Lactivism represents a profound lack of empathy

26235543 - woman consoling her friend

One of the most amazing traits of human beings is the ability to empathize with others.

We don’t have to lose a parent to imagine how devastating the loss of a parent could be and therefore we offer our support.

We don’t have to experience a divorce to imagine how devastating the end of a marriage might be and therefore we offer our support.

Why don’t lactivists, who undoubtedly could feel empathy for another’s loss, have no empathy for women who can’t breastfeed?

We don’t have to become paralyzed to imagine how shocking and life altering that would and therefore we offer our support.

We don’t have to have inadvertently starved our infant trying to breastfeed to imagine how horrible we might feel and therefore we offer … blistering condemnation accusing such women of being lazy, selfish and unable to bond with their own children.

Wait, what?

Why don’t lactivists, who undoubtedly could feel empathy for another’s loss of a parent, a marriage or the ability to walk have no empathy for women who can’t breastfeed?

I suspect that there are three reasons for this.

The first is that it’s easiest to imagine the suffering of others when we know the same thing might happen to us. There is no one who can pretend that they will never lose a parent, never have a spouse cheat on them, never become paralyzed in an accident. It really could happen to them and they express the same empathy that they would hope for and rely upon in such a situation. In contrast, many lactivists already know that they can successfully breastfeed; they don’t bother to imagine what it would be like to be unsuccessful precisely because (so they believe) it couldn’t happen to them.

The second reason is that lactivists have constructed infant feeding as a source of self-esteem. In truth, they have no more control over their breastmilk supply than they have over an impending miscarriage, yet they pretend that they do. In truth, deliberately choosing not to breastfeed is no more or less selfish than deliberately choosing to have a another child to give your existing child a sibling. Sure, many people consider their siblings to be among the joys of their life but we recognize that the detrimental impact of an additional child on the parents may outweigh the benefits to the child.

The third reason is that lactivists have constructed infant feeding as a zero sum game. Breastfeeding mothers imagine that they can only be considered “good” mothers if formula feeding mothers are labeled “bad.” They seem to be incapable of recognizing that infant feeding really has no bearing at all on whether a woman is a good mother. That’s why they abhor the rather basic and obvious concept that “fed is best.” If fed is best, they’re not best and that is simply unacceptable. It seems never to have occurred to them that there is more than one way to produce healthy, happy children.

The inability of lactivists to empathize with women who make (or are forced to make) different feeding choices is quite ugly.

Here’s a Facebook post from Kristy of Breastfeeding Mama Talk. She leads with the acknowledgement that this is going to make other women feel terrible but she doesn’t care:

I know I’m opening a can of worms with this , but I just cannot remain silent. I know this will rile up many and while that isn’t my intent, it needs to be stated. If I shy away from speaking out in fear of backlash and being bullied then I wouldn’t be true to all of you. Just like they are getting the floor to refute , we get the floor too. So here goes nothing…

Kristy is upset that the Fed Is Best Foundation has called out the World Health Organization for admitting that babies who are injured or die because of insufficient breastmilk are “not a priority.”

She continues:

They are pushing really hard to fear monger moms into supplementing, especially in the first few weeks when developing the breastfeeding relationship is the most crucial. Moms already have the doubt, fear, and concern , that they aren’t making enough milk. The answer is not to rush to supplementation (unless that is what the mom wants to do of course) but if her goal is to exclusively breastfeed she should seek assistance from a reputable IBCLC who can then assess what the issue is and may come to find there is no issue at all. Rather than just handing over those premade formula bottles. Often times , moms will assume they aren’t making enough when in actuality they are making just enough. There are ways to figure out if baby is getting enough without the need to supplement right off the bat.

In just a few short sentences I see constructing breastfeeding as a zero sum game: preventing infant injuries and deaths is transformed into pushing supplementation. There’s refusal to acknowledge both that breastfeeding has a significant failure rate and that not every woman can exclusively breastfeed. There’s gaslighting of women who are concerned that their babies are starving. But most of all, there’s an incredible lack of empathy.

What if the WHO had claimed that providing access for the disabled was “not a priority”? Would Kristy have claimed that those who are arguing for improved access are pushing paralysis? Would she have gaslighted them by implying that those who think they are paralyzed aren’t really paralyzed? Would she have declared that they just needed more “support” to walk, not ramps and elevators? Would she have insisted that those in wheelchairs figure out how to use the stairs and wait to see if ramps were really medically necessary?

I doubt it, and if she did behave that way to people who are paralyzed, most of us would be repulsed by her utter lack of empathy.

I’m going to guess that if a woman showed up in a wheelchair and told Kristy that she was paralyzed from the waist down, Kristy would believe her and certainly wouldn’t demand medical proof. But when a woman shows up with an infant who is failing to thrive and says she isn’t producing enough breastmilk to fully nourish her baby, Kristy feels no compunction about gaslighting her and demanding “proof.”

Why the difference? Because while Kristy and other lactivists can empathize with people who are paralyzed, they can’t or they won’t empathize with women who suffer from insufficient lactation. I suspect that Kristy would willingly acknowledge that it is simply a matter of luck that she is not paralyzed and others are. It’s easy to do that because she hasn’t contructed being able to walk as a source of her self esteem. She hasn’t created a Walking Mama Talk Facebook page to celebrate women who can walk and denigrate those who can’t. In contrast, she has constructed being able to breastfeed as a source of self-esteem and a zero sum game.

If Kristy were to acknowledge the truth, that breastfeeding is a matter of luck not will or skill, she wouldn’t be able to feel superior to others. For lactivists, that desperation to feel superior to other mothers is so powerful that they’d let babies die rather than admit that the ability to breastfeed is no different from the ability to walk.

Tags:

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    OT for this thread but more on topic for the blog than the anti-vaxxer loons: I just read about a planned unassisted homebirth that went sideways this summer: http://www.blessedlittleblog.com/tag/stillbirth/

    She had 15 pregnancies and 12 children, but “trust your body” and all that….

    42 weeks and the placenta had started to calcify….surprise, surprise, surprise!

    • Heidi_storage

      That was a sad read. Poor baby.

