Wednesday, 27 June 2012

NEWS FLASH - Breastfeeding Requires Effort

I've had experience of numerous people moaning that they're having to quit breastfeeding for the usual reasons: they don't think they're making enough milk, baby isn't gaining weight fast enough, they've got mastitis, etc. However when I offer the relevant advice, direct them to local breastfeeding support groups, recommend books - they ignore it.

This leads me to the logical conclusion that they already made up their mind to stop breastfeeding because they can't be bothered. And the reasons they give are mere excuses used to mask their laziness. Think I'm being harsh? Read on.


Before breastfeeding cessation, these mothers are prone to aggravate their feeding difficulties. Strange as it may sound, they often fail by choice. A lot of them dislike breastfeeding and thus actively seek a get-out clause, latching onto a difficulty and consciously rejecting solutions.

Such mothers fail to accomplish tasks crucial to their breastfeeding success (demand feeding for example). They set themselves up to fail, associating with people and situations that are sabotaging to their breastfeeding relationship (for instance, they are fans of the permissive midwife which says, “it’s okay to give a bottle if it’s best for you” rather than staying clear of such people).

When every effort is made to help them, or to present a solution to their breastfeeding issues, such efforts are met by a huge arsenal of reasons why it will not work, or simply ignored. They want to give up breastfeeding, but they don’t want to admit responsibility for this decision.

Breastfeeding is hard work 

Such quitters moan about 'having' to stop because they feel guilty and they want to give other people the impression that they are stopping reluctantly. By moaning, they feign a sense of helplessness.

Don't get me wrong, formula feeding isn't a walk in the park, but arguably breastfeeding is more intensive. Our society does not easily accommodate breastfeeding mothers. The numerous societal breastfeeding boobie traps erect unnecessary hurdles in the path of the breastfeeding mother - clueless family members, returning to work early, the misguided controversy of public nursing, poorly trained health professionals, stigmatisation of cosleeping, frumpy nursing bras, insidious formula company marketing, Clare Byam-Cook.

Add to these societal hurdles the natural hurdles that are part of breastfeeding - the relentlessness of cluster feeding, the uncomfortable uber-engorgement, the leaking, the older children buying for your time, and so on. There can be no procrastination where breastfeeding is concerned. No laziness. You can't pass the buck. Nursing has to be done, over and over again, multiple times a day.

It is not morally acceptable to excuse ourselves from responsibility and obligation solely because circumstances arise which we do not have complete control over (mastitis, tongue tie, illness for example). We parents have two choices when circumstances catch us by the neck. We embrace them and work through them or we declare ourselves the victim and excuse ourselves. Successful breastfeeders do something to address their problems, and get on with it. They research, seek (and take) advice, and have a level of commitment strong enough to embrace delayed gratification.

The intensity and totality of the breastfeeding relationship is extremely profound—it requires a more complete physical/body investment with someone than you will ever have with anyone else in your life, including sexual relationships. A lot of women, however, are turned off by this level of commitment.

A matter of priorities

As mothers we have to prioritise conflicting demands - for the bulk of mothers who trade breast for formula, breastfeeding wasn't top of your priority list. Just be honest about it. Other things were more important to you than your breastfeeding relationship. These other things may be: older children; undisrupted sleep; being employed without having to pump in an office lav; wanting to measure your baby's consumption; your ability to go out on the town; and 'having your body back'. Unsurprisingly, research has shown that the strength of the intention to breastfeed is an accurate prediction of breastfeeding success (Blyth et alForster et alRyser), perhaps even the most important factor (DiGirolamo et alSwanson & Power). “Most women who choose to breastfeed can succeed if they give breastfeeding a fair trial” (Dr Benjamin Spock 2004).

Instead of admitting that breastfeeding was too much hard work and didn't fit in with their lifestyle, family makeup and preconceptions of mothering - most quitters reel off a list of 'excuses'. By broadcasting to people that they at least endeavoured to breastfeed, they aim to avoid the stigmatised status attached to mothers who aimed to formula feed from the start.

The Blame Game

Although their own actions (or lack of) are almost always responsible for their breastfeeding failure, they are very talented at finding excuses why things don’t work out. They take refuge in victimhood and blame others for their breastfeeding failure.

Blaming others can have a cathartic effect. We should never underestimate the sense of relief that comes with shifting the responsibility for our failings onto someone or something else. This is particularly so when parenting is concerned. Parents (rightly) carry the bulk of the responsibility for their child’s welfare. When they mess this up, they (rightly) feel guilt. Offsetting this guilt onto others brings great relief.

It's a form of denial. Excuses mask a weak-resolve and shift the blame to the allegedly 'truly guilty party'. The baby for their lack of cooperation, the midwife for her lack of time, the husband for his lack of support - all are common scapegoats, but the most popular appears to be anatomy. By falsely blaming their body's lack of cooperation they relinquish responsibility, shifting the blame away from themselves and placing it on their fictional 'broken boobs'. This, in turn, obscures the fact that effort can overcome most breastfeeding issues. Baby not gaining fast enough? - have you seen a paediatrician to rule out other issues? Returning to work early? - have you looked into your expressing rights? Got mastitis? - take some paracetamol to stabilise your temperature and nurse frequently. Sore nipples? - I've got a cream for that. But often, you're not interested in my advice or solutions. You've made your mind up. You've thrown the towel in. That's okay, it's your choice to make. Just be honest about it.

The formula feeder believers herself to be a victim of circumstance. She is a victim of others’ decisions. “I didn’t decide this. I can’t control it. Why should I have to take the blame for it?” underlines her thought processes. Studies have shown that these failed breastfeeders often cite fictitious reasons for their failure (Bailey et al 2004). Yet I have more respect for mothers who are honest and say "I've given up breastfeeding because I can't be bothered with it anymore" than mothers who reel off a list of excuses to anyone who will listen.

And who is listening? Often it's other mothers and mothers-to-be. If they are formula feeding mothers they will nod knowingly. They know the game. If they are breastfeeding mothers, they will nod with feigned sympathy. For if a breastfeeding mother were to offer advice or woe betide, question the decision, they will be seen as a 'breastfeeding nazi'.

Excuses and their consequences

What is most concerning is that the list of excuses can sound plausible to the untrained ear, and their believability obscures reality. Your breasts aren't producing enough milk? Well you know your breasts better than me I guess. Let's forget about the scientific truth that the vast majority of breasts produce sufficient milk (otherwise as a species we'd all be extinct). You've got mastitis - that's painful! Let's forget that it can be treated and one of the best treatments is continued nursing. Your baby is not gaining weight fast enough? How horrible. Let's forget that this could be down to human error in interpreting charts or an unrelated medical issue.

Using excuses not only shifts the audience's attention away from the excuse-maker's lack of perseverance, it also insults the intelligence of the listener. "One mom defends her right to bottle-feed her baby without judgment. We're with her. But then she tests our theoretical tolerance by giving her reasons" commented feminist magazine Jezebel in an article titled, "Not Breastfeeding Is Fine, But What About Her Reasoning?"

Perhaps more importantly, by using excuses, these mothers are exacerbating society's fear of breastfeeding. The more often excuses are used - the more new mothers will see breastfeeding as biologically 'unrealistic'. When excuses are used, attention is drawn away from the pertinent issue of effort. For instance, the most common excuse I hear is "my breasts aren't producing enough milk". The reality is that your breasts are almost certainly producing enough milk but your confidence in your body has been undermined by ignorant yet well-meaning family members, poorly-trained health professionals, and clever formula marketing. If you had read that book I recommended, you would know this. But that would take time. It would take effort. It would mean having the balls to rebel against the family members, the health professionals and the formula companies.

Another common excuse is that the mother had a caesarean delivery. However there is no reason why a caesarean should prevent breastfeeding. In fact, once breastfeeding has been established birth experiences do not have a lasting effect on breastfeeding duration (Cernadas et al; Dennis; Scott et al). By placing the blame on their caesarean, such mothers are setting an expectation of failure for future c-section mums. The inverse correlation between caesarean rates and breastfeeding rates has less to do with the method of delivery and more to do with peoples false preconceptions of c-sections as a barrier to breastfeeding.

The omnipresent abundance of excuses leads to what I call a 'sheep mentality' or to put it another way, a culture of 'failure acceptance'. Numerous studies have shown that "low expectancies of success are a liability in performing difficult tasks" (Brown. J et al). So with regard to breastfeeding, would-be mothers hear the excuses and consequently they view successful breastfeeding as near impossible. When they get pregnant they use the discourse of 'try' - they say they will 'try' to breastfeed, they'll 'give it a go'; they anticipate failure before they've even started breastfeeding because that's all they've heard from other women (Bailey et al 2004). Would-be mothers form a false preconception that breastfeeding is, for the most part, a matter of luck; that women's bodies regularly malfunction. When their baby is born some mothers avoid breastfeeding altogether, so as to avoid failure (Martain. A and Marsh. H). For those who start, most of them encounter a breastfeeding issue and give up because failure is imminent - it must be, all their friends failed. It looks like their body too, has malfunctioned.

"In a sense, she is looking for signs of failure. If her baby cries one day a bit more than usual, her first thought may be that her milk has decreased; If the baby develops indigestion or colic or a rash, she is quick to suspect her milk" (Spock 2004).

In one study, O'Campo et al found that maternal confidence was the most significant of 11 psychosocial and demographic factors effecting breastfeeding duration. Women with low breastfeeding confidence were three times for likely to give up breastfeeding compared to very confident breastfeeding women. Similarly, Buxton et al found that 27% of women with low confidence in the prenatal period discontinue breastfeeding within the first postnatal week compared with only 5% of the highly confident women. Propagandising excuses lowers the confidence of would-be breastfeeders everywhere, and therefore has consequences that reach far beyond the excuse-maker.

Scapegoating Vs Genuine Excuses

How can you tell an excuse-maker from a mother who genuinely couldn't breastfeed? This is a tough question, as both use anatomy in their dialogue. One way of differentiating between them is by the level of defensiveness. The excuse-maker is likely to get offended by health campaigns pointing out the dangers of formula, and by adverts such as this. They make comments such as, "this makes mothers who can't breastfeed feel bad" and "this makes us feel guilty". Mothers who genuinely couldn't breastfeed however, know that they truly couldn't and have a valid reason, so are less racked with guilt. There was a lack of free will. They know deep down, there was nothing they could have done to salvage the situation. These mothers are harmed by the excuse-makers.

Indeed, if you're a formula feeder reading this and you're angry because you had a genuine medical reason for your inability to breastfeed (insufficient glandular tissue, mastectomy, incompatible medication for example), perhaps redirect some of your anger onto the women that had the functioning breasts yet lacked the effort. It is these women that fuel the 'formula feeder as lazy' stereotype. Salvaging their own reputation is more important to them than the welfare of other mothers and babies, and indeed, their own baby.

One of the common complaints of these mothers is that they did not receive enough support to enable them to breastfeed. However all the support in the world is not going to resolve your breastfeeding problems without the requisite effort, compromise and sacrifice on your part. Sometimes it takes a hell of a lot of effort, and the mother decides it is too much. In this instance, please stop using excuses. Just admit that breastfeeding success, rather than being a biological certainty, is for the most part, a result of good ol' fashioned effort.

Only when we lift the veil on excuses can we as a society focus our resources appropriately, and make breastfeeding easier.


Erin: Mumma the Healer said...

As a mom blogger I often try to discuss subjects like breastfeeding in a balanced and "everyone tries to their own limits" way. That's the way I write, inclusively. But you know, I am nursing my 3 year old: I have had mastitis 7 times, I had some supply issues after 3 or 4 months of established supply, I had a tragic death in my family, was disowned by my mother-in-law, and suffered with severe PPD and PTSD. But you know what? I kept nursing because there was nothing that could stop me but my own self. It's refreshing to read a response to the excuses (and frankly sometimes bull$h!t) that women feed each other so they look like they made it a priority for them and their baby. The very few and extremely rare cases of women who have insufficient breast tissue are often satisfied that they tried very hard. I actually have more of a problem with the women who try and then give up due to totally surmountable issues then those who never try and go straight to formula. At least they're not trying to fool anyone, including themselves.

Unknown said...

I had sod all support with both my children. Still managed to breastfeed and still feeding my 2nd.

3mennalittlelady said...

I LOVE YOU lol but seriously i've been quietly muttering this to myself everytime i hear the stupid excuses from women about quitting. They really hate when you try to stop them by giving advice. I;m been labels breastfeeding nazi by many because of their inability to admit the truth. thank you for posting it to the world!

Eleanor said...

What a fabulous post! I am sick of the excuses and false anger too. I went back to work when my first was 8 weeks old yet she was exclusively breastfed until 6 months old and continued to be breastfed until 16 months when I was 4 months pregnant with second. I went back to work 6 weeks after the second was born and again she was exclusively breastfed for 6 months and at 9 months I am sitting here feeding her now. Both babies were born by emergency section, I've had blocked milk ducts, weeks of low supply and cracked nipples at the start but what price do you put on your children's health? I am in Scotland and am very fortunate that we have pro-breastfeeding laws here, I know others are not so lucky but you can work and breastfeed!

sarapunkinpie88 said...

About half the time I nurse around any female I hear the excuses. I didn't bring it up and usually don't answer except to say, "well there are a lot more resources nowadays..." Or something to that effect.

Cornish Blonde said...

Yes, yes and yes! it's what I'm often thinking but don't dare say. Oh and I think I love you too.

f32ad5d4-c093-11e1-8b1d-000bcdcb5194 said...

Hmm maybe we are full of excuses, maybe you are full of generalizations and stereotypes. I could "bore" you with my story. Baby born, husband deployed, my mother in the hospital a week before I give birth with due to a heart attack which technically killed her 3 different times on the operating table, low milk supply, taking a million suppliments, attending support groups even though I was COMPLETELY alone with no help...but I won't bore you with this story. I will just say I hope the view is lovely from your high horse sweetie.

Beauty Mom Tester said...

Thank you for posting!!! I am breastfeeding my first who is 3 months. It took two weeks for my milk to come in due to a blood transfusion. I pumped every 2 hours for the entire first month for 20 minutes to get a milk supply. Every feeding I would put baby on my boob to stimulate and feed what I pumped out of a bottle until I got it. We are pros now and I am sick to death of all the excuses people tell me, and I am tired of them looking at me like I am crazy because I still breastfeed AT 3 MONTHS!!! One person went so much to say "you don't feed him in public do you?". What is wrong with people? I have friends who would do anything to have a child and breastfeed and others could care less. When we decided to have a child we decided to do everything we could that is best for him including breastfeeding. THANK YOU FOR POSTING. Us breastfeeding nazis needed this. :)

Ledoux said...

I'm a fond reader of your blog. Insightful, well-documented, and indeed, a teensy bit highbrow.

This one, however, startled me. It reeks rather much of a piece of hate mail. It baffles me to see how much you choose to blame mothers.
And without reason. For once, your research is lacking. All these myths have been around for more than a century and have been used from the beginning of mass media. They don't come from mothers. Mothers just repeat what professionals tell them, what people reiterate, what is commonly seen as good reasons to stop. So much that many a mother who chooses to continue breastfeeding in those cases is seen as neglectful or borderline-endangering her child.
But, again. Mothers didn't invent them. In some cases, doctors did. Others were picked up or invented by powdered-milk-manufacturers. In the early 1900s, mothers' milk was often proclaimed to be "lacking" or even too strong. In the fifties, hotlines were set up with "specialists" that were employed by powdered milk manufacturers and that gave breastfeeding-undermining advice, a practice continued today. The Nestlé milk nurses migrated from Europe and the Stated to Africa, and today India, Bangladesh, the East.
Women have been indoctrinated by these undermining messages for generations. No wonder they're repeating them.
So I see little point, really, in blaiming them.
The only thing you're doing, is feeding the pro/con discussion. By pretending women are in two seperate camps, you undermine breastfeeding itself. Because those mothers didn't jsut fight in another camp. They just lost a battle in the same war.

