What the “science” of eugenics and the “science” of breastfeeding have in common

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Yesterday I wrote about the way in which bullying can masquerade as science. I used the example of the now discredited “science” of eugenics to draw parallels with the contemporary “science” of natural mothering.

Today I’d like to draw several more parallels between eugenics and contemporary breastfeeding research.

Both reflect moral panic.

1. Both reflect 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.

In eugenics, the moral panic was explicit and loudly discussed. It was the widespread fear on the part of white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elites that “inferior” immigrants (Catholics, Jews, Southern Europeans, Asians) as well as native born Black people might acquire positions of political and economic power thereby threatening the stranglehold held by elites.

The moral panic masqueraded as science. At the the Second International Congress of Eugenics, titled Eugenics, Genetics, and the Family in 1923, papers included Pedigrees of Pauper Stocks” in England, “Individual and Racial Inheritance of Musical Traits” or “Heritable Factors in Human Fitness and Their Social Control.”

The opening address was given by Henry F. Osborn, president of the vaunted American Museum of Natural History:

In the US we are slowly waking to the consciousness that education and environment do not fundamentally alter racial values. We are engaged in a serious struggle to maintain our historic republican institutions through barring the entrance of those unfit to share in the duties and responsibilities of our well-founded government…

In breastfeeding the source of the moral panic is carefully not discussed. La Leche League International — the original lactivist organization and impetus behind nearly every current iteration of lactivism as well as the driving force behind the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the CDC — was started by those who feared the erosion of traditional “family values” that immured women in the home, relegating them to childrearing. At nearly the same time as feminist Betty Friedan was articulating “the problem that has no name,” the widespread unhappiness of American mothers, La Leche League was insisting it wasn’t a problem but a privilege and a moral imperative.

Friedan wrote:

The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night—she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question—“Is this all?”

… Over and over women heard in voices of tradition … that they could desire no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity.

La Leche League was begun explicitly as a voice of tradition, in a deliberate effort to keep mothers of young children out of the workforce, telling them that they could desire no greater destiny than to glory in breastfeeding their children.

Alas for LLL, they were not able to stop the tide of women’s emancipation. Indeed they were forced to acknowledge women’s participation in the wider world and bury the story of their origins. They settled for the next best thing: pressuring women to breastfeed and making them feel bad if they didn’t. Their moral panic over the dreadful consequences of women working was transmuted to a moral panic over the purportedly dreadful consequences not breastfeeding.

2. Both rest on a bedrock, unalterable, non-falsifiable central principle.

Eugenics rested on the bedrock assumption that white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elites represent the apogee of human evolution. The history of the world was taken as “proof” of that concept. If WASP elites held the levers of power around the world it must because of their inherent superiority. Evidence was then compiled to bolster such “proof.” To my knowledge, across the breadth of eugenics “research” there was never a paper or study that showed that supposedly “inferior” races were actually equal or superior. It is precisely the non-falsifiability of its central principle that proves that eugenics was never science.

Lactivism rests on the bedrock assumption that breastfeeding represents the apogee of human evolution. The fact that “we are still here” is taken as “proof” of that concept. If breastfeeding is the way that women fed their babies since the beginning of humanity, it must be because of the inherent superiority of breastmilk and breastfeeding. Contemporary breastfeeding “research” involve compiling data to support the central premise and ignoring data that does not. To my knowledge, across the breadth of breastfeeding “research” there has never yet been a paper or study that showed that formula was superior, let alone equal to breastfeeding. It is precisely the non-falsifiability of its central principle that makes it clear that breastfeeding research is not science.

3. Both enlist the mainstream media and government in furtherance of their goals.

As a general rule, science has no goal beyond the increase in knowledge. In contrast, both eugenics and breastfeeding “science” have twin goals of alerting us to the “danger” we face and forcing the government to act to prevent it. Eugenics blared its warnings through journals, conferences and the mainstream media. Lactivists blare their warnings through journals, conferences and the mainstream media. Rarely a day passes without a story in the media claiming that breastfeeding increases intelligence, improves immunity, and prevents disease. Almost none of those stories have solid scientific evidence behind them and as time has gone by the claims have become ever more theoretical and attenuated.

There is no existing evidence that increasing breastfeeding rates improves mortality for term infants so breastfeeding researchers tout mathematical models that have never been verified. The claim that breastfeeding increases intelligence has been gutted by studies that correct for maternal education and socio-economic status, so now we are treated to studies that claim to show that breastfeeding increases scores on subtests or increases white matter volume in the brain, with the false implication that these are proxies for intelligence. There is no evidence that breastfeeding has a meaningful impact on diseases of children so the focus has turned to claiming that breastfeeding has an impact of disease of breastfeeding mothers.

The ultimate aim is to bring government in on the side of lactivists, and they have been quite successful so far. From mandated labeling of formula falsely proclaiming that breast is best for every baby and every mother, to government sponsored programs to increase breastfeeding rates, to official recommendations from government organizations, the breastfeeding industry has been successful in “making breastfeeding great again” with the promise that increased breastfeeding rates will improve health and save money.

4. Both always return to the naturalistic fallacy.

The naturalistic fallacy is often referred to as the “is/ought fallacy,” the belief that whatever is today is what ought to be always. Eugenicists justify their hold on political and economic power by insisting that the mere fact that they hold the power means that that is the best possible way for the world to be ordered. Lactivists justify their relentless promotion of breastfeeding, even in the face of mounting harm, by insisting that the mere fact that all women breastfed prior to the advent of formula means that breastfeeding must be better than formula.

The eugenicists were spectacularly wrong, but make no mistake, they believed their “science” with complete fervor. It did not occur to them that their views were self-dealing masquerading as science. I don’t doubt that breastfeeding researchers believe their “science” with equal fervor. It does not occur to them that their views are self-dealing masquerading as science. They could learn an important lesson from the disaster that was eugenics “research.”

  • Heidi

    OT: I brought this up in this thread, but we renewed our Y memberships last night (we are so grateful that it is free of cost through my husband’s employer!) and dropped the babe off to their child watch program in the evening. He hung out at the door for a couple of minutes but then decided to check out the toys and didn’t even notice that we slipped out. I was carefree, but my husband worried a bit and went and checked on him (or maybe my husband didn’t want to admit he was winded and used it as an excuse). He did absolutely fine though. I went back today to workout and dropped the babe off again and he really likes Miss Mary and was sitting in her lap when I was done working out. He is still a bit apprehensive about peers, but I know he’ll come around with more exposure.

    I think this will be great for both of us. I’ll be excited to actually go workout because I get to be baby-free for an hour or two and my son will benefit invaluably being around other people and especially other children. Neither mothers nor children are meant to be isolated and only have each other!

