When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth

Apr 06th 2010

Every single time a new study is published proving that formula feeding costs the lives of mothers and babies, people come from the farthest corners of the internet, flame throwers in tow, to argue with the research.  But no amount of denial is going to change the truth.  This week the Journal of Pediatrics published some very serious new findings indicating that 911 babies in America die every year from not being breastfed.  Usually when we talk about infant deaths related to formula feeding, people assume it’s in other, impoverished countries where there’s no running water and rampant disease.  But this time, we’re talking about the deaths of American babies.

So what’s going on right here on our own soil?  We have clean water.  We have a welfare program.  We have free vaccinations.  It is clear now that the formula itself, and the lack of breastfeeding, is what’s killing these 911 babies.  Okay, so how are they dying?  As CNN reports,

“Nearly all, 95 percent of these deaths, are attributed to three causes: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS); necrotizing enterocolitis, seen primarily in preterm babies and in which the lining of the intestinal wall dies; and lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia.  Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of all of these and seven other illnesses studied by the study authors.”

And for those Americans only interested in the bottom line, it should be noted that the same study found that if we can get 90% of mothers breastfeeding for the minimum amount of time recommended, then we’d save 13 billion dollars a year in medical costs.  (that’s BILLION, with a B, people.)

So what the hell is the problem, then?  Why can’t we get on board with this research?  The problem is that people don’t want to hear it.  But I’ll say it anyway.

Breastfeeding. Saves. Lives.

You know what else saves lives?  Car seats.  So, why aren’t people spitting mad at the NHTSA for saying that?  Why aren’t they leaving thousands of comments on car seat articles saying “But I just couldn’t afford a car seat, why are you trying to make me feel guilty?!?!” Well, maybe it’s because our society will admit that car seats save lives, and we’re willing to give them out free at fire stations and hospitals if we have to because it is that important.

So why aren’t we doing the same for breastfeeding? Why won’t they hand out free breast pumps and visits to a lactation consultant when we know it would save lives and money?  Well, I think the obvious answer is that there are breasts involved, and people just lose their minds when female anatomy comes up in conversation.

Of course then people say “It’s her CHOICE to formula-feed – leave her alone!” But I don’t believe that most women are making this “choice.”  The CDC shows that 3/4 of women are initiating breastfeeding in the hospital, but only 13.6% of women are still exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months.  What this tells me is that somewhere along the way, they gave up on themselves, and the reason I hear most often is, “But, I tried! I just couldn’t make any milk!”

Here is the cold hard truth ladies:  You have been lied to.

If only 13.6% of us could make enough milk, the human race would never have survived.  And it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of this system that completely fails mothers and babies, and sabotages a mother’s good intentions.  Somewhere along the line, some one told you that you couldn’t make milk, and you believed them because we’ve all grown up in a culture that tells women their bodies aren’t good enough for much of anything except being toys for men.  Is it easy to make this milk?  No, not always – but neither was bringing that baby into the world and your body did a fine job of that.  Think about that.  Think hard. Your body created an entire human being inside from nothing more than the joining of two single cells.  Your body is a miracle worker. So what leads you to believe that, after creating a whole person with organs and tissue and a beating heart, that your body would call it quits when it came time for feeding this thing?  The major problem here is that someone in your life probably put their own ignorance ahead of the short and long term health of you and your baby, and you believed them because women are used to feeling shamed.

But it’s really difficult to change this thinking when we have popular bloggers perpetuating myths and projecting their own guilt onto others, like here:

So, what can we do?  We have to keep pushing back against this misinformation, and luckily there are strong women who will go to bat for mothers and babies, as seen here:

Or here

Or here

At this point, if you are arguing with solid, consistent research, you are on the wrong side of the issue.  Your anger over these breastfeeding studies is completely misdirected and juvenile.  Get mad that we have no paid leave to help support the breastfeeding relationship.  Get mad that moms aren’t being given free breastpumps, lactation consultants, and healthier food.  Get mad at a system that puts Girls Gone Wild tits on the cover of every magazine, but bans breastfeeding pictures on Facebook.  These are the issues that need our attention as mothers, or as feminists, or simply as women with brains.  But perpetuating the myth that women are incapable of utilizing their own biological functions won’t get you any respect from me.  I believe women are capable. Give them the tools.  Give them the time.  Give them the respect they need.  Women are creators and sustainors of LIFE, and there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about saying so.

And this about sums it up (thank you Noble Savage):

End. Of. Story.

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438 Responses to “When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth”

  1. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Gina – I think this is one of the best blogs I’ve ever read. And this is coming from a mom who literally couldn’t nurse after I tried endlessly while my body was fighting an infection I didn’t even know I had. But the very little milk I made – I feel – helped my daughter overcome her stay in the NICU much more quickly than we were initially told. Keep it up!!!! And great post
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..I was right…. =-.

  2. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I just want to say, I love this post, and I love your blog and radio show. My son is only 7 months old and I am constantly being asked when I am going to wean him. It’s time we as a culture learn to trust our bodies and do what is best for ourb babies!

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I agree with you . My daughter stopped just stopped breastfeeding at 4 1/2 yrs old. My daughter hated bottles. I knew from when I was pregnet with her 5 1/2 years ago that breast feeding was the way it was going to be.

      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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        You are the person I need to talk to! How do you breast feed for so long? I am expecting and will breast feed, but I am not sure how long I could go on with it. Hats off to you.

        • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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          Wow that’s amazing iv been breastfeedining my daughter for over a month and evn put out out the effort to pump wen she was n the nicu wen I was told ii didn’t have to. I’m already sore but I’m tryin gor as long as I can and I am amazed and inspired by u and this blog. I’m only 18 and I dnt know anyone who breastfed. Thank u

  3. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU.

    This should be required reading for every man and woman.

  4. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Our culture is corrupted by the profits (Big Pharm making money off of formula AND the meds needed by all the babies made sick). The entertainment industry (like ABC, which did a really lame job at covering the new study) profits from exploiting and sexualizing women. Sexualized breasts are a commodity, and healthy breastfeeding attitudes threaten it — a breast with a baby on it is one less breast that can be used to sell men beer.

    Don’t give up. Have you seen the Nova Scotia breastfeeding campaign? It strikes a really nice note:

    .-= raisarobin´s last blog ..$100 Fabulous =-.

  5. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Gina! I just scanned your post as I am trying to parent and read but thank you, thank you, thank you! My friend and I had a lengthy discussion over breakfast about this today.

  6. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    great job on this post – this is very well written & thought out.

  7. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Here, here! I completely agree with you, and I’m appalled by Free Range Kids’s tweet. I only agree with her some of the time, though. Her attachment parenting information doesn’t make any sense. I plan on sharing this post. Excellent points.

  8. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Yes! This is a fantastic post! Thank you!!!
    .-= Joni Rae´s last blog ..Ostara 2010 =-.

  9. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Liked the post a lot, because you called out the nonsense that mothers often face when it comes to media and breastfeeding news.

    I suggest that people who are here to read and/or comment also should stop by The Mama Bee’s blog for an additional facet of the breastfeeding debate — one that often gets overlooked in conversations about why women either choose not to breastfeed or find themselves stopping before they would’ve liked. Here’s a link and an excerpt:


    = EXCERPT from The Mama Bee =

    Ruth Mantell’s recent piece in The Wall Street Journal on “The Economic Consequences of Breastfeeding,” […] suggests that working mothers should think twice about pumping at the office. Mantell joins the ranks of other mommy agitators like Jill Lepore and Hanna Rosin in suggesting that the cost of time and equipment might not be worth the benefits.

    Just one problem: Mantell is a reporter/writer who was able to take a 6-month maternity leave. Sound like most working mothers out there? Nope, not even remotely. Did she take the time to interview anyone more representative of the various working mother communties? Nope. Not a professional working mother, not a fast-food employee, not a middle manager or a factory worker — all of whom would have vastly different experiences with pumping in the workplace. The only perspective she got on this issue is her own, and that doesn’t reflect most of us in the trenches trying to sync our parenting choices with our career ambitions.

    Those of us in the corporate world who have breastfed on the job understand that the real issue is not the costs and benefits of pumping (that is going to be a very personal calculation), but the ability to make the choice. This kind of article drums up traffic-driving mommy-wars, but doesn’t shed light on or challenge the corporate culture that forces women to choose between work and feeding their babies.

  10. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Amen and amen! I feel so sad for women who think they can’t breastfeed. yes there are a few who really, truly try and still have to supplement, but so many give up due to lack of support, etc.
    .-= Katrina´s last blog ..baby girl has a name =-.

  11. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is a fabulous article; well written, well said. You are so right about car seats. The same is true for vaccinations. Healthcare professionals are very forthright in telling parents their baby needs both. But when it comes to breastfeeding, not only do many not know the evidence, they don’t seem interested in hearing it. How many women sit in my office (private practice lactation consultant)crying because they were told in hospital that they don’t have enough milk or you are starving your baby. Come on, learn how breastfeeding works so you can support it.

  12. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    You know… there *are* women who simply cannot breastfeed. And that does NOT need to mean their babies get formula. I am waiting (not so patiently) for the day when women *stand together* and tell the formula companies, collectively, to F*** off and die, form local milkshare co-ops, and get back to the business of caring for each other, free of charge.

    And if that’s do-able… it ends the wars. There’s no reason for women to be fighting about this. So you can’t breastfeed? Here, let your lactating sisters help you out, sans Nestle. We all stand stronger together, that way, and quit bagging on each other, and our whole culture gets stronger, healthier babies.

    OK, idealistic. But it used to work just fine. Why not now?

  13. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    No woman I have ever talked to about ending breastfeeding shortly after leaving the hospital has come to the decision lightly. And there are so many other factors involved than simply making milk. The physical part is the tip of the iceberg. “Choice” is not a dirty word or a lie.
    .-= Deb´s last blog ..Breastfeeding and surprisingly strong emotions, Part 2 =-.

  14. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    “So what leads you to believe that, after creating a whole person with organs and tissue and a beating heart, that your body would call it quits when it came time to feeding this thing?”

    Totally brilliant way to put it.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..7 Quick Tuesday Takes – 34 weeks =-.

  15. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Last night I was SCREAMING at the TV as the CBS guy chatted with their “medical correspondent” about this research. They pretended to care about why more women don’t breastfeed, but they never mentioned the totally fucking obvious: THIS COUNTRY LACKS THE POLITICAL WILL TO ENACT FEDERALLY MANDATED MATERNITY LEAVE. Forget pumping stations. Forget “some women just can’t,” which as you pointed out is crap. GET ON THE STREETS AND DEMAND MATERNITY LEAVE FOR EVERYONE. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone.

    Incidentally, I serve on the Mothers & Caregivers Rights’ Committee of National NOW, and I am going to suggest that we do just that.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      You’re on to something here. In Canada, Maternity/Paternity leave is a required part of our EI (employment insurance) system, which everyone pays into. A woman is entitled to one year at 55% of her salary for this year to stay home with her baby. If she’d rather go back to work, then the baby’s father can stay home for that time instead.

      It’s expensive, but SUCH a gift to all parents. It makes staying at home for that first year possible. I love my time with my baby!

      More Canadian women breastfeed and typically do so for longer. There is no doubt a connection here.

  16. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great post Gina! I remember after my daughter’s cesarean birth, I had to FIGHT to breastfeed in the hospital. They even sent me home with formula “just in case” – whatever that meant! And then there were all the formula samples that came in the mail – thanks to having a registry at Babies R Us and getting a free subscription to one of those parenting magazines. We had a very successful breastfeeding relationship in spite of all of that – thanks to a wonderful lactation consultant we saw and my local La Leche League group. There needs to be more lactation consultants and awareness! There is so much done with breast cancer awareness – especially as we’ll see yet again in May – and I rarely see little about the benefits of breastfeeding in reducing breast cancer.

  17. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I recently read an article about breastfeeding and guilt by Dr. Jack Newman and he mentions that no one feels bad for making a mother feel guilty for choosing to smoke while pregnant or drink while pregnant. We paste pictures of babies on respirators on cigarette packs, why not formula cans? It is perfectly acceptable in our society to get angry and sometimes downright mean about these choices and the risks to babies that they have. Now that I’ve said that, I don’t think this is the way, it’s just a contradiction in our societies reactions to infant health risks. Info and blame where it SHOULD be. Formula Companies, Lack of Government Funding and a Sexist Society. We need baby friendly hospitals!

  18. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    two words:
    one of the best written and MOST TRUE pieces I’ve had the privilege to read. give this woman a soapbox!

  19. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great post! I think I am going to have to re-read it when I don’t have a feisty baby in my lap. 😉
    .-= Brenna´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Sweet Boy.. =-.

  20. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. The woman who posted on twitter about the guilt…you are creating your own guilt. Scientific research doesn’t have judgment attached to it. For example, studies have shown that refined sugar consumption is bad for you. If you eat refined sugar and feel guilty, that’s your guilt, the study didn’t say “if you eat refined sugar, you’re a bad person.” Our choices have consequences. If you choose not to breastfeed, or cannot, the consequences include an increased risk of disease; regardless of your reasons. Whether you cannot breastfeed because you medically cannot, or you chose not to for various reasons, the consequences are the same. Women create their own guilt. If a woman feels guilty for choosing to formula feed, she needs to look at herself, not the scientific literature (and perhaps read a few quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt).

    BTW the British just published a study on breast ptosis (sagging), and found that breastfeeding does NOT contribute, but the number of pregnancies does. So much for better breast shape as a reason for not breastfeeding (I have heard this excuse given).

  21. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    You never disappointment me… EVER!
    Your posts are as good as it gets around the internet, and this one is no different.
    You knocked this ball right out of the ball park!
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..I Thought This was a JOKE! =-.

  22. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you Shannon for saying that. Beyond choice, and physical difficulties is the need for public policies that are designed to respect a woman’s ability to breastfeed and care for her baby exclusively. Paid, extended maternity leave is necessary to establish the breastfeeding relationship. At home subsidies for stay a home mothers would also be appropriate here (Sweden is essentially doing this for up to 1 year). After that requiring employers to allow mothers to pump milk at work and NOT making them clock out to do so, providing on site childcare, and flextime/telecommuting options are important steps in maintaining the breastfeeding relationship beyond 6 months. Insurance paid for lactation consultants, public health campaigns on the ease of increasing milk supply via oatmeal and herbal tea, expanding the WIC give-aways of breastpumps are all ways to assist mothers in having success breastfeeding.

    I’m sick of the partisan politics that maintain that parents are expected to “pull themselves up by their boot straps” and “do the best they can with what they’ve been given” and “suck it up.” That does not a healthy nation make. Charity, benevolence, compassion and kindness need a more central part in our public discourse.

  23. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    .-= The Errant Cook´s last blog ..Pumpkin puree, seeds, and pie =-.

  24. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    100% Agree! Bravo! I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  25. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great post!
    .-= Montse´s last blog ..E-learning Production Efficiencies =-.

  26. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Excellent post.

    I agree with it 100%.
    In 2005 my 9 week old daughter at the time contracted Pertussis during Hurricane Katrina. Another baby, a few days older, also had it at the same time and used the same pediatric group. That baby’s mother quit breastfeeding prior to realizing her baby was sick because she thought the vomiting and gagging was because she could not handle breastmilk so she switched her baby to formula. Their treatment plan in the hospital was different than ours because their baby was formula fed. In fact their baby was no longer fed by mouth and had an IV, while our baby continued to breastfeed. Sadly their baby passed away and several medical professionals, including the state health department commented that they believed our baby being breastfed improved her chances for survival.

    I am not anti-formula, but I think women as a whole need to stop lying to themselves when it comes to breastfeeding and open their eyes to the truth.

  27. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I love this post – I couldn’t believe the comments on that article it was just out of control. It was making me want to scream yesterday.

  28. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you! I will be quoting this for some time!

  29. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Kim – given the amount of natural disasters these days, I have often thought that we are setting ourselves up for failure by relying on sources outside our own ancient abilities to birth and feed babies. There’s going to come a time very soon when we are going to be left to survive on our own devices, and our ability is all but going to be evolved right out of us. That’s a frightening thought.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last blog ..When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth =-.

  30. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Best.Post.Ever. Thank you!
    .-= Zaira´s last blog ..Make It Monday – Whole Wheat Tortillas =-.

  31. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I agree that breastfeeding is cheaper and healthier for our babies. But, I don’t agree that women who give formula should be looked down on. I am currently breastfeeding WHEN I CAN. My baby is six months old now and has been in day care since he was 3 months. I just can’t pump the three times a day to make enough milk for him to be exclusively on breast milk at day care. Even if I could pump three times a day, I generally can only get a max of 8 oz over the course of the 9 hours I’m away from him, that’s only 1 bottle’s worth. Granted, if I was able to pump more often my supply might go up, but that’s not a given. Just wanted to add my personal 2 cents.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Erica – I think you’re right.

      The “problem” isn’t with mothers who don’t breastfeed, it’s with a system that doesn’t support mothers who breastfeed. Many women hold jobs where they barely get a maternity leave, then return to work in an environment that makes it next to impossible to pump while away from their child. Sometimes there is no solution, sometimes speaking up creates a hostile work environment, sometimes women don’t feel empowered enough to speak up.

      With today’s economy as a backdrop, I would imagine many women don’t feel they have the option of taking an extended leave and making waves with her employer to advocate for lactation rights. She may be the breadwinner of the family, and feel financial security trumps breastfeeding.

      Mothers, breastfeeding or formula feeding, should support one another and come from a place of help and advocacy.

