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.

46 Responses to “Lactation professionals, you are no longer David; you’ve become Goliath.”

  1. Sarah
    February 27, 2019 at 12:53 pm #

    Richly ironic that a lactivist would complain about ethnocentrism, the way they shit all over the cultural feeding attitudes of women from communities where there’s not much breastfeeding/exclusive breastfeeding. My own white working class community is just one such example, but I’m also reminded of the campaign against ‘Las Dos’ in the US because Latina women were doing it wrong, or the berating of women from cultures where they actually do breastfeed for a long time but they supplement before the milk comes in. If you’re not feeding your baby in the manner most typical of wealthy white Western women, you’re doing it wrong.

  2. Zornorph
    February 26, 2019 at 11:34 pm #

    I don’t think Maddie MacMahon really gets the story of Cinderella at all. She compares breastfeeding to Cinderella slaving away in the kitchen but then seems to miss the point that this was NOT what Cinderella wanted to be doing! It was the wicked Stepmother who made her do that and left her unable to have any fun. So I see the Breastapo as the wicked Stepmother (and also the wicked stepsisters who felt entitled to push her around and make her live her life the way they wished to). The Fairly Godmother didn’t come and show her a better and nicer way to clean the house – she gave her what she really wanted – freedom to go out and leave her toil and go have some fun. Dr. Amy and others who let women know they don’t have to breastfeed if they don’t wish to is a much better fit for the Fairy Godmother when you look at it. As for Prince Charming, I mean, it’s a fairy tale, but there isn’t anything he does for Cinderella that isn’t nice. What is Cinderella giving up by marrying him? She’s practically a slave at the start of the story – how would she have improved that situation on her own? I am not suggesting women always need a man to rescue them and it’s really a woman (the fairy godmother in this case) who does it, anyway. No, Ms. McMahon really shouldn’t look too closely at fairy tales – she’s not just the wicked stepmother, she’s also the witch who wants to keep Rapunzel in the tower.

    • StephanieJR
      February 27, 2019 at 9:06 am #

      Cinderella’s story is really the story of a child/young woman going through abuse at the hands of people supposed to support and care for her, and how she remains a cheerful and good hearted person despite it. She has no resources to get herself out of a bad situation. She is not weak because of that. All she wants is one night to go to the ball, and the Fairy Godmother grants that. All that happens afterwards is the natural course of love between her and the Prince. Sometimes, you do need someone else to rescue you, be it a Fairy or a Prince.

    • Russell Jones
      March 1, 2019 at 5:36 pm #


      “Vee have vays of making you breastfeed!”

  3. namaste
    February 26, 2019 at 9:32 pm #

    “It’s 2019…….Because you can’t possibly bond with a child if you aren’t breastfeeding them.”

    Well, to counter the sarcasm, aren’t you the people who are constantly bleating about the importance of breastfeeding for the mother/infant bond? Which is it? I swear to God, if i hear have “other ways of bonding” I am going to come through the screen and smash your hypocritical, smug faces in.

    • namaste
      February 26, 2019 at 9:33 pm #

      Men. I men if i hear men have “other ways of bonding”

  4. Poster Girl
    February 26, 2019 at 5:42 pm #

    “It’s 2019 and yet we have a piece in the NYTimes that promotes formula as way to achieve gender equity in parenting.”

    Um, that’s because it IS a way to achieve gender equity in parenting. (Or just equity in parenting, period; I am close friends with several lesbian couples where one mom is breastfeeding and not surprisingly ends up shouldering more parenting responsibility than the other mom.) And I’m saying this as a mom who nursed both my kids past age three. And had to do more of the parenting when they were babies as a result. I’d 100% do it again, but let’s not pretend that breastfeeding is 100% better across the board. It was cheaper, it was more convenient than having to clean and prepare bottles……but it was definitely not easier on me than having my husband do a full 50% of the parenting.

    • Sarah
      February 27, 2019 at 12:54 pm #

      Yes, apparently those of us who have found it to be a way to achieve a more equitable balance aren’t allowed to say so. It’s only feminism if you’re using your body in the approved manner.

