Researchers who questioned the public framing of breastfeeding get death threats? Naturally!

Text 100 percent natural with green letters and shadow.

Over the weekend Jessica Martucci, medical ethicist and feminist historian, reached out to me on Twitter to ask how I deal with hate mail. Recently she’s been getting a lot of it, death threats included, in response to a paper she and colleague Anne Barnhill wrote in the journal Pediatrics.

Death threats about breastfeeding? Naturally!

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Martucci and Barnhill didn’t merely step into a hornets nest, they were perceived by the hornets as stomping on it.[/pullquote]

In Unintended Consequences of Invoking the “Natural” in Breastfeeding Promotion, Martucci and Barnhill write:

…[W]e are concerned about breastfeeding promotion that praises breastfeeding as the “natural” way to feed infants. This messaging plays into a powerful perspective that “natural” approaches to health are better … Promoting breastfeeding as “natural” may be ethically problematic, and, even more troublingly, it may bolster this belief that “natural” approaches are presumptively healthier. This may ultimately challenge public health’s aims in other contexts, particularly childhood vaccination.

I found the title of the paper a bit clumsy, but their identification of the problem — the reflexive glorification of the “natural” — is spot-on.

In the world of healthcare, there is nothing intrinsically better about “natural.”

Approximately 30% of Americans are “naturally” nearsighted; correcting their eyesight with “interventions” like glasses and contact lenses dramatically improves their quality of life.

Approximately 20% of diagnosed pregnancies “naturally” end in miscarriage. We can’t currently prevent those miscarriages but if interventions are discovered that preserve these pregnancies, a great deal of pain and anguish could be eliminated.

It is deeply problematic to promote breastfeeding as superior because it natural, as Martucci and Barnhill point out, when it results in the belief that natural methods are better than technological innovations like vaccination.

Martucci and Barnhill didn’t realize that they weren’t merely stepping into a hornets nest, they were perceived by the hornets as stomping on it. Why? Because natural parenting (natural childbirth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting) isn’t about children, it’s an expressions of maternal identity. In the view of lactivists, the naturalness of breastfeeding marks them as superior to other mothers and Martucci and Barnhill were obliquely (and inadvertently) calling the superiority of these “Sanctimommies” into question.

Given the important of breastfeeding to some women’s self-esteem, the vicious response was entirely natural:

… “This reads like an Onion article. I can’t believe this is not satire,” opined one woman on Facebook, while another said, “Extremely upsetting. And simply ridiculous. I mean let’s call a fucking spade a spade. It IS by all definitions of the word the natural way to feed your baby. How is calling it what it is potentially unethical?”

“You and Anne Barnhill both need to be Killed the Natural way the sooner you two are Killed the better off women will be,” wrote a Twitter account with an egg for an avatar… [M]any of the comments on Facebook and on the news stories were from mothers who seemed to have a very emotional attachment to the concept of mother as breast-feeder.

“For the most part, the email response has been very cruel and personal,” says Martucci …

Earth to Sanctimommies:

Go back and read the paper again. The authors did not say that breastfeeding isn’t natural. They questioned the idea that natural equals superior, because it doesn’t. When public health advocates imply that something is better because it is natural they inadvertently diminish the value of public health interventions that are technological like vaccination.

Let’s be honest, vaccination saves far more lives than breastfeeding does. In fact, the countries in the world with the highest rates of infant mortality have the HIGHEST rates of breastfeeding.

In countries with access to clean water, the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial, limited to a few less colds and episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infants each year. Breastfeeding maybe have advantages but NOT because it is natural.

This episode ought to inspire the breastfeeding industry to take a long, hard look at itself. What does it mean when lactivists send death threats to anyone who questions anything about breastfeeding? It means that breastfeeding has gone from one of two excellent methods to feed a baby to a way for breastfeeding mothers to torment anyone who doesn’t agree with their assessment of themselves as innately superior mothers. It has gone from a child rearing choice to an opportunity to bully women who don’t mirror lactivists’ choices back to them.

Remember the girls in the middle school cafeteria who wouldn’t let the unpopular girls sit with them at lunch? Hopefully, as adults we recognize that such behavior is a pathetic attempt to boost their fragile self-esteem by victimizing others.

Those girls have grown up and now hang out at the playground where they are still pathetically attempting to boost their fragile self-esteem, this time by victimizing women who don’t breastfeed. If you question their superiority, they send you death threats on social media.

The medical profession ought to take a long, hard look at itself, too. Doctors and hospital administrators have allowed this to happen by giving in to the breastfeeding industry lobby and promoting breastfeeding far, far beyond it’s actual benefits.

The American Academy of Pediatrics did not cover itself with glory in this incident, either:

The AAP Section on Breastfeeding Leadership read with interest the Perspectives in Pediatrics article, “Unintended Consequences of Invoking the ‘Natural’ in Breastfeeding Promotion” by Martucci and Barnhill. While we agree that the words we choose to encourage healthy behaviors certainly matter, equating breastfeeding as “natural” with the supposed “natural” of the anti-vaccine movement is neither logical, nor appropriate. Furthermore, this direct link is not substantiated in the literature.