And there you are, saying for pages long that they didn't fight hard enough, no: that they're hypocritical wimps. Well. That's likely to make them try more, longer next time around. Bet they won't feel excluded or attacked.

Anyway. I'll keep reading. Most updates are great. I hope you'll stick to better logic and research and sounder judgment next time - as you usually do.

Sarah said...

Mothers picking on each other makes me sad.

emma said...

WOW! there's nothing like beating each other up is there? am still surprised to find so much anger from women towards women. my baby is happy and healthy - your baby is happy and healthy - surely that's what counts?

The Fearless Formula Feeder said...

Interesting post. I disagree with 99% of it, and will try and respond more coherently (at work and on deadline so my attention is only half here), but let me first say I respect how you are expressing your true feelings about formula feeding moms- it is actually rather refreshing and somewhat of a break from the monotony of criticism couched in patronizing sympathy. And I think that you are correct that in many cases, women DO make the decision to switch to formula because they are prioritizing other things. Where you and I differ on this particular point is that I personally believe that makes for a good parent. I prize flexibility and knowing one's limits and making educated cost/benefit decisions over blindly following prescriptive advice. I could easily use the sheep analogy to describe women who breastfeed simply b/c people make them feel like bad mothers if they don't, and not because they want to or care all that much about anything but public perception. (I would never do that, though. It's cruel, unnecessary, and does nothing to support women who are wanting to breastfeed, nor women who don't, IMO. Setting mother against mother does fudge all for anyone's cause.)

I find it sadly ironic that your thread here is already filling up with women proudly stating how much they sacrificed in order to breastfeed, which certainly doesn't help convince soon-to-be moms in a positive way, either. How is this any different from people like me spreading information about the potential difficulties of breastfeeding?

Also, I just skimmed through the entire roster of FFF Friday posts and the vast majority do NOT blame a lack of support for their failure. Most blame themselves (and have also come to peace with their decision, in many cases.) When women are not put on the defensive (which I fear is what you're doing with this type of attitude) they are more likely to be honest about their own experiences and reflect on it more accurately. I will tell you straight-up that while I do feel I did everything possible to nurse my first child, I am sure I could have nursed my second. I chose not to because I prioritized my own mental health and the health of my family overall over my desire to breastfeed. I'm cool with admitting that, because I feel no shame in it. I know many women do feel a lot of shame though, and therefore feel the need to justify their decisions.

I do not agree that physical breastfeeding problems are a fallacy - your assertion that we'd have gone extinct if many women could not breastfeed is weak, considering the prevalence of wet nurses and the use of paps throughout history, as well as the issue of sociobiological evolution (ie, the concept that society can impact the way our bodies function - there is an influx of autism and allergies and cancer, as well as breastfeeding problems - there may be environmental issues at play, or hey, maybe the fact that our generation was formula fed with sub-par formula harmed us in more ways than you already believe that it has, and we can add "lactation problems" to that list). My point is, it is entirely plausible that women are experiencing actual physiological breastfeeding issues; it is also plausible that they feel the need to make up excuses b/c of the way society has made them feel about bottle feeding. Maybe if we stopped making women feel like bad mothers for opting not to breastfeed, we'd get a more accurate picture of the physical impediments to lactation, versus societal barriers.

Miri said...

There but for the grace of God go all of you.....

cartside said...

Ok, I'll comment on some points you made. I was super confident to breastfeed with no. 1. I had lots of support. I supplemented with formula from 12 weeks because my baby was screaming for hunger. Yes, maybe there was an underlying issue, but nobody saw it. I wasn't making excuses, I couldn't let her scream anymore. With my second, I had a much more relaxed attitude - I wouldn't wait so long to supplement though I'd give breastfeeding my best shot. And you know what? Being relaxed counts for something too and I had the best breastfeeding experience one can wish for, no pain, no issues and not a drop of formula.
I know when things get too much. It's not an excuse, it's real. Yet we are unprepared - for all the pre birth info I had I never ever thought it would be so very hard, and if I'd been better informed maybe I wouldn't have been so upset, so devastated, so undermined, so alone in this task that nobody could help me with.
What I like about your article is that it points out that yes, breastfeeding can be really hard and can require a lot of effort, unlike what many tell us to talk us into it. I don't like the tone of it because we are the product of our society. And as much as I know the importance of breastfeeding, I do not feel comfortable nursing my 21 month old in public, I feel the judging eyes on me. Even my GP lectured me to stop breastfeeding at 10 months. And you expect women to stand up and tell a GP "I know better?" I'm a strong, confident woman. I didn't. I shut my gob and left the building. Every story is unique. And it may well be about wrong expectations, but who is creating these?

Dara said...

I couldn't agree more. I guess I don't understand why it's anyone's business how my kid is fed.

Alpha Parent said...

FFF, the sheep analogy is about 'following the herd' and thus can't be applied to breastfeeders because they are a minority group.

"Setting mother against mother does fudge all for anyone's cause".

People should take responsibility for their 'choices'. A woman's choice to abandon breastfeeding and then broadcast excuses has the potential to harm other women. It creates a culture of failure. It scares potential mothers and undermines mothers with genuine anatomical failure. These are the facts. You support factual discourse yes?

"I find it sadly ironic that your thread here is already filling up with women proudly stating how much they sacrificed in order to breastfeed, which certainly doesn't help convince soon-to-be moms in a positive way, either."

On the contrary, I think it does. Breastfeeding is not a piece of cake, particularly in contemporary society. It takes commitment. It would be helpful if mothers were prepared for this AND shown examples of people who have overcome breastfeeding hurdles and hardships. Then they get an accurate picture of what may come.

"your assertion that we'd have gone extinct if many women could not breastfeed is weak, considering the prevalence of wet nurses and the use of paps throughout history"

If the current breastfeeding failure rates were explained solely by physical breastfeeding problems, then at least 80% of women have such problems, which would mean that wet nurses would have been hard to come by - having broken boobs like everyone else. But of course, wet nurses were actually quite plentiful.

"Maybe if we stopped making women feel like bad mothers for opting not to breastfeed, we'd get a more accurate picture of the physical impediments to lactation, versus societal barriers."

How do you propose we do that? Present breastfeeding and formula feeding on an even keel? Anything else has the potential to 'make people feel guilty'. Again I ask, you support facts?

Anna G said...

What your post doesn't really address is that there are wildly different levels of effort required to breastfeed depending on individual circumstances. There's a big difference between a mom who quits in the first week because her nipples hurt, and a mom who quits because she's an adoptive mom and is no longer willing to use a supplemental nursing system and pumping regimen to try to establish partial breastfeeding. I guess both of them "couldn't be bothered" to breastfeed, but that's just a ridiculous way of looking at it. (Most people, of course, fall in between those two examples.)

Anna G said...

FFF: "Maybe if we stopped making women feel like bad mothers for opting not to breastfeed, we'd get a more accurate picture of the physical impediments to lactation, versus societal barriers."

AP: "How do you propose we do that? Present breastfeeding and formula feeding on an even keel?"

I'm not FFF, but I propose you not write posts about the "laziness" and "weak resolve" of formula feeders.

Cosmogrl78 said...

I stopped breastfeeding because I hated it. Much like you seem to hate the women who had the gall to say "no thanks" and go on their merry way while you sit and nurse and fill up with more resentment. Your kids are doomed to be judgemental little jackasses if this post is any indication of how you conduct yourself on a regular basis. Anyone who calls herself an alpha parent has some serious narcissist issues in the first place. I do really feel sad for you, but more than that, I feel very sad for your offspring whom you clearly use as props in making yourself feel superior.

Cathy said...

I'm not clear on who gets to decide which is an "excuse" and which is "real"? Maybe some of these "excuses" you claim to hear are actually shorthand for BEING honest. For admitting where their priorities lie - which, you say you have no real problem with. And maybe the attitude comes in response to the feeling of being judged that their reason wasn't good enough .. by someone who has not been in their shoes.

I chose to not breastfeed. Well, precisely, I chose to be physically present for my children and attend to my human needs for food and rest rather than provide them with human milk. I did try, until I was spending upwards of 20 hours a day with my children (twins, NICU) and pumping (a whopping 2 oz a day, score, eh?) - which was just not enough time for eating and sleeping and healing. And the next time around, I chose to prioritize my mental and family health over breastmilk. If someone thinks those are "excuses" and it makes me lazy, they are more than welcome to come take over my life for a week. I could use the break.

Karen said...

Unbelievable. As if breastfeeding is the hallmark of good mothering. I don't care how you feed your baby, as long as you feed her; I care much more about how well a child is nurtured, loved, cared-for, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. There is so much more to mothering than how one chooses to feed the baby.

theCruzi3s said...

(Stands up and applauds) Very true and very well said!

Becky said...

I agree that many mothers offer excuses instead of stating, "Other things were more important to me." That is because they are shamed and bullied for making anything else more important than breastfeeding, and they want to stop the attack. Prioritizing one's mental or physical health, or relationship with others, or relationship with the baby, or career, over breastfeeding doesn't make a woman "lazy," it just makes her have different priorities than you do.

Stacey K said...

I got half way through this and realised it is just bashing, I respect your opinion but you obviously haven't had trouble to conceive - what would happen if you couldn't have children? I know some that can't so if its possible some can't concieve why is it not possible that some cannot breastfeed,.. I have HUGE respect for women that try to breastfeed and being upable to makes them unconsolable, you clearly have no facts behind all your theories and quite frankly it disturbs me,.. I am a breastfeeding mother and I am proud of it, but I do not and will not EVER judge a mother on why she has given up breastfeeding, as long as her child is happy and fed thats the point isn't it!?

I would much rather a mother go to formula feeding, than be so dragged down by the pressures and problems they may come across that could in effect cause post natal depression, because if a mother has that it is alot more harmful to herself AND her child..

use your brain! honestly

The Fearless Formula Feeder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

I don't need to make excuses, or offer any reasons to anyone. How I feed my child is no one's business, and as far as I can tell, most people don't care how others feed their children. I'll own it: I made a choice to formula feed my children, for various reasons which I will not explain.

Those of you that seem offended by these "lazy" women who offer up "bullshit excuses"---why do you let yourself get emotionally involved? What difference does it make to you, how another woman feeds her child and why?

We could apply the same argument to exercise--that many Americans make "excuses" not to exercise because they don't want to, but don't feel like they can admit that. So what? I don't care if you go to the gym and I don't care if you formula feed. Those things are none of my business.

antigone23 said...

As a woman who physically could not breastfeed, I don't feel guilt. Maybe a little sad/wistful, but not guilty. I know I did absolutely everything I could and there was nothing that would have changed the outcome. But articles like this still offend the shit out of me. It is women like YOU who advance the "formula feeders are lazy" stereotype, and I squarely place the blame on YOU and your ilk for being lumped into this group. Because you are the ones attacking and questioning us. You are the ones that make us feel like we need to come up with elaborate explanations to prove we actually tried hard enough. You know what? It's up to each woman to try as hard as is possible for HER and her family. And when she reaches her limit, it's her own damn business. Are there some women who exaggerate the extent of their problems so that people like you will leave them the hell alone and not automatically place them in the "shitty moms" category? Sure. But I don't blame them, I blame the rhetoric that any individual women's personal decision to formula feed is up for debate and breastfeeding (or at least trying hard "enough" as if some third party judge and jury can objectively define that) is a litmus test for being a good mother.

I know some of you lactivists have an irresistible temptation to spend your energies bashing formula feeding mothers. It makes you feel better about yourselves, I guess. But it doesn't actually help anyone.

Stacy said...

I find that breastfeeding advocates, even nazis are the ones who post angry blogs about formula feeders. I found that 90% of this blog is opinion. A few facts and studies are quoted. But truly studies can only find trends and tendancies. Testing a thousand people and eight hundred go one way can not be applied to the entire population of america. Not everyone who quit breastfeeding fits into these two categories anyways. And to tell the truth, the first thing that came to my mind after reading this was "f*ck this chick" just because nursing came easy to you, does not make you the official judge on who had to quit and wanted to quit. And shame on you for knocking them down for giving excuses. I gave excuses cause my medical condition that made me unable to nurse is no one elses business but mine and my husbands. Don't like my reply? too bad, I dont like this blog.

Stacy said...

And it's people like you that force people yup give a ton of excuses to avoid you passing judgement. But that doesn't seem to stop you any ways.

Andrea said...

YES!!!!! I was going to make the same comment but you did it for me.

Alicia Quinn said...

Firstly let me say, yes, I do agree "Breast is Best" I believe most of the people here on either side of the war you and countless others have created do, otherwise they wouldn't try their hardest to continue breast feeding.

However it is attitudes like yours and countless others that have left me and others in a state of high depression for weeks after admitting defeat.

My baby was only 4 weeks early and we had feeding problems to start with. Once she came out of hospital after 2 weeks, everything was fine for about a month or so (including a visit back to the hospital for respiratory issues). I continuously expressed after feeding to make sure I had enough milk. On the Friday night, I expressed 180mL. Come Monday morning, I got 10mL. This is where I first realised that not everything was right.

A week later, my daughter had gone from feeding 20mins on both side and being satisfied to feeding for up to two hours and still screaming in hunger. I went to the doctor, a midwife and the ABA, and all agreed the best thing was for me to take something (can't remembver the name now), feed her for half an hour on each side, express, supplement her with expressed milk, and then if needed supplement with forumula. Every 3 hours - 1 hour and 40 minutes it was taking me to feed. and guess what? Medication finished, and went dry - not just slowed down, went dry completely.

I cried and argued with the midwife, my mother and my husband for a day before I admitted defeat. So don't dare sit there on your high horse and proclaim 1) That mothers who have stopped breastfeeding put no effot in and 2)That we feign guilt so we don't look bad.

As someone else said, if you have to use your children as a tool to make yourself feel superior to other mothers, you are the one with the issue, not someone who either tried to breastfeed and couldn't, or someone who made a conscience decison not to breastfeed.

Leigh Graham said...

People who fancy themselves edgy by using tired old blame the victim narratives are pitiful in their lack of creativity and misplaced, warrantless hostility.

Katie Spencer White said...

Here's a question: I successfully breastfed my daughter for 19 months - no dummies, no bottles even of expressed milk, nothing but the boob. I even went to law school while I did it. I loved every minute of it and would have done it again in a heartbeat. BUT. I had two more babies and more problems than I care to explain. And you know what, I can't explain even to myself why my nipples were shredded and why I got thrush that wouldn't go away for six weeks and a whole host of other crap. I desperately wanted to breasfeed again. But I FAILED - not because I had to go back to work (I'm a homeschooler - there's commitment for you), I din't care about getting my body back and I certainly don't go out on the town. So was I making excuses? Did I refuse to accept help and advice? Hell, I should have been the one giving the advice! I bought the books and the creams and all the other stuff and I still failed. In the end, yes, I had to prioritize other things. Do I feel guilty? No.

I am really curious, however, on what gives you the right to be so condescending and vile. Why do you even care about how my children are fed? You should be more concerned with whether they're vaccinated - at least that will have an impact on you.

I just wish this generation of women would get a life. Is this what women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Margaret Sanger fought for? So that we could beat each other up over breastmilk? Seriously?

And you know what else? Instead of wasting your time on bitchy little posts like this, why not do something truly useful like support women who are truly in need. Check out Women for Women International - it is a charity that supports women in violent and war torn countries. That is a good use of time.

Reading this post for me was not.

HGG said...

Amen, Stacy!

lauralita said...

beautiful response! said much better than I could. :)

Miriam said...

I find breastfeeding to be the easiest path, but it's not that way for everyone. I breastfeed my kids because I am lazy! If someone doesn't want to continue after a bout of mastitis or low weight gain or whatever reason, that's not my business or yours. What's the big deal? Her body, her baby, her choice.

HGG said...

Spot on!

HGG said...


HGG said...

That would be a great start! I second what Anna G said.