  32. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I love the way you write; that you are able to put these issues together and make a cohesive argument takes me back to my good ol’ days of debate team, long before my brain turned to…whatever it is now. I’m really glad the internet introduced you to me.

    I’m behind you 100% on this, with this exception:

    ” Is it easy to make this milk? No, not always — but neither was bringing that baby into the world and your body did a fine job of that. Think about that. Think hard. Your body created an entire human being inside from nothing more than the joining of two single cells. Your body is a miracle worker.”

    I’m not sure what your birthing experience was like; I had two that were on the crunchy side of the fence and one that was pretty medically managed minus a c-section and the NICU stay nearly killed our breastfeeding relationship. (We prevailed.) But the other part of my new internet-loving-happy-birth-reading-time has been a bunch of VBAC-centered activism, lots of maternity care type stuff. And there’s been lots in the mainstream news lately about too many inductions, too many c-sections, too many elective c-sections. The Amnesty Int’l Report, etc. My point is this: No, not always – but neither was bringing that baby into the world and *IF YOU WERE LUCKY* you had the support you needed during pregnancy, during spontaneous labor, and during a vaginal delivery in order to get a breastfeeding relationship established ASAP. I just read something the other day that talked about bf-ing numbers PLUMMETING post hospital stay in women who have had c-sections – especially if they have other kids & not enough support.

    I don’t know why that one sentence stuck out at me – it’s not even really different than the rest of your message. I just think that so often we see pregnancy as one event. Delivery as a second event. Breastfeeding as a third event. We forget that motherhood (and fatherhood, though to a lesser degree) is a continuous (NEVER-ENDING, OH GOD) event.

    Yeah, paid maternity leave would benefit breastfeeding. But even more importantly is changing the way that women birth in our country, because we are setting them up for breastfeeding failure in so many hospital settings.
    .-= foxy.kate´s last blog ..You should love Kelly like I love Kelly! =-.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      You are absolutely correct. The entire childbearing YEAR is one continuum. Pregnancy is designed to lead to birth, birth is set up expressly to lead to breastfeeding – IF IT’S LEFT WELL ENOUGH ALONE, as much as is possible. Period.

      Breastfeeding success starts with healthy pregnancies and births. It goes on…an on…an on…with excellent postpartum support and maternity leave.

  33. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    LOVE it! Thank you. JUST had a twitter convo on this subject. planning to share this article.

  34. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I just read a fantastic book called, “Milk, Money, and Madness” that address a whole lot of these issues. I think that every woman needs to be given this information!

  35. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I feel the reasons are different than what is listed here. Pumps are a huge part of the problem, as are lactation consultants.

    Pumps are probably the #1 things that destroy a nursing relationship during the first 6 weeks after birth. There is no need for a pump during that time and it only serves to disrupt the normal process. Mom looks to pump to tell her what she is producing. More time on the pump = less time with baby skin to skin and/or nursing. Pumps = less faith in a mother’s body and her ability to nurse without the aid of plastic mechanics. I could go on and on regarding pumps.

    Over medicalized birth including postpartum standard practice is a huge culprit. The vast majority of babies spend the majority of time with their new mothers bundled up like burritos in a swaddling blanket and hat. Hats are unnecessary on a newborn and only serve to disrupt normal smells. That, as well as washing a newborn’s scent away. Skin to skin contact is the single most important thing involved in initiation of breastfeeding. Even with a wonderful so called “natural hospital birth”, a mother may have her baby placed on her chest for a period of time but how many babies never go in a plastic warmer in the hospital? Even though the AAP states that a mother is her baby’s optimal source of heat.

    Skin is an infants main form of communication. Read the works of renowned anthropologist Ashley Montagu if you would like to learn more. Communication is key for breastfeeding success and we are chopping ourselves off at the knees on this one….big time.

    The next biggest issue would be the deep seeded societal norm that infant babies need independence and sleep training. Then perhaps even larger issue of early intro to solid foods. If a mom has made it through all the other hurdles, she’ll likely stop dead in her tracks at 4 months and start solids if she hasn’t already. Per her peds advice of course!

    How anyone makes it to 6 months while “exclusively” breastfeeding is beyond me. Oh wait…I did it three times in a row whit ZERO issues. Because I already knew the troubles caused by the things listed above.

  36. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    our organization posted the report on the study to our facebook page this morning and immediately got a slew of “don’t make me feel guilty” replies, to which we relied:

    “It is always challenging to discuss a statistical average that reflects that, as a society, there has been little to no public policy to sufficiently establish & protect breastfeeding as the NORM without putting an individual on the defensive. The article did state that it is the quality of maternity care and policies, and NOT mothers, that are to… See More blame for the national average being so low. As an organization it is never, ever the intention of Birth Roots to make any mother feel bad or guilty, but we do want to raise awareness about persistently inadequate support for mothers and babies.

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  38. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Shouting this from the rooftops. I love it when you’re pissed. BRAVA!
    .-= Dou-la-la´s last blog ..The Importance of April =-.

  39. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Erin – in a society where women either MUST or WANT to work, pumps are 100% necessary to maintain the breastfeeding relationship. Not everyone can (or wants to) stay home with the baby (especially in this economy) but if they’re not home, and they can’t leave their boobs there, they have to be able to pump milk. I pumped for a full year, and thankfully, was able to exclusively provide breastmilk that entire time. If I didn’t have a good pump, I couldn’t have given him breastmilk. It’s that simple. We cannot ignore the fact that work outside the home is a huge part of the breastfeeding decision.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I have a question… I’m going to start school in a few weeks full time. With my past 3 children I have been lucky enough to breastfeed exclusively while at home. I have a 4 month old I will be leaving here at home and lucky for me he has been drinking out of a bottle at least once a week (NONE of my other children wanted anything to do with bottle’s!). I have made do with a manual pump, but I am thinking that I will need an double electric one. QUESTION…what inexpensive model do you recommend??? We are and have to be SUPER frugal in my home.

      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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        Hi, I exclusively pump & give my baby only expressed breast milk. I also did this with my fisrt child for ~11 months. I have medela pump in style double electric pump, which I believe is the best if you can get one. It has been a life saver to me. However, it is expensive, $280 new. I could not afford that & bought mine second-hand. All the parts that touch you can be sterilized in the dishwasher or boiling water. I also used a pump that was a gift from a friend that was Evenflo brand. It cost only $60 new. It is louder than my medela, but has worked just as well for me everytime I’ve used it. I recommend this brand as a less expensive option. I also recommend looking second-hand for a medela pump, from a friend, Ebay,etc. Hope this helps. Good luck!

      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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        I had to leave my 3 month old at home for several months after exclusively breastfeeding her. I was blessed with a MiPump, the single version, and it worked wonderfully! I even had an issue with it and the company sent out a new one for me, for free! It usually took me 8-10 minutes to pump 4-6 oz and it’s about $60. My daughter never had anything, but breastmilk while I had to work those several months. My friend got a double one, but thought it was a waste of money as she ususally only pumps one at a time so you may not need a double pump, but if you still want one it’s only $20 more. Good luck!!! http://www.target.com/First-Years-MiPump-Electric-Battery/dp/B001L6JB52/ref=sc_qi_detailbutton

  40. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Erica: great job for keeping at it while working! I just wanted to let you know that pumping 8 oz. in 9 hours is a pretty normal amount. It might even be enough for your baby without supplementing (or very little supplementation). Breastmilk changes in composition as baby grows so the baby does not need larger and larger bottles, as babies fed formula do. Many breastfeeding experts recommend that the baby be fed 1 oz. per hour (so, perhaps three 3-oz. bottles) in the times they are away from mom.

    I think I first read that info on kellymom.com, which is one of my favorite breastfeeding websites. It is run by a lactation consultant and has pretty good research available on it.

  41. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you for simply telling the truth. Right on.
    .-= Kelly (@kblogger)´s last blog ..Our First Garden =-.

  42. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great post. Lots of excellent and incredibly important points. You did make one minor error. The recommended minimum isn’t 6 months it’s 12. The first 6 are supposed to be exclusive. So this study really measures the number of lives that could be save if just HALF the recommended minimum is achieved. I’m sure that not following the real recommendations (6 months exclusive, continued with complementary feeding until at least 12 months) costs a lot more money than $13 billion and a lot more lives than 911. And the toll in terms of death and illness doesn’t stop after the first year. It continues for life. Add to that the intelligence deficit caused by artificial feeding and the true cost to humanity becomes incalculable.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Just to be pedantic (sorry!), breastmilk from the ages of 6-12 months isn’t complementary. Rather, the solids the baby starts eating are complementary at that stage, as milk is still the *main* source of nutrition until 12 months of age. :-)

  43. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I agree with many of your points (maternity leave, support for breastfeeding, etc.).

    But I’m not with you on this: “Breastfeeding. Saves. Lives.”

    Not always, not in every case. Exclusive breastfeeding would have starved my daughter, not saved her life.

    I breastfed my daughter exclusively for the first four months. I had her in a UNICEF “baby-friendly” hospital where they insisted on exclusive breastfeeding. I wanted to breastfeed her, and even if I hadn’t wanted to, I’d have been guilt-tripped on it at every turn.

    But I. JUST. DIDN’T. PRODUCE. ENOUGH. MILK. She was fine for the first two months, but at a doctor’s appointment at 3 months he was alarmed at her weight and sent me to the paediatrician. Turns out there was a reason she was hungry all the time — I wasn’t producing enough. She should have been eating twice as much as I was producing, and my body wasn’t ramping up even though she’d been trying desperately to make it do so.

    So I ask you: what’s my choice? Starve my baby, in the interests of exclusive breastfeeding? Or supplement with formula?

    Well, I’m sorry, but starving her in the name of the politics of breastfeeding didn’t seem like the right choice. So I supplemented with formula, and pumped, and pumped, and pumped so she’d have breastmilk too. But she likes to eat, and it became clear pretty soon that we were kidding ourselves saying we were “supplementing” with formula. We were supplementing with breastmilk; even though I was pumping constantly, I produced about enough for two feedings a day out of eight or so. I made it to five months, and stopped pumping; it was hard to pump every two hours when I was back to work full-time.

    So. stop. guilting. me. There is middle ground between your position and FreeRangeKids’. Do we need better maternity leave, more societal support for breastfeeding, access to lactation consultants, etc.? Especially in the United States? Hell yes.

    But should EVERY mother breastfeed EXCLUSIVELY for the first six months? No. Sooner or later, you have to do what’s best for your child. Sometimes that’s not exclusive breastfeeding.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      There are doctors out there that are VERY motivated by pharmaceutical companies (who supply formula) to make moms *think* that they’re not producing enough milk for their babies. Babies should gain between 4-7 oz a week when breastfed and even on the low end, breastfeeding should NEVER be discontinued simply because they’re not gaining enough from exclusive breastfeeding. You could supplement with an SNS so that you’re breasts are being told to produce more milk while baby is getting additional nutrition. I *ALSO* was LIED to and told that I didn’t make enough for my first baby girl and I vowed to never accept that lie for the truth with another baby. I was heartbroken and spiritually broken when I *HAD* to quit BF my oldest because of LIES. I exclusively BF my second until she was old enough for solids then she continued to nurse until she was 27 months old. I encourage you and any other moms who’ve been misinformed to turn your “guilt” and anger into action and try NOT to spread misinformation and encouraging other moms who are trying to breastfeed to dig deeper and not to give up.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I don’t think this is about guilt, except you making other moms feel guilty because YOU felt “heartbroken and spiritually broken” about having to quit breastfeeding.

      Guilt should not be a part of breastfeeding. Sometimes we just have to make choices that were not expected when we bring our new babies home. I too produced very little milk — definitely not enough to keep my hungry little guy satisfied. I pumped, I went to a lactation consultation, and I beat myself up mentally — not good for my relationship with my son when there is already so much stress as a new mom. I pumped constantly for three months, very little production, and my son was formula fed after that. It is something I still feel regret about, but my son is healthy, strong, happy, and loving — so should I feel bad about that?

      I completely agree that breastfeeding is the best route, and I am expecting a second baby this summer. This article has inspired me to really buckle down this time, especially now that I know what to expect — I will especially take in the part that says my body worked to create and birth this baby, so why would it not want to feed him/her?

      However I don’t think making other mothers feel guilty for having to take another route is the answer.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      You cannot argue that breastfeeding saves lives. In your case, if you physically could not produce enough, you could supplement with formula in addition to your breastmilk. It is not an all or nothing situation.

      Case in point: my own third child was similar to yours. Normal weight gain for the first few months then slowly petered off the chart. Spitting up turned to vomiting. As a lactation consultant myself, I knew that cow’s milk could be a culprit. I did an elimination diet and realized that my child was having problems with cow’s milk and soy. Once I removed them from my diet, I HAD TO GIVE FORMULA for one week while I pumped and froze while I waited for the milk to get out of my system.

      On a milk-free, soy-free diet he thrived.

      Was it hard? Damned near impossible. It is not convenient to cook my food from allergy-free ingredients. But did I do it? Anything for my kid…

      And by the way, he ended up nursing for 2 1/2 years.

  44. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    You are my hero. What a wonderful article that really addresses the issue at hand in an objective manner. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

  45. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I can’t support a culture that pushes mandated paid maternity leave. I can barely afford to raise my children, let alone everyone elses. And those who choose not to breed should not have to subsidize those who do.
    I DO support a culture that pushes 2 parent households and people willing to have a standard of living that lets a mom stay with her baby.
    My children are more important to me than stuff. Especially since if I were at work all day to afford it, I’d never get to enjoy my stuff anyway.

  46. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Preach it, Gina!! I was a breastfeeding crusader back in the day. It was (seriously) the only thing that kept me from killing my kids – I had bad PPD, only no one recognized it. All 3 kids were sections, two of them after planned home births.

    I nursed all 3 kids for 5 years. The two younger were tandem-nursed for 2 years. I had a lot of trouble with nursing, but I knew it was the ONE thing that only I could do for them. If I had viewed it as optional, our family’s story would be very different today.

    I take issue with Deb’s comment above. Most of the women I knew who used formula had no desire to give up their body (temporarily) for the sake of their child; as far as i’m concerned, it was pure selfishness. Plus there were the husbands (or just baby’s daddy’s) who viewed them as “tits”, and therefore something they had first right to enjoy.

    Oops. Guess that was a little bitter. God made boobs for babies, not tits for turn-ons.
    .-= Trece´s last blog ..Will this count for Eternity? =-.

  47. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you for this.

    Yes, there are women who encounter serious issues with breastfeeding but that is a tiny tiny minority.

    Great post!

  48. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Just a couple quick notes… I agree that we need to be more out there with the pro-breastfeeding info. People really don’t realize how much of a difference it can make! However, I do know of at least two women who truly were not able to breastfeed. (I really liked the comment that suggested we who CAN could form co-ops!) Anyway, one of them worked for a long time trying to feed her daughter only to find that her baby had some kind of relatively rare eating issue causing her to actually pinch the nipples closed when eating. Lactation consultants worked with her until, months and nursing supplementers later, the stress was so much that it was driving her into depression and all of the professionals involved told her the baby didn’t seem to be responding to the treatments they were trying and it was OK to switch to formula. She felt guilty at first, but as her daughter grew and thrived, she was able to recover her positive attitude and all was well. The other woman I know was on many medications. She had to go off of or reduce some of them for her pregnancy, but the whole time she was off of them was considered a danger to her. The docs insisted she go back on the meds as soon as possible to keep herself safe. (There were possible seizure issues, post-surgery issues from a previous cancer surgery, post-cancer issues…) Anyway, the meds would be in the breast milk and were not healthy for the baby, so she was told not to breastfeed.

    So there are a few exceptions, though I think there are far fewer than many women believe!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Well, that’s logical =-.

  49. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    There’s no reason to feel guilty if you did all that you could. Which obviously you did. Don’t allow others interpretations of what was going on in your body and life make you feel guilty. OWN your choice. If you truly believe what you did was the right thing you will be unshakable in your resolve and confidence. I’ve found that this has worked in all aspects/choices of my life.

  50. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I want to add something after reading additional comments.

    If you are having milk supply issues I don’t think by any means people should starve their babies, feed them. However does formula always have to be the first choice? I really believe that women should network together to have shared nursing experiences and to donate breastmilk to their sisters in need.

    When we adopted I had two generous friends who donated breastmilk to us, so not only did we use formula and I breastfed, we also had donate breastmilk as well. When I had my last child a friend of mine who had a known supply issue had a baby a few days before me and for six months I donated breastmilk to her.
    .-= Kim @ Beautiful Wreck´s last blog ..Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful =-.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Thank you for adding this…I just kept thinking it as I read a few posts. Too bad more mothers don’t turn to the Le Leche League for breastfeeding help and/or advice. It’s free afterall!!!

  51. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I disagree with much of what’s written here. I realize this makes me all sorts of things — wrong, mostly, according to this post — but I’ll stand my ground anyway.

    I am pro-breastfeeding. I DO get mad that we have no paid leave to help support the breastfeeding relationship, I DO get mad that moms aren’t being given free breastpumps, lactation consultants, and healthier food. I am FURIOUS that boobs are sexualized while breastfeeding is demonized.

    But I have a huge problem with the notion and tone of posts like these that suggest if you don’t breastfeed your baby, YOU ARE WRONG AND YOUR BABY WILL DIE.

    This study you’re citing is important, yes, and it definitely emphasizes how beneficial breastfeeding can be. But data needs to be kept in perspective. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of SIDS. So does not smoking in the home where the baby lives. So does turning down the temperature at night.

