Could anyone be more tone deaf in response to criticism than midwives and lactivists?

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I’ve spent the past 12 years writing about the dangers of radical midwifery and lactivism. Surprising, I recently acquired powerful new allies: midwives and lactivists themselves. Their mind boggling tone-deafness in responding to media criticism reinforces — in a truly nauseating way — the central point of all my writing:  natural childbirth advocates and lactivists really don’t care that their ideologies harm babies and mothers.

In the UK, midwives were recently forced to shutter their Campaign for Normal Birth in the wake of scores of preventable deaths of babies and mothers, multiple investigations placing responsibility of midwifery ideology, and nearly £2 billion in insurance payouts in the past year alone.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be as tone deaf as Godfrey-Isaacs and Martinez-Sullivan in addressing preventable infant deaths, but I for one am grateful. They are doing my work for me!

If UK midwifery were devoted to improving outcomes for babies and mothers, we should have seen a public apology, a promise to learn from their mistakes, outreach to the families of those harmed by their ideology, and dramatic changes in policy. Instead we’ve gotten claims that dead babies are “fake news,” insistence that midwives will go on promoting the very policies that killed mothers and babies, and, above all, self absorption and self pity.

UK midwives are channeling Donald Trump: responding to facts that show them in a negative light by ignoring those facts, labeling them “fake news,” berating the media, and insisting they are being persecuted.

Consider this response, Birth (and midwives) in the media, from Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, “midwife, artist and feminist academic & activist”.

Godfrey-Isaacs starts off thus:

We will all experience a ´media-informed´ birth wrote Fleming et al in 2014, with information that is ´fragmented, weakly linked and poorly referenced´ – how pertinent this seems of the journalism displayed in major UK newspapers in August 2017, and how it highlights the responsibility journalists have to portray birth in a balanced way, as most women will not witness birth before they are in labour.

In 2016, I undertook an extensive literature search examining birth in the media since the 1980s. I identified the same themes. They are very much in evidence as you trawl through the articles. These themes have been seen to reinforce certain dominant ideologies and narratives of birth, as well as around motherhood and gender.

In a piece that is ostensibly a response to the reports that scores of babies have been injured or died on the altar of midwifery ideology, Ms. Godfrey-Isaacs can’t be bothered to mention preventable deaths of babies and mothers. Indeed, in a piece of over 1400 words, Godfrey-Isaacs doesn’t mention dead babies beyond chastising the media for reporting them.

I invite you to read Godfrey-Isaacs piece for yourself, but suggest that you take an anti-emetic beforehand. It’s hard not to vomit when you realize that ideological cant and extreme self-absorption betray a horrifying reality; midwives apparently think they — not dead babies and dead mothers — are the victims.

Thank you, Ms. Godfrey-Isaacs, for demonstrating vividly that normal birth ideology isn’t about what’s good for babies, but what’s good for midwives. Thank you for further demonstrating that it doesn’t matter how many people die as a result, midwives will continue to promote THEIR OWN best interests.

Lactivists have recently been confronted with a similar problem — an ideology that purports to be about what’s best for babies is killing babies. The problem is so widespread that the American Academy of Pediatrics has repeatedly called attention to the fact that breastfeeding promotion efforts ignore scientific evidence and lets babies die — from hypoglycemia, dehydration and starvation — on the altar of lactivism.

The Fed Is Best Foundation was formed by Christi del Castillo-Hegyi, MD and Jody Segrave Daly, RN, IBCLC, specifically to prevent injuries and deaths from aggressive breastfeeding promotion. Their message has resonated both with mothers (400,000 following their Facebook page) and the media, which has highlighted stories of preventable tragedies cause by the insistence that breastfeeding is always best even when it is killing babies.

The success of the foundation has led to an outpouring of vitriol. That hasn’t been very effective so lactivists organizations are trying a different tack, Moving Forward to Constructive Dialogue, by Lucy Martinez-Sullivan of 1000 Days, as if the appropriate response to preventable infant deaths is to discuss them instead of prevent them.

Dr. del Castillo-Hegyi had called 1000 Days to account for publicly chastising an organization that provides formula to babies whose mothers are DEAD. Just as in Mosul, where babies are dying due to lack of formula, lactivists are attempting to PREVENT them from getting life saving formula.

As Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations pointed out:

Promoting breastfeeding is a laudable goal, but in some cases, international policy ends up determining women’s on-the-ground reality, even in wartime settings, rather than the other way around. In the process, policies run the risk of treating nursing mothers as children themselves, whose needs are best known by global policy makers sitting thousands of miles away, not doctors and humanitarians nearby doing their best to help.

How does Martinez-Sullivan respond to similar criticism of 1000 Days? With ideological cant:

…[T]he aggressive promotion of infant formula in sub-Saharan Africa and other impoverished parts of the world in the 1970’s led to a rise in infant deaths and horrific cases of malnutrition. This became an international scandal when the UK charity War on Want published their ground-breaking report “The Baby Killer” in 1974 which detailed how “more and more Third World mothers are turning to artificial foods during the first few months of their babies’ lives. In the squalor and poverty of the new cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America the decision is often fatal.”

What does the fact that fifty years ago formula companies convinced mothers who were successfully breastfeeding to switch to formula have to do with babies starving today for lack of breastmilk? Absolutely nothing except to burnish the ideological cred entails of Martinez-Smith and her organization. No matter, ideological purity is apparently more important than whether babies lives or die.

Martinez-Sullivan insists:

While opposing the aggressive and unethical promotion of breastmilk substitutes, 1,000 Days supports the safe and appropriate use of infant formula when necessary in accordance with the World Health Organization’s infant feeding recommendation.

Here’s a thought, Ms. Martinez-Sullivan, when you find yourselves letting babies die in order to promote what’s “best” for them, you might consider that you aren’t promoting what is best for them.

In my view, the entire episode is yet another example of lactivists trying to discredit the Fed Is Best Foundation for having the temerity to point out that lactivist campaigns are killing babies.

