Why we shouldn’t use the term “Breastfeeding Nazis” (except when we should)

Nazi [ˈnɑːtsɪ]
n pl Nazis1. (Historical Terms) a member of the fascist National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which was founded in 1919 and seized political control in Germany in 1933 under the Austrian-born German dictator Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
2. Derogatory anyone who thinks or acts like a Nazi, esp showing racism, brutality, etc.
The Free Dictionary

Today is officially Holocaust Remembrance Day. But growing up in a Jewish household, pretty much every day was Holocaust Remembrance Day.  My parents were part of a generation charged with the tremendous responsibility of the slogan “never forget”. They made sure we didn’t. Anne Frank was my childhood hero. We never bought German cars or listened to Wagner. And when I fell in love for the first time, and the boy happened to be born and bred in Frankfurt.. well, let’s just say Romeo and Juliet had nothing on us.

In college, I took a class on German Nationalism and Character. I wanted to learn about what could turn the majority of a nation’s population into something so ugly, something that would happily slay 6 million of my people as well as far too many homosexuals, Gypsies, and people who just didn’t fit in. I’d heard loved ones make angry, anti-German comments, and it rubbed me the wrong way. Not all Germans had been Nazis. And even if they had been (as was the case with my young beloved’s grandparents) that didn’t mean we should blame the sins of the (grand)father on a younger, innocent generation.

The class was phenomenal. Taught by a visiting professor from West Germany, we learned about the historical events that led up to World War II. There were certainly aspects of the German national character that could have contributed to the ease with which Hitler took power, but it wasn’t something in their genetic code. Rather, it was a history of feeling less-than, misunderstood, unappreciated; it was the timing of a charismatic leader who banked on the fact that his countrymen would lap up promises of supremacy and pride like hungry cats given a bowl of cream. 

I’m not excusing what occurred in Nazi Germany, by any means. It was, in my opinion, the most horrific display of the dark side of human nature that the world has ever seen. But I think it is important for people to understand that this could have happened in any country. The group dynamic is powerful. Scapegoating is tempting. The union of anger and insecurity can lead to the birth to pure  evil.  

Group dynamic. Scapegoating. Anger. Insecurity.

I don’t take the term “Nazi” lightly. I don’t like name calling, and I don’t like hyperbole. But I also think most of us don’t fully understand what the tenets of Nazism were. Calling someone a Nazi is not only accusing them of acting like someone who committed genocide. It is also inferring that they possess certain traits. As the Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies explains:

Nazism or National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus) is an ideology that received its practical political form in the regime that governed Germany from 1933-1945. Nazism is a variety of another totalitarian ideology, fascism. The political goal of both ideologies is to establish a totalitarian state, that is to say a modern, bureaucratic state, where the government is completely dominant in relation to the individual. It is thus a purpose of the regime to monopolise all human activities, both private and public. 

Nazism was specifically characterised by:
Building on a charismatic leader figure (Adolf Hitler) and on the support of the military,

Inventing common enemies (Jews, communists, liberals, pacifists, free masons, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, etc.),

Trying to re-model the working class by making the workers focus on ‘higher ideals’ than the traditional class struggle; such ‘higher ideals’ included extreme nationalism, racism, and especially war.

I have cringed every time I’ve see the term “breastfeeding nazi”, or even worse, “boob nazi”. I’ve seen responses about how insulting it is to those affected by the Holocaust to sling this term around willy nilly, and I agree with this, for the most part. I also think using the word “nazi” as an insult takes away the power of the term itself. The end of the German Nazi party was not the end of nazism. There is a strong neo-Nazi contingent in the USA and UK, among other countries. We shouldn’t call someone a Nazi unless we mean it.

However, I also think that certain facets of lactivism do veer into fascist territory (Nazism is a form of fascism, but other fascist regimes have thrived in Italy, Latin America, Indonesia, and Spain. In breastfeeding supremacy (thank you to the ever-brilliant Jessica Valenti for that far better and more PC term), the common enemy is the formula companies/breastfeeding-unfriendly physicians/formula feeders. The charismatic leaders are the “famous” and most intolerant breastfeeding advocates, people like Jack Newman, William Sears, Darcia Navarez, Gabrielle Palmer, and so forth. The military support comes from grassroots organizations and mommy blogs, who wield the power to call widespread boycotts of commercial products over WHO Code infractions. And the “higher ideals” are extreme, religious beliefs in the power of breastmilk and a conviction that breastfed babies will be stronger, healthier, smarter, and more beautiful human specimens. 

This essay outlines the “14 common characteristics” of fascist regimes.  Some of these characteristics include:

“Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.”

There are patriotic mottos in breastfeeding supremacy, too. Mottos like “Breast is best”. “Breast is normal”. “Babies are born to be breastfed”. “Breastmilk is a baby’s birthright.” 

“Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of ‘need.'”

Obviously, compassion isn’t a human right (although it should be, if you ask me). But I have seen Newman, Frank Oski, and other respected breastfeeding advocates state that making women feel guilty is a good thing, because it might help them see the error of their ways, serving the “need” of higher breastfeeding rates.

“Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe…”

Comparing formula to cigarettes. Boycotting Babble.com for running formula ads. Hurling insults at blogs like this one or sites like Bottle Babies simply for the fact that we exist to support ALL parents, male or female, regardless of how they feed their babies. Sending hate mail to doctors who dare to suggest that breastfeeding might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Raging about the social “booby traps” that ruin breastfeeding rates. Fighting Facebook over their refusal to allow breastfeeding photos (which I agree is insanely stupid, and I think Facebook is being a major douchebag, but is this really where we want to be putting our energy and activism?). There is clearly a perceived common threat or foe, and one that can obviously spark a unifying frenzy. Or a Twitstorm, which is the unifying frenzy of the new millennium.

“Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected.”

Replace the word “military” with “breastfeeding initiatives” and “domestic agenda” with “the real issues plaguing the emotional and physical health of women and children” and you’ll see where I’m going with this. When breastfeeding becomes one of the major tenets of the anti-childhood obesity campaign, rather than addressing the need for cheap, healthy food or fighting for better recess and PE programs in our inner city schools, something is off.  

“Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid…the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.”

Okay, so obviously the grassroots breastfeeding organizations are female-dominated (although I would argue that those who have made the biggest impact in mainstream breastfeeding research and discourse have been men – paging Dr. Sears…). But traditional gender roles are an inherent part of a pro-breastfeeding discourse. Women are encouraged to stay home as long as possible in order to preserve the exclusive breastfeeding relationship. Mothers are credited (or blamed, depending on how they feed their children) for the intelligence, emotional development, health and weight of their offspring. Men are not part of the equation; genetics be damned. The State has become the guardian of this one aspect of child rearing, as governments coerce encourage women to nurse for the good of the nation.

“Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.”

Hence, the reason why every article has to start off with “breastfeeding has been proven without a doubt to be the healthiest and best way to feed an infant” even if the article is talking about a downside to breastfeeding. Articles or quotes which may be construed as “pro-formula” are immediately attacked; the media outlet is accused of being in the pockets of the formula industry, or the writer/person quoted has “industry ties”. It doesn’t matter if there is no concrete proof. 

I’m also concerned with how the conversation is turning away from mom-blaming and into baby-shaming. I saw a tweet the other day about how baby powder was created to cover up the stench of formula-fed babies. And then there was the Facebook thread where a woman blithely commented that all the obese babies she’d seen were formula fed, and she “much preferred petite breastfed babies”. The Alpha Parent recently posted this mock-up ad she created, in reference to a conversation about the power of presenting “facts” versus avoiding guilt:

Source: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Alpha-Parent/168640486536470
Text reads: “Babies are born to be breastfed”; “Formula fed babies are 600 times more likely to have a life of obesity”

This is uncomfortable territory, in my opinion. It reminds me of the Nazi propaganda posters about how to spot a Jew, with exaggerated comic-strip versions of every Jewish stereotype around. When we talk about the superiority of breastfed babies over formula-fed babies, we are creating an atmosphere of supremacy, of “pure” versus “unpure”. 

Speaking of darkly evocative breastfeeding promtion, this charming essay was written for  Feed The Babies Funda non-profit, charitable organization in South Africa (a country which has been earning praise for its new focus on breastfeeding):

It is beyond doubt that the good health status of any nation’s citizens makes an important contribution towards economic progress. ..One of the best ways to ensuring a healthy life for somebody in his/her life span is having a firm health foundation at infancy; a role mainly played by breastfeeding mothers…mothers have the responsibility of investing in the health of their children and the nation by choosing to breastfeed as this choice will impact positively on the stock of health for the kids as they grow. A healthy workforce means a sound human capital base for any nation which ensures a high level of productivity at the workplace. In other words, the type of feeding chosen by mothers for their infants can to some extent determine the level of income that a family and ultimately a nation will earn. If high infant mortality rates are a function of a lack of proper breastfeeding as reported in various media, then one can conclude that families who choose not to breastfeed choose to reduce the stock of health, the time that their children are to survive, ultimately the income that they earn, the income that the nation will earn as well as the socio-economic welfare and progress of the nation.

Parents therefore need to take cognisance of the fact that behind every healthy-child and ultimately every healthy nation is a woman who reasonably and responsibly decides to participate in critical health-enhancing behaviours such as breastfeeding children against all odds… Clearly, one of the reasons why many countries in Africa are burdened by diseases is partially because of inadequate breastfeeding of infants… There is… no justifiable excuse for any mother not to breastfeed considering the vast advantages of breastfeeding discussed in this article.

All Germans were not Nazis, and obviously, all lactivists are not engaging in fascist or supremacist behavior. It sucks that some bad eggs are ruining what should be a really healthy, wholesome omelette. But we also cannot sit idly by and watch a subtle form of fascism grow. So while I am ardently against indiscriminate hurling of the “boob nazi” label, I wish breastfeeding advocates would please consider why this term has gained popularity. Reading the excerpt above, I think it’s pretty damn clear.

Maybe I’m overreacting. Lately, though, I’ve become more and more distressed with the state of breastfeeding advocacy. Articles on Mothering.com and Psychology Today, as well as this hot mess of misleading propaganda from Infact Canada (notice the cute but foreboding cartoon imagery surrounding the text) have made me nervous; it seems that the more a backlash grows against the pressure to breastfeed, the more people want to apply stronger pressure. 

The thing is, we can talk all we want about informed choice. But informed choice cannot mean manipulation. If the facts are that formula fed babies have a higher risk for asthma, this should be explained to parents in a calm and clear way, with meaningful statistics and explanations that illustrate relative risk. But if you take that same fact and turn it into a public service announcement like this-

– you are manipulating your audience. You aren’t allowing them to make an “informed choice”, because that choice is now colored with fear. And that, my friends, is something that all fascist regimes have in common: they control by fear.

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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143 thoughts on “Why we shouldn’t use the term “Breastfeeding Nazis” (except when we should)

  1. Well said, FFF! You've definitely explained some comparisons. I am truly appalled at the lengths some lactivists will go to. I had no idea such pictures existed. Damnable….absolutely damnable that lies & fear of formula feeding are spread in the name of breastfeeding advocacy!

  2. What do you do when they identify themselves one, proudly in fact? After my first two lactation consultants were left scratching their heads they had someone from the Capital drive out (an hour) and make time to see me, measure me, poke me, ask if she could take my pictures (if I wasn't so devastated then I would have asked if she wanted to sign them) and finally declare me hypoplastic breasts, inadequate mammary tissue, etc.

    I begged her to know if there was any hope. She looked me in the eye and said “Look, I'm the biggest tit-nazi there is, and if there was any chance in hell I'd push you until I had you screaming for me to let you use formula. But you're the reason formula was made.” The words really seared in my head because I wouldn't ever call someone a nazi, and had never heard the words used like that before.

    I still don't use breast-nazi, feminazi, etc. My mom taught me it was in bad taste, we grew up next to some Germans, my husband is from strong German lines, and I'm very aware of the history. But I have a feeling that if the lady was here she'd say she was proud of the connotation. The fact is, I never heard the term until I met someone who proudly used the label to describe herself, she didn't treat it as a derogatory term either. While I wouldn't label someone… I also wouldn't feel comfortable correcting them if that's the label they've embraced.

  3. awesome – in the true meaning of the word. thank you for this, so eloquently written. a little standing ovation from NZ!!

  4. Emily, I think because that insult has become so widely used, it gets adopted sarcastically by bf supporters like your LC. After some recent controversy in NZ, bf supporters were inundated with insults, to the point that they had to laugh or they'd cry. My personal favourite was 'lactofascist.' I joked that I'd get a badge made.

    I think this blog points out some very, very important points, and I think bf support organisations would be wise to look at them. I think the underlying issues here are extremely important, but the words themselves are losing their power, as bf advocates – usually the reasonable, understanding, compassionate ones – simply turn them around and laugh at them because they see that the ideas that these words represent do not apply to them, and they are simply ridiculous to them.

  5. I don't mind being called a 'breastfeeding nazi'. If that's what it takes to help babies, then so be it, nazify me.

    I like some of your stuff, it can be quite persuasive, but this piece is weaker than your normal standard.

    “There is clearly a perceived common threat or foe”

    Who is this common foe? You never said.

    And lol @ comparing breastfeeding advocacy with the military. If only it received half as much as the military does. A better parallel could be drawn between the military budget and the formula company's marketing budget. THAT'S the real propaganda machine.

    “Hurling insults at blogs like this one”.

    I've had my fair share of insults over at my blog too. It's not a one-way street. Difference is, I don't screen people's comments on my blog before I will allow them to be posted.

    “I think Facebook is being a major douchebag, but is this really where we want to be putting our energy and activism?”

    Why not? Normalising breastfeeding removes barriers. For example, it helps mothers feel more confident breastfeeding in public. Where do you think ALL the pro-breastfeeding energy and activism should be going?

