The lactivist cry “lack of support” disempowers women

Woman plugging ears with fingers doesn't want to listen

Contemporary breastfeeding promotion is based on two lies. The first lie is that breastfeeding is critical to infant health when it isn’t and, in fact, can actually be harmful or deadly. The Fed Is Best Foundation has been doing tremendous work in exposing the lack of scientific evidence for this lie and the injuries to infant health and maternal mental health caused as a result.

The second lie beloved of lactivists is even more pernicious. It is the lie that women who can’t or don’t breastfeed are suffering from lack of support. As I wrote a few days ago, Prof. Amy Brown routinely deploys this lie. Brown’s own research showed that 80% of women stop breastfeeding because of pain and difficulty. She routinely ignores her own findings and substitutes the lactivists’ preferred explanation for any and every breastfeeding problem, “lack of support.”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Simply disagreeing with lactivist orthodoxy marks you as disabled by false consciousness. Lactivists will ignore everything you say.[/pullquote]

The substitution is ludicrous on its face. There has never been more institutional and professional support for breastfeeding. Indeed there is an entire cadre of women, lactation consultants, who are paid for no other reason than to support breastfeeding. In other words, the idea that women are suffering a lack of support is a bald-faced lie.

The most pernicious aspect of the lie is not the fact that it is patently false, but that it is in effect an accusation of false consciousness. Therefore, it serves as an all purpose reason for ignoring anyone who claims to have difficulty with breastfeeding and anyone who criticizes lactivism and its dangerous excesses. Lactivists cry “lack of support” in an effort to disempower any woman who dares disagree.

False consciousness typically refers to political beliefs. According to, false consciousness is:

a Marxist theory that people are unable to see things, especially exploitation, oppression, and social relations, as they really are; the hypothesized inability of the human mind to develop a sophisticated awareness of how it is developed and shaped by circumstances.

For example, Marxists insisted that working people who opposed Communism suffered from false consciousness. That inevitably led to the conclusion that the opinions of anti-Communists could be ingnored and that Marxists’ opinions were more valuable than those of people who opposed them.

As political theorist Steve Cook explains in Why calling “False Consciousness” is dangerous and unreasonable:

The moment that someone believes that another agent suffers from false consciousness, then they risk denying the equality of citizens. If someone believes that another suffers from false consciousness, then they can discount any reasons the other gives. The agent believes that they have special access to the truth, which others do not. Once you have special access to the truth … then your reasons automatically count and another’s can automatically be discounted…

Tell lactivists that you don’t want to breastfeed and they’ll insist that you would want to breastfeed if only you received support.

Tell lactivists that breastfeeding is painful and they’ll insist that it wouldn’t be painful if you had received support.

Tell lactivists that you don’t produce enough breastmilk and they’ll tell you that is a misperception due to lack of support or, alternatively, that you would be producing enough if only you had the correct support.

Hence Dr. Amy Brown, in her polemic entitled Why Fed Will Never Be Best: The FIB Of Letting Our New Mothers Down, insists:

Of course we must ensure that babies are fed. However, although the message may sound comforting on the surface, ‘fed is best’ is simply putting a sticking plaster over the gaping wound that is our lack of support for breastfeeding …

Brown’s claim perfectly illustrates the danger of accusing those who disagree with false consciousness. Brown and her colleagues feel completely justified in ignoring what women who can’t or don’t wish to breastfeed tell them. Their reasons for not breastfeeding (pain, insufficient breastmilk, inconvenience) don’t count. The only views that count are those of lactivists.

It does not matter how eloquently you explain that your baby died or nearly died of starvation. Your personal experiences are meaningless. Simply disagreeing with lactivist orthodoxy marks you as disabled by false consciousness. They will ignore everything you say.

As Cook notes:

The only way to prove that you don’t suffer from false consciousness is to wholeheartedly agree with the one who believes that you suffer from it. Effectively, you are regarded as fallible, and they as infallible. This kind of thinking can easily provide a justification for them to impose their will upon you…

In other words, it is deployed to disempower anyone who disagrees.

The bottom line is this: There has never been more institutional support for breastfeeding than there is today. To argue that current breastfeeding difficulties are due to lack of support is an empirical lie. But it’s also a tactic that lactivists use to disempower anyone who disagrees with them. That’s not merely wrong, but it can be deadly.