I understand if you do not wish to meet with me or 1,000 Days because of what I wrote in response to the aforementioned post. But please do not let that be the reason you decline the invitation to meet with the 43 other organizations that represent parents, physicians, health professionals and volunteers working tirelessly to help families give kids the strongest start to life and that signed the letter sent to you seeking a constructive dialogue with the Fed Is Best Foundation… 1,000 Days does however stand together with these groups in genuinely wanting to explore if there is common ground with the Fed Is Best Foundation when it comes to providing families with accurate and unbiased information on infant feeding.

But why should the Fed Is Best Foundation want to meet with 43 other organizations that have publicly opposed their effort to save babies lives? What is there to discuss when these organizations think that process is more important than outcome? Unless and until lactivist organizations acknowledge the preventable deaths that have occurred as the result of their commitment to ideology and, more importantly, take aggressive steps to prevent further deaths, there’s really nothing to say …

Except thanks Ms. Martinez-Sullivan for demonstrating that lactivism isn’t about what’s good for babies, it’s about what’s good for lactivists. Thank you for further demonstrating that it doesn’t matter how many babies die as a result, lactivists will continue to promote THEIR OWN best interests.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be as tone deaf as Godfrey-Isaacs and Martinez-Sullivan in addressing preventable infant deaths, but I for one am grateful. They are doing my work for me!

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    “Dr. del Castillo-Hegyi had called 1000 Days to account for publicly chastising an organization that provides formula to babies whose mothers are DEAD. Just as in Mosul, where babies are dying due to lack of formula, lactivists are attempting to PREVENT them from getting life saving formula.”

    Dear lord how stupid are people that are denying orphans formula because they want their dead mothers to breastfeed them?

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/12/opinions/global-breastfeeding-policies-opinion-lemmon/index.html

  • Mattie

    1) It was probably very edited.
    2) I don’t know why there was no midwife, it was quite possibly a BBA/unplanned home birth and there was no available midwife.
    3) Despite the fact that this is far far away from an ideal situation, both baby and mother were fine.

    Do women in other countries not ever experience unplanned home birth? What happens if they go into labour at home and can’t get to the hospital, who cares for them?

    • CSN0116

      I didn’t interpret it as unplanned from the conversation when the medic first entered the house, though I could be wrong. And I also don’t think there was any rupture, as they first reference, or else we would have seen far more hustling.

      Of course women in other countries have unplanned home births. In the US medics come and deliver and/or rush to a hospital. I just found it creepy how the laboring mom and medic both had children maimed or killed around childbirth. They spoke of it like commonplacr and the medic even assumed it. Coupled with how midwifery dominates in the UK, it skeeved me out.

      • Mattie

        That’s fair! It didn’t strike me as a planned free-birth, so while it may have been a planned home birth there could have been an issue with the midwife getting there/a precipitous labour. I also don’t think there was a rupture. The Paramedic who had a birth injury said her uterus ruptured, but without any more info on where she gave birth, if it was a VBAC, etc… it’s hard to say it was caused by the UK maternity system, sometimes those things do just happen and the fact her child is alive shows that they did manage to deal with the emergency as best they could. We also don’t know the circumstances of the woman’s previous stillbirth so it’s not really fair to make judgements about that result either.

  • mabelcruet

    OT, but Hadley Freeman is currently completely owning Sheena Byrom over on twitter!

  • StephanieJR

    They make it sound like women are hamsters that will eat their babies if they’re disturbed during the ‘birth continuum’. The hell?

    • AnnaPDE

      What, didn’t you feel the urge to just bite through your baby’s throat and bury them under some paper towels and wood shavings in your bed?
      FWIW, when the female hamster I cared for in my school’s biology department decided to kill her babies a few days after birts, she also killed her male companion while she was at it — that’s pretty long-term thinking for a 1 oz rodent.

      • Eater of Worlds

        Hamsters will kill their offspring if they are stressed by something. One person realized that the hamsters they had for experiments were killing their offspring when the schoolbell rang, another saw it happen after the fire alarm went off. The hamsters really only have to decide one thing, and that’s if their living situation is going to allow them to bring up their offspring or should they eat them for the energy they provide and try again later when things are more favorable. So loud noises can make them think this is a shitty time to raise babies.

        As for killing her companion, hamsters are solitary animals and they will fight to the death for territory. They go into heat every 4 days so either she killed him before she was back in heat or she mated and then killed him. They should always mate in a cage that is new to either of them and if you hope for them to live together they need to be introduced in a new cage, very slowly and carefully and they need to be very young when you do that. Some hamsters are more social than others but they are all solitary.

        So, if anything the killing of the babies was more long term thinking than the mate killing.

        • AnnaPDE

          Interestingly this was said hamster mum’s second litter. She had been living with hamster dad for almost a year by that point, and had raised the first litter together with zero problems, despite school bells and other disturbances. Maybe this second time around she felt more stressed, or hamster dad did a wrong step. As Djungarian dwarf hamsters, they had a reputation of being less anti social than regular hamsters, at least according to some pet manuals, but apparently she changed her mind on that.

  • The minute I see a hyphenated name I begin to get heartburn. And a self-description like “midwife, artist, and feminist activist”, as if this is what defines her identity. Being a midwife is what I do, not what I am. But that may because I’m used to writing charts that begin with “(choose race) XX year old female, presenting with (choose symptoms, complaints, or condition)” rather than “feminist activist”

    • mabelcruet

      I’ve had a few cases over the last couple years of quadruple surnames-babies of parents with hyphenated names, so the baby becomes Baby Smith-Jones-Brown-Green, for example. The government is going to have to change all their standard forms-any form you have to fill in for stuff like driving license, passport, tax returns, gives you little boxes for each letter in your name and address. We’ll need more little boxes!

      • Azuran

        Being able to write your own name was one of the 10 things you had be know to ‘pass’ kindergarten when I was a kid. Some had it much harder than others XD

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          True. Ball is so much easier than Mastriani-Srinavasan.
          ed to add, I better start teaching my kids with their 5 syllable surnames early

          • Azuran

            Hyphenated names were all the rage when I was young. It has mostly grown out of favor these days. We are now in the ‘how do you spell that?’ era. Where everyone competes to find the most ridiculous roundabout way of spelling usual names.
            Our biggest culprit being ‘Carolanne’ Which now has probably over 20 different spellings. Naming your kid Carolanne is basically condemning them to having to spell their names every single time they say it.

