Lactivism is fake news

Fact or Fake concept, Hand flip wood cube change the word, April fools day

If the last few days on my Facebook page are any indication, we have a big problem with reasoning in this country. The page has been swarmed by tens of thousands of lactivists, and to say that their knowledge base and reasoning skills are poor dramatically understates the case.

They have trouble with basic reading comprehension:

I write “the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial.” They insist I wrote “formula is better than breastfeeding.”

Lactivism is the latest iteration of the effort to replace objective truth with self-serving opinion.

I write “insufficient breastmilk is common.” They insist I wrote “no woman is ever able to produce enough breastmilk.”

I write “cluster feeding is a warning sign of infant starvation.” They insist I wrote “every baby who cluster feeds is starving to death.”

I write “her baby, her body, her breasts her choice.” They insist I wrote “no one should ever breastfeed.”

Their knowledge of the scientific evidence is pathetic. They copy and paste scientific studies that they have never read and wouldn’t understand if they read them.

They seem to think that science is some sort of democracy: That if enough of them parachute in to “vote” their beliefs and outrage, I will change my mind about what the scientific evidence shows. No chance of that.

Most startling of all, they imagine I care about their poorly informed opinions. (Perhaps readers can help me out with this. What did I do that gave them the impression I care about what they think?)

Sadly, lactivism has become fake news.

The term “fake news” has been used and abused a lot lately. An Op-Ed in yesterday’s New York Times got me thinking about the way that contemporary lactivism embodies fake news.

It starts by asking the question:

How should we explain the fact that President Trump got away with making 2,140 false or misleading claims during his initial year in office?

The comparable questions for lactivism are these:

How do lactivists get away with claiming major benefits for breastfeeding when most of the research on which those benefits are based has been thoroughly debunked?

How do lactivists get away with claiming major benefits for breastfeeding when countries with the highest breastfeeding rates have the highest infant mortality rates and countries with the lowest breastfeeding rates have the lowest infant mortality rates?

How do lactivists get away with claiming major benefits for breastfeeding when the breastfeeding rate has tripled in the past 40 years and we can’t find a single term baby or healthcare dollar that has been saved?

Are professional lactivists lying to their followers or are they ignorant, too? The op-ed suggests a third possibility for those who endlessly repeat falsehoods; they are “post truth.”

“Users of post-truth see themselves as expressing their opinions, but opinions that call for no verification, and in being their opinions, are on a par with anyone else’s opinions,” Prado writes in a forthcoming book, “The New Subjectivism.”

For professional lactivists this means that they don’t actually have to demonstrate any real world benefits of breastfeeding. They “know” that breastfeeding has massive benefits — they’ve staked their careers and incomes on it — so it must be true.

For lay lactivists, they “know” that breastfeeding has massive benefits — they’ve staked their self-esteem on the notion that breastfeeding makes them superior to other mothers — so it must be true.

Both feel free to ignore the mounting number of brain injuries and deaths that are the result of a breastfeeding policy that grossly exaggerates benefits while simultaneously refusing to provide women with accurate information about risks. A new study published in the past few days showed that breastfeeding increases the risk of hospital readmission by 100%. Extrapolated to the entire country it would mean that we have 60,000 excess newborn hospital admissions each year at a cost of a quarter of a BILLION dollars per year. This is not a minor problem; it’s a major scandal.

Why has this disaster been allowed to occur? The answer is tribalism, an obvious defect of our contemporary politics and a less obvious defect of our contemporary breastfeeding policy.

According to Stephen Pinker:

The answer lies in raw tribalism: when someone is perceived as a champion of one’s coalition, all is forgiven. The same is true for opinions: a particular issue can become a sacred value, shibboleth, or affirmation of allegiance to one’s team, and its content no longer matters…

Lactivists feel duty bound to believe whatever other lactivists tell them, regardless of whether or not it is true.

And once tribalism takes the place of scientific reasoning:

the full ingenuity of human cognition is recruited to valorize the champion and shore up the sacred beliefs. You can always dismiss criticism as being motivated by the bias of one’s enemies. Our cognitive and linguistic faculties are endlessly creative — that’s what makes our species so smart — and that creativity can be always deployed to reframe issues in congenial or invidious terms.

Of the more than 120,000 people who have dropped into my Facebook page so far, and the hundreds who have left comments, not a single one tried to engage with the actual scientific evidence that I presented. Their full ingenuity — such as it is — was dedicated to dismissing the evidence as motivated by bias, cricizing my credentials, and calling me names.

If tribalism has begun to supplant traditional partisanship, their argument suggests, lying in politics will metastasize as traditional constraints continue to fall by the wayside…

Tribalism has already begun to supplant scientific reasoning when it comes to contentious issues. Creationism is nothing but a lie, climate denial is a lie, anti-vaccine advocacy is based almost entirely on lies. Lactivism is just the latest iteration of the effort to replace objective truth with self-serving opinion.

When it comes to lactivism, this is not an academic issue; it is a matter of life and death. The only question remaining is this:

How many newborn brain injuries and deaths are we prepared to allow so that lactation professionals can make money and lactivists can bolster their fragile self-esteem?

  • LivingTheDream

    Dr. T, I notice that you mention statistics pertaining to term babies, not preterm babies. What is your impression of the benefits to neonates? I was aggressively recruited so to speak to pump for my neonates by both the lactation department (surprise, surprise) and the neonatologists managing my babies in the NICU. I did so happily. Neither latched, so it was the pump for me for approximately 6 mo. I was hospitalized with mastitis twice, but felt the ends justified the means. Or maybe I was just assured this was the case. When my babes were discharged and followed by their ped, it was the same story. I was strongly encouraged and offered assistance and a milk bank if I need one to boost supply. I was very pragmatic about it. Fine with pumping and dumping, fine with supplementing after 3 mo post discharge, and very very happy to leave the entire thing behind when I felt them were ready. I can’t say that I felt overtly bullied, but that’s probably because I was pliant to their wishes. I felt any benefit was a worthy endeavor. I was also told that the benefits were monumental, near-medicinal, perhaps magical (lol). How firmly rooted in supported science are these assertions? The provided literature was understandable biased, I’m sure.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      There’s good evidence that breastmilk reduces the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in extremely preterm infants. It can be lifesaving for them!

      • LivingTheDream

        Thanks for confirming. That’s what I was told and what I discovered on my own. In the main, professionals have been pretty moderate. Maybe not the lactation nurse, but hey, it’s her job to be, ah, enthusiastic. But, really, everyone else was content to let me lead and empowered me with resources and space to make choices for myself and my littles. It’s really just these fringe elements, social groups and lifestyle gurus, that have infected my friend and family circles. When did it become okay to condemn in open forum format the personal/parenting choices your peers? I’ve ask older women acquaintances if they experienced the scrutiny and judgement I’ve had tossed my way (openly, in public, on the internet or at a girls’ lunch), and I get the impression that social media (both the easy access to your life and forum for their opinions) somehow gives perfect strangers and known entities alike license to sling insults and a deluge of misinformation your way. I don’t have any social media accounts anymore. But it’s more insidious than that even. I sometimes feel there is no distinction between what is good and what is feasible. Little or no consideration given to the strictures 24 mo of breast feeding puts on a regular person. The benefit cost is a non-issue. It’s not even acknowledged.

  • Kirsten Willis

    Okay, I’m done! Have fun repeating yourselves, I’m out!

    • Roadstergal

      Kirstin! Before you run – Sylvia didn’t answer my question below. Maybe your can help me out? I’ll copy and paste it from below. TIA!

      This is a question I ask every lactivist, and I never get an answer. Help me out?

      The ’70s was the nadir of breastfeeding in the US. Breastfeeding initiation was under 30% – which means that over 70% of babies had no breastmilk at all!

      Rates shot up in the ’80s, and by the aughts, the initiation rate had flipped – now, over 70% of babies in the US were getting breastmilk. The exclusive 6-month rates these days exceeds the initiation rate in the 70s.

      Can you point to the measure of public health that improved in parallel – the health benefit that the teens these days have over the generation that is now in their 40s? In terms of chronic disease, allergies, asthma, anything like that?

  • Kirsten Willis

    Okay so, why are we bashing lactivists? Some don’t bash moms who decide to formula feed. They just promote the spread of information oftentimes not provided at most hospitals where formula samples are being given out like candy. Its true that breastfeeding moms don’t have as much support as they need in order to have a thriving breastfeeding relationship unless they seek out resources in the community themselves. Seriously, just stop. Breastmilk is free. Let people spread information on how to give their babies the optimal nutrition for FREE, as opposed to $20-$40 a container for something without the same immune benefits as breastmilk. I wish you would stop with YOUR scare tactics. You’re one of the most annoying people on the web. I liken you to Trump with his twitter account.

    • Who?

      How is breastmilk free-does mother not need to consume extra calories to produce it?

      How does breastmilk provide immunity, and against what?

      As for being annoying, well, you could always choose to not read.

      • Kirsten Willis

        Please use Google. Or a book. It won’t bite. If you have time to read this nonsense, you have time to read up on how breastmilk provides immunity. I supplement with formula, okay? I’m not one of those die hard lactivists. But damn if I’ll sit while someone sits here trying to tear down something that helps a lot of women achieve something they want. Frankly, I don’t care if YOU want the information. Taking your words, here, you could always choose not to read. 🙂 But some will.

        • Who?

          I know the answers to my questions, and not from google. Curious you imply that you do, but won’t spell them out. Why is that?

          The interested reader will see your tone, and mine, and draw their own conclusions.

          • Kirsten Willis

            Because they’re long and drawn out. But here goes since I’m already talking way more to Heidi than I’d like to be The nipple actually functions to suction in the saliva from the baby in order to create an immune response to whatever is ailing the child. This has been scientifically proven so don’t run to google and try to debunk it. Human milk is also fit for the specific age and sex of your child. There have been studies done to this effect as well. The milk has been shown to be “living” under a microscope. I’m not explaining anymore. You were trying to imply I was stupid or didn’t actually have points to prove my stance. I’m not. I am educated on the topic.
            You realize you don’t have to disprove the health benefits of breastmilk to say its okay for women to formula feed, right? I supplement. They are still trying to create a formula that matches breastmilk not just because its in demand but because they know breastmilk is superior. The one I want to get after mine runs out is Similac $28 a can, closest to breastmilk, and has some of the immune properties but will never have all of them. I’m going to feed it to my child. I know it falls short. And I’m okay with acknowledging that. Why is it so hard for some of you?

          • kilda

            no, you are miseducated on the topic. Breast milk does not magically sense a baby’s immune needs, nor special nutritional needs based on the baby’s sex, whatever you imagine those might be. Nor does it send antibodies from the mother to protect the baby against microbes the baby is carrying. And if it did, the antibodies would be promptly broken down by the baby’s gastric acids. The whole “living fluid under a microscope” bit has been debunked too.