76 Responses to “The lactivist cry “lack of support” disempowers women”

  1. Rebecca
    March 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    I had some very “supportive” lc’s who were sort of useless. My son did not latch much at all for the first two weeks, due to an oversupply/fast letdown and a disorganized suck. They helped me more by accident than anything. I had to teach my son how to suck properly, and I did the “research” (looking up stuff online, not real research) and figured out the fast letdown and the best ways to address that issue. They always told me his latch was fine, but it was not, and when my sister visited at 7 weeks pp, she fixed his latch. So they were fine as cheerleaders I suppose, but they even told me, “you’re doing everything right, we don’t know how to help you”. Good thing I have excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills and could figure it out by myself this time…

  2. Amazed
    March 16, 2017 at 7:33 am #

    OT: This post at lett me agog with the few people I swear are unhinged. Short story: A CNM took a nursing student close to graduation to shadow her as part of her curriculum. The student slacked at the practical part when she was supposed to take over (with oversight from the RN, of course) entirely. She whined her way out of placing IV, she slipped out and couldn’t be found when she was supposed to be taking care of patients – and although most of the posters agree that she should fail her grade, there are a few vocal ones whining, “But she’s just a student! Why all of you meanies expect this much from a student?” There was even a, “I agree that she doesn’t look like a nurse material BUT was she okay with placing an IV? Did you make sure she was comfortable with this?”

    My question is: my understanding is that the closer a student gets to graduating, the more expectations will increase. This was the way it was for me in all my studies. This was how it was for everyone I know. Is it really different in the medical and nursing field? Does being “comfortable” and “okay” truly make a difference? I don’t know any nurses my own age but boy, the medical students I knew weren’t exactly a joy to be around once they started their time at the hospital. Grouchy, always sleep-deprived, irritable… they were most definitely not okay, by the look of them… but that was what they wanted. They all became quite respected professionals despite not being okay to be around and feeling out of their depth almost the entire bloody time for a few months if not a year. Honest to God, I was most certainly NOT okay with many of the things in the practical parts of my education in the beginning. Damned terrified. And no one’s life was in my hands.

    Or is such an attitude just a guide for creating special snowflakes? I think it’s the latter.

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      March 16, 2017 at 9:24 am #

      Student -teachers- aren’t allowed to leave the kids for that much needed pee break either. It’s assumed that as you get closer and closer to being the real teacher, you only get help if things are about to go metaphorical kablewy. And we’re -teachers-.

      • Amazed
        March 16, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

        Mom told me she was extremely lucky that she was assigned to high school classes. She already had me when she started the teaching part in her student days. If she had intended to ever teach younger kids, she would have been forced to even break the rules or wet herself right in front of the class. All hail vaginal birth! And yes, those were the rules here as well.

    • Roadstergal
      March 16, 2017 at 9:56 am #

      “Close to graduation”? If the student is about to be a full-on nurse, she needs to be able to pop an IV in whenever it’s needed, no matter how she’s feeling, IMO.

      Why be a nurse, if venipuncture squicks you out? It’s not an unusual part of the deal!

      • Heidi
        March 16, 2017 at 10:01 am #

        I think there’s a lot of people who go into it because job-security, nursing shortages, the ability to travel, and *sometimes* good pay, and overlook some of the details. Yes, you will most likely be dealing with blood, poop, and putting tubes in peeholes, and it will be high-pressure and stressful. No, you won’t be the exception who gets a desk-job straight out of nursing school. I’d recommend anyone who thinks they want to be a nurse to try out being a nurse’s assistant and see if you can handle the bodily fluids, bad smells, and insane amount of stress!

      • L&DLaura
        March 16, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

        The student should have stayed in there. HOWEVER, I know in my program our education on placing IV’s consisted of placing one or two in our classmates. I don’t know if that is even standard now. IV placement really is a specialty skill that is usually learned once you are on the job (depending where you work). Some places have IV teams and floor nurses never have to place an IV. But, as a student I definitely would have wanted to see as much as I could, so leaving is a no no.

    • March 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

      I only disagree with you on one item: The OP isn’t having a student shadow her – the OP is a preceptor for a student.

      In a shadow placement, the observing student usually isn’t expected to do much of anything besides watch because they are very early on in their program. (In what I saw with Spawn in the NICU, this was a one-shift or less time period with an experienced nurse. If the student nurse was good, she may be allowed to hold a “feeder and grower” baby near the end of the shift.) Having a shadow student place an IV would be very unusual and I wouldn’t be surprised at the student declining to do so.