    • Roadstergal

      Is the woman being blogged about the same “blessed little homestead” that was making the blogosphere news because she was in danger of having her kids taken because of the abysmal living conditions? The one where she posted the in-caul mid-birth homebirth with her pooping on the kid?

      If so, that picture the blogger posted is either a sanitized picture taken by the woman in question, or the place has been upgraded tremendously.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        That’s her

        They had the kids taken away because of the filth and claimed it was because they homeschool

    • Melissa Wickersham

      How horrible. Poor baby. That woman should have known and cared that 40 weeks gestation is the absolute optimum date for “term delivery”. I am assuming that this stillbirth indicates that human pregnancy/ gestation cannot safely continue past 41 weeks because placentas cannot function that long. Is this assumption correct?

  • yentavegan

    Breastfeeding advocacy education taught me that all things being equal, a healthy mother can produce an ample milk supply. Those of us in the lactation advocacy community/business are not always privy to all the medical information to alert us that although a woman appears “healthy”, she actually has an underlying complication. When I am sharing suggestions to a parent who reports they are not producing enough breastmilk I need to first ask questions about her health, her pregnancy, her delivery, any past breast surgeries and most importantly how has the infant been fed in the past 24 hours. It is hard to undo the dogmatic insistence that “all women produce ample breastmilk” It is a core belief in all breastfeeding advocacy education. It is as indisputable as gravity.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Breastfeeding advocacy education taught me that all things being equal, a healthy mother can produce an ample milk supply.

      Bofa’s Second Law, right there.

      All else equal, a healthy mother can produce an ample milk supply.

      But all things are never equal.

    • LaMont

      Also can’t breastfeeding issues exist independent of any other issues? My mother has barely ever told me about pregnancy issues (literally, over two pregnancies and births her complaints she’s mentioned were: feeling dizzy once during pregnancy 1, throwing up once during pregnancy 2, not enjoying being 9mo pregnant in July b/c it’s hot, one labor was long and boring, the next was surprisingly quick and no-epidural b/c it went too fast), but said that breastfeeding was an impossible nightmare b/c of lack of supply.

      • yentavegan

        Thank you for wanting to discuss this further. If a mother reports that she never experienced “engorgement” or the unmistakable “Whoosh” of her milk supply coming in, that is an important piece of medical information alerting us that she will not be able to produce an ample milk supply. Milk comes in usually by day 3 or 4 so we in the Lactation Business have been taught that newborns do not require milk before then. How can Lactation advocates balance this drummed into our heads dogma with stories like Landons, who went into cardiac arrest before we even expected milk production to kick in? He died from complications of being starved. But how could that have happened ? We are taught to believe that pre-lacteal supplements prevent a newborn from learning how to suckle from the breast and deprive mother from adequate nipple stimulation needed to produce milk. Reality is a tangled web of conflicting “truths”.

        • CSN0116

          As someone in your industry, and I ask this with curiosity and respect — haven’t you all just figured out by default, or from simply being around, that prelacteal feeding myths are falsehoods?

          I operate a formula feeding helpline. In doing so I have taught countless women how to prelacteal feed while making sure they: (1) continuously place baby to the breast, (2) address all outlying factors that may be inhibiting milk production (for prelacteal feeding, however, it’s often times just waiting it out the 3-4 days), and (3) in some cases using manual/pump expression to help things along. The babies eat more vigorously at the breast when properly nourished via formula in between nursing sessions, which ramps up supply. They are more easily aroused at feeds, and can nurse longer, which ramps up supply. And mom is less irritated, fatigued and stressed, which ramps up supply.

          While I don’t maintain hard and fast numbers, the overwhelming majority of these clients go on to breast feed, and many of those do so exclusively and for many months. Some women want no part of “mock” breast feeding and will forego any nursing sessions until their milk arrives in full on its own (sometimes this is cultural). This is a very successful approach as well.

          In short, in real life, the “problems” with prelacteal feeding are simply not true. There is no nipple confusion. No milk supply restriction. Etc. How do LC’s not know this? I work counter to the lactation industry and even I know this.

          • yentavegan

            If I were to hazard a guess as to why my fellow lactation advocates/professionals are ill informed about the potential benefits of pre-lacteal feeds it would be because women who are attracted towards this kind of work ( especially those who start out as volunteers/peer to peer support) did not have to rely on pre-lacteal feeds…in fact one of the prerequisites for volunteer training included no use of formula/supplemental milks and breastfeeding for 12 months or longer.

          • CSN0116

            Wow. That makes total sense, and thanks for sharing. It’s devastating nonetheless. An IBCLC I worked with years ago, and who inspired me to pursue helping families formula feed (exclusive, combo, supplementation), was amongst the best of her kind. She had a lot of struggles breast feeding her own, and I don’t think ever did so exclusively. From extreme prematurity to her daughter unable to latch onto her breast until 7 months of age — she experienced it all. She advocated prelacteal feeding and a lot of other practices LCs seem to scoff at. But she was so damn good at what she did. She benefited so many families. It was never “exclusive breast feeding” cor her. It was “as much as you can.”

          • Roadstergal

            I’ll bet you money that she’s gotten more breastmilk into babies than any of the ‘EBF’ devotee LCs.

          • Heidi

            I find those prerequisites quite discriminatory and hurtful. We know some women will need to supplement. I imagine a lot of women like myself would want the support from women who combo fed.

          • yentavegan

            those pre-requisites are no longer enforced. but it will take years until the change is impactful.

          • Young CC Prof

            I think I’ve mentioned before that this requirement is pretty horrifying. It’s like a medical residency program barring any new doctors who have personal or family experience with the condition being treated.

          • MaineJen

            WOW! No wonder LCs are mystified/annoyed by women who are unable to breastfeed, or are having trouble. They never had a moment of trouble themselves, and all their education will reinforce the idea that if it’s not working, you just have to try harder. That’s…well, counterproductive, at best.

          • FormerPhysicist

            That’s stupid. All of my worst teachers in any subject (but seriously bad in math and science) where the ones who just “got it” with no instruction or help ever needed. They had no idea how to break down the problems, because the answer was just “obvious”. Lactation consultants being forbidden from ever having used formula – no wonder they don’t have any sense or any empathy.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            Which organization is this? I’ve never heard of it.