Martucci and Barnhill were entirely logical and totally appropriate in questioning the strategy of framing breastfeeding as superior because it is natural. They are absolutely correct to caution that such framing strategies have had deadly unintended consequences by implying that natural is always better.

Let’s get a grip here, people. Breastfeeding simply isn’t that important. It’s time that the AAP disengages itself from the breastfeeding lobby and returns to promoting the interests of babies and mothers instead of the interests of lactivist. In fact it’s long past time to return to a more nuanced, science based policy than the one they currently promote.

  • Charlotte Davies

    “Remember the girls in the middle school cafeteria who wouldn’t let the unpopular girls sit with them at lunch? Hopefully, as adults we recognize that such behavior is a pathetic attempt to boost their fragile self-esteem by victimizing others.” PERFECT. I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head there. These women hate that it’s still not teenage years and school gangs, so they have to keep it going in adulthood. Breastfeeding is one such attribute of ‘power’ that they can wield to do this. I guess the next stage – once breastfeeding is finished – is the cliques of ‘mummies at the school gate’ as we call them here in the UK. My one memo to myself when my older son starts school this September is ‘avoid the PTA committee like the plague’ 🙂

  • Dr Kitty

    Slightly OT:
    I’ve lost 3kgs in the last two weeks because at 7months #2 has hit a growth spurt and started crawling.
    This is not good, I don’t have weight to lose.

    Yesterday, the kid had 8oz of formula (because he’s drunk all our EBM stash), 200mls of puréed fruit and veg, a bowl of baby cereal and a petit filous and five breast feeds- three of which were between 11pm and 5am, lucky me!

    I’m absolutely OK adding in more formula at this point.
    I’m exhausted, he’s hungry, I’m hungry and I’d rather feed him when I’m with him and not worry about the contents of his bottle when I’m not.

    I’m going to keep pumping at work for comfort, but stop pumping in the evening as it is too tiring, and I’ll send him to his childminder with whatever combination of EBM and formula I happen to have to hand.

    He’s so different from #1, who ate like a bird, didn’t crawl until she was 10 months and slept through the night from 5months! Breast feeding her for over a year was much easier.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Gee, almost as though babies were individuals with different needs and desires who can’t all be raised by a single cookie cutter formula. Speaking of which, wish I could bring you over some cookies or just transfer some weight to you. Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve found those 3 kg you lost…

    • demodocus

      I prescribe a cheeseburger and chips for you and more formula for him! Sadly, I’ve plenty of kilos i could share too, thus why my doc isn’t worried that I’ve only gained 3 pounds in the last 30 weeks.
      Oh! I just realized I am officially 30 weeks along today.

      • Dr Kitty

        Woot! 3/4 done!
        Hoping these last weeks fly in for you!

    • MaineJen

      Oh, how well I remember that desperate hunger of the breastfeeding mom with a super hungry kid!! I got down to the skinniest I’ve ever been when I was feeding my son. Sadly, those days are behind me now and I’ve got about 20 lbs I’d like to lose at this point.

      My daughter was a much lighter feeder and I didn’t lose as much weight while feeding her…and now it’s all come back, and then some 🙁

      • Dr Kitty

        My mother made me weigh myself, I’d thought that I was holding steady by eating chocolate and ice cream and lots of leftovers… Nope.

  • Allie

    “It’s time that the AAP disengages itself from the breastfeeding lobby and returns to promoting the interests of babies and mothers instead of the interests of lactivist.”
    Amen (or, if you prefer, And How)

  • Allie P

    I’m with the facebook commenter who doesn’t think it’s unethical to call a spade a spade. It is natural. Doesn’t make it better. I didn’t have natural childbirth and I count the days until my baby’s ready for her next round of vaccinations, but I breastfed this babe because it turned out this time around that I can, and all other things being equal for me (a situation that did not exist when it came to childbirth and HELLA doesn’t for immunity) it’s the easiest, most “natural” choice. (Not in the sense of pristine glades, in the sense of obvious) Let’s be reasonable here. I agree with the AAP that I don’t see the connection. It’s a stretch to imagine that someone is going to turn into an anti vaccinationist just because they are reminded that they are mammals.

    • Rachele Willoughby

      The problem isn’t with calling breastfeeding natural (it is), it isn’t even with calling it superior (it might be). The problem begins when you (and the AAP) imply that breastfeeding is superior *because* it’s natural. It gives the wrong impression about the superiority of natural things. That’s what the paper is saying.

      You’re not wrong, you just missed the point.

    • lawyer jane

      You know what else is unnatural? Cooking food. Animal husbandry. Farming grains. Keeping chickens for eggs. Milking cows hundreds of miles away and packaging the milk in cartons and shipping it to your local store. Heck, getting in your car to buy groceries is unnatural! Even your own garden would be unnatural, because you’d have to buy the seeds in little packets from the garden store.

      • demodocus

        Intentionally *planting* seeds is unnatural!

        • LinnieMae

          That’s the wind’s job! Why would anybody play god like that?

  • nomofear

    I had the opportunity to write an op-ed piece for my local paper, but I backed out when I realized that your name and email has to be published with it. NCB people are scary.

    Also, someone on Facebook tagged a friend who’s a new mom with this and I can’t even http://www.junomagazine.com/birth-trauma-a-cultural-blind-spot/

    • BeatriceC

      Puke. Seriously.