          • Zornorph

            Girls named Carolanne also have to be warned not to go into the light.

          • Charybdis

            And to watch out for the TV people.

          • Roadstergal

            I’m a Carrie. Not a Kerry or a Keri or a Cary or a Kery or a Cari or…

            (My husband bought a tube of toothpaste in Italy that was labeled “Carie gel.” He thought it was high-larious, especially after I told him what caries are.)

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            We have 3 boy Kerry’s and 1 girl Kerry in the family. And what seems like seven thousand Elisabeths.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            What about Aiden/Brayden/Cayden/Caitlyn/Hayden/Jayden/
            Kayden/Kaitlyn/Leyton/Maitlyn/Peyton/Seyton/
            Xeyton/Zayton?

            I consider them all the same name.

          • kilda

            LOL, that is quite an epic list of aidenesque names. But wait, Seyton? Like Satan? realiy?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I just throw that in to see who’s paying attention.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            No Seytons or any of the others in the last several generations! I can’t guarantee there aren’t any Aidens or Caitlyns lurking in the Irish sections of our tree, but I couldn’t find the records for Ireland in 1798.

          • BeatriceC

            That’s like Albert (all boys), Leslie (boys and girls), on my mother’s side and Alfred and Thomas (both all boys) on my father’s side. It gets confusing. There’s also seems to be a requirement for each generation of cousins on my mother’s side to have an Enid and each generation of cousins on my father’s side to have a Mary. At least with those names it’s easy to tell apart because of the age difference.

          • Ozlsn

            Ah yes, we have Catherines. Two of my cousins have the same name, one by birth and one because she changed her surname when she married. And both of them are Cathy {rare surname}.

          • MaineJen

            I’m a Jennie. No, not Jennifer. Yes, I’m sure. Yes, that’s what it says on my birth certificate. No, not Jenny. No, not Jeannie.

            >:(

          • CCL (Crazy Cat Lady)

            I’m Riki. And I get called Rye-key allllllll the time.

          • Charybdis

            I’m an Abby. NOT Abigail. It is “Abby” on my birth certificate. Yes, I’ve SEEN it and it says “Abby”. It’s not a diminutive of longer name, nor is it a nickname. It is MY NAME, DAMMIT!”

          • BeatriceC

            It’s bad enough when your kid has a name with more than one standard spelling. MK’s name is an uncommon common name with two different spellings that have been around since at least the 14th century. Actually, a whole dynasty decided they didn’t like one spelling of said name and switched to the other at one point. And he’s constantly having to clarify or correct the spelling of his name. It’s an annoying thing that I didn’t even think about when I named him.

          • Dr Kitty

            #1 has a name that can be spelt at least 4 ways, and was chosen because DH dreamt it and wasn’t for turning.

            #2 has a name with only one spelling, and although it’s DH’s family name, I still prefer to think of a certain Blackboard Monitor.

            I chose to take my husband’s last name because I chose my husband. My son has my maiden name as a middle name, and that will do. I talked to my dad before I married, and he was cool with it.
            My married sister also took her husband’s name.
            My unmarried sister will either keep or hyphenate her name should she marry (her partner is Quaker and has STRONG FEELINGS about names).

            Interestingly- unmarried sister’s partner’s sibling and their partner both decided to change their names upon marriage to something they felt represented them, but wasn’t related in any way to their birth names.
            They’re Wildwoods, which is rather lovely.

          • Gæst

            Ha. My first name has two correct pronunciations, and two correct spellings (and the spelling doesn’t affect the pronunciation), and my last name has a very common American spelling, and then there’s the way my family spells it, the ethnic way. I’ve gotten used to making spelling and pronouncing my name part of my everyday life.

          • BeatriceC

            Don’t feel bad. My given first name, which I haven’t used in years, is Mary. Do you know how often people look at that and say “Marie” or “Maria”, or accent the wrong syllable? My maiden name is a very common word with “son” tacked at the end of it, and also belongs to at least two famous people (one living, one historical) and absolutely nobody said it correctly the first time.

        • Dr Kitty

          I have parents who opt for Irish spellings of their
          surnames.

          Which is fine for the kids who get sent to Irish medium schools, or who are being raised with Irish as a first language at home.

          It’s really hard for the ones who don’t get taught Irish at school, don’t speak much Irish at home and whose nursery teachers (who probably don’t teach Irish) are left trying to get the poor mite to spell
          Aoidhnait Ní Shuilleabháin or something.

          • mabelcruet

            I’ve seen a few names where the parents have Anglicized the spelling but retained the pronunciation, so you get Keeva instead of Caoimhe, that seems easier but it loses a certain sort of mystical/mythical quality to me.

            At the moment, we are having a few issues with non-western surnames, particularly the Eastern Slavic naming conventions. The baby’s name changes ending depending on sex, so they are -ska or -ski, or various other patronymic or matronymic conventions depending on country of origin. For stillbirth, the hospital offers a funeral service to parents, we can make application on their behalf which quite a few take us up on because it’s a difficult system to navigate. But city hall, where the stillbirth or birth/deaths are registered, are absolutely rigid when it comes to paperwork-they’ve cancelled funerals on us if there is the slightest error on the forms. However, with different naming conventions, baby’s name may not match maternal name, and even if it’s just one ending ski and the other ending ska they say the forms need to be resubmitted because it’s incorrect. I end up writing cover letters explaining why and confirming baby X is the baby of mum Y, and dad Z.

