“Fed Is Best” is winning

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I have the deepest admiration for Dr. Christie del Castillo-Hegyi and Jody Seagrave Daly, RN, IBCLC. They created and maintain the Fed Is Best Foundation in the face of tremendous opposition from the breastfeeding industry.

Their initial goal was simple: acknowledgement of the widespread risk of insufficient breastmilk and its harmful consequences including dehydratrion, hypoglycemia, and jaundice leading to brain damage or death. Who could disagree with that lofty aim?

Professional breastfeeding advocates have been forced to acknowledge that the Fed Is Best Foundation has been right all along.

Those who make their money promoting the idea that breastfeeding is perfect immediately felt threatened and reacted with vicious slurs including the claim that Christie and Jody were shilling for the formula industry. If that weren’t vicious enough, they denigrated the women who posted their stories on the Fed Is Best website, blaming the women themselves for the injuries and deaths of their babies. And if they weren’t blaming women, they were blaming their favorite bogeymen: not breastfeeding frequently enough, not pumping in addition and not receiving adequate support.

Over the last few years, though, professional breastfeeding advocates have been forced to acknowledge that the Fed Is Best Foundation has been right all along.

In April 2016, Dr. Allison Stuebe of The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine admitted:

…[A] substantial proportion of infants born in the US require supplementation. Delayed onset of lactogenesis is common, affecting 44% of first-time mothers in one study, and 1/3 of these infants lost >10% of their birth weight. This suggests that 15% of infants — about 1 in 7 breastfed babies — will have an indication for supplementation.

The activism of the Fed Is Best Foundation forced Stuebe to admit the truth.

It took lactivist Prof. Amy Brown longer to acknowledge reality.

In May 2016, in her piece titled Why Fed Will Never Be Best: The FIB Of Letting Our New Mothers Down, she offered this bald faced lie:

Physiologically speaking only around 2% of women should be unable to breastfeed, but in reality less than half of mums in the UK breastfeed at all past six weeks.

Indeed, she blamed mothers for “perceived” low milk supply:

…[M]edical contraindications, alongside infant and maternal factors that truly prevent breastfeeding, affed a negligible proportion of new mothers. The vast majority of women when given the right environment and support to breastfeed should produce sufficient breastmilk. However, comparatively in the UK and many other Western countries, a significantly higher proportion of mothers stop breastfeeding stating that they can’t breastfeed, often due to a perception of poor milk supply. An examination of the literature illustrates that this disparity can predominantly be explained by psychological, social and cultural factors that interfere with a mother’s physiological ability to produce enough milk. even though physiologically she should be able to.

Recently, however, Brown has stopped insisting that insufficient breastmilk is rare, although she refuses to admit to an actual number for incidence. Instead she has changed her focus from browbeating women for “perceived” insufficient breastmilk to browbeating everyone else from the patriarchy to capitalism to society for inducing breastfeeding trauma.

The Fed Is Best Foundation has forced her to stop telling lies about the incidence of insufficient breastmilk and changed her focus to the suffering of those mothers who have been told these lies.

Even Meg Nagle, The Milk Meg, has finally acknowledged that she had been wrong from the very beginning, claiming that insufficient breastmilk is rare when it is actually common.

But Nagle tarnishes her acknowledgment with a sleazy tactic. She fails to take responsibility for her error, blaming her followers instead.

There are a few things that I repeatedly see written in comments on Facebook…including my own page (unfortunately). These include:

“You know, only 1-2% of women cannot make enough milk for their babies.” (FALSE…research is lacking on this and current estimates are anywhere from 5% all the way up to 15%…).

You were just not committed enough to make breastfeeding work.” …

“Just pump every 2 hours and that will increase your supply.” …

Women just need support to be able to breastfeed.” …

There are a few different problems with these comments…simply put, they are incorrect and lacks understanding or empathy for what women go through… (my emphasis)

Written in the comment? Oh, Meg, don’t you know by now that the internet never forgets?

Here’s what Meg wrote about accidental starvation and The Fed Is Best Foundation that was created explicitly to prevent it:

There is this huge push to bring awareness to the “accidental” starvation of breastfed babies to further push the “fed is best” campaign that’s floating around…

These cases of the “accidentally starved” babies are stories of negligence within the health care system from the women and babies’ health care providers and the utter lack of support and information we give new mothers.

So less than a year ago, Meg herself refused to acknowledge that insufficient breastmilk is common and evoked exactly the same claims she now attributes to her followers: insufficient breastmilk is rare; it’s just an excuse used by lazy women; pumping will fix it; women just need more support.

