Childbirth, breastfeeding and moral panic

Scared shocked woman isolated on gray background

O tempora, O mores!

Oh, the times! Oh, the customs!

Cicero famously wrote these words more than 2000 years ago to deplore the breakdown of traditional values. He was referring to the political corruption of his day, but it has been used repeatedly since then to deplore any departure from the supposedly “good old days.”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The discourse of natural mothering reflects moral panic at the possibility that women could control their own destinies.[/pullquote]

It could serve equally well as the motto of the present day natural parenting movement that is forever bemoaning the loss of traditional mothering values. Those are the values that characterized the “good old days” when women were immured in the home, restricted to reproduction and child rearing, unable to use their intellects and talents, and forcibly deprived of political and economic power.

I would argue that contemporary discussions of mothering is a moral panic. It is the emodiment of horror at the possibility that women can control their own destinies.

What is a moral panic?

A moral panic is a widespread fear, most often an irrational one, that someone or something is a threat to the values, safety, and interests of a community or society at large. Typically, a moral panic is perpetuated by news media, fueled by politicians, and often results in the passage of new laws or policies that target the source of the panic. In this way, moral panic can foster increased social control.

Moral panics are often centered on people who are marginalized in society due to their race or ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality, or religion. As such, a moral panic often draws on known stereotypes and reinforces them…

Women were at the center of the most famous moral panic in American history, the Salem Witch Trials.

Accusations of witchcraft were directed first at women who were social outcasts of the society after a couple of local girls were afflicted with unexplained fits. After the initial arrests, accusations spread to other women in the community who expressed doubt about the accusations or who behaved in ways that did not seem supportive of guilt.

This particular moral panic served to reinforce and strengthen the social authority of local religious leaders, since witchcraft was perceived as a violation of and threat to Christian values, laws, and order.

A moral panic involves a target group that is vilified for ignoring social norms, authority figures that are threatened by the deviation and attempt to reassert control, a compliant media that amplifies the concerns of the threatened authority figures, and a political system willing to encode the authority figures’ wishes in policy positions and laws.

In the case of natural mothering, the target group is women who dare to pursue a life beyond exclusive child rearing, and the authority figures are both general and particular. The general authority figures are the keepers of “traditional” values such as religious figures and the particular authority figures are those who used to control social norms around childbirth, breastfeeding and parenting. Both can only regain their authority by browbeating women back into the home, reduced to obsessing the minutia of childbearing and rearing, instead of engaging with the wider world.

It is not an accident that the philosophies of natural childbirth and lactivism were created in response to religious concerns.

The philosophy of natural childbirth arose from the moral panic instigated by Grantly Dick-Read and his peers, who feared “race suicide” as Christian, white people of the “better” classes were engulfed in a tide of black and brown people who reproduced at a faster rate. He believed that the key to preserving the white race was to convince white women to have more children. They weren’t cooperating because they feared the pain of childbirth so he told them the pain was all in their heads; they weren’t cooperating because they thought there was more to life than childbearing and rearing so they needed to be re-educated.

He famously wrote:

The mother is the factory, and by education and care she can be made more efficient in the art of motherhood.

And, in case you didn’t get the point:

Woman fails when she ceases to desire the children for which she was primarily made. Her true emancipation lies in freedom to fulfil her biological purposes.

The language has changed, but the moral panic behind natural childbirth advocacy has not.

According to this position statement in the Journal of Perinatal Education, a Lamaze publication:

… The use of obstetric interventions in labor and birth has become the norm in the United States. More than half of all pregnant women receive synthetic oxytocin to induce or augment labor, which demands additional interventions to monitor, prevent, or treat side effects. Nationally, one third of women deliver their babies via cesarean, a major abdominal surgery with potential for serious short- and long-term health consequences. For the mothers these consequences include, but are not limited to, postoperative infections, chronic pain, future cesarean births, and placental complications that can lead to hemorrhage, hysterectomy, and rarely, death. Infant risks include respiratory distress, and in subsequent pregnancies maternal risks include increased likelihood of preterm birth and associated morbidity and mortality.

O tempora, O mores!

Never mind that these interventions save the lives of thousands of mothers and tens of thousands of babies each year in the US alone. The interventions threaten the authority of midwives (who can’t perform many of them) and they sever the link between childbearing and the excruciating pain that is deemed to be women’s punishment. When midwives insist that we must “preserve” physiologic birth they mean we must preserve their traditional authority.

Midwives and natural childbirth professionals like doulas and childbirth educators subvert science to reinforce the sense of moral panic, insisting that physiologic birth is better, healthier and safer when it is none of those things. There is no limit to what they will say to demonize C-sections and epidurals so they can maintain their power and authority over birth.

Similarly, the founders of La Leche League were religious fundamentalists who were in a moral panic about mothers of small children returning to the workforce. In the book La Leche League: At the Crossroads of Medicine, Feminism, and Religion, Jule DeJager Ward explains that the La Leche League was founded in 1956:

… by a group of Catholic mothers who sought to mediate in a comprehensive way between the family and the world of modern technological medicine. . . . [A] central characteristic of La Leche League’s ideology is that it was born of Catholic moral discourse on family life. . . . The League has very strong convictions about the needs of families. The League’s presentations and literature carry a strong suggestion that breast feeding is obligatory. Their message is simple: Nature intended mothers to nurse their babies; therefore, mothers ought to nurse.

La Leche League reflected traditional Catholic family values about the subservient role of women and their relegation to the home.

While the language of lactivism has changed, the moral panic has not.

Consider these tenets of contemporary LLL philosophy:

Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.

Mother and baby need to be together early and often to establish a satisfying relationship and an adequate milk supply.

In the early years the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food…

The message is hardly subtle: the woman who leaves her baby to work is an inferior mother.

Lactivists have recruited the media to their moral panic:

No country in the world supports breastfeeding moms like they should, according to a new report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

WHO and UNICEF recommend mothers breastfeed infants within the first hour of birth, exclusively for six months and continue breastfeeding, while adding complementary foods, until the child is at least 2-years-old. Breastfeeding has a host of health benefits, most notably improving a baby’s immunity…

By comparing breastfeeding rates around the world, the groups found rates nowhere near 100% in its Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week.

O tempora, O mores!

Why do women “fail” to meet the WHO guidelines?

The “key reason” is the need to return to work away from their babies, the report says.

There it is again, the demonization of mothers who work outside the home.

Just give the lactivists more money and authority and they will put women back into their place:

The groups are asking for lower and middle-income countries to invest $4.70 per newborn ($5.7 billion) in initiatives, such as access to breastfeeding counseling and improving breastfeeding practices in hospitals, to increase the global rate of 6-month exclusive breastfeeding to 50% by 2025.

Of course the $5.7 billion could be used to extend maternity leave, but that wouldn’t shore up the power and authority of the breastfeeding industry.

The moral panic around contemporary childbirth and breastfeeding practices are no that different from the Salem Witch Trials. The driving force behind both is desperation to return to a subservient role for women and to bolster the authority of the avatars of traditional mothering values.

And that puts me in mind of a another foreign language phrase: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

168 Responses to “Childbirth, breastfeeding and moral panic”

  1. Allie
    February 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm #

    Gee, on a strict reading, I didn’t meet the WHO guidelines: missed the “golden hour” because I was busy almost bleeding to death; didn’t breastfeed “exclusively” because I supplemented with a bit of formula the first week until we got the hang of BF; and, I only breastfed for just shy of 23 months, not more than 2 years. I guess it was all for nothing, and I’m an abject failure : /
    Oh, also, I didn’t let the little munchkin self-wean. I applied a mixture of garlic oil and lemon juice to my nipples when I decided I’d had enough. Worked like a charm!

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      February 1, 2018 at 10:32 pm #

      lemon juice? That makes me shudder. Partly because I got blisters a lot. Now, garlic oil he might have liked, lol.