HGG said...

Ladies and gents, this blog post is a perfect example of 'Grandiosity'. Now, back to reality.....

Mary said...

Here's honesty for you: I chose to supplement when my baby completely stopped gaining weight, at the advice of doctors, lactation consultants, and family. The only guilt I feel is in having let my children starve for so long, based on my selfish desire for that sweet, awesome breastfeeding bond.

I'm confused as to what other honesty you are looking for. I'm especially confused that you so amazingly know every woman's true "excuse" for offering formula, even better than the mothers, doctors, and lcs involved in each case.

Breastfeeding [all mothering] is hard, you are right to tell women that. You have no right to tell a woman, or even secretly think it, that whatever reasons caused her to quit breastfeeding aren't up to scratch. How can you possibly be that mean spirited?

Guess I'll take my "beta parenting" and slink away back to the sewers now...

Bren said... milk never came in very well. I produced approximately 1/2 ounce per feeding. No amount of pumping, drinking/taking special things, trying to nurse more frequently, or seeing different lactation consultants fixed that. So, please, do tell me what your solution was for me to deal with my "excuse"? I tried for four months.

Actually...I don't care. Some of us really and truly DO have medical reasons. Yes, we may be in the minority, but our problems do still exist, and lumping us in with people who have just gotten bad advice (also not their fault, by the way) is what what caused me to have a nervous breakdown while attempting to raise my milk supply . Which, again, never happened. In four months.

Honestly, I do wonder what the point of your thread was. "Holier Than Thou" attitudes rarely seem to have any positive impact for one's cause. You are doing a disservice to women by pitting them against each other. I beg you to stop.

Bren said...

Also...not everyone has the mental strength to handle some of the problems you described. Would you honestly rather a woman breastfed if it contributed to her post-partum depression, for example, and took up every ounce of her energy to the point where she couldn't look after her child otherwise? Because that happens, too, and it's happened to people I know.

Then are speaking as the "snobby side of parenting", so...I guess I should consider the source.

Bren said...

Thank you for posting this. I find formula feeding a pain in the butt, but people assume tht it's an easier route. I think it's all a matter of perspective.

The Haligonian said...

Interested to know who gets to decide what is considered "genuine anatomical failure?" You?

HGG said...

The article starts of with "I've had experience of numerous people moaning that they're having to quit breastfeeding for the usual reasons....However when I offer the relevant advice....they ignore it".

Can you not see it? Is it completely lost on you, Alpha Parent? Women justify their reasons to stop breast feeding for fear of judgement. They wanted to explain themselves to you so they wouldn't be judged by you. And you judged them.

They didn't come to you for advice either. Why did you feel like you had to "advise" them? And why did you get upset when they didn't take your advice???

They came to you for support. Why didn't you support them? Why didn't you support these women?!

Instead, you brand them "lazy" and write a blog article about them.

I feel pity for you.

Emily Gelling said...

i find this wildly offensive to be honest. i genuinely couldnt feed. my son had a bad latch, lactation specialist fixed that but my nipples are still cracked and bleeding, two weeks later we find out its because he has a tongue tie, ok lets get that fixed. nipples are still in bad shape and now it feels like the milk is actually broken glass, but i keep going, tests come back i have a staph infection, start taking antibiotics. this whole time ive been slathering myself in every cream, lanolin and otherwise that we can find to help and i have a very healthy milk supply. antibiotic course has finished but now im screaming in pain everytime my son latches and at random points throughout the feed. my son and i are unable to bond, ive reached deep depression and cant bring myself to get off the couch. the doctors/midwives and specialists all agree that i have severe nipple vasospasms. but nothing they have suggested to help it changes anything. when i became suicidal i gave up on breastfeeding. i still feel horrible guilt that i only breastfed my son for 1 month. does that mean im one of those mothers who is lying and making excuses? i am telling my story not to be judged but to hope that those of you are out there making sweeping generalisations of women who formula feed, are able to see through the haze of hatred and understand not all women are able to breastfeed. it doesnt make them lazy or slack or creating some sort of bizarre propoganda. i sincerely wish i had been able to keep going, but switching was the best thing *i* could do for MY family.

The Fearless Formula Feeder said...

I replied below, but figured I should repost it here in the appropriate place so it doesn't seem out of context. I will try and delete the duplicate...

There is a difference between stating scientific facts about a nutritional substance, and taking those same facts and extrapolating data to infer that, on a social/emotional level, nutrition has anything to do with good parenting. I personally believe vegetarian, whole food diets are the healthiest, but I don't think that what people feed their children has any impact on their ability to be good parents.

These are 2 separate issues - the nutritional benefits of breastmilk (quantifiable) and the emotional benefits of breastfeeding (unquantifiable, although that hasn't stopped some researchers from trying). There are ways to present the nutritional benefits of breastmilk and the data surrounding infant feeding in a clear, non-emotional, non-judgmental, and non-coercive way. I think the Mayo clinic website does a good job of it. La Leche League's website is also relatively innocuous, despite their admitted and understandable bias. But unfortunately, the majority of breastfeeding promotional material is presented in a startlingly emotive, loaded manner. We can do better as a society, I think.

Jacquelyn said...

Gosh, I breastfed all my kids (till 21 mos, 31 mos, and a current 15 mo old who is still going strong) and am a huge advocate for breastfeeding, I even agree with you that often (but imo certainly not always) women offer up excuses instead of simply stating the truth, which is that bfing isn't top priority to them. But here's the thing. Even IF their relationships w/older children, or hubby, or work, or serious pain from thrush or mastitis or *whatever* it is does turn out to be the thing/s which they for whatever reason feel they need to prioritize over bfing *what do you care*??? And how do you have any right to say such things about them for doing so? Most women I know who have quit, have done so for reasons which were, or were to them, legitimate considering the amount of info, resources, and support they had. I don't believe ANY mother does what she knows is wrong for her kids, rather she makes decisions based on what she feels is best and right for her family. Sheesh. I breastfed through a pregnancy and a year and a half of ridiculous thrush problems with my second. When she was 2yrs 7mos I quit because it was so horrifically painful and awful that I had begun to hate bfing (even as I loved it at the same time!) and cringe whenever she came near. I realized that this was extremely unhealthy for our relationship -more unhealthy, I felt, than bfing at that point was healthy. And you know what? That is not an excuse, it's simply reality. I DID chose my relationship with her and my physical comfort at that point over breastfeeding and I feel zero shame about it, even after seeing that in your opinion I, as well as I did it and as long as I did it, am nothing more than a sheep going over the edge. How hurtful and untrue...

Saron Kovacevic said...


Jess Parsons said...

I breastfed both of my children (both C-section, 1st one born weighing 3 3/4 pounds). My attitude was essentially that I was going to breastfeed unless it was impossible. And I've breastfed through major pain, depression, and exhaustion, on to naturally weaning my first at 6 yo and still breastfeeding my 4 yo.


You wish those women would stop making excuses and just admit they couldn't be bothered. Yes, harsh. In my view "those women hit an obstacle they couldn't overcome" at the crucial time, with the resources available to them.

Not just the correct advice, not just the support groups, not just the truth about how great breastfeeding is, but all the resources in their lives. Money, family, time, education, social network, community support...

I know if just one of my support resources had been unavailable, I might have reached that point where it became impossible. And I do not know what any other woman's journey has been.

Ashley Clearsky said...

Breast is best.. I think if women were more aware of the health risks associated with formula feeding such as being 5 times more likely to be obese later in life, increased risk of SIDS, higher chances of becoming ill or developing allergies, and the fact that formula is missing so many ingredients that are vital to a child's brain development, they might reconsider. 14% of the powdered formula out there sitting on shelves is actually contaminated with small percentages of salmonella, because of the way it's manufactured its near impossible to keep it clean. Powdered milk is not sterile, which is why its imperative that a sterilization of bottles and boiling of water must occur, so that the boiling hot water may help to kill some of that bacteria. and think about it.. it's derived from cow's milk. Sure, cow's milk is great...for cows! Breast milk never gets recalled. and only 2% of women in the world cannot breastfeed. Honestly, I believe that a majority of the women out there are not faced by physical hindering to breastfeeding but are faced by psychological hindering instead. There are women in poor countries who breastfeed their children despite having little to eat or drink, without the option of formula feeding, they somehow continue breastfeeding with, "no milk." Formula was invented for children who had no mothers to feed them properly. it was never meant to be used on such a wide basis. I think its sad that many women fall for the shiny, appealing wrappers that color the formula aisle and convince themselves that formula feeding is, "good enough." In addition to this, formula feeding is eeexxxpeennnssive ! On average it can cost up to half of your yearly income. All that money for a product filled with synthetic vitamins that baby can hardly make use of. People can argue and argue but it doesnt change the fact that breastmilk is what is best for your child's development and health..

Ashley Clearsky said...

the horrible facts of formula feeding

Lilia Lovise said...

Ashley, please re read some of the posts above, I don't hear anyone disputing breast is best. I certainly believe it is and I was fully aware of all the benefits of breast feeding, I did my research when I was pregnant and breastfeeding was my wholehearted choice. I didn't own bottles when my son was born, I never even considered using formula so I hardly fell for the "shiny, appealing wrappers." But sometimes life doesn't work out as planned and when breast milk isn't available, what do you then suggest women feed their babies with? Because knowing all of the above facts and figures won't make you produce milk. I hope you never find yourself in my shoes.

backtobasicsmom said...

Lilia, ever heard of donor milk??? o.O formula is not the ONLY other option!

Amber Keathley said...

I couldn't agree more. I am mom who breastfed her first son for 26 months (SOLELY! NO (gasp)) formula at all. For many reasons which I will not name here because you deem them "excuses", I was physically unable BF my current 17 month old. I should be like you say above, the mom who isn't defensive as I know I truly was unable, but you know what?

You're a judgmental, piece of work. I've been on both sides of the track, and I could have written this 6 years ago, I had such contempt for "those moms" who didn't love their babies enough to try. Guess what?! It's their prerogative, either way. Your blame and intolerance only fuels the divide.

I sure hope that if you choose to have more children, your breastfeeding continues smoothly, as I wouldn't wish the amount of guilt I experience on anyone. I will not allow your ridiculous rant to affect me, and I hope others don't either.

Amber Keathley said...

Here, Here!

Lilia Lovise said...

Here, here! I can so relate when you say your only guilt is that you let your children starve for so long just so you could breastfeed, I feel exactly the same. Very well put!

Amber Keathley said...


Steph said...

Lilia, when formula isn't available, what do you then suggest people feed their babies with? God forbid any of these formula-feeding families found themselves in a disaster, such as a hurricane, tsunami, earthquake or major flood. Help isn't guaranteed to be there in the couple of hours before your baby's next feeding. It could be days. I guess we all know how that's going to turn out.
The fact is, almost every woman is able to breastfeed. Those of us who have succeeded have pushed through these same issues that most formula-feeders claim they couldn't. So hearing the excuses, after we busted our tails to make sure our babies had optimal nutrition, is just irritating buzzing in our ears.

Steph said...

How do you know you only produced 1/2 ounce per feeding?

Newmummyof1 said...

This makes me mad. As long as the babies are fed, it shouldn't matter! Breastfeeding is hard..but babies are hard full stop. People have different limits and whatever makes mums more comfortable is important I think. I personally didnt feed from the breast, I found it hard to get baby to latch on and whilst I sat at home for 3 weeks waiting for my painful stitches to heal, and learning how to care for my first baby I was in no mood to attend breastfeeding groups. I expressed milk for my baby for 3 months when I decided baby needed my time more and it was time consuming so I switched to formula. He was fine on breast milk and he is still fine after 3 months on formula. No harm done. Imo, no one should be made to feel bad about a choice they have is their choice to make.

Liz said...

How many pediatricians miss underlying conditions to poor weight gain (e.g. gluten intolerance) because they believe that there is a high rate of inadequate supply? How many don't even tell the mother she has a choice to make a dietary change because they assume breastfeeding should always be easy-peasy and a need for effort equals failure? While it is a valid choice to choose not to make a given effort, it needs to *be* a choice. Not "I can't because of X", but "X happened and the solution was too much for me."

If there is a high rate of inadequate supply how much stems from the low-fat craze?

Sam said...

How very bizarre. You villify mothers who FF as weak-willed, hypocritical, lazy, etc etc etc.... and THEN you villify them for "making excuses". Was that intentional, or just a happy accident?

I partially FF'd my first child. Socially, BF was very hard for me, although physically it was easy. I must have a thicker skin than a lot of mothers, because I absolutely agree I didn't have the balls to stand up to people on the subject. I know much more about formula now than I did then and it's a sub-par substance and not one I want my kids eating, TYSVM. You can reel off how terrible it is to me and I will nod in vehement agreement. Frankly, I wouldn't feed that stuff to my house plants, never mind my kids. I am BFing my second child, who just turned two and will probably keep going till school age at this rate. Good for her. She's never had a bottle or a drop of formula. So if you want to put me in a camp, put me in the non-defensive-has-used-formula-totally-proBF-camp.

I absolutely agree with you that we should all have the backbone to OWN OUR CHOICES. Stop whining if someone says formula is crap, stop making excuses, stop going "wahhhhhh! you're making me feel GUILTY!!!" OTOH, I think that we all have a part to play in allowing that to happen. We need to step back and ALLOW women to say "I didn't want to breastfeed" without leaping all over them for "being lazy" or "not caring enough abouy their babies" or "poisoning their kids".

For me, breastfeeding has been pretty easy. Maybe I was lucky. I have had the odd minor challenge, but I accept that my "minor challenge" is another parent's "insurmountable difficulty". In birth, no one else can tell a woman what is an acceptable level of risk for her person. In breastfeeding, the same is true for effort. It's not up to you to say what is a "genuine" reason and what is an excuse, which women "tried hard enough" and which were just glad of an excuse to quit.

When FFers feel they have to excuse their behaviour, have to justify their choice.... it is harmful to BF rates. The BFing community has to ease up on FFers, it has to be OK for a mum to say "You know what, I gave it a go and it was just too much effort for me." or "I chose to use ABS and bottles from the start." And THEN we get an HONEST picture, one that is not skewed by excuses or exaggerations. It's ONLY going to happen when we ease up on formula users, as far as I can see.


Lilia Lovise said...

Backtobasicsmom - I looked in donor milk yes, and from what I read it was only available to premature or ill babies, so it wasn't really an option for us.

Steph said...

The problem is that with all of these mothers who falsely claim they couldn't breastfeed, comes the preconception for new and expectant moms that many people can't breastfeed. This simply isn't true, yet it lingers in the back of a new mom's mind, so at the first obstacle she assumes she's one of the women who are unable to breastfeed. If new or expectant moms are told that there can be obstacles, but most are preventable or treatable and that almost every woman is able to breastfeed, I feel that they'll be more likely to keep at it.
Those women who falsely claim that they couldn't breastfeed are an insult to those who truly couldn't and wished that they could.
While the author here was perhaps a bit harsh, I agree with her that people need to just be honest about their reasons for stopping, rather than plant the idea in vulnerable moms' heads that breastfeeding is impossible for many women.

Anna G said...

The vitriol in this post is completely misplaced.
Consider this incredibly common pattern that covers many, many of the women you're attacking:

1. Someone starts out breastfeeding, because "breast is best" and she wants what's best for her baby.
2. Her baby's pediatrician, the highly trained medical professional whose job it is to protect her baby's health, wrongly tells her her baby's weight gain isn't good, her supply is low, and she needs to feed formula.
3. She follows her pediatrician's advice and feeds formula, because she thinks that's what's best for her baby in her circumstances.
4. She tells people she had to formula feed because her supply was low.

Why you would suggest that the problem in this chain is #4 is beyond me. The problem is #2. It would be a far more efficient use of resources to train medical professionals to give good advice than to try to convince every pregnant woman to ignore her doctor's advice.

