Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles

Week after week, I post stories on here from amazing women who have the cajones to share their deepest, darkest thoughts about formula, breastfeeding, postpartum depression, sexual trauma, medical issues, traumatic births, etc. In between these heartfelt, brave guest posts, I usually tackle some random aggravating study that’s being Tweeted to hell and back. Occasionally I share a personal tidbit here and there. But I am not laid bare, typically. I don’t get too intimate. And it’s starting to make me feel a little fraudulent.

I feel like a fraud because there are things – formula/breastfeeding related things – that happen in my daily life that make me feel hurt/annoyed/like I want to hit somebody, and I don’t share these with you guys. I think I used to; when FC was young, and these feelings were fresh and raw, I think I did open up more. Part of the reason I don’t discuss these things anymore is that I’m so caught up in the infant feeding world that I (mostly) approach the subject clinically; it’s work, so I can disassociate. And then of course there’s the fact that Fearlette is my second kid, and I have the advantage of perspective. I don’t freak out about much, because I know pretty much all of this “parenting science” is bullshit. You get what you get, and when you are lucky enough to get the kind of kids I have, the best you can do is try not to screw them up.

Still, if I’m being 100% honest – 100% fearless – I have to admit that a large part of why I don’t discuss the little jabs that sting me here and there, is that I have friends who read this blog. I worry that they will recognize themselves in something I write and feel hurt/annoyed/like they want to hit me. That’s not just cowardice in the FFF sense, but also in the writerly sense. What kind of writer censors herself because of what people might think? And yet I find myself holding back. A lot.

In real life, too, there have been countless discussions where I’ve bitten my tongue so hard that it bleeds, because I don’t want to alienate myself any further from my breastfeeding friends. The danger in this is that it actually creates the situations that are so tough for me to write about.

First case in point: a good friend’s second son was just diagnosed with a dairy intolerance. She managed to control his symptoms by cutting dairy out of her diet, which is great. I *think* I reassured her that she should keep breastfeeding even when she asked if she should just switch to hypoallergenic formula, even though I also helped her try a 24-hour Alimentum test when her doctor wasn’t being very cooperative. I tried my best to help her with the elimination diet, since I’d been there, done that.

Anyway, we were talking this weekend and she mentioned – pointedly – that her doctor told her it was the cow’s milk that kids reacted to, not breastmilk. Now, this is a common belief. There is some pretty interesting research that suggests that many dairy allergic kids might also be reactive to breastmilk, but many doctors are not aware of this… I believe this can be filed under “Medical Advances that Will Never Be Made Thanks to the Breastfeeding Hysteria”, but that’s another story for another day. (Plus, I have a whole section on it in my book so I don’t wanna give away the cow for free. No pun intended.) My point here is this: she knows FC’s history better than anyone. She also knows where I stand on the dairy/breastmilk allergy issue. I know we have discussed this very thing probably 590 times. And yet I found myself repeating the mantra: Well, I cut out dairy with FC, too. It didn’t work. I tried.

But what I wanted to say was this:

Really? You’re going to challenge me on this? Do you realize what you are implying? You’ve been talking about what a “fun challenge” it was to cut out dairy for your kid, and how much better he is already. That’s awesome. And it’s even more awesome that it took no more than a few days for him to improve. You know what happened with FC, right? I not only cut out dairy (which wasn’t hard, considering I was 85% vegan at the time anyway) but also soy, nuts, and a variety of “gassy” veggies on the advice of the zillion Kellymom articles I read on the subject, obedient wannabe lactivist that I was. I did that for 2 weeks. It made no difference. He was sick as a (really sickly) dog on my breastmilk. So, you know, that’s cool that your doctor said that. It’s cool if you believe that. I know my beliefs about this are a little off the grid. But your telling me this – me, specifically, who has been through this very thing and did not find it a “fun challenge” to eliminate foods from my diet, but rather a hellishly drawn out science experiment with a sickly newborn as a guinea pig – seems an awful lot like you are implying that I just didn’t try hard enough. Because if you believe it’s just a matter of cutting out dairy, then by process of elimination (haha, get it? Elimination??) that means you either think I am lying or I didn’t love my kid enough to stop eating ice cream.

But of course I didn’t say that. Not only would it have been extremely confrontational, I worried it would come off as anti-breastfeeding. That she’d take it to mean that I thought she should switch to formula, which wasn’t it at all. I am thrilled that she can continue nursing. Why does my experience have to negate her good fortune? They were two different experiences, two different moms, two different kids. I don’t get why my feeding choices/history has to threaten hers, or vice versa.

