Are natural childbirth and lactivism ableist?

Tag or word cloud disability related

I first began wondering if natural childbirth and lactivism are ableist when I saw the image below on The Alpha Parent’s Facebook page, labeled #Truth.

Presumably the quote is from Allison Dixley’s recently published book:

Functioning breasts are no more ‘lucky’ than a functioning pair of legs, yet we don’t incessantly dwell on the luck enjoyed by those of us who can walk.

TAP legs

The commentors quickly schooled Dixley that people who can walk ARE lucky, and when we stop to think about it, we acknowledge this.

That’s what led me to consider whether natural childbirth, with its relentless focus on and praise of functioning uteri, ample pelves, and transit of babies through vaginas, and lactivism, with its relentless focus on and praise of lactating breasts, are part of a subset of discrimination known as ableism.

What is ableism?

According to Stop

Ableism – a set of practices and beliefs that assign inferior value (worth) to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities…

An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of ‘normal living’…

Natural childbirth is a set of practices and beliefs that assigns inferior value to women who do not have unmedicated, vaginal births.

Lactivism is a set of practices and beliefs that assigns inferior value to women who do not use their breasts to feed their babies.

Dixley’s original claim that “we don’t incessantly dwell on the luck enjoyed by those of us who can walk” is also ableist. To paraphrase Stop, the failure to appreciate that not everyone can walk results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve those who can walk, thereby inherently excluding those who cannot. That is discrimination. It is wrong and fortunately we are working to overcome that by making venues accessible to all.

Although it is discrimination, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would go so far as to write blog posts and books accusing those who cannot walk of not trying hard enough. That would be cruel as well as discriminatory. Yet natural childbirth advocates and lactivists write incessant blog posts and books accusing women who have had C-sections of not trying hard enough, and accusing women who can’t exclusively breastfeed of not trying hard enough.

Indeed both natural childbirth advocacy and lactivism have created ideals of childbirth and infant feeding that don’t merely exalt perfect body function, they insist that all but a vanishingly small few are capable of perfect body function. It is but a short hop then, if other women’s uteri, pelves, or breasts didn’t work perfectly, to blame them for their “failures.”

Natural childbirth advocates and lactivists view body function almost in terms of Calvinist predestination. Those who have unmedicated vaginal births and breastfeed exclusively are the Mothering Elect. Everyone else is destined for everlasting Mothering Hell. That explains in part why women are willing to risk their babies’ lives by attempting vaginal birth in high risk situations, ignoring medical complications, and laboring for days in an effort to demonstrate to themselves and others that they are part of the Mothering Elect. It explains why they are “traumatized” by not having a vaginal birth. Natural childbirth advocates have convinced them that their worth is located in their vaginas.

It explains why some women are willing to starve their newborns nearly to death with their insistence on exclusive breastfeeding even though they are not producing enough milk in an effort to demonstrate to themselves and others that they are part of the Mothering Elect. It explains why they are willing to feed their babies almost anything (goat’s milk, self-made formula) rather than commercially prepared formula, which is the lactivist equivalent of the mark of Satan.

Simply put, natural childbirth advocates are prejudiced against women who don’t have unmedicated vaginal births. Lactivists are prejudiced against women who don’t breastfeed. Their ableism is all the more remarkable when we consider the very high natural failure rate of human (and animal) reproduction. The natural miscarriage rate for established pregnancies is 20%; the natural rate of neonatal mortality is in the range of 7%; the natural rate of maternal mortality is 1%. It is estimated that 5% of women don’t make enough breastmilk to fully nourish a child. When you consider that most women would (in the absence of birth control) experience 8 or 10 or more pregnancies across a reproductive lifespan that’s a lot of miscarriages, dead babies and dead mothers.

Despite the stark reality of death as a prominent part of human reproduction, natural childbirth advocates aggressively pretend otherwise. Despite the stark reality of lactation failure as a natural part of human reproduction, lactivists aggressively pretend that it is so rare as to be unworthy of consideration.

Veneration of perfect body function, and discrimination against those who don’t have perfect body function (not to mention blaming them for their imperfect body function!) is  pure ableism. By that definition, natural childbirth advocacates and lactivists are ableist. They assign inferior worth to women who don’t have unmedicated vaginal births and who don’t exclusively breastfeed.

That is prejudice, it’s wrong, and women should speak out in one voice against it.

271 Responses to “Are natural childbirth and lactivism ableist?”

  1. Deb Hanson
    November 4, 2015 at 3:31 am #

    Don’t think I’ve read such nonsense in a long time. You’ve completely missed the point of what a natural childbirth advocate is and indeed what a lactivist is. Well done for trying to sound clever with a dictionary definition for ableist though- credit where it’s due I guess. So in answer to your ridiculous title- No. Maybe talk to the people who’s opinions you pressume to understand as that research would give you credibility rather than come accross as sensationalist, bitter and misinformed. You remind me of Katie Hopkins in fact.

    • Lane
      October 2, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

      It seems like she hit the nail on the head and you just don’t like what she has to say.

      • Helen
        September 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

        Deb didn’t even counter the argument in the piece, she just called it names.

  2. Rosalind Dalefield
    September 18, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    I think it is ableist. I have an android pelvis and all four of my babies were malpresentations; two posterior presentations (the first one undiagnosed until second stage, the second turned from anterior to posterior when I was 6 cm dilated) and the other two made it to occipitotransverse and stuck there. You wouldn’t believe the bullshit and patronising I had to put up with from women with gynecoid pelvises who gave birth easily and thought everybody should be able to. So many of them kept telling me how it was my fault for not having the right attitude, not trying hypnotism, not trying different positions to give birth (I did!), blah blah blah. As if any of that quackery would have changed the shape of my pelvis!
    On the other hand I was fantastic at breastfeeding, tons of high-fat milk and although my mother used to brag about getting her babies back to birthweight by seven days of age, I could and did do it by day four. You know what? Having good breasts for breast feeding was DUMB LUCK. Nothing clever or praiseworthy about it at all, and it does not make me a better mother than someone who cannot breastfeed, just luckier. I’m damned proud of my PhD and my two Board certifications, but I’m not proud at all of being a good cow.
    If you have a good myometrium, a nice capacious pelvis and good boobs, bully for you. If that’s all you have to feel proud of, I feel sorry for you that you apparently have nothing to feel proud of that took genuine effort rather than dumb genetic luck.

  3. Creekside
    March 10, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    Trying to compare breastfeeding to walking would be valid if every morning I woke up I had the choice to use my legs or not, and the chance that after making that choice they would or would not work. Sure… ‘breast is best’. I get the science behind it maybe… it sounds reasonable. I’m a single dad and my son is now 3. I had to use formula because… well… I’m a single dad.

    While I never had an encounter with a ‘raging lactivist’… I certainly was made to feel like an idiot (and still am) most of the time. When my son was 2 we were at Walmart and someone asked me how old he was. “2” I said. “Oh, he’s small for 2 months” she said glancing at my cans of “Good Start” and jars of baby food. (OK I’m sorry about the baby food I didn’t know how long for him to eat food). “No, he’s 2 days old”, I said.

    Now… It’s 3 1/2 years later and when I write that I still tear up… because you know what? I was doing the best I could. I didn’t need judgement. I needed some help. I didn’t need criticism. I needed someone to tell me it was OK that he slept on my chest all night because that was as good as I could think to making him think he had a mom.

    Stuff happens. We are doing OK. I get counselling for PTSD because I didn’t really have any aftercare. He’s a smart and empathetic soul and we are OK.

    • Mattie
      March 10, 2015 at 9:11 pm #

      You are doing a great job, and always have been. I love babies, I smile at them in supermarkets and make silly faces and probably annoy parents but I can’t help it, I always make sure to say hi to the caregivers and to congratulate them on the baby and to say how lovely they are, and that’s it, because the rest is none of my business.

      • Bombshellrisa
        March 10, 2015 at 10:03 pm #

        Nah. When people smile at my son and greet him, it makes me happy.

    • Rosalind Dalefield
      September 18, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

      Doing the best you can is all any parent can do. I’ll bet he’ll turn out fine and will always love you to bits. FWIW, I love seeing dads parenting their babies. I’m so sorry you didn’t get the aftercare and support you needed.
      All the hysteria about what babies should eat, and when, is just that. Mothers have died in childbirth throughout prehistory and history and babies have been raised on all sorts of things, even plugged on to goats or mares. It’s not as critical as all that, it really isn’t.

  4. Lauren
    March 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    I think it goes beyond the censoring of women who cannot or will not adhere to the ‘natural’ ways of birthing and feeding, all the way to pushing the idiotic idea of donor milk for that tiny subset of women who have a medical reason lactivists will actually recognize.
    Oh, you really and truly can’t breastfeed?? Oh, poor you! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a COMPLETE failure! Spend your money on donor milk! Don’t be afraid that it’s unregulated, untested, and possibly dangerous, just do it because BREAST IS BEST and if it can’t come from your breast at least it can come from A breast!

    Yeah, and I will also have all my meals catered by Organic Works (a meal-prep and delivery service) for my child’s entire life, because I’m not a chef.

  5. Guest
    March 6, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    Ableism is extremely hard for people to see when they haven’t experienced. Now, I’ve never opposed making things accessible to other people, but I never truly “got it” until I gave birth to twins. I am a single parent with no car. I rely on public transportation. But until my children are old enough to walk, using the subway or bus is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible for us. On the bus, you have to have your children out of the stroller and the stroller folded up *before* you board. This is difficult when there’s one parent and one infant, and impossible with one parent and more than one infant. So, we can’t take the bus. Some of the trains stations have elevators, but most don’t. So I went from having unlimited access to my city, to having extremely limited access to it simply by dint of having two babies instead of the one I planned. AND NONE OF US ARE EVEN DISABLED. (Though I wonder sometimes whether children should be considered “temporarily disabled” for the purposes of city and transportation planning – when they cannot walk or do other physical things required for safe travel, isn’t that a concern? Yes, they have guardians to help them, but there are still limitations that could be avoided. Airlines, for example, could PROVIDE child harnesses for airplane seats instead of leaving it up to parents to buy expensive products. This is all very rambling now, so I’ll stop.)

    • Guesteleh
      March 6, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      I completely agree with you. Also, everyone will become disabled during their lives if they live long enough. So why only design for the healthy young? This is going to be a very urgent issue as the baby boomers continue to age.

    • sdsures
      March 7, 2015 at 11:47 am #

      Again, having kids is a choice. Being disabled is not.

      • fiftyfifty1
        March 7, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

        What’s your point?

        • sdsures
          March 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

          See my above comment.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 9, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

            Got it! People with disabilities didn’t choose to be unable to use transportation etc, while women who have children should have seen it coming those selfish bitches. OK.

          • sdsures
            March 9, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

            You think being disabled is a choice?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 9, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

            You missed the point. She fails to see why it matters.

          • sdsures
            March 9, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

            Ah. Well, it’s very difficult for people who have never been disabled to “get it”.

          • March 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

            I think most people have had the experience of being at least temporarily disabled. I’m the least adventurous person I know, and I sprained my ankle while walking to the doctor’s office.

            What isn’t clear is your point here. Yes, a mother pushing a stroller could have had an abortion. A person disabled in a car accident could have taken the bus. A person with a degenerative disease could have moved across the country to take part in clinical trials for drugs that might slow its progression. Given infinite possibilities and a time machine, anything can happen.