    Yes, car seats save lives. You know what else saves lives? Not getting in the car in the first place. Do you know how many children’s lives would be saved if there were no car accidents?

    (Please understand that my example is used merely to point out that all data is, to some extent, subject to interpretation and that “real life” does influence what we do with the data.)

    Ultimately, I think the fight to educate, to support, to embrace breastfeeding in the US is a damn good one. But we’re not going to get anywhere if the fight continues to get mired in the vilification of women who formula-feed.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Well said Kristy!! What about the fact too that some women have to be on medications and they don’t like the risks associated with taking meds, the baby , and breastfeeding?

  52. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great post – When my son was born, via emergency c-section, they gave him formula before I woke up. I told them, fine, I’d rather they hadn’t, but don’t give it to him again. We are going to breastfeed. They had a rule that I couldn’t sleep while the baby was in the room, he had to go back to the nursery if I wanted a nap. While I was napping they fed him formula again. I woke up, called for them to bring him too me so I could try feeding again, and was told ‘But he just ate.’ – ‘WHAT?!’ – ‘He was hungry and you’re not making milk yet.’

    I flipped out on them – how was I suppose to do this if they kept giving him formula? When they brought him to me after my rant there was a bold note on his bassinet – NO FORMULA!!!!!! BREASTFED BABY!!!! Maybe smartass of them, but if it worked I didn’t care. And I think no one wanted to deal with how pissed I’ve have been if they did it again.

    Still after all this from me, and me being very very clear that he was not going to get anymore formula, they sent me home with a huge can of it “just in case”. I got rid of it as soon as we got home.

    We have to FIGHT to get them to leave us to it in the hospital – or at least I did. I felt like they were TRYING to get me to not BF. On the second day they actually sent me a LC, who was surprised at how well it was going. I told her what happened with nursery and she got a smile on her face and told me good job for fighting them. That most first time mom’s would have just gone with what they said because ‘they know best’.

    Anyway, all that to say I totally agree with you – awesome post!

  53. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I LOVE this article. If only my husband would realize this. No matter how much I tried to educate him on breastfeeding, it didn’t matter. I did breastfeed all 3 of my kids, but my last one I breastfed until she was 6 months old. My husband wanted me to quit at 6 weeks and finally when I told him I was going to quit at 6 months he didn’t like it. I’m still upset I let him talk me into quitting breastfeeding at 6 months. I wasn’t ready and either was my little one. I still wish I could have gone until she was a year. I say if you can breastfeed, go for it because it’s the best thing you can do for your little one! I regret quitting so soon…

  54. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @FeministBreeder – You are so right about natural disasters. I remember in the 1970s when the Gulf Coast was hit by a major Hurricane and my mother standing in line with other mothers and their babies for milk and sterilized water. I am so glad that was not something I had to worry about during Hurricane Katrina.

  55. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    so i used to think that if women ruled the world there would be no war.

    now, not so much.

    we’d all scratch each others eyes out.

    look ladies, you don’t love your baby any more or any less than someone who chooses a different way to nurture it. end of story.

    someone will always be able to find written support or studies to further their own agenda to “save the stupid people” because they are so very smart compared to everyone else.

    in conclusion, if the earth were only filled with perfect humans? none of us would be here.


  56. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    There’s one issue that no one seems to be talking about, that plays very strongly, I think, into women’s reported choices about breastfeeding: sexual abuse.

    I remember a flyer on the bulletin board in the laundry room of my first-year college dorm, which baldly stated that one in SIX women would be victims of rape. It was promoting a crisis hotline, I think.

    I have two friends I’ve had close discussions with about nursing. Both were victims of molestation or rape. Neither was able to meet the “minimum targets” for nursing. One is currently EPing; the other kept up a blend of nursing, pumping, and supplementing with formula for nine months before her son went on a permanent nursing strike and she couldn’t stand pumping anymore. Both have very SERIOUS body image issues that interfere(d) with their ability to nurse.

    Nursing is a very intimate activity. You have to trust your baby; they may start out with no teeth, but a chomp still hurts! You have to trust those around you to not make you feel like an alien for feeding your child when they’re hungry. You have to trust yourself to make enough milk (even when we’re living in a toxic society that may compromise some women’s ability to produce sufficiently… google Yaqui mammary for the study in question). And when your trust has been totally violated, sometimes by someone in your family or who you were in a relationship with, and you have NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO HEAL, you may not be able to nurse… for reasons that are not physical or about the support for the activity right at the moment.

    We need a different attitude toward mental health. You do mention the shame about one’s own body; this is something that is fairly universal to women regardless of history of sexual abuse, but SA makes it far, far worse. We need to say that, if a woman is “choosing” to formula-feed, that may be a sign that she can benefit from therapy. (And I say this as someone who has benefited a great deal from therapy, and continues to do so; you don’t have to be crazy to need therapy, just like you don’t have to be a cripple to need crutches for a sprained ankle.)

    There *are* legitimate cases where mom nursing baby doesn’t work. They are far, far rarer than the number of times they are diagnosed. Formula is necessary for the health and survival of a handful of babies (galactosemics, for example), and unless we do develop a very different approach to milk sharing, will continue to be necessary for even more babies whose mothers cannot produce sufficient milk (or who cannot avoid working and do not respond to a pump).

    One more thing on the “guilt”: if you’ve done your research, you’ve examined the costs and benefits of feeding choices, and you’ve gone with formula, then more information shouldn’t be making you feel guilty. That guilt is ALREADY THERE, and you’re being reminded of it. Examine where it really comes from… it’s not from the facts; it’s from somewhere else. Find your peace with your decision, and you won’t have the guilt anymore.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      excellent points!!! are you familiar with the studies about empowered birth helping heal sexual abuse trauma?

  57. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I would love to see a follow up post where you discuss the support system you feel is needed for women to be successful at breastfeeding. Thanks for sharing.

  58. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Are you saying that 100% of women can breastfeed without a problem if they really “want” to? I wanted more than ANYTHING to breastfeed my kids for as long as possible, but was only mentally able to do so for 6 weeks because I genuinely believe that I have a low milk supply. After many discussions with my Mom (breastfed 6 kids), friends that breastfed and lactation consultants, I had tried so many things to increase my milk supply and none of it worked. So after 6 weeks of breastfeeding on the left then breastfeeding on the right, then feeding a bottle then pumping – at every feeding, all to do it again a half hour later….I had to stop for my own sanity. If you HONESTLY believe that there is no such thing as a woman not being able to produce enough milk, then please enlighten me so that when I have my next baby, I won’t use the “excuse” that I have a low supply. Thanks.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      If you want to do it, you may have to feed your baby every half hour or even every few minutes all the time, but it should still be enough just not all at once. If that drives you crazy then that’s just how it is, but that doesn’t sound like it isn’t working – It sounds like you don’t like it or you have an expectation that it is different than it is. It may be that you aren’t producing enough, but from your description that isn’t what it sounds like. You may be trying too hard. Try to calm down and it will work better for you, or just decide to feel good about whatever you do decide to do.

  59. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Andrea – I’m sorry you had such a tough time. It sucks – I know because I’ve been there. I tried desperately to breastfeed my first son and quit after 4 weeks when I was convinced I “couldn’t” do it. Most women who “can’t” breastfeed are being sabotaged by environmental factors, many of which can be overcome with the right support system. Sometimes the birth sabotages it, sometimes it’s diet, and sometimes it’s really bad advice. There can be dozens of causes, and I can’t tell you what yours is, but I CAN tell you that I have successfully breastfed my second son for the last 2 years despite thinking I was not able to the first time. I never said “ALL WOMEN” (which is what people want to hear.) I think it is implied that there are exceptions to everything, but I’m tired of all women who don’t breastfeeding acting like THEY are all the exception to the rule. 88% Formula feeding isn’t the “exception” anymore.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last blog ..When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth =-.

  60. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Gina, this post is beautifully written and very well reasoned. You are going to be such a kickass lawyer!!!

    As to the topic at hand, I totally agree with you (big shocker, I know). But I’d like to address the commenters, like Marianne, who feel that your post, and similar sentiments, are aimed at guilting them for not succeeding as they had hoped with breastfeeding.

    OF COURSE there will be, and have always been, women who physically cannot make it work. Just as some women really cannot birth babies, and some cannot make insulin, and some cannot hear. We are a species of much variation, on an individual basis. BUT SOME THINGS ARE TRUE ON A GENERAL BASIS. Most women CAN make enough milk, or whatever else is needed to exclusively breastfeed. Certainly more than 14%. Certainly more than 80%. Probably more than 90%, or, as Gina points out, humans would not still be here.

    Clinging to the anecdotal evidence about how a particular woman tried and failed to breastfeed, to show how we should stop advocating breastfeeding as the norm, is just bad bad logic. Should we support women who try and cannot make it work, who TRULY cannot make it work? Of course. We should all support each other. But should we also strongly, strongly encourage the elimination of formula from the diets of babies whose mothers CAN nurse? ABSOLUTELY.

    I’m dying to share my own anecdotes about why breastfeeding absolutely can be the norm for the vast majority of babies, but I won’t. Let’s just stop bickering about particulars and get to work supporting mothers and increasing the rates of breastfeeding.

  61. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I wish every single person in the whole U.S. could read this article. Thank you.

  62. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I definitely could NOT breastfeed.
    I did not produce enough milk and to be honest, noone could be bothered to help me with it when I visited clinics.

  63. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Melissa – you just made my point. You said you “couldn’t” because nobody helped you. With the right help – you COULD have. That is exactly the point here.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last blog ..When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth =-.

  64. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I said “Pumps are probably the #1 things that destroy a nursing relationship during the first 6 weeks after birth”

    I notice you could not actually dispute that. Instead, you are arguing for working outside the home…different topic.

    PUMPS ARE DESTROYING NURSING RELATIONSHIPS FROM THE GET GO. Ignore this if you want but you won’t stop being angry about it until it’s addressed. Personally, I do think more women should stay home with their chidren but if they are going to work outside the home (for whatever reason) then they it’s going to be an uphill battle for them to BF if they start with pumping during those first 6 weeks.

    Pumping has less effect on the natural course of a breastfeeding relationship when it’s done later in the relationship. It ALWAYS has an effect, but the later the better. It doesn’t belong in the first 6 weeks. I guess you could make an argument that it’s got to start at least shortly before those first 6 weeks are up for moms that are going back to work right at 6 weeks but certainly not in week 1,2, or 3.

    Exclusively pumping is the second best option for babies but it does come with it’s own set of risks including reduced immunities/immunities that are not as customized for baby’s needs. Still a great option though!

  65. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Love this. So glad to have found your blog!
    .-= leigh´s last blog ..Shadow Blocks =-.

  66. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    “So after 6 weeks of breastfeeding on the left then breastfeeding on the right, then feeding a bottle then pumping — at every feeding, all to do it again a half hour later.…I had to stop for my own sanity.”

    Andrea, next time ditch the pump. It clearly didn’t help you just as it rarely helps anyone in the first 6 weeks.

  67. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I love this post because you do not place any ‘blame’ on mothers. Better support, and a cultural shift towards breastfeeding being the norm is what is needed to shift the tide.

    Guilt inducing adverts and proselytizing to individual mothers is not helpful and fuels the fires. Anger at the establishment and changing practices is the way to go.

    I’m a mother of two breast feed and pumped milk fed babies (pumping at work is tough, but I swear the kids get much less sick at daycare), and manager of two women who I have wholeheartedly supported pumping at work.
    .-= geekymummy´s last blog ..been there, seen that, bought the T shirt =-.

  68. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Great post, thank you! I did want to mention that the hospital I had my first baby at did give me a Medela Manual pump to use while I was there and to take home — free. I have used it for all three babies! A little can go a long way and could make a huge difference. They also froze breastmilk and gave me an insulated bag to transport it home in. I happened to be at a great hospital in Burlingame CA that was incredibly supportive and since that was my first experience it shaped how I felt about bfing in the future. They would be a good role model for how breastfeeding should be handled in hospitals.

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    @Sally, paid maternity leave would do WONDERS for our country and our children. So many kids are being cheated today because mothers need to go back to work so quickly because many households cannot afford to have one parent working. I am LUCKY to be able to stay home with my children but not everyone is as lucky.
    No one is asking for you to support anyone else’s children, just open the door for the US to have what so many other industrialized nations ALREADY have!
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..I Thought This was a JOKE! =-.

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    Truly one of your best posts yet. The lashback to this study I have seen over the past two days has been maddening. I could not agree more with your sentiments expressed here.

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    Great post!

    The difference between carseats and breastfeeding is that no one is telling people to stop buying carseats, but this research should encourage people to stop buying formula. The bottom line isn’t boobs, it’s money. It’s always money. And Nestle (yes, Nestle) stands to lose a lot of money if the other 87% of women started breastfeeding.

    Frankly, the motivation I found to continue when it got tough (blisters on my nipples because I didn’t get her latching on high enough) was because I am very very lazy. Getting up and making a bottle is much more difficult than just breastfeeding. That should be the new slogan… Breastfeeding! You don’t even need to get out of bed.
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..Wakey Wakey, Let’s Have Cakey* =-.

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    Well, the formula companies are still winning we’re still bickering about “guilt” rather than the facts. Here’s Dr. Jack Newman’s take on “Formula Guilt”.

    Breastfeeding and Guilt
    Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
    (revised January 2000)

    One of the most powerful arguments many health professionals, government agencies and formula company manufacturers make for not promoting and supporting breastfeeding is that we should “not make the mother feel guilty for not breastfeeding”. Even some strong breastfeeding advocates are disarmed by this “not making mothers feel guilty” ploy.

    It is, in fact, nothing more than a ploy. It is an argument that deflects attention from the lack of knowledge and understanding of too many health professionals about breastfeeding. This allows them not to feel guilty for their ignorance of how to help women overcome difficulties with breastfeeding, which could have been overcome and usually could have been prevented in the first place if mothers were not so undermined in their attempts to breastfeed. This argument also seems to allow formula companies and health professionals to pass out formula company literature and free samples of formula to pregnant women and new mothers without pangs of guilt, despite the fact that it has been well demonstrated that this literature and the free samples decrease the rate and duration of breastfeeding.

    Let’s look at real life. If a pregnant woman went to her physician and admitted she smoked a pack of cigarettes, is there not a strong chance that she would leave the office feeling guilty for endangering her developing baby? If she admitted to drinking a couple of beers every so often, is there not a strong chance that she would leave the office feeling guilty? If a mother admitted to sleeping in the same bed with her baby, would most physicians not make her feel guilty for this even though it is, in fact, the best thing for her and the baby? If she went to the office with her one week old baby and told the physician that she was feeding her baby homogenized milk, what would be the reaction of her physician? Most would practically collapse and have a fit. And they would have no problem at all making that mother feel guilty for feeding her baby cow’s milk, and then pressuring her to feed the baby formula. (Not pressuring her to breastfeed, it should be noted, because “you wouldn’t want to make a woman feel guilty for not breastfeeding”.)

    Why such indulgence for formula? The reason of course, is that the formula companies have succeeded so brilliantly with their advertising to convince most of the world that formula feeding is just about as good as breastfeeding, and therefore there is no need to make such a big deal about women not breastfeeding. As a vice-president of Nestle here in Toronto was quoted as saying “Obviously, advertising works”. It is also a balm for the consciences of many health professionals who, themselves, did not breastfeed, or their wives did not breastfeed. “I will not make women feel guilty for not breastfeeding, because I don’t want to feel guilty for my child not being breastfed”.

    Let’s look at this a little more closely. Formula is certainly theoretically more appropriate for babies than cow’s milk. But, in fact, there are no clinical studies that show that there is any difference between babies fed cow’s milk and those fed formula. Not one. Breastmilk, and breastfeeding, which is not the same as breastmilk feeding, has many many more theoretical advantages over formula than formula has over cow’s milk (or other animal milk). And we are just learning about many of these advantages. Almost every day there are more studies telling us about these theoretical advantages. But there is also a wealth of clinical data showing that, even in affluent societies, breastfed babies, and their mothers, incidentally, are much better off than formula fed babies. They have fewer ear infections, fewer gut infections, a lesser chance of developing juvenile diabetes and many other illnesses. The mother has a lesser chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and is probably protected against osteoporosis. And these are just a few examples.

    So how should we approach support for breastfeeding? All pregnant women and their families need to know the risks of artificial feeding. All should be encouraged to breastfeed, and all should get the best support available for starting breastfeeding once the baby is born. Because all the good intentions in the world will not help a mother who has developed terribly sore nipples because of the baby’s poor latch at the breast. Or a mother who has been told, almost always inappropriately, that she must stop breastfeeding because of some medication or illness in her or her baby. Or a mother whose supply has not built up properly because she was given wrong information. Make no mistake about it?health professionals’ advice is often the single most significant reason for mothers’ failing at breastfeeding! Not the only one, and other factors are important, but health professionals often have influence and authority far beyond their knowledge and experience.

    If mothers get the information about the risks of formula feeding and decide to formula feed, they will have made an informed decision. This information must not come from the formula companies themselves, as it often does. Their pamphlets give some advantages of breastfeeding and then go on to imply that their formula is almost, well, between us, actually, just as good. If mothers get the best help possible with breastfeeding, and find breastfeeding is not for them, they will get no grief from me. It is important to know that a woman can easily switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding. In the first days or weeks?no big problem. But the same is not true for switching from bottle feeding to breastfeeding. It is often very difficult or impossible, though not always.

