday cake. It had green icing shrubs that he really enjoyed.

        • Gene

          I have a friend who used to alter her diet in an attempt to change the color of her breast milk. She said she could manage to get just about every shade except blue. But she had no illusions that different colors meant anything significant.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            When my wife’s milk went green, the first suggestion was diet, but there was nothing identifiable.

    • Heidi

      If I had to guess, she’s taken some vitamins like Emergen-C to “strengthen her immune system” and the vitamins have turned her milk yellow, like it pretty much does any bodily fluid. From what I understand, colostrum is yellow from vitamin A, not antibodies.

      • Heidi_storage

        That was my guess–something she ate, or some vitamin she took.

  • Kill Pretty

    First this is horrible. No one should be made to feel horrible either way. Where I live it was the opposite. There WAS pressure to use formula. No bf support. I even had an older female doctor tell me I needed to formula feed my 1 day old twins because my milk hadn’t come in. Literally telling me they had lost weight and I could be endangering them. I had taken bf classes before birth so I knew it was normal to take up to 5 days for milk to come in and even for formula fed babies to lose weight the first few days. But I felt so bad. I felt like I was hurting my babies and making horrible decisions. When I asked for a prescription to use a breast milk bank (which u need to get milk) the doctor flat out refused. I worked with the bank over the phone from my hospital bed. They were not worried and said let’s wait till day 3. By then my milk had come in thank god. I know I was lucky. Both of my obgyns said they could not bf at all even after a week. They encouraged me and I was so grateful because I had gotten so low after what the doctor had said. I still thought it was not enough.
    I seen that same pediatrician 3 weeks later who asked me what formula I was feeding the twins as my self and my niece feed the babies from bottles. It was a pleasure to say none at this time. I was able to pump that milk and both twins had gained 3lbs each.
    I think bullying goes anyway. I’ve seen it on birth sites. I’ve had both a vaginal and csection birth. I’ve seen it on hiw many kids a woman has(none-oh no! Only 1-are you sure you want to do that to your child! 2-oh that’s perfect, why have more! 3+ can get very ugly on social media people make all kinds of assumptions!)
    I’ve seen it from how you eat during your pregnancies and even after. I think more women should stop blaming other women and forcing views on them. Instead offer support because as moms we all have a vision on what we want to provide for our babies and that should never be undermined by some twisted perception of whats considered right or the only way. Its hard enough having a newborn and infant. No one needs the pressure from another downing what you can do or provide for your baby.

    • indigosky

      That is not bullying. You were told to supplement with formula because your twins (who are almost always born smaller than average babies) were in danger of losing too much weight and they didn’t want to see your babies end up in the NICU. And yes, waiting for milk to come in can endanger them, especially if you are not producing enough. Babies can get brain damaged from malnutrition when moms think they are producing enough and are not.

      You had a ped who obviously saw more formula feeding then breastfeeding patients and made an assumption because you were using BOTTLES. And they don’t use donor milk for full term or nearly full term infants, because the NICU needs it much more.

      You were not bullied, you had a lack of support. There is a HUGE difference.

      • Kill Pretty

        Thank you all. I love that I get to be a mom and have had the choice to voice my opinion. Thank you for the well wishes on my children. It seems as though bf my kids and having an opinionn means they need help from the lord! I’ll take his grace over all comments anyday. Lord bless me and my kids. Thank you.
        However I didnt realize when I stumbled on this site just how anti bf it was. But there is always a popular view for every blog or idea.
        I thought it was about a mom feeling so much pressure she took her life. Which that pressure can be related to by so many new parents.
        Anyhow please have a good weekend. We are here!

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          I’m sorry you felt bullied. It isn’t all that common for a woman to be able to feed twins ebf, though obviously it does happen.

        • Jen

          It’s not anti-breastfeeding, it’s against newborns starving because of their mother’s ego.

        • the wingless one

          Many people here breastfed (Dr. Amy herself breastfed all four of hers iirc). So no one here is anti-bf. we are anti people coming in pretending as though they are sympathetic to women who feel bf pressure/bullying (in this case TO DEATH) when really they just want to talk about how amazing they themselves are for bf-ing and never letting their special snowflake(s) have eeeeeevil formula. Good job on taking donor milk from micropreemies who actually do need it so that you can feel superior to your doctor and women who use formula though.

        • LibrarianSarah

          I’m sure the lord really smiles on passive aggression. Almost as much as he loves taking an article about a woman who killed herself and making it all about you. The lord smiles upon narcissists right? That’s why Trump is president.

    • Amazed

      Did the breastfeeding counsellors tell you that although it was normal for milk to come in a few days after birth and it was normal for babies to lose weight, it could spiral down a dangerous path leading to yes, malnutrition? As you describe it, your pediatrician did believe you might be endangering your babies by keeping them hungry. This is a real thing. What you describe doesn’t sound like bullying to me, it sounds like the advice of a caring physician. Starving a 1 day old baby is not a good thing and by the way you describe it, your breastfeeding classes were so busy shoving their agenda down your throat that they didn’t warn you such a thing was possible at all.

      While I can see how the lack of support was a problem in your case, I can’t see any wrong with a pediatrician wanting to feed babies they thought were not getting enough. They might not have gone about it in a sensitive way at all but their concern was feeding the children. And the milk bank supporting you by the phone sounds very worrisome to me. Giving diagnosis by the phone when a pediatrician who was present in person told you that you need to feed your babies? Very unprofessional. You were lucky indeed. I hope there won’t be another mother who they will reassure gently from distance that they aren’t worried and who won’t end up this lucky.

      What you describe doesn’t sound like bullying and doesn’t belong nearly in the same league as women pushing their noses where they have no business – namely in the lives of other women who feed their children nutritious food.