            You’re not stupid, but you’re misinformed and don’t know nearly as much about it as you think you do.

            why don’t you go do some more reading and get back to us when you know more? As you say, please use google, or a book, they won’t bite.

          • Who?

            All good answers!

            Sweet how she assumed I’d run to google, when I told her I don’t use it for that purpose.

            She’s gone, apparently, but can she stick the flounce?

          • Roadstergal

            Tell us – just high-level, in your own words – what an immune response is? I’m dying to know, and how it’s transferred to the baby.

          • MaineJen

            *gets popcorn*

            *sets popcorn aside to enter the lab to do actual immunology-related work, still waiting for vital information from someone who thinks we should use Google U to ‘educate’ ourselves*

            *dies laughing*

          • Heidi

            She won’t be back. Anyone who didn’t agree with her was being reaaaaally mean, while her insults and disregard for those of us who had children that suffered in varying degrees because of the same breastfeeding propaganda she spews is “peacefully conversing.” After all, she got some free samples that no one forced her to use. That is totally worse than hypoglycemia, dehydration, jaundice, brain damage, even death!

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            The nipple actually functions to suction in the saliva from the baby in order to create an immune response to whatever is ailing the child. This has been scientifically proven so don’t run to google and try to debunk it.

            Hahahahahahahahaha… (breathes)… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

            (Wipes tears from eyes)

            If it were true that it had been ‘scientifically proven’, then you wouldn’t be afraid of us ‘running to Google’, would you? Especially as you recommended that source when you couldn’t answer Who?’s questions.

            But, of course, you know that it has been debunked, which is why you are afraid of anyone questioning it.

    • Heidi

      I guess formula is given out about like candy is given out at the hospital. I didn’t get a damn piece of candy and I didn’t get formula until my newborn endured hypoglycemia for a whole day. Formula isn’t candy by the way. It’s complete nutrition for a newborn, already including the iron and vitamin D that is optimal. Breast milk is great when it’s desired and works out, but it needs to be supplemented with iron and usually vitamin D. And no, it isn’t free. You can’t make something out of nothing.

      • Kirsten Willis

        Did… I say formula was candy? Reading comprehension. And yes, I received approximately 10 cans of formula for free with each child. I was signed up for enfamil samples by the hospital. But sure. You’re right. Because they weren’t given to you, they must not be given to anyone.

        • Heidi

          If you didn’t need the cans, don’t open them and donate them to a homeless shelter or a women’s shelter. They would very much appreciate your donation!

          • Kirsten Willis

            I did…

          • Heidi

            Great. Then I really don’t understand why you have an issue receiving these freebies if you had an opportunity to help those in need.

          • Kirsten Willis

            You’re missing the point. The freebies being offered the way they are in the first days following birth, along with doctors pushing the weight gain when babies can lose up to 10% of birth weight in the first week and be completely healthy, urges moms to supplement. They will see the formula and either doubt themselves and their abilities, or they will cave to the pressure of new motherhood and use them when they don’t really need them. When most people breastfeed, their body works on a supply and demand. Supplementing when our body is actually doing what it needs to do (notice I didn’t say its a one size fits all, not an extremist) will damage the supply and demand system our bodies work off of, and your body will naturally begin to create less breastmilk in response. This is a biological response to things like stillbirth and miscarriage, also birthing multiples. Your body will make more or less depending on whats required. Those samples in the first days of life- I didn’t need and I knew to say no to. First time moms who don’t have the support system and knowledge I had won’t. Its damaging.
            That is my point.
            I have no problem with free formula samples. I have a problem with a lack of information at most hospitals. And that’s where lactivists have done a service.

          • Kirsten Willis

            I will say some can be downright shamey assholes. But I’m not against all because of few. And I’m not about to doubt all the good information out there because some of the people sharing it can be assholes.

          • Casual Verbosity

            So if a 5 year old lost 10% of their bodyweight in a week, would that be a cause for concern? If so, why should a newborn be any different?

            Just because exclusively breastfed babies can lose 10% of their bodyweight and not die, doesn’t mean it’s good for them or that it’s something we should put them through in order to achieve exclusive breastfeeding status. At any other age a 10% loss in bodyweight in a week would be cause for some concern. Ask anyone who has tried to lose weight. When you’re at the stage where your body is cannibalising itself for energy, that is a really unpleasant position to be in.
            There are actually ways to supplement without ruining supply and many studies have found that supplementing in the early days can actually increase the likelihood of achieving exclusive breastfeeding later on. In order to stimulate the breasts to work with the supply and demand principle, you simply allow the baby to feed on both sides first, and then top them up with formula. If they’re getting enough from the breasts, they won’t take much. Doing this won’t prevent your milk from coming in, and if you’re one of the women who’s bodies aren’t able to produce enough breastmilk, then your baby won’t go hungry. That’s pretty cool!
            Samples themselves won’t undermine a woman’s ability to breastfeed. If the baby is content between feeds and not losing weight, then most women are not going to be concerned that their baby isn’t getting enough to eat. However, if the baby is constantly nursing and never seems satisfied, and is losing weight, then it’s fair enough for them to doubt themselves (in fact they should doubt themselves under those circumstances). Should samples be given with instructions about how to supplement whilst maintaining supply? Absolutely. That should be standard practice. But I think you do women a disservice to think them so weak that a few measly samples are enough to completely derail their confidence if the signs suggest things are actually going well.
            And even if samples really were that detrimental, since formula feeding is not harmful, why would it be so damaging for women to end up formula feeding?

            Edited to add: Whilst you may have received formula samples in your hospital, that is not common practice in many institutions. Hospitals with the so-called “Baby Friendly” designation are prohibited from providing formula samples. In fact, formula can only be provided with a prescription. So whilst your experience of receiving formula samples is completely valid; it’s not a universal experience. And many of the women on this page will tell you how hard they had to fight to get formula for their hungry children in these hospitals.

          • Kirsten Willis

            Check out my response to Mrs. Cluster feeding below. I could copy paste it if you like with a timestamp, if you’re too lazy?

          • Kirsten Willis

            Kirsten Willis Sylvia O’Neill • 21 minutes ago
            Cluster feeding can actually be a sign of infant starvation. Its normal but it can be, in conjunction with other symptoms like low output and weight loss in excess of 10% of birth weight in the first week. I just wanted to say that because spreading that kind of info, and just telling a mom to keep feeding without consulting a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician has led to an infant death.
            But, yes, cluster feeding is rather normal so long as its not in conjunction with other symptoms. It can be a sign of a growth spurt or teething or stressors.

            Oh look. I said what you said!

          • Kirsten Willis

            Except for the fact that when you provide any kind of safety net to someone recovering from something massively difficult, they may take it. That’s just logic. I am a woman. I am not calling women weak or feeble. I am simply using logic. I was sleep deprived and out of my mind after having a baby- certainly wasn’t ready to write an essay or run a marathon. Babies keep people up. They’re a lot more prone to caving. You guys are relentless.

          • swbarnes2

            So you are opposed to “safety nets” for fragile newborns?

          • kilda

            heaven forbid we make things easier for anyone. They might miss out on all that character-building hardship.

          • guest

            I made the decision that sleep was more important than my child getting breast milk (while sleep deprived). I guess I “caved” but I prefer to think of it as balancing my needs with the baby’s needs. I really hate how women’s needs are discounted in the breastfeeding equation. Me deciding in that moment to put myself first does not make me a horrible mother.
            I still occasionally put myself first 6 years later and refuse to feel guilt about that. I’m a whole person, not just a mother.

          • kilda

            exactly. what the heck is so bad about “caving” in this scenario? If breastfeeding is important to a particular mother, she will keep working on it in spite of having used a little formula to make life easier. If breastfeeding’s not important to her, she will say “huh, formula actually is pretty convenient” and keep using it.

            I fail to see why either of those outcomes is a problem.

          • MaineJen

            …and what, exactly, is wrong with getting relief from something massively difficult? Exactly how difficult does it have to be?? How much do we have to suffer? Childbirth is incredibly difficult. It’s hard enough to recover, even if everything goes well. If breastfeeding is proving to be *that* much of a struggle, there’s probably a reason. Is it *really so bad* to give the baby a bottle or two and maybe get some sleep while you’re waiting for your milk to come in?

            Why is it always referred to as “caving,” when a new mom uses formula, or if she admits to (horror!!) getting an epidural during delivery? “Caving” implies she FAILED at something. What, exactly, did she fail at? How much suffering is “enough?”

          • Charybdis

            There’s no such thing as “enough”. There’s always room for “more”; why be satisfied with the status quo? Don’t you want *more* for your baby? This is why they keep moving the goalposts: “Breastfeed your baby” became “Exclusively breastfeed your baby”, which then morphed into “EBF for at least 6 months”, then “EBF for at least a year! No, wait!! TWO YEARS!!”. That became “EBF and no solid food before 12 months!” Then they started in on pumped breastmilk. Apparently NOW breastmilk needs to be fed directly to the baby via the breast. Pumped milk is better than formula, but not by much, apparently.

            I guess they haven’t heard the phrase “Enough is as good as a feast.”

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Oh god forbid someone “cave” to their hungry baby and actually feed it something appropriate for a newborn (formula)…naaaah it would be better to keep “powering through” and use unproven untested herbs, pumping 24/7 (who needs sleep!) and trying anything to get ones milk to come in, While NOT feeding the baby…..

          • BeatriceC

            When my previously healthy, athletic 14 year old suddenly lost 11% of his body weight over the course of a month, he was immediately hospitalized, put on high calorie supplements, and tested from here to the sun and back to find a cause. Yet somehow a fragile newborn with few resources to spare can lose 10% or more of his bodyweight and people shrug. It makes no sense.

          • StephanieJR

            My rabbit is about the size of a newborn at about eight lbs; if she was losing that much weight that fast and I did nothing, you’d call that abuse. Why do mothers of fragile babies get a pass?

          • BeatriceC

            Oscar, my cockatoo lost 10% of his body weight last summer and my vet admitted him right away. 10% seems to be the cut off for “dangerous! Do something!” For every living being except newborn humans.

          • maidmarian555

            Sorry, that’s bollocks. My son wasn’t supplemented enough and lost almost 10% of his birthweight and we struggled to get feeding going. It took almost a week for my milk to come in, my daughter was supplemented liberally, from birth, with formula top-ups after each feed. My milk came in on Day 4. The idea that your milk supply will be ruined by supplementation is a total myth. If you can make enough milk, you will.

          • Kirsten Willis

            No, it’s not. I supplement. The body works on supply and demand. That’s why you’re told not to excessively pump in the first days. Because you can become engorged. Do research. You can feed formula but still be informed. I do.

