If breastfeeding is so awesome, why do lactivists have to spend so much time convincing us of its awesomeness?


Lactivists, help me out here.

If breastfeeding is everything you say it is, why do you have to write lengthy screeds touting its virtues?

You know what’s awesome? Chocolate is awesome. It appears that there is no need for blogs explaining its awesomeness to doubters. That’s the thing about awesomeness. It doesn’t need to be explained.

You know what else is awesome? Sex is awesome. I don’t notice too many people in need of convincing that sex is pleasurable. People figure it out for themselves without help.

In fact, if you need the purported awesomeness of something explained to you, perhaps it isn’t that awesome after all.

Consider this post, old, but filled with so many mistruths, half truths and falsehoods, that it is worthy of discussion as masterpiece of the genre, What Formula Is Not, by Martha Neovard.

It is also a masterpiece of inanity.

It leads with this witless gem:

Formula is not sterile

Actually formula is sterile. But let’s leave that aside for a moment. Apparently Martha has no clue that breastmilk is not sterile. It can pass pathogens as dangerous as HIV. Martha also is appears clueless that breasts are not sterile. They are covered with the millions of bacteria that live everywhere on human skin.

Then Martha offers this bit of idiocy:

Formula is not convenient

Not convenient for what? No doubt it’s not convenient for birth goddess/natural mother cred among your crunchy peers, but it’s damn convenient for a lot of other things.

Formula is convenient for mothers who want to/have to work. Formula is convenient for mothers who wish to share feeding with fathers or grandparents. It’s not merely convenient, but actually lifesaving for women who don’t make enough milk to supply their babies’ needs. It’s also convenient, and in many cases can preserve a breastfeeding relationship, for women who have agonizing pain while nursing or while nursing often.

Pro-tip for Martha: if something isn’t convenient, women figure it out for themselves. If you need to “explain” it to them, it suggests that you are not correct in your assessment of its convenience.

Formula will not save you from “breastfeeding problems” like mastitis, engorgement, breast pain, and leaking.

Regardless of whether you breastfeed or not, your milk will still come in, you will still get engorged, you may still get mastitis, and you will still need to buy breast pads and special bras. You will leak like mad. That milk has to go somewhere, and since the baby isn’t easing your pain, there will be several days to weeks of suffering while you wait for your milk to “dry up”…

Martha clearly believes that truth is overrated. While engorgement can be a breastfeeding problem, most breastfeeding problems have nothing to do with engorgement. If you choose not to breastfeed, it is extremely unlikely that you will get mastitis; you might need a few breastpads but you won’t need special bras. That’s just a lie. Moreover, if you choose not to breastfeed, you WON’T experience the breastfeeding problems that lead so many women to quit. You won’t get excruciatingly painful, bloody nipples. You won’t get exhausted by nursing every 2 hours. You won’t have to carry the entire responsibility for feeding your baby yourself. And most important, you will never have to listen to your baby scream from hunger because he or she is not getting enough milk.

Formula batches and ingredients are not approved by the FDA … No one inspects individual batches, no one even regulates the ingredients to ensure the same cocktail is made up for every can, or every batch.

Apparently Martha’s motto is “if at first you don’t succeed” lie, lie again. Those claims are bald faced lies. Formula is extremely heavily regulated at every stage of the manufacturing process and even after the formula is sold

You can find some of the regulations here:

(1) The results of tests conducted to determine the purity of each nutrient …

(2) The weight of each nutrient added;

(3) The results of any quantitative tests conducted to determine the amount of each nutrient certified or guaranteed …

(e) The manufacturer shall maintain all records necessary to ensure proper nutrient quality control in the manufacture of infant formula products. Such records shall include the results of any testing conducted to verify that each nutrient required by section 412(i) of the act or § 107.100 of this chapter is present in each batch of infant formula at the appropriate concentration. This requirement pertains to ingredients, in process batch and finished product from the time of manufacture through its expiration date.

(f) The manufacturer shall maintain all records necessary to ensure required nutrient content at the final product stage. Such records shall include, but are not limited to, testing results for vitamins A, B1 (thiamine), C, and E for each batch of infant formula. “Final product stage” means the point in the manufacturing process prior to distribution at which the infant formula is homogenous and not subject to further degradation from the manufacturing process.

(h) The manufacturer shall maintain all records pertaining to the microbiological quality and purity of raw materials and finished powdered infant formula…

(k) The manufacturer shall maintain procedures describing how all written and oral complaints regarding infant formula will be handled. The manufacturer shall follow these procedures and shall include in them provisions for the review of any complaint involving an infant formula and for determining the need for an investigation of the possible existence of a hazard to health.

Oops. It seems that Martha didn’t do her research.

You can read the rest of Martha’s “revelations” for yourself, but I do want to note one claim beloved of lactivists:

Formula Is Not Safe Or Easily-Available During Natural Disasters

I don’t know why this impresses lactivists so much. Breastmilk is not available at all if a mother is killed during a natural disaster or if a mother succumbs to a serious illness.

Let’s get back to the original issue.

If breastfeeding is so awesome, Martha, why do you have to explain its awesomeness? Maybe it’s because lactivists like Martha are well aware that for many women breastfeeding isn’t awesome at all. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be writing screeds that chivvy, lie to and guilt women into breastfeeding as Martha is trying to do.

Why do lactivists spend so much time proclaiming the awesomeness of breastfeeding? Because they are really proclaiming the awesomeness of themselves. See how dedicated lactivists are! See how educated lactivists are! See how selfless lactivists are!

Sorry Martha, but breastfeeding doesn’t make you awesome. It doesn’t make you anything other than a woman who chose to breastfeed her children because YOU think it is awesome.

Why isn’t that enough for you? If breastfeeding really is awesome, why do you need to spend so much time convincing other women of its awesomeness?