      • Kill Pretty

        Yes the milk bank was supporting me by getting a different doctor for a prescription of milk. I was ordering full days worth of milk everyday and was told it was not necessary because I planned on nursing and needed yo have the babies suckle to establish milk supply. My bad for not giving you a play by play of how I breast feed over the course of my kids life in this random comment section.
        But yes my children combined had lost 7 oz in 24 hours. I had full term 7.8 lbs and 7.6 lbs twins!
        By day 2 wieght was GAINED BACK. By 10 days old they were almost 11lbs each.
        My milk came in because I was not feared into using a different source of milk and kept nursing to bring in milk. You sound like a bully.
        The same kind that moms who can not nurse deal with. PUSHING UR AGENDA down mothers throats because of your own fear based thinking.
        Oh wow you are Exactly my point. Fear monger. Yes 7 oz weight loss was totally a reason to stop nursing. Give up. Use a bottle and not use critical time for collustrim to form milk suppply. Your right. Why breast feed ever! Please lets continue to fear base all converations with mothers. No need to give hope.
        It can go both ways.
        Sounds like you dislike bf. And thats ok. Everyone has an opinion.
        It was my idea to breast feed and to get support. Learn what it was about and what to expect no one made me go to a class or decide to bf. So no there was no angenda pushed down my throat . I hope any moms reading this don’t let your evil sight impair their vision to breast feed or not.
        Geez human get a clue. Love boobs milky or not and stop criticizing on a topic you don’t actually seem to have experience in.

        Let no child of a parent to overwhelmed or pressured into not feeling like the parent they thought they should be ever bear that burden and just feel absolute love.

        • guest

          God help your kids.

        • Amazed

          Thank you for this account, though I really didn’t need it. You fed your kids? Good.That’s what matters to me. Now run out and seek someone else to bully you. You know you want to. People like you love to see themselves as victims of bullying. Do you also bare both breasts in public places and look around to see who isn’t looking at you so you can whine, “They bullied me for breastfeeding!”?

          To place your whining even in remote closeness to what this woman’s husband is going through is offensive. But that’s lactivists in a nutshell. I am not surprised.

          • Nick Sanders

            So many words put in your mouth, huh?

          • Amazed

            You mean I have succeeded in hiding my ugly breastfeeding-hating nature from this site? Blimey, I *am* good! Thank God that Kill Pretty come to save you from the delusion.

          • maidmarian555

            Oh jeez, I had this at a music festival I took wee man to in the summer. I had some really odd woman (who was also breastfeeding her baby) come and stand right next to me, bare her boob and then eyeball me the entire time. It was like she wanted us to have some sort of weird boob-off. I was just trying to quietly feed him without being noticed. It was the *only* time I fed him in public and was made to feel uncomfortable. She kept staring around, it was like she desperately wanted somebody to notice we were feeding our babies. The next time he needed fed, I got a ready-to-feed bottle out my bag. That resulted in much evil eye and more boob baring. Weird. Weird. Weird.

          • Amazed

            I read the fist sentence and thought, WTF? Robin Hood’s lass didn’t look the type? Then, I read it and realized it was about another woman doing it, not you. But for a moment, I was a little stunned.

          • maidmarian555

            I can’t say I ever noticed another woman breastfeeding in public when I was. Most of us utilise the two-top trick, where you have a baggy shirt over a vest and lift the outer shirt up and the inner vest down. Means you can feed the baby (if they’re feeding quietly and not lifting off to have a look round every two minutes) without it looking like you’re doing anything other than having a cuddle. I only noticed this woman because her behaviour was so odd and blatant. She walked like 20ft over from her friends to stand next to me and just pulled down her top and bared her breasts. I mean, I was initially like, high five mama! Good for you! Then she kept staring at me. At my friends. At everyone. It was a music festival, there were loads of teens around (who are not famous for being mature about things like breastfeeding). It was a confrontational act, designed to provoke a reaction. Odd.

            I’m not sure the real Maid Marian would have breastfed in public. She was a proper Lady and they were into full-time wet nurses in those days…..

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            This reminds me of a story my sister, who worked for a rather large store, told me about a rather tiresome woman who came into her store, sat down on the floor in front of the formula display, and proceeded to breastfeed her kid while blocking access to the formula. After a shopper or two complained, sis came by and said, “Hey, you’re welcome to breastfeed anywhere in our store, of course, but would you mind letting other customers get the formula they’re shopping for? Perhaps shift a bit, or there are some comfy chairs a couple of aisles over that you might like?”
            A few hours later, sis’s manager got a complaint that sis had HARASSED A BREASTFEEDING MOM!!!eleventy!!!
            Fortunately, some of the other customers had already complained about the formula being blocked, so sis didn’t get into trouble, but…egads.

          • Petticoat Philosopher

            Putting on a big dramatic “look at me!” show for the purpose of making the lives of formula-feeding parents more difficult–while picking on customer service employees! This woman sounds like a real gem.

          • Amazed

            For mommies who are so disturbed by bad dirty toxins making their way to their precious kiddos, I wonder why they’re so fond on plopping on the floor to nurse. Do they think it so very sanitary?

          • indigosky

            I would have stepped on her or run into her (avoiding the baby of course) with my cart. Had one person try to block me from formula once. I just shoved her out of the way. I don’t deal with stupid shit.

          • Heidi_storage

            Adults actually act this way?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes, in her world this is the math:

            A woman is dead = They told me to supplement!!!!!

          • Amazed

            In her world, that’s the logic: Mom shouldn’t feel bad because of her choices. Qualified concern over mom potentially starving her children is just as bad as driving a woman to death for not feeding her children the exact way lacticists approve.

          • Azuran

            I just love how some people just feel the need to rub it in your face when they refuse something their Doctor recommended and nothing bad happen.
            Then they get this ‘in your face’ attitude and act like they were super smart and the doctor was stupid for wanting to prevent complications.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “some people just feel the need to rub it in your face when they refuse something their Doctor recommended and nothing bad happen.”

            Although she did end up doing what the doctor said– supplementing that is. Of course she went out of her way to obtain milk-bank milk. This way she was able to display how very, VERY nasty she believes formula is. She would rather deprive some micro-preemie who needs it rather than subject her term twins to even a few teaspoons of formula.

        • Nick Sanders

          Nobody told you to stop nursing. They tried to make sure your kids were fed until your milk came in while you nursed.

        • CSN0116

          Your babies did not gain 4 pounds in 10 days. Just, no.