            The point isn’t that the parents struggling to get their toddlers through a subway station could have had an abortion two years ago: the point is that installing an elevator in a subway station would make their lives easier, as well as the lives of people with disabilities, people loaded down with shopping bags, people in all kinds of situations.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

            “I think most people have had the experience of being at least temporarily disabled.”

            I’m sure most do. But the fact is that being chronically ill or disabled is extremely different. There is no “end” to it, and for those born with whatever they have, there is no experience of life without it, or “before” it, as in your sprained ankle. The effects of said sprain are not likely to be permanent, except perhaps to enable the person to avoid repeating that precise activity in the future (which is why, for example, they make those flip-up ice picks like the one my cane sports. Nifty!).

            Someone once asked me whether I would have been happier not having cerebral palsy. I said such a question is akin to asking what was there before the Big Bang. It’s meaningless. But in the case of the question about disability, it shows a certain level of ableism inherent in the question, doesn’t it? Is the question meant to imply that the way I am isn’t as desirable as the way a nondisabled person is? You won’t believe how many times I have heard or read someone exclaim, “If I were confined to a wheelchair, I’d just DIE!” It’s seriously the worst fate they can imagine. Worse than the death of a spouse, child or loved one? I think not. If such a thing actually happened, yes, you’d be angry, upset, perhaps even devastated. But you would adapt because that’s what humans have been doing since we first came down from the trees. An attitude of “I’d just DIE if I were confined to a wheelchair.” merely speaks to a profound lack of life experience in that particular person.

          • deafgimp
            March 12, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

            I don’t know about that. If you decide to do stupid tricks on an ATV while drunk and not wearing a helmet, you’re really choosing the outcome of your actions.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:24 pm #

            I was referring to congenital disorders and acquired disorders (is Celiac disease a fair example? Or is it congenital?) that occur through no action on the part of the patient or anyone else. (This would exclude Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, since we know that parents who abstain usually don’t have kids who are at risk for FAS.)

      • MLE
        March 7, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

        Society is made up of adults and children. Infrastructure is created for society to use. Therefore families with children should be considered during the creation of infrastructure, just as the disabled should be as well. Why does this need to be explained?

      • LovleAnjel
        March 8, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

        It is not the child’s choice.

        • sdsures
          March 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

          It is the parents’ choice to have children. It is not an individual’s choice to be disabled.

          • Cobalt
            March 9, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

            Under that logic, disability access issues aren’t society’s problem, they’re the problem of the disabled person’s parents. They decided to have kids, so they have to deal with the consequences of that choice.

            Its a better place to live, though, when we accommodate people with disabilities, families with kids, families with disabled kids, kids with disabled families, etc.

          • sdsures
            March 9, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

            I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood, although I agree with your second paragraph: The comparison I made isn’t about parents having disabled children, because nobody has any control over that. It can’t be predicted.

            What is controllable is what people choose to do when they find out that a sperm has turned an egg into a zygote. They can choose to keep the baby or have an abortion.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 9, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

            Again, what is your point? That people with disabilities “deserve” to have accommodations but that mothers ought to suck it up because being unable to use public services was their “choice” for not having abortions?
            Do you realize where this logic of yours will lead? It leads to the obvious conclusion that parents of disabled children should have aborted them, and that NO accommodations should be made to anybody. Not for poor people either. They should find a good job and buy a car! Fuck them all, survival of the fittest man! Public transport, ramps, hand grips in the bathroom–all that shit is for life’s losers, right?

          • sdsures
            March 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

            Would it surprise you to know I’m permanently disabled and think eugenics is bad?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 9, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

            Of course it’s not surprising. But eugenics is the logical extension of your argument anyway. You have decided that some people who need accommodations are “deserving” because they have disabilities, while some are not because they “chose” to have children. But someone else might very well decide who is “deserving” based on very different criteria. Perhaps they will say that disabled people are not deserving because they will always be “abnormal”, whereas mothers are deserving because they are fundamentally “normal”.

            It seems to me that the wisest course of action is to provide accommodations to ALL who need them, without squabbling about who chose their problems or who deserves help.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

            The fact of life is that decisions do indeed get made, sometimes without much forethought, and some people who ought to get accomodations or supplementary assistance do not get what they need. It’s not a perfect world.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 16, 2015 at 8:14 am #

            No, it’s not a perfect world. And there are not currently enough resources to go around for all the people who could benefit from accommodations. So until that happy day arrives when there are unlimited resources, I suggest we elect sdsures as judge and jury. You know, sort of a God who can decide which people are “deserving” enough to use the resources, and which ones “should have seen it coming” because of their selfish choices.

          • sdsures
            March 16, 2015 at 8:26 am #

            Are you quite finished with your vast oversimplifications?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 16, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

            There is an important difference between oversimplification and what I am doing, which is following something to its logical conclusion. Your policy of dividing people into “deserving disabled” and “undeserving/could have aborted” leads us directly into eugenics territory. You might not like to hear that your opinions are eugenic at heart, but they are.

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

            So wanting to give my kid a fighting chance instead of dooming them to a life of medical procedures and early death from any number of very serious congenital anomalies is eugenics?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 29, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

            But whether you decide to abort your baby or not is not what we are discussing. What we are discussing is *who deserves special accommodations* when attempting to use public services. You have already argued that only the disabled deserved accommodations because those who are not permanently disabled (e.g. mothers of twins) could have foreseen their temporary inability to use services and if they didn’t like that should have aborted. I am taking your own argument to the next logical step: that if there is any reason at all to believe that a child you are bearing will not be 100% disability free, that that child should also not receive accommodations since you could have foreseen the problem and if you didn’t like it should have aborted.

            Or perhaps you should rethink your own tendency to judge people as “deserving” or not, and work to accommodate ALL those with needs whether their limitations are permanent or impermanent, foreseen or unforeseen, their fault, or their parents’ fault or nobody’s fault. How about that?

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

            Remember what I said about Utopia?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 29, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

            No I don’t. Care to make an actual argument in lucid terms rather than hinting?

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

            I already did. Did you suddenly forget how to read?

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

            I do appreciate that not everyone is pro-choice. It so happens that my husband and I are pro-choice.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

            I’m prochoice too. At the exact same time, I believe that if the mother chooses to continue the pregnancy, our society should provide accommodations. Some of these accommodations may be temporary (e.g. mother of twins in strollers) and some may be permanent (e.g. child born with disabilities or who acquires disabilities due to an accident or old age). You, in contrast, feel that because a woman is given a choice to continue a pregnancy, that no accommodations should be made for her or her offspring, because she could have aborted but chose not to.

            We could also extend your arguments to suicide. In the past, suicide was a crime, even attempting suicide was a crime. Now it has been decriminalized and I support that. But just because I think that suicide should be legal, does NOT mean I think it should be obligatory. Using *your own* logic one could argue that since suicide is not illegal, that people with disabilities should not receive any accommodations, because after all, if they don’t like it, they could just kill themselves. See where your logic leads? Still think it’s a good idea to judge who is “deserving” of services or not?

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

            It’s starting to sound more like your logic, since you can’t let it go.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

            Who deserves help – should we give priority liver transplants to lifelong alcoholics?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 16, 2015 at 8:10 am #

            What do you think? Here’s another one: should liver transplants be allowed for people who have their liver conditions because of autoimmune problems? Because autoimmune problems run in families you know. A woman might have hypothyroidism, but decides to have a baby anyway after controlling her condition with Synthroid. But then her child grows up to have Primary Biliary Cirrhosis which is also autoimmune. He should not get a liver transplant because his mother had a genetic condition and chose to have a baby anyway when she could have aborted, no?

          • sdsures
            March 16, 2015 at 8:27 am #

            You REALLY don’t get it.

          • KarenJJ
            March 16, 2015 at 8:51 am #

            I don’t get it either. It’s like you’re trying to blame some people for their disabilities and therefore they shouldn’t get access to accommodations or assistance?

            Where I am access to assistance is based on needs and access to alternative income.
            I could access disability benefits as my hearing loss is bad enough (I actually checked this out once), but I can’t access benefits because I am employed and earn above the threshold. It’s not about whether something could be prevented or whether it was genetic and therefore my parents shouldn’t have had me or not.

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

            No – what I’m saying is that not everyone really gets what it’s like to be disabled, when they are not disabled themselves.

            Put it this way: How often do you think, really THINK about what your body is doing when you step up or down a curb? It’s automatic, right? When you’re in a mobility device like a wheelchair, you have to consciously keep track of where the ramps are and where they are not. If there is no ramp/curb cut, then you have to figure out an alternative route.

            Does that make more sense?

          • KarenJJ
            March 29, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

            But that was a point made earlier by someone that was trying to get around with twins. When you are pushing a pram (especially a big one for twins) you have to cultivate a similar mindset. Yes it’s temporary, but it can also be eye-opening to someone that hasn’t had to do that before. The fact that both prams and other mobility devices can benefit from ramps and curb cuts is great. I don’t see it as one being more ‘deserving’ of it than another but of society becoming more inclusive of all people that have mobility issues (including babies).

            I get to enjoy my own access issues in a different area and yes some things are very frustrating. I used to watch a lot of foreign language films and television because they would generally have english subtitles for me. Whether someone was watching the film because it was in a language other than english, or whether they were watching the film because it had subtitles doesn’t really matter, does it? It meant more people were accessing that particular film and it was infinitely better than dubbing it into english.

          • sdsures
            March 30, 2015 at 7:41 am #

            Being disabled is not a choice. Having children is.

          • KarenJJ
            March 30, 2015 at 9:59 am #

            But then we get back to the point of why this idea of “choice” is at all relevant to whatever argument you are trying to make? Does this make you more deserving of consideration for access issues because your mobility issues are lifelong? Have I got it now?

          • sdsures
            March 30, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

            Of course not “just me”. Anyone who has mobility impairments.

            The argument, as I recall, was the way mothers (and presumably fathers) with prams can (but not always) take up both the spaces in public transport reserved for people with disabilities. *Legally, they are required to move*, and most do without a fight especially if there are empty seats on the conveyance. Those seats are designed the way they are (to be flipped up) for a reason: to accomodate mobility devices. It’s also affected by how much the driver has had experience with disabled passengers who use mobility devices.

            Have you ever used Handi-Transit or a similar service? They are notoriously unreliable, which is why many people choose to use the more reliable public transport system instead. You never have to book a trip 2 days in advance (I had to deal with that at university. Imagine how people working would be affected if the only way they got to work made them an hour late, unpredictably: they’d get fired!) and feel like every minute of your day revolves around a driver who doesn’t care if he makes you wait 5 hours for a pickup because he’s only earning minimum wage.

            PS: How do you make text bold here?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 16, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

            Well should that person get to be on the transplant list or not?

          • sdsures
            March 27, 2015 at 10:56 am #

            Go ask someone on your local hospital’s transplant committee.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 27, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

            Oh, I know already what the answer is (it’s a real friend of mine). I also happen to know what the answer is regarding liver failure secondary to alcoholism as it has come up with my own patients.
            I’m asking *you* what you think as you have some odd and interesting opinions about who does and does not deserve society’s help.