    “Raging about the social “booby traps” that ruin breastfeeding rates.”

    Isn't that something you do?

    And run the human rights argument past me again. Which human right is at stake?

    “the real issues plaguing the emotional and physical health of women and children”

    Is breastfeeding not a 'real' issue? Or are you merely saying that it's not important enough in *your* eyes to be deemed a real issue?

    “When breastfeeding becomes one of the major tenants of the anti-childhood obesity campaign, rather than addressing the need for cheap, healthy food or fighting for better recess and PE programs in our inner city schools, something is off.”

    Woah, who said it was *rather*? Can't it be complimentary? Health issues seldom have just one causal component. Breastfeeding advocates have never said formula CAUSES obesity. We say it increases the chances. Diet is important too.


    How are babies ever to blame for the way they are fed? Which breastfeeding advocate has ever said that?

    “that choice is now colored with fear”

    Sometimes health issues can be scary. I would say it's part of the responsibility of motherhood. It's not all roses.

    • Every breastfeeding advocate I’ve ever met is the foe because they do not “tolerate” us woman who choose not to breastfeed. It’s not up to you to decide what is best for my baby. You comment “if it helps babies” is another condescending comment from one of the foes. Its not your job to help my baby or me.

      • ‘Tolerate’, an interesting word choice. When you actually breastfeed yourself, you would begin to understand the lack of tolerance many have for breastfeeding. eg it is immodest to do in public. Even when the baby is entirely covered, women can be subjected to rants from strangers about ‘I know what you are doing under that blanket’. Or, once the baby is more than a few months old, loaded comments from people ‘Are you STILL doing that?’ with that spat out with an undertone that surely it is something that has become disgusting once the baby is more than three months/six months or whatever age is deemed ‘enough’. Let alone the absolutely horrified reaction I have received when I have told even close friends that my youngest was breastfed until he was two and a half year! Shock horror! Try talking about tolerance when you have been through these experiences.

  6. I think this post is every bit as good as other posts you have written. It takes a critical look at a term that people often use flippantly, but shouldn't, because it has the power to minimize and hurt. There needs to be an understanding from both sides that the discourse around breastfeeding has moved past logos and into purely pathos. It's not like breastfeeding is unique in that respect. It seems like the default public message is to say or show something provocative and then defend yourself later. I find that tiresome and unpersuasive. Careless lobbing of the term “nazi” fits in that category. I appreciate that you dismantled the practice but at the same time showed where the impulse to use the term was originating.

    Thank you for taking on a tough topic.

  7. I wholly approve of this post. With one minor quibble.

    Calling someone a Nazi is not only accusing them of acting like someone who committed genocide. It is also inferring that they possess certain traits.

    Genocide has been committed by nearly every society in history. I posted a good, long list on my local news station's site when they asked the rather stupid question (of apparently stupider viewers) whether “something like the Holocaust” would happen again in our lifetimes.

    Genocide is an entirely human action (but actually not a solely human action) which we are all capable of within the right context. Our tendency to other, propagandize, and dehumanize is testament to this. We may, with any luck, evolve past this. But until then it is something we must ever be on guard for.

  8. I really get irked when people say that formula fed babies will be obese and fat and ugly. I have two FF babies, one from 4 weeks and 1 from 3.5 months. Neither of them is obese. My first is tall and slender and SOLID. My second is on the short & thin side. Two babies, from the same parents BOTH formula fed and completely different builds. Do NOT tell me genetics doesn't have a BIG part in the size of a child AS well as later eating habits.

    I was formula fed & while well into my 30s I will admit I'm a bit overweight that did NOT happen until much later into my late 20s. I was always active, ate well (and even when I didn't) & was NEVER overweight nor obese.

    I don't like to use the word Nazi either. As there are as you mentioned still neo-nazi groups in the world today. But there are certainly very militant BF advocates.

    I support BFing, BF away those of you who want to & can & are willing to push yourself almost to the brink if you did have a hard time. FF away for those of you who want to & can & do not want to push yourself to the brink if you did have a hard time. FEED YOUR BABIES. I wish we could all jus support one another and be done with it. Information about Breast Feeding should be available, BETTER support should be available. However EVERY woman & family should get the support no matter which way they choose to feed. That's it, that's all.

    We live in a world that can be cruel & harsh & terrible. Why are we adding to it by being cruel & harsh & terrible over something that doesn't really affect each other. My babies were FF, how does it affect that woman who is BFing and really wants to BF her baby? It doesn't, I'm not telling her to FF, I'm telling her to fed the way she wants to & let the women around her fed the way they want to.

    Thanks again FFF for a thought provoking post.

  9. I don't think anyone should use the term “breastfeeding nazi”. No exceptions. I get that some people in the heat of the moment can say hurtful and insulting things because they are feeling hurt and sad and angry and they lash out. But it is never okay to condone this term. It is never okay to encourage its use, indiscriminately or otherwise.

  10. Oh for bugger sake, go away. Go ahead and waste your time and effort fighting with Facebook over photos but don't ever think that it is worth anything at all. If you actually cared about “helping babies” you would fight for a REAL cause. Fight against the sexual abuse of children, of for children sold into slavery or for babies that do not have access to clean water, shelter or even the right to be safe.
    You so called “cause” is a waste of space and effort. I am sick of people like you. In the scheme of things you are the same as me, stop pretending you are better then people around you, your not we are all equal.
    Difference is I am not over on your blog “laughing” and trying to make myself seem intelligent. Go Away mind your own business go and run your breastfeeding blog, congratulate yourself on how fabulous you all are and LEAVE US ALONE!!
    Hold on…. so you want to get narky over “Is breastfeeding not a 'real' issue? Or are you merely saying that it's not important enough in *your* eyes to be deemed a real issue?” But you want to sit on your high horse and tell us that in *your* eyes breastfeeding is so much better then breastfeeding. Get over yourself *your* opinion is worth no more then anyone's. Is *your* opinion is worth more is it because *you* have decided you are someone (i sure as hell don't know your blog or who you are thankfully) While its an issue it is NOT an issue to start a war over (yes you people have started a war that we do not want to be a part of) All you are after is to make yourself feel better at other peoples expense. Put your efforts into something that will change peoples lives for the better, help at a soup kitchen, donate to a registered charity, help in the fight against cancer, donate blood, anything that is a REAL sacrifice for you and does not come at the expense of other people.
    I feel really sorry for you life cannot be much fun at all when you have to find happiness by bringing others down all the time.
    BF, FF or whatever works for a parent, but your opinion on the way they feed is invalid as it has nothing to do with you in any way shape or form. Just leave us alone, go fight your waste of a fight and leave us out of it.

  11. I just wrote on your Facebook page, but I'm afraid the picture (which was not a very nice one, BTW) which inspired the FFF's comments here was based on a pretty extraordinary bit of extrapolation. I'm not sure you read the research paper in question very carefully. I'll just repeat what I said there:

    BF without BS: I'm mystified. I just looked at the study in question and it appears to concern the timing of the introduction of solid foods. The six-fold increase in obesity at the age of three was for formula-fed babies fed solids before four months compared to formula-fed babies fed solids later than four months, as far as I can tell from the graph on p5 (oh, and interestingly, among babies who were first given solids at “4-5 months,” there was less obesity among the FF babies than the BF babies). I think the “Alpha” Parent needs to check her facts a little more carefully before she starts making any more pretend public health ads.

    BF without BS: In any case, it's hard to conclude much from these kinds of studies. Babies are not blank slates; any parent of more than one child will tell you that they are little people with characteristics of their own, right from the start, and we know there is a strong genetic component to obesity. Mothers who are overweight are more likely to formula feed for a variety of reasons; babies who are hungrier in the first place are more likely to be given solids early, or to be switched over to formula because “He always seemed so hungry and I just couldn't keep up.” My understanding of the studies done on BF/FF and obesity is that the more one controls for other factors, the smaller the benefits of BF are, although I think there is probably a small benefit.

  12. @ Alpha Mom-

    “I don't mind being called a 'breastfeeding nazi'. If that's what it takes to help babies, then so be it, nazify me.”

    This sent chills down my spine and illustrates perfectly why many believe the brand of breastfeeding advocacy we see today is often misguided and fails to hit its mark…which I believe should be to 'normalise' breastfeeding and thereby increase breastfeeding rates, no?

    I believe that the “at all cost” philosophy you alluded to is doing more damage than good to the breastfeeding cause. I personally wouldn't want to be referred to as a 'Nazi anything'. I'm pretty sure that by being labeled as such would make much of my intended audience feel alienated, and make me appear unapproachable and unwilling to look beyond my “cause” to the actual human beings that are being affected by it.

    As someone who was fearful of reaching out to a lactation professional when I was experiencing problems breastfeeding (despite the fact that I wanted to breastfeed very much), you have just validated my fears with your statement. I couldn't bring myself to allow someone so entrenched in their personal agenda and opinions into my home at a time when I was at my most vulnerable. I needed to be certain that my emotional, physical and psychological health along with that of my child was more important than the breastfeeding cause, and with the state of breastfeeding advocacy today, I unfortunately felt that it was too much of a gamble. In the end, I believe that if someone with that mindset had been available to me…if I didn't feel like I was rolling the dice by picking a name out of the yellow pages…I could have had more success breastfeeding.

    If absolutely nothing else, I would think that the fact that the “breastfeeding Nazi” term is in use (and I personally do not use it) should prompt true breastfeeding advocates to take a good hard look at whether or not their campaign strategies are undermining the intended goals.

  13. Amazing post. Standing ovation.

    I think it is excellent to encourage the terminology to lean toward something less offensive, while continuing to call it what it is – a form of fascism and supremacy. But, there are breastfeeders (See: LiveJournal) who refer to themselves as “boob nazis,” which is an interesting foray into the true mindset of some of these people – no problem being associated with that word or mindset, it seems.

    Another facet of the “advocacy” that bothers me – The “activists” are perpetually “sad” because they “care about the babies!” To me, that reeks of fascism… the ruling class (in this case, superior breastfeeders) knows what's best for your babies and your family, even if you don't.

  14. Just to answer a couple of your questions……

    1. You said: “Who is this common foe? You never said.”

    LLL clearly stated: “the common enemy is the formula companies/breastfeeding-unfriendly physicians/formula feeders.”

    2. You said: “And run the human rights argument past me again. Which human right is at stake?”

    I'd suggest, at the very least, the freedom to choose your own medical options (to bf or ff in this case) after presentation of the facts and without propaganda thrown in (such as that rediculous propaganda poster you created) to confuse those facts. The ability to choose your own medical options, based on accurate and factual medical advice, IS a basic human right.

    I'd suggest not being bullied by others over your choice of medical options would be a basic human right also, wouldn't you think?

  15. Great thought provoking piece. I'll be honest, I have used the term. The use of the term nazi has been flippantly used to just generally describe zealousness that removes choice, freedom and mostly tries to force/ control opinion or judgement without considering facts, reality or personal circumstances. In that respect I understand how it came to be used. But I will never use it again.

    To The Alpha Parent, I wont comment on most of your comments because I don't think it is my place, not being the author. I understood perfectly. I'm confident FFF can speak/defend so much better than me.
    However I will say two things.
    1. “I don't mind being called a 'breastfeeding nazi'. If that's what it takes to help babies, then so be it, nazify me.”
    How does this attitude promote bf? This is why so many afraid to try, doing your cause an injustice, actually contributing to decline in bf rates. Compassion, understanding, tolerance would work better for you in your support or lack thereof. That's what I think anyway.

    2. “Sometimes health issues can be scary. I would say it's part of the responsibility of motherhood. It's not all roses.”
    It is also a responsibility of motherhood to feed ur baby. So do you suggest I starve my baby to death. Now that wouldn't be all roses.But that would be just too bad under that line of argument. Plus I don't think fear should be used to promote a product and informing should be done with information. The picture in the advertisement suggests formula/bottle WILL lead to asthma, not that it might and not that a bf baby might too. What about using facts? So along the same line of thought it could prevent a mother who is bf into a false sense of security that her baby somehow immune to asthma. Oh that's right it's not all roses, so that makes it okay.

  16. I think your account of how you were afraid to reach out to a lactation consultant when you were having difficulties bf'ing speaks volumes to how out of touch the extremists have become and how their reputation preceeds them. I do not have children yet but can tell you that I too am extremely leery of involving a lactation consultant as part of my care team when the time comes for the same reasons you highlighted. They are hurting their own cause-plain and simple.

  17. Is that asthma ad a recent one or a leftover relic from that awful campaign in 2004-2006ish? Somebody PLEASE tell me (factually of course) that it's the latter. On top of everything-isn't the research on bf'ing and asthma not even conclusive? I seem to recall a relatively recent post on here discussing a study that suggested a disadvantage to bf'ing and asthma. On the obesity front, even if there is a direct, causal advantage to bf'ing (and I'm NOT convinced that there is), it is likely extremely SMALL on the individaul level and for a child who is well cared for, encouraged to be active and eats healthy foods (with McDonalds and Cheetos in MODERATION), that protective “effect” is most likely NEGLIGIBLE.

  18. Who are these “petite breastfed babies”? My daughter's never had an ounce of formula, and she has the chubbiest thighs! And those cheeks! Oh, there might be something vis a vis childhood obesity and encouraging babies to finish their bottles, children to clean their plates, etc. (and she's always been able to choose her own food intake, be it breast or solid food) but some babies are chunkier than others.

    Not to detract from the rest of your excellent post, but I just thought that was funny.

