Heads up, lactivists! Nature doesn’t care if your baby lives or dies.

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Breastfeeding is excellent.

If lactivists confined themselves to that message, they’d be on solid ground. Instead they insist that breastfeeding is perfect. Since nothing in nature is perfect, their aggressive efforts to promote breastfeeding are leading to injuries and deaths. And in attempting to justify those injuries and deaths, blithering idiots write pieces like This is Why I am Fed Up with “Fed is Best.”

Nature does not intend that every baby will survive.

According to Lauren Lewis:

As a childcare provider, mama, and breastfeeding advocate, I LOVE me some fact-based research. So if your argument is that the slogan “fed is best” is more supportive than “breast is best”- know that it just isn’t factually correct. Saying that “Fed is Best” takes away the message behind “Breast is best” the exact same way that “All lives matter” takes away from “Black lives matter”- it is completely missing the point of the campaign in the first place.

So much stupidity in so little space.

Let’s start with the “Black lives matter” reference. “Black lives matter” is an elliptical sentence. An elliptical sentence is one that is missing important information, but that information can be understood from context.

“Mary runs faster than John” is an elliptical sentence. The full sentence would be “Mary runs faster than John runs.” The full sentence uses the verb runs twice; the elliptical sentence uses it only once but the second use is understood from context.

“Black lives matter” is elliptical. The full sentence is “Black lives matter as much as white lives.” Those who invoke “all lives matter” as if that counters “black lives matter” are deliberately ignoring the fact that it is an elliptical sentence in order to score political points.

Similarly, “Fed is Best” is also elliptical. The full sentence is “Fed is best compared to inadequate amounts of any specific food.” Breast is best is also an elliptical sentence. It stands for “breastmilk is better than formula,” but the truth is that adequate amounts of formula beats inadequate breastfeeding every time.

The author of the piece betrays more than just a misunderstanding of grammar. Like many lactivists, she doesn’t understand either physiology or evolution, either.

Lactivists like the author engage in motivated reasoning. If breastfeeding isn’t the perfect way to feed each and every baby, then they can’t be sure that they are perfect mothers. But by insisting on the perfection of breastfeeding lactivists betray more than their insecurities. But what they fail to understand is that “Nature” does not intend that every baby will survive.

Infant mortality rates in nature are astronomical. Babies die from congenital anomalies, prematurity, dehydration, starvation, vaccine preventable diseases and accidents among other causes. Genetic and chromosomal abnormalities are astoundingly common. Fully 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, almost all because of genetic defects. “Nature” could care less. If only 80% of fertilized eggs are perfect, why would breastfeeding be perfect?

Approximately 12% of babies are born prematurely, and until very recently, most premature babies died. “Nature” didn’t care. If only 88% of babies know when to be born, why would breastfeeding be perfect?

Smallpox is an entirely natural virus. The human immune system can naturally make antibodies to smallpox but, in the absence of vaccination, 20%-30% of people will die before they can produce enough antibodies. There have been repeated smallpox epidemics through history and “Nature” didn’t do anything to stop them. If immunity isn’t perfect, why would breastfeeding be perfect?

It wouldn’t, obviously.

Yet, the author believes this nonsense:

The biological norm is what keeps babies alive.

Actually, the biological norm results in massive numbers of dead babies. It’s all the same to “Nature” if a mother gives birth to 10 babies and 7 die then if a mother gives birth to only 3 babies who live.

The author quotes the World Health Organization:

Saying that “Fed is Best” takes away the message behind “Breast is best” the exact same way that “All lives matter” takes away from “Black lives matter”- it is completely missing the point of the campaign in the first place.

Sadly, even the WHO sometimes comes up with absolute bullshit. The WHO claims are based on statistical modeling, not actual population data. For most of human history all babies were breastfed and infant mortality was very high. Breastfeeding is not protective against most of what kills babies. Moreover, many of the countries in the world with highest infant mortality rates have breastfeeding rates approaching 100%.