      Shortly before I cut off contact with my family, my mother got on this “attachment disorder” kick. She decided I was so horrible because I was born by c-section (CPD…I weighed 10 pounds, 12 oz and pre-pregnancy my mother weighed 89 pounds), and then compounding the problem, she got pregnant again too soon, so we obviously never bonded well.

      Well, no. We’re not bonded well because she’s an evil, psychotic bitch. But hey, lets just blame the kid and the c-section and the younger sibling that’s apparently too close in age. *eyeroll* What was really happening is I was finally figuring out how to make and enforce boundaries and not allow myself or my children to be mistreated, so therefore I was horrible.

      • Allie

        “I was finally figuring out how to make and enforce boundaries and not allow myself or my children to be mistreated” – HOW DARE YOU! ; )

    • Sean Jungian

      Oh, BARF. What a load (the mystical pre-birth and birth trauma woo).

      It’s unfortunate you can’t feel free to take advantage of the opportunity to write and be read, but I don’t blame you a bit. I know some think online harassment (particularly of women) is “no big deal” but I’ve followed it for several years and it is SCARY. I do not have any identifying information online on either my Twitter or Disqus accounts. I do on my Facebook account but I do not post there very often (I use FB to keep in touch with friends and family). And I definitely keep all my settings on FB private.

      I’m pretty careful about where I will even post comments, to be honest. I usually lurk and read a comment section for quite a while before I will go so far as to comment. Even then, I keep most identifying information out of my comments.

    • Who?

      I lost it at ‘Needs crying and memory crying’.

      Sorry you chose to not publish.

    • Allie

      Oh good lord! Beyond ridiculous!
      – Your link, that is, not your comment : )

  • Irène Delse

    From the original paper: “This may ultimately challenge public health’s aims in other contexts, particularly childhood vaccination.”

    Spot on. Take that woman, in Australia, who went public for regretting not getting her whooping cough vaccine in time for the birth of her child, who did get whooping cough and passed it to her newborn… She explained that she didn’t think she needed a vaccine: healthy, eating organic, she thought her immune system was as good as nature intended… Sadly, it was, because nature never “intended” perfection.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      Nature never intends at all. Evolution just gives advantages to survival which are often good enough.

    • Allie

      Um, didn’t nature intend the viruses and bacteria to live long and prosper as well? The hubris is astounding.

  • theadequatemother

    I READ DR AMY’s BOOK!

    If you are a regular reader of this blog you will recognize some of the content and be delighted to read the new, related content.

    Its highly enjoyable, really fascinating and well researched.

    And Dr. Amy’s narrative voice in the book so wonderfully conveys the depth of her empathy and caring for mothers of all descriptions.

    If you’ve ever been made to feel guilty for your choices in pregnancy, baby feeding or parenting this book is like a hot cup of tea and gigantic hug reinforced with large doses of common sense. In short, its like a good cathartic cry fest/ rant fest with your best friend, like if your best friend happened to be an OB with a special interest in parenting science, psychology and feminist history.

    🙂

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      Thank you so much!

    • MichelleJo

      I just saw your review on Amazon! One of four reviews, they all commented on the warmth and empathy the book is written with. So much for Dr Amy being meeeen! Not that I ever doubted her true personality. Sold out already on Amazon UK!

      • attitude devant

        It really does capture her warmth. It’s a terrific read.

      • theadequatemother

        yes I wanted to emphasize that aspect. The book even made me feel better and i’ve already rejected the NCB/ natural movement crap. I just think society/media is very good at insidiously telling you that you are never doing a good enough job at motherhood. Ever. Its the best marketing tactic ever and it is so easy to internalize that message when you hear it subtlety or overtly multiple times a day.

    • AA

      You don’t have to be a parent, either…you can be rightfully angered at how woo has deeply permeated some social groups. On reddit I saw people actually say “did you know that women in some cultures don’t feel pain from childbirth? Asian women are calm and quiet during their labors, the pain is cultural.”

      • Gatita

        Fucking disgusting. That’s what leads to people of color being undertreated for pain.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

        Yeah NO, the expectation that women will shut up and not make noise/not complain/”tough it out” might be cultural. The pain is real for many/most women.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        My husband is Indian, and I was talking with one of his relatives a few months back. She asked about my sons birth, and when I said that I had an epidural she thought that was wonderful because her own births had been so painful. She must not have gotten the cultural memo.

      • Sarah

        The same sort of person is often prone to talking about indigenous attitudes to birth, whatever the fuck that means. Indigenous people of course all being the same.

      • demodocus

        yeeeaaahhh. I let out some whimpers during labor, but i also cry silently. Not everyone prefers to “vocalize”.

  • Inmara

    OT: anyone can comment on this? http://breakingmuscle.com/womens-fitness/more-squats-and-fewer-kegels-what-your-pelvic-floor-really-wants Some statements seem plausible, but reference to Ina May is not what I expect in serious article.

    • theadequatemother

      That idea has been circulating the internet for a while. I am no expert but I did start training after my second kid and developed a strong, technically ok squat and I did notice a lot of good effects, whether from the squat or balanced whole body weight training i dunno, like better posture, less back pain, a better ability to kegel strongly etc.