And who can forget Meg’s piece about women hurt by lactivist lies: You’re offended? You feel judged? Here’s why I don’t give a shit … (removed the day I wrote about it)?

The Fed Is Best Foundation has forced even Meg Nagle to acknowledge the truth.

Has anyone apologized for their previously dismissive attitude toward insufficient breastmilk and the prior refusal to acknowledge that fact that insufficient breastmilk is common not rare? Be serious; lactivism means never having to say you’re sorry even if you’ve harmed others.

This is a great accomplishment nonetheless. The primary purpose of the Fed Is Best Foundation has been to educate everyone about the the widespread risk of insufficient breastmilk and its harmful consequences including dehydratrion, hypoglycemia, and jaundice leading to brain damage or death.

The capitulation of these three lactivists is evidence of their effectiveness.

  • Gertie

    I often CANNOT even believe that we have to point out that “fed is best”. That there are those that would argue otherwise. Is there any thing more important, more fundamental in caring for a child than making sure they are sufficiently fed???? Feed your baby in whatever way best gets the job done.

  • Karen in SC

    Kudos to the Fed is Best Foundation!

  • Sarah

    To be fair, Meg probably did write some of that stuff in the comments herself.

  • Deewhybaby

    A good start! But I won’t be happy until public health systems stop forcing the BFHI on unsuspecting mums who don’t have a choice. Nothing usually gets past them without a stack of clear, proven benefits. The support from the Australian health system seems to be purely ideological. Any criticism of BHFI is met with cries of ‘you must be against breastfeeding!’ or ‘formula shill!’

  • Cartman36

    I’m so glad to see these three back pedal. Now we just wait for the inevitable overall of the BFHI. Hopefully its before any more babies are seriously harmed.

    I also think, Dr. Amy, that you are to be commended as well. You and FIB have given a lot of women the courage and knowledge to advocate for themselves and their babies in the face of relentless promotion of EBF. I sincerely appreciate you and FIB.

    • borkborkbork

      This blog certainly helped me to “push back”.

      Three women in my family were unable to produce breastmilk, and I was scared all through my pregnancy that I would have the same problem. Nobody involved in my prenatal care would even discuss the possibility with me, or what warning signs to look for if the baby wasn’t getting enough food. They just pushed EBF.

      It was so great to come to Dr. Tuteur’s blog and find an alternate viewpoint, real answers to those “what ifs?” instead of shame and pressure to just “make it work”.

      I ended up having no problems with milk production and breastfed my baby exclusively. Knowing that supplementing with or switching to formula was a viable option didn’t prevent me from breastfeeding. I doubt it would stop anyone else. But it may help other moms sleep just a little bit easier at night.

      • StephanieA

        Me too. I never wanted to breastfeed, but felt pressured to by pretty much everyone I came into contact with while pregnant. This blog helped me realize that it is perfectly fine to exclusively formula feed, and I did just that with my two boys, and will with my third one as well.

      • Cartman36

        If you haven’t read Joan Wolf’s book, Is breast best, I can’t recommend it enough. I supplement from birth because i like the convenience of being able to leave the baby with my mom or MIL and go out to dinner. Dr. Wolf’s book helped me realize that even if all purported benefits of breastfeeding are true, there are other factors, like my convenience that are part of the equation and I am not being unreasonable by doing my own cost benefit analysis. The nurses at my BFHI where I had #2 didn’t like it but that is there problem, not mine.

        Also, I HATE when medical providers say things like “your body will make what your baby needs”. Its just not always true. I have hypothyroidism which can cause problems producing breastmilk. But like you said, NO ONE mentioned this to me. NOT ONE. I learned it on my own.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Dr. Wolf’s book helped me realize that even if all purported benefits of breastfeeding are true, there are other factors, like my convenience that are part of the equation and I am not being unreasonable by doing my own cost benefit analysis

          Succinctly summarized in Bofa’s Second Law: All things being equal, breast may be best. But all things are never equal.

        • Tigger_the_Wing

          The lack of proper information is astounding in this day and age. It is entirely wrong that women have to fight their way through all the misinformation online in order to find out the facts, when they should be freely available at your doctor’s office.

          As one of those fortunate people whose breasts started working three months into my first pregnancy, when I was 23, and didn’t dry up until more than a decade post-menopause (early, because of total hysterectomy in my thirties) it could be assumed that I had no problem breastfeeding – but I had to switch two of my five to formula for different health reasons. Fortunately, that wasn’t considered to be a problem back then.

          It is simply barbaric that women in the 21st century not only have a less easy time making that choice than I did, but are actively discouraged from making any choice at all.

  • CSN0116
  • Empress of the Iguana People

    well, at least it’s starting to sink in to some minds.