Mother dies from breastfeeding

Tombstone Mother

Sugh a tragic, senseless waste of life!

From The Sun:

Rhianne Statom-Barnett, 30, was worried the prescription-only medication might affect her three-month-old son George through the transfer of baby milk.

Her mother explains what happened when Rhianne developed a severe ear infection:

Cause of death: the culture of maternal self-neglect that is at the heart of breastfeeding promotion.

Her mother Beverly, 55, told the hearing her daughter booked a GP appointment where she compared the pain to giving birth.

Beverly, a nurse, said: “We looked at her ear and it had blood and fluid coming out of it.

“She said she had a severe headache and her ear was hurting a lot. She said it was worse than labour pains.”

Three days later she found her daughter unconscious in her bed after George started at crying at 5am.

Beverly said: “She had vomited and when I called out her name she didn’t respond we called an ambulance.

“At hospital the senior doctor came out and told us that Rhianne was effectively brain dead. It was heartbreaking.”

Breastfeeding — and the culture that surrounds it — killed this mother as surely as if a lactivist had taken a gun and shot her through the head.

Here’s what I’d like to know:

Where did this young mother get the idea that antibiotics would be harmful to a breastfeeding child?

Why wasn’t her doctor able to reassure her that most antibiotics are safe during breastfeeding and prescribe an antibiotic that was known to be safe?

How did Rhianne come to believe that suffering in agony (describing the pain as worse than labor) was necessary to protect her baby?

Who encouraged Rhianne to risk her hearing, health and life as less important than breastfeeding her baby? Did she reach out to a Facebook group that supported her decision to refuse antibiotics? Did she consult a lactation professional who told her that she must avoid medication of any kind regardless of the risk to her?

Of course determining the answers to these questions doesn’t change the bottom line: a young mother is dead because of breastfeeding.

No doubt, the lactivists will be parachuting in to tell me that I mustn’t blame breastfeeding. They will insist that it wasn’t breastfeeding that killed this mother, it was the bacteria in her ear.

Yes, the bacteria were the proximate cause, spreading from her ear to the bones of her skull and then to her brain, but the real cause was the veneration of maternal self-neglect that is at the heart of breastfeeding promotion and, indeed, all natural mothering.

The three ideologies that sail under the natural parenting flag — natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting — are promoted as both recapitulating mothering in nature and better for babies. Neither is true. All were created explicitly as anti-feminist projects designed to force women back into the home.

For example, La Leche League, the prime mover within the breastfeeding industry, was founded by a group of devout Catholic women who were deeply concerned that women with small children were working outside the home. They reasoned that Mary, mother of Jesus, would never have worked and that promoting breastfeeding would lead women to emulate Mary and to give up their jobs.

All three philosophies share another thing in common: the belief that the women’s needs are irrelevant, rendered invisible by the purported needs of babies. The breastfeeding industry treats women like cows: milk dispensers and nothing more.

A mother’s pain is irrelevant. For lactivists, just because a mother has cracked and bleeding nipples is no excuse for her to avoid breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding difficulties are irrelevant. Regardless of the difficulty (poor latch, flat nipples, poor suck, insufficient breastmilk) and regardless of the severity of the difficulty the lactivist prescription is always the same: “Breastfeed harder.”

A mother’s need for sleep is irrelevant. She is supposed to dispense breastmilk 24/7/365.

A mother’s need to control her own body is irrelevant. If breastfeeding makes her psychologically uncomfortable, she’s supposed to get over it.

A mother’s mental health is irrelevant. Lactivists are much more concerned with whether treatments for postpartum depression are compatible with breastfeeding than with whether they are the best possible treatment for the mother’s psychological condition. The mother must continue dispensing breastmilk even if she is inexorably approaching psychological collapse.

Maternal self-neglect is the order of the day. It’s hardly surprising then that a breastfeeding mother risked her own life, refusing antibiotics and enduring excruciating pain, in order to ensure that her breastmilk was pristine.

There is something very, very wrong when breastfeeding is promoted so aggressively (despite trivial benefits) that women are encouraged to neglect themselves to the extent that they end up dead.

A mother’s health and sanity is infinitely more important to her child than any amount of breastmilk.

  • Wubbsy

    Why is there even a dichotomy of breast OR bottle? One can bottle breast milk for convenience, no?

    Also I’m astonished that it would be a priority for her to breastfeed rather than to treat her ear infection, as well as by the fact that she did not ask or research to see if the antibiotics would make it into the milk. Even if it were true, surely missing a few weeks of breast milk would not harm the baby?

  • Bugsy

    Life has gotten busy, so I rarely have time to post any more (although I still lurk)…but I needed to for this one.

    I have a friend who, over the summer, was diagnosed with aggressive thyroid cancer. Surgery was recommended ASAP, and she was pretty despondent when I spoke with her after this diagnosis. She’s very much taking the all-natural route with her 18-month-old son, and told me that the fact she’d have to stop breastfeeding immediately was something she wasn’t prepared to do.

    When I spoke with her immediately prior to the surgery, she was estastic.

    It turns out she’d gotten a second “opinion” from an all-natural doctor overseas who recommended that instead of surgery, she pursue coffee enemas, juicing, a healthy diet and walks in the woods…and to check back on the status of the cancer in a few months. She was elated to have a second chance, particularly one that would allow her to maintain her quality of life and continue breastfeeding.

    I tried gently suggesting to her that the breastfeeding along doesn’t make the mom, but a living person does. Unfortunately, she’s quite caught up in the all-natural movement and to boot, we aren’t super close. I fear what they’ll find at her next “check-up.”

    • FormerPhysicist

      Oh no.

    • MaineJen

      Oh geez…

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      *hugs*

    • Roadstergal

      Oh god. 🙁

  • Mike Stevens

    For a middle ear infection to result in the death of someone, even if antibiotics were not taken, is an extremely unusual event and not an outcome that would be ordinarily foreseeable or predictable, by either the mother or the doctor.

    She was reported to have been offered antibiotics, but we don’t know if the doctor gave any specific advice about their safety or otherwise with breastfeeding. Some antibiotics are contraindicated during breastfeeding, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the mother may have thought it safer overall not to take the chance. Other antibiotics, while not contraindicated, often result in diarrhoea in the baby because of their effect on gut microflora. It is not unreasonable for a mother to be naturally wary of what drugs she takes while breastfeeding in case it might affect her child.
    I assume she weighed the possible risks to her baby from antibiotics (perhaps not knowing the precise risks, if she was not fully informed), and thought that these risks outweighed the possible risks of her own infection worsening. I very much doubt she thought that she might die if she didn’t take antibiotics.

    To blame “breastfeeding” for this death unreasonable.

    • Heidi_storage

      If this poor lady’s thought processes were as you describe them, then prioritizing breastfeeding led to an incorrect assessment of the risks of antibiotics to her baby. She thought she was doing what was best for her child because “breast is best,” and this led to her death.

    • Roadstergal

      “It is not unreasonable for a mother to be naturally wary of what drugs she takes while breastfeeding in case it might affect her child.”

      Let’s take that as the given, then.

      Why risk her health, hearing, and life by refusing the antibiotics, instead of switching her baby to formula while the ear infection cleared up and she was on medication, pumping and dumping in the meantime?

      That _should_ have been the ‘worst case scenario.’ The woman doesn’t feed her baby breastmilk for the period of time that it takes for the ear infection to clear up, then goes back to it.

      • Charybdis

        These are the same people who have no problems letting a baby breastfeed through a bout of mastitis, with pus and blood in the milk (yes, I know draining the breast often will help mastitis clear up, but there is pumping/hand expression for that). Blood in the milk? No problem, it’s STRAWBERRY MILK! Pus? Keep feeding! Never mind the fact that Group B Strep (GBS) can cause mastitis and the NCB brigade actively promote skipping the GBS test.

        But even hint at suggesting antibiotics for an infection and you are UNDERMINING TEH BREASTFEEDING! You aren’t being properly supportive of the mother’s breastfeeding plans/journey! If you have no real intention of following the doctor’s recommendations/instructions, then why are you going in the first place? What response are you (general) looking for, exactly? It is a huge disconnect, as far as I can tell.

    • FallsAngel

      To blame “breastfeeding” for this death unreasonable.

      I agree. Reading this story, there is no evidence that Rhianne was a member of the La Leche League, or that she had contacted anyone in any “lactivist” group about these antibiotics.