The author ends with typical lactivist lie:

Lactation Consultants, Doulas, midwives, breastfeeding advocates — even lactivists — are NOT SHAMING parents who choose to promote the benefits of breastfeeding. We are just trying to help parents who WANT to breastfeed.

Who does she think it stupid enough to believe that?

Curiously, the author is right about one thing.

She insists that “Fed is minimum.” Well, yes, fully fed is the minimum that every mother ought to provide. If your baby is not fully fed, regardless of whether you are breastfeeding, you haven’t even reach the minimum that your baby needs. In that circumstance breast isn’t merely inferior; it can be deadly.

Breastfeeding — like pregnancy, childbirth and the immune system — has a naturally high failure rate. Nature doesn’t care whether an individual baby lives or dies just like it doesn’t care if an individual pregnancy ends in miscarriage. Nature makes it up in volume.

“Fed Is Best,” it’s shorthand for the truth:

Fully fed with formula is better than underfed with breastmilk — ALWAYS!

  • Christy

    You can’t write:

    “If your baby receives breast-milk for at least 6 months lowers their chances of childhood leukemia by 19%.
    The La Leche League published that: “One long-term study of children who were breastfed showed that breastfeeding reduces food allergies at least through adolescence (Grasky 1982). Protection from allergies is one of the most important benefits of breastfeeding. The incidence of cow’s milk allergies is up to seven times greater in babies who are fed artificial baby milk instead of human milk (Lawrence 1994).”
    Breast milk contains antibodies, vitamins, proteins, and fats. All which help baby grow, develop, and fight off bacteria and viruses.
    Breastfeeding helps baby ward off and fight ear infections.
    I could go on and on… and on. But I won’t, because it will take away from my point.”

    And follow it up with, “Please, put down your pitchforks, and understand. Lactation Consultants, Doulas, midwives, breastfeeding advocates- even lactavists– are NOT SHAMING parents who choose formula when we try to promote the benefits of breastfeeding. We are just trying to help parents who WANT to breastfeed. This is where my pet peeve comes in. Our goal behind promoting Breastfeeding has nothing to do with “shaming” parents who choose to feed their infant formula- for whatever reason. Scheduling “nurse-ins”, latch on’s, demanding the media represent breastfeeding fairly– this is for breastfeeding mothers everywhere. In no way, shape, or form is anyone saying that formula sucks (it doesn’t!). So unbunch your panties- promoting one way of life doesn’t negate another way. If you don’t like it, move on, and stop trolling us!”

    Come on.

    • CanDoc

      Stop using biased 1982 research and consider the miniscule benefits of breastfeeding confirmed in the only high quality prospective study: PROBIT, which has resulted in numerous outstanding publications that have turned much of our thinking on its head. http://www.bristol.ac.uk/social-community-medicine/projects/probit/about/

    • Sarah

      Well, you can write those things. You just look like an arse because using data from four decades ago that has been superseded is stupid.

  • ArmyChick

    When we say “Fed is Best” they get up in arms about it because they can no longer feel superior over their feeding choices… That’s what bothers them. They want to feel like they’re better mothers, they want to put themselves on a pedestal, and look down on any woman who does not mirror their choices.

    It is all about ego.

    • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

      I think its also about admitting they were conned into doing something dumb. “All Natural” has turned into a cult. When someone points out their “god” is fake they double down rather than admit they’ve been played for a fool & swindled.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Is the quote attributed to the WHO correct? It seems like her own quote.

  • Emilie Bishop

    Substitute “breastfeeding” for “vision” in any of these articles and see what happens.

    If any lactivist out there wears glasses or contacts, I challenge them to find better “support” to make their vision 20/20 again. No matter if their eyes started failing before birth, in childhood, or as they aged, vision correction is for lazy, selfish people who can’t be bothered to put forth the effort to see as nature intended! Take some herbs, see a specialist or five who can recommend exercises to strengthen the eye muscles, then do those exercises every two hours round the clock. Spend thousands of dollars on special eye drops (including those the FDA finds sketchy that must be ordered from overseas), check back with your specialist team every week for a few months–OH, and do all this while meeting the needs of a newborn and possibly other small children, a home, a career, a marriage, and any other relationship in your life. Not working? Well, you didn’t try hard enough, clearly!

