Why does LC Serena Meyer think she speaks FOR women with breastfeeding complications without speaking TO them?

Two women whispering about a third woman

Yesterday I wrote about why you can’t trust lactation consultants to understand scientific literature.

I used a post in which an IBCLC insisted the fact that 1 in 71 exclusively breastfed babies are re-hospitalized for complications is not supported by the scientific evidence. I’ve repeatedly cited the claim and the paper that it comes from. The LC read the wrong paper; misunderstood what she read; and the paper she referenced actually has a HIGHER readmission rate.

Fed Is Best threatens lactation consultants’ income, employment prospects and autonomy. No wonder they’re opposed.

The LC has now “disappeared” her post without acknowledging she was wrong in nearly every respect. So not only can she not be trusted to read the scientific literature; she can’t be trusted to admit when she is wrong and apologize.

Today I offer an example of why lactation consultants cannot be trusted to be honest about the Fed Is Best Foundation.

Serena Mayer, RN IBCLC wrote:

Have you heard about Fed is Best? It’s an organization that believes that the Baby Friendly Initiative is responsible for pushing breastfeeding in a way that essentially starves babies. There is a lot of carefully cloaked vitriol about breastfeeding and brain damage, starvation and death. It makes me feel pretty argumentative; not about the fact that babies can lose more than we would like, but at the goals of the organization as I perceive them.

The name is a real teeth clencher for me and other International Board Certified Lactation Consultants. “Fed is Best”, is a highly charged three words that no one really wants to disagree with. The rhetoric flows untapped within their organization and it appears that they drop all the hot words on parents; words like “starvation” and “dead” are used a lot in their materials.

If you don’t understand what’s wrong with that, try this thought experiement. Imagine if we replaced Fed Is Best with MeToo:

Have you heard about #MeToo? It’s an movement that believes that some men harm women, there is a lot vitriol about touching, misogyny & discrimination. It makes me feel pretty argumentative.

The name is a real teeth clencher for me and other men’s rights activists. #MeToo is a highly charged two words that no one really wants to disagree with. The rhetoric flows untapped within their movement and it appears that they drop all the hot words on women; words like “harassment” and “assault” are used a lot in their materials…

Can you see the disrespect of women? The refusal to believe their stories? The implication that lactation consultants know better than the women whose babies suffered under lactation consultants’ ministrations?

Meyer continues with a reprehensible stream of lies and fabrications.

It’s a classic example of testimonial silencing. Lactation professionals routinely treat women with breastfeeding complications exactly the same way many men treat women who report sexual harassment: they aren’t believed; they are pathologized and they are viewed as trouble makers.

Tactics include: erasure from breastfeeding literature, gaslighting, pathologizing, claiming “lack of support,” disparaging women’s stories and banning from social media feeds.

I pointed this out in the comments but Meyer didn’t respond.

I posted a comment asking: What’s the difference between a doctor who tells a woman her experience is meaningless compared to his training and a lactation consultant who tells a woman her experience is meaningless compared to her training?

Meyer responded by claiming that she was trying to have a “serious” conversation about Fed Is Best.

Taking her at her word I asked her to provide quotations for claims that the Foundation offers “dangerous, anti-breastfeeding rhetoric.” She wouldn’t (or more likely couldn’t) provide any.

I asked: “how many of the Foundation’s 750,000 followers have you spoken to about their experiences? Zero?”

Meyer responded with: “Did you read my post?”

And: “Anyways, thanks for the traffic.”

In other words, she spoke to ZERO women who were helped to breastfeed by the Foundation and ZERO women who were supported in whatever choices they chose to make. Why confuse yourself with the facts, right Serena?

And this is why you can’t trust lactation professionals when they criticize Fed Is Best. They imagine they can speak FOR women who suffer breastfeeding complications without ever speaking TO them.

Mayer does offer this:

I can see the appeal of fed is best.

But I can’t support their political aims and the policies they wish to have in place in hospitals…

I’m not sure what she means by the “appeal” of fed is best. The fact that it’s true? The fact that it provides comfort to millions of women? The fact that it fights against the massive numbers of breastfeeding complications and re-hospitalizations that occur each year?

In contrast, I completely understand what Meyer means by being unable to support the aims and policies of the Foundation. Those aims and policies threaten lactation consultants’ income, employment prospects and autonomy. Those apparently matter more to lactation consultants like Serena Meyer than either babies’ health or mothers’ anguish.

Which leads us to a simple rule of thumb: don’t trust any lactation consultant who claims to speak FOR women who suffer breastfeeding complications without ever bothering to speak TO them.


Addendum: In the wake of this piece, Meyer has edited her original post and DELETED more than 200 comments that pointed out her lies and misrepresentations. This further confirms that you can’t trust lactation professionals to tell the truth.

70 Responses to “Why does LC Serena Meyer think she speaks FOR women with breastfeeding complications without speaking TO them?”

