The mind blowing hypocrisy of lactivist Prof. Amy Brown

27553912 - fake dictionary, definition of the word hypocrite

Let the lactivist whining begin!

I wrote yesterday that the Royal College of Midwives issued a statement of what should have been obvious all along:

Bottle feeding is a woman’s right

New mothers ‘should not be shamed into breastfeeding’

Bottle feeding mothers’ ‘choice must be respected’ midwives advised

Prof. Amy Brown, like most professional lactivists, is upset that her unfettered ability to mentally torture new mothers by locking up formula, making women sign formula consents and refusing to provide information about bottle feeding has been curtailed.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Should women believe their own feelings of midwife induced pressure, shame and guilt, Amy Brown, or you?[/pullquote]

She expresses her frustration in a new piece What are women’s ‘rights’ when it comes to infant feeding? I notice that Prof. Brown puts the word rights in quotes implying from the start that women don’t really have any rights to control their own breasts.

But even worse, Prof. Brown appears to believe that women have no right to tell their own stories of mental torture to the press.

The right for the media to not sensationalise women’s experiences to make money.

…[W]omen do not deserve those headlines. Many a woman in my research has talked about how they hate and blame themselves, feeling like failures. Equally, many a woman has struggled on breastfeeding, through pain, confusion, exhaustion… because she couldn’t get the support she needs.

And the media thinks this is news? Heartbreak is not news. It is not there to sell papers. The only thing it is there for is to learn from and to move forward. And no one does that by stirring up layers and layers of deep hurt.

That would be hilarious if it weren’t so hypocritical. Brown has spent that last years using the media to publicly bewail the “lack of support” for breastfeeding, including:

Low UK breastfeeding rates down to social pressures over routine and sleep sensationalizing the selfishness of new mothers who want to get sleep to recover from childbirth.

Why Fed Will Never Be Best: The FIB Letting Our New Mothers Down sensationalizing the purported lack of support for breastfeeding and bitterly mocking women who have insufficient breastmilk by obnoxiously and falsely asserted that insufficient breastmilk is rare when it is quite common (up to 15% of first time mothers in the first few days after birth).

The breathtakingly hypocritical Don’t We Deserve Fairer Priced Formula Milks? arguing in direct opposition to basic economics that the Thewlis Bill, further restricting formula advertising in the UK, would lower the cost of formula. That’s like the anti-abortion crowd claiming that restrictive abortion laws are designed to improve the safety of pregnancy termination.

But when it comes to sensationalization, it’s hard to top Brown’s March 2018 piece Baby bottle propping isn’t just dangerous – it’s a sign of a broken society

Should women believe their own feelings of midwife induced pressure, shame and guilt, Amy Brown, or you?

Importantly, midwives do not deserve these headlines either. I have never met a midwife who has judged or criticised a woman for not breastfeeding. I have met plenty a midwife who has worked through breaks and past end of shifts to sit with a woman in pain and distress.

Brown is nothing if not an expert in gaslighting:

Those headlines are designed to do one thing – to turn women against each other, to cause arguments, to distract. They are designed to push women towards formula companies and away from each other. They are designed to divide and cause people to spend time debating a non-debate. They are designed to turn women against midwives, to turn midwives against their organisation. In other words, to cause havoc that privileges one group only – the formula industry.

Really? All those women who are telling their stories of mental distress over breastfeeding are attempting to turn women against each other and push women toward formula companies? You can’t be serious, Prof. Brown.

Gill Walton the head of the RCM wants only to turn women against midwives and to turn midwives against their organization? Are you for real, Prof. Brown?

Brown’s reveals her true obsession with this statement:

Every time we fight with each other. Every time we get distracted. Every time we fall into a trap of having to endlessly defend – they win.

While Brown may view everything through the prism of a battle to the death between lactivists and formula companies, the rest of us are concerned about BABIES.

