Do you know what lactivism and creationism have in common?

16501989 - abstract word cloud for falsifiability with related tags and terms

I’ve been quoted extensively in the mainstream media about breastfeeding.

In nearly every case I mention that I breastfed four children relatively easily and I (and they) enjoyed it. Nonetheless I caution that the benefits of breastfeeding have been grossly exaggerated and that what passes for breastfeeding “science” is generally based on data that is weak, conflicting and plagued by confounding variables that render the conclusions meaningless.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]There is no possibility that breastfeeding “science” will ever show that breast is not best; and that means it isn’t science at all.[/pullquote]

Inevitably commenters complain that I am ignoring the science, but what they don’t realize is that lactivist “science” shares a very important trait with major forms of pseudoscience. Just like creation “science,” the central tenet of lactivist “science” is considered unfalsifiable.

Why is that important?

Science always starts with a hypothesis and then tests it to see if it is true. The possibility always exists that the hypothesis is false. The conclusion of scientific testing is drawn from data gathered in the course of experiments and studies. It is not known a priori.

Creationism, the belief that the universe was created by an intelligent designer, is considered unfalsifiable by its adherents. They start with the conclusion that a Creator was necessary for our current existence and then arrange any experimental data to lead to that conclusion, carefully editing the data so that anything that could falsify the conclusion is excluded.

For creationists, there is no possibility that the conclusion is wrong since they start with the conclusion and, working backwards, do whatever is necessary to arrive at it. There is no possibility that creation “science” will ever conclude that creationism is false and that means that creationism is not science.

Lactivist breastfeeding “science” also starts with a conclusion and works backward to justify it. The central tenet of breastfeeding “science” is that breast is best, despite the copious scientific evidence that in many cases it is not best at all and may even be deadly. Nonetheless, all data is manipulated until it can be forced to fit the predetermined conclusion.

When data is conflicting, as it often is in lactivist breastfeeding research, the data that don’t show breast is best is either excluded or dismissed out of hand. Confounding variables like maternal education and socio-economic status aren’t removed by correction so that the benefits to children that come from being wealthy and having access to better health insurance can be erroneously ascribed to breastfeeding. Startling facts about breastfeeding — the historically high mortality rates of exclusively breastfed infants prior to the 20th century and that fact countries with the highest contemporary breastfeeding rates have the highest mortality rates — are simply ignored. There is no possibility that lactivist breastfeeding “science” will ever show that breast is not best; and that means it isn’t science at all.

But how is it possible that breast isn’t necessarily best?

It’s possible for the exact same reason that “natural immunity,” so beloved of anti-vaccine advocates, isn’t best. Technology can do better and there’s a massive amount of evidence to support the fact that it actually DOES better than nature. Natural is not best.

Just because something is natural doesn’t make it better:

Nearsightedness is entirely natural but it is not better than vision corrected with glasses or contacts.

Naturally acquired immunity is by definition entirely natural but cannot stave off death from vaccine preventable diseases in a substantial number of cases. Survivors of various plagues through the ages could have boasted of their naturally acquired immunity but there were often very few other people left to appreciate it since they had died before naturally acquired immunity could save them. Most of them could have been saved by vaccine acquired immunity.

Breastfeeding is entirely natural but that doesn’t make it better than formula. Women can naturally fail to produce enough breastmilk and their babies can naturally die as a result. It is entirely possible that an infant formula could be devised that is actually superior to breastmilk in the same way that vaccines are superior to natural immunity. When you know more about death and disease, you can defeat entirely natural causes of death.

Real science tells us that the benefits of breastfeeding for term infants in the US are trivial. Breastmilk is neither magical nor mysterious just as immunity is neither magical or mysterious. We can mimic it and we can even improve upon it.

But lactivist breastfeeding “science,” like Creation “science,” won’t admit that possibility. That’s why neither are science at all.