  19. I too was very afraid of reaching out to a LC because of the kinds of breastfeeding advocacy I've witnessed over the past few years, mostly online. Knowing that formula allowed my oldest son to thrive, I wasn't ok with any kind of support that vilified formula, even if I wasn't at a point where that was the situation (I was just having a tongue tie evaluated).I just didn't want a medical professional with that kind of attitude as a part of my support team. Thankfully, that was not the case. But it's definitely something that breastfeeding support needs to seriously consider. The all-or-nothing, formula is evil mentality is hurting their cause. A mother who is afraid of support because of the potential for being judged for using formula may be a lost opportunity, not to mention this kind of attitude seems to be in opposition with the medical ethos of Do No Harm.

  20. Eesh, the drama now starts. Thank you for this post though! It's an excellent well thought out post and I will now duck out…I don't want to partake in the crazy drama that will ensue.

  21. Conversely, my cousin's son was combo fed from birth, and switched exclusively to Alimentum at less than 8 weeks due to milk protein issues, and was always skinny and small. In fact, they TORTURED her over his slow weight gain and small size, even though he was in like the 40th/50th percentile. She fortunately never let it bother her and just chalked it up to his body type-said he was lucky that he probably got his father's build and metabolism. All that mattered was that he WAS gaining weight and growing and was healthy. It's like you can't win-they're either too fat or too thin. Um hello-people come in all different heights, weights, builds, etc. Why do we assume babies are the exception? I also strongly believe breast, bottle, formula, etc. has little if anything to do with it but that's a post for another time. 😉

  22. I had a rather poor experience with an LC. She was so for her agenda that she baulked at the idea of pumping before 6 weeks–even when I said I wanted my husband to help feed so he could enjoy the bonding aspect as well. If we have a second baby, I am going to request that no LCs come to our room. I don't want to go through that again.

  23. Exactly! My son is 85th percentile for weight and 95th for height. He's a big boy but it's genetic–his dad was big as a baby and his side of the family are tall, blonde Scandinavians 😛 It's genetic in his case! His weight gain has evened out but the kid is going to be a tall one–already approaching 32 inches at 10 and a half months.

  24. Don't blame you-that is ridiculous. It's your choice if you want to pump, supplement, whatever. The LC's role should be to help you meet YOUR goals-not theirs!

  25. I think this is a lovely post, and I appreciate the discussion of how breastfeeding advocacy can quickly take an ugly, terrible turn.

    I especially dislike the image from The Alpha Parent, because more and more my issue with breastfeeding advocacy is not only how we treat women, but how we portray this. That image has taken a woman — a real life, feeling woman — and cut her off at head to use her as a characteristic, to paint her negatively and dehumanize her because of her size. We're now not only putting so much emphasis on the mother-body to be perfect, but we're using the 'imperfect' body to visually threaten parents. “Your baby could look like this!” as though that's the very worst thing that could happen.

    (Sorry, I realizing I've gone off the point, but I CANNOT.)

  26. Yes! My husband — exclusively breastfed in the 80s even — was a big fat bald baby. Our son? Exclusively breastfed as well, and looked just like him.

    Clearly, there's more to it than what food goes into the baby.

  27. Exactly. Of course at the time, I was naive and DID feel guilty (but thank God my mom was in the room because she told me once the woman left NOT to listen to her). I have to thank FFF for really helping me to see past the breastfeeding agenda and not blame myself for continuing BFing. This blog really helped me those first few weeks and continues to enlighten me with every post.

  28. For the record, with every pregnancy I've fought to breastfeed above and beyond what the lactation expert said I could, and I plan to with my next. Your attitude though gets me riled to the point where I don't even want to try because the idea of being associated with someone who's so bitter and acidic… ugh. Thank heavens I know far more positive breastfeeders in my life, like my mom, sisters, sister-in-laws, where no one was anything like this. But you may want to think about what you post simply for the fact that acting like a bully and a snarking jerk doesn't give a very welcoming vibe.

  29. You know, that was one of the first things I saw too. Because apparently we're all supposed to exercise an hour or two every day, ONLY eat organic and natural food AND be the perfect mom as well.

  30. She didn't come across as sarcastic though… maybe she was, but to me it was sort of like how people used to say a Yankee Doodle Dandy was an insult then was embraced. She seemed to fully embrace and be proud of it.

  31. I really enjoyed reading this thought-provoking post. I am still uncomfortable with the use of the terms breast-nazi or breastapo or other creative combinations because it is a blatant attack (insult) to those who may only be offering lactation information. I have seen it used online against women who were not even being pushy or had an agenda but were simply sharing their breastfeeding experiences and were attacked by other women who still have not processed their emotions about their own nursing journeys and are hurting. I find it petty for these terms to be thrown about because the only aim they have is in hurting another person and to me that is unnecessary. We are all mothers just trying to raise our children the best way we can and we need to support one another, by sharing our experiences and learning from them, not attacking each other out of hurt.

  32. Of course! Regardless of what we want, or (a bigger issue in my personal soapbox) what we can afford. If we care so so much about health, there are about a thousand other things we could fight for right now. FFF mentioned better access to healthy food for low-income families, and that seems like a much better social goal than higher breastfeeding rates. Of course it'd be nice to see higher instances of breastfeeding — but I'd much rather know that low-income families in my community can afford produce and healthy foods.

  33. I agree, and that was kind of what I was going for–I think as long as babies can regulate their own intake, which they can do with breast or bottle as long as their caregiver isn't stuffing food into them, and aren't getting a bunch of crappy food that's bad for them once they start on solids, they'll grow the size & shape they're meant to be, whatever that might be.

  34. Anytime I would help take care of him and feed him his bottle, he would push it away when he was done. Sometimes she would even tell me to try to get him to eat more, thinking he may still be hungry but it never worked. If that boy was done he was DONE and there no getting that bottle back in his mouth no matter what I did. Plus I would imagine all the slow flow nipples and advanced bottle technology (he used Dr. Brown's) would also help in this regard. Kind of makes you wonder if all the breastfeeding/obesity studies took into account the type of bottle/nipple/technology…

  35. Omg I can imagine! It's good to hear you found FFF and also had your mom to provide support at such a vulnerable time. I'm so glad I found this before I had kids. We were talking about it a couple of years ago and since I'm a total planner I started combing the Internet for mother/baby/etc. type info and became acquainted with the extreme breast is only movement online (probably THE worst place to come across it). For unrelated reasons we tabled our family plans for the time being but I've continued following FFF and definetly feel more prepared for what lies ahead because of it.

  36. There are lactation professionals out there who put personal agendas aside and truly just want to help the individual. I was fortunate to work with an IBCLC who was one of these. She was truly a blessing, and I don't know what I would have done without her. She supported me in exclusively pumping and then transitioning to exclusively FFing. The problem is that it's a crapshoot. You don't know what kind of LC you will get. Even if you go on recommendations from friends, everyone's experience is so different and there's an element of personal preference – just like how you might not like a doctor, nurse, or therapist that your friend loves.

  37. “the common enemy is the formula companies/breastfeeding-unfriendly physicians/formula feeders.”

    'Common foe' means one person not several.

    “the freedom to choose your own medical options (to bf or ff in this case) after presentation of the facts and without propaganda thrown in”

    Then I'm sure you agree, we need to ban all formula advertising as a matter of urgency.

    “I'd suggest not being bullied by others over your choice of medical options would be a basic human right also, wouldn't you think?”

    Nope. I really don't think that's in the same league as the right to life and the right to be free from slavery. kwim?

    • I have a theory that Alpha Parent’s actually a formula company agent..on a mission to make breastfeeding a scary n judgy field..

      I mean she obviously painted a picture that formula companies are willing to do anything to sell their stuff..
      Including creating fear of judgy lactivist..

      I myself breastfed my son..n i found it easier to help other moms to breastfeed through love,compassion logical solution.

      Alpha parent..you don’t help babies..you just push them further away from breastmilk by scaring their mothers..you’re doing them a disservice..
      or perhaps you do that just to feel good about yourself by bad mouthing others..how sad.

      stop making true lactivist looked rude and let us do our job.

      You don’t represent a good breastfeeding advocate..you’re not helping babies.

  38. I feel so sad reading this article, that so much hatred and vitriolic language be used around our sacred babies and mothers. I am sad that formula companies have managed to separate mothers to such a degree that they hate so easily.
    Too many bfders believe that ffders cant be bothered to breastfeed or are ignorant to the facts around ff. I just see a lot of pain. I cannot lie, it is natural and normal that babies bf and ff does bring risks with it, if it didn't we wouldn't be waging so many wars with each other.

    I live in France where women I know are outraged when mother and baby groups give out leaflets to promote bf because it reminds them that they couldn't. Watching them inspired me to support women in any way that I could to help them be successful. I know from experience that I could have done with a lot less 'advice and self-righteous judgement' and a lot more 'glasses of water, snacks, encouragement, peace and quiet' and if we're pushing the boat out 'help around the house' while I worked out how to feed 2 small babies. FF brought relief knowing my baby had a full tummy but my heart was heavy. I am thankful that finally after 3.5 months, with the right support, I was able to ebf both but I wouldn't wish that journey (mainly the incorrect advice that I diligently followed) on anyone, only the ending which was a retreat from society to connect with my beautiful babies.

    Maybe instead of a fearless formula feeder I would rather be a conscious and caring formula feeder, inform myself about the other live foods that a baby can consume rather than just formula.

    May feeding our babies be just one of the ways we nurture and care for them and may all mothers find a peaceful path to support babies with what they do best.. get their needs met ❤

  39. I am confused, formula feeding is so expensive… wouldn't that money be better spent on food for the family?
    Personally I am not into more breastfeeding campaigns but less formula company campaigns.

  40. That was my point above. I have a friend who breastfed both her babies and they are both big kids. Her daughter is 7 months younger than my youngest and is bigger than he is. It is mostly due to genetics and body type. My older guy was FF from 4 weeks and he's tall and heavy, but not fat, just SOLID.

  41. Absolutely. The reason I chose to breastfeed was specifically that — three minimum wage jobs barely left enough money for us to buy food, let alone formula.

    Thing is, programs like WIC provide formula for families that need it for that first year, and WIC is pretty easy to qualify for. Other programs that provide grocery assistance are, as I understand it, more stringent and harder to access than WIC.

  42. First of all, I really enjoyed this post! Very interesting, and I don't use the term “nazi” for many of the reasons you spoke of. Secondly, I'm really surprised to see breastfeeding fanatics (the term I use) posting on here. You would think with the eighty-three kabillion websites (give or take one or two) for breastfeeding moms, they would have better things to do than come on this site and push their agenda. Then again, I guess it must get kind of boring sitting at home on their computers congratulating themselves for breastfeeding. “You're a great breastfeeding mom!” “No, YOU'RE a great breastfeeding mom!” etc, etc, etc,…

  43. I'm not sure where you got the impression that I screen my comments…? I did have a filter on Disqus to approve before posting for awhile, just because I was getting a fair amount of spam, but after it became clear that I was having a hard time publishing comments via their system through my Blackberry, I switched to approving all instantly. Hence the absence of lag time for comments in the past few weeks. (However I should add that those who are commenting by phone are for some reason defaulting to Blogger rather than Disqus and there is something funky about the way they show up, so I apologize for that…) I have only “banned” someone's comments once (and never deleted any after posting them). That was after a long and drawn out situation which ended in him making personal threats, so it was not something I did without a lot of consideration.

    I also wonder if you get criticism for existing in the first place (as a place of support for lactivists) or simply for what you write. I've got no issue with criticism of my writing or POV, but I do dislike the sentiment that I am endangering women by providing this space on the internet. That feels awfully close to censoring “dangerous ideas” in the McCarthy era, Nazi Germany, etc.

    To answer your other questions:

    By “baby shaming” I meant that there is an awful lot of chatter about how formula fed babies smell bad, have bad skin, are “fat”, and grow up to be drains on society (I recently got a comment on here about how formula feeding parents should pay higher health care costs, presumably because their babies will be costing the system more in the long run). I've read comments about how formula fed babies will drag down the national IQ average. There are many tweets about “formula fed babies x, y and z” – none of it nice. It seems like it's out of fashion to blame mothers (because after all we are so impressionable, and it's all the fault of the Big Bad Formula Companies) but completely acceptable to talk in snide tones about the superiority of breastfed babies. That is what I meant be “baby shaming”. Perhaps it wasn't the best terminology, but I couldn't think of anything better at the time.

    Health issues being “scary” has nothing to do with it. It's all in the delivery, because I think that these ads are manipulative. Why don't you think it's sufficient to state the facts clearly and in context, without bias or scare tactics? If the relative risk of asthma is frightening enough to scare women into breastfeeding, so be it. But we don't need misleading ads which count on fear appeals (i.e. the HHS/Ad council campaign from a few years back). That's pretty rotten. I think the same thing about the anti-smoking ads we have here in California which say “dying from smoking is rarely quick, and never painless” with really awful imagery. Yeah, they are effective, and I am fine with anti-smoking campaigns. However, the verbiage is an outright lie. You don't “die from smoking”. You die from diseases which are LINKED (albeit strongly) to smoking. I just don't like how health-related campaigns capitalize on the fact that most people don't remember the slightest thing from high school level statistics classes.

    And while I have DEFINITELY seen breastfeeding advocates stating that formula causes obesity (maybe not the more educated and well-informed ones such as yourself, but definitely your run-of-the-mill amateur lactivist), my point was that there was an inordinate amount of focus on something which has not even been proven to make a difference.

    The “perceived common threat or for” is, as I stated, one of three options, depending on the perspective of the group in question: it is usually the formula companies, breastfeeding-unfriendly doctors, or formula feeders themselves, who are perceived as threatening in some way to the cause.

