Benefits of breastfeeding are so trivial Charlotte Young, the Analytical Armadillo, can’t find them

Young geek looking through magnifying glass.

Let’s have a round of applause for lactivist Charlotte Young, the Analytical Armadillo and founder of Milk Matters UK. She briefly ventured out of her social media echo chamber and — asked to demonstrate that the benefits of breastfeeding are real — promptly scurried back.

Young illustrates in the most emphatic way possible that no mother should worry her baby missed out on the benefits of breastfeeding. They are clearly so trivial that even a committed lactivist who presumably has command of the breastfeeding literature CAN’T find any evidence that they occur.

Asked to provide data that the claimed benefits of breastfeeding really exist Charlotte Young, the Analytical Armadillo, couldn’t.

Nonetheless she deserves credit for being willing to at least sniff the air outside the echo chamber. Other lactation professionals like Prof. Amy Brown, Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Kimberly Seals Allers and Dr. Jack (“formula is like a condom”) Newman can’t even manage that. Sure, they tell themselves that they block and ban me because I’m a “troll,” and maybe they even believe it. But the real reason they block me is because I keep asking an uncomfortable question that they cannot answer:

If breastfeeding has the benefits claimed by lactivists, why can’t we detect them in large populations?

It is lactivists themselves who have handed me the means I use to easily discredit them. They have created and aggressively promoted mathematical models (and even a “calculator”) that to purport to show how many diseases could be prevented and lives and healthcare dollars saved if more women breastfed. It’s a nifty method for pressuring new mothers and — even more importantly! — pressuring governments to subsidize lactation professionals.

Lactivists failed to consider that their models could be applied as easily to the past as to the future. When you put in data for the years since 1973, when breastfeeding rates in the US reached their nadir, the calculator makes grandiose predictions for the diseases prevented, and lives and healthcare dollars that should have been saved by now. Yet, to their shock and dismay, lactation professionals can’t find them. In technical terms that means that they never bothered to validate their models and that their models are obviously and fatally flawed.

But back to the Analytical Armadillo. In writing a recent piece decrying gaslighting and strawmen, Young gives a masterclass in — you guessed it — gaslighting and strawmen. I’ll let you read it for yourself and you will see that it doesn’t even make sense. I posted it on the Skeptical OB Facebook page with the comment:

AA, which part of “You-are-hurting-babies-and-mothers!” are you having trouble understanding?

Instead of ignoring women’s pain and concerns (gaslighting), why not try LISTENING to what THEY are saying instead?

Young promptly appeared with what she presumably regards as a witty rejoinder:

You might need to read it again, I’m not sure you’ve entirely understood – perhaps you were triggered, half my client base are formula feeders…

I asked a simple question and she promptly scurried back to her burrow:

[C]an you show any population data for term babies in industrialized countries that demonstrates ANY detectable benefit in rates of mortality and severe morbidity from increased breastfeeding rates?

This is the part that I want women who feel fearful or guilty about using formula to pay close attention to: these are simple questions that Young cannot answer. If breastfeeding truly had the benefits lactation professionals claim, she should be inundating me with data.

Instead she is trying to baffle her followers with bullshit.

That’s because she alerted her Facebook followers to the fact that I was discussing her piece. I’ve included the link because you must read it; it is comedy gold! Lots of snark, not a single piece of data.

Where’s the evidence that increased breastfeeding has reduced the incidence of any serious disease? Young can’t find any.

Where’s the evidence that increased breastfeeding has saved lives of term babies? Young can’t find any?

Where’s the evidence that increased breastfeeding has saved healthcare dollars? Once again Young comes up short.

And if Charlotte Young, the Analytical Armadillo and founder of Milk Matters UK, can’t manage to find ANY evidence that increased breastfeeding rates have had ANY detectable impact on term infant mortality or serious morbidity, you know that it doesn’t.

