Just trust breasts!

White bra details

Hi. It’s Ima Frawde, CPM. The initials after my name stand for “certified professional mammarist.” I am an expert in normal breasts.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the hegemonic, patriarchal, male medical system constantly telling women that their breasts are “broken” and don’t make enough breastmilk. They try to undermine breastfeeding by destroying women’s trust in their own breasts.

First trust breasts to make adequate milk and they will. Then trust them not to get cancer and they won’t.

Are we suppose to believe we’re inferior to squirrels, cows, rabbits and elephants? There are about 5000 species of mammals and we’re supposed to believe that we’re the only one that ever needs to supplement our young to ensure their survival. How did survive for thousands of years before formula? If insufficient breastmilk were really that dangerous, our species wouldn’t be here.

It’s not different from the hegemonic, patriarchal male medical system that insists that women of a certain age should have regular mammograms to detect breast cancer. Out of those 5000 species of mammals, we’re the only one that supposedly need routine scans. How did we managed to survive for thousands of years before mammography? If breast cancer were really that dangerous, our species wouldn’t be here.

It’s not a coincidence that my comments sound similar to those made by Ina May Gaskin on Feministing. Ina May is my hero. Everything she says goes double for me (heh, heh, heh, just a little breast humor).

Why should you listen to me? As a CPM (certified professional mammarist), I am an expert in normal breasts. In fact, certified professional mammarists are trained specifically to manage breast health. In order to obtain my certification, I had to meet rigorous standards; I was required to submit a portfolio of 20 breasts examined within the home (right and left breasts are each counted separately). Plus I had to observe examination of an additional 20 breasts done by my preceptor. That means I had contact with 20 separate women before I began practicing on my own!

That’s how I know that you should trust your breasts throughout your life. First trust them to make adequate breastmilk and they will. Then trust them not to get cancer and they won’t.

Insufficient breastmilk doesn’t exist. It’s fear that makes women “misperceive” adequate supply as insufficient. Baby screaming from hunger, losing weight and failing to thrive? It’s not insufficient breastmilk. It must be a defective baby tongue; cut it immediately. Trust breasts, but never trust baby tongues!

What? You don’t believe that lack of trust causes “perceived” insufficient milk supply? You mean you deny that there is a mind-body connection?

Once you understand that fear causes “perceived” insufficient supply, you can see why trusting breasts is the best way to ensure adequate breastmilk. Routinely weighing babies in unnecessary when you trust breasts. Weighing babies might reveal that the baby is losing weight and that lead to a cascade of unnecessary interventions like formula supplementation, not to mention undermining women’s faith in their own bodies.

But you shouldn’t think that certified professional mammarists reject technology. Far from it. We routinely recommend electronic and battery powered breast pumps. We routinely recommend off label use of dangerous medications to boost milk supply. And don’t forget our frequent recommendation to laser your baby’s tongue.

Are we always correct? Unfortunately, no, but some babies are just meant to die. They probably would have died eventually even if they were supplemented with formula anyway (it might have been 10 or 20 years later, but the principle holds true).

We’re also working on developing better methods for boosting milk supply. We are creating a new generation of breast pumps. Even as we speak, several groups of women are currently fabricating pumps to our own specifications, using no plastic of any kind; they are knitting them from steel wool! As soon as our breast pumps are fully knitted, we plan large qualitative studies comparing the experience of pumping with a knitted pump vs. a conventional machine.

You might be wondering why we are bothering with breast pumps at all. In answer, I will paraphrase anthropologist and midwife Melissa Cheyney:

The rituals of trusting breasts are not simply about assuring personal transformation via the transmission of counter hegemonic–empowering value —although many women certainly described their experiences this way. Breastfeeding rituals, are also self-consciously political in their intent. As the popular bumper sticker “Mammarists: Changing the World One Breast at a Time” suggests, trusting breasts is a performative medium for the promotion of social change.

That’s just a longer way of saying “trust breasts!”

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    You forgot to mention fenegreek and (what is the drug they push to increase milk supply that’s actually known to be harmful?).

    • rational thinker

      Domperidone

    • Ozlsn

      Last week I participated in a research project about supplements that women take to increase breast milk levels, specifically about what information women had that made them decide to take the supplements, where they got the information from and what they were told or knew about the risks of the supplements.

      I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this because I had no idea that there were risks or potential side effects during the fairly brief time I took motilium (and quite obviously I didn’t read the insert). No idea why I never tried anything but motilium (although given it had very little increasing effect on me I possibly decided it was too much effort to seek out yet more supplements).

      • Anna

        Risks were not mentioned at all to me. I was too out of it with fear and sleep deprivation to “do my own research”. I don’t believe it worked but was too scared to stop.

      • AnnaPDE

        I had the motilium recommended by my SIL, who happens to be a family doctor, and she was a bit like “watch out for weird heart feelings but this side effect is more of an old people’s thing”. The LCs were very happy about her having prescribed it, and in addition pushed fenugreek. I smelled like curry for so long…
        In hindsight, I wonder why they’d go to such lengths for something supposedly “natural”.