      This example, though, is a preceptor. The student nurse is there to learn exactly how to do clinical skills. The OP is concerned with her rate of skill acquisition – and so is the observer from her college which is why the OP was told to have the student act as a primary and back off. After being told by someone in charge of her program to “DO MORE SKILLS”, the student nurse is still refusing to do the skills – for whatever reason motivates her.

      The whiny, dissenting voices clearly did not read for understanding.

      I feel for the OP because she’s clearly feeling bad that the student nurse is failing to acquire the skills – but the OP has already spent a ton of time “tutoring” the student nurse which was amazingly kind of her. If the student nurse is unable to learn the skills needed for that section of the class, she will fail the course and rightfully so.

      We see this in teaching, too. Most student teachers are more than ready to take over teaching whenever their observing teacher hands the class off to them – but a few balk generally due to anxiety issues. The college and observing teacher will work with them as much as possible but if you can’t do the amount of teaching expected by the end of the placement, you will fail the placement since passing student teaching means that the student teacher can handle a full class load for n-number of weeks.

      • Amazed
        March 16, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

        Thank you for the correction!

        One of the reasons I was so annoyed with the “she’s just a nervous student!” defense is remembering a practice I truly felt out of my depth. In the midst of it, I got bitten by a flying something and my arm balooned pretty badly. I still brought myself to practice because OMG, if I’m not performing this great and I don’t show up, she might think I am ducking out of it! One look at my arm, about twice its normal size and still going bigger, and her eyes turned into veritable saucers. She didn’t exactly tell me I was an idiot, although I was, but she sent me off straight to the doctor because she knew an allergy this severe wasn’t something to be waved away. Anxiety was no reason to hide and expect that somehow, things would magically fix themselves (it turned out she didn’t think I was bad at all, it was my own self-perception that had gone awry but that’s beside the point.) And she didn’t just give me a passing grade. She gave me some additional days to make up for the time I spent home because it turned out that an allergy that had been allowed to progress this far should be treated with more meds than if my stupid self had just taken her lazy ass to the doctor as soon as it became clear the damned bloating wasn’t going anywhere. As I said, I was an idiot. Not idiotic enough to think I could just hide, though.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        March 16, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

        God knows I was a terrified, highly anxious introvert, but ya gotta do it

  3. Gæst
    March 15, 2017 at 6:24 pm #

    How exactly do you “support” someone experiencing pain while breastfeeding? I mean after you make all the suggestions there are about improving latch and positioning, it’s not like these “support people” can shoulder some of the pain for mom, or massage her nipples after (please DON’T) or something. Support doesn’t solve all issues.

    • Merrie
      March 15, 2017 at 11:31 pm #

      Well, providing information about what she can realistically expect can be nice. I learned after my daughter was several months old that it’s normal for moms with flat nipples to have more pain than average and for it to last longer than average. That would have been nice to know when I was going through it…. nobody seemed able to explain my nipple pain to me at the time.

      • Gæst
        March 16, 2017 at 10:39 am #

        Oh, definitely. But you know that’s not what lactivists mean by support.

        • BeatriceC
          March 16, 2017 at 11:17 am #

          Funny though, it’s exactly the kind of support that Merrie describes that kept me going with my oldest. My mom flat out said “yeah, this can really suck for a little while, but it should get better.” She also reiterated that it was okay to use formula if it was too much for me, and actually insisted on a little formula while we figured out the whole breastfeeding thing, since my oldest was having a little trouble learning how to latch, then then it would get worse because he was so frantic, so I used formula to take the edge off his hunger so he’d be calmer and learn how to latch. That only lasted about a week or so, and he was all boob, all the time after that.

          My mother, who’s pretty awful in every other respect, was really amazing during that time. Her honesty and her realism were what made the difference between me sticking it out and quitting.

          • Gæst
            March 16, 2017 at 11:06 pm #

            I hope it didn’t sound like I was disagreeing with Merrie, because I wholehearted AGREE. I don’t consider distorting the truth and outright lying support – but honest and truthful information? Yes. I told my LC I was still having pain while breastfeeding and she told me, it might always be that way. There was no judgment, just a simple statement that we’d done what there was to do, and that might just be the way of things. And I stuck it out for a while longer, and it did, in fact, get better.

          • BeatriceC
            March 16, 2017 at 11:10 pm #

            Oh goodness. No, you’re fine. I was simply providing an example of the value of honestly.