So thank you, AA, for dropping by. You’ve (inadvertently) offered yet more comfort and support to women who might be feeling fearful or guilty for giving their babies formula, and yet more encouragement for women who want to formula feed but are holding back.

You’ve demonstrated in the clearest way possible that most of purported “benefits” of breastfeeding exist only in lactivists’ imaginations, not in real life. That’s a public service!

  • yentavegan

    If breastfeeding has no large population benefits, does that negate individual benefits? Why do so many mothers breastfeed ? Why do so many educated economically stable women choose to breastfeed? Why did YOU Dr. Amy breastfeed? Did you find any of your breastfeeding experiences worth the pain and inconvenience? If you had the choice to re-do your mothering , would you have not breastfed?

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Not Dr. Amy, but
      1) Nope, but that means that feeding solutions need to be specific to the individual, not a one-size-fits-all thing. Formula feeding has no large population benefits either, but like breastmilk, it could have significant individual ones.
      2) Depends on the woman. In the US, many of them do because they’re told from the second they become pregnant, if not before, that there ARE large population benefits to breastfeeding. I was as pro-breastfeeding as could be with my first kid, and still had to listen to an IBCLC lecture me about how if I didn’t breastfeed, my baby’s chances of becoming autistic, contracting leukemia or diabetes, or being unable to bond with me would all skyrocket. With a healthcare professional telling you that, and with no other information, who WOULDN’T give breastfeeding a shot?
      3) Again, not Dr. Amy, but see above: I thought it would keep my kid safe from all sorts of illnesses, would encourage bonding, would reduce my likelihood of various conditions, etc.
      4) Not really, to be honest. The snuggles and such were very nice with Baby Books III, but I could get snuggles just by snuggling him, and the heartbreak of knowing that I spent weeks getting very little sleep and, in one case, endangering his life (fell asleep on top of him, fortunately not on his face) for no reason at all (he never gained any weight) certainly outweighed the brief “yay, i’m making milk for my baby!” feeling.
      5) If I could redo it all and somehow know how breastfeeding would turn out for me, no, absolutely not. The older two (ages 4 and almost/then 2) found the experience of Mom being unavailable to them for 60-90 minutes at a time to be a bit traumatizing, and only in the last 6-8 weeks, when Baby Books 3 is about to turn a year old, have they been able to see me sit down to feed him without starting to act out to get attention. I think I can say honestly that in my specific case, my breastfeeding my youngest did adversely affect the relationship I had with the older two. Of course, that will be different for every mom.

    • fiftyfifty1

      “If breastfeeding has no large population benefits, does that negate individual benefits?”
      -No it doesn’t. But those benefits must either 1) be not in the realm of health but rather in the realm of personal preference. 2) so small as to not be important, or 3) very rare. Here’s an example: I have a few patients who have immigrated from areas where there is no clean water AND they plan to visit their home villages while the baby is still little. For THESE babies, the benefit may be large. But their case is RARE in our population.

      “Why do so many mothers breastfeed?”
      -Because of social pressure to do so. In times and places where there is no social pressure to breastfeed, rates of formula use are very high and few women choose to exclusively breastfeed.

      “Why do so many educated, economically stable women chose to breastfeed?”
      Because that is the group where the pressure is highest. And that is the group that can afford to do so.

      “Why did YOU breastfeed?”
      I’m not Dr. Tuteur, but I breastfed because I was told that formula was very unhealthy. I also expected I would enjoy it, because I was told that good mothers did. But I found I did not enjoy it. There were severe problems, and it was terrible truthfully. But I persisted at great cost to myself because of the false info about formula being much less healthy. For my second child, there were far fewer problems (#2 had normal suck), so it was no longer 100% awful.

      “Did you find any of your breastfeeding experiences worth the pain and inconvenience?”
      The first time, not at all. The second time, there were some happy moments breastfeeding (snuggling etc), but I think they would have been just as happy bottle-feeding.