68 Responses to “Do you know what lactivism and creationism have in common?”

  1. BeatriceC
    July 20, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    Completely off topic I spent half of last night making food and treats for Charlotte (formerly Scarlett, but I really didn’t like the name). Shortly after I pulled the birdie bread out of the oven I caught MrC sneaking some of it. I glared at him and he said “it’s really good! She can share”. MrC is not underfed. Sigh.

    • Charybdis
      July 20, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

      “Poison check, checking for poison”!

      Or taste test for quality control. Does Charlotte like the bread?

      • BeatriceC
        July 20, 2016 at 10:39 pm #

        She won’t touch it, though she accepted the half and half chop I gave her this morning with no problem (I made a new, more nutritionally complete chop dish and mixed it with her old to start converting her to my version). The other birds, however, ate it like it was the best thing ever. Even Goofy, who’s afraid of anything new and refuses to get near anything he’s never seen before took two sniffs, a nibble, then inhaled it in three seconds flat. I will keep offering it it her. I did get her to eat some nuts mixed with baby food purée, so that’s some progress there. And she’s completely comfortable letting us move her around on a stick. She even let MrC give her a five second head scritch. I haven’t tried yet, but he’s got 30 more years experience with birds in general, and 15 years more large bird experience than I do, so he’s more comfortable pushing her farther. My hopes for a complete rehab (except flight, which is impossible as a wing amputee), has gone up tremendously.

  2. Daleth
    July 20, 2016 at 6:04 am #

    Slightly off topic, but for those misguided souls who believe that the cervix is a sphincter that slams shut in response to stress or fear–a common argument among home-birth promoters, who believe that being at home will make the cervix stay open so labor won’t stall–here’s an interesting news story: a woman gave birth while hiding in a restaurant right after the Bastille Day mass murder in France!

    Dozens of people murdered right in front of her, cops running around with guns, sirens wailing, people screaming and sobbing, and her cervix still opened. It’s almost as if labor just happens how it happens regardless of the mother’s circumstances or mood!

    May the innocent dead rest in peace and their families and friends somehow find healing.

    • Irène Delse
      July 20, 2016 at 7:37 am #

      I’m not surprised, there’s reports of births during catastrophic events like earthquakes, floods… I don’t know if there is research into this, but many people believe fear and stress can trigger premature births and stillbirths. It manifests this article: “fear-induced birth”. There’s also the literary trope of not showing or telling something to a pregnant woman in case it upsets her and triggers untimely labour.

      Btw, the poor dad the story is among the dead. So sorry for the family and all the victims.

      • Daleth
        July 20, 2016 at 2:36 pm #

        That’s so terrible about the dad. So many families were destroyed that day.

        As for births in catastrophic events, there were babies born to Jewish women while they were held captive at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, etc. Bottom line, if your baby fits and your uterus contracts properly, the baby is coming out no matter how you’re feeling at the time. And if it doesn’t fit or the contractions aren’t strong enough, it’s not coming out that way, again no matter how you feel.

      • Hannah
        April 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm #

        During the whole ‘creepy clown’ craze last year, I remember reading reports of the police looking for one because he’d literally scared a 7-month-pregnant woman into premature labour.

    • Beth
      July 20, 2016 at 8:29 am #

      yeah, but it’s not like anything really stressful was happening. Like an evil OB being in the room, or a fetal monitor, or someone offering her an epidural. Those are the things that *really* stress mamas out.

      • demodocus
        July 20, 2016 at 8:36 am #

        Sarcasm level expert. i like

    • CSN0116
      July 20, 2016 at 9:20 am #

      I was so stressed and scared with my last delivery (epidural never took) that I was shaking and screaming — that motherfucker still got to 10 cm, and, despite my bratty belligerence to refuse to give birth without pain relief, my body started pushing for me.


    • Stephanie Rotherham
      July 20, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      Poor woman!

    • Erin
      July 20, 2016 at 9:38 am #

      I’ve mentioned it before but my Mother’s eldest brother was born during a bombing raid. Gran had zero issues although she did say at points it hurt so much she was half hoping a bomb would land.

