Dr. Jack Newman, professional breastfeeding scold, strikes out

Portion of a red baseball scoreboard that says "Strike Out"

Adam Conover of “Adam Ruins Everything” recently released a video debunking claims about the supposed superiority of breastmilk compared to formula. It hilarious! My favorite line is “Formula has autism in it.”

In the video, Courtney Jung, author of the book Lactivism, pops out of a can of formula to point out that there is clinically no difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding (for term babies). The video has aroused the ire of Dr. Jack Newman, lactation professional and breastfeeding scold. He blasted his outrage on his Facebook page.

There is no clinically meaningful different between terms babies who are breastfed and those who are bottlefed.

When a political scientist pops out of a can of formula announcing that formula is just like breastmilk, not surprisingly, many people watching the video are left just as confused as the political scientist, wondering whether it all really makes any difference…

Videos like these are not only full of unscientific and just plain wrong information but they also bring the whole system many steps away from making a real effort to provide efficient help to breastfeeding mothers with breastfeeding problems. Because they confirm what so many in the health care system prefer to believe – that breastfeeding just is not all that important and really not worth the time or effort.

Dr. Newman can’t resist throwing in his sexist views:

and “what about all the hours mothers spend breastfeeding which they could be working outside of home instead?” (forgetting that someone still has to take care of the baby and why would that someone be a better candidate than the baby’s own mother?)

It’s almost as if he thinks fathers and grandparents are substandard caregivers, or that all mothers have the luxury of opting out of the workforce.

Worst of all, in my view, is the gratuitous viciousness in the accompanying blog post:

The act of breastfeeding is different from bottle feeding. Breastfeeding is a close intimate, physical and emotional relationship between two people in love.

Here, let me fix that for you, Dr. Newman: MOTHERING is a close intimate physical and emotional relationship between two people who love each other profoundly. Breasts have nothing to do with it.

Despite Dr. Newman’s vigorous protestations, the truth is that — as Adam Conover set out to show — for term babies there is no clinically meaningful difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding. That’s why I left this comment on his Facebook post.

Dr. Newman, if breastmilk is appreciably different from formula for term infants in industrialized countries, surely you could show us population data that demonstrates a correlation between breastfeeding rates and infant mortality rates. Where is the evidence that breastfeeding has more than trivial benefits in real world populations of term infants (as opposed to extrapolations of small studies riddled by confounders)? I’ve asked other lactation professionals and they can’t find such data, but perhaps you can.

In attempting to address it, Dr. Newman struck out:

Maybe you should read the blog, Dr Tuteur. I didn’t write anything about breastfed babies being healthier. The blog says only that there are ingredients in breastmilk that are not in formula and stuff in formula that shouldn’t be there. It is a response to the outrageous claim of Dr Jung that there is no difference between formula and breastmilk.

I responded:

So you are agreeing with me that there is clinically no significant difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding? That’s important for women to know!

Within the past few hours he wrote back:

No, I am not agreeing with you. I am saying that what I wrote provides clear and scientifically based information that formula is nothing like breastmilk.

Nothing like? Actually, it’s remarkably similar, but that’s not the point. The issue is whether breastmilk provides any clinically meaningful benefits for term babies (it does provide benefits for preterm babies).

My reply:

Since you are unable to provide evidence that breastfeeding rates are correlated with infant mortality, you ARE acknowledging that NO such data exists. There is NO population data that shows that increased breastfeeding rates leads to healthier term babies, let alone data that would be sufficient to prove causation…

I don’t doubt that Dr. Newman, like many professional lactivists, believes fervently that breastfeeding is better for babies. I don’t doubt that he think those benefits justify his sexism (comments about women working outside the home) and his gratuitous viciousness implying that women who breastfeed love their babies in a way that women who bottlefed can’t. As someone who has breastfed four children (whereas he has breastfed none), I can say with certainty that mother love has NOTHING to do with breastfeeding!

When pressed in a public forum, Dr. Newman could provide NO EVIDENCE to support his insistence that breastfeeding is a public health issue. Vaccination is a public health issue and we can demonstrate that a vaccinated population is much less likely to suffer injuries and deaths from vaccine preventable diseases than one that is not. Smoking is a public health issue and we can demonstrate that as smoking rates fall, rates of lung cancer fall, too. Breastfeeding is NOT a public health issue because no one — including Dr. Newman —can demonstrate that breastfeeding rates have any impact on major health indices of term babies.

The truth articulated by Courtney Jung in her book and in the “Adam Ruins Everything” video is that there is NO CLINICALLY MEANINGFUL difference between term babies who are breastfed and those who are bottlefed.

In his frustration, Dr. Newman lashes out in the manner of most quacks at others who pressed him to provide scientific evidence for his assertions, though he is not a quack.

And one last thing. I see that it is useless to try to argue with people who post these hate filled comments. I will not try to argue further with anyone who just does not read and does not want to see another side to the story but wishes only to send hate.

Is that how you would argue with a critic at a scientific meeting, Dr. Newman? Do you really think asking you for proof is hate filled? Or are you simply embarrassed that you can’t provide it?

Dr. Newman can continue writing until the cows come home that breastmilk is different from formula. But that isn’t the issue. The issue is whether breastmilk is CLINICALLY different from formula and even he can’t provide evidence to support his insistence that it is.

I pitched him a softball question, he blustered and talked trash, but in the end he struck out.

Here’s a rule of thumb that Dr. Newman would do well to keep in mind:

HER baby, HER body, HER breasts, HER choice, none of his business!

Breastfeeding support should be easily accessible for anyone who desires it, but no one should deride women who can’t or simply don’t want to breastfeed. As Adam Conover and Courtney Jung made clear: the scientific evidence on breastfeeding can’t justify applying either pressure or shame.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Semi-OT: Current issue of JAMA July 25, 2017, Moon et al. pp 351-359. They studied a quality improvement program that focused on infant safe sleep practices. Nurses gave the message in person, and mothers got text reminders after discharge. In contrast, the control group got the “standard” educational messages and texts which were all breastfeeding promotion. Later, they asked mothers about the sleep practices they were using and the “safe sleep” intervention group did better than the “breastfeeding promotion” group.