      The squat is a great movement if you have th emobility to do it properly and is great for whole body strength and probably if you work out you should try to work towards squats. But where is the data to show squatting is better treatment for SUI, or prolapse or rectocele discomfort compared to kegels or biofeedback? That’s missing.

      So its just one woman’s opinion and anecdote.

      • Gatita

        Before getting pregnant I was into weight training and did weighted deep squats and I think it both helped me with my ability to push effectively during labor (OB commented on how effectively I pushed) and also my recovery. Of course, now that I’m seven years down the road I’m not lifting anymore and in terrible shape ;_;

    • fiftyfifty1

      Not a single evidence-based assertion. It’s just her made-up theory.

    • attitude devant

      pull the sacrum forward? wtf?

    • Allie

      I don’t know but she might be on to something. I can do Kegels ’til the cows come home and it does nothing to stem the flow. Maybe I’ll give this a whirl.

  • Megan

    That should say end lactation syndrome, not me lactation syndrome (though I feel like I have a lactation syndrome all my own). 🙂

  • Megan

    Female sea otters don’t find natural breastfeeding so wonderful. Just watching a documentary last night about sea otters and they mentioned me lactation syndrome. That’s nature for you. It reminded me of this blog and this exact issue. Thank God we have formula.

    http://news.ucsc.edu/2014/06/sea-otter-moms.html

    • lawyer jane

      ” Thometz explained that female sea otters give birth to a pup every year, regardless of their condition. They decide whether to keep or abandon their pup depending on their physiological condition and environmental factors such as the availability of prey. Abandoning a pup may give them a better chance to successfully rear a pup the following year.”

      Reminds me of Sara Blaffer Hrdy’s work. Like it or not, female reproductive control has always happened throughout the animal world. We are extremely lucky that as modern US women we can use birth control (and early term abortion) rather than abandoning babies.

      • lawyer jane

        Oh, and we are also lucky that there are laws protecting us from unwanted intercourse …

        • Allie

          Yay?

      • BeatriceC

        Granted they’re not mammals, but birds will physically disable their offspring if they thinks there’s something wrong. I’ve worked with many rescue birds who’s parents chewed off their toes so they wouldn’t be able to perch. Nature is brutal.

      • Mac Sherbert

        An older man we knew kept telling us we needed to have more babies. He went on to explain how many kids his mother had, etc. Finally, his wife interrupted him and said “Women don’t have to do that anymore.” Smiled at me and walked off taking her husband with her. 🙂

      • Irène Delse

        Many species of birds, mammals, even fish, turn to cooperative parenting. Taking turns at finding food, looking after the babies… We know of bird couples looking after their chicks, of course, but in other species, it’s more of a group endeavour. Lionesses looking after their cubs and their sisters’ and mother’s too. Wolves go a step farther, with make and females bringing in food for the cubs and protecting them.

        I don’t know how human ancestors evolved their social parenting, but they definitely had one, or the females wouldn’t have been able to feed and raise alone those big-headed, energy-hungry kids!

  • Madtowngirl

    I wonder what happens to these women when their kids stop breastfeeding? I mean, if your identity is so wrapped up in your breasts that you’re making death threats, what do you do when they stop breastfeeding? Become a helicopter parent? Okay, then when your kids go off to college, then what?

    I would imagine that this type of intense attachment will create some serious identity problems later on.

    • ladyloki

      They go to college with their kids. No, I’m not kidding. And they show up at interviews. I work in HR, I have had 20-somethings come in with their parents. I automatically show them the door. I have had parents call and scream at me for not giving their unqualified child the job, I have been threatened and have had to call the cops twice as I had that threat in writing in either email or snail mail. Idiots.

      And I’m over here teaching my 12 year old how to do taxes and our monthly budgets and my 11 year old does most of the food prep and cooking because she is an amazing budding chef and has a gift for food. They’ll be running the household in a few years.

      • Roadstergal

        Holy shit.I work in HR, I have had 20-somethings come in with their parents.”

        Holy shit.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          And believe me, she’s not the only HR manager to have to deal with that. My sister also works in HR, and once had a 30-something-year-old guy bring his mom in to argue with her about why she shouldn’t have fired Poor Sweetums. (Poor Sweetums had grossly and repeatedly, even after counseling, violated company policy and basic common sense in new, different, and creative ways, but that, of course, was beside the point.) IIRC, she had to threaten to call security to get the woman to leave.

          • Amazed

            I guess that’s a trend that starts from early childhood. My mom has seen the following scenario more than once: kid doesn’t do well in English classes. Mom and dad find my mom and hire her to write kid’s homework. My mom is like, “I can give him/her lessons instead, for the same money!” They’re like, “No, no, there’s no need. We only want Precious to have homework done! No need to burden Precious with studying!”