And then this morning, I met up with a friend who I had tried to help when she struggled with her choice to EP and supplement. She had asked me for reassurance that it was okay to stop pumping, on a few occasions. I told her that I was hesitant to “go there” because I never, NEVER wanted to be responsible for talking someone out of breastfeeding (or pumpfeeding, or whatever you want to call it). This friend also read a rough draft of my book. In other words, she knows how I feel about overblown breastfeeding claims, especially regarding immunity.

We were chilling on a blanket in the sun as another acquaintance peacefully nursed her baby, and my friend began talking about how her daughter had never been sick (thanks to breastmilk). And she’d stopped pumping a few weeks ago, and then she herself had caught a bug, and she’d been so worried about her daughter catching it since she was no longer receiving breastmilk. Luckily, she sighed, the immunity advantages must last longer than she’d thought.

And I sat there, silent. Because what could I say? If I interjected “well, um, it doesn’t exactly work that way, which we’ve discussed. And I’d actually bet that your kiddo’s good health has more to do with you having the cash for a full time nanny rather than sending her to daycare, so you don’t need to worry,” I would have come off as being anti-breastfeeding. While her friend sat there, nursing. Shoot me, seriously.

I keep silent. I hold my tongue. I bite my lip. And I seethe, inwardly. I seethe at the tiny digs that some friends throw my way, time and time again. The little glances I see, passed back and forth, between them, if I dare to correct a mistaken belief. Even if that belief is causing them stress, unnecessarily.

Then I come on here, and write, and act like I have no fear. Bullshit. I am full of fear. It’s easy to go balls-out when I don’t care about the person I’m debating. But with those I love? I soften my stance; I sugarcoat. I convince myself I’m being overly sensitive. I keep my big mouth shut.

But who is this really helping? Certainly not me, or you guys… the more we keep things close to the chest, the more people will be telling us what we need to do with our chests. And you know, I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to my friends, either. If I don’t start speaking up when they say hurtful things, how will they know that they are hurtful?

I know our breastfeeding sisters have had to deal with a crapload of stupid comments and insensitive behavior. I admire breastfeeding moms who counter the ignorance of others with strong, confident, calm responses. I think it is the most effective way of provoking real change: offering to have a discussion, rather than resorting to nasty rebuttals. In that sense, I’m glad I held my tongue in these cases; in the heat of the moment I probably would have come off a tad nasty. But maybe in the future I can make a concerted effort to speak my mind, calmly and clearly. Fearlessly.

Maybe I can start living up to my screen name. Starting by hitting the “publish post” button…… now.

If my friends abandon me, I’m blaming you guys.

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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34 thoughts on “Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles

  1. Thanks for the support, Kristin and Teri. I was BFed and have a wonderful, pro-BFing mom (not necessarily in a bad way). I grew up assuming that when the time came, I would BF too.

    When I started reading about my diagnoses, I realized I might not be able to BF. I'm trying to get used to the idea. I know there a millions of bright, healthy people who were FFed. It also seems really difficult to study the benefits of BFing with any degree of certainty. There are tons of potential confounding factors. All studies on infant feeding have to observational studies rather than experiments– you can't recruit a bunch of moms-to-be and tell them whether to BF or FF. In “The Case against Breastfeeding”, Hana Rosin describes borrowing her physician friend's medical journals and finding that about half of the articles showed slight benefits of BFing and the other half showed no difference. Unfortunately, there's a lot of BFing propaganda out there being touted as science. I think it causes a lot of needless angst for those who can't or chose not to BF. It's good to see a forum trying to calm the debate down. Thanks again, ladies!

  2. What a great post! This is my favorite line: “If I don't start speaking up when they say hurtful things, how will they know that they are hurtful?” I'm so with you on this, and I can relate to this entire post so, so much. Thank you for publishing it.

  3. Kind of random-but I came across this article the other day on http://www.msn.com (lifestyle section, then within there's a section called “moms”). I was expecting it to be the usual overblown crap but was pleasantly surprised at how balanced this article seemed. Especially the part about the IQ difference in breastfed babies not being significant.

    http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/family-parenting/article.aspx?cp-documentid=24065075

    Also found another called “My Boobs, My Baby, My Choice” which talked about different moms and their different reasons for either chosing not to nurse or stopping. (http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/family-parenting/staticslideshowrb.aspx?cp-documentid=24065107)

    And-“No You Don't Have to Breastfeed” (http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/family-parenting/article.aspx?cp-documentid=24065079)

    Hopefully these links work but just wanted to share as all were pretty refreshing to see. Who knows-maybe the FFF's message is finally starting to catch on. Here's to hoping…

  4. Thanks for being so honest, FFF. I don't think you're cowardly for not confronting your friends at all. Your friends know what you do for a living– they know what you think. Sometimes it's better to let things go.