      Here is what LLL says: http://www.llli.org/faq/medications.html
      “You are wondering if you should take the medication that your doctor has prescribed. It’s easier to make that decision when you have informationon breastfeeding and medications. Breastfeeding is important to you and your baby. It is prudent to investigate taking any medications, even ones available without a prescription. (Herbal remedies should also be researched.) LLLI WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, says on page 312, “When prescribing a medication for a nursing mother, some physicians routinely insist on weaning as a precaution. In reality, few drugs have been proven to be harmful to the nursing infant.”

      LLL is not recommending to not take the med. Please note I am not and never have been a member of the LLL, and I do think some of their policies are a bit over the top.

      Here’s what the US CDC says: “Although many medications do pass into breast milk, most have no effect on milk supply or on infant well-being. Few medications are
      contraindicated while breastfeeding. A 2013 clinical report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “The Transfer of Drugs and Therapeutics into Human Breast Milk: An Update on Selected Topics,” indicates that most medications and immunizations are safe to use during lactation.

      According to AAP, health care providers should weigh the risks and
      benefits when prescribing medications to breastfeeding mothers by
      considering the following:

      Need for the drug by the mother.
      Potential effects of the drug on milk production.
      Amount of the drug excreted into human milk.
      Extent of oral absorption by the breastfeeding infant.
      Potential adverse effects on the breastfeeding infant.
      Age of the infant.

      Breastfeeding mothers should inform their health care provider and
      their child’s pediatrician of any medications or supplements they are
      taking, including herbal and over-the-counter products.”
      Plus more.
      https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/disease/drugs.htm

      The CDC article references a database where one may look up meds and their compatibility with breast feeding.

      When I worked in pediatrics we got many calls about antibiotics and other meds a mom was prescribed and looked them up. If a med was not compatible, we suggested the mom ask her doctor for a med that was compatible, or, failing that, “pump and dump” for the duration.

      In addition, I don’t know what purpose was served with the discussion about LLL being started by a group of Catholics who thought that women should not work out of the home. If true, that has no more bearing on LLL than the fact that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, had eugenics leanings. Neither group espouses those policies now.

      LLL resources about working moms: http://www.llli.org/nb/nbworking.html

      Since the mom saw a GP (similar to a Family Practice doctor in the US) s/he should have known she was bf and prescribed an antibiotic that was compatible with same. Perhaps the GP was not aware of how serious this infection was. It happens.

      Breastfeeding did not kill this mom.

      • FallsAngel

        Nor am I a Catholic, but I found that reference offensive.

        • LaMont

          Wait, so it’s inherently offensive to explain how religion has been, and continues to e, oppressive to women? Because that’s a bit broad…

          • FallsAngel

            That is not what was said. For some reason, it’s supposed to be significant that these founding women were Catholic, as opposed to some other religion.

          • LaMont

            Oh, don’t worry. This secular gal is able to realize that all religions oppress women, even when looking at one way that Catholics did it one time.

          • No, but which religion was oppressive in this instance does matter, does it not?

          • FallsAngel

            I didn’t get from the story that there was any religion being represented. Perhaps you could point the passage out to me.

            You might take a look at this, and read it all the way through. Please note, as I said earlier, I am not and never was a member of LLL and I think they’re a little “out there” in some ways.
            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/28/magazine/28froelich-t.html

          • Froehlich and her six friends, all Catholic housewives, created La Leche League and called for mothers to wrest control back from the experts. They insisted that breast-feeding was better than the bottle — more natural, more nutritional, more sustaining of deep mother-baby attachment — long before the feminist health movement or the medical establishment did so. Their mother-to-mother counseling strategy grew out of the Christian Family Movement, a progressive ecumenical group in which “like ministered to like” on social justice. “These women wanted to repair the world, and they translated that into a concern with the health of women and babies,” says Lynn Weiner, a history professor at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

            3rd paragraph. All Catholic housewives, all using strategies developed to proselytize to people.

            But even as their previously quixotic cause became mainstream, the founding mothers fell out of step with a new development. In large numbers, women with young children were going to work. Yet La Leche philosophy called for mothers to be available constantly to their nursing babies. The 1981 edition of “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” summed up the group’s opposition to working motherhood: “Our plea to any mother who is thinking about taking an outside job is, ‘if at all possible, don’t.’ ”

            LLL against working outside the home- probably religiously motivated, but not explicitly stated so in this particular piece.

          • FallsAngel

            What’s that got to do with the woman, Rhianna, that died. There is nothing in the article to indicate she was a member of LLL or that she was an adherent to any religion. That’s what I was asking you to show me. Yes, the article contains a screed against LLL.

            LLL long ago changed their policy on working mothers.

            Edited to add another thought.

          • FallsAngel

            That’s not what I’m talking about! I’m asking, where in the article about Rhianna does it say she was a member of LLLI or an adherent to any religion?

            LLLI changed their policy on working moms more than 30 years ago.

          • Your question was a non-sequitur, then. And you linked an article about LLL, so I answered the question asked. The answer you’re actually looking for is, I don’t know if Rhianne was a member of LLL or not. That’s hardly the point. The point is that this sort of rhetoric is ubiquitous, that women can’t avoid it, and that the groups that propound the ‘breast is best’ rhetoric were not formed in order to empower women but rather for the opposite reason. Or, if they were formed to empower women, they have utterly failed at their task and need to take a long, hard, reevaluative look at what they’re doing.

          • FallsAngel

            And my point is that none of this is material to Rhianna’s case. There was no need for that screed about LLLI. There is no evidence that she was a member of, or influenced by any “lactivist” group.

          • First, the name is Rhianne. Her death is a tragedy and the least we can do is spell her name right when speaking about it.

            Second, you are still entirely missing the point. The Western parenting world is saturated with “breast is best” messaging from groups like LLL. It doesn’t matter if Rhianne was a member or not- she got the message that breastfeeding is paramount, and the groups that spread that message therefore have complicity her death. If you think LLL isn’t part of the lactivism in the hospital, marketing materials, doctor training sessions, and so forth, you’re just wrong.

          • FallsAngel

            Sorry for the misspelling. Hopefully you will never make a spelling error. I’ll be sure to let you know if you do.

            Secondly, LLLI does not go into the US hospitals I’m familiar with and I live in a very “crunchy” area.

          • Bugsy

            I think the problem is that LLL thought is pervasive in many educated groups, even if the group itself doesn’t go into hospitals. I’ve made a point to steer as far clear of LLL as I can, and yet the influences from an over-the-top friend who was a local leader very much carried over and affected my every day behaviour. I was paranoid about what I would ingest and how it would affect my first-born son, day in and day out. So even though I would never identify as being affiliated with LLL, the doctrine definitely had negative ramifications in my life.

          • Sarah

            Don’t minimise it as a spelling error.

          • FallsAngel

            It was a big deal to Feminerd.

          • Heidi_storage

            Yes, it is offensive to many to “explain how religion has been, and continues to be, oppressive to women.” How could it not be? This does not mean that you should always refrain from giving offense, however, if you believe that you are stating an important or helpful truth in an appropriate context. (I.e. don’t visit a church or mosque and scream “They’re oppressing you!” at the women attending.)

    • swbarnes2

      She had a ruptured eardrum, and was in agonizing pain. If you are trying to say that is was reasonable of her to choose to risk losing her hearing because she though breastfeeding without a trace of medicine was more important, sorry, it’s really not that reasonable.

      And the question of the original post is, why was her evaluation of the downside of medicine so far out of whack? Someone told her at some point that breastfeeding was so important, it was worth agonizing pain and permanent deafness. Maybe the doctor didn’t do enough to try and overcome that, but regardless of where she got that message, she did get it. Someone, maybe a lot of someones, got that message into her.

      • Mike Stevens

        I’ll just say that the doctor did offer antibiotics, and we know from her mother that she did take them, so it’s all a bit moot.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          we know from her mother that she did take them

          What? The mother has posted in this thread, and has insisted that she was never offered antibiotics.

          Is she now changing her story?

      • FallsAngel

        Someone told her at some point that breastfeeding was so important, it was worth agonizing pain and permanent deafness.

        We don’t know that! All we know from the article is this: “Rhianne Statom-Barnett, 30, was worried the prescription-only medication
        might affect her three-month-old son George through the transfer of
        baby milk.”