      • space_upstairs
        February 27, 2019 at 1:20 pm #

        You also have to be against all mass-marketed products of big corporations, or at least all those related to food and medicine, to be a proper educated liberal of any sort, in which feminism is included. They might make a few exceptions, but probably more in the realm of medicine than food. Accepting formula is like accepting fast food and genetically engineered crops, the latter being largely taboo outside the scientific skeptic sub-community.

  5. fiftyfifty1
    February 26, 2019 at 3:54 pm #

    Ah, the David and Bathsheba story. It put me on the path to atheism as a child. God punishes David for his evil deed by…killing the baby.

    • LaMont
      February 26, 2019 at 5:03 pm #

      I just reread Queenmaker by India Edghill, which is David’s court from Queen Michal’s POV – it basically makes David out to be the Commander from the Handmaid’s Tale. It also devotes much of the story to the failures and successes of solidarity among women. Strong recommend as a “Time’s Up” analysis of a lionized male historical figure with patriarchal/religious backing.

  6. rational thinker
    February 26, 2019 at 3:34 pm #

    “The Prince rules – he gets to decide what commercial influences and social injustices can negatively impact your breastfeeding journey.” If my husband ever presumed to tell me what I could watch, read, or do with my body I wouldn’t be letting him back in the house or my vagina.

  7. mabelcruet
    February 26, 2019 at 2:27 pm #

    Is Michael Kramer (Probit) still involved with infant feeding? He always seemed to me to be a relatively sensible middle-ground lactivist.

  8. AirPlant
    February 26, 2019 at 2:03 pm #

    So as a pregnant woman I have been thinking a lot about the idea of shared ownership in parenting and the NYT piece actually made me realize something pretty important about myself.

    As soon as the pee stick turned I began to make baby plans. I had everything mapped out from daycare to the pediatrician to the daily grind of my maternity leave. I had put everything together in my head about how it would go until a couple weeks ago my husband sort of shook up my foundations by telling me that he had applied for the full 12 weeks of FMLA and would be taking the same leave time as me.

    I know in my head that I should have felt supported and feminist and proud but instead I got this sort of panic and sadness and the more I probed at the feeling it came down to the idea that if my husband was there then I would not be the primary parent. I would have to let him come into his expertise alongside me and I would never be able to claim that I was the ultimate authority in our child. I expected to be a runaway first place and now equality feels like a loss and somewhere in my brain there is a voice telling me that if my husband is the same as me then I am somehow not really a mother.

    So when I read the piece and the subsequent reactions it all made perfect sense to me because I am a successful adult woman with a career and an identity outside of ‘Mother’ that I intend to maintain to the best of my ability and I had to mourn the loss of my assumed superiority in parenting. These women base their entire identities around the single idea of being a mother I can only imagine that their feelings have to be that much more powerful. So where I felt sad these women feel a theft of identity and that worldview is impossible to shake.

    Watching these discussions it really helped me understand the selfishness of my thought processes, I really don’t want my husband to be a second tier parent, when I am in the thick of it the best possible thing for our marriage is that we are in the thick of it together, I just have to adjust my perspective into one where we are taking turns pushing the pram.

    • space_upstairs
      February 26, 2019 at 2:41 pm #

      My husband ended up getting the first 2 months off with me due to our baby being born during school vacation (southern hemisphere, and we’re both college professors). In my experience, having a husband who pushes the baby carriage, feeds the baby, changes diapers, etc. is awesome. It’s so sweet to see him with our daughter, and it gives me confidence that all will be well when I go off parental leave and have work travel etc. Although I usually do most of the night shifts because I’m a lighter sleeper, he tends to make up for it taking care of the mid to late mornings (including making me breakfast) and will do or split night shifts if I am sick or especially tired from a rough night shift. Our sharing and discussing perspectives on how to care for the baby based on our independent consultations with others and interpretations of our experience with the baby, and our temperaments and preferences, also enriches the experience.