Also: when people who are successful at something tell people who failed at it that the people who failed just need to admit that they're lazy and couldn't be bothered to succeed, the successful people are being horrible. (This isn't just true of breastfeeding, of course.)

Catherine Andreu said...

I think that characterizing the vast majority of women as lazy is extreme, considering it is only 14.8% of women who are exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. As someone who has struggled with breastfeeding, I would prefer to focus on finding ways that we can improve breastfeeding rates for women who choose to breastfeed and not further bullying those of us who already feel pretty guilty. We do not need an alpha of any sort making us feel any worse. I also fully support any woman’s right to decide not to breastfeed, as I am pretty supportive of women being capable of making their own decisions. I might even think we are capable enough to do things of such importance as voting! I do know from my own circle of friends that we all wanted to breastfeed and all of us started out doing so. I also know that for some, breastfeeding was easy, while for some of us it was torturous. Like anything, there were also others who struggled but were able to find ways to make it through those struggles. You may find the following study by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology helpful. I find that doubtful given the nature of your blog, but at the very least maybe someone reading this comment thread will find some compassion and understanding. The study found that successful breastfeeding outcomes may be partially determined while the child is in the womb. How amazing would it be if we knew what could be done to help the majority of mothers who overwhelmingly have every intention of breastfeeding their babies? Now this could be helpful…Your blog? Not so much. This is kind of odd considering you claim to put so much importance on breastfeeding. Is it not ironic, that as someone who struggled with breastfeeding, that I would be more of a champion of finding ways to improve breastfeeding outcomes? Interesting thought but I must get back to finding more ways to help women, which can be difficult given my (suggested) propensity for laziness.

AnnatheLactivist said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Ashley Clearsky!

Donor milk is widely available these days - so no excuses!

Formula feeders often assume that breastfeeding came easy for successful nursing mothers, but in many cases it is not so!
I fought hard to overcome hurdles with breastfeeding because I care about the health of my children. No synthetic milk produced from antibiotic filled, force pumped cows mixed with lab created vitamins and minerals (along with many other questionable, non-edible items) will ever touch my children's lips.
Formula feeding *does* affect us all. Have you ever thought about what the manufacturing process and all the waste from packaging and bottles does to our environment?
Most of you are obviously clueless.

Alpha Parent said...

Catherine, that article has been discredited many times over. A study of 180 women?? The claims made in this small 'study' do not account for the large differences in breastfeeding rates between countries, with some having 99% of mothers successfully breastfeeding.

Here's a response from The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine:

And from the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action:

A number of other organizations issued similar statements in response.

Alpha Parent said...

As I said in the article:

"Don't get me wrong, formula feeding isn't a walk in the park, but arguably breastfeeding is more intensive."

You can't pass your boobs to someone else. No one but you can feed the baby, unless you're willing to spend 20 mins attached to a pump beforehand. Also, no getting drunk, no medication of certain kinds, no clothing of certain kinds. The ease of formula is in the ability of the mother to 'pass the buck' very easily.

Alpha Parent said...

To answer your comment, "Why do you even care about how my children are fed?"

You obviously haven't read my other piece: "Why the way you feed your baby is MY business". See here:

Alpha Parent said...

"just because nursing came easy to you"

That's a gross and inaccurate assumption. You can Google to find my breastfeeding story and enlighten yourself.

Why is it assumed that when a mother successfully breastfeeds then it must have "came easy"?

Anna G said...

"And who is listening? Often it's other mothers and mothers-to-be. If they are formula feeding mothers they will nod knowingly. They know the game. If they are breastfeeding mothers, they will nod with feigned sympathy. For if a breastfeeding mother were to offer advice or woe betide, question the decision, they will be seen as a 'breastfeeding nazi'."

How about another option:

1, Nod with actual sympathy, then
2. If she seems receptive, ask (in a non-pushy tone)if she wants advice or if she's ready to be done, and
3. Demonstrate actual respect for her answer.

This is the approach I take as someone who's failed to breastfeed one and succeeded in breastfeeding another (I was actually much lazier and less self-sacrificing with the second, but the problems we had were smaller the second time). So far I have helped a few people not quit, and I'm pretty sure no one's called me a breastfeeding nazi.

LindsayR said...

Just wondering where your information on breastfeeding rates is coming from, Alpha Parent?

Karen said...

What are "acceptable" reasons for not breastfeeding? Who gets to decide? You? And come on, who are these poor, vulnerable women who are so easily swayed by these "false claims?"
What I resent is the implication that breastfeeding is the ultimate test of true motherhood and anyone who doesn't surely is either misguided, lazy, or a poor mother.
There is nothing wrong with formula, most breastfeeding studies are seriously flawed, and it's none of your business or mine why a mother makes the choices she does re: feeding her baby.

Cat London said...

I found your post really interesting and the responses even more so. The part of your blog post I found the most interesting is your discussion of "How can you tell an excuse-maker from a mother who genuinely couldn't breastfeed?"
As someone who genuinely couldn't breastfeed due to hypoplastic breasts, I find your description of "how to tell us apart" insulting. Frankly, I didn't give you permission to speak for me; nor did the other mothers who shared my struggle. You cannot differentiate me from other formula-feeders by my "level of defensiveness." You don't know me, you don't know how I feel about my inability to breastfeed, you don't know how close the pain resulting from that inability is to the surface, and you will never know because you don't care to ask. You presume to know me and you presume to know other mothers who use formula for one reason or another. Your presumption is unreasonable, judgmental, and astonishingly arrogant. Do not speak for me and do not tell people how to "spot" me. My baby is fed, clothed, and loved, and how any of that happens is not your affair, nor anyone else's.

Steph said...

You tell me: what's an acceptable reason to choose to give your child suboptimal nutrition? I'd say the inability to breastfeed is about the only acceptable reason to give your helpless baby something that carries so many risks.
These vulnerable women who are easily swayed by formula supporters are the ones who have new babies, are tired, sore and worried that their bodies are not providing for their babies the way they're supposed to.
Oh, yes, there is plenty wrong with formula. The risks have been documented time and time and time again. But if it makes you feel better to tell yourself that science is wrong, then by all means, delude yourself.
And finally, it is EVERYONE'S business to try to increase the breastfeeding rates. The fact that more than half of the country's formula is paid for with our tax money through WIC is a tiny hint that we are all involved. The fact that the U.S. has an additional $13 billion a year in healthcare costs due to formula should tell you something too. And the environmental harm? Outrageous. It's our kids and grandkids who will have to deal with the effects. But hey, as long as someone doesn't feel like troubling herself to breastfeed, who cares about the rest of the world, right?

Stacy said...

I have a family member that could easily breast feed all her kids. I couldn't, and she thought that I was crazy. I tried. I would spend countless nights crying next to my baby as he screamed in my face, refusing my breast. I tried hard. I had 2 successful weeks nursing my baby then, developed a life threatening illness that required medication my baby couldn't have through my milk. So I had to stop. My family member just assumed that I quit because it is too hard. I had countless people come up to me as I bottle fed my baby and out right called me lazy. My efforts to see lactation specialists, his pediatrician unsucessful, donor moms unavailable, I turned to formula.

Why is it assumed the unsuccessful mothers are lazy and making up stories to avoid judgement?

Karen said...

Wow - you are an arrogant, self-righteous, you-know-what. I suggest you read the Fearless Formula Feeder so you can begin to understand the real science - which is much less conclusive than you seem to believe. There is nothing "sub-optimal" about formula feeding except your disgusting attitude. Breast feeding rates will never increase when there are people like you out there ready to condemn anyone who doesn't do exactly what you want, how you want. By the way, I have four teenage/adult children - all of whom are gifted, one in grad school, one working full-time with his newly-earned bachelor's degree, one in college, and another in high school. They all were formula fed from nearly the beginning. And I choose not to tell you why because my particular circumstances and life-situation is none of your business.
Your children may be breastfed, but I hope they learn compassion and understanding somewhere - it certainly isn't coming from you.

alvarsson said...

Some of your arguments in this article are quite flawed. For example, in the section of the article called 'Scapegoating vs Genuine Excuses', you say that "Mothers who genuinely couldn't breastfeed however, know that they truly couldn't and have a valid reason, so are less racked with guilt." On what reasearch are you basing this statement? Anybody who has studied any psychology knows that guilt (or any other feeling for that matter) is not necessarily based on rational thought or reasoning. Rather, guilt is usually an attachment to judgment or fear of judgment, so it is quite sufficient that one fears being judged by others (in this case by you) in order to feel guilt. It has absolutely nothing to do with having a valid reason to quit breast feeding or not.

Later on in the article you go on by telling the mothers that are "angry because [they] had a genuine medical reason" to "redirect some of [their] anger onto the women that had the functioning breasts yet lacked the effort" and that "It is these women that fuel the 'formula feeder as lazy' stereotype." Ok, my first question is: Why should any anger be redirected at all? For what purpose? If anybody has chosen to quit breast feeding for ANY reason, this is their choise. By passing judgment, you are the one fuelling any stereotype that might exist.

In the article you also reference some studies to increase the credibility of your article, but your conclusions that follow are unfortunately incorrect or simply unsupported. For example, in the section on 'Excuses and their consequences' your references to O'Campo et al and Buxton et al are both valid, but you go on stating that "Propagandising excuses lowers the confidence of would-be breastfeeders everywhere". Where is the study to back this argument? Would you say that your article helps increase confidence in this group of people, or is it more likely that it induces more fear?

By writing this article I'm afraid that your own insecurities and need for self-validation have become pretty obvious. It ultimately takes its shape in the form of judgment. In the 'priorities section' you write "By broadcasting to people that they at least endeavoured to breastfeed, they aim to avoid the stigmatised status attached to mothers who aimed to formula feed from the start." I suggest that you use a mirror to find one of the people that created this stigma in the first place. I'm not surprised that anybody would feel the need to justify why they chose to stop breastfeeding when there are people like you around.

More important than what you raise your children on, is HOW you raise your children; So if you want them to grow up to become judgmental people, lacking compassion and empathy... then you're probably already doing a good job passing those "qualities" on to your offspring. And that's okay, it's your choice to make. Just be honest about it.

Now go give yourself another pat on the back on the expence of someone else so that you can feel a little better.

Steph said...

And you are very uneducated about the risks of formula and also very arrogant and self-righteous. To defend women who selfishly choose to feed their babies preservatives, fillers and lab-made "nutrients" when they could be giving them breastmilk is just ignorant. And to believe that it has nothing to do with the rest of us is even more ignorant.
By the way, I have an 86-year-old grandma who has been smoking for 68 years and is as healthy as a horse. This must mean that cigarettes are actually good for you, despite decades of research showing that they're not. I mean, if she's already 86 and is just fine, then the research must be flawed. Yeah, your anecdotal evidence is just as useful as mine.
As for compassion, I have all the compassion in the world for women who want to breastfeed and are unable to do so. I've known exactly two in my life. One had cancer, the other had had a Brest reduction 15 years earlier. But I have no compassion for someone who is able and chooses not to. They have no compassion for the health of their babies or the effects they're having on the rest of the world. Talk to them about learning compassion.

Catherine Andreu said...

Alpha Parent,

It would be helpful to oknow a list of countries that have 99% of mothers successfully breastfeeding, so that I can further my knowledge. This is really useful as we are trying to help mothers with their bf success.

Additionally the two responses you provided are in a direct partnership. Would you kindly provide me with the names of the number of other organizations that you are speaking of that discredit this University study?

Thanks so much for your help,


Stacy said...

That last line made me laugh. I felt the same way after reading this blog.

Stacy said...

I had perfect latch with my son. My nipples were fine, milk supply fine, my sons mouth fine. But he would not stay latched at all. I tried and tried, up until the day I went into the hospital to get a blood clot removed, and put on blood thinners for the rest of my life. Had that not happened, I probably would have quit anyways. If my son wouldnt eat it, then why sit through all that time with him crying? I could have expressed, but too poor to buy a pump good enough to get all my milk as a hand pump could only get an ounce or so out.

Even though it wasnt my fault, I felt guilty. I fell into massive ppd. No matter what I tried, told myself, and who I saw, it didn't make a difference.

I gave excuses rather then explaining my medical history. I still feel guilty and a failure. I had to give my baby formula instead of breast milk. I didnt want to. I truly wanted to exclusively nurse my baby.

So I say to you and the author, what is this debate helping? I think stuff like this is going to make women keep their problems with nursing to themselves rather then seek help in fear of this crap being directed at them.

Shay Grant said...

I make no excuses for the decision I made - it isn't a decision that requires excusing because it was the best choice for my son, and I stand by it 100%.
That's no more or less than any good parent should do.

Steph said...

You couldn't afford a pump but you could afford formula? I don't see how that works.
Regardless, if you tried everything, if your baby was checked for tongue-tie and lip-tie, if you tried a nipple shield, if you sought the help of a lactation consultant and there was for some reason no way to get your baby to stay latched, then why would you feel guilty? And how would this article have anything to do with you? This is aimed at women who quit unnecessarily and then claim that they were unable to breastfeed. If that's not you, then this shouldn't offend you in the least.

Nicola Wright said...

Brave article! But refreshing.

Several times I've heard things like "I had to give up breastfeeding, I tried for 3 days but my baby wouldn't latch." 3 days? Try 3 weeks! 3 hellish weeks (the first of which was spent ill in hospital with no sleep) of expressing and syringe feeding, a baby that was slow regaining their birth weight, me sat crying on my living room floor as my midwife told me I needed to give formula top-ups. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever gone through but I perservered and she learnt to latch in the end.

The studies you cited about maternal confidence really interested me. Whenever somebody says "I'm going to give breastfeeding a go, but I won't beat myself up if it doesn't work out," my heart just sinks. I honestly think that the reason it worked for us was because I was unwilling to accept that it couldn't. My grandmother fed my mother, my mother fed me, and I was damn well going to feed my daughter too.

What does rile me is the assumption that because we're still feeding at well past a year, I must have found it easy. This was said to me only yesterday by a HV at my daughter's one year check - "oh, you obviously didn't have any problems." Well no, we did actually! Those first 3 weeks I talked about above; not to mention carrying on with breastfeeding at 11 months when my partner had a life-threatening accident - juggling hospital visits with feeds and then looking after both of them when he came home certainly wasn't easy! The easy option would have been to have weaned her so that I could have given her to somebody else to look after. And the continuing sleepless nights as she wakes several times for a feed - I'm knackered and it's far from easy. But it's important to me, it's important for her, and that's why I carry on.

Alpha Parent said...

If you're suggesting they moaned about having to quit because they wanted a gentle pat on the back and a "there, there, formula is okay" then they're not going to get that from me no. That would be unfair on them and their babies.

When a woman shows that she is somehow not pleased with her decision to quit then I WILL offer advice on how she can continue to breastfeed.

Alpha Parent said...

To Karen

The FFF is hardly unbiased.

And enough with the personal anecdotes. They just give the impression that you're scraping barells.

Re: compassion, I couldn't have put it better than Steph. Compassion reaches further than your own back yard. How about having some social responsibility?

Alpha Parent said...

I would say the problem lies with both #2 and #4. Consider an alternative interpretation:

1. Someone starts out breastfeeding, because "breast is best" and she wants what's best for her baby.
2. Her baby's pediatrician, the highly trained medical professional whose job it is to protect her baby's health, wrongly tells her her baby's weight gain isn't good, her supply is low, and she needs to feed formula.
3. Her every instinct tells her to breastfeed her baby. She is confused by the ped's advice so goes online to discuss the issue with other mothers, She also does a simple Google search.
4. After weighing up all her research she decides to carry on breastfeeding, using a pump and herbs to help increase her supply. After phoning the LLL helpline, she is comforted by her decision.

Anna G said...

That's not an alternative interpretation--it's the ridiculous current model under which we expect women to breastfeed right now: requiring each individual woman to question and disregard the advice of the professionals whose entire job it is to know what's best for infant health. Unsurprisingly, that model doesn't work very well.