  • Rivkah Rainey

    What killed her, was her lack of being informed. Of denying herself treatment out of sincere for her child’s wellbeing. Ignorance killed her. Nobody can be blamed for that. We are all susceptible to gullibilty. (is that a word)? She died of her own ignorance. Even if all the “breast feeding experts in the world” had erroneously informed her, misleading her…she is responsible for her lack of knowledge.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Victim blaming at its very best. I guess you are proud of yourself, but to me you have no kindness at all.

    • Russell Jones

      “Nobody can be blamed for that.”

      I respectfully disagree. Intentionally disseminating (and profiting from) ignorance, as well as taking advantage of gullibility, is exceptionally blameworthy imho. There’s a massive body of both civil and criminal law based upon that precept.

      “Even if all the ‘breast feeding experts in the world’ had erroneously
      informed her, misleading her…she is responsible for her lack of
      knowledge.”

      Responsibility generally isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. A single event can have more than one cause, yes? One can convincingly argue that many of Bernie Madoff’s victims should have known better and acted more responsibly, but that doesn’t make ol’ Bernie’s conduct any less criminal.

    • No, she isn’t. The whole point of consulting experts is that they know things we don’t, because no one can know everything. If she got fed wrong information when she sought out information from people who she should have been able to trust, she is not responsible for making poor decisions based on the erroneous information.

      We are all susceptible to gullibility, which puts the responsibility squarely on those who took advantage of that for their own purposes.

    • Gæst

      Lactivism has turned into the promotion of ignorance, though.

    • Nick Sanders

      If you position yourself as an authority, you are legally and morally culpable for any harm that results from following bad information you give out.

  • JustSal

    I only came across this site because of the lies told in this article. It is disgusting nonsense perpetrated by a lying woman who just wants to gain money from hurting others. She should be deeply ashamed and stay put of British news unless she has the facts!

    • Gæst

      You might consider staying out of the English language until you have a better grasp of how it works.

      • JustSal

        Excuse me? Are you being horrid? I am English, have an MA in English and am a copywriter by trade – not that I need to prove anything to you! I got a polite question from you by email but then saw this. Why so nasty?

        • Gæst

          I’m not saying you’re not a native speaker – I’m saying you’re incoherent, and according to your own logic expressed above, maybe you should “stay put” of English until you remedy that.

        • Gæst

          I have also never emailed you, polite or otherwise.

  • JustSal

    This is nonsense and didn’t happen like that at all. It is completely made up and being used by the anti-breastfeeding brigade. Rhianne’s mum wants everyone to know that her daughter DID NOT refuse antibiotics. Utter rubbish and compounding a family’s grief to score points.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Have you got any source for your claim? I have read the story on four different British newspapers and they all say she refused the antibiotics because she was afraid of them hurting her baby. I Googled the story and that is all I got.

      • JustSal

        You read it in British newspapers? That proves nothing at all – the British gutter press consistently and persistently lie to sell papers. The source of my claim is Rhianne’s mum who is a friend of mine and she has been posting on Facebook asking everyone to disregard these ludicrous articles. I believe legal action is being taken so will leave it at that. On top of that, this particular article seems to be having a bash at pro-breastfeeding people and that is inaccurate and very sad. Don’t believe everything you read!

        • Gæst

          Your writing skills are very sad. Sad! You sound like Trump, actually. Did you by chance vote for Brexit?

          • JustSal

            Oh, I see now. You are just a troll. My mistake.
            (Trump? You really know nothing).

          • guest

            And *whoosh* there goes the point, right over your head.

          • JustSal

            I find this kind of thing (your behaviour) fascinating. I am just an ordinary, averagely nice person. I have some strong opinions and I can be horrible myself when riled but I wouldn’t dream of picking on someone aggressively and without good cause. What’s going on for you? Possibly you are nice in real life – but why be like this? Other people are having reasoned and respectful debates on here.

          • Gæst

            Possibly you are nice in real life, who can say? You certainly don’t seem to be here.

          • JustSal

            Well, I’m sorry for anything aggressive I’ve said or anything unjustified. I really can’t see it, whereas you started laying into me about my English (with no evidence). We could carry on like this but I’m getting out now as the whole thing (both the original lies and your attack) is too upsetting. All good wishes for your life.

          • JustSal

            Ooh, I forgot to say – I get email notifications of your posts, hence my earlier reference that you questioned.

          • Gæst

            ” It is disgusting nonsense perpetrated by a lying woman who just wants to gain money from hurting others. She should be deeply ashamed and stay put of British news unless she has the facts!”

            Plenty of evidence that the first comment of yours I saw (due to its placement at the time in the thread) is incoherent – unclear referent, “stay put” instead of “stay out,” use of “sad” instead of logical argument, saying someone is lying when you have no evidence that she is (it isn’t lying to be taken in by bad press, assuming your other assertions are true)…

        • Montserrat Blanco

          Fine. I have read Rhianne’s mum answer here.
          I understand that the newspapers are not the best source of information all the time, that is why I asked for other sources because when I wrote her name in Google that was all I found. I am sorry for your loss and I hope the legal procedures get to the bottom of the story.

          By the way, this site is not against breastfeeding. The site owner breastfed her four children and a lot of mothers here have breastfed ours. We do are against aggressive promotion of breastfeeding and against making women forget about their own needs in order to breastfeed. We support “fed is best” instead “breast is best”.

          • JustSal

            Fair enough. I’m against aggressive promotion of anything! I’m very pro-breastfeeding but I’ve never actually met anyone aggressive about it! I’ve known many people who have made different choices that me – and that’s fine, but it doesn’t change my personal view. The thing about this article is that it was plain and simple untrue. Thanks for reasonable response.

          • Sarah

            Sal to be clear, are you saying that the GP lied at the inquest when they said they offered antibiotics, or that the GP agreed they didn’t offer them but the papers are misreporting that?

          • JustSal

            I think it’s just the papers getting it wrong and perverting a story to grab interest – but I don’t know the full story, only that Rhianne’s mother says it is all untrue and she seems to be largely blaming the papers.

          • Sarah

            Ok. I thought from the vehemence of your posts you were saying you knew. But tat would suggest Rhianne’s mum thinks the papers are all deliberately misreporting what was said at the inquest then. Because this isn’t really a blurred lines thing is it? She was either offered antibiotics or not.

            I must say, while I don’t struggle with the idea that a professional might lie to a court to cover their own back (though it would likely show if the notes had been interfered with) it seems less likely than several newspapers all literally reporting the opposite of something that would be recorded and checkable on court transcripts. I have been involved as a lawyer in a couple of cases that were reported on and a twisted portrayal was given. It was very frustrating and upsetting. But what they tend to do is deliberately present a one sided version of events, take things out of context for the story they want, not mention other important things, rather than literally invent them. Because there’s less comeback for the former than the latter.

          • JustSal

            Sounds like you don’t know British papers – although a lot of British people are taken in by them, it’s true. Please do some research – they are known for being the gutter press. They DO literally make things up. Rhianne’s mum IS saying the papers are lying because they really are – they are always getting sued but are owned by multi-millionaires who can take it. Really, it is true. I’m off this now, anyway, as it’s too painful, but thanks for the sensible conversation.

          • Sarah

            I’m British, and I almost certainly know the MEN in particular better than you do. I also have experience of actually having worked on cases that were reported in the press inaccurately, so I’m afraid telling me to do my research won’t really do. Especially when you don’t even claim to know exactly what was actually said at the inquest!

            You believe your friend and you’re sticking up for her, which is commendable, but that doesn’t mean the person you’re talking to must be coming from a place of ignorance because you don’t like what they’re saying.

          • JustSal

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend. I am becoming ever more certain that the people who use this site are aggressive, jumpy, over-sensitive and plain wrong. I’m trying to get off it but keep getting notifications – I’ll keep trying. I’m not sticking blindly by a friend – I just know what the papers are like – far, far better than you will ever know – so don’t get at me for making assumptions when you do the same.

          • Amazed

            You rushed in being rude, offensive, and plain mean. You clamoured in bellowing all kind of unfounded assumptions and insults about the owner of this site, including the one that she profits from it. Did Rhianne’s mom say so, by chance? I gather that you didn’t bother to have a look at the Facebook page where she also wrote that her daughter wasn’t offered antibiotics and the GP lied. Dr Amy was kind and compassionate, sharing personal experience with a medical mistake and attempts to cover it. Your friend didn’t bother to reply. Instead, she came here seeking conflicts and insulting one of the most compassionate posters here. So yes, you are sticking blindly by a friend. And by breastfeeding. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would know and recognize the aggressive and dangerous promotion of breastfeeding that has killed and damaged already. Instead, you came in with your guns blazing and treated us to the lactivists’ usual spiel.