  44. That crapshoot is precisely why, even if I could nurse past a few days without tremendous risk to my health and sanity, I would seriously consider putting a “no LCs allowed” sign on my hospital room door for future kids. Or “no LCs allowed unless they talk to my husband or mom first,” since they're good at cutting through the crap when I'm too exhausted to do so myself. Why can't all LCs be like the ones who frequent this page? 🙂

  45. If the alternative is a ton of therapy because breastfeeding causes flashbacks to a woman's prior history of sexual abuse or assault; if a woman has to spend a ton on everything from a pump to nursing bras (no, not all of us can get away without a supportive bra) to prescription and nonprescription supplements to boost supply; if a woman's other health conditions are exacerbated by breastfeeding–say, auto-immune disorder, which frequently strikes women of childbearing age; these are just examples of why formula would be the better choice. Of course, even a cursory examination of the FFF Friday stories reveals yet more examples of why formula is the better choice for lots of individuals.

    By your logic, we all should just go to a fabric store and make our own slings, since strollers are expensive and we could put that money toward food. Or, well, anything else that babies/small children could use, from teething rings to toddler potties.

    I'm not into more campaigns for anything other than individualized, holistic assessment of what is best for EACH woman, EACH child, and EACH family.

  46. Formula companies have not done any of this, Paola. People like Alpha Parent are in no way the creation of any formula company–I think they'd probably screech and throw things at you at the mere suggestion. 😛 They get their own world view from somewhere else. I don't know where, but it's somewhere else.

    Breastfeeding has risks too, and plenty of them. They depend on the individual's circumstances–for some, breastfeeding exacerbates PPD, while others find that the risk of not being able to care for another dependent (another child, elderly parent, etc.) are far too great. Nothing in life is risk-free, and not all risks matter. I could go on and on about how many children die in car accidents or due to accidental poisoning, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't clean your house with cleaning agents or never leave home–there are risks to doing these as well.

    But you raise a great point that bad advice is extremely detrimental to breastfeeding–this advice often comes from the very people who are supposed to support breastfeeding. Who are, of course, not part of formula companies. In the case of many whose stories appear on this blog, the bad advice again came not from a formula company, but from a militant lactivist who saw the woman in terms of the lactivist's own world view, instead of seeing her for her reality. LLL seems to promote the idea of meeting women where they are–whether individual LLL groups accomplish this or not, this seems far healthier to me than the approach of those who just heap on the blame and shame.

    Perhaps the women you meet who are outraged are just fed up with being called every last nasty name by those who believe them to be inferior women and mothers because of how they feed their kids. You're right–it causes a lot of sadness, and advice that amounts to nothing but self-righteous judgment is completely unhelpful. Ultimately, I believe that is FFF's point. Breastfeeding is a great thing for a lot of folks, and the ugliness that has permeated the lactivist community only drags breastfeeding down for everyone who can do it, and booby traps many of those who are trying.

  47. Mine's a petite formula-fed baby. When I hear that formula makes babies fat, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

    Same goes for people who claim that breastfeeding prevents allergies and asthma. When you join a forum for allergic/asthmatic kids, you quickly see that the feeding experiences of the parents involved totally runs the gamut. Kellymom has tons of resources for breastfeeding moms trying to eliminate foods from their diets because their kids are sufficiently allergic that they're reacting to small quantities in the BM. Allergic family forums are full of moms who either got those elimination diets to work or went with hypoallergenic formula (typically after breastfeeding and discovering that their elimination diets weren't effective or feasible), or whose kids developed the allergies after they were off BM and/or formula. Once you have an allergic child, you begin to realize just how otherwise diverse the allergic community is, and how little breastfeeding matters in children's allergy rates or severity.

    Given that allergy rates are booming regardless of what happens with breastfeeding rates, it follows that we need to look elsewhere for explanations as to why allergy rates are so high, and what is truly causing them. It's a patent lie to promote breastfeeding as a magic bullet or vaccine against allergies and asthma, and even generally reliable breastfeeding resources admit that allergies (which often are piggybacked with asthma) are a major problem for many breastfeeding families.

  48. Or if those studies take into account nursing moms who use the breast for comfort, adopt a “breast first” solution to crying or anything else, or allow snacking throughout the night. (Same could be said for the myth that only bottle-fed babies have problems with their teeth–ANY food on the teeth can cause problems with improper care.)

    My daughter was like your son. When she was done, she was done. On the rare occasions her eyes were bigger than her stomach (always during a growth spurt), she'd spit up the excess. Often spectacularly. :-/

  49. Throwing around the Nazi or other such terms willy-nilly is just as immature and unhelpful as knee-jerk accusations that formula-feeding parents are lazy and stupid. I'm with FFF on this one. If you're even going to use such a term, reserve it for someone who uses breastfeeding advocacy as a pretext to control others' lives through fear and viciousness. Someone who thrives on pouring lighter fluid on regular janes, then dancing around the flames. They're not doing the lactivist community any favors any more than they are non-breastfeeding moms.

  50. I've never really understood this “finish the bottle” line – I've had 2 ff babies, it's like any liquid receptacle – overfill it and it comes back up! 😉

  51. Kind of ironic – is it breastFEEDING or breastMILK that your LC thought was more important? If you were pumping and wanted hubby to feed baby breastMILK, what in the heck difference would that make anyway?

  52. Wow – what a fabulous comment. I completely agree – you have said everything I wanted to say especially with regards to breastfeeding advocates having a good hard look at their campaign strategies. I was lucky enough to find the most beautiful and wonderful lactation consultant however only because she is the mother of my close friend. I would NEVER want to try to pick one at random and certainly would not have sought the help of an LC that I didn't know totally based on the extreme and upsetting campaigns of breastfeeding advocates.

  53. This is exactly right! Why are babies the exception?? Your comment makes perfect sense Kristin. I have several friends with exclusive breastfed babies who are gorgeous little chubby bubbies. Will their chub miraculously melt away at a predetermined point because they have never had formula??

  54. This comment made me smile and nod my head and your last sentence made me laugh out loud. I totally agree with you. I too am so surprised at why extreme BF advocates would come here. What is to be gained for their cause by carrying on over here about why they are right? I also thought that once you went to formula, you were a lost cause?? Virgin gut and all that other nonsense rubbish. So surely they can't be looking to influence anyone?? (I'm still laughing at “No, YOU'RE a great breastfeeding mom!”)

  55. I cringe whenever I see any variation of “breastfeeding is free.” Teri already covered most of it, but I have to reiterate: Breastfeeding is only free if a woman's time is worth nothing. EBFing also requires a woman to not work outside the home or to pump while working, something that is difficult to do to maintain sufficient supply even at the most accommodating of jobs. If you are a waitress, bar tender, bus driver, police officer, or tons of other non-office jobs, forget about it. And of course, the pump costs money, as do storage supplies; your work place must have a safe place to store the pumped milk, and you must have a way to transport it back home (that will hold up if you have to take a long route via public transportation) with it still staying cold.

  56. I think the book by Rebecca Kukla does a really good job at examining perhaps some of the root causes of this extreme motherhood/essentialist attitude which underpins breastfeeding fanatacism.

    “Mass Hysteria: Medicine, Culture and Women's bodies.”

  57. Not only that, but there's the long term problems, i.e., if you have more than one child…say three, that's a good three years out of the workplace which could limit your career progression/salary as well as your pension contributions for old age.

  58. Agree wholeheartedly. I'm 5' 11″ and I was mostly breastfed (I got a bottle of formula a day starting at 2 mos old… My older sister was one of those babies who refused to take a bottle of breast milk or formula, and our mom wasn't having that again.) I was a chubby baby, too. With mom who is 5' 9″ and and dad who is 6'4″, I was never going to be a “petite baby” no matter how I was fed.

  59. I caught it too. It brings me back to the reasons I hate seeing people encouraging breastfeeding because of weight loss. Not only is that patently untrue for a lot of women (which means they may start feeling like failures if they don't live up to the hype and lose all that baby weight solely by nursing), but the mere thought that we have to weaponize body image in yet ANOTHER context for women is completely offensive to me.

    You're exactly right to use the term “dehumanizing.” Many of the common themes of lactivist resources boil down to dehumanizing attitudes (e.g. “breastfeeding is the biological norm”–okay, if it isn't for YOUR body…what does that mean? You're not human? You're worth less as a person?) and this is why I believe that breastfeeding promoters could put the time they spend bashing formula to much better use trying to undo the damage they've done to so many for whom breast was not, in fact, best. Why should anyone try breastfeeding a future child when she's been treated this way? How can she possibly find positive support in her quest to breastfeed when she has to first run a gauntlet condemning her and her older child?

  60. I'll be a nitpicker here and point out that the term fascist applies to those who seek to use the power of the state to achieve their goals, deny political pluralism and generally have a cult of leadership – while there's a lot in common between the most extreme lactivists and those who join fascist movements I don't think it's fascism per se so much as just a generalized intolerant religious/political style enthusiasm. In fact I've sometimes thought uber-lactivists were kind of Bolshevik in their conception of themselves as the enlightened vanguard trying to raise women out of their false consciousness and insisting they (like workers in the Leninist framework) cannot possibly choose the “wrong” option for themselves but must have certain interests by virtue of their social role (as workers/mothers) and any choice they make that is not “enlightened” is the result of the big bad superstructure (formula companies/corporate propaganda).

    The part about extreme lactivism that actually really bothers me is the complete conviction of so many women who commit to exclusive, long-term BFing that their choice to do so has nothing to do with traditional ideals of being a Good Mother because it's framed in lefty terms as an unconstrained choice and something that is good for public health rather like eating organic or being vegetarian. It's Orwellian sometimes, because if you ask what the impact of pro-BFIng initiatives is on gender roles you're told you are part of a patriarchal corporate plot to deny women the choice to embrace their biological role; and it's always just a matter of more maternity leave and pumping breaks and women will be able to BF without giving up any professional or family equality. But that only happens IMHO with couples who have a lot of flexibility in their work schedules either end, and for those who have traditional 9-5 jobs I've seen at least one extended BFer friend be the only one up at night with her children, sleep deprived for two years at work, not having her contract renewed a couple of times and facing work insecurity and wondering if she should go off the career track a few years (she hasn't, more power to her). But if you mention these real costs you are called a traitor, just as one is called a traitor to feminism for suggesting that a woman's choice to stay home and raise children, while a valid and meaningful one that should not be knocked as always the result of patriarchal pressure, does make women a lot less financially secure in the long run.

  61. We have the opposite problem in our family. We're all tiny, so there was no doubt that our (preemie) sons were/are always going to be small, regardless of diet. It's too bad they don't have a shot at 6ft, but they are healthy so we must have done something right.

  62. 1) quibbling over singular nouns is absolutely pathetic, particularly as you could probably argue that 'a common foe' is an idiom actually referring to any number of foes. This just shows you to be dogmatic and unwilling to empathise with other people's perspectives.

    2) I don't know why you find it so difficult to grasp that breastfeeding advocacy also contains a huge amount of 'propaganda' (whatever that may be). Particularly over-inflated claims regarding protection against asthma, obesity etc. as well as unfalsifiable nonescense like 'better bonding'. Breastfeeding advocacy also seems to go one step further by seeking to vilify formula, formula feeding women AND formula fed babies. This approach is harmful to women who may well be in an extremely vulnerable state both physically and emotionally.

    3) In the original post the FFF made it clear that she was addressing a 'human right' not in the scense that it exists in law but such that it is something of great importance to people.

  63. BINGO! Also, it's my understanding that lactation consultants are most certaintly NOT free and oftentimes not covered by insurance. Also, from what I understand there are many common problems with bf'ing such as mastitis that require some degree of medical care (also not free). Depending on circumstances, I think a solid argument could be made that when all is said and done, you end up spending close to the same amount of money on either, and of course there's the intangibles, such as your career, sanity, happiness, marriage dynamic, etc. They really need to stop perpetuating this myth that bf'ing is free-it's just baloney.

  64. You raise a really good point about the comfort nursing. I've heard of it and imagine it's not super common but ultimately isn't a calorie a calorie? Whether it's formula or breastmilk if the baby is getting too much of either how is that good? Same logic for the tooth decay thing as well-food is food. I mean for us as adults, whether we over-stuff ourselves with cupcakes or carrots, the result is the same (granted the analogy of formula = cupcakes and breastmilk = carrots is a bit extreme). It's probably more like fresh organically grown carrots vs. frozen green giant carrots. Either way, I think many of the “virtues” attributed soley to breastfeeding/milk are blown compeltely out of proportion.

    • A calorie is not a calorie. I cringe when women shovel in the ice cream while pregnant because their doctor told them they needed more calories. Just as there is good fat and bad fat, there are good calories and empty calories. I eat tons of pasture butter, avacados, raw milk, red meat, etc and it keeps me thin. If I switched that up with ice cream, donuts and french fries I would be fat. Not saying anything about formula vs bm, but just had to let you know that a calories is NOT “a calorie”.

      • As far as pregnant women shoveling ice cream because they need more calories, I completely agree with you-that is a terrible way to eat, pregnant or not. Yes, calories from varying food sources have different nutritional values-no arguments there. However, whether it’s avacados or tortilla chips, if you take in more calories than you need you gain weight. Simple end of story. It sounds like you eat very healthy and that’s awesome but I doubt that WHAT you are eating is what’s keeping you thin-it’s keeping you healthy and making you feel great, yes, but not in and of itself keeping you thin. It’s probably because you eat those foods in reasonable portions-so essentially it’s HOW MUCH you’re eating that’s keeping you from gaining weight. You could eat reasonable portions of doughnuts and ice cream and as long as you don’t exceed your daily calorie needs you wouldn’t gain weight. Of course the nutritional value of such a diet would be garbage and you’d proably feel like crap all the time, but you wouldn’t actually gain unless you exceeded your caloric needs regardless of the food. I had days on weigth watchers where i used all my points on cake because i was majorly craving. I still lost weight because I didn’t exceed my points. Granted it’s a terrible way to eat and I don’t recommend it – nor did I do it regularly. Nutrionally you’re right-a calorie isn’t just a calorie, but as far as portion sizes and daily calorie needs, I disagree. For weight gain loss, a calorie is ultimately just a calorie.