If my doctors were giving people terrible medical advice about some other subject, and people were following it, the response would not be to blame people for being too lazy to do their own research and figure out that their doctors were wrong. It would be to be outrage at the doctors' ignorance and a massive effort to correct that ignorance.

Only where it serves the "mommy wars" do we blame individuals for following medical advice.

adventuresandjapes said...

This whole thing reminds me of the Yorkshireman sketch on Monty Python. "Cracked nipples? You were lucky!"

Some people can't breastfeed, some people don't want to breastfeed, some people pretend that they can't breastfeed to get people off their backs for not wanting to breastfeed, some people breastfeed easily, some people breastfeed after a major struggle.

I don't see where we can find wiggle room for judging others.

Walk your own path.

Alpha Parent said...

Anna I completely agree that medical 'professionals' dishing out inaccurate advice/orders is a pertinent issue. It is cruel, undermining and harmful towards mothers and needs to be addressed ASAP. The sad state of affairs is that I doubt this is going to happen any time soon, thus regrettably it falls upon mothers to do their own research, preferably before their baby is born. After all, they have 9 months to prepare right?

uncommonnonsense1 said...

Thank u! This is exactly how I feel, and it makes me really sad to see not only such a vicious attack on mothers who can not or do not breastfeed, but also the number of women on here who seem to agree with this nasty post.

I feel very blessed to be able to offer breast milk to my baby, though I've had to turn to using a pump due to nursing complications. I feel blessed because I really wanted to give her breast milk for her first year, and luckily I have the family support and time to keep pumping (being a stay at home mom to just one child). I would NEVER, however, tell another mom that her choice to prioritize other things over breast milk is in any way wrong or lazy.

I believe most mothers try and make the best choices they can for their families; sometimes that includes not breastfeeding or pumping. If that is what is best for them, no one has the right to say otherwise.

uncommonnonsense1 said...

Thank u! This is exactly how I feel, and it makes me really sad to see not only such a vicious attack on mothers who can not or do not breastfeed, but also the number of women on here who seem to agree with this nasty post.

I feel very blessed to be able to offer breast milk to my baby, though I've had to turn to using a pump due to nursing complications. I feel blessed because I really wanted to give her breast milk for her first year, and luckily I have the family support and time to keep pumping (being a stay at home mom to just one child). I would NEVER, however, tell another mom that her choice to prioritize other things over breast milk is in any way wrong or lazy.

I believe most mothers try and make the best choices they can for their families; sometimes that includes not breastfeeding or pumping. If that is what is best for them, no one has the right to say otherwise.

uncommonnonsense1 said...

Spoken like a woman who has never had to bottle feed for any length of time. As someone who has breastfed, formula fed and pumped for months on end, trust me when I say that breastfeeding - when everything is actually working - is by far the easiest course.

Also, giving up alcohol and coffee isn't really such a big deal for most people, and it certainly isn't the reason most women give up breastfeeding. For women who have to take medications that don't allow them to breastfeed, that is between them and their doctors. Besides, I would think it better they didn't breastfeed than risk passing along something harmful to their babies.

Beauty Mom Tester said...

I have to say that I have reread this article a couple of days after reading it the first time. Since then there have been many comments. I wanted to post one more. I do think a big thing about this article is being missed by many of the commentators. The Alpha Parent is basically saying she is sick of "excuses"; not valid reasons, not a reason you as a mom are ok with making.

I am a new mom and I will tell you all something that perhaps you have forgotten while being moms that hopefully you at least knew when you were younger before kids...HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR OWN ABILITY TO MAKE DECISIONS. Mothers come up with excuses because they do not want to admit that their decision may not be the norm or perhaps wasn't the best at the time. Own up to it, be confident in your decisions, it makes a HUGE difference to us new moms coming in trying to join all of this. I knew nothing of this breastfeeding/bottle feeding debate until after I had my son. I merely thought it was just a choice. I researched both options talked to moms I knew on both sides and made a choice and researched that choice. I would like to assume all moms do the same when they make choices for their kids. I researched cloth diapers vs. disposable, co-sleeping and crib sleeping, pacifier and no pacifier, carrier or sling, among thousands of others and each choice I am proud to make. Is it the correct? the norm? Perhaps not, perhaps so, and some I'm really not even sure but it works for us. COME ON LADIES WHERE HAS YOUR CONFIDENCE GONE! What is it about giving birth that comes with this tremendous amount of guilt? If not for my non-mommy friends I'm not sure I would've gotten my confidence back, but when they tell me "wow I can't believe you did that, you are so good with him" I think Damn I am, yet it is rare I hear that from moms.
It is sad that no matter your parenting decision you are berated on it. STOP BERATING each other and HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR DECISIONS. Tell the real pros and cons of your decisions. Help us new moms coming into this with real facts and information, not silly excuses so you don't look bad, when really you are the only one who sees yourself as looking bad. We have enough wrong information from the media, manufacturers and even sometimes misguided medical professionals but the best help should be from other moms. When someone asks you how you feed your baby, tell them, tell them how, why you chose it (the real reason) and why it works for you. Perhaps you have a pro or con they didn't know or think of and you can offer sound advice they are not getting elsewhere. HAVE CONFIDENCE MOMS AND BE THE WOMEN YOU ALWAYS HAVE BEEN!

Anna G said...

I understand thinking the most feasible solution is encouraging moms to do their own research, because that's about all a non-medical person can really do (that's addressing #3 in my list). What I DON'T understand is thinking a reasonable solution is to berate those who didn't as lazy.

Anna G said...

I love the Monty Python comment.

The ridiculous thing about these stories is that it's not like you can just make a list of challenges you overcame and say that therefore, you had it just as bad as the person you're talking to who couldn't manage it and you know they could have managed it if they'd put in as much effort as you.

I've breastfed one child despite a C-section, tongue tie, bloody nipples for weeks, recurrent thrush that didn't respond to medication, terrible pediatrician advice about weight and supplementing, and an early return to work. With another child, I had challenges that might sound similar but were in practice, for whatever reason, a lot worse, and I couldn't manage it. My success story does not invalidate my failure story, any more than any of these commenters' success stories invalidate others' failure stories.

lettersfromladycurd said...

I added my own response on my blog rather than clog up this comment thread with my long winded rambling thoughts

VintagePleasure said...

As a mother who bottle fed her first two daughters and breast fed the last two I have experienced the stigma, guilt , pros and cons of both 'sides' and that's what we have done. We have created sides where we judge each others decisions instead of showing compassion for why those decisions are made. Why women lack the confidence to tell it as it is and how they really feel. Lots of situation make women feel they don't want to breast feed but I doubt many do it because they are lazy. Bottle feeding isn't the easy option it is still hard work. It may be easier to let someone else take over a feed now and then but it also takes much more preparation and organisation than breast feeding. I preferred breast feeding because I found it easier and meant I could be lazy and didn't have to get out of bed in the middle of the night! To my children it has made no difference to their development or health in any way I can see. For us as a family we chose the right thing for us at the time. That was our choice and not something I have to justify to anyone.
We need to show compassion and support for fellow mums not add to their guilt. I

Shay Grant said...

I've noted in a few responses that people are saying their vitriol is only directed at mothers who make excuses for bottle feeding. As I mentioned before, I feel no need to make excuses because I know I'm doing the right thing.
I wonder if any of these caring citizens who feel so offended by the excuses have ever stopped to think that perhaps if they stopped bullying bottle feeding parents, then these harassed mothers would stop trying to justify their choices? It seems logical to me.
Oh also to those who claim that they could walk into a school classroom and pick out the bottlefed babies from the breastfed ones, I welcome you to try. I've worked with children for over 13 years and I'll be damned if I can pick which babies were fed which way.

BabyBlogger said...

Dear Lactivists,

I know "Breast is Best." It’s good for brain development, immunity and growth. Formula companies are desperately trying replicate breast milk and simply can’t figure out its illusive properties.

Formula feeding my daughter was never an option. I pushed hard for a successful, natural birth at home so I could get the most amount of bonding time with little to no disruptions. In our birthing class my husband and I were informed of all feeding options. At one point he suggested we buy a canister of formula just in case there were any issues. I quickly responded with a sharp snap, “that’s not an option!” Discounting, discarding and flat out ignoring all the negative comments about the difficulties of breast feeding.

You see, I thought every mom produced ample milk and there simply were two types of moms- those who chose to breastfeed and those who were too selfish and chose not to breastfeed. I thought milk production was something that could be controlled, coaxed, and the with a little TLC, voilĂ , the "food of love" would come pouring out. Oh how wrong, naive and silly I was to think for a second it would be so easy or I, Carmen, would have any problems.

The first week was miserable. Sore nipples, bad latching and hormones flying all over the place. You could cut the tension circulating through the house with a knife. Hardy conducive to the holistic journey I was going for. I was chained to the couch, showers were a treat and all my shirts were stained with nipple cream, and sleep. Ha! Who needs sleep? My poor bub wasn’t latching well so I resorted to syringe feeding whilst my tits healed. I felt utterly disgusting.

Weeks two and three weren’t as bad. My milk came in, I was pushing through the lip biting pain, and Alexandra seemed to get the hang of it. I was still chained to the couch and no improvement on the Zzzzzzz’s. I had seen two lactation consultants and was hopeful that my little one would be a pro. The fairy tale of sitting at a coffee shop and popping her on the boob whenever she needed would soon come to fruition.

Then....the unthinkable. “What do you mean she’s lost 100g!?” “I’m feeding her constantly, constantly, the feeding never stops.” Tears are streaking down my face as the midwife is telling me. “You must take her to children’s A&E immediately.” “I will call you in so there’s no delay.” I quickly collected my dirty self, popped Alexandra in the pram and off we were to children’s A&E.

It took no time at all for the pediatrician to see I had a hungry baby on my hands. She asked me (not told me) if she could introduce a bit of formula. I agreed. Alexandra hated it. She cried throughout the entire feeding, but at the same time you could see the satisfaction of full on her face. She passed out, milk drunk. Hooray! I hadn’t seen that in such a long time.

I wanted Alexandra to be happy and healthy. My perfect little girl had become irritable in the last week and here I was thinking she had gas or maybe colic. In my perfect world every mom produces enough milk. Not producing never occurred to me. I called my mom crying. I was the cause of Alexandra’s unhappiness. I, her mom, didn’t see she was hungry and losing weight. I felt like such a bad mother.

So you see lactivists, yes, breast is best, but there are always two sides to the coin. We mothers who feed our children formula are not bad mothers. We are not trying to put ourselves first. We are all trying to do the best we can.

Ultimately, I pumped and supplemented. I finally gave up my efforts on March 12, 2012. and Alexandra had her last bag of breast milk on March 27, 2012. To this day I get misty eyed thinking I couldn’t naturally provide for my child. But a mothers guilt of not having a happy healthy baby is much greater than the guilt of not breastfeeding.

Owlissa said...

It would be of great benefit to all of us if we could raise those breastfeeding rates, but we aren't going to raise them by abusing women who have already chosen to stop. When we're up against so much already, it hardly seems fair to sit up on a high horse deciding who has proper reasons, and who just has excuses. When the societal or personal pressure to stop nursing is greater than the desire to continue, that is a proper reason.

Catherine Andreu said...

Alpha Parent,

Still waiting on the list of countries with 99% bf rates and the names of the "number of other organizations that issued similar statements." The World Allinace for Breastfeeding and The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine are a partnership.

I can appreciate a lengthy debate, but when you start stating things as fact, you need to be able to back up those statements.

I have not heard of any country with a 99% bf rate, but if it does exist I would appreciate you sharing the info.


Alpha Parent said...

Catherine, as you wish:


"In countries where there is little or no formula advertising and hospitals support mothers who want to breastfeed, rates are much higher. Sweden has a breast-feeding rate of 97 per cent. In Norway it is 99 per cent and in Denmark 98 per cent of women breastfeed."

molly mouse said...

I got linked here from Pinterest to your Timeline of a Breatsfeed Baby. That was an informative and helpful post. Then I read this. And THEN I read your post on how other women's feeding "choices" are your business. I have to say you're doing a major disservice to breastfeeding and you should be ashamed of yourself.

If your goal truly is to want women to breastfeed because you care about their babies, you should rethink your strategy. I will be having my first baby soon. I want to breastfeed and I am looking for all types of support and information to help me with that. YOU are extremely unhelpful. You could very well dispense facts and information (including every point you made in the "it's my business" post) without the accusatory, self-righteous, shameful tone.

You didn't write these posts to educate mothers or to defend the rights of babies. You wrote them to be mean and make yourself feel better about your choices/believes. You must know that your shaming words do not make women feel empowered to breastfeed. I will continue my search for breastfeeding support elsewhere and have already un-Pinned your other post. As helpful as it was, I don't want to lead any other mothers to your mean-spirited views on what should be a very positive topic.

P.S. The choices I make in my own home, with my own family, really aren't any of your damn business.

molly mouse said...

I am also a teacher and I agree 100%. I do understand the extreme benefits of breastfeeding, but I also know there are far more important factors at play when raising happy, kind, productive community members.

Catherine Andreu said...

Alpha Parent,

I may start calling myself a factivist. The link you provided from The Irish Medical Times is only for healthcare professionals, which I am not. However the quote that you apparently took from the article (noted above) is misleading. The rates are not 99 percent in those countries. These rates are the percentage of women who start out breastfeeding while in hospital. The rate for exclusively breastfed infants is more like this:

Norway: 3 months 62%, 4 months 44%, 6 months 10%
Sweden: 3 months no data, 4 months 60%, 6 months 18%
Denmark: 3 months 48%, 4 months 52%, 6 months no data

I find it interesting that at 6 months these rates are fairly similar to the U.S., which has a 14.4% rate for exclusively breastfed infants. Well, except for the fact that Norway is actually behind the U.S. at 10%.


I also looked at Unicef, as they have a breastfeeding statistical database ( but there was no data for Norway, Sweden or Denmark.

While the statistics overall for breastfeeding are encouraging for these nations, implying that 99% of mothers are breastfeeding is exaggerated and misleading. You are doing yourself and women a great disservice.


Alpha Parent said...

Your stats are incorrect, especially for Norway. See:

pickngrin said...

I don't think that I can say much that hasn't already been said. I do however want to address two statements that I read above. The first was discussing compassion and how no compassion will be felt for mothers who don't try to breastfeed. Number one: after reading this blog, I don't believe you have compassion period. Even if they did try you feel that their inability to continue makes them selfish, lazy unfit mothers. Number two: I can only speak for myself but I don't remember asking you to feel compassion for me. I couldn't care less what your views of my mothering choices are. I don't want nor do I need compassion from anyone.
The second statement I want to address is the one that you cleverly said that moms have nine months to prepare, right? Wrong! With my son we had three months. You see he is adopted. We weren't looking to adopt. Both of his birth parents were in prison. She knew that when he was born she would have no choice but to give him up. She called us in January and he was born in March.
We have tried to conceive for 14 years and nothing but numerous miscarriages and broken hearts to show for our efforts. We were finally going to be parents and as happy as we were we were also scared. We selfishly spent the time hiring lawyers, consulting with social services, adoption counselors and trying to create a home that we felt good about bringing a new baby into. We selfishly spent our money on legal fees, a crib, car seat, blankets, and clothing for a baby. I did that instead of spending the money on doctors and medications to force my body to lactate or buy expensive donor milk, which I would never do in the first place. So my child had formula from day one.
Jump to nine years later. He has scored off the charts for IQ and intelligence. He is gifted academically. Instead of playing video games, he reads anatomy and physiology books. He told us when he was barely three that he was going to be the doctor that travels into space with NASA's finest. He has never been sick other than minor colds. He is smart because his selfish lazy parents never got tired of answering his questions or nurturing his passion for learning and discovering. He is healthy because his unfit parents taught him to eat right and take care of himself.
If you truly want to help moms breastfeed successfully, try a different approach. They can't hear you from where they are, you are sitting too high on that horse. What's the horses's name? Judgment? Know-it-All?