        • Gæst

          Too often, we act like women all produce the same amount of colostrum. But they don’t – it’s a different in nature from the milk that comes in later, but that doesn’t mean the amount the infant gets doesn’t matter. I pumped something like 30 mL of colostrum during my first pumping session, a few hours after surgery. My milk didn’t come in until at least day seven, maybe even later, but the amount of colostrum I pumped increased rapidly each day (to the point where I thought I had just missed my milk “coming in” and assumed it already had – until the day it actually did and I woke up soaked with rock hard boobs and a different color milk). LCs need to realize that the amount of colostrum an infant gets is *very* important. A few drops is *not* enough.

    • Daleth

      although a woman appears “healthy”, she actually has an underlying complication.

      Sure, that is a thing, but some healthy women cannot make enough breastmilk to feed their baby–especially if they have multiples. So as for this:

      Breastfeeding advocacy education taught me that all things being equal, a healthy mother can produce an ample milk supply.

      No. That is not true. Or actually, let me point out the problem here: what the hell does “all things being equal” mean? It is incredibly vague. Let’s be honest: it means “usually,” as in, “usually a healthy mother can produce an ample milk supply.” True. But so what? Sometimes, a healthy mother can’t.

  • Tori

    OT: formula advertising to health professionals in the US. I’ve been told that in the US health professionals receive ‘kick backs’ from formula companies. To me this seems too implausible to actually be true, but figured the group here would know more than I do. This isn’t right, is it?

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Perhaps, but with the BFHI stuff, I’ve barely seen anything mentioning formula at our doctors’ offices and they changed insurers and hospital systems 3 times in the last 4 years.

    • attitude devant

      I have been practicing in the US for thirty years. Where’s my check? Somebody must have taken my check! I’m going to lodge a complaint with the Big Formula Doctor Union.

      Heck, I had one kid with a serious digestive disorder requiring a special formula that cost $400 per month (this was 20 years ago) and I didn’t even get free samples!

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Yep, this is no more than a lame “pharma shill” claim. It’s even lamer than most, because it starts with “I’ve been told…”

        Tori, you have been told a lie.

        • Tori

          I made it lame then sorry – the information source said it with certainty while internally went, “wtf?”

    • the skeptical OG

      Doctors and pharmacists generally have to fend off pharmaceutical reps with swag and free lunches like they are an invading zombie horde. But Pharma reps don’t care much to give samples out in hospitals…it is unlikely to change the inventory or general buying patterns. They save samples for general practitioners or psychiatrists in private practice at their offices, and hand out big sellers like antidepressants and statins.

      In all my years of hospital work in NICUs and L&D, I’ve never seen a rep from any company hand out formula samples…or do a workshop on the potential benefits of formula feeding… or offer to buy the staff lunch…or give out free pens…

      In fact, I’ve never seen a rep from a formula company, period.

      Now, I can believe that kickbacks and free samples were real thing, at a certain point in time – namely the 1950s, when the modern form of infant formula was brand-spankin’ new and companies were still trying to get the word out. Policies and regulations that prevent that sort of thing were much looser or non-existant back then.

      But nowadays? Samples wouldn’t show up unless a hospital had specifically asked for a donation out of desperation or need.

      • Tori

        Thank you! I couldn’t believe there was truth in what was said, but not in the US. Thanks for clarifying.

    • yentavegan

      We have been told that formula companies sponsor educational seminars on cruise ships or at exotic locations and doctors can earn educational credits ( mandatory for licence/insurance ) at those seminars. It is a conflict of interest in the eyes of consumer advocacy groups because drug/pharmacuticals/formula companies muddy the waters .

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Just like Devlin-McGregor did in The Fugitive. They also hire one-armed men for security, and to bump off people about to expose them.

        • Roadstergal

          Oh god, the ‘switched the slides’ bit. You don’t just switch the goddam slides. This stuff is, how do you say, substantially tracked and overseen.

          Plus, no matter how eeeevil of a company you are – if your drug is causing damage, that’s going to come out post-marketing. You’re going to have to withdraw the drug anyway, pay fines, and probably get sued.

          But that would be a boring movie. “We’re seeing unexpected tox that didn’t come out in the IND-enabling studies.” “Well, now we have to stop the trial, and send the drug back to late-stage research and find out if it’s on- or off-target.”

  • Casual Verbosity

    OT: I am part of a fitness group on Facebook and I am seriously alarmed by the amount of woo and general bad advice that floats around there.
    On a daily basis, multiple women are posting with questions like: “I have been experiencing severe bloating and constipation for the past three weeks, what should I do?”, and “I injured my neck in a car accident yesterday, what exercises can I do to strengthen it?”.
    Are you bloody kidding me?! GO TO THE GODDAMN DOCTOR OR PHYSIO! If you are experiencing severe gastrointestinal symptoms over prolonged periods of time, get that checked by a doctor. If you have injured your neck/back/other crucial body part a) See a physiotherapist for rehabilitation not someone on the internet, and b) Do not seek congratulations for continuing to exercise anyway when you haven’t gotten the all-clear.
    The worst part is I feel like I’m one of maybe 3 people in a group with almost 20,000 members that will actually tell people to see a medical professional. The majority of the comments are all herbal supplements and wishful thinking.
    I feel like I am personally responsible for keeping these people healthy and uninjured. Bloody hell people.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Yeah, Bea and her fellow mods have to remind people that we don’t advocate supplements and we do advocate seeing a real medical person all the time. And we have science-based in our title!
      OF course, part of the problem is that supplement and CAM floggers have people convinced that their stuff is science based, even if the studies are few and weak.

      • CSN0116

        What is CAM?

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. The usual nonsense like reiki and homeopathy. I picked the term up from Science Based Medicine.