      “If you had the choice to re-do your mothering, would you have not breastfed?”
      If I could re-do my choices, I would choose formula from the start, especially with baby #1. The pain was so severe, that I was unable to enjoy motherhood until I weaned. What a waste.

    • MainlyMom

      I breastfed because i thought formula would be too much money, too much work, and because it made my boobs look good. I have ADD, so forgetting/ running out of bottles and formula would have been a real concern if breastfeeding hadn’t worked.

    • momofone

      Not Dr. Amy, but:
      1) I don’t think it negates individual benefits, but I’m not sure (for me) it matters. For me, there were some individual benefits. It was important to me, and it (mostly) worked, so I felt good about it. I think the benefits to me outweighed the benefits to my son, looking back; he did not get sick until he was almost a year old, but I think that had more to do with the fact that he was an only child (no germy siblings) who didn’t go to daycare than it had to do with how/what he was fed.

      2) Because they’re bombarded with breastfeeding propaganda?

      3) See #2, and as (I think) fiftyfifty1 said, they’re the group that can afford to

      4) (Not Dr. Amy)

      5) Overall, not really worth the pain and inconvenience, though I don’t regret it; I do regret being worried about it all the time–am I making enough milk/is he growing well enough/etc. because I think we all would’ve benefited from a more relaxed approach on my part. I also don’t think it was worth the expense–breastfeeding doctor/LC/fenugreek/lactation cookies/pumping time and hassle (this was where a lot of my worries originated I think).

      6)Possibly would not have breastfed, would definitely have at least combo fed. My answer to this is unquestionably biased, because my lack of breasts means that breastfeeding wouldn’t be an option for me anyway if I did it again. Even when I still had breasts, though, I would not have gone to the lengths I did the first time around. Formula, in combination with breastfeeding or as his only food, would have been fine.

      In terms of breastfeeding and “mothering,” they were related but separate things for me. Breastfeeding was how I fed my kid, not a philosophy or parenting practice. Mothering had and has nothing to do with my body parts (which is fortunate, because we’d both be SOL now lol); they just happened to be how he ate. I find the idea of “mothering through breastfeeding” quite offputting.

    • Mel

      Not Dr. Amy either, but

      1) It very much depends on what the individual benefit is. Some women enjoy breastfeeding. Some infants do really well on breastmilk. For those pairs, breastfeeding is a net positive benefit. For a whole lot of other targets like a healthy adult weight, reduced risk of Type II diabetes, reduced risk of eczema/allergies, adult IQ, there are so many co-founders that there will certainly be EBF babies who hit all of those targets along with EFF and combo-fed babies. The issue happens when people assume that infant feeding type directly causes a positive effect 20 or more years down the road when the data is either inconclusive or absent.

      My son was a white, male micro-preemie. Because of that, he was at higher risk for a nasty intestinal disorder known as NEC. Feeding micro-preemies only human breast milk or human breast milk derived products until 34 weeks gestation decreases the risk of NEC by half. That’s awesome – but I can’t actually say that human breast milk prevent NEC in my son. See, the original NEC rate is 12% so 88 micro-preemies out of 100 who receive formula will never develop NEC. In the human breast milk only group, 6 kids will get NEC while 94% don’t. I’ll never know if my son was in group that would never have developed NEC or if breast milk shifted him into that group – but for me, pumping human breast milk was worth the population level benefit of knowing that I was increasing the amount of breast milk available to all micro-preemies by pumping for my son regardless of if he developed NEC or not.

      2) It works well for a lot of women. I found pumping tedious – but the tedium was worth the population benefit for micro-preemies for me. Most of my aunts breast fed most of my cousins without any problems. On the flip side, if breast feeding didn’t work for the mom – or the baby – they switched to formula without being told that the kid was going to be doomed.

      3) See two – but there’s also a lot of social pressure. I found myself justifying my choice to formula feed my son preemptively – until I remembered that I never needed to justify my choice to my son’s medical professionals or mine so why was I worrying about this random stranger’s opinion?