          • Charybdis

            I’ve run into issues with the -ska and -ski endings for names. I’ve been working on the family genealogy for awhile now and the side I *thought* would be easier has proven to be harder than hell. I’ve gotten my Dad’s side back to Scottish aristocracy/royalty, but my Mom’s side (the Polish side) has been extremely hard to sort out; I thought they would be the easier side, because I have names, dates, immigration info, insider family info, etc. But no. With a mixture of handwriting styles, different, creative spellings of the same name, the -ska and -ski endings, etc;, I ‘ve hit a dead end. And it’s frustrating as hell trying to locate church records (they were Catholic) because of the name issue.

        • Gæst

          Both my twins have three-letter first names (well, one has a longer name but her short name is three letters) and both could write their own names by age 3. Our last name, however, is going to take a while.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        We gave our kids hyphenated names; they’ve already been told that they can make a choice to use one or the other with no heartache from us. Dem wants -my- surname, honestly, but neither of us wants to have -that- conversation with his parents.

        • Azuran

          Having the choice is great. Where I live, we could give our daughter either my surname, the father’s surname, both of them or some kind of weird combination of the two. However, all children from the same parents must have the same name, so whichever you pick will be the surname of all future children also.
          But we also have a line to add as many additional names that won’t appear on official paperwork.
          I think it’s totally ok to want your kid to have both names, but you have to keep in mind that your kid will have to write their name thousands of times in his life.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            What I was thinking was paying for a name change when they are bigger if they want it.

      • NameNerd

        Quadruple surname babies sounds like an urban legend along the lines of kids named “Nosmo King” or Chlamydia, and the twins Limonjello and Lemonjello. It didn’t happen, it’s just a way to make people you disapprove of sound stupid.

        • Azuran

          Sometimes it does happen. 15 years ago, there was birth announcement for a girl being born in my city. The way it sounded when you said her full name basically meant ‘she’s screwing us’ in french.
          We didn’t believe it….until my aunt ended up having her as a student 10 years later.

          • Zornorph

            Back when I was expecting Boy-O and was on a lot of pregnancy boards, there was a baby named Pheloni Venom – the mother was a drug user and we knew it was real because the hospital had the birth announcement up with that crazy name. And yes, ‘Pheloni’ was pronounced ‘Felony’. I have no idea why anybody would want to name their daughter that, but somebody did.

          • BeatriceC

            I’ve had students with, um, interesting names. Most of them either embrace the names or prefer to use something else entirely, with no middle ground.

            This does remind me of a guest on The Tonight Show. I’m almost positive it was in the last year or two of Johnny Carson’s tenure. But anyway, the guest was a woman by the name of Merry Christmas. Now I know Christmas is a legitimate last name as I’ve known several unrelated people with it. But it turns out that this woman’s parents intentionally spelled her first name Merry instead of Mary as a play on the last name. I don’t recall a lot, but I do recall the woman talking about how difficult it was to write checks in the month of December (the check part is why I’m certain it was when Johnny Carson was the host, because people rarely write checks anymore).

          • Azuran

            At the beginning of my pregnancy, whenever me and my SO tried to find names, we kept coming up with the most horrible sounding names we could do with her surname.
            We manages to come up with names sounding like ‘tomato’ ‘primate’ and ‘checkmate’ (needless to say we didn’t chose any of those)

          • Juana

            During my 4 days of induction of labor with #2, we had a running joke with one of the midwives: #2 would be called the craziest names as “working titles”, with the promise of a much nicer name (which we kept secret), but she would only get it _after_ she would be born. Just a little motivator for her…

          • OkayFine

            My sister was friends with a child in school whose parents named her Candy Cotton. Merry Christmas doesn’t sound so bad, lol.

          • Hannah

            Reminds me of Three’s Company, Chrissy’s real name was Christmas Snow. They even make a big gag out of it in one episode where she whacks her head and the hospital runs all kinds of extra tests on her because she gives her full name!

          • MaineJen

            OMG. I had forgotten that. Thank you for that memory!

        • Zornorph

          You left out the most common name urban legend these days – the name La-a (pronounced Ladasha).

          • MI Dawn

            My ultimate favorite name story – which I forget both the spelling and pronunciation of – was when some young parents filled out the birth certificate form and we looked at it and asked a) how you pronounced that and b) how did they come up with the spelling.

            Their answer? They cut up a few alphabets and tossed them into the air. The letters that fell face up became the name. The name pronunciation, as I recall, was fairly mundane (think Jerome), but the spelling!!

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            I knew a Jeremy whose parents spelled it Jerome and he’d get so mad when new people mispronounced it.

          • Azuran

            I had a client who decided to name her dog ‘Soso’ But she decided to spell it ‘Coco’ and decided that pronunciation rules didn’t apply to her dog and it would be pronounced ‘Soso’ because she said so. She got mad that everyone in the clinic kept calling her dog ‘Coco’

          • Merrie

            I knew of a kid named Sandra.

            A boy.

            Pronounced sahn-DRAY.

            Mom got really snippy at us when we pronounced it the standard way.

        • mabelcruet

          I neither approve or disapprove, parents may choose whatever combination they prefer. There is no intention on my behalf to make anyone sound stupid and my comment was simply an observation- don’t read more into it than what was intended. I’m a pathologist and I do autopsies on babies who are stillborn or miscarried, and I can assure you I have had several cases where there were 4 surnames on the paperwork. Generally the reason for this is because the stillbirth has to be formally registered at the City Hall-a stillbirth certificate is required for a burial or cremation. If the patents are unmarried, legally the mother has primary responsibility for the baby, but by registering all the family surnames makes it easier as that means dad can register the stillbirth if mum is still in hospital.

        • MI Dawn

          Many moons ago, I had a patient who had twins. Her name, and the twins names all rhymed – think Royce, Joyce and Noyse.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “The minute I see a hyphenated name I begin to get heartburn. ”

      My goodness. The simple act of a woman deciding not to completely drop her surname upon marriage incites such strong reactions in so many people.

    • Banrion

      How dare a woman want to maintain her own familial identity when choosing a partner. A good woman would surrender her identity to her partner for the sake of simple government forms!!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yeah, I have to say what’s weirder to me than hyphenated names is when women change their name to their husbands. Seems strange to me. I mean, I married the Zable on the Table, not the Zable on the Sofa. I met her and knew her as the Zable on the Table. I didn’t expect her to change when we got married, I wanted her to stay who she was. Family was important for her, and it is for me, so I am happy that she wanted to retain her family identity. She ended up going with the Zable on the Table-Sofa, but professionally she goes by either Dr Table or Dr Zable. The kids are all Table-Sofas, too.