    I think the fact that you founded this blog is courageous. You take an often unpopular stance on infant feeding– putting your name and photograph to it– while living in a lactofanatical area. I say you deserve a freakin medal for bravery.

    The point that not everybody with the same BFing issues has the same outcome is an important one. Some babies who allergic to cow's milk can tolerate their mama's if she goes on a dairy free diet. Others are allergic to breast milk, too. I have a friend who recently became a first- time mom. She had twins, went into labor 5 wks early and needed a c-section. When I learned said friend was successfully BFing, I wanted to cheer for her. She wanted to BF; it worked out– awesome! That by no means implies that every mom who has multiples, preemies and/or a c-section will be able to BF. I don't think it even means that other moms in similar circumstances are obliged to try BFing. I don't think any mom is obliged to try, for that matter. [Waiting to be pelted with rotten tomatoes.] Every family is unique– they shouldn't be compared.

  5. No rotten tomatoes here. It's a medical decision. You evaluate your life and your health, and your baby's life and your baby's health, and figure out what works best. If that is trying to BF, great. If not, move on. Spend your energy on things that have a much greater impact on overall health, such as solid foods, promoting exercise, and a positive mental attitude.

  6. I see nothing wrong with people who don't have kids (yet) getting involved in this debate. Because for me, really, it all comes down to BFing bullies advocating one-size-fits-all medicine for women and children, and getting a lot of cheerleaders who blindly follow along with this medical model. We don't do this for men. We don't do this for other medical conditions. Why do women accept it here?

    I'm in the Chicagoland area, where you're just as likely to run into a militant lactivist as you are someone who will kick you out of his store for breastfeeding. It's a weird dichotomy…

  7. Thanks for replying-I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in that. I feel like I get a lot of-“well why do you care about this-you don't even have kids” type of looks and responses. Well the reality is I'm aware of it and although not a concern currently, could very well be in a few short years-and I'm glad I found all of this out now and am prepared if and when the time does come. When you're a brand new mom, trying to take care of a newborn with hormones up and down-that is NO time to be thrust into something like this and have to defend yourself. My heart really goes out to the moms who were all caught off guard by all of this and had to contend with such nasty and insensitive people at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.

    I have no medical issues that I'm aware of. But from what I've heard and read on insufficient glandular tissue (IGT), my do breasts show a lot of the signs of it. I may bring it up at my next annual GYN appt and see if I'm onto something. Being physically unable to breastfeed really wouldn't be the end of the world for me-especially if it helps me avoid some of the crap many of the moms have described on this blog.

  8. I think you bring up something that many women would never admit. They NEED to believe in the “powers” of breastmilk to justify in their own minds the effort it takes and the power through the struggles they may have.

    To hear that another woman didn't have the same judgement puts their beliefs into question and then like you say “why the hell did I bother?” This is why many believe overstated claims so blindly, too.

    People need to take their individual circumstances and make the decision that works for them and stop comparing to others.

  9. Agreed. I don't have kids yet, either. I've recently been diagnosed with a couple of medical conditions that make my prospects of BFing iffy. I'm not sure I'll spend the time and energy attempting it.

    My current OB/Gyn is incredible, so I'm not worried about him =) I knew I would have to screen peds to find one who could respect FFing. I had no idea that some would actually refuse to see my munchkins if they weren't BFed.

  10. Glad you were able to find someone reasonable. I plan to be VERY picky when it comes to my OB/Ped selection as I don't want to end up with one of these nuts as my doctor.

    If you don't mind my asking-what part of the country are you in? I live in Atlanta, GA and as far as I'm aware, there doesn't seem to be too many militant breastfeeding activists around. I'm sure there here somewhere but it's not nearly as noticeable as other areas (such as the Pacific Northwest).

    Totally agree with you on the lactivists. I'm a case in point-I don't even have children yet and I'm already beyond disgusted. We were considering starting a family last year and long story short I started some internet research on mom/baby related topics and came across this whole bf/ff bruhaha. The fact that they're even putting off moms-yet-to-be DEFINETLY doesn't help their case.