    So breastfeeding promotion comes at a price. When we focus our efforts on pushing one thing, other things get less attention. More important things get neglected.

    • Roadstergal

      Interesting. You’d have to have a fairly large group to see the statistics on SIDS deaths…
      Can you link to it? I only see up through Jul 24 under New Online.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Can’t link to it. I’m reading from the copy I got in the mail yesterday. They did not measure SIDS deaths, they measured self-reported sleep practices, so that’s a limitation there. Interestingly, the intervention that seemed to matter was the text messages, rather than so much what the nurses said in the hospital.

        • Christy

          Anecdotally, that makes complete sense to me. I felt like I didn’t retain much of the information we were bombarded with in the first couple of days after my son was born. I understand the purpose but at that point I was laser focused on caring for my son, anything extra just didn’t have a chance to sink in.

        • Roadstergal

          I can well believe that. The first few days of parenthood must be overwhelming, and with all of the infodump that you get in the hospital, I can’t see a new mom retaining a substantial amount of it. Follow-up texts are a nice succinct reminder that can be absorbed in a less overwhelming context?

  • indigosky

    “Breastfeeding is a close intimate, physical and emotional relationship between two people in love.”

    That sounds again like sexualizing breastfeeding by the lactivist crowd. Yet boobs are just for babies, not sex objects according to them. Um, then why describe the mother/infant bond like sex all the effing time?!

  • Gene

    Another OT article making the rounds. Apparently we don’t wash breast pump parts well enough. Now, this was a preemie (born at 29wks) and developed the infection at three weeks of life (so corrected gestational age of 32wks). I will freely admit I kept my bottles and tubes in the fridge while at work. And used snack sized ziplock bags (gasp) to freeze milk. Notice the throwaway line about the bacteria being found in formula as well. So “straight from the tittie”, as one of my saltier parents used to say, appears to be the only safe option. “Sorry Mamas”, as the article states. Yeah guilt!

    http://www.scarymommy.com/cdc-breast-pump-cleaning-guidelines/?utm_source=FB

    • Kelly

      I did not wash my equipment every time but put them in plastic baggies and put them in the fridge. I did wonder at times how sanitary pumping in general was since there are many steps, especially if you freeze it like I did. I guess I am lucky that my kids never got sick. I truly feel for this woman as she will always blame herself. This could have been me minus the preemie status but pumping is so dang hard to keep up with all the washing and parts.

    • Mishimoo

      The CDC guidelines are the same as what I did when I tried pumping because I thought that’s how it was meant to be done, and it was just too much work. (Especially for babies who wouldn’t take bottles regardless of the contents)

    • Merrie

      I’ll cop to storing my horns in the fridge between pumpings. Otherwise we were pretty scrupulous about all this stuff. And I did not do this until I returned to work, so I was pumping for a healthy full term kid age 3+ months. It is all a pain to keep up with for sure.

  • Kelly

    OT: there is an article going around again about having a higher risk of c-section depending on the doctor and now people are all talking about their unnecessary c-sections. One lady regrets her c-section with her breech baby and wishes had labored at home before going in to get her vaginal birth. I just can’t wrap my head around it and I am sick of people going on about how the doctor and hospital did them wrong.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Our first was a c-section because he was breech. My wife never had any second thoughts or doubts. She was happy to do so.

      Among the reasons she was happy to do so was because of her mother. My wife’s two older sisters were both breech and born vaginally. My MIL has made no bones about the fact that what she went through was awful. Now in her 70s, she is also doing her part to keep the Poise company in business, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, right?

      So in response to this “I regret my c-section for the breech baby” nonsense, I provide a “I wish I could have had a c-section for my two breech babies” anecdote.

      And this isn’t even a case where the kids were harmed – my wife’s sisters are wonderful, happy and smart adults (my in-laws are justified in boasting that they are the parents of three doctors). But even so, if my MIL could have done it without having to go through those deliveries, it would have been a lot better.

      • Kelly

        I was wondering about that aspect of a breech baby. We have heard the horrors of a stuck head but I did wonder what that did to a mom as well. If the baby was stuck for a little bit but the mother was able to push it out, how much damage would they have to do to mother to get the baby out. I guess your anecdote partially explains this.

        • maidmarian555

          My OH was born breech (in 1975). My MIL describes it as a horrible, terrifying experience. They’d attempted to turn him 3 times but he kept flipping back. They had to knock her out in the end in order to get him out safely. Like Bofa’s anecdote above, everyone ended up fine and healthy but she’s very clear that it wasn’t an experience she’d ever want to repeat and the recovery was apparently pretty tough too.

          • Kelly

            Both of those sounds situations sound awful. I think if people really knew what it entails, then they would not be sad about having a c-section. The lady I mentioned said that the hospital told her that doing a c-section for breech was not because of safety but because it was protocol. It sounds like she misunderstood what they said or maybe mistook them saying it was no big deal because she agreed to the c-section.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            The reason it is protocol is because of safety.

          • Kelly

            I realize that, but she didn’t. I explained that to her but she hasn’t responded yet.

        • momofone

          I was born breech in 1970. My mother didn’t get to have anesthesia because labor was too far advanced by the time they realized I was still in that position. My birth did so much damage that she was told she would not be able to have more children (three years later, my brother was born despite the damage). There is no way she would have delivered me that way if she had had another option. It was an incredibly painful, terrifying experience for her and I am grateful I had options not available to her when my son was born.

      • Tigger_the_Wing

        Your MIL has my deepest sympathy.

        Two of my sons were breech. The younger of the two, my fifth child, was the second of twins; as soon as his brother was born, he turned sideways. It took eighteen minutes to turn him and get him out feet first. It wasn’t distressing at all; I had an epidural in place, he was tiny (4lb), and his much larger twin was big-headed and had done all the stretching necessary.