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

            If the patient isn’t able to control his addiction and the liver is going to go to waste, then no, he shouldn’t get it. Same is said for patients who need a heart transplant: those who will get more years out of the heart will be more likely to be at the top of the list, all things being equal.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 29, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

            You are dodging the question again. The original question–that you yourself posed –is whether livers should be given to people whose own liver was disabled due to their own behavior (i.e. life long alcoholics). It’s a simplistic thing to say that we shouldn’t give organs to people who won’t be able to support them (due to ongoing alcoholism, very advanced age etc). What is much more interesting is the question you implied at first: what about an alcoholic who is now sober. So what about it? You seem to love judging who is “deserving” and who isn’t. What does sdsures have to say about our former alcoholic?

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

            Sober alcoholic gets the liver, obviously. But he still may get passed over for other people on the transplant list (who haven’t willingly marinaded their livers in gin over twenty years) who were clocked in to it earlier than he was.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 29, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

            Actually time spent on the waiting list is seldom a factor in who gets a liver. It is only ever used in the case of a tie after all the other factors are taken into consideration (MELD score, blood type, body size, geographic proximity).

            …and you are still dodging the question. The question YOU posed. You didn’t ask how the liver transplant list IS run, you asked how SHOULD it be run and who was DESERVING.

            “Who deserves help – should we give priority liver transplants to lifelong alcoholics?”

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

            “The comparison I made isn’t about parents having disabled children, because nobody has any control over that. It can’t be predicted.”

            Oh come now, it’s at least partially predictable. That was the basis of eugenics.

          • March 9, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

            That’s also the justification for killing infants with disabilities that are only diagnosed after birth.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

            Cerebral palsy is not predictable (i.e. genetic or visible on an ultrasound) because it tends to occur either right before, during, or just after birth. There are many other congenital disorders that are not predictable. By “predictable”, are you referring to genetic diseases that run in families?

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 16, 2015 at 8:03 am #

            OK then. The ones who had completely unpredictable disorders can be declared disabled. But the ones born where the family had any knowledge of the risk ahead of time, or those born to families where there is a test, but they didn’t do the test, can’t be called disabled, but instead shall get the label of “burdensome choice” and shall not be coddled because their parents should have aborted them. Also, anybody that gets disabled due to a choice of their own (broke neck during diving accident, rode in a car, served in the Army etc) shall also be declared “burdensome choice” rather than disabled.

          • theresa
            March 16, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

            you are burdensome, fiftyfifty1

          • NXTangl
            June 1, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

            Sincerity: I had to scroll up and read your other comments to tell that you were being sarcastic. Friendly reminder: you cannot indicate that you are being sarcastic merely by being stupid on the internet; there is undoubtedly SOMEONE who holds the opinion sincerely. Or is willing to pretend that he (it’s usually a he) is for purposes of trolling.

          • AllieFoyle
            March 16, 2015 at 10:52 am #

            Does the fact that a disability is visible on ultrasound make the eventual person and his family less deserving of public accommodation? That seems to be what you are arguing.

            The person we are discussing has difficulty accessing transportation because she had twins–is that “her fault”? Twins are one of the possible outcomes of pregnancy, but so are many other conditions, from minor to severely disabling. Choice and responsibility and luck are hopelessly intertwined in many situations. Why bother quibbling about who deserves her fate and who is blameless enough to be worthy of accommodation? A progressive and compassionate society is inclusive and takes people as they are.

          • Cobalt
            March 9, 2015 at 7:23 pm #

            Disabled adults were once children. To say that the logistical challenges of using public spaces with children should be ignored because children are a choice and all the logistical problems should fall on the parents means that disability access for disabled adults would also be not society’s problem. Those disabled people exist only by the choice of their parents, and their parents should be responsible for whatever they need.

            We all start out as children, and anyone could become disabled. A decent society will accept both.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

            Have you noticed we don’t live in Utopia?

          • Cobalt
            March 16, 2015 at 9:21 am #

            Just because the world isn’t perfect doesn’t mean we should abandon all our citizens for 18 years, or disabled citizens for their entire lives. Access is generally very achievable.

          • sdsures
            March 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

            Not everywhere. And when it isn’t, you feel like you have a scarlet A on your chest.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:18 pm #

            Being disabled as a senior citizen is not the same as being disabled when you are younger and in the prime of life.

          • Cobalt
            March 16, 2015 at 9:19 am #

            Depending on the disability, the mechanics and logistics of it can be remarkably similar. A ramp works the same for walkers, wheelchairs, and strollers.

          • AllieFoyle
            March 16, 2015 at 10:31 am #

            How so? In terms of being deserving of public accommodation, what is the important distinction?

          • MLE
            March 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

            So you’re either recommending the annihilation of the human race so that no accommodations have to be made for children, OR, you’re deliberately misunderstanding the argument here.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:15 pm #

            Why are your interpretations so black and white? Life rarely is.

          • Cobalt
            March 16, 2015 at 9:17 am #

            That’s the logical conclusion of denying that society has any interest in its children. You are declaring children are irrelevant (which is very black and white), and if children become truly irrelevant, society would cease to exist.

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 9, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

            Exactly. It makes more sense for us to put our efforts and resources into making sure public places are accessible to ALL our citizens then it does to sit around and squabble about who “deserves” accommodations and who doesn’t because it was their “choice”.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            March 16, 2015 at 11:02 am #

            Agreed–and this is coming from someone who’s pretty right-wing overall. As far as I’m concerned, a society has a responsibility to the more vulnerable among us to help them as best we can. I may whinge incessantly about some of the uses to which my tax dollars are put, but disabled access, therapies, care and so on ain’t one of ’em.

          • sdsures
            March 15, 2015 at 11:58 pm #

            “They decided to have kids, so they have to deal with the consequences of that choice.”

            Yes they do, and most parents do so splendidly. All the disability adds to all of their lives is having the ability to be adaptable (in a psychological sense), and a bleep of a lot of creativity. Do we need to put a ramp at the door of our house, because our child is learning to use a walker or wheelchair? OK. Do we need to put sturdier railings on the stairs when she learns to walk? Good idea. Are there any issues at school that are affected by her disability that we can help teachers learn to navigate and mainstream the kid? Does our daughter have physiotherapy during the week that would interfere with school? If so, can we arrange it on a day her class has gym, in which she might not be able to participate as fully yet as her peers?

            I could go on, because I’ve experienced most of that at one time or another when I was growing up.

          • Cobalt
            March 16, 2015 at 9:14 am #

            And when the family goes together anywhere in public, they shouldn’t expect any assistance whatsoever? No elevators, no ramps, no curb dips, no accommodation for their disabled child, because that child was their choice and is therefore not worth society’s consideration? And when that child grows up, is there a magic age at which it becomes worthy of society’s consideration, or is it eternally the parents’ responsibility to make sure the adult child can get up the steps wherever it goes?

            We were all children once, and anyone could become disabled. Given a long enough life, age cripples most. Children are members of our society also, why should they be excluded for the disabilities inherent of excessive youth?

          • Rosalind Dalefield
            September 18, 2015 at 8:27 pm #

            My supermarket has some parking places marked for disabled people, and another four marked with a stencilled pram for pregnant women and women with babies or small children.

          • AllieFoyle
            March 16, 2015 at 11:39 am #

            Who do you think will suffer if that parents aren’t able to use public transportation to access things like food, medical appointments, trips to the library, parks, etc.?

            Being able to use public transportation is pretty fundamental. Who cares what decisions led to the need to use it or the difficulty in accessing it? Why not just help people when they need it?

    • toni
      March 9, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

      Not to be a downer but to be honest it’s not a whole lot easier when they start walking because they don’t sit still and want to run off constantly so you’re wrestling them into getting on in the first place and then chasing them around the bus/carriage trying to stop them pissing off the other passengers! I only have one (born) child atm but I refuse to travel by bus or rail alone with him.. maybe I’m pathetic but I need at least one other person to help me. Public transport is safer than driving your own car though so there’s that

    • Cobalt
      March 9, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

      Two babies on public transport? That’s HARD. You could do a carrier and a small stroller once they get to supported sitting, but that’s not a whole lot better, especially if you’re also carrying anything else with you. I hope you get some logistical help.

    • Elizabeth A
      March 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

      This is why it drives me batshit crazy when people act like access for disabilities is only about disabled people. On the one hand, of course it’s about them, and we should do our best. But good design for accessibility improves life for loads of people. No one should think that it’s an imposition to put in a ramp “just” for people in wheelchairs, because it’s not just for those people. Accessible transit is important for the formally disabled, and also for people with babies or suitcases.

      • March 9, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

        Features meant for accessibility can make life easier for everyone. Like curb cuts help people with strollers and shopping carts. Captioned programs and movies are great for language learners, people with minor hearing loss, or understanding a show where people have an unfamiliar accent. The buttons that open doors are great for, again, parents with strollers, but also people hauling things and people who are in too much of a hurry to hold a door open for someone.

  6. Ash
    March 6, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    Still having website problems–on some devices, the most recent post shows up first, on others, it’s still stuck on

    Celebrities say: Take this medical advice*

    • Jocelyn
      March 6, 2015 at 11:44 am #

      Same here. And I still have to be logged into Disqus to up vote a comment.

  7. Wombat
    March 6, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    OT but it got me thinking: how many homebirthers/UCers skip ultrasounds entirely? I’ve been distantly connected to people who both ended pregnancies due to terminal diagnosises like Trisomy 18 or other serious complications, or birthed a baby who either was not expected to leave the hospital or was stillborn. Less seriously. I also know parents who were able to mentally and occassionally physically prepare for having a baby with varying degrees of disability, due to prenatal diagnosis.

    Going into a birth expecting a happy healthy baby already ends badly for too many women misguided by these midwives. I can’t imagine the gut wrenchingness of having it turn out like that. And what if Mom is injured seriously in delivery? It’s a choice that some women might make for their child, but for a completely non-viable baby? Ugh.

    I’d guess it’s fairly rare, due to spontaneous abortion and easily seen factors like fetal movement, but I wonder. And especially if Mom is taken with the ‘some babies aren’t meant to live’ woo, I honestly wonder if it would even get -officially- recorded.

    Sorry for downer city, but I was re-reading an online friends story about losing their little boy in the NICU to trisomy 18, and it mixed with this blog in my head, in the worst way.

    P.s. those who pick up the pieces of these tragedies, be them homebirth nightmares or not (grief counselers, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, and even just caring nurses, doctors and support staff) are saints.

    • Bugsy
      March 6, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      Crazy Lactivist did, as far as I know. When we last spoke (mid-pregnancy), she was adamantly against all ultrasounds. Her birth centre midwives weren’t thrilled with it, but allowed it. It made no sense to me; she’d had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, has a steel rod in her back due to scoliosis, is an absolutely tiny girl, had declined the glucola test this time around in favour of a GTT using orange juice and a banana, and had previously had a pregnancy that was transferred from birth centre to hospital due to low fetal heart rate.

      I don’t know the details of her L&D; we stopped talking before her 3rd trimester. However, I do know that the baby was huge – nearly 9 lbs for a mom who may not clear 90 or 100 lbs. Her husband had also been publicly posting how excited they were to meet their little girl. It was a boy.

      As someone who was high risk during my pregnancy due to fertility treatments followed by pre-term labour issues, her arguments against ultrasound simply seemed idiotic to me.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        March 6, 2015 at 10:30 am #

        As someone who was high risk during my pregnancy due to fertility treatments followed by pre-term labour issues, her arguments against ultrasound simply seemed idiotic to me.