      4) Not Dr. Amy – but like I said, I was more than willing to tolerate mild discomfort and tedium in return for increasing the amount of milk available for micro-preemies. I knew that I had won some random genetic lottery to be able to produce milk as a FTM who gave birth at 26 weeks, plus I could afford to be off work while my son was in the NICU so pumping seemed like a responsible thing to do.

      5) Yup – but it wasn’t painful besides some snapping, vaguely electric feeling pains in the first three days when my breasts would try and let down before my milk came in. Since I was pumping, I picked the flange size that fit my nipples the best and was in complete control of the amount of pressure and suction.

      6) There are exactly two things I would do differently. One: I would have cooled then consolidated my breast milk prior to bring it to the NICU because I had to transport over 300 vials with 20-50mL of breastmilk back to the freezer in my house. It’s been nearly 2 years since Spawn was transitioned to formula and we are still finding empty breast milk vials in random places in our house. Two: I would have started shutting down lactation when Spawn hit 34 weeks gestation. I wasn’t making enough milk each day to fully breastfeed Spawn when he was 5-6 pounds, the rate at which my milk supply was increasing had dropped by 80% and I mistakenly believed the myth that breast milk supply can be shut down quickly by things like missing a pump or stress – so I figured it would be a fast process. Instead, I was dealing with all the stress of a medically complicated newborn (who still has all the usual quirks of a newborn but comes with so many wires, tubes and medical professionals to co-ordinate) while trying shut down my supply. Shutting down my supply prior to Spawn’s emergence from the NICU would have taken one more item off my plate since EBF and combo-feeding were not possible with Spawn’s needs.

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I haven’t been around as much lately, but how is Spawn? I hope he’s doing well!

        • Mel

          Spawn is doing great! He’s been in weekly PT since August because his gross motor lag intensified. In the late summer, he started pulling up for a week or two – then stopped dead. He wouldn’t pull up on his own and would freak out when we tried to maneuver him into a cruising position.

          It turns out his torso muscles had learned to be in abnormal positions during his first year of life to support his breathing when his lungs were still healing. Honestly, I’m glad he learned those tricks because breathing is really important – but it meant his torso was pretty much doing the absolute opposite of what he needed to get up to a standing position and start walking.

          He gave his PT hell for a few months and now gives her hell when she’s done with the session. (#ToddlerLife.)

          He’s made steady progress in mobilizing his torso, sitting at a 90 degree angle instead of 45 degrees, pulling up, cruising, climbing things on all fours and now walking while holding onto someone’s hands.

          I’m going to kill the next person who informs me that I should enjoy the period he’s crawling because I’ll miss it once he’s walking. See, it’s not like he’s stopped growing or gaining weight at 12 months; Spawn’s a slim, small framed kid, but he’s still 25 pounds not including winter gear and diaper bag. I’ll happily trade toddler hijinks for less wear on my back and hips.

          His speech production is also delayed. He’s two years three months and says “Mama” “Da”, “Oma”, “Hi!”, “Miaow-Miaow” (which is what he calls his lovey Kitty-Kitty), “Mah-Ah” for “Masha and the Bear” “Esss!” for Yes and “Naaaw” for no. On the other hand, he’s right about on track when we count the signs he can produce which add “book”, “bath”, “food”, “thirsty”, “squeeze pouch”, “more”, “shoes”, “socks”, “I don’t know/help”, “leave”, “bubbles” and “sleep” and “again”. His receptive language is a lot higher but I always have a hard time making a list of those.

          He’ll be starting in a Special Education program soon. I’ve been dragging my feet about it because due to strange historical events we live in one county for social services like Early On but are serviced by a different county for school-based services like Special Education. I’m already over trying to facilitate the transition and I haven’t even been able to get the new ISD to return my calls yet.

          He’s just about on-track with OT and socio-emotional skills.

          He’s still a sweetie pie who is pretty easygoing. He loves to wave at people now that he can see thanks to his glasses and eye surgery; at PT, he stops doing anything and starts to wave whenever he sees another patient.