        The other one, my second baby, though…

        I had been in hospital for premature rupture of membranes, and was getting regular check-ups from the OB. Friday evening, she wrote in my notes that baby’s head was nicely engaged with one month to go until term. Overnight he somersaulted, triggering labour early Saturday morning; but the midwife thought I was exaggerating some ordinary kicking (no-one at that time knew I have EDS, which makes such fœtal acrobatics easy).

        It was only when his feet suddenly appeared that they acknowledged he was breech (1982, the hospital didn’t have an ultrasound machine), his hips and chest swiftly followed, and I wasn’t fully dilated. He had the familial large head, so there was no way he was coming out without help. There was no time for any pain relief of any kind, just the horrific, brutal pain of an emergency forceps delivery. That kind of experience does tend to stay with you.

        Oh, and despite being religious about my pelvic floor exercises, I had to start using incontinence pads in my forties.

      • Cat

        I just came from a conversation with two female acquaintances who had babies around the same time that I did. They were asking about my c-section and what the recovery was like. I told them the truth, which is that it hurt like hell for 48 hours but that, after ten days, I kept forgetting about my scar. They both sighed and said wistfully that that sounded much better than the recovery after their vaginal births. I gather that they both had more than averagely bad labours, but that just shows that “vaginal birth is better than c-section for recovery” is too simplistic – a textbook vaginal birth might be the easiest, but there’s a wide range of possible experiences, some of which are way shittier than a scheduled c-section.

        • Dr Kitty

          Definitely.
          Don’t forget that with an elective CS, those first 48hrs when you’re in pain and doing very little except lying in bed include the time when you would have been in labour, in pain and doing very little except lying in bed too!
          For someone whose elective CS pre-empted a long induction process and a long labour, it might even be a wash…and for someone who had an emergency CS AFTER a long induction and labour, it’s definitely worse.

          People forget that.
          They start the recovery clock ticking from the birth, omitting the hardships of labour for the VB and emergency CS mums, and that the elective CS mums got to completely skip that bit.

          I had my second elective CS on a Tuesday, was home on Thursday morning, walking around the supermarket on Thursday afternoon and pushing a pram around IKEA on the Saturday (I insisted on the good drugs to take home, but only needed them for a few days).
          I know a lot of women wouldn’t have done that even after an uncomplicated VB, and certainly wouldn’t recommend it to my patients, but I’m pig headed and don’t like being at home doing nothing. YMMV.

          • Kelly

            I have never thought of it that way. This would be super helpful for those who feel bad about not going through the pain of childbirth. They did go through it, but are feeling it at a different point in the process.

        • Azuran

          I found c-section recovery to not be that bad. The first 48 hours was hard and painful, But on the third day it already started being much better and after a
          week, it wasn’t that bad. At 6 weeks I was pretty much back to normal and I had to remind myself to not do too much.
          And most of the downside where not much different than being 9 months pregnant.
          Sure, I had back pain for 1-2 weeks due to not being able to use my abs for posture, but I had back pain during my entire pregnancy.
          I couldn’t lift anything heavier than the baby…..but I also wasn’t supposed to do heavy lifting while pregnant.
          Weak abs and pain forced me to roll out of bed and use my arms to help me get up…….But I had been doing that for months already due to my massive belly and stretched abs muscles.
          I had to avoid physical exercise for a few weeks……but pregnancy made me so tired anyway that I hadn’t done any kind of physical activities in weeks.

          Pregnancy itself is hard. It’s not like the average woman is going to be in top shape and run a marathon the day after giving birth no matter how she gives birth. Actually, after maybe 10 days post c-section I felt better than I did while I was pregnant.

          Not to say that I think all c-section recovery are easy. But I think people are exaggerating the negative of C-section while making light of vaginal birth recovery.

          • Kelly

            Besides the pain for the first two days, all the other pains are things I have experienced with a vaginal delivery too. It goes to show that either way you deliver, you will have to deal with your body slowly healing. I couldn’t sit up for three weeks after my first due to tearing and stretching in my nether regions. I have a friend who decided on a c-section for her second baby due to a fourth degree tear with her first baby. Vaginal birth is not without huge risks and I really wish people realized that.

          • As a midwife, and Lamaze instructor (in the days when it was just about breathing and relaxation techniques) , it was ironic that I wound up giving birth to all three of my children by C/S. I stayed medicated for the first 24 hours; never needed anything stronger than Advil after that, and, with my firstborn, flew alone from Israel to the US ten days after his birth, so my terminally ill mother could see her first grandchild. I felt perfectly well;indeed, I wondered why everyone thought I was such a heroine.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          “All else equal, the recovery from vaginal birth is easier. But all else is never equal.”

          • Roadstergal

            “The ideal vaginal birth will be easier to recover from than the ideal C-section. But an ideal vaginal birth is far more of a gamble than an ideal prelabor C-section.”

          • Sue

            The Bofa Law of Confounding Conditions. I’ve quoted it many times.

        • Allie

          I pooped myself for six weeks after giving birth vaginally. Never even knew bowel incontinence was a thing before that, and I wish I still didn’t : )

    • When my daughter was pregnant with her first child, it just happened that she, and three [!] of her friends [also primips] were all diagnosed with breech presentation. All four were offered external cephalic version. My daughter took my advice and decided on an elective C/S. The three friends all decided to go for ECV as being “more natural” and not wanting a C/S. All three developed complications during the ECV, which, btw, they all described as very painful, and wound up with emergency C/Ss. The babies were all fine, but my daughter’s friends had rougher recoveries than she had.

      It’s anecdata, of course, but in talking with my daughter’s friends, all of them insisted that, while they had been told that there was a “tiny possibility” of risk with ECV, it was “better” than C/S. Funny thing is, in my training days in the mid-70s, we were taught that ECV was only practiced in Third World countries where it was very difficult to have C/S.

