Mayim Bialik tries to invalidate the experience of a woman violated by a lactation consultant

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Tina Eschel wrote a fabulous piece that was excerpted on Mayim Bialik’s website Kveller.

Eschel explains how a traumatic experience with a lactation consultant made her give up on breastfeeding:

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Bialik should apologize. Eschel shared an intimate, distressing incident to make others aware of how lactation consultants behave and in return got shut down by a celebrity who apparently doesn’t give a damn[/pullquote]

I still remember that awful moment when the consultant first came to visit me. I was semi-conscious after a semi-emergency C-section, anxious at the sound of my hungry newborn crying, and exhausted by a long delivery and lack of sleep. What happened next scarred me for years.

Without permission, the consultant whipped open my hospital gown to expose my breast and began to squeeze and pull and poke at me, ignoring my feeble plea for privacy. She insisted I could breastfeed, even and despite the physiological challenges, and seemed to care less about the extraneous medical factors that were making it difficult…

I was exhausted, weak, and confused, and felt violated by how she kept touching my breasts and squeezing my nipples all without having asked if it was OK by me…

Inexplicably, Bialik uses her Facebook page to publicly invalidate Eschel’s experience.

I love when people have one bad experience with a person and use it to generalize about all of the lactation. community . This is what I call posting something for shock value. If anyone touches your breasts and it’s not ok with you, that’s a violation. Let’s not write posts about how all of the lactation community is shaming you for not breastfeeding. Enough already.

Bialik makes no effort to determine whether this has happened to other women, whether such behavior is sanctioned by lactation consultant credentialing organizations, or whether the lactation consultant involved was reprimanded for her inappropriate behavior. Bialik offers no suggestions on how to deal with the violation, how to deal with a hospital that hires someone who treats patients so shabbily, or how other women can be sure it never happens to them.

Let’s try a thought experiment:

Imagine if the person who squeezed, poked and pulled Eschel’s breasts was a man claiming that she needed an immediate breast exam. Can you imagine Bialik claiming I love it when a woman groped by a doctor uses that bad experience to generalize about male physicians? Or This is what I call posting something for shock value? Or Let’s not write posts about how some doctors sexually violate patients. Enough already?

I hope not. The last thing someone needs after having her body and her trust violated by a medical professional is someone who tries to invalidate that experience.

Bialik appears to believe that promoting breastfeeding is more important than Eschel’s trauma.

Many women writing in the comments share their stories of being violated by lactation consultants yet that doesn’t seem to move Bialik.

Indeed, she doubles down:

… That is NOT the entire lactation community. i meet rude people all of the time. to smear the entire breastfeeding community – who are simply TRYING TO HELP YOU FEED YOUR BABY THE WAY MAMMALS FEED BABIES – is ridiculous. bad experiences suck. i’ve had them too. but let’s not make it about breastfeeding advocates being horrible people.

Since she hasn’t bothered to investigate, Bialik has no idea how much of the lactation community engages in this type of behavior, but that doesn’t stop her from making assertions she can’t prove.

And what does how mammals feed their babies have to do with anything? It is not prescriptive for breastfeeding; some mammals eat their young but no one suggests that humans copy them.

Moreover, it is entirely irrelevant that the lactation consultant is trying to promote breastfeeding. It’s one thing if a health professional is trying to saving your life; that’s an emergency. It’s another thing entirely when she’s trying to promote her personal view of how women should feed their babies; that’s a violation.

This is NOT rude behavior. Making a nasty comment to a new mother is rude; grabbing her breasts without her permission is unethical.

Most importantly, this is not an isolated experience. Lactation consultants and their organizations have instituted programs that are literally KILLING babies from dehydration, starvation, smothering in hospital beds, or sustaining concussions falling from hospital beds. A significant proportion of their advice is contradicted by the scientific evidence. Pacifiers don’t interfere with breastfeeding; they prevent SIDS. Judicious formula supplementation doesn’t hamper breastfeeding; it actually increases the likelihood of long term exclusive breastfeeding.

The ultimate irony is that the benefits of breastfeeding in industrialized countries are trivial, 8% fewer colds and 8% fewer episodes of diarrheal illness across the entire population of infant in their first year. That means the the MAJORITY of infants will get no measurable benefit from breastfeeding. No doubt that’s not what Bialik believes, but I challenge her to show me any real world data from the US (not theoretical models) that the vast changes in breastfeeding rates in the past 100 years have had ANY impact on infant health.

Bialik should apologize to Eschel. She shared an intimate, distressing incident to make others aware of how lactation consultants behave and in return got shut down by a celebrity who apparently doesn’t give a damn about the way that lactation consultants have been making women and babies suffer.

Efforts to promote breastfeeding have gotten entirely out of hand, to the point where women are being traumatized and babies are being harmed.

Enough already!