    Finally, who does feel guilty about breastfeeding? Not the women who make an informed choice to bottle feed. It is the woman who wanted to breastfeed, who tried, but was unable to breastfeed who feels guilty. In order to prevent women feeling guilty about not breastfeeding what is required is not avoiding promotion of breastfeeding, but promotion of breastfeeding coupled with good, knowledgeable and skillful support. This is not happening in most North American or European societies.
    Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC
    (revised January 2000)

  73. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I starred this on my Google Reader, emailed it to my husband, and will be blogging it on my “Friday Favorites” post this week. YOU ROCK.

    Thank you for providing support and ammunition and motivation, even to those of us who aren’t mothers yet, to show that we CAN succeed, when the time comes* :-)

    *NOT YET. 😀 hehehe
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..A slow and painful death =-.

  74. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I should also add that I enjoyed reading this post so thoroughly that I was honestly sad when it was complete. Great writing, great inspiration, perfect balance of fact and humor. You made my day :-)
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..A slow and painful death =-.

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    Another thing they could focus on is that you don’t actually need to breast feed, you just need to give your baby breast milk. One of my friends had trouble breastfeeding. She also had access to a decent pump and only fed her baby breast milk. Months later she tried breast feeding again, after she and her baby were more comfortable with each other, and was able to easily switch off the pump.
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..Wakey Wakey, Let’s Have Cakey* =-.

  76. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Erin – I’m not “ignoring” the problems that pumping can cause. But you cannot ignore the fact that EVEN if we had paid leave (as they do in Canada – a whole year in fact!) that women will STILL work outside the home and they should NOT be left with no option to feed their baby if that’s what they need to (or choose to) do. Pumping has GOT to be part of the equation for many, many, many women. If we pretend that pumps are the enemy, instead of the rest of this, we’re shaming any mother who wants to (or has to) go back to work.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last blog ..When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth =-.

  77. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I love this post and your graciousness and generosity toward mothers that is expressed in it. I see that other people are reading guilt trips into it, but I really thought you were even-handed and supportive. Thanks for writing this and stating the truth. “If only 13.6% of us could make enough milk, the human race would never have survived.” Yes.
    .-= Lauren @ Hobo Mama´s last blog ..Cosleeping winners! (or, Hey, I’m going to be in a book) =-.

  78. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I said pumps are the enemy during the first 6 weeks. Pumping does not have to be part of the equation during weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. For people like Andrea, it did NOT have to be part of the equation. I never said anything about pumps never being part of the equation. I said DURING THE FIRST 6 WEEKS. You keep ignoring that and trying to make this about something else.

  79. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I know my mom could not breastfeed me when I was a baby. She was very sick when she had me, and I was taken away. The nurses bottle fed me, and I refused her when we were finally together again.

    When my brother was born, my mom didn’t let them take him away. She was able to breastfeed him. The differences are clear, even between the two of us. He’s stronger, and healthier. They have always had a stronger bond.

    I know, from this experience alone, that I will breastfeed my children.
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..4:30 a.m. =-.

  80. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Erin – this is the last time I’m responding because you’re reading something that simply isn’t there. I never said women had to use pumps in the first 6 weeks. I never told Andrea to. If you don’t think that either, then what exactly is your argument? You’re reading into things I didn’t say and creating a straw man argument. Stay on topic and stay respectful or I’ll be forced to take the negativity out of my space.
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last blog ..When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth =-.

  81. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thanks for this post.
    I really had to fight to breastfeed my kid. I had a lot of issues but none that couldn’t be solved by time, practice and a good lactation consultant. Yet from the start, well-meaning people (including my MIL and my mom) kept telling me “you don’t have enough milk, you gave it a try, good for you,now try bottle-feeding. Even when breatfeeding was well-established I got the “when are you going to wean him? You’ll never be able to breastfeed and work…” crap. Well, am still breastfeeding, working and pumping! But to my advantage, I have a comfortable income, a very supportive husband and I did all the research beforehand, so I knew the boobs were best for my kid. Plus, in Canada, you can usually see a lactation consultant for free at the hospital and we get a year of paid materity leave from work. But still, it was a challenge, a fight. So my heart goes out to those moms who are not supported in their choice and give up because of that.Bottom-line: it costs less to provide babies with what they really need: mommy’s milk and time.

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    @April I probably would have been arrested for physically assaulting those nurses. Made me SO ANGRY just READING your experience. There are’t enough swear words for how that makes me feel.

    My breastfeeding relationship was nearly doomed by an asinine pediatrician who didn’t know the difference between breastfeeding and jell-o shots.

    I worked full time after both babies with only 6 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, yet, somehow, they managed to have exclusively breastmilk for more than six month. IT CAN BE DONE. If you don’t accept the shite pediatricians and nurses try to feed you, if you have some support from your family or friends, and if you’re so damned determined you won’t let anyone tell you it won’t work. Eff the medical establishment. Eff unpaid maternity leave. Eff it all.

    Educate yourself, get a lactation consultant, don’t take NO for an answer, believe in yourself and your body. Yes, some women can’t make enough milk, or are on medications, but it’s not 86% of us. If you tried your hardest, if you were sabotaged, if you were lied to (and women are LIED TO EVERYDAY) it’s not your fault. Get angry. Your baby is the only one who counts.
    .-= Azucar´s last blog ..Hour, Minute, Second =-.

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    You know, I’m in the same position as Marianne and some others here. I had lots of support, education, doctors, physical therapists, lactation consults, pumps, herbal drugs, drugs from Canada, etc. I did every single thing I had heard of, or was suggested to me by medical professionals, and it didn’t work.

    I’m happy with where I’m at, happy bonding with my healthy kids. I’m just tired of people screaming about how my baby is going to die because of breastfeeding. Seriously people? I see lots of folks feed their kids meat, setting them up for a lifetime of obesity and clogged arteries. But I don’t scream at them cause I figure everyone’s got reasons for doing things the way they do them.

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    As an IBCLC & a RN, You hit the nail right on the head! I think often that the emotion of guilt is confused with remorse. All I can say is Thank you for a great post:)

  85. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    http://www.BestforBabes talks about booby traps, societal barriers that discourage a woman from breastfeeding.

    Why should she breastfeed when she walks out of the hospital with the free microfiber diaper bag and its free samples that was given to her by a person in a white coat?

    Why should she breastfeed when she is made to feel like shit outside her home? Or when her boss won’t give her some clean space and flexible time to collect milk in the workplace? Or when pumping at work is one more burden to add to working full-time, running the household and taking care of other children after having gone through major abdominal surgery?

    Where is the honor and respect that women need to know that they are doing something right and special? Where is their extended maternity leave, so they have the time to breastfeed well and recover from birth and feel ready to go back to work? Where is the financial support for her maternity leave, so she doesn’t have to be punished for choosing to stay home by loosing her income?

    Women want to breastfeed, but only 40% of them meet their goals. It is OUR job, everyone’s, to give her practical advice and encouragement, because breastfeeding is everyone’s business.

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    @Polly, I have never met a parent feeding a child crap food do it for a good reason other than its the easiest or fastest option. That is a whole other ball game!
    .-= Danielle´s last blog ..I Thought This was a JOKE! =-.

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    Great post, Gina! As a German immigrant and first-time mom to a now almost 16-month-old fabulous little girl, I have to say I was appalled to learn about American maternity support. My friend in Germany, who just had her first son last Tuesday, gets a year to care for her baby at 67% of her current pay (she’s a single mom). Fine, Germany has higher taxes. But you know what? They understand that, in the long run, raising healthy kids means building a strong nation. That, dear commenter above who doesn’t “want to pay for other people,” is true patriotism. Here in the U.S.? Myopia and greed. That said, if I am lucky enough to ever get pregnant again, I will have my next baby in Germany.
    .-= charlotte´s last blog ..Paradigms =-.

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    I raised HELL when I was given free formula samples at my OB’s office.

    I raised HELL when I was handed a bag of free formula at the hospital.

    I yelled at a nurse who told me to supplement with formula to cure jaundice.

    I told my pediatrician it was stupid to wean from breastmilk to cow milk, because my baby isn’t a calf.

    I told my bosses I’d be pumping and it wasn’t negotiable.

    Come on, ladies, get angry. Don’t accept what they’re trying to feed you and your baby. Don’t accept that a bottle is inevitable.

    And if it didn’t work the first time, or the second time, it’s never too late to try again.

    Believe in yourself and your baby. Eff the world.
    .-= Azucar´s last blog ..Hour, Minute, Second =-.

  89. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This post nails the real issue — it’s not whether women “should” breastfeed, but rather that all women should have the choice to do so.

    The media likes it when we argue about who is or is not a good mother based on parenting choices. It drives traffic. But the real discussion should be about why our society neglects to give all mothers the right to breastfeed if they choose.

    Thanks, Feminist Breeder, for this terrific contribution to that discussion.

    With much respect for all you do,
    .-= Mama Bee´s last blog ..The Costs of Pumping =-.

  90. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Not every woman can make enough milk….in that case, there needs to be milk banks and certified-healthy wet nurses and human milk available for purchase.

    If women can rent out their uteruses and sell their eggs, they should be able to sell their milk.

    If you went to the emergency room bleeding to death, and you were told “We’re out of human blood to give you, all we have is cow blood” how would you or your family react? (Medically, you would not survive.)

    Human babies deserve human milk and their mothers deserve whatever loving and compassionate assistance is necessary to meet that goal.

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    Thank you for this gracious post. I can attest to how important a cultural shift is plus how essential a support system is. I struggled terribly with my first son. He was a preemie – 5lbs – and I wasn’t stretchy at all. I had a fabulous IBCLC at the hospital that got us set up with a nipple shield (that I had no clue existed previously) so I could get started nursing. She was by my side as baby had a severe weight gain blip – gain of just 1oz per week for 3 weeks. She helped me supplement with formula as I struggled to bring my supply back (not a decision made lightly) and figure out what was going on with my body. It took about 4 months to diagnose a thyroid imbalance that was causing the supply problems AND causing PPD/Anxiety.

    Had I not had this wonderful LC plus a great support board online, I would have given up early on. Having the formula in the house just made it so tempting. Only one person in my family had breastfed. My MIL breastfed but stopped around 6 months and did whole milk and solid foods.

    I am amazed at the venom aimed at moms and their feeding choices. I have been ridiculed for nursing in public (discretely), bottle feeding breast milk in public, and formula feeding in public. Why can’t moms support each other?
    .-= Audra´s last blog .. =-.

  92. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    My argument is and has been clear from my first post:

    “Pumps are probably the #1 things that destroy a nursing relationship during the first 6 weeks after birth.”

    You insinuated in your journal that handing out breast pumps would help the problem and I’m stating that I think pumps are part of the problem to start with.

    You want this to be about the need for pumping to work out of the home but it’s not.

    Stay at home moms don’t breastfeed.

    This isn’t about SAHM/WAHM. The majority of women are told to pump in the first days after birth, sometimes the very same day and it’s killing nursing relationships all over this country right now.

    Andrea wasn’t nusring and then pumping and then bottle feeding her baby’s first week of life because pumps need to be part of the equation because some mother’s choose to work out of the home. She was doing so because she believed the pumping was going to help/save her breastfeeding relationship when it more than likely only served to help end it.

  93. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I just can’t get enough of this post. This is one of the best, if not THE best, explanation of why breastfeeding is a feminist issue. ROCK. THE F. ON.

    (Natch, I yoinked much of your post in my own: http://dou-la-la.blogspot.com/2010/04/latching-on.html )
    .-= Dou-la-la´s last blog ..The Importance of April =-.

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    @erin I have to agree with you.

    I can’t tell you how many women I’ve spoken with who told me, “Well, I pumped and I was couldn’t even pump a whole ounce, so I switched to formula.” My very first question is, “WHY were you pumping?” Generally, they were told to so that it would help bring in their supply. And in our scientifically obsessed culture, they equated how much they could pump with how much they were producing. That is an incorrect supposition.

    While pumping can be a tool in an arsenal to correct a supply problem under the guide of an IBCLC, it’s generally not needed in the first 6 weeks and often does more harm than good. After all, you see a low volume number and think your baby is getting nothing.

    I loved my Ameda, it made it possible for me to work and feed my babies. However, the volume I was able to pump never equated the volume I could produce. Even the best pump in the world isn’t as awesome as a baby.
    .-= Azucar´s last blog ..Hour, Minute, Second =-.

  95. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you so much for writing this! I am so passionate about breastfeeding and it breaks my heart when the breastfeeding relationship is undermined by the very people that should be supporting it. Almost every woman could nurse their babies with the right information and support. I have always wondered why people refer to the ‘benefits of breastfeeding’ as opposed to ‘the dangers of formula feeding’. Women have been lied to for a enough generations that they truly believe there is nothing wrong with formula feeding. And we live in a culture where you NEVER breastfeeding in the media. That really has to change if we want to see a rise in breastfeeding rates!

    I am happy to say that I have nursed my son Rowan since he was born and he is now 3. I have nursed my son Mica since he was born and he is now 8 months old. They were both exclusively breastfed for over 6 months. I have such a strong bond with both of them that I am so grateful for. I often do not share the details of my breastfeeding relationships with others outside of our family. Although I am not ashamed of nursing and I proudly nurse Mica in public without a nursing cover, I still know that a lot of people would have dirty looks or nasty comments if they knew that I was still nursing my three year old. I wish this wasn’t the case. There needs to be a major change in our culture in order for women to feel confident enough in their own bodies. I think a lot of the same factors that contribute to low breastfeeding rates are contributing to the low rates of natural childbirth.
    I really hope that the new health care bill will have positive ramifications on breastfeeding and childbirth in this country. If the government has a vested interest in our health care they will realize that midwife attended births and breastfeeding make for healthier moms and babies and will save billions of dollars! Here’s hoping……

  96. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    THANKS YOU for saying this!!! I think that along with the boob issue you mentioned, business can’t make money off breastfeeding. they can make a lot more off selling formula, bottles, ect. My questions is why, when there is the slightest bit of trouble with breastfeeding, are the doctors soquick to puch formula? Why isn’t there a lactation consultant in EVERY peds office? Why is the only reliable source for info LLL?

    My babies are worth a lot more than a little bit of your un-comfort!

  97. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    RE: pumps in the first weeks of life.

    Pumps can help a mom get through painful engorgement or mastitis, help get supply established and give her a break if she has cracked nipples etc. The first few weeks can be hard and if a mom uses a pump for any reason and it allows her to continue then I don’t see how its an issue. It actually made all the difference in being able to continue and sure didn’t “destroy a nursing relationship during the first 6 weeks after birth.”

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    To all those offended by the “your baby will die” argument:

    That argument is NOT being made!

    No one is saying that any baby – or even your baby – will die if not breastfed, the report presents important information on the natural disease-fighting benefits of breastmilk not present in formula that could have saved infant lives.

    It’s not meant to be personalized to the degree that it is happening. It is saying in general, breastmilk can help keep babies healthier. Results like this are important tools for those who are fighting an anti-breastfeeding culture.

    We all have different breastfeeding success/challenge/it didn’t work out (because that’s NOT a “failure”) stories. Let’s not compare and contrast to find the winner of the my baby lived contest – let’s all agree that women being empowered and supported as long as possible in breastfeeding is the most important thing.

    Even if it only lasts long enough to discover there’s a real medical problem making continued breastfeeding impossible. Even if it only lasts until she’s got to go back to work. Even if it only lasts until it doesn’t.

  99. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Nice job girlfriend. I like the car seat parallel. It works particularly well when discussing these mythical “costs of breastfeeding” that are being brought out to counter this study. I spent way more on car seats than I did on breast pumps.

    One of the comments above discusses the lack of research on the impact of sexual abuse on breastfeeding. I agree completely and the level of ignorance and insensitivity I have encountered in the breastfeeding support community is unacceptable. Check out Kathleen Kendall-Tackett at http://uppitysciencechick.com/ . I think she is the world’s most important resource on trauma and its impact of breastfeeding. The work she brings us should be required reading for anyone who works with breastfeeding women.

    However, for a little over a decade I have led a small peer support group of mothers who were abused as children and none have found abuse made breastfeeding impossible. I have also spoken (informally and unscientifically) to many women who have been sexually assaulted but who have had successful breastfeeding relationships. I have met women whose abuse history got in the way of extended breastfeeding and I’m sure there are many women whose feelings about breastfeeding are based in unresolved abuse issues (I have long suspected that the negative reaction to public breastfeeding is abuse related) but most women who have been assaulted appear to be able to have healthy breastfeeding relationships. But I agree as a society we need to more publicly acknowledge that a significant number of women – probably a majority of women in the U.S. – have been sexually assaulted. Health care professionals need to use the “universal precautions” theory and assume every woman has been. What we do know about trauma and its impact on breastfeeding has to inform how women are counseled. Perhaps then we can be a bit easier on each other as mothers.
    .-= Jake Aryeh Marcus´s last blog ..St. Patrick’s Day: Sinead O’Connor Raps the Truth About the Famine =-.

    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      @Jake – I agree wholeheartedly, both that sexual abuse doesn’t have to stop women, and that we MUST have more cultural sensitivity about this abuse and the effects that it can have on every aspect of a woman’s life. I’ve posted the intimate details about my own sexual assault on my blog, and luckily it didn’t prevent me from breastfeeding. But I’m sure it *could* impact a woman, and that is why EVERY barrier to breastfeeding must be examined, and women need support to make it through those difficulties. Don’t be mad at breastfeeding, be mad at the abuse, and the lack of understanding about the abuse.

  100. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Azucar – thank you for your response!