          This story is loaded with shit beginning to end.

          • Amazed

            I love how her milk only came in because of support. I wonder what happened to women like my mom who had no support, no milk after 10 days, no confidence in themselves, and no formula to offer, so they desperately looked for other substitutes. Why did their milk come, I wonder?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes, first she says they had gained 3 pounds by the 3 week check up. Then she claims they gained nearly 4 pounds between day 2 and day 10. Um, nope.

          • Amazed

            I’m afraid I didn’t pay attention to the numbers in her post. As soon as I got the general gist of it, I knew they’d be useless. Anyway, wasn’t 2 to 3 pounds the norm for a MONTH for a baby?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Yes, a half pound a week is considered a nice weight gain.

          • CSN0116

            Not with her super 1,000 calorie/ounce boobie milk that appeared from thinking happy thoughts.

          • Heidi_storage

            My daughter gained 3 lbs her first 3 weeks; she was 20 inches and only 5 10 at birth. She drank constantly. Still…twins each doing that?

          • Amazed

            They must have lost quite a weight if they gained nearly 10 pounds before day 10 and THEN gained so much that they had gained 3 pounds by week 3. In about a week, they lost a considerable amount of weight and THEN gained so much that the result was 3 pounds all.

          • Heidi_storage

            Oh, quite! I’m just saying babies can gain a pound a week…but 4 lbs in 4 days is just not possible.

          • the wingless one

            Then like so many before her she flounces away when her inconsistencies and thus true motives are revealed…

        • Who?

          You’re very extreme. A bottle of formula in the first couple of days won’t stop anyone’s milk coming in. Women whose babies are stillborn have their milk come in with no suckling.

          It’s not evil to suggest there is more than one way to get things done. It’s great your babies are well and that you feel happy about how things worked out for you and them. Others have a different experience of breastfeeding, and sharing that isn’t negative. Doctors see the whole spectrum of experiences, and are obliged to give you their professional opinion. You chose to ignore what didn’t fit in with your values, and as a fully informed adult that was your choice.

          Your babies didn’t get a choice about being hungry for those few days. They were at your mercy.

          The world is big, and complicated. One size does not fit all.

        • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

          I gave my babe formula while waiting for milk to come in. It caused no issues and today he much prefers to nurse. I believe the risks of giving formula and the baby not wanting to nurse, or milk not coming in, is far overblown.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “I knew it was normal to take up to 5 days for milk to come in”

      Nope not normal. That’s Delayed Lactogenesis and it’s dangerous.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        It’s a “variation of normal,” see? It’s the same attitude of the NCB crowd dismissing risks.

      • Merrie

        It’s “normal” in the sense of “common”, not “normal” in the sense of “okay” or “not needing of further action”. I mean, being horribly nearsighted is “normal” but we don’t just expect people to live with it, nor do we turn them loose on the roads that way.

    • Merrie

      It sounds to me like everything they had to say had validity but they didn’t do a very good job of explaining it to you.

    • Linden

      There was absolutely nothing stopping you from supplementing with formula in those early day to protect your babies from the risks of starvation and dehydration. It wouldn’t have stopped you from breastfeeding (might even have made it easier). *You* pestered the milk bank until you got donor breast milk, which your babies didn’t need but someone else’s premature baby would have.
      The only person who benefitted from this particular outcome is you. You kept your “mother with babies untouched by formula” purity card and bragging rights. Your babies did not benefit from the delay in getting their supplementation in whatever form.
      Telling you the risks of not supplementing early on is not bullying. It is so that you can make informed choice about the well-being of your children. But your choice is “informed” by your ego.

      • corblimeybot

        It’s always shocking to me how much a mother can prize her ego over her child getting enough to eat. I had a host of breastfeeding problems (PPH, the delayed lactogenesis that fiftyfify1 mentions, etc), and combo fed because of it. I was SO GRATEFUL that formula existed. I never thought for a second of maintaining some kind of EBF cred, or conning donated milk away from fragile preemies – I thought about how fortunate we were to live in a time of safe, healthy, and widely available baby formula.

        • Nina Yazvenko

          I’ve had problems breastfeeding in the beginning and around 7 months later, when my supply dropped due to working full time, and I understand this mindset.
          Exclusively breastfeeding becomes this invasive thought that tries to take control of your mind that’s focused so much on your baby’s wellbeing.
          “OMG I’m not making enough milk, what can I do to make more milk, if my baby doesn’t get more milk she’ll cry (my daughter didn’t like formula), if she doesn’t get enough milk she’ll starve because she doesn’t take formula, I should try adding another pumping session at work, I should add another pumping session in the middle of the night….. ”
          and so on. What helped me was to go backwards from the list and say – No I’m not going to loose sleep over this, its not worth it. No, I’m not going to add 4th pumping session at work, its not worth it. No, my baby won’t starve herself, she’ll switch to formula. But that was hard. I had to sit there and say to myself “I’ll be ok, she’ll be ok, we’ll all be ok” again and again.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    So i went to a walk in clinic for my ear and the nurse (not the LPN, the other one) asked “Are you still breastfeeding?” I decided to answer “no” rather than “That assumes I started” But the lactivists tell us that people are promoting formula!

    • indigosky

      I had a similar but happier story. A few months after having #2, I injured my hip in a fall (NOT holding any kids at the time, thank goodness). Doctor asked if I was still breastfeeding. Told him I never started. He said he was relieved because now he could give me the good stuff and not have to worry about what meds were BF friendly. And I got to leave with regular meds, and the good ones for when I was really hurting and could have my husband or one of my parents watch the kids so I could enter a pain free drug induced stupor.