Mrs R said...

And who made you the expert?

Bren said...

Well, I was told to not really go by how much I pumped (I guess it will always make you think that you produce less than you do) so the lactation consultants would have me weight the baby, then feed here, then weigh her again. I was told this was the most accurate way to get an idea of how much you produce.

But, how did I know that I wasn't producing enough? So so SO many other ways...

Bren said...

I used donor milk. But it ended up being contaminated and, essentially, being "recalled". The baby of the mother who donated it ended up in the hospital.

We don't have donor banks where I live, so any donor milk you get is untested...

Bren said...

@Alpha Parent - I think that in terms of what is "easier", it's hard to compare because it really depends on your personality. For me, if I had produced more milk, breastfeeding might have been easier because I had no latch issues, I don't drink, and I don't often "pass the buck" when it comes to getting others to feed the baby, nor do I "bottle prop".

But, I absolutely can see why, for others, breastfeeding would be the more difficult option. I was just happy to see someone else acknowledge that formula feeding can also be a pain in the butt. I think your blog has a list somewhere on it that shows the difference between preparing powdered formula for feeding vs. whipping out a boob - I was thinking more along those lines.

Alpha Parent said...

Bren, 'test weighing' as they call it, is not an accurate gauge of milk intake. Here's some info:

What other ways did you know/assume you weren't producing enough? said...

As a progressive parenting author and counsellor, I consider this article brave and refreshing. I think many women sadly follow the inaccurate advice of midwives and doctors when they hit breastfeeding problems, but yes many make excuses in the early weeks when it is hard work. Like any new skill, it takes time to learn it, and mothers need to stand up for their babies and children an perservere through the rough patches. All this talk about some mothers having the right to have other priorities is so misguided. There is no more important job that raising your child. NOTHING ELSE EVEN COMES CLOSE. Babies need breastfeeding for close attachment and their health. To deny them that for our own convenience, or our lack of education, is to deny them what they truly need.

Unknown said...

I hear you. I was feeding ALL THE TIME (like literally, she'd be latched for hours at a time with no break) and almost had to be hospitalized for dehydration. I tried for four months to increase my supply. I felt as guilty as you, and now wish I hadn't wasted so much time on those emotions for something that was out of my control. If you have any children in the future, good luck to you!

Unknown said...

Another reason not to blame mothers, then, for getting bad advice (Although, with respect, the LLL is hardly an unbiased website to be quoting)

Anyway, you did ask for other ways that I know I wasn't producing enough: My daughter was losing weight and never gaining it back, was dehydrated (ZERO wet poopy diapers, dry cracked lips that would bleed), and would not stop screaming every time I tried to finish a feeding. She'd be latched for hours. When she'd latch, I could only detect swallowing about three times and that was that. I got second and third opinions from lactation consultants because I refused to believe it.

Honestly, I feel that I was neglectful by waiting so long to introduce formula, since she almost had to be hospitalized. Afterwards, I used a lactation aid so that I could formula feed and breastfeed at the same time, and tried for four months to increase my supply. Don't anyone dare tell me I didn't try hard enough!

Since then, I've been diagnosed as having improperly formed milk ducts, which would explain why my milk deficiency was so extreme.

In your opinion, what is the best way to determine whether "low milk supply" is real or not?

Unknown said...

I have no idea why this is signing me in as "unknown"...weird..!!!

LindsayR said...

Hmm, Catherine's source seems much more credible.

Catherine Andreu said...

Alpha Parent,

My resources were from a website using government statistics from a multitude of countries. Your "stats" from the life and syle section of a website.

I'm with LindsayR:)

Alpha Parent said...

The argument still stands: to suggest that most women who give up breastfeeding are suffering from a testosterone imbalance is absurd. How ever did we thrive as a species before formula.

SAHM I am said...

I am one of those so-called "breastfeeding nazis" and I would rather hear a mom say she stopped or didn't because she didn't want to or it didn't fit into her lifestyle than to hear a clearly fabricated excuse. If we are all supposed to agree that it's the mother's choice how she feeds her baby and that choice should not affect how she is judged by other people then we should act like it! Making excuses for a decision that you legitimately WANTED to make undermines the legitimacy of that choice. I agree that it is harmful for future mothers to have an unrealistic idea of breastfeeding's physical challenges. I feel a strong reaction to this article because I have been one of those "scapegoats" for breastfeeding failure she mentions above. I've had people roll their eyes at me for being a "breastfeeding nazi" while in the same breath BLAME me for their "failure" because I wasn't around to support them or I didn't take it upon myself to give them unsolicited advice on breastfeeding.

Mrs. Trophy Wife said...

Lovely. Instead of encouraging and promoting the beauty and healthiness of breastfeeding, you bash basically every woman who has ever chosen not to due to whatever "excuse" she may have. You do realize that instead of making those women perhaps reconsider quitting early next time, you've just made them defensive and angry. You have, essentially, turned off every single person who read this post who isn't a lactivist.

As a mother who sought help when my three-month-old went on a nursing strike which no one could solve, and so I chose to pump for an entire year to give him breastmilk, I'm disgusted by your "Holier than Thou" attitude and disrespectful tone.

What an embarrassing post for all of us who have attempted to support breastfeeding mothers and mothers who are on the fence.

hippiemama2 said...

Maybe you're harboring some guilt? this article is about women who don't bother to try because it's not worth their time. obviously in your case you gave it your all and it didn't work out. It's unusual for most women to fight and save their nursing relationship as much as you did and,therefore, the opinion in this article(I would say ) doesn't apply to you.

Buffymom9 said...

If I decide to make a big fuss about the inferior and deleterious ingredients in formula will I be flagged as a other who is not supportive but rather flaming the fans of discord? There is an honest discussion about the ingredients in formula that is not being made.

donna bean said...

personally I think the hardest thing to battle when breastfeeding is other people scuppering your attempts. I managed to feed through my baby being in special care but even the medical people did things which could have effected my supply. You have to be determined and I do agree that quite often some women are just not determined enough. Maybe years of being in a society where bottle feeding is pushed and promoted is responsible.

Layne Stalvey said...

Oh my gosh, silly me, I thought you were the Alpha Parent...I didn't realize you were God. You're obviously the All-knowing Almighty himself, how else you be able to spew such knowledge into the world? And I feel so much more in touch with my own guilt of being an uncommitted and neglectful mother now that I know I've been judged and found wanting by you, God. I'm not even going to share my "excuse" with you, because frankly I know you would find someway to rationalize that it's just bull. You're a condescending twit and I sure hope your children never read this one day, I think they'd be embarrassed because I'm sure you have them fooled into thinking that you are a compassionate human being with a heart.

Buffymom9 said...

From a biological and evolutionary standpoint we are mammals who are losing the art of the trait that defines us. We aren't just giving up on breastfeeding but we are giving up on growing and making our own foods. We are too busy and too mentally diverted from these basic skills and needs that keep us healthy and aids our survival. We are paying a price for our convenience with our obesity and lifestyle diseases. We should all be thinking about the basics of what we eat.

Donna said...

I thought I would share my story with you all. When I fell pregnant in 1997 I was always going to breast feed my baby.He was due in March 1998 but decided to come in dec 1997. He was whisked straight away to special care.A midwife came over and said she would help show me how to express.For the first few days this worked ok.Then my son got very poorly he was 2lb 14oz and unable to breath by himself.Unable to even touch my son expressing became more and more difficult I struggled on for 6 weeks tears rolling down my face. I was expressing less and less.As my son grew stronger he was having more and more formular and learning to suck a bottle.I was so happy to see him start to grow that all thoughts of breast feeding went out of the window.18mths later I gave birth to a baby girl who at 2 weeks late and weighing 8lb 2oz went straight on the breast and stayed there for a year. So if it wasn't for formular my son would not be alive but as I had a healthy birth the 2nd time I got to enjoy the whole experience of breastfeeding.

Francine Mack said...

I have no sympathy or women who say they stopped breastfeeding due to being "tied down" or "mentally unstable". It is all just an excuse and the problem is that women are now incapable of doing...well, WHAT A MOTHER SHOULD DO. There should be no alternative, "well I tried". Kudos to women that actually did try and had every obstacle in their way beating them down to failure, I know it is made very hard on purpose. But you are absolutely right about women that get so defensive, it comes from guilt. Duh. Formula is for babies that cannot have breastmilk, so anyone getting defensive over formula is obviously misusing it.

You should seriously reconsider being a parent if you do not want to provide your children with the basic necessities of life. Leave the formula for people who NEED it. Poor babies.

clh said...

This makes me so sad. Pitting mothers against mothers is the worst. We should be lifting one another up--it's a hard job. I didn't breastfeed and I don't owe Alpha Mom or anyone else the reasons why. Those "lazy" women she referred to with the lame excuses she spoke of were probably just trying to come up with something polite to say to be left alone. Most mothers I meet make their choices for their children out of compete and total love. Even if I don't agree with their choices I respect them. It is not our place to judge one another. And just to be clear, I have many friends who breastfeed and I will gladly fight for their right to do so whenever and wherever they chose. This isn't about breastfeeding or formula to me. It's about a mother bullying other mothers and teaching my children to stand up to bullies is one of MY priorities.

Francine Mack said...

Thank you for your story. That sounds really rough not even being able to hold him, so glad he is healthy. It's nice to hear a formula story that is honest, realistic and not riddled with defenses. Keep up the good work, mama!

erin said...

Wow this was so nicely worded. I am still exclusively breast feeding my 8 month old and am definitely considered a breast feeding nazi by most, but couldn't agree more with the points you made here!

Francine Mack said...

COULD NOT AGREE MORE!!! What will society be like if we are all fed a fake powder? The Matrix, anyone?!

Francine Mack said...

Just like a commenter below, we have lost touch with nature. Women don't care about the home and the family, they care about what society makes them think they should care about. We are not bombarded by media in our household and we definitely can tell there is a huge gap of intellect in society.

Francine Mack said...

AMEN, thank you.

Sherri Smith said...

This is a very harsh opinion, and would hate for you the author to experience the feelings that you have when you are unable to continue breastfeeding. I am unable to get my DS to directly BF due to his high palette. I saw several LCs and tried nipple shields, took him to a chiropractor twice a week for two months. I still try EVERY SINGLE DAY to get him to BF. But, since I am a SAHM I am able to pump for him. I am now at 3 months of pumping and only had to give him formula for a few days. What I hate is the judgement and questioning from other mothers when they don't understand how hard I have tried, and how hard I am still trying. I used to cry every time my son would reject me. I miss the bonding we would have while nursing. If I had to go back to work as a teacher, there would be no one to cover my class of 34, 5 and 6 year olds, every two hours for me to pump. It's just not possible! I hope you don't ever have to experience that!

Francine Mack said...

Wait 40 years when all the effects of formula start to kick in! :-)

Melissa said...

I am so over this "breastfeeding war." If everyone would do what they feel is right for their OWN baby and quit judging what everyone else is doing - we would all be better off! I chose not to breastfeed all 3 of my kids - and I don't feel "guilty" about anything. It was my choice & I - nor anyone else - should have to justify their choice. Back off with your 'holier than thou' attitude & keep your ridiculous opinions to yourself. I will not be reading this blog again.

Adina said...

What comes across as not pushy to you can be insulting to the person you are talking to. Hence the frustration expressed in the post.

Francine Mack said...

Karen, let us know how your kids' health is when they are middle aged. "There is nothing "sub-optimal" about formula feeding" REALLY?! :-0 is today backwards day?! Because there definitely is and it is definitely a medical consensus that formula should ONLY BE USED FOR MEDICAL NEED.

AnnatheLactivist said...

You are exactly right, Buffymom 9. Breastfeeding is a lost art form and it's a shame! People are delusional if they think "we're just fine", because we're not! We are getting fatter and sicker by the year! But people still try to convince themselves that it's not connected to the powdered crap. Those poor children.

AnnatheLactivist said...


Francine Mack said...

The attitude that women should "just do what is best for them" is exactly the problem that KEEPS this going. Eh, just feed em WHATEVER!! It doesn't matter!

Francine Mack said...

Keep up the good work! Your work is required to provide you with a place and time to pump, look up your local laws.

missgline said...

Does anyone care to share some breastfeesing tips? For low supply. I can only pump cuz my daughter was born at 27weeks and is still in the NICU but is now almost 2months and id like to continue breast feeding(: if you can please email me at thankyou(:

pickngrin said...

There is just so much in this that makes me shake my head.

1. So in your opinion, a mother battling serious PPD, on the verge of a nervous breakdown and is beginning to hate her situation should continue to put herself and her baby (who most certainly picks up on their mothers attitude and mood) through that no matter what? Nice....

2. What a mother "should do"? Mothers indeed should be able to provide her children with the basic necessities of life: food, clothing and shelter. While I am not a BF'er I happen to agree that if all circumstances fall in line and mothers can and want to breastfeed, then by all means, they should. But I also feel that every mother has the right to choose what works for her and the baby. But what I have rarely heard a lactivist include in the "what is best" speech, is that unconditional, pure love should be considered a necessity of life. But then again I have heard plenty day that FF'ers must not love their children as much as BF'ers. Which anyone who says that or even agrees with it is a completer moron.

3. Maybe I am reading this wrong but it seems like lactivists feel there is no valid excuse what so ever for using formula. So then who are these "poor babies" who NEED it? According to what I have read here, women shouldn't have the God given right to become a mother unless they breastfeed. No matter what it takes. Some women are wonderful, loving, caring mothers regardless of how they feed their child. And for those who say bonding and attachment are hindered by bottle feeding, you are just wrong. You don't love your child more than I do mine. That is a FACT!

Kimberly Abalos said...

Also, we would not go extinct if some mothers didn't BF. In previous cultures, you lived with other family members who would nurse your child or you had a wet nurse. Only in the last century or more did we really start moving away from family.

Kimberly Abalos said...

I totally agree with you. I breastfed/pumped my 1st solely for 6 months then did both until 11 months. My 2nd got sick and couldn't nurse and breathe at the same time. She was in the ICU. I pumped but soon after she got better, she wouldn't nurse and even pumping religiously, my supply diminished until I stopped at 3 months. I don't think I harmed either child for life because I didn't BF for long enough. Why do we base your competence as a mother on one thing? I get the impression that I could beat my kids, but if I breastfeed her until she is 6, I am an excellent mother. There is more to being a mother than how you feed your kid for one small part of their life.

Kimberly Abalos said...

Also, we would not go extinct if some mothers didn't BF. In previous cultures, you lived with other family members who would nurse your child or you had a wet nurse. It is only "recently" that we started moving away from our families.

Khyraen said...

What I read: Women need to be honest with other women about their feeding choices.

Women who are not honest about WHY they chose to stop bf contribute to the impression that bfing is impossible for many, which takes away another woman's right to make her choice based on accurate facts. Instead, she may give up her goals prematurely because some moms haven't learned that when you parent, how you feed your baby is just the beginning of controversial choices you will make for your child. Co-sleep or sleep train, circ or intact, vax or non-vax, Baby Wise or Dr Sears, get a job or hand them cash, fb at 10 or read their emails...mothers need to learn to make these choices and make sure they are honest to themselves about why they did and confident enough in these choices to stand up to pressure and not make excuses.

What I didn't read: I get to decide if you've tried hard enough. FF moms don't love their kids. Women should be forced to bf. There is no such thing as a woman who cannot bf.

She said, let's be honest and in doing so allow other women to have an honest view of this choice. As long as lies are being made, well, there is the implication to other moms who chose to FF or who decided it wasn't worth the struggle that they should be ashamed of their choice. There is a lack of trust in women to make the best choice for their family--instead, we feel we have to justify. And there is a false impression of how bfing works.

