I breastfed my babies; I didn’t go on a “journey”

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I breastfed my four children and I enjoyed it. I had the usual relatively minor difficulties including pain and multiple bouts of mastitis. It wasn’t convenient, particularly when my first child was born and I was working 70 hours a week as a chief resident, but I had a booming milk supply, a private office in which to pump, and fat, happy babies who were thriving.

Even so, I’ve never been on a breastfeeding journey and neither has anyone else of my generation. That’s because breastfeeding “journeys” didn’t exist then. We didn’t go on breathing journeys, digestion journeys or menstruation journeys, either. We approached bodily functions as just that — bodily functions — not as opportunities to pressure women into approved behavior.

Of course that was before the advent of breastfeeding propaganda. It was before the breastfeeding industry’s attempt to euphemize the pain, frustration, inconvenience and serious complications of breastfeeding by romanticizing them as a journey. Women who are on breastfeeding journeys are unwitting victims of propaganda.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Women who are on breastfeeding journeys are unwitting victims of propaganda.[/pullquote]

As Wikipedia explains:

Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented…

Why is it used?

The propagandist seeks to change the way people understand an issue or situation for the purpose of changing their actions and expectations in ways that are desirable to the interest group… [It] serves as a corollary to censorship in which the same purpose is achieved, not by filling people’s minds with approved information, but by preventing people from being confronted with opposing points of view… The leaders of an organization know the information to be one sided or untrue, but this may not be true for the rank and file members who help to disseminate the propaganda.

That accurately sums up the tactics of lactivists:

  • Cherry pick data
  • Lie about scientific evidence
  • Censor information that doesn’t conform
  • Demonize anyone who seeks to provide uncensored information
  • Justify deception by claiming that the ends justify the means
  • Keep rank and file members in the dark
  • Use loaded language to produce an emotional rather than rational response

I (and others) have written extensively about the ways in which the benefits of breastfeeding have been grossly exaggerated and the risks expunged from the medical canon. It’s clear that the breastfeeding industry censors information and demonizes anyone who seeks to provide uncensored information (eg the Fed Is Best Foundation or, for that matter, me). It’s pretty clear that some lactivist physicians justify their deceptions (particularly deceptions about breastfeeding complications) by insisting that the ends justify the means. It’s also crystal clear that the rank and file — lactation consultants and lactivists — have no idea that they are spreading propaganda instead of accurate information.

It’s hard for laypeople to differentiate between those who are trying to inform them and those who are trying to pressure them. There is one critical “tell,” however. Those who deploy emotional language are trying to manipulate women and the breastfeeding “journey” is part of that manipulative language.

Who goes on a breastfeeding journey? It’s not women like me who had relatively little difficulty. We don’t go on breastfeeding journeys for the same reason we don’t go on digestion journeys; we just do it. We latch on our babies, feed them and get on with the rest of our lives.

A breastfeeding journey is reserved for women who suffer with serious problems like insufficient supply, poor latch, excruciating pain, etc. In some cases, the women who are on breastfeeding “journeys” are actually putting their babies lives at risk from dehydration, hypoglycemia and jaundice.

Let me be ultra-clear even if lactivists lie about this:

There is no benefit of breastfeeding term babies that makes a breastfeeding “journey” worthwhile.

There is no medical reason to subject yourself to a slavish pumping schedule, no medical reason to struggle with the use of supplementary nursing system and no medical reason to resort to ingesting off label GI medications like domperidone in order to avoid formula. There is nothing wrong with formula besides the fact that the breastfeeding industry can’t charge for it.

Every minute that you spend pumping or cleaning SNS supplies or scouring the internet for a source of domperidone is a minute that you and your baby aren’t enjoying each other. As the Harlow monkey experiments with wire and cloth mother substitutes demonstrated, babies crave warmth and comfort more than they crave food.

So if babies aren’t benefitting from breastfeeding journeys, who is? The breastfeeding industry benefits. They are the ones who supply the pumps, the SNS systems, and the “support.” They profit on every leg of the breastfeeding “journey” while mothers and babies suffer.

The only reason to go on a breastfeeding journey is if it is personally important to you; it certainly isn’t important for your baby. It’s like runnning a marathon; sure it’s a nice achievement, but it doesn’t improve anyone’s health.

There’s no need to pump to augment supply; just give your baby formula and spend the extra time cuddling and interacting with your baby.

There’s no need to struggle with using and then cleaning an SNS. Put your breastmilk or formula into a bottle and spend the extra time cuddling and interacting with your baby.

There’s no reason to risk your health with potentially dangerous off label medication to boost your supply. Your baby needs YOU far more than he or she needs breastmilk.

Calling breastfeeding a journey is nothing more than an effort to romanticize breastfeeding difficulties. If it’s not working or it’s not convenient, just stop. The only thing that will be hurt are the profits of the breastfeeding industry.