      • Kelly

        Your daughter is lucky to get such sound advice from you.

      • Gene

        I remember seeing one while in med school in the late 1990’s. I don’t remember much else beyond it wasn’t successful and mom ended up with a section.

        • We were taught that, if the baby turned easily, it was very likely to turn back to breech prior to labor, and if it didn’t turn easily, placental abruption and even uterine rupture were real possibilities. Of course, the theory at the time was influenced by the lack of ultrasound, which hadn’t yet been invented.

          • maidmarian555

            When I was pregnant with #1, the midwife thought he was transverse. I looked into the NHS information on having a version and even now the success rate is only 50% and you have no guarantee that baby will stay head down if even they do manage to turn him/her without any problems. Turned out he was head down anyway but had he not been, I was planning on refusing the procedure and having a c-section as it sounded way too risky to me to be worth it.

          • Lilly de Lure

            I went through the whole transverse/not transverse thing too. In the end they decided he was head down after all (turns out they were sort of right about that – shame they didn’t spot that rest of the body was wedged in tight in an impossible to give birth too position) but I agree the list of potential downsides to the version is so great I couldn’t believe they were seriously recommending it over a c-section (particularly when they had to admit that, from the point of view of the baby, an elective c-section was the safest option I had).

          • Dr Kitty

            My mother’s babies:
            #1- Cephalic- head engaged but never descended
            #2- Cephalic but head never engaged
            #3- Unstable lie
            #4- Transverse

            All CS deliveries, #1 for FTP and foetal distress after IOL, the other 3 were ERCS.

            My babies:
            #1 Cephalic but head high and free
            #2 Cephalic, head high and spinning OA to OP freely (and he seemed very keen to demonstrate this ability, frequently).

            Which made the decision for elective CS quite easy for me.

            Some of us have pelvises that babies can’t get into, never mind get out of again!

      • Merrie

        My second was breech for a time and my providers were all for an ECV, but I looked into it and the idea just sounded like way too much risk for a benefit that often doesn’t materialize. Thankfully he flipped, but if he hadn’t, I’d have gone for the c/s.

  • Dr Kitty

    In my more uncharitable moments I wonder if Dr Newman struggled to bond with his children as infants and whether his coping mechanism is to justify his failures by reasoning that *of course* he couldn’t love them the same way *only* a breastfeeding mother can.

    In my *most* uncharitable moments I wonder how Mrs Newman felt about breastfeeding her children, and whether her husband’s total investment in her breastfeeding success was an entirely positive thing for them both as a couple and a family.

    I know that is not kind of me.

    • Sarah

      I’d argue the latter could be pretty kind, actually. She was the one doing the breastfeeding, so her feelings are important.

    • swbarnes2

      If Dr. Newman had really believed what he writes, he would have hooked himself up with an SNS. So he has no excuses in that department for not falling in love with his children as babies.

  • Slightly OT: “Adam Ruins Everything” is a hoot! Especially when I can’t sleep from pain. The dreams can get surreal if I can sleep afterwards. Also convinced me politicians are greedier than I ever dreamed for longer.

    • StephanieJR

      I think I just found something to binge watch!

      • Yup! Already knew about the diamond cartel scam, so my engagement ring was a perfect alexandrite solitaire rectangular cut (lab created). Much more reasonable than a diamond and changes color depending on the light source.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          My only diamond is my great-great-grandmother’s. Probably gotten from exploitive sources since its from the 1870s. I like opals best and I’m just as happy with lab-created ones. I’m a cheap date. 🙂

          • Mishimoo

            I like sapphires and opals best, and my only diamonds are like yours – a family heirloom. In my case, my great-great-grandfather made the diamond ring (and possibly found/faceted the diamonds himself) for my great-grandmother’s 21st birthday.

          • mabelcruet

            I just got myself a kyanite trilogy ring. Kyanite is a beautiful deep blue, almost navy. It looks gorgeous but only cost me about £20. The last ring I bought was chrome diopside-sounds very chemical, but its a deep bright green. I much prefer coloured stones to diamond, far more interesting.

          • Mishimoo

            Oh, those would be beautiful!

          • Charybdis

            I love the colored stones as well. My favorite is alexandrite, which shifts from a purplish-red to a bluish green depending on the light. I’m also partial to emeralds, amethysts, peridots, aquamarines, iolite, tanzanite and ametrine. I have a beautiful star sapphire ring and necklace that my Dad gave my Mom as an anniversary present. She is not a jewelry person and I am, so she passed them to me.
            DH wanted to have my engagement ring made with a 3/4 carat diamond flanked by two 1/2 carat alexandrites, but to get alexandrites that size with a good color shift, it was way more expensive than just diamonds. So I just have the 3 diamonds.
            I’m a gemstone/jewelry nut. I love them all.

          • mabelcruet

            I’ve got peridot-its a lovely bright yellow-green, amethyst, carnelian (a rich orange-red), aquamarine, topaz, citrine (my birth stone, a lovely rich dark yellow), rose quartz, smokey quartz, garnet, opal, moonstone, mother-of-pearl, and my favourite is a spinel that changes colour from blue to blue-grey. Alexandrite is a gorgeous stone-really jealous of that! The kyanite is a little darker than tanzanite blue I think, its more of a navy. Compared to diamond, they are so much cheaper but so much prettier. With diamond I find that the setting tends to be very much in the background, but with the semi-precious ones the settings are so much more intricate and interesting. I get mine mostly from crafters rather than proper jewellery companies-there’s a website called Folksy in the UK (its like a British version of Etsy) and I just love drooling over the stones.

          • Daleth

            I like opals best and I’m just as happy with lab-created ones.

            Lab-created sapphire engagement ring here. In addition to its not costing a stupid amount of money, I got to choose the exact shade of blue! That was awesome, because I don’t like the super-dark blue that most sapphires in stores have these days (the lighter/brighter blues, according to a jewelry store owner I talked to, were mined a century or more ago and are no longer available except in estate jewelry).