      Then again, I came into this having an unusually pessimistic view of motherhood, colored by my old-school feminist stylings clashing with the benevolent-sexism-turned-malevolent that seems to have taken over affluent parenting norms (plus the on-the-ground realities of divorce I grew up with that tend to affect all social classes but especially the middle to lower classes). So I did not experience the loss of imagined feminine authority over the rearing of children, only relief from the imagined burden of exclusive responsibility for it. Also, I admit to having been perhaps unusually lucky even among the middle-class-and-up in the work domain, far from famous or phenomenally successful, but at least steadily employed in the field I studied for with a good standard of living and hardly any perceivable antagonism from my colleagues. I’ve read recently that many well-off and well-educated women are tempted to put all their eggs, or a large portion of them, in the domestic basket because their work experience falls far short of what they grew up hoping for after feminism.

      • AirPlant
        February 27, 2019 at 1:53 pm #

        The funny thing is that I was not thrilled about the idea of a baby pretty much because I resented the solo responsibility. It took him four years to talk me around and even then I expected that despite what my husband told me he would bounce out from the responsibility as soon as the workload presented itself. Seeing him leaning in was rather a shock and it is making me really think through my emotional baggage around parenting.

        I can perfectly understand though wanting to put your eggs in the domestic basket in response to institutional sexism in the workplace. My situation has improved now but five years ago I had the toxic manager from hell and I used to imagine just walking away and becoming a lululemon playground mommie who spent her days making bento boxes and decorating elaborate cakes and not getting talked over in meetings by 20 years old new graduates who think that being male makes them an authority on life the universe and everything.

    • fiftyfifty1
      February 26, 2019 at 3:46 pm #

      I think part of the difficulty is that our society assumes that there can be only one primary parent. This parent (typically the mother) knows best, and will be loved best by the children. Any other parent (typically the father) will be the secondary parent and will know less and will be loved less. But it just isn’t true. Families have room for more than 1 primary parent, and both can know best and be loved best. It’s like having more than 1 child; our hearts expand to love all of them to the max.
      I know this works because my husband and I are co-primary parents. When the children skinned their knees or were sick, they came crying to both of us equally. They loved snuggling with both of us equally. Now that they are adolescents, we are still co-primary parents, although the children now know who does what better. If they are sick or injured, they come to me because they know I am a doc. But my husband does all the activity planning, birthday party planning, playdate planning, carpool organizing etc. I don’t touch ANY of that EVER, which is just the way I like it.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        February 27, 2019 at 9:31 am #

        “The key to parenting is not to think alike, but to think together.”

        Again, my wife and I have this philosophy all the time about everything. In terms of parenting, we have always done things differently, but it doesn’t matter. We work together

    • Caravelle
      February 27, 2019 at 7:27 am #

      Recent single mother here, by choice, and I completely sympathize with your feeling – one advantage I saw to being a single parent is that I don’t have to negotiate my parenting with anyone, and have my baby to myself.

      I knew this would come with drawbacks – not having someone to help with caring for the baby and dealing with life in general, not having someone to bounce parenting ideas off of (or not on an equal footing at least).

      But to my surprise, what I actually miss so far in not having a co-parent is there not being somebody else who loves my baby as much as I do, and agrees with me on him being the best thing in the Universe. You (and you and your husband’s baby) will have that!

      Good luck with the pregnancy!

    • guest
      February 27, 2019 at 2:25 pm #

      You’ll be very happy in the long run that you embraced parental equity. It really does make parenthood much easier and more enjoyable.
      Some examples:
      When I’m sick, I lock myself in the bedroom and sleep it away without any thought of my kids because I know my husband has it all under control.
      I was the only one of my friends able to get a full night’s sleep regularly during the newborn days because my husband and I traded off the night duties.
      When my friend called and told me her husband just left her, I told my husband I was going to spend a few days with her, packed my bags, and drove to her while my husband cared for the kids like he always does.
      Whenever we leave the house, I know my husband is running through the same mental checklist as me to make sure we don’t forget anything the kids need.
      I notice in general that I’m less frazzled than most of my friends with kids the same age and I think it’s because my husband is so hands-on relative to their spouses.