  4. Dinolindor
    March 15, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    So this makes me think of 2 main things:
    1) The “lack of support” really should mean lack of practical research on how to troubleshoot the problems like when the latch looks good but there’s too much pain/not enough weight gain. And since there isn’t that research, just go with what we do know, which is Feed the Baby.

    2) Does this make anyone else think about all of the “crisis in media” commentary after the election? I can’t tell you how many times my local NPR news talk show brings up the “failure of the media” and I end up screaming back “YOU are the media, stop trying to wash your hands of this!”

    • Casual Verbosity
      July 18, 2019 at 6:59 pm #

      Your first point is dead on (not to say your second point is not dead on, but I’m not from your country, so I can’t comment). Where we are failing to adequately support breastfeeding is in our development of a robust evidence base from which to create effective and realistic treatments for issues like pain and low supply. Right now all we have for pain is attempting to correct a baby’s latch manually or cutting around in their mouths in the blind hope that either some usually normal part of the baby’s anatomy is the problem or that the procedure will distract the mother long enough while the pain resolves spontaneously. As for supply, all we really have are tools of distraction until supply self regulates (lactation supplements), the borderline inhumane practice of triple feeding with power pumping to milk that “supply and demand” principle for all it’s worth, and off-label galactogogues like Domperidone with all their wonderful side effects. This is where breastfeeding lacks support, not in an alleged dearth of lactation professionals to tell you to suck it up and keep going.

  5. Young CC Prof
    March 15, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    They also use this “support” concept as a way to discourage women who have problems from speaking honestly about their experiences. They even get some pediatricians afraid to tell parents what’s really going on. If you talk about breastfeeding problems, you must be causing other women to fail at breastfeeding.

    • Madtowngirl
      March 15, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

      I see that nonsense all the time. “You need to stop spending so much time talking about breastfeeding struggles! It scares women away from it!” Yes, being honest about reality scares people away from it. I mean, sure, it can be kind of scary to hear horror stories, but it’s better to be realistic rather than paint everything with sunshine and rainbows.

      • Young CC Prof
        March 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

        And you know, it’s one thing to share horror stories about outcomes that really are super-rare, like brain amoebas. Substantial trouble breastfeeding is quite commonplace, most nursing mothers have some difficulty, and double-digit percentages wind up quitting earlier than they planned.

        • BeatriceC
          March 15, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

          And honestly, the only reason I didn’t quit with my oldest is because my mother was honest and realistic about the troubles I was having. Just having her acknowledge that the kinds of things that were happening were normal and that they sucked was enough to keep me going. And if I’d quit with my first, I would have never tried with the other two. So a little honesty about the reality of breastfeeding meant that three kids were breastfed, instead of zero.

    • AnnaPDE
      March 16, 2017 at 12:43 am #

      Well, they do the same with natural birth, right? Because an honest description DOES put people off, and we can’t have people have informed decisions, right?
      Descriptions were all using words like beautiful and divine and peaceful and Earth Goddess Whatnot until I had a somewhat wine-fuelled (on their side) chat to a few mum friends a month before my due date. The two who had given birth vaginally were all “oh, it’s such a wonderful experience, but … incontinence … pooing yourself … stitches … ruptured pelvic muscles … pain … epidural not quite working”. The one with the unplanned C-section just said “I wish I hadn’t been 24 hours in labour before finally doing the sensible thing”.
      After that, my 1% idea of maaaaaybe doing a ToL just evaporated, and I’m still very satisfied with my scheduled C-section, and happy to tell everyone about it. (Also, kid was sort of already stuck in my pelvis, so it’s not like I could have avoided one.)
      That’s pretty much the worst-case scenario for an NCB advocate, right?.

  6. jumpygiraffe
    March 14, 2017 at 8:12 pm #

    It is sort of a lack of support in that no one is going to come to my house to watch my 3 year old, or help at my friend’s whose older kid is autistic, or the other mother I know who is taking care of her mil. I mean, yeah if we all lived in some commune somewhere and had a million people around all the time to do all my laundry and help then that is the that lots of people mean. But that isn’t the help they are referring to of course.

  7. BeatriceC
    March 14, 2017 at 7:59 pm #

    OT: Yesterday was the two month mark of no smoking! I’m finally feeling like I can do this for the rest of my life. I still have moments when I’m particularly stressed out when it’s difficult, but those moments are much less intense than they used to be and coming much farther apart than they used to.