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Hurray for adult time, and for kids being around other kids! That’s been a huge bonus for my arrangement, as well: DD went from not being quite sure how to interact with other kids to, today, racing out the door when she saw her buddy come over with his mom, and getting positively wrathful when he had to go home shortly thereafter as they’d only stopped by to drop something off.

  • OT: Article in Slate:
    https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/02/breast-milk-isnt-free.html

    “Stop Saying Breast Milk Is Free: Our workplace structures make nursing extremely costly to women and fail to recognize its monetary value.”

    Although the author buys into “public health benefits and long-term public health cost savings due to breast-feeding,” her thesis that “breast-feeding requires enormous maternal time investments that have other unrecognized costs” which should be quantified is a good one.

  • Children are “parented” by multiple people. It might be a daycare provider, or a relative (all three of my grandchildren were with me during their first year while their mother, my daughter, went back to work), a particular babysitter who frequently takes care of a child, or, more rarely these days, a paid professional nanny. The main thing is that the child gets love, and a consistent environment. It doesn’t have to be the biological mother 24/7.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      Aye, and “consistent” can be we go to daycare MWF until noon and then Grandma picks me up but on Thursdays I’m with Grandma all day and on Tuesdays Auntie Marian takes me in stead.

  • Amazed

    Hi guys! Your helpful museum-goer here. In a few days, I’m going to see an exhibition which is announced to include – I kid you not – a neolite glass nursing-bottle. Since women have successfully breastfed their babies for ages and such.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    He’s a natural at every sport he’s ever tried, so I’ve got to say Gryffindor all the way

  • yentavegan

    I wanted desired dreamed and planned the life of a wife and mother. I was raised by a mother who lovingly nurtured and had the control of everything in the household. I see that modern women do not desire domestic bliss for themselves as their life’s goal and purpose. However, I am the boots on the ground, listening and counseling mother after mother, who are sick with the conflict, being coerced by cultural pressure to agree to being away for 8 hours a day from their helpless infants. How many times a week do I hear these moms lament that they are not able to produce enough breastmilk to leave for the daycare center, and they do not know what to do….. they are not looking for formula recommendations they are looking for someone, ANYONE to validate their reluctance over being replaced by a daycare center…who if we are honest, do not and can not love their infant as only a mother can…..

    • Heidi

      I feel like you are putting mothers and motherhood on a pedestal. What is inherently unique about a mother’s love? I can fully admit other people in my life are better at loving my child than I am sometimes. I love my child, and i keep him safe and fed, but sometimes that’s literally the best I can do. There are days I count down the seconds until my husband gets home because I am done with being a mother for a while. I gladly send my child off to his grandparents every few weeks for a break. There are us SAHMs who wonder if we made the right decision too.

      • maidmarian555

        This^^. Also why we’ve put the toddler in nursery for two mornings a week. Best. Decision. Ever. No regrets. That bit of space has made a massive difference.

        • Heidi

          Yes, I’ve desperately searched for a daycare that would let me just leave my child for a day or two but I’ve not found any options really. I need a break from a toddler and my toddler needs to be around peers. Our YMCA has a childcare program for 2 hours a day and I’m so looking forward to it!

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            Do you have a local mom friend in a similar position?
            Something that was a lifesaver for me last year was that a mom a couple of blocks away likewise needed some kid-free time, and her toddler is between mine, age-wise. I’d drop my kids at her house for a few hours one morning, and she’d bring her kid to mine for two (short) afternoons each week. No money out of pocket, kids get to play happily and practice social skills, and mommies get to grocery shop/read/go get an uninterrupted latte/whatever.

          • Heidi

            I don’t know if there are any moms in that situation or not. I’m not sure if I feel comfortable keeping someone else’s child right now either. However he is finally old enough for those “mom’s day out” programs that occur in the summer.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I just realized my comment could have come across as kind of judgmental, and if it did, my sincere apologies–tone of voice can be hard to convey in text.
            We don’t have any inexpensive options for that kind of thing near us, so the kidcare swap I described worked well in my situation, and that’s why I brought it up. Nothing in the least wrong with MDO et all per se! I’m glad you have some in your area, and wish you the very best in your newfound free time. I know that it was something of a sanity-saver for me just having 2 hours or so per week when I could reliably expect to be able to shop (even grocery shopping!)/read/drink coffee/visit the library/whatever without anyone interrupting me.

          • Heidi

            Oh no, you didn’t seem judgmental! It’s good advice.

          • maidmarian555

            We’re fortunate that there’s several nurseries within walking distance so we were able to find one that would take him on a p/t basis. They were really helpful and accommodating. Some children get free government hours here from 2 or 3 so where he’s a bit younger, there was less competition for flexible space in with the under-2s (if we’d needed f/t care we’d have needed to get him in whilst I was pregnant). We have no family here who can help so I was starting to really struggle managing him and the baby. She’s incredibly placid and even-tempered but I felt like he just wasn’t getting enough from me every day. Just those two mornings have been so helpful. He’s eating better, he’s learning to play nicely with others and they do a ton of different activities with him. He loves it, his language is really coming on and we’re all better for some breathing space. I really hope for you that the YMCA program can fit yours in, it’ll make a huge difference to how you’re feeling (which I totally get, 100%). Being a SAHM has challenges I really wasn’t expecting, it can be very lonely (and brain-numbingly dull) sometimes.

          • BeatriceC

            The concept of “drop in” daycares is becoming popular. That’s exactly the sort of need they’re designed to meet, along with people who need childcare for just a couple hours for an appointment and other things of that nature. It really needs to hurry up and get popular everywhere.

          • Heidi

            Seriously! My husband either has to work from home or my in-laws drive an hour and a half to visit and babysit when I have any kind of appointment.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I’ve desperately searched for a daycare that would let me just leave my child for a day or two but I’ve not found any options really.

            That’s because the demand is too high, and there aren’t enough daycares to go around.

            We got lucky. When our first was born in 2008, there was more room in the daycare and we were able to just do it part time. However, a couple of years later, they don’t do any part time care because they have a waiting list for full time care.

          • Heidi

            I can believe it. Seems like every mom I’ve come across is having a daycare crisis. I’m going to take advantage of the Ys little program, just 2 hours at a time while you work out, but the kid really needs to be around non-familial peers.

          • Ms. Sweaterfan

            One of my biggest mistakes was attempting to find a daycare in the immediate postpartum period. Every center around me had year+ waiting lists and of course every time I called and heard that from another one I would have a hormonal crying fit, lol

        • momofone

          When my son was about two, I noticed that his dad was struggling. He is normally very patient and easygoing, but he was really frazzled. We enrolled our son in a program he attended two mornings a week, and it was a lifesaver. He got to be around other kids, and his dad got a much-needed (and much-resisted) break, and was able to have some time to do non-kid related things, or nothing at all. It made a huge difference for all of us.

    • FormerPhysicist

      Oh, enough. I’m glad you were able to do what you wanted. That’s not everyone’s goal. Plenty of those mothers just want to know that formula is okay. And formula doesn’t mean lack of love – jeesh.