    I am a volunteer breastfeeding support counselor through the Red Cross in a local busy L&D unit and the vast majority of these women are given pumps, told to pump and if they don’t try pumping in the hospital before they go home, they make it clear that they are going to as soon as they get home. Then I see it every week at our breastfeeding support groups, LLL meetings, etc. Then I read it on message boards and blogs all over the internet. I have seen what it does first hand. Sure, there are times when it’s needed in the early days such as a baby who is in the NICU but that’s not what’s going on here.

    I just can’t get “angry” that pumps aren’t given out for free because I don’t think giving out free pumps would save any lives. Moms who work out of the home have pumps already. So do most moms who don’t work out of the home. Even WIC often gives out free pumps right now. Access to pumps is not the problem. Take Erica for example, she had a pump but just couldn’t pump enough at work. There are work related obstacles that do need to be addressed but I just don’t think free pumps is one of them.

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    Thank you Gina! A woman having her hair done next to me this morning was just venting her frustration (nurse) about all of the women she sees choosing not to BF at all. She said they say things like “well, my mom didn’t BF and I am fine,” or “it is gross,” or “why should I, it is easier to make a bottle.” Mostly just a general lack of good information and before meeting you I said a couple of those myself.

    Another big issue here is that “guilt trip” mentioned above. Our doctors seem too worried about hurting our feelings to really push us to BF or, in other words, do what is best for our own babies. In what other case would otherwise amazing medical professionals worry about giving it to us straight?
    .-= Jenns´s last blog ..Birthday Kitchen =-.

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    @Theresa – but pumps aren’t helping in the way that they say you can. I believe you continued in spite of the pump, not because of it. At least not because of any of the reasons you listed. Pumps make painful engorgement worse and I say that with complete certainty. I can link you to literally hundreds of posts from women all over the internet showing that first hand. A simple hand expressing to relieve the pressure is the best way to relieve painful engorgement. Pumps too often overdo it and signal the body to make even more milk.

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    From a breastfeeding mom who faced an E. coli infection of the blood following catheterization for a C-section, problems with my incision healing properly (it took 2 months), and a blood clot in my leg, all following delivery, thanks so much for speaking your mind about breastfeeding!! I was so lucky to have a great OB and lactation consultant willing to answer any questions I had about medications and issues, but many people don’t have that opportunity. My son and I are at 6 months and still going strong. My advice, the best way to make breastfeeding work is to just keep at it!

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    LOVE this post! Thank you! Linking from my blog.

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    Gotta point out another source of ignorance that affects a lot of breastfeeding mothers in my circles: scheduling. Women (especially, unfortunately, evangelical Christians) are being told if they don’t put their very young infants on a feeding and sleeping schedule, their babies will take over, become spoiled brats, and ruin their marriages. These schedules (followed strictly out of fear) create major supply problems in a lot of women.

    You try to tell someone that science says that if you put your baby on a strict schedule, they will be at greater risk of failure to thrive and their mothers at risk of losing their milk and see how far that gets you. (In my case, it seems, yelled at and argued with.)
    .-= Jessie´s last blog ..Norman’s Birthday =-.

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    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Happy Third Birthday =-.

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    @Jessie I hope you have access to this information for any Baby-trainingi Believers you may have the opportunity to educate:

    So many of the sad breastfeeding stories I’m reading today (here and elsewhere because of this study) have to do with unhealthy childbirth stories. C-sections, hospitalizations. It is all so sad. My heart still breaks from my c-sections. But not because I feel “guilty” because I found out too late how bad it was . . . My heart breaks because IT SUCKS and IT HURTS.
    .-= raisarobin´s last blog ..$100 Fabulous =-.

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      @Raisarobin, you need to know that following ezzo methods may work out OK for some babies, but for others, the strict scheduling has destroyed the breastfeeding relationship.

      You also need to know that the Ezzo children, now grown-up, want little to do with their parents. That has to say something.

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    I absolutely love this post! Thank you so much for putting it out there! I’m the still breastfeeding mother of a soon to be one year old with no intention to wean her anytime soon and at different times in the past year I’ve dealt with mastitis, thrush, low supply, engorgement, overactive let down, a long delay before my milk came in after birth, illness, and time away from my child for work (during which I could not go pump) all with breasts that we’re drastically altered for the worse by a lumpectomy a few years before. I have dealt with this all with the help of some amazing support. I absolutely hate that most of the moms out there who don’t think they can breastfeed or have been told they can’t could do it if only they had that same kind of support, instead of a mass of people undermining their efforts.

    From hospital staff implying that our babies will starve if our milk doesn’t come in immediately to members of the general public who encourage us to feel like feeding our children in plain sight is shameful, there are plenty of legitimate directions to point anger.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..DNS Editing Deployed =-.

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    There is a common thread in the posts above and friends I have that “just couldn’t do it.” It was also true for the first 3 months of my breastfeeding relationship with my son. Our society always tries to DO SOMETHING and make quick fixes, whether it be with pills or this/that method, etc. Immediately postpartum, moms need to get into bed, get relaxed, get nutritious food/water brought to them regularly, other children tended to for them, no housework, no email, no TV, no cell phones and rest and nurse their babies A LOT. No stress, no pumps, no free samples, no well-intentioned “give mom a break” by giving a bottle and LOTS AND LOTS of encouragement and love and acceptance are needed. Rushing around to LCs, recording every last ounce/wet/poopy diaper, reading endless blogs while pumping all essentially cause your cortisol and adrenaline levels to rise so high that it counteracts that wonderful milk-flowing hormone, oxytocin! None of it is not good for establishing breastfeeding. The hyperactive mentality (thanks in part to postpartum hormones) of most new mothers needs to be tempered and balanced by the wisdom of mother to mother support in the home. I applaud this blog post and all the moms that have fought to breastfeed. My heart aches for those women who feel/felt guilty and have had their right and choice to breastfeed taken away from them because of poor support, misinformation, lack of confidence or a system that doesn’t support their ability to go back to work AND breastfeed.

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    @ Azucar even with all that we made it to 9 months. He weaned himself, and even with all my support (post hospital) we could not get him to BF. We switched to bottles of EBM, but like Erin (I think) said the pump just really didn’t do a good enough job. My supply went down and down and down until I just gave up. I was about 2 months short of my 1yr goal, but I’m okay with that. Now.

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    Awesome article! I think every point is spot on, the other item is formula companies have everything to lose and others who should help just want to take the “easy” way out which as it turns out makes eveyones life much worse. How many times have you heard “just give them a bottle” “look they must be hungry” those words were uttered to me in the hospital, it was easier for the nurses. How many babies are diagnosed with acid reflux disease “colic” bc they were not eclusively breastfed.

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    Hi, I’m glad I noticed all the ICAN & vbac awareness month stuff when I was reading your article. Sometimes I’m blinded by my own brilliance!
    .-= foxy.kate´s last blog ..You should love Kelly like I love Kelly! =-.

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    Thank you for quoting me, I am highly flattered!

    Clearly, I agree with you. I especially hope that American mothers will have access to long-term, paid maternity leave. As a Canadian, I really felt it helped me get off to a better start. I also hope that mothers receive the support and information that they deserve.

    My goal as a lactivist is NOT to make anyone feel guilty. Quite the opposite – it is about helping to ensure that mothers can have the breastfeeding relationship that they would like to have. So many of us, including me, struggled unnecessarily, because we didn’t know what was normal. We didn’t know how breastfeeding worked. And there was no one there to help us. Studies like this reinforce, in my mind, that we need to create a breastfeeding culture, not that we need to condemn any mother for her choices.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Making Peace =-.

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    This is great! Thank You so much for posting this. I will be sharing this on my facebook. I still nurse my 16-month old son, and people stop me all the time and ask “how long are you planning on doing THAT for???” with such disgust in their voices that I feel like telling them, “until he is 12″ just out of spite.

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    Thank you. I am a lactation specialist with the wic office in ms. I believe all pregnant woman should read this. The problem I see most often with women not continuing to breastfeed is shame. Wic has a program that will help, support, breast pumps and help is offered 24 hours a day but no one wants to call when they have problems to get help the just stop because of peer pressure. They just need help and support

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    Why won’t they hand out free breast pumps and visits to a lactation consultant when we know it would save lives and money?

    6 out of 10 babies in TX is born on WIC. We give FREE breast pumps and FREE lactation support. We have 76% initiation rates for breastfeeding, but women still doubt themselves and their ability to nourish their babies. They don’t believe that they have enough milk. Breast pumps are not the answer. They will pump 1 oz and think that there isn’t enough milk for their babies and switch to formula.

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    I love the balls that you have to post this. Bravo, sista!
    .-= Andrea Owen´s last blog ..The Easter Bunny meets Cesarean Awareness =-.

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    @Nicole – that may be true, but every time someone tells me they couldn’t breastfeed because they had to go back to work and couldn’t afford a pump, I tell them they could probably have gotten one for free (from SOMEWHERE) and they insist nobody would give them one. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t, but I’m just trying to take that barrier off the table completely.

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    While I completely agree with everything else in your article, I do want to make a comment regarding your comparison of breastfeeding to the use of car seats. People don’t just use car seats to save lives and because they’re given out free at fire stations, etc. They use them because it’s the LAW, and you can pay a big fine for not using one. Unfortunately not something we can do with breastfeeding.

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    Hands down the best analysis of breastfeeding in America that I have ever read. I wish I had written it because I don’t believe it can be said any better. Enough of the in-fighting. You’re speaking the truth. I want to print this on a t-shirt and wear it every day for the rest of my life. Enough love for now – now I’m off to blast Mark Zuckerberg for his part in this massive cultural fail.
    .-= April´s last blog ..Okay Mark Zuckerberg, let’s get personal. =-.

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    Pardon my French, but this was a fucking amazing post! We (breastfeeding advocates) say this all the time and you said it beautifully and with great passion. Love this post!
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Spring has Sprung! =-.

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    Breastfeeding saves lives. I am 100% proof of that fact. Yes, FACT. I am a pediatric cancer survivor. In 1980, I was diagnosed, operated on, and given more than 2 years of chemotherapy treatments. My mother breastfed me exclusively for close to a year. She started to offer me food to stimulate my chemo-destroyed tastebuds, and continued to breastfeed me throughout my second year. Her family, in-laws, and friends gave her the side-eye about breastfeeding her CANCER-STRICKEN child. She, ever the resiliant and strong woman, without the knowledge (and access to knowledge) that we have today, knew in her maternal gut that breastfeeding would save my life. At the end of my chemo treatments, the surgeons, oncologists, nurses, and technicians flat out told her that if it was not for the sustaining nourishment of breastmilk, I would not have survived.

    Even though cancer and chemo residuals did a number on my body with many lasting effects, I was able to conceive, carry, deliver, and breastfeed my first child last year – for 6 months exclusively and an additional 6 with pumpped milk and an 8oz. formula supplement. God-willing, I will a second time later this year.

    As to the concept that some women cannot physically breastfeed – this is not new. Historically, humans lived in tribal or communal societies. If you were unable to prodcue enough milk, your sister, cousin, friend, mother or aunt would supplement and sustain your child for you. This is also fact. If there was no other women – that child did not survive. There was nothing else other than breastmilk. Our concept of single family homes, two-working parents, and the lack of extended family support systems has swept this part of female history under the rug.

    But then again, when was the last time history did women any favors?

    Excellent blog, great post.

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    There must be a thousand super-long responses, so I don’t think I”m going to read them all and risk being angered and having to @ sixteen different people.

    From my own perspective, I believe inductions, cesareans and hormonal birth control are huge hindrances for breastfeeding. At first, since I had zero labor and had a c-section so quickly, I believe my body was having to play catch-up for lacking the hormones it would have gotten to trigger milk production. Then the result of hormonal bc caused a poor supply.

    Realizing that, I worked as hard as I could, nursing, pumping and supplementing. I tried to always nurse before supplementing, but boy it hurt sometimes. Finally, after two months (near when the dose of bc they gave me was starting to wear off) my son was able to stop screaming for more after nursing. He was finally getting enough from mom. I wasn’t going to be sabotaged. As supportive as most of the hospital staff was for me- they just weren’t able to help.

    I did specifically ask my doctor whether or not the bc would affect my milk OR my son- I was promised I believe three times that it would not. When I was feeling like a failure I decided to look into the different things I received in the hospital- the bc was classified as class D for breastfeeding women. A being safe as houses, E being completely contraindicated. This was a D (slightly better than the E-level drugs they gave me to start the labor that never happened). My doctor didn’t have a clue of the answer to my question, but gave it to me anyway with complete confidence and assurance.

    Another problem is, of course, the addiction to pumping and the idea that you have to give your baby x amount of food. When I was pumping I would offer 1 oz at a time, then a round of burping. My son was 4 pounds 13 oz, he didn’t need an 8oz bottle! So if he was hungry after burp, he would receive another ounce. Everyone was so proud if they could give him a bottle and get him to take 4 oz straight. He didn’t NEED that. He would pass out after half an ounce sometimes, and if he took in four ounces and vomitted it back up they were proud to help him ‘stretch his stomach out’.

    Uhg. I could go on for days, but I’ll stop now.
    .-= Echo´s last blog ..Dear Internet, =-.

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    Crazy applause! So well said! Keep going…what you are saying/doing is SO important.

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    Just wanted to say GOOD JOB. I also want to say as a mother who breastfeed for a year (and no, it wasn’t easy the whole way for me)…

    I can attest to the fact that hospitals, nurses, and doctors are all REALLY eager to push formula even when you insist that you want to breastfeed. I was told in the hospital I may want to consider supplementing and that it was “OK” because SOME breast milk is “good enough”. The truth is it just took my body a minute to learn how to produce and by the time it did I could have fed an entire village. Had I not insisted… Had I not been as informed as I was I would have been scared into formula before I even let my body have a chance to produce milk and before I even left the hospital.

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    I love this so so much. I fight for breastfeeding mothers. I think there is no better and beautiful thing in this world but to breastfeed your perfect little baby. My daughter is 5 1/2 months old. She has only ever been breastfed, and we continue to breastfeed. I love the feeling and so does she. She looks for the breast whenever she wants it now. We are slowly starting baby food as of today actually but I will not stop breastfeeding her. I mix my breastmilk in her rice cereal. I totally agree with the line saying that “If only 13.6% of us could make enough milk, the human race would never have survived.” I think it is made to easy for mothers to just give up on themselves but most of all their beautiful babies.
    BREAST IS BEST***** Keep it up my fellow breastfeeding mama’s

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    “From my own perspective, I believe inductions, cesareans and hormonal birth control are huge hindrances for breastfeeding”

    @Echo – I completely agree, and the only reason I didn’t harp on that here is because I have talked ad nauseum about those things in my thousand other posts on this subject. They are important points, however, and I’m glad you made them.

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    Thanks for telling the truth.
    The fact is America was built on big business and formula is very big business. The formula makers don’t mass produce formula, offer it free to new moms in the form of samples and bend or even break advertising laws because they care about the welfare of Moms and babies. They do it to make MONEY. That is all. They do not care if children are unhealthy, obese, less intellegent or even die. They want to make money. Period.

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    I loved reading this article. I chose to breastfeed my child and have done so successfully for 1 year. However, it has taken every last breath in me to stay committed at times. As I’ve moved through challenges like low-milk supply, thrush, blisters, and more I had to stay focused even though many told me to give up. I was told; “Breastmilk isn’t THAT much better than formula…maybe BFing just wont’ work for you……I don’t know why you are pushing to BF if it’s so hard on you”…

    And you know what? I feel a HUGE sense of pride and accomplishment for sticking with it. I solved all of the issues on my own and with the help of the Ohio State lactation consultants. Breastfeeding has absolutely provided the best nutrition for my child, helped regulate my body during post-partum, and in the end– strengthened my bond with my child.

    Breastfeeding IS HARD– and I feel so awesome for doing it 1 yr (and will continue). I wish more people would encourage and exhault the breastfeeding mother!

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    I am so f*cking tired of this conversation. I get it, breast is best. But you know what? I’m tired of hearing about it. Americans are also too fat. We drink too much. We don’t get enough exercise. But I’m tired of all the excuses… either breastfeed or don’t, but stop complaining about it and stop blaming everyone.
    .-= Baby Mama´s last blog ..Heavenly Day =-.

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    This whole issue makes me crazy. After a c-section on a Friday afternoon (with no LC in the hospital until Monday), thrush and jaundice we ended up supplementing. I pumped round the clock to feed as much human milk as possible and was, basically because I was insanely focused on making breastfeeding work, able to nurse twins until they weaned on their own. At three.

    Yes. I said twins. And three.

    I made it work, but it shouldn’t have been that hard. I learned a lot of things along the way that, had someone told me up front, would have made things easier. The BF class said “just put the baby to the boob and everything will work out” as did the (not useful) LC I finally spoke to.

    So, thank you for this.
    .-= Stacie´s last blog ..Twins on Tuesday =-.

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    It’s funny my younger sister has 3 kids and we’ve debated about the benefits of breastfeeding. I have no childern so her response is always how do you know, you don’t have kids. My response is always, do the research. She argues that formula has the same nutrients as breastmilk, and then I always laugh. I love this article, more moms need to read this. I’ve lost a niece to SIDS and she was not breastfeed. As the article states there is a chance that had she been breastfed she might have had a better chance. Not to say that would have saved her life but that would have been one less things on the SIDS list with a check mark next to it for her.

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    @Stacie – WOW. TWINS? Till 3?!?! You are a shining example of what women can do when they’re given the tools, and the power, to achieve this goal. I’m uber-impressed.