    • Roadstergal

      “Are you still breastfeeding?” “No, I stopped when I was still a baby…”

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        I used that one on the naturopath a while back, lol

  • evidencebasedbreastfeeding

    This link (an article from LLL today on breastfeeding and depression) popped up on my facebook feed today:
    http://breastfeedingtoday-llli.org/why-breastfeeding-is-good-for-mothers-mental-health/
    The author claims that breastfeeding lowers risk for depression and increases chance of better sleep. Clear causal language.
    A while ago I checked all the original studies underlying these claims (reading the full texts). The actual data cannot possibly be used to infer these statements because the study design is so flawed and uncontrolled that causal links cannot be claimed. The study used a cross-sectional design (the poorest type of epidemiological research, and one which can never be used to base claims of causality), from a self-selecting sample, with no data on response rates or on the demographics of the population from which the sample was drawn (I always used the rule of thumb that at least 80% response rate is needed from survey studies to draw any valid claims simply about LINKS, not even causal ones). The survey sample is so different from US mums in general (highly skewed towards BF mums, mainly white, affluent etc) that it’s not representative of any general population sample that you could possibly imagine. In reading the stats methods (this is my recollection from a while back), there was no control for ANY confounders! And links here are very likely to be heavily confounded or even to have reverse causality (mums with impending depression or at risk for depression may be more likely to change feeding methods, than for mums where everything is going well). No attempt to control for the fact that mums who are affluent, professional, have greater support, less likely to be coping with isolation, poverty/deprivation, are less likely both to get PPD and also more likely to BF. No understanding that BF is a state that is lost over time (by everyone, eventually!) and virtually never regained, and that mums who stop BF eg within 1st few weeks differ statistically from mums who carry on longer (in the US and UK, most mums do start BF at birth).
    The same goes for the sleep studies discussed here, reverse causality is the obvious conclusion not that BF makes you sleep better – mums with babies who sleep poorly are more likely to introduce a bottle feed so they can hand over a night feed to another carer, and get a longer stretch of sleep – so this one is hugely confounded. And the sleep study just asked mums – “how long do you sleep at night” – no objective sleep data (eg actigraphy).
    Frankly I was amazed the studies got published at all, but they did and the consequence is that they are used to make statements wildly beyond the actual data itself, with no reference back to the caveats and limitations of the work. The consequence of this is that mums reading this type of thing on LLL or social media may just believe the statements are true and proven with proper science. Which they are not. Therefore preventing them from making the right decisions for themselves at that time, informed by a real understanding of what we know to be true and what the uncertainties are of our scientific knowledge. (Which in the field of lactation/breastfeeding, is I think a huge, huge amount).
    In my opinion this approach is very prevalent in breastfeeding discussions; poor science is taken out of all context and subsequently claimed as “truth”, eg with breastfeeding support people saying “we are only stating the facts, not making judgements”.
    Florence’s death is so tragic and I am very sad for her family; lessons should be learned, and the family supported and listened to.
    My conflict of interest: doing volunteering in BF support in the UK.

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    Tangent: Parents probably should avoid donor milk. Especially if sourced online. There’s a good chance its tainted or fake.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/14/health/breast-milk-online-dangers/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/health/breast-milk-donated-or-sold-online-is-often-tainted-study-says.html

    • Cartman36

      About a year ago, I was arguing with a woman in the comments of an article regarding the dangers of buying breast milk from a stranger on the internet and the woman said that a breastfeeding mom wouldn’t sell breastmilk if she had a disease (she assumed they would know) or was using drugs and alcohol. My response was basically, “I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you”

  • TT

    Sort-of OT: I’m due with my second in less than 4 weeks. I didn’t produce any breastmilk with my first and was relentlessly shamed by the midwives on the ward for not trying hard enough and choosing my own comfort over my baby’s needs when I broke down 48 hours after the birth and demanded formula. This time, I’m taking formula in with me and plan to give a formula feed within the first hour of being on the ward. So, I called the maternity ward to find out about the availability of sterilisers etc, advising that I was going to FF and not at all interested in BF, and the midwife’s part of the conversation went a lot like this:

    >> you don’t know if you’re not going to produce breastmilk – you should come in to see us before the birth and we can teach you how to express so you start producing even before the baby is born;
    >> we’ll just see how you go producing breastmilk first before you decide to give the baby a bottle
    >> don’t worry about baby’s intake – she can go a few days before having any problems if you have low/no supply while we get your supply up

    I advised that even if it were possible for me to get a supply up, I accidentally fell pregnant 8 weeks post-bariatric surgery, baby has been diagnosed with symmetrical IUGR and my serum levels of every vitamin and mineral my doctors have been testing me for are below threshhold level (despite heavy dosing of supplements), so I would not be confident that the baby would get adequate nutrition from breastmilk anyway, she stated that my body would harm me before allowing any harm to come to the baby, so there would be no deficiencies in my breastmilk and I don’t have to be concerned about it. (In the meantime, I guess, I should be okay with the fact that – if it were true – I will suffer malnutrition at the expense of breastfeeding?)

    I’m no doctor or nutritionist, so I don’t know if what she’s saying is true, however I did no/ do not feel supported – I feel bullied; I feel that the ends justify the means to them, and that any harm that may come to me or the baby doesn’t matter, as long as it means that I’m breastfeeding. My very clear stated choice has been dismissed; the reasons for my choice have been dismissed, despite my doctors/nutritionist’s concerns which lead me to make those choices.

    I just… no. Lactivism has nothing to do with the health or wellbeing of mothers or babies, and everything to do with the lactivist themselves!

    • Who?

      That is just extraordinary-don’t worry, the midwife said, it’s only you that will have a problem!

      Good luck with the baby, put a sign on the door, baby’s crib and anywhere else you can to say you are formula feeding and do not require the services of anyone talking about breastfeeding, and get partner/parents whoever else is supporting you to do just that on this point in particular.

    • Merrie

      That all sounds like a bunch of bs and even if she was right, she’s going about it all wrong. If you plan to feed formula, that’s your choice. She should just answer your question about whether they have a damn sterilizer. Ffs.

    • CSN0116

      Fuck that noise.

      Buy this: https://www.amazon.com/Enfamil-Newborn-Baby-Formula-Nursette/dp/B00KQCE1Y8/ref=sr_1_2_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1484975368&sr=1-2&keywords=enfamil+nursette

      And these: https://www.amazon.com/Enfamil-Slow-Nipple-12-count-Count/dp/B004TON9BK/ref=sr_1_4_s_it?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1484975368&sr=1-4&keywords=enfamil+nursette

      And fuck their access to a sterilizer.