      • Allie
        February 2, 2018 at 10:42 pm #

        Ha! Yes, I did worry that she might like it, as she does like garlic and spices (the hotter the better), but it’s all about location. That flavour on the nipple was apparently just wrong. She ran around yelling “yucky, yucky, yucky” for a week or two. The saddest thing, though, was that about a month later she was having a really bad day, she was feeling a bit sick and got an owie and she just cried and said “I want yuckie.” Damn near broke my heart, but I was done… no turning back, so I just held her and comforted her.

        • Empress of the Iguana People
          February 3, 2018 at 7:52 am #

          Is it wrong that “I want yuckie” made me chuckle a tiny bit? Poor munchkin.

          • sdsures
            February 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm #

            I chuckled, too. Poor munchkin.

  2. J.B.
    February 1, 2018 at 6:40 pm #

    OT: slate has an article questioning water filtration while camping…shudder…the “weak studies” may be more representative that it’s really hard to identify waterborne disease. Plus the test methods for crypto aren’t great.

    Short version: don’t mess with giardia and crypto.

    • Tigger_the_Wing
      February 2, 2018 at 6:07 am #

      Short version: don’t mess with giardia and crypto.

      No indeed. We get our well water tested regularly (the government does it) and it has (so far!) passed with flying colours. We still filter it at the point it enters the house; one cannot be too careful. The whole family came down with cryptosporidium a few years ago, from handling an infected abandoned preemie lamb (we were bottle feeding four at the time; despite veterinary care, two died).

      A nearby town was on a boil-water notice for a year, after crypto was discovered in the mains – that’s how long it took for them to track down the source and deal with it. This is an agricultural country. Few people are stupid enough to drink untreated water, having encountered the effects. Most people with small children boil, filter and refrigerate the mains water for drinking even when there isn’t a current notice.

  3. TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya
    February 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

    2 years!! My son started chomping regularly by 7 months or so…

    • A Wood
      February 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm #

      Yes, I thought that would happen but hasn’t so far.

    • Tigger_the_Wing
      February 2, 2018 at 7:00 am #

      Mine started chomping at around eight months. My attitude was that if they need meat more than milk, they can get it elsewhere.

  4. A Wood
    February 1, 2018 at 4:29 pm #

    I’m saddened that my comment that breastfeeding doesn’t *have* to be incompatible with a fulfilling career has been taken so negatively. I’m glad most of you don’t actually disagree on that point. I hope we can move to a world where all women have a genuine free choice on this.

    • attitude devant
      February 1, 2018 at 5:01 pm #

      It doesn’t ‘have’ to be, but in the US it is. I’m a doctor and got only five weeks the first go, six the second. Both times my mild dried up the moment I entered the hospital, which is not surprising to me and I’m sure it’s not surprising to you. If there’s no time to eat or drink, between deliveries and surgeries, lactation is gonna stop. I’d love a more reasonable maternity leave policy in this country but we sure as hell don’t have one now. It’s terrible to demonize people like me who formula fed because they had to work to support their families. (Note that I’m not saying YOU demonize me, but the lactivists do shame us for being so ‘selfish’. For the record, I’m not selfish; I’m the breadwinner.)

      • A Wood
        February 1, 2018 at 5:04 pm #

        Yes and I completely completely agree with you. Even if not the breadwinner it’s not selfish to earn a living! I need my income and even if I didn’t I wouldn’t want to live off someone else’s. And I’ve trained a long time to then give up work. Expressing milk is much harder than directly feeding a baby. I did try doing that but as she didn’t take it anyway I didn’t continue when back at work. We should be facilitating women having a choice, not saying that they *have* to breast feed, but not saying that formula is automatically the solution either – the solution is maternity/parental leave (let’s let fathers have a role too, Scandinavia is good at this) and individual choice.

        • crazy mama, PhD
          February 1, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

          No one here is presenting formula as “automatically the solution”—why do you think that this article is?

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 5:30 pm #

            Nobody is, but this trajectory is oddly familiar from softcore lactivists. In no fixed order:
            1. if only maternity leave was better, everyone would breastfeed.
            2. We have long paid parental leave, but women still don’t breastfeed more, must be evil doctors pushing formula like it’s 1954.
            3. Official policy is to „promote“ breastfeeding, but the rate still not 100%. Mothers must be lazy.
            Rinse and repeat.

            Politics and work arrangements must become more family friendly but not only for the sake of breastfeeding.

          • crazy mama, PhD
            February 1, 2018 at 6:01 pm #

            Yup. I’m so tired of people who interpret any criticism of “breast is best” as being anti-breastfeeding.

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

            Let alone implying that breastfeeding is integral to parenting when its not.

            All the intentional misunderstandings and feigned artlessness gave away the lactivist in disguise, anyway 😉

          • Amy M
            February 1, 2018 at 6:51 pm #

            What do those people (implying that bf’ing is integral to parenting) think parents do/should do when the child is older? You can’t just whip out a breast and make it alright if your 7th grader is being bullied or your 17 yr old is caught drinking and driving. I wonder if any of the hardcore AP/breastfeeders actually believe that their parenting method used when the child is a baby/toddler will prevent problems down the road?

          • kilda
            February 1, 2018 at 9:30 pm #

            >>You can’t just whip out a breast and make it alright if your 7th grader is being bullied or your 17 yr old is caught drinking and driving.

            you can’t? Damn, I’ve been doing this ALL wrong.

          • ukay
            February 2, 2018 at 2:23 am #

            Please, this all wouldn‘t happen if you breastfed your kids on demand until their adjusted biological weaning age of 23.

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:47 pm #

            Absolutely! Yes. Most countries need better parental leave policies, but especially the US. Parents (of whatever sex) need time with their babies, however they are feeding them.

        • Who?
          February 1, 2018 at 5:54 pm #

          What is wrong with an automatic solution?

          Whatever ‘should’ (don’t get me started on what makes that a poor choice of word) be happening, the facts are clear: most women do not have access to maternity leave for extended periods; many deliveries, particularly when mother is older, as you likely are, given your qualifications, don’t go smoothly; not all women will want to breastfeed; of those who do, a proportion will find that they are unable to do so to the point where their baby is satisfied.

          In each of those cases, what is left is a baby who needs feeding. That is the imperative-feed the baby. Formula is an excellent way to do that, which might be why so many people use it.

          You seem to have had a terrific run-natural delivery that you recovered from quickly, breastfeeding working well, generous leave, a baby who is happy to be left with a non-parent for long times most days, supply that stays constant despite long periods over most days during which you do not feed, and a great job that keeps you interested and keeps a roof over your heads. All fabulous. And-I’m sorry, but someone needs to say it-apart from the job, the rest of it is dumb luck. Enjoy it, but don’t take too much credit.

          Choice doesn’t come into how your delivery goes, or how breastfeeding goes. Those are biological processes, over which you have little or no control.

          Take a moment to wonder how ‘automatically’ you would have used formula to keep your baby fed, if the need arose, and be mindful of discussions about your ‘choices’ and what ‘should’ happen.

          • Tigger_the_Wing
            February 2, 2018 at 6:59 am #

            It irritates me too that so many people seem to think that because we are mammals, we are ‘supposed’ to breastfeed our young, as if all other mammals have a perfect time of it and it is only a ‘bad attitude’, no doubt fostered by the formula companies, that stops any woman from breastfeeding.

            I’ve spent most of the last thirty years living in ‘cow country’. Dairy cows have been selectively bred for eons to be good milk producers – yet in each batch of heifers producing their first calf, there will be some which fail to produce any. The beef farm to the North of us allows the calves to suckle until they wean themselves, but some still have to be bottle-fed. The practice with the dairy cattle to the South is to remove the calf from its mother after it has had the colostrum, when the milk comes in, and bottle-feed them bovine formula until they can eat grass.

            With our sheep, they get everything they could possibly need to be able to suckle their lambs, and absolutely no propaganda from formula companies. Some ewes refuse to suckle their offspring at all; some happily suckle their own young; some even happily suckle orphaned lambs. Most orphaned lambs, however, have to be bottle fed. Lambs can be ‘orphaned’ either because their mother died whilst giving birth, or shortly afterwards, or because their mother rejected them.