            Certain posters here are aggressive – I admit that I am one of them, after long experience with deluded people coming in here. The majority are kind. And you are totally deluded if you think you’re not aggressive. You might be nice in your real life but this isn’t what you showed here. You started off quite the opposite. And at the end, what does it matter to us if you’re nice off-screen? I don’t need to claim I’m kind in my real life. It simply isn’t relevant online. Same with you, so stop barking under this tree.

          • Heidi_storage

            I can’t comment on the correctness of your assertions, but honestly, Sarah’s response doesn’t seem aggressive, jumpy, or oversensitive. You did set the tone with your first post, you know–“this is nonsense” hardly opens the discussion in a calm, respectful manner.

          • Sarah

            Well, I’m not comfortable posting more information about the cases I’m familiar with the newspapers, including the MEN, misreporting. Commenters here will know that I’m a solicitor and that I live in the area covered by the MEN, as I’ve been here a couple of years now. So, those reading will just have to decide for themselves if they think it’s realistic that I might have enough experience of the way in which they report cases inaccurately to be able to speak from a well informed position.

            Meanwhile, you still admit you don’t know the full story. This would leave you ill prepared to be taken at your word even if you were the world’s foremost expert on the British press. They do, after all, each print the truth at least some of the time.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Speaking of “making things up,” this comment is complete fantasy. The reason British newspapers are always getting sued is because British libel laws make it very easy to win. Basically, the burden of proof is on the defendant, so all the plaintiff has to do is to claim is that it is a lie and they usually win. Witnesses? Claim they are lying. Testimony? Claim they lied. Documentation? Claim it’s fabricated and force the defendant to prove it’s true.

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_defamation_law

            Shit, it’s so well-known that Americans try to get their cases heard in England where they don’t have to deal with that pesky free speech. And the British Parliament has worked to try to clean it up.

          • Sarah

            There are some British newspapers that have a very poor standard of journalism. She’s not wrong about The Sun, for example. However, it’s also true that had the paper wanted to go about portraying the story in a different way to what actually happened, what they’re being accused of here isn’t the best way for them to have gone about it.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I was addressing the assertion that “British papers” are known as “gutter press” and they get sued because they make things up.

            While I’m sure there are trash British papers, that’s not why there are so many lawsuits in Britain, it’s because of the libel laws. In fact, British papers are far more likely to not do it than, say, American papers, because they are so easily sued.

            The attempt here is to discredit all the papers that have reported that she was offered antibiotics (and it appears this is the common story) by associating them all with the Sun. By why does “the Sun is a trash rag” have any bearing on the story in the MEN?

          • Sarah

            Yes, I wasn’t addressing your libel point.

            See my other post for detail on my familiarity with the MEN, and it’s not because I don’t think they ever write inaccurate reports of legal hearings either. They do. Just not in the way being claimed here.

  • Annoyed

    This is absolute rubbish. As a family friwnd i can tell you that it is all very much misinformed!! She did NOT die from breastfeeding. She was infact told that she had a virus no medication was offered. I wish so called journalists would explore facts before printing thsi absolute abomonation of fiction. This is disrespectful to the family and to the memory of beautiful rihanna

    • sdsures

      Medications (usually) aren’t prescribed for viral infections.

    • Sue

      I can’t imagine any doctor would diagnose a ruptured ear drum, with an ear discharging pus and more painful than labor pain, as “viral”.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Even if it originated as viral, by the point you get to perforation and pus, it’s clearly a time for antibiotics

  • mabelcruet

    And I just know that some idiot lactivist somewhere is saying ‘But why didn’t she pump some breast milk and swab her ear with it?’

    Poor motherless baby, poor family.

  • Christina Maxwell

    This is tragic. That poor woman and family. The NHS can be utterly terrible with ear infections and much is said about them generally being self limiting, blah blah blah. This in combination with lactivist nonsense will most likely be what killed this woman. There’s an awful lot of “Well, I could give you an antibiotic but it will most likely clear up on its own…”, just the message a woman who is worried about implications for breast feeding would grasp with both hands.
    17 years ago I had the misfortune to have a bad ear infection this led to 6 months of no antibiotics, followed by a small dose of an ineffective one all wrapped up in constant repulsive discharge from my ear. I could not get a swab done and my GP would not refer me to and ENT. In the end I went private to discover that said antibiotic would never have worked, that I had lost 80% of the hearing in that ear and that I now had a reservoir of infection of in the bone behind my ear. Luckily a course of Augmentin once a year or so keeps it under control. I still have to argue with the GPs every time.
    “Are you sure you really need antibiotics, it’s usually self-lim….”
    “Read my notes!”
    “Oh yes, alright then, here’s a prescription.”

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      The NHS can be utterly terrible with ear infections and much is said about them generally being self limiting, blah blah blah.
      This in combination with lactivist nonsense will most likely be what killed this woman

      No. The NHS is not at all responsible.

      She was prescribed antibiotics. SHE refused to take them.

      The doctor probably could have done a better job of reassuring her that they were compatible with breastfeeding, but the doctor gave her the medication she needed.

      She didn’t take it. Why not? Because someone convinced her she shouldn’t.

      They are the ones to blame, not the doctor that gave her the medication.

      • Christina Maxwell

        I suspect there is blame everywhere. The family claims antibiotics were not offered. Maybe they were, but half-heartedly. Believe me, I will happily blame lactivists for just about anything.

        • sdsures

          The source material is from the Sun. A rag. We will probably never know what actually happened. :'(

          The woman’s mom posted in the FB SOB thread about this post, and claimed her daughter was never offered antibiotics.

          • Dr Kitty

            Here’s the thing.
            If your GP offered you antibiotics and you didn’t want to take them, might you tell your mother that they had never been offered, so that you wouldn’t have to deal with her opinions about your decision?

            Current guidance is that a perforated eardrum with purulent discharge warrants antibiotics, so it would be usual practice to offer them.

            The GP knows what they said, and it’ll be in the notes, and the notes can be checked to see if they were edited after the fact.

            The mother knows only what she was told- hearsay.

            Most of us are quite good at CYA in notes “pt declined appointment when offered, advised to attend A&E- declined also- aware GP strongly advised condition warrants urgent medical attention ”, “pt not keen on usual treatment despite extensive discussion of risks and benefits- prefers homeopathy”, “patient advised to seek medical attention of symptoms persist or worsen”, that kind of thing.

          • Sarah

            That could have happened. It’s also possible that if she wasn’t offered them, the fact that she was breastfeeding is at least part of the reason for that. There seems to be the influence of toxic lactivism either way, no?

          • Bev Statom

            The GP’s statement to the coroner say he thought it was a virus and so suggested to my daughter antibiotics wouldn’t work. He even went on to quote nice guidelines that backed up what he told my daughter. Don’t you sit there all smug and tell me my daughter would just say anything different to me! She was so ill and the dr made a mistake and to make matters worse he lied and your making it all her fault and that is sick.

          • Chi

            1) Journalists don’t have access to patient’s medical records. The whole doctor/patient privilege thing.

            2) I’m not a doctor but there are several who comment here regularly. And they all agree that a perforated/burst eardrum with a discharge is usually caused by a bacterial infection, thus antibiotics are usually prescribed.

            3) Unless you were actually at the GP appointment, you cannot say what the doctor said, or what your daughter said. Thus unless there’s an inquest and her medical notes are requested, we won’t know for certain if the GP offered antibiotics and your daughter refused them because she was concerned about transfer through milk to her baby. It’s entirely likely that the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, the doctor likely offered antibiotics and your daughter asked if they were necessary and then they both agreed to a tentative ‘wait and see’ period.

            Unfortunately she was struck down by a viral infection on top of the bacterial.

            I am very sorry for your loss. Truly.

            We are not attacking your daughter, that is sincerely not our intention. What we are attacking is the pernicious, ingrained mindset that ‘breast is best’ that MAY have led to your daughter refusing antibiotics (if they were offered) for fear of contaminating her breast milk. It’s not her fault, it’s the fault of those who planted such doubts in her mind in the first place.

            I sincerely hope there is an inquest, so that if it was a mistake on the part of the doctor it can be addressed so others can learn from it. I also hope that it helps bring you some closure.