        Bah, the arguments against ultrasounds are idiotic irrespective of anyone’s level of risk. There’s no reason to forego ultrasounds in a low-risk pregnancy, either.

        And for the GD test, I realize that there are objections to the glucola because of the taste of it, but why is it that it seems that the same people who forego ultrasounds also don’t do the glucola test but will do something half-assed? It can’t just be coincidence that the people who refuse ultrasounds just happen to not be able to tolerate glucola. But the more important question is why do they do anything at all? If you are going to test for it, do it right, and if you don’t care about doing it right, why bother?

        • Sarah1035
          March 6, 2015 at 10:56 am #

          I’ll suck it up and do the GD testing and am not the type to refuse tests, vaccines etc…but as a lay person I don’t get why I have to drink that aweful crap instead of eating a bag of skittles in five minutes or getting an IV/injection of something. Last time I had to do the 3 hour after failing the one hour. I’m 25 weeks now and have a routine visit next week and will have to do the GD test soon. Im going to ask if I can just do the three hour so I only have to drink it once.

          • Ash
            March 6, 2015 at 11:13 am #

            The skittles do not have a standardized amount of glucose.

            Glucose via IV would add a lot of cost to a test when most people don’t have medical conditions that would prohibit them from drinking the solution.

          • Roadstergal
            March 6, 2015 at 11:23 am #

            A variable amount of glucose, and a variable amount of other carriers/ingredients that might affect absorption. It’s tough to get a diagnostic assay right – so many unexpected fiddly things can affect the results.

          • Amy M
            March 6, 2015 at 11:32 am #

            Also, the timing of clearance would be different with an IV vs. ingestion.

          • Sarah1035
            March 6, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

            I nearly threw up the solution it’s so gross. It just seems to me with all the medical advancements “they” could come up with a better alternative.

          • Sueq
            March 6, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

            Nearly throwing up once in the context of a pregnancy that makes nearly everyone nearly – or actually – throw up. Meh.

          • Cobalt
            March 7, 2015 at 10:45 am #

            Yes! Seriously, how do you screw up sugar water!

          • Joy
            March 7, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

            The UK uses Lucozade a sort of not very sporty drink. It is lightly carbonated and has caffeine. I have never had it before, and unless I have another, will never drink it again. So very disgusting.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 9, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

            Lucozade is what the UK has instead of Gatorade.
            It is a taste most of us aquired in childhood, as adults it is mostly drunk as a hangover cure.

          • Joy
            March 9, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

            It is a foul, foul replacement for Gatorade though.

          • Nick Sanders
            March 6, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

            Also, isn’t insulin release affected by tasting sugar or something like that? If it is, bypassing the mouth could throw off the test.

          • Daleth
            March 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

            We drink it because it contains an exact amount of glucose and no other sugars. The test results wouldn’t be reliable if everyone ate a slightly different amount of glucose and/or a different mix of sugars before it.

        • Mariana
          March 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

          It doesn’t taste great, but you drink it and that is it. You don’t have to drink it every day for the entire pregnancy, it’s one day. I wonder how these people had medicine as children…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 6, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

            But I think that overlooks the real issue: they don’t really WANT the test.

            Taking the stuff would mean that you cared enough to do it that you’d do it right. They don’t care. I just wonder why they do it at all?

            I mean, I could understand if it was skittles or jelly beans (I love Lent, aka Jelly bean season!). But OJ and a banana? Why come up with an excuse?

          • Bugsy
            March 7, 2015 at 9:52 am #

            My guess w/ Crazy Lactivist is that she thought the GMO-free diet she’d adopted since pregnancy #1 would have prevented GD this time around…that the GD test this time around was simply to prove how awesome she is at controlling her own health outcomes.

            It’s just a guess, though. You raise a great point.

          • Sue
            March 6, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

            One-off ”eeewww – tastes bad” in the context of a nine-month physiological process that can have you vomiting for months. Yep – perspective is everything.

    • SarahSD
      March 6, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Lots skip them. Many are taught to be afraid of ultrasounds with vague suggestions that they might cause autism or other problems with the brain. Then of course, there is the logic that the information gained by any “intervention” (includes “technological” monitoring in this view) could be used to justify further interventions when the “variation of normal” could just have resolved itself. In addition to the kinds of prenatal diagnoses you mention that would be missed, there are complications like placenta previa which as far as I know can’t be diagnosed without ultrasound.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks
      March 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      Yep. Reasons for refusing ultrasounds among the women I know range from “ultrasounds cause the baby pain” to “ultrasounds always misjudge the size of the baby” to “ultrasounds cause brain problems.” When asked what might happen if they wait until the homebirth to learn that they have placenta previa/kid has a heart defect requiring immediate care/what-have-you they just shrug off these possibilities. You see, if you just trust birth enough, bad things won’t happen. Or something. *facepalm*

      • Rosalind Dalefield
        September 18, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

        Or mommy has been taking too much iodine and baby has a thyroid gland so big that it closes off the trachea at birth and baby suffocates immediately. Since ultrasound has become a thing, there have been far fewer cases of that than there used to be.

  8. rational adult
    March 6, 2015 at 6:47 am #

    Hi, I posted a couple of months ago about the CNM who suggested that I not get a flu shot this pregnancy because my first child has autism. Many of you encouraged me to write up this incident and I did submit my concern to Patient Relations. I wanted to share that I received a call from the Midwife Manager. We discussed the incident. She apologized repeatedly and reviewed the actual care guidelines at this practice and how this particular CNM fell short. She outlined the actions she would be taking to review policy with all of the CNMs and said that disciplinary actions were being considered. I am satisfied that my concerns were understood and that there will be a positive result in the end. I still want to see only my OB and no midwives for the duration of this pregnancy and thus far that has been completely respected.

    Thanks for all of your support and encouragement on this!

    Editing to add the original thread on this is in the 1/6/15 post “Does Breastfeeding Cause Autism?”

    • Daleth
      March 6, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

      That’s fabulous. I’m so glad you did that, and so glad it was taken seriously!

    • Who?
      March 9, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

      Well done and let’s hope the person involved has learnt something about care guidelines and how to operate within them.

      Good luck with the baby.

  9. Dr Kitty
    March 6, 2015 at 4:23 am #

    Do you know what I have noticed about the regular posters here, as opposed to TAP and TFB and many of the NCB places?

    A higher percentage of us have disabilities or illnesses. Some of us have family members with disabilities or illnesses. Most of us are painfully and personally aware of how fallible human bodies and brains are. Most of us are grateful for modern medicine because we have reaped tangible, personal benefits from it.

    Few of us have the luxury of being able to assume that things will always go perfectly for us when it comes to pregnancy, childbirth or our health.
    Most of us are very, very aware how lucky we are to be alive at this time, when treatments exist to give us the best quality of life possible.

    Sometimes I feel like the difference between the posters here and the posters on other sites is almost like the difference between new recruits and veterans.
    The recruits have certain ideas about how things are, based on all the stuff they learnt in boot camp and the veterans are going “you weren’t there, you don’t know, it’s nothing like they tell you it is going to be”.

    • Montserrat Blanco
      March 6, 2015 at 7:51 am #

      I do agree.

      BTW, how are you doing?

      • Dr Kitty
        March 6, 2015 at 8:24 am #

        Better, thanks. 14 weeks pregnant and counting…nine weeks of nausea and vomiting so far.
        Still nauseated 24/7, but the puking is down to every few days.
        I’m hopeful that things will be settled enough to start weaning off the anti-emetics in a week or two.
        I’m not loving the Zofran induced headaches.
        Hopeful that things will go the same as last time and I’ll start feeling well from 16 weeks onwards.

        • Bugsy
          March 6, 2015 at 10:01 am #

          Congrats on hitting the second trimester, Dr Kitty.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 6, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

            It is that no man’s land between the first scan and quickening.
            So, I know there is one baby, and it seems to be fine, but there is nothing else to go on.
            Having a Doppler in my desk drawer has been nice, 20 seconds of foetal heart tones and I’m happy for the rest of the day.

            Whatever the opposite of the people who avoid ultrasound scans might be, that is me.

          • Bugsy
            March 7, 2015 at 8:46 am #

            I totally understand…the doppler saved me through my pregnancy w/ Toddler Bugsy. Hang in there!

          • Dora
            March 9, 2015 at 10:15 am #

            Those of us who become pregnant through ART are total U/S junkies! I managed an extra scan at the RE after my first OB appt to satisfy my jones.

        • Montserrat Blanco
          March 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

          I am glad you are feeling better.

        • Paloma
          March 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

          I’m glad you’re doing better!! Hopefully it will get better in a couple of weeks 🙂

    • PickAUserNameForDisqus
      March 6, 2015 at 9:51 am #

      Your thoughts about new recruits vs. veterans really resonated with me. I recently started reading a Young Adult novel with a female protagonist that is very popular and I realized that I was completely annoyed with the main character because if she had just talked to the adults who actually knew something about the situation she was in so much of the difficulty and drama and heartache this character was destined for would not have happened. Of course, there wouldn’t have been an *interesting* plot. Same can be said of Harry Potter, and many many other books. If the characters actually talked with an expert, or got multiple opinions from real experts they would avoid drama. I had just finished reading a SOB post and realized how similar the Young Adult female protagonists are to my NCB friends when it comes to the topic of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum practices. They just don’t want to talk to people with vast experience, they would rather talk to other “new recruits”/”teenagers”/”Dr. Googles”. And because of that they end up with a lot of drama.

      • Ennis Demeter
        March 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

        To be fair, Dumbledore was really unhelpful at times. Nonetheless, good point,

      • Young CC Prof
        March 6, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

        To be fair to Harry, when he did ask, the grownups often dodged rather than say anything helpful.

      • Nick Sanders
        March 6, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

        A good series for avoiding this is The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. When the protagonist is given good advice, she listens to it; when she finds something she doesn’t know, she learns about it; and she makes sure to have a solid, reasonable plan before doing potentially dangerous things. It’s extremely refreshing.

    • Paloma
      March 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

      I completely agree with you. I used to think they were crazy and probably I was a lot more aware of how dangerous childbirth is because my grandmother was a midwife. When she worked, people delivered at home and she saw all kinds of stuff. So much so, that she insisted on delivering herself at the hospital with an OB (even though BOTH of her sisters were midwives too). Now that I am a resident I am so much more aware at how things can go to hell in a second. I am amazed that my grandmother did all those labors with no monitoring, no OR in the next room, nothing. I do not find a good cause that could justify staying home other than having no access to a hospital.
      And I want to scream when I read the “low risk” excuse. I was the stereotype of low risk for oral contraceptives (25, healthy, non smoker, not overweight, exercise regularly, no family history of VT) and that didn’t stop me from having a massive pulmonary embolism. Low risk means less likely, not impossible. Will they ever understand that?

      • momofone
        March 6, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

        I don’t think they ever will. The magical thinking is so appealing, and it keeps them “safe.”

    • March 7, 2015 at 5:19 am #

      This is exactly why I hate all woo so much.
      People are often blind to their own privilege, and being born healthy is one of the biggest privileges there is.