          • maidmarian555

            I’ve combo-fed two babies, I think I know what I’m talking about. You can absolutely supplement (if there are no underlying issues) and it won’t affect your supply in the early newborn days. Obviously after your milk comes in, if you give your baby 10 bottles a day it will kill your own supply. But in the newborn phase, topping up feeds won’t do anything other than give your baby a full tummy. Sorry. (Not sorry, I like having well-fed children funnily enough).

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            “That’s why you’re told not to excessively pump in the first days.”
            Funny. The IBCLCs I saw at the hospital had me on a nurse for 45-60 minutes/pump for 45 minutes round-the-clock schedule at 3 days postpartum, and then shamed me for saying after a few days of that that I’d be cutting my pump sessions down to a “mere” nine times per day so that I could get a little sleep at night. If pumping for 9 hours/day isn’t excessive, what the hell is considered excessive?!

          • NoLongerCrunching

            Lactogenesis II is a hormonal process. It’s doesn’t switch to supply/demand until after the milk comes in. That is why we teach mothers who aren’t breastfeeding to actively take steps to dry up their milk.

          • swbarnes2

            If stillbirthing mothers still get their milk in, that means that supplementing early doesn’t affect milk levels. But I don’t think you are capable of admitting this.

            And really, one second you say that giving way samples is as bad as “giving away candy”, and now you say you have no problem with samples? IS this how you really think honest people argue?

          • NoLongerCrunching

            It’s very rare in my experience as an IBCLC that a baby losing 10% is fine. It has happened (as far as I know, I can’t see the baby’s brain) but if the baby is stable per the pediatrician, having clear evidence of abundant milk transfer, and mother is willing to pump and or use formula if her baby is still hungry, plus there is a ped visit the next day, I’d (reluctantly) discharge that baby. Reluctantly because it’s not in their interest to be discharged, but insurance won’t pay for another day.

          • ukay

            Where does this number actually come from?

          • Charybdis

            You do appear to have a problem with free formula samples. You don’t want them to be offered in the hospital to new mothers (especially first time ones who don’t know how their bodies will react, maybe?) because they might be tempted to feed their hungry baby when they are worried that the baby is not getting enough milk at the breast. That the mere presence of the formula samples is damaging to a burgeoning breastfeeding relationship.

            Where/when exactly are the free samples okay then?

          • Heidi

            Gasp, when I signed up for a baby registry, Target gave me a gift bag that included free samples for nipple cream, breast milk freezer bags and nipple pads. The freebies didn’t coerce me into exclusive breastfeeding when despite hours and hours of demand a day, the supply never came. It didn’t cause me to doubt the need to heavily supplement with formula (really I supplemented with breast milk) or make me question the nutritional completeness of formula. Why aren’t they concerned with free samples from Lansinoh?

          • Charybdis

            Because that is encouraging women to breastfeed, obviously. You can give away free samples (nipple cream, storage bags, breast pads, etc) because those are things a woman might need while breastfeeding, so it is totes okay to have those things.

            A 4 pack of RTF formula in the 2 oz nursette size, a coupon for $$ off a large can of formula and a pacifier, however, well, there should be a law against that sort of thing. Or the wonderful diaper bags they used to give out with RTF formula, a small can of powdered formula, a changing pad, diaper samples, diaper rash cream samples, baby wash and lotion? Those were AWESOME!! I got 2 of them with DS, one from Similac and one from Enfamil. But those are Evil and Coercive and Should Be Banned From The Face Of The Earth Forever!

          • Heidi

            Well, you know their mere presence makes breasts quit. Can confirm with anecdote. My mother was pregnant with my sister in the 90s when formula companies ran amok and sent freebies to you. My mother got similar swag to you, but I guess she was such an anomaly for a woman (because you know very few of us have even half-functioning brains) and wasn’t persuaded to formula feed because she got a free diaper bag and can of formula. But my sister was a failure to thrive and my mom had to use those dang samples. And then buy more. We all know breasts never fail unless some evil force intervenes.

          • BeatriceC

            I got one of those for my oldest. They weren’t giving them out when I had the other two. This will come has a huge shock to lactivists, but my oldest was the only one that breastfed straight from the breast for at least 12 months. It’s almost like the fact that there was formula samples around had nothing to do with how I fed my babies.

          • Well, you also had pregnancies from hell and very premature babies. I think keeping them alive was a little more important than worrying about where they got their calories from!

          • BeatriceC

            This is true. Though the oldest was the least preemie, as a barely preemie. He, however, managed a shoulder dystocia, and was stuck long enough that he wasn’t breathing and his heartrate was 30bpm and dropping when he was born, so he had more issues than a typical 36 weeker. The other two were a much earlier.

            Honestly, I was much more motivated to breastfeed the youngest straight from the breast than either of the older two. OK needed a little help learning to latch onto a boob bigger than he was, plus managing my oversupply and very fast letdown was an issue, but those all got worked out. MK latched right on and never looked back as soon as he was allowed to try to nurse directly from the breast, but YK never did learn how to do that. And he, being the 24 weeker, was the one that stood to gain a non-trivial benefit. He did get expressed breastmilk, but that was mostly because with my oversupply, it was super easy to pump. I’m pretty sure if it was at all difficult I’d have given up once he got discharged.

          • Charybdis

            Can’t be. Surely you are mistaken about that. Everybody *knows* formula will immediately cancel out and override the breastfeeding vibes going on. /eyeroll

          • Who?

            And isn’t it odd that the nipple cream etc doesn’t cause fears of women ‘caving in’ to breastfeeding?

            I was actually really bugged yesterday by the ‘caving’ remark but then decided that someone who could write that wouldn’t care for having it parsed. Looks like she can stick the flounce though, so that makes her better than many who pass through…

          • momofone

            “They will see the formula and either doubt themselves and their abilities, or they will cave to the pressure of new motherhood and use them when they don’t really need them.”

            Really? Because the formula is like some hypnotic shiny object that renders them unable to resist? I find this hard to believe, because as an adult person, I’m able to actually entertain more than one thought at a time–“Wow, I’m tired, and I wonder if my baby is getting enough milk,” and “I don’t think I want to try formula right now” are not mutually exclusive. We were sent home with a case of formula and a large package of Huggies. We somehow managed not to be mesmerized by the formula even though it was frequently within our line of sight, until we donated it to a shelter.

            Also, my son had formula in the hospital. I was one of the mothers who was terrified that this (along with the pacifier the nurses gave him) would completely ruin any chance of breastfeeding, because nipple confusion! He won’t know how to suck properly! He won’t be hungry enough to create the demand so that my supply will increase! Nope. He had it in the hospital and went on to breastfeed for almost two years. All the fearmongering is exactly that.

          • Kirsten Willis

            Also, I supplement. So, not a shamer. Just someone who doesn’t like lactivists smeared for spreading information. There’s good and bad. But lactivism isn’t fake news. This woman is ridiculous. From slandering women who decide to birth at home to attempting to make people feel inferior for bonding with their children via breastfeeding. She could pick far better arguments, as a professional grown ass woman. But instead she uses divisive tactics to stir the pot. She’s an extremist herself, she’s just the other kind.

          • Heidi

            You are making things up.

          • Kirsten Willis

            ……. where am I making things up ? Show me. Heidi I am conversing peacefully with you and you are being quite the nuisance in return. You have yet to return one valid counter point to any of my points.

          • Heidi

            You don’t really have a point. You said Dr. Tuteur is attempting to shame women who bond with their babies through breastfeeding and that she is an extremist. I’ve read her blog for years. It is simply not true. But you made that claim, you back it up.

          • Kirsten Willis

            I do have a point. Despite my answering your questions, you dodge the answers and make more.
            :Why do lactivists have such difficulty bonding to their babies that they can’t do it without breastfeeding? The rest of us bond fiercely without doing a thing.” Go look at her facebook. She shared this. She did it to start THIS. I’ll bet she lives for it.
            Lactivists that I know don’t say they couldn’t bond without the breast. They celebrate the bonding experience, yes, but she greatly belittled and insulted people who express the bonding experience with these words. She knew exactly what she was doing. There’s nothing wrong with finding out breastfeeding isn’t for you. There’s everything wrong with belittling others decisions because it wasn’t for YOU. If you’ll notice, I haven’t done that once. You have been kind of a turd, though.

          • Heidi

            I didn’t ask you any questions. There was also nothing violent or not peaceful with how I conversed with you. I didn’t even call you a turd. I will peacefully ignore you now, though.

          • Kirsten Willis

            *Insert thumbs up here*

          • maidmarian555

            Ok. What you’re saying doesn’t apply everywhere. Here in the UK, we don’t get given samples at all. Ever. It’s illegal for formula companies to do anything that could be considered to be promoting formula which includes samples, money off coupons or even points on your supermarket advantage cards. Second, insisting that all mothers can produce enough breastmilk is harmful. That message is pervasive, it is everywhere and it’s not right. When my daughter was born in September, the mother in the bed next to me on the ward had a baby that didn’t cry. Because she was sleeping. Constantly. Which indicated a problem. Newborn babies need to be fed every few hours. This baby did not. She just slept. Her mother was convinced this was because she was a ‘good baby’ and that I had a ‘bad baby’ because mine kept waking and wailing for food (I know this because I talked to her). As the night progressed, the nurses kept trying to help her wake her baby for a feed. It wasn’t working. The mother dug her heels in right up until that baby had to be taken to the NICU because she was insistent that the baby didn’t need anything other than the breastmilk she clearly either wasn’t producing enough of. I never heard that baby cry once the entire time we were on the ward. That’s really not normal but her mother would not be told different.

            People who deliberately spread the message that formula is harmful and that formula should only be used ‘in an emergency’ are responsible for harming babies. You can’t blame a new mother for not understanding the precise sitution that calls for formula and when a new baby might need to be supplemented. That mum genuinely believed that supplementing would be a terrible thing to do and wouldn’t listen to the medical professionals at her bedside telling her that her baby was starving (which was why she couldn’t wake to feed- her energy levels had dipped way too low to feed off minuscule portions of colostrum). So lactivists who spread the ‘formula is evil, breast is best’ message can pretty much get fucked. I can’t tell you how awful it is to be spending a night in a bed next to a new baby that makes no noise at all. Worst night of my life. And it was nothing to do with my own child.

          • Kirsten Willis

            I never insisted all mothers could produce enough. Please actually read my posts. I supplement. I will not read further on your long comment because you didn’t take the time to read mine. Thanks.

          • maidmarian555

            You mean read my long comment about a starving baby that was starving because his mum refused to listen to reason and instead bought the entire ‘breast is best, formula is evil’ bullshit?! You are defending people who peddle this exact position. I am giving you a real world example of why that position and message is harmful. I guess you don’t care about children that aren’t your own then. That’s…..not a great reflection on you as a human being tbh. I *did* read your comments btw. I just disagree with you. Strongly.