  1. Sarah
    December 21, 2019 at 8:39 am #

    Of course the iron in her breastmilk is low. Breastmilk doesn’t have much iron full stop. By all means she should check her own levels, women are at a higher risk of anaemia and it’s worth knowing, but breastmilk having normal composition isn’t a reason to do it.

  2. Pevensie
    December 3, 2019 at 1:05 am #

    I am pregnant for the first time and just attended my first prenatal class at a BFHI hospital. The LC running the class gave some good tips on getting a latch, etc., but also told the class that low IQ and childhood cancers, among other horrifying outcomes, are a “risk” of formula use. Not that breastfeeding might be mildly protective or beneficial, which seems like it might be the case (I’m not a scientist and don’t know how to evaluate the quality of studies) — rather, formula causes the “risk.”

    At this point I don’t know how my attempts to breastfeed will go but I am profoundly stressed at the idea of this woman, or an LC like her, having access to me when I’ve just given birth and am exhausted and hormonal. By this LC’s own admission 2% of mothers can’t produce enough milk to feed a baby fully (I know FIB puts the percentage much higher). It didn’t seem to occur to her that that’s at least 1 mother out of every 50 whom she’s going around telling that even with her very best efforts, it will be HER FAULT if her child gets leukemia and dies. Do BFHI proponents not understand how cruel that is? I shudder at the thought of being that mom. And how much worse it would be if I hadn’t spent the last several months lurking on this blog.

    I want to breastfeed, but I’m at increased risk for PPD. I need to rest, and I need my baby to get enough food, and if that means formula supplementation then that is what I’m going to do. I feel so resentful because I want to put my energy towards my delivery and my baby and I feel like I’m wasting it worrying about how mean the hospital staff are going to be.

    • rational thinker
      December 7, 2019 at 7:36 am #

      That LC is lying to scare pregnant women into breastfeeding. The rate is not 2% it is around 15%. Also low Iq is not caused by formula. Childhood cancers are also not caused by formula use.

      Letting a child starve because of low or no breast milk supply can easily cause brain damage and lost IQ points.

      IQ has more to do with environment and parental IQ. My formula fed son is in the honor role society and his IQ was 120 when he was last tested years ago, and he has never had a single drop of breastmilk.

      The LC lied to your whole class for one reason and its not because she cares about the health and well being of the babies. She lied because if women dont breastfeed she wont get paid. Most LC’s make around $300 for each visit.

      • Pevensie
        December 7, 2019 at 6:45 pm #

        It absolutely was pure BS scare tactics. I believe this LC is employed by the hospital full time so she’s protecting her job and the hospital’s BFI marketing/bragging rights, not necessarily private income, but it is definitely not the well-being of patients.

        “Letting a child starve because of low or no breast milk supply can easily cause brain damage and lost IQ points.”

        Exactly, right? Why do purely hypothetical IQ points count for so much while actual brain damage counts for nothing?

        The other thing is that even if I conceded she was right and only 2% of mothers have inadequate milk supply, that is still 1 out of every 50 mothers. In a big public hospital that delivers thousands of babies every year, that’s hundreds of babies in their care who are in danger of being underfed. Why are those hundreds of babies not worth discussing? It boggles my mind.

  3. mabelcruet
    December 1, 2019 at 12:19 pm #

    It’s brainwashing-they are so heavily invested in the idea of breast milk being tailor made for each individual baby that they simply cannot comprehend that it isn’t perfect. Surprise, surprise, very little about us is ‘perfect’, nature and reproduction needs us to be just good enough, not perfect, which is why we ended up with evolutionary bodge-jobs like the larynx, trachea and epiglottis, and lower backs that aren’t really up to the strain of walking upright.

    Iron in breast milk has been extensively studied-it is well recognised that there is very little iron in breast milk and that is because of the properties of the epithelial cells lining the mammary gland ducts. The reason is a physical structural issue involving transporter molecules that escort various products across the cell membrane to be secreted into the milk. We don’t have iron transporter molecules, and neither do many mammalian species. Gorilla and chimpanzee breast milk is also low in iron, but their babies start a solid diet a lot quicker than ours do. The American Academy of Paeds recommends iron supplementation from 4 months of age for breast fed babies. Delayed cord clamping helps improve the iron stores a little, but not much. And the nutrient content of breast milk does not depend on the nutrient content of the mum’s diet. You can’t increase breast milk vitamin D levels or iron levels by taking supplements yourself, because they don’t get across the cell membrane. Breast milk is ‘good enough’ to keep a baby alive (as long as you produce enough of it for hydration and calories), but to get sufficient iron from breast milk, a baby would have to drink 10 litres a day, an amount no mother can make and no baby can swallow (unless you’re a mother and baby elephant, maybe). Cows milk is also iron-deficient for the same reason.

