Petition: End shaming, ableist language about infant formula!

Close up portrait of a crying woman with bruised skin and black eyes

There has never been any confusion about the meaning of “infant formula,” but lactation professionals are engaged in a campaign to rebrand it in shaming, ableist language. It started in 1996 with the publication of lactation consultant Diane Weissinger’s “Watch Your Language”:

“Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior.”
This rebranding has been promoted enthusiastically by lactation professionals and their organizations. It has led — as it was intended to do — to feelings of shame, guilt and self-hatred among women who can’t or don’t wish to breastfeed.

We call upon lactation professionals and their organizations to immediately end the use of shaming, ableist language in all their efforts.

Such language has no place in the ethical provision of medical care including breastfeeding support.

Sign the petition HERE.

  • niteseer

    I had a problem not being able to take in enough food to keep from starving, and ended up on TPN for nearly 4 months. I finally got off it just before Christmas. This was artificial feeding by definition. A pharmacist and nutritionist reviewed my labs weekly and adjust my “formula” according to my body’s needs. An electric pump delivered it through a port in my shoulder.

    Having people telling me things like “just eat more!”, or, “I wish my doctor would tell me I needed to eat more and put on weight!” , “you should try probiotics/essential oils/chiropractic/acupuncture”, wasn’t really helpful, when I was struggling to just make it from one day to the next.

    I am so very grateful for the knowledge and the technology that allowed me to be literally cured with that artificial liquid full of all those chemical additives. So, whether you are 6 hours or 60+ years, you have to give your body what it needs. I wish people would stop worshipping the trees, and pay attention to the forest.

  • Emilie Bishop

    I’d just like to throw the following scenario out there to drive home the points Dr. Amy has made for years about breastfeeding:

    My husband and I are parents of one bio son, our four-year-old who was made to starve by lying Lactivists who lied to us, and we’re currently foster parenting a baby girl born with spina bifida and a host of other issues. Her birth mom has no history or drug or alcohol use and keeps our freezer stocked with pumped milk, which we have to thicken or give via NG tube. Every day baby gets some combo of breast milk and Similac. Every time I take this girl to a health care provider (multiple times a week, for various specialists, therapies, etc), without fail, the provider or their staff, when writing down what baby eats and hearing about the breast milk, lights up and says, “Oh, that’s great!” Sometimes, like this morning, they try to blame severe, complicated digestive issues on her formula (the same formula my son and my previous foster baby ate without constipation and stools full of dried blood). Sometimes they also encourage me to give her more breast milk, like I’m in control of its supply.

    So yay, baby gets breast milk, isn’t that great? Never mind she vomits, gags, poops blood, and struggles to breathe no matter what you feed her, but hey, at least it’s breast milk, right? Meanwhile, the darling pumping champ lost custody of her baby in part because, wait for it–she disregarded medical advice and breastfed her daughter until she was hospitalized for aspiration! Leaving the IGT-stricken, Similac-loving foster mom to actually keep this kid alive and make sure she eats.

    Extreme example? Yes. But it still sickens me that at a world-renowned children’s hospital, a baby with as many needs as this one still gets this giddy response every time I mention she’s still getting breast milk.

    UGH. Needless to say, petition signed.

  • JDM

    Interesting logical fallacy in the statement “Artificial feeding, which is neither the same nor superior, is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior.”.

    “…is neither the same nor superior…” doesn’t lead to “…is therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior”. They say it’s “neither the same nor superior”, which is true IF you ignore those who can’t breastfeed or can’t breastfeed enough AND ignore the convenience formula can provide (convenience that can’t help the mother’s health and/or help her keep a job). But “not superior” does NOT mean “therefore deficient, incomplete, and inferior”; it could be equally good even though not “the same”.

    I’ve long been fascinated by the fact that virtually all pseudoscience is propped up by the same logical fallacies.

  • I first heard the phrase “artificial feeding” in the UK in the 1970s.

  • yentavegan

    I try to identify infant formula as “commercially produced infant formula” because there is a need to discourage parents from conconcting their own home made breastmilk substitutes.

    • Sarah

      True

  • kilda

    yes, of the two ways to feed an infant, it’s the one that actually has the iron and vitamin D they need that’s deficient and incomplete. Makes perfect sense.

  • Cartman36

    Dr. Amy, have you seen this? Apparently statistical significance isn’t required anymore for a journal to report on the miracles of breast milk (/sarcasm).

    http://www.scarymommy.com/nasal-application-of-breastmilk-protect-preemies/.

    • rational thinker

      They need to come up with more science sounding stuff to get moms to breastfeed, because of people like Dr. Amy and FIB foundation who dared to tell people the truth about infant feeding.

      • mabelcruet

        That’s why they are so enamoured of words like ‘epigenetics’, ‘microbiome’, ‘maternal-fetal dyad’, ‘lactogenesis II’, and ‘galactopoesis.’ They use sciency sounding words to suggest that they have scientific credibility, even if they’ve no real understanding of what they mean.

    • I used to enjoy Scary Mommy when it consisted mostly of life-in-the trenches narratives and funny satires; now that it’s become another inferior mommy-news outlet I rarely look at it. The author, by the way, runs a lactation consultant business, as I learned from looking at another article.

      • Cartman36

        thanks. I love SBM but I hadn’t seen this yet.

    • Sarah

      I’m astounded.