            It took quite a few repeats of said scenario for my mom to realize that mom and dad won’t meet her offer with joy and relief.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            *sigh* Because a) that teaches Precious such a *wonderful* (she says with utmost sarcasm) life lesson, and b) I’m sure that Precious would never, ever have an opportunity in which a familiarity with one of the more commonly-spoken languages in the world might be useful.
            I live in the southern US, in a state near the Mexican border, so a good chunk of the population speak Spanish. I have no doubt that similar things happen between Spanish-speaking kids (or adults) and non-Spanish-speaking students of the language (it’s often taught as a class in school), to which I say the same: while English might be the primary language spoken here, Spanish is bloody useful in all sorts of fields, and you’re only screwing yourself in the long term by cheating like that.

          • Amazed

            On yes. We were screwed in a similar way here – my generation, I mean. When we were traveling into the Noah Arch of Communism headed towards the bright future, Russian was taught at school. It wasn’t a matter of choice. Then, one day, USSR told us, “Finito! Out of the ship, out of the map of the world.” Our economy was so tied with the Soviet one that when the latter started drowning, we collapsed as well. We started drowning. But we were so ecstatic that the Communism was no more. That was a good thing, and I am not saying it with sarcasm. The compulsory learning of Russian disappeared and that was a good thing as well. It should have never been compulsory in the first place. But what really screwed us it was that we weren’t encouraged to learn it the way we were encouraged to learn English, German, French. That was a bad, BAD thing. It wasn’t presented as an “equal” option.It was systematically degraded in a country fighting for survival. And let’s be real, when you do this and then leave the decision into the hands of a bunch of kids whose life goal is studying as little as possible and their parents who’ve generally been through hell with Communism for many years, you won’t see the best decisions. Those weren’t made. There were all kinds of explanations, one of them being that Russian and Bulgarian were close, so we were supposed to “know” Russian. Bollocks. I can sometimes understand what people are saying to me and I can read a little Russian, courtesy of two years at school before Arch, drown and stuff and the fact that the two languages are indeed close. Guess what? Russian turned out to be an advantage in our part of the world (and not only!) One that we were deprived of because stuff.

            I have no doubt that Spanish is useful around there. If only people could see that.

          • Sean Jungian

            Thank you for posting that beautiful poem, @disqus_sW7nel5lNp:disqus – my real-life name just happens to be Tamara!

          • Amazed

            What a lovely name you have! Glad that you like the poem. Lermontov was truly a gifted poet, wasn’t he?

          • Tiffany Aching

            I owe a good part of the fun I had in my early 20’s to worried (and rich) parents who were ready to spend lots of money on unnecessary tutoring for their above academic standards kids. All I had to do was to listen to them, sometimes point them in the right direction, and give them reading advice. And then go spend all the money their parents gave me on partying :).

          • LinnieMae

            Here’s the scenario for those kids in college: They write a paper (or probably are “helped” to write the paper), then Mom contacts an editor to pretty it up. I edit dissertations and there’s nothing wrong with a grad student hiring me for that. I’ve had a few moms contact me on behalf of their kids and the demands are ridiculous, they pretty much expect me to rewrite the paper. I don’t respond to anybody but a grad student who requests these services for their own work. And the edits I do are minimal; no rewriting, just proofreading and formatting.

        • Dr Kitty

          I have had the parents of married, gainfully employed 20-somethings phone up requesting emergency appointments and antibiotics for their children, usually for simple coughs and colds.

          They are quite often put out that I insist on actually speaking to the patient… Who often isn’t aware that mammy had phoned and doesn’t feel bad enough to see a Dr.

      • BeatriceC

        I used to teach part time at a community college. I lost count of the number of phone calls I received from irate parents because their little precious failed a class, or wanting to know various details so they could basically do the form for their kids. It’s sad.

        • Madtowngirl

          I mean, do they realize the consequences of raising children who are THAT dependent on you? Someday you’re going to die, like it or not. (Adult) children need to be capable of functioning without their parents.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone

            Yup, those are the parents who would not let their 14 year old go camping with us and my daughter because it was in the next state(please understand I live in small state, the campground was less than 2 hours from my house…)

            Also those are the parents who were Horrified I let my daughter go to Germany to stay with her friend(and former exchange student buddy) for the summer when she was 15 turning 16. My daughter and her 3 friends went all over Germany by train, she still says its the best thing she has been able to do so far.

            My sister in law died at 42, her youngest daughter was 13 her oldest 18. fortunately she raised her daughters to be somewhat independent. Making your children helpless with out you does them no favors.

          • Allie

            To be honest, I understand the impulse, but I also understand the need to resist it. Like it or not, for better or worse, we have to learn to let go. My daughter (age 3 1/4) recently went on a field trip with her daycare/preschool class to a pond about 5 1/2 miles from school. My husband was super uneasy, but she had a blast and told us all about it that evening. I’m so glad she is learning to explore and experience the world on her own (within reason, of course).

          • The Computer Ate My Nym

            Yeah, I gotta admit I understand the impulse to over protect the kids. The first time kiddo went off to summer sleep over camp, I wanted to ask them everything from their methods for dealing with conflicts between children to their disaster plan for when the vengeful ghost of a dead ex-camper shows up and starts slashing counselors, but I refrained. The counselors and probably the camp’s owner were all too young to get the reference anyway.

            The other problem for me with overprotecting the critter is that she’s gotten old enough and wise enough that there are a number of things that she can do that I can’t. I’m rather glad of this, actually, since it gives me a hard limit on when to stop protecting and doing things for her.