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    I read about this all over twitter today but now is the first time I’ve had a moment to sit down and read. LOVE. IT.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting =-.

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    Here it is, the only time I have ever felt the legitimate need to say this:


    We CAN do this. The vast majority of us CAN breastfeed, but the current systems make it incredibly difficult to do so, especially for working women. Let’s change those systems and get our bodies back to functioning the way they did for thousands and thousands of years. It’s in our genes. They haven’t forgotten, even if the culture has!

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    I said it on twitter, and I’ll say it again:

    best post of the year.
    .-= pameladaytontime´s last blog ..it’s tuesday. =-.

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    As a tandem nursing Mom of a 2 year old and a 2 month old (Who nursed all three of my children) I am standing and APPLAUDING you! I spout similar info to anyone who will listen- WE NEED A REVOLUTION!
    .-= Joni Shahin´s last blog ..Happy Easter =-.

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    I’ve recently become a fan of yours, but this post hit a very raw nerve.

    I prepared myself for breastfeeding. I read all the research took breastfeeding classes, and worked with a lactation consultant every 1-2 days from birth to 6 weeks. I drank fenugreek, I drank guiness, I drank gallons of water! I went to breastfeeding moms groups, and asked advice from every breastfeeding mother I knew. And I still did not make enough milk. I gave up when one of the lactation consultants I was working with finally said, “honey, this isn’t going to happen for you.” And then I still tried for another 2 weeks. But, like Marianne, I could not take looking at my screaming child. I could not look at him as he cried and latched, and cried and re-latched, and cried and re-latched again and again. I could not look at him when he was admitted to the hospital for dehydration and “failure to thrive” and still decide that breastfeeding was best for us.

    Then I did the same thing when my second child was born. But that time I was even more prepared because I didn’t want what happened the first time to happen again. I convinced myself that what you wrote is “right.” That breastfeeding has to work because we are designed for it. Guess what? Some of us, apparently, are not designed for it.

    For those of you who easily produce milk, or who have a hard time but still produce – good for you (and for your baby). I still feel strongly that you are the majority. But do not paint those of us who can’t as people who “gave up.” Yes. I know lots of moms who tried to nurse for a week and gave up at the first cracked nipple. Yes, that frustrates me. In fact, it pisses me off that people give up. And I agree with you, Gina, that the reforms you mention would make breastfeeding easier and something women were less likely to give up on.

    However, keep in mind that not all women who formula feed do so out of convenience or ignorance. Perhaps if you’d seen the tears rolling down my cheeks as I watched my husband’s cousin nurse her baby while I had to feed mine a bottle, you’d know the pain and agony I went through. Maybe if you saw me give my son a bottle sitting in a bathroom stall because I couldn’t bear to give him a bottle and show the world that I failed at breastfeeding you’d know the stabbing regret I felt at not doing what was natural. Maybe if you saw the tears rolling down my face now, you’d understand that I am not “perpetuating a myth.”

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    Thanks for such a great post! You said it perfectly. It makes me sad that women are told such blatant lies about their ability to breastfeed their babies. Also upsets me that while I was nursing my babies the most negative comments I received were from other mothers mostly from my mom’s generation. Terrible. Let’s keep breastfeeding and teaching our children that it’s why women have breasts!!!

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    Yay for tandem nursing! I nursed my daughter until she was 4. My son was born when she was 2 1/2. Sadly I was only able to nurse my son until he was 2 1/2 himself, due to having to switch to a Catagory X drug when all other options were not working. Up until that point, I educated myself enough to know that the meds I had to take were safe while breastfeeding, despite what the doctors tried to tell me.

    Keep at the nursing. I cannot tell you what a wonderful bond I have with my daughter — and even my son, despite the forced weaning. I think that extended and tandem nursing gets shoved to the side and seen as “weird” too often. Just wanted to encourage you, and tell you that you’re not alone.

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    @ Karen Marks,

    I know ONE other person, like you, who did everything she could with both babies and just was physically unable to breastfeed because of a medical condition that inhibits her ability to produce the hormones necessary. SHE DOES NOT FEEL GUILTY. If you really, truly, did everything you could, what is there to feel guilty about? No one, not a single one of us, should be able to make you feel anything. Only YOU can make yourself feel guilt. And the only reason you ever should is if you really believe there was something out there left to try. Own up to your efforts and you won’t/shouldn’t feel guilt.

    That said, nowhere was it even implied that someone like you should feel guilty, or that someone like you doesn’t exist — but NOT 86% of moms! You know it, I know it, TFB knows it, and the world knows it. You’re in the infinitesimal minority, and the rest of us are tired of hearing all of the excuses that the other people give, who clearly DIDN’T go to the efforts that you did. Doesn’t that anger you, too? It seems to. So you shouldn’t criticize TFB for saying the truth, even though it reminds you of something painful.

    I’m sorry that breastfeeding genuinely seems to have been impossible for you, but nothing, not a single thing TFB said, isn’t the god’s own truth. And it needs to be said more, not squashed in any way because of misplaced guilt.

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    I am proud to be part of the 13.6% (seriously!? That’s IT?!) of breastfeeding moms past 6 months. And I’m going to make it to a year. Goddammit. I will.

    Awesomeness. All around. Thank you for your BALLS to post this. You’ve got brass ones.
    .-= Kate´s last blog .. =-.

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    @Karen Marks

    My experience has been strikingly similar to yours. I had low supply with my first child & tried everything to no avail. With my second child, I tried again…even to the extent of an HBAC, which was wonderful & I appreciate on its own for many reasons. But a large part of my desire for an HBAC was to give bf’ing the most optimal starting point. Again, failure.

    It is hard to not internalize debates like this. Very hard. I know from talking to many people that moms like you & I, who gave it their all, are not the target of a message like this, at all. I think that it is very hard to structure a message like this to be inclusive of all without compromising a firm stance. I wish I had concrete suggestions to give in this regard.

    What I can say is this — I know for a fact that what I feel is not guilt. I have felt many emotions, very strongly, but they are not guilt. I have felt sorrow and grief for not being able to breastfeed the way I wanted to. These two are the strongest emotions.

    When I read articles that emphasize the risks associated with breastfeeding, I feel fear and worry. Again, I don’t feel guilt — I know I’ve done my best. But the fear and worry serve to augment the other feelings.

    I have also felt a lot of anger at my body for not doing what it was supposed to. And here is where I am guilty — I have misdirected that anger at others because of all the other emotions that were overwhelming me.

    I am trying to fix that. I am trying to find peace. And even though these same arguments stir up the same emotions, they also prod me to move forward a bit more every time. And I hope that the more people who are able to share their stories also help move the whole dialogue forward.

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    Oh ya, you go girl.

    It makes me crazy when people get upset or offended by the truth. Breastfeeding saves lives. Vaginal births are safer than c-sections. Let’s stop fighting about it for crying out loud.
    .-= FamilyNature´s last blog ..Spring is Hopeful =-.

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    The information is great and I don’t argue with anything you say. The issue isn’t simply “is breast feeding best,” of course it is. But many women are made to feel guilty if they don’t breastfeed and that kind of judgment helps no one. How can we argue that there is insufficient support for women and then make them feel bad about not BFing when they haven’t been supported in so doing.

    We do need to change the culture, we do need more systemic support and blaming individual mothers who’s stories we don’t even know does not achieve that goal. When my sister-in-law stopped BFing because her doctor AND lactation consultant told her she shouldn’t nurse with mastitis I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at the doctor. Put the shame where it belongs because God knows moms don’t spend enough time feeling guilty and inadequate.
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..Do these pants make me look straight? =-.

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    @Gayle — Beautiful response. Perfect.

    @Kristin — where did TFB pass judgment on the women? But you know what, *I* will, sort of. Your SIL IS to blame, a little. Why? For just mindlessly following what someone else told her, without learning the facts. And I feel perfectly righteous in judging that. Is the stupid doctor to blame? Hell yeah. Is the idiot LC to blame? Damn straight. But your sister should have made sure that they were right, not followed them like a sheeple. That is her own fault.

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    Your entry (now that I can read it) is quite on point. I am a working mom who breastfed both my kids and my little girl (whose now 5) did not come without some challenges. She had a sucking issue that we definitely had to work on and yes I kept going back to the LC until we got it right. She nursed for 8 months because quite honestly it was a nursing strike and had I know at that time what I know now it was a nursing strike and we probably would’ve made it to a year. I did make it to a year with my son with the help of LLL and my own knowledge and support network. I also have a friend who didn’t breastfed with her son b/c of a breast reduction, but stated that if she got pregnant again she would try it even if she had to supplement. See a little knowledge can definitely change someone’s outlook! Keep on preaching mama!

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    Absolutely Wonderful is what you are!!

    I’m a bit “passionate” about breastfeeding and all my friends are aware of that fact. I have never lost an argument when it comes to pro-breastfeeding debates and I wish I could yell at the top of my lungs, “Breastfeeding IS good and WORTH IT!!”

    If only more women had the help they deserved right off the bat, we might be able to have better breastfeeding numbers.

    Keep up the awesome work!!

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    I’m not interested in getting in a debate about whether or not it is a woman’s right to choice what she does with her breasts, but I am interested in understanding the research.

    I think I’m missing the link here between breastfeeding and saving lives (in North America). From your post, it seems that the 911 babies in question died from other causes. Causes that may have been mitigated had the mother breastfed the baby, but OTHER causes. Right?

    So, for example, the babies who were preterm that died because of necrotizing enterocolitis … wouldn’t the risk have been reduced substantively if the baby had not been born preterm to begin with? (Before breastfeeding could even be an option.)

    Don’t get me wrong. I do believe that breastfeeding is a healthy, natural way to feed babies and I support anything that can help new mothers who WANT to breastfeed to be able to do so. I just don’t see how I would be a “flame thrower” to argue with the research.

    I can handle the truth. But IS this the truth?

    There is no such thing as double-blind, randomized research trials on breastfeeding versus formula feeding. That’s the truth, isn’t it?

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    Another mom posted this article on CafeMom and I have to say, I absolutely love it. I’m new to mom-dom and carrying my first right now with the intention to breastfeed for as long as I’m able. Even if the child won’t take the teat, I’ll bottle it up and feed it that way. There is no legitimate reason for any woman to start their baby on formula much-less change them over to it before those critical months of development are passed. Those who argue against it really need to check their facts because you’re absolutely right.

    Breastfeeding saves live.

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    Thank you for this post! I just gave birth to my 2nd child in January and had to come back to work last week. It is so important to me that my baby gets breast milk, so I’m pumping at work, just like I did after I returned to work from having my first. Is it hard at times? Yes. Do I get frustrated sometimes when my milk supply is low or my nipples are raw and sore? Uh huh. Is it worth all of the trials that come with it to keep it up? ABSOLUTELY!

    Bravo to you for putting this out there. We do need more support when it comes to breastfeeding. I love the idea that someone threw out there about a breastfeeding co-op. I would participate in something like that in a second. We’re in desperate need of progress on this issue.
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..Opposites =-.

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    Forgive me, but DUH. That’s like saying that a baby born with… oh, spina bifida say… would be healthier if they never had it in the first place. That really doesn’t have anything to do with the study — the study, to the best of my ability to determine, is saying that once the condition is present, breastfeeding reduces the problems associated with it (including death).

    Well sure, maybe. But what does that have to do with this post? TFB addresses some of the specific data relating to breastfeeding (like the numbers of women who breastfeed until 6 months) that are included in the study. Unless I missed something, she’s not a scientist involved in the study, and can’t give you chapter and verse on how it was conducted. Seems to me that debate would be better argued (or discussed, whichever word you want to use) in a forum where those involved can answer and explain it.

    I must be missing something (completely possible), because I’m not really sure what you are trying to say with your comment, at least not in relation to the specific topic at hand. Feel free to enlighten me (or not).

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    Shoot. Here’s the text that SHOULD have been in the brackets:

    “So, for example, the babies who were preterm that died because of necrotizing enterocolitis … wouldn’t the risk have been reduced substantively if the baby had not been born preterm to begin with? (Before breastfeeding could even be an option.)”


    “There is no such thing as double-blind, randomized research trials on breastfeeding versus formula feeding. That’s the truth, isn’t it?”

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    WOW! This is really fabulously well written and an excellent analogy with the car seats BTW. Coming from the environment of a professional involved with birth and breastfeeding, I can tell you that your statement about -people loosing their minds when female anatomy comes up in conversation- is SPOT ON! Professionals are holding back when it comes to talking about breasts, they simply don’t go there OR they give out total misinformation or advice….. They are guilty of Ignorant Kindness (phrase totally stolen from @bfmom). They think they are being supportive or helpful.
    We are totally failing our childbearing women~ miserably. They are NOT at fault, WE are.
    At my hospital, we sometimes have a 70 to 80% BF initiation rate! YAY!
    Sadly~ this drops to a 40% or less exclusivity rate at discharge.
    What does that tell you? It tells ME that WE are failing these moms, that our interventions are changing the intended path…… in a negative direction.
    Back to nature, skin to skin and stop the unnecessary technical crap.
    Dear fellow Health Professionals~ Get.Over.It!!! The human body knows way more than you do so allow it to perform. Stop getting in the way!
    .-= StorkStories´s last blog ..NIH Conference on VBAC’S ~ Continuing to Spread the Word =-.

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    Yes, paid maternity leave *would* be fantastic. But realistically, how are we going to pay for it? How would employers pay for it, when this economy has already taken a plunge into the toilet. Big corporations are already shouldering the costs of the universal healthcare that’s just passed, and those are about ready to hit the skids as well, with billions of dollars lost.

    At any rate, I wonder if the women who had true low milk supply ever had a hormone panel done? Were you ever tested for hypothyroidism? There are underlying medical conditions than can contribute to lack of breastmilk production, including pituitary and thyroid conditions. Just a thought. But I don’t know if most people would go to those lengths because it’s somehow easier to blame your body for having failed and just grudgingly switch to formula.
    .-= The Deranged Housewife´s last blog ..Study: Breastfeeding saves lives, money =-.

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    Fantastic! Now that I’m not worried about “breaking the internets” I can comment. I’ve nursed all three of my kids and heard everything negative, but so rarely do you hear the positive side. Shame in a nation that’s impressed with a woman who makes it six weeks without formula! I’ve had pediatricians encourage me to wean at six months because “she’s got all she needs from it. Besides, formula has more iron.” Insanity. Thank you for speaking up.

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    The truth is that breastfeeding is HARD. But aren’t most things that are important? I fully believe that every mother who stops nursing because of ‘low supply’ is told that she has low supply and isn’t encouraged and supported enough to keep at it. I was set up for failure at the hospital with a c-section and then THE ESTABLISHMENT kept her away from her for over five hours. Those fuckers gave her a BOTTLE during that time. She was not hungry. Unfortunately women’s rights become null and void the instant you step foot into L&D.

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    Thank you. I am an Eco BFer, and I think BFing is one of the most important decisions I ever made.

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    Wow! The article that broke the internet? It didn’t disappoint!

    Thanks Gina :)

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    Very well written and I am in complete agreement. I’m still fuming over watching Dr. Drew of MTV’s Teen Mom suggest breastfeeding is painful and difficult months back.
    .-= Chandra´s last blog ..At the Park =-.

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    I will say, and this is probably going to start a problem, that I find it dramatic and manipulative to take a study saying that babies die from certain things which can potentially be aggravated by not breastfeeding and turn it into a statement that formula kills babies. It’s twisting the facts to prove your agenda. I do think breastfeeding is good, but I don’t think it’s fair to play on the fears of mothers by saying formula kills. I’ve held my dead son. I know what kills, and formula saved my daughter’s life.

    Can I ask something? And I swear I am not disagreeing or starting a fight or trying to argue with this question. I really want to know.

    When my daughter was born, no one ever came to show me how to breastfeed. I tried on my own and she wouldn’t latch. She would scream and scream until she finally fell asleep from sheer exhaustion but still wouldn’t eat. We paid money we didn’t really have to see a lactation consultant because I really wanted it to work. She sat with me, she gave me tips and tricks, and she showed me holds for the baby and myself. And I tried and tried. And my daughter screamed and screamed, and then fell asleep from exhaustion. So I pumped and pumped, and I still wasn’t producing enough to feed her.

    What should I have done? What else could I have tried? I was taking Fenugreek. I was drinking TONS of water. I was eating healthy foods and taking my vitamins. I was pumping and trying to breastfeed every day, any time I thought she would put up with it. When she was about a month old, we were both so stressed out from it all that I was near breaking down and she still would not nurse.

    So I started pumping exclusively, and for a while I made enough for her. But when she was six months old, she started wanting more and more milk, and there wasn’t any more coming out. I pumped as often as I could. I kept up with supplements and water, and my supply disappeared. In the end, I switched her to formula because it was what needed to happen for her to get enough food.

    What was left for me to do? What else was there that I could have tried?
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Poser =-.

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    I find this article condescending. The facts and figures are all unsourced, and it doesn’t take into account the different lifestyle of today’s woman, never mind that mother and infant mortality rates are the lowest they’ve ever been in the history of mankind. I’m doing a lot of genealogical research lately, and I’m seeing babies die during their first year from failure to thrive. If those babies had had formula as an option, who knows? It bugs me when people like that “expert” ignore all facts except the ones that support their opinion.

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    @ Jennifer – A key topic of this post is: “Breastfeeding saves lives.” My point is that the data used to support this statement has been manipulated. DUH.
    .-= themessyme´s last blog ..I just don’t get the cat thing =-.