    • SporkParade
      March 8, 2015 at 3:47 am #

      That wouldn’t surprise me. My husband and I spent my entire pregnancy marvelling at how his life would have been different if he had been born today. We were very obviously the “flunkies” in our natural childbirth class. 🙂

  10. Busbus
    March 5, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

    Sorry, this is OT and also from 2006, but it blew my mind away just now when I happened across it: in 2006, the British Royal College of Midwives proposed that women should have to pay for access to epidurals. (This in a country where labor and delivery is generally covered by the national health system.) And these midwives have the gall to pretend they are fighting for women? Seriously, this is unbelievable.

    • Allie
      March 5, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

      That would be criminal, to withhold pain relief from someone who requires and desires it.

      • Bombshellrisa
        March 6, 2015 at 1:27 am #

        There was a inside look at an online forum for UK midwifery students and what struck me was how proud so many of them were about withholding pain meds. It bordered on sadistic. I was treated this way by one of my L&D nurses and I will never forget how powerless I felt, being talked to like I didn’t know and couldn’t know what I wanted. Oh, a call was made for an epidural but it was too late.

    • March 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm #

      That’s fucking sick.

    • Inmara
      March 6, 2015 at 3:05 am #

      Well, it’s the same in my country – everything birth-related can be for free, but epidural costs about 400 EUR. Mind you, our minimal MONTHLY wage is 360 EUR before taxes (after taxes it’s about 200 EUR), average monthly wage is around 550 EUR after taxes. P.S. Elective C-section costs around 1800 EUR – way, way above what average woman could afford without going into debt. I don’t know what’s with epidurals if they are assigned by doctor, like, for induced labor – most probably they are for free then. And closest hospital to where I live doesn’t offer elective epidurals AT ALL.
      Actually, nobody questions this system because we are used to fact that medical care is theoretically for free but in real life if you need urgent or specific care you have to pay anyway.

      • araikwao
        March 6, 2015 at 4:27 am #

        That is so unjust! Do people in any other party of the hospital have to pay for effective pain relief?

        • Inmara
          March 6, 2015 at 4:46 am #

          Well, of course they don’t, at least officially (due to very low wages and lack of staff there is underlying corruption in many hospitals – patients have to bribe nurses and doctors to do their actual job; it’s not everywhere but you never know). From what I see reading local forums, it seems that our medical establishment has bought into NCB idea and their recent practices are geared towards that. Like, breech and previous C-sections are not valid reasons to have government-paid C-secton anymore, lack of available epidurals etc. Combine that with still existing Soviet-style attitudes from midwives, and nightmare scenarios are around the corner.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 6, 2015 at 7:04 am #

            I think the only “bribes” I’ve ever seen in the NHS are a box of biscuits or chocolates for the ward staff, usually when the patient is discharged and it never influenced care provision.

            The odd patient will give me a bottle of wine, baked goods or chocolates, but certainly never as a means of influencing care, usually as a thank you.

            If you’re aware of anything that actually constituted bribery you should report it to the GMC or NMC. It absolutely is unethical and shouldn’t be tolerated.

            Our practice doesn’t accept gifts over a certain (pretty low, I think £50) ) value and documents everything worth over £5 in a book.

            One of my friends was given a very expensive watch by a patient after she detected a cancer, ,she returned it, of course.

            Unless, of course, you were being hyperbolic.

          • Montserrat Blanco
            March 6, 2015 at 7:55 am #

            My favourite: Extra virgin olive oil from the actual olive trees that the patient growed… I really do not know the market value, but it was the best gift I ever had.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 6, 2015 at 8:28 am #

            My mother once got a bag of frozen crab claws from a fisherman patient, and a brace of well hung pheasants from a gamekeeper. Those was memorable.

          • Inmara
            March 6, 2015 at 7:56 am #

            I’m in Latvia, not UK. Here problems with underpaid medical staff are huge (and especially nurses and other support staff – doctor’s wages are quite OK), also it’s remnant from Soviet era when bribery was very common practice in all aspects of everyday life. Policies have been made to eliminate these practices and few persons have been convicted but when it’s matter of your or relative’s health, people usually pay what’s asked and complain only to their friends or online.
            I haven’t been in situation where I have to bribe someone to get medical care but I have good private insurance (so I can get to the doctor of choice fast and without any bureaucracy) and haven’t had serious illnesses as well. Many other people are not so lucky, and these are first-hand reports from friends and relatives.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 6, 2015 at 8:26 am #

            Apologies- I thought didn’t see your first post, assumed you were replying to Busbus and that you were in the UK.
            Latvia definitely has issues with the systems of the past.

          • anh
            March 6, 2015 at 9:43 am #

            Dr. kitty, I was hoping I could ask you. Would it be appropriate to send chocolates to the ward where I just stayed? Based on your comment, I’m guessing yes, but occasionally the UK does things differently and I end up doing something wrong

          • Sarah
            March 6, 2015 at 9:52 am #

            Not Kitty, but my husband bought a couple of boxes of chocolates for the postnatal ward where I and my daughter were recently cared for. They seemed to go down well enough, I saw some of the staff eating them. I don’t know if the rules are different according to local Trust though.

          • Dr Kitty
            March 6, 2015 at 10:20 am #

            A box of Quality Street, Roses, Celebrations or similar is universally appreciated throughout the NHS!


            Certainly as a junior doctor on wards, I often didn’t make it to the cafeteria for meals, or down to the lobby vending machines, so cups of tea and biscuits or chocolates given by relatives was frequently all that sustained me on a 12hr shift!

        • Sarah
          March 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

          No, but then some of them are male.

    • Sue
      March 6, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

      WOuld anyone EVER consider that rule of people attending hospital with any other painful condition?
      ”We’ll resuscitate your trauma but you have to pay for the morphine”
      “we’ll fix your broken leg but….
      “nobody ever died of kidney stone pain…


  11. KarenJJ
    March 5, 2015 at 8:15 pm #

    I agree. At first I wondered if I was being overly dramatic comparing my failure to breastfeed exclusively with my hearing impairment but it makes more sense to me as I can reflect on it more now that I’m no longer dealing with babies and breastfeeding.

    Taking away my hearing aids is not going to help me hear better. I might be able to compensate for it partially in other ways, but that takes a lot of effort and concentration to lip read more,pick up cues etc as well as managing how others speak to me more (face me, speak up, repeat and change the words in case I’m not hearing the one you’re using etc etc).

    Taking away the option for me to use hearing aids to make me “hear” more naturally would be seen as abusive.

    So why the fuck are we taking away options for women who may be having supply issues in order to “make them breastfeed” more?

    • Amy M
      March 5, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

      Exactly! Taking away my glasses (for myopia) won’t improve my vision, and make me less dependent on those “artificial lenses.” It will just make it impossible for me to do my job, drive, etc….Granted, poor eyesight isn’t such a big deal since needing glasses or contacts is so common, but back in the day? I’d have been lion food. So should I have less right to a quality life now, at this point in time, just because I might not have survived past childhood if I’d been born 1000 yrs ago? I can only hope that the lactivists/NCB at all costs people just haven’t thought this through, and don’t realize they are skirting the edge of (or in some cases, all out) eugenics.

      • SporkParade
        March 6, 2015 at 2:57 am #

        Just a little nitpick. Poor eyesight isn’t such a big deal if it can be corrected with lenses. :/

        • Amy M
          March 6, 2015 at 11:37 am #

          That’s what I was saying…right here: “Granted, poor eyesight isn’t such a big deal since needing glasses or contacts is so common,”

          • SporkParade
            March 6, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

            I agree with your general point. My nitpick was that there are eyesight problems that are still a big deal because glasses can’t fix them, such as various kinds of retina injuries.

          • Amy M
            March 6, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

            Oh of course—demodocus’ spouse below talks about her blind husband, but the principle is the same: he can’t “practice” seeing or get rid of his white cane (if he uses one) and expect to see better.

      • Roadstergal
        March 6, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

        I’m sorry, but you don’t actually have myopia. I mean, we simply would never have evolved if we had eyes that didn’t work properly. [/LactivistLogic]

    • SporkParade
      March 6, 2015 at 2:54 am #

      More importantly, why are we telling them that they are inferior mothers? It would be like saying that you can’t be a compassionate listener because you have artificial hearing.

  12. They look like breasts!!
    March 5, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    I had breast cancer as a teen. Chemo, radiation, and finally a double mastectomy. I am now in my early 30s. I am married and we just recently had a son. When I was shopping recently for formula, I encountered a Raging Lactavist. Keep in mind- this is in a supermarket. I’m gathering the formula, some new bottles and nipples. For some reason I find food shoping relaxing, weird I know, it’s just the mindless wandering and people watching and…well there we go.

    (Yes this actually happened. The conversation is pretty much as it was since I will never forget it. I could give the name of the supermarket, and two employees that overheard parts of it. They both appeared quite young and said that if I ever needed help(afraid of a suit??) they would give it. I’d never use these employees in any way but was stunned they offered)

    So! Formula gathering. Raging Lactavist is glaring at me as I place the cans in the cart. Raging Lactavist comes up to me, points at the cans and says “They’ve brainwashed you!” Now, I was ready for this as I’ve met some Lactavists(non raging). I looked at the cans and then looked at Raging Lactavist and said “the cans of formula?”

    Raging Lactavist gives me an odd look and then says “The companies! They control you. They’ve taken away the truth that Breast is Best! They take you at your most vulnerable and give you all these samples and coupons and you can’t resist”

    I pointed over my shoulder and said “The person giving away samples of Digorno pizza, coupons and that keychain didn’t make me want to buy their frozen pizza.”

    Raging Lactavist says “But, see, you weren’t vulnerable then.”

    Me: “I’m on about two hours sleep here.”

    Raging Lactavist “and where is your child?!”

    Me: “At home, with my husband.”

    Raging Lactavist: “You know that not breast feeding will lessen your bond with your child? That leaving your child will do damage!”

    Me: “What about my husband? We are fortunate to be together, and even if we weren’t doesn’t my son deserve a bond with his father? Since he is here with me, my son and loves us both?”

    Raging Lactavist: “Your son could get very ill, could have horrible effects from that stuff. Do you know it could lower his intelligence?”

    Me: “What are you doing?”

    Raging Lactavist: “Trying to save you and your son! Here. Please read this pamphlet. It has information on lactivist that can help you.”

    Me: “ooh! And coupons. And even promises of free stuff!”

    Raging Lactavist: “Yes, we do everything we can to help.”

    Me: “But you just said that coupons and free gifts were what ‘brainwashed’ me into buying this formula.”

    Raging Lactavist: “Why aren’t you breast feeding? Formula! Right? Because someone convincinced you it was too hard to breastfeed.”

    Me: “no. I actually don’t have breasts.”

    Raging Lactavist: “what? How…that’s not possible.”

    Me: “Ever heard of breast cancer? Double mastectomy?”

    Raging Lactavist: “…….”

    Me: “So, I’ll just buy this formula, and make sure that my friends aren’t “brainwashed” by all these fancy coupons and free stuff you gave me.”

    Raging Lactavist “I’m sorry, but if you could breastfeed you would.”

    Me: “Nope”

    Raging Lactavist: “Why!”

