I’ve found it. The winner of the coveted “Most Anti-Breastfeeding Book of All Time” award. You may remember a few months ago I exposed a bunch of parenting manuals for their boob-bashing (see here). If you thought those were bad, they are positively lactivist compared to this bad boy. May I have the displeasure of introducing:
- It’s not because the author is a man.
- It’s not because the author has no relevant qualifications.
- It’s not because the author has no basic grasp of grammar.
- It’s not because the author has no experience with breastfeeding mothers.
It’s because it is a dumpster of a book, full to the brim with more grotesque, heinous trash than the smelliest of landfill. I suspect it was made for no other reason than to cash in on the breastfeeding debate. The author has no personal interest in breastfeeding and simply adopts the most critical, controversial view that will please the masses (i.e. non-breastfeeders).
Here’s a statistical representation that I put together detailing the book’s contents:
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s have a gander at the contents.
The foreword informs us that “Controversy About Breastfeeding has been compiled to show the feeling of most fathers”. That’s a pretty hefty statement. This book was published in 2010 and yet I hadn’t discovered its existence until today. For a book that purports to speak for ‘most fathers’, you’d think it would have gained significance in the press, in political discourse, heck even in law. If I could speak for 50 per cent of the population, I’d be a member of the House of Lords or something. But I digress…
When asked why he wrote the book, Andres (a native of South Africa with a degree in engineering which he obtained in 1989, hobbies include reading and farming) replied, “Very simple. I am always looking for the truth and enjoy having a balanced point of view in any topic”. Wow, a Jack of all trades.
Apparently the content of this book is so valuable and ground-braking that professional bodies have tried to silence it. The introduction explains:
“Some doctors and gynaecologists have tried by all means to destroy the argument I am presenting and failed miserably. Some of them asked me not to publish these arguments, as it will turn the breastfeeding arguments upside down and break the lies, and people are going to ask very awkward questions they cannot answer. This book’s purpose is to make the public think and debate this point in view of obtaining answers from the other side of the coin. If they don’t want to answer or call this rubbish, please excuse them, as they don’t know better. They have probably been brainwashed and are incapable to expand their horizons”.
We are encouraged to ‘debate’ his point of view yet are told if we call his view rubbish, then we ‘don’t know better’. Wow. He must be a Sage, Soothsayer or God, to have a point of view that is absolute and flawless. This must be the Bible of breastfeeding, the Gospel of lactation. With bubbling anticipation I turn to page 1:
“People in La Leche League who promulgate breastfeeding at all costs have a small mentality and no respect or consideration for the other partner”.
Okaaaay. My excitement for this book just fizzled out like a man’s libido when he takes a prostitute back to his hotel room, only to discover she’s is a ladyboy.
So apparently La Leche League have no respect for men. That’s why they celebrate and applaud fathers here, here, here, here, here, and here. Go figure!
Then he continues:
“They also don’t give all the facts on breastfeeding. For example, I have never heard them publically mention how difficult it is to get the baby to latch on. You have to search for them under the cloak of lies”.
‘Difficult’ is a subjective word. One mother’s ‘difficult’ is another mother’s ‘simple’. Making a blanket statement that latching is difficult would firstly, not be accurate and secondly, be overly-negative and thus needlessly off-putting. A bit like this book.
Page 2 continues:
“I believe breastfeeding is one of the most selfish things a woman can do to her partner by excluding him from the joy a father has to feed his own child”.
Yes it’s very selfish for a mother to take on the night feeds, and save hundreds of pounds/dollars for her family. No worries, at 6 months, Daddy can participate in feeding solids. Until then, expressing is an option. Andres really didn’t think this through did he? I wonder if he also finds it selfish of women to carry the child for 9 months in her womb?
He then proceeds with a rhetorical question:
“What are the side-effects of breastfeeding? As the law of nature works there are pros and cons to every action. As Newton’s third law of physics states: For every action there is an equivalent and opposite counter reaction. We only hear the one side, never the other. Both are good. My question is: when are we as the public going to hear a balanced point of view? What about the breast tendons that get stretched, making the breast, which looked so good before, look like a piece of outstretched skin?”
For the last time, it’s not breastfeeding that makes your norks sag. Pregnancy can, aging can, weight gain can, weight loss can, botchy surgery can, but breastfeeding is blame-free. If Andres is looking for a ‘balanced point of view’, he won’t find it in his book.
Case in point, from page 3:
“Is the woman’s decision, the only one valid? Isn’t it the responsibility of both parents, or is it the solemn right of the mother to feed the baby?”