That’s right, Prof. Brown, babies; you remember them? I can’t be sure since you didn’t bother to mention their needs at all. And that just proves the point I have been making for years: lactivism is not about babies and what they need; it’s about lactivists and how they wish to see themselves. They imagine themselves as superior mothers battling the forces of the formula industry and emerging victorious when the reality is that they are women who were lucky enough to face fewer breastfeeding problems than others and are battling for personal self-esteem, professional marketing share, and economic enrichment through greater employment opportunities.

Brown finishes with a flourish of lactivist sanctimony:

Enough of the stirring. There are no ‘sides’. We’re all fighting for the same things. More investment, more support, more value. Let’s stop the media from trying to pretend otherwise.

Sorry, Prof. Brown, there are sides and you’ve placed yourself squarely on the wrong one:

There are women on one side and lactation professionals who think they know better on the other.

There are hungry babies, babies suffering from hypoglycemia, kernicterus, and hypernatremic neonatal dehydration on one side and lactation professionals denying their suffering on the other.

There are mothers who want only to do what is best for their babies on one side and lactation professionals who refuse to listen to them, who lie about the natural failure rate of breastfeeding and who promote a process — breastfeeding — above the physical health of babies and the mental health of mothers on the other.

Fed Is Best. Fed Is Feminist. Offering lactivist “support” that women don’t want is neither.

56 Responses to “The mind blowing hypocrisy of lactivist Prof. Amy Brown”

  1. Amazed
    June 14, 2018 at 6:43 pm #

    Poor Prof. Brown! What all this twisting around must have done to her brain!

    Meanwhile, I finally got to meet my preeclamptic friend’s preterm baby. For about three weeks at home, she has gained some 900 grams. She’s turning into a chubby chatterbox who loves her bath book and tries to push it open constantly since she can see her parents do this. (Clearly, eyesight is great!) Bath book is always with her because there is a blue WHALE! WHALE! She meows when hungry, giving her mom time to make the bottle before switching to full FOOD! NOOOOOOW! wail. She sleeps contentedly. And her mom thinks formula is a sanity-savior because if she had been breastfeeding, she would have been constantly worried about how much this babt was getting.

    Sciency baby getting sciency milk. And thriving. Take this, Prof. Brown!

  2. Who?
    June 14, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

    I’m not comfortable with treating ‘women’ (or any group) as homogeneous, and therefore, automatically a group.

    I’m not comfortable with the blanket assertion that a member of any automatic group should support all the other members, or that there is any impulse to do so.

    It is nonsense for Prof Brown to suggest there are no ‘sides’. Where there are people, there will always be sides. Anyone who says there is not is trying to sell something.

    • Abi
      June 15, 2018 at 11:09 am #

      Me neither – it’s ‘identity politics’ and ultimately perpetuates division.

  3. Amy Tuteur, MD
    June 14, 2018 at 4:21 pm #

    Kimberly Seals Allers claims breastfeeding is under attack:

    • fiftyfifty1
      June 14, 2018 at 6:50 pm #

      I think this meme is counterproductive. I have read opinion pieces by black writers specifically asking white people not to draw parallels between their pet injustices and the BLM movement. I understand that you are NOT saying that prejudice against formula is the same as racial prejudice, but I do think it makes sense to respect the request not to water down their fight by making comparisons.

      • lawyer jane
        June 15, 2018 at 9:47 am #

        Her statement is so shockingly ableist and non-feminist, and extremely hypocritical. Fed is Best WANTS women to choose, supported by accurate information. What Allers does NOT like is the fact that many women freely choose not to breastfeed.

  4. moto_librarian
    June 14, 2018 at 2:54 pm #

    Might have to unmute the “boobologist” (yes, she really calls herself that) on Twitter. She’ll probably whip up a good tweet storm.

  5. borkborkbork
    June 14, 2018 at 2:52 pm #

    See, here’s the thing…giving some people rights does not take away the rights of others.

    “Fed Is Best” is an inclusive ideology.

    If you choose to breastfeed your child, then you should have access to safe and clean spaces to do so, support, and education. Because you are feeding you baby! And healthy babies are the end goal, here.