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            sounds pretty. i like the brighter ones myself. i wore the one i inherited

          • Christy

            Me too! I adore my cheap, lab-created ring! Bonus that it’s not a typical engagement ring design so I get lots of compliments for being creative. :o)

    • Azuran

      My favourite is the one about dog breeds XD

      • Next week: hospitals. Should be fun.

  • JDM

    “Is that how you would argue with a critic at a scientific meeting, Dr.
    Newman? Do you really think asking you for proof is hate filled?”

    Well, I’m sure he hates it.

    • Ozlsn

      My first thought was to wonder if he would respond differently were it Dr Andrew rather than Dr Amy asking him. Uncharitable… but I’ve been to a fair number of conferences.

  • Ash101

    Ok, I am kind of having an existential freak out… does breastfeeding really take 35 hours a week? Looking back at the first few months of my daughter’s life, this seems accurate. I knew it had been terrible and time-consuming (I wanted so badly to stop but she would not take a bottle until she was 11 months old and I felt so trapped) but something about feeling tricked into an essentially full-time job like that makes me want to cry. I am so far behind in my dissertation now and have been hating myself for it – such disgust & loathing – why couldn’t I just get my act together – and here I was putting 35 hours a week into feeding this child?? No wonder I could barely muster energy for anything else (I did keep it together enough to pass my qualifying exams when she was three months old but did nothing more that whole semester…). I also think that this dynamic of me being the Only One who could fed the baby set the stage for me doing far more childcare and housework than my husband, who has never been 100% on board with my academic path… I feel so angry and betrayed because everyone told me how important it was to breastfeed (By the time I found Dr Amy’s book and blog I was already stuck due to daughter’s stubborn refusal) but if someone had told me that it would take so much of my time I would never have started. Has anyone else experienced this level of emotion and resentment? Obviously there is more in my life that upsets me but I kind of don’t know what to do with this reality because I cannot get that time back…And Of Course now I am sacrificing my career on the altar of Good Wife/Motherhood and finishing remotely while watching daughter so husband can succeed in his new job…

    • maidmarian555

      I was having a conversation with a friend recently who expressed this exact same feeling of having been ‘tricked and trapped’ into breastfeeding full-time. She tried to introduce a bottle too late and her daughter has consistently refused one (although she’s recently relented and will have small amounts of pumped breastmilk only- which doesn’t resolve the issue of devoting enormous amounts of time to feeding).

      I was ‘lucky’ that my son’s birth was such an ordeal that by the time we came home from hospital I was just too exhausted to protest when his Dad introduced a night-time bottle (we had discussed doing this prior but in my fuzzy state I was still very conflicted and upset about ‘failing’ to properly feed my baby myself). In hindsight it was entirely the right decision but I have definitely had very conflicted feelings of both failure and also feeling completely trapped when he was small and I was breastfeeding him all day. I too felt like I’d been lied to about how difficult breastfeeding could be and that there might be something ‘wrong’ with me because it wasn’t this magical bonding unicorn experience I’d been promised. It was just boring and made me hungry only I couldn’t get anything to eat because I had this baby attached to my boob all the time, which made me frustrated and irritated (I don’t deal with being hungry very well).

      I was made redundant whilst pregnant with him. I’ve now been out of work for approaching two years, after working my backside off for years in order to have a good job. I’m currently pregnant with #2 and we’ve agreed that for the foreseeable future, I’ll stay home with the babies as after this break in work, there’s just no way I’d be able to go back and earn enough to justify the childcare costs. It all makes ‘sense’ but I really miss having a sense of purpose outside of ‘Mummy’ some days. I have literally zero social life and regularly have little in the way of adult conversation during the day. My partner is very supportive but I still have days where I have that resentful ‘trapped’ feeling. The way I deal with it is to try and see this period as a temporary ‘pause’. In a few years these babies will be at school and I’ll have more time to work out what I need to do to help me feel more connected to the outside world. I make time in the evening to be creative, I get the guitar out or draw etc etc. That helps me feel like I’m still me.

      You’re certainly not alone in how you feel, I expect many of us with small babies go through these conflicts, it’s just difficult to talk about because we’re conditioned to believe that if its not all sunshine and rainbows that we’re ungrateful failures. We’re supposed to enjoy our imposed role of traditional wife and mother whilst simultaneously being super-smart, holding a high-powered job and maintaining a perfect, non-wobbly body (and of course doing all of this without ever complaining or nagging). It’s no wonder we can’t keep up!

      • I have a friend who was desperate for adult conversation whilst raising her two kids, so she had adult friends come over (even with their kids) every week from afternoon until whenever. It saved her sanity.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          This was a key part of dealing with my PPD on the last go-round. I was really–perhaps to the point of oversharing, but better that than the reverse–honest with friends about how bad things had gotten the time before, and when they asked “what can I do to help?”, I’d say “if I call, pick up the phone, and if I REALLY need to see another adult or get out of the house, let’s try to do that.” Made a massive difference. One friend brought sushi and wine over one night and held baby (“yay, I get newborn snuggles and then get to hand him back!”) while I bathed the older kid, ate a delicious dinner, and had a glass of wine…read, felt like an adult. It was AWESOME!

        • AnnaPDE

          Yes, in hindsight, this is why it’s a good idea to make sure such friends exist, before baby is born. My friends are mostly techie male colleagues and that’s pretty useless for this purpose.

          • Ouch.

            She had some of her hubby’s techie friends over as well. Pizza was brought or delivered. She could talk on anything and did, as long as it had real syllables.

