What’s the difference between a child dying because “God” & a baby starving because “breastfeeding”?

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Even as his 11 year old daughter lay dying, he refused to seek medical care:

Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family’s rural home as people surrounded her and prayed.

It wasn’t until Dale Neumann’s daughter stopped breathing that they called an ambulance.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Every day a hundred babies are admitted to the hospital for dehydration and starvation because of a near religious faith in breastfeeding.[/pullquote]

Neumann was convicted for murder in the easily preventable death of the girl from diabetes. Neumann freely admitted that he put faith in God before medical care.

Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified on Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected her to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said.

“If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God,” Neumann testified. “I am not believing what he said he would do.”

Most of us read stories like these convinced that we would never sacrifice a child on the altar of religious faith. Yet every day a hundred babies are admitted to the hospital for dehydration and starvation because of a near religious faith in breastfeeding.

Yesterday a popular Facebook page, Breastfeeding Mama Talk, posted this horror playing out in real time, implying there was more than one reasonable choice.

I need advice please mommas. I just had my last baby. He will be one month on the 19th. He is my fifth…
-My little man was born weighing 7.1 pounds…
-But at his 2 week check up he lost weight and weighed 6.10. The dr told me I had to switch to formula. I said not yet…
-They had us back a week later (today) to weigh him. He’s only gained one ounce, 6.11.
The Dr is really pushing formula now. He is saying my baby is malnourished and not getting enough calories for sufficient brain development.

I know he’s watching [? nursing] fine and I’m making plenty of milk. I don’t understand why he isn’t gaining the weight. I’ve been crying all day. I feel like it’s still so early to just say, “Switch to formula!”, but I don’t want to be starving my baby. I don’t know what to do…

The doctor sent the mother home with this note:

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Baby is malnourished — he should be at birthweight by 2 weeks of age. He is not getting enough calories to promote brain growth. Please supplement with formula every 3-4 hours.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that the doctor is not asking her to switch to formula but to supplement with formula. The doctor is literally begging the mother to feed the baby before he suffers brain damage or dies… The mother claims she doesn’t know what to do.

Why is she hesitating? Because breastfeeding has become her religion. As I wrote recently, natural mothering advocates surrender personal agency in the same way they do in religious fundamentalism.

Rather than “Let go. Let God.”, lactivists encourage each other to “Let go. Let Breastfeeding.” The attributes of God are ascribed to Nature. It is perfect, all powerful and infinitely adaptable. It literally cannot fail.

The faith healing father viewed his daughter’s diabetes as a crisis of his faith in God. He believed that if he maintained his faith, God would cure his daughter’s diabetes. This mother appears to view her son’s starvation as a crisis of her faith in breastfeeding. She still believes that if she maintains her faith, breastfeeding will cure her son’s malnutrition.

Make no mistake, her son is literally starving, possibly to death. Beyond the first few days, an infant should NEVER lose weight. Weight loss means a baby is cannibalizing his own body in order to keep vital organs supplied with glucose so the cells of those organs can survive.

Babies’ brains grow fastest in their first year; who would risk even the slightest chance that his or her brain is being deprived of the fuel it needs to grow? Those who have a near religious faith in breastfeeding.

By posting to a breastfeeding Facebook page, she is consulting her community of faith; only those who define themselves by their complete and utter trust in breastfeeding can possibly understand the anguish she faces in potentially betraying her deepest beliefs.

How did we get to this terrible place where mothers are compromising their babies’ brains and lives for no better reason than to be able to claim they breastfed “exclusively”? How did we get to the point where a hundred babies are being admitted to the hospital each day for dehydration and starvation even though the treatment — formula — is close at hand? Why is exclusive breastfeeding the LEADING cause for newborn hospital readmission?

We got here because lactation professionals, the priestesses of breastfeeding, have lied and continue to lie about the limited benefits. They have lied and continue to lie about the risks of breastfeeding. They have used public funds and manipulated hospitals and doctors to promote a near religious faith in breastfeeding.

Lactation professionals believe in the perfection of breastfeeding every bit as much as Mr. Neumann believed prayer would cure his daughter’s diabetes. And they are every bit as wrong — DEAD wrong.

We prosecuted Mr. Neumann for letting his daughter die. He has the right to believe whatever he wants, but no right to sacrifice his child’s life for his belief. Similarly, lactation professionals have the right to believe whatever they want to believe, but no right to sacrifice our children’s lives and brain function to demonstrate fealty to their beliefs.

Enough is enough! How many babies have to starve before we relinquish our medically inappropriate, near religious faith in breastfeeding? In truth even one baby harmed is one too many!

  • Platos_Redhaired_Stepchild

    Don’t worry…when her baby starts showing signs of developmental delays she can blame the vaccines she failed to give him.

    (sarcasm, for those who can’t tell)

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  • MaineJen

    Is there any way to find out how this baby is doing now?

  • Eater of Worlds

    She says she’s making plenty of milk but how does she know? Is she weighing him before and after feeding? I also highly doubt that he’s behaving the way a fed healthy baby should act. It’s sickening and sad that her cultish breastfeeding beliefs are not allowing her to see that.