    There are other micronutrient deficiencies that can affect breast milk-zinc is an important one. Some women have a mutation that leads to fewer zinc transporter molecules in the ducts, so their breast milk is deficient in zinc. Its recommended that zinc supplements are given to the baby if you choose to exclusively breast feed beyond 6 months. Vitamin A levels are low in milk too.

    Its not the fact that exclusive breast feeding is pointless after 6 months or a year, its the fact that exclusive breast feeding without supplementation after the age of six months is not going to be providing your baby with the necessary micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. The calorie content might be fine, but there are other equally important dietary requirements that breast milk doesn’t deliver.

    And the mothers diet has very little impact on the components of the breast milk she makes-it doesn’t matter how much iron or zinc or multivitamins you fill yourself with, if you aren’t equipped with the necessary transporter cells on your cell membranes, its not going to get into your milk.

  4. JDM
    November 27, 2019 at 1:31 pm #

    Yes, I can see the appeal of making sure your baby is actually getting food.

  5. Blake Lee
    November 26, 2019 at 11:25 am #

    Have to share my most recent experience in a baby friendly hospital. My baby appeared to be having seizures after birth via csection where a true knot and nuchal cord were discovered. Before I could even comprehend what was happening, my newborn and husband were whisked away by ambulance to the children’s hospital 45 minutes away. I sat in my room alone sobbing, terrified. My baby’s nurse at the children’s hospital called and asked if I would like him to receive an IV when he arrived or if I would be okay with him being fed formula until I could be discharged and join him. I didn’t even think about it. I told her to give him formula if he didn’t need an IV for anything else. I didn’t want my baby to go through the pain and the risk of infection with an IV when he could have formula instead. To my shock, the nurse caring for me in my hospital was listening to my conversation and when I got off the phone she said “Why would you want them to give him formula?” I said, “I don’t want him to have an IV. They hurt! I don’t even know when my doctor will let me leave.” And she freaking said, “Yeah, well, an IV won’t ruin his gut flora for the rest of his life.” Then she had a lactation consultant in my room before I could protest. She came armed with a chart and breast pump to record my every two hour pumping sessions. She said since my baby had been transferred it was the only thing I could do for him and it would make me feel better. It didn’t…it made me exhausted! I’m a long time reader and I’m a staunch supporter of Fed is Best but I’m not going to lie…they got in my head at the most vulnerable moment of my life. I can’t believe I woke up every two hours and pumped when I should have been resting and taking care of myself physically and emotionally. My baby and I had way bigger things to worry about than how he was fed. I thrilled to report after extensive testing and a week in the NICU, my baby was diagnosed with a benign spasming syndrome he should grow out of. We’re happily combo feeding because my milk supply near recovered from the separation and that is OKAY! I can’t stand the baby friendly hospital push. It’s awful!

    • alongpursuit
      November 26, 2019 at 12:19 pm #

      Gut flora nurse can buzz off! I am so sorry you had to go through all that and then get abused by someone who was supposed to be caring for you and helping you get better.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      November 26, 2019 at 1:01 pm #

      If you feel up to it you may want to write to the Patient Advocate office at that hospital and tell them your story/file a complaint. It may not help but you never know.

      • Emilie Bishop
        November 26, 2019 at 2:05 pm #

        Also the Joint Commission and your state health board if you’re in the US.

      • alongpursuit
        November 26, 2019 at 4:17 pm #

        I complained to the hospital ombudsperson about a poster in the breastfeeding clinic at the BFHI hospital where I had my baby. The poster said “Oncology 101: Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cancer in children and ovarian, breast and other cancers in mothers.” ***

        I found this poster insensitive and inappropriate in a clinic where mothers are seeking help because they want to breastfeed, but are struggling. This poster made me afraid that if I wasn’t able to solve my breastfeeding problems my baby or me would be at an elevated risk of developing cancer. I was already distressed about breastfeeding, then this added to my distress!

        Ultimately, despite repeated appointments with nurses and lactation consultants and much effort, I was not able to resolve all of my breastfeeding problems. To illustrate my point, one would not put up a poster in a fertility clinic that states that pregnancy reduces the risk of breast cancer (though research has found a correlation). A poster like that would further distress patients struggling with infertility. They took it down! It’s worth it to file a complaint.

        *** 12,500 babies need to be breastfed in order to prevent ONE case of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Amitya & Keinan-Boker, 2015). I don’t have the citation, but breastfeeding for 12+ months is correlated with a reduction in the lifetime risk of breast cancer from 1/8 to 1/10. Hardly “Oncology 101” which I could argue is more like exercise, eat fruits/veg/fibre, limit sugar, alcohol & saturated fat.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          November 26, 2019 at 5:02 pm #

          Sorry they had that poster up and I am glad they actually listened to your concerns.