On account of the fact that she’s the one with the breasts, I fail to see how it could be any other way? Unless Andres is arguing that nature is sexist?
“I thought the peace and well being of the baby came first. The child might for the rest of its life have to live with his father’s resentment to the mother’s decision – so much for a peaceful and harmonious environment for the child’s development”.
The only person to disrupt the child’s environment in this scenario would be the resentful father, who should grow a pair and man up; for the sake of his baby’s ‘peace and wellbeing’. Andres’ boob issues remind me of the cover illustration of a book I once read:
Andres then spews out this randomness:
“What a degrading sight it is to see a woman breastfeeding, exposing her breast.”
Yes it’s pretty degrading for a woman to use her body in line with its design, thereby reducing her own risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and postnatal depression, whilst simultaneously reducing her baby’s risk of infection, eczema, type 2 diabetes, leukaemia, asthma and cot death. How degrading! Anyway, you were saying?
“We men feel that if you want to do this alone, do it alone. The other option is that the mother has to milk herself, like a cow, so the father can have that pleasure. We are descending to the level of animals”.
Firstly, Andres it’s great that you speak on behalf of ‘men’. I’m sure they value you as their spokesperson. Secondly, I hate to break it to you but, you are an animal. Your wife is an animal. I am an animal. You might want to Google ‘Misanthropy’, then book a session with your therapist.
Looks like Andres is going to have a mammoth session with his therapist, if this next page is anything to go by.
On page 4 he adopts an ‘argument/counter-argument’ layout which he uses sporadically throughout the book:
“Argument: It’s a woman’s choice because it’s her body.
Counter-argument: If it is so, then we can use the same argument to our advantage and dip our dipstick in any jam pot. What’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. If she feels she has to share her body parts, so can we and we won’t tolerate here the double standard women like to exercise”.
Again, thank you Andres for speaking on behalf of men. I’m sure they appreciate it. I assume by ‘dipping your dipstick in any jam pot’ you mean insert your penis into any vagina? I’m puzzled, because I thought we were talking about breastfeeding here, which is nature’s way of nurturing children, rather than sexual intercourse, which is nature’s way of creating children. Perhaps you have confused the two? Feeding a baby with your breasts is not sexual, even though the breasts can be used in sexual relations. Just as giving birth through a vagina is not sexual, even though the vagina can be used in sexual relations. Just as picking your nose is not sexual, even though the fingers can be used in sexual relations. Just as farting is not sexual, even though the anus can be used in sexual relations. Just as burping…oh you get the idea. The misappropriation of breastfeeding into the sexual arena is a Patriarchal tactic, designed to instil control over how and when women’s bodies are used.
“The breastfeeding establishment forget to mention to the mothers that their nipples are going to get sore, develop, and be deformed by breastfeeding”.
Replace are with might and even then, Andres still doesn’t make any sense. What does he mean by ‘develop’? Their nipples will develop? Huh? And deformed? Strangely enough, he doesn’t elaborate, but resumes his rant:
“Another point: In the early postpartum period or until the woman’s nipple’s toughen up, the mother should air dry them – how revolting – after each nursing to prevent them from cracking (ouch!), that must be so the father can have that pleasure”.
Looks like Andres went a bit schizo with this sentence. First he says exposed breasts are ‘revolting’ then he talks about how the sight of them gives ‘pleasure’. Pleasure to the father of all people! Just two pages ago he was saying how breastfeeding was ‘the most selfish thing a woman can do to her partner’ and how outstretched and ‘deformed’ breasts become by nursing. Yet now he says their sight gives pleasure to the father (whilst simultaneously being revolting!) What did Andres use as sources for this book? Did he swallow some alphabet fridge magnets and then throw up and write down the result? Furthermore, factually speaking, failing to air dry your nipples will not cause them to crack. If your nipples are already sore, air drying can help speed up the healing process but it’s not a prerequisite.
His rant carries onto page 5:
“Argument: You don’t know how much the baby received. The breastfeeding association will tell you that the baby would take what it needs.
Counter-argument: What happens if the woman doesn’t have enough milk? Is the milk sufficient and nutritious enough for the needs of the child? With what a woman eats in western civilization, mother’s milk is often deficient in all the vitamins and minerals needed by the baby and sometimes loaded with hormones. This is rather damaging for the baby.”