  11. I did but it took me three tries. Ped #2 was okay but he wasn't there much and his colleagues preferred I make homemade “formula” out of unpasteurized goat's milk to avoid the “corporatist agenda.” No joke. Ped #3 has a LC on call, has BFing information readily available in her office, and didn't bat an eye when I told her I wasn't able to BF. So far, I love this woman.

    Your point about it becoming a cult is one point I like to make to lactivists, that they're hurting their own cause. Who wants to be associated with breastfeeding at all when those who push it are rude, insensitive, ignorant, uncaring jerks?

  12. That is absolutely shameful. And like I said-if peds were doing the opposite (turning away breastfed babies, refusing the return phone calls of moms who breastfed, imagine how people would react!).

    Please tell me it's possible to find a ped who supports both feeding choices and won't harrass you if you combo feed or just go straight to formula? The more of this type of stuff I hear the less I want to do with breastfeeding when I have a baby. It almost seems like it's turning into cult and honestly makes me dread becoming a mother.

  13. Good lord. Well I'm glad I don't live in such areas then. Why is it so difficult to find people in these areas who aren't militant and judgy one way or another about feeding a baby, I wonder. Perhaps folks are just really insecure and don't trust their instincts and feel they need the security of a cult.

  14. @Jennifer, people did send/lecture me about donor milk and relactation when my kid was younger and it was JUST as offensive. I KNEW about those options and they weren't available to me. Their “help” was unsolicted and unwanted and it implied that the reason I wasn't breastfeeding was because I was uneducated about these things.

  15. My baby's first ped stopped returning my phone calls when I stopped breastfeeding. His nurses wouldn't answer my questions till I begged, sobbing, over the phone with a screaming baby in my arms. Believe me, it happens. And I'm nowhere near LA.

  16. I hate always hearing that if your BF kid is healthy, slim, allergy-free and bright, it's always because of the BFing. If your FF kid is all of the above, it's just because you've dodged a bullet and you're lucky! Even knowing what my situation was (no milk, kid who refused to ever even try to latch, severe, potentially life-treatening pre and post partum complications), I STILL have friends forwarding me every single article, “new” study, etc, that trumpets “Breast is Best!” Yes, I KNOW. And it's irrelevant, given my situation. At that my kid is three and beyond any kind of BF or FF (although actually, the moms of other three year olds I know are mostly doing extended nursing and are still BFing). Why keep rubbing salt in the wound? Or the ones who feel free to bash formula, but “reassure” me when I challenge them that my reasons were “good enough” so that I'm not really one of THOSE moms, so my kid will turn out ok “despite” the evil formula. They just.don't.get.it.

  17. Wow! If they are still sending you “Breast is Best” info when your child is 3 years old and is no longer even drinking formula, it sounds like they are pretty insecure about nursing that long. If your baby were 3 months old, maybe there would be something to it (on the off chance you would want to re-lactate or get donor milk or something). But at this point it sounds like they are trying to justify their own choices by putting yours down.

  18. @ FFF: You have got to be kidding me that there are doctors in your area that will not accept patients unless they are EBF. That is honestly the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. Isn't that some kind of discrimination on their part??? I don't know how they can get away with that. If a doctor only accepted exclusively formula fed babies there would be riots in the streets outside his/her office. THANK GOD this is not the norm in most places as you stated. Given the type of environment you described in your area of LA, I can totally see what motivated you to start this blog. Keep up the good work and know you've got a ton of women behind you.

  19. It is one thing to have a belief about something, passing judgment is an entirely different thing.

    You don’t need to take every mis-conception stated as an opportunity for a lesson (like many breastfeeding advocates do and I personally can’t stand). But, if a friend comes to you and has questions and asks you for your perspective give it to them 100%. Tell them the information you know and why you made the decisions you did. It’s up to them what they do with it.

    I can count my true friends on one hand and these are the people I can openly discuss anything with and they won’t pass judgment because they love me and understand me, all the rest are acquaintances in actuality. So, does it really matter what they think of me? No. Do I care to pick a fight with them? No, but if they pass judgment about something I feel strongly, I will interject with polite discourse on why I don’t agree with what they are saying. If they think I am crazy who cares; if it makes them think before they open their mouth again or exposes them to a position they never heard before, awesome.