      Me on the other hand, I was relaxed and believed it would just work. Got to 10 centimetres eventually (mostly labouring at home because they kept sending me home) and still couldn’t deliver him vaginally. Never had the urge to push at all.

    • guest
      July 20, 2016 at 11:10 am #

      That poor woman. Now *that’s* a birth trauma, geez.

  3. fiftyfifty1
    July 19, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

    Even the better lactation researchers are not great. Take the Belarus PROBIT study. When the breastfeeding intervention group scored marginally better on a single subset of cognitive testing the authors trumpeted that finding. But when, against their expectations, the control group showed statistically significant LESS overweight/obesity, they dismissed it as a fluke data blip.

    • CSN0116
      July 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

      OMG I was just looking at the PROBIT cognitive study because the AAP uses it to support 14,000 of their bullshit recommendations.

      When you REALLY look at the PROBIT, by the time they get to the cognitive study, they only have 191 participants of an original 13,000+. Of those 191, only 75% stick around for the teacher evaluation part (also wildly boasted about in the abstract), because the other 25% aren’t even in school yet to have teachers to evaluate them. They openly state that while the PROBIT starts out with these controls for maternal education, SES, etc., by the time they got to the 191 for this phase of the study they had to take who they could get. They lost so many to follow-up and it’s totally unclear in their paper if the maternal factors are still being controlled for – it’s assumed not.

      Then they have these 5-7 point IQ differences, the highest on verbal IQ. But ironically, the participants at this phase *also* tended to nurse longer than average for the original cohort, telling me, (1) they were more well off to begin with, to stay near their children and EBF for these more extended periods, and (2) therefore verbal IQ is logically higher because it is likely a more well off subset of the population who, along with the spare time to EBF extended, also had the time and ability to engage more with their children (which they would have BF or FF). We’ve always known that parental engagement is good for verbal IQ and IQ in general.

      But at the end of the day …it’s 191 kids. 191. And the CI’s are huge and there is no statistical significance on several of the tests. Where significance stays high, the result is less impressive. Where the significance drops low, the result is more impressive. But it’s barely differentiated in the write-up, you have to open the Tables for full understanding.

      Oh, and you had a bunch of different docs administering the IQ tests who WEREN’T blinded to the experimental/control status.



      • CharlotteB
        July 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

        I’m not a scientist or stats person, but I remember hearing that IQ tests have a standard deviation? Margin of error? Spread? Of 5 points. I’m not sure of the correct term, but essentially–take the same person, give them 2 tests, and there could be 5 point difference between the the scores. This is not really a problem, unless you’re being evaluated in conjunction with a death sentence, and the court is trying to figure out your mental competency.

        Larger point: if IQ scores vary so much in individuals, then a 5-7 point increase seems completely meaningless, regardless of other factors, since you could test the kids on a different day and get different scores, which may or may not replicate the findings.

        • Roadstergal
          July 19, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

          In biomarkers, we’d probably call that akin to intra-assay variability (variability between replicates). Vs inter-assay variability (day-to-day), biological variability (same person over time in the absence of intervention), and inter-operator variability (different people performing the test). And then inter-lot and between-assay variability. Account for all of that before talking about differences…

          • CharlotteB
            July 19, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

            Wow, yeah.

  4. Old Lady
    July 19, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    I just wanted to complain to people who would understand. I’m in the potty training phase with my oldest and it’s making me tear my hair out. I’ve found that there is no help from the Internet or books or well meaning people I talk to. Much like how trying to work out breastfeeding became more agonizing by seeking help. So much of parenting really is out of our control but as mothers we are blamed for not having perfect, well behaved children.

    • Megan
      July 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm #

      I hear you. I am actively ignoring the fact that potty training is right around the corner. With another kid who’s only 4 months old, I am just not ready to deal with it. I ask her when she says she’s pooping if she’d like to go on the potty and she usually says “No,” and all I think is “Oh thank heavens!” Diapers are so easy…

      • Bombshellrisa
        July 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

        Me too. We are going on a road trip and I told my husband that I will concentrate on potty training the two year old AFTER that.