        The strangest one I always thought were the (typically older) women who would introduce themselves as something like “Mrs. Bofa on the Sofa.” They identify themselves in terms of their husband? Weird.

        • kilda

          I’ve always thought that was weird too, like when my mom gets mail addressed to Mrs. John Jones. WTH, her name isn’t John! But apparently that was not only the normal thing but the correct thing to do, back in the day. Like it was actually rude to call her Mary Jones or Mrs. Mary Jones instead of Mrs. John Jones.

          • EllenL

            Yes, in traditional etiquette, Mrs. Mary Jones would be a divorced woman. Mrs. John Jones would be a married woman or a widow.
            It always bugged me. I was pleased to see the title Ms. come into use. It fits any woman, and allows her to be addressed by her actual name without reference to
            marital status.
            I also see simply Mary Jones used these days to address women.

          • Roadstergal

            Ms. just cut through all of the bullshit. Such a little thing, but so needed.

          • momofone

            I’m a Ms. I kept my ex-husband’s name after we divorced because it was much simpler and it was how people knew me. It wouldn’t have made sense for my son to have my last name, so he has my husband’s name and I’m Ms. Other Name, which actually works very well given my profession; people do not automatically connect my son to me.

          • BeatriceC

            I changed my last name when I got married mostly because I absolutely detest my maiden name and I’m not particularly fond of my parents and appreciated the separation a different name provided. I got divorced and didn’t restore my maiden name for those reasons and the fact that it’s just easier to have the same last name as your kids. I still have my first married name. MrC doesn’t mind.

            ETA: The Antique Motorcycle Club of America somehow decided that he and I should have the same last name so mail from them comes addressed to hisfirstname and myfirstname hislastname. It kinda annoys me.

        • Zornorph

          For me, one of the best things to come out of feminism is the use of ‘Ms.’ to describe women. Like how do I know (or care) if someone is married or not? However, when I am sending out something to a lady who is older and I know is married, I do still put ‘Mrs.’ because some of them will be put off if you call them ‘Ms.’
          My ex wife actually was an artist and while she did take my last name generally, she continued to use her maiden name with her artwork – something I encouraged. I was very happy when we split that she stopped using my name – I couldn’t have stopped her had she wanted to keep it, but as I hope to never speak to her again, I certainly prefer that all ties are cut!

        • momofone

          I live in the deep south, and there are many (mostly older) women whose given names I only know by accident, because they identify themselves socially as “Mrs. John Worthington Smith.” And to complicate it further, their given name might be Mary Clarence (because people here seem to love double names), but she’s known as Bink or Totsie. Younger women tend not to do the Mrs. Whatever thing so much except in formal written correspondence. I have one friend who can’t figure out the Ms. My Name and Mr. My Husband’s Name thing, so at Christmas she sends a card addressed to us by first names only.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            their given name might be Mary Clarence (because people here seem to love double names), but she’s known as Bink or Totsie.

            Made me laugh, because it’s true….

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Didn’t find out Uncle Skeet’s real name was Felix until I was 40

          • momofone

            My father was a funeral director in a very rural area before he met my mother. He used to love to tell a story about two brothers who came in to make arrangements for their mother’s funeral (she apparently had not yet died, but was “low sick”). He asked them the usual questions, including her name, at which point they looked at each other and shrugged and said, “We don’t know her name; we just always called her Mama.”

        • I was 30 when I got married. I kept my name. What do I need at 30 trying to get everything changed over to a new name? The only trouble it’s ever caused is that sometimes people assume we’re not married, like when we went to sign for our most recent lease. I just flash em my rings, tell em I kept my name, and we move the heck on. No muss no fuss.

      • Margeary

        In the province of Quebec, Canada, it is illegal to take the name of your husband/wife to excercies your civil rights since 1981. So when someone has a hyphenated name, you can automatically assume that it’s the names of both his parent and not the name of his/her spouse.

      • Roadstergal

        I considered keeping my last name when I got married, but when I stopped to think about it – it’s not ‘my’ last name, it’s my dad’s last name. My maternal line is all in my middle names, which I kept. So for me, it was about 60% ‘easier forms,’ about 30% ‘unlike my family name, I chose this one’ and about 10% ‘it’s a cool last name.’

        Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but my brother and oldest sister are doing the work of carrying on his name.

        • Banrion

          I have a small family. My first name is a mashup of my mom’s first initial and her maiden name, so that will be with me forever. She was an only child, so I am the last of the line as my brother carries no names from our mother’s side. Over the years I was wishy-washy about what I would do if we did ever decide to get married. Ultimately my husband and I both hyphenated because of an in joke between us. Our surnames are fairly similar and when hypenated together the speaker sounds like the Swedish Chef. It makes us laugh, and neither of us are so formal as to be expecting people to address us by our last names on any sort of regular basis.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I have a friend from college who, when he got married, they had the idea to combine their last names into a single name. Like if one was Johnson and the other was Parker, they would have used Parkson (or Johnker :))

            A fine and creative approach, I’d say. They were also a little unusual in that their wedding was all done in medieval costumes, but hey, to each their own.

            Of course, they were divorced before two years. No idea what they did with their names at that point.

          • Roadstergal

            Doing a mashup of our last names would have left me with Booney, which is a little comical even for me. 🙂

          • BeatriceC

            A mashup of mine and MrC’s name would be Threlton or Shift. Neither one of those seem appealing.

          • Azuran

            A mashup of mine and my SO would be…….exactly the same as either of our surnames because they both have only 2 syllables and both finishes with the sound ‘the’

          • Gæst

            I have married friends who both had the same last name before marrying. That made things easy.

        • It was easier for me, in a way. It’s not uncommon for immigrants to Israel to officially change their surnames to a Hebrew one, which I did, so that it wasn’t my father’s or my husband’s. Plenty of women keep their maiden names professionally — Mrs. Diana Watkins is a case in point.