    • mdstudentwithkids
      March 14, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

      That is amazing Beatrice! What a huge accomplishment 🙂

    • Amazed
      March 15, 2017 at 5:31 am #

      Good for you! I was wondering if you’d stick it.

      • BeatriceC
        March 15, 2017 at 10:58 am #

        Thanks. I just stopped bugging y’all with the day to day struggles. I figured after the first couple weeks just significant time frames was enough, else y’all might get sick of hearing about it.

    • MI Dawn
      March 15, 2017 at 11:37 am #

      Good for you! I know that it’s been tough, but you’re doing great.

    • Gæst
      March 15, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

      I’m not a smoker, but I still want to say that it can be done! My father was a lifelong smoker, and I witnessed his successful quitting when I was about 17. He’s in his seventies now, and hasn’t gone back.

    • Dr Kitty
      March 16, 2017 at 3:57 am #

      Well done!

    • Who?
      March 16, 2017 at 4:28 am #

      Well done you.

      Fantastic achievement!

  8. The Bofa on the Sofa
    March 14, 2017 at 7:13 pm #

    One problem is that their concept of “support” is nothing more than cheerleading.

    I mean, you can almost hear them. “Push it in! Push it in! Push your boob waaaaay in!”

  9. March 14, 2017 at 7:07 pm #

    OT: Spawn came home from the hospital yesterday!

    108 days in the NICU and it was a late winter snow storm when he got out yesterday, of course.

    My husband and I can’t stop staring at him. I’m so happy to hear his grunts and growls that he makes in his sleep while I’m curled up on the couch.

    He’s been massively overstimulated for the last 24 hours by the fact that our house has light/dark contrasts and actual colors that he’s never seen before. His eyes literally look like a kid in a candy store when he’s awake….

    He’s on 0.05L/min of oxygen at home and has an NG tube. We got our first visit from his PT today and have a bunch of follow-up appointments with all sorts of specialists over the next months. (He was theoretically entitled to a visiting nurse, but we’re really comfortable with his oxygen equipment and gavage feeding and the agency was putting people on the wait list who had much more complicated needs so we passed for now.)

    Thank you to everyone here who has given me so much support. <3

    • kilda
      March 14, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

      congratulations! welcome home Spawn! 🙂

    • BeatriceC
      March 14, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

      Congrats and Happy Homecoming! Homecoming day for me was at least as exciting, if not more so, than their actual birthdays. It’s just such a special time. Enjoy!

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      March 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm #


    • myrewyn
      March 14, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

      That’s great!!

    • Amazed
      March 14, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

      Welcome home, little one! So happy for your kid in the candy store!

    • myrewyn
      March 14, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

      Also, since I’m kind of new, in what week was Spawn born? I’ve gotten pieces of his story in the comments of course but have not been able to figure this bit of information out.

      • Amazed
        March 14, 2017 at 8:36 pm #

        I think he is a 26 or 27 weeker. Sorry if I’m wrong Mel! But I do think he went home sometime around his expected due date.

      • March 14, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

        He was born at 26.3 weeks at the end of November. He came home about two weeks after his due date thanks to the easy availability of home oxygen and NG tubes :-). Actually, as of around his due date, we thought he was going to get a G-tube which is placed from his stomach to outside of his abdomen because he was really late learning how to drink a bottle – but in true Spawn form – he had a really fast learning curve unlike anything the NICU staff had seen before.

        • myrewyn
          March 15, 2017 at 12:15 am #

          Thanks for catching me up. 🙂

    • Box of Salt
      March 14, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

      Welcome home Spawn!

    • Montserrat Blanco
      March 15, 2017 at 4:14 am #

      Great News!!!!! I am so happy!!! I am really glad that he is at home with you! I do have great memories of my son’s first days at home. Enjoy!!!!

    • StephanieJR
      March 15, 2017 at 10:53 am #

      That’s wonderful news! Go Spawn! Conquer the world!

    • MI Dawn
      March 15, 2017 at 11:35 am #

      Hooray! Welcome home, Spawn. Bask in the love of your family dwelling. Enjoy color, different noises, smells, and all the fun of a house.

    • cookiebaker
      March 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

      So happy to hear he’s home and doing well!

    • niteseer
      March 15, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

      Congrats!!!! Welcome home, Spawn! Mel, you and your hubby have been through a test of courage and determination that most parents never have to face, and you have been amazing. You are the true “warrior mom”. May you have a good long stretch of smooth sailing to let your nerves settle.