    • CSN0116
      July 19, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

      Just finished potty training my 4th, though first boy.

      It fucking sucked.

      I feel you.

    • Jules B
      July 19, 2016 at 6:30 pm #

      Sigh, yeah. You know that saying: you can start potty training at 18 months and be done by 3 years old, or you can start potty training at two years 360 days old and be done by 3 years old ;-). (Or 4, cuz I know lots of kids are not trained by 3).

      • AnnaPDE
        July 20, 2016 at 12:23 am #

        Or go to daycare 2 days at 18 months and be done. My mum wishes to this day she knew what those daycare ladies told me way back when.

        • demodocus
          July 20, 2016 at 8:44 am #

          A friend of mine’s daughter did that. Her boys were all trained a bit before age 3, but the girl’s been trained for a year. My son’s the same age and still in diapers

    • Mishimoo
      July 19, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      Toilet training is the worst, and I loathe it. I need to work on it with my youngest because I want to go back to work and he is starting to be ready, I just want to finish off my assessments first (3 left! I would be done by now but school holidays got in the way) because it’s close to impossible to study and pay attention to his body language at the same time.

      • Who?
        July 19, 2016 at 9:46 pm #

        Just wanted to say good luck with those assessments.

        I am no expert at toilet training, and have no thoughts, let alone wisdom, to share.

        • Mishimoo
          July 19, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

          Thanks! I’m really looking forward to finishing this course and enrolling in uni.

          I put my two girls in undies and chased them for a week, which mostly worked, but it’s very labour-intensive so I only recommend it as a last resort. One of my friends just toilet-trained her 3 year old quickly, which involved sitting him on the potty when he was playing x-box, which worked within a week.

    • BeatriceC
      July 19, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

      However, just like breastfeeding, you need to do what works for you and your kid. Think of all the advise like a tool box and potty training as a project. For step of the project, you have a choice of tools. For example, when I repaired the bathroom wall I could cut with an angle grinder or a reciprocating saw. Both tools would do the job, but the individual wall I was cutting and my own persona preference dictated which one I chose. In another example, when I bought my last drill I had a whole bunch of choices. The guy at the store kept trying to convince me I just had to have a cordless drill. I didn’t want a cordless drill because the weight of the battery makes it awkward for me to use. I wanted a corded drill. Then I had choices for size, power, etc. Again, my personal preferences dictated which of several choices I went with. All of the choices I had were valid choices and would do the jobs I needed done, and the only thing that made some better than others was what worked for me. It’s the same with potty training. You have a bunch of different choices of “tools” (methods). You might need to try a few before you find the one that works for both you and your child, but as long as you’re not beating your child or locking him in a closet without food or water, the best choice is simply the one that works for your particular child and your particular situation.

      • Old Lady
        July 19, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

        I’ve come to the realization that I can’t make my children use the potty, they have control over their bodies. Best I can do is try to convince them to do it and I’ve run out of tools that are feasible/I’m willing to do. They just hold it and won’t go until in underwear. (I’ve even tried bribing with candy which is normally something I’m against)I just don’t know if I should continue to sit them down or back off and wait for them to initiate or try again later. They are already 3 though so I’m feeling anxious about what I should be doing or how I screwed it up based off of what I read. My daughter really needs to go to preschool since she’s such a social little butterfly but can’t until she’s potty trained. It’s very frustrating. I’ve backed off on the boy since short of holding him down, which I won’t do, I can’t get him to sit. They might be too stressed out from the new baby maybe although we left it alone for awhile because of that. I don’t know what I should do. My instincts are telling me they aren’t ready and I need to back off until they express interest but everything I read says I’m a shit mom and I just need to try harder.

        • guest
          July 20, 2016 at 12:19 am #

          I have 3.5 year old twins and no new baby, and I still haven’t gotten either one potty trained. My daughter is pee trained, when she wants to be. But she keeps asking for diapers because of accidents with poop. My son is just, nope, not gonna do it. So, Shit Moms, unite.