    Me: “Because I want what’s best for my son, not what’s best for a facebook page or for acceptance by people like you who never look beyond what you see, or whatever gold star you get from thinking you’re better for breastfeeding. You’re not. You never will be. Because in the end you just want praise. You. Not your kid, not other children. You just want people to tell you how wonderful you are. I know a woman who was formula fed and has graduated from Harvard and has never in all her life gotten even so much as a damn cold. I know a Woman who has had chronic pain and Chron’s disease, and a learning disability that was breastfed ’till she was three. And those who were formula fed and have ilnesses and disabilities, and those who weren’t that are healthy. It has nothing to do with what your infant is fed. Not here, where we’ve no issues with clean water and everything else. So, just stop. I’ve heard this over and over again. People trying to make me fee guilty for my choices as a woman. My choices cor my child. You come up to me, knowing nothing about me except that I put formula in my cart and you cast me as some evil, abusive, uncaring mother. You tell me that this formula, that keeps my son alive, was pushed on me, that I was brainwashed…because of free gifts and coupons. But you hand me the same. Tell me, if it’s all for the children…why do you shame the children and mothers who don’t breastfeed. If women are to truly have a choice, why are you doing this? What do you accomplish?

    Raging Lactavist: “You are just trying to make me look bad. That’s it! How dare you?”

    Me: “thank you.”

    Raging Lactavist: “Thank you?”

    Me: “Yes, after all of this, all you had to say is how I was making you look bad. You. Nothing about infant health, nothing about my son, or your child. You.”

    Raging Lactavist: “You will never understand!”

    Me: “I do, but I usually don’t care to try and make others like you see beyond your gold stars and facebook likes or whatever.”

    Raging Lactivist: “You never even had cancer! [points to my chest] You have breasts!”

    Me: “There’s this special bra and inserts for people that don’t have breasts. I can show you if you like.”

    Raging Lactivist: “You’re insane! Insane! Your son will get sick, and he won’t ever bond like mine!”

    Me: “Where is your child?”

    Raging Lactavist: “I’m leaving.”

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      March 5, 2015 at 5:38 pm #

      Are you sure you weren’t in the feminine hygiene aisle? Because it sounds like you encountered a douchebag.

    • CrownedMedwife
      March 5, 2015 at 6:18 pm #


    • OttawaAlison
      March 5, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

      Some people are just assholes. I look at my daughter, she was primarily formula fed. She’s athletic, rarely gets sick (I think the last true sick day she took from school wS 3 years ago) and we’re super bonded.

      It is so sad that some people cannot see moms beyond their breasts.

    • JJ
      March 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      There actually people evangelizing the formula section with handouts! How creepy and wrong.

      • sdsures
        September 27, 2015 at 9:52 am #

        I’ll try to mash their toes with my mobility scooter.

    • momofone
      March 5, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

      Crazy, and yet, completely believable. I never cease to be amazed by people’s absolute lack of boundaries when it comes to breastfeeding. I breastfed my son. When he was about four months old, I had a (much-needed) appointment to have my hair done, and a friend went with me to take care of him. He got hungry, and she gave him a bottle (of pumped breast milk). Two women nearby immediately started making snarky comments about how I took the “easy way out” etc. I debated responding to them, but at that point I kind of laughed to myself (and my friend) and thought it was pretty funny that these “experts” on human milk were clearly unaware that that was what was in the bottle.

      Fast forward to last year, when I had bilateral mastectomies. A couple months after my surgery, in the course of trying to get rid of books I didn’t need anymore, I took a load of books to our local used book store, and as the person there went through the boxes, she kept asking if I was SURE I wanted to get rid of that one, since apparently she thought I should be having another child–“Your son is only six, right? Are you SURE you won’t need this?” etc.–and I finally told her I was absolutely sure, as I have no breasts. She suggested that “they can do all kinds of things–you might still be able to!” Uh, no. Thanks for your (extremely intrusive) interest though.

      I remember reading an essay written by a woman who’d had bilateral mastectomies and later had a baby, and someone (I believe it was the hospital lactation consultant) assured her that she could produce milk under her arms in the residual breast tissue, if she would only try. These people. It just defies reason.

      Congratulations on your son! 🙂

    • Guest
      March 5, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

      I officially love you!

      I once had a woman in goodwill chat with me for five minutes when I was with my infant, then glare at me and snarl, “Now, you’re breastfeeding, RIGHT???” I was so shocked, all I could do was stammer, “yes”. Had I your quick wit, I would have shot back, “how is it any of your god damned business how I feed my child???”

      • March 6, 2015 at 12:04 am #

        “No, he’s fed pureed vaccine solution and foreskins.”

    • demodocus' spouse
      March 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

      Congrats on your little one, your survivorship, and your quick wit! Mostly I never could come up with good responses when people got nosy. Finally did with the naturopath who goes to my favorite yarn shop. She asked if I was still breastfeeding, I told her I gave it up over 35 years ago 😉

      • momofone
        March 5, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

        I love it!

      • They look like breasts!!
        March 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

        Ha! Great response. I’m usually one for just a quick comment or ignoring the other person but Raging Lactavist just irritated and angered me to the point that I just decided to go with it.

    • D/
      March 5, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

      Never been on the receiving end of an encounter like yours, but I did have a former patient contact me once asking me to cold-call a friend who was combo feeding and offer her breastfeeding assistance.

      Reminded her of my (always) shared ‘philosophy’ … “Your breasts, your baby. You decide what works at your house, not me.” … And that it *absolutely* applied to her friend as well.

      Setting and protecting boundaries is an essential piece of good self-care. I’m glad you were able to do that so well for yourself.

      • They look like breasts!!
        March 6, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

        It’s wonderful to hear this given to your patients. Thank *you*!

    • araikwao
      March 6, 2015 at 4:39 am #

      That you can have such a witty and articulate conversation on 2 hours’ sleep is only the first of many compliments I’d like to give you. I absolutely hope that she took that as an opportunity to reconsider the way she goes through life.

    • Montserrat Blanco
      March 6, 2015 at 8:05 am #

      Just wanted to say congratulations on your baby and really glad you have recovered from that nasty disease.

      • They look like breasts!!
        March 6, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

        Thank you so much.

    • Bugsy
      March 6, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      I’m glad you’re doing well, and want to say that I think you are absolutely awesome. What an a-ma-zing response you had to Raging Lactivist! You deserve 5 stars for being an awesome mommy and standing up for your family.

      • They look like breasts!!
        March 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

        Thank you.

    • They look like breasts!!
      March 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

      Wowza! A featured comment! (Amy: the e-mail given is my real one)

    • sdsures
      September 27, 2015 at 9:49 am #

      I find shopping relaxing, too.

  13. Guesteleh
    March 5, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    This woman is a piece of shit. And the people who follow her are even shittier in a way, taking their marching orders from this nasty twat.

    Yes, bad language, I’m seething over this shit.

    My son has had to have OT for various issues, but luckily he’s mostly doing very well, just delayed in his fine motor skills. But we’ve spent a lot of time in OT offices and I’ll never forget the first time a seriously disabled little girl took her first steps with her cane. Everyone in the place was literally weeping and cheering. It was so precious and ever since I never take my healthy kid for granted, never. Fucking cunt.

    • Guesteleh
      March 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      Meant to say crutches, not cane. Guess editing + the upvoting are reasons to finally get a Disqus account.

  14. Elizabeth Neely
    March 5, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    can somebody slap that #$itch

  15. MaineJen
    March 5, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    “We don’t dwell on the luck enjoyed by those of us who can walk.”

    …maybe we should.

    I mean, really. What a sh$%ty thing to say. This is clearly someone who has never had to deal with a true physical challenge in her entire life. I can’t IMAGINE how I would feel if I were wheelchair-bound, and then I read that sentence above.

  16. staceyjw
    March 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    OF COURSE she is ablest, as she is a grade A asshole.

    She is the worst kind of ablest: an essentialist pusher with ideology based in eugenics. All you have to do to see this for yourself is read her work. Her opinion of those that do not have a unmedicated VB and BF is loud and clear. (Yes, she really IS that bad, I do not liken people to believers in eugenics lightly.)

  17. demodocus' spouse
    March 5, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    I’m hearing impaired, my husband is visually impaired. Mostly, we don’t pay much attention to either problem, unless someone points it out. (apparently, his cane is a fashion accessory to me) Don’t get me wrong, we’re grateful for our various body parts that work correctly, and for those that don’t work right are not as bad as they might be, but we don’t *dwell* on any of it. Rather focus on something more interesting.

    • demodocus' spouse
      March 5, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

      People have been shocked that I leave husband and baby together while I go do something else for a while because they cannot imagine the blind one being able to take care of a small child. Some people are fools.

  18. Liz Leyden
    March 5, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    I had difficulty walking for weeks after my C-section. Going on a Target run is very difficult when you’re literally unable to get in car. The experience really opened my eyes to the realty of life with mobility problems. I guess the Alpha Parent would say I brought it on myself, since I didn’t have a vaginal birth.

    • Elizabeth A
      March 5, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

      She probably would. Completely ignoring the problems some women have walking or moving after a vaginal birth.

    • Amy
      March 5, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

      I had a vaginal birth and had mobility issues afterwards for MONTHS. I thought it would never end and I’d end up in a wheelchair. It was really eye opening to me as well…it became very clear how chronic pain leads to sitting more, muscle loss, weight gain, and the next thing you know you’re riding a scooter at the grocery store. It snowballs faster than I ever imagined.

    • March 6, 2015 at 3:22 am #

      I have, in the past few years, with slowly encroaching arthritis (first one hip, then my knees, now the other hip) found my mobility decreasing and becoming painful. Well, I’m no spring chicken any more, but boy, is it frustrating. I don’t like growing old

  19. Mel
    March 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    I can’t say that I am grateful for my legs every day.

    Most days, sure. I can always walk. I can do my daily activities without restrictions.
    Most days. Not all days. Sometimes my legs hurt. My muscles feel inflamed and all the stretching, walking and anti-inflammatories won’t make the pain go away. My last round of PT lasted nearly 6 months of twice weekly sessions. I now get to deal with recurrent planar fasciitis on top of hypertonic cerebral palsy.

    On days I hurt, I am not particularly grateful. Oh, I do try to be. I remind myself how much worse it could have been….how many activities I could have lost….how good I have it to live in a country where I can get help…..but the burning ache in my legs makes it feel hollow and false.

    The burning ache in my legs can’t compare to the anger I feel toward dingbats like the Alpha Parent. Look, lady, I’m betting your are one of those twerps who stared at my twin and I as we went lurching around using sign language and asks patently stupid questions. You know, breathtakingly stupid ones like “Is she going to be able to drive?” “How about having kids?”
    Those are three-alarm stupid questions since 1. you are asking questions that do not concern you, 2. you should be able to figure out the answers by thinking for 2 seconds and 3. you are acting like my sister is an inanimate object instead of a person – who can lip-read every stupid thing you are saying. Oh, I left off my favorite “Are you talking about me?” because we have nothing better to talk about than your dumb ass.

  20. Mel
    March 5, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    NCB followers should be honest and make shirts that say: This are the levels of magical thinking I am willing to follow to prevent having a disabled child.

  21. The Bofa on the Sofa
    March 5, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    I appreciate the fact that our current culture has become more focused on recognizing our privilege. Apparently, not everyone is quite in tune with that, yet, but I think it is something of which more and more are becoming aware.

  22. March 5, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    My father has no legs below the knees. My brothers legs are malformed below the knees. Both are able to walk with prosthetics and braces. My stepfather lost his ability to walk for the most part a few years back and is now mostly wheelchair bound due to chronic pain.