        • momofone
          November 29, 2019 at 10:43 am #

          It’s pretty ridiculous. When I had bilateral mastectomies, I had a couple of people (lactivists) say that if I only had breastfed maybe it would have been different. When I told them I did, it was “well, maybe for a longer time,” so sure of their own distance from it. When I told them I had breastfed for almost 2 years, it was almost worth having lost my breasts to see their reactions. Of course I would not wish the need on anyone, but even now, years later, I take a bit of perverse pleasure in popping the breastfeeding-saves-all bubble when I hear those assertions.

          • rational thinker
            November 29, 2019 at 6:47 pm #

            My mother breastfed 4 children in a span of 8 years and she still lost her right breast to cancer.

          • Blake Lee
            November 30, 2019 at 1:07 pm #

            I’m so sorry you went through all of that. It’s crazy how people can say the things they do about breastfeeding. My husband took the sweetest picture of me giving our baby a bottle in the NICU. I asked him to please not post it on social media because my feelings were too raw to deal with the inevitable “Oh, you’re not breastfeeding?” comments.

          • rational thinker
            November 30, 2019 at 4:09 pm #

            Its really sad when you have to think about the possibility of someone saying something awful when you are just trying to celebrate what you have. I have seen so many mothers attacked with vile comments while their baby is in the NICU. In some cases the baby is lucky to be alive and these jerks still have the nerve to lecture about how “you should be breastfeeding”.

        • Pevensie
          December 3, 2019 at 1:15 am #

          Posted about this elsewhere in the replies but I just attended my first prenatal class and they repeated the “formula increases your baby’s risk of cancer” canard. No context, no perspective (increases the risk of cancer from what to what?). I don’t doubt that other parents-to-be in the class came away with the impression that formula is actually carcinogenic. The irresponsible cruelty of it just about took my breath away.

      • Blake Lee
        November 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm #

        I would like to when I have a little more energy. I’m still in the early recovery stage and it was a rough start for everybody mom, dad, baby and big brother. We’re recovering and making up for lost bonding time by concooning at home.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          November 26, 2019 at 5:01 pm #

          That’s good! You need to take care of you and the little one. Anything else is secondary

    • Emilie Bishop
      November 26, 2019 at 2:07 pm #

      I am so sorry this happened and I’m glad you and your baby are okay. BFHI enables the crazies and no one should have put so much pressure on you at such a time.

    • rational thinker
      November 26, 2019 at 2:16 pm #

      Im sorry that happened to you and your family. You should write a long complaint letter to the hospital. Maybe also give your story to FIB foundation. Hope you and baby are doing okay.

      • Blake Lee
        November 26, 2019 at 4:52 pm #

        We are okay. Really hard recovery for me and my poor baby spasms several times a day but comforted it should go away no later than three years of age.

      • mabelcruet
        November 27, 2019 at 8:13 pm #

        It’s appalling-that nurse should have been disciplined for making such a comment. It’s untruthful-it won’t change his gut flora for life in the slightest, its undermining, its frightening the parents and its totally unethical. The gut flora argument is a total joke, and that’s down to that fuckwit Hannah Dahlen and her equally biased and non-evidence based cronies spreading their stupid, false and pathetically hopeless misunderstanding of biology-we don’t know what effect modifying the microbiome has in the long term, but given that it alters significantly after all sorts of issues such as changing diet from formula to solid food, getting a bout of gastroenteritis, deciding to turn veggie and stop eating animal protein, and eating live culture yoghurt, its highly unlikely that affecting the microbiome by having a bit of formula as a newborn has any significant or lasting effect whatsoever. This theory is being touted and spread and propagated with absolutely no concern for the impact its having on parents, and its utterly heinous and unprofessional to force parents into a particular course of action based on something that isn’t proven, with an unknown impact, and with no known benefits. Given that intravenous fluids have a significant risk of morbidity, and means that babies have to have repeated blood tests to make sure that their electrolytes are in balance when they are on IV infusions, and given that IV access is fraught with difficulty in a tiny baby (complications include difficulty getting a vein resulting in pain and bruising, increased risk of the venous access ’tissuing’, meaning that fluids get pumped into the soft tissue and not the vein, which is bloody painful (from personal experience), increased risk of infection, increased risk of thrombosis), formula in this situation is by far and away the safest course of action.

        Sorry, rant over. It’s been a long week and its only Thursday.

        • Blake Lee
          November 29, 2019 at 4:03 am #

          Thank you for your rant! It makes me feel really good about my choice! It felt right to me at the time, but I had a csection, I was alone, I was freaking out my tiny baby was possibly having seizures and I’d watched him leave with a transport team. The nurses comment hurt me and I did wonder if it was possible she knew something I didn’t.

