Lactation professionals, you are no longer David; you’ve become Goliath.

David with Slingshot

Remember the biblical story of David and Bathsheba?

David, while walking on the roof of his palace, saw a very beautiful woman bathing. He ordered enquiries and found out that she was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah. He desired her …

[T]he king gave the order to his general, Joab, that Uriah should be placed on the front lines of the battle, where Uriah would be more likely to die. David had Uriah himself carry the message that led to his death. After Uriah had been killed, David married Bathsheba.

Not surprisingly, God was very angry with David.

Imagine if David, to absolve himself of responsibility, had responded: “But Goliath!”

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Wailing “But formula companies!” does not absolve lactation professionals for their execrable treatment of women who don’t breastfeed.[/pullquote]

That’s not what happened in the Bible; David recognized that he had become Goliath.

But it is what happens whenever you try to call lactation professionals to account over their execrable behavior toward women who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. When you point it out, they routinely respond: “But formula companies!”

Lactation professionals fail to understand two things King David understood immediately.

Just because you were the underdog in one situation does not mean that you aren’t the powerful person in another. Just because you were once the underdog, does not leave you free to abuse the power you do have.

When David faced the giant Goliath, he was the underdog. But over time he acquired greater power, eventually becoming king. He now had power over others.

Similarly, when lactation professionals first faced off against formula companies, they were relatively powerless. But over time they have acquired greater power, eventually becoming arbiters of all things breastfeeding within and outside hospitals. They now have power over others: vulnerable new mothers struggling to care for their babies.

Like King David abusing his power to get what he wanted, lactation professionals are abusing their power to get what they want: a world where all women MUST breastfeed or face social opprobrium.

David had enough power to arrange for Bathsheba’s husband to die. Lactation professionals have only enough power to kill women’s spirit and they have taken to the task with relish.

They abhor the Fed Is Best Foundation and its founders. They abhor medical professionals like me who disagree with them. They even abhor fathers who dare to love formula feeding.

Journalist Nathaniel Popper had a beautiful piece the NYTimes this past weekend, What Baby Formula Does for Fathers:

Now when my son cried in the night, or out in public, I instinctively started toward him. Before this, my wife had been the first responder because we assumed that he probably needed to be fed. Now, I was just as capable of feeding him as she was. This meant that I not only fed him, but learned about all the times when he wasn’t actually hungry but needed a burp or a clean diaper, or something else that we couldn’t figure out, but that was part of the essential mystery of parenting. I came to understand his rhythms and needs.

Lactivist “mean girls” (professional and lay) have responded with unmitigated fury! And they’ve created a new version of underdogma: “But the patriarchy!”

Prof. Amy Brown:

Wants wife’s bodily function to fail so he gets to do what he wants. Can you imagine a woman writing this about a male body part. Oh I hope it fails so I can use what I really want to…

Elizabeth Grattan:

He used the same straw man tropes about nursing or not that so many are striving to strip from these discussions in this sexist garbage op ed. It’s such a grotesque narrative. And it panders. Just awful.

Lucy Martinez Sullivan:

There are also a handful [of] people who think this Op-Ed was written by an algorithm programmed by a formula company.

Prof. Cecilia Tomori:

It’s 2019 and yet we have a piece in the NYTimes that promotes formula as way to achieve gender equity in parenting. Because you can’t possibly bond with babies if you are not breastfeeding them. The astounding privilege and ethnocentrism in this piece is mindblowing.

Have these women lost their minds? How dare any father offer love and support to a wife who struggled with breastfeeding! How dare he enjoy bottle feeding!

But if you are looking for a true WTF experience, you must read Doula Maddie’s febrile ravings!

You may remember doula Maddie MacMahon from her musings on the subject of vaginal exams during childbirth:

Midwives shld be debating the pros and cons of routine VEs and exploring the evidence, or lack of, for regularly fossicking around in a normal labour. I’m just a woman telling you that you need a damn good reason to finger me. Just telling me I’m Xcm is not a good enough reason.

So I wasn’t exactly expecting moderation when I read her piece, but damn, the woman is self-absorbed and self-aggrandizing.

She analogized breastfeeding support to the story of Cinderella:

How does she view herself? She the Fairy Godmother!

Bear with me – I’m not on a massive ego trip here.

Are you sure about that?

Fairy Godmother can, when required, conjure up powerful magic – she can sometimes tempt non-latching babies to suckle or take a mother from agony to comfort with some small, subtle adjustments to the posture of the mother and the position of the baby. Her wand is often wielded with a light touch – it might not, if you are watching her, look like she is doing much. Her magic is rarely loud and glamorous or even instant. Rather, it works delicately and leaves the mother feeling like she has found her own answers. Fairy Godmothers are often called Breastfeeding Counsellors, Breastfeeding Supporters, LLL Leaders or International Board Certified Lactation Consultants…

What about those who support women in whatever feeding method THEY feel is best for their babies. They’re the Wicked Stepmother. (Maddie has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer!)

Wicked Stepmothers might be working for formula companies’ care lines or appear as a media-savvy ‘guru’ or ‘expert’; a nanny with her own TV show or parenting book. She might be a blogger or active on social media …

And the baby’s father? He’s the Prince of Patriarchy (I kid you not)!

I hope Cinders really did love him and that he empowers her in an equal partnership. I hope he doesn’t think he can just strut in and fix Cinders. But I suspect he is the actually symbolic of the Patriarchy, consistently ignoring and cutting services for women so that under-trained coachmen, stepmothers and ugly sisters are created and given free rein to continue sabotaging breastfeeding. The Prince rules – he gets to decide what commercial influences and social injustices can negatively impact your breastfeeding journey.

Is this woman for real? Sadly she represents and is embraced by other lactation professionals. They envision themselves as small compared to the power of the formula industry and the patriarchy. They imagine themselves as David against Goliath.

They fail to see what David recognized. They’ve become Goliath.

David acknowledged that his treatment of Uriah and Bathsheba could not be defended by falling back on his previous good deeds. Lactation professionals need to acknowledge that their vicious treatment of women who can’t or don’t breastfeed cannot be defended by falling back on their previous good deeds.

Lactation professionals, you are not the good guys here. Like David, you are trying to eliminate anyone who gets in the way of your desires, while ignoring the desires of the people whom you manipulate. And no amount of wailing “But formula companies!” or “But the patriarchy!” can justify that.