    If you bottle feed your child, or supplement with formula, then you deserve access to safe and clean spaces to do so, support, and education. Because – and let me repeat this – you are feeding you baby! And healthy babies are the end goal, here.

    Making sure babies have food should not be a contentious issue ffs.

    Where is the shame, or the hurt in that?

    • Roadstergal
      June 14, 2018 at 3:25 pm #

      Exactly this. It’s telling that the lactivists see this as a zero-sum game, and an either-or. When it’s really more about gradients and choices and, ideally, Everybody Wins.

    • Zornorph
      June 15, 2018 at 3:13 am #

      Every time a tin of formula is opened, a fairy dies screaming in horrible pain.

    • Anna Lee
      June 15, 2018 at 7:12 pm #

      Amen amen! I so agree with you !

  6. Madtowngirl
    June 14, 2018 at 1:40 pm #

    “Oh no! My ilk and I are getting called out for our bullying behavior! Quick, let’s gaslight them and paint ourselves as victims!”

    • yentavegan
      June 15, 2018 at 8:25 am #

      Thank you. You have clearly identified the emotional drive behind this controversy. Folks who have created their identities and their income stream from breastmilk promotion see enemies everywhere.

  7. lawyer jane
    June 14, 2018 at 12:27 pm #

    I just don’t understand the need for such emotionally charged language here … to me, it clearly indicates that Prof. Brown is engaged in massive projection — breastfeeding has become a symbol of standing up against “Corrupt Corporations and Society That Doesn’t Care about Health”, instead of actually referring to a form of infant feeding. Take it down a notch and you might make more progress! Women know when they’re being lied to.

  8. The Kids Aren't AltRight
    June 14, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

    Is there any evidence of aggressive breastfeeding promotion causing a backlash effect? I know that because of their manipulative tactics and half-truths my gut feeling is to do the opposite of what they say to do (even though I know in my mind that formula feeding out of spite is not a good way to make a decision).

    • CSN0116
      June 14, 2018 at 12:51 pm #

      UK breastfeeding rates? LOL

      • Cat
        June 14, 2018 at 2:58 pm #

        My SIL’s EBF baby has been feeding every half hour virtually right round the clock since the beginning. He’s gaining weight beautifully but the parents are bloody shattered after six weeks of this. I was talking with a friend of mine who comes from another European country, and her reaction was “sod that! I’d have given him a top-up by now. Has she tried not giving him the breast straight away, to check whether he’s really hungry?”.

        That particular friend breastfed all her kids for over a year. By contrast, my UK friends and I were led to believe that just one top-up ruins breastfeeding and that, if we waited for a clear hunger cue before offering the breast, we’d damage our baby. Most of us crashed out of breastfeeding, bruised and exhausted, within a few weeks.

        • crazy mama, PhD
          June 14, 2018 at 6:56 pm #

          I will be forever grateful to the baby care book that said if it’s been less than 90 minutes since the start of the last feeding, try other soothing methods first. i.e., feed the baby if he’s hungry, but don’t assume that hunger is the only cause of crying.

        • guest
          June 14, 2018 at 10:25 pm #

          Yeah, I was told that one bottle would ruin breastfeeding and cause “nipple confusion”, whatever that is. And that my milk supply would dry up completely if I ever supplemented.

          It turns out that my baby and my breasts didn’t get the memo, because we’re still happily combo feeding to this day.

          • kilda
            June 15, 2018 at 7:36 pm #

            Ah babies. Smart enough to know when to be born. Dumb enough to be totally baffled by a rubber nipple.

          • Allie
            June 16, 2018 at 9:51 am #

            Agreed, that’s utter nonsense. I supplemented the first week while we got the hang of things (and my milk came in). We went on to EBF for a long time, ‘cuz it worked for us, not for any other reason. Supplementation helped us immensely.

        • Jessica
          June 15, 2018 at 2:14 am #

          My poor sister fed her firstborn roughly every 90 minutes round the clock for a YEAR. She logged feeds and once hit 23 nursing sessions in 24 hours. She supplemented much earlier with her sons.