            Anyone who has ever bred, or known someone who breeds, mammals of any kind will be able to say the same thing; some infants have to be fed formula if they are to survive. Evolution isn’t about the fitness of the individual but the species. The reason that the human population has trebled in my lifetime is because we said “Sod evolution; we care about the individual.”

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 2, 2018 at 10:23 am #

            Dairy cows have been selectively bred for eons to be good milk producers – yet in each batch of heifers producing their first calf, there will be some which fail to produce any.

            Mel puts this at about 10%.

            It is eye-opening, I think. An animal that is bred solely to optimize it’s ability to produce milk still has a 10% initial lactation failure!

            Why should we be surprised to find out that it is even higher in humans?

          • Sarah
            February 3, 2018 at 5:18 am #

            I bet the formula companies have been interfering with your sheep on the quiet.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            February 4, 2018 at 10:50 pm #

            You and Mel should write a book about lactation. I would so buy it, and I have no intention of breastfeeding! 😀

        • Tigger_the_Wing
          February 2, 2018 at 6:34 am #

          What gets me is that anyone should express disappointment with another woman’s choices. How very dare they. Demonising breast feeding, for whatever reason, is and always was wrong. That doesn’t, however, mean that demonising formula feeding is therefore right. And that is what Dr. Tuteur, and everyone else, is saying. All the time, there are women commenting here who breast fed successfully, but don’t tell others that because they did it, everyone could, and therefore should.

          When mothers are given a free choice (usual disclaimer: in a wealthy country with a safe water supply and regulated formula industry), please trust them to make it – even if they don’t make the choice you were able to make. Whichever they choose is equally as good for the baby, provided that the baby isn’t months premature (i.e. nearly all of them).

          I was fortunate enough to have my own children in the UK in the eighties and nineties, after discrete public breastfeeding became largely accepted again, and before the lactivists got a major grip. No-one else’s opinion mattered in the least how I fed my babies, and, for the first three, I’d already decided to be a SAHM so I was able to make a truly free choice. Guess what? I breast fed some of them all of the time, and breast fed all of them some of the time, and fed formula when it was appropriate. Indeed, when I had twins after returning to work, one was exclusively breastfed, and the other was switched to formula from three months on – because he’s lactose intolerant, and so was allergic to breast milk.

          Women are perfectly capable of choosing a feeding method in conjunction with health, family and work dynamics, and no-one else should be telling them what they ought to be doing. Given a truly free choice, it might be that 100% of mothers would decide to breast feed, but it is inevitable that some won’t be able to and would still formula feed – and if that idea bothers you, you might just be an interfering busybody in disguise.

          Edited to add: A truly free choice means that there is a high probability that many will choose formula, and they have every right, and no-one should demonise them for it.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 2, 2018 at 10:48 am #

            What gets me is that anyone should express disappointment with another woman’s choices. How very dare they.

            Hey, I’m glad to criticize others’ BAD choices. I do it all the time (starting with my kids).

            But it actually has to be a bad choice. And in that depends on the circumstances. For some women, trying to EBF might very well be a bad choice.

            But when the options have nearly equal outcomes, and the only question is the process? I’ll leave that up to them….

        • Christina Maxwell
          February 2, 2018 at 7:56 am #

          Does not explain what happens in the UK however. Comparatively generous maternity leave, every incentive to EBF, disincentives to FF and still we have among the lowest BF rates in the world. Weird, huh?

        • ukay
          February 2, 2018 at 10:25 am #

          Fathers can‘t breastfeed.

    • Allie
      February 1, 2018 at 10:08 pm #

      BF wasn’t incompatible with working for me, but I had the luxury of 12 months of leave (“paid,” although at only 1/5th of my normal salary). I continued BF for almost a year after I returned to work, but didn’t bother to pump at the office, since she was old enough to drink cows’ milk and eat other foods by then. It really depends on the circumstances. It does shock me that the U.S. has so little benefits for new moms and babies. There needs to be a range of realistic and guilt-free options for moms and families of all means.

    • crazy mama, PhD
      February 2, 2018 at 2:42 pm #

      Your comment was taken negatively because you were attacking a straw man. People have pretty thoroughly explained this; I’m responding again because I figured out what was bothering me so much about your pivot to just wanting to support women’s choices.

      One, choices aren’t made in a vacuum. Women’s choices—and how they feel about those choices—are shaped by cultural context. It’s great to support the choices of individual women (and we should support them), but it’s a cop-out if you ignore the factors that might be driving those choices. As a different example, consider tech jobs, which tend to be significantly less than 50% women. A lot of sexist dudebros like to blame this on women’s interests: “women just don’t like tech”; “women want to spend more time with their families”; etc. Which is just an excuse to avoid thinking about the structural problems: why do women seem to be less interested in tech? why are those jobs seen as so incompatible with an interest in family? (not to mention all the more blatant stuff like harassment).

      Two, to support “genuine free choice,” you (general you) have to accept that someone else might make a different decision than you even with the same information. What we’ve seen a lot with lactivists and natural childbirth advocates is the assumption that all women would choose to breastfeed and give birth without pain meds if they only knew more about how great it was! At it’s core, it’s an incredibly sexist assumption—that a woman would only make the “wrong” choice out of ignorance rather than out of a considered, intelligent look at her own circumstances and desires.

  5. crazy mama, PhD
    February 1, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

    What amazes me is all the people who loudly proclaim—and often seem to genuinely believe—that pushing “natural” birth and “breast is best” is the feminist position.

    Rule #1 on the Basic Feminism Cheat Sheet: If you’re telling a woman what she should or shouldn’t do with her own body, it’s probably not feminist.

    • A Wood
      February 1, 2018 at 3:46 pm #

      I agree. But nor is it antifeminist. What is feminist is having a true choice that fits with one’s own personal circumstances.

      • crazy mama, PhD
        February 1, 2018 at 3:53 pm #

        Well, no. Breastfeeding, and supporting other women in breastfeeding, is not antifeminist, not at all. But vociferously telling other women they should breastfeed is antifeminist.

      • kilda
        February 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm #

        >>What is feminist is having a true choice that fits with one’s own personal circumstances.

        well yes. I think everyone here basically agrees with this. I’m not sure why you seem to think otherwise.

        • A Wood
          February 1, 2018 at 4:38 pm #

          The article didn’t read that way to me.
          I completely agree that if you are going back to work after 2 weeks exclusively expressing is challenging (and do people really go back 2 weeks after a C section? Even in manual work?). But surely we should be addressing the fact that women are not getting adequate maternity leave so as to be able to make free choices re feeding (and other things) – not suggesting that formula is the answer? It might be, but not just so that women can go back to work at 2 weeks when they shouldn’t have to!

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:49 pm #

            You’re totally moving goalposts from your original statements here.

          • CandiO
            February 2, 2018 at 10:42 am #

            Yes some women do indeed have to go back to work 2 weeks after delivery (even cesarean section Moms). Truly it must be nice to have never known that level of need in your life.

          • Merrie
            February 2, 2018 at 10:54 am #

            My employer gives 2 weeks full disability pay for hourly team members. They get 6 weeks at half pay.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            February 4, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

            Sure they do. If you don’t have maternity leave, and don’t make enough to save for living expenses et all while you’re gone, you need to get back to earning money ASAP.
            *Should* it be this way? Oh, hell no. But it is, and that for a huge number of women.
            DH works a very white-collar job at a huge company, a decided corporate America environment where the workers at his level are making in the top 20-30% of salaries in the US. They only this year put in a paid parental leave policy–6 weeks, if you’re interested. Until then, a mom or dad had only their annual paid vacation time, and then12 months of unpaid leave. Depending on how long they’d been with the company, that could be as few as 2 paid weeks of leave. I grant you that they could afford to save more than most out there for this kind of situation, but that’s to tell you just how common bad/nonexistent parental leave is here.
            (Also, the vacation time is also their sick time.)