      • BeatriceC

        For real. I’m sitting here contemplating putting on a tea kettle for peppermint tea because I have a horrid cold, but not because I think it will cure my cold, but because it just feels comforting in my misery. And would is shock you to know how often those arguments move to direct messages? Like look people, if my very average math student 15 year old can spot the errors in the statistical analysis, then the study is no good.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          If I may, my awesome, wonderful, delicious, but totally unscientific hot toddy recipe:
          In the bottom of a mug, mix 1/4-1/2 ts powdered ginger, a generous dollop of honey, and a splash of lemon juice. Add 2 shots brandy. Fill to the top with hot water, and mix.
          The ginger helps with congestion (spicy vs stuffy), the lemon/honey mix soothes a sore throat a tad, and the alcohol both soothes that throat and cough and makes it so that after a few of these, you really won’t care if you have a cold…

          • BeatriceC

            I might have to send MrC to the store to acquire brandy. We seem to be down to rum and tequila.

          • Dr Kitty

            Hot Rum works well.
            My grandmother used brown sugar, rum, a slice of orange, a cinnamon stick and some cloves with a teaspoonful of butter in a cup and topped up with hot water.
            I leave out the butter and am somewhat more generous with the run than she was and would recommend!

          • Charybdis

            Yes!! Hot Buttered Rum!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Hmmmm….rum *might* work too…different flavor profile, of course, but I could see it being Not Bad At All with ginger, lemon, and honey. Tropical!

          • MI Dawn

            I always make my toddy with rum and sugar instead of brandy and honey. I prefer the taste.

          • Heidi_storage

            Yes yes yes! Wholeheartedly agree.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          oh brother.

      • Casual Verbosity

        I need to have ‘See a doctor’ permanently copied so I can just go: paste, paste, paste, paste, paste.
        The other common question is in regards to acne treatment. There’s so much crap out there about acne. I used to work for a dermatologist and I have also had 13 year battle with acne, so I’ve got a pretty good idea about what can work and what’s crap, and all the recommendations you get are cut out food xyz, use some plant essence on your face, dance naked at the full moon and offer a blood sacrifice to the mother goddess. I mean, really!

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Hmm, no skyclad dancing for me, thanx

        • BeatriceC

          I really do need to keep a document with all the most frequent things I type out so I can just cut and paste. “Concerns about medications, side effects, or dosage changes should only be discussed with your doctor.” “No, you cannot suggest a different medication. That would be medical advice. That’s not allowed in a Facebook group.” “The only evidence based primary treatment modalities for depression and anxiety (and bipolar disorder, among other mental health disorders) are medication and certain types of talk therapy. Things like music, exercise, art, etc can be great coping mechanisms, but are not primary treatment modalities.” “Choosing a medication for the sole reason of it’s side effect of weight loss is a bad idea.” I could go on.

        • Merrie

          At least if you use an ineffective acne treatment, the worst you’re likely to end up with is bad acne, right? Versus crowdsourcing treatments for a neck injury or meningitis or whatever other ridiculous things.

          • StephanieJR

            I’ve heard of people literally rubbing lemons on their face to cure their acne.

          • Casual Verbosity

            I think I tried that one at some point. But I only spot treated and I think I may have diluted it as well. It did sweet FA but at least I didn’t burn my face.

          • Casual Verbosity

            You’re right, for the most part dodgy acne treatments aren’t going to permanently damage you, but you can end up spending a crap tonne of money on useless supplements and miracle creams.

          • Roadstergal

            I struggled with acne since puberty. I’ve tried all of the scrubbing regimens and ‘natural’ products, and it’s refused to go away no matter what I tried, no matter what BC I was on.

            Just over a year ago, I went to see a dermatologist. When I described the problem to him, it sounded hormonal to him, and he prescribed me spironolactone. I take a little every day, and although I still get a zit sometimes, it’s once every month or even less frequently, rather than several every week.

            Yes, I went to the doc, and he prescribed me a pill, just like the alt-med folk rant. And it worked. It’s far less burdensome than anything else I’ve tried!

            ETA: And although it’s ‘just acne,’ this was a source of lack of self-confidence for me. My pizza face going away has helped me at work tremendously.

          • Casual Verbosity

            I was honestly surprised when I started working for the dermatologist that I had never heard of spironolactone. I actually got offered spironolactone or Roaccutane last year, but I took the Roaccutane because I used it as a teenager and found it worked really well; they just treated me too young and it came back. I’m now four months post Roaccutane after being on it for just over a year and my skin is looking pretty good, not perfect, but good enough. But if I relapse I’m going to ask for spironolactone.
            I can certainly relate to the confidence issue. For people who have only ever had a pimple here or there it’s ‘just acne’, but for people who live with it every day it can be emotionally crushing.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          dance naked at the full moon

          I’m all for doing naked things….

    • Gæst

      To be fair, I’ve been seeing an orthopedist for years, and gone to all my insurance-allowed PT sessions, and I still can’t shake my problems. The PTs always talk about “strengthening” as the solution to various joint issues, so I can see why someone would want to skip the expensive and time-consuming PT (because the PT is never located in your own gym, or near your home – I lost two hours just on travel to and from each session) and get the exercises to do on their own.

      Not saying it’s a good idea, just that I am at the point where I understand.

      • Casual Verbosity

        Oh I totally get it where it’s coming from. It really is an indictment on healthcare systems that people feel the need to bypass professional help in favour of people on the internet. If it were something minor I would be all for it, but when you’re talking about necks and backs it’s just too risky for me to stomach.

      • Roadstergal

        There definitely are lots of places in the US with issues of access to physical therapists, and it would be a big boon to overall health to rectify that.

        It would also help with availability of PTs to stop licensing chiropractors as primary care physicians and bumping them down the food chain of insurance coverage. Why study to become a PT when you can be a chiro and get paid more?

        • Gæst

          I have avoided going to chiropractors. There are in fact tons of licensed PTs near me – the problem is finding one that accepts my insurance! I’ve seen some great ones, they’re just not easy to get to. And they’re also not helping as much as I’d like.

  • CSN0116
  • Empress of the Iguana People

    Bf’ing always felt like my boobs were at the beck and call of another. I quit bf’ing over 3 years ago and i still cannot allow anyone to touch my chest, even my husband. It’s helping kill my libido

    • Allie

      Oh, me too. I was never big on boob touching to begin with, but now it’s like I’m done. Life dose, exceeded.