As a mom who decided for her children bf was worth very great sacrifice, the stories of so many women who "couldn't bf" came into my mind while I was struggling to bring in my milk with a pump for my 2 lb preemie. Waking for the day and getting ready to dive 40 min one way to bring what little milk I could make to my daughter after 3 or 4 30 min naps, I would hear my own thoughts crying out to me to just quit. ("No one will blame you. It doesn't work for a lot of women. Sometimes your milk never really comes in. You just might be one of those who can't make enough this time. Maybe your too old. You really need your sleep.")

Now, I understand that not every woman wants to endure a 5 month long waking coma to achieve bfing, I get it if it isn't for her and can't say that I blame her, but I really wanted to bf, and it's wrong to justify why other women have to say lies that make it harder for women who are in a difficult point in their bfing relationship, like I was. I "got lucky" in not being derailed by discouragement. I was determined, had good LC support, had a husband who helped me in the most difficult hours with the pump set up and clean up, had nursed 5 other children, and had discovered term bfing (how much more you are willing to undergo if you see bfing as a thing that last 2 or 4 or more years than if you struggle for months for something you imagine should/will only last for a year at most!) so I did make it. But I am sure I am not the only one to hear the siren song of inevitable failure as a result of other women's excuses, and not everyone is as stubborn, nor has as much support and experience as I do. The damage done by other's lies is real!

Calling for truth isn't fueling the Mommy Wars. We have been called here to be honest with ourselves and others so that FF'ing moms can show other FF'ing moms that good moms sometimes chose to FF and so that women who think bfing is important and want to chose it can see that, if they are willing to struggle and it is worth it to them, it almost always works out.

aalderman said...

To each their own. Assuming abuse isn't the case, it is none of your business how others mother their children. Bully. How sad.

Kattyjack said...

So what you're saying is that chatting online with other mothers (who are not professionals, btw) and doing a simple Google search should trump what a DOCTOR says?

And here I thought the smart answer would have been, go get a second opinion from another DOCTOR (certainly not, hey go online - because the Internet is SO reliable).

And people read your blog why?

Kattyjack said...


It would make sense that Alpha Parent gets her information from a life and style section of a website because apparently she thinks that getting advice from message boards and mommy forums (oh, and Google searches) is much better than the advice one receives from her doctor.

Kattyjack said...

Tell us, Dr. Francine Mack (cause you are a doctor, right?), in 40 years, how will one be able to tell if an illness is the result of being formula fed? Does some kind of tattoo magically appear on those who got formula when they were babies?

You know what is the funniest thing about your ridiculous response? I am nearly 40 years old and any time I've been to the doctor, never once - NEVER ONCE - have I been asked or has it been assumed that I was bottle fed.

All four of my grandparents died of disease. Three from cancer and one from Diabetes complications. And wouldn't ya know it, they were ALL breast fed.

Me thinks you need to shut up.

Kattyjack said...

They do not need breastfeeding for close attachment. What they need are mothers who love them, regardless of how they are fed.

And to say they need that for close attachment is an insult to all the FF mothers who are as close to their children as BF mothers.

Shame on you.

Kattyjack said...

And who are you to quantify who is giving an excuse and who's not, the excuse nazi? Do you have some sort of bullsh*t radar attached to your skull?

Do not assume to know because of your few experiences.

By the by, how are we to know you're not bullsh*tting us? I mean, have you REALLY been one of those scapegoats, or are you just trying to make nice with all the other "breastfeeding nazis"?

See what I mean?

Melissa said...

I think maybe women who choose not to breastfeed for whatever "real" reason, feel the need to make excuses because of judgmental people who call them lazy and accuse them of not having their baby's best interest as a number 1 priority. I fully support a women's right to breastfeed and think our society should make it easy and pleasant for those who choose to do so. I have the same courtesy and respect for those mother's who choose to formula feed their babies. Mothering is hard enough without MOTHERS judging and lecturing each other on the choices they make. Let's focus on real tragedies like starving children and child abuse. Just my two cents. And I breastfed my daughter and mostly bottlefed my son. I had reasons for it, not excuses and I stand behind them. And I love both children with all my heart regardless of how I fed them when they were infants.

Dori in SF said...

I am one of those women who has tried EVERYTHING and simply do not make enough milk. My baby is 3 months old and from the beginning I was dedicated to BF exclusively. I did extensive research beforehand, bought/read books, etc. I was fully prepared and delighted when my baby girl latched on within the first few minutes of her life. Everyone praised us and said what a natural breastfeeding pair we were. I fed her round the clock in the hospital. Two separate lactation consultants came in and said our latch was perfect. When we were discharged 2 days later from the hospital she had lost some weight but was still within the normal range. 5 days later she was down 15% of her body weight... and my extremely pro-EBF pediatrician (one I had expressly chosen because she was so pro-EBF) was very worried. I went to latch clinics and several sessions with two very prominent lactation consultants. When we did test feeds and weights it turned out my LO was only getting 1 oz from me (both breasts combined) after 1 hr of straight feeding. She was feeding round the clock and not gaining (and HUNGRY) all the time. But I was committed to making it work. I read what you read about how so few mothers truly had supply problems, so I figured I would eventually make enough. Even before she was born I rented a hospital grade pump because I fully expected to pump and store the excess... but I was only able to pump 1/3 oz at a time - even after weeks of trying 8+ times a day. I also invested in a hospital grade scale so I could do test feeds and keep track of her weight gain. I tried Fenugreek, mother's milk tea, then More Milk Plus, then More Milk Plus Special Blend, then added on additional Goat's Rue (not to mention oatmeal, a Guinness every day)... and finally got my doc to write a prescription for Domperidone at $320 a pop. After upping my intake to the max dose I am able to feed my girl about 4-8 oz a day. I've ended up spending $500+ a month to BF my dear little girl just that much... but any little bit is worth it to me. However, most people do not have that kind of time (pumping 8x daily AND BF'ing too) or money to invest in this. My little girl is still only in the 25th percentile weight wise - even with supplementing. Believe me when I say there are some of us whose bodies DO NOT COOPERATE. I've cried and cried over it... but I do not give up. DO I blame other women who eventually do? NO. For a while, until the Domperidone upped my supply a bit, my daughter got to the point when she would scream and cry when she saw my breast because it had been so frustrating for her (so much effort for so little milk). Do you know how much that hurt me? When I did have to start supplementing w/ formula I was sure to use an SNS so she would not get used to the bottle. That was tough too. I think most women who have no physiological issues with BF'ing do take it for granted. I would give anything to be one of those women. But I am not. I can say, however, that I am so grateful because after 2.5 months of trying I was finally able to give my LO one FULL feed from my breasts (where she did not scream and cry for more milk after I had no more to give). I have been able to sustain that for two weeks now, though I can only do it for the first feed of the day... but that time is precious to me. But for every other feed she needs to have supplementation after she gets all she can from my breasts. My output now ranges from 1.5 oz to 1/3 oz per pumping session for both breasts combined (45 minute session, hospital grade Medela Symphony). I have had so much pain and sadness because I have not been able to give my LO that exclusive BF experience... and I can honestly say I've tried everything - spared no expense. I'm sharing my story so that you know that people like me DO exist. I think there are a lot of us out there, actually. But we are too ashamed to speak up. It shouldn't be that way. We shouldn't have to endure that stigma. Those of you who have no problem making enough milk, count your blessings.

mama24-7 said...

I wonder what would happen if mother's stopped taking it personally when someone else succeeds at breastfeeding, says artificial baby milk is really the fourth choice behind breastfeeding, states that breastfeeding is the norm for humans, etc., etc., etc. This is not personal.

I was FF'd from day one & I'm not fine. Because I was FF'd from day one, my children are not fine. My mother was a follower so she never gave a second thought to how she'd feed her children. I wish I'd been breastfed. My life would likely be very different today, 38 years later, had she.

Do I wish I was dead? No. However, I do wish that artificial baby milk had been used cautiously & judiciously so that perhaps, my gut & body could have developed normally & I would not have three children w/ a range of allergies & other issues. Thankfully, for them & me, I did not follow in my mother's footsteps & questioned the conventional wisdom again & again. I work every day to undo the damage done to me & them so that hopefully they will not have to work so hard to heal & feed their offspring.

BabyBlogger said...

Judging a mother for not being able to breastfeed is like blaming a responsible woman for her miscarriage. It's utter BS!

tyanna said...

To the author of this article.....I have to give you a giant FUCK YOU.

I was told that I would never be able to feed my daughter 100% with my own milk. I was told that the best I could hope for is using a feeding tube at all feedings.

I was taking 30 pills a day to help my milk supply. I was drinking 3 different types of teas. I was pumping every 3 hours. I saw a LC twice a week. I even tried beer and acupuncture to help my supply. For 6 weeks I did everything I could to breastfeed my daughter. And at the end of it I was told that I would never be able to EBF, no matter what I did.

I'm happy you are able to produce enough milk for your child(ren). Until you go through 2 days of your baby screaming b/c YOU don't produce enough milk to provide for them, and the overwhelming defeat and depression that results when you realize YOUR body can't provide the most basic of necessities for YOUR child, you are more then welcome to shove your preaching behaviour up your self-righteous ass.

I'm still angry that I couldn't breastfeed my child. And when someone suggests that I didn't try hard pisses me off. Even the LC I saw said I went above and beyond what most women do, and she didn't fault me for finally stopping.

tyanna said...

You are an extremely strong woman and I applaud you. I could have written this experience myself. Only after I tried all the things you did, I only produced 2-4oz a day. I never made it close to 8oz!

I had a melt down one day. I just couldn't take doing it all any more. I felt chained to the house. I started to dread feedings b/c they would be a battle. My little girl started rejecting my nipple, she would scream when I put her to the nipple and wouldn't even try to latch. It broke my heart that she didn't want to even try....

You are correct. People like us do exist. There are many of us out there too. My midwife put me in touch with a local support group for women like us. It is more common than we are told, and no one ever talks about it until it's happened.

Your Birth Coach Dr. Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing. I think it may come off harsh to many but I can understand where you are coming from. I often find that people are not open to the advice that could solve their breastfeeding challenges. So it does make me wonder if they want solutions at all. I also know moms who have truly tried everything.

To me when it comes to natural birth and breastfeeding you need to have a "whatever it takes" attitude and not "the best I can attitude". Saying I will do the best I can gives you an out. Saying I will do whatever it takes means that you will do everything to make it work. After trying everything you will know that you do whatever it took and if you need to make the choice to feed your baby something other than your milk can be made in confidence with no guilt.

To me doing whatever it takes would also mean that you seek out donor milk before resorting to formula. You could also make your own infant formula so you don't have to use processed formula. Many mothers make their own baby food to avoid processed food but very few make their own formula. Why do we feel dependent on this processed food if breast milk is not available?

Here are a couple of whatever it takes stories about breastfeeding

Your Birth Coach Dr. Nancy said...

It sounds to me like you did whatever it took to give your child your milk. I don't think this article was directed at you. A lot moms don't go to such lengths and often give up before seeking solutions. It sounds like you were one of the moms who was open to hearing different solutions and taking action on those solutions. You did whatever you could. Sometimes we then need to make a decision that may not be what we wanted but you can know that you did what it takes and in your case it just didn't work out the way you hoped.

I would assume the majority of moms who don't breastfeed are not in your situation. Many have never even heard of an SNS, let alone used one. Even if you never EBF, even f you still gave the milk you had that would be doing whatever it takes in my opinion. Many women give up entirely if it isn't 100%.

So I don't think this article was directed at you at all.

Your Birth Coach Dr. Nancy said...

I applaud you too. I think women like yourself should speak up more often. I don't see any shame in saying you are having a challenge but are doing whatever it takes to make it work. If anything I think you are the superheros of breastfeeding. Dealing with challenges like these and persevering is really such a great tribute to your strength and dedication to your baby. I think if other women who are having challenges knew what lengths you were going to to make it work it could inspire them to seek out solutions too. I also think that moms who have no troubles nursing would be more empathetic to those having challenges if they saw your level of commitment. It would also help them appreciate the gift they have of "easy" breastfeeding. You are one strong mama and a blessing to you baby.

Your Birth Coach Dr. Nancy said...

Agreed, this is also how I read it.

Your Birth Coach Dr. Nancy said...

Would you be interested in writing your BF story as a guest blog for me. I have a few whatever it takes BF stories and it sounds like yours is one of those too.

Your Birth Coach Dr. Nancy said...

Would you be interested in writing your BF story as a guest blog for me. I have a few whatever it takes BF stories and it sounds like yours is one of those too.

bluedaisy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steph said...

So then we can assume that you are paying for your family's medical expenses out-of-pocket and making your own baby formula. If not, then it is our business. If you have health insurance, then it's our business that our premiums are higher due to formula-feeding. If you're using store-bought infant formula, then it's our business that you're adding loads of unnecessary pollution to the environment that we all live in.
As long as you are a part of society, your choices are not just about you.

watersoul said...

This is a slippery slope because how can you really know what the truth is? I really did try everything and I just do not make enough milk. There ARE valid reasons for this- my lactation consultant told me I have every risk factor there exists for insufficient production, including low thyroid and placental issues. The reasons you listed are not a complete list. I really hate it when people say, or you just have to keep on nursing to build your supply...or whatever their advice is. They need to trust me when I say I did EVERYTHING- reglan, constant nursing, pumping 8 times a day right after nursing, countless lactation appointments, etc- you name it, I tried it. I feel bad enough that my body didn't do what it was supposed to- and now I have people not believing my story? Nice. I do feel "guilty" that my body was not up to par--this is NOT guilt that I didn't try hard enough. I know I did everything I could. Just be careful not to judge because you have NO CLUE what someone is going through.

Lauren Em said...

AP: why is assumed that when a mother can't successfully breastfeed she's "lazy," "quitting," or "making excuses?"

Kelly said...

Wow! I agree with you 100% Alpha Mom! I have often mused what things would look like if mom's had to get a prescription for formula (as should be the case, since it is a pharma product). I do believe some mom's would need this prescription (as other drugs are needed also), but 90% of the mom's I know would not have gotten one, because the real reasons they stopped brestfeeding were not medical.
I completely get your point about how dangerous these excuses are for society as per the perception they instill on future parents. Brestfeeding is hard sometimes...I would know! It is also worth it!
My third son was in NICU, he never had any formula. i got up every two hours (despite a 24 hour gruelling labour that ended in ECS followed by an emergency airlift). We were on antibiotics and ended up with thrush:( He was tongue tied severely and did not get corrected until he was almost a month old. It was painful to say the least. We survived. he weaned himself at 11 months because I am pregnant with #4 and my milk truly did dry up and he wanted nothing to do with my dry old
The comments in this post are what infuriate me. They don't seem to get what you are saying...The excuses women are making are perpetuating a problem. Formula is no where near equivalent of breastmilk and should only be used in extreme cases where bf and/or donor milk is unavailable. Stating this should not make anyone feel guilty (unless they have a reason to be guilty). If you tried your hardest, then you have no reason to feel guilty.

Kelly said...

I read it the same way. All these hateful comments (the f bombs and anger) are missing the point. This is a call for honesty, because the lies and mistruths are HURTFUL for mom's who really do want to brestfeed:)

Good for you, btw, your story is inspiring!

Sara.Folck said...

Part 1:
I've gone back and forth for several weeks now as to whether or not I wanted to respond. I'm sitting here, nursing my perfect 8 month old little boy with thoughts just flying through my head.

I have decided to tell my story.

My first child was born via emergency c-section at 35 weeks on Christmas Eve 2009 (transverse presentation with severe oligohydramnios and mild IUGR). She was whisked away to the NICU before I could even see her. I stayed in recovery for several hours while my BP kept dropping, and I kept vomitting, and coming close to passing out.
I finally stabilized and was wheeled to the NICU (still unable to feel myself from the chest down) to finally meet my daughter. There she was. Hooked up to machines, unnatural beeping, unnatural light surrounding her... I cried. I reached out, and I touched her little hand and I instantly was in love.