      • demodocus
        February 27, 2019 at 3:26 pm #

        Mostly I don’t yet because of Dem’s anxiety. Hours yes, but days, not yet. He’s prepared as far as skills go, if he doesn’t get so worked up emotionally that he forgets all the things

      • EMT2014
        March 2, 2019 at 3:45 pm #

        This. My husband has always been as involved with our son as possible, and now that we have a new baby, he’s basically taken over parenting the little squirt completely. I have zero qualms about leaving them to fend for themselves for any length of time; in fact, they’re currently on a mini-vacation to a friend’s farm for 2 nights (I wanted to go but we’re smack in the middle of sleep training Little Miss so I didn’t want any disruptions to the routine). Husband packed for Kiddo and set off with no help or input from me and are enjoying themselves immensely 🙂

  9. andrea
    February 26, 2019 at 1:17 pm #

    I’ve been a professional editor, and I would politely tell the guy writing the NYT article to ditch the last paragraph. To his credit, though he stops shy of calling himself privileged, he does say (verbatim) that he isn’t unbiased.
    In relation, I remember when Dr. Tomori was a grad student at Michigan (13 years ago). Where there is 1 finger pointing, there are four curled right back. She also certifies lactation consultants as an examiner. Geez Louise!

    • Merrie
      February 27, 2019 at 10:33 am #

      The last paragraph raises some questions about his relationship with his wife! Did she know he was secretly hoping she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed? Did they talk frankly about this topic together? It seems kind of crappy for him to hope she won’t be able to breastfeed, rather than, say, telling her that his preference would be to do formula because he likes to be able to feed the baby, but that if she wants to breastfeed he’ll wholeheartedly support her.

      • space_upstairs
        February 27, 2019 at 11:12 am #

        It would have been better to be more open about it, but given how emotionally charged these topics can be, I can’t entirely blame him for defaulting to not wanting to bring it up. Maybe if men were better taught to deal with their own and others’ emotions as kids, he would have found and used a nicer way to put it, like, “You know, I actually really liked feeding our first kid, so if you don’t mind and you produce well this time, could you maybe pump a bottle or two for me to feed to the kid sometimes?”

  10. mabelcruet
    February 26, 2019 at 12:46 pm #

    And the author of the article is also getting the faux-sympathy stick (that also stabs you in the back), comments like ‘how unfortunate your wife wasn’t supported enough to achieve her breastfeeding aims…how sad to hear that you felt excluded as a new father and could only equate bonding with infant feeding’. What a horrible, sly, bitchy comment to make-so typical of them.

    And the author of that comment-a Dr Margaret Murphy (IBCLC) claims to be a midwife with experience of pregnancy after stillbirth. If that’s her idea of a sympathetic and patient-centred approach, I hope to god she never gets anywhere near the patients I deal with.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 26, 2019 at 12:59 pm #

      how sad to hear that you felt excluded as a new father and could only equate bonding with infant feeding’

      Now that’s irony for you….

      • fiftyfifty1
        February 26, 2019 at 3:50 pm #

        No shit. These are the same people who warn mothers that the only way to bond properly is to breastfeed.

        • Inmara
          February 27, 2019 at 4:36 am #

          It’s time to screenshot this gem and post as a reply any time lactivists fearmonger new moms that they won’t properly bond with baby unless breastfeeding!

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          February 27, 2019 at 9:33 am #

          …and within the “golden hour.” If there isn’t skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding in the first hour, bonding is ruined!!!!!!

