#IBelieveHer about breastfeeding

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Why do breastfeeding professionals thinking it is acceptable to refuse to believe women about insufficient breastmilk and blame them when it happens? Why do they insist that it almost never happens when it is actually quite common? Why do they offer all sorts of excuses that place primary responsibility on a woman’s behavior?

Isn’t refusing to believe women who suffer from insufficient breastmilk merely re-victimizing them? Isn’t it just an effort to protect breastfeeding professionals and their colleagues at the expense of women and babies?

When a woman tells me about insufficient breastmilk or breastfeeding difficulties, #IBelieveHer.

Why don’t breastfeeding professionals believe her, too?

  • yentavegan

    My first exposure to a mother who said she was not making enough milk was my cousin’s daughter. She had breastfed her first child with nary a glitch. Her second child was born 3 years later and she felt no engorgement, no let down and her baby wailed in hunger. She described feeling despondent and defeated. Her loving husband bought formula and fed their infant. By the time she had her 6 week follow up gyn/ob visit she was diagnosed with a thyroid issue ( hence the low milk/ depression symptoms. She got on the proper thyroid medication, her depression lifted and her baby continued to be a thriving growing formula fed baby. No amount of power pumping, fennel, domperidone would have addressed her low thyroid.

  • Cat

    OT, but can someone explain to me what’s with the whole fetishization of VBAC thing? I started reading some blog posts last night out of idle curiosity, because an acquaintance of mine will not shut up about her sodding VBAC. Don’t get me wrong, I can completely understand that there are all kinds of practical reasons why a woman might opt to try vaginal birth after c-section if a reputable medical professional gives her the ok (e.g., wanting to avoid surgery, not wanting to deal with c-section recovery and an active older kid at the same time…). I can also understand why, if you had a nightmare first experience of labour ending in an emergency CS, you might fixate on the idea of re-running the whole experience and “getting it right”. But the whole obsessiveness over “getting your VBAC” and identifying as a “VBAC mama” is just so… cult-like, and that’s before you get onto all the misogyny about proving that your body isn’t broken and that you’re a real woman and blah. Plus it’s desperately sad how quickly women get shut down if they try to talk about their specific bad experiences of VBAC (because talking about your rupture/ life-changing injuries/ dead baby is totally mean and might put other women off, plus rupture is vanishingly rare and would probably have happened if you’d has the c-section anyway, etc etc).

    • Sarah

      I might start identifying as a CAVB mama.

    • CSN0116

      Oh, gawd. Don’t even get me started. VBACing is like lactivism on steroids. The rituals and good vs bad behavior standards are hard core. It is a cult, as you say. And so dangerous.

      I technically had two VBA2Cs (in a hospital with a male OB) but only admit and discuss that here. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to have that on my record in day to day life, because these women are hysterical, ignorant biological essentialists who have less care for life than a fucking serial killer. And they sabotage women’s safe VBAC desires because a woman wanting or pushing for a VBAC is lumped with these crazies by her reputable dr. I hate them. Grrrrrrr. They were created by and exist to finance CPMs, basically.

    • 3boyz

      I really hope to have a VBAC next time I’m pregnant. I had to have a c-section with my third baby and I hope to have at least 3 more kids, so a second c-section might limit me in that respect. That said, I am a very good candidate for VBAC- I’ve already had 2 easy vaginal deliveries and the c-section was because of a freak complication that’s unlikely to happen again. And ultimately, if I do end up in another situation requiring a c, well, you gotta do what you gotta do and I’ll have to come to terms with that. I would never sacrifice the current baby for the sake of potential future pregnancies. But since I am planning on several more pregnancies and multiple c-sections can cause all sorts of issues in subsequent pregnancies (not to mention, there’s a limit to how many c-sections one can have), yeah, VBAC is definitely a high priority for me.

      • Allie

        Sounds like you’re in the “completely reasonable preference” category, not the “I must do this or die trying” category.

  • Tigger_the_Wing

    Thanks to lactivists, I felt so guilty about not being able to continue to breastfeed my daughter when she was a few weeks old that I kept trying for much longer than I should have, even though I know now that I made the best decision for my baby. Making women feel guilty for something that is out of their control is abusive.

    • Emilie Bishop

      Me too. I wanted to quit on day 3, but I kept going just over two months. In my case, information about my low-supply risk factors was deliberately withheld from me, making it seem like if I tried just a little bit harder, we might get there. It is abuse and manipulation of vulnerable populations, yet it’s somehow sanctioned by whole hospital or national health systems.

    • yentavegan

      I believe you. Lactation advocacy is unique because it is not populated by medically trained professionals. Women who are attracted to this line of work ( whether as paid accredited insured hospital employees or peer to peer volunteers) are ill equipped to handle breastmilk supply issues. Our Field lacks education requirements in the larger context of anatomy and physiology. Even highly trained nurses who become accredited IBCLC’s are prone to the propaganda machine.

  • Clarene Wong

    home birth people disbelieve you and you disbelieve them all the time. let’s be real about this. its call in group bias. its a psychological phenomenon that everyone is subject to.

    • MaineJen

      It’s not about listening to midwives or lactation consultants, it’s about listening to women! Believe them when they tell you they’ve been assaulted, and believe them when they say they couldn’t make enough breastmilk.

      Belief is one thing, evidence is another. Home birth advocates “believe” that home birth is as safe as hospital birth. Evidence tells us they’re wrong. Lactation consultants “believe” that the incidence of insufficient breast milk is vanishingly small; evidence shows us that’s not true either.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Do you have any example of me “disbelieving” homebirth advocates?

    • LaMont

      Arguing with statements of fact that are *false* is not the same as disputing someone else’s experience of something. No one is saying that challenges and disagreements are inherently problematic.

    • Russell Jones

      Why the claim about “home birth people” in response to a post about breastfeeding professionals and their penchant for disbelieving women who assert that they’re having difficulty breastfeeding?

      And if you’re really proffering one of those “Both sides do X so neither side’s position is any better than the other’s” argument, well … LOL.

    • I know! It’s so mean to review the evidence and decide that one side is wrong. We should keep an open mind about every idea regardless of the evidence- disease might be caused by ill humors, the Earth might be flat and the center of the universe, and education might shrivel up a woman’s uterus. I mean, just because all the evidence suggests otherwise, those are all ideas who had (and have!) proponents, so I guess we’ll never know.

      Or, you know, not. Evidence matters. The evidence is that home birth is quite dangerous for both mother and baby. That is why Dr. Tuteur and the various other commenters here don’t approve of it. If the evidence showed that it was safe, well, we’d all be very embarrassed but we would accept it and change our stance.

  • CSN0116

    Wow. Wouldn’t have really made the parallel but poof, there it is.

    Lactivism is 110% anti woman, as you’ve always said. But unlike classic sexism and racism, which exist solely so that certain people can maintain money, power and authority, lactivisim exists to “protect” this non tangible thing, so much like religion. This, to me, makes it another beast in many respects.