      It’s called prelacteal feeding and it’s harmless. You can feed baby as much formula as you want, via bottle, and *if you wish* go on to transition to some or all breastfeeding in the days after you leave the hospital. GL!

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        In fact, she may well not even need to do that. If you contact Enfamil and Similac and tell them you’re pregnant, they’ll happily send you a lovely giant sample box of their various RTF and powdered formulas so that you can figure out which works best for your kid. I mentioned to the Enfamil rep that part of the reason I wanted the RTF nursettes was so that I’d have them with me if my BFHI hospital tried pulling crap with me, and she said she heard that a lot from expectant moms.

        • Cartman36

          But it’s their advertising that is driving woman away from BF. #sarcasm.

          I contacted them for samples because I knew I wouldn’t get them from my BFHI hospital.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Exactly!
            Plus, as a bonus, anything you don’t use will be gratefully welcomed by your local food bank/formula bank/church/assistance group/etc. I got samples from both companies, but DS, while thriving on Enfamil, got horribly constipated every time he was given Similac. (DD had done well on Similac, but different babies, and all that.) I donated the Similac samples I got from both the company and the hospital to the food bank. Fed babies FTW!

    • TT

      I’m going to do my best to channel all three of you next time I have to see those people – *this* is the support I expect (but don’t get) from the hospital and it makes me all teary to have it (probably stress and hormones – I’m usually quite well adjusted). Thanks guys!

      • Cartman36

        The phrase I find most effective to shut down someone that wants to argue with me is “I’m not going to debate you”. Explain what you will be doing and when they start in with a counter argument, say I’m not going to debate you. Repeat as needed.

      • Mel

        Your body will not “short you before it shorts the baby”.

        That’s straight up bullshit and a crazy dangerous idea to be spreading. Your body will short you slightly, but short the baby a lot. For the vast majority of time – and unfortunately still true in developing countries – there was no safe infant formula. Shorting the baby seems brutal – but shorting the mom would lead to her death which would kill the baby as well. Shorting the baby might kill the baby – but if the mom survived the famine period that caused the calorie or mineral shortfall, she’d be able to reproduce again and support a baby.

        Your gut instinct is right on – formula feeding is the most safe for your baby.

        Can you get your baby’s pediatrician on-board for support while you are in the hospital? Like have your ped call the hospital ped and give them the background information on why you shouldn’t be feeding breast milk to your infant even if you have a copious milk supply this time?

        Also – congratulations on your surgery! My husband had a gastric sleeve two years ago and it was a life-saving and life-changing choice!

        • TT

          Thanks, that makes a lot of sense to me. I didn’t even think of contacting the pediatrician – I’m in Australia so the paediatrician doesn’t come on board until the birth itself, but I will call his office today so that the FF order is in the notes by the time the midwives get to it.

          Re: surgery – the sleeve has changed my life (even though I’ve been pregnant for most of it). Would recommend to anyone wondering about it!

        • Merrie

          Wow, that makes complete logical sense.

      • Nina Yazvenko

        Another thing that you need to remember is that you can ask the hospital to bar anyone you don’t want to see from your room. This applies to pesky relatives and medical personnel.

        LC being annoying? – Tell the nurses you don’t want to see her in your room again.

        Also, pediatricians are very pro-baby, and usually very pro-formula as well. My pediatrician was the only one who actually ended up helping me meaningfully with breastfeeding, and without her I wouldn’t have succeeded. She was also very firm that we needed to supplement until milk supply was estabilished, due to jaundice. I am so thankful that she cut through all that lactivism and was grounded in physiology and my baby’s best interest, while being supportive and actually helpful (recommending nipple shield to address both pain, and physiological mismatch) beyond “breastfeed more”.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Bullshit! As the cliche goes, with friends like her, who needs enemies? Go with your formula plan and tell the pushy ones to shove off!
      I’m ffing my 2nd for psych reasons but even if i would have been able to bf without suicidal thoughts, I’d have given her formula the first several days. I don’t know about anyone else’s babies, but mine were big and therefore hungry well before my milk coming in. My son was bf’d for months, but he lost 11% of his weight in 2 days. The LPN sent us out to buy formula to supplement him. My milk didn’t come in until he was 5 days old.

    • moto_librarian

      I had primary lactation failure with both of my children. Since I had a serious pph during my first delivery, I opted to try breastfeeding again with our second on the chance that my milk production was impeded by the blood loss. The exact thing happened the second time. I could pump tiny amounts (1/2 an ounce, but it took upwards of 30 minutes), but I never experienced engorgement or the feeling of letdown. I don’t think that I had much colostrum either, as our son latched for nearly an hour and suckled, but was clearly still restless. At least the LC actually listened to me and looked at my history. She recommended giving him some formula then and there. He drank 1.5 ounces and promptly fell asleep.

      Your midwife is an irresponsible twat for assuming that this won’t happen again. Even if you didn’t have the nutritional deficit, there’s no reason to feel assured that you will have any supply. I would ask her to show me evidence about primary lactation failure, and to find an actual study about what percentage of women have supply problems that it not based on lactivist fantasy.

    • guest

      I would prepare yourself for the possibility that you will be asked constantly if you are breastfeeding. That’s what happened to me with my second, but I was pretty confident with my decision so it didn’t upset me. It was just irritating to be asked by every doctor and nurse that came in if I was breastfeeding. Like, can’t you just look at the chart?? For sanity’s sake, I found it easiest just to give a straight answer “No.” Any explanation given invites discussion and/or arguments. Sticking to “No” and if they say anything else “I’m good with formula, thanks!” tends to shut the conversation down pretty quick. Good luck!

  • Amazed

    If anything, these women make me think that donor milk for healthy babies is a terrible idea. Preemies need it but I really wouldn’t want to run the risk of lactivist vileness making it to a child who could have been spared it. AFAIK, donor milk still isn’t been screened for lactivism. I really wouldn’t want to push anything of those women on vulnerable babies unless damned well justified.