          • Who?
            February 5, 2018 at 12:39 am #

            The US is such a tough workplace. Here in Oz there is four weeks annual leave a year, and 10 days ‘personal leave’ which is sick leave/mental health days etc. In addition, when you have been with an employer for (I think it’s 10 years) you get 3 months paid leave, and that just keeps accruing at the rate of 1-2 weeks per year, and can be used or saved. Many employers like staff to take their four weeks, some closing over Christmas for two weeks or so and making staff use their annual leave then.

            There are also family leave allowances, some of which are legislative, and some are more generous if employers want to attract/retain particular staff.

            And we do have a lot of public holidays in the first half of the year. It’s kind of a wonder we get anything done.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            February 5, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

            After 10 years with this company, DH now has 4 weeks paid vacation/sick/personal time, plus 6 weeks paid parental leave if we have/adopt a baby in that year. There’s a strong corporate culture not to use the full 6 weeks if you’re a dad, though. (To be fair, upper management realizes this isn’t a great setup, and is correspondingly flexible about working from home in the weeks and months following a baby’s arrival.) You can accrue vacation time and bank it year to year. Some places allow this; others don’t. The year-long unpaid leave following a major family event like a baby is still in place, and anecdotally, management is usually very flexible about “working from home” for employees who really need more time off due to their or family medical issues. (Read: you’re on bed rest due to pregnancy and have sundry associated medical issues, but you check your email every couple of hours? No need to take a vacation day that day!)
            So it’s not…horrible, but it’s definitely not Oz or Europe. DH’s previous boss was French, and was perpetually horrified by DH’s generous-by-US-standards vacation time.

      • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya
        February 1, 2018 at 4:34 pm #

        It is actively antifeminist to tell a woman what she should or shouldn’t do with her body.

        • Anna
          February 3, 2018 at 10:42 pm #

          I agree and furthermore its not feminist in my opinion to let a woman make a decision based on misinformation and myth. If a midwife knows that a woman’s beliefs around birth/breastfeeding are incorrect its not feminist of her to support her regardless. As a trained midwife she has a responsibility to ensure her client has the correct info. But since that argument works well when home births go to shit the homebirth midwives are clinging to it. “I was supporting the woman in HER choices”. Its utter bullshit.

    • Jen
      February 1, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

      The feminist position should really include elective caesarean section. I don’t understand how most women see a homebirth as more empowering than a c-section.

      • Tigger_the_Wing
        February 2, 2018 at 1:44 pm #

        I’m more optimistic. I don’t think that it is ‘most’. I think that the ones pushing homebirth as ’empowering’ are merely the loudest, at least at the moment. I believe that they know that it’s actually a bad choice, and they are shouting loudly in an attempt to drown out the voices saying so, including the ones in their own heads. There must be a lot more women choosing elective Cæsarian; they just don’t feel the need to proselytise about it.

        • ukay
          February 2, 2018 at 2:02 pm #

          On another note, Intjink I read somwhere that the NHS is encouraging gome birth under certain circumstances. I hope it is notencouraging as in „encouraging breastfeeding“.

          • ukay
            February 2, 2018 at 2:03 pm #

            Sorry.‘ think‘ and ‚home birth’ .So bad at touchscreen.

          • AnnaPDE
            February 2, 2018 at 8:39 pm #

            I got the UK equivalent of “what to expect” from a friend with an older kid. That book, written by a doctor, waxes lyrical about how you really don’t need to go to hospital anyway, just have a stash.of old towels ready to give birth in the comfort of your own bedroom, with an NHS midwife who’ll turn up at some point to help with delivery and stitch you up.

        • Anna
          February 3, 2018 at 10:39 pm #

          Yes! It was a common lament amongst the homebirth fanatics I stupidly aligned myself with that feminism largely ignored birth, and particularly home birth. I think the vag patrol brigade of NCB feminists is actually a pretty small minority of modern feminists. Popular Aussie rad-fem and new Mum Clementine Ford recently wrote a piece admitting she’d done sleep training as she wasn’t coping with her baby waking every 45mins and recognised herself sliding into PND. Apparently she got tons of her usual fans sending her angry PMs that she was an “abuser” and I saw it shared on a top midwives page here and they were FROTHING at the mouths over it. It was delicious!!!

          • lsn
            February 8, 2018 at 3:55 am #

            ACM or another page?

          • Anna
            February 8, 2018 at 4:35 am #

            That was on Hannah Dahlens FB.

  6. A Wood
    February 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm #

    How do you put this together with the fact that I am still breastfeeding my 16 month old…… While working full time as an interventional cardiologist? And the fact that I had a ”normal’ delivery meant I was back to normal almost immediately, running and swimming within 2 weeks? I don’t feel repressed or confined to the home…….

    • Heidi
      February 1, 2018 at 3:28 pm #

      Good for you?

    • ukay
      February 1, 2018 at 3:31 pm #

      That is because you are better than most. You can breastfeed harder, work harder, birth harder, recover harder.
      At least thats what you wanted to hear.

      • A Wood
        February 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm #

        I’m sorry if that’s what you thought I meant. What I was meaning was that, when it goes well, “normal” delivery is much easier to recover from than C section. It’s not because I am better or tried harder, it is because there was less to recover from in the first place! Again, I don’t see how that can be seen as disempowering.

        • Empliau
          February 1, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

          How long would it have taken if you had had a 4th degree tear? A cervical laceration? A postpartum hemorrhage?

          How could you prevent such outcomes?

          Normal frequently damages women’s bodies beyond repair. Normal can suck. When it does, C-section recovery is faster.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 3:57 pm #

            yes. And vaginal with intervention can be worse than CS. But if we can facilitate vaginal without intervention it is the quickest to recover from. Ever increasing medical input into delivery isn’t necessarily a good thing.

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 4:09 pm #

            What exactly do you mean by facilitating vaginal birth without interventions?

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:20 pm #

            Optimising the chances of it happening in those who want it – avoiding non evidence based monitoring, induction without good medical indication, unnecessary episiotomy etc.

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 4:27 pm #

            But the policy now is to „encourage“ vaginal birth anyways?
            What do you mean by non-evidence based monitoring?

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

            non evidence-based monitoring…. drink that Kool Aid.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

            Not sure what you mean. Some interventions and tests in medicine have evidence, some don’t. We should use the former. I don’t think that is controversial. I know in my field (cardiology) a lot of non evidenced based screening is done in the US because it earns physicians money…….. with most of it not helping the health of the patient. Look up the appropriate use campaign.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm #

            Apply it to labor. What non evidence based monitoring are you referencing? You stated it. Explain.

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 4:50 pm #

            Second that. I really do not get what you mean with non evidence monitoring applied to birth.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 5:44 pm #

            She means EFM and she’s full of shit that it’s non evidence based.

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 5:53 pm #

            So this then was the kernel of the brute.

          • maidmarian555
            February 1, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

            Yeah that pointless EFM that probably saved my son’s life and persuaded my care providers that 3 days of labour was probably a bit too much for me. Totally pointless. I have no idea why they did that /sarc

            It’s not *at all* annoying and patronising when people imply it’s always an unnecessary intervention. Especially when they’re people who clearly have never experienced birth difficulties and have no idea how important these interventions can be to those of us who need them. I would have loved an easy vag birth and to have breathed my son out and be back running marathons within a fortnight. Alas, it was not meant to be. I am also a fucking good mum. So, sadly for the vagina-über-alles brigade it doesn’t matter how I got him out.

          • BeatriceC
            February 1, 2018 at 11:16 pm #

            Well, EFM really is useless if the nurses ignore the tracings and fail to alert the doctor that there was anything going wrong until it was way too late to do anything safe and easy like a c-section (in a hospital without a 24 hour anesthesiologist physically on the premises). It could have been useful, granted, but it wound up being totally useless and my oldest had a shoulder dystocia, had to have his shoulder dislocated to be freed, and came out not breathing and with a barely detectable heartbeat of 30bpm.