    It sounds like your friend who stopped pumping is trying to make herself feel better about her decision considering she was watching her other friend successfully nurse. You could have chimed in and said something like, “Don’t worry about the baby getting sick, it’s inevitable, children get sick especially now that s/he is starting to become mobile, touching more, putting more in their mouth. You should be thankful you have great child care and that is going to have a larger impact than breast milk would anyway.”

    Your other friend, whose son has a dairy intolerance, sounds a little judgmental. After you expressed your happiness that she found what worked for her, I would have “enlightened” her on what you know and your experience and how everyone’s situation is unique. If her pediatrician was so against her using formula, are you surprised he would say something like that? I’m not, and I would have pointed that out to her as well.

    You do need to speak up for yourself, how can you be friends with someone when you can’t speak your mind? Like others have said here, if your friends are true they will understand and respect you.

  20. Bravo! I've fielded comments like that from a mom I'm pretty close with. She credits breastfeeding with so many things, and the clear implication is that my daughter must be going through hell emotionally and physically since she wasn't able to be breastfed for very long due to a severe intolerance that led to an aversion and NG feeding tube. It stings, but more than that, it just makes me angry because it's so insensitive, and not grounded in any fact.

  21. I hear you… but I should point out that we live in a VERY pro-BF area of Los Angeles. There are pediatricians here who won't even accept patients if they aren't EBF. I am the only exclusive FF of any of our friends. She is part of one of the most pro-BF, “baby friendly” health systems in the country, and has never been encouraged to supplement or FF. I realize this isn't the norm in most places, but in our specific situation, doctors and our social circle are far more critical of formula feeding than breastfeeding, no matter what.

  22. I really sympathize with you and am with you 99% of the way. However as someone who felt both pushed by small-town peds who tended to have old fashioned “are you really feeding him enough” ideas about BFing and made me supplement after a 10% birthweight drop in two days and then cut out things from my diet without offering an allergy test (i.e. lack of support in BFing) AND felt overwhelmed when nothing I did seemed to help, I can see how your friend may have felt defensive against what she saw as a lack of support and been keen to hold on to the idea that the next thing she tried to eliminate would do the trick. I know it's tempting to tell someone what your experience was but people can get sensitive to being told things – and no-one has had or will have the exact baby as you do. Since I resented getting the “well my babies always did…” line when I had a newborn, I try to hold off on commenting to others unless they specifically ask my opinion.

    I don't know if she was implying, by offering her opinion, that YOU should have “tried harder” or whatever. We are all sensitive to things we've heard before so perhaps you have a better radar for that. But I didn't catch that.

  23. If your friends abandon you, does that mean we can be friends. IRL? Awe.some. I mean, no, uhh, I hope they stick by you 🙂

    In all honesty, I think we all do this. I do it ALL.THE.TIME. So no worries. We're all bit Fearful, even when we are known for being Fearless.

  24. The ability to bite one's tongue in order to maintain relationships with friends and family is a strength. It can also be a curse. Its all about balance. And I suck at it. But that won't stop me from offering my thoughts. 😉

    I think your strategy is a good one. You don't need to evangelize to your real life contacts. You can do that here. You will reach more people and have a greater, positive impact here and you don't put real life relationships in peril. Also, I understand your need to be your full, authentic self around your real life friends, but sometimes it is okay to temper down your passions just to get along. As you well know, infant (and toddler) feeding choices bring out something primal in mothers. During those early years, our choices and those circumstances we could not choose, take on an over-blown importance in our daily lives. It is a huge thing to be totally responsible for sustaining another life. But as our children grow and we stop having babies, the breastfeeding topic loses some of that primal edge. We start to think about other choices — schooling, sports, art, music, religion, neighborhoods. And what is interesting is that parents can discuss those topics and different choices in a far more rational way and with much more respect (well, okay, perhaps not all aspects of schooling. There are both rabid pro-homeschooling and anti-homeschooling folks out there.)

    Rambling.

    [jump to my thesis]

    Just because you are fearless here, it does not follow that biting your tongue in real life renders you a hypocrite or a coward. It just means that you are smart and empathetic and you know that the payoff of speaking your mind IRL often nets very little satisfaction in the long run.

  25. In my experience, friends who can't accept you may not be the best friends for you. Frankly, I'm wondering if they're scratching their heads wondering why you're writing a book about the subject when you're not offering more of an opinion to them, even, and perhaps especially, when they know roughly where you stand. Ever consider that sometimes they may just be testing you?