  65. I've often wondered that myself. What do they gain from trolling on here? Perhaps they're threatened that, at least from my perspective, there is a growing awareness/backlash against the “breast is only” and fear mongering that's gone on unquestioned for far too long. Or maybe they just can't stand the thought of women having opinions that differ from theirs, and GASP, be willing to stand up for it. Either way it's extremely sad.

  66. When I totaled up the cost of LCs, pump, boppy pillow, and 3 good, supportive nursing bras…the expense was roughly the cost of formula for us for a year. Granted, our daughter did best on a generic, which is cheaper, but still. That doesn't even include the cost of buying nursing-friendly clothes, which I would have had to do since none of mine were. And that doesn't include the cost of medical care if I'd persisted and become even more physically crippled than I was at roughly 5 weeks post partum because of the health issues breastfeeding exacerbated.

    “Breastfeeding is free” = nails on a chalkboard to me. It's a bald, naked, blatant lie.

    • Good for you for choosing what you believe is best for your baby but I highly doubt a pump, a boppy (i got one used and rarely used it), and I have never bought nursing clothes a couple of camis and t shirts work fine. As far as bras I have a couple and they dont cost more than any other bra a two packat walmart or target runs abot 15 or so dollars. I ffed my first bf my second and I know the costs arent the same.

      • Yeahh I was thinking the same thing….my boppy was used, my pump was a gift, my nursing bras were from target. I didn’t need a LC though, maybe that’s were the extra money is?

  67. Our pediatrician has made it abundantly clear that ANY food can lead to tooth decay if teeth are not properly cared for. Same with our dentist.

    I know some folks claim the breastmilk changes depending on whether baby is comfort nursing or nursing for real, but I want to know just how they know that. The human body is pretty amazing, but I am doubtful that our breasts have a psychic link to our babies' brains. I could see where there might be some change if your baby establishes a schedule (e.g. nursing for real ever 3 hours) and if the nursing happens between sessions, the BM may have slightly different properties.

    But ultimately, food is food. Whether I'm eating a low-cal snack or a high-cal snack, food has calories. You can get fat on low-cal food if you eat enough of it. Further, BM is generally rather sweet, and I know some around here have raised the question of whether it's really good to encourage babies to comfort themselves with something sweet. Personally, I'm not sure it makes that much difference, because a baby's tastes generally change wildly once they hit the toddler phase. My daughter is just as likely to want green beans for breakfast as toast with jam. But it is another area of research that is sadly getting ignored because it's much more PC to publish yet another “breast is best” article than, y'know, dig deeper into this stuff.

  68. My son comfort nursed *a lot*, especially as he got older and his nutrition wasn't really dependent on breastmilk. I don't think the milk was doing anything special, but I think that he probably wasn't trying so hard to get said milk — if that makes sense.

    Personally, I don't think breastfeeding is going to have much affect on his overall diet. He was a baby. It's like saying that I've made poor food choices as an adult because I was formula fed — it's not like I recall. I doubt he's ever going to debate over his drink choices as an adult going, “I like whole milk, but soy milk just reminds me more of breastmilk growing up.” I'm more of the opinion that the nutritional choices our family makes now, when he's all three and formative and whatnot, are going to be the Big Thing that form his habits.

    That said, I have no factual information to back that up.

  69. Yeah, I've always wondered about that too.

    If what infants are fed is so detrimental to future diet, than isn't teaching them to comfort themselves with food a bad idea?

    Plus, it fosters a longer dependence on Mom for soothing…maybe Mom wants it that way, or maybe Mom is exhausted and just wishes her child would sleep through the night (or self-soothe if she wakes).

  70. BFing was honestly super-easy for me – no LCs, no doctor's visits, no prescriptions or even special herbs…and I still figured out that it cost me $100 a month not including the extra food for me to keep my calories up, and not including purchasing a pump. I suppose if waI never wanted to leave the house/baby the whole year I never would have had to buy milk storage bags, and I could have just gone ahead and sprayed milk everywhere rather than buy nursing pads, but that's the only way it could ever be actually free. It's a fallacy that blew our budget until we figured out why we were short every month – we just hadn't even considered those costs.

  71. Good points. I suppose you could technically BF for only the cost of extra food and breast pads (I understand some women stop leaking after a while and don't need them, and some women wear them the whole time they're nursing.) So that would be inexpensive– but not free.

    However, this scenario is not very common is the U.S. (because as you pointed out, it's not very convenient and makes leaving your child tricky. [i.e., You might be able to spend a few hours apart if you time it carefully.]) Most BFing moms get nursing bras, breast pads, a pump, some bottles and oftentimes a milk cooler and storage containers/ bags. A lot of BFing moms purchase nursing covers and nursing-friendly clothes, too. Not that I blame them. I'd probably get most if not all of those things myself if I BFed.

    And then there are the implications nursing sometimes has in terms of moms' careers. Will they have to forgo wages or stay late and pay more for childcare? Will they be passed up for promotions or be let go during layoffs, because their boss resents having to accommodate them? (It's illegal, but that doesn't mean it never happens… a different reason may be given officially.) In some jobs, breastfeeding just isn't feasible.

    If a mom and baby have problems, BFing that can get expense very quickly– LCs, doctor visits, herbs, drugs, etc.

    Yes, I know some moms are able to balance BFing and working outside the home quite well. And many people BF with little or no trouble. Some get by with few or no special BFing products. It depends a lot on the family's situation. And BFing might be the best decision for a family even if FFing would have been less expensive. On the other hand, some parents must feed their children as cheaply as possible– which may may BFing, pumping, FFing or combo feeding.

    Pardon my ramble. The assertion that BFing is free/ always the most economical option is a pet peeve of mine. It does a great disservice to some families on a budget, IMHO.

  72. Haha. I just showed those pictures to my single, childless sister and her reaction was, “Oh my god! wtf is wrong with people!?” I think she hit the nail on the head really.

  73. Breastfed 3 children. No pump. No special clothes other than bras. No bottles. No ridiculous unnecessary pillow. No LCs. I spoke to some other breasfeeders and looked at some pics to learn how to do it. What ARE you talking about woman? It is free. It cost me a few pounds in bras.

    What utter nonsense you spout. It is free. Totally.

    Your choice not to give your child the best start in life is not my problem. So stop inventing stories to make yourself feel better.

  74. Do you undertone the term 'evidence based' Teri?

    Spouting out random words and made up 'facts' from the top of your head like the 'risks of breastfeeding' just reveals you as the ignorant fool you clearly are. Worse than a militant breastfeeder with scientific research and facts in their grasp is a self-righteous formula feeder who is constantly ranting in order to cover up her own inadequacies as a mother and her choice not to give her baby the best start in life.

  75. Oh and I used reusable breast pads that I threw in when washing baby's clothes. Extra calories and food for breastfeeding? What nonsense. Same diet as always. And Lost all my baby weight steadily.

    Stop making stories up. Lies are not becoming

  76. Oh look, it's another person who thinks she's helping breastfeeding moms by viciously attacking those who dare to have a different experience than she did. How dare I not be a clone of you. Bad me. No biscuit.

    Speaking of nonsense, isn't it considered a booby trap by breastfeeding support orgs to tell moms they don't need any real education in order to breastfeed? Everything I've heard from Best for Babes and LLLI and Leaky B@@b and, well, every other breastfeeding support site is that we need MORE education, not less. I'm pretty sure those orgs would consider your version of “education” to be so woefully inadequate, so completely unrealistic, as to be a detriment to their mission.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by to prove FFF's points nicely.

  77. What are you talking about? Just spouting random words in no order, making no sense at all. You are sitting there stating that breasted ing is woefully expensive and that it is a 'blatant lie' that it is free. You are lying just to to and make yourself feel better.

    And as for cost. I was provided with free literature by my healthcare provider. My midwife sat with a knitted breast and showed me how to latch. And then I attended free breastfeeding support groups. LCs are for the unfortunate minority of women who want to bf but find it difficult and in order to do everything they can to succeed, hire am LC.

  78. For someone proclaiming to be so evidence-based, you sure are closed-minded to the facts behind breastfeeding, such as the fact that it is risky to breastfeed when you are HIV+, when it is exacerbating your PPD, when you are taking certain medications to treat underlying conditions, etc. A lot of the breastfeeding support resources out there will try to say those cases are rare and will downplay them, but plenty of them at least acknowledge that there is at least some group of women for whom breastfeeding is too risky. So it leads me to ask, who's making up facts off the top of her head, here?

    Funny, the lactivists I know, who have probably delved more into the scientific research than you have, know better than to attack me and my child without even knowing me. Thanks, again, for proving FFF's points. You can't hurt me or my child, but you sure have helped folks in the FFF community show what kind of militant mindset some folks in the lactivist community have, and how detrimental it is to all rational women, regardless of how they feed their kids.

    If your bullying and trolling are the examples you want to set for any child/ren of your own, that's your call, but I think my kid will do great growing up in a family that doesn't belittle, bully, or dehumanize people just for having a different point of view or being physically different from others.

  79. Sally, I am not sure why you are so angry at Teri for her comments.

    Your experience is valid, of course. I'm sure for many women, breastfeeding involves little if any cost. However, I think Teri et al are responding to the oft-used blanket statement that “breastfeeding is free”. It is not so for many of us – and far more than an “unfortunate minority”. Only a few of my friends have been able to breastfeed without the help of multiple LCs, pumps, breast pads, galactagogues, etc. Sure, for most of us it doesn't add up to the cost of formula, but it is still a cost. And as other (breastfeeding) women suggested on this same thread, there are other hidden costs, like the fact that sometimes breastfeeding moms do have to miss work in order to EBF, or buy bottles and pumps and extra freezer space if they are employed full time.

    Your experience is your experience. Teri's is Teri's. Mine is mine. That is sort of the point of this whole discourse – that breastfeeding advocacy is treating women as an aggregate rather than as individuals. This is far too personal an experience to treat in such a way.

    I also do not like your assertion that she is “making up stories”. What about the breastfeeding mom above who spoke about needing extra food? That wasn't Teri. You seem to be out to bully one particular commentator on this thread rather than trying to debate in an respectful way. No one is denying your experience, so please do not deny ours.

  80. A troll Teri? Surely that is exactly what you are doing. Because the blathering and random emission of words that you type cannot come anyone with any sense.

    Firstly, Could you please point out the facts that I apparently made from the top of my head? My only complaint is with all the random statements spilling out from your fingertips. And your strongest argument for breastfeeding being a 'RISKY' business? HIV. Whoa you don't say? Anyone with any educational background understands that the single biggest risk factor for transmitting HIV to a baby is through breastmilk with natural childbirth second to that. Round of applause for Teri. And slap on the wrist to all the non-existent militant breastfeeders who advise HIV women to go ahead and breastfeed. Your other argument about breastfeeding exacerbating PPD. Please, go ahead and reference some good quality studies which have found evidence for this. NOT just a couple of anecdotes. And yes, certain medications are not compatible with breastfeeding. And yes, the women on these medications are among the 5% of women who unfortunately for medical reasons are unable to breastfeed. It doesn't make breastfeeding 'risky', the medications they are on mean that they can't, plain and simple, and luckily they have a very good substitute, infant formula.

    I have absolutely no problem with formula feeders. At all. The EVIDENCE is there. The help is there. We make a choice. The only choice I need to worry about is my own. But what I DO have a problem with is people like you, making up stories and facts and sensationalising 'risks' and stating that EVIDENCE is just blatant lies. Thousands and thousands of studies done in hundreds of countries by unbiased scientists. Just lies. I. cannot. bare. ignorance of this degree.

    If you read what I said, I did not attack your child (how ridiculous). I did not attack you. I asked you not to make up nonsense to help you deal with your own issues.

    I do not come on forums and try and make up stories about the risks and lies associated with natural child birth just because my first child was born by caesarean section.

    One thing worse than a fascist/militant breastfeeding mother? A lying fascist militant formula feeding mother.

  81. I am not out to bully. At all. Teri made the big bold statement that breastfeeding being free was a 'blatant lie'. This is just nonsense. It might not be entirely free if women choose to pump too. But otherwise, it is. Trying to come out with nonsensical assertions that the cost of formula feeding for her was going to be cheaper is just insulting to all the researchers that provide us with evidence to the contrary.

    Teri has colored this forum with all her wonderful stories and thoughts most of which are just opinions dressed as facts to attack breastfeeders.

  82. First of all, I love your blog, and the work that you do. I like the way you tied everything together in this particular post too.

    But, I don't know how I feel about all of it. (That's more on me than on you, btw.) I have a Masters of Public Health, and maternal and child health community campaigns were/are a major interest of mine.

    As I read your post, a few facts come to mind.
    – Formula company advertising impacts women's decision making in using formula, whether consciously or not (as does pretty much any advertising for anything).
    – Overzealous lactivists, uneducated medical professionals, etc. can cause some major emotional damage to women who are unable to or choose not to breastfeed.
    – Breastfeeding is a public health issue.
    – Public health issues are not as clear cut as the media or people would like to make them.
    – The national average reading level is between 4th and 6th grade, so successful marketing has to be geared towards that level.

    I agree with much of what you've said. Personally, I dislike “fear-based” campaigns. A good example is that bottle turned inhaler you showed. Fear is not an effective means of changing behavior…that's pretty well-documented. The only exception to this is when the campaign also presents a very easy solution to the issue (i.e. – Drinking dirty tap water can kill you. So, make sure to boil it before you drink!). But, most public health issues are NOT clear cut with easy solutions. It's impractical to show a woman an ad like that and say “well just breastfeed,” for all the reasons you know.