          • Inmara

            I need to restrain myself from hovering over husband when he’s left with baby. What he needs to know is what’s the plan for meals and where his clothes are, and other things he can figure out just fine. Differently from me, but fine.

          • Amazed

            One of the things I appreciated most a few days ago was the Intruder and SIL’s lack of calls when my mom and I were left alone with Amazing Niece (aged two months, 5,400 kg and 59 cm as Evil Pediatrician found out just yesterday, wow!) My mom and I were at one of those places, mineral water and all, that usually leave me with 6 to 8 months without having any problems with my fingers and why the hell aren’t those places advertized more when they’re so useful? They drove my mom over and went their merry way, with their own vacation plans. The next day, they came over, we had a very nice lunch and then they left, to not disturb us as we were enjoying the baby. They came back in time for the next nursing session. But they didn’t call ONCE to check how we were doing and I appreciate it very much. Amazing Niece is such a cutie! Hardly ever cries. And she wasn’t asleep either. She was wide awake and enjoying us right back. We changed her, rocked her and all. It isn’t this hard.

            Usually, people can deal with a baby just fine, as you say. It isn’t this hard. All that we can’t do is BF him/her. But the rest of it? If he/she is crying with us, she’ll be probably crying with you as well. Babies cry. A lot. Admittedly, Amazing Niece does it mainly when she’s hungry/has colics/has spit her pacifier yet again.

            It isn’t this hard.

          • Inmara

            If I recall my childhood, I see millions of chances to get injured or die – climbing trees (and falling), breaking into pond while walking on spring ice, swimming without supervision, playing on streets, wandering around in forests… yet my childhood was full of great adventures and explorations. Much of it was because parents had things to do and couldn’t hover over me (as well as grandparents – I spent summers with grandma who had huge garden and she grew flowers and vegetables for sale – sure, she couldn’t drop all the gardening and follow me everywhere!)
            I don’t know how I will balance safety and adventures for my kids, but I’ll try my best. Case in point, yesterday we went to forest with my 8 mo; I let him crawl around and touch trees. He managed to stuff his mouth with moss, and at one point rolled along the slope, barely missing some fallen branches and getting small scratch on his face. He could have poked a branch in his eye, right? But we enjoyed outdoors immensely, and somehow he’ll learn to avoid branches too.

          • MI Dawn

            Just a fair warning…once they start eating sand, diaper changes are pure hell. Try wiping them off without scratches…OY!

      • Madtowngirl

        Wow. That’s all kinds of crazy.

        Your kids sound amazing, though.

      • Allie

        A few years! Why the delay?

        • ladyloki

          They can’t drive yet. While I still have to put out effort running errands, so they can’t run it completely. Just a few more years…12 year old is almost 13.

          • demodocus

            What!? You don’t send them out with an old red wagon to the grocery store to have them pick up all the groceries and then drag it back home? Uphill both ways??

          • Charybdis

            Barefoot in the snow, don’t forget.

          • demodocus

            mine tried to do that today. Sigh. Toddlers.

      • LinnieMae

        I hear ya. I’ve seen parents (mostly moms) who do their kids’ homework, fill out their applications for college, and do all the work to make connections for their kids and otherwise “help” them, well into adulthood. It’s not always appreciated or accepted by the kids. These moms think of it as a help but when you see it up close, it looks more like control. They’re validating themselves through the success of their kids.

      • seekingbalance

        you all should check out Julie Lythcott-Haims’ book, How to Raise an Adult. she talks about all these issues, and does a great job weaving history and cultural observations in with anecdotes…. great read!

    • Sarah

      Trick question. Their kids don’t stop breastfeeding.

      • LinnieMae

        Ha!

  • Absolutely. The focus must be on the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies and how best to achieve that objective in each case. The damage that is done by extremists is a kind of terrorism – and it devalues what should be every woman’s right to make decisions with respect to her own body, with respect to her own health and well-being. On the upside, such behaviour on social media and otherwise demonstrates how off-kilter these people are.

  • Daleth

    natural parenting (natural childbirth, breastfeeding, attachment
    parenting) isn’t about children, it’s an expressions of maternal
    identity.

    EXACTLY. That’s the crux of the matter. By challenging whether breastfeeding is So Incredibly Awesome and Important, you’re challenging their identities.

  • Mel

    I had my HS students do reports on newborn metabolic disorder screening for a biology class that was covering cellular biology. Thanks to that, I can say with total confidence that natural breast feeding has horrifically bad consequences for babies who are born with disorders like galactosemia, maple syrup urine disease and phenylketonuria and a whole host of others that I cannot remember how to spell.

    Best line of a report ever: “I liked breast-feeding my daughter but if she had that keeping her alive on formula would be even better.”

  • Gatita

    Marginally related: the abuse being spewed by Bernie Sanders supporters is ridiculous. I’m sure there are abusive Hillary supporters too but there’s a special flavor of fervor and nutbaggery around Bernie that is seriously off-putting.

    • Roadstergal

      Yeah, that’s for sure. I’m on the Hillz side, but I appreciate some of Bernie’s stances and will vote for him in the general if he gets the nod. I had to unfollow some Facebook friends who were regularly posting nasty, sexist memes about Hillz supporters, and I might have to do a few more.