          • mabelcruet
            November 29, 2019 at 8:43 am #

            You were right. She was wrong. She was also unprofessional, judgemental, rude, callous, demeaning, undermining and unsupportive. She is a bad, bad nurse and people like that need to be called out and made to look hard at their words and actions, but that is hard to do when you’re scared and alone in hospital. The vast majority of healthcare staff are decent, but there are a few who go on powertrips unfortunately, and forget they are there to help patients, not berate them.

    • demodocus
      November 27, 2019 at 4:10 pm #

      Good lord, that’s terrible. Glad your NICU grad is doing better

    • Cristina B
      November 28, 2019 at 12:45 pm #

      My NICU baby had 2 IVs, 1 in his foot and 1 in his hand. Plus bruising from when they failed to place an IV in his other hand. I nearly cried when I saw it, so I don’t know why a nurse would recommend that instead. I highly doubt the NICU nurse would.

      • Blake Lee
        November 29, 2019 at 3:59 am #

        No, she would not! When I finally got to the NICU I told my baby’s nurse what happened and she was appalled. She also added she was exclusively formula fed as an infant and had done pretty well for herself, lol.

      • MaineJen
        November 29, 2019 at 11:28 am #

        My son needed an IV as a newborn, and they ended up having to bring a nurse up from the NICU to place it in his scalp, after trying both his hand and his foot. I bawled my eyes out when I saw him (thank you, day-after-giving-birth hormones). No way is formula worse than that!

    • Sarah
      December 21, 2019 at 8:34 am #

      Well that’s horrifying. Have you spoken to the hospital about it?

  6. Jamila
    November 26, 2019 at 12:31 am #

    I am one of the women Serena helped. I had an emergency C-Section due to preeclampsia. My daughter was born at 5lbs, she couldn’t suck and was weak. Serena NEVER suggested that I should not supplement. In fact it was 2am when I reached out all worried about my baby not eating. She explained how much formula I should be giving my baby. Was very thorough about signs of dehydration, starvation etc. We did formula for a month and per her guidile I kept nursing and pumping and in 30 days my baby completely transitioned from formula to Breast.
    Serena never told me to stir away from formula that it is somehow bas for my kid. The focus was always on the baby. And whether u like it or not Breast is indeed best for babies. Science backs it up, research backs it up. My baby is 10 months old now and she is the thriving. When choosing between human breastmilk and formula or other substitute the choice is obvious-human milk is best for human babies. And I am thankful Serena helps women like myself to successfully breastfeed their babies.

    • November 26, 2019 at 2:47 am #

      Bofa’s Law- all else being equal, breast is (very slightly) best. But things never are equal, are they? For women who need to work and don’t have a place to pump, for women who have PTSD from sexual assault, for women with flat nipples or insufficient supply, for women who have had mastectomies or breast reduction, for adoptive or foster parents, for women who take medication that is contraindicated for breastfeeding, or for women who just don’t want to breastfeed, formula is an excellent alternative.

      And really, the benefits of breastfeeding, while real, are very slight. The only benefits of breastfeeding that have stood up to any rigorous research are a very slight reduction in the number of colds and/or diarrhea a baby gets (8% reduction across the population).

      I’m glad you were able to breastfeed your baby. I’m glad Serena was helpful to you. But the reality is that, between breastfeeding and formula, what is best for babies is whatever the parents (and especially mothers) feel is best for their own mental and physical well-being. The baby needs to be fed. Whether that is formula or breastmilk is really not very meaningful, and a rested, healthy mom is going to be waaay more important than breastmilk. Why would Serena go after the Fed is Best foundation if she knows that?

      • rational thinker
        November 26, 2019 at 8:29 am #

        Due to her comment
        “human milk is best for human babies” makes me think that she would advocate for donor milk being used first before formula as an alternative to mom breastfeeding.

        • Jamila
          November 26, 2019 at 1:57 pm #

          I am not going to entertain various scenarios and will go straight to the point:there is a bottle with fresh human milk and freshly mixed formula. Which will I give to my hungry infant? No buts and ifs, I will give the bottle with human milk.

          Will I give my baby a bottle with formula when there is a bottle with fresh human milk? Why would I?

          • rational thinker
            November 26, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

            You still did not answer the question.

            If breastfeeding is the best option then why do the countries with the
            highest breastfeeding rates also have the highest infant mortality
            rates? Also if indeed breast is best then why does it not have the
            proper levels of vitamin D and iron that are needed for a newborn?

          • LS
            November 28, 2019 at 10:35 pm #

            Because your “question” is, in itself, a logical fallacy, namely, false equivalence. Along the lines of, “if vaccines WORKED, why do some children in near 100% vaccinated areas still get sick with xyz illness?” or “autism rates soar, it MUST be the drinking water!” (https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/false-cause)

          • rational thinker
            November 29, 2019 at 7:57 am #

            Actually its a logical question. You may not like it because it does not involve beliefs just documented facts.