          • Heidi

            It doesn’t apply in the States currently either. I got some RTF 2 oz. bottles after my baby experienced hypoglycemia for 24 hours. They come in a six pack. So I may have have it home with 2 or 3 2 oz. bottles. I literally had to sign up with Similac and Enfamil for samples and got 2 small cans from each company. I wish it was like the old days when you didn’t even have to ask!

        • Charybdis

          Okay so, why are we bashing lactivists? Some don’t bash moms who decide to formula feed. They just promote the spread of information oftentimes not provided at most hospitals where formula samples are being given out like candy. Its true that breastfeeding moms don’t have as much support as they need in order to have a thriving breastfeeding relationship unless they seek out resources in the community themselves. Seriously, just stop. Breastmilk is free. Let people spread information on how to give their babies the optimal nutrition for FREE, as opposed to $20-$40 a container for something without the same immune benefits as breastmilk. I wish you would stop with YOUR scare tactics. You’re one of the most annoying people on the web. I liken you to Trump with his twitter account.

          Copy of your first post upthread. Please read the third sentence…”at most hospitals where formula samples are being given out like candy.” So, no, you didn’t say formula was candy, you said it was given out LIKE candy, which is the same thing Heidi said in her post. Reading comprehension is fine.

          Now, I really doubt that the problem is that people don’t have enough information on breastfeeding. You can’t go anywhere without getting bombarded with the “Breast is Best” mantra. Seriously. We get it. We don’t need any more information, education, “support” or any sort of “assistance” unless it is requested by the woman.

          Perhaps what is truly needed is the dissemination of CORRECT information about breastfeeding. Information such as: 15-20% of women will have supply issues due to a number of factors that may or may not be correctable to a point where a baby can be EBF. That early, limited formula supplementation can INCREASE the chance that a mother will breastfeed. That “Second Night Syndrome” is NOT normal. Brick dust in a diaper is a sign of dehydration, not “normal”. That even a 7% weight loss in a newborn increases the chance of brain damage due to kernicterus. Hypernatremia is dangerous. The stomach size of a newborn is NOT the size of a marble and they will need more than scant drops of colostrum to sate themselves. Breastmilk often requires vitamin D and iron supplements. Passive immunity doesn’t work the way you think it does, so breastmilk is not protective against VPD’s. You know, facts instead of hyperbole.

          There are only two things to feed a baby: breastmilk or formula, either exclusively or as a mix in combo feeding. If you are not making enough breastmilk to maintain your baby’s growth and development, then you must supplement with a safe supplement (formula). Randomly sourced “donor milk”, casual milk sharing or any breastmilk from a source other than your breasts (for your baby) or a screened milk bank is dangerous. Formula is nutritionally complete, readily available, and easy to use. Plus, you can monitor your baby’s intake easily instead of having to rely on imprecise diaper counts or the hassle of doing weighted feeds. You can easily change formulas if one is not being tolerated well; no need to restrict your diet, go on an elimination diet or avoid certain foods. Necessary medications can be continued for the mother without worrying about them getting into the milk and thus the baby.

          I personally hated, loathed and despised breastfeeding and abandoned it somewhere around 3-4 weeks. You couldn’t pay me enough to breastfeed, or to try again if I have another baby (not likely at this point). Do I care if you breastfeed? Nope. Not one whit. What I DO have a problem with is LC’s, lactivists, etc continuing to push the issue when they have been told a firm “No, I’m not breastfeeding. Thank you, though.” They seem to take that as some sort of challenge and continue to push, cajole, bully, shame and harass, all in the name of BFHI/EBF. They are worse than used car salesmen and infomercials.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Now, I really doubt that the problem is that people don’t have enough information on breastfeeding. You can’t go anywhere without getting bombarded with the “Breast is Best” mantra. Seriously. We get it. We don’t need any more information, education, “support” or any sort of “assistance” unless it is requested by the woman.

            As I’ve pointed out many times, the problem with “breastfeeding support” is that it isn’t actually about providing on breastfeeding, it is about cheerleading. Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Rah! Rah! Rah!

            It’s not working? More “Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Rah! Rah! Rah! ”

            I have mastitis?
            Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Rah! Rah! Rah!

            The baby’s losing weight?
            Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Rah! Rah! Rah!

            My nipples hurt?
            Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Rah! Rah! Rah!

            The baby’s always crying?
            Breastfeed! Breastfeed! Rah! Rah! Rah!

            That’s not real support.

          • Charybdis

            Yeah, they really don’t give a rat’s ass if the baby is actually getting milk, they just want to see a baby latched to mom’s breast as often as possible, continuously would be best, apparently.

          • ukay

            This. There was exactly zero „support“ from the LCs and „advocates“ I met. As in actually look at the baby nurse and work out the issue. It was all about projecting their beliefs and eliminating formula supplementation. I could have saved some bucks by having Siri read me the LLL creed.

        • The Vitaphone Queen
    • Casual Verbosity

      When we talk about ‘lactivists’ we don’t mean reasonable people who choose to breastfeed, we use that term to mean people who are unreasonable about breastfeeding – the people who call mothers selfish for not breastfeeding; the people who claim that all mothers make sufficient breastmilk; the people who claim that formula is poison; the people who prevent mothers from supplementing their hungry babies with formula. You may not have encountered such people, but many of the women on this page have, and their experiences have been harrowing.
      Now to address your other claims. Just because you don’t part with money at the supermarket in order to breastfeed, it doesn’t mean that breastfeeding is free. Breastfeeding is only free if three conditions are met: 1) You only feed directly from the breast, 2) Breastfeeding works perfectly for you, and 3) Your time is worth nothing. Breastfeeding is only free if you feed directly from the breast. If you pump at all, either to increase supply or to allow someone else to feed the baby occasionally, then you need to either buy or rent a pump, and you need to buy bottles and nipples. So if you don’t always feed directly from the breast, breastfeeding is not free. One of the main claims of lactivists is that breastfeeding is free. Yet when women share their experiences of struggling to breastfeed, lactivists say that unless they have: seen a lactation consultant, power pumped, had any lip or tongue ties corrected, and taken supplements – all things that cost money – then they didn’t try hard enough. So breastfeeding is free only if you can get it to work with the resources available to you for free, but if you need extra help in order to breastfeed, then it isn’t free. The third issue is the cost of your time. One of the main reasons that women formula feed or supplement with formula is so that they can go back to work. Not everyone has access to paid maternity leave, and not everyone’s work places are breastfeeding friendly. Depending on where you live, employers are often required to provide you with pumping breaks, but they’re not required to pay you for them. So in an 8 hour work day, most women will need to pump twice for about 30 minutes each session. Thus, they either have to work longer to make up the money (thus losing time with her baby) or take a hit of 1 hour’s pay per work day. At a relatively low-wage job paying $15 an hour, that would equate to $30 a day, or $150 per 5 day week in lost earnings – FAR MORE than the cost of premium formula for a week.
      So, breastfeeding is free only if – you feed directly from the breast, AND it works perfectly for you, AND your time is worth nothing (or you’re one of the lucky few to have paid maternity leave). That’s a lot of conditions to meet for breastfeeding to truly be free.
      Finally regarding the claim about antibodies – just because there are antibodies in breastmilk, doesn’t mean that 1) They’re there for the baby’s benefit or 2) The baby can benefit from them. Breastmilk is made from the mother’s own bodily fluids. Therefore, when the mother is exposed to something, her body produces anitbodies and some of those will end up in her breastmilk. Thus, the antibodies are there because her body was protecting her, not necessarily the baby. However, when the baby drinks the breastmilk, the anitbodies end up in the GI tract where they are only good for addressing stomach bugs. in order to be of use anywhere else, the antibodies need to be in the bloodstream, but the antibodies are too large to get out of the GI tract and into the bloodstream. This could account for why there is a very small difference in the number of GI illnesses in the first year of life between the population of breastfed and formula fed babies, but the difference is so small it’s not worth putting yourself or your baby through hell if breastfeeding is a struggle for you. Studies that control for socioeconomic status, which is the number one predictor of health outcomes and whether a baby will be breastfed, fail to find any longterm health differences between breastfeeding and formula feeding.

      tldr; “Lactivists” refers to unreasonable people not reasonable people trying to feed their babies. Breastfeeding is only free if three conditions are met. The presence of antibodies in milk doesn’t necessarily mean that breastfed babies are healthier.

      Edited to add: And just in case there’s any doubt – nobody here is against breastfeeding. We’re against misinformation.

      • Kirsten Willis

        Oh, look, someone’s factual and respectful. I can respect your response and even agree with your response in may places.
        I will say breastfeeding does end up being a lot more convenient and a lot less costly in the long run. I’m saying this as a mother who breastfed the first for 22 months and now, due to some personal issues and lack of supply, am almost exclusively formula feeding, hanging onto to the last remnants of my supply by a thread, at 5 with my second.
        Its not a one size fits all. I do know some of those assholes. But I also know people who identify as lactivists who are kind, helpful. understanding and supportive. So maybe you don’t know them. And in a way I understand your perspective because oftentimes the most hateful and negative people can be the loudest of the bunch.

        • Casual Verbosity

          I think the issue is that we’re using the same term to mean different things. And one definition isn’t necessarily the definitive one, but there will obviously be problems if we’re speaking at crossed purposes. I have encountered wonderfully supportive proponents of breastfeeding who genuinely want to help women to feed their babies in whatever way is best for them and their families. But like you said, the hateful and the negative are usually the loudest (especially on the internet).
          It’s great that breastfeeding was cheaper and more convenient for you. I think when discussing this issue though, you might get better results if you simply add the words “for me”. That way, it doesn’t seem like you’re asserting your experience as universal, because this is a sensitive issue, and in the absence of tone on the internet, people are likely to assume the worst.

          • Kirsten Willis

            I didn’t see anyone say “lactivists were hard to deal with FOR ME.”

          • Kirsten Willis

            I figured we were all speaking as adults with the knowledge we have and with personal experience.

          • Casual Verbosity

            The problem is that we’re still speaking at crossed purposes. As someone said above, we tend to use terms like “breastfeeding advocate” or “breastfeeding supporter” for people who are reasonable about breastfeeding but still encourage it. So when people here use the term “lactivist”, they’re using it in a manner that is understood within the context of this page to preclude the reasonable advocates and supporters. In general, I believe people would always be well-advised to make their definitions clear and to signal the fact they acknowledge their experience is their own and not everyone else’s. But I can only control what I say.
            I think the other problem is that the people here have had countless conversations with people who have said “Breastfeeding is easier and more convenient” with the intention of insisting their experience is universal. Like you said earlier, the hateful and negative tend to speak the loudest, so past experience suggests that when someone makes those statements without explicitly qualifying them that they are trying to make universal statements. Personally I try to get a clearer picture of someone’s precise claims, but like I said, I can only control what I say.