  • maidmarian555

    After all the disasters with my son and him losing almost 10% of his birthweight (despite the fact he was getting a bottle of formula at night), this time around I decided to supplement my daughter liberally after she was born. I figured that as my milk took so long to come in last time, it would probably be the same again. Every feed I would offer her one boob. If she was still hungry after that, I offered her the other. If she was still hungry, I gave her formula. Day 1 she was getting through 30ml of formula (after both boobs). Day 2 she was draining the entire 70ml bottle (so much for ‘drops of holy colostrum are more than enough’- she didn’t get that memo). Day 3 my milk came in AND she was back up to her birthweight. So with MORE supplementing, my milk came in much sooner and her weight didn’t drop to a scary level. According to these loons I am a terrible mother for ‘giving in’ and feeding my child though. What the actual fuck is wrong with these people? Since when did making sure your baby has a full tummy been a bad thing? Supplementing in the first couple of days does not mean you need to keep up the bottles once you’ve established supply (assuming that you have a supply) so why are they so hell bent on stopping formula use at the precise time when its most likely to be needed? If you can breastfeed, you will still be able to do so exclusively but your baby won’t have been hungry for days beforehand. I am really struggling to understand why they’re against that.

    • CSN0116

      “stopping formula use at the precise time when its most likely to be needed?”

      A-men.

      Because lactivism, and I’m beginning to think the entire lactation-based profession, is not science based. It’s devoid of logic, beginning to end.

      • Roadstergal

        Lavtivism is not about feeding babies, even with breastmilk. It’s an ideology of formula avoidance, nothing more. That’s why they will never recommend supplementing, even if it results in longer-term breastfeeding. That’s why they never sponsor studies into reasons for lactation failure and biomarkers of same, even though that would help women who want to breastfeed. It’s not a pro-breast movement, it’s an anti-formula movement.

    • Ozlsn

      You and me both. I cannot understand why starving babies – in hospitals what’s more – is seen as such a good thing. If pretty much every culture studied has some form of supplementation going surely that should tell us something.

  • Heidi

    Posting again, but who in the Fed is Best camp is against confirming whether or not mothers are producing enough? I’m all for weight checks, glucose checks (I think these averted a major crisis for my newborn. Low blood sugar time and time again confirmed to me I wasn’t producing enough.), weighted feeds, and/or seeing how much one produces at the pump! How often is a mother’s request to check taken seriously? If women aren’t allowed to confirm their supply, of course most of them are going to seek the method that may very well save their babies’ lives. Duh. Ugh, calling it fear-mongering gets me a bit ragey. Heck, I wouldn’t doubt most us parents aren’t concerned whether our toddlers are getting enough to eat or getting enough of certain micronutrients. Whether or not a newborn is getting enough to eat could ultimately be a life or death situation.

    • CSN0116

      I don’t think people really appreciate how hydrated a days-old-newborn needs to be. They wouldn’t dream of dicking around with a dehydrated toddler or older child, much less intentionally doing anything to made that toddler/child dehydrated.

      Deeply pervasive untruths like, “babies are born with enough reserves to give them all they need for days until mom’s milk arrives” and “colostrum is so nutrient-packed that a few mL’s of it can sustain a baby for hours”. These statements are readily accepted as fact and have been passed around and around. You can thank lactivism for that, and worst of all *institutionalized* lactivism via health care that allows this shit to exist.

      • Heidi

        Yep! You know the lactivists don’t actually won’t checks, as they are the dang ones denying women them in the first place. I don’t know how many stories I’ve read about weights not being disclosed, large weight losses being glossed over (OMG claiming 10% is the new normal. No, it’s not! Human biology didn’t change in the last decade.), claims that pumps mean nothing and who cares if you only pump drops – surely the baby is drawing out ounces and ounces soooo let’s not even bother with a weighted feed!

        • CSN0116

          Oh, oh! Or the “your baby was born via cesarean so let me quick calculate how much extra, unnecessary fluid he took in/failed to purge during that process, so that I can tell you that the 15% weight loss we’re observing is not “real” …it’s all confounded with nasty cesarean-related fluid issues.”

          And I do love the, “the pump isn’t a true indicator of your production. Your baby is capable of getting much more from you than a pump.”

          Bull shitttttt. Have they even studied that claim? Best case scenario – baby and pump draw out roughly the same amount of breast milk. Worst case – the pump is actually better than the baby is and I see it allllll the time.

          • Casual Verbosity

            Interestingly the reason they claim that the amount pumped is meaningless is because some women whose babies are thriving can extract very little with a pump. So in those cases, since the baby is gaining weight, obviously the baby is better at getting it out than the pump is. Yet they want to take that as evidence that all babies are better at extracting milk than all pumps. They want to apply that same logic to a baby who is rapidly losing weight.
            Here’s a crazy idea: if the baby is gaining weight and not showing any signs of dehydration and you can’t pump very much, then it’s probably a problem with the pumping not your supply. But if the baby is losing weight and showing signs of dehydration and you can’t pump very much, then that would suggest that it’s a problem with your supply, not the pumping.

          • Ozlsn

            I am dying laughing at the unnecessary fluid taken in via c-section claim. That would mean my son was what, actually the size of a 20 rather than 21 week baby when he was born at 27 weeks? Or do only term babies have this magical ingestion property? Something that matures after 37 weeks perhaps?