        • AnnaPDE
          July 20, 2016 at 12:20 am #

          From what I learned by example of my older stepkid: Don’t let bodily functions become a battleground where they find the one place they are definitely in control. Eating, drinking, eliminating and sleeping are things everyone needs to do multiple times a day, so they can mess up a huge chunk of your time. Yes, diapers are annoying, but a battle for every pee and poo for the next 3-4 years is even worse. When they understand that it’s nicer to go without diapers, your chances get much better.

        • BeatriceC
          July 20, 2016 at 12:58 am #

          Hugs. You’re not a bad mom. They may not be ready yet, or they just need a little extra control over something, so this is what they’ve chosen, or whatever. Not that my opinion matters, but I think backing off for a little while might be just the thing that all three of you need.

        • Amy M
          July 20, 2016 at 7:37 am #

          I have (identical, even) twins also, and they didn’t potty train at exactly the same time. They were asked if they wanted to wear big-boy undies, and one said yes and the other said no. So, we focused on the one who said yes, first and eventually, he got the hang of it. When he was finally done, we shamelessly tried peer pressure on his brother, who eventually–about 2mos after his brother–decided he wanted big-boy undies too. So we did again, with him.

          My point is: I think you are right, waiting until they are ready is the way to go, and also, they don’t have be trained at the same time. It might be easier to just do one, and then the other. Yeah, you’ll spend more time potty training, but the stress and frustration might be less over all. Good luck, 3 yr olds really love pushing your buttons. 😛

        • Megan
          July 20, 2016 at 9:41 am #

          I know it’s hard when preschool puts on the pressure but honestly, they will do it when they’re ready, just like they walk/talk/everything when they’re ready. You’re definitely not a bad mom! Like I said below, you’re better than me! I’m too lazy to even try! My kid will have to train me!

        • lawyer jane
          July 20, 2016 at 11:04 am #

          Have you tried the “Oh Crap” naked bootcamp method? Get the book! It worked for us really well. (Just skip over the judgmental parts where she claims you have to potty train at a certain time.)

          The key to the Oh Crap method is that you watch the child *like a hawk* to see when they show signs of using the potty (which can be speeded up by pumping them up with liquids), then you get them right on it. Yes, this means that you will end up with pee on the floor. Learning how to pee in the potty is actually a skill you have to teach through repetitive practice. So actually, they don’t have control over this, not any more than they have control over any other motor skill that they have to learn.

          This method is very labor intensive for a few days, however, and requires a LOT of attention by the caregiver. Is there any way you can get some support?

          Another trick I learned with my own son was to work on the potty at “high yeild” times — eg putting him on the potty to pee right when he wake up after being dry all night.

          As I recall, after we did the 3-day bootcamp, he spent about 2 weeks having one or two accidents at daycare. That slowly dwindled down to the point where he was having no accidents after about a month.

          Personally, I don’t think the “wait until the child expresses interest” approach works for a lot of kids. My boy, for example, showed absolutely no interest and was perfectly happy using diapers. But he could be taught, just like any other skill I wanted him to learn. At the same time, since using a potty is such an age-dependent thing, most likely kids will potty train out of peer pressure on their own eventually. But this might be much later than you want — closer to 4 than 3!

          • lawyer jane
            July 20, 2016 at 11:05 am #

            Oh also – I used rewards liberally – one jelly bean for going pee, and two for going poop. I didn’t use it to bribe them to sit on the potty, but as a reward after going.

          • lawyer jane
            July 20, 2016 at 11:10 am #

            One other thought to add! When people talk about “being ready”, I think that really means physiologically ready, not emotionally ready or psychologically willing. My boy, for example, has always been late on everything having to do with motor skills. So he was just not ready to connect the urge to go potty with his own actions until close to 3 (I potty trained him right at 3). Other kids who have strong motor skills and bodily awareness are probably “ready” much earlier, as early as 18 months. There’s a big range, like all motor skills. So don’t confuse “willing” with “ready,” is what I’m saying! Your kid will become physiologically ready in the same way he develops all motor skills. But depending on temperment, he may never become “willing”!