          But a good deal of the time it just sounds pretentious — and not infrequently, the wife becomes Ms. Smith-Jones while her husband and children remain merely Smith (or Jones) .

          • Poogles

            “The minute I see a hyphenated name I begin to get heartburn.”
            “But a good deal of the time it just sounds pretentious”

            It may sound pretentious to your ears, but considering you have no way of knowing why the person’s name is hyphenated it strikes me as at least a little judgmental.

            A woman I know had a hyphenated last name before she ever got married because her stepfather adopted her, so she had her bio father’s last name (he was still a part of her life) and her stepfather’s last name.

            As for myself, I am my father’s only child (he died of cancer when I was a year old), so it had special meaning to me to keep his last name, though I also wanted to take my husband’s name (especially since his parents have always treated me like their own daughter). If you were to see my name though, you apparently would just assume pretentiousness.

          • Gæst

            It’s way judgmental. I don’t go around telling women they must keep their maiden name, but telling women who chose hyphenate that they are pretentious is absurd. There’s nothing wrong with simply keeping your maiden name, with hyphenating, or with changing your name. NONE of it is pretentious – it’s your own personal name.

        • Valerie

          My last name is just as much mine as my husband’s name is his. I don’t care that it only represents a tiny fraction of my family tree- I’ve been using it my whole life.

          • Roadstergal

            I’m not saying other people can’t think and feel differently, I’m just saying that my own thought process and decision weren’t based on the idea that, to _me_, I was giving up some of my own identity.

        • not Mrs. Him

          It’s always sad to hear a woman say that she doesn’t regard the name she’s had all her life as her own last name. I’ve never heard a man say that.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            As it turns out, the last name my MIL went by her whole life until she married wasn’t actually her legal last name, and she never knew. Her mother and stepfather were like that. Stepfather also abused MIL. She happily took on her MIL’s maiden name.

          • Surely Roadstergal is allowed to say something, even if a man’s never said it?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Sure she’s allowed to say it, but I do think it’s worth pointing out gendered differences in what people say. Think of all the women who bemoan how fat they are while at perfectly healthy weights–you don’t hear men doing that. It illuminates the fact that our society values a woman’s beauty and youth above her accomplishments and health. Likewise, 99% of men would never, ever consider changing their surnames while most women claim no feelings of attachment to their surnames. This illuminates the fact that our society values a woman’s role as wife and mother much more than it does her accomplishments. For women, marriage IS the accomplishment. The exact opposite is true for men.

          • I understand; you’re commenting on social pressures that affect women in different ways than men and cause them to act/speak in a different way.

            Nevertheless, this sort of statement always makes me uncomfortable, because it implies (to me) that a woman must always “be like” a man. I do think it’s okay for a woman to speak and act without regard to “Would a man do this.” Specifically, the comment of “Not Mrs. Him” appeared condescending to me, and seemed to dismiss Roadstergal’s decision and thought processes as weak or unworthy.

          • fiftyfifty1

            I don’t believe that a woman must always “be like” a man. But I do encourage women to sometimes ask themselves “Why is it that women are expected to do [whatever thing] when men would not be caught dead doing it?” If nothing else, it’s food for thought.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            This illuminates the fact that our society values a woman’s role as wife and mother much more than it does her accomplishments.

            This is interesting. My wife hyphenated our names (to your point, we discussed me changing my last name, but I had published papers with my last name so went with that). However, I have always encouraged her to go by Dr HerLastName (even though she got her DVM after we got married). I thought that was her accomplishment. In the end, they tend to call her Dr HerFirstName, which also works in that regard.

            The kids have her hyphenated name.

        • Sarah

          Call yourself whatever you want, none of my business, but if it’s not your name than how is it your dad’s either?

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            Try re-reading the comment.

            I considered keeping my last name when I got married, but when I stopped to think about it – it’s not ‘my’ last name, it’s my dad’s last name.

            If you are genuinely confused, it might help if you mentally insert the word ‘original’ between ‘my’ and ‘last’.

            I can deduce from the rest of the comment that she didn’t keep it; she took her spouse’s name, for all the reasons cited. So, of course, she now has a different name from her father.

            If, however, you are saying that her father had no more choice in having his father’s family name bestowed upon him than she did, then perhaps it would be useful to note that no-one has ever expected him to be anything but the owner of that name. He was never expected to change his surname upon changing marital status to show that he had a new owner.

            What many women are pointing out is that in English-speaking countries the tradition, for centuries, of all wives taking their husband’s surname, and all children to be given the patrilineal surname, shows that men are owners and that women and children are owned – by men.

            I’d be greatly in favour of a new tradition, of people creating their own surname upon reaching adulthood.

          • Sarah

            Likely we are all aware of the historical context, but that doesn’t make the inconsistency any more logical. The point about surnames indicating ownership of children by fathers in the Western world (long before any of us were born) is true, but this was no less true for a male child than a female.

            Put bluntly, either a name given to a person at birth isn’t really theirs because it belonged to some far back, probably but not necessarily male ancestor who had it before them. In which case, that’s true for both men and women. Or the name you’re given at birth is yours even though it came from a predecessor first. In which case, that’s true for both men and women.

            In respect of what other adults call themselves, I don’t consider it my place to take a view. It’s a personal matter. But I do think we need to question the idea that the surnames males are given at birth are somehow more theirs than the ones females are given.

          • Roadstergal

            Because descent is patriarchal in our culture.

            Don’t get me wrong, your could make a good case that it isn’t his. Which is where I’m going, really. It’s fairly arbitrary. I like my current last name and I chose it; I like my middle names and chose to keep them. And I have changed what it means to be a *mylastname* by being it. And that can happen with Dad’s name. Or Mom’s name, if you choose to change to that one.

            I like Tigger’s idea best, honestly.

      • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

        Technically it would probably be her father’s identity, but I get you.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Maybe. My FIL has his mother’s maiden name for a surname. (He was a little pre-wedding).