            Best wishes for poor little George. I hope he thrives and grows.

            Blessed be to you and your family.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Thus unless there’s an inquest

            Read the Manchester Evening News article linked below.

            There WAS an inquest. The doctor testified that antibiotics were offered.

          • Chi

            I must’ve missed that part of the article. I was tired when reading it and skim-reading.

            So in that case I go back to that the truth is probably somewhere in the murky middle. The Dr probably did offer antibiotics, patient questioned if they were necessary, Dr probably replied with something about how they were precautionary (because of discharge from ear) and patient refused them, leading Dr to agree to a tentative ‘wait and see’ period (if you’re not feeling better by X day come back, and if it gets worse straight to A and E).

            Unless the press get access to her medical notes, we probably won’t know entirely for sure how that appointment went. Luckily most medical notes these days are electronic so they can see when the appointment was, the notes the Dr made and if the notes have since been edited.

          • Kim

            You don’t seem to have read Bev’s post correctly. She writes: “The GP’s statement to the coroner say he thought it was a virus and so suggested to my daughter antibiotics wouldn’t work.” So the issue isn’t to do with what Bev’s daughter did or didn’t tell her. Only a couple of weeks ago NICE published guidelines saying that most ear infections don’t need antibiotics. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/22/common-ear-infections-dont-need-antibiotics-health-watchdog-says

          • swbarnes2

            Yes, but “most” ear infections don’t have ruptured eardrums, or agonizing pain. I’m guessing that those symptoms made a recommendation of antibiotics appropriate, if not urgent.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          The doctor testified to the coroner that they were.

          Who do you think is lying?

          • Amazed

            Do you remember Caroline Lovell’s mother? She insisted that her daughter was purely a victim of homebirth, your average deluded mom. She failed to take into account that Caroline was a staunch advocate.

          • Bev Statom

            I know who’s lying. And GP’s would to save their job and lifelong careers! My daughter was told she had a virus and if the dr then offered her antibiotics he a useless dr and should go back to school! Oh wait a minute, he’s been sent back to school I forgot.

        • JustSal

          Why?

      • JustSal

        The thing is though, she didn’t refuse antibiotics. She was just an ordinary young woman with a small baby – not a weird no-medication type. Don’t believe this rubbish – Rhianne’s mum is heartbroken about the terrible things being claimed and here there is added insults by the article having a go at breastfeeding mums.

        • Gæst

          NO ONE is having a go at breastfeeding parents. We are pro-breastfeeding. You have come here without reading up on what this group is about and started yelling hysterically at us for reading a news article and discussing what it says. If indeed the facts were reported wrong, go yell at the press. We still do and always have supported breastfeeding – just not bullshit lactivism.

      • Mike Stevens

        “She didn’t take it. Why not? Because someone convinced her she shouldn’t.
        They are the ones to blame, not the doctor that gave her the medication.”

        What if the ones who convinced her not to take antibiotics were people who are against breastfeeding and informed her that drugs she takes will pass into her baby if she did so?

        • That would be no one. People aren’t against breastfeeding. You’re like the anti-choicers who always blather on about 39 week abortions- you are literally talking about someone who doesn’t exist.

          • Sarah

            What if it was some Puerto Rican guy?

          • I think I’m missing a reference here.

          • Sarah

            Google South Park, some Puerto Rican guy.

          • Mike Stevens

            ” People aren’t against breastfeeding”
            This mum wasn’t. But her choice to breastfeed, which everyone presumably would support (since no-one is “against breastfeeding” supposedly), has resulted in accusations that this choice killed her, and by implication that anyone who validated her decision to breastfeed is guilty of the crime.
            PS: I am not against breastfeeding, nor am I against formula feeding. Mothers can choose whatever works best for them.

          • You are wrong. We are against the forced promotion of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is great and wonderful when it works out. If people want to do it, then go for it! But promoting breastfeeding even when the baby isn’t getting enough, or when it impacts someone’s physical and mental health, is stupid. What we are against is the propaganda surrounding Breast is Best, which argues that any formula at any time for any reason is bad for the baby.

            People who validated her decision to breastfeed even though it prevented her from accessing lifesaving medication are the ones in the wrong. The choice she made was informed by the rhetoric that good moms exclusively breastfeed, and don’t all moms want to be good ones? That is the message we are against. You don’t have to breastfeed to be a good mom, and if you take time off from breastfeeding to take care of yourself, you’re still a good mom.

  • Barbara

    You know The Sun is an unreliable, sensationalist tabloid, don’t you?

    • MaineJen

      So…did this woman not die from an ear infection?

      • Sarah

        There’s no reason to assume the article was inaccurate in this case, but it would be better not to quote filthy, bullshitting rags where possible. Not least because The Sun is so dodgy that anyone not liking the story will have an easy out to dismiss it. I don’t know whether Barbara is making the former point or using the latter cop out, but useful post either way. Intentional or otherwise.

    • sdsures

      It bothers me when Dr Amy continues to share articles from the likes of the Sun, Daily Fail, etc.

      A quick Google found the story was also covered by the Manchester Evening News, so perhaps that one is slightly more reliable (?). AFAIK, It wasn’t picked up by the BBC at all.

      http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/breastfeeding-mum-died-antibiotics-inquest-13752672

  • Thiel

    This is absolutely horrific. It really demonstrates to martyrdom aspect of lactivism, It’s possible that she didn’t realize death was a possibility, but she was certainly in severe pain. I’ve had ear infections that lead to burst eardrums before, and they were excruciating. The fact that she thought her baby was better off with a mother in horrific pain than with a bit of formula (leaving aside the fact that most antibiotics are safe for breastfeeding) speaks volumes.

    • Barbara

      The family have said that account is false. It’s nothing to do with breastfeeding, but a misdiagnosis won’t sell many papers.

      • Chi

        Actually it IS. She refused antibiotics recommended by her GP because she was worried that they would transfer to her child through her milk.

        Yes, it’s likely that by the stage she went to her GP that the infection was already too far along, but there’s also a CHANCE that the antibiotics would have helped and allowed her body to fight off the viral infection on top of the bacterial one.

        Also this has also been reported in the Manchester Evening News, with greater detail than the Sun’s article. It’s not a misdiagnosis, it’s a fact.

        This mother died because she was more worried about breastfeeding her kid than her own damn health.

  • Amazed

    Poor woman, poor baby, poor family.

    When something like this happens, I want all them idiots screeching Breastmilk Uber Alles because without holy breastmilk your baby is doomed in front of me. I want to force their unwilling heads and force them watch. It’s no fucking game, no freaking competition, nothing worth fretting over. And at the end, this baby still won’t be breastfed. I expect lactivist bitches to offer milk chain to the family because donor milk will become priority to them now.

    Undoubtedly, there will be now much bellowing of, “It was HER CHOICE! No one FORCED her!” Nonsense, When you push someone to the state of constant watchfulness because the big broad world is on the prowl to sabotage their breastfeeding, you do get some of the blame for the things they do when they FEEL pressed in the corner. Don’t try and give me the “forced” shit and that she wasn’t pressed in the corner. She felt pressed. Aren’t you all about FEELINGS, lactivists? Aren’t you all about intuition being better than medical knowledge? You are guilty as hell.

    • swbarnes2

      No, they’ll blame the doctor for not being able to penetrate the propaganda about how super beneficial breastmilk is, and how important it is that the baby gets it, no matter what.

      • Amazed

        Alas, this is also a strong possibility. Also, they’ll blame the doctor for not inventing this safest of all safe drugs, no antibiotics and all, to preserve breastfeeding.

  • Sue

    “According to an NHS website, breastfeeding mothers can take ”most” antibiotics but are advised to always check with their GP, midwife, health visitor or pharmacist.”

    NO. Breastfeeding mothers can take whatever antibiotics are required for their health and safety. If the antibiotic they need transfers to breastmilk and is unsuitable for babies, the baby can be formula-fed while the mother recovers. Fixed.

    • sdsures

      The NHS stance is similar when it comes to anti-seizure medications the mom needs in order to, you know, STAY ALIVE. I’ve been on about 13 different anti-seizure medications in as many years – as migraine preventatives – and the NHS standard of care when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth and beyond, is “healthy mom, healthy baby”. Most of the meds I have been on aren’t safe if you are TTC, pregnant or breastfeeding, so you must make the best choice that benefits you and your baby. That’s what formula is for.