I was taking back to my room when I start vomitting again. Several more hours went by. You see.... I knew nothing about breastfeeding. I just assumed it would work out. I didn't realize that I needed that baby, and I needed her on my chest and I needed her to latch on shortly after birth. I just trusted my nursing staff. 16 hours after her birth one of the nurses casually asked if I wanted to start pumping. I said absolutely, I would love to. At this point... my daughter had already been fed a high-calorie formula in the NICU.
When I started pumping, nothing happened. I expected this. I had learned a tiny amount in my childbirth class about milk not coming in for up to 10 days. So I wasn't discouraged.

I rented a hospital grade pump for when we were discharged and started pumping ever 2 hours, round the clock. At 6 weeks post partum.... nothing was coming out, still. I refused to give up. She would occasionally latch on, but after being fed from a bottle while in the NICU, it just wasn't happening.

At 12 weeks, I officially gave up. Nothing was coming out. I had spoken with the LC several times and was taking all of her recommendations (the herbal supplements, the pump a thons and nurse a thons, etc). I gave up.

I joined a moms group, where another woman who feels she is alpha leader looked me in the eye and told me I'd be lucky if my child ever loved me. Why? Because she was born via c-section, and because she was formula fed.

Fast forward to the birth of my son (almost 8 months ago). Those words from this particular woman have haunted me. Haunted me and made me more determined.
I educated myself further. I know I didn't know much when my first child was born, and I refused to make that mistake again. I went out and bought a deep freezer for the superfluous amounts of milk I planned on pumping out and needing to store.

My son was born at 36 weeks via emergency c-section (heartrate dropped into the 40s while I was in labor- planning on a VBAC- later found out the chord was wrapped around his midsection and legs). Luckily for me, he did not need to go to the NICU. Instead, he was brought to recovery with me. And at 20 minutes old... latched on like a pro. I was elated. Things were already looking "better" for my breastfeeding journey.

Alpha Parent said...

Sara the comment of the woman at your moms group was bizarre. In what context was it made? I'm not sure using formula warrants hatred from child to mother. I don't hate my mother for FFing me. I am however disappointed in her, but hatred?

Glad to hear you're having a better breastfeeding relationship this time.

Sara.Folck said...

Our moms group consists of an online forum, as well as playdates and such. On the online forum, I posted how sad I was that my breastfeeding journey didn't work out with my daughter. Her response was that I *should* feel sad and guilty, and that I will be lucky if my child ends up bonding with me and loving me.
She's extremely boisterous about people that do not have an at-home, pain-free birth and people that formula feed unfortunately. She also approached me at a playdate (her husband was there) and they went on and on about how I will be lucky if my child didn't die from SIDS due to being formula fed (this was right at the height of SIDS age for my daughter). I walked away, in tears. She followed me and continued to tell me that feeding my child formula was equivalent to putting her in the backseat of a car without a carseat, while driving down a windy and bumpy road.

There were other moms there that argued with her, while I just walked away. I don't like to argue, I don't particularily enjoy conflict. But this particular woman... her words will forever haunt me.

Alpha Parent said...

Whilst it's true that formula feeding has been linked to an increased risk of SIDS, FFing doesn't necessarily mean that your baby WILL die of SIDS. Her comments are bizarre. Did she do this to every formula feeder? As breastfeeders are a minority, presumably she did this to almost everyone she met? Or perhaps she simply didn't like you for some reason and was using feeding as an excuse to torment you?

Rebecca Hughes Parker said...

I love this post! I pumped for a few months but gave up with my twins, who were very premature, using every excuse in the book (I am the family breadwinner, that was my big excuse). But I nursed and pumped for my third child fully for 13 months, and she still nurses a bit at 17 months...It was the most amazing experience, and I am so so glad I did it! Yes, it was hard, I had mastitis, sore nipples, pumping challenges, etc. but it is so rewarding and I should have done it with the twins instead of feeling guilty (the telltale sign like you say, which I see in others all the time!)

Quest For Truth said...

I think the biggest reason so many women are unable to BF is nutrition. Not just post-baby, BEFORE baby. You can't stuff yourself full of empty calories and except milk to come in/be sufficient. Having a baby is something you have to prepare your body for in advance...lots of GOOD fats, NO proccessed foods, probiotics, lots of know sunshine can increase milk supply? People talk about having all of these conditions that prevent them from BFing, and yes, those conditions can do that, but you can also GET RID of those conditions PRYOR. Like thyroid problems? Coconut oil. Depression? Major diet changes. GAPS diet. Lost more sunshine. But for some this is way too much trouble, and they can't give up their convenience foods.
Thank you for writing this article...I do also agree that a lot has to do with attitude. What was the difference between my success and others failures? One is I wasn't just confident, I didn't give a second thought as to whether or not I "could" bf. I didn't have a single bottle in my house. I quickly threw out the formula samples the hospital gave me. Sure I nursed every 20 mins for at least 2 wks straight with cracked, aching nipples, sitting on sore stitches, but I didn't really think about it. My baby needs me as a Paci all night? Luckily he takes a lot of naps. Parenting isn't about ME, in fact that's the one thing it's NOT about anymore. The mom's who say they quit because they "hated" it? Well I hope you don't hate the terrible twos, potty training, middle school, etc, because you can't just give up being a parent because it's hard. Seriously.

SRumzis said...

Good parenting has everything to do with sacrifice. I'm sorry that doesn't look pretty to you. If your heart wasn't so jaded, you may realize that it's natural for a mother to want to sacrifice for her child. It's a beautiful thing, not a negative one. This way of thinking is why so many woman have abortions due to convenience. What's best for ME? What a sad society we've become.

SRumzis said...

Wow I read through every post and ya know what? Buncha whiners!!! If you had a "life threatening condition" or "did everything you could", then WHY THE HELL DOES THIS ARTICLE BOTHER YOU??? You "ladies" sadden me. Being vilified is something that those mothers who drop/ never start breastfeeding due to their own pursuits/interests/convenience HAVE COMING. You get to do what you want, but don't paint it as anything else but selfish. They're just babies... what are YOU, God's gift to all mankind? Get over yourself and care for your child.

faim said...

You go girl! Seriously, this is not bashing but honesty. What boggles me is that mothers think their babies are screaming out of hunger. Unlikely. They do have sucking needs that might not be met. They might be scared by the new, frightening, cold world. They may want nurturing and love. Breastfeeding can be confusing and even scary. Mothers worry they aren't providing enough milk or their baby is too thin. THERE ARE RESOURCES.

I understand that formula makes sense sometimes, but don't deny the beauty of breast. The primary benefit in a developed country is bonding from physical contact. Children NEED and crave it. It gives them confidence.

The first few days and weeks were horrible. Cracked nipples, bad latch, cluster feedings, no sleep, too much milk, son falling asleep during feedings. Then I shook off the guilt and gave in to cosleeping. It worked. Breastfeeding became easier and easier. I now have a happy, well-behaved boy.

As an empathetic woman, I know it can be hard. I just wish more women had the encouragement and perserverance to seek help and keep trying. In my heart, I know it is worth it. I don't have something against formula feeders, I just wish they could feel the ease, joy, simplicity, and comfort of breastfeeding.

My last point is that yall need to stfu about facts. The fact is breast is best, the fact is monkey babies chose a blanket over food, the fact is breastfeeding benefits mother, child, and dare I say, society. The fact is a very small minority cannot bf, and a larger group chooses not to for a list of plausible reasons which may be better for the situation. This is a nuanced, grey situation. But EMOTIONS, not just facts, are a gigantic part of this debate and life! Your childs happiness, comfort, security, and love are so much more important than statistics. If you know you can't bf, why do you care what anyone says? Own it! You think people with illnesses and conditions sit and feel guilty! Love your kids. Hold them when they feed no matter how and make them feel loved. I am biased bcause I have never formula fed but I try not to judge. I just know the bond of breastfeeding would be hard to replicate, but try. Skin to skin is vital and don't just throw your baby the bottle. Hold and cuddle them. Good luck.

Dean said...

I totally agree with you!! There is something about our American culture (well I'm in America) that doesn't jive with baby making and nurturing, and as you say- lactating.

We don't eat *real* food.We avoid the sun. We care so much about our appearance that we starve ourselves to be skinny.

Unknown said...

If 2% of women can't produce breast milk for their babies, that's 80,000 babies a year. To compare, .1%, or 6,000, babies are born annually with Downs syndrome, and 1.1%, or about 45,000, are born annually that will eventually be diagnosed somewhere on the Autism spectrum. And yet I never hear how "rare" Downs syndrome is, and autism spectrum disorders are widely discussed as incredibly common, with the word “epidemic” thrown around regularly.
Imagine if our response to all mothers of children with autism spectrum disorders was, "Oh, you've just been misled by doctors/poorly educated on autism/been convinced by the pharmaceutical industry that your child has autism because you won't do your own research/didn't try hard enough to raise a normal child, because actual autism is INCREDIBLY rare." Can you see how that would lead to a culture where parents of children with autism would feel the need to justify exactly HOW they knew their child was autistic, which doctors they'd seen, what methods they'd tried in parenting, etc? Or that they'd feel the need to keep their children inside, so as not to be openly judged for their "failure" as parents, because after all, autism is SO RARE. And then, after reading blog post after blog post and comment after comment talking about how children are almost never really autistic, because it is just SO RARE, if the parent did finally convince people that they did their due diligence and actually have one of those "rare" kids, the criticizers just say, "Oh, well, we weren't talking about you!".
The difference, of course, is that we don’t live in a culture where parents of children who don’t actually have autism are likely to say that they do, whereas many women do claim to fall into the 2% with biological breastfeeding failure who ultimately could have breastfed with proper management and education. But that doesn’t make biological breastfeeding failure “rare”, it simply makes non-biologically-based breastfeeding failure more common.
The other problem is assuming that if there is no biological reason for breastfeeding to fail, that makes any issues a mother has issues of laziness. Often, the problem is really a lack of education (and educating mothers about HOW to establish breastfeeding success should be something we all support). Honesty about what starting breastfeeding is like would be really helpful here, as well as some education from OBs/midwives about what to do if some common issues arise. I think all US hospitals should be “baby-friendly”, which would go a long way in helping people through the early days and weeks, and in turn help them to establish a solid milk supply.
My personal theory is that, of women who want to breastfeed, a certain percentage has a milk supply that is rock solid, and with minimal education and even some missteps along the way, they will still have enough to support their babies. Another segment of the population has a milk supply that is more tenuous, and any number of missteps in the early days (bad latch, trying to feed on a schedule, a c-section, a hemorrhage) can lead it to be insufficient without taking extra steps to increase stimulation. A third group (the 2%) has a supply that won’t ever be sufficient, despite taking extra steps. It’s that second group that could really be helped with increased education and support, and we are lacking that as a country today. That’s the group that tries breastfeeding, encounters a problem (usually a genuinely low supply, albeit one that could be corrected through better breastfeeding management), does not know how to overcome that problem, and quits. But that still isn’t an “excuse” or a lie to cover just wanting to stop. It was a genuine problem that the woman didn’t know how to solve. Blaming women won’t give them any additional information about how to solve that problem, just a lot of guilt when they can’t. But increased education could actually make a difference.

ashley said...

100% agree that there is so much more to mothering than how one chooses to feed the baby. I've witnessed many a mother who are completely adamant about breastfeeding, but don't take the time to talk to and teach their children. Complete oxymoron.

momof2boys2girls said...

Personal Responsibility.

Personally research what the doctor says, especially if it doesn't sit right with you.

If necessary, seek a SECOND OPINION from ANOTHER DOCTOR.

Happens all the time. With people of all ages for all types of problems.

In the case of nursing, it should happen a lot more often due to frequent problems with #2 above.

Frequent problems with #2 do need to be addressed. Someone got a link for me to sign a petition or something about that? I'll gladly help address that if I can!

In the wake of the recent tragedy in the CT school, I am just so thankful that we can discuss things like this! Isn't such a blessing just to have our babies? And not to have had them stolen from us in a senseless act of violence?

Mia said...

Good point =) I agree with a lot of points in this post, but I also agree with a lot of what I am reading in the comments. I am not going to lie either, in the past I have been bitter when I have listened to some of my mommy friends excuses when it came down to the decision to quit breastfeeding. However, I recognize that my bitterness came from my own struggle with breastfeeding. What I finally decided is that I am proud of myself for what I achieved (exclusively breastfed for 13 months). I don't feel like I judge mothers who choose not to breastfeed, but just like with anything else, I don't like to hear excuses. Nobody owes anybody else an explanation when it comes to this subject! I feel like everyone makes a choice, and that choice is theirs, so everybody else needs to hush up about it! =P

joleaco said...

First child: breastfed for 6 weeks, comp fed till 12 weeks, then fully formula fed from 12 weeks plus.

Second child: fully breastfed for 31 months.

Where do I fit within your good mum / lazy ass mum world? This is just plain craziness that you have thought up whilst sitting on your ass breastfeeding your baby just because you can.

I stopped breastfeeding my first born because I literally thought I was losing my mind, and I think we were both better for it. Probably not a good enough excuse for you though, but I really don't care.

I breastfed my second child until he was almost 3 years old because I could. And for what it's worth after experiencing both, exclusive breastfeeding was way easier than the washing, sterilizing, measuring, mixing, heating and just plain pain the assness and expense of formula feeding. So who is lazy now?

I was way lazier breast feeding than I ever was formula feeding. With breastfeeding I could even sleep if I wanted, and I got out of doing stuff because "I'm sorry, but I have to feed the baby", something only I could do.

Stop trying to control what other mothers choose to do (for what ever reason they like) by being nasty and calling them lazy. It's none of your business, and you're only spouting crap anyway from your one sided, narrow-minded view of people who aren't you.

DragonArtLady said...

For the first month, my baby was constantly on my breasts, and I mean constantly, because I wanted to breastfeed, for her health and mine. My baby was always hungry, losing weight, and starting to become jaundiced though it was hard to tell for a time because of my extensive effort. Like you, if I pumped then and during the next 3 months (pumping for several hours at a time, if I had the free time) I would only produce 1-2 oz at best. It was literally drop by precious drop. It might as well have been gold, for a sparse as it was. After the first month I had to add at least some formula, reluctantly. But I still devoted everything I had to minimizing the formula and continuing to breastfeed. (I literally did little else but keep her on my breasts) Her latching was perfect, and we could never figure out anything wrong with my breasts medically, but it didn't improve with breastfeeding and pumping on a very regular basis. By the end of 3 months, she gave up on me. She did not want my breast as it was insufficient for her needs, and I had devoted all my time to trying to get more milk to her...supplements, tea, breastfeeding tips from qualified people often, even medication to try to increase the milk supply. I can honestly say I did everything I could, but my daughter's health came first. If I continued solely on breastfeeding, my daughter would be dead from malnutrition. There was a point where formula was required since I do not have a wet nurse and my own supply was clearly insufficient. It did not stop me from continuing to try until my daughter just flat out refused my breasts further. I couldn't even imagine the stress of twins! Even after she chose the formula, I still continued to try to pump for many months afterwards. I can honestly say I did everything I could and I would not slight anyone who also had trouble. It happens a lot it seems. In the event of baby #2, I will give it my all again, and I hope beyond hope the 2nd time's the charm!

Rebecca O'Brien said...

I agree. And I'm sure that kind of judgemental influence will have more of a negative effect on your children then not breast feeding them for a short time in their life!

I have never made an excuse for not breast feeding and I tried. I couldnt handle it because you're right it is very difficult. I did want to breast feed but I wasnt prepared for how hard it was. I went into it with the attitude that I could do it, cause it was natural and it is what my body was made to do. I had the same attitude with the labor and I coped with that way better than I did with breast feeding because I knew it would hurt like hell! And you know what I had 14hours of labor and a natural birth with no pain relief. I'm proud of myself for that but does that make me better than a woman who chooses to have an epidural or a c- section to avoid the pain all together? NO! Because EVERYONE is DIFFERENT! And guess what? If everyone were the same, you wouldn't have that high horse to get up on would you?

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