        • not Mrs. Him

          Do you go to weddings and tell a bride who has changed her name that she “technically” now has her father-in-law’s surname?

      • Gæst

        The only reason I’m not hyphenated is because I never married – but there’s no way I’m giving up the name I was born into, am comfortable with, and have established myself professionally under. And that’s even though my last name is a patronymic that is nonsensical for a woman.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      My husband dislikes his surname but likes mine and wanted to give our kids my surname alone. The hyphen was a compromise so his parents wouldn’t be sad.

      • Sue

        So your whole family uses Iguana-People?

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          I use Iguanapeople, he used McBard, kids have Iguanapeople-McBard. And he enjoys it any time anyone calls him Mr. Iguanapeople. I told him -he- has to explain it to his parents if he wants to change his name.

    • not Mrs. Him

      My husband and I both hyphenated. Some people “got heartburn” (or were “confused”) when they saw my hyphenated surname, but coped perfectly well with his identical name.

  • oscar

    So the founder of the of the UK National Childbirth Trust, Prunella Briance, died. She was very inspired by Grantley Dick-Read.

    “An optimistic and joyful character who bubbled with enthusiasm, Prunella was a natural leader of the NCT. But in the years following its inception there were sometimes arguments between her and others about the best way forward. ”

    I wonder what the arguments were about…

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/22/prunella-briance-obituary

  • Sue

    OT: New study shows that “seeding” cesarean-born babies could transmit STI organisms.

    “The research did, however, highlight the difficulty in determining healthy vaginal bacteria and the risk of passing on infections, such as HIV, Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, Group B streptococci and Escherichia coli, from the mother to the baby.

    They conclude that the process should not be recommended by health officials because the risks are still unknown.

    Instead, health workers should advise mothers about other factors that are known to have a positive impact on the development of an infant’s colony of bacteria such as early skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding and diet.

    “It is clear that much more research is needed to understand if exposing babies born via caesarean section to vaginal bacteria soon after birth can lower their risk of developing chronic conditions later in life,” said Dr Tine Dalsgaard Clausen, a consultant obstetrician in Denmark and lead author of the article.”
    https://www.doctorportal.com.au/seeding-c-section-babies-could-be-risky/

    The study is in BJOG Aug 17:
    Vaginal seeding or vaginal microbial transfer from the mother to the caesarean-born neonate: a commentary regarding clinical management
    (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.14792/full)

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Wait, hang on, lemme make sure I understand this…
      Germ theory still applies even when doing something associated with Magickal Natural Sparkles?
      Who’da thought.
      I’m stunned.
      Quick, someone, my smelling salts and fainting couch!

      • Charybdis

        *passes smelling salts and fans KOTB vigorously*

        • Empliau

          And don’t forget to loosen her corset strings!

      • kilda

        seriously. the fact that we needed studies to prove this kind of hurts my brain. Deliberately sharing mom’s vaginal bacteria with the newborn can pass on infections from said bacteria? DUH.

      • Roadstergal

        Quick, someone squirt breastmilk on KotB!

        • MI Dawn

          We need a “ha ha” choice! 🙂

    • Young CC Prof

      Hmm, yes, what percentage of c-sections in the USA are actually done DUE to an infection that couldn’t be adequately controlled before delivery? Routine seeding is probably not a road we’d want to go down.

    • MaineJen

      OMG, this nonsense needs to stop.

  • MLE

    Oh because “Occupy Breastfeeding,” one of the signatories , is going to be SO reasonable to converse with. Bravo to FiB for their resounding success, evidenced by this absurd overture.

  • mabelcruet

    http://www.bedheadbirth.com/rcm-campaign-for-normal-birth-and-the-media-misrepresentation/

    I kind of thought this would happen. Some imbecile has decided that the bullying and intimidation discussed in depth in the Kirkup report into the deaths in Barrow in Furness automatically must have been the midwives being bullied.

    So now Byrom and her disciples are starting a media campaign to ensure they aren’t misrepresented. Actually I think she does a fine job of representing herself, and ensuring we all know she couldn’t give a toss about maternal and baby deaths.

    • lsn

      Well someone’s certainly failed to understand what the report actually said. Good Lord.

      • Chi

        At least they admit that the ‘evidence basis of midwifery care will actually change.” Once again proving that their ideology blinds them to the fucking truth. That their goal of ‘physiological birth at all costs’ is KILLING women and babies.

        Like how can they not understand that? Delaying interventions when a doctor says they are necessary isn’t a laudable goal, because if a doctor says it’s necessary, it probably is and time is of the essence. How difficult is that to comprehend?

        I can’t read the whole article, it’s making me too angry.

        ETA: Okay managed to read more and they’re now denying that “This is not only to do with the oldness, fatness or Blackness of our women, which is what the USA media likes to blame these statistics on.” Um yes it freaking is. Because they don’t have the MEANS to afford good prenatal care and thus don’t have scans/tests and thus they give birth to big/sick babies. The maternal/perinatal mortality rates have NOTHING to do with fucking interventions, in fact without interventions that number would be much HIGHER.

        Oh dear god someone slap these women upside the head and tell them to keep the hell away from pregnant women and their babies.

      • mabelcruet

        Yes, I think the mindset of some UK midwife ‘leaders’ is that they are attacked, undermined and aggrieved at every turn. Their default position is that they are the victims, and it simply doesn’t compute with them that they could possibly be the aggressors.

    • rosewater1

      Charming. Blaming so much of this on James Titcombe. Yes, what a terrible thing he did as a result of his child’s death. Just awful.

      Excuse my language, but fuck these bitches. They have no soul.

    • MI Dawn

      Poor snowflake. Back in the USA and finding out that she can’t use her unicorn farts and rainbow sparkles on all the pregnant women. And she doesn’t allow comments on her blog, too.

      It’s just all the fault of the medical profession, forcing all those women who just want to birth at home, to go to the hospital, have an epidural, and have a birth with a doctor.

      (BTW…I was horrified at the “evidence-based” conference she says she was. What evidence? That dead babies with intact cords are better than live babies who’ve had them clamped quickly in order to resuscitate the baby?)