      There are ALWAYS formula alternatives if the woman must be on medications to be healthy. There is no alternative to making your brain undergo repeated, preventable damage from uncontrolled seizures.

      This mom, however, was so obsessed with breastfeeding that she made the choice to refuse antibiotics. Now, her baby doesn’t have a mother anymore. 🙁

  • Sue

    Antibiotics are the new enemy because “gut flora”.

  • attitude devant

    I’ve had pharmacists tell breastfeeding moms not to take meds I’ve prescribed for them….

    • Merrie

      Man, as a pharmacist myself, that makes me SO MAD. If the pharmacist is concerned about the suitability of the medication, they need to either call the doctor or advise the patient to discuss it further with the doctor. Not tell the patient to just flat-out not take what the doctor prescribed.

      Also, I feel like I’ve encountered altogether too many pharmacists who didn’t really pay attention during the minimal amount of time we spent on women’s health concerns in school, and aren’t really prepared to counsel women on birth control, meds in pregnancy/breastfeeding, etc.

      At one point when I was either newly qualified or towards the end of my schooling (forget which), I was working with a (male) pharmacist who had been my preceptor who had been licensed for >5 years already. A patient came in with two scripts for birth control and she said her doctor had given her one for when she was still breastfeeding and the other for when she was no longer breastfeeding, and she wanted to know which one to fill because she wasn’t sure which was which. I was able to easily identify which was suitable and have her on her way. Afterwards my preceptor said he was glad I’d been there because he wouldn’t have known. Smh.

      • attitude devant

        It’s a general problem. I volunteer at an unplanned pregnancy options clinic (we arrange termination or prenatal care as appropriate) and I can’t even begin to tell you how many women with chronic medical problems got no advice from their neurologist or rheumatologist or nephrologist on the effect of their disease in reproductive life and planning, much less advice on birth control

        • Crystal ‘Vasecka’ Clancy

          I see this often as well, as a perinatal therapist (and executive director of a nonprofit for perinatal mental health). when we have approached pharmacy to try to discuss this issue, or attend a conference to offer continuing ed workshops, they are not interested.

    • sdsures

      *splutters angrily*

    • Melaniexxxx

      This happens AL THE TIME. I’ve also had pharmacists tell my patients not to take painkillers (endone etc) unless they want to “kill or addict” their baby. Hence they come back in with sepsis and pneumonia from broken ribs and end up in ICU, and the ‘poor baby’ needs formula ANYWAY.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    A lot of alternative health types also just hate antibiotics, period, and that only gets turned up to 11 when it comes to breastfeeding. There are plenty of places out there in the Wild West of the internet where you can be told that antibiotics will destroy your own microbiome* FOREVER and that this will affect your ability to produce “healthy” breastmilk. (It’s not enough to breastfeed. It’s not enough to breastfeed exclusively. You also need to produce the perfect breastmilk by consuming just the right foods and substances and avoiding the wrong ones.) Antibiotics are a major foe in some of these communities. I’ve seen children’s GI and other problems blamed on the fact that their mothers, despite giving birth vaginally, must have had defective vaginal flora as a result of taking antibiotics at some point in their lives, thus negating the magic of vaginal birth. (When children stubbornly refuse to have super-human health despite mothers doing everything “right,” new reasons must be found.)

    I have no idea if this woman came into contact with any of this stuff but it’s out there and it scares the hell out of me. It also has a lot of parents refusing to ever give their own children antibiotics when they need them, because surely the antibiotics will destroy them forever, and surely strep throat can be cured with natural home remedies.

    • Sheven

      It’s a combination of hating modern medicine and having complete faith in it. They think that everything is over-prescribed and doctors are excessively interventionist so they won’t take treatment for the early stages of whatever they have. They also think that if they come in septic and barely breathing and with organ failure, the doctors will be able to patch them up somehow.

      • Casual Verbosity

        I think people also really downplay the risks of infections, because we don’t remember what it was like when people died from or were permanently damaged by infections. At the less extreme (but still terrible) end of the spectrum, repeated ear infections can damage hearing, chronic tonsillitis can lead to quinsy which is nasty, nasty, nasty.
        It’s easy to think that infections are harmless when we have a very effective way to treat them.

        • MaineJen

          As someone who has personally had two members of my immediate family’s lives saved by antibiotics (my husband and my daughter), I hate this anti-antibiotic attitude so much!! Yes, they are used too much in agriculture…so address THAT, and let us continue to save the lives of a father of 3 with perforated diverticulitis (!!) or a 4 year old with a scary-looking staph infection. These things happen, and treating them properly is not going to contribute to antibiotic resistance.

          • Hell, antibiotics have saved my life at least twice! One time with bacterial pneumonia, and once with a viral respiratory infection that had gone into bronchitis and was heading fast into pneumonia before a preventive course of antibiotics.

            I apparently have weak lungs, because I also went to the hospital for mono. I got preventive antibiotics (and IV steroids) for that too. I’d rather not be dead, which means I’m rather fond of antibiotics!

        • Kim

          I think this is incredibly unfair. We are *constantly* warned of the dangers of overusing antibiotics. GPs complain that patients come to them demanding antibiotics for viral infections. Of course, as a result, some conscientious patients then worry about taking antibiotics unnecessarily. What poor Rhiannon died of was an extremely rare complication. She couldn’t possibly have known that the ear infection would kill her.

          • Mel

            It’s not unfair to expect that a college lecturer can understand that there is a massive difference between mild ear pain caused by clear fluid in the ear that is probably viral in origin and should be waited out and a suppurating ear infection that is draining pus and blood along with severe pain.

            The poor woman is dead; I won’t add insult to injury by implying she was dumb as well.

            I suspect she was trying to do what she thought was best for her baby – but she badly underestimated how severe the outcome of any untreated bacterial infection can be.

            Meningitis resulting from ear infections is rare only because doctors treat ear infections with antibiotics. If we stopped treating known ear infections with antibiotics, the number of cases of meningitis from ear infections would increased markedly.

          • Casual Verbosity

            Perhaps I wasn’t clear; I am by no means blaming this woman for not knowing how serious untreated infections can become. As a general rule, most people alive today have not lived to see a person seriously impacted by a common infection. That’s not anyone’s fault as such; that’s just an inherent side-effect of being fortunate enough to have been born in the age of antibiotics. However, there are certainly some vocal anti-medicine factions out there that are actively responsible for downplaying the risks. If you hang out in the right (wrong) parts of the internet, you’ll stumble across them. And unfortunately it seems that even normally very pro-medicine people can become irrationally anti-medicine when there’s the slightest possibility that it could interfere with breastfeeding (you don’t even have to search very hard to find these folks). Again, it’s not necessarily their fault. When you’re constantly being told that breastfeeding is paramount and a tiny drop of formula will ruin your baby’s life forever, of course it sounds like a good idea to forego treatment for an infection that you don’t realise can become life-threatening.
            I completely agree with you that the emphasis on patients to curb the use of antibiotics is unfair. The role of a GP is to explain to patients requesting antibiotics for viral infections why the antibiotics won’t help them, and then not give them antibiotics. It’s a shame that the use of placebos is so frowned upon, because these instances would be a perfect use for them.

      • Ozlsn

        Yes, so much yes. The amount of faith in emergency medicine and lack of faith in preventative/early treatment amazes me. Most people haven’t seen a child who is desperately ill and assume that children don’t die any more of preventable or treatable illnesses. They don’t seem to get that early treatment and prevention are the reasons why, and then are shocked if their child ends up much worse than they needed to be. They also don’t seem to understand just how fast a child can go from looking “a bit off” to “really, really seriously ill”. It’s scary.

        • AnnaPDE

          But then hear them harp on about how money-grabbing doctors only want to look at things once they’re broken and are not into prevention at all. Whereas their preferred “holistic” provider also takes the time to see (and bill) them when they’re fine and thus keeps them healthy! *sigh*
          Probably things only qualify as “prevention” if they involve supplements, plus lectures about diet changes, exercise or woo, but in no way something like vaccination or medication when it’s still early enough in the play.

  • Valerie

    Also at the root of this is the fear mongering about giving just one bottle of formula- how it will destroy your breastfeeding relationship and your supply, ruin your child’s microbiome, and put them at risk of allergies/asthma/obesity/you name it. If whatever benefit they were getting from breastfeeding would be negated with one bottle of formula, imagine what a whole week’s worth would do, should a mother need to go on a medication that would be truly harmful to the baby!

