Trust your intuition, Mama — unless it tells you your breastfed baby is starving


“Trust your intuition, Mama!” It’s the all purpose battle cry of the natural parenting industries.

Want to have a homebirth even though ACOG says it increases the risk of perinatal death? Trust your intuition, Mama! You’re safest where you feel safest!

Want to give birth underwater even though the American Academy of Pediatrics says it’s dangerous? Trust your intuition, Mama! Everyone knows, according to the geniuses at the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), babies don’t breathe “until they experience gravity!”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#999999″ class=”” size=””]We have a word for those who think they know more about what patients are experiencing than patients themselves: paternalism.[/pullquote]

Want to skip vaccinations for your children even though every health organization IN THE WORLD says vaccines don’t cause autism? Trust your intuition, Mama! You know that your child’s difficulties were caused by a “vaccine injury.”

Want to supplement your exclusively breastfed baby with formula because he’s losing weight and screaming constantly from hunger? Trus… Wait!! You can’t possibly trust your intuition about something so important!!

You might think that your baby is starving, but, Mama, you’re just an unqualified layperson who should never trust her intuition on such an important matter. ONLY a professional lactivist is entitled to determine whether your baby needs supplementation. No one cares what you think; only someone like lactivist Maureen Minchin is qualified to decided whether your baby is starving — and Maureen already knows, before hearing your story and without ever examining your baby — that he isn’t.

The utter disrespect and dismissiveness with which lactivists treat mothers is one of the ugliest of the ugly, ugly, ugly tactics of contemporary lactivism.

In response to Dr. Alison Stuebe’s Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine post about exclusively breastfed babies suffering brain damaging, life threatening hypernatremia, Minchin offer this charming comment:

… I have my doubts that it was just four days of ineffective feeding that resulted in Meagan’s boy’s neurodevelopment problems… And the clues to what else happened to this child are there in Meagan’s post. He struggled to tolerate any formula and in the end would take ONLY ready-to-feed Alimentum, which as a liquid end-sterilised concentrate was most likely to contain high levels of AGEs and could have had many other problems …

Maureen has her doubts! And why should anyone care what Maureen thinks? She wrote a self-published book and everyone knows that a self-published book is the ultimate mark of expertise!

Maureen is a font of scientific sounding stupidity:

… My book argues that a milk hypothesis makes a lot more sense and has a more substantial scientific basis than the commonly accepted hygiene hypothesis or the biodiversity hypothesis, both of which are discussed. And 2. allergy studies to date have not looked for the intergenerational impacts of artificial feeding, which become very evident when you deal with these families as I have for decades, and can be explained by epigenetics. We are what our grandmothers ate: many first generation formula feeders gestated in bodies that were breastfed probably did better than second and third generation formula-exposed babies gestated in the bodies of women formula-fed as children (even if those women EBF). I have lived through both the 1960-1970s formula invasion (when every child in many hospitals was formula-exposed and most women breastfed for very short periods) and the allergy epidemic in Australia, which has grown with every generation for reasons both genetic and epigenetic.

Won’t someone think of the great grandchildren????????!!!!!!!!!

What’s Maureen’s problem (besides ignorance and grandiosity)? Maureen, like many lactivists, is suffering from cognitive dissonance. In Maureen’s fantasy world where breastmilk is ALWAYS the perfect food for every baby, regardless of circumstances, some babies have the temerity to sustain brain damage and even die because their mothers couldn’t produce enough breastmilk for them. How could that possibly be true? As far as Minchin is concerned, it couldn’t.

As Prof. David Dunning (of the eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect) explains in regard to “confident idiots” afflicted by the Effect:

Some of our most stubborn misbeliefs arise not from primitive childlike intuitions or careless category errors, but from the very values and philosophies that define who we are as individuals. Each of us possesses certain foundational beliefs — narratives about the self, ideas about the social order—that essentially cannot be violated: To contradict them would call into question our very self-worth. As such, these views demand fealty from other opinions. And any information that we glean from the world is amended, distorted, diminished, or forgotten in order to make sure that these sacrosanct beliefs remain whole and unharmed.

To contradict the superlativeness of exclusive breastfeeding would call into question Minchin’s self-worth. Information about babies who sustain brain damage or die from insufficient breastmilk must be amended, distorted, diminished or ignored in order to make sure that Minchin’s sacrosanct belief in the perfection of breastmilk remains whole and unharmed.

When it comes to weighing brain damaged and dead babies against Minchin’s self-worth, it’s no contest, Minchin’s need for personal validation is far more important to her than what is actually happening to babies and mothers. Minchin is not alone. Other lactation professionals are equally adept at dismissing or outright ignoring what mothers tell them about their babies’ suffering.

So trust your intuition, Mama — unless it conflicts with the intuition of birth workers and breastfeeding professionals.

We have a word for healthcare professionals who think they know more about what patients are experiencing than patients themselves; that word is paternalism. Unfortunately, midwives and lactation professionals, who spend tremendous time and effort bewailing the paternalism of obstetricians and pediatricians have adopted the very attitudes they claim to despise.

Like Minchin, lactation professionals are not listening — and mothers and babies are suffering deeply as a result.