Is your jaw hurting? Eyes aching? Forehead stinging? Mine too. After reading this I had to pick my jaw up from the floor, cease rolling my eyes for a moment, and stop facepalming myself into oblivion. Reading Andres’ assertions you may wonder how we ever made it past the ape stage in our evolution. Formula and breast milk look very different; formula is creamier and looks richer than breast milk. This probably led Andres to believe that formula is more nutritious, but that’s not the case. Breast milk contains hundreds of ingredients that the formula industry simply can’t duplicate. What’s more, your milk is specially formulated to have the right composition for your baby, and to contain exactly the right amounts of nutrients. Moreover, those nutrients are bio-available which means they are easily absorbed by your baby’s body whereas the ingredients in formula are not. As for being loaded with hormones, breastfeeding releases oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that relax the mother and baby and make them feel more nurturing toward each other. So not the damaging travesty Andres wants you to believe.
In fact, the amount of drivel he wants you to believe in his smear campaign against breastfeeding knows no bounds. Take this steaming bovine turd for example (also from page 5):
“Basically breastfeeding reduces the woman to a level of slavery, as she has to do everything on her own. Later on after they decide to convert from breastfeeding to formula for whatever reasons, the Breastfeeding Association doesn’t tell you how difficult it is and the problems it can create. The baby can get sick due to the conversion and the right formula must be found”
If breastfeeding is akin to slavery, then so too is parenting itself. Tending to your child, twenty four hours a day, placing their needs above your own, for no monetary reward – this is parenting. It’s what you signed up for when you decided to have a child.
As for the baby getting sick because it switched from breast to formula, is it any surprise? Expecting a baby’s body not to protest when switching from human milk to a factory concoction, is like expecting a diesel car to chug along happily when filled with petrol. For someone who quoted Newton’s third law of physics, Andres doesn’t appear to ‘get’ science. Here’s another illustration of his knowledge deficit:
“Argument: Breast milk is the best possible food. It is fresh, easy to digest, and ready-made food at the right temperature.
Counter-argument: Excuse me, but that’s not true, look at the underdeveloped world. They all breastfeed and the children are starving, and the mothers’ breasts aren’t something to look at.”
It is true that a lot of children in regions such as Africa, Afghanistan and Latin America are starving. This has more to do with failed harvests and rising food prices than being breastfed. Whilst most children in developing countries are breastfed, exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months is rare and early supplementation with water, or other fluids, is the norm. Less than 40 per cent of infants under 6 months old are exclusively breastfed. This rate is particularly low in Africa (Unicef). In fact, if infants in developing countries were fed formula, a significant proportion would die. Breastfed children have at least a six-times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children. Breastfeeding drastically reduces deaths from acute respiratory infections and diarrhoea, two major child killers, as well as from other infectious diseases. As for the appearance of African mothers’ breasts, I doubt having aesthetically-pleasing porn-breasts is top of their priority list.
Unless of course, Andres was attempting to be funny? I’m not sure, as there’s not much to laugh at in his book. I guess page 6 would border on humorous if Andres were not being serious. He asserts:
“That is why, by the way, newborns lose so much weight in the hospital. It is because the baby HAS to WAIT for the milk of the mother to come down”.
The milk of a mother takes minutes to “come down”. Hardly long enough for the baby to starve. Unless of course, Andres means the baby has to wait for the milk to “come in” (i.e. change from colostrum to mature milk), in which case he is still incorrect. Colostrum, whilst not as plentiful as mature milk, is highly-concentrated and provides baby with everything he needs until the mature milk arrives around four days after birth. Whilst it is true that most babies lose weight in the first week of life (whether breastfed or not), this has more to do with being severed from the placenta, an organ which has fed the baby a continuous stream of nutrition for 9 solid months.
“One of the side-effects advocates forget to mention is the lack of sleep for the mother as the feeding routine develops – especially if the father feels excluded and wants nothing to do with it. What a laugh”.
(*sigh* I feel like a broken record on this blog at times), Breastfeeding mothers get more sleep and their sleep is of higher quality. A breastfed baby can eat as soon as he is hungry. If co sleeping, that means before the baby even starts to cry. A formula-fed baby has to wait for formula to be prepared and warmed, in the meantime getting more and more distressed and agitated as well as waking others in the household. When breastfeeding, even the mother does not need to wake up fully to nurse her baby. Furthermore, the hormones produced during nursing have a relaxing effect, and the mother is likely to sleep even better when she nurses her baby. Studies have shown that parents of infants who were breastfed in the evening and/or at night slept an average of 40-45 minutes more than parents of infants given formula (Doan et al). Parents of infants given formula at night had more sleep disturbance than parents of infants who were exclusively breast-fed at night (Moody et al).
“The point that breast milk is fresh, easy to digest, and a ready-made food at the right temperature applies just as well to bottle-fed babies”.