      • yentavegan

        Of course it is not everyone’s goal. But it is the goal of so many marginalized mothers. So many mothers do crave the experience of being the at home hands on loving mother of their infant. And if a mother decides that being the stay at home mother for her infant is not fulfilling she is more likely to leave her infant with a grandmother, husband, sister, close friend, co-parent. …Why do these mothers ( who find my phone number through a breastfeeding support hotline) cry and freak out and are anxiety ridden over leaving their infants in day care? Could it be that for many mothers the descion to leave their infant is due to cultural pressure, not free choice ? And don’t get me stated with saying some mothers have no choice, they would lose their homes or starve if they did not work…those mothers actually have aunts/moms/sisters /grannies/nieighborhood lovies to step up to the plate. Only mothers who have to show tax id numbers of institutionalized daycare centers in order to get their employers to reimburse daycare costs are the mothers most conflicted….

        • Sarah

          I’m a bit confused. It sounded like you were saying it’s bad that families are forced by high cost of living to use daycare when they’d rather a child be looked after in the family. Then the end bit it sounded like you were saying something else entirely. Do you mean people who don’t want to put their children in daycare are doing it purely through cultural pressures even though they’d actually prefer family?

        • FormerPhysicist

          Yes, some mothers crave being a SAHM. Many don’t.
          But why are you so ready to believe that women are leaving their infants in daycare due to cultural pressure, but unwilling to believe that cultural pressure might cause them to freak out they might be a bad mother for not breastfeeding?

          • momofone

            I wonder if she is actually a contributor to the cultural pressure she mentioned.

          • AnotherOor

            “And don’t get me stated with saying some mothers have no choice, they would lose their homes or starve if they did not work…those mothers actually have aunts/moms/sisters /grannies/nieighborhood lovies to step up to the plate. Only mothers who have to show tax id numbers of institutionalized daycare centers in order to get their employers to reimburse daycare costs are the mothers most conflicted….”

            I’d say YES!

          • momofone

            I just realized I left out part of what I meant to say–should have said I wonder if she realizes she is…

        • namaste

          If anything, there’s a stronger cultural pressure that a woman’s place is the home. Perhaps they are freaking out because of the implied message that the mother/child bond is too fragile to accommodate careers?

          • Heidi

            This. Also I don’t think it was a common occurrence for women to feel this intense guilt about switching over to formula when they went back to work until the last decade or two. I could be wrong of course.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Could it be that women whose choices differ than yours love their children as much or more than you do? Why, yet is could!

        • Sue

          One-on-one parenting is a recent phenomenon – it’s not an essential feature of human life.

          Prior to contraception, when everyone had big families, younger children were looked after by older children, while everyone participated in the work of family life. For wealthy families, in virtually every culture in the world, child care was outsourced – to the nanny, ayah etc – it’s not an essential to human life to have intense mother to child mothering for any length of time.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Aye. Having a close relationship with several people at once isn’t that hard when you’re all in the same house. My brother had Mom, my sister and I, my best friend, and the elderly couple next door all having a hand in his raising. It was more than babysitting in my case, although less than parenting. Mom worked the nighshift so we were to handle all the small stuff.

          • Azuran

            Indeed. Even though women in the past were forced they stay home and didn’t really have opportunity outside of the house, it’s not like they had nothing to do.
            They did pretty much everything from scratch with their hand. The home cooked everything, made clothes for the entire family and hand washed the clothes and everything else and probably had a ton of other chores to do.
            Only wealthy women who had hired help could possibly afford to spend hours every day cuddling their baby.

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          Could it also be because women are still receiving horrible messages about putting a child in daycare being tantamount to abandonment and children who are cared for full-time by their mothers being more attached to them than children who are not?

          Dispelling those myths might help a lot.

          • AnotherOor

            Horrible messages promoted by yentavegan it seems.

        • AnotherOor

          Holy jeezus. You had me on some bits, but I don’t have an aunt/mom/sister/granny/”neigborhood lovy” to take my child while I work. Thanks for trying to make me feel like choosing daycare means I just don’t care enough.

          “And don’t get me stated with saying some mothers have no choice, they would lose their homes or starve if they did not work…those mothers actually have aunts/moms/sisters /grannies/nieighborhood lovies to step up to the plate. Only mothers who have to show tax id numbers of institutionalized daycare centers in order to get their employers to reimburse daycare costs are the mothers most conflicted….”

          This is gross.

          • crazy mama, PhD

            There are so many problems with the “aunts/moms/sisters /grannies/neighborhood lovies” assumption. Just thinking about my own situation:

            – My mom is a great caregiver, but she (a) has her own full-time job, and (b) lives 1000 miles away.
            – My aunt is a little odd but a pretty good caregiver and SAHM, except she lives 1700 miles away.
            – One of my grandmothers is not physically capable of taking care of an infant, and not interested in doing it anyway.
            – My other grandmother is very much not allowed to take care of my kids. (Her own children agree.)

            Even leaving aside the distance issue, why assume that female relatives want to babysit and are any good at it?

          • AnotherOor

            Yes that’s quite the assumption to put all this labor onto female relatives. It’s almost…sexist! I leave for work at 6am and return at 4pm. My MIL can do one day a week but she’s a 60 yr old cancer survivor with diabetes. Plus she has a life of her own. My sister works, my mother lives out of town, my grandmother is 83.

            But I guess I’m just not trying hard enough.

          • Amazed

            I work at home and I’m getting along great with my brand-new neighbours and their two kids under four. So great that when I woke up today, they were just opening their door after a walk and the kids were insisting that they rang my door to wake me up to go there and play. The moment I opened the door, they shot past me, muddy shoes and all, and stayed as I was dressing before we all went to their flat.

            Their mom’s maternity leave is nearing its end. I offered to take the kids for a few hours if she couldn’t find the time to do the project she was suddenly offered (hey, some money for them, great!) and I would have if their afternoon nap had not been enough. I’ve already stayed with them as she went shopping (insisting that she go shopping and I stay there because hey, buying groceries on her own!)

            There’s no way in hell she would ever think I could be a babysitter for her kids on a permanent basis, I have work to do and kids are freaking responsibility. I have to hand them back unharmed at the end of the day. Exhausting. No freaking way. Even if I didn’t work.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Wow, you are a really nice neighbor!
            Someone helped me today by walking with me, holding boy-bard’s hand (he’s had a busy day escaping). Total stranger at the grocery store. Then she wandered off to her car. I’d -never- have asked but she volunteered and I’d parked close.

          • Amazed

            Thank you. I’m trying. And they’re really very kind.

            Today, they visited me and presented me with a bracelet of beads that they and their mom had done for me. I was touched, I put it right on… and then I immediately cut the string while holding Little Miss I-Wanna-Turn-Your-Armchair-Into-A-Trampoline-And-You-Have-To-Hold-My-Hands.