          He believes that babies who can walk are a menace to humankind; he gives them the funniest side-eye.

          He’s developing a bit of a competitive streak; his latest jump in interest in walking was pretty much due to seeing a toddler girl around his age walking using the hands of her PT and people cheering her on. He watched her like a hawk, grabbed my hands and started mimicking her. He’ll chirp to get the attention of a PT – especially a new PT in training – then show off a skill like climbing the steps or tossing a beanbag in a basket while standing on a swinging platform. Then he’ll look at the PT like “See! I can do this!” He’s so cute.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I *heart* all of this!!! Thank you so much for the update. 🙂

          • Chi

            Never ever underestimate the power of peer competition 🙂

            It’s a good thing though because it does encourage them to push their comfort zones a little and try things that they may have hesitated on, or expected mum and dad to help them with.

            Lexisaurus-Rex (my brother’s nickname for my daughter) has started kindergarten and is up to attending 4 days a week. And it has just been phenomenal how much she has grown and progressed in her time there. She can now ride a single-person pedal trike by herself (she used to struggle with the coordination required to work the pedals and steer), her language is starting to come along and she’s starting to use more self-constructed sentences, as opposed to using echolalia to repeat whole phrases that she’s heard.

            She’s still in parallel play with her peers as opposed to playing with them, but then she will occasionally play one-on-one with another peer (apparently she and a little boy were playing ‘zombies’ the other day and she was letting him chase her and then when he caught her, she was letting him hug her around the waist, which is HUGE cos while she likes being hugged, she doesn’t like being hugged by those she doesn’t share a strong connection with).

            Plus it gives me 6 hours in the day to do things for myself, like catch up on my reading, take online courses etc etc. Which has been awesome for my mental health.

            I’m glad Spawn’s PT is going well, I hope he continues making strides and is soon running around like a mad thing and getting into all sorts of mischief 🙂

    • Poster Girl

      Speaking for myself but also from my observations from reading this blog and its predecessor for 12+ years…

      Of course aggregate benefits don’t negate individual benefits. But that’s the whole point. Something may be great– even awesome!– for an individual, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should do what that individual does. For example, a diabetic will do well on a low-carb/high-protein diet, while someone with PKU will die on the same diet. I’ve never seen Dr. Amy tell women who enjoy breastfeeding that they should switch to formula.

      So many educated economically stable women (such as myself) choose to breastfeed because our life circumstances ALLOW us to make that choice. People with stable, well-paying jobs, never mind women whose partners earn so much that they don’t even need to work, have the luxury of staying home long enough to establish breastfeeding. We have enough money to buy good foods and hire help who allow us to address breastfeeding problems immediately.

      I chose to breastfeed because my mom had nursed me and my siblings into toddlerhood and I looked up to her as a role model. But also because I bought bigtime into the peer pressure in my upper-class New England community that breastfeeding was what ALL well-educated women did; formula was for lazy or stupid women. The fact that as a teacher I could never tell which of my students had been breastfed versus formula fed (ditto for natural birth, vaginal-with-painkillers, or c-section birth), for some reason, was not a fact that I even considered. In other words, in my well-educated, upper-middle-class circle, breastfeeding played the role that a Fendi bag or a silver Lexus plays in other social circles– it was a status symbol.

      In my personal experience, long-term, breastfeeding was worth be pain and inconvenience. But again– I had a LOT of support. My mom was100% behind my parenting decisions. The medical conditions that cause the pain and inconvenience also led to full insurance coverage of a hospital-grade pump rental for a year, which allowed me to pump both to establish breastfeeding but then also to maintain my supply very effectively when I returned to work. At work, I had a private, clean space to pump and guaranteed time at least every 3-4 hours when I could pump, without loss of income or any effect on my employee rating. Given such circumstances, and with the benefit of age and experience, would I choose to breastfeed again? Of course!