      • BeatriceC

        RE: Sense of Purpose

        Find something you can do online that’s meaningful. I was having similar, though not as intense, feelings about being a housewife and mother. A year ago, a friend and I started this “little” PPD peer support group. She was just coming out of the worst of it, and I experienced it years ago back when there were very few resources, if it was even talked about at all. Well, our little group grew. And grew, and grew, and grew. Now we’re counting down to 3000 members (70 something more to go!), and I spend about 100 hours a week reading, responding, making sure it remains a safe space, looking up resources, and communicating with the other admins and mods in order to keep the group running smoothly. For the first time since I quit my teaching job, I feel like I’m doing something important. We’ve had more members than we can count say “thank you, you may not realize it, but you saved my life”, and I cannot describe to you how that feels. And the best part of it is I never have to leave home, and if I do leave home, I can access things on my phone, so I am still available if there’s a crisis.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          The regulars here on Skeptical helped me a lot during the worst of my depression. Bless you all.
          Some days in the PPD group, i’m right there with all the moms of young children, and some I fee more like another older mom in the group. Those are the days when I respond to everyone who’s posted in the last several days.

    • Azuran

      At first, it is usually very time consuming. I was taken aback too when I saw Adam ruins everything and they said it took 35h per week. But then I thought back about it, and it seems really spot on.
      When I had my daughter, she drank every 3 hours, and since she’s my first, neither of us really knew what we where doing, so each feeding was about 45 minutes.
      Overall that’s 6 hours per day, or 42 hours a week. And she did some cluster feedings, I had evening when she would breastfeed almost none stop for hours. (I watched so many TV series in her first month.) Now it takes us a lot less time, barely 1 hour per day. But that’s not the case for most women. You never know how it’s going to go. I’ve actually supplemented my daughter at birth and gave her a bottle once in a while, yet she refused to take a bottle since she was 3 months.
      And even if you bottle feed, you still have a baby to take care of. That’s more than a full time job regardless of how your feed the baby.

      As for the rest, try not to be too hard on yourself. As you said, you can’t get the time back, losing even more time resenting it will only result in more time lost. But you can still change the future. It’s never too late to get your husband more involved. (And I don’t mean that you should hope for him to get on it on his own) Hand the baby over and make him do it. Staying home and taking care of a baby is just as tiresome and as much a job as going to work. So don’t let him skip on the care because he ‘had a long day’ or whatever, you had an equally long day. So you should both care for the baby equally when you are at home. For example, pick a set period every evening where he takes care of the baby and you do your work (or take care of yourself, or whatever)
      Being resentful has never solved any problems. And your husband will not magically figure out what you need. You have to make it happen.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        For the first three weeks, our older guy nursed for 45 mins every two hours. No, not 2 hours between, but if he ate at 11 pm, he would get done at 11:45, we’d take 15 mins getting back to sleep, and the an hour later do it all over again.

        That’s 9 hrs a day. Probably 60 hrs a week.

        Fortunately after 3 weeks he backed off. Then it was probably only 40 hrs a week.

    • Dinolindor

      So to give another side, I bottle fed my 2 kids after breastfeeding didn’t work out for us. My second one would not take a bottle from anyone but me 95% of the time. My husband sometimes could get her to take a bottle from him, but as she got older it was harder and harder to get her to actually eat anything unless it was *me* holding her a specific way that she liked. I couldn’t leave her with a babysitter if I knew she would get hungry, or anything like that – though believe me I tried. I tried A LOT. And she took a freaking hour for every single bottle even at 11-12 months old. So even though she was bottle fed, I was chained to her for 6-8 hours each 24-hour cycle once she was out of newborn-dom and until her first birthday when she switched to sippy cups. I just wanted to share my experience to hopefully give you a way out of the cycle of wondering what it could have been. Good luck, and I hope you find the balance and support you need for yourself.

    • Gæst

      In the early days it certainly can. As they get older, though, babies don’t take as long and don’t feed as often, unless you let the baby use you as a pacifier.

      Of course, their total care was still very laborious even when they only fed five times a day for ten minutes.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        one of mine would consistently fall asleep half way through until well after we started that one on solids. But woe-betide the Mommy who unlatched ’em

        • Gæst

          Mine unlatched themselves awake by four months, but I was thinking of 6-12 month olds for the 5/day efficient feeders.

    • Mel

      You are not alone with your feelings at all.

      I am actively avoiding writing my academic advisor an email about the fact that I can’t return to school this year. I’ve got to do it. Today. But I hate the fact that I won’t be able to go back this year.

      Spawn will take a bottle from any human. He’s an easy baby personality and habit-wise. But his medical needs are substantial at the best of times and damn near overwhelming when things get a bit off. On good days/weeks, he’s got 1 in-home appointment, is feeding well and I have time to get things done. On a bad week, we’re juggling 5-7 in-home and office appointments so his schedule is shot and he gets exhausted and can’t eat well so we have to tube him. Or he has an overnight oxygen-free test that exhausts him. Or he outgrows his reflux meds and can only eat 3 oz every 1.5 hours instead of 6oz every 3 hours.

      Plus, I can’t take him out around humans in crowds so any errands that I have to run need to happen either when I can get one of my parents to baby-sit (thank God they live close and are happy to help out frequently) or when my husband is home. Daycare’s not an option – with his medical needs no one could take him and with his lung damage he needs to stay away from small children (read: active cold factories) for about half the year.

      I love my son. Things will get easier as he grows. I hate the fact that my hands are tied by a series of events that lead to him being born at 26 weeks instead of 40 weeks.

      • Emilie Bishop

        I’m sorry, Mel. I’ve known other parents of medically complex/fragile kids who have to make similar lifestyle changes. No matter how much you understand the need or love your child, some days it’s just draining. “Support” often looks like “Wow, you’re amazing; I could never do that!” or “Isn’t he just such a special blessing? Aren’t you just grateful every nanosecond to be able to sacrifice for his well being?” Thankful you have your parents for additional (real) support and a forward-looking outlook. Praying he gets stronger and you all have what you need.