          • space_upstairs
            February 27, 2019 at 11:03 am #

            Another superstition down the tubes. At the hospital where I had my kid, they did plop my freshly born extra-large bundle of joy on my shoulder for a couple of minutes, but then they separated us for a good hour or two for our respective recovery times (much needed with how groggy I was from the anesthesia) before starting us off on the breastfeeding. The only problem was chewed up nipples after a few days of it, which led me to prefer pumping once I brought the kid home. They also didn’t seem to worry about nipple confusion at this hospital, since they had a well-baby nursery that offered a gentle glucose solution (probably for smaller babies that can’t stomach formula well) in bottles to prevent dehydration, blood sugar crashes, and exhausted mothers dropping or smothering their babies at the witching hour. I think US hospitals that promote breastfeeding could learn from the more pragmatic Chilean approach, just as US midwives could learn from my pragmatic Chilean one who approved of a C-section for stalled labor with a high birth weight baby.

          • mabelcruet
            February 27, 2019 at 5:46 pm #

            And epigenetics-don’t forget that without immediate skin-to-skin, epigenetics will be ruined too. You may as well just chuck that baby out and start again…

  11. space_upstairs
    February 26, 2019 at 12:44 pm #

    I think the baby feeding polarization is an excellent example of the women-can’t-win principle I saw described on feminist blogs a while back. In the second wave, women wanted more control over various aspects of their lives, from finances to family life. Women got educations, jobs, better anesthesia options for childbirth, birth control, baby formula (popular at the height of the second wave, and even in the days preceding it), etc. Then come the glass ceiling, men resisting the call to do housework on their own initiative, continued sexual harassment, and government dragging its feet in support for working families. The supposed solution? The rise of essentialist or difference feminism, which is in my view a repackaging of “angel of the hearth” benevolent sexism as an empowering choice (two words way overused) and a supposedly better path than role-sharing or role flexibility to the good life for women. The result? Somehow the new domesticity becomes as frustrating and full of harassment as attempts at shared or flexible roles. Can’t win in the boardroom, can’t win in the nursery. And this is just looking at middle-class-and-up white straight women, the ones most helped by the second wave.

  12. mabelcruet
    February 26, 2019 at 12:29 pm #

    Doula Maddie is having a great time on Twitter gaslighting several women with expressions of faux-sympathy when they have clearly stated that they chose to FF because no amount of ‘support’ helped them BF, insinuating they’ve been misled, misinformed, that they are vulnerable and fallen prey to the evil FIB campaign. It’s awfully insulting, suggesting that these women don’t have the insight or intelligence to make their own decisions.

    • February 26, 2019 at 7:38 pm #

      The best support I got in terms of breastfeeding was from my dairy farmer spouse.

      When my production was all over the place in the first week after Spawn was born, I was freaked out. (The aftermath of his birth was not helping). DH replied “Oh, heifers do that all the time. You’ll produce a ton one milking and nothing the next. Your body has no idea what it’s doing right now, but you’ll even out in a few weeks.”

      He was right.

      When the LC’s statement that breast milk was a critical part of my son’s care plan and I needed to pump every 2 hours round the clock for the first 2 weeks postpartum…while hospitalized with uncontrolled high blood pressure that wasn’t responding to medication…was causing me to obsess over pumping, my husband said, “What would you do if I sent a cow with severe milk fever to be milked ‘to keep up her supply’ rather than letting her rest and get healthy?” I stopped crying and said “I’d report you for Animal Cruelty so fast” – and went to bed.

      He was right.

      All the material I got from the NICU was for full-term moms. I asked my husband if heifers who gave birth in their second trimester had any differences in milk production than term heifers or cows at either time. He said “Yeah, they just can’t produce much milk until after their next calf. They lost a big chunk of time where the milk cells in the udder develops. We expect 50-75% less milk out of them.”

      He was right about that, too.

      The best for me, though, was the day I wandered into the living room and said “Something happened to my breasts last night. Like….they aren’t swollen and sore any more and I’ve dropped a cup size…overnight. What the hell?” He said, “Oh, you’re out of heifer edema. Essentially, your body figures your calf is at their maximum size for a milk-only diet and will be starting to eat grass soon. Your production has stabilized so you won’t have to pump so often, but the amount of production is harder to ramp up any higher.

      Right again.