      The question, though, is should my experience provide the blueprint for policy? Should women with more difficult working conditions be pressured to pump when they have to return to work? Should women who are having difficulty getting their babies to latch, but don’t qualify for coverage of a pump rental, be pressured to starve their babies into latching instead of supplementing or switching over entirely to formula?

      Or should we maybe push policies where heathcare professionals, social workers (I’m thinking of places like WIC here), and childcare professionals discern what the mothers want and then offer her the support to implement those choices?

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Why did I breastfeed? For the same reason I went to Harvard, got a medical degree, got married and had four children: because I wanted to and I could. Aren’t those good enough reasons?

      I cannot understand why some women seem to feel that if something is good for them, then it must be good for everyone.

    • AnnaPDE

      Not Dr Amy, but:
      I tried to breastfeed, had trouble getting it working, spent lots of time, effort and money to sort it out, and worked my way up mostly formula to combo feeding and ended up EBF by 5 months.

      Once it worked, I enjoyed breastfeeding as an activity. My son seemed to like it a bit more than formula bottles (especially once he got the hang of triggering a massive letdown), but not a massive difference. I liked to not be able to forget bottles/formula at home, and loved to have the free hand for holding a book, as opposed to holding a bottle, during feeding.

      But honestly, in hindsight breastfeeding in general was not worth the amount of stress and energy that it took up. With the clarity of the child in question being 3 now, I was stupid to focus so much on supposed benefits, not push back against clearly nonsensical claims, and go along with the general pressure of “everyone can do it, so you must”.
      And EBF was just plain impractical. I wish kiddo hadn’t decided at some point that now he just doesn’t like formula anymore and started refusing bottles.

    • Inmara

      I will add to the collection of various answers:
      1) It does not, and that’s the point of having two equally valid infant feeding methods, breastfeeding and formula – you choose what fits best your particular circumstances (like you would choose between potatoes and rice, banana and strawberry, lamb or fish).
      2) For many mothers, individual benefits of breastfeeding indeed surpass the drawbacks, but we can’t dismiss the fact that many breastfeed not because it suits them and their family but because they have been browbeaten into doing it (or haven’t had information about alternatives at all – despite lactivists crying “Big Bad Formula”, in my country there is NO official information about formula or combo feeding, all leaflets in hospitals tout about breastfeeding; there is no advertising of formula at all, and many grocery stores even don’t offer discounts or deals on formula – I suppose it’s somehow due to EU regulations?).
      3) Because they can (here I’m speaking on my country where we have up to 1,5 years of paid parental leave, and it’s feasible to women who have stable jobs which pay taxes; those who have worked in grey economy or skimped on taxes due to pressure of employer, are disadvantaged and may have to return to workforce earlier). And I agree that this demography is especially rife with lactivism as well as all-around crunchy mothering.
      4) Not Dr. Amy 🙂 but I started breastfeeding because it’s just a thing you do if you have functional breasts; and I tried to EBF despite earlier suspicion that my breasts are not that functional (and despite already having read about all the possible drawbacks from insufficient breastmilk). Why I didn’t start supplementing earlier (3 weeks) I can’t fathom now; at the moment I was quite hormonal and sleep deprived mess and didn’t truly understand that baby is not getting enough food.
      5) The only positive experience was possibility to nurse baby immediately during the night while husband is preparing bottle. I didn’t feel any special bonding that couldn’t be achieved while bottle feeding.
      6) I guess I would still have breastfed immediately after birth and in the first 1-3 months, but started combo feeding immediately and dropped breastfeeding sooner (when kid started crying and fussing at the breast, around 4 months). I combo fed until 5 months, it was not worth the hassle. Only drawback was the cost (goat milk formula) and a bit of a hassle with planning and bringing along enough bottles and formula when heading out of home.

    • Who?

      I think you’d have to understand what those ‘individual benefits’ are. If as a new mum you’re told breast is always best, one bottle will confuse the baby and ruin breastfeeding (which is always best) forever, then a lot of women (like me) would push themselves to do it even when it’s really hard, and really hurts.

