Midwife disciplined for telling the TRUTH about breastfeeding

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I’ve written over and over again about the way that lactation professionals lie to women, promoting breastfeeding over the wellbeing of mothers and babies.

Every time a lactation professional claims insufficient breastmilk is rare when it is common, she lies.
Every time a lactation professional claims second night syndrome isn’t hunger, she lies.
Every time a lactation professional says neonatal stomach volume is 5-7 ml when it is 20+ ml, she lies.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Real medical professionals don’t punish colleagues for telling the truth about side effects. Lactation professionals prefer lying.[/pullquote]

But if you want to understand how integral lying is to lactivism, look no further than the case of Midwife Cath, an Australian midwife now facing disciplinary action because dared to tell the truth.

… Curtin has been ordered to undergo additional training by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

The order comes after five people complained about a post Curtin made on social media about breast feeding.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Anti-vax doctors routinely question vaccination on social media but they aren’t disciplined.

Chiropractors and homeopaths routinely post self-serving nonsense on social media but they aren’t disciplined.

And midwives themselves routinely question obstetric standards of practice on social media, but they aren’t disciplined.

Why, because health professionals have a right to freedom of speech.

So what did Midwife Cath do that was “worse” than that?

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In the [Instagram] post, Curtin wrote “The thing with lactation is we ALL can lactate but we ALL don’t lactate the same amount… don’t feel bad if you can’t squirt this much milk”.

The Instagram post continues, “Rather than babies going hungry or sitting on a pumping machine (which doesn’t increase your milk supply by the way) remember that #fedisbest”.

Put in other terms, Curtin was suggesting women feed their babies with formula rather than letting them go hungry waiting for breastmilk to come through.

How dare she tell the truth about the fact that insufficient breastmilk is common?

No less an authority than Alison Stuebe, MD of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has acknowledged:

Delayed onset of lactogenesis is common, affecting 44% of first-time mothers in one study, and 1/3 of these infants lost >10% of their birth weight. This suggests that 15% of infants — about 1 in 7 breastfed babies — will have an indication for supplementation.

How dare she tell the truth that there is no evidence that pumping (which is not natural) leads to milk coming in faster? It’s possible though no one has ever shown it to be true.

How dare she tell women that judicious formula supplementation in the early days after birth IMPROVES the chances of exclusive, extended breastfeeding?

According to the paper The Effect of Early Limited Formula on Breastfeeding, Readmission, and Intestinal Microbiota: A Randomized Clinical Trial:

[T]hese results suggest that using ELF in a carefully structured, temporary manner may not interfere with breastfeeding or maternal experience in the first month or have a negative impact on intestinal microbiota… Using small volumes of formula on a temporary basis for newborns with pronounced weight loss may have the potential to help clinicians and mothers provide the nutritional volume needed by babies without interfering with duration of breastfeeding or with the health benefits achieved from longer breastfeeding duration.

No matter. Lactivists believe it is better to lie to women and let their babies starve.

But probably Midwife Cath’s most unforgivable sin is that she adopted the slogan of the “other side,” Fed Is Best.

Why is that her most egregious offense? Because contemporary breastfeeding promotion is about market share and the economic benefits for lactation professionals. They imagine themselves to be in a turf war with formula companies and they strive to win that war at all costs — even if the cost is collateral damage to babies: letting them starve, sustain brain injuries and die rather than give them lifesaving formula.

How is Midwife Cath to be punished?

She must indoctinated to ensure that mothers aren’t told the truth.

[She] must be mentored by another registered midwife in relation to contemporary best evidence of infant feeding (breast feeding and bottle feeding), safe sleeping and advertising responsibility (including endorsement advertising)…

The mentoring must comprise a minimum of six sessions with each session being of one hour duration occurring over a six month period.

George Orwell couldn’t have come up with a better form of “discipline.”

To understand just how immoral such behavior is consider:

What if doctors who questioned the benefits of routine episiotomy and feared the risks had been “disciplined” for refusing to lie to patients?

Women would still be getting routine episiotomies with the increased tearing that results.