  • Mel

    You know, none of the registered nurses, neonatal practitioners or neonatologists seem to spend any time obsessing if NICU moms are able to breastfeed or not at the hospital my son is at.

    Human breast milk does have a protective effect against NEC so you’d think they’d be the first lined up to guilt-trip or pressure women into breastfeeding preemies – but they are not.

    If you can provide breast-milk, they’ll give it to your preemie. If not, they get donor milk. Either way, there’s too much going on to twist women’s arms to breast-feed.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD
    • Amazed

      I want to punch the asshole who wrote this and the assholes who commented gushingly. For good measure, I want to punch the Stephanie Kilgore thing from your Facebook page. She thinks herself so smart while she’s employing the oldest strategy of all: I was a big fan but you disappoint me so.

      On the other hand, I do hope she breastfeeds. If she’s stupid enough not to understand what the meme was about – and it was WRITTEN right there! – she isn’t passing this many smart genes on her kids, is she? They might need every additional IQ points breastfeeding can purportedly give them. If those aren’t just due to confounders , I mean.

    • CSN0116

      What in the actual fuck?!

    • momofone

      I really wish I hadn’t read that. How vile.

    • Heidi_storage

      Who is this yahoo? Wasn’t the villainous schoolmistress in A Little Princess named Miss Minchin?

    • Madtowngirl

      That is one sick person.

    • Emilie Bishop

      Oh, yeah, I’m sure her husband said what he did because he wanted her to quit breastfeeding, which is, you know, “common.” No, he said it because she was pressured and bullied about a biological process over which she likely had little control. If she has IGT or the baby couldn’t latch or something else that is purely biology not working out the way it’s supposed to and everyone around her is talking like this vile woman…yeah, suicide isn’t too many steps down the road.

    • Sarah

      Nice bit of defamation of a grieving husband there.

    • Mark

      Oh my lord.

      The woman dismisses the story of the husband. Creates her own ideas.

      Says formula feeding is a fact without providing proof.

      She says that a mother’s suicide is not solely due to failure to breastfeed, which while true, ignores how it can be a contributing factor.

      Unreal

      Question

      Where are the doctors and nurses in all of this. Do they regularly intervene if a LC is pushing too hard.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        They weren’t in the room when I had to deal with one. And she was one arrogant woman!

        • Mark

          I am sorry to hear.

          I don’t have children so I am truly ignorant.

          Could you of asked for a nurse to intervene or just tell the person to go away?

          • MayonnaiseJane

            I second the question, for my future. Are LCs generaly given reign to bother whomever they please, or are they more reigned in like other types of volunteers. (i.e. if you don’t want the visiting therapy dog in your room, they can’t come in.)

          • Erin

            I actually found the midwives on the postnatal ward/nurses in NICU to be the problem. The LCs generally avoided my suicidal sobbing, everyone else thought that “breastfeeding would fix it”.

          • maidmarian555

            I think it depends where you are. I never saw a single LC after giving birth, looking after breastfeeding seemed to be the domain of midwives and the ‘care’ I received varied wildly. The first day I had really, really good support. Second day I was traumatised by assholes who treated me terribly. My advice would be to keep somebody with you who can advocate for you and support your decisions if you can. Some hospitals will allow your partner/support to stay with you all the time. I was treated poorly in the window between allowed visiting hours (and my OH overslept and was a bit late into the hospital in the morning). He arrived whilst I was being wrestled by two midwives and sobbing. He got rid of them very quickly, it was clear they weren’t prepared to behave badly with an audience. I didn’t know at the time but we could have paid for a private room and he’d have been able to stay with me overnight. I would do that next time for the peace of mind.

          • guest

            I swear, it’s this kind of crap that a doula would be good for, if they weren’t so crazy into the woo. I would happily stay round the clock at the hospital for any of my friends or family and make sure no one bothered them.

          • Merrie

            I forget if I had to request to see the LC the first time or if she just automatically came to see me. After that first time I had to ask for her to come if I wanted to see her. But I know there are people who don’t want to breastfeed who are badgered by LCs. I am sure you could tell them to go away and they certainly should, but making plans for how to kick people out of your room after birth is certainly no fun.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Never saw one the 2nd time around, but that may’ve been as much because my daughter was in the NICU and she *is* my 2nd child.

          • CSN0116

            I swear I gave birth four times at the best hospital ever. I informed staff upon intake (routine question) that I planned to EFF and heard zip nadda about it. After my first birth (twins), a LC came to see me, to see if I needed anything. She said she knew I wouldn’t be BFing but offered to show me how to bind my breasts to limit my milk supply. She also gave other tips for drying up. She was really sweet. My male OB always praised my decision, stating, “My wife never did it either. The number of patients I see with mental breakdowns over breastfeeding makes me so happy to see patients opt out altogether. Good for you.”

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            My hospital was a BFHI hospital, but I will give them credit for the way the LCs behaved the second time around.
            While I was in recovery, a LC came in, introduced herself, and asked if I needed any help. I said “no thanks, I’m planning on formula feeding.” She said, “Okay, no worries! If you happen to change your mind, here’s my card; please don’t hesitate to call me. Congrats on the cute baby!”–and exited stage right.
            Frankly, while I didn’t want to breastfeed, I was almost willing to give it another try for the simple reason that she was so low-key and no-pressure about it! Hint, hint, all you LCs out there… (and yes, I explicitly mentioned this in my patient survey after the fact)

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Probably, but I was still pretty loopy from the magnesium they gave me so I wouldn’t have a stroke. I actually did want to bf #1 and eventually did. Weirdly, my kid’s male ped was far more helpful there.

  • Amazed

    They’ll never acknowledge it. In their heads, it’s about the only good way which just happens to be their own way. Making them the good guys. What a coincidence!

    Even if I wans’t encountering this breast-fetishizing as the Absolute Mommiestest and Bestest, the posts on your Facebook would have been a dead give-on. You’re talking about someone who died – DIED – and her husband considers the pressure to breastfeed an important enough factor to deserve a special mentioning – and Natalie, Shaz and whatwastheother one think it’s about their humble-brag and their anecdotes of how breastfeeding helped their PPD.