        • Kelly

          I second that. Having had a special needs brother and watching a good friend raise her special needs child, it is draining and hard. Many things have to be given up to take care of that child and that can be a difficult thing to come to terms with. Hang in there. You are doing a great job and what helps when I struggle with those feelings is to remember that there is a time and a place for everything and right now, that time and place is with your son. I know it is cliche but, “the days are long but the years are fast,” is a good explanation on how those hard seasons feel.

    • Mariana

      I clocked myself when my son was a newborn. It took me 10 hours a day to breast feed him. Counting only the time when he was on my lap nursing. I’d say a lot more than 35 hours a week…

  • Roadstergal

    Dear Dr Newman:

    As one scientifically minded person interested in the well-being of moms and babies…

    Go fuck yourself, sideways. You’re not helping.

    I mean this in all sincereity.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I didn’t write anything about breastfed babies being healthier.

    Oh, okay then.

    The blog says only that there are ingredients in breastmilk that are not in formula

    Wait…what ingredients? What is his purpose in mentioning those ingredients? Is it because he thinks they make breastmilk…healthier?

    and stuff in formula that shouldn’t be there.

    But wait, why shouldn’t it be there? What are the negative effects of that stuff being there? Is it…unhealthy?

    WHAT ARE YOU ACTUALLY TRYING TO SAY, DR. NEWMAN, I’M SO CONFUSED!!!

    But for real, from this post and interactions anyway, he seems like one of those people that’s fixated on the act of breastfeeding as healthy, and the detrimental effects of babies being cared for by anyone but their biological mothers, and not so much the actual nutritiousness of formula vs. breastmilk. Which I guess is why he acted like Dr. Amy asked a question about the chemical composition of both substances, rather than a question about the health and survival of breastfed vs. formula fed infants.

  • Madtowngirl

    I’m getting so tired of the notion that disagreement = hate. It seems to me, that when someone doesn’t know how to refute a simple question, they double down and accuse the person of being a troll, or of posting hateful comments.

    Also, what exactly is in formula that “shouldn’t be in there?” Because I’m pretty sure that scientists, the formula companies, and the FDA would all like to know….

    • Sheven

      But it’s so much better when it’s a mystery. There is Something in formula that Shouldn’t Be There. They know but They don’t care.

      • MaineJen

        Like vitamin D? Oh whoops

        • Sarah

          Or vitamin K…

          • Heidi_storage

            Shh, don’t say that! Repeat after me: Breastmilk is the perfect food for babies…ommmmm….

          • Christy

            Or Iron.

  • MIchLaw

    No, to this: “Breastfeeding is a close intimate, physical and emotional relationship between two people in love.”

    I loved my son when I breastfed him. As a newborn, he was not yet capable of loving me. Heck, it took him weeks to even notice that there was a person attached to the breast. I distinctly remember the look of surprise on his face when he first made eye contact and really saw me while sucking the life out of me 🙂

    As for my second child, I loved her just as much while feeding her from a bottle. Just like my son, she was much more focused on the food in the beginning and didn’t seem to notice the person holding the bottle much. It’s been 14 years since my first child was born. Still don’t see any difference in health or intelligence between the breast-fed and the bottle-fed kid.

    • Sarah

      Don’t babies basically think them and the mother are the same person for a little while initially?

      • mabelcruet

        Yes, it takes a few months before they realise that they are a separate entity and not part of some asymmetrical, two headed, four armed beast.

        In the UK, there is a TV documentary series called Child of Our Time, presented by Robert Winston. He followed a cohort of families who had a child born in 2000, and every year or so they do an update on how the children are all developing. They did lots of experiments on the babies when they were tiny (with their parents present, and with consent, obviously!). Some of the experiments were about self-realisation, object permanence, development of ego, lots of psychological tests. Fascinating stuff.

        • Sarah

          Oh yeah, my mum used to love that.

          • mabelcruet

            They are still doing updates-the plan was to follow them to 2020. The last episode they were all having their 16th birthdays and terrifying their parents because they were out drinking with their mates or wanting to buy a moped. It was about how teenagers brains essentially go a bit doolally and why, its still under construction at that age.

      • KQ Not Signed In

        I once was talking with some girlfriends at a cafe when my son was under a year old. A mom wearing a baby in a front pouch happened to walk by, wearing this really cute poncho thing with an extra opening for the baby’s head in front. I complimented her on it and went back to coffee.

        A little while later, she walked by again as I was discussing (with my friends that I was there with) that we’d moved little man to his own room. Poncho Mom actually butted in and said, horrified, “But they don’t even know that they’re SEPARATE from you at that age! How would you feel if your ARM just got up and WALKED AWAY?!”

        I don’t remember what, if anything I said. I’m still kind of dumbfounded.

        • Dr Kitty

          Apparently, what happens is that babies get over it, adapt and move on to their new normal pretty damn quickly.

          BTW #2 is now 23 months old and he’s mustard.
          But we have discovered a new trick.
          If DH puts him to bed, he screams for 10 minutes.
          If I put him to bed, he screams for 5minutes.
          If I put him to bed and then a minute later DH and #1 pop into his room to say goodnight he’s out like a light 30 seconds later.

          Who knows what is happening in the toddler brain.

          He’s also decided that his favourite character in Peppa Pig is Mr Bull, and will only watch episodes featuring that character. So that’s fun.

          • Dr Kitty

            I should say that we only recently worked the Peppa thing out.
            He likes to tell us how he feels (“happy baby”, “scared”, “sad”, “sleepy”, “thirsty”, “sore”, “naughty baby run away”, “want dinner”) and this is a sort of 24/7 stream of consciousness running commentary on his present emotional state. He just repeats his current dominant feeling until it changes.
            We thought he was saying “miserable” whenever he was crying at the TV.
            Turns out it is “Mr Bull”, and he was crying because it wasn’t the right episode.

          • Kelly

            One of mine needed me to come in about ten minutes after I put her down and to tell her to go back to sleep. She would ramp up the screaming and then ten minutes later would fall asleep. If I didn’t she would cry longer. I think she just needed to know that I was not going to come rescue her. Maybe he just feels better when his whole family tells him goodnight. I find it quite cute.