    I wish one of these nut jobs would do this just once so it might finally click how ridiculous they sound to those of us for whom EBF is biologically impossible.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      for a fair number of us for whom EBF is biologically very possible, too.

      • Emilie Bishop

        Oh, absolutely! Nearly all the women in my family probably could breastfeed, but the vast majority chose not to start or to stop well before a year, for every reason from mental health to needing to go back to work to I just didn’t want to. And as long as they’re feeding their babies age-appropriately, no lactivist has the right to judge them either. But for women who have support and desire to breastfeed but whose boobs don’t work (me! me!), the lactivist rhetoric is just plain ableist. It’s truly no different than shaming someone for wearing glasses or contacts (which, incidentally, I have since kindergarten). Well, except that it can cause great harm to their newborns, which vision-correction-shaming probably wouldn’t do. But still.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Just didn’t want you to feel alone. 🙂 i ff for psych reasons.
          A lot of these groups are ableist in one way or another, constantly striving for the impossible perfect child.

          • My baby would never ….
            Yeah, yeah they will. Whatever it is.

          • BeatriceC

            My sanctimonious mother, when telling everybody what a failure I am and how wonderful my younger sister is saying “well she would never…”, yeah, about that. Want me to tell you about all the shit she did and never got caught, or you blamed me for? Your golden child was the worst behaved out of all of us, just for the record. She’s a perfectly lovely adult, but she was one hell of a teenager.

  • Sheven

    How about a new slogan, then?

    “No. Breast isn’t best.”

    Breast is not best if you don’t make enough milk. Breast isn’t best if there is a delay in milk coming it. Breast isn’t best if the baby is too hungry and desperate to latch. Breast isn’t best if it causes mothers to be exhausted and overwhelmed all the time. And breast certainly isn’t best if hospitals are being trained to miss signs of malnutrition in order to push breastfeeding.

    • RudyTooty

      New slogans! I love this. (and an aside, I feel like I come here to confess my TRUE thoughts)

      – Breast is great if that’s what you want to do.
      – Formula is great if that’s what you want to do.
      – I won’t shame you for your feeding choices.
      – Please don’t breastfeed your baby for *my* (or your friend’s, or your doula’s or your online birth club group’s) benefit or approval.
      – I don’t care if you want to bottle feed your baby even if your breasts are leaking ounces and ounces of breastmilk. It’s your body. Do what you want with it.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        Also please don’t breastfeed *my* baby for *your* own sense of satisfaction.

      • Sheven

        “Your baby does not, and will never, give a shit if you breastfeed it.”

        • Bombshellrisa

          Truth! My brothers and I are in our 30’s and could care less how we were fed by mom when we were infants. How can we when she makes amazing dinners for us to gather around every couple weeks? I have no regrets about bottle or breastfeeding. I do, however regret not taking home leftovers from my mom’s house last night.

          • J.B.

            Oh, I regret the weight gain from fattening and tasty food and wine…but not enough to stop eating and drinking.

    • Mel

      -Breast isn’t best if your infant can’t metabolize breast milk safely.

      In an EP group I am a member of, there are a good number of moms who pump because they need to fortify breast milk for their preemie kids and moms who are pumping milk that will probably be donated to a milk bank because of a metabolic or anatomical disorder their kid has that requires very specific formula to stay alive.

      Even there, we get people who want to know why the doctors have the audacity to tell us that breast milk isn’t good enough for our kids because breast milk always has exactly what our babies need.

      Needless to say, they get detailed explanations about how breast tissue can’t hydrolyze proteins, can’t shunt large amounts of ions, can’t add enough iron to overcome anemia from being premature and can’t adjust the calorie content upwards by 20% or more.

      That and an explanation that 4 years of medical school + 3 year peds residency + 3 year neonatalogy fellowship gives a person’s advice on feeding an infant a hell of a lot more weight than the commentator who has no health care experience….