    I don't think that ALL breastfeeding campaigns are bad though. ONE barrier that women have to breastfeeding is society's attitude towards it: that it should be hidden, that it's gross, shameful, etc. Demonstrating that breastfeeding is normal and acceptable is an important step to helping some women feel comfortable to breastfeed. I've written about why I think the “Breast is Best” campaign was a terrible idea, but I don't think that campaigns that work around the idea of breastfeeding being normal are necessarily bad. Well, scratch that. I think they should focus on breastfeeding is NATURAL, not normal.

    As to why we don't just present breastfeeding information with black and white data, that's just not possible in a public health marketing campaign. In order to make information widely understood, we need to use short sentences, simple phrasing, and pictures. The simple explanation of data should be happening in doctors' offices.

    Which brings me to my last thought I guess. I'd rather see breastfeeding public health marketing focused on medical professionals. Most of the ones I've met are grossly uneducated about breastfeeding and they sabotage women who want to give it a shot. They should be providing the risks/benefits of each choice to mothers and then supporting them in their decision. That means pointing breastfeeding moms in the direction of competent lactation consultants when they're having trouble, and helping formula feeding moms sort through all the different types of formulas to help them choose which is best for their family. Medical professionals don't have the biggest impact in whether a woman chooses to try to breastfeed (that's family/friends), but they may on whether a woman sticks with it.

    So I guess to conclude this horribly long comment, I hear you on the frustration/anger, and I agree your points are valid. Just please don't knock all public health agency attempts to educate women on breastfeeding. 🙂

  83. Make myself feel better for what Sally? I did breastfeed as did a lot of the women on here? Also, you 'spoke to a few women' who never had to buy any stuff. Presumably they'd never had a job their entire adult life and had something of a pension automatically and somehow didn't need to feature in the wider economy with disposable income…..or use any public health services or anything like that too?

    Good on you for speaking to a few friends though.

  84. I live in the UK. We have free healthcare and up to a year of maternityleave. The breastfeeding mothers I spoke to were in free support groups run by local government. We are also provided with free antenatal and postnatal support.

    No cost.

    Vote Obama if you want a chance of the same.

  85. Sally, this is not the time for a political discussion, but Obamacare is not offering anything close to the UK system. Many of us here would celebrate if it did, but that is not the case. Most US citizens don't really “get” the healthcare plan, though, so I don't blame you for being utterly wrong about this.

  86. I'm not trying to make myself feel better about anything – I EBF for 15 months and visit this site because I enjoy hearing other perspectives and think it's important that all moms understand where other people are coming from, and support each other. I didn't buy pillows or nursing bras or any of the other acoutrements either – but I did have an oversupply and leaked tremendously, and pumped during all daylight hours because I went back to work full-time when my child was 2 weeks old…because we needed the money. 8+ milk storage bags a day, 8-12 batteries a month for the pump because I had to pump in my car and had no electric outlet to plug into, and 4-6 nursing pads a day because I had an oversupply and leaked the entire BFing experience = $100 a month. Those are my experiences. I think BFing is great. I just don't find it to be completely free unless you're a stay at home with a perfectly regulated supply – and if so, congrats! You're probably the lucky exception.

  87. Sally, I responded to your other post above not realizing it continued here, but it seems your issue is solely with Teri's use of the word “blatant.” I don't know Teri at all, but I do believe the majority of women on this forum are US based, and in the US, it IS largely a lie that BFing is completely free. Yes, there are the rare exceptions – those exceptions being women who are stay at home moms living with someone with good health insurance with no BFing issues who have no desire to leave the child for more than 2-3 hours. That is indeed a rarity. Our health care is not covered (including under Obamacare – I would not presume to discuss Tories vs. Labor with you – please don't assume to understand one of the most complicated health care systems in the world based on a few headlines), PAID maternity leave is not guaranteed, and even unpaid maternity leave depends solely on the size of the company you work for. Self-employed workers like myself pay for every dime out of pocket, even rewashable nursing pads (which I did purchase, and leaked through immediately during a client meeting.) I'm not sure why you find it so offensive that people have different experiences than you halfway around the world, but to say it IS completely free is just as blatant a lie as to say that it's not. Again, I EBFed for 15 months – and even if I hadn't had to go back to work, I was glad to have (pumped) breastmilk in the freezer for the albeit rare date night I was able to snag with my husband. It's either a pump or formula if you plan to have a glass of wine or a date for the first year of your child's life, and either one will cost you a bit of cash. That may be small change to you, but it added up enough to me to dent our budget, but that's because we budget carefully. No one is saying it's not worth it, per se, even Teri I think; they are saying that to not give women all the facts is false advertising, and with that I agree, which is why I posted.

  88. I have a strict rule not to feed the trolls. I am going to break it for a just a second to comment on one particular thing. While there *are* studies that show that breastfeeding can exacerbate PPD, I'm not going to take the time to go find links to them – I'm not doing anyone else's homework for them. Especially because, quoting “studies” really doesn't matter. What matters is listening to individual women. I had severe PPD. Breastfeeding exacerbated it. And *that* is what matters. Even if I was the only woman in the world for whom that was the truth, it is *my* truth, and as such, I should be heard and respected and supported in making the best decisions for me.

  89. While you're discussing public health perhaps you can answer a question for me: I breastfed my son for the first 9 weeks of his life and chose to stop because the low estrogen levels were taking a toll on me physically and mentally. I went to my doctor (who is awesome), she gave me a tube of estrace but said that was about all she could do to help alleviate my extreme symptoms. I'm just curious, has there been any kind of discussion in public health circles about hormonal imbalance and breastfeeding? Do they actually analyze why women quit beyond the obvious?

  90. That is a great question but unfortunately I don't know the answer. I'm working more in patient advocacy these days. I did a very quick search on PubMed and did find a paper in Brasil where they studied cessation causes, and I know of some other studies, but I'm not sure what you consider the obvious reasons (lack of supply, lack of support, lack of a place to pump?). If you are talking specifically about papers researching if women stop for medical reasons, or studying what % of women stop for medical reasons, I'm not sure. :-/ I'm not able to look tonight, but if I have time this weekend and find anything, I'll either post here or pass along to the FFF.

  91. I haven't had time to read all these posts (I wish I did!) but I laughed out loud at the “formula-fed babies are obese.” My kids are formula fed from 3 months (first baby) and 1 week (second baby). My first was off the charts on weight, meaning she was so little she was off the charts. Every time I took her to the pediatrician, he said “If she was half a pound smaller I would be concerned.”

    My second wasn't quite as bad (maybe because he was a boy) but I still got the “he doesn't weigh enough speech.”

    I have struggled with some baby weight, but overall, everyone is my family is SMALL. I am not even 5 feet tall. It is genetics; it is individual kid's eating habits. IT IS NOT FORMULA!

    I have 2 extremely picky eaters. This “big” kids I know were all breastfed. So can we please, please stop with these stereotypes now?

    They are called stereotypes for a reason people.

    And I had some good LCs. I also had random nurses (even with a second baby) who came into my hospital room and shoved my boob into my babies mouth. Guess what? When I went home I still had mastitis, severe engorgement and multiple clogged ducts. I am just one of those unlucky mom who seems to encounter most BFeeding problems you can have. I have accepted that and moved on. But I will not listen to any crap that suggests my kids are inferior because of formula.

  92. Sally, I'm replying above instead of below for the sake of space.

    I think you just touched on a factor that does affect breastfeeding: culture.

    The FFF and many of the commenters, including myself, are American. Here, mothers generally get 6 to 12 weeks (not 6 to 12 months) of maternity leave. So if U.S. women work outside the home and breastfeed, chances are they will have to buy a high-end double electric pump (to express milk as quickly as possible) a milk cooler, storage bags/ containers and bottles. They may also use hands-free pumping bras so they can work (depending on the nature of their job) or eat while they pump.
    Also, the U.S. medical system is indeed privatized. Some breastfeeding classes are free; some are not. And if a mother and baby do need additional medical care to address issues with nursing, that will cost money, too. Even if they do have insurance that covers LCs– and that's a big “if”– they will have to pay a portion of the bill.

    Yes, the cost of breastfeeding does run the gamut. Societal and individual factors are worth discussing. I see how you might have breastfed very inexpensively. As discussed in the comments in this thread, doing so can also be “woefully expensive”, as you put it. Yes, costs often be mitigated, as you did. But sometimes circumstances beyond peoples' control dictate that they spend much more than others. You were lucky in this respect; you had good maternity leave and little or no difficulty breastfeeding. I hope you see how mothers at the other end of the spectrum would not appreciate being told repeatedly that breastfeeding is free or cheaper than formula feeding.

  93. Don't you have better things to do with your time than find random strangers on the internet and viciously attack them?

  94. Sally, it's ironic that you are so concerned about things being “correct”, given the inacurracy of some of your own statements. For example, NHS care is not free. It is “free at the point of delivery”, which simply means we don't pay for it upfront. We do, however, pay for it through our taxes. Now, I'm not sure that I'm happy about my tax money paying for things like DVDs which push the “breastfeeding is best, easy, and in fact the only way!” message, as opposed to proper support for Mums. I'd rather see the money being spent on (for example) a breastfeeding support group which ran more than once a month. Or perhaps more midwives, or for a breastfeeding specialist who works 24 hours in the postnatal wards, rather than Monday-Friday, 9-5.

    Like most trolls/militant bullies, you over-simplify issues in order to try and make your (innacurate) points. Teri has never shown negativity towards breastfeeding mothers. However, militant bully lactivist trolls are not “just” breastfeeding mothers. As a breastfeeding Mum myself, I wish you'd all shut the heck up, as frankly, you give us all a bad name. No wonder some Mums meet with hostility when breastfeeding, with people like you as our poster child.

    As for your obsession with EVIDENCE, have you even read any of the studies you are espousing? Most of them are utter hooey, but they have been picked up by public health organisations and the media and blown out of all proportion. They have not provided anywhere near the amount/quality of EVIDENCE necessary to show any kind of strong correlation (never mind a causal link) between formula or breast milk and the issues they claim to be investigating. The fact that you throw out statements like “The EVIDENCE is there”, whilst also making sweeping (inaccurate) statements about Obamacare/healthcare in the USA just shows that you are a headline-reading, party-line-fed idiot. You do nothing for your cause.

    I'm confident that my children (one formula-fed, one breastfed) will grow up to be caring and non-judgemental about people who make different decisions to then. What a shame the same can't be said for yours.

  95. I find the tone of your response to Teri to be completely out of line and innapropriate. Hurling insults like “ignorant fool” and alluding to someone's inadequacy as a mother just because you disagree with statements that someone is making is deplorable, and illustrates much of the undertone associated with militant lactivism that many on this blog have been victims of and FFF speaks out against. When discussing the “risks” of breastfeeding, Teri was speaking on the individual level-this is no less valid (and in many ways MORE valid) than the overall public health/medical level. The scientific research and “facts” that you speak of all have major methodolical flaws (often clearly annoted in the study text itself!), publication biases (plenty of studies that show no relationship between breastfeeding and a health benefit(s)), distorted presentation of the “risks” by the media and many well meaning health and scientific professionals, etc. etc. etc. No one here is denying that there are real benefits to breastfeeding. However, these benefits, particularly at the individual level (assuming we are talking about a developed country setting) are SMALL and formula is a pretty damn good substitute. Personally, I think the best start in life you can give a child is a happy, sane mother who FEEDS her child the nutrients he/she needs (whether bf, formula, or some combination), and who makes holistic choices based on what is best for all involved as it relates to said child.

  96. The only person doing any attacking here is you. Teri and many others have simply been honest about their experiences-that for THEM breastfeeding was very much NOT free. How is that lying? And is it such a stretch to assume that if it wasn't free for her and many others that hey-it might not be free for everyone? I think the only people doing any lying here are you and all the other breastfeeding campaigns that tout it as “free” when the reality for many is that it's not.

    It was easy, free and enjoyable for you-that's great. No one here is attacking you for that. But you seem to be personally insulted/attacked that others have had different experiences and opinions. Get over it-that's life. Breastfeeding is not a magic solution to anything, nor will it guarantee perfect health for your child, and for some people it's simply NOT FOR THEM for a myriad of reasons. Why are you so threatened by this? No one is telling you not to breastfeed or insulting you for continuing and thinking it's worthwhile for you.

  97. Thanks! Yes I do mean lack of supply, along with the other ones you mentioned. I had LCs along with my Dr and the LCs looked at me like I was crazy. When I tell you I had 8-12 hotflashes per day, sometimes in the middle of breastfeeding, honey I had to give it up. I'm 27,btw. I was treated as if I was making it up. I just feel like I might be in a minority but my experience isn't uncommon. But since you're in advocacy perhaps you guys should consider exploring if there are any positive ways to prep women for the initial adjustments like uterine contracting, intestinal cramping, that weird feeling of tiredness that prolactin can bring, low estrogen, etc. I went to the seminars, did some reading and no one mentioned anything other than sore nipples and awkward sex (as if sex was even ON my mind…). Hope that helps in some kind of way. Keep up the good work of encouraging women!

  98. Marfmom-

    I really appreciate your comment, and I love your work, as well!

    I am sorry if I came across as if I were knocking all public health agency attempts to educate women about breastfeeding. I agree wholeheartedly that these campaigns should focus more on normalizing/naturalizing breastfeeding rather than doing what I feel most are doing (in other words, threatening women about what might happen if they don't). There was recently a really great campaign sponsored by CA WIC, I believe, which focused on promoting breastfeeding in context of the family, and the support men can give to breastfeeding moms. It had a really positive focus and I loved it.

    I also like your idea about educating doctors so that they can be better at supporting and treating breastfeeding mothers and formula feeding mothers. None of what you said falls under the umbrella of zealotry or propaganda which I am worrying about.