      • BeatriceC

        I’m the opposite. I don’t really like either one, but my personal scale tips in favor of Bernie. However, I will vote for Hillary if she winds up as there general election candidate.

        • Rachele Willoughby

          My plan is to vote for whoever isn’t Donald Trump.

          • BeatriceC

            That works too.

    • Zornorph

      May I introduce you to the Trump supporters? (Kasich supporter, myself)

      • Gatita

        Hahahaha, I can imagine!

    • indigosky

      And I’ve only seen abuse spewed by Hillary supporters, and it always targets those who support Bernie, especially if they are female. Like being told that being a female and not supporting Hillary means I am turning on my own sex and can’t claim to be a feminist. By multiple people, repeatedly. I actually research my candidates to death, and side more with Bernie.

      • Gatita

        I’d been fence sitting for a long time and I agree that the accusations of sexism from Hillary supporters are tiresome. But what I’m getting from Bernie supporters is insults and abuse. Like when I posted an article critical of Bernie’s Daily News interview, I was called an ignorant moron who can’t think for myself and is a sheeple of the mainstream media. I haven’t experienced that level of name calling from the other side even when I was pointing out problems with Hillary like her entire 2008 campaign staff going to the WaPo and leaking hundreds of emails and trash talking her on the record (which really doesn’t reflect well on her management abilities or ability to choose loyal staffers).

        • Megan

          I think the horrible rhetoric of the Trump campaign has really encouraged a lot of this on both sides. Its almost become ok to have no respect for anyone who disagrees with you in any way. It’s disturbing.

          • Gatita

            I think it’s more that Trump tapped into a lava river of anger that was already there and the floodgates have opened for everyone else.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Sigh. I do wish that people would cut this crap out. I have an opinion and voted for one of them in the primary, but really, either Hillary OR Bernie is so many orders of magnitude better than Donald, Ted, or whatshisname that I don’t care all that much who wins as long as one of them does. Don’t waste your firepower on a candidate who is going to be at least better than the alternative, even if they’re not your favorite.

      • demodocus

        Actually, I voted for whathisname the last time he ran for governor, but then the challenger, an ex-FBI guy, was in big trouble in his home county for driving without a liscense for *years*.

    • MaineJen

      Agreed. I like a lot of what Bernie is saying, but I’m uneasy about the cult-like atmosphere surrounding him.

      I don’t get why people hate Hillary so much. She’s a politician. They’re all politicians (yes, even Bernie…the man has never had any other career, in fact). I think she’d make a fine president.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        One clue is that people’s opinions of Clinton go down when she’s seeking a new job. She was a fairly popular senator, a fairly popular secretary of state, etc., but when she’s going for the nomination or running for office or whatever, suddenly she’s the worst politician in existence and a threat to all that is good and right. Funny, that.

    • LibrarianSarah

      Yeah Bernie Bro’s are Brocialists on steroids. I voted for Bernie and I can’t stand the majority of his supporters.

    • rh1985

      Yep, I’m staying out of political arguments this election for that reason. I plan to vote for Hillary in my state’s primary. I’m liberal on social issues and more of a moderate/centrist on other issues. Apparently that means I’m eeeeeevil and only care about Big Banks and Big Oil and Big Corporations or something something.

  • AirPlant

    So lets just say that there is a conspiracy of cackling cartoon villains who want to demonize breastfeeding in America. What is the consequence? A bunch of moms who would have breastfed pick formula instead? You will have a few more colds flying around? You no longer get a hug and a free cup of tea for feeding your baby in Portland coffee shops? None of this seems worthy of death threats to me, particularly since my party line is more “Maybe just feed your kid what works best for your family. Like breastfeeding is great and all, but if it is hurting your mental health or its just not your thing it is cool to go with formula instead. And you know conversely, if you want to breastfeed you should probably be able to just get on with it. Your MIL doesn’t really get a say no matter how much she wants to give the baby a bottle and you shouldn’t have to hide in a shame cave just because the kid has to eat. Maybe we should all just STFU and MYOB and trust that the parents want to keep their kid alive? Does that work for everyone? Great, good talk.”

  • namaste863

    Eh, the Internet unfortunately brings out the worst in people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read something along the lines of “You need to be murdered immediately” or even “You should kill yourself” in the comments section of a blog or article on a highly charged issue. Please don’t misunderstand me, It’s NOT OKAY, but as hurtful as those words are, they’re writing a response to words on a screen, not an actual human being. Typically they’re not……..what’s the word……..literal? That being said, I acknowledge that occasionally such threats turn into action, with tragic consequences. I urge anyone who genuinely feels their life is in danger to go to the police.

  • Gatita

    People are crazy. Someone commented that they hoped I’d get run over by a car because I wrote a snarky blog post about a local preschool that resembles the Los Feliz Daycare parody. People get waaaaay too invested in this stuff.

    • AirPlant

      I showed my SIL one of those buzzfeed posts about a couple who did a newborn photoshoot but with a burrito. I thought it was hilarious. She thought that they were horribly offensive and couldn’t believe that I read such trash.
      People suck, man.