          • Heidi
            November 26, 2019 at 2:35 pm #

            Because the human milk could have all sorts of pathogens and/or dangerous drugs in it. That’s a reason not to give your baby a bottle of fresh human milk. There’s a reason milk banks pasteurize.

          • momofone
            November 26, 2019 at 2:35 pm #

            Do you mean your baby and *your* fresh milk, or other human milk? I would never choose human milk just because it’s human; if it were mine, I’d go with it, but otherwise I’d gladly take the formula.

          • FormerPhysicist
            November 26, 2019 at 8:54 pm #

            OMG. Someone else’s milk? No effing way.

          • November 27, 2019 at 12:22 am #

            What do you know about the donor of the milk? Do you know they are HIV negative, haven’t drunk alcohol recently, are not Vitamin D deficient, haven’t taken any illegal drugs recently, aren’t on any medications that would be bad for the baby, etc? If it’s your milk, ok fine, but if it’s a random donor, hell no you shouldn’t pick the human milk bottle. There’s way too many things that can go wrong with it, or that it can be contaminated with.

          • Daleth
            November 27, 2019 at 10:40 am #

            Will I give my baby a bottle with formula when there is a bottle with fresh human milk? Why would I?

            Because EWWWW, you have no idea whose milk that is — what medications she’s on, what diseases she has, what contaminants she may have been exposed to. Or, for a much less critical issue, whether her milk contains the nutrients your baby needs (if the woman is deficient in vitamin D, her milk will be too, etc.).

            Even if you know whose milk it is — even if she’s a friend of yours — you don’t know what medications she’s on or what diseases or contaminants her milk may contain.

            With formula, you know it’s clean, disease free, and has all the vitamin D etc. that a newborn needs.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            November 27, 2019 at 9:28 pm #

            Will I give my baby a bottle with formula when there is a bottle with fresh human milk? Why would I?

            With our older son, when my wife was working, I had pumped breast milk and formula available. Which should I chose? Actually, I did a mix of both. Because, despite the extent to which my wife pumped, if I didn’t blend them, we would have run out of milk pretty quickly. So was it better to do half-and-half 4 times a day for 4 months? Or all breast milk 4 times a day for 1.5 months and then one bottle of breast milk and 3 bottles of formula a day for the next 2.5 months? Not so obvious now, is it?

            With our younger son, it was even easier. He refused to drink breast milk from the bottle.

            Would you give your baby formula or shove a bottle with breast milk in his face that he doesn’t eat?

            I’ve given you two possible reasons why you might not chose human milk over formula. As you can see, it depends on the circumstances.

            As feminerd relates above: All else being equal, breast milk is better than formula. But all else is never equal.

          • Sarah
            December 21, 2019 at 8:43 am #

            Given that you don’t mention whether the human milk has been screened and whether you have any idea of eg the HIV status of the woman it came from, it seems rather irresponsible to make that call.

    • rational thinker
      November 26, 2019 at 6:43 am #

      If breastfeeding is the best option then why do the countries with the highest breastfeeding rates also have the highest infant mortality rates? Also if indeed breast is best than why does it not have the proper levels of vitamin D and iron that are needed for a newborn?

      • mabelcruet
        November 27, 2019 at 8:26 pm #

        Exactly my argument. If breast milk is this miraculous fluid that improves health and IQ, the two countries with the highest rate of breast feeding must be the two countries with the lowest infant mortality rate and the highest number of Nobel prize winners. I don’t see Afghanistan and Algeria, the two countries with the highest breastfeeding rates, sweeping the prize winners board. It’s not because people in these countries are less intelligent, they have exactly the same spread of intelligence in their population as everywhere else does, its just that their socio-economic and political issues mean that higher education isn’t prioritized, and breast feeding isn’t a substitute for that, and won’t overcome financial and socioeconomic factors. In a country with unreliable health care and water supplies, breast feeding is the best way to ensure infant nutrition, but its not always the best for human babies, and the very many benefits that are touted about it may not be meaningful benefits when looking at the whole picture.

        • rational thinker
          November 28, 2019 at 12:47 pm #

          I bet if you asked women from a third world country what they would do if they had access to clean water to prepare the formula with they would gratefully take the formula if they needed it without a second thought. Same with home birth. These women would do anything to be able to have their baby in a hospital, because the outcome is way more important than the process and they know it through watching babies die from causes that are preventable in more privileged countries.

          Cause of Jamila’s comments I just checked out the face book page for the group human milk for human babies. There are a lot of lie’s masquerading as science on there. I found a interesting comment on there.

          “I’m looking to receive donor milk in st. Thomas usvi
          My supply has completely tanked and my daughter is getting to much iron from the formula I’m afraid
          I’m not sure the process but if someone is close to or on my island willing to donate I would greatly appreciate it.”