What if doctors who discovered that ulcers were caused by bacteria were “disciplined” for refusing to pretend to patients that anti-acids were the cure?

The toll in pain, suffering and death would never have been decreased.

What if doctors who questioned the benefits of hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women were “disciplined” for refusing to lie and tell patients that the benefits outweighed the risks?

The breast cancer rate would have continued to rise.

Real medical professionals don’t censor their colleagues, because real medical professionals understand that questioning received wisdom is integral to providing the best possible care.

But lactation professionals aren’t real medical professionals; they are self-promoters. That’s why a midwife who dares to tell patients the truth about breastfeeding must be punished.

  • mabelcruet

    Were the complaints from the general public, or lactation folk? Maybe I’m cynical, but if the Australian midwifery college is anything like the UK midwifery college, I would strongly suspect that some of the midwife ‘leaders’ in Australia have been twisting the knife while smiling sweetly and posting about spreading light and love. She’s not popular with the college as far as I can see, she’s a ‘celebrity’ and obviously making too much noise and the college hierarchy don’t like it.

    • Anna

      The ACM is like RCM but the complaint was made to AHPRA and the Nursing and Midwifery Board. ACM wont say anything because it would raise the ire of the nastier part of their membership if they didnt condemn her. Not all midwives are members of ACM, its mainly the activist and academic types and heavily influenced by RCM and home birth midwives. Im not sure if she still is but Lisa Barretts apprentice was Secretary at one stage. Theyve had links to antivax quacks too.

  • Sue

    Thanks for covering the appalling treatment of this pragmatic and experienced midwife and early childhood nurse.

    She must be a truly exceptional woman because she has risen above her persecutors, with the response that ”The board has a role and it is absolutely necessary. Whoever reports a medical practitioner or any professional, they need to follow through, which is fine.

    “I’ll take on board their comments and certainly do some extra mentoring and some professional development,” Curtin added.

    “Out of everything some good comes.”

    • Sue

      And – Oh – the irony! She is now being sought out in China to HELP with breastfeeding rates in the wake of the relaxation of the one-child policy.

      “Cath says, “Since the relaxing of the one child policy, Chinese women are having more babies than ever before, through my books I’m excited to be able to help them with their pregnancies and early motherhood journeys”

      Traditionally Chinese women have had poor long-term breastfeeding rates, which is one of the reasons the Chinese source large quantities of baby formula from Australia.

      Midwife Cath has become a trusted expert for new mums seeking good advice and has over 30,000 instagram followers. She has strong views and her advice can sometimes be controversial.

      Midwife Cath is a strong advocate for breastfeeding, however she also respects and supports the rights of women who choose to bottle-feed using baby formula.

      Cath says, “What’s important is that babies are fed, not hungry.”

      She says, “My Bath, Bottle, Bed routine for new mum’s includes introducing a bottle of milk starting from the baby’s first night home from hospital.”

      The bottle feed, given by the father or mother’s partner, could be expressed breast milk, or formula, it’s the last feed of the day, and gives mothers a well earned rest. Partners get a chance to bond with their baby, giving them a bath, a feed and putting the baby to bed.”

      https://www.medianet.com.au/releases/172987/?fbclid=IwAR3JAwNVVNMoE06fmMIHDlfQLwgmb1KVlElo91odnKVrnYHEslridyTdMQg

  • AnnaPDE

    Do you have a link to the original article, or even better an original Nursing and Midwifery Board source? I want to send them a complaint about this.

