Bashing breastfeeding?

Hammer Through Window.

If you’ve been on The Skeptical OB Facebook page this week you’ve probably noticed a seemingly never ending parade of lactivists dropping in to rail at me. What have I done this time? I’ve dared to insist that #fedisbest. In response I’ve been repeatedly accused of “bashing” breastfeeding.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Is claiming that women deserve equal rights bashing men?[/pullquote]


Apparently because I’ve dare to tell the truth.

When lactivists insist that breastfeeding provides lifesaving benefits, I’ve ask them to show me that the lives of term babies are saved by breastfeeding using real world data, not theoretical models; they can’t.

I’ve posted graphs like this one, explaining that US breastfeeding dropped to an all-time low of 24% in the early 1970’s before rising again. Even a cursory glance makes it clear that breastfeeding rates have no correlation with infant mortality, let alone causation.


And this one that demonstrates that countries with the highest mortality rates have the HIGHEST breastfeeding rates, not to claim that breastfeeding causes high infant mortality, but to show that it doesn’t prevent it.


I linked to disturbing personal story from the Fed Is Best Facebook page about a baby who, at one month of age, looked emaciated despite his mother’s desperate attempts to breastfeed him.


Just last night I posted this meme pointing out that infant nutrition is not a seesaw. High respect for breastfeeding does NOT require low respect for formula feeding.


And still the accusations that I am bashing breastfeeding keep coming.

So I have some questions for lactivists:

Is claiming that women deserve equal rights bashing men?

Is asserting that all religions are worthy of respect bashing Christianity?

Is prohibiting discimination based on sexual orientation bashing heterosexuality?

No, no and no. Why then would honestly noting that fed is best be bashing breastfeeding?

Out of the many hundreds of lactivists comments, I find this one particularly illuminating.


Natalie writes:

…Why do you insist on trying to devalue breastfeeding. If “fed is best” why did I go through hell to breastfeed my son? …


Because you wanted to do so and because you were physically capable of doing so.

Isn’t that reason enough?

Being honest with women about the real benefits (and risks) of breastfeeding is not bashing breastfeeding anymore than promoting equal rights for women is bashing men. Pointing out that formula feeding is an excellent form of nutrition is not bashing breastfeeding anymore than pointing that women are equally intelligent is bashing men.

In both cases, though, it deprives one group of the opportunity to declare superiority over another group and that’s what really bothers lactivists.

Why breastfeed? Not for bragging rights. Not to make a martyr of yourself. Not so you can shame other women who don’t.

You should breastfeeding because you want to and you can.

And like any other aspect of motherhood, you should not expect that your ego should be boosted in return.