      • ladyloki

        That’s pathetic. My friend just had a baby and just did the newborn photo shoot. I showed her that and her exact words were “That is not a *real* shoot. It’s missing the “skin” to skin picture.” Then she cracked up and we went to get burritos while *gasp* Daddy stayed home and *gasp* formula fed the baby.

        I agree with her 100%. Poor burrito, wrapped forever in it’s foil covering, never getting that precious kangaroo care.

        • Roadstergal

          Foil wrapping burritos is as bad as hatting! You can’t smell them!

          • Zornorph

            After I eat a burrito, I produce some ‘birthy smells’.

        • AirPlant

          My SIL is a humorless, smug, and painfully basic, so I should not have expected any better but still! It is a burrito! It is hilarious! My feelings of burrito love are overwhelming and all encompassing! If my cats were more biddable I would totally do a cat newborn photoshoot and plaster social media just to piss her off.

          • ladyloki

            Sounds like my SIL. The one who wanted to be best friends when she found out my husband and I were engaged, then proceeded to ignore me when we finally met in person. She also refuses to learn how to spell my name correctly even after she gets multiple cards a year and is on my Facebook. When we lived 5 hours apart and we had no kids she refused to visit us, we were only supposed to visit her because she had kids (and I had an active duty husband who could not always get permission to go that far away from his unit!)

            And she got upset that one of our daughters has a name that she planned to use for a girl one day (she has two boys) and wanted us to change it upon adoption. She was 9 upon adoption and liked her name, I’m not changing it. BTW, SIL has not produced any more offspring.

            Luckily my amazing BIL makes up for my horrible SIL. BIL will be here in a few weeks and the four of us can’t wait! And we’re all going for burritos.

          • AirPlant

            God, sisters in law can be just the worst. On the bright side though, if she isn’t actually related to you or your husband it becomes a hell of a lot easier to get sympathy from your husband. My husband’s mother and sisters are some of the most shallow headed, small hearted, spoiled, smug, and self congratulatory suburban SUV queens that have ever graced a pair of yoga pants, but blood is blood and it will buy me nothing to let loose about them to my husband.
            I do complain about them on the internet though and I find that massively cathartic 🙂

          • ladyloki

            She’s my husband’s older half sister from his dad’s first marriage. Luckily my husband can’t stand her either, because she tried to turn her dad’s side of the family against my MIL and lied about being abused while she was abusing my BIL when she was 10-12 and BIL was 1-3. But for some sick reason my MIL wants us to keep in contact with her stepdaughter so we do so only for her sake. The second MIL dies, SIL gets the big CO: cut-off.

          • AirPlant

            After the termination of my failed first marriage I had this moment of glowing joy wherein I realized that I Never Ever Ever Ever had to speak to my ex-SIL again. I wish you all of that joy and more upon the termination of that relationship :-).

      • Gatita

        Did you see the dog maternity shoot? Best thing ever! http://www.buzzfeed.com/terripous/work-bitch#.keNnPjJKR

        • AirPlant

          OMG the dog does pregnancy better than I ever can or will. That said, spay or neuter your pets, assholes!

          • Gatita

            LALALA DON’T HARSH MY MELLOW OVER THE CUTE DOGGIE 😉

          • Roadstergal
          • AirPlant

            Perfection.

          • Mel

            I have several yards of muslin I was going to use for practice making dresses. I am sorely tempted to use it to do a newborn calf photo shoot instead…..

            I wonder if my husband is strong enough to pick up and cuddle the calf…..

          • AirPlant

            This photoshoot is why god gave us weightrooms. If he can’t pick up that baby cow then we all know what needs to happen.

          • BeatriceC

            Do it!!!!

      • Roadstergal

        I LOVED that burrito photoshoot!

        I can’t help noticing that my mom friends who love G&O’s Pregnant Women Are Smug are the types who I don’t have to avoid specific areas of discussion with…

        • AirPlant

          Life is too short to hang with un-funny people. Also: G&O’s newer album is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my entire joyfilled life.

          • Roadstergal

            I have to check it out! They came up to SF a few years ago and gave a lovely show.

          • AirPlant

            #worthit
            I warn you though, I cry like a tiny child every time I hear Rainbow Connections. It is sincere and beautiful and OMG TEARS.

      • BeatriceC

        I asked MrC if we should do a similar photo shoot with the Evil Attack Parrot ™.

      • Amazed

        Suddenly, I’m appreciating my SIL even more. Three days ago, my mom and I were walking through the village next to our hotel when we saw a goat. It was a lovely one as well, all orange and stuff. We looked at each other and said, “SIL/DIL has come back!” I took a picture. What was I to do? Why, send it to her, of course, asking why she didn’t come over to say hi. She dissolved into fits of laughter.

        Then again, I’ve been calling her The Horn of Plenty for quite a while. She’s mostly tackled the problem of oversupply and now she and Amazing Niece are both happy. I like imagining how Amazing Kid bleats, ‘Meh-meh” and Goat SIL runs over to feed her.

        What can I say, we’re a weird family. Even those who aren’t blood relatives.

    • momofone

      Love Los Feliz!

  • demodocus

    It *certainly* isn’t important enough to be threatening the life of someone who’s disagreeing with your blinking word choice. jaysus.