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    It’s not just the lack of maternity leave but also the unwillingness of employers to provide a clean, dedicated space for breastfeeding. 10% of the employees in our building are pregnant and due in the next ten weeks. Yes, 10%. Our workforce is probably 65 to 70% women of childbearing years (20 to mid-40s). We have no space for breastfeeding mothers – they are told try to find a free meeting room, borrow someone’s office, or use the bathroom. On the other hand, my university had several on-campus pumping stations for mothers – what a great place that was! We could study, chat, and pump! Breastfeeding did not come easy to me but I stuck with it anyway.

    There is a provision in the health care legislation that requires employers with over 50 employees to provide a safe clean space (other than a bathroom) for breastfeeding mothers because breast is best. Maybe that’s another reason for people to hate Obama so much…

    And so glad your site is up and running again!

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    Beautifully written. This is the stuff that many lactivists murmur amongst themselves, but it rarely gets the exposure it needs. Rock on for getting it out to so many people!
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last blog ..Project: Spring Green =-.

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    To all of the respectful readers and commentors – I apologize for stooping to the cattiness of @Jennifer’s “DUH” comment to me. I should not have retaliated with it back to her. End of story.
    .-= themessyme´s last blog ..I just don’t get the cat thing =-.

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    I have a couple of concerns about the data or your interpretation of it.

    1 – I thought I read that the lifetime wages of the babies who died were calculated into the yearly savings amount. So that amount would not solely be for medical costs.

    2 – I think the ‘exclusively’ qualifier in there skews the results quite dramatically. I have breastfed 3 children to ages 4.5, 4.5, and 2.5 (he’s still nursing). My first son had a few days of 50% formula due to some bad advice from a doctor about mastitis/antibiotics. Other than that, none of my children has ever had a drop of formula. However, I would not be able to answer on a survey that I breastfed any of my children exclusively for 6 months. My first had a few bites of cereal before 6 months. My next two had a few bites of table food here and there before 6 months. All three of them were still about 80% breastfed at a year old. I’m a very rules-oriented person, so I would have answered “No, they were not breastfed exclusively for 6 months” if I had been asked.

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    Interesting discussion.
    I am always amazed at what some people get from an article, research study or a story that never even entered my open mind. I usually try to stay on the topic at hand and understand what is being said about that. That’s hard sometimes though when you have emotion and passion about a topic.
    It seems to me that some poor moms are not understanding this post as I am. What Gina said here NEEDS to be talked about. Our health care professionals need to RAISE the bar for our education and support. They would rather avoid the issue. We need to push them. I know I have to. Sometimes I have to put filters on and be so respectful and in-awe their “Doctor” ness. Other times I can teach and be heard.
    I am glad someone put up Jack Newman’s letter about guilt.
    I also want to commend @Gayle for her beautiful sensitive response to @Karen Marks.
    Very well said.
    Carry on……..
    .-= StorkStories´s last blog ..NIH Conference on VBAC’S ~ Continuing to Spread the Word =-.

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    I breastfed both my girls. I nursed my younger daughter after suffering an amniotic fluid embolism. The doctors I dealt with weren’t encouraging or discouraging about my trying to breast-feed, but I think they were amazed that I was able to do it, as I had lost a great deal of blood during her birth. That could have compromised my pituitary gland and made breast-feeding impossible.

    But I was motivated, and even though I had to “top her off” with formula for a while, I managed to get back on breastfeeding alone after a number of weeks, after my body recovered somewhat.

    I have to say, though, I could not get a pump to work for me. If I hadn’t been on a long maternity leave, I’m not sure I could have pulled off breastfeeding that time around. Some things are hard for some people, and other things are hard for other people.

    I think this latest report, which is crystal clear about the contribution breast-feeding can make to a baby’s health, will make a difference in people’s attitudes.

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    Thank you for this post. It is incredibly empowering to all women, no matter whether they are mums or not, no matter their parenting choices. If women would take the time to read it, instead of reacting, it would be seen as such. The best of the year, unless you manage to top yourself somehow 😉

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    Breastfeeding my two babies was an incredibly positive experience and a great privilege. Both of my kids had breast milk exclusively until they were over five months old (so I don’t count as part of the 13% that went to 6 months, but I was close, and I breastfeed my son for 18 months).

    I thought there was nothing better than curling up on the couch with my baby in my arms, being able to feed him/her, make him/her happy and then holding them after they dozed off. I loved those moments, loved that I got them over and over throughout the day.

    Sure, there was pain occasionally, but only at the beginning. There were times when I’d suck in my breath during that initial latch and hold my breath until the baby got into a rhythm, but then it was usually just fine.

    I wish new moms were told more about how wonderful, restful and peaceful breastfeeding can be.

    I didn’t start pumping until I had to go back to work. Pumping was miserable, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but breastfeeding was one of the greatest experiences of my life. How incredible that it was also the best thing for my babies?

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    I figured your site was overloaded, so I saved my comment from last night:

    Wonderful post. My daughters were 7 weeks premature, and my milk didn’t come in until day 4. Since they had no fat deposits, they were given formula. I was pleasantly surprised when the hospital offered us the services of our local breast milk bank. Fortunately, I was able to produce adequate milk for both twins until I had to return to work when they were 11 weeks old, but used a combination of breastfeeding, expressed breast milk and high-calorie formula until my girls were 7 months old. I would have loved to nurse longer, but was unable to overcome one’s nursing strike when Daddy deployed to Iraq. My boss actually allowed me to take nursing leave to try to reinitiate successful nursing.

    All this is to say, despite my inability to exclusively breastfeed, there ARE people out there who get it.

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    Thanks for making it clear, again and again, that you’re not taking potshots at moms. But more importantly, thank you for making it clear that we shouldn’t hide behind a false delicacy that prevents us from telling the truth (breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, formula is a sad substitute) so that we don’t make moms feel bad.

    What makes this mom “feel bad” is getting inaccurate information from the professionals–over and over and over again. And having to work so hard against a system that sets me up to fail. I shouldn’t have to know more than the “experts.” I shouldn’t have to advocate for what’s best for me, my baby, and society by battling the awesome inertia of the status quo. The default button should be “yes, breastfeeding–awesome!” not “well, only if you are willing to fight for it every minute. If you must. Just don’t make people feel guilty if they choose not to.”

    It’s a big problem, and one that’s not going to be solved overnight. I think we need to see change on at least 3 levels:
    1. Personal. It takes some serious chops to breastfeed in this culture, especially when it means knowing more than your doctor does, or doing it when you’re in a hostile environment (work, well-meaning but unhelpful family, etc.). Every time women breastfeed their babies it makes a difference– a step towards normalcy, where the numbers are (at least!) flipped and the vast majority of women breastfeed. It makes a difference for moms, for babies, for subsequent children and subsequent generations, for families, acquaintances, strangers, and eventually, whole societies.

    2. Interpersonal. When people see you breastfeed, know you breastfeed, hear you talk about breastfeeding, it makes a difference. New moms get a positive example and might want the same thing for their babies. They see that it can be done, that it’s normal and beautiful and healthy. Bosses and coworkers have to deal with it as a fact of your life, and they at the least become aware of some of the issues. Men (and women who don’t have / don’t want to nurse or have children) get exposed(!) to the idea that breasts aren’t toys. Children see nursing as just a part of life. People who don’t know you see you nursing your child in public and get the chance to acclimate to that as normal. Even though they don’t always respond well, it’s still good for them to have to deal with it anyway!

    3. Cultural. At the macro level, it’s not enough for individual women to buck the trend. We need to change the structures to encourage what everybody (even the formula companies!) knows is best. We need people to do what you’re doing, Gina. Thanks. Keep on raising the issues, circulating info, poking holes in crappy lies women are told, lobbying the powerful for change by giving a forum to people who are concerned about the state of breastfeeding (and lots of other important issues—VBACtivism, anyone?). All those concerned individuals, as a group, have the power to change laws and cultural norms. We need a cultural consensus that breastfeeding is a normal, healthy, expected thing, and that everybody does better when it’s the rule rather than the exception. (Again, the exceptions need support, too–that just shouldn’t be the default setting!)

    Oh, and one more thing? I’m not going to let the formula companies hide behind “choice”–let’s call it what it is: greed. Manipulation. I’m calling them out on it, not putting down moms. They don’t get to tell me that I’m being mean to moms if I tell the truth about breastfeeding and about formula.

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    I’m no feminist…probably the farthest from. I stumbled accross this blog article by complete “mistake”. However I agree 100% with this article. Well said! Thanks for sharing some insight. I hope it gives some of those moms that have been lied to about their abilities to feed their children a confidence boost!

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    Awesome @ Melissa
    “Thanks for making it clear, again and again, that you’re not taking potshots at moms. But more importantly, thank you for making it clear that we shouldn’t hide behind a false delicacy that prevents us from telling the truth (breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, formula is a sad substitute) so that we don’t make moms feel bad.”

    True true true
    You said it much better than I
    Formula is 4th best in the hierarchy of infant food. Not 2nd.
    .-= StorkStories´s last blog ..NIH Conference on VBAC’S ~ Continuing to Spread the Word =-.

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    Excellent post! Excellent – I’ll be spreading the word about this one!
    .-= Judy @ MommyNewsBlog´s last blog ..PR: A Mother’s Boutique, Successful Online Retailer, Celebrates Showroom Grand Opening =-.

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    The “Feminist Breeder?” Really? While it is right to be outraged at the deplorably low number of women who breastfeed, you have actually FAILED to comprehend the REASON why women don’t breastfeed. You can thank your beloved FEMINISM for women behaving as they do when it comes to raising children.

    Our mother’s generation was sold a bill of goods, a big fat lie. They were told being a mother wasn’t good enough, wasn’t a REAL identity, and they bought the idea that they had to go to work. Since they went to work, they had to find someone else to feed their children and doctors and formula companies were happy to oblige. Now you had an entire generation of women with no knowledge of how to breastfeed and therefore NO WAY to pass it down to their daughters (US). And now OUR generation wants to learn (a little bit) but they have no teachers. But, worse still is that they DON’T really want to learn to breastfeed THAT badly, because what’s really more important to them is going back to work. And let’s face it – you can’t work AND breastfeed. Breastfeeding and child-rearing is an on-demand, 24/7 job that you HAVE to be in the presence of your baby to perform.

    As long as all the women in the world keep buying into the feminist LIE that working their job takes priority over raising their infants and children, you will NEVER see these statistics change.

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    You have a way with words girl! May I share on my FB and blog?

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    Exactly. I hate having the discussions with the women who feel they “can’t” breastfeed… and then to hear them it wasn’t them that couldn’t but medical professionals that let them down — doctors who expected unreasonable “growth” by the baby, pressure by medical staff to “quit” for one reason or another, or (as was in my case (and yes, I did breastfeed 2 children EXCLUSIVELY for 8 months each, on demand, while working part time and goign to school full time)) FAMILY pressure to stop. People are freaking uncomfortable that breasts might be good for something OTHER than male pleasure, and even when they acknowledge that breastfeeding is best, they STILL are uncomfortable with it around as if it will somehow corrupt people!!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Paradigm Shift -What works for US =-.

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    I am BEYOND appalled at this response. This not “solid” research. There is no proved link between SIDS deaths and breastfeeding. No matter how much we want to believe that it exists it hasn’t been proven. Just like it hasn’t been proven that there’s a link between IQ and breastfeeding. “Studies” like this assume women are morons. They just give us soundbites.

    I don’t breastfeed my daughter and guess what…I don’t feel guilty about it. Stopping breastfeeding was the best choice for my daughter and me. I know that I need to be put in a little box and be the victimized woman “I was lied to!” But you know what…I’m a grown up with two graduate degrees and a professional job and can make my own decisions, thank you very much.

    You want to go on a crusade and help women…the first step is to accept women and the choices that we make. Let’s not assume that if a woman makes a different choice than we would that she’s not “informed.”

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    I respect whatever choice a woman makes in regards to her choice to breastfeed or not breastfeed, but there are a few things that are true. For example: breastfeeding is free (formula is not). Breastmilk is best; formula is a close second. The thing I really want to comment on is the whole “I couldn’t make enough milk” debate. I was able to overcome the most ridiculous obstacles and still managed to nurse both my children. I had a breast reduction a few years before having kids and unfortunately some of the ducts were severed so I couldn’t make a lot of milk. I also had polycystic ovarian syndrome and insulin resistance that really affecting things as well. I educated myself though and sought the services of a lactation consultant. Using various herbs, domperidone (meds) and lots of different combinations of pumping, supplemental nursing and a LOT of patience, and I was able to nurse exclusively. Let’s be honest here, it really is a choice that takes a lot of dedication. If you’re not willing to do the work to get a good system established, then you’ll likely not be able to do it. I highly recommend meeting with a lactation consultant or seeking out the support of organizations such as La Leche league if you really want to succeed. If you’re truly not able to, then at least you tried. Happy breastfeeding everyone :)

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    I’m going to request some clarification, because I am confused. And angry.

    When you say “911 babies in America die every year from not being breastfed” how many of those were SIDS babies (you specifically mention SIDS, I’m not just pulling that out randomly)? Of the SIDS babies, how many were in homes in which a smoker lived? How many had a temperature in their sleeping room above or below the optimal range? How many were put to sleep on their backs? How many of those 911 were SIDS babies who had NO risk factors present OTHER than not being breastfed?
    .-= Mae´s last blog ..Easter =-.

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    GREAT post. My heart goes out to all the moms on here in that “I tried, but couldn’t” camp – whether they were lied to or had medical reasons preventing them.

    I have nothing to add that has not already been said.

    Thanks again for such a powerful post.
    .-= Tiffany M (CLD)´s last blog ..April is Cesarean Awareness Month =-.

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    “I respect whatever choice a woman makes in regards to her choice to breastfeed or not breastfeed, but there are a few things that are true. For example: breastfeeding is free (formula is not). Breastmilk is best; formula is a close second.”

    Breastfeeding in modern America is not free. I had to buy nipple shields, Fenugeek, Blessed Thistle, a pump, nursing bras, nursing pads, Lansinoh. I rented a hospital grade pump for $100 a month. I now feed my daughter generic formula that costs about $15 a can.

    “If you’re not willing to do the work to get a good system established, then you’ll likely not be able to do it.”

    Given this, I suspect you’re not quite so “respectful” of other women’s choices after all.

    “When you say “911 babies in America die every year from not being breastfed” how many of those were SIDS babies (you specifically mention SIDS, I’m not just pulling that out randomly)?”

    One article I read said that 95% of the supposed 911 dead babies were SIDS deaths. The study that this assumption is based on alleges that there is an “association” between breastfeeding and SIDS but the authors of the study admitted that there could be other factors. There are similar studies that show that bedsharing is a contributing factor to SIDS deaths but most of us who follow attachment parenting ignore those studies.

    This is a bad study put out by someone with an agenda. Smart moms need to hold scientists accountable for their claims.

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    Thank you for reminding us just how important it is to breastfeed. I’m currently breastfeeding my fifth child. My sister has an adopted baby two weeks younger than mine. We both feel that breastfeeding is so important that I breastfeed her baby whenever we are together and pump milk for her baby when we are not. I hope that other moms out there are able to make similar arrangements.

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    @Jennifer – You are 1000% WRONG about maternal & infant mortality rates. They are the HIGHEST they’ve been in nearly 100 years, and Amnesty International just released a statement showing that women in this country are dying at “shocking” numbers. You can read it yourself. It has become a crisis:


    We also have the HIGHEST infant mortality rate than almost any other developed country. It’s sick. I also DID cite my sources – they were all linked. I’m sorry but you are absolutely wrong, and when you read the reports you will see that.

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    “So, for example, the babies who were preterm that died because of necrotizing enterocolitis … wouldn’t the risk have been reduced substantively if the baby had not been born preterm to begin with? (Before breastfeeding could even be an option.)”
    is what I said “duh” to and compared to spina bifida (I clarified that in my next post).

    Your response of:
    “My point is that the data used to support this statement has been manipulated. DUH”
    is completely unrelated to my comment. Whatever.

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    Jennifer- everything you listed off is not REQUIRED for breastfeeding. Nipple shields are actually harmful to most breastfeeding relationships. I have breastfed my son without a pump, pillow, or special shirts for almost 18 months now. With formula feeding, itREQUIRES bottles, nipples, and fake milk.

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I love how you don’t direct blame at the mother. I formula fed my first because of a lack of education and a huge absence of support. I wish the medical staff involved would have led me in a better direction. With my son, if I hadn’t of known better and FOUGHT my way into breastfeeding, we would have met the same fate.

    I wish more women had the knowledge and help that they need. And this blog post is one baby step further down the path heading in the right direction. Let’s save some lives!

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    Look up the definition of Feminism:
    “Feminism is a political, cultural, and economic movement aimed at establishing equal rights and legal protection for women. Feminism includes sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. It is also a movement that campaigns for women’s rights and interests.”

    Nowhere does that indicate that one MUST work outside the home (only that if they do they should be treated equally — equal pay for equal work, ya know?). Nowhere does that indicate the belief that one type of woman is better than another. And for some people who think so, nowhere does it indicate that it is in any way putting men down.

    The point is EQUALITY for women, and that’s the RIGHT to work AND the right to breastfeed our babies. It appears that your whole premise is based on a flawed belief of what feminism is — am I missing something? The feminist movement was about RIGHTS, not about requirements.

    Whenever I hear “I’m no feminist” or “I don’t believe in feminism” I wonder what definition the speaker could possibly be using. What kind of person is truly against equality for everyone??