        • fiftyfifty1

          I would love it if my arm could get up and walk away. I could ask it to go get me a cold glass of lemonade while I sit here reading the Skeptical OB.

          ETA: Since that’s not possible, perhaps I’ll ask one of my kids.

        • Azuran

          They’d think I’m a terrible mother. Mine has been in her own room since the day we left the hospital.

          We like our room cold and we share the room with a 110 pound dog. Having her in the room would only have resulted in a cluster where no one is comfortable and everyone wakes up 10 times per night because of the noise someone else made. That way we have our intimacy and everyone is sleeping better.

          • MI Dawn

            We tried the first night with baby #1 in our room. It didn’t last even one night. If she made any noise, ex-hubbie and I both woke up. We tried the baby monitor with her in the next room – still no go. Doors open to hear her cry when she woke up – perfect.

            Worked just as well for baby #2.

          • Azuran

            My baby monitor has a sensitivity level. During the first few months, I kept it lower so it wouldn’t pick up on every single little noise she made.

          • Kelly

            We did it for all three of our kids and that way I would only wake up when they truly needed something. I even did the five wait before I got them up to feed them. It may have been out of selfishly not wanting to get up again but it worked to teach them to self sooth. I am a terrible mother because I need my sleep.

        • Gene

          Oh god the eye roll I would have given….

    • I have noticed that babies are held differently when nursing, whether it’s in the “standard” or “football” hold and when being bottle fed. Breastfed babies see nothing but the breast–they should be directly facing the nipple, with their side toward the mother’s face. A bottle fed infant is looking UP at her mother’s face, although initially I think he or she is much more interested in what’s in her mouth than Mommy’s face.

      If bottlefed, in the end, it’s rather moot. From 5-7 months on, the baby likes to hold his own bottle more often than not.

      • MI Dawn

        Baby #2 loved to ppuuullllll her head back with my nipple in her mouth to meet my eyes and grin (while still clamped onto the nipple). I never knew breasts/nipples could stretch so far. Fortunately, it was always near the end of the feeding, so I could pop her off the nipple.

      • Kelly

        I have a picture of my youngest at 9 months laying on my lap while I was feeding her a bottle and her arms are limp at her side. She was a lazy turd and I had to force her to hold the bottle.

    • Gene

      My kids sure loved the boobs. I was second on the list (as I carried around said boobies). And daddy was third, since he often brought them TO the boobies. But yeah, they were all about the boob.

    • Cat

      I combo fed my daughter – was there supposed to be a difference in how much I loved her depending on whether it was boob or bottle at that particular meal? Because I can’t say I noticed.

    • moto_librarian

      Of all of the claims made about breastfeeding, this idea that bottle feeding isn’t a bonding experience pisses me off the most.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        It also perpetuates the ridiculous idea that birth mothers are the only ones who “truly” bond with and understand their babies/children. That’s bull, and it is a slap in the face and a designation of “second-class” to the love and nurturing of adoptive parents, bio-dads, non-gestating parents and partners, formula feeding parents.

        Side note, I bottle-fed longer than I should have, mostly because neither my daughter nor I wanted to give up the quiet snuggle time that the few late night bottle feedings afforded us. It’s hard to let go of your babies. Mine is 22 and it’s hard to let go.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    Lactivists like Dr. Newman and that naturopath at the local yarn shop irritate the piss out of me, but I don’t hate them. I reserve that for breastfeeding. I’ve done it, so I know I really do hate it. It’s been practically 3 years and I’m still touched out. Bit hard on my love life

    • carovee

      I remember that feeling. I didn’t even breastfeed exclusively and I felt like my breasts were never going to feel like my own again.

    • BeatriceC

      My youngest was around 10 before I enjoyed having my breasts touched again. And I didn’t even nurse him directly. I EP’d for that one.

    • Mishimoo

      4 years on and I’m slowly starting to feel less touched out, though my tolerance is still low. Hopefully it’ll start to change for you too.

  • CSN0116

    “Videos like these are not only full of unscientific and just plain wrong information but they also bring the whole system many steps away from making a real effort to provide efficient help to breastfeeding mothers with breastfeeding problems.”

    No, Jack. Your industry doing nothing but raving about boobie milk and the speshul feelings it confers, instead of doing something meaningful to understand, investigate and develop solutions for lactation failure, is what’s bringing the “system” away from really “helping.”

    MAM level projection here. Projection is the theme of the week, I suppose.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Can I play dumb and ask him if he means people don’t really appear in cans of formula?

      • CSN0116

        LOL

      • Charybdis

        Don’t give them ideas! A lactivist spin on “Soylent Green is PEOPLE!!”; “Formula is PEOPLE!!!”.
        Because, you know, it was on teh interwebs, so it must be true.

  • momofone

    I would even change “mothering” to “parenting”:”Parenting is a close intimate, physical and emotional relationship between two people in love.” (I would actually probably change more of it because the “in love” part feels a bit strange to me, but “parenting” at least covers more bases.)

    • lawyer jane

      Yes. The “in love” thing creeped me out and honestly made me think Dr. Newman has some sort of abnormal fixation on mothers/breastfeeding.

      • namaste863

        Right? I was going to replace “Breastfeeding” with “Sex.” With one word change, it goes from describing a relationship between a mum and kid to describing a relationship between romantic partners. Creepy.

        • Mishimoo

          That was exactly my objection to that statement too!

      • Sarah

        I think that’s been pretty generally accepted for years now, no?

    • Roadstergal

      What is his obsession with ‘two people’? Can’t dads be part of the equation? Godparents? Siblings? What a stunted view of childrearing…

      • BeatriceC

        He’d really shit a brick with some non-traditional relationships such polyamory.

  • Sarah

    NEWMANITIS.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      That could mean something else for an earlier generation. Paul Newman was definitely easy on the eyes. 🙂