Breastfeeding “support” served with a side of cruelty


Fed is minimal.

Is there anything more emotionally abusive than this “rebuttal” to the Fed Is Best campaign?

The definition of minimal is:

barely adequate or the least possible

Could there be anything more cruel than telling a mother who couldn’t or didn’t want to breastfeed her child that SHE is barely adequate?

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It often seems that for lactation professionals, the cruelty is the point. They find fellowship in contempt for women who don’t breastfeed.[/pullquote]

The Fed Is Best Foundation was started to protect infants from dehydration, severe jaundice, brain damage and death, all of which have been rising alarmingly since the advent of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.

While infant health remains the primary focus, the Foundation also provides support to all women regardless of how they feed their babies. As anyone who is part of their many groups can see, that support comforts women who are struggling with deep emotional pain, depression and self-hatred.

Is there anything more vile than when faced with that pain, lactation professionals responded NOT with compassion, but with cruelty?

Prof. Amy Brown, in her subtly titled piece Why Fed Will Never Be Best, writes:

…Fed is therefore not best, because best implies that there are other acceptable alternatives.

Secondly, at what other point in our lives do we believe that fed is best? With older children do we accept that any food at all is best? No. We campaign for children to receive optimal nutrition. As adults we know that diet can play a major role in our health and wellbeing so why would this be any different for those whose sole nutrition comes from their milk?

Cruella de Vil could not have said it better!

Amy Brown is hardly alone among lactation professionals in her viciousness. Dr. Jack Newman famously had this to say about formula feeding:

Dr. Jack Newman, author of The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers, contends that “no close holding of the bottle-fed baby can duplicate the nursing relationship.” We asked whether there are any studies that support his thesis. “Feeding a baby with a bottle is akin to making love with a condom,” replied Dr. Newman, who founded the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute in Toronto. “Ask the men. They’ll tell you direct contact is different.”

Kathy Dettwyler wrote TO a mother who had left a positive review of Courtney Jung’s book Lactivism on Amazon:

Your children may or may not be “inferior” to breastfed kids … But formula-fed children definitely WILL BE INFERIOR to how those same individuals would have turned out if they had been breastfed.

Not to be outdone, Kimberly Seals Allers counsels women to ignore pediatricians when they warn about the dangers of exclusive breastfeeding, now the single largest risk factor for newborn hospital readmission accounting for tens of thousands of readmission each year.

No one would accept a nutritionist trained at a’McDonalds Health Institute’ but every day mamas face pediatricians only trained in breastfeeding by infant formula industry. The ones who financially benefit from failure of breastfeeding. We deserve better!

What proof does she offer for this slander? None of course.

These statements, and others like them, constitute a clear pattern of emotional abuse. They involve many of the behaviors commonly associated with abuse:

Denying something you know is true. An abuser will deny that an argument or even an agreement took place. This is called gaslighting. It’s meant to make you question your own memory and sanity.

Using guilt…

Denying their abuse. When you complain about their attacks, abusers will deny it, seemingly bewildered at the very thought of it.

Accusing you of abuse. They say you’re the one who has anger and control issues and they’re the helpless victim.

Trivializing. When you want to talk about your hurt feelings, they accuse you of overreacting and making mountains out of molehills.

Saying you have no sense of humor… If you object [to vicious accusations], they’ll tell you to lighten up.

If you want to see the emotional abuse in real time, check out the Twitter feeds/Facebook pages of the lactation professionals mentioned above and those of their colleagues.

Over and over again, I have been astounded to see the obvious pain of new mothers met with a wall of derision, gaslighting, dismissal and contempt. Twitter in particular is the mean girls’ equivalent of the lunch room table. Lactation professionals won’t let anyone who is not a part of their clique sit near them; you can almost see the eye rolling and hear the cruel laughter. Lactation professionals often freeze suffering women out altogether by blocking them completely.

It often seems as if the unifying factor among lactation professionals — the concept around which they bond with each other — is not support for breastfeeding; it is contempt for women who don’t breastfeed. They appear to find fellowship in exacerbating and then celebrating the suffering of women whom they condemn as “minimal” mothers for not breastfeeding.

That’s why it’s so hard to stop their cruel behavior; it has become a social ritual for lactation professionals. Like all bullying, it isn’t just about tormenting someone else; it’s about impressing one’s peers by jointly tormenting others.

Fed is minimal? Only if the cruelty is the point.