            But you know, that was totally useless and recovering from a c-section would have been so much harder than recovering from a 3rd degree episiotomy and a torn urethra. That second, btw, causes all kinds of issues to this day, 18 and a half years later. But that doesn’t matter at all, right?

          • maidmarian555
            February 2, 2018 at 5:51 pm #

            I’m so sorry that happened to you. The thing that really frustrates me is that the monitoring didn’t *have* to be useless in stories like yours. If your care providers had paid attention and taken what it was telling them seriously, it may well not have been useless. Sure, you’d have ended up with more ‘interventions’ (or as I like to call them, ‘processes and procedures that are tailored towards keeping everyone comfortable and getting baby out as safely as possible’). I see so many midwives and NCB advocates talk about how useless EFM is and yet, when I read the reports of awful cases like Telford here (where an alarming number of babies died over a period of years) one of the main reason for things going horribly wrong wasn’t that they didn’t use EFM, it was just that midwives ignored it or didn’t do it properly. It definitely could have helped if they took what it was telling them seriously (and in some cases, actually had the skills to use it properly).

            My c-sections mean that I have to take it reasonably easy for a year. I could drive, lift my toddler and do most things within 6 weeks of giving birth. I’ve been told to be careful and avoid any high intensity exercise for 12 months (so Pilates, yoga and walking fine; running, lifting heavy weights and star jumps are out). That’s following guidelines to the letter (some women feel able to push themselves harder earlier, I’m really not up for risking pushing too hard and wrecking my body permanently if I don’t need to). But that’s a year of doing everything other than high-intensity exercise, and being totally back to ‘normal’ after that. I’m not going to spend years suffering with incontinence or severe pain (my pelvic floor may deteriorate when I’m older but that’s not the same as spending the next 20 years with constant problems). I have scars. I have some numb patches on my tummy that I may never get full feeling back in. But that really doesn’t seem like a rough deal at all compared to what other women go through after vaginal births that really go wrong. I wish they would take the long-term damage and impact to mothers much more seriously. It should be a serious part of how they evaluate risks during birth. And why they shouldn’t demonise ‘interventions’ and see them as important tools that can help.

          • Tigger_the_Wing
            February 2, 2018 at 9:04 am #

            ‘Your field’ is cardiology? What position do you hold in that field? Cardiologist? Registrar? Student? Medical secretary? Admissions clerk? Porter? Cleaner?

            Edit: I apologise, I missed where you said you are an interventional cardiologist.

            If more monitoring had been done in my case, I might not have had to wait decades for diagnoses of my own serious heart conditions.

          • Tigger_the_Wing
            February 2, 2018 at 9:01 am #

            Ah, but you hyphenated it in the right place for the phrase to mean something specific. A Wood didn’t insert any hyphen – which means that she can deny any interpretation the rest of us make, however logical.

          • Tigger_the_Wing
            February 2, 2018 at 8:58 am #

            That sounds like talking points – they are English words, put together in grammatically correct sentences; yet, somehow, they manage to convey nothing whatsoever.

            Ah, but the implications…

            Dog whistles, every one.

            1. ‘non evidence based monitoring’, without hyphens, can be interpreted a number of contradictory ways, but the way it is usually used is to signal to other anti-technology-in-birth people that “Here I am, one of you!”

            2. ‘induction without good medical indication’; do you have any evidence at all that this is a problem? Though I don’t know why I’m asking, since no-one who complains about unnecessary inductions can ever produce any.

            3. ‘unnecessary episiotomy’; this is purely to make women feel insecure, that their episiotomy was ‘unnecessary’. Again, no evidence of malpractice is ever forthcoming when anyone asks, it’s purely another signal that the writer is in the lactivist cult.

            By suggesting that you are oh-so-reasonable to suggest those, is implying that they are a problem. Unless you can show evidence, you are just blowing hot air.

            I could suggest that it would be nice if women weren’t blindfolded and handcuffed to their beds during hospital birth. Who could disagree with that statement without looking like a monster who thinks that women should be handcuffed and blindfolded? And women who have never seen or experienced hospital birth would be alarmed, thinking that I wouldn’t be suggesting it should be prevented if it weren’t happening. That is the kind of statement you are making. Baseless vague accusations of medical malpractice, too vague for you to be sued, but enough to alarm people unnecessarily. I wish you would cut it out.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            February 1, 2018 at 4:11 pm #

            vaginal without intervention would have meant death or possibly disability for my daughter…no thanks! Internal fetal monitoring , started when her heartbeat started to slow drastically, and ventouse extraction to get her out quickly to prevent lack of oxygen means she is now healthy, happy, and annoyingly snarky. Interventions for the win! Yeah it meant an episiotomy, and a bunch of stitches…a price I paid gladly (pre-labor C-section would have been better maybe)

            And sure, maybe everything would have turned out OK if the OB and NICU team had done nothing, but why risk my baby’s life and brain cells on “maybe”

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:27 pm #

            Yes absolutely intervention needed when needed! It’s what I do for a living in another context, I’m hardly going to deny this. And it’s why I had my daughter in hospital, so intervention would be available *if* needed. I’m glad your daughter did well. The alternative thought is horrific.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

            And I agree I would have had whatever needed to keep my child safe.

          • swbarnes2
            February 1, 2018 at 6:49 pm #

            Ah, so you have a 99.999% way of determining if a fetus and mother in trouble absolutely “need” interventions? Doctors don’t. Sometimes, they don’t know if a particular situation will end up okay without interventions.


            “In other words, despite delaying the diagnosis of labor arrest for hours, the C-section rate didn’t fall, but the maternal and neonatal morbidity rates increased by 60% and 80% respectively.”

          • Charybdis
            February 1, 2018 at 5:15 pm #

            How are you going to facilitate “vaginal without intervention”, exactly? Suppose you define what “intervention” would entail. Continuous fetal monitoring? Heplock already placed in the mother? Epidurals? Pain meds for the mother during labor? Occasional cervical checks?

            Sometimes you don’t know you need an intervention until it is too late, or very nearly so. Shoulder dystocia doesn’t just happen to large babies. Cord prolapse? Tight nuchal cords? Placental abruption? PPH? Third and fourth degree tears? Pelvic floor damage afterwards, with urinary and/or fecal incontinence?

            You absolutely cannot guarantee a mother an easy, non-complicated vaginal delivery with both the mother and the baby coming through it unscathed. Does it happen often? Sure. But a non-emergent C-section (read maternal request / scheduled) has the least amount of danger to the baby. Slightly more for the mother, but if she is fully informed of the risks and is willing to take on those risks herself to lower the risk to her baby, how is that a bad thing? How is monitoring the baby’s heart rate during a stressful time for said baby considered a bad thing?

          • momofone
            February 2, 2018 at 10:33 am #

            What if the mother is not interested in having vaginal delivery “facilitated”? Do you believe she should be able to choose CS if that is her preference?

          • fiftyfifty1
            February 3, 2018 at 1:07 pm #

            “But if we can facilitate vaginal without intervention it is the quickest to recover from.”

            Bullshit. I had normal spontaneous vaginal delivery and in the process I sustained severe damage. Stop gaslighting women.

        • ukay
          February 1, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

          I am glad it worked out well for you and you do not have to choose between your career and parenting. Dr Tuteur argued rather that the originators and many figurheads of NCB movement and „breast is best“ came from antifeminist standpoints and therefore had/have a certain agenda when promoting VB and EBF. Therefore their ideologies and subsequent policies often try to put women „in their place“.

        • Sue
          February 2, 2018 at 3:47 am #

          I’m not sure you can generalise about ‘ “normal” delivery is much easier to recover from than C section.’ – there is a wide range of recovery times for both.

        • Empress of the Iguana People
          February 2, 2018 at 7:10 am #

          One of our resident docs was up to shopping at IKEA 4 days after her last csection. and I was still wobbly most of a month after my kids’ vaginal births.