          • Roadstergal

            Women and babies are actually water balloons, with no means of regulating their fluid balance.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Ayup. In a *stunning* turn of events, I’d bet we eventually find out that different women respond differently to different babies’ suckling patterns and to different pumps, and there isn’t really a hard-and-fast rule of one always being better than the other. I know my daughter was better at getting milk out than the crappy pump I had for the simple reason that after she nursed, I was no longer sore and hard, and post-pumping, even for an hour or more, I sometimes was, but I also know women whose babies do WAY better with exclusively pumping moms vs nursing directly.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Why would anyone believe this? Are babies not human? Humans get dehydrated, small humans get dehydrated faster, newborns it would seem to me get dehydrated even faster than toddlers/older babies.. why is this news to anyone? Do people actually believe newborns have some “magic power” to keep them from getting dehydrated? I don’t get it, and I really don’t get an actual nurse or doctor being ignorant enough of biology to believe it. Lactation consultants might but I don’t think most of them have ANY medical training(which begs the question of why they are allowed to advise parents on what’s best for their newborn nutritionally…)

    • Emilie Bishop

      My nurse came to check on us in the middle of the night when my son was about 12 hours old. She said he felt cold. Despite our charts talking about my physical risk factors for low milk supply and later seeing me hand-express NOTHING and pump 2cc in fifteen minutes, it didn’t occur to her to check his glucose levels or offer formula. Instead, she told me to hold him skin-to-skin under a heated blanket and she’d check him in a little while. She left us that way for two hours. She said he wasn’t cold after that, but I have no idea what if anything she used to determine that. Such is the power of the effing BFHI that they train staff to believe a baby needs mom’s skin more than they need calories (or mom needs sleep).

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        f that. I don’t do skin-to-skin. I loathe being uncovered. Their dad was keen on it, but it ain’t how we kept them warm. In the NICU, my daughter was under some warming lights, and getting as much formula as she wanted. She was as happy as any NICU baby can be.

        • Emilie Bishop

          I hated sts too, especially since my little guy came in January. I’ve always loved having him in my arms, but I want my shirt on! And yes, I’m sure my loosing two extra hours of sleep under a heated blanket did less than nothing for him, but hindsight and all…

    • Taysha

      *raises hand* glucose checks helped my kid as well. He was borderline low and the nurse came to ask if they could give him some formula. She was very concerned until I told her to stick that sucker in his mouth and go to town. And feed his sister, too, while she was at it cause I was still half dead from a c-section.

      If I remember, lil shit chugged 30mls within 12hrs of popping out.

      • CSN0116

        As an EFF family we feed our kiddos formula bottles while still in recovery (like how nursing moms put babies right to breast). My 5 babies all consumed 1.5 oz within 30 minutes of being born. It’s amazing how that “marble” thing works.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          darn big marbles

          • CSN0116

            Five babies ranging from 36 weeks to 41 weeks and 5.12 to 9.1 lbs. Boys and girls. It’s a small sample, mind you, but makes me think that that feeding behavior might be quite normal.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        which chugged 30mls? (i’m nosy)

  • Heidi

    Unless your child dies as an infant, they are never going to be exclusively breastfed. So, lactivists, get over it. Their virgin gut ( gawwwd) is going to be sullied anyway. Even if you don’t give them anything but breast milk, they are going to put things in their mouth that will have microorganisms that will populate their gut.

    • Allie

      Yep, I once caught my daughter drinking water out of the toilet brush holder. She must have an AMAZING gut biome : )

      • Heidi

        I’ve caught mine eating dog food out of the dog food bowl, offering the dogs bites and licks of his food then proceeding to eat it, he puts playground rocks in his mouth, licks the bottom of shoes, and once he had smeared his poop all over himself in his crib so I’m sure some went in his mouth! He’ll be 2 in December and was sick one time at 16 months. He did get colostrum and a small amount of breast milk for 7 months but we all know that doesn’t matter because formula is that bad. So bad it’s kept him alive and I think very healthy. I mean formula is probably the reason he puts all those germy things in his mouth. A breastfed 2 year old knows only to put breast milk and organic quinoa and kale in their mouth.

  • CSN0116
    • StephanieJR

      Red pill or blue pill?

  • Roadstergal

    “if her goal is to exclusively breastfeed”

    The more I read this site, the more I wonder why on earth that’s considered an important goal. Breastmilk’s benefits aren’t going to be wiped out by a few mLs of formula at the beginning. If breastfeeding is the goal, a little early supplementation has been shown to help, after all. So even if you’re the type of person who thinks breastfeeding is critical to being a good mom – where on earth did this ‘exclusive’ business come from? Why is this a goal?

    • namaste

      The “Goal” is to make mothering so time consuming, labor intensive, and emotionally consuming that it forces women to be SAHMs. The underlying subtext is that the only way to be a “Good” mom is to sink every nanoparticle of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy, indeed your entire being, into motherhood.

    • Gæst

      Virgin gut theory has a lot to do with it – supposedly formula “ruins” the virgin gut, so then it doesn’t matter if you also get breast milk. I don’t buy it for a second, though.

      • Roadstergal

        Me neither; it’s totally magical thinking in scientific-ish dress. But for me, it seems a post hoc rationalization of why Formula Is Bad, with the latter decision already having been made in their minds…

    • Mel

      My goal was to raise a healthy child.

      All the rest is window-dressing, so here’s some formula, kiddo.

    • Gæst

      Someone posted in one of my groups asking about our solid feeding schedule. She has 7 month olds who have started solids, and she’s unsure if she can increase their solid food sessions from 3 times a week to once a day.

      Why should we be so afraid to give our children FOOD? The kids will probably be fine if they only get solids once a day until they are one (I think it’s a bit risky for iron deficiency if she keeps it up that long, maybe), but what is the potential harm in giving a 7 month old solids more often? FEED YOUR CHILDREN. That’s the #1 thing a parent has to do – just feed them. By 7 months, mine had solid food three times a day. And no, it wasn’t “just for fun.” It was calories and nutrients, and it was a fun sensory experience, and it was a social thing, too, joining the family at mealtime. No one else has to follow my exact timeline or frequency of feeding but no one should be afraid that it would hurt a baby to do so.

      • Amazed

        It just occurred to me right now that the “social thing” might actually scare lactivists. They don’t want their toddlers to socialize well. They want their kids to only love and want Mom. Every eating with the family takes away from the elitist nature of breastfeeding which they have turned into a sacred thing. Toddlers should not enjoy eating with the family because that means Mom has failed.

        Last month, I had a good laugh. I was staying with my mom and the Intruder and SIL arrived with a huge pizza. The extra thing the restaurant gave them was three mini-pizzas for Amazing Niece (aged 20 months). Poor kid is severely allergic so they had to basically strip her pizzas bare, with some meat on them, or perhaps not even this. But my! we had the happiest, most settled kid ever. She was eating the same thing as us! She felt included!