            It doesn’t cost a lot to be nice to people and a young mother of two in a new home can be very isolated.

          • BeatriceC

            Some of us don’t have relatives worth talking about. Y’all have heard enough horror stories about my mother. Why on earth would I leave my children with her? And my sisters, while not as bad, refuse to respect my choices to not be in contact with my parents, and actively sabotaged my decisions in that regard to my kids. Why would I let them care for my kids? My grandmother was worse than my mother. My other grandmother was dead before I had kids. Only one of my aunts was still alive by the time I had my first kid, and she’s just as bad as my mother.

            It’s almost like some of us don’t have this utopian existence where everybody is a wonderful, positive influence on the next generation.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            My mom would’ve been fine, but she’s dead these 8 years next month and her life insurance paid for the fertility treatments we needed to have children. My dad died 2 years ago and he was *not* up to watching an active toddler for a few years before that.
            Your family, sigh. hugs.

          • BeatriceC

            Sighing is pretty much the only appropriate, non-violent response to my family’s BS.

            But you bring up a good point. Even in families where everybody is wonderful, there simply may not be relatives alive and capable of caring for young kids.

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            Its about all I can do about them, anyway. *hugs*

        • Heidi

          Huh? So mothers call you freaking out, who evidently have the financial resources to stay at home which you say is what they really, really want, and if the stay at home thing ends up not being their cup of tea, you know these women have family members whom they trust, who want to keep their kids, and also are close by but despite these options you know are at their disposable, they choose to put them in daycare? And you’ve decided the only reason they could be having a breakdown of sorts is because cultural pressure is forcing them to do something they don’t want to do? Why do you think that’s the correct interpretation of the situation? Maybe they are experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression? Maybe they are legitimately torn about what to do, regardless of cultural pressure. Being an adult, and especially an adult with a child or children, doesn’t always come easy. I’m pretty sure we all have moments where we have a cry and reach out and just want a sounding board. Heck, yenta, I might cry the first day my child starts kindergarten (my mom did). So? Does that mean I really want to deny my child education? No, it means it might be a new experience for me that makes me emotional. I boohooed in the wheelchair on my way to the car to take my newly born baby home. I’ve cried because I’ve been sleep-deprived. I’ve cried when I was finding work stressful. Fortunately, the people in my life just let me cry and let all my feelings spill out without forming judgmental opinions.

    • Namaste

      Oh brother. Good on you for doing what you want to do. If you find being a stay at home mom fulfilling, all the power to you. For every woman who wants and desires that route, there’s another to whom it sounds about as appealing as eating dirt. For every happy, content SAHM, there’s another who’s bored out of her mind. For every woman who can’t imagine being away from her baby, there’s another who desperately wants adult interaction not related to types of strollers. Way to be a judgmental shit to women who have the temerity to actually want and need a career.

    • Who?

      Someone who feels they are being ‘replaced’ by a daycare centre would have reason to feel pretty distraught. Those women might benefit from revisiting their thinking, particularly if daycare is a fact of life.

      Reassuring them that time in daycare doesn’t mean mother loves them less, just that she’s with them less of the time, would be very much to the point.

      They might also be comforted by being reminded that babies fed formula do just the same as breastfed babies (provided their families are equally rich).

      • Sue

        For my daughter, childcare also meant socialisation and early education – she learned lots more games, songs and painting techniques than I could have provided myself, and made life-long friends.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Wait, so everyone who wants what you want should be supported, but women who want something different should be ignored and denigrated as warehousing their children in daycare?

      • yentavegan

        Is that really what you got out of my comment, that a mother should be denigrated for using the services of a daycare center? I do not go around seeking out mothers to judge. Mothers call me or leave questions on a facebook page I admin. If you have ever read my comments or listened to me at a mothering seminar you would know that I am a gentle voice of reason and I am a sounding board for mothers to safely come to their own conclusions. Sure there are mothers who are eager and upbeat about the daycare choices for their 12 week old and they just want to know if they are using the breastpump correctly…I answer that question too and they move on…but if you could only hear the torment in a mothers voice as she is explaining her feeling of being pushed down a hole and falling further and further away from herself because she is leaving her infant to the care of another..who if truth be told, she would hide her pocketbook from in any other situation and yet here she is , handing over her most treasured life’s work.

        • fiftyfifty1

          ” pushed down a hole and falling further and further away from herself because she is leaving her infant to the care of another..who if truth be told, she would hide her pocketbook from in any other situation and yet here she is , handing over her most treasured life’s work.”

          Whaaaat???? Hide her pocketbook from in any other situation? What are you talking about? Is this some sort of dog whistle?

          • Lilly de Lure

            I think she is implying that she believes that the majority of daycare workers are disreputable types that mothers who use daycare facilities would not trust under other circumstances. Nice – I can’t imagine what it must be like phoning up that helpline in search of advice and getting yentavegan on the end of the line. Given the attitude towards daycare and the women who use it that is screaming out from her posts, any woman talking to her about it is sure as hell going to be conflicted about her decision to use daycare by the end of the conversation, even if they were not at the start!

          • maidmarian555

            Not to mention that (certainly here in the U.K.), daycare providers are criminal record-checked, qualified and Ofsted inspected. Even in-home childminders have to jump through a million hoops to be able to legally care for other people’s children. And, that aside, certainly the ones I’ve met and that care for my son are lovely, lovely people. It’s actually a really insulting and hurtful comment. If I accidentally left my purse in his nursery bag I wouldn’t be worried at all. Jesus.

          • Lilly de Lure

            Yeah, I was thinking the same thing – like you I’m in the UK so can’t speak for the US situation but I’d absolutely not hesitate to trust any of my son’s nursery staff with my purse.

          • maidmarian555

            It’s also worth noting that the majority of those who work in childcare are:
            1. Women
            2. Working class
            3. Young
            There’s so much to unpick with the internalised misogyny and classism when it comes to denigrating nursery workers in that sort of generalised way. It’s shitty to assume they must all be dreadful people who would steal from you. If that’s how you feel about them as a group, you need to have a fucking hard look at yourself and your values.

          • fiftyfifty1

            And let’s not forget: 4. More likely to be brown, black or immigrants.

          • ukay

            Some newspaper here run an article about fishy childcare providers in the US who take advantage of parents dire no-parental leave situation. I have no idea what regulations etc. are in the US. Probably not worse than here.

            In all fairness, most nursery workers were (and very likely still are) more qualified to care for a baby than I was when I had my child.

          • crazy mama, PhD

            It varies by state in the US, but background checks including fingerprinting are standard. There are a few loopholes: some states are less strict about small in-home providers and a small number of states exempt religious organizations.

            And re: qualifications, the classroom leads at my son’s daycare/preschool all have at least associate degrees in Early Childhood Education, which is way more training in child development than I have as a mom of two.