          What would make her think her daughter is getting too much iron from formula. Did lactavists tell her the reason breastmilk has low iron levels is cause formula has too much and its not good for a baby? Is this the new excuse they are going to use when it is pointed out to them that breastmilk is low in iron? Someone has lied to this woman and gotten her so scared of using formula that she will seek out and take a strangers body fluids to feed her baby. This is sad and sickening.

          • Cristina B
            November 28, 2019 at 12:54 pm #

            For all that lactivists like to complain about how doctors don’t know anything about breastfeeding, they know next to nothing about formula feeding. My MIL was a hardcore lactivist (thanks to her, my hometown hospital won’t give newborns formula) and insisted that my EFF baby was having gut issues because he had green poo, which means something completely different in breastfed babies. Honestly, that woman’s baby probably had green poo, which can be a result of the iron in formula, but it doesn’t harm the baby.

          • StephanieJR
            November 28, 2019 at 2:31 pm #

            ? I thought all babies had green poo.

          • mabelcruet
            November 28, 2019 at 3:04 pm #

            When my nephew was 4, I was dragged to the bathroom to come and inspect his poo. It was bright green-seriously rain-forest green (and a huge man-sized poop at that!). After that, he kept a diary of poop colours day by day, and as he got a little older, he started correlating that what he had eaten in the preceding 24 hours. He had to be seriously discouraged from presenting this at school as a science project.

            It came as no surprise to anybody that a few years later he was tested as being on the autistic spectrum and is now an aeronautical engineer (but testing engines and wings and not poop colours any more…well, hopefully not any more, for his girlfriend’s sake!).

          • rational thinker
            November 28, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

            If parents of toddlers start noticing bluish green poop or other weird colors I tell them check the kids playdough jars some is probably missing.

          • mabelcruet
            November 28, 2019 at 4:20 pm #

            I’ve known more than one first time parent who utterly freaked out the first time their child ate beetroot! I get spectacularly purple pee with it myself, and even though I love beetroot, it still always gives me a bit of a shock

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            November 28, 2019 at 9:33 pm #

            I think it was when my older son had Superman ice cream that his poop came out looking like it.


          • rational thinker
            November 29, 2019 at 9:02 am #

            I knew a mom that had an 18 month old baby and she was finding what looked like long worms in his poop. She showed them to the doctor and quickly he figured out what it was. She was buying him freshly sliced bologna from the local deli to eat. It turned out there was a new employee working there that was not aware there was a thin barely visible second wrapper on the bologna that should have been removed prior to slicing. So the “worms” were just plastic wrapper sliced thin.

          • mabelcruet
            November 29, 2019 at 6:41 pm #

            I got sent a thing in a coffee jar from a GP (family doctor)-a patient had passed it, fished it out of the toilet bowl because it looked an odd shape, put it into an empty jar and brought it to the doctor so he could tell her what was. He sent it to the pathology lab for examination with a tentative diagnosis of ?worm/parasite. Once I rinsed the residual poop off it, it turned out to be a strip of carrot.

          • Blake Lee
            December 1, 2019 at 4:59 pm #

            I went to urgent care for “blood”
            in my urine a few years ago. I’d had a large beet salad during brunch that day. Really embarrassing lol!

          • mabelcruet
            December 1, 2019 at 5:58 pm #

            You wouldn’t be the first-I bet most emergency room medics have had a patient coming in with that!

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            December 2, 2019 at 8:35 am #

            If you ever need a giggle go read HyperboleAndAHalf’s account of a very similar experience she had with her boyfriend and a whole bag of Craisins. Bonus points, she has made up the best ER pain scale I have every seen:


            I especially love numbers 10 and 11:
            10: I am actively being mauled by a bear.

            11: Blood is going to explode out of my face at any moment.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            November 28, 2019 at 4:47 pm #

            Fun fact: an excess of fruit snacks–Welch’s, especially–will lead to poo that’s somewhere between lime and shamrock green. That’ll get your attention right fast, lemme tell you…

          • AnnaPDE
            November 28, 2019 at 10:07 pm #

            Or craft paper. Orange and deep red craft paper pieces in the poo can look a tad scary at first, until you realise what they are.

          • mabelcruet
            November 29, 2019 at 9:52 am #

            But craft paper is lovely and fluffy to chew, and it makes such good spitballs…

          • mabelcruet
            December 2, 2019 at 3:34 pm #

            Most doctors don’t know much about breast feeding practicalities as part of their professional role, but those who work in paediatrics and obstetrics know a bit, as do family doctors. But we all get the same basic training in first principles (breast anatomy, histology, pathology, physiology, function and dysfunction) so we can extrapolate. I wouldn’t know the first thing about latch or positioning a baby to get a better latch, or anything about cluster feeding or paced feeding, but I know how breasts work. I’m very happy to give lactation consultants their due credit for assisting mothers with practical issues and advice how to overcome latch problems and all that, but from what I’ve seen, there is very little two way respect. They are very dismissive of the medical profession, and confrontational at times. If a woman has insufficient glandular tissue, she simply will not be able to adequate feed a baby, and no amount of wishful thinking, clipping tongue tie and endless pumping is going to change that, but medics who try and tell the truth on that get accused of paternalistic arrogance.