    You make a good point about being fair to your friends. That's no different than a lactivist politely but firmly telling her friends she finds it just a *teeny* bit offensive when they refer to her as “the cow.” We can gripe all day that we don't get respect in parenting circles, but the only way to really change that is to get out there among the people who don't respect us and changing their minds. That may be accomplished just by our very existence, but more often than not I think it involves providing a different point of view. Any friend worth keeping should respect that, as long as you're respectful, and any friend who doesn't isn't worth your time, IMO.

    What I find interesting is that the more anonymity many lactivists have on the internet, the more vicious they seem to get. Yet the more anonymity FF parents seem to have, the more likely they are to defend all methods of feeding. And they usually start out comments like that by identifying themselves as having tried to BF but it didn't work out. Something that annoys me is when people equivocate BFing bullies with people who stand up for FF families. They are NOT the same.

    Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway. ~John Wayne

    Courage is knowing what not to fear. ~Plato

  26. If your friends abandon you over breastfeeding then they were never your friends in the first place! I discovered your website yesterday afternoon and it has helped me tremendously!

    You ARE right though it is easier said than done to be blunt in the face of what seems like a personal attack on your womanly abilities. While you could have said something I would guess your friend was looking for an emotional boost more than anything in that particular moment. Even if it was at your expense. It was good you let her have it. Next time though, you might want to say something.

  27. I can't believe your friends would have someone so knowledgeable close to them and still be so sucked into those myths. I applaud you for having the courage to talk so openly. Kudos to you my friend.

    Also, just wondering if you came across this website? (you probably do know about it but oh well) http://www.bottle-feeding-baby.com

    I like it, very balanced. Lots of great information about bottle feeding as well.

  28. I confess that many of those same thoughts went through my head when writing up what I sent to you. I love my friends, and didn't want them to feel badly, and yet -I- felt badly because of the types of things they'd say and do.

  29. Wow 🙁 That sucks. I know they are your friends, but how insensitive. You are doing everything to be polite and supportive, why can't they do the same?? It's a two way street! >.< Also I think there is a big difference between a dairy sensitivity and a MSPI and clearly the experience between FC and her baby is evidence of that. Good for her she could cut out dairy and nurse. But to suggest that it is the same for everyone is rude and self-centered. Which is typical of the “me” centric society that we've evolved into. You my dear are a fabulous mom and thank goodness for hypoallergenic formula these days, because if this were “back in the day” you may have just become part of the mortality statistic and that truly would have been the worst.

  30. I don't blame you. I think a lot of us, as fearless as we are of our feeding choices, feel the same way around people we like and love. A friend of mine is determined to keep breastfeeding no matter what, and her son was reacting to her BM, so she went for an allergy test. He's allergic to wheat, soy, nuts, eggs and dairy, and she decided to cut all those things out of her diet. When she posted that on FB yesterday, I remember wondering: If her son is lactose-intolerant, isn't he reacting to the lactose in the breastmilk too? But I didn't ask, because I don't want to seem anti-breastfeeding. Which I'm not, I'm just not anti-formula.

  31. I have been in these types of situations many times. More times than I care to count. It hurts, but it also frustrates me. It's usually some half-truth or outright information that I want to correct, but in the interest of friendship or being “polite,” I let it go. Of course, it's often not reciprocated, since there are digs against formula a-plenty, but…I guess, like you there's fear. I guess the boldest I've been in such a situation is when my daughter caught a cold for the first time (at nearly 18 months) a “friend” said something along the lines of “It's a pity you're not breastfeeding. It'd clear that right up.” All i said was, “I don't think it really works that way,” and just left it at that. Sigh. I don't know the answer, but what I do know is you've inspired me to go forth be a little more fearless. Thank you for that.

  32. Reading this, I get the impresion that they are just trying to justify their own actions/beliefs rather than actively try to put you down, as frustrating as their comments are. Afterall, the specious and over stated claims for breastmilk are so widespread and alluring, that many people, who should know better, me included, NEED to believe them- otherwise why the hell did we bother? No one wants to think that there isn't anything in it and that people whom we trust to give us information could be wrong or have their own agenda. People don't like complexity or mixed messages; everyone wants certainty- something is better than something else. Period. Anyone who challenges the status quo, is viewed by some with suspicion or outright hostility. It is about them- not you at the end of the day. Just think of all the women your work has helped to make better/ more informed decisions which will include the friends you mention- even if they might not acknowledge it openly or even recognise it for themselves.

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