          • FallsAngel

            Here too! My daughter worked at a day care center as a child care provider and it’s hard, hard work.

          • maidmarian555

            It’s a massively undervalued job, it’s takes real dedication and skill and definitely a ton of hard work. Those (mostly) women deserve our collective gratitude. I spent some years working on projects with unemployed people and it was almost impossible, for those who wanted to, to get into childcare without some real dedication and a good few years of study. It’s really not a job that just anyone can do and that should be better recognised.

          • AnotherOor

            The comment is not that much of a surprise after the veiled classism in earlier comments.

          • AnotherOor

            You betcha.

        • Who?

          Is this about one woman who is very unhappy about the quality of care available for her child, rather than her need to use childcare? Because that is really hard. Particularly if it is an in-home care situation where there is no oversight of the carer’s behaviour.

          To extrapolate that horrible situation more widely isn’t helpful.

        • Sue

          yenta’s perspective is shaped by that volunteer role – the mothers who contact her need help, and they are seeking it from an organisation that promotes breast feeding.

          A volunteer for an advice line for women wanting to get back into the workforce would have a different, also selective, perspective.

          • Who?

            I wonder if the callers are aware of the pro-breastfeeding stance of the organisation? It’s not always easy to tell from the name or general information what an organisation’s perspective might be.

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          A child is a person, not anyone else’s “life’s work.”

    • crazy mama, PhD

      What a disgusting thing to say.

      I bonded with my first son better after he started attending daycare and I had the time and space to miss him a little. In retrospect, I wish we’d put him in daycare sooner.

      Plus your last sentence is super offensive to fathers and other non-gestational parents.

    • momofone

      This may come as a surprise, but being a stay-at-home parent does not equal “domestic bliss” for every mother. I love being home (when not working), and I love doing things for my family, but I also love my work. I was not “replaced” by my son’s caregiver (who happened to be his dad); he is as much our son’s parent as I am. There are many different kinds of caregiving situations, and none requires “replacing” the mother; she remains the mother regardless of whose care the child is in. I hope you reassure the mothers who worry about producing breastmilk that there’s no magic there, and that other choices–feeding and otherwise–are just as legitimate as staying at home and breastfeeding, though honestly I doubt it.

      Edited to add a question: I am very curious about whether you actually believe that parents other than mothers cannot love their infants/children as well as the mother can.

    • Mishimoo

      I was more loved by my family day care provider and my kindy teachers than my mother, and I am far from the only person with that experience. The “love that only a mother can provide” is a lie at best, and an excuse to ignore abuse at worst.

      I love my children dearly, and I have been lucky (in some regards) to be able to stay at home and raise them, while also sending them to daycare two days a week to get used to being around other kids and adults without me mediating their interactions. Of course, it is going to be much harder for me to get a job than if I had utilised day-care more often and kept at least a part time job, which is a huge downside to being a SAHM.

      I am so grateful to the lovely ladies at our kids’ daycare – they counted down the days until our second and third babies were old enough to come and play. They helped work on the eldest and youngest’s speech. They cuddle my kids, they build them up, they patiently teach them so many things, they give them a space to become independent, and most importantly: they love my kids. I don’t think I could parent as well as I do without their support.

      • Azuran

        I feel the same about my daughter. I have a variable schedule with 12h shifts. So I only need daycare for 2-3 days a week. I have ton of family around and an SO with extremely flexible schedule. We could probably make it work without a daycare.
        But at the daycare she is surrounded by other kids of various age and is exposed to many new and different experiences. So much more than what I (or a grandmother) can expose her to on my own.
        There is a limit to the kind of entertainment and interaction I can have with her. And as much as I love her and find her to be the absolute cutest thing in the world, playing with a 10 months old gets very boring very quickly.

        • Mishimoo

          Exactly! If we were trying to provide all of those experiences for our kids, there would be no time or energy left for ourselves. All of it would go into the mothering role, and nothing would be left for the other roles, interests, and relationships. It’s not healthy and it is far too much to expect from one person.

          • Amazed

            My SIL started feeling like a sought after parent only after the kid was put in daycare. Amazing Niece is so ridiculously happy to see her that I have to laugh. They needed daycare to get this “bonded to Mom” kid thing right. Before, it was all about Daddy.

            Amazing Niece loves going to daycare. She babbles about the kids there all the time. When we go to pick her, she takes her sweet time to kiss all of her friends (hello not needing shots because MY kid isn’t going to get exposed to these nasty germs theory!) and the daycare ladies goodbye. She’s also very happy to see us. Last night, she sang me the last daycare song over the phone. And she also sang me the My Dear Mommy song. I definitely didn’t get the vibe that SIL has stopped being her mom. Funny thing, this.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            For all that “attached” mothers claim they only do it in the child’s best interests, they’re taught to perceive any deviation from “Mom is the world” norm as something terrible.

            I thought it was our child’s best interest to expose them to the great opportunities that exist outside of the world of mom and dad.

            I wanted my kids to go to daycare because if they spent all the time with us, the only thing they would know would be the things WE taught them. I want my kids to know more than that. I want them to experience more than what I can give them. I already share my experiences with them, but they grow so much more by interacting with others.

          • Amazed

            That’s letting yourselves be replaced with a daycare, don’t you know?

          • The Vitaphone Queen

            “Outside of the world of Mom and Dad”
            Yeah. You definitely want to keep them from being regular clients of the First National Bank of Mom & Dad.
            https://youtu.be/G5acbtughpE
            https://youtu.be/1OnxZiiXDTE
            https://youtu.be/TYfK9JVwWMw

          • Amazed

            My mom: Wow, how does your SIL manage to take care of her? There’s three of us and we’re totally exhausted when she’s over here!

            Me: That’s because we want to have an EXPERIENCE, Mom! Experiences are exhausting. SIL just takes care of her kid. Huge difference. Have you ever played actively with us for hours every day?

            My mom: Well, not.

            Me: I rest my case.

    • ukay

      Maybe it is rather the social pressure to breastfeed and the assumptions that mothers have to be the main care giver that puts those women into agonizing conflicts about working? Women who have every right to go working, doing dtuff to themselves without guilt and enjoy their children just like men have been doing for time incarnate! And don‘t you ever assume people do not love their children because they are different from you! I hope you do not display this attitude when you counsel those women!

    • MaineJen

      Dude. WTF.