        • fiftyfifty1
          February 3, 2018 at 1:04 pm #

          “What I was meaning was that, when it goes well, “normal” delivery is much easier to recover from than C section.”

          What help is this to anyone? One cannot sign up for a “normal vaginal delivery that goes well.” The most one can do is sign up for a trial of labor. That’s what I did and I avulsed my levator ani from my ischial tuberosity and damaged my pudendal nerve in the process. 2 weeks later I could still barely walk, could not climb stairs without help. I could not sit normally for months. My second was a maternal request CS and the recovery was much, much easier.

    • Empliau
      February 1, 2018 at 3:32 pm #

      Did you want to do all those things?

      If so, good for you (h/t Heidi).

      Do you think they make you a better person/mother than someone who has a baby by Caesarian and/or formula feeds said baby?

      If not, good for you (see above).

      If you do, you are SO wrong.

      • A Wood
        February 1, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

        I don’t think they make me a better person, of course not! I think they make me someone who has a slightly easier life, though! And I’m all for not making my life difficult.

    • crazy mama, PhD
      February 1, 2018 at 3:32 pm #

      Do you legitimately not understand the difference between “I did this and it was great for me” and “all women should do this”?

      • A Wood
        February 1, 2018 at 3:43 pm #

        I do understand that difference! Why is why I think the suggestion that breastfeeding is in some way antifeminist is unhelpful. You *can* present it that way, and it certainly shouldn’t be imposed on people who don’t want it – but it is also perfectly compatible with a fulfilling life outside the home.

        • CSN0116
          February 1, 2018 at 3:49 pm #

          You’re still not getting it. And given your self-disclosed level of education, you’re perfectly capable of doing so, but are choosing to take from this post what you want it to mean.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 3:53 pm #

            All the stuff about people who are pro breast feeding being anti women working outside the home……… it doesn’t even make any sense. If I weren’t breastfeeding my daughter before and after work I would be bottle feeding her, it has no impact whatsoever on my ability to work.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

            There you are with the egocentric bullshit again. YOUR life. YOU can readily pump while away to provide milk and relieve engorgement. Not all women can. They work in environments and under time constraints where this is super difficult or impossible (despite legislation). Imagine how lactivists, written about above, creating a blanket moral standard of good mothering = EBF would affect those women.

            And expand your mine. Formula means a woman can be separated from her baby and not be responsible for the physical bottle feeding OR milk production. Even when home she can defer feedings.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

            I don’t pump. (my daughter always refused a bottle so she just has water in a cup when I’m not there)
            And unfortunately were I not breastfeeding it WOULD be me preparing the bottle, I don’t have anyone else to do it. Of course other people have different circumstances, some people have partners who are able to share childcare 50/50. Some have parents who share care. And if I wanted to give formula I would manage. But the fact that I am breastfeeding doesn’t stop me working full time. We all make different choices, of course there is nothing wrong with giving formula, what makes you think I have said that? But it is equally wrong to say that breastfeeding means one can’t work outside the home.

          • Heidi
            February 1, 2018 at 4:08 pm #

            How did you manage to feed your newborn straight from the breast if you went straight back to work after 2 weeks? Newborns definitely should not be given water. I’m guessing either you were able to arrange with work to have the baby brought to you or you went to your baby to feed or you didn’t work at least 8 hour shifts. That would be a luxury just as pumping would.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:10 pm #

            Fortunately I work in a country where i get more than 2 weeks maternity leave. I didn’t go back until my daughter was taking some solids and water. Yes, in the US with no paid maternity leave, it would have been much harder – even as a doctor. Doctors are well paid and privileged but certainly don’t get plenty of free time to express milk! That’s what we should be addressing – if women have adequate maternity rights then breastfeeding/formula feeding etc is a free choice, not a coerced one. With an older child it is absolutely possible to breastfeed around working hours, even with 12h shifts.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:11 pm #

            My luxury is not living in the US, I suppose!


          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:11 pm #

            But going back to work 2 weeks after a C section must also be very challenging.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:12 pm #

            So you’ve totally contradicted yourself.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm #

            Only if your debate is exclusively about the US? Which is an extreme anomaly in terms of maternity legislation. The problem is not women being forced to breastfeed as a means of stopping them going back to work, it’s a lack of maternity rights in the first place.

          • ukay
            February 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm #

            I live in a place with generous maternity leave. According to the last estimate, 91 % of women initiate breastfeeding, but it drops to 70% after a few weeks. Why is that? Might it be that breastfeeding is an imperfect biological mechanism? And if so, how does it help to postulate breastfeeding as an absolute and formula as inferior?

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

            I don’t think absolutes ever help. But having maternity leave is an important start in terms of making it a genuine choice.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:14 pm #

            WTF does the “older” child eat for 12 hours if, like yours, they cannot take a bottle and you are unavailable to be physically with them for 12 straight hours?

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 4:16 pm #

            She has water from a cup and solids!

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:30 pm #

            For 12 hours a day your less than 12 month old (because no mention of table milk in sippy) has only water to drink. That’s fucked up. It’s so fucked up I don’t really believe you. Lemme guess, you make up for it by breastfeeding all night when she should be getting uninterrupted sleep?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 2, 2018 at 10:55 am #

            For 12 hours a day your less than 12 month old (because no mention of table milk in sippy) has only water to drink. That’s fucked up. It’s so fucked up I don’t really believe you.

            Not only is it fucked up, it is pointless!

            Why restrict your child to only water when you have the option of giving them formula or even (when they are older) cow’s milk? I mean, unless you are so poor that you can’t afford formula or milk, I can see the argument (although you still need to be providing more nourishment anyway, so it’s not like you don’t have to provide something), but why go through that just to avoid formula? Why is it so important to avoid formula?

            She talks about “supporting breastfeeding” but her words say more than that. This isn’t about “supporting breastfeeding,” it’s about avoiding formula.

            Why is that important?

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:38 pm #

            it’s not at all important. And I did express milk to take to nursery, too. Sorry if I haven’t been clear. I’m not anti formula at all, if she wanted it I’d be happy for nursery to give it. They tried, she didn’t want it.

          • Heidi
            February 1, 2018 at 4:24 pm #

            So you didn’t go back to work at all for some period of time so you are being intentionally misleading. Got it.

          • fiftyfifty1
            February 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

            So you WEREN’T able to work outside the home and exclusively breastfeed an infant after all! Just like the LLL people predicted.(Comfort nursing a toddler a couple times a day is an entirely different matter.)

          • Cynthia
            February 6, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

            Agree that more mat leave would be a good thing for American women.

            I was lucky to have longer leaves – 6 months with Girl 1, 11 months with Girl 2, 14 months with The Boy.

            I was able to breastfeed Girl 1 until 22 months and Girl 2 until 16 months (weaned each due to subsequent pregnancy) after going back to work, but I needed formula with Girl 1. Water and solids wouldn’t have been enough, and I was getting calls from the daycare as it was. I managed with Girl 2 because she was old enough to go straight to drinking whole milk from a cup. If someone needs to be back to work after less than a year, or if they just want to be able to have baby-free outings ever, I’d say that they should be introducing a bottle within the first 2 weeks, to avoid the risk of the baby not taking a bottle at all. That was a problem with Girl 2 and The Boy, and it made it difficult to do basic stuff like attend a wedding or go to the dentist, since I had to do everything in between feeds.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:11 pm #

            You’re dense as shit. The people here do NOT believe that breastfeeding means a woman cannot work outside the home. We are pro feeding choice. We support breastfeeding wherever, whenever 100%. We support breastfeeding and workplace pumping legislation. People who want women breastfeeding and relegated to the home, people who claim the two ate incompatible, are lactivists and the people written about above in the blog post.

          • kilda
            February 1, 2018 at 4:29 pm #

            >>But it is equally wrong to say that breastfeeding means one can’t work outside the home.

            which is probably why exactly no one here is saying that. Where on earth are you getting this idea?

          • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya
            February 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

            My milk started to dry up when I would go even just 1 or 2 days with 8 hours of not feeding (baby at grandma’s for the day). If I’d had to work, and not been able to pump, breastfeeding would soon have become impossible for us. I would have had to choose between working or breastfeeding. It’s nice it worked out for you, but everyone is not the same.

          • momofone
            February 1, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

            “But it is equally wrong to say that breastfeeding means one can’t work outside the home.”

            Where is someone saying that? I think you’ll find that many people here, myself included, also breastfed and worked outside the home. I’m not sure what you’re arguing against.

          • Sue
            February 2, 2018 at 3:42 am #

            Dr Wood – do you think you would manage equally well if you were a casual or shift worker in a restaurant kitchen, or a factory worker?

          • Empress of the Iguana People
            February 2, 2018 at 7:07 am #

            Or for that matter, if she had a messy, complicated vaginal birth and wasn’t up to running and swimming a fortnight later? Mine wasn’t too complicated, but that 2nd or 3rd degree tear was such fun.

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:41 pm #

            I’m lucky to be better paid than that – but I am a shift worker

          • Sue
            February 2, 2018 at 3:45 am #

            Dr Wood – when you said “the fact that I had a ”normal’ delivery meant I was back to normal almost immediately, running and swimming within 2 weeks?” implied that you had gone back to work within two weeks.

            It wasn’t clear that you had a relatively long period of maternity leave.

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

            Ah – sorry – I conflated two things.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 2, 2018 at 9:15 am #

            But it is equally wrong to say that breastfeeding means one can’t work outside the home.

            For my second child, exclusive breastfeeding absolutely meant that my wife couldn’t work out of the home. He refused to take any expressed milk from a bottle.

            And no, we weren’t going to give him “water from a cup.” He wasn’t old enough to live solely on solids, and, even if he were eating solids, if you are going to give him water, why not just do formula? It’s better for him.

            And then when he’s old enough, switch to whole milk.

            Why deprive you baby of other stuff that they could be having just to justify breastfeeding? It makes no sense.

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

            I don’t deprive my baby of formula, I was happy for her to have formula/expressed breast milk/cow’s milk when older. She doesn’t take it when offered by nursery! She wants water.

          • Tigger_the_Wing
            February 2, 2018 at 9:43 am #

            If you have no-one else to prepare bottles, who is looking after your daughter? If they are incompetent enough not to be trusted to fill a bottle correctly, however did you deem them competent to care for your daughter at all?

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

            I trust the nursery to prepare everything! But they are only open the hours i am at work, I don’t leave her there when I finish work!

          • Azuran
            February 2, 2018 at 11:23 am #

            Breastfeeding doesn’t stop YOU from working full time. But it is absolutely true that for some people breastfeeding means they can’t work outside the home.

          • kilda
            February 1, 2018 at 4:28 pm #

            what it says is that the people and groups who initially gave rise to the pro-breastfeeding and natural childbirth movements were opposed to women working outside the home. That’s historical fact, whether you think it makes sense or not.

            again, no one here is suggesting that it is impossible to breastfeed your child and to have a natural childbirth while still having a fulfilling life outside the home. Reading comprehension. Work on it.

          • Sue
            February 2, 2018 at 3:41 am #

            It’s great that a specialist Cardiologist can organise her work life to incorporate breastfeeding. Perhaps not every factory or hospitality worker has the same agency.

          • A Wood
            February 8, 2018 at 5:42 pm #

            This is kind of the point, we should be supporting women to have this choice, by better maternity rights etc………. then it is a free choice, not one constrained by working conditions.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 2, 2018 at 9:09 am #

            All the stuff about people who are pro breast feeding being anti women working outside the home.

            The founders of the LLL were absolutely anti-women working outside the home. That is undeniable.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          February 1, 2018 at 3:51 pm #

          Why is why I think the suggestion that breastfeeding is in some way antifeminist is unhelpful.

          Can you point to me in the article where it says that? My eyes are getting loopy these days.

          • crazy mama, PhD
            February 1, 2018 at 3:53 pm #

            I think she’s responding to my comment above, which she is either unintentionally or deliberately misreading.

          • A Wood
            February 1, 2018 at 3:56 pm #

            No I was responding to the article which to me implies that people who support breastfeeding are by definition anti feminist.

          • CSN0116
            February 1, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

            Not at all. Stop being difficult.

          • kilda
            February 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm #

            well, then you may want to work on your reading comprehension, because that’s not remotely what it says.

            You remind me of a college classmate I had who said to me “I want to meet a feminist so I can tell them I WANT to stay home with my kids, and see what they say to that!” like she’d hit on some prize-winning argument.
            I was like “ok, I’m a feminist, and that’s nice, I hope you get to stay home with your kids and that you enjoy it.”

            You’re arguing vigorously against a position that ***no one here is arguing for.***

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            February 2, 2018 at 8:25 am #

            I always want to ask people like your college classmate: Ok are you also supportive of my spouse(in my case male) staying home full time and me going back to work full time when the kid is 6 weeks old? Because I also consider that one possible feminist position/choice.

          • kilda
            February 2, 2018 at 8:43 am #

            I thought it was so cute how she assumed she had never met a feminist, and how she thought that saying she wanted to stay home with her kids would shatter any feminist’s world view. “Omg! You want to stay home with your kids of your own free will? I must rethink EVERYTHING!”

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            February 2, 2018 at 11:48 am #

            Yup, I’m 56 years old and it puzzles me every day when I run into people half my age who don’t get that (in my opinion) being a feminist means making sure everyone has choices..”why yes I do think its ok for your son to want to be a ballet dance or a stay at home dad or a firefighter, or play with dolls or glitterglue. why yes I do think its ok for your daughter to want to be an engineer or a stay at home mom or a physicist and for her to play with toy hammers and power tools and Barbies.
            (the “you” in these sentences is the generic “you” , not directed an anyone in particular)

            Or that if ANY of your kids express the wish to never have kids that’s perfectly ok too (so is wanting 6).

            Someone else choosing a different path than I did is not an indictment of my choices or theirs (well ok I draw the line at anti-vaxxers, and people who don’t seatbelt their kids)

            If your choices endanger someone who can not protect them self, then yeah I might give you some verbal side-eye, on a blog… oh noes!

          • FormerPhysicist
            February 3, 2018 at 7:48 am #

            Sure, sure. I know you’re really slamming stay at home mom physicists.

          • LaMont
            February 2, 2018 at 1:03 pm #

            I will admit that when a woman pulls the “I want to stay home while my husband works” card, as a career-oriented woman I do get slightly upset. Because her husband, as a traditionally married man, is (according to studies) far more likely to hinder the careers of the women in his workplace than men who aren’t traditionally married with stay at home wives. My mother ran into comments of “you’re just like my wife!” when she’d correct male higher-ups, was slurred and assumed to be less competent and committed because they couldn’t feel the lived experience of “woman with career ambition”. So while it’s totally a right to stay home, and a reasonable choice, don’t play like it isn’t affecting other women (“it’s MY choice and none of your business!”), because it is affecting them.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 2, 2018 at 8:32 am #

            Ok, show me where it says that?

            Or implies it.

        • kilda
          February 1, 2018 at 4:25 pm #

          no one here is saying breastfeeding is antifeminist. They’re saying that guilting people who don’t breastfeed (or don’t breastfeed exclusively, or don’t breastfeed for x amount of months), is antifeminist.

    • CSN0116
      February 1, 2018 at 3:38 pm #

      And according to Dick-Read, LLL fundamentalists, and mordern lactivists and AP advocates: you fail.

      You are not EBF from the tap, you are not the sole or even primary caregiver, you cannot babywear full-time, cannot nurse on demand, and you do not respond to your baby every time he/she wants you.