          • maidmarian555

            Idk. I had a horrible time FOR ME dealing with the midwives that pulled my top down on a busy ward and grabbed my boobs whilst I was telling them not to touch me. FOR ME I didn’t particularly enjoy being poked, prodded and humiliated. Am I doing it right?!

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            snort

          • Kirsten Willis

            Also, my tone at you may be misplaced. You’ve been respectful. I’m being completely candid and have been accused of making thing ups by Mrs. Heidi, so I’m a little annoyed.

          • Casual Verbosity

            I didn’t interpret the tone that way. I was just saying that other people might.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          Here we generally prefer “breastfeeding advocate” for those who are easy going and don’t trigger bad reactions in people like me.

          • NoLongerCrunching

            I like “breastfeeding supporter,” rather than advocate, because we should support mothers in their efforts to breastfeed, but not advocate for her to do anything other than weigh the pros and cons and choose whatever she thinks is best.

            As an aside, I think “breastfeeding therapist” would have been a better name than “lactation consultant.” It would have emphasized the need to be a therapeutic, compassionate practitioner. Plus what we do is similar to speech or physical therapy. Well it should be anyway; no physical therapist would refuse to allow crutches until the patient’s own body could support their weight.

          • Heidi

            I would consider myself something like a “family supporter.” It’s too bad the word family has been co-opted by hateful bigots.

          • I wish there was a pithy phrase to cover “I think all children should get food”. Including, but not limited to, babies.

          • Heidi

            Seems like “decent person” should cover it.

        • swbarnes2

          Ah, so you are sincerely arguing that anything that is more convenient for you must be more convenient for everyone? So any woman who thinks otherwise is just wrong about her own life, because you know better?

        • MaineJen

          That’s great. I had to go back to work at 10 weeks with my first and 7 weeks with my second. I breastfed as long as I could (10 months with #1, 2 years with #2), and I also supplemented with formula, because pumping at work sucks.

          If I had been home with my kids 24/7? Yeah, breastfeeding would have been technically free. But I not only had to go back to work (I’m the primary earner in my family), I wanted to. I had no wish to be a stay at home mom. My career is very rewarding and I like it.

          Lifestyle matters. Happiness matters. Breastfeeding? Formula feeding? In the end, they just don’t matter as much. It’s SUCH a small part of a child’s life.

          • Roadstergal

            That’s such a good summary. A happy mom and a fed baby are all that matters. No matter what combination of formula and breastmilk it takes to make that happen – from zero formula through 50/50 on to zero breastmilk – that is the best start.

    • momofone

      Free? That’s funny. I spent over $1000 breastfeeding.

      • Heidi

        I spent a few hundred I’m sure. I tried teas and fenugreek and some other supplements. I tried so many sizes of those horn things for the pump. I tried nipple shields. Then I still had to buy formula. Of course, if I hadn’t had the money, I don’t think I’d have even bothered experimenting and just happily formula fed.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      $20-$40/container? Whereabouts are you? Here, try $14/container, and if you’re able to, you can stock up on the buy-2-get-the-third-free sales.
      Breastmilk is free? The local lactation consultants charge $400/hour. The LLL leader was, I suppose, kind enough to tell me for free that since I was doing everything right, my problem must have been that I was psychologically rejecting my (very much wanted and loved) baby but, I’m not sure how that particularly nasty remark would lead me to suddenly produce more milk.

      • Mishimoo

        It costs that much for some brandname formula tins here (Australia). It comes back to the guilt and the mummyshaming – “Well, if you don’t CARE enough about your baby to breastfeed, then you need to buy the organic formula made from the milk of 100% grass-fed cows. It won’t make up for it, but at least it’s better than generic!”

        (Also, good grief! What an absolutely awful person that LLL leader was! I am so sorry that happened to you)

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          Ohhhh, yes, we have a few brands like that here. Never mind, of course, that they all reach a crazy high standards of production/nutrient content. From what I understand, the *really* good mommies import theirs from Europe. The shipping costs alone boggle the mind. (US reader here, for clarification.)

          • Who?

            From Europe, along with their cars and clothes.

            These people are so predictable.

          • Lilly de Lure

            OK I’m in the UK and I’ll bite – what precisely is so special about the formula we get in the shops compared to the US equivalents? They’re different brand names admittedly but it’s the same stuff produced and made up in the same way so is an unusual (for the US) label on the tub really worth that much money?

          • Roadstergal

            It’s European and costs more (here, because shipping). I believe that’s the totality of the selling points.

          • Lilly de Lure

            Ah, I see – down my way I think the equivalent would be nanny care formula, it’s identical in every way to normal formula except the starting point is organically raised goats milk rather than cows (and it retails at £20 for a tub about 2/3 the size of generic tubs which cost around £13).

          • Heidi

            If you aren’t able to suffer and sacrifice yourself because you can’t breastfeed, then you at least better suffer financially! You better be living paycheck to paycheck to be sure your family eats “clean” and organic and the kids are homeschooled or even unschooled. I’ve seen that line of thinking parroted on so many shitty, stay at home mom blogs.

          • Charybdis

            It’s from Europe! Made from lovingly collected milk from organic, grass fed cows or goats who live an idyllic life high in the Alps, being gently tended by Heidi. Most distressing thing those cows/goats have to deal with is the “Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiicola” echoes bouncing around the valleys. Hand milked, no milking machines allowed!

            Or some such nonsense.

          • Heidi

            There’s something called Hipp? Or something like that. Supposedly Europe has higher standards for organic and Hipp doesn’t even put a source of Omega 3 fatty acids in theirs. This is considered good because “less ingredients” and a seven year old can pronounce them bullshit. There’s some fear mongering about how the oil is derived (OMG hexane!) and they claim formula companies inject their product with MSG (they don’t and MSG isn’t scary anyway).

          • Lilly de Lure

            Ah, Hipp Organics, I know them well – the fruit pots they produce are pretty good for weaning babies but the milk is as overpriced as most products here with the word “organic” in the title are (I’m afraid I can’t speak to the omega 3 issue – I’m allergic to spending extra money for organic woo so I never got that far along the ingredients list).

          • Heidi

            I may be combining the formula woo woo. Some organic brands in America don’t use fish oil/omega 3. I stuck with store-brand and never looked back. Same with car seats. Once he outgrew the infant bucket seat, I got the cheapest one that would easily fit our sedans. Not because I don’t care about my kid’s safety, but because I’d like to spend money on things that matter for him!

          • ukay

            Yep. Once I remembered there are certain legal regulations for formula and other baby products anyway I regretted spending so much time on unnecessary research.

          • ukay

            Hipp has a source of Omega-3. Their advertisement is all about being stricter than prescribed but they are by no means the most expensive brand. Anyways, organic is not necessary in formula, as regulations concerning source and quality of ingredients are detailed and strict anyways. If you buy organic its more about your concern with source than the actual quality of the formula.
            I do not see how that would be any different in the US.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I don’t know at all if the reverse is true, but here in the US, anything European is seen as trendier/healthier/cooler/more chic than the US-produced equivalent. And of course, there’s the virtue signaling of spending all the time, money, and aggravation to source European formula to the US: if you’re a Good Mom (TM), then no trouble or cost is too much, even if it’s to get the same damn results as the easier, cheaper, simpler equivalent, ie, US formula vs European formula, or, for that matter, breastfeeding for no specific health reason beyond FORMULA IS TEH EVIL POISON, despite breastfeeding sometimes being generally awful or very expensive ($400/hour lactation consultants, anyone?) for one or both parties.

          • ukay

            Can you imagine that enforcement of baby toy regulations are more strict in the US than in Europe?

            What I really wanted to ask though: 400$/hr? For real? Is that are normal rate for LCs in the US? Genuinely shocked/curious.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            In my area, it’s normal. It apparently varies from area to area.
            There are LCs in hospitals who you can see for free as part of your stay.
            LLL counselors are often (but not always) free, though at least locally, their advice is worth about what you pay for it, if not less.
            While there’s a general problem with lactivism in the US and elsewhere, we seem to have a particularly strong concentration of quackery with the LCs and LLL counselors in my geographic area. For context, I have a friend who exclusively breastfeeds, yet has as basically the only item on her birth plan “I refuse to see a lactation consultant, and don’t even want one to enter my room” because they’re just *that* obnoxious.
            My guess is that this area has a lot of very well-off, very status-conscious women who are desperate to breastfeed because of both the perceived health benefits and the social stuff, and the LCs are willing to take full advantage of that. Thus the $400/hour price tag. The ones the ped referred me to had their own standalone building, complete with a mommy-and-me baby yoga class and organic juice bar. Even as depressed and into the woo as I was then, I couldn’t imagine spending that much on a single hour’s consult, especially when their advertisement clearly stated that if baby was sleeping during the appointment time, the $400 was still nonrefundable and nontransferable.

          • ukay

            Unbelievable. I could buy 5-6 months worth of formula for that. No surprise they are defending their turf so viciously. I‘ d call it theft.
            I bet a doctor charges less than that…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Oh, I have ZERO doubt that you could get an hour of just about any doc’s time for $400 (or rather less).
            And again, yes: as I said, I was very into the woo then, and quite determined to breastfeed no matter what, but I could still do the math and say “even if, horrors, I were to switch to formula only, that would buy a crap-ton of formula.”

          • Mishimoo

            It really is ridiculous! I used Heinz for my eldest, then switched to the Aldi brand for my younger two when they weaned because as you pointed out, most formulas are all pretty much the same.

    • swbarnes2

      If breastfeeding is not working, formula is literally the only thing a newborn can eat What is wrong with you to think it should be withheld? Why do you think it’s so awful for health care professionals to make sure a fragile baby has something to eat?

      And no, obviously breastmilk is not free because women have to eat to make it. Are you sincerely claiming that women don’t follow the same rules of physics as every other organism, and can magically make nutritious food out of air?

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      If you come back and are interested, I can explain to you how exclusive breastfeeding would have cost us about $15000 between our two kids. Combo feeding was the cheapest option, exclusive formula feeding would have cost a couple hundred dollars more, but exclusive breastfeeding would have been out of the world costly.

      • fiftyfifty1

        It is true. If you are a working woman, and you are paid on production (and many women are: lawyers, waitresses, doctors, housecleaners etc) then every minute you spend at work pumping rather than working is $$$ directly removed from your paycheck. It took me about 20 minutes to pump. The money adds up very quickly. Only when I would be home anyway is breastfeeding “free”, and even then it wasn’t free because I needed to buy the extra food to make the milk.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          But more to the point, my wife HAD to be home to make breastfeeding “free.” She could not pump enough to maintain a supply for the days that she was working – I would have used up all the pumped supply by 6 months. She would have had to forego 3 months of working.