    • guest

      As a pregnant woman, I hear this all day. I hear it at childbirth classes, at perinatal care appointments, from my friends, neighbors, and family. The campaigns to “educate” people on breastfeeding have apparently been successful, at least for those who want women to breastfeed exclusively.

      My father-in-law was livid when he saw a bottle set on our baby registry, and called me up to lecture for an hour about how I was ignorant to even consider buying bottles.

      It is my intention to breastfeed, but I know that breastfeeding exclusively is not always practical or possible. I’d like to have a backup option on hand, just in case.

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        WTH, dude? I cannot imagine my father-in-law lecturing me about what to do with my boobs.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Right. My FIL falls into the “odd-but-well-meaning” category, and I’m pretty sure that my boobs are absolutely at the bottom of any list whatsoever of potential conversation topics for the guy. And y’know what? We’re both much happier that way. To say the least! *twitch*

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Why does your father in law think it is his business whether you breastfeed. It’s your body and no ones business ultimately except your own. Also you(and no one else in your life) have any way of knowing right now whether you will have issues breastfeeding or not. If you DO have issues are they happy with the idea of just starving the baby for 3 or 4 days until your milk comes in?

        Unfortunately a lot of the “evidence” that breast feeding is better is BS. It may protect against one or two colds or tummy upsets, it may help SOME preemies against NEC, thats about it…you may find it easier than prepping bottles, or like it better than bottle feeding. Personally I like the fact that my mother in law, my husband or my best friend could give the baby a bottle while I slept, or showered. It made going back to work a lot easier.

      • Heidi_storage

        I hope that he never again brings up this issue. If he does, end that conversation right quick!

  • Heidi

    That’s profoundly sad. While I know some adamant “breastfeeding supporters” would stop short at suggesting a mother forgo needed medication, when are they going to realize their zealotry does hurt mothers? I put “breastfeeding supporters” in quotes because I’m a breastfeeding supporter who mostly formula fed my child, but I support breastfeeding as a totally appropriate way to feed a baby when it works for babies and mothers, but I think formula is totally appropriate and worthy of the same support.

    • Casual Verbosity

      The thing is, it’s not even necessary for anyone to have explicitly stated: “You should forego antibiotics because breastfeeding is more important”, for someone to interpret that message based on the rest of the rhetoric. It’s not even a stretch.

  • Roadstergal

    OT – question for y’all.

    The South San Francisco police department put out a call for donations for folk fleeing the North Bay fires.

    I’m going to bring some bags of sanitary napkins, diapers, tampons, and formula, as well as some spare clothing I had gathered for donation.

    What other sorts of things are generally overlooked?

    • BeatriceC

      Hair products specifically for black women’s hair. They need heavier conditioners/oils that people with caucasian and asian type hair don’t need, and that’s nearly always forgotten.

      Edited to add: Not just women, because men and non binary folk with African type hair can grow their hair out too.

      • kilda

        wow, I would never have thought of that and I have two black daughters! that’s a great suggestion.

      • shay simmons

        Holy carp. I’m on the response team for home fires for my ARC chapter, and we hand out “comfort kits” to families that have lost everything in a fire. Basically these consist of a washcloth, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, etc.

        I never occurred to me that we might look at keeping a supply on hand with black hair products…and I have a biracial niece.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

      New socks and underclothes, bras. adult continence supplies.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        From one of the Diaper banks collecting after Harvey in Houston :
        Baby Hygiene Kit – Baby wash, baby shampoo, baby lotion, wash cloth, diaper rash cream, bottle, burp cloth, bib, pacifier, etc.
        Toddler Starter Kit – Baby wash, baby shampoo, baby lotion, wash cloth, diaper rash cream, sippy cup, burp cloth, bib, pacifier, etc.
        Adult Hygiene Kits – Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, tooth brush, tooth paste etc.

        Any size and brand of diapers, pull-ups, adult diapers, and Baby wipes

      • AndreaRealMPH

        Ditto the adult continence stuff.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Baby wipes in particular are wonderful, as both adults and kids can use them for a quick wipe-down–very refreshing ’til a shower is possible.
      Toothbrushes, toothpaste.
      Diaper rash cream, as it’s quite possible that some of those kidlets have been sitting in wet diapers for too long due to the evacuation.
      If they’re accepting food-type donations, prepackaged easy-to-eat snacks are really nice: granola bars, fruit pouches for the kids, that sort of thing. Bottled water.
      Packages of new socks and underwear are a fantastic idea–once you do get to a shower, it feels gross to be clean and have clean clothes but have to put the same underwear and socks on.
      I imagine that being around fires, the weather is hot and very drying. Lotion? Aloe vera gel? Something like that to soothe chapped skin. And lip balm.
      Oh, and if you go to a store and mention you’re getting this stuff for fire relief, the cashier and/or manager may work with you to get the best bang for your buck via coupons, discounts, etc.
      Something to keep kids entertained, like a bunch of those little Magnadoodle pads that you can get for $5 or so each–everyone is way less stressed when kids aren’t losing their minds.

  • MaineJen

    “Yes, the bacteria were the proximate cause, spreading from her ear to the bones of her skull and then to her brain”

    *shudder* What a horrible way to die.

    OT, but…does anyone know how often ear infections caused death before the era of antibiotics? I know it must have at least caused people to lose their hearing. The very idea of this poor woman suffering such pain needlessly is horrific.

    • kilda

      I had an ear infection a couple years ago, which got bad enough to perforate my eardrum. The pain was indescribable. Not only did she lose her life, she definitely suffered in the process.

    • Sheven

      I don’t know, but here is a modern death-by-ear-infection map, with each country sized to show the rate of death per year. As you can see first world countries tend to be very small. I think that’s part of the problem in cases like this. We get the idea that no one actually dies of an ear infection because medical intervention prevents people from dying of an ear infection.

      http://www.worldmapper.org/display_extra.php?selected=406

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        Of course, the death rate for appendicitis in the US is pretty small, too. However, that doesn’t mean we should leave appendicitis untreated – it is in fact BECAUSE it is treated!

        • Gæst

          I had relapsing appendicitis, which definitely DID go untreated for ~ a year. The ER docs kept telling me it was “mid-cycle” pain (from ovulation, I suppose) I was a self-conscious teen who couldn’t explain to them in front of my father that I was most definitely NOT mid-cycle (and they didn’t ask). After two rounds of that, it came on again and I just bore the pain for three days rather than go back for more non-treatment. So by the time I was seen by a doctor, it had perforated. Fun times.

      • EC

        That medical intervention is not as swift as it once was. Doctors are afraid of over-prescribing antibiotics, so they under-prescribe them. In February, I had an agonizing ear infection. No problem; I’d had an ear infection five years ago and antibiotics had quickly cured it. Went to urgent care, but the doctor couldn’t see an infection, so wouldn’t prescribe an antibiotic. Went to my primary care, ditto. He suggested an ENT.

        By the time I got in to see the ENT, it had been three weeks since the pain began. More than two weeks of taking the maximum dose of Advil, layered with the maximum dose of Tylenol. He couldn’t see an infection either, but he prescribed an antibiotic and I was better within a few days.

        I’m 1) an adult, 2) with a flexible work schedule, and 3) excellent health insurance. Had any of those three factors not been in my favor, I’m sure I would have suffered even longer.

        • sdsures

          “Doctors are afraid of over-prescribing antibiotics, so they under-prescribe them.”

          The woman in the OP was offered antibiotics. She refused them, citing breastfeeding concerns. Why didn’t the doctor reassure her that she could still BF with the antibiotic and prescribe one that was safe for it, or else steer her towards formula? I can hardly see how the woman could compare the pain to that of childbirth (I know earache pain can be excruciating)…but then not go to A&E for it.

          Should the doctor have tried harder?

          • EC

            It was definitely the lactivists and the atmosphere they’ve created that are at fault for the mother’s death, not the doctor who properly prescribed antibiotics to her.

            I was commenting on Sheven’s sentence in the post above mine, “We get the idea that no one actually dies of an ear infection because
            medical intervention prevents people from dying of an ear infection.”

            Sheven is right that people forget that it’s possible to die from an ear infection. That gives the anti-medicine, “trust nature” people more influence, even over doctors. Hospitals that should know better are chasing after the “Baby Friendly” designation. Parents who should know better are refusing vaccines. Similarly, some doctors who should know better are refusing to prescribe antibiotics, for fear of over-prescribing them. We lose some of the benefits of medical advances because we forget how horrible things could be before them.