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      February 1, 2018 at 10:42 pm #

      I’m glad you’re happy with your choices and your circumstances. I was fairly lucky as well, though I was wobbly longer than you were. Dr. T wants everyone to be happy with their choices but has noticed how often the current atmosphere is making many women feel bad about stuff. My PPD group is full of women and transmen who get twitchy over various aspects of the current childbirth culture.

    • Box of Salt
      February 2, 2018 at 9:45 am #

      A Wood: This question needs an answer, and it needs it here, next to your original comment:
      exactly when (after those 2 weeks when you started enjoying exercise while on maternity leave to establish breastfeeding) did you go back to work full time?
      Your child is 16 months now. Your child is NOT an infant.

    • Allie
      February 2, 2018 at 10:23 pm #

      That’s awesome for you, but unfortunately it’s not every woman’s experience. Not even close.

  7. ukay
    February 1, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

    LLL was a “resource” recommended during childbirth prep class. I knew I was not a fan when the first thing I saw on their local website was an insincere apology to moms who had been harassed by their volunteer LCs for going back to work. It contained the same blow-whistle lactivism as the insidious sentence plastered on every formula box: “Breastmilk is best foryour baby, but if you must (read:are a selfish, 2nd rate mom),[at least] ask your health care provider [before poisoning your baby]”

    And yes, in the good old times most women were working so hard that they did not have time to breastfeed constantly.

    • A Wood
      February 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm #

      Anyone who thinks women shouldn’t go back to work should explain how exactly they expect the women to support their children………. and should also support paid maternity leave for those who want it, shocking that the USA doesn’t have this.

  8. February 1, 2018 at 2:17 pm #

    The inclusion of “risks to future pregnancies” in every propaganda piece about C-sections annoys me – especially when it’s weighed against negative outcomes for the mother or infant in the current pregnancy.

    A future pregnancy is never a given.

    A woman may be finishing her family after this birth. She may have infertility issues. She may want another baby prior to attempting to raise this baby who turned out to be the type my family refers to as “a reason for permanent birth control” – you know, the type that doesn’t sleep, is colicky, must be fed on a schedule that changes based on day of the week and lunar influences, and is amazingly rash prone – and all of this is before they learn their favorite phrase “NO! I do it!” and refuse to leave the house without wearing a superhero cape.

    A baby with major disabilities from a C-section performed too late or not at all changes the likelihood of a future pregnancy – and so does losing a baby.

    • FormerPhysicist
      February 1, 2018 at 3:35 pm #

      I cannot upvote this enough.

    • Hannah
      February 1, 2018 at 5:18 pm #

      Yes!! This was actually my response when I was fighting for my ELCS. I have lupus, been on chemo, didn’t even know if we could have kids at all. My concern was getting THIS baby out safely, I might not be able to have any more.

    • momofone
      February 2, 2018 at 10:34 am #

      I completely agree. My son was born after 18 years of infertility. I was not convinced I was going to go home with HIM, much less some future hypothetical baby.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        February 2, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

        I was still surprised they let me take kid1 home 2 weeks later.

  9. February 1, 2018 at 2:06 pm #

    makes irritated *hmmph* noise

    LLL forgot to invite Spawn and I to the party – and I’m raising him in the Catholic Church!

    I told a friend that Spawn’s cries were surprisingly easy to interpret by the time we took him home from the hospital; after all, we had three months of NICU practice. Figuring out “Wet diaper! Oh, the horrors!”, “Feed me before I have to eat one of the other babies! I’m not kidding this time!” and “I’m not meant to be in a sauna! Too hot! Too hot!” was not rocket science – and had been worked out long before he was breathing independently.

    I saw Spawn for about an hour a day during his first week of life. He still recognizes me as his mother – and seems quite attached if I do say so myself. The fact I maxed out at about 11oz a day of breast milk production was related more to the fact that my breasts were as underdeveloped as Spawn when he was born than the amount of time we spent together.

    His “intense need” to be with me can be completely ignored if he sees an unguarded electrical cord, a fascinating toy, or any toy that makes noise. He’s equally comfortable with his Dad and will accept his grandparents in a pinch.

    • mabelcruet
      February 1, 2018 at 4:40 pm #

      Same with my cats-I can interpret what their various mews mean, whether its ‘feed me, slave’, or ‘hello, slave, come and scratch my ears’. I read a lovely news report recently about a baby in USA somewhere who had to be treated in a NICU far from home, and with the parents having other children it meant that sometimes the NICU baby was alone. But the dad was a fireman (or policeman, something like that), so the firemen (or policemen) in the city where the baby was being treated organised a cuddle rota so that the baby was never left without a cuddler. And there’s no suggestion that the baby failed to bond with his parents, even though lots of strangers got their hands on him-parental bonding doesn’t need 24/7 attention.

      In the UK, there is a documentary series called Child of Our Time-it follows children born in the year 2000 and revisits them regularly to see how their development is progressing. The families are from all walks of life, all social classes, all different levels of education and employment, single parent families, disabled parents etc. They did a lot of experiments on the children as babies (with parental consent of course). One of the saddest was looking at how they dealt with being left alone-they were about 2 I think. There was a toddler whose mum wasn’t good at engaging with her child-ignored him a lot, didn’t engage in interactive play, barely talked to him really, and it showed that when she left the room he didn’t notice-he carried on playing on his own. But toddlers who had a good relationship got upset when their mum left, and only calmed down when mum came back. After a few goes, they got less upset because they’d worked out that mum would always come back. But the poor little boy whose mum ignored him-he didn’t get upset because he was used to being left already. Mum was upset when this was explained to her (I think she had a lot of issues herself), so she had parenting classes, and whenever they’ve revisited that little boy, he’s been doing really well. So even a shaky start can be overcome.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        February 1, 2018 at 10:52 pm #

        weirdly comforting. my 19mo freaks if I leave without her. i feel guilty that i don’t interact more, what with the depression and the need to get rages under control. damn premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

  10. Empress of the Iguana People
    February 1, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

    Reminds me a bit of a comment I glanced at (because it was the one popped up first) from a news article today. i don’t remember exactly what, a state law proposal involving lgbtq rights. Dude’s first word was “gross” and went on about immoral gays. Really, dude? If gay sex doesn’t appeal to you, don’t have it. Bob and George have been married for -years- and Bob is a leader in my (liberal) church. I daresay they are more moral than quite a few idjits who blather on about gayness spreading.
    On a side note, despite all the gay folks at our church, only one of the dozen or so late-teen and 20-somethings is gay. (The rest of the kids are too young to notice yet; we have a huge age gap.) You’d think there’d be more if you were foolish enough to think that being gay was communicable. On the other hand the one gay kid has been openly gay since he figured out he preferred to kiss guys. Everybody knows and we only care that his sweethearts treat him right. He’s a nice kid.

    • Empliau
      February 1, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

      It’s remarkable how grossed out some homophobes claim to be about gay sex. If they’re so heterosexual, why are they spending so much time fantasizing about what LGBTQ people do in bed? I mean, I am straight, and when I learned what straight people do in bed (aged 8) I was on the horrified side of grossed out. I came around, as it were.

      I’ve always assumed that people who insist LGBTQ is a choice and conversion therapy is defensible are secretly gay or bi themselves. Only reason I can imagine they spend so much time obsessing about what they insist on calling “sodomy”. Fun fact: straight people can and do commit sodomy, as the law defines it. Google it: might as well give the NSA agent monitoring you a giggle.

      • Empress of the Iguana People
        February 1, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

        I’m not quite *that* innocent, lol.

        • Empliau
          February 2, 2018 at 1:09 am #

          Oh, I’m sorry – I was really recommending that those who think “sodomy” is a gay thing, and therefore bad, find out its legal meaning. I didn’t mean you.
          ETA: R. Santorum, I’m talking about you!

    • Spamamander (no mall bans)
      February 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm #

      I always wonder how those types view Aces like my daughter, who view sex with -anyone- as “ew”. (Not all asexual people feel that way, but she is very put off by the whole exchanging of bodily fluids and mashing off genitals.)

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