    • Charybdis
      June 14, 2018 at 7:28 pm #

      It is a perfectly good way to make a decision. The rabid lactivists need to be defied into apoplexy at every opportunity. Willfully defied and boob-blocked at every opportunity, starting in the hospital.

  9. June 14, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    Support isn’t a magic elixir; there’s no magic way to assure that all women who want to exclusively breastfeed an infant will be able to do so.

    We do, however, have a nice form of support known as formula that allows women who can’t breastfeed exclusively to combo-feed and keeps babies whose mothers don’t want to breastfeed at all healthy and growing.

    Babies need calories and they need nutrients. The details of how they receive enough calories and enough of the right nutrients are simply details.

    • Abi
      June 14, 2018 at 11:32 am #

      I’ve puzzled over the concept of ‘support’. I want to be objective about (a) exactly what the support that isn’t available would look like to be considered adequate by lactivists and (b) whether there really is a genuine shortage of it. My own biases lead me to assume it is somewhat imaginary (though I would not be surprised if it’s lacking in less affluent areas) but also that however abundant support may be, it’s probably nowhere near as effective as lactivists like to claim it is.

      Have I got that just about right or is this worth seriously looking into?

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        June 14, 2018 at 11:57 am #

        I don’t know, I gave birth in 1994 in Southern California and even then the retired nurse running the Lamaze class, the nurses on the floor and the LC for the hospital were all pushing breastfeeding (although thankfully RTF formula was included in the rooming-in bassinet and they just asked that I note when and how much the baby was eating. At the time the hospital had rooming in and expected you to do it, but they also had a well baby nursery and you could take the baby there when you wanted to sleep or bathe. Hospitals now seem to provide lots of support EXCEPT the lie by omission and sometimes outright. For example, they don’t tell new parents that your milk may not come in for 3 to 5 days, they don’t tell you that even if the baby latches well your nipples may be sore or cracked as that is skin the is normally covered and protected, they tell you that the baby doesn’t need much to eat for the first few days or that colostrum and a little water is enough, or that the baby losing 10 or 12 % of their birth weight is just fine. How a hospital can justify lying to a parent is beyond me…

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          June 14, 2018 at 12:20 pm #

          As an example these are part of the pre-natal complimentary class now provided at the hospital where i gave birth:
          Week 1 – Stages of Labor
          Week 2 – Breathing Techniques and Medications
          Week 3 – Labor & Delivery Process
          Week 4 – Breastfeeding Class

          This is part of the blerb on their main maternity page:

          “now enables us to provide optimal breastfeeding and family support – the healthiest start to life together for mother, baby and the entire family. It includes, for instance, immediate bonding between infant and family, never separating the child from the parents at any time, as well as Lactation Educator visits to every patient on the floor after delivery.”

          So mandatory skin to skin? Never having the baby out of your room and a LC coming to your room whether you want them or not….awesome /snark

        • Madtowngirl
          June 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm #

          It’s incredibly unethical for a hospital to lie, in weird or by omussomi. I’m really surprised that they are getting away with it.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            June 14, 2018 at 2:07 pm #

            This is from the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’s own website and Guidelines

            “Significantly lower rates of diarrhea, otitis media, lower respiratory tract infections, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, necrotizing enterocolitis, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome occur among those who were breastfed. Women who breastfeed have a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers.”

            I honestly consider most of it BS except for the necrotizing enterocolitis part that really only applies to preemies.

            Then there is this, also from their guidlines:

            “Guideline: The education should cover the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, non-pharmacological pain relief methods for labor, the importance of early skin-to-skin contact, early initiation of breastfeeding, rooming-in on a 24-hour basis, feeding on demand or baby-led feeding, frequent feeding to help assure optimal milk production, effective positioning and attachment, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, and that breastfeeding continues to be important after 6 months when other foods are given.”

            They aren’t just pushing breastfeeding, they also seem to be pushing Natural Child birth (no pain relief) and host of other crap.