      • yentavegan

        Ok. Dude…let me explain. I have served for 3 decades on a telephone ( and now internet) hotline.Mothers call me for mother to mother support for breastfeeding glitches, parenting questions and more often than not, for a safe place to vent and be heard. I interact on average between 30 and 50 mothers per month. I have witnessed first hand the change in tone and the change in information mothers are seeking. Everyday, day in and day out I am there when a mother is weeping and or freaking because …yes I will say it..she was raised privileged to believe she could have it all, she could want it all and she had never imagined herself dependant on the man in her life for complete financial support. And now her maternity leave is up and her obligations to her employer out rank her visceral flesh level desire to stay as the hands on face to face mother to her infant. Those of you on the blog who want to jump down my throat and belittle my volunteer work..go right on ahead. Your slings and arrows are nothing compared to the emotional pain I navigate through everyday while being a voice of reason and acceptance to these loving conflict ridden mothers.

        • Sarah

          I’m still confused. It sounds like you’re talking about women who are financially obliged to work and use childcare but apparently you’re not?

          • Russell Jones

            Sarah makes a good point.

            Yenta, are we talking about women who want to be stay-at-home mothers but can’t afford it? Women who want to be stay-at-home mothers and can afford it, but feel pressure (societal or otherwise) to continue working outside the home? Both? Neither?

        • Who?

          There is something in what you say about the financial dependance thing. And I don’t know anyone who didn’t get a hell of a shock when they had their first child, and realised how that felt for them.

          Thing is, those women you speak to are grownups now. Regardless of what they were brought up believing, the reality is that choices have to be made. We can’t always have all we want at the exact moment we want it. And what seemed sensible before the baby might not seem so sensible now.

          I doubt anyone wants to belittle your volunteer work, let alone cast slings and arrows, but I do wonder about your perspective on it. Perhaps those mothers could be encouraged to teach their children what they didn’t learn themselves-that choices have to be made, and you make the best choice you can, modify as you need to, and get on with it, rather than bemoaning some perfect arrangement that never existed.

        • MaineJen

          I’m not belittling anything. I’m taking exception to your not so subtle implication that these new moms brought all this stress upon themselves, by having the temerity to think that they could be a mother and have a career, too.

          Let me just say: it is the HEIGHT of privilege to actually have a choice to stay at home with your kids. Most of us HAVE no choice. I am a working mother by necessity (I make twice what my husband makes), but also by choice. My career is rewarding and I enjoy it, and I don’t want to quit. Also: I’m just not happy being at home all the time. I’m not good at that.

          I enjoyed breastfeeding and had little trouble with it. But it is not the be-all and end-all of parenting!! And I’m a better parent because I have a life outside my home. Not despite it.

          I’m confused because, in one breath, you lament the fact that women seem to be dependent on their husbands financially, while simultaneously lamenting the fact that they are spoiled and privileged enough to want to go back to work and be a mother too.

          Being a new mom is a mess of hormones and bodily functions over which we have little control. Let’s not heap judgement upon it, as well.

          • Petticoat Philosopher

            Honestly, I don’t think most women are “good at it” when it comes to being “in the home”–at least what that’s come to mean now, which is a frequently isolated adult mostly alone in a home with her children without a lot of other mothers or children around. The nuclear family with the mother as “the angel in the home” caring for her own children and nobody else’s, with no other work besides homemaking, and with no other mothers from the community around is mostly a 19th century middle-class construct. Prior to that, children tended to be raised more communally in more closely-knit communities. And also, in pre-industrial society, women were and are economic actors. The home/work dichotomy didn’t really exist in agrarian society. There’s a lot of work to be done in or near a house, while the children are around–yours, the neighbors’, whatever. And other women to do it with.

            To the extent that I’m willing to call anything “unnatural,” I’ll call a woman alone in some sprawling suburb with no sidewalks and hardly anywhere accessible without a car with only her own kid or kids around “unnatural,” in the sense that I think very few people could be happy living that way. That kind of social isolation is bad for most people and most adults want to talk to another adult at some point during the day! Yet, I know women who are living this way–and not thrilled about it to varying degrees.

            But…Most Important Job in the World!

          • FormerPhysicist

            I despise it! But it’s not so easy to just go back to work.

          • Petticoat Philosopher

            No, I definitely get that. One of my besties just managed to after several years of trying. She is loving it. Hang in there!

        • Cartman36

          “she was raised privileged to
          believe she could have it all, she could want it all and she had never
          imagined herself dependant on the man in her life for complete financial
          support. And now her maternity leave is up and her obligations to her
          employer out rank her visceral flesh level desire to stay as the hands
          on face to face mother to her infant”.

          WTF?!?!?!

          It may be your perception that most women feel this way because of the work that you do but there are lots of women, myself included, who like to work and are better mother’s because we have the professional and personal fulfillment that comes with having a career we love. Our children are safe and loved in daycare and gaining new skills and friendships every day.

          My great grandmother had 15 kids and spent her whole life as a homemaker and was so deeply unhappy that she told her 5 daughters not to have kids and my grandmother was the only one that didn’t listen.

          Its funny you don’t mention any fathers calling you weeping and maybe its because men don’t have the same level of societal pressure from hags like you telling us its only our privileged upbringing that has led us to want a life outside the home.

          You madam, may F* off!

        • ukay

          This is indeed a straining situation those women are in. Guilt if you do, guilt if you don’t. But not because they are greedy to want it all. Nobody has ever told men they cannot have children and have a career/work. The problem is not that they want it all, but that they are expected to be and do it all. The answer is not a return to old structures tho, but true shared responsibility and accessible child care.

          You are trying to help this women solve their conflict. But it seems you have some antiquated preconceptions about motherhood that I think pretty problematic.

        • Petticoat Philosopher

          You talk to the women who do feel that way because those are the ones who call you. Some women don’t feel that way. Some women can’t wait to return to work and find that they are able to enjoy their children more when they have more balance in their lives.

          I’m all for more generous parental leave in this country (fathers can love and care for their children too) but that policy changes that give families more choices and punish mothers who also work less doesn’t seem to be what you’re talking about here.

        • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

          I can agree that “having it all” is a false dream that we have been sold, and it feels like a betrayal to realize it isn’t true. However not everyone has a “visceral flesh level desire” to stay with their children 24/7. I am one who wishes I could be a stay at home mom (or at least a part-time working mom) and have never felt invalidated in this wish by other women. I think generally women are capable of understanding that as individuals we have varying desires to be with our children and to work.

    • Roadstergal

      Love isn’t a zero-sum game, though.

      When I was little, I learned a silly little ditty:
      “Love is just like a magic penny
      Hold it tight, and you won’t have any
      But lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
      They’ll roll all over the floor…”

    • Russell Jones

      If you’re saying that there should be public money available for couples who want one person to be a full-time, stay-at-home parent but can’t afford it, then I agree. It won’t happen in the U.S. for a variety of reasons (not the least of which is that the U.S. may be entering its death throes), but it should happen nonetheless.

      If you’re saying something else, then I’m clearly in no position to comment one way or the other. 🙂

    • momofone

      I was also raised by a woman who lovingly nurtured and had the control of everything in the household, in the most un-June-Cleaver-ish style imaginable. She also worked every day in a job (or jobs) that she mostly enjoyed and that she found fulfilling. One does not preclude the other.