        Same kid has now been going for 7 days to childcare (it was supposed to be 10 but surprise, surprise, she caught a virus right on the third day). Today, she had an afternoon nap there. After the second day, she’s been waving at Mom and Dad and going in there without looking back. Clearly, Mom and Dad can take care of themselves!

        Wonder if this would have been the case if she had been with Mom and Mom alone all her life, instead of getting to learn by experience that Mom and Dad might be gone but they’re going to be back and since so many people can take care of her, she’s ready to give the childcare workers a chance.

        • Gæst

          Maybe you’re right. I’ve never felt a desire to keep my kids to myself. I always want more time away from them (single parent, here). I think I love them just as much, I just don’t need to be in their presence constantly. And both my kids are very happy to go with other people.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Ha! I’m not sure my son’d have let me keep him to myself. Kid is alarmingly extroverted.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        Good heavens? Mine were having solid -meals- every day by that age. The minibards are on the early end of the spectrum, but 3 times a week is nothing for a 7 month old.

        • Gæst

          I mean, that’s what I thought, but I started solids at 4 months. I guess if you waited until 6 months it might not seem like so little? But I immediately went to once a day, not any weird three times a week thing.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Yeah, it’s pretty odd from my point of view. Kiddo gets spoonful at dinner for a few days, then 2, or whatever. (Never was that precise) Then again, my two were taking food out of my hands and yelling at me if I dared take back my own PB&J. Girlbard in particular wants ALL THE PEANUTBUTTER SANDWICHES. On the positive side, I learned quickly that she’s not allergic to peanuts

          • Gæst

            My pediatrician was big on giving them all the different foods all at once, just no honey or milk. I think there was some general advice to make sure they were still drinking enough milk/formula, but I didn’t interpret that to mean trying to control the amount of solids they got. Just keep an eye out for dehydration. By 7 months I’m pretty sure mine were self-feeding pasta and sauce with broccoli (the exact months get a little muddy as they are much older now), attempting to spoon feed themselves, and just generally getting excited when they saw the little plastic food bowls come out.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Its muddy for me and it’s only been a year since she started solids! Almost exactly, actually.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Mine found a peanut in a lower cabinet she was climbing in and taking all the pots out of. 7 months old. We figured out she wasn’t allergic to peanuts and was pretty good about not choking.

        • CSN0116

          Who only offers solids on, say, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? LOL. Never heard of such a thing. It typically goes once a day, twice a day, all three meals. At 7 months my babies were eating all-out meals three times a day, they were also mostly self feeding.

          • Gæst

            What, there’s no saying that goes “Solids on MWF, never on Ss, never on Ts”? “Milk on Monday, Toast on Tuesday”?

          • Ozlsn

            “Who only offers solids on, say, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?”

            Erm.. not quite me, but we were only offering once a day while he was still in hospital (peg fed) and twice a week the speech pathologist was there. So to me that read almost as an ‘introducing solids to a tube fed child in the presence of a therapist’ kind of schedule – even then they would have better results with doing the tube feed after letting them sit and play/taste at normal meal times 3-5 times per day, with or without the speechie being there.

          • Merrie

            My oldest wasn’t all that into food initially and we were lazy, so often we’d just do milk, but after a bit I was like “We really need to make an effort to get food into her regularly”.

          • Azuran

            Yea, mine wasn’t much interested either. I started trying to give food at 5 months, it took an entire month before she actually showed any flicker or interest in it and another month before she purposefully swallowed anything.
            At 7 months, she gets two meals a day, but generally only cares about one of the two and her interest only lasts for about 3-4 spoons.

    • Dinolindor

      When I had my babies, I was told that my body needed to know the baby’s hunger timing or whatever. So every time the baby was hungry but I gave a bottle instead of offering to breastfeed, I was sabotaging the ramping up of my milk supply. I think that’s where a lot of the “even one bottle” paranoia began, more so than the virgin gut nonsense (that wasn’t a thing, or not a big enough one anyway, in 2011 when I had my first. By 2014 there was some of that talk, but the focus of avoiding formula was definitely on messing up the supply/demand synchronization.)

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        It doesn’t even make sense. Loss mothers and ff by choice mothers both have their milk come in and stay in for several days.

        • Dinolindor

          Yup.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I’ve said it before, even in the lactivist world, shouldn’t the metric be “breastfeeding”? Not EBF, but breastfeeding?

      My wife breastfed our kids until they quit at 9 or 10 months. But we started supplementing around 3 mos, and fed solids around 4.5 mos. So she is considered a failure in the “EBF for 6 mos” metric.

      My response is, so what? Why would it have been better if she had EBF for 6 months? And shouldn’t she be given credit for the “Still BF at 9 mos” metric? Yet we rarely see that.

      Our kids were predominantly BF from 3 – 9 mos. Why is that not considered a good outcome?

      • Amazed

        Because she assaulted their virgin guts. I’d love to hear an explanation of how breastfeeding is so powerful as to overcome HIV but so fragile that a drop of formula can kill all the good stuff in it. Alas, this far no one has been willing to answer.

        • Casual Verbosity

          THIS!

          This point drives me crazy. If breastfeeding is so fragile that a single supplement of formula can destroy all of its effects, then it’s probably not that powerful. It’s like saying: “I’m so strong I can knock down a brick wall with my bare hands, but if a toddler stands on the other side of the wall and rests their pinky finger against it, I won’t even be able to dislodge a single brick.”

          • StephanieJR

            Formula is kryptonite?

        • Ozlsn

          My kid’s virgin gut was screwed then. TPN, EBM, lactose free formula, every calorific supplement going in both the EBM and the formula, tons of antibiotics along the way (rather antis than sepsis)… and yet here we are, with him eating food and processing it… um… appropriately.

          • BeatriceC

            My kids were screwed from the start. TPN, NG tubes with various types of formula, breastmilk, fortified breastmilk and bottles just to prove they could eat before they were allowed to even try to latch to the boobs. Now they’re teenagers and I’m lucky to get them to eat raw ramen noodles and jelly toast for breakfast.