    I guess, though, it doesn't jive all that well with me that we feel like we need to be educating women on the BENEFITS of breastfeeding. I would rather see education on the practicalities. I know that in many parts of the world, and of course the US, there are communities where breastfeeding is still seen as something base, embarrassing, or “not worth it”. But I think this is becoming far less common in our society, and specifically the part of society that can afford to care about PSAs. If you are seriously poor and/or starving, for example, I doubt you'd care much about an ad imploring you to choose organic or avoid soda… a single mom with no help might care that breastfeeding would give her child an IQ boost, but she might have to be more concerned with her and her child's survival when she has to go back to work right away and rely on sub-par childcare – it would be great if this woman could find the support to get through the tough first 6-8 weeks of breastfeeding, but it's understandable if she just can't push through, given her situation.

    So, the people who care about the PSAs are most likely already pretty well informed that breast is “best”; they've heard the message at this point. Now, we need to look at BF promotion as “phase two” – addressing the REAL problems that women are facing. More “education” on the benefits at this point seems like beating a dead horse and can make the women who are coming up against the visceral challenges of breastfeeding just feel resentful and exhausted, thus leading to the whole divide that started this blog in the first place.

    Exhausting, isn't it? 😉

    Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I do think public health campaigns can be good, but as someone so smartly mentioned in the above thread, I'd rather have these focused on things that aren't so convoluted. Breastfeeding is not a choice like whether or not to vaccinate against whooping cough, or quitting smoking. It sometimes involves major physical, emotional, or occupational sacrifices, and these things are far too complex to suss out with overly-simplistic campaigns, even if I do understand why they need to be simplistic. Does that make any sense?

  99. I live in Germany and am married to a German, second-generation after the war, and raising a half-American/German son. Thank you for this post. Thank you so much.

  100. All of you nazi breastfeeding “mothers” need to hop off this page and go do something useful instead of bashing formula feeding mothers. I formula feed out of choice, and I have nothing against breastfeeding (I was breastfed) but really, you should be ashamed of yourselves, there's no real difference between children and adults who were formula fed or not and in fact, if breast milk was so perfect, pediatricians would NOT reccomend you giving your baby vitamin D supplements. Unless you're eating all organic food, your baby is STILL getting CHEMICALS AND CRAP from the food you eat, so in all actuality there's NO difference. I was breastfed, my husband was not. We are both equally healthy people!

  101. Fearing higher rates of asthma or obesity when confronted with the facts is a pretty normal response, I'd say. It istrue that formula fed babies have more ear infections, doctor visits, and may be at higher risk for long term health problems. If those facts stir emotions up, it is a protective response on the part of a mother who wants her child to be healthy and safe. If those facts offend people, it is not the fault of some “breastfeeding supremacist”–the act of breastfeeding did not create those facts! Just because it is a powerful and emotive visual image does not mean that it is fascist or fictional. The artist is trying to reach people to create positive social change–a “breastfeeding normalized” culture, which would in turn give mothers the support necessary for them to reach their own breastfeeding goals.

  102. The problem is-the sum total of the “facts” that you speak of do not make a clear and convincing case that formula/the lack of breastfeeding is actually the cause of the higher rates of asthma, obesity, etc. I'm not going to go into the details as the problems with breastfeeding research (bias, confusing correlation and causation, inconsistent results) have been dissected ad nauseum here. Besides, even if these studies were flawlessly perfect and indisputable, oftentimes the actual real differences that turn up between breastfed and non-breastfed kids are quite marginal when put in a real life context.

    I have no problem with providing support to mothers who WANT to breastfeed and unbiased factual information to those on the fence with a decision. What I and many others do take issue with is the tunnel vision focus on breastfeeding as the end all be all magic bullet in preventing every imaginable woe at the expense of other initiatives (like making sure your child isn't around cigarette smoke, eating wholesome food after infancy, getting enough physical activity, etc. etc. etc.) that actually DO help reduce these conditions. As well as the complete distortion of facts, and lack of context of the magnititude of these breastfeeding “benefits.” Scaring the hell out of someone with some fact-distorted image supports NO ONE and does NOT create any kind of positive change. Just continues the scare mongering and pits mothers against mothers. Sometimes the relatively modest benefits that come with breastfeeding simply aren't worth the personal cost to a mother/family and scaring someone with a ridiculous picture isn't going to change anything for the good.

  103. You might want to spend more time reading this blog before drive-by posting. We can usually tell who hasn't bothered to read much of what FFF has discovered–that the “facts” you cite are so often the result not of truthful research, but bad, misleading, even dishonest methodology.

  104. I dont understand how anyone can think any of the pictures in the original post above could lead to ANYTHING positive… I'm still shaking my head in disbelief on this “drive-by posting.”

  105. Exactly. I would add that while sometimes pictures like the ones above scare people, other times they tick an audience off and make them completely unreceptive to whatever the author has to say.

    Extreme breastfeeding advocacy as FFF described in this post/ you seem to espouse is so off-putting to some expectant moms they decide they want nothing to do with nursing. There are more reasonable breastfeeding advocates who don't vilify formula/ bottle feeding… You can breastfeed without affiliating yourself with the “breastfeeding Nazis”, IMHO. But some women do see ads like the ones above or the PSAs comparing formula feeding to mechanical bull riding or log roiling while pregnant and say, “I want nothing to do with those people,” deciding against breastfeeding.

  106. Or perhaps they become afraid to seek help, wondering if they're going to run into LCs or LLL groups that espouse those beliefs.

    Think about all the folks who have issues with body image, for example–are they going to want to consult people who might only make the situation worse? Even if you don't have a condition like anorexia or bulimia, the threat that people might give you a hard time over weight is enough to send chills down a lot of women's spines. It's bad enough we have celebrities who appear to have bounced back to their pre-pregnancy weight and shape 72 hours after leaving the hospital, despite the fact that most women are told not to do anything real strenuous for 6 weeks post-partum. Aishwarya Rai has caught hell recently for not losing her baby weight within 4 weeks of giving birth. How in the hell is that a healthy attitude?

    When people combine the extreme pressure to breastfeed with the extreme pressure to lose weight (often by citing breastfeeding as a weight-loss tactic, never mind that for a lot of women, it doesn't work this way and you have to wonder about the nutritional content of the milk), how is this not a pressure cooker for a new mom who is also sleep-deprived, possibly facing going back to work, possibly dealing with a colicky infant or recovery from a difficult pregnancy or birth? So why would you want to consult a professional or group that's only going to add MORE pressure by weaponizing body image either for yourself or your child?

    Further, how does crap like what Alpha Parent posted help promote healthy eating habits for families? “Oh I breastfed, so McDonald's every day is okay. Breastmilk is a magic vaccine against everything bad that could possibly happen to my child” is what that image is selling. Yes, selling. If people can bash formula companies for even existing, much less letting others know they can exist, we can call these images on what they are–nothing less than shameless manipulation.

  107. It's why I believe the biggest booby traps come not from any formula company, but by militant lactivists themselves.

  108. My opinion is this. I had my first at 19 and I was completely clueless about how to take care of let alone how/what to feed a baby. This was 4 years ago. Honestly i was much more bombarded with formula information and absolutely not one word about breastfeeding. Being a young girl I didn’t even really consider breast feeding something women actually did anymore! Like cave woman shit lol. Anyway, I just had my second three months ago. I’m exclusively breast feeding her, because of my own research and being much more educated this time around. Not knocking formula obviously because my older was FF and he is perfectly healthy and no not fat or stupid. My breastfed baby is the exact same as he was except I have noticed she didn’t get sick like he did but that could be coincidence. Anyway the point is I’m a little angry that I did not receive both sides breast and formula in the hospital and by my doctor, family, friends etc. I feel deeply guilty sometimes that I’m breastfeeding this baby and not my older. Breasfeeding is very easy for me but I know it’s not for everyone. I didn’t have a lactation consultant either time….where are you ladies finding these lactation consultants!??? Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing and the crazy mean lactivists I think a lot of times are on a high horse and probably meaning to hurt others so they feel superior. And this is coming from a breastfeeding mom, get over yourself ladies! 🙂 every mom has the right to make her own choices, as long as you’re feeding your baby I’m happy!!!!

  109. I thought this was an amazing article. I’ve been reading through all of the comments on your post but I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments on this piece yet, I did want to inject my opinion into this.

    As a woman who is childless and nowhere near being ready to have kids I have been very interested in breastfeeding information, studies etc. I have read a lot of blogs about breastfeeding and been on the LLL website and I have to say that the extreme views of many lactivists have not encouraged me to want to breastfeed any future children I might have. As a matter of fact they have succeeded in doing just the opposite. If I choose to breastfeed I do not want to be considered “one of them” and I will not answer any questions about whether or not I am breastfeeding. I am also less likely to contact a lactation consultant should I have any problems breastfeeding as I am worried that they would have these extreme views.

    I personally have used the term breastfeeding Nazi quite often. Another definition of a Nazi is “a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc”. I think that definition applies to many of the breastfeeding crazies and that has led to this term being used against them.

    Not only that but when I read some of the opinions of the pro-breastfeeding crowd I see another way in which the term Nazi fits them: their determination to prove that there are two kinds of people in the world. On one hand you have the beautiful, illness free, physically fit, breastfed children with parents that love them more, mothers they are more bonded to and skyrocketing I.Qs. On the other side there are sad, fat, sickly little bottlefed babies with selfish parents and low I.Qs. This belief that there are “two kinds” of people and that the breastfeeders are creating what basically amounts to a superior race of people is very much in accordance with Nazi Ideology.

    However I see the way this term could be considered offensive. Especially to Holocaust survivors and/or their children and grandchildren who I personally have the utmost respect for. Though I often feel the term Nazi is pretty accurate with regards to the breastfeeding propaganda, I read your article to see how using the term Nazi so casually might be hurtful to those groups and this alone will make me reconsider using the term. I frankly have no interest in whether or not breastfeeding groups feel the term is offensive to them and it is their own propaganda that has made me feel this way.

    Thanks so much for this blog!

  110. t is so tiresome to hear all of the name calling and assumptions on your website. I for one work with the entire spectrum from mothers who exclusively breastfeed to mothers who end up exclusively formula feeding. I am tired of people extrapolating from those who have had inadequate training in infant feeding and inadequate experience with mothers who provide bad care to all members of a professional group or all members of peer support groups. As with any group, there is a tremendous variability in skills. Those who are less skilled often seek out protocols that don’t work for all women. When those protocols don’t work it can be very disempowering. It is quite insulting, however to see the continual lumping of these groups here and justification for the term Nazi. Yes, I have seen malpractice amongst health care pracitioners who have endangered babies with their lack of knowledge. Unlike Nazis they did not systematically try to murder those babies or murder mothers either. And anyone using that term is merely engaging in the same old tiresome mommy wars. I never disparage any of my clients in any way for their choices because I listen to all the difficulties and nuances of their lives and understand how they struggle to make appropriate choices.

    First, the International Code on Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes actually has a provision that has never really been implemented in a serious way. That provision is individualized counseling for those who cannot or choose not to breastfeed. If this were implemented in a serious way, mothers would not need to rely on exceptionally misleading marketing from an industry that is known to do so. And yes, it does matter because this misleading marketing has utterly changes the way that women feed their infants from those who exclusively breastfeed to those who exclusively bottle feed formula and the many shades of gray that come in between. And yes, as an epidemiologist I can refute most of the confirmation biased arguments that Joan Wolff makes about an area of science in which she has no knowledge. Denialism doesn’t not empower women. Constructive problem solving and pragmatic suggestions do. And that means understanding the evidence based and applying that evidence in ways that find a comfortable way for mothers to feel good about their choices and not resentful or smug — which merely fuel the mommy wars.

    So, take for instance the misleading advertising about bottles. Many of the so-called “just like the breast bottles” are not more like the breast. They often have a faster flow than my favorite old fashioned very inexpensive cheap 1950s style bottle that I recommend to many mothers. There is no regulatory agency that checks flow rates on these bottles. One of the most dangerous and extremely expensive bottles I have encountered is one that is promoted by a breast pump company as being just like the breast. I have not yet worked with a baby who hasn’t had choking episodes when using that bottle.

    Or, lets take the feeding patterns that are suggested based on the same advice that came from male pediatricians in the 1950s who were thought mother love was dangerous coddling and tried to turn feeding babies from a nurturing experience for mothers and babies into an experience more akin to a factory assembly line. The more I look at data from a variety of feeding practices, the more I am convinced that most of the obesity problems stem from advice given by those male pediatricians that still persists. And most of that advice flies in the face of what adults are told about how to eat healthily. Adults are told stuff themselves before bed and admonished to stop eating when they are full rather than gobbling everything on their plate. Yet the lingering advice from those male pediatricians that made my mother and aunts force feed myself, my siblings and my cousins 4 ounces before our stomachs were capable of handling it — causing us to spit up for a good half hour while we were “held upright for 30 minutes” and then because we really couldn’t last the 4 hours, we cried it out for the next 1 hour when we were hungry. And of course there was the big huge before bed bottle to make sure we slept (which of course we didn’t — we cried ourselves to sleep). It is no wonder that some of us developed eating disorders because we never really understood our own hunger and satiety cues under this system. What mothers should be encouraged to do is, yes feed their baby’s adequately, but stop when their babies are full. I cannot tell you how many mothers anxiously try to coax in an extra amount that some health care practitioner insisted they needed when the baby was clearly signaling that they were not ready to drink it. Similarly I have seen the opposite when babies really do need more and the mother was desperately trying every trick in the Harvey Karp book rather than feed her obviously hungry babies. It is not surprising to me that I am seeing many babies who are fed from bottles (regardless of the content of the bottles) who end up being shorter and fatter than they should have been. Shorter because initially they cannot drink enough because their stomachs are too small to hold all that milk and fatter because once they learn to compensate by overeating they drink too much. And yes, I see mothers who bottle feed perfectly well without this pattern occurring. Those are the mothers who learn to recognize their babies own hunger and satiety cues and help their babies maintain appropriate feeding patterns for their stomach size.