  • CanDoc

    In good news, the vast majority of the comments say, “Yes, supplement, fed is best, keep breastfeeding but do top-ups.” There are a few “get a new doctor” type comments, but the group consensus is reasonable.

  • rational thinker

    I knew a lady in her early 60’s and she had a lump in her breast. She had cancer but the doctor was very optimistic as it was small. He told her “we can take care of this easily and you can still live a long life.” She told him “no thank you Jesus will heal me.” Fast forward 5 months, she started feeling poorly and me and others convinced her to go back to the doctor. She finally went back to see the doctor. They told her the cancer had spread through her body and there was not much they could do. She died a month later.

    • Juana

      “no thank you Jesus will heal me.”

      They might call that “trust” or “faith”, I’d rather call it arrogance or hubris – if the outcome weren’t so sad.
      I mean, hoping and praying is one thing, but being so sure about it?

    • mabelcruet

      Similar with Steve Jobs. The type of pancreatic tumour he had would have been curable had he had surgery after diagnosis. Instead he opted for ‘natural’ therapies. It’s likely he would still be alive had he gone for the conventional treatment, but he chose not to trust it.

  • The Kids Aren’t AltRight

    Ugh. My poor baby lost additional weight after going home from the hospital. I started supplementing the day my pediatrician recommended it, but I still get a pit in my stomach worrying that I hurt her by letting her starve awhile.

  • MaineJen

    Wow. I don’t know how that doctor could have been MORE clear about “what she should do.”

  • E.C.

    Off topic: Did you see the article in the Boston Globe today about a family that was awarded $30 million after Massachusetts General Hospital prioritized a vaginal birth over a healthy baby? The baby had the cord wrapped around his neck, but we’re always told that that’s no problem for a skilled midwife. The child has brain damage and will never speak.

    The mother was allowed an elective c-section for her second child.

  • rational thinker

    There was a tv movie in the late 80’s about faith healing and where the couple let their diabetic son die because they thought he would return from the grave like Lazarus. I am not sure but that may have also been based on a true story. It was called Promised a miracle.

    • MaineJen

      Talk about a slow, tortuous, totally unnecessary death. These people make me so mad.

      • rational thinker

        Me too. I have seen some messed up things happen to kids in the cult I fake joined so I could get my husband out. They were also responsible for a young man dying but the cops did not know that, and I still think about reporting it sometimes but it was many years ago so I dont know if they can charge them with anything now.

        • StephanieJR

          Even if they can’t, it’s a good idea to have the information on record, in case of any future crimes.

  • rational thinker

    Has anyone heard about this obviously mentally ill daycare provider/lactivist.
    .

    https://www.parents.com/news/mom-catches-daycare-worker-secretly-breastfeeding-her-daughter/

    • mayonnaisejane

      Holey dickwhistles! This has got to be illegal. This lady knowingly introduced her own bodily fluids into a child against her parents wishes. I don’t care if it’s milk or spit, it’s her own bodily makings and the mother has certainly not vetted or consented to this. There are drugs and diseases communicable through breastmilk!!!!

      • rational thinker

        The mom did not want to make a big thing in the media about it (maybe she was afraid to be verbally attacked by lactivists or just embarrassed) which is why a lot of people don’t know about it. But that asshole had been breastfeeding this woman’s baby since day one when she first commented “you feed her that slop” about the formula. I think she said it was over two months. Then when mom caught her doing it the bitch actually said that she should be thanking her for breastfeeding her baby for over two months. She handled it a lot better than I would have.

    • StephanieJR

      *internally screaming*

      • rational thinker

        If it were me that bitch would be in the hospital. That crosses way too many lines.

    • Heidi

      Wow. And I thought asking her if she was going to feed her “slop” was really out of line. . .

    • rational thinker

      This is not the first time Ive heard of a daycare worker being caught doing this, and if she was doing it with this baby there were probably other babies in addition to this one and the parents just never found out.

  • Ayr

    In the case of the father allowing his daughter to die, that was just pure ignorance in what the Bible says about healing. Yes God will heal, in His way and in His time, but that does not mean we should not seek medical help for conditions that can managed or even cured. People like that just irk me.
    And the whole breastfeeding exclusively for the sake of saying you did so is just as bad. These women are in denial that they are doing damage to their children because they have been brainwashed into believing ‘breast is best’. When did the desires of the mother become more important than the needs of the infant? I have mentioned before my friend who just could not come to grips with the fact that she did not produce enough. Both of her sons have feeding issues, her youngest is now 16 months and still can’t sit up on his own, both are in feeding therapy, and have a slew of other developmental issues. Again it just boggles my mind how mothers can put the blinders on.

    • KQ Not Signed In

      “When did the desires of the mother become more important than the needs of the infant?”

      Perhaps the greatest irony is this is exactly the argument they use – that mothers who don’t want to breastfeed or don’t “try hard enough” are selfish and putting their own needs ahead of the baby’s.