    • MaineJen
      March 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

      Yay for Spawn!!

    • Gæst
      March 15, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

      That’s awesome! Congrats!

    • Dr Kitty
      March 16, 2017 at 3:57 am #

      Oh, I’ve only just seen this!!

    • Who?
      March 16, 2017 at 4:29 am #

      Such wonderful news. Congratulations. Enjoy the next phase of making your family!

  10. EllenL
    March 14, 2017 at 5:42 pm #

    It’s not support if you won’t take “NO'” for an answer.

  11. Jules B
    March 14, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    All of this makes me want to become an LC so I can disrupt the system from the inside (or at least help individual women…)

    • Heidi_storage
      March 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

      There are genuinely helpful LCs out there. My local LCs tried to help me breastfeed (which I wanted to do), but also acknowledged when it wasn’t working and never made me feel that I had “failed.” (I pumped exclusively for my first two kids.) When I gave my son formula in the hospital, the LC didn’t give me any crap about “nipple confusion,” though she did suggest I try an SNS. (I didn’t like it.) The first time I heard the mantra “Fed is best” was from them, as well as “The first rule is, ‘Feed the baby.'”

    • March 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

      I had one crazy LC, one alright LC – which I defined as “didn’t bother me”, and one helpful LC.

      The helpful LC was also an occupational therapist so I think she has seen far more real severe feeding difficulties that lasted much longer than breastfeeding so she was much more relaxed about both HOW a kid is fed and WHAT a kid is fed.

      I’ve always been skeptical of lactivism, but after spending a long time in the NICU, I’ve realized again how completely insane it is to dedicate that much time and energy to harass mothers of full-term healthy infants to exclusively breastfeed when there are lots of babies, toddlers, kids and parents out there who need real trained support to get enough digestible food into a kid’s digestive system to let their kids with severe disabilities grow and thrive.

      Yet another example of ableism in lactivism…..

    • J.B.
      March 15, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

      The best LC I had was one who had worked with several hospitals in the area, said “if you want to do this [breastfeed] let’s see if we can make it easier” and really watched closely while kiddo was feeding. I think there’s a difference between hospital trained LCs and La Leche trained (guess which I prefer) but there’s also more time pressure on those actively working in hospitals.

    • Gæst
      March 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm #

      I had an excellent private LC. They *do* exist.

  12. 3boyz
    March 14, 2017 at 4:40 pm #

    This also happens with unmedicated birth. I’ve given birth without pain relief and decided I would never do that again (well, given the choice; circumstances don’t always comply). Whenever I’ve said I don’t want to flgive birth without pain relief, somebody has insisted if I just “got educated” or “had the right support” I would think differently. How about I am plenty educated and had all the right support that time that I did go without an epidural and I’ve still concluded that epidural is the way to go. I don’t WANT your education and I don’t WANT support. i want a damn epidural whenever I give birth!

    • Sarah
      March 14, 2017 at 5:13 pm #

      Same. There was nothing like being forced to give birth without an epidural to make me realise I never want to do that again. And I learned that through education of the most significant kind. There are women who are happy enough giving birth without an epidural: I am not one of them.

  13. CSN0116
    March 14, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    I spent a year working in a high-end lactation boutique in the early 2000’s. My customers were wealthy, white women. They had unlimited access to resources to “make” breast feeding work, and they spent big money to help them achieve their goals: $100/hour in-home lactation consultations (because they would be less stressed in their own atmosphere); hospital grade pumps; lactation classes before giving birth; postpartum doulas; professionally-prepared lactation-inducing foods; no jobs to go back to; hundreds of dollars in supplements and herbs; in-home workers to manage all household tasks so all they had to do was focus on lactating — yeah, the flat-out failure rate was *still* about 20% and another 20%+ would struggle immensely and never be able to EBF.

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 14, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

      And a 20+% failure rate makes sense. Most women in this demographic are older mothers when they first give birth. Older maternal age at first birth is a well-known risk factor for delayed and failed lactogenesis. And that’s just milk production. There are plenty of other factors: abnormal sucks, milk intolerance, depression, pain, vasospasm. And then just plain mom and/or baby hated it.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        March 14, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

        Remember, the reason they are coming to the “boutique” is because they are having problems. Those for whom bf is peachy won’t show up

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 14, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

          Depends. Many will not be having problems but rather will be buying things like pumps for occasional use, bras, boppy pillows as shower presents etc. But those buying herbs etc., yes, will be having problems.