          • Madtowngirl
            June 14, 2018 at 4:30 pm #

            That is consistent with my experience. The birth class I attended at our BFHI hospital showed a bunch of med-free deliveries, and ONE C-section. The woman who has the C-section got a nice little sound bite where she lamented about how she wasn’t strong enough for her baby.

            Then when I question their motives in adding CNM care, I’m a “whiny middle aged woman dead set on a MRCS.” Lol.

          • Abi
            June 15, 2018 at 4:17 am #

            I’d take that.

          • Mimc
            June 15, 2018 at 11:53 am #

            Wow glad I had a somewhat more balanced class. Though even the c section video was irrelevant to my delivery. A crash c section is just so different from the leisurely one they showed on the video. Though I get why they don’t include those in the class. There really isn’t anything to do. There medical professionals do all the work while you are unconscious.

          • Sarah
            June 15, 2018 at 2:46 am #

            Indeed. BFHI relates to infant feeding, so there’s simply no reason for them to be making any recommendations that don’t pertain to this.

          • Abi
            June 15, 2018 at 4:16 am #

            Jesus Christ. They actually do hate women.

      • crazy mama, PhD
        June 14, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

        Lactivists seem to be stuck in a 40-year-old world where doctors, nurses, and family all tell women not to bother breastfeeding and therefore women stop because they’re either misinformed or they don’t believe in themselves enough.

        In reality, what some of these women report as a doctor saying “don’t bother breastfeeding” is actually a concerned pediatrician trying to suggest supplementing. Just yesterday, I ran into a anti-#FedIsBest lady on Twitter who reported that her pediatrician and home visitor (she’s in the UK) recommended supplementing, but her LC “supported” her to keep breastfeeding exclusively and she did it! and I was thinking, That doesn’t sound like a success story, that sounds like an LC encouraging you to underfeed your baby.

        (I don’t doubt that some breastfeeding moms have to put up with weird comments from their great-aunts, but “support” is not nearly so lacking as lactivists seem to believe.)

        • mabelcruet
          June 16, 2018 at 7:40 am #

          They seem to be stuck in the 70s, equating breast feeding with feminism and ‘sticking it to the man’, fighting the patriarchy and misogyny they perceive. In reality, at the current time, most medical staff in obstetrics are female, and most midwives are female.

      • HB
        June 14, 2018 at 12:50 pm #

        “The influence of breast surgery, breast appearance, and pregnancy-induced breast changes on lactation sufficiency as measured by infant weight gain.
        Neifert M, et al. Birth. 1990”
        15% of healthy motivated women have insufficient milk defined by inadequate weight gain at 3 weeks post partum despite extensive interventions and support!!
        Albeit a relatively old study and a select cohort, it disproves the support being the solution argument.

        • swbarnes2
          June 14, 2018 at 2:27 pm #

          Note that’s all women. Not sure where Dr. Tuteur is getting “15% for new mom’s in the first few days”, there is another study that says it’s 44% of new mom’s have no milk three days in.

      • Jessica
        June 14, 2018 at 1:34 pm #

        “Support” in my view, would be: (1) extensive maternity leave for every woman who wants it; (2) extensive partner/paternity leave to provide further resources; (3) reasonably priced, high quality childcare for other children in the home; (4) reasonably priced in home help for the first sleepless weeks; (5) high quality research into the causes and potential cures for low supply; (6) ready supplementation with high quality formula as needed to allow time for a breastfeeding relationship to develop without infant suffering and maternal guilt and exhaustion; and (7) ultimate recognition and validation of a women’s sovereignty over her own body and right to feed her infant in any nutritionally adequate way she chooses. But I don’t think that is what she means….

  10. Abi
    June 14, 2018 at 11:23 am #

    Brilliantly written. A ‘flourish of lactivist sanctimony’ is a phrase I might just have to borrow…

  11. 3boyz
    June 14, 2018 at 11:03 am #

    OT, but came across this today:
    Tragedy due to vit k refusal and the role of the anti-vax spcial media echo chamber in said tragedy.