At this point I started to question whether Andres was indeed a parent or whether he had any experience with babies at all. Formula is not sterile and feedings have to be prepared following a 14-step process (here) to ensure safety. The information Andres provides is not only false, it is potentially lethal if placed in the wrong hands. The ‘wrong hands’ in this scenario could be a well-meaning grandparent, a naive first-time mother, or (and I shudder at the thought) an ignorant health professional. I am normally a passionate advocate of freedom of speech, however even with my liberal mindset, I believe this book ought to be removed from the market, before someone takes it seriously.
On the next page, Andres spins two rhetorical questions at us:
“Who do we please, the mother or the breastfeeding organisation? Does it really help to be so satisfied and one-sided, to exclude the FATHER” [capitals are his].
We’re missing one party here. It’s a party that’s pretty vital to the proceedings – you know, the BABY. How about prioritising the baby’s needs?
Speaking of babies’ needs, Andres professes to know exactly what they are:
“How is it that a father can achieve a warm and loving, close relationship with his children and HE DOESN’T have to go through the process of breastfeeding? A baby doesn’t care how or where it gets its milk, as long as the baby is clean and nourished and especially loved – it is beyond the baby’s concept. So what a load of bullshit; it is only there to satisfy the mother’s selfish attitude and one-sided view and nothing else. Are the mothers SO insecure in their ability to create a loving relationship with their own child that they have to breastfeed? Are breastfeeding women subconsciously admitting that men are better than themselves?”
Here Andres is saying that because fathers can bond with their children without breastfeeding, then breastfeeding must not aid bonding. In reality, there are different kinds of bonding. Some are physical, some are emotional, some are hormonal, and some (like breastfeeding) are a combination of the three. To respond to Andres’ assertion that a baby doesn’t care how or where it gets its milk, I will quote some leading thinkers in child development. First, Maria Montessori on breastfeeding:
“The child’s need for nutrition, and the love that unites these two beings, both combine in solving the problem of the child’s adaptation to the world, and this happens in the most natural way possible” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind).
Speaking of nature, the neurological and physiological development of babies dictates that they need one, consistent primary carer, and breastfeeding is the springboard for this relationship. William Gardener explains why mothers are so important (Andres, you may want to look away now):
“Young children need an uninterrupted, intimate, continuous connection with their mothers, especially in the very early month and years. An avalanche of recent ‘attachment studies’ has shown that although fathers are terribly important to any child’s development, attachment bonding is overwhelmingly a matter of the quality and continuance of the relationship between the mother and her children in the early stages of life.”
(William Gairdner, The War Against the Family).
Whilst fathers may be important, as are other primary caretakers, the process of attachment begins in the womb of the mothers who gave birth to us. Sorry Andres. If there is such a phenomena as ‘womb-envy’ and ‘mammary-envy’, your book would be a case study.
One final extract from Andres’ book that I would like to draw attention to (although there is so much ludicrous content that I was spoilt for choice) features Andres warning breastfeeding mothers of the consequences of their selfish act:
“I would like to put this question to you, and you will have to answer this question for yourselves: what do you do when the woman is all for breastfeeding and the husband is completely against it? How do you solve the problem? The Breastfeeding Association says it is the woman’s choice and the father has nothing to say about it – nice conclusion. Who wins and who loses? REMEMBER [his capitals] – this decision can have far-reaching consequences for both parties, and it could be said that this action of breastfeeding can and will cause irreparable damages to the relationship between mother and father, which could lead to certain unpleasantness. Men cannot and will not look at their wives who breastfeed in the same way. Women will then be surprised that some of their attractiveness has gone”.
Elsewhere in the book, similar threats are made:
“People tend to forget that marriage is about partnership, and in such an adventure, both parties must come to a compromise. If the father is not convinced and his participation is denied or impaired, I can guarantee to you that marriage problems will occur sooner or later with long-last effects. Comparisons or truth that are claimed that are questionable and can be interpreted wrongly, or can be destroyed by such a counter argument that mothers cannot deny it, in the long run destroy the confidence in and toward each of the partners. Taking into consideration the emotional as well as physical aspect of it, the mother finds herself isolated with no support from her partner, which is not pleasant, and later has to woo her partner again. It can also prompt the man not to want any other children”.
Ladies, you have been warned. Breastfeeding = no more children.
To be honest, if Andres was my husband, I’d be tempted to persistently sit around breastfeeding topless followed by air drying my breasts with weights attached (to produce that pendulous look), and become a lifetime member of La Leche League, – just to get rid of him.