  111. Hi Suzanne,

    Coming a bit late to the debate. First of all, please excuse my English – it is not my maternal language. Secondly, I am deeply appreciative of how articulate, educated you are and how well formed your discourse is. I do love an elegant, argumented and documented debate (or rant in my case!)
    I am a breastfeeding mother, and, like most women I have been more than intrigued let’s say, by the controversy the breastfeeding versus formula war has become. Hell I’ve seen people clawing each other on the Internet and calling each other all sorts of inelegant names. I also, in turn, felt judged and compelled by formula feeders to give a bottle instead when my aim was to breastfeed. But it’s ok, it didn’t bother me. However I think it’s a very interesting society phenomenon.

    Now, having read your history, I completely see your point – and the point of others in your situation. Hell, I almost didn’t breastfed, because of a very unsupportive bullyish midwife, and because of my own ignorance (although I paid for classes and heard the term “cluster feeding” the first time my son did it, it still came as a major shock on my system and had a terrible dark hour at that time. There was a very very thin line there when we almost didn’t make it. Luckily my husband supported me and we carried on. He was a big supporter in this and very aware having been with me at those closes. Had he not been different story, different outcomes so no, I’m not judging)..

    Anyway, this being said I’m a little uncomfortable with the term “nazi”…..I know, things aren’t black and white in life. But, sometimes we probably need these voices to move on. We do need activism I’m afraid to say it, be it in breastfeeding matters, or others…..We may not agree with them, some might be extremists. But they are necessary.
    Let me expand. I saw some of your interviews and you were saying how America was a bottle feeding culture (or probably still is) and how during the past 20-30 years there were a few movements to go back to breastfeeding. I’m sorry but, be it a good or a bad thing (that’s a totally different debate), the world has its eyes set on America for a lot of societal and political issues. If you guys go aggressively into green energy for example, Europe, Asia and so on will follow. You cannot deny the influence the USA has upon other nations of the world these days.
    Take France for example. I choose this example, having spent 9 years there. France is also a bottle feeding culture – even more so than America I would think these days. They are lagging far behind in breastfeeding rates. Extremmely patriarchal, not even sure what feminism really means over there. Feminist examples are the likes of Brigitte Bardot over there who hated her child (and by the way she has turned into a senile racist cow lately). Breastfeeding was never an option amongst many of my friends in France. It is simply not done. In certain companies you take more than 1 month maternity, you’re fired – or put aside and you lose your job (despite the heavy social protection). It is a more mother driven culture than baby/child driven.
    Now, we can all agree that when in a society, bottlefeeding becomes the norm…..there might be some issues with generations later on. It has been proven again and again by medical bodies, reaserch….Again I am not judging here and let’s be grateful there is formula for mothers and babies who cannot breastfed and hopefully companies are reasearching continuosly to make it a good healthy alternative. In France for example, there is no “lactivism” or “breastfeeding propaganda” or “nazism” as you refer to it. And I personally think it’s a shame. France is still in the era where, if a woman dares pumping at work, a man might make a horrible remark like “do you need help with that, darling?” or stare. Breastfeeding in public is absolutely excluded over there – and I’m not talking about the odd comment of a few people who feel uncomfortable. You simply cannot do it. But also, there is no feminine voice raising against it and fighting for their right to feed. I’d have a lot more to say about the French society as a whole. having lived there for 9 years or so and observing. But all I can say is that, at the moment France is surely as hell not a progressist country, its economy is not doing so well….and you can hardly find women leading their most powerful companies or in politics (aside Christine Lagard peut-etre).

    Mais je divague peut-etre and I have a hard time making a point. But all I am saying is that, sometimes, in a democratic society you need activism and voices questioning what has become the norm. And unfortunately since it is the very norm they’re questioning, they have to be loud, sometimes perhaps aggressive to be heard. I wouldn’t personnally draw a parallel with Nazism, simply because of the outcomes. The outcomes of the Nazi propaganda – we all sadly know very well what they were. I sincerely doubt there are as horrible, mass genocide outcomes from lactivists.

    All the best

  112. Pingback: *a final word on breastfeeding | lucky to be us

  113. I think its wrong to call someone a nazi just because they passionately argue in support of a cause or against one. I have also heard people use the term “feminazis” to refer to feminists.
    Breastfeeding is not really supported by the government or mediia. most television shows and movies show mothers bottle feeding their babies. the government encourages women to work, not stay home to be housewives. Women in the u.s. Get one of the shortest maternity leaves of the developed world, and it is almost always unpaid maternity leave when they do get it. In my state, a woman cant get welfare unless she tries to get a job, even if she has a baby to care for. that forces her to put her kid in daycare, which makes it extremely difficult to breastfeed.
    A major difference between nazis and breastfeeders is that nazis were a big majority in germany to be able to have the kind of power and influence that they did. Breastfeeding, despite so many sources saying how great it is, is still not the norm in the u.s. Only a minority of mothers breastfeed.
    I dont care if you call me a breastfeeding nazi, but the way i see it is breastfeeding is natural and the best nutrition for a human baby. If a mother can breastfeed but chooses not to, she is being selfish, plain and simple. I am not a perfect person or a perfect mother; i am selfish plenty of times in my life. But i admit it when i am. Its fine if you want to choose to formula feed, but you should at least acknowledge that you are putting your selfish desires over whats the best nutrition for your baby.
    And if you want to say breastfeeding advocates are like nazis because they use fear to manipulate, you can apply that to the vast majority in the u.s. who use fear tactics to manipulate parents to vaccinate their kids. VACCINES are supported by the gov and media and the majority of people in the u.s. So people who advocate for vaccines and shame and insult anyone who doesnt vaccinate are closer to nazis than breastfeeding advocates. But i assume that you will probably disagree because chances are you are among the majority who have been brainwashed into believing that vaccines are good for kids.

    • Most TV shows state that the baby is breastfed- even if it isn’t shown. The two times I’ve ever seen formula acknowledged on a TV show was a gay couple and on a UK TV show that had had numerous episodes centered around the mom breastfeeding first, and only when she went away for a few days.

      The act of breastfeeding is rarely shown- which is a combination of that often the baby isn’t the actress’s and bigotry- but it’s usually referenced that the baby is breastfed.

      WHO and the APA push breastfeeding. Formula companies are required to stamp “breast is best” on every container. WIC is well known for aggressively pushing breastfeeding. That’s all government. “Baby friendly” hospitals are also known to force people into breastfeeding- not sure if that’s government, but it’s certainly a damn big problem.

      Yeah, things are still set up to make it pretty hard to breastfeed unless you’re a middle class stay at home mom. But breastfeeding is also pushed VERY aggressively by government agencies.

  114. Also, i want to add that just because a group of people shame other mothers for their choice to formula feed, it is not necessarily a bad thing. What about the issue of corporal punishment? Some parents believe it is their right, their choice, and the best thing for their kid to beat them when they misbehave. Other parents believe in gentler discipline. Currently in u.s society, corporal punishment is considered wrong by most, so much so that it is considered child abuse and a crime. I again assume you side with the majority belief. I also assume that you would have no problem with talking badly to or about these parents who beat their kids. In your opinion, beating is bad for the kid; in their opinion, its good for the kid. Its the same thing with breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. If you cant understand why breastfeeding advocates talk badly to or about mothers who formula feed, then look at yourself and how you would respond to a mother raising a kid in a way you believe is bad. There is likely more evidence of the benefits of breastfeeding than the benefits of gentle discipline. People only bash on formula feeding parents because they believe it is just as wrong and harmful as corporal punishment. And you defend formula feeding as choice. Well corporal punishment is choice too. Being ok with one but not the other is hypocritical, because they are both harmful to the child. Saying Formula feeding is your right and your choice is just justifying your selfishness and ignoring what is best for the child.

    • Okay, so you’re saying that formula feeding a child is abuse. And that giving a child formula is selfish, even though many women can’t breastfeed, even though many women could breastfeed but only at great personal cost, even though even the WHO admits there is no proof of long-term health benefits to breastfeeding, even though donor milk is prohibitively expensive AND often contaminated AND really ought to be donated to hospitals for use by preemies and sick babies for whom it can actually be lifesaving. I don’t know what fantasy land you live in, but there will always be women who can’t or shouldn’t breastfeed and there will always be babies who can’t breastfeed. The alternative to formula isn’t breastfeeding; it’s dead mothers and babies.

      And then you wonder why we think people like you need to take a long walk off a short pier.

      By the way, the risks of exclusive breastfeeding are greater odds of: hyperbilirubinemia, neonatal dehydration, neonatal hypoglycemia, vitamin D deficiency, and anemia after 4 months of age.

  115. SIck post.
    So you’re a formula feeding Nazi.
    Listen, lady, breastfeeding activists aren’t killing anyone, and even if you choose to ignore the risks of formula feeding (i.e., not the benefits of breastfeeding, but the risks of formula feeding), that doesn’t mean that they’re not there.
    “Scaring” people will not kill them, it will just make them try harder than they otherwise would have to give their babies the best start in life.
    And for your information, formula companies – and formula defenders like yourself – have been raining propaganda on us for way too long. It’s about time we fought back.

    • Actually, breastfeeding advocates are killing babies. 1) There have already been reports of babies dying in Baby Friendly Hospitals due to enforced rooming in and skin-on-skin. Just because the baby is healthy and doesn’t need the NICU doesn’t mean that the mother is healthy enough after giving birth to take care of the baby. 2) This bleating about “the risks of formula” has gotten so out of hand that some women are making homemade formula. Many of these recipes use raw milk, which can cause life-threatening listeria and bovine tuberculosis infections. None of these recipes are nutritionally complete, and the baby can die or be disabled from malnutrition. It’s gotten so bad that the hippie plant milk I buy at the supermarket has a warning stamped on it that it isn’t appropriate as a substitute for baby formula and shouldn’t be given to children below age 5!

      On a more personal note, my baby’s safety and my sanity were sacrificed by the hospital where I gave birth for the sake of exclusive breastfeeding. When I specifically asked for information on supplementing because I was scared I would DROP MY BABY AND KILL HIM out of sheer exhaustion after yet another hour-long feeding session that failed to satisfy him, the nurses told me that his dehydration was all in my head, that I was being lazy, and that I would never succeed at breastfeeding if I supplemented now. The experience scarred me so badly that I will NEVER exclusively breastfeed.

      The best start in life for *my baby* was being 85% breastfed, with solids introduced at 5.5 months, and being weaned at 10 months when I literally had no more milk left to give him. And I am f***ing tired of women like you telling me that I’m not a “real” breastfeeder because those numbers weren’t 100%, 6 months, and 1 year.

    • Also, there’s at least one case of a person taking their life due to failure to breastfeed because she felt like such a failure. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532940/The-breast-best-obsession-mother-driven-life-This-new-mum-taken-hospital-TWICE-feed-baby-pleas-help-went-unheeded.html There are quite a few FFFs who nearly died or nearly killed themselves. I think one woman talked about actually having the gun in her hand- she got so close. The latest FFF (at this time) is about a woman who nearly died from sepsis due to breastfeeding- and people still tried to pressure her into EBF.

      So, yeah, lactivists DO get people killed.

  116. I wish to God I had found this blog BEFORE my third baby and not after….I had a bad experience with her and quit early on after nursing two babies prior (despite some hurdles). Turns out I didn’t know everything. I was over-confident. I just assumed it would happen and there would be no supply problems. Turns out when she was 9 months old I found out she had a lip tie, which makes sense given the sequence of events that occurred and the way she latched (or didn’t). I’ve been reading the posts and the stories off and on since I made the heart wrenching decision to quit nursing her. I had to do it…there was really no choice. Once she got bottles she started rejecting me. Bottles were obviously easier for her. She stopped gaining weight at 2 weeks, and it wasn’t until she was 5 weeks old that I realized this (thank goodness I caught it when I did and she didn’t end up severely dehydrated on an IV or something). She is almost 20 months old now and hasn’t had a bottle for 6 months, but this is still a raw subject for me. I understand now what those on the other side of the argument go through. I feel no guilt, but I feel a sense of loss and grief over the nursing relationship I wanted to have. I am not lazy. I did what I could. I pumped for her for over 6 months. At that point she was eating solids and I saw no point in attaching myself to a machine for an additional 6 months, while watching the amount steadily dwindle and continuing to torture myself emotionally. I found a goat milk formula which she did great on (that’s another topic of debate, I know, but she has done just fine and has never been anemic or had any other issues). This “war” that women have waged against each other is just sad. I know that by commenting on this post, which is several years old, and adding my two cents may add fuel to someone’s fire, but honestly people, don’t we have more important things to worry about than bashing how other people feed their babies? Really? Every individual who wants to pick apart someone else for these choices needs to go through a life or death situation and then they’ll see how petty it truly is. They probably have it so easy in life that they can afford to sit behind a computer screen and attack others like this. I find it truly pathetic. Every situation is different. Despite the so-called “studies”, we don’t really know how much superior breast milk is to formula. Depending on the woman and her nutritional status and toxic burden, it may or may not be best. Which is why I never availed myself of another woman’s donor milk. I wasn’t convinced that some random woman’s milk would be better for my daughter. It might have been frozen for who knows how long (which kills the nutritional content), she may have had a crappy diet, she may have taken drugs and who knows what else. I know I did the best I could for MY baby, and many others on here can say the same thing. What matters in the end is that she is healthy, and she is loved. And if I’d post a picture of her for everyone to see, it would be obvious that she is not suffering or unhealthy because she didn’t get a year or more of breast milk. Think critically, people. I’m going to try to bury all this, put it behind me and stop visiting these blogs and reading the continuous flow of articles on breastfeeding. I hope you all can eventually do the same. This will not matter some day when you are on your death bed. It truly won’t.

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