    • Sue

      I was raised by a mother who worked at home before we started school – she did long hours of poorly-paid mass-production sewing and had little time to complete all the many tasks she had. When we were at school, she worked outside the home. I’ve only recently learned that she olly breast-fed me for six weeks, because I apparently cried a lot and she was advised to give me formula.

      The huge sacrifice that she made for her (future) children was to migrate to a country with a different language, having only basic education and few work skills, and to work really hard and show us unconditional love.

      I have a wonderful life and enjoy great health – because of both the love she showed and the sacrifices she made. Neither more breast milk nor stay-at-home mothering could have made my life better.

    • J.B.

      On the other hand, my grandmother prospected for oil, broke codes in world War 2, and then got sent back to the kitchen when it was over. (Formula only, breastfeeding was not a factor.) She was not fulfilled and that was a big factor in my mother’s decision to continue working in my childhood. Me going back to work took pressure off my husband and is better for our family overall.

      For many families making money to support your family takes so much time away from the family part.

      • StephanieJR

        Granny sounds badass!

    • attitude devant

      “…looking for someone, ANYONE to validate their reluctance over being replaced by a daycare center…who if we are honest, do not and can not love their infant…”

      SERIOUSLY???? I am the voice of experience here: I had two kids in daycare from five weeks because I had no choice in the matter. I worried about it A LOT, only to find as they grew that they LOVED it. They loved the other kids, they loved the stimulation, they loved the teachers. When they got to Kindergarten they marched into school with their backpacks, no big deal, whereas the stay-at-home kids were overwhelmed and cried all day. Now in their twenties, they remember their day-care teachers fondly (we still know some of them) and have been life-long friends with the kids they met there. The last thing on the planet any working mother needs is this kind of message (and boy did I get this message a lot when mine were small). Because it bears no relation to reality as I have lived it.

      • Petticoat Philosopher

        Hell, I was the kind of sensitive, timid child that people tend to worry about in daycare in school settings. I had issues with separation anxiety and a lot of fears starting in my toddler years. My parents were fortunate enough to have some choice about where they sent me to daycare during that period and so they deliberately found a place that was small and intimate and not too overwhelming. Even so, when my mom first started dropping me off there, I would cry and not want her to go, which made her feel terrible. Not because she had any qualms about being a working mother or about the idea of daycare itself but it’s still hard to leave your distressed toddler! She told me about how she’d drive to work all full of anxiety, then immediately call to see how I was doing–and inevitably be told that I was now happily playing with one my little friends or playing ring-around-the-rosie with the group and enjoying myself. And then, soon enough, no more tears when I got dropped off.

        When I started preschool, my parents initially went to the trouble of arranging their schedules so that I would only go 3 days a week. But pretty soon, I requested to go every day. My teacher was the best person ever, and I had friends there, and there were toys we didn’t have at home and cubbies to hide in, and we got to make home-made play-dough and sometimes even cupcakes and count in Spanish and sing a song about monkeys jumping on the bed! Preschool was THE MOST FUN THING EVER! Please, please, please, could I go every day? I didn’t want to miss the fun on the days I wasn’t there.

        I don’t understand why people think the idea of children spending time in the company of other children in an environment designed for children, in the care of people who have dedicated their careers to caring for children is such a disaster…

        • attitude devant

          Exactly! The older one’s day care actually had an observation room where we could watch through a two-way. It was amazing how quickly a child would scoot off and join the fun after saying goodbye to a parent.

        • Ms. Sweaterfan

          On my nephew’s first day of preschool he cried when my sister came to pick him up because he thought he got to live there now, like in Harry Potter XD

        • crazy mama, PhD

          One of my earliest memories is being about 2.5 years old and knowing that I went to preschool twice a week, and looking forward to turning 3 because then I would get to go to preschool three times a week! (This was the actual schedule, not just kid-logic.)

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        Thank you for saying this. Even though I have to work in order for my family to make ends meet, the isolation of just me and the baby during my maternity leave was really starting to drive me nuts so returning to work was actually a relief. My little guy thrives in the daycare environment, and the only anxiety I feel over sending him there 40 hours a week (besides the $$$) is late at night after a bad day when I irrationally worry that he will love his teacher more than me 🙁

        • attitude devant

          He will always know who his mom is and love her more. He just will. Hugs.

          By the way, I used to try to get off work early here and there to pick mine up early, thinking that would be a special treat, only to have them tell me to come back later: they weren’t ready to leave! And the younger one used to say in the morning “Mom, is this a home day or a school day?” and if I said ‘home’, her little face would fall, and she’d say, “Oh.” I kid you not.

          • crazy mama, PhD

            Shortly after my older son turned two, his daycare had a special holiday lunch to which parents were invited. He took one look at me, coming into his classroom at 11 a.m., and burst into tears because he didn’t want to go home yet! (Of course, by the time lunch was over, he was sad that I had to leave.)

          • Amazed

            About two weeks ago, the Intruder got his first, “Daddy, get off hee!” upon going to pick Amazing Niece from the daycare. Yesterday, she was singing, “I love Mommy, I love Daddy, I love Grandpa, I love bigboysadndgirls (aka daycare), I love Grandma, I love Auntie…” For real.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Even though I have to work in order for my family to make ends meet, the isolation of just me and the baby during my maternity leave was really starting to drive me nuts so returning to work was actually a relief.

          Make no mistake, it drives a lot of moms nuts. That’s why even those big APers and those who would never dare drop their kids off with strangers at daycare bring them to Mommy Groups and play dates and whatnot. They know their kids need enrichment, and they do, too.

      • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

        I complain loudly about the 9-5 that takes me away from my son for 10+ hours a day, and the current economic situation that seems to require two working parents just to survive. Far from being at a loss for validation, people seem to have a lot of compassion and understanding.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          I wonder, do all those who spend their whole day with their child bemoan the fact that they sleep at night?

          Don’t they feel guilty sleeping when they could be having nurturing time with the child?

          • Empress of the Iguana People

            not at all, in my case. I want a nap now but can’t trust a certain 4 year old to not destroy the house.

    • Empress of the Iguana People

      teachers and daycare workers often do love. I’ve never yet seen a grownup in pre-k and elementary school fail to return a hug with enthusiasm. (It’s tricky ethical territory for a teacher to initiate a hug.)

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Weirdly, my mom was able to continue loving me, even when I was at daycare out of her sight. (My dad too! Fathers, they exist.) What she couldn’t do is attend to my every physical need while I was at daycare—that was someone else’s job for that period. I was well cared for and had loving parents to pick me up every day. I am hardly scarred for life. It’s good for a child to interact and build relationships with adults besides their mothers, not to mention other children.

      Children can grow up loved by their parents even if a caring non-parent changes a diaper or provides a feeding some of the time. SAHMs are not special—which is I think what some of them fear.