        • Charybdis
          July 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

          There is always the old school thicker, terrycloth padded underwear with the vinyl /plastic underwear over top? I used those with DS because he would get the uncomfortable sensation of wearing wet underwear and the plastic/vinyl cover underwear kept the wet contained so it didn’t bleed through his pants/shorts.

          I think that the diapers these days really don’t allow for the uncomfortable sensation of “WET” because the moisture is all sucked into the middle layers of the diaper where the absorbant crystals turn to gel. The diaper itself gets bulky and uncomfortable because of the bulk, but it doesn’t feel really wet.

          In the beginning, that was what helped click the switch for DS to potty train. Once he got to FEEL the clammy wetness, he started to connect the “what is that feeling? Do I need to pee..yes, PEEING NOW!!! Uh-oh, wet, uncomfortable, clammy underwear….Mommy! I peed!!” chain in his head. We used nighttime Pull-Ups at night because he was (still is) a sound sleeper and 10 hours straight sleep would result in the occasional accident. But we worked on daytime training first and then dealt with the nighttimes.

          • Old Lady
            July 21, 2016 at 1:15 am #

            Yes. That is exactly what we used.

      • Alenushka
        July 21, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

        I did what my mom did in Russia with when my kids were 1.5 Nacked boot camp. UNdies, not diapers. We stayd home for a week. They hated being wet and started using a potty. There were no candies but onl verbal affirmation. We remained detacched nad calm when accidents happened. We used night pull ups for a long time because some boy do not aquaire nigh skills for a long time. I am not a fan of “potty trnaing when ready” theory. I think in US diapers do not allow kids to feel wet and regulate themselves. It is different in other or in other times.

    • MaineJen
      July 19, 2016 at 11:18 pm #

      OMG. I hear you. It SO depends on the kid and how willing/ready they are to cooperate. My son trained before age 3; we used the bribery-by-M&M method to great effect. My daughter held out until right around her 4th birthday, just for the sheer pleasure of exerting her own strong will. We are FINALLY done with diapers, but it was a long road.

      • LeighW
        July 20, 2016 at 11:54 am #

        That’s terrible! Everyone knows you should ONLY bribe your kid with Smarties! /s

    • guest
      July 20, 2016 at 12:17 am #

      I am also trying to convince my two children they want to potty train right now. They do what they want to do. I’ve resorted to telling them how sad I am that I have to clean up diapers still.

    • Allie
      July 20, 2016 at 1:03 am #

      They’ll do it when they’re ready, and not before. Doesn’t reflect badly on you or them. Please don’t punish your innocent hair for something beyond everyone’s control : )

      • Azuran
        July 20, 2016 at 11:08 am #

        Yea, my cousin just decided one day, at 2.5 years old, that he was using the potty. His parents weren’t even trying to potty train him yet, he just made the decision on his own that he was a big boy now, and big boys didn’t need diapers. It happened literally overnight, he had like 2 nightly accident and that was it. That’s like the dream of every potty training parent.

        • Elizabeth A
          July 20, 2016 at 11:30 am #

          My daughter basically did this at 3.5. While we were visiting her grandparents for Christmas. I suggested maybe she could wear a pull-up until we got home (fewer Persian rugs), but she wasn’t having any.

          I can count on one hand the number of accidents she has had, and she’s starting first grade in the fall.

        • Who?
          July 20, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

          My kids both did that about 6 weeks after their second birthdays. The boy wasn’t dry at night until 4, and then he would wake really early (say 5.30) to go to the toilet. Which was no improvement from my perspective. The girl was dry at night by 3.

          Which is why I don’t tell toilet training stories.

    • FormerPhysicist
      July 20, 2016 at 11:34 am #

      I’m just so tired of the overnight pull-ups. But it’s not like it’s under conscious control.