          • sdsures

            Agreed, EC.

  • crazy mama, PhD

    Poor woman. And poor baby, losing his mother.

    It’s easy to see where someone would get the idea that they need to avoid all medications while breastfeeding: just do a Google search for “[name of any medication] + breastfeeding.” Half the top hits will be mommy forums full of speculation from random laypeople, and every thread has at least one person who self-righteously proclaims that they wouldn’t take the risk.

    Even outside of intensely lactivist circles, people have fixated on the idea that if a med poses any possible risk, known or unknown, to a baby, then you shouldn’t take it. But that’s only half the story—it’s equally important to consider the risk of NOT taking something.

    • MaineJen

      And the other half of hits will be quack lawyers offering compensation “if you took such and such medication while pregnant or breastfeeding” >:(

  • kilda

    wow, that is so horrifying. If the doctor who prescribed the antibiotic didn’t discuss the safety of the medicine with breastfeeding, and reassure her that it was safe, he/she should be sued. If he/she did and the mom just didn’t understand it, or didn’t trust it, that’s terribly sad.

    • crazy mama, PhD

      Yeah, I wonder about the doctor. I wonder if the general push to reduce antibiotic use affected his response at all. In my experience (in the US), an ear infection doesn’t automatically mean antibiotics anymore; they’ll give you the option to wait it out. I would’ve thought that a burst ear drum would’ve moved it past the “wait it out” stage, though.

      • Roadstergal

        Yeah, my husband got a ‘wait and see’ ear infection, but once the eardrum got perforated, he was given a course of antibiotic drops.

        Regardless, if you have a med and it’s not compatible with breastfeeding – don’t breastfeed! You’re no good to your kid dead! Worst case scenario if the doc had been misinformed should have been the kid on formula until the ear infection cleared up, not mom dead in the service of boob milk!

        • Casual Verbosity

          But if you put the relief of your own suffering ahead of your child then you’re a bad mum!

      • Mac Sherbert

        I don’t know. When my kids have ear infections our docs always give me antibiotics. Of course, they may know that it’s bad if I’ve actually shown up at their office because I don’t go for every little thing that comes along. After having a burst eardrum as a child I will not wait it out anyway. I know the greater good and all, but no.

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          The greater good doesn’t really even come into it anyway. From what I’ve read, the problems with antibiotic overuse come primarily from agriculture, not from people getting prescribed antibiotics for actual bacterial infections that are painful or potentially dangerous. I don’t think anyone should have any qualms about giving a sick child in pain a medication that will shorten their suffering.

          • MaineJen

            I think generally if a child is symptomatic, pulling at ears, feverish and lethargic, antibiotics will be given. And they generally work very quickly, IME.

          • AnnaPDE

            This. Not just because the conditions in factory farms are such that there’s massive potential for infections. Some antibiotics also make you very hungry, and that’s part of while they’re just routinely fed to animals.

      • Gene

        I’m a big fan of delayed antibiotics for simple Otitis media. But one of the indications for starting antibiotics is a perforated ear drum.

        • NoLongerCrunching

          Not a doctor, but wouldn’t it be good to prevent the eardrum from being ruptured to begin with?

          • Gene

            The majority of acute Otitis media gets better on its own without antibiotics and foes not progress to rupture.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      But lactivists routinely advise women to ignore their doctors.

      • MaineJen

        Yes, we hear them say all the time that “doctors don’t learn *anything* about breastfeeding.” Combine that with the fear that your baby might need even a drop of formula while you recover, and you get stories like this.

        • Mac Sherbert

          Something about babies makes even normal people stupid. My DH is a science nerd that works in a science field. Yet, after I had my kids he was like you don’t need to be taking those (pain meds). When I asked why he was like well the baby. To which I was like I’m pretty sure my OB knows I have a baby I’m breastfeeding. Ugh.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          True, though to be fair, in the mere 4 months I breastfed I ran into multiple doctors who would say that if I took X or Y medication, I would have to stop breastfeeding. I’d go and look up the medication, and find that it was, in fact, considered perfectly safe for breastfeeding. Best guess was that they didn’t know for sure and wanted to be overcautious…? Which is, I suppose, better than not-cautious, but I can see where that sort of thing could lead moms to decide either not to take necessary medication or to not trust doctors.
          In my case, it just made me rather irritated that if they didn’t know, they wouldn’t look it up–goodness knows I’d have thought none the worse of them if they didn’t right off the bat. I didn’t want to give up breastfeeding if I didn’t have to, but I was hardly going to risk the already quite unpleasant UTI getting any worse in order to breastfeed.

    • CanaDoc

      I routinely prescribe medications to breastfeeding mothers and I don’t go out of my way to explain at length that they are safe with breastfeeding because WHY WOULD I EVER PRESCRIBE A MEDICATION THAT *WASN’T* SAFE WITH BREASTFEEDING TO A BREASTFEEDING MOTHER? The list of medications incompatible with breastfeeding is MINUSCULE, including chemotherapy agents, lithium, and medical marijuana. I’m always happy to answer questions, as is any pharmacist.
      So the idea that a doctor’s career should be destroyed when he or she prescribed an appropriate medication to a woman who happened to be breastfeeding is ridiculous. The default is that almost all medications are safe with breastfeeding, and if you are concerned, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist.

      • AnnaPDE

        This is not “lose your license” territory, but I would ask you to reconsider this approach.
        Patients get asked whether I’m pregnant and/or breastfeeding on the admission sheets for trivially minor procedures, so they are under the impression that it’s an important piece of information that makes a difference, and there’s massive no-medication-during-BF propaganda on a lot of the internet. When in such a context you don’t event mention BF compatibility to a patient, she’ll be left wondering if you actually considered this question at all, or simply overlooked it — we all have our stories of some detail getting overlooked, and this detail is one that women sort of expect you to mention when considering it.
        If you want your breastfeeding patients to trust your judgement, then talk to them about the medication and do mention its breastfeeding compatibility. Not only because they’re adults and deserve to be treated with such respect, but in order to explicitly counteract any Dr Google scaremongering they might read.

      • sdsures

        The doctor did his job – he did prescribe antibiotics. She refused to take them. I do agree that most antibiotics are safe to use while breastfeeding, but isn’t it part of a minimum standard of care for a doctor to reassure a patient that she does need treatment, in ANY scenario? To reassure a new mom that feeding her baby formula is just fine, and that taking care of her own needs is just as important as caring for her baby?

        I’ve only had antibiotics a few times in life (bronchitis complicated by asthma). I did ask if it was absolutely necessary, because I didn’t/don’t want to contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance that is the other side of the coin when they are over-prescribed. He assured me they were needed, I took them, finished the course, and got better, done and dusted.

      • guest

        I take a lot of medication and make it a point to ask if any new medication prescribed is compatible with the others if I’m seeing a new doctor. When seeing my regular doctors, they always make sure to comment that any new medication is compatible with the current ones I’m taking. This is definitely reassuring to me as a patient given that so many medications are not compatible. I think even mentioning a few times over different interactions with breastfeeding patients that there are very few medications that aren’t compatible would be reassuring. Agree that this should not be a reason a doctor loses a career.

      • Daleth

        I routinely prescribe medications to breastfeeding mothers and I don’t go out of my way to explain at length that they are safe with breastfeeding because WHY WOULD I EVER PRESCRIBE…

        That’s logical. Lactivism is not logical and people who subscribe to it may not be as logical as a professional with an MD.

        So when you prescribe something to a pregnant or breastfeeding patient, just start throwing in, “This is entirely compatible with and safe for pregnancy/breastfeeding.” It takes two seconds to say.

  • BeatriceC

    The only thing that really surprises me is that this sort of thing isn’t more common. I spend a lot of time in my group convincing moms that it really is okay to take meds and/or formula feed and that a healthy mom is more important than any amount of breastmilk.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      we’re not a well-wrapped lot. 🙁

      • BeatriceC

        Y’all are amazing and wonderful people, and don’t you ever forget it!

    • EC

      We’re lucky to have heard of this one. Breastfeeding and lactivists aren’t going to be on the death certificate, even though they helped cause the woman’s death.

  • Empress of the Iguana People

    That is horrifying. I can also see how easily it could happen.