    • Helen

      While those of us determined not to subvert ourselves to being a complete and utter drudge for our families looked for babysitters who were willing to clean and feed our charges for a few hours a day or week, long enough to remember who and what we were and still wanted to be. So many woman want to be validated for doing the right thing, and forget that children can be left with others and will survive just fine. Once they are out of our bodies we can put them down — they are separate human beings. And once they are out on their own, living their own lives, we will not be empty shells, devoid of purpose and meaning. We will be us.

      And yes, I stayed home with the kids, because I could not afford child care, and I could not get a job that would pay enough for child care, and besides, special needs kids have to go to a lot of doctor offices. But I did not lose myself.

  • mabelcruet

    http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2018/02/08/humanising-birth-does-the-language-we-use-matter/?utm_source=feedburner

    Off topic a bit. But some of the suggestions sound rather disingenuous (replacing ‘painful contractions’ with ‘strong contractions’, is that undermining the woman’s perceptions and belittling her pain? I don’t know, having never been in labour)

    • maidmarian555

      I think quite possibly, yes. I had very strong contractions with my son that, whilst uncomfortable, were certainly not painful. I also had some that were agonising. There is a difference and I would want my care providers to be making that distinction. I absolutely think this risks minimising the pain that many women endure during childbirth.

    • swbarnes2

      Having been through one pretty straightforward labor, none of that matters to me. I’d rather my medical attendants stay on the right side of HIPAA, and if that means having a habit of describing me to other practitioners as “the 36-weeker in room 5”, that’s okay.

    • BeatriceC

      I haven’t read the link yet, but I’ve had strong contractions that didn’t even wake me up, and weak contractions that were extremely painful. Even without the issue of attempting to minimize women’s pain issues, the two things simply aren’t synonymous.

      • Who?

        I also wonder about the distinction between painful contractions ie those that hurt, and contractions that are doing some useful work, which might be categorised as ‘strong’, whether they hurt or not.

        • BeatriceC

          It needs to be discussed, because many very useful contractions aren’t painful at all. This is very common in preterm labor contractions. It’s what killed my twins, before I knew better and knew to pitch a fit when I wasn’t being taken seriously. I kept being blown off and told that “if you aren’t feeling any pain or discomfort, then they’re not really contractions.”, and by the time things were happening that couldn’t be blown off, it was way too late to save the babies. It was only afterwards, with a different set of doctors that I was told “oh, yeah, preterm contractions are often really difficult to even tell that they’re happening without electronic monitoring.” REALLY????

          • Tigger_the_Wing

            I’m really sorry for your loss. I have no words.

            The notion that contractions have to be painful, otherwise they are just Braxton-Hicks, is a very dangerous one.

            I spent much of my third pregnancy in hospital because of pre-term contractions, probably due to my daughter’s twin having died early on. There was one trip I made to London, where the contractions started on the train and were so powerful by the time I got off that I was having to hang onto lamp posts during them. I realised I wasn’t going to make it to the hospital on foot, and was relieved when I spotted the Royal College of Midwives. I waddled in and told them I was in labour, at 28 weeks. “We don’t deliver babies here” was the unhelpful response from reception. Eventually they called an ambulance for me and I spent the next week hooked up to a drip to stop the labour and prevent further contractions, the first of many weeks in different hospitals for the same thing.

          • FallsAngel

            “We don’t deliver babies here” was the unhelpful response from reception.

            Wow!

          • BeatriceC

            Thank you. It was 20 years ago, so I can talk about it now without choking up the way I used to. I just get so angry when I hear people advised “don’t worry about it until the contractions hurt.” Even shit like “what to expect” mentions that preterm contractions may not be easy to feel, so why the hell can’t L&D nurses get that memo.

          • Who?

            My friend delivered a full term singleton baby without breaking a sweat, in under 5 hours, so ‘really hurting’ is clearly not a useful diagnostic criteria. I always think of her when people talk about ‘real/strong/painful’ contractions.

            Another good reason for regular monitoring and taking people seriously when they ask for help.

            I’m sorry you went through that horrific experience.

          • BeatriceC

            My sister delivered my niece on the toilet after mistaking contractions for gas pains and the urge to have a bowel movement. She’d already had a baby, and had a relatively straight forward, almost textbook, labor and delivery, with some minor complications postpartum, so she was expecting more of the same. She’d binged the night before on bean dip and chips, and because the “gas” was never regular that she could tell, it never dawned on her that she was in labor. Everything turned out wonderfully. My sister has a good head on her shoulders and didn’t panic until after EMS arrived, who’d she’d called immediately after scooping her child up out of the toilet. She’d calmly followed the directions of the dispatcher and the paramedics walked into a relatively calm scene. But it would have been a lot nicer for her if somebody, somewhere had said “not all contractions hurt”. She might have been caught less off guard (or not, it’s hard to say, but more information wouldn’t have hurt.). Her doctor told her after that experience that all of her future children would be 38 week inductions to avoid a repeat, though she never had any more kids, so the issue never came up.

          • Heidi

            My mom thought she was in labor with me but had others tell her no way, it was just the urge to poop. She has an incompetent cervix and I managed to miraculously hang in there until 36 weeks after her cerclage ripped at 28 weeks. Anyway, she was in labor, pushed a couple of times and there I was. She didn’t have any crazy painful contractions because her cervix didn’t need to do much dilating.

          • joe

            WOW, Am I glad I am a male.

          • FallsAngel

            Very sorry for your loss. I agree with Tigger, there are no words.

  • The Vitaphone Queen

    That “Make America Breastfeed Again” thing made me think of The Donald’s sickening remark about BABY Tiffany’s breasts back in 1994. *squick*

    • MaineJen

      What his children must have had to go through, over the years. *shiver*

  • MaineJen
    • Emilie Bishop

      I don’t see that as eugenics. Inappropriate for a judge to say, probably, but I think it’s a different realm than what is being discussed in Dr. Amy’s pieces.

      • MaineJen

        Regardless, it’s beyond inappropriate for reproductive decisions to be tied to sentencing *in any way.* It’s clear to me that’s what was happening here, and it was clear to the defendant as well.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

          Exactly, as the ACLU put it:

          “The last sentence makes it very clear that this was not merely a suggestion, but something the judge presumed would have an impact on her sentencing.” Paltrow noted that “there’s a big equal protection question here. We find it highly unlikely that this judge has asked any man how many children he fathered and used that in his sentencing determination.” She also said that “The irony is not lost on us that this federal district court judge sided with religious organizations resisting Obamacare’s mandate to cover contraception but believes it is appropriate to wield his enormous power to punish a woman for procreating.”

    • Russell Jones

      Oofa. That’s Oliver Wendell Holmes “Three generations of imbeciles enough” stuff, except that Buck v. Bell was 1927 and that Post story is TODAY.