  • maidmarian555

    OT: Some good news, I’ve managed to get my c-section booked in (finally), which means I can stop worrying and try and enjoy the remaining few weeks of this pregnancy (as much as one can ‘enjoy’ mostly lying around like a beached whale whilst not being able to stuff my face with much-wanted chocolate because of the delightful accompanying indigestion). I just wanted to say thank-you so much to all of you for providing both practical and emotional support and advice. You’re all extremely kind and have made what has been quite a challenging time a little easier. I am very much looking forward to meeting my daughter under much less stressful circumstances than I met my son, I’m not sure I would have got my way were it not for the immense help I have received here. Thank-you so much!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Hurray, and glad to hear it!! May the indigestion lessen soon, and if I may, I recommend ice cream rather than straight chocolate…the cool creaminess seemed to help me avoid heartburn in the last trimester on both occasions. At the very least, I think that science demands you give it a try. 😉 (Assuming, natch, that that even sounds good to you in the first place.)

    • Dr Kitty

      So glad!
      I hope your daughter is on the same page as your and stays put until her scheduled arrival!

      Take it easy for the home stretch and make sure you catch up on sleep while you can.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      hooray!

    • momofone

      Yay! So glad for you!

    • mabelcruet

      That’s good news-I’m so sorry that you’ve had to fight hard to get what you felt you needed, it really shouldn’t be like that. But I hope the next few weeks are plain sailing, and little Spawnetta appears on schedule. The chocolate will still all be there in a few weeks (speaking of which, have you tried Hotel Chocolat caramel puddles? Definitely recommended!)

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    I am reminded of the article a friend posted about that horrible man who experimented with fistula surgery on his slaves and another friend said that explained a lot. No, not really. I’m sorry she didn’t find an ob she liked, but it’s hard to find one as cruel as that man was.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      For anyone curious about the reference you made, as I was, I offer the following–with the warning that I have a pretty strong stomach, yet was ready to vomit after reading it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Marion_Sims
      “I am disgusted” doesn’t even begin to cover it. And no, your average OB is not operating on enslaved women with no anesthesia, nor is he using an awl to shove the skull plates of babies into place, thereby causing their death, only to blame the deaths on their mothers. There may well be jerks, and incompetent jerks at that, as in any profession, but that sort of shit will get your license yanked and you imprisoned PDQ in the US/UK/any other nation with a reasonable rule of law.

      • Young CC Prof

        As with most examples of egregious medical abuses, the problem did not stem from the medical profession per se but from the fact that a group of people were dehumanized in the larger society.

        He wasn’t doing this stuff in a secret basement, plenty of people knew exactly what he was up to and were apparently fine with it.

    • And a decent chunk of our medical knowledge comes from the experiments performed by Nazi and Japanese doctors and scientists on prisoners, but that doesn’t mean all doctors forever are evil. There is a reason we have IRBs and all sorts of licensing safeguards nowadays.

      For example, the surgeon who carved his initials into his patient’s midriff was disbarred, lost a massive malpractice lawsuit, and went to jail. Doctors are people, so not all of them are good people, but overall the profession is not rife with horribleness. And if we’re looking at needless deaths, well, midwives in the US rank waaaay up there.

      • mabelcruet

        We’ve a very recent case in the UK, a breast surgeon was recently imprisoned for performing unnecessary breast surgery on women. He claimed it was cleavage sparing surgery (I’m not quite sure the technicalities). But the main issue was that he worked as both an NHS surgeon and in a private hospital and there was a major issue with concerns being raised by his NHS colleagues about his performance but there was no obvious communication with the private sector so he carried on relentlessly. So he’s now in prison for serial assault and GBH on multiple patients.

        There are over 200 000 doctors in the UK. In any town with a population of 200 000 people there will be psychopaths, murderers, paedophiles, rapists, drug users. Just because you’re a doctor doesn’t mean you’re immune from being evil-hopefully university and job recruitment interviews and assessments weeds out the obviously unsuitable types, but some get through (Harold Shipman being the obvious).

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      A lot of medical history is gross. Want me to tell you the story of the discovery of B12?

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        That’s quite alright; it’s dinner time and although I have a high tolerance for medical dinner conversation, I’d rather not. -I- wasn’t the one connecting the dots and finding Illuminati in the pattern of London’s street lights.

      • AnnaPDE

        Now that dinner is over, yes please.

  • Heidi

    Living in a developing country is often fatal despite breastfeeding. But as Dr. Tuteur pointed out, lactivists really can’t be bothered. They aren’t fighting for clean water in developing countries. They aren’t rushing to send out RTF formula to babies desperately in need. People are still bathing in contaminated water, doing their dishes in contaminated water, and still making infant cereal in contaminated water. 5-15% of women in developing countries aren’t going to be able to exclusively breastfeed regardless. I mean, you gotta realize a child can’t exclusively breastfeed forever. Lactivists are too busy pretending breastfeeding in the developed world is going to help babies elsewhere.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      What do you mean they can’t just pop over to the 24 hour Walmart store + grocery if their local Whole Foods is already closed for the night?

    • Emilie Bishop

      Yes! I’m so sick of lactivists romanticizing breastfeeding in developing regions when these women have no other choice and would probably love to have the option of formula, especially if they have a low supply or are tasked with many other responsibilities (other kids, farming or other family business, general life without modern appliances). If my breastmilk were the only thing available to keep my son alive, he would have died his first week. So many moms in these countries live that reality, yet lactivists see only the part where the babies didn’t get formula. That’s about as much “winning” as Trump’s border wall is seeing at the moment…

  • MI Dawn

    I’m looking forward to the birth of a grandniece/nephew in February, and, maybe in another year or so, a grandbaby. In all instances, I will encourage breastfeeding if that is what the mom wants to do, with the very clear understanding that formula is NOT evil and, if needed, should be given. Fortunately, great-grandma-to-be and grandma-to-be are sensible women who also breastfed/combo fed. And Niece is smart enough to ask questions.