      • yentavegan

        Why is breastfeeding for 3 to 9 months not considered a good outcome? Because the GOAL is exclusive breastmilk fed , no formula ( unless medically necessary) until the child outgrows the need to nurse. We base our standards on the flawlessness of the animal kingdom or like our perfect ancestral mothers.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “where on earth did this ‘exclusive’ business come from? Why is this a goal?”

      It’s the goal precisely because it is “exclusive” in just the same way that an exclusive country club or an exclusive prep school is exclusive.

  • anh

    My baby was born 9 days ago. She’s had two surgeries and had a few days with no food. She was weighed Sunday and was 5 ounces from birth weight. I was bfeeding on demand but anxious and made them weigh her yesterday and she was down to 12% weight loss. I freaked but everyone reassured me it was because she had lost tons of the fluids she’d been pumped full of. I said I was going to top off with formula. The pediatric resident warned me to be super careful and not supplement too much.

    This morning I find out that the plan is to transfer us to a local hospital, at this residents recommendation, to monitor her weight. We’d transfer in a few days. So this issue which was a non issue yesterday today justified five more days in the hospital. I was supposed to care more about EBF than going home and reuniting my family.

    I’m still pissed. The resident wanted to reinsert an NG tube to avoid nipple confusion. WTF.

    Fortunately she was overruled by a senior consultant as my daughter is gaining, peeing, and pooping like a champ.

    • anh

      I will add i have multiple follow up appointments scheduled to make sure she keeps gaining

    • Mel

      Congratulations on your little girl! She sounds like quite a little fighter.

      I had some interesting experiences with the resident OB assigned to me when Spawn was born. Nice lady, but seemed absolutely unable to process the fact that my blood pressure has no response to labetalol so I wasted a few days in the hospital with absurdly high BP after Spawn was born. My OB stepped in and told the nurses that all care was to go through her. Three drugs later, I was on the high side of normal (150’s-140’s/90) and was discharged 48 hours later after 8 days in the hospital.

      When in doubt, call in an attending or consultant.

    • Amazed

      Congrats! Welcome to the new little one!

    • Jenny

      I’m surprised that insurance companies aren’t noticing and opposing this sort of thing. Five extra days for mother and baby in the hospital? Then there are all the starving/dehydrated babies being re-admitted. The costs must add up.

      The insurance companies had to be prevented by law from kicking women out of hospitals within a few hours of birth. Why aren’t they doing some good in the world by cracking down on the expenses lactivists cause?

      • CSN0116

        Has anyone ever quantified it? I mean lactivists have invented “simulated calculators” to show the cost of colds, diarrhea and diabetes “associated with” not breastfeeding.

        Have the health care costs of breast feeding, especially ebf, been calculated? All those readmission rates, NICU stays, jaunduce lights, extra heel sticks, extra ped appointments, treatments for thrush and mastitis, lactation consults, etc. The cost has to be in the billions.

    • Dr Kitty

      So glad she’s doing well.

      If you feel up to it, talk to the resident.
      Explain that your priority is to get your daughter home and to figure out the challenges of parenting a baby with different needs, *not* EBF.
      That you are concerned that she would prefer your daughter spend more time in hospital and have an invasive and uncomfortable procedure over formula and that she is not being patient or family centred in her outlook.
      She needs a “come to Jesus”, if you feel up to doing it.

      If you don’t- a strongly worded email to the person in charge of the paediatric training programme when you are feeling up to it might be an idea.

      I hope you are getting to enjoy her.
      She’s got an awesome mum in her corner.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      1) Congrats!
      2) I encountered something similar with first kid. They wouldn’t tell me her weight for days, then she’d lost 10% but it wasn’t a big deal, then the night before we were supposed to leave she had lost 10% and it was such a huge freaking deal they were going to keep her there but send me home (an hour away, let me add) so she could gain some more weight. Because God forbid one of the nurses or peds say “hey, your kid is screaming inconsolably and losing way too much weight, howzabout we give her a bottle after nursing sessions?” Kid got formula, albeit through a SNS, and went home with me, thankyouverymuch.
      Asses.

    • BeatriceC

      Congrats! Sorry you had to deal with the bone-headed resident, but I’m glad the senior consultant was reasonable. I’m glad she’s doing well now.

    • StephanieJR

      Congratulations! Hope that everything continues to improve, and that the people that need it get a boot to the arse.

    • the skeptical OG

      An NG tube is considered superior to potential “nipple confusion”?

      Sweet angry Jesus on toast.

      Whoever decided that should try living with an NG tube for a few days, and then revisit that theory.

      Also, way to gaslight babies that prefer bottles to boobs. They aren’t confused – they know exactly which way want to eat. For some babies and moms, it is just easier. Imagine the difference between trying to eat with hands and utensils and trying trying to eat with your elbows – you’d have a preference, too. But you probably wouldn’t be confused about it.

      • the skeptical OG

        To clarify, I am not ranting about you, anh, I’m ranting about the resident in your story. Didn’t mean to come across as hostile.

      • BeatriceC

        My kids had NG tubes when they were babies because they couldn’t figure out how to eat and breathe at the same time. I cannot imagine putting a kid through that just to avoid “nipple confusion”, which doesn’t exist anyway, as babies have preferences in both directions. It just depends on the baby.

  • MsMe

    Not many people realize that a woman who can breastfeed her first child sometimes cannot produce enough milk the second time around. Or the second child might be unable to digest breastmilk. I’ve often wondered if this has happened to some of the mommy bloggers and celebrities who are so obnoxiously loud about breastfeeding with their first… and if they then lie to everyone rather than taking back what they’d said or posted before.

    • critter8875

      My paternal grandmother successfully breast fed 2 children, then 10 years later realized her child was not thriving. She supplemented.

    • Merrie

      A fun variant on that, I exclusively breastfed my first two children, but this time around I got a little piggy. We were fine until I went back to work, but I’m not getting the amount that he wants when I pump at work. I am unwilling to add any more pump sessions and the amount that I’m getting would have been more than ample with either of my older two, but I struggle to keep up with this particular kid, who can drink 20 oz in 9 hours, and thus we have started to make up the shortfall with formula.