Have lactivists lost their minds?


I wasn’t planning to write about breastfeeding today. I thought I had temporarily exhausted the topic.

Then I saw this:

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is warning that new mums are giving up breastfeeding so they can drink alcohol … with disappointing outcomes for their bubs…

New mothers are being warned that feeding their ­babies formula is worse than breastfeeding after a few drinks.

Have these people lost their minds?

[pullquote align=”right” color=”#b700d9″]Formula is worse than alcohol in breastmilk? Really? Really??!![/pullquote]

The advice from the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) comes as new research shows an increasing number of women turning to bottle feeding within weeks of giving birth, in some cases because they wish to recommence consuming alcohol.

The ABA’s website states two alcoholic drinks a day is safe while breastfeeding…

“I am not advocating for women to drink alcohol and certainly not in the first four weeks but they need to know they don’t need to give up on breastfeeding if they want to have a couple of drinks and are scared of the impact on the baby,” ABA Queensland spokeswoman Naomi Millgate said…

Gold Coast midwife Amanda Bude believes that while ­socialising is not the main reason women give up on breastfeeding, she sees women who simply get fed up “being good”, especially after abstaining from ­alcohol throughout pregnancy.

Lead author of the research, Jennifer Ayton, a PhD student and registered midwife, said she was shocked by the dropout rate.

“What is needed now is a re-education of new mothers and a rethink on how best to support the family so that exclusive breastfeeding can continue,” she said.

No, what is needed now is for lactivists to get a grip on reality.

Formula is worse than alcohol in breastmilk? Really? Really??!!

What research supports this astonishing claim? No research at all!

  • Has anyone ever compared the impact on the infant brain of alcohol vs. formula? NO.
  • Has anyone ever compared the impact on the infant microbiome of alcohol vs. formula? NO.
  • Has anyone ever compared the impact on the infant ANYTHING of alcohol vs. formula. NO.

They just made it up, because they will say and do anything to have their own feeding choices mirrored back to them.

I have been shocked by the lactivist response to my TIME piece that made what I consider a rather innocuous and obvious claim about formula feeding. Formula is nutritious and healthy and no one should feel guilty for using it. Two entire generations of Americans were raised nearly exclusively on infant formula and it made no difference in infant mortality, life expectancy or population IQ.

Breastfeeding advocates have gone ballistic. How dare I tell women the truth??

The benefits of breastfeeding in industrialized countries are trivial. That’s what population data shows. I challenge any breastfeeding advocate to present population data that shows otherwise.

I suspect that the ferocious response of lactivists is due in part to the fact that they can’t use their tried and true tactic of shaming on me. I breastfed four children until they weaned themselves.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from trying. “Nursaholic” (how apt) who offers advice for the “lactation lush” writes regarding my breastfeeding experience:

Keeping in mind that some people round up (a lot), we know that breastfeeding multiple children for a few months each is not the same level of experience as breastfeeding multiple children for, say, a few years each…

…[S]uch a claim needs honest clarification before it can be used as evidence of credible “expertise” in this area.

Regarding my commitment to supporting all mothers, she writes:

It’s also hard to ignore the fact that some medical practitioners receive monetary kickbacks for promoting formula…

What evidence does she provide for her insinuations? None, of course.

More disturbing to me is the ongoing Tweets between Canadian pediatrician Dr. Daniel Flanders and myself, who claims my writing is inflammatory and divisive.

Inflammatory about what Dr. Flanders? Divisive toward whom? I’ve asked him, but he won’t say.

And the inevitable culmination with the classic sexist exhortation to be “nice” like other women:

Flanders tweet3

No doubt the Fearless Formula Feeder is a MUCH nicer person than me.

But you know what Dr. Flanders? It’s 2015 and professional women don’t have to be “nice” to get their message across.

I wrote a piece about being nice to formula feeders and get accused of not being nice.

Oh, the irony!