          For our second, it was a non-starter, because he wouldn’t touch expressed milk from a bottle, and would only drink the pre-made liquid from the bottle. That was 6 months of working that should have had to miss.

          Even working part-time, she makes almost $1K a week. 6 months is a lot of missed salary. She paid for daycare by lunch time on Monday.

    • Cartman36

      “some don’t bash moms who decide to formula feed” please tell me you have a better argument than that.

      Also, I don’t know what rock you have been living under but most hospitals (even ones that do not have a BFHI designation) heavily promote breastfeeding.

  • Amazed

    OT: Yesterday, a friend attended a future parents lecture. She was disappointed at how few anti-vaxxers tried to argue the professor’s points. Even including the ones who made a show of leaving when the lecture got to this point, they were so very few. She had prepared to enjoy their points being defeated soundly but those were extremely weak points.

    It’s a good thing to be reminded that anti-vaxxers aren’t this numerous, just this loud.

  • Sylvia O’Neill

    Wow. just wow. It astounds me that you have managed to attain so many followers to subscribe to your insanity. But then – so did David Koresh!!

    “the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial.” that is a lie, plain and simple.

    “insufficient breastmilk is common.” – this only happens if something is wrong! It could be because of ones diet, or stress, but is more likely because she is not breastfeeding enough, and may be supplementing. Certain herbs and foods do in fact decrease milk supply – just like certain ones INcrease milk supply.

    “cluster feeding is a warning sign of infant starvation.” – that is a lie also. It likely indicates either the child feeling stressed, or going through a growth spurt.

    Going out of ones way to deceive people is very shameful and wrong.

    • rosewater1

      Comparing Dr Teuter to a madman like David Koresh is shameful and wrong.

      Just because you say “lies pure and simple” doesn’t make it so.

      What is shameful and wrong is your sanctimony.

      What is shameful and wrong are your distortions of FACTS.

      Of the commenters on this page are so insane…please stick your flounce and bye Felicia.

      • Sylvia O’Neill

        Those woman is very clearly mad – so the comparison is not at all shameful and wrong. What IS shameful and wrong is her agenda to undermine breastfeeding and breastmilk, and deliberately deceive those who are gullible enough to listen.

        And it is very disturbing that anyone should take the words of this insane lier seriously.

        • Kq

          As an actual cult survivor, I find your comment INCREDIBLY ignorant and offensive.

        • Charybdis

          There is no undermining going on. Better work on that reading comprehension.

        • How exceptionally unconvincing you are.

        • Sarah

          Ah, she’s a woman who says something you dislike so she must be insane. Got it. Is she perchance a witch too?

          • Who?

            And what does Sylvia’s belief that Dr T is lying down have to do with anything? It’s funny what these people do home in on…

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Does she float?

          • Sarah

            Only in formula.

          • MaineJen

            She turned me into a newt.

          • Sarah

            She turned Sylvia into a fuckwit.

          • kilda

            nah, I’m pretty sure Sylvia was already that before Dr. T came along.

        • MI Dawn

          So, a woman who breastfed her OWN 4 CHILDREN is mad? and her being open with the research that NOT ALL WOMEN can breastfeed successfully (you might want to research, Sylvia – wet nurses, bippy cups, spoon feeding – all were things historically). Not all women WANT to breast, even if they can.

          You are not welcome here with your lies.

          And yes, I breastfed my children for 6 weeks, then combo fed when I had to return to work.

        • LaMont

          David Koresh used children as hostages and shields. Dr. Amy wants to save children’s lives. She is literally doing the opposite of what Koresh did.

          Giving people *choice* does not mean that you are undermining a certain choice someone might make. This is like how conservative Christians fully believe that pro-choice women never want to be mothers, when it’s like, bro – some women want this and some don’t, LET THEM DECIDE. That isn’t “undermining” motherhood, it’s making sure that motherhood is being done by women who want to do it and have the resources to make it work. Same with breastfeeding. Anyone who feels threatened by *alternatives* is pretty weak in their attachment to the thing they claim to like.

    • Heidi

      “Of the more than 120,000 people who have dropped into my Facebook page so far, and the hundreds who have left comments, not a single one tried to engage with the actual scientific evidence that I presented. Their full ingenuity — such as it is — was dedicated to dismissing the evidence as motivated by bias, criticizing my credentials, and calling me names.”

      Yep, proving Dr. Tuteur right.

    • Who?

      Why do you disagree that the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial? What do you consider the benefits of breastfeeding to be? How significant do you consider those benefits to be, and how do you measure them?

      At what point do you consider a baby that is exclusively breastfed and is losing weight, or is failing to thrive, should be offered formula? Or, to put it another way, how long is it appropriate to let a baby go hungry in an attempt to facilitate breastfeeding?

      On a personal note, have a look at this, it will assist you greatly in your written communication. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My6oGvkHnfY

      • Sylvia O’Neill

        sad that this even need being pointed out – but those two paragraphs are two entirely different points! I know of cases where the baby was born very early and the mother simply held and cuddled the baby and nursed the babe to her breast and it thrived and survived.

        The fact is, breastmilk has been around forever, and there is a reason that it is even produced in the first place – to nourish a growing baby. The baby that grew within that woman’s womb, in fact.

        The benefits are quite significant, but one can ‘prove’ pretty much anything with ‘science’. I’m sorry but even the fact that this is being questioned is extremely disturbing. Yes, formula is better than letting a baby starve to death – but that is not the issue, is it? You have a huge problem with human breastmilk and the fact that it is important and healing.

        Sometimes formula is the only option, though of course this should only ever be as a last resort.

        • Who?

          They are different points-the two different points you raised in your paragraphs. Benefits on the one hand, and insufficiency or other issue leading to hungry/not growing baby.

          It’s really alarming that you think asking questions is bad. Self evident truths are a pathetic reason for doing anything, let alone a good enough reason to hang the life of a child on.

          If it is easy to prove the benefits, go ahead and do so.

          I have no problem with breastfeeding, I breastfed both my children.

          I know lots of children who were formula fed, and they all seem great. Why should your anecdata trump mine?

        • Claire Secrist

          Oh, Sylvia O’Neill anecdotally knows of cases of breastfeeding going exactly according to plan? Well, that settles that. Case closed. That shit is irrefutable.

        • Charybdis

          Nope, sorry. It would *almost* be worth it to get pregnant again and exclusively formula feed from to the get-go , just to watch BFHI pushers and lactivist’s head explode. All this nonsense needs to be defied until lactivists are apoplectic.

          Breast milk is better for preemies who are more likely to develop NEC, and not all breast milk has the protective qualities needed to prevent NEC. For term infants in a country with reliable access to clean water, the so-called benefits of breast milk are negligible.

          Antibodies are passed from the mother to the baby via the placenta prior to birth. The passive immunity conferred by breast milk is pretty much limited to 8% reduction in GI upsets ACROSS THE ENTIRE POPULATION. Learn how digestion works. The baby does not receive immunity to VPD’s via breast milk, contrary to the lactivists party line.

          • Casual Verbosity

            If I ever have the misfortune to deliver in a BF institution, even if I do EBF I will tell the midwives before discharge that I fed one bottle of my own formula when they had their backs turned so they can’t add me to their EBF stats.

        • You have proved our point. You cannot offer authoritative sources for any of your claims, just a bit of weak, anecdotal “evidence”. You cannot even list the supposed benefits of breastmilk over formula, or tell us what an unacceptable amount of weight loss in an infant would indicate supplemental feeding with formula.

        • Amazed

          I was wondering when an entitled, lying, dumb lactivist bitch was going to find her way to this page. Usually, you run in herds and lately, you’ve only been frequenting Dr Amy’s Facebook page.

          Moo away, milky cow, or else I will make a list of YOUR problems, starting with the sorry state of affairs that in the 21st century, a woman is ignorant enough not to know how her precious breastfeeding fails and naturally (as in given by nature) stupid enough to be unable to make the difference between “the benefits of breastfeeding are small and sometimes, breastfeeding just doesn’t work” and “breastfeeding is inferior to formula!”.

          You belong to the coven of criminally stupid and I’m done treating the likes of you as if they’re my equals, intelectually speaking. You crossed the boundary to subspecies when you start promulgating the same shit that has killed and brain damaged babies. Just be thankful that there are people here willing to engage human shit like you as if you deserve to be treated as an actual human being and not a murdering milk cow. Notice that I haven’t even touched the disgusting way your ilk treats formula-feeding mothers when, clearly, all you have to offer your kids is a leaking breast. Probably the reason you want to nurse them all the way through school. You simply don’t have the capacity to form a meaningful emotional bonding, which is why you all blather on and on about your working boobs. Newsflash: it doesn’t make up for the non-working emotional capacity and brains.

          Just go away to your pasture.

        • ukay

          Dr Tuteur doesn‘t have any problems with breastmilk and on top of it she also has no problems with formula. Like a responsible physician, her main interest seems to be in healthy babies and mothers.

          You were kindly asked to provide citations and proof for your claims. You provided an „because breastmilk is“ and an unspecific anecdote. That doesn‘t cut it so please provide proper evidence.

          And one can only prove everything with science if data is not collected, analyzed and interpreted with due diligence.

        • Sarah

          You can prove anything with ‘science’?! Oh the irony…

        • What does breastmilk heal? (Hint: Ear infections are not the correct answer.)

          “[L]ast resort.” So does the baby have to be admitted to the hospital for dehydration or hypoglycemia for formula to be okay, or what?

          “[l]etting a baby starve to death” (or at least to serious illness) IS the issue. So is caring for the needs of the mother, who may decide as a rational, autonomous being that formula (or combo feeding) is better for her and her family’s needs than is exclusive breastfeeding.

          I like breastfeeding. Pumping was kind of annoying, but nursing’s been enjoyable–for me, for this baby.

          Parents have a responsibility to provide safe, appropriate nutrition in adequate amounts to their babies. This responsibility can be met with breastmilk, if available, plentiful, and safe, or with formula, or with a combination.

          I have cuddled and snuggled all three babies, bottlefed or breastfed, and they all seem very healthy and securely attached. All three have had both breastmilk and formula.

        • Russell Jones

          “The benefits are quite significant, but one can ‘prove’ pretty much anything with ‘science’.”

          Therefore, a half-baked anecdote-based religion is preferable.

          Right?

        • MI Dawn

          Sylvia: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel is NOT a medical resource. (And note that in the Clan of the Cave Bear Ayla lost her breastmilk and ended up feeding her infant soft foods very early)

          Breast is fine. Again, what about women who can’t breastfeed, or don’t WANT to breast feed? Would you go into the room of a woman who’d had a double mastectomy and berate her for not breastfeeding?