    It was never about women and babies, Dr Amy. It’s about ego. That’s why they’ll never admit how abhorrent it is.

  • CSN0116

    I’ve said it all along – unlike most other forms of bullying, lactivism cannot be turned off because it is permitted and encouraged in places where pregnant and postpartum women HAVE to spend time – with doctors and in hospitals and other health care centers.

    You can tell a know-it-all sister-in-law to fuck off; you can turn off the mommy blog and refuse to log back in; you can quit the playgroup.

    You cannot escape institutionalized lactivism, and institutionalized lactivism is what gives all other lactivists their power (“even doctors/the CDC/WHO agree that breast is best”).

    This problem needs dismantling from the TOP down. Something that should be relatively easy, given that the health care industry is intended to operate based on evidence and whatnot…

  • Heidi

    Nothing angers me more than the, “Oh, I feel really bad for those poor unfortunate souls who couldn’t breastfeed but wanted to.” I don’t want your sympathy. I am fine and my child is fine. We have this amazing stuff called formula and clean water and we both managed just fine, thanks. You wouldn’t have to feel so sorry for me if you hadn’t created this toxic, lactivist environment to begin with. Quit posting your crappy studies that don’t take all the many confounding variables into consideration, quit with the breast is best trope, quit posting your damn photo of yellow milk (yeah, you took a boatload of Emergen-C after you got sick with a cold and turned your milk a shade of yellow from vitamin A. That isn’t antibodies just for your snowflake.), and quit telling us implicitly or explicitly with enough “support” we could exclusively breastfeed. Encouraging a woman who can’t breastfeed, for the many reasons a woman can’t breastfeed, is not support. In a worst case scenario, it’s enabling something tragic like a suicide or an accidental starvation.

    • Heidi_storage

      Yes, I’ll save my pity for children who aren’t given vaccinations or real medicine when needed.

      • Heidi

        Me, too!

      • MayonnaiseJane

        Amen!

    • Kelly

      This. I have posted a few things on Facebook about the Fed is Best campaign and I got people saying they were sorry. I told them that I was not sorry and I didn’t feel bad about formula feeding because it is not something to feel bad about. How do we take something good and turn it into something you need to feel sorry about? I feel like we have done this a lot with parenting. Lets take something benign and turn it into something bad.

  • MelJoRo

    OT: Hey everyone, I wanted to introduce myself. I am a frequent lurker on this site and other pro-science blogs. I am an environmental Engineer with a background in analytical chemistry and toxicology/risk based environmental cleanups. My husband and I are trying to conceive right now, and so as I approach parenthood more seriously I thought I should say hi and that I appreciate all the things I have learned from you guys and Dr. Amy. One thing I could really use right now is a recommendation for a pregnancy/birth book for a reference for myself and my husband–he knows very little about pregnancy and I am terrified of him googling things. I am 28 and pretty healthy, but seriously reconsidering a MRCS. I plan to combo feed, so a book that addresses breast feeding in a balanced way would also be great. Thanks again!

    • Madtowngirl

      Welcome! The book I received at my first prenatal appointment was written by (I believe) the ACOG. I felt it was a pretty decent book, and the breastfeeding section, while it had a few minor problems, presented decent information, and didn’t demonize formula. It actually called formula a “good source of nutrition.” *gasp*!!!! It has felt like the most science-based information I got, so I’d recommend it. But I don’t think you necessarily need to run out and buy it, a lot of doctors give it out for free at the first prenatal appointment, and might be willing to give you a copy prior to conception.

      Here’s the book, for reference: http://sales.acog.org/Your-Pregnancy-and-Childbirth-Month-to-Month-Revised-Sixth-Edition-P502.aspx .

      • MelJoRo

        Thanks everyone! I am have paged through Expecting Better and will likely check it out at the Library. The Mayo Clinic One also seems all right-did anyone read that? I think I am just looking for a way to feel a bit more prepared and a resource that will keep me away from BabyCenter Boards.

        • SporkParade

          I read it and hated it for a few reasons. Reason one is that it went into so much detail that it sometimes missed the forest for the trees (pro tip: when you write that something is a symptom of a potentially deadly complication, it helps to clarify if it’s worth an emergency room visit or if it can wait until your next appointment). Reason two is that there was a lot of sexism in there, from the stereotypically feminine ideas for bed rest activities to the warning not to read about common complications, like pre-eclampsia, unless you’re diagnosed with it because our pretty little heads are just too hysterical to handle reading about how pregnancy can go wrong.

          • MelJoRo

            Thanks for the tip! Definitely would have frustrated me if I bought/read that. I shared this with my husband and he is already pretty dismayed about pregnancy resources…IRL I have already had one friend offer and unsolicited recommendation for Ina May…sigh.

          • SporkParade

            I wish had something better to recommend. English-language pregnancy resources are pretty universally terrible. My OB, whom I adore, edited the Hebrew edition of this pregnancy book, so it might be worth checking out: https://www.amazon.com/Your-Baby-Pregnancy-Week-Week/dp/1630268690.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Ick! Glad I hadn’t seen that one!

    • Heidi

      I only checked out pregnancy books at the library. I never found one I liked, but at least I knew I hadn’t wasted any money on them. I figure if I did find one I liked, I could go out and buy it.

    • Jennifer

      I liked expecting better

    • swbarnes2

      Try scienceofmom.com, and if you like the site, the author has a
      book. The author is a PhD in nutrition, so she knows how to read papers, and see what claims are really supported, and what are not.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        I like her, she’s sensible

      • MelJoRo

        Thanks, I will definitely check her out!

    • Daleth

      Hi, and welcome! If you’re considering MRCS, definitely check out this book–it’s excellent and helped me a lot in sticking to my guns on that decision:
      https://www.amazon.com/Choosing-Cesarean-Natural-Birth-Plan/dp/1616145110

      • MelJoRo

        Thank you! Added this to my Amazon list. I also appreciated to warning about the Mayo Clinic book. So frustrating how much idiocy is slipped into (nearly) every resource on pregnancy. I like in a super Crunchy area (an affluent area of Portland, OR) so at least various blogs have me on the lookout for woo.