    • Old Lady
      July 21, 2016 at 1:31 am #

      Uuuuh. And of course people come with advice. I know they mean well but it’s frustrating when people think they have some kind of magic solution when it’s exactly the same things repeated everywhere. Sorry but naked, real underwear, running around the backyard named, candy, stickers or whatever aren’t anything someone who’s read anything about it isn’t familiar with. I didn’t want to bother going into detail of all the things we’ve tried or needing to justify the work we’ve put into it. I’m glad it worked for you, but it didn’t work for me.

  5. CSN0116
    July 19, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    Can we take up a collection here of the dumbest “breast is best” articles currently out there and being used as evidence for breast milk superiority?! Can we? Can we?

    • Madtowngirl
      July 19, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      My favorite is the one circulating that says formula has no place in a sustainable future. LOL because plastic pump parts, plastic bags, organic cotton baby wearing wraps, polyester nursing covers and shirts are sooooooooo much better for the environment.

      • CSN0116
        July 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

        Not to mention the additional calories that a woman must consume to produce the energy to nurse. Shot in the dark, but she will get them from …food? Yes? And unless she’s growing it all herself, she will be buying it from a grocery store where more cows and chickens will need raising, more fruits and vegetables will need grown, more trucks to transport it all, more containers to hold it all…

        I don’t know the industry whatsoever, but when you’re talking powdered formula, you’re talking reconstitution. Meaning a shit ton of it can be made from very little actual substance (my 30 ounce container of powdered formula makes 350 reconstituted ounces, or over 10 times more). So wondering just how horrific the environmental impact is, compared to the additional calories that need consumed to nurse…

        • Inmara
          July 20, 2016 at 2:03 am #

          From my experience I can say that formula feeding DID increase my environmental footprint, because I washed and sterilized bottles daily, also heated up water for bottles (and at one point we used pre-packaged “baby water” because our water has very high mineral content). The caveat is, I have year long maternity leave thus there is no need for everyday pumping and storing milk, so if I had EBF that would be straight from the tap with very few exceptions. In US and other countries with short or nonexistent maternity leave the environmental footprint is way more similar for these feeding methods.

      • corblimeybot
        July 19, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

        I am a huge environmentalist, and I breastfed for 9 months. I also supplemented. Here are my thoughts on this:

        Anti-formula “environmentalism” isn’t based in fact, in any way I can think of. Any food production has its issues, and some are far worse than others. Formula (which is food) is not unique, in that sense. And as CSN0116 says, these women are eating adult food to produce that breastmilk.

        Not to mention that you’re absolutely correct about breastfeeding accessories. Breast pumps are treated as disposable appliances by far too many people, as well. My pump came with a request that I please, please not just hurl it in the trash when I was through with it.

        To generalize: anti-formula pseudo-enviromentalists fit a pattern, in my experience. They are more likely to choose high-status food, which can be (and often is) a bigger drain on the environment. They’re more likely to decide “organic” means “environmentally sound”, which is absolutely not the case. They’re more likely to to subscribe to anti-science beliefs, that are in conflict with proven environmentally sound practices. They’re more likely to waste perfectly good food, because it doesn’t meet their rarefied standards of “pure”, “fresh”, etc.

        They’re working backward from their pre-existing assumption that breastfeeding is best, and looking for reasons to justify it. They don’t care about the environment, they care about feeling morally superior.

        [Insert note here about how this is a generalization and is not meant to apply to every breastfeeder, for Christ’s sake.]

        TL;DR – Anti-formula pseudo-environmentalism is a disingenuous status display, performed by women who are largely more science-illiterate and status-conscious than average.

        • guest
          July 20, 2016 at 12:24 am #

          When I was buying a breast pump, all the breastfeeding sites said you *had* to throw most of them away because they weren’t safe to share! Most were “open system” (hospital grade pumps were “closed system” and therefore safe to share). Something about how in an open system it’s possible for milk to back all the way up the tubes into the works, and then when the next person puts their own tubing on they could catch any diseases spread through breast milk.