          And, waiting for your resources. Dr Amy gave hers. Where are yours?

          (sits down, relaxes) I’ll be over here listening to the crickets.

    • Roadstergal

      This is a question I ask every lactivist, and I never get an answer. Help me out?

      The ’70s was the nadir of breastfeeding in the US. Breastfeeding initiation was under 30% – which means that over 70% of babies had no breastmilk at all!

      Rates shot up in the ’80s, and by the aughts, the initiation rate had flipped – now, over 70% of babies in the US were getting breastmilk. The exclusive 6-month rates these days exceeds the initiation rate in the 70s.

      Can you point to the measure of public health that improved in parallel – the health benefit that the teens these days have over the generation that is now in their 40s? In terms of chronic disease, allergies, asthma, anything like that?

      • kilda

        of course we know obesity has plummeted since the 1970s! oh, wait….

    • Claire Secrist

      Thank God I didn’t listen to people like you. My kid didn’t starve because I listened to her hunger, not to child abusers who think babies should suck on nonproductive breasts until they’re diagnosed with failure to thrive.

    • Citations please? Dr. Tuteur always cites her sources, so I think it only common courtesy that you do the same.

    • Charybdis

      Then stop doing it. Giving people facts about breastfeeding is not deceiving. Insisting that breastfeeding is perfect and foolproof and any problems are so vanishingly rare that we won’t even discuss them. Discussing potential issues is not undermining anything.

    • MaineJen

      Hey guess what! I breastfed both of my kids, had no problems doing it, and I still think you’re full of shit! Because I understand that my experience is not everyone’s experience. Yes, sometimes insufficient breastmilk is due to stress, but sometimes it’s also due to factors beyond our control. (IGT, medications that interfere with supply, etc). You know what it’s NOT due to? Not drinking enough mother’s milk tea or taking enough herbs.

      You are one of those maniacs that would tell the desperate mother of a starving baby to “Just breastfeed more! And then pump! And then breastfeed again! You can sleep when you’re dead!” Instead of accepting that, sometimes, things do not work the way you want them to. Life does not always conform to your expectations. Most of us absorbed that lesson during childhood, when we did not constantly get our own whims catered to.

      Why don’t you and your friends open your minds a *tiny tiny crack* to the possibility that someone else’s experience might be different from yours?

    • momofone

      “Going out of ones way to deceive people is very shameful and wrong.”
      Awareness is the first step. Now you can stop doing it.

    • Russell Jones

      Preschooler-level insults? Check.

      Frontier school marmish levels of condescension? Check.

      Projection? Check.

      Bald pontification masquerading as analysis? Check.

      Utterly bereft of sources? Check.

      Helps prove the point the author was trying to refute? Check.

      Looks like we got us a pro lactivist or pro lactivist wannabee.

      Also:

      “Going out of ones way to deceive people is very shameful and wrong.”

      Admitting there’s a problem is the first step toward recovery. Congratulations!

      • Empress of the Iguana People

        My preschooler’s favorite insult is telling his sister she’s “A Naughty Baby!”

        • Mine calls people a “buster,” which from his mouth sounds like a considerably ruder epithet.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Boybard is usually understandable if you watch as many cartoons as he does. He enunciates well

        • Russell Jones

          At the risk of damning your young ‘un with faint praise, he’s substantially more sophisticated that your standard lactivist.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Oh, it’s true indeed.

        • Roadstergal

          “You’re not the Messiah, you’re a very naughty baby!”

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      The number of people here who breastfed their own children is actually quite high. And nobody *here* besides parachuters like yourself gave me any guff about needing to formula feed my 2nd child for psych reasons. THEY believe me when I say bf’ing was and is a trigger for my suicidal ideation and depression. THEY believe me when I say that I never found breastfeeding anything but marginally tolerable at best with my first child. I loathed every damn minute no matter how many of you lactivists say it’s beautiful and wonderful.

      • Kirsten Willis

        I truly am sorry for your experience. Your experience, however, is not an example of every experience. Everyone still deserves access to breastfeeding information. Formula is at every grocery story. Breastfeeding help is not.

        • Conversely, every hospital going for BFHI certification (which is a lot of them) locks up formula, doesn’t talk about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding, doesn’t talk about how formula is a perfectly adequate nutritional option, doesn’t help formula-feeding parents, and spawns numerous horror stories ranging from lactation consultants invading mothers’ privacy to babies dead or brain damaged from starvation because their moms did not produce enough milk and the nurses didn’t tell them it was okay to supplement.

          Formula may be at every grocery store, but information on how to prepare it and sterilize and prepare bottles is not. A feeding consultant, who can help with lactation and formula both, would make sense. A lactation consultant who focuses solely on a glitchy biological process and who elides possible problems does not make sense.

          • Casual Verbosity

            I think the problem is in the name – Lactation Consultant. They need to make a qualification called “Infant Feeding Consultant”. I would definitely take that course!

          • maidmarian555

            The BFHI hospital I gave birth in now has a policy that if you want to EFF your baby, they will not provide formula. You must bring it yourself. Every other inpatient gets breakfast, lunch and dinner but EFF babies must have food provided by their parents. Apparently if you want to EBF and it goes wrong, they will provide formula but having been in that position, they will make it a massive fucking palaver to feed your baby if you can’t do it with your boobs. It’s disgusting. The whole thing.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          actually, it’s not at every grocery store. My local grocery store does not carry formula; i had to special order it. I did, however, find some random women willing to tell me all about breastfeeding at the grocery store, the bakery, the cafe, and the yarn shop.

    • NoLongerCrunching

      I’m an IBCLC. With regard to insufficient breastmilk, do you believe the breasts are the only organ in the body that never fail except due to the mother doing something wrong? I have news for you. There is AMPLE evidence, even from research by IBCLCs, that fully 20% of new mothers have a delay in milk coming in. Primiparty, c/s delivery, gestational diabetes, postpartum hemorrhage, insulin resistance, infertility, obesity, and age, for starters, all are well-documented conditions that affect milk production. That’s not even getting into infant factors like tongue tie or gestational age.

      Tell me, how is diet supposed to fix advance maternal age, hemorrhage, or primiparity?

      Babies have been hospitalized and have even died because of ignorance like yours. Obviously breastfeeding is going to fall by the wayside when those things happen, so if you really care about helping women breastfeed, educate yourself on reality, not earth mama fantasy. Despite issues with milk supply, a lot of times women can eventually breastfeed if they get help from someone who BELIEVES them and helps develop a plan to reach their goals. Formula is usually involved, and thank god, because a starving baby can’t stimulate mom’s supply due to lethargy. Oh, and as an aside, getting enough calories even if it’s formula turns out to keep babies alive.

      • Roadstergal

        “Formula is usually involved”

        And honestly, it’s probably the most well-regulated, safest, healthiest food product a kid will ever put in its mouth…

        Certainly through the teenage years. :p

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          And you do *not* want to know what all they’ll put in their mouth in the crawling/toddler years. *winces, gags*

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            I -have- a toddler and I don’t want to know what she’s eating half the time. At this point I just shrug if I see a fish cracker disappear from the floor before I get around to sweeping

          • maidmarian555

            My son likes to have a poke round in the footwell of his high hair after he’s eaten, in case there are any crumbs. Luckily the dog normally gets to any potential floor-snacks before he does. I often wonder if the pair of them are having a secret competition to see who can eat the grossest thing in any given day.

          • swbarnes2

            Mine has a limited selection of food she’ll put in her mouth…so happily, she was never super interested in putting anything else in her mouth either.

            But floor Cheerios are fair game.

          • LaMont

            Floor Cheerios, the best kind! 🙂

    • Heidi

      So how is breastfeeding around the clock and not getting sleep, worrying that your baby might be starving going to alleviate stress? I can’t believe someone would advocate saving a baby’s brain and even their life as something that needs to be put off as a “last resort.”

    • Kirsten Willis

      Cluster feeding can actually be a sign of infant starvation. Its normal but it can be, in conjunction with other symptoms like low output and weight loss in excess of 10% of birth weight in the first week. I just wanted to say that because spreading that kind of info, and just telling a mom to keep feeding without consulting a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician has led to an infant death.
      But, yes, cluster feeding is rather normal so long as its not in conjunction with other symptoms. It can be a sign of a growth spurt or teething or stressors.

      • Casual Verbosity

        I think the problem with the term “cluster feeding” is that it gets misapplied sometimes. From what I understand, true cluster feeding occurs when the baby feeds longer and more frequently, but they seem contented between feeds, and of course they’re gaining weight and not showing signs of dehydration. However, there seems to be an issue of people referring to constant unsatisfied nursing as “cluster feeding” and thus passing off signs of hunger as normal. So when Dr Amy talks about “cluster feeding”, she uses in the way that it seems to be used in practice i.e. indiscriminately referring to any baby that feeds a lot, rather than the technical definition of cluster feeding that is normal around growth spurts.

        • maidmarian555

          Yep. The midwife and health visitor told me my son was ‘cluster feeding’ when actually, wth hindsight, what he was doing was comfort sucking (which was resolved with a dummy). They told me it was ‘totally normal ha ha’ for him to be attached to my boob for 8 hours a day. Twats. This wasn’t a few days of intense feeding, this was over a week of refusing to be removed from the breast. I know better now but it seems a whole bunch of things are pushed under the umbrella of ‘cluster feeding’ that aren’t actually cluster feeding at all.

        • swbarnes2

          I think true cluster feeding also lasts while, like maybe several hours, and then the baby takes a break and rests more and feeds less.

          • Casual Verbosity

            I think the key difference between true cluster feeding and the mislabelled cluster feeding is that in true cluster feeding they’re satisfied between feeds.

      • AnnaPDE

        Yes, cluster feeding is normal — when it’s a cluster of feeds close together, in a pattern of otherwise reasonably spread out feeds. All of them satisfying. Bottle-fed babies do that too.

        Unfortunately, that’s not what the word cluster feeding is used for most of the time. People thinking themselves breastfeeding supporters just throw it around in response to mums whose babies are clearly hungry, as evidenced by constant, unsatisfied attempts to eat over a long time. Especially in the first few days when chances are that the milk isn’t in yet. Especially when mum raises the well-founded suspicion that her current milk supply might not be enough to satisfy the baby. They do it with the aim of dissuading the mum from supplementing her baby with a bottle, despite the obvious need to do so.

        And it’s not just done by misguided well-meaning laypeople, either. I and my baby had this done to us by midwives holding an IBCLC qualification who were literally looking at the desperately screaming newborn, saw his almost immobile tongue, knew about his tongue-tie (“but don’t tell the mother!”) diagnosis from the ped, and saw the measly few drops of colostrum that my boobs managed to supply.
        This is wrong, a lie, and actively endangering babies. It needs to be called out, loudly and publicly, and it needs to stop.