    Yeah, as a matter of fact, I DO dwell on the fact that I have healthy legs that I can stand, walk and even run with, unassisted.

    What a horrible person she is. Horrible, hateful, selfish and ungrateful.

    • Young CC Prof
      March 5, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      I’ve had three leg joint surgeries. I spent over half a year on a cane. I will never run without pain again, but I do profoundly, appreciate the fact that I can walk quickly and comfortably, even while carrying heavy objects. I happen to think bipedal locomotion is a pretty nifty skill.

    • anh
      March 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

      One of my besties just broke both her ankles and is in a wheelchair and living in a nursing home for the next month. She says it’s only her immense gratitude for her default healthy state that’s getting her through a rough situation

      • Roadstergal
        March 6, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

        I remember once sitting in the middle of the floor and weeping when I had a broken ankle and had just had one too many days of trying to navigate a lot of stairs and driving a manual. And I’m not a weepy person. It’s not like I didn’t think of my good fortune in being generally healthy before, but that just really drove it home. I think, maybe not every day, but definitely at least once a week about how lucky I am, and how it could all go away any moment and I should enjoy it as much as possible now.

        I recently tried to help a good friend by donating some of my eggs, and I found out I have a low ovarian reserve, a benign cyst on one ovary, and a paper-thin uterine lining. Bodies are just imperfect a lot, and big whoop. If your breasts are imperfect, or you just don’t want to use them for that, we’re in the developed world and we have formula. That’s what civilization does – it gives you options, it allows you to survive and thrive in spite of nature.

    • momofone
      March 5, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

      Duchenne muscular dystrophy runs on one side of my family. Seeing my cousins, and their children, lose the ability to walk, feed themselves, and eventually even cough makes me incredibly aware of the fact that I am able to walk, and that my son is as well.

      She is reprehensible.

      • March 5, 2015 at 9:13 pm #

        For sure. I mean, I’m not even including my first son, who we lost to the same birth defect my father and brother have. My son who would have been unable to walk or even sit in his wheelchair without pain. My living son has two sturdy, perfect, muscular legs he uses to run and kick and play. Yeah, I dwell.

  23. Votre
    March 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    I find it so amazing that if you starved a child of six through negligence or ignorance, you’d be charged with child abuse, face prosecution, and likely have your children taken away from you. Ditto for wilfully exposing them to quantifiable but avoidable life-threatening danger.

    So where is the magic thinking that says if yu do it as the mother, or prospective mother, of a newborn, it is somehow your divine right to do so without culpability or risk of censure by church, the state, or the lunatic fringe.

    How is a baby human being – who is a person in every sense under law and even the loosest of moral frameworks – so exempt from any basic rights that a birth mother has the absolute right to risk its life – or even kill it provided she does it early enough? When does a baby stop being her ‘personal property’ and become an actual human being? And a citizen?

    Obviously involving government can often be a cure worse than the problem. But still…to continue allowing this sort of thing? And to also allow an industry that openly encourages it to continue unchallenged and treated as being somehow exempt under existing laws?

    Hmm…maybe it’s because birth is a “women’s issue” and therefore not important enough for the powers that be to be asking difficult questions?

    • March 5, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

      Because freedom.

      There are countless examples but this is my favorite: In FLDS-controlled townships, young girls are still married off young, receive little schooling, and boys are expected to risk their lives in what comes down to slave labor for various building projects. No effort to stop them ever passes legislature because non-FLDS politicians don’t want to lose support from their “self-sufficient patriot” base.

      As long as dumdums keep using “freedom” as an excuse to be selfish fucks, people doing that shit will get away with it.

      • Votre
        March 5, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

        Too true!
        Ambrose Bierce said it best with two definitions in his Devil’s Dictionary:

        LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination’s most precious possessions.

        FREEDOM, n. Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half
        dozen of restraint’s infinite multitude of methods. A political
        condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual
        monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is
        not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a
        living specimen of either.

      • OttawaAlison
        March 5, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

        It sickens me that groups in the US decry the notion of the universal human rights for children.

        • March 5, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

          Well, you see, freedom only applies to children when they want to pray in school and be gun owners.

      • Mariana Baca
        March 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

        “No effort to stop them ever passes legislature because non-FLDS politicians don’t want to lose support from their “self-sufficient patriot” base.”

        That is not really why… there is a lot more political corruption with FLDS having politicians being paid off to not interfere with them — as well as defending their property with far too many weapons and local police don’t want to risk fighting them to investigate. The leaders have a lot of money and force. No “freedom” legislation makes it legal to commit statutory rape or avoid paying employees wages.

        • March 6, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

          Oh, there’s totally political corruption involved, but pandering is an issue as well. This disingenuous idea of freedom versus big government doesn’t explicitly advocate child abuse but they refuse to take action against these remnant groups because of it, which is enabling.

          I see the same thing in my community, where dozens of children per household are home schooled not to learn basic life skills but so that girl children raise younger siblings, boy children work construction or on neighboring farms, and none of them are taught anything but bible verses. Having these kids taken away is treated like an affront to their parents’ freedom of religion, framed so that these supposedly eccentric and old-fashioned but ultimately wholesome people are being targeted by Big Brother.

    • Mattie
      March 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

      I dislike that you are trying to compare a woman’s right to abortion to a woman starving a baby due to being unwilling to acknowledge a lack of breast milk. The first one involves a mother’s bodily autonomy, that is, anyone wishing to use her body requires her continuous consent. You can’t take organs without consent, even from a deceased person. A foetus is not a person under the law, so mother’s rights as a person win. The other is neglect, and you can bet a mother who is starving her baby and refusing to fix the situation, will be investigated and probably prosecuted.

    • lilin
      March 5, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

      ” When does a baby stop being her ‘personal property’ and become an actual human being?”

      Abortion law isn’t based on the idea that a baby is a woman’s property. It’s based on the idea that a woman’s body is her property, which it is.

      Also, are you so ignorant that the “powers that be” don’t ask questions about abortion? They do it all the time. Just because you don’t get the answers you like, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

    • demodocus' spouse
      March 5, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

      You become a citizen at (live) birth. The man who hit my mother in the stomach so hard that she lost the baby was not charged with murder. Robbery and assault, yes, but not murder.
      As for starving that little person because you’ve been told so much that only bad mothers bottle feed, that’s just plain appalling.
      eta, not that the parents *mean* to in these cases, but if your head’s all muddled…

      • just me
        March 5, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

        In California that’s considered murder (hitting stomach and killing fetus)

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

          In the Bible it’s not. If you do that, you just have to pay a fine to the woman’s husband for his loss of property.

          • just me
            March 5, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

            Bible is not law

          • fiftyfifty1
            March 6, 2015 at 8:18 am #

            Oh yes it was at the time!

        • demodocus' spouse
          March 5, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

          this was the other end of the country and 40 years ago.

    • fiftyfifty1
      March 5, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      “When does a baby stop being her ‘personal property’ and become an actual human being? ”

      At birth. Or so says the Bible. In the Bible, if you punch a pregnant woman in the stomach and kill her fetus, you have to pay a loss of property fine (to the woman’s husband).

      Contrast this very mild punishment with the punishment for killing a person. The punishment is death. Even if the killing is accidental (the example given is using an ax and having the head fly off and kill somebody), the standard punishment is still death.

      • SporkParade
        March 6, 2015 at 3:05 am #

        Not quite. The punishment for killing someone accidentally is exile to one of four “safe cities.” Though I am glad to see that I am not the only one using religion to call out the anti-abortion folks.

        Althought, quirk in the Talmud: It IS considered murder if you punch the pregnant lady in the stomach as part of a hate crime. Of course, we all know how supportive of hate crime legislation the Christian right is….

        • Cobalt
          March 6, 2015 at 7:20 am #

          The Bible (in Numbers) contains instructions on taking your wife to the priest for an abortion if you suspect she’s been unfaithful. It’s not a pro-life document.

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 6, 2015 at 8:15 am #

          “The punishment for killing someone accidentally is exile to one of four “safe cities.””

          Technically no, it’s not. It’s death. That’s the standard punishment for killing, even accidentally, a person. The killed person’s clan/tribe/close relatives are tasked with finding the person and stoning him/her. Purely accidental deaths do have this exception clause of the 4 safety cities. As long as you stay in one of them, the relatives cannot enter to fulfill their obligation. But if you ever were to leave, for any reason, the relatives are 100% within their rights, indeed basically obligated, to come after you and give you the standard punishment for killing (death penalty).

  24. sdsures
    March 5, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    I have cerebral palsy, which makes walking difficut, but not impossible. Have you all heard of “inspiration porn”? It drives me nuts. Australian disability activist Stella Young explains it very well.

    • March 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

      Not physically disabled but I know that feel.

      I hate the stereotype of the inspirational gimp, it’s infuriatingly patronizing. It reminds me of the magical negro who exists to fix the problems of his white co-stars by inspiring them with his home truths, sassy one-liners, and lack of fucks given.

      White people need to just cut loose and crippleds should do yoga and eat organic, problem solved!

      • Roadstergal
        March 5, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

        As described by Mr Wilmore.

      • demodocus' spouse
        March 5, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

        Yup. Nothing frosts my husband more than the inspirational blindy. Oh look, here’s a BLIND person doing something WONDERFUL! He can sing and read his braille music at the same time!!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 5, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

          I was looking for the Paula Poundstone quote about her daughter (who walks with braces on her legs) and how some woman came up to her on the sidewalk and gave her some patronizing complement, and Paula was like, how does she know I didn’t just tell her “Stop walking in that fucked up way and do it right?”

          I wish I could find the comment, it was a riot.

          • D/
            March 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

            From “There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say”:

            edit: Didn’t intentionally add that image twice … but it’s almost funny enough for me to be willing to read it through a second time.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

            Yep, that’s the one. This is the line that nails it:
            “I do believe it takes a village to raise a child, but that doesn’t mean the village tinker should just butt in where not invited.”

          • SporkParade
            March 6, 2015 at 3:12 am #

            I’m still waiting for the inspirational story of how Helen Keller camped outside of the Wilson White House to demand women’s suffrage and was involved in all sorts of other liberal causes. Or even how she overcame societal expecations that deaf-blind people be housebound invalids to get an education.

          • March 6, 2015 at 3:35 am #

            I had this with my middle daughter who has moderately severe classic dyslexia. School counsellors were always trying to convince her to “overcome” it by studying for professions that are difficult for the average non-dyslexic. It drove them crazy that she had no desire to be a doctor or lawyer.

        • March 5, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

          It amazes me how the blind are treated kind of like children– it might be an old trope from the bible, but it feels like they’re portrayed as being defined by their blindness, piousness, and how gosh-darn brave they are.

          • deafgimp
            March 12, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

            Hell, not only am I treated like a child, but people actually take over and talk for me because they think I can’t communicate on my own. It drives me insane. I actually tell them “Let me struggle. If I need help, I will ask for it.”

          • March 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm #


            Wear a shirt that says “I’m handicapable of karate chopping the next idiot who patronizes me”.

        • momofone
          March 5, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

          I know someone with cerebral palsy who was absolutely furious when, after he walked across the stage to receive his diploma for his MBA, was given a standing ovation by the audience.