          Well. I bought a used closed system anyway, and found a tutorial online showing me how to open it up and clean it all the way up to the motor. Maybe that was still risky, but I couldn’t face spending $240 on a pump, and this was before insurance had to pay for them. I passed it on to someone else when I was done with it.

          • Charybdis
            July 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

            But what about the magical, miraculous antibiotic, anti-viral and general healing awesomeness that is breastmilk? Surely something SO amazeballs couldn’t POSSIBLY cross-contaminate a breast pump?

            Or, think of it as a form of milk-sharing for the wanna-bes who pump.*/sarcasm

            *Pumping is incredible thing to do if you are willing and able.

      • MaineJen
        July 19, 2016 at 11:20 pm #

        I guess working moms have no place in a sustainable future, then? #WTF

    • Megan
      July 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

      My favorite was the one lady who said that breastfed infants speak sooner because of jaw development.

      • Megan
        July 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

        And also the same author’s claim that breastfeeding puts kids from low income families on equal playing field with kids from higher income families.

        • Sarah
          July 19, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

          That one gets extra points for shitting all over efforts to do things that actually would level the playing field a bit. With a side order of mother blaming.

        • Who?
          July 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm #

          Beats the hell out of addressing social issues though, right? Just blame the mother. Easy, quick and cheap compared to improving daycare and schools and all the rest of it.

      • Mishimoo
        July 19, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

        My kiddo who breastfed the longest also speaks the least, and I’m expecting that he’ll be referred to a speech therapist at his 4 year old check up.

        • Toni35
          July 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

          That’s funny (not ha ha funny). My third child breastfed the longest (so far, I have a one year old who is still nursing, we’ll see how long she goes). Her two older sisters were fully weaned at age two, she went to two and a half. Numbers one and two were early talkers, number three just turned four and has been going to speech therapy for six months now (articulation errors). In our n=2 experiment, longer breastfeeding = increased need for speech therapy 😉

          Fwiw, I was skeptical about taking a 3 year old to speech (would she even understand what was expected, much less be able to apply it to her everyday conversations?), but she has made great strides in that six months. I went from only understanding about half of what she was saying (and strangers only understanding maybe 20%), to now understanding a good 75% (and strangers understand about half)! Tantrums based on frustration from miscommunication are almost nonexistent anymore (we previously had three or four full on nuclear meltdowns daily, plus lots of tense moments besides). We still have a full year before she starts kindergarten and I’m pretty confident she’ll be “caught up” (or mostly so) by then! I’m now a big believer in this early intervention stuff 😉

          • Mishimoo
            July 19, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

            My middle kiddo switched to formula at 5.5 months and didn’t need speech therapy, eldest went to 7 months and needed speech therapy for tongue thrust, and youngest breastfed for 9 months. He’s ahead with everything else, so I’m not concerned, but I’m glad his daycare is working on talking. If he was a different kid, I would love to start speech therapy now because early intervention is AWESOME! He’s pretty picky about who he talks to (refuses to talk to my mother) and is a very stubborn 3 year old, so I’m fine with waiting until he’s 4 to get the referral since his older sister only needed 12 sessions to help her speak clearly. She did end up with a bit of a British accent though, which is adorable.

        • Megan
          July 20, 2016 at 9:56 am #

          Any my kiddo who did hardly any nursing spoke her first word at 8 months and at 22 months is speaking 4 and 5 word sentences. She’s quite the chatterbox. Anecdote only, I know, but I don’t know of any data that supports that author’s absurd claim either.

          • demodocus
            July 20, 2016 at 10:40 am #

            My ff nephew and bf son both were early talkers and frequently mistaken for 3 before they were 2.5. It’s like there’s something else going on.

          • Megan
            July 20, 2016 at 10:59 am #

            Yeah it’s almost like my daughter gets it from her mom who was nicknamed “Little Miss Chatterbox” as a child…

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