            At the moment, I have a coroner who is obsessed with breast feeding. I look after all the cot deaths in my region, and he has been reading, and in court has been going WAY over the top about risk factors. All its doing is adding to parental guilt and anguish as it inevitably gets discussed in his summing up (‘this baby was formula fed and gaining weight, but she wasn’t breast fed and there is a known increased risk factor’ Well, I’m sorry, but considering the baby died because of Haemophilus influenzae sepsis, the fact she was formula fed is totally irrelevant. Words have been had in his office-I’m working on it, he’s a total numpty at times. He went through a co-sleeping phase as well, got hopelessly confused between co-sleeping, bedroom sharing and bed sharing which really upset a couple). I’m on a mission, one coroner at a time…

          • mabelcruet
            November 28, 2019 at 2:58 pm #

            They have it completely the wrong way round. Breast milk is deficient in iron, formula contains the right amount a baby needs.

            Exclusively breast fed babies rely on the iron stored in their body (primarily as fetal haemoglobin) and those levels quickly fall. Different countries have different recommendations about iron supplementation, but the actual science shows that infants need to have iron from 6 months of age, whether as supplements or via food. Formula is made with sufficient iron, not excess iron. Iron doesn’t get actively secreted into breast milk-there are no iron transporter molecules on mammary epithelial cells in the ducts (where the milk is secreted from). There’s slightly more iron in colostrum than in mature milk, but its still not a lot.

            Lactivists views on this is that the fact that breast milk doesn’t contain much iron means that it isn’t meant to contain iron, it isn’t designed to contain much iron, because obviously breast milk is utterly perfect in every way for every baby. Its total and utter claptrap.

            Breast milk doesn’t give the baby enough iron, if you persist with exclusive breast feeding past 6 months, your baby will be significantly iron deficient. Because of the lack of iron transporter molecules, it doesn’t matter if the mother is sitting eating half a cow every day, none of that is getting through the breast. In fact, its generally accepted (in actual science and actual medical evidence) that an important source of iron that a breast feeding baby gets via the milk is obtained by metabolizing the iron found in the maternal cells that have been shed into the milk. The baby gets an extra dose of iron if your nipples are weeping and bleeding-that actually increases the amount of iron they are getting. So basically, they are little vampires.

    • AnnaPDE
      November 26, 2019 at 8:56 am #

      I’m glad to read Serena helped you and your baby work out breastfeeding, and that it worked for the two of you.
      Also consider that she – quite sensibly – recommended supplementation and breast alone, because she recognised that breast alone wasn’t best for your baby at that point. “Fed” was much more important. She didn’t stick to the Ten Steps as per BFHI, and did the effective thing instead.

      This is exactly what the Fed is Best promotes: Making sure that babies are properly fed, being on the lookout for signs of underfeeding when a baby is breastfed, and not obsessing about “exclusive” or “breastfeeding” to the detriment of the individual mother or baby.
      It’s weird that Serena should be against such things.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      November 26, 2019 at 9:13 am #

      And whether u like it or not Breast is indeed best for babies. Science backs it up, research backs it up. My baby is 10 months old now and she is the thriving

      Do you think she would not be thriving if you had given her formula?

      • alongpursuit
        November 26, 2019 at 10:56 am #

        I’m assuming that she didn’t give her baby formula in the first month just for fun. Obviously she would have preferred to breastfeed, given her BiB stance. Funny how she only credits breastfeeding for her baby thriving. One would think that the first month of formula was a prerequisite for a thriving baby today!

      • Daleth
        November 27, 2019 at 10:44 am #

        She DID give her formula. She supplemented for the first month of the baby’s life… which is why her baby has thrived.

    • Daleth
      November 27, 2019 at 10:43 am #

      whether u like it or not Breast is indeed best for babies. Science backs
      it up, research backs it up. My baby is 10 months old now and she is
      the thriving

      Your baby had formula for the first month of her life. She is thriving because you had the wisdom to make sure she was fed, using formula to supplement your breastmilk, instead of insisting that she had to drink breastmilk exclusively.

    • Sarah
      December 21, 2019 at 8:37 am #

      You do realise you’ve totally contradicted yourself in your post?

  7. rational thinker
    November 25, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    Any medical professional that does not agree with fed is best is a sadist and should not be allowed near a baby. Serena and other lactation consultants fight them so hard because if women are not breastfeeding then they dont get paid. Last I checked nobody at fed is best is being paid so its pretty obvious who actually cares about the babies and who cares only about their bank account.
    Fed is best is not anti breastfeeding at all and its really laughable to claim that they are.

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