      • Ayr

        Ha! Very true! I completely disagree with their argument though, at least women, like myself, who choose to formula feed are making sure their baby is fed and not deluding themselves.

    • Juana

      I’m wondering why these people eschew medical care when it possibly could just be God’s chosen way of providing the healing they prayed for.
      It’s like in that story/joke where a man is trapped on the roof of his house in a rising flood, and he prays to God to save him. One after another, a rowboat, a motorboat and a helicopter come by him and offer to rescue him, but he sends them all away, saying God will save him. The flood rises and the man drowns. In heaven, he questions God why he didn’t save him, and God replies: “I sent you a rowboat, a motorboat and a helicopter. What more did you expect?”

      • Ayr

        OMG! Yes! That’s exactly it! They are so busy praying for God to save/heal them that they fail to see when God is actually reaching out and saying ‘Here, this is your life line.’ There is nothing ungodly with seeking medical care for diseases/disorders that can be improved or healed with medicine.

        • LaMont

          I have to admit, when progressive, pro-science people reveal that their acceptance of science is subjugated to their belief in god, it makes me as a nonreligious person VERY nervous. If the reason why medicine is okay is that it doesn’t break a particular Christian’s version of their faith, where do I stand as a nonreligious person? Completely at the mercy of the dominant religion’s dominant interpretation.

          • Ayr

            Personally I don’t think faith in God should affect how you view medicine. As I see it, it is a matter of common sense, you have pneumonia, go to the doctor. Diabetes, no matter the type, take insulin or learn how to manage it with diet if possible. Take care of yourself and your loved ones, don’t say, ‘oh God will heal it’, and then do nothing about it. There is an old saying, God helps those who help themselves, basically don’t be an idiot and use the brain God gave you to make common sense and rational decisions.
            Just as an example, three years ago I almost died from a pulmonary embolism, I had been having severe back pain for several days and it finally came to a head when I started having trouble breathing. My husband took me to the ER and they found the clot. I was in the hospital for a week, my husband was at home caring for our four week old son. When I was released I was put on blood thinners for six months to break up the clot and make sure another one did not form. Not once did it cross my mind to either leave the hospital or stop the meds and say ‘Well God will take care of it, He will heal me.’ Rather I was grateful that I live in a day where these things can be found quickly and treated. I was healed, but only because I used my common sense and the brain God gave me.

  • Ann Nienow Bowen

    “Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family’s rural home as people surrounded her and prayed.”

    The Neumann’s didn’t live out in the country, they lived in a subdivision south of Wausau, called Weston. They were well known in the community due to their coffee shop. I followed this case because I knew people who used their business. It was heartbreaking that they thought prayer would keep her alive.

  • rational thinker

    This mom is looking for permission from the cult to supplement. Instead of a medically trained professional. The logic of that I will never understand.

  • StephanieJR

    You (hopefully) wouldn’t purposefully starve your older child like that; why should an infant be any different? Poor kid, I hope that doctor reports the abuse before it leads to permanent brain injury or death.

  • mabelcruet

    I suspect that the doctor is well aware that if the baby suffers an adverse outcome, the mother will be out for blood and claim that the doctor didn’t sufficiently outline just what a serious issue this is. I’ve never seen a doctors note so abjectly pleading a mum to do something-its usually more diffidently worded. The phrasing suggests the doctor is immensely worried that the baby is at immediate risk.

  • rational thinker

    I have never seen a doctor write a note like that to a parent. This baby is in serious trouble. It does not matter if she has had 4 other kids and no problems with milk supply in the past. Not having enough milk can happen no matter what number you are on, every birth is different. She obviously is not making enough milk. My advice to her would be this “its called a scale use it. Your facebook friends can lie to you a scale cant.”

    With HIPPA laws can the pediatrician even report her to state child services?

    • Cartman36

      yes he/she can and as a mandatory reporter, he/she should. Especially if they have another appointment and baby has not gained weight

      • rational thinker

        I hope he reports her right away because it does not sound like that baby has time for another appointment.

        • Cartman36

          I would guess, if the pediatrician is concerned enough to write a note like that, that he or she has the mother coming back the next day or very very soon. I believe that is what my pediatrician would do.

  • Cartman36

    This hits home for me. My 3rd is almost one now but he was born at 7lb 2oz. Because I had found Dr. Amy, Joan Wolf, FIB, Courtney Jung, etc (and due to my experiences with 1 and 2) I absolutely refused to even attempt EBF. I had the baby nurse put formula in our bassinet when we were checking in and when he really woke up and was actively acting hungry, I nursed on both sides and then offered formula. I don’t think he ever took more than one ounce of formula at a time and he didn’t lose any weight when we were in the hospital. One of the nurses commented that it was “unusual” for a baby to not lose any weight but just thought to myself “not if they are getting plenty to eat”. He also never had second night syndrome (sleep beautifully!) even though the LC had told me to prepare for it.

    I can’t imagine, as a mother, any situation where when the doctor says your child is malnourished that you would not follow their recommended course of action. Its mind blowing.