      • Liz Leyden
        March 5, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

        That’s what I hated about “Radio” and “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

        • March 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

          The Blind Side, The Help, The Shining, Driving Miss Daisy, The Green Mile…

    • Lisa C
      March 5, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

      What a great ted talk! thanks for sharing. There is an elderly gentleman that drives around my town in his electric wheelchair and I used to feel sorry for him as I drove by because I erroneously assumed he didn’t have any family to take care of him and that he needed to be taken care of. Then I found out I work with his son who told me his dad drives around on his wheelchair because he has places to be, this is his primary mode of transportation, and because he darn well wants to. I felt stupid for having felt sorry for the gentleman when he obviously doesn’t need my pity. He is just handlin business! :). Now I just honk and wave.

      • sdsures
        March 16, 2015 at 12:00 am #

        I use my mobility scooter quite often for errands, going for coffee, etc. 🙂 It’s improved my mood a lot to be able to get out of the house and just BE. (nearer to coffee 😛 )

    • Who?
      March 5, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

      RIP Stella.

      She was a journalist and comedian as well as an activist, and seemed like a fun person on top of it all. Very trenchant in her remarks, and her voice is missed.

      • Mishimoo
        March 6, 2015 at 2:38 am #

        Yes! I miss her wit and insight, she was brilliant. Like you said, she seemed like a fun person, and I feel for her family and friends.

        • KarenJJ
          March 6, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

          She was so insightful and had such fearless opinions. She really hit the nail on the head with “inspiration porn”.

  25. Dr Kitty
    March 5, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Well said!

    That whole “your body is not a lemon” thing really, really annoys me.
    Some of us (me included) were definitely not built to the factory standard when it comes to our anatomy or physiology or genetics.
    And that is OK.
    My body is perfectly fine the way it is, but the way it is isn’t normal.

    The “OMG, my CS SCARRED ME!” thing is also horribly ableist.
    Some of us have scars- some surgical, some due to accidents or trauma- that’s fine. Some of us can hide them, some don’t have that option, some of us choose not to hide our scars deliberately.
    We’ve had interesting lives, and we’ve survived things, but not without marks. AND THAT IS OK.
    A real, authentic, eventful life will leave marks on you- whether that is scars or wrinkles or stretch marks or sun spots- you’re not going to be able to remain unblemished forever. It doesn’t make you ugly, it just makes you human.

    AP is ableist too:
    Baby wearing- you have to be able to lift your child with your arms and carry your child hands-free. Hello! not everyone can do that.

    Co-sleeping- impossible to do safely if you have a sensory impairment, or a seizure disorder, or are on medication which makes you drowsy.

    • Sarah
      March 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

      I can’t believe I’m even supposed to care about my section scar. Frankly I’m looking forward to having one, as it will mean I no longer have a wound.

      • Dr Kitty
        March 5, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

        I know…of all my scars, My CS is the one that literally no-one except my husband and I ever see, and is probably one of the neatest and least noticeable anyway.
        I have lots of other scars, and I’m not ashamed or bothered by them either.

        Life is too short to worry about what other people think of my scars, and is WAY to short to be bothered by them myself.

        Kids with scars are the best. They come up with awesome stories (a fight with pirates, falling out of heaven, that time they rode a crocodile) or they’re like “oh yeah, this, what of it?”

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          March 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

          I told my daughter that my c-section scar is from the time I had a knife fight with a surgeon and she won. It’s more or less what happened, after all.

        • Sarah
          March 5, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

          I was talking to my mother (4 sections!) about my lack of giving a shit, and mentioned that it wouldn’t be an issue anyway since I don’t make a habit of showing my pubic hairline to strangers. She pointed out that actually, as I’ve only just given birth, I spend most of my time doing just that! Hoping to give up crotch flashing to medical and nursing personnel within the next few weeks though. That’s the dream!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

          I know…of all my scars, My CS is the one that literally no-one except my husband and I ever see, and is probably one of the neatest and least noticeable anyway.

          I’ve said it before and I say it again: I have NEVER seen my wife’s c-section scar.

          Shoot, I’ve seen the scar in her belly button from her laproscopic appendectomy, and it’s not for lack of looking at her in that area (;-)), it’s just not something that is noticeable.

          There are those who report their scar to be irritatable, but visually?

          • Elizabeth A
            March 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

            I have a strong tendency to keloid scarring, and all my surgical scars are quite visible, including the c-section one, up until my last round of attempted breast reconstruction – The c/s scar seems to have gotten flattened out as part of the abdominoplasty, but the abdominoplasty scar is impossible to miss. Most people’s scars from these surgeries are much less visible.

          • Sarah
            March 5, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

            The overhang is still doing a pretty good job of covering mine right now…

          • OttawaAlison
            March 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

            I have that too.

        • Mel
          March 5, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

          I have a strawberry hematoma on my back that never went away. It’s a wrinkly bump on my ….*pats back*…left side that I completely forget about until someone – a very well meaning person – freaks out when I am in the locker room because they think I’m injured…and we spend about 5 minutes trying to figure out what I did.

          I apparently told people it was my bud as in budding asexual reproduction when I was in grade school. I don’t remember that, but I like the idea of it.

          • Amy M
            March 5, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

            I had one of those behind my ear—its mostly gone now, not red anymore either. Most people never noticed it but once, in 7th grade, a boy who decided to be a jerk pointed it out. I think he wanted to upset me, but he failed, so he subsided with some nonsense about how he thought I had cancer.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 5, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

            DId he say, “It might be a tumor?”


          • just me
            March 5, 2015 at 7:21 pm #

            My 2 yo has one. It’s now mostly white.

        • Liz Leyden
          March 5, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

          I’m going to tell my daughter that her road rash and zip line are a result of the hospital installing superpowers.

        • Mishimoo
          March 5, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

          I love my scars, all the noticeable ones have a story and so do the ones that would only show up if I shaved my head. It’s silly, but I was worried when I scalded my leg that I’d lose the white 20 cent piece scar on my knee (I jumped off a racing bike) because I’d had it since I was 9, and I’d miss it. It survived, and now my leg looks slightly tanned from the scald.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

            I love my scars, all the noticeable ones have a story

            I can do that with the scars on my hands and arms – I can tell you what I did to get them

          • Mishimoo
            March 5, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

            Cane/belt for you?
            The ones on my arms are from the IVs in labour and “I was innocently walking through the kitchen and something BIT me!” (Brushed against a mousetrap mounted on a plaque bearing the legend: “Press here for complaints”)

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            March 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

            Let’s accidents, saw accident on a boy scout camping trip, and one was a paint scraper thrown at me.

    • Liz Leyden
      March 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

      My C-section scar is pretty much invisible. If it wasn’t, I’m not in the habit of walking around naked from the waist down. I’m more worried about my daughter’s zip line and road rash, which only show in public when she wears a swim diaper or certain tops.

    • momofone
      March 5, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

      I love my c-section scar. I had a classical incision, and every time I see it I’m reminded of one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. It’s not terribly easy to see now, but my son used to say that he loved that place because it was how I got to be his mom. (I admit that there have been times I’ve been glad it was THAT place, and not the more traditional route, for which he’s loudly proclaimed his love and gratitude, especially at the grocery store, which seemed to be his favorite place for pronouncements for a while.)

      I worried, before my mastectomies, that I would have difficulty adjusting to my scars (I opted not to do reconstruction), and I did grieve before my surgery. Afterward, though, I didn’t; it was just a different landscape, kind of “hey, something happened here.”

    • KarenJJ
      March 6, 2015 at 12:37 am #

      I have a scar right down the middle of my face from skin cancer.

      a) C-section scar is trivial compared to that.
      b) It’s awesome education for the kiddies – wear your hat and sunscreen!!!!

  26. Lana Muniz
    March 5, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    “To paraphrase Stop, the failure to appreciate that not everyone can walk results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve those who can walk, thereby inherently excluding those who cannot.”

    The move to exclusive rooming-in and the removal of formula samples from hospitals as part of BFHI is a direct example of this type of ablism, taking away services for those less able to breastfeed or generally take care of their babies immediately after birth.

    • fearlessformulafeeder
      March 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm #

      Lana, that is a profoundly important point. Thank you for making it. I’ve honestly never thought of it in this way, but you are SO right.

      • Lana Muniz
        March 5, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

        It would be like taking the elevator out of a building and calling it the Heart Friendly Building Initiative, because taking the stairs makes such a difference to our health. Nevermind about people in wheelchairs and people who choose the elevator over the stairs because they prefer it.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          March 5, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

          Lana, that is a GREAT analogy.

        • fiftyfifty1
          March 5, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

          “Nevermind about people in wheelchairs and people who choose the elevator over the stairs because they prefer it.”

          Exactly, the point is to make it impossible for people who could use the stairs but choose the elevator anyway to continue in their lazy, uneducated, unhealthful ways. The people in wheelchairs are just collateral damage. But who cares about them, because they are so few in number and probably so icky also, right?

          • Lana Muniz
            March 5, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

            Formula-fed babies ARE icky. And their diapers smell worse, they are just BLECH! You don’t want an icky baby, do you? (If only people didn’t really say that.)

    • Young CC Prof
      March 5, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

      Because, you know, pregnancy isn’t a disease, so why shouldn’t people just operate on the assumption that someone who gave birth 2 hours ago is able to do everything the average healthy person is able to do?

      • Sarah
        March 5, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

        A section doesn’t count as giving birth so it’s ok.

  27. Cobalt
    March 5, 2015 at 11:43 am #

    Is 5% a really good estimate of mothers who can’t breastfeed for purely lactation failure or insufficiency reasons? Not counting issues with the baby’s ability to nurse and the various social, emotional, financial, mental health, or other medical issues that may make breastfeeding difficult or undesirable?

    I would have guessed the number was higher.

    • NoLongerCrunching
      March 5, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      I would guess that 5% is for primary lactation failure. The number of moms with low supply for secondary reasons is much higher.

    • fearlessformulafeeder
      March 5, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

      The 5% figure is a guesstimate, taken from one small study on a specific Scandinavian population (I think it was Scandinavian….have to check my facts on that one). It is far from definitive. And yes, it’s for primary lactation failure only…. but I personally believe the number even for that is probably much higher, especially in certain populations. Lactation involves the endocrine system – and we know that things like PCOS, thyroid disorders, infertility are higher in certain populations, so why wouldn’t it follow that lactation failure rates are higher as well?

      • Joy
        March 5, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

        I think it was a study in Colorado in the 80s? I am sure someone on here posted it at sometime.

      • KarenJJ
        March 6, 2015 at 1:11 am #

        And the vast majority of women asking for assistance with breastfeeding would be those that fall into that 5% (plus more) and having other difficulties. So for lactation consultants to be telling that to women that are asking for assistance is inappropriate. If you’re job is in physical therapy and you are assisting people to walk, what help is it to tell them that not being able to walk is “really rare”?

  28. mom of 2
    March 5, 2015 at 11:05 am #

    As a nurse who has taken care of several quadriplegic patients in the past, you bet your ass I dwell on how lucky I am to be able to walk. What an asinine thing to say. Has she never met a quad? Does she have any idea how easy it is to get a spinal cord injury? Most of my patients were the victims of freak accidents that could literally happen to anyone, anytime. Everyone who can walk is lucky.

    So yes. I agree with you, Dr Amy, that natural childbirth and lactivism are ableist.

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