    • crazy mama, PhD
      June 14, 2018 at 12:17 pm #

      That just makes me want to rage because VITAMIN K ISN’T EVEN A VACCINE! It does not confer immunity against infectious illness! It’s a vitamin!! It boggles my mind that people can think they’re so smart and educated and “did their research” and yet still not understand this.

      • The Kids Aren't AltRight
        June 14, 2018 at 12:24 pm #

        But breastfeeding is perfect nutrition, so obviously vitamin k is unnecessary and doctors just want an excuse to stand your baby /s

        • Allie
          June 16, 2018 at 11:08 am #

          OT, but this reminds me of a ridiculous conversation I overheard between a couple of hipsters at a farmers’ market. Guy buys a box of strawberries and asks “do I need to wash these?” The response? “Well, they are organic.” I face-palmed so hard I may have given myself a mild concussion. Yeah, dude, it’s organic so magically bacteria-free. Go for it!

          • The Kids Aren't AltRight
            June 16, 2018 at 12:05 pm #

            Shit is natural; eat up!

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        June 14, 2018 at 12:25 pm #

        Snark on/ But it comes in a needle! And who knows what else might be in the injection? Maybe a microchip or mercury! And the baby might cry because the needle hurts for ten seconds! /snark off
        Sorry I think I hurt myself rolling my eyes. I understand the last one, I nearly cried sometimes when she got her shots.

        • demodocus
          June 14, 2018 at 1:19 pm #

          Oh, my poor toddler-girl. She got blood work today. Much more insulting than her vaccinations or even the Stethoscope of DOOM. (Checking for lead and hemogloben levels). To add insult to injury, she got her lollypop stuck in her hair. Tough morning

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            June 14, 2018 at 4:18 pm #

            I remember those days. I had one vaccination appointment that came just shortly after she learned to walk, and when she was still getting the shots in her thighs instead of the arm. When she discovered soon after the shots that her thigh muscles hurt too much for her to walk she was PIIIISSSSED off. That was the maddest angry cry I had ever heard from her.
            It wore off by the next day but I felt like a heel at the time. Now she just gets that mad when I embarrass her.

        • FormerPhysicist
          June 14, 2018 at 5:56 pm #

          Yeah, infants that sob uncontrollably from a shot turn into toddlers that have to be restrained by mom when they get their shots, and kids who have to be bribed. And then sometimes turn into teenage girls who beg to go to the OB to look into getting LABC implanted into their arms. lol.
          Moral of the story – a lot of things are worse than shots, and kids grow up to realize that if they are given their shots so they CAN grow up.

        • Mimc
          June 15, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

          My baby cries for about 3 seconds and then scowls at me for another 5 before going back to flirting with the doctors staff. Lol. I’ve never had a problem with needles myself and I think that makes it easier. I wonder how much of this stuff is just people who are afraid of needles justifying thier reluctance to watch their kid get a shot. I wish they could be honest about those fear I’m sure some solution other than medical neglect could be found.

      • Abi
        June 15, 2018 at 4:18 am #

        Yup. It’s a horrible and very sobering illustration of exactly where we are headed if we stop trusting science.

    • BeatriceC
      June 14, 2018 at 2:07 pm #

      I was following this as it was unfolding. I couldn’t stop crying and raging at times.

      • kilda
        June 15, 2018 at 11:42 am #

        damn, that is awful. And as usual, the idiots double down and say it had to be some mysterious underlying cause, would have happened anyway, would have even been worse if she had followed medical advice.

        I mean, the EXACT thing that the shot is meant to prevent happened and they still can’t admit they’re wrong.

        poor, poor baby.

    • Gene
      June 14, 2018 at 3:36 pm #

      Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn. Prevented entirely by a single Vit K shot at birth. I’ve never seen a case, but my colleague did. I wasn’t working that day. Baby was bleeding from every orifice. Maternal grandmother was a midwife (no idea what kind) and had told the mother she didn’t need to give her child the shot since she would be breastfeeding, obs! Apparently mother was screaming that she was going to kill her mother. Not sure if baby lived, but given the CT scan I doubt it.

      • Roadstergal
        June 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm #

        That is _so_ utterly horrifying. 🙁

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