  • Poogles

    Dr. Amy, I think this sentence – “In the face of lactivist insistence that breastfeeding pressure led to Leung’s suicide, […]” was supposed to read “In the face of lactivist insistence that breastfeeding pressure *did not lead* to Leung’s suicide, […]” or similar?

  • BeatriceC

    OT good news: I’ve made it an entire week without a cigarette. I only occasionally have the urge to wring necks now, as opposed to a constant desire the first couple days.

    • Sean Jungian

      Oh Beatrice! Well done!! Very proud of your progress 🙂 you’re doing really well! First week is the hardest, second is second hardest, and after that it’s pretty smooth sailing.

    • Nick Sanders

      Congrats!

    • Deborah

      Wow! That is really incredible Beatrice – well done ! x

    • Who?

      Well done you-you must be so proud. Think of how you felt a week ago and look at you now!

  • BeatriceC

    It sometimes makes me sad that the women in my PPD support group so often say that we’re the only place online that doesn’t give them guilt trips regarding breastfeeding. I point them to this blog, Fed is Best, and other places that will support them no matter what, but I cry a little bit every time I hear their stories. So very many women are suffering, and lactivism is really high on the list of external contributing factors which increase the severity of the problem. It may even be the largest contributing factor, but I highly doubt that any study that could potentially put breastfeeding in a negative light would ever be funded on today’s society, so we might never know.

  • Monica

    When you point out people who have unintentionally starved their babies they respond with, you don’t know that breastfeeding caused that? Umm, what? We need a study that says babies who don’t get enough nourishment are starving? I don’t care if there’s an underlying problem why it’s not working, feed the baby, then you can find the root cause, if it’s other than lack of access to breastmilk.

  • Mark

    It now seems utterly strange that we allow lactivist in hospital without them (apparently) being trained on things like ppd.

    The same community that talks of caring for the whole person (ughh) now is only concerned with the breast.

    We don’t treat the whole person, we treat the breast.

    • SporkParade

      It’s strange to me that we let them loose on new mothers with the attitude that breastfeeding rarely goes wrong if your technique is good enough. What medical professional works with that attitude? Imagine an ophthalmologist who couldn’t recognize structural deformities of the eye, or an endocrinologist who couldn’t see the results of a blood test and make a diagnosis based on the results.

  • Emilie Bishop

    Or my favorite gaslighting trick: “But it was your choice. If it wasn’t working out the way you wanted it to, you could have quit. You didn’t have to drive yourself crazy like this.” Yeah, um, maybe if it were a task that didn’t involve someone’s brand-new child when they’re sleep-deprived and hormonal, they could call out crap for what it is. But if your hospital is part of the BFHI, the most casual conversation from the first prenatal appointment through delivery includes phrases like “when you breastfeed,” “since you’ll be breastfeeding,” “the LCs will help.” There is no conditional language used, it’s all stated as forgone conclusion. So then when you struggle and you’re asked what your “goal” is, of course it’s EBF, because it’s the only method you’ve been allowed to find acceptable. This poor, poor family. Good for her husband for speaking out. I’m sure she’s not an isolated case.

  • Cody

    I am so pro-breastfeeding, but not like this. Mothers first, fed is best, formula feeding (for any reason) does not make you a bad mother.

    These commenters have their heads up their butts.

  • OttawaAlison

    It always amazes me how in the face of women telling their stories of guilt and/or PPD (like of facebook posts etc) after not being able to EBF, that women will say things like “but EBF prevents PPD”, or “I have never seen anyone be made to feel bad for not exclusively breastfeeding”.

    • OttawaAlison

      Just saw this happen again on the SOB facebook page. Such a shock.

  • Linden

    Wow, the comment about EBF for 18 months on the memorial page of a mother who committed suicide.. I really can’t believe the utter heartlessness of these people. Why can’t they STFU? WHY?

  • Sheven

    Woman: “Ow!”

    Doctor: “That doesn’t hurt.”

    Woman: “It did. And what you just said made me feel bad.”

    Doctor: “No. It didn’t make you feel bad. And it didn’t hurt.”

    Imagine how furious anyone would justifiably be as a result of that conversation. Imagine how quickly that would make the rounds within the lactivist and midwife community. Time to look in the mirror, guys!

    • Cody

      This is like talking to my ex-husband. Lol.

      • Emilie Bishop

        I’m really sorry you were married to that. Watching my college roommate/best friend date and get engaged to that was enough to make me squirm whenever I detect gaslighting.

    • Sean Jungian

      Or, like I heard the other day from a friend who hurt my feelings: “I didn’t make you feel bad. You CHOOSE to feel bad.”

      Oy.

      • Azuran

        I didn’t hurt you with that punch. It’s your own nerves and brain that made you fell pain.

      • Amy M

        I always wonder about the best way to respond to that. Maybe, “And you choose to be a jerk with one less friend.”

        • Sean Jungian

          I think when it gets to that point, at least some of the time the person KNOWS they were in the wrong and is just trying to save face. I know my friend definitely knew she was in the wrong, and was trying to extricate herself without actually apologizing.

          She did apologize – half-heartedly, In that “I’m-sorry-you-were-offended” non-pology way. I had my say, I can only hope she thinks about it when she’s not right in the hot seat. But I will always be a little more careful in how close I allow her now.

      • mabelcruet

        I had a colleague who was capable of some quite astounding insensitivity and callousness, and his excuse, when challenged, was ‘offence can never be intended, it is only ever taken’. Basically, he said whatever the hell he wanted then blamed you for being upset and lacking the resilience to deal with his comments. I usually felt like slapping him within 30 seconds of his company.

        • Sean Jungian

          Oh wow, what a charmer. You see people like that when they say, pre-emptively, “Oh, I’m and asshole/bitch/I keep it real/etc.” Sorry, admitting it doesn’t absolve you of the crime, it just makes you a pathetically uncreative jerk who can’t find a more diplomatic way of solving issues.

          That guy went one better, even, blaming the victim. I kind of hope he dies alone, like he must want.