      Not one person told me, when I was crying in pain with chewed up nipples and mastitis that my boy would be fine with a couple of bottles. I assumed not only that they had both our best interests at heart, but that they actually knew those things about breastfeeding rather than just believed it.

      Is it choice, in that situation? I’m not sure, more than quarter of a century on.

    • Azuran

      Individual benefitsa are pretty much: do you like it, is it easy, does it fit well with your lifestyle. Its thats the case, sure, go for it. And for a large proportion of the population, the individual bemefits of formula are higher
      Why do so many women breastfeed? Hopefully because they enjoy it and find it practical, because thats really the only thing that really matters.
      As an educated, economically stable woman, i was.entirely neutral to breastfeeding, I decided to try it and see from there. I was lucky, after a couple of days my milk came it and from then it was easy. I kept doing it becaus im lazy and it was super easy for me. But i would have stopped if it was painfull or hard in any way.
      I personally dont think i had an ‘experience’ i fed my baby. Thats all that happened. The only worth it had with me is that if it works, its practical. But it wasnt worth anything more.than 1-2 weeks of mild pain or inconvenience. I was in it mainly for convenience after all.
      And next time, im actually going to stress less about the whole thing. Im not going to follow the stupid advice of the LC to manually express my breasts after each feeding (all for 3-4 srupid drops, while im sleep deprived after a c-section with a crying hungry baby next to me) and just supplement from the very first feed until my milk comes in (unlike last time, when i let the stupid nurse convince me to wait over 24h and actually had to send my husband get it because she wouldnt bring it to me.)
      And if that 2nd baby turns out to be bad at it, or i end up not having a good suply, or its painfull this time for some reason, im just going to stop and formula feed without looking back

      • This just goes to show what I’ve always believed is the cardinal rule in raising children: have #3 first. With experience, you know what works for you, and whatever it is, that’s the way to go.

        • Who?

          Amen to that.

          I find, post my child-raising years, this is great advice for life.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          *round of applause*

    • 1) No.
      2) For us, it was cheaper. I stayed home anyway, and insurance paid for a pump.
      3) I found my experience worth the pain and inconvenience, but I will never again exclusively pump because that’s awful.
      4) I wouldn’t have pumped as long as I did for the two who never latched.

    • MaineJen

      I breastfed because, for the most part, it *wasn’t* painful or inconvenient. If it had been, I likely would have used formula much sooner. I enjoyed breastfeeding, but I’m not under the impression that I did anything in particular to make it easy or effective. I just happened to win the genetic lottery. And I DON’T judge anyone for not breastfeeding, because I recognize that it’s not easy or convenient for everyone.

    • space_upstairs

      Individual benefits seem to be more about the mother than the child, though some babies may just prefer the taste of breastmilk or the experience of drinking from a breast.

      The decision to breastfeed or not seems to be a matter of social influence – higher in affluent circles, where breastfeeding started to get big again in liberal educated groups after some breaches of marketing ethics by Nestle in African countries 45 years ago – and individual factors of the family in question. The parents’ work situations, personal sense of convenience of nursing, pumping, or formula mixing, pain, milk production, and how well the baby takes a breast or bottle all factor in.

      Personally, as the birth neared I wanted to keep all my options open, but my preference was leaning toward primarily pumping. I wanted the role sharing, flexibility, and knowledge of baby’s milk consumption of bottle feeding, but did not feel that my understanding of the science allowed me to dismiss the still dominant notion that breastmilk is nutritionally superior, only modify it from vastly to slightly superior in the average case. If I had a bad experience with pumping, I would have switched to formula, but so far I can produce plenty in 4 half-hour sessions per day and find it less painful and no more tedious than frequent nursing was. Yes, I have to wash and sterilize equipment, but I would have had to do that with formula feeding, and would not be able to delegate night shifts, run errands alone, or resume tai chi practice if I had to constantly be on call for nursing.