      So, yeah. I had plenty of support – and my son is doing great after a year of formula feeding.

      • FormerPhysicist
        February 26, 2019 at 8:44 pm #

        I adore your stories. And they are SO valuable.

      • demodocus
        February 26, 2019 at 11:41 pm #

        Much wisdom, the dairy farmer has. Listen, we should

      • mabelcruet
        February 27, 2019 at 9:30 am #

        Do dairy farmers get any downtime? I think he should set himself up as a part time lactation consultant, there’s more common sense in what you’ve just written than anything I’ve heard from Doula Maddie and her colleagues.

        • mabelcruet
          February 28, 2019 at 10:44 am #

          I’m serious! One of the persistent bleats from lactivists is that there is so much money poured into animal milk production science and we know so much more about animal feeding than we do about breast feeding, because breast feeding is under funded and under-valued. So if we have a bunch of experts on animal feeding, why not do some cross species research? We’re all mammals, there’s bound to be a lot of shared anatomy and physiology.

          I got my kitten’s testicles processed in the lab-they looked just like human testis (except there was sperm production at 6 months). And I’ve worked with rat ileum, and its identical to human. And my elderly cat’s thyroid was histologically identical to human (she had an adenoma). Gorilla pancreas is also identical to human, they even get the same pancreatic diseases. And the same renal diseases.

          • Azuran
            February 28, 2019 at 11:47 am #

            Sure, milk production is likely to be mostly the same……But the methods used are rather…..strong on the eugenist side.
            All our knowledge of cow milk production can mostly be applied to humans. Most of the physiology is the same. But very few of it can actually be ethically applied to humans.
            Most of what we have actually done with cow is artificial selection. Cows usually get a break on their fist calf, but those who don’t produce well on their 2nd or 3rd are culled, cows who have damaged or abnormal breasts are culled. The best producers are kept and reproduced a lot, often even having their embryos implanted into less genetically desirable cows.
            So we could probably make humans better at breastfeeding over a few generation…..By refusing anyone who can’t exclusively breastfeed properly the right to reproduce and instead having them carry embryo made from women with perfect breasts.

            Most of the rests is basically just TLC: Letting them rests, providing enough food, low stress, treating them when they are sick to avoid any stress that might lower production. But there aren’t many intervention that can be done on a cow that doesn’t produce enough.

          • mabelcruet
            March 1, 2019 at 6:45 pm #

            From what I’ve read about some of the most extreme lactivists, they seem like they’d be very happy with culling mothers who can’t produce enough…

            But the TLC is so incredibly important, and many of the lactivists I’ve seen active on FB and various other fora seem to be incapable of any of it.

      • PeggySue
        February 27, 2019 at 5:33 pm #

        I think that I love your husband. In a completely non-stalky and respectful way, of course.

      • MelJor
        February 27, 2019 at 11:05 pm #

        This made me laugh and also nod my head! I really should screenshot this, as I find that lately I am getting lots of questions from friends about infant feeding (I hope because I have successfully breastfed for more than a year, happily using formula when convenient and then eventually using it because it was needed, and can offer tips for both). Knowing what to expect is important, and these were great explanations.

      • MelJor
        February 27, 2019 at 11:05 pm #

        This made me laugh and also nod my head! I really should screenshot this, as I find that lately I am getting lots of questions from friends about infant feeding (I hope because I have successfully breastfed for more than a year, happily using formula when convenient and then eventually using it because it was needed, and can offer tips for both). Knowing what to expect is important, and these were great explanations.

      • TsuDhoNimh
        February 28, 2019 at 11:20 am #

        Well, mammals is mammals!

  13. Anne
    February 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm #

    I loved that NYTimes piece: thoughtful, beautiful, and partners should play an important role in infant care! On the bright side, I was so thrilled how for every lactivist comment there were two calling for “fed is best” and some real scrutiny of the breast is best fallacy in the developed world. Women ARE getting tired of being sick, tired, and shamed for not breastfeeding, and the message is getting out that they don’t have to be.

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