        • CSN0116
          March 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

          Oh, I should have been more specific. I met 99% of these women prenatally. They came in for all the classes and bought up all the shit the class instructors told them to buy. Then they would disappear. Then ~80% of them would show back up after giving birth. Of those who returned they would dump HUNDREDS/THOUSANDS of more dollars into fixing their breastfeeding problems. Only about half would be successful at their efforts, leaving ~20% totally unable to BF and another ~20% not able to EBF. So I actually got to see the progression of prenatal to postnatal. It was fascinating.

      • CSN0116
        March 14, 2017 at 8:46 pm #

        Yes! Ninety-percent were over 30 and probably more than half over 35. I didn’t know age was such a risk factor. And ironically, it’s the “older” moms who seem so hell-bent on “following all the mommy rules”. Sad — sounds as if they’re even more set up to fail… :/

        • Emilie Bishop
          March 14, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

          Probably a lot of the older moms went through infertility. I was only 31 when I gave birth, but I married at 22 and we’d been TTC since I was 26, so still a long stretch with a lot of ups and downs. It definitely made me want to do everything “the best” for this kid I waited so long to have. Plus having a miscarriage made me feel that if I didn’t do everything just so, he might not make it either. Seeing him starving and dehydrated and readmitted to the hospital because I didn’t make enough milk and couldn’t get him to latch was horribly painful. He’s two and I’m still working through this with a counselor.

          • CSN0116
            March 14, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

            That’s terrible, I’m sorry 🙁 It was my experiences in this boutique that made me ward off breastfeeding at age 19. What I saw made me swear I’d never even attempt it. I’ve had five babies now and never put a one to breast, not even for a second. I saw sane, rational, healthy women turn into psychologically and emotionally broken individuals with no self esteem or sense of reality. And I never could tell the difference between a FF and BF baby on any level – practical or far fetched – so I opted out altogether for fear of ever experiencing what many of these women did. I left the business in less under a year because I couldn’t watch it anymore. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise.

          • Roadstergal
            March 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

            Damn. You should write a book (really).

          • guest
            March 15, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

            Before children I never wanted to breastfeed and never thought it was important. While pregnant, I agreed to try because it seemed like I should, but I didn’t really want to. 4 days post partum I was crying when I had to give my son a bottle, feeling like the worst mother ever. Hormones can wreak havoc with women. I wouldn’t even attempt it with my second because I never wanted to feel that bad about myself again. It really is horrible what the industry does to women.

      • Jules B
        March 14, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

        I also did not know age was a factor. No one ever mentioned it, and I never came across it in my pre-baby breastfeeding reading. As a first time Mom who had just turned 39 years old when my daughter was born, that info would have been nice to know :-/

        • Young CC Prof
          March 15, 2017 at 10:09 am #

          It’s kept secret, because telling women this in advance (when the information would be useful) would not be “supportive.” More supportive is to tell a 38-year-old pregnant with her first baby and dealing with diabetes, sub-fertility or PCOS that she will almost certainly be able breastfeed exclusively, so then she suffers the maximum guilt when she can’t.

        • Heidi
          March 16, 2017 at 10:08 am #

          Yeah, no one told me I had a few risk factors for lactation failure. I was over 30, it was my first child, and the fact that I was over 30 as a first time mother seems to kind of be an additional risk factor than just over 30 or it being my first child, and I had gestational diabetes.

  14. Azuran
    March 14, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

    It’s incredible how they keep complaining about ‘lack of support’
    Isn’t it THEIR job to give this support? So they are basically admitting that whatever they are doing, they are doing it wrong.

  15. Emilie Bishop
    March 14, 2017 at 4:02 pm #

    Yep. I tell my two-year-old when he wants to help with household tasks like unloading the dishwasher that “being a good helper means being a good listener.” For right now, that mostly means handling the metal and plastic stuff and leaving glasses and stoneware to the grown-ups, but I hope he’ll apply this little mantra throughout his life. Goodness knows very few people in our BFHI facility did that for us. My L&D nurse listened well, but everyone after her foisted “support” on us that bordered on bullying and shaming. They claim they listened because when asked, I said I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, but that was after nine months’ conditioning that this was the best/only proper way to feed a newborn. True, knowledgeable support is needed, but that word doesn’t mean what they think it means.

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