    • Sarah

      Of course it doesn’t. And even without all the nonsense and misinformation about breastfeeding, there would still be many women who are able to choose making the decision to breastfeed, because for any number of reasons it suits them better. That’s legitimate.

      • Certainly legitimate. My ttraining was all to encourage breastfeeding, and I made valiant efforts with #1, but had to recognize, by the time he was 6 weeks old, that I would have to supplement. With #2, I developed pneumonia and mastitis, and consquently she was entirely bottlefed. #3 was combofed, and was the easiest of all. Now at 38, 36, and 35, they are all healthy, happy, and successful. So my philosophy is: do what works best for both mother and baby.

        Bottle feeding doesn’t mean you don’t cuddle your baby.

        • demodocus

          That’s definitely true. Either of my kids is just as likely to climb into my lap while I write this.

    • FormerPhysicist

      I chose to breastfeed because I could, it was relatively easy, and I swallowed the lines whole about it being better for the kid and better for bonding. I truly regret how long I breastfed. My children loved it, but it meant my husband never got in the habit of taking care of them, I was touched out and oversensitive, I never got a decent night’s sleep, my body never got fertile on breastfeeding – spacing our kids more than we wanted, and also sex was painful. In retrospect, I should have co-fed, and weaned them at 6 months to a year.

  • Merrie

    That page boggles my mind. You go on there and ask a simple question and everybody loses their damn mind.

  • AnnaD2013

    Sigh. Lactivists give me a headache. Their anti-feminist, judgemenal, and poisonous way of forcing breastfeeding on every woman & child is getting old. This is the truth about how to feed your baby:

    1.) feed your baby whatever way feeds them adequately (I.e., NOT starving them, making sure they gain weight well) be it BFing, FFing, pumping, or some combination of the two.

    2.) keep whatever you feed your baby with (bottles, pumping equipment) clean to help prevent transmission of germs, and make sure formula is not expired/spoiled

    3.) feed your baby with whatever way works for you & your family situation — and DON’T feel bad about it!!!!

    4.) don’t take any guilt or shame for the way you feed your baby, and don’t guilt or shame any moms about the way they feed theirs.

    I say this as a mom who “failed” at breastfeeding, believed the lies peddled by the lactivists, and had a difficult first year as a parent because of it. Most of my other friends breastfed, and didn’t understand where I was coming from. It was a good lesson for me to learn to patrol my boundaries and not apologize for making the decisions that were best for my daughter and for my family.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      The things about feeding your baby is, it’s only a few months of their life. Before they are 6 months old, they are starting solid food, and by the time they are a year old, they are getting pretty much to point of eating normal table food. Seriously. Breast or bottle feeding as sustenance might go on for up to a year. Beyond that, it’s for other reasons.

      While I understand that early nutrition is that important, are those 9 – 12 months really that important that it requires the perfectly optimal nutrition? What about the next 5 years? Or 18? Or 80?

      When it comes to our kids, it’s far more important to me that they are still eating fruits and vegetables (more than I ever did when I was little) than whether they were breastfed or not. Because if we can get them good eating habits that last a lifetime, that’s more important than what we imposed on them when they were babies.

      • LaMont

        Honestly, given how they describe *food* in such medicalized, catastrophic terms, I’m amazed they are okay with non-breastmik food for anyone!!

        • space_upstairs

          They probably push an organic Paleo diet for everyone over age 1.

          • Juana

            No, make that gluten-free, caseine-free, soy-free raw organic seasonal regional vegan low carb diet. (Did I miss anything?)

          • Merrie

            So basically I’m just going to gnaw on this weed I yanked out of my back yard then… sounds like a plan.

          • Sarah

            I think it’s breastmilk only until aged about 6.

        • Inmara

          Well, after breastfeeding wars there starts the baby-lead-weaning craze, when you set your kid to a lifetime of obesity and disordered eating as soon as you give them a spoonful of cereal.