    • Casual Verbosity

      You’re not incorrect in saying that insufficient breastmilk only occurs when something is wrong. The problem is that like any other biological function, breastfeeding often does go wrong. And, unlike other biological functions, we really don’t know that much about breastfeeding. We know that things like PCOS and hormonal conditions affect supply, as does Insufficient Glandular Tissue, and sometimes breast reductions can be a problem. But there are still plenty of women who experience low supply for no apparent reason. And even in cases where we do know the reason for low supply, there are very few evidence-based treatments. Herbal supplements have not been empirically shown to increase supply. It’s likely that when women believe herbal supplements have helped what’s happened is that they have also been nursing around the clock and eventually the demand has triggered the supply. Thus it may seem like the herb did something, when it really didn’t. Or of course it could be a placebo effect. Domperidone which is known to increase breastmilk has not been tested for safety in breastfeeding women and therefore it would be ill-advised to use it to increase supply. Thus all we’re left with is just keep stimulating. And often that is woefully inadequate.

  • Casual Verbosity

    OT: I just wanted to share the news that out of all the crap that’s happened on the Facebook page in the past few days, something GOOD has come of it!

    I spotted a comment that was making a lot of the usual lactivist points, but without the preachy tone, so I thought I’d delve into that comment thread. In the thread, this commenter went on to say some things that made me realise she was a reasonable person and therefore might be open to persuasion. So I wrote a long post summarising the issues with the breastfeeding research, which was met quite openly by the commenter who asked if I could share some of the studies. So I shared some of the studies along with little summaries of the findings, and… SHE WAS CONVINCED! Not only that, she said she was excited to learn more! Honestly, this has made my day. I’m so happy that this mum who had felt guilty about supplementing her baby realises that she has nothing to feel guilty about. This is a good day for the internet and a good day for this community!

    • Emilie Bishop

      You just made my day! (And I’m sick and my three-year-old is in full-on tantrum mode, so I needed some good news!) Good for you.

      • Casual Verbosity

        I’m glad it made your day! It certainly made mine!

    • Who?

      So great, well done for sticking with it.

    • NoLongerCrunching

      As a former lactivist who was turned around by this blog (plus working with actual women and babies suffering from insufficient breastmilk), thank you for putting in the time. You doing that will cause a ripple effect that will help a lot of mothers and babies.

  • Who?

    Your column makes me think of this one, on an entirely different topic, in The Atlantic.

    Innacurately restating positions seems to be the new go-to in public discourse.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/putting-monsterpaint-onjordan-peterson/550859/

    • ukay

      This has been going on for a while. Wearing people out by purposefully ignoring all nuance, mangling their statements and misunderstanding them back to them, until they shut up, defeated. The sole goal seems to be humiliation, for no good reason.

  • Emilie Bishop

    In your litany of crazy movements that disregard facts, you forgot the folks who blame America’s gun violence epidemic on everything under the sun except the presence and ease of acquiring GUNS in America. The more shootings we have, especially in schools, the more I think about the parallels with lactivism. They both affect too many children and are championed by people who sadly believe they’re protecting the very children who are harmed.

    • Casual Verbosity

      Exactly! When people die in shootings, the gun lobby insists that more guns are the answer. And when a baby is starving from insufficient breastmilk, lactivists insist that putting the baby to the breast more often is the answer.

    • PeggySue

      Yes, this. I don’t know how to even start a conversation with people who are CONVINCED that gun violence/gun deaths are happening for some reason COMPLETELY SEPARATE from how easy it is for them to acquire any damn gun they take a fancy to.

  • ukay

    Partial blame lies with medical professionals and associations who endorse breast is best. They should know better by training and experience. Their validation gives lactivists credibility (blablabla WHO blablabla).

    • WonderWoman

      So true. Lactivists repeatedly invoke WHO, UNICEF and others, it makes it so much harder to argue with them when theoretically serious organizations are “on their side”, so to say. And who is Amy Tuteur in comparison? Some lone frustrated ex-ob-gyn who hates breastfeeding for some reason 😉

      • Casual Verbosity

        Unfortunately many doctors, especially those in practice, don’t consume a lot of first hand literature. They really don’t have the time. Instead they get summaries of the literature from sources that are meant to be reliable.

        • ukay

          Understandable. Medical staff perform carry out demanding work mostly under high pressure.
          Their training uniquely qualifies them, though, to spot discrepancies between those prescribed policies and what they actually see and experience (distressed babies, parents, formula babies doing well). Parents rely on them to provide accurate information.

    • Medstudentwithkids

      As a current medical student, I can attest to this (at least at my institution). And the people loudest about the “benefits” of breastfeeding and pressuring women? Male ob/gyns and certain pedi residents/attendings. In fact, one resident was going on and on about how she “got” a patient to decide to exclusively breastfeed, even with a history of insufficient milk supply and anxiety who never professed an actual desire to breastfeed. I happened to stop in on her discharge date, she was combo feeding and I may have told her that it was a great plan and if she had no desire to breastfeed, full time formula is a wonderful option 😉 We are taught to be lactivists, and if this is true in other schools, I expect the lactivism to get worse before it gets better

      • Mel

        Lactivism simply makes patients more likely to lie about how they feed their kids rather than increase the percentage of women EBF.

        Watching a young male pediatrician resident wax poetic about the benefits of breast-feeding to an older mother in the NICU was funny in a really dark way. Dunno if he heard the waves of laughter after he left – but he sounded SO daft……

        Personally, for every time I was snippy to the crazy LC consultant there were about 4 times that I was so tired and just so done from having a baby in the hospital that I said something like “Everything is great! I love pumping” to get her out of my hair.

        • Empress of the Iguana People

          I managed to shut up one fool by giving her The Eye and telling her I hate breastfeeding. While I was breastfeeding.

  • Sheven

    This is great news. If they’re dropping into your page by the thousands, that means that they are spreading the word about you through their communities. That means that some women, who are worried or on the fence, will be told about your page and will read it, and will no longer be inclined to suffer or let their kids suffer from the woo of natural childbirth and lactivism. It’s like the group that helped skinheads break away from racial hate groups giving out t-shirts that, when washed, had their phone number on it. The skinheads made a big stink over their deception and treachery–and by posting and complaining about it helped the recovery group reach thousands of people they wouldn’t otherwise have reached.

    To make this clear, lactivists despite their problematic views are NOT IN THE LEAST racial hate groups. But if we’re talking about tribalism and how to combat it, one of the best ways is getting the tribe itself to spread news about your and your views.

    • Mary Hopkins

      Yes! I am one of those women that came to know Dr Tuteur through the lactivist, Milk Meg, and finally questioned myself, “what if I’m wrong?” I wish more people would exercise this thought process and take a closer look at these studies.

      • Sheven

        It’s one of the hardest things to do. The majority of the world (including me) fails at it every day. Good for you!

      • Madtowngirl

        Same here. I found her because I read something nasty on the Alpha Parent and then googled. It was a sigh of relief to find I wasn’t a horrible person who was going to destroy the planet because my breasts weren’t producing milk.

      • StephanieA

        I was kind of into the whole ‘natural’ mothering movement while pregnant with my first. I read the blog Eat the Damn Cake and someone left a link to this site in the comments on one of her posts. It was eye opening. I went from planning a birth center birth and breastfeeding to a planned hospital birth and formula feeding. This site saved my sanity and brought me back to reality. So if that comment was any of you, thank you!

        • NoLongerCrunching

          I’ve been reading this blog for about 7 years. If I were to have another baby, I’d still want NCB (but in a hospital) and want to EBF. Because I want to, not because I think it’s objectively best. If my friend decided to have a maternal request c-section and exclusively formula feed, instead of wringing my hands, I’d be cheering her on for choosing what she felt was best for her. No one has the right to tell a woman how to use her own body.

          • StephanieA

            Of course. I should’ve clarified, the choices I made were the best choices for my son and me, and this blog helped me have zero feelings of guilt about those choices. My third is due in August and I hope to have another glorious epidural and plan to formula feed again, and no one here would shame me for that. It’s a great place.

    • Roadstergal

      Yeah, I’m dialing back my snark on her page and trying to think about Posting For Lurkers.

    • Casual Verbosity

      Yep, the fence sitters are the ones you need to target in any movement. Realistically, people who are inclined to extreme beliefs are less likely to be persuaded by arguments and reason. They’re the kinds of people who need something to really rock their world for them to consider changing their mind (and even then they usually find a way to rationalise why they weren’t wrong).

      • Like the one poor man I read about. He lost his son at the Newtown shooting. Before that he was a full on conspiracy theorist, listened to Alex Jones, all that jazz. But when Alex Jones started calling Newtown a false flag operation, it woke him up fast. He had buried his son and here was one of his trusted news sources saying it was all made up. It shouldn’t take losing a child to bring people to that point, but sometimes it does :(.

        • Casual Verbosity

          Wow. That must have been some kind of epiphany for him.

          And if you see my update above you’ll see that I managed to convince a fence-sitter on one of those posts. So that has really lifted my spirits after all of the shit I had to (well I chose to) wade through!

        • MaineJen

          Newtown truthers are the bottom of the barrel, scum of the earth. I can’t even understand the level of delusion.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            That level of conspiracy is really ludicrous. The sheer number of people you’d need to have involved is just impossible to maintain as a “secret” known only to Infoweirds.

          • Emilie Bishop

            Do they believe all mass shootings are a hoax or just the ones that pulled at their heartstrings? Others have involved more shooters and more victims, yet the one where most of the victims were small kids at their school is the one that gets denied by a small but annoyingly vocal group. Not a coincidence, but boy does it say something awful about the underbelly of our country.

  • CSN0116

    “Perhaps readers can help me out with this. What did I do that gave them the impression I care about what they think?”

    They know you and your followers don’t care. It’s not a conversion attempt. They’re proselytizing, much like the Mormon men on their two-year journeys of suffering (see my post on you last blog entry). Proselytizing is part of the requirements of the religion of Lactivism. They may also hope that their proselytizing will “save” those wandering, curious visitors to your page. They owe it to their god. It’s part of being a member.

  • WonderWoman

    SteVen Pinker, I believe 🙂

  • fiftyfifty1

    120,000?! Where are they coming from?

    • MaineJen

      Bots?

      • fiftyfifty1

        Or even if it’s bots. Imagine if a handful of savvy computer types cared enough to direct 120,000 bot comments toward something that mattered.

    • fiftyfifty1

      ETA: Imagine if that level of outrage could be mobilized against something that actually matters –global climate change, healthcare coverage, the opioid crisis. Hell, anything at all, spaying and neutering your pets. Imagine if 120,000 people would direct their energies in a productive way.