  • Anna

    The comments Ive seen from the likely reponsible parties claim it isnt the one post. Theyve been going after Cath for years, check out the comments on her FB page. Its also because in her book she recommends women not pump unless their baby is too sick to feed directly and use formula to supplement to get some sleep. They believe that goes against “evidence” that a single bottle causes irreversible harm and damages the breastfeeding relationship. They believe all the lactavist garbage that one bottle destroys the microbiome and that dummies interfere with feeding and that bedsharing reduces SIDS and babies NEED to feed all night so Caths advice that aims to get women a decent 5hour stretch infuriates them. If a real Dr posts antivac stuff online here they will be disciplined if someone complains and that includes chiros because they are registered health professionals (eye roll). I think AHPRA is acting on the guidelines against health professionals advertising brands online and having testimonials on their website. Of course all their chiros, naturopaths and assorted woo-quackers do it because their industries dont have standards but they have used this to go after Cath for her fedisbest stance. Its a real shame AHPRA has fallen for this because its gonna start a new war against women with lactavists quoting the National Maternal Health Guidelines, which are basically BFI on steroids. The guidelines say stuff like breastfeeding reduces cancers, diabetes, allegies, asthma and have lifelong cognitive benefits blah blah, early use of bottles interferes with feeding, actually reading them it doesnt say talking about formula is not allowed but you can see how it could be percieved that way. Its clear health workers must promote breaatfeeding as priority so Cath saying women should relax and give formula rather than pumping could be construed as not following the guidelines. I swear the lactavists wont be happy till we have a body count for breastfeeding. Either babies, Mums or both.

    • Anna

      The Breastfeeding Advocacy Australia Page on FB has a few names I have seen over and over in threads attacking FIB, Midwife Cath and any suggestion that breastfeeding advocacy is harming maternal mental health. Its funny because one of them is also a home birth advocate that is always whinging about the investigations into midwives who post anti-vax stuff online, anti vit K, “surprise” twins and breech. You can see on that page that they think the media and all health professionals should not be allowed to say “fed is best” – they seem to think it actually breaches guidelines. They’re seriously out of touch with the majority of Australian women. Most are doulas or professional FB warriors but theres a couple of midwives posting there.

      • Sue

        Thanks for clarifying this, Anna. A number of us in pro-science in medicine groups, including her rational midwifery colleagues, are reaching out to her.

    • rational thinker

      There already is a body count for breastfeeding, they just ignore it.

    • Merrie

      I keep thinking about my friend, whose son got 1 bottle in the hospital and went on to nurse for more than 3 years with no more formula required. If even she can’t pass the breastfeeding “purity test”, there’s no hope for anyone else.

  • Russell Jones

    ordered to undergo additional training by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

    The order comes after five people complained about a post Curtin made on social media about breast feeding.

    So an agency of the Australian government is dropping the hammer based on a handful of comments from social media dumbasses? Jesus. At times like this one can almost hear the siren song of lolbertarianism.

    Almost.

  • rational thinker

    WTF?

  • AirPlant

    Um. Is “some women have more milk than others, it isn’t a reflection of you as a mother” really that offensive a statement?

    • rational thinker

      I guess because for a sanctimommy how much she lactates is something to brag about and is probably her identity. Sad.

      • AirPlant

        So funny story. I intended to formula feed my infant but then my milk came in two days post partum and it was an aggressive 50 oz per day oversupply that did not respond to my attempts to tame it down.

        So I did none of the bullshit that is apparently necessary to get your boobs in line and I still could easily feed twins. If anyone is the Uber mom it is me and I still think that fed is best because I actually have a life and skills that I am proud of outside of the lactation that’s i did absolutely nothing to earn.

        • Merrie

          I produced plenty too and certainly did nothing to facilitate that. My firstborn was a little jaundiced and didn’t want to feed much. The nurses were wigging out about it and among other things cited concerns about my supply. Later on I realized that milk comes in even if you never nurse! But that also she needed to eat more to clear the jaundice and probably should have gotten some formula since I wasn’t making much colostrum. Thankfully we had no negative sequelae from the jaundice taking a bit to clear.

  • Yikes! It’s hard to believe that such an innocuous–not to mention helpful–comment could call down the wrath of one’s guild.

    • fiftyfifty1

      That it apparently does reflects very poorly on midwifery.

    • alongpursuit

      It’s actually a very compassionate comment I would love to hear from a healthcare professional. Its shameful she’s being called out for being kind (and correct).

      • rational thinker

        Remember that nursing student, same thing done to her. She was supporting fed is best and now this midwife was supporting fed is best. I could be wrong but I think this has more to do with hatred of the fed is best foundation than anything else.