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      Yes! Well said. I get horribly tired of women saying they are “no feminists” when they make this false construction, too.

      Thank you!

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    How I hate having the name Jennifer. *sigh* I’m not the one they’re talking about! lol

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    Thank you so much for this post.

    My twins were born via c-section at 35 weeks. I repeatedly asked to breastfeed after they were born and the neonatologist told me my babies were not strong enough. After 5 days I was finally allowed to try and bf. It was pretty much a disaster. No one was there to help me (other than my husband). It was ugly. I didn’t know what I was doing, the babies wouldn’t latch on. I felt I had no options. I pumped and bottle feed my twins for almost 4 months slowly trying to transition to the breast. Finally they did it and I was able to bf my twins until they were 18 months old.

    Did the hospital support me in learning to bf? Not at all.
    Did insurance cover the hospital grade pump? No
    Did insurance cover a visit from a lactation consultant? No
    How is this good medicine?

    Thankfully I was determined..even when the hospital staff, strangers and society told me it couldn’t be done. Thankfully I had a husband, pediatrician and friends who supported me. I even received supplemental milk from a friend who gave birth two weeks before me.

    I constantly wondered and worried about my supply. I worried that I couldn’t produce milk, that my babies were strong enough, that I just wasn’t good enough….but in the end I did it even though the odds were against me.
    .-= Rusted Sun´s last blog ..sunday drive part 2: huia =-.

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    Oh, Stacy. You can work and breastfeed. You can work and breastfeed your babies exclusively. I’ve worked and nursed two babies, both of whom weaned around 2.5 years of age.

    What we should be talking about, if you want to talk about the failures of the Feminist movement, is that in our demand for equal rights, we forgot to ask for the rights of mothers. We have no maternity leave, excellent help with childcare is rare, and workplace flexibility is confined to certain sectors of the economy. It’s the new front of feminism, and I think our European friends did a better job of it.

    The formula issue started long before the feminist movement, the rise of formula culture originated in the early 20th century, not the late 20th century (although it certainly had its zenith [apotheosis?] in the 60s.)

    I’m a feminist, and my job does NOT take priority over my babies. My career is secondary. Unfortunately, my husband is a public school teacher and his meager salary would leave us on public assistance. I work because I must; I’m damn good at it, but don’t you dare tell me my babies aren’t more important, because they are. I nursed those babies until they weaned themselves, and I did it in high heels and corporate meetings.
    .-= Azucar´s last blog ..Real Eggs Only With Candy! And Lies! =-.

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    To each their own

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    This is superb article. I am currently 9 weeks pregnant and have every intention of breatfeeding and already I have come across so much literature which is clearly meant to say ‘no pressure!’ but instead it just makes it too easy to give up. Who knows how I will fare when my time comes but I will be giving it a damn good try for as long as I can.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Mama Says #4 =-.

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    This is excellent stuff, and you’ve hit the nail right on the head – not just for the US, but for quite a few “developed” nations who, on the one hand complain about the rise in cardiovascular disease and diabetes Type II “epidemics”…but on the other hand have piediatricians telling mums that they should start offering the baby supplements or cereals at 4 months, because “you’re baby is not gaining weight at the same rate…” – Not to mention bus drivers (in the UK) who put young mums off buses, in the rain for feeding on the bus. We know scores of life threatening illnesses can be avoided by bfeeding, and things like this still happen. (I can feel my blood pressure rising, jus thinking about it).
    I count myself as one of the lucky and privilaged ones; I had a c-section at around 37weeks due to severe preeclampsia and after 2 days of not seeing my baby we still managed to feed without a problem – now 18 months later we’re still getting strange looks in parks and airports and I don’t give a monkey’s hairy arse. I can’t say I thought I’d be so adamant about this, but I have come to see breastfeeding as the responsibility of the mother and the right of the child. We say we want to do the best for our children, open savings accounts, best schools, careful diet during pregnancy…and then we are prepared to flush all that down the toilet with a tin of formula milk. If mothers can’t feed for a medical reason then that’s a totally different ball game – crack open that seal…but for everything else..you need to just get your tit out and think of the long healthy life your offering your child.

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    Ok, I have to say that breastfeeding is the BEST and HEALTHIEST choice for infants, however, what about the women that are in a circumstance that do not allow this to happen? What if they are diagnosed with cancer after they find out that they are pregnant and they have to start chemotherapy as soon as the infant is born? That kinda puts an end to the breastfeeding right there.
    I do believe that breastfeeding is the absolute best thing to do for your child, but there are actual MEDICAL reasons why some women cannot do it. And I don’t think that they should have to feel guilty for it either and seen as not doing the best for their child.
    I think instead of looking at so many women giving their infant formula and harping about it, maybe you should be asking WHY they are doing it. Is it choice? or necessity? I myself was necessity. I could not even give birth to my baby because of a valid medical reasons vaginally. I had to have a C-Section and afterwards milk did NOT come. I tried for a week thinking it had to, because women have been having babies and feeding them since, well, forever. It didn’t happen, not at all. My child was being fed formula right after I would try to feed her, she was still screaming because she was so hungry. Now I dare someone to tell me that I was wrong for giving her formula. I dare someone to call me a bad mother. And you know what, If I had an option of using a wet nurse I don’t know if I could stand that thought. However, my child is a healthy 5 year old, so I am closing my little rant with you need to look at situations a little closer before you judge.

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    Loved your comments full of truths re:our bodies and infant survival/nourishment thru the ages. I was watching the TLC show Bringing Home Baby and this poor mom was trying to breastfeed her new baby and it was a disaster because she had the baby in the the most awkward of positions. All she needed was a helping hand – a few minutes to adjust her and the baby and all would be good and comfortable and doable.
    I was thinking I hope she doesn’t get so frustrated she gives up – but next scene there she was with a bottle. Gals do need more support at home. La Leche League was monumental in getting me back on track – forever grateful.

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    Great article!
    I did not get to read all the comments, because I stopped at one that SCARED ME.

    A breastfed baby only needs an average of 1oz per hour when they are away from their mom. So if the baby is in daycare for 10 hours he/she will only need around 10oz TOTAL (in a few bottles –and not per bottle).

    Daycares are used to having formula-fed babies and with formula you need to up the quantity of the bottles to provide all a baby needs. With breast milk though you don’t. Your milk changes with your baby.

    This is one of the obstacles. Pumping 8oz while you are away from your baby is awesome and even if a little less than 10oz needed, the baby gets used to it and MAKES UP the difference when he/she is with mom.


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    Women who can’t own their decisions will always ‘feel’ guilty about their mistakes. Own up to your shortcomings and move on! Its the healthiest thing you can do.
    .-= Noel´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

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    I fully and completely support breastfeeding. But I am sad for myself and my baby, because i am one of those few that cant produce enough milk. I applaud you for your strong opinions on the matter and i agree that breastfeeding is the best option but no one want to try to teach it. I hated that the drs at the hospital told me its natural and youll figure it out. sorry but when youre a first time parent, you need a little help. It didnt help that they sent me home with formula either. i then found ou that i have a GI problem that doesnt allow me absorb my own food properly which means that the breastmilk she was getting was really low in essential vitamins. But you know one of the reasons that you develop this GI problem? Youre not breastfed as a baby.

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    “I think instead of looking at so many women giving their infant formula and harping about it, maybe you should be asking WHY they are doing it. Is it choice? or necessity?”

    Why is it their business? I don’t breastfeed and I don’t tell anyone why. It’s no one’s business but mine and my husband’s.

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    Ok, so I read some more of the comments. I had TONS of support in trying to get breastfeeding. The hospital that I was at believed in formula as a last resort. But then again, I am in Canada, not the USA. That isn’t right that doctors and staff are not supportive with women who are wanting to breastfeed and helping them learn how to do it. I already said that I had a C-Section but the first thing that the nurse did in recovery was show me how to get the baby to properly latch and how I would know if it was right or not, and I also found out how much it hurts if the baby doesn’t latch correctly (that was by accident)! There has to be something that can be done about the medical professionals helping properly educate women about breastfeeding and techniques. I drank in all the information I could about it because I wanted to bf, but was unable, I got information from EVERYONE as far as staff to the woman in the bed next to mine. Also I don’t know if this is different, but when our babies are born in the hospital I was in there is no nursery, the baby stays in the room with you 24/7 so you get used to how your life is going to be once you take the baby home. Is it the same in the States?
    .-= Jenn´s last blog ..The Day I Broke The Internets =-.

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    @ Jennifer, In response I am not asking you, personally why you don’t want to bf. That IS your business. You are getting a little hostile over me asking people not to be so judgemental on women who aren’t breastfeeding because there might be factors that you don’t know. I am not saying that it is anyone’s business TO know, just that it should be considered before harping on people who don’t do it.
    .-= Jenn´s last blog ..The Day I Broke The Internets =-.

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    Now I read all the comments :)

    Breast is NOT best, it is the NATURAL norm. Formula-milk is an artificial way to feed babies. Breastfeeding does not add up IQ points, formula-milk takes them away.

    I too was given bad information and not enough support. My ped told me to stop breastfeeding and give formula because my baby was jaundiced (and if I didn’t he would hospitalize her). I wasn’t even told to pump, but for some reason I did. Since I was pumping I figured I would pump for more time per session and donate the extra milk… I was never able to pump enough (24oz daily average if exclusively pumping) for my baby and I had to supplement. I did not feel guilty about the decision, I had to feed my baby. The doctors said I just had a low milk supply –and I believed them.

    I was later able to find research and evidence based information on breastfeeding and was able to switch my baby to the breast. The doctors were wrong, they did NOT have the information to help me out.

    My little one made the switch to the breast after 15 weeks for bottles and formula, and she is still nursing strong at 2years 9 months.

    In my lactation class we learned that only 2-3% of the female population cannot physically breastfeed and in the US you should add another 2% due to breast surgeries and body issues. That still leaves over 90% that can do it,with the right support

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    It’s the formula companies dictating to doctors~for money, bottom line. Lactation consultant @ Troy Beaumont in Michigan told a woman she couldn’t breast feed because her nipples were inverted. The same thing my mother was told by her doc in the 50’s. Have we not progressed since then?

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    You are right, the system needs changing and professionals need standardized training.(I am in Canada 0I tried like hell to breast feed. Our son ended up in hospital on day 3, we had a home birth, because he wasn’t “happy”. It ended up he wasn’t getting anything to eat. Long story short the midwife who is an instructor for the local midwifery school and the lactation clinic at the hospital missed the fact our son had a tied tongue and physically couldn’t get a good latch even though it looked right from the outside. The only thing these “professionals” kept saying was “are you sure you’re doing it right”.
    As this was our first and we don’t know too many people who have had kids we had never heard of this problem. We looked up websites and books but nothing helped. I have now made it my mission to inform first time parents that this can happen and if there is a problem and they are sure they are doing all the right things to check the tongue for a tie. It is such an easy fix if you know.
    We are now expecting our second and we’ve already checked with the new midwife what her “steps” are for investigating excruciatingly sore nipples. Tied tongues are high on her list of things to look for!

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    Jennifer – I STRONGLY suggest you read “The Politics of Breastfeeding.” You might learn something.

    For all the women who did “not produce enough milk” – breastfeeding DOES NOT have to be an “all or nothing” thing. Breastfeeding just once a day, or even once every other day, is better than not breastfeeding at all. Do what you can, it will be beneficial.

    I do not understand why women feel attacked by this blog. Not once was it said or implied that mothers are crappy people for not breastfeeding. It did not blame or accuse the mothers of ANYTHING. As someone who once formula fed, I did not feel attacked. The bottom line is, this posts objective was to INFORM AND PERSUADE. The more women who know the truth behind breastfeeding (even if it means they have to admit that maybe they made a mistake in the past), the more women will breastfeed and the more babies will benefit.

    How is this a bad thing? How is this even debatable?
    .-= cassie´s last blog ..cassiethedoula: Damn, I love SoCal. (Also love that I had to explain to my sister what "SoCal" means) =-.

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    I hear women say all of the time that there is NO REASON why a woman can’t breastfeed. That is simply not true. I take medication every day that I could not be on while I was pregnant, but had to start taking again literally the day I had my son. It would not have been safe for my son to breastfeed while I am taking this medication. Also (and we didn’t know this right away), my son was allergic to milk AND soy. Would it have been impossible to breastfeed if I wasn’t on meds? No, but it would have been very difficult to cut all milk and soy out of my diet. And if you think it wouldn’t be, look at your food labels – I wasn’t able to give any milk to my son for 12 months and soy for 15 months. It is very difficult to find foods that don’t contain either.

    Yes, I realize that breastfeeding is healthier, but to say that there is no reason why a woman can’t breastfeed is a generalized statement that not only isn’t fair, but is really degrading to those of us who really COULDN’T.

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    @Amy – one of my good friends had a baby allergic to EVERYTHING – dairy, soy, wheat, gluten, etc, etc, etc. I swear that baby was allergic to liquid. But you know what? She still found a way to make it work, and never gave her formula (except once, when the stupid doctor told her it would be better, and guess what? The baby got sick on that too!) Her daughter is 20 months and STILL nursing.

    My point is that it can be done. I’m not saying for every single last person in the entire universe, but most women who think they couldn’t breastfeed were just given VERY bad information.

    There are very few medications that aren’t compatible with nursing, at least not that do not also have a compatible alternative. If your doctors took the time to research and give you better information, you may have been able to nurse. Is that your fault? NO – it’s THEIRS.

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    I was going to say the same thing. During my (current) breastfeeding relationship with my son, I have been on Lamictal and I’m now on Adderall and Celexa. I have bipolar disorder that can become quite nasty when not controlled and I have been told by more than one doctor that I need to stop nursing. Thank God for Dr. Hale and Medications and Mother’s Milk. Needless to say, my son has survived.

    Andhehas never shown a symptom or sign of a negative reaction to my meds. I can not say the same for my doctor, who had horrible reactions to infant formula – despite the fact that we must have tried 10 different kinds (she vomited, was constipated, had gas, etc)
    .-= cassie´s last blog ..cassiethedoula: Damn, I love SoCal. (Also love that I had to explain to my sister what "SoCal" means) =-.

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    * meant DAUGHTER not doctor. Whoops
    .-= cassie´s last blog ..cassiethedoula: Damn, I love SoCal. (Also love that I had to explain to my sister what "SoCal" means) =-.

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    ^^ Cassie, if only MORE doctors had horrible reactions to infant formula. ;O)
    .-= Dou-la-la´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: I said MOAR EASTER PLZ! =-.

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    I absolutely L-O-V-E this post. I have reposted it on my FB page and I come back to read it again and again because it is so nicely and consicely written.
    Believe me when I say how difficult breastfeeding can be, I dealt with a breast abscess when my DD was 2 weeks old and it was one of the most excruciating (physically and emotionally) experiences of my life. More than a couple people told me that it was ‘ok’ to ‘give up’ I had ‘given it a great effort’ etc. What can I say, I’m a stubborn person hell bent on breastfeeding my daughter after a birth experience that neither my husband nor I wanted or intended (guess it was my own way of reclaiming my power). The fact of the matter is that, just like you so eloquently stated, with the right support NEARLY ALL women can breast feed. I even did it with only 1 breast for about 4 weeks and my daughter made it 18 months before she decided she was done breastfeeding. It was the most rewarding experiences of my life to work through the pain, difficulty and feelings of doubt to successfully breastfeed my DD.
    thank you for this post, it SOOOO needed to be said!!

    For the not so short story: http://thoughtfulmamma.blogspot.com/2009/08/breastfeeding-drama.html

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    Ugh. This is so depressing. There are many of us who did everything the lactation consultant said and never made enough milk to exclusively feed our babies. Don’t you dare suggest that there was something we could / should have done. You weren’t there, and you don’t know, and when you say “couldn’t” with quotes around it, you come off as arrogant and cruel. If your breastfeeding worked out, congratulations. Don’t presume to say that you know how another woman’s body should work, and that you know more than her lactation consultant or her doctor. Don’t you see that’s not helping? There is SO much pressure to breastfeed. Those of us who had trouble were less likely to stick with it because of your derision and your criticism. We’re less likely to stick with it if you keep insisting that it’s natural, and easy, and what’s wrong with those of us who just can’t get the breastmilk into the baby? I hope you never feel the agony that so many of us have when the supposed-to-be natural, easy thing doesn’t work. All bodies are different, and all you who insist that we just didn’t try hard enough, know this: all bodies fail, in large and small ways. The formula, the c-section, the detour from Perfect Womanhood – just another taste of the real truth: we are flesh. Imperfect, aging, and unique. Having a baby is a miracle. Let’s be grateful.

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    Wow! This conversation across the web looks like it has the potential of being as divisive as other hot issues like health care, immigration, etc.

    I, personally am also glad that we finally have some MORE good statistics that back up the literally thousands of studies between the US, Scandinavia, and European countries that breastfeeding is not only superior in a multitude of non-duplicating ways, but that we can really have a conversation about where the problems with the reduction in breastfeeding practices lie.

    Several years ago, I took a long, hard look at where this problem stems from when I was researching for my book, The New Physics of Childhood. What I found was that after you take the obvious corporate marketing influences out of the equation–which BTW are still extremely significant influences–I saw that popular culture and the explosion of information dissemination on the internet is the primary cause of the majority of missinformation, creating an even larger chasm in the support of breastfeeding mothers.

    While there IS a growing population of breastfeeding mothers and breastfeeding support through the internet, many mothers are getting permission to give up breastfeeding way too early on in the process by people who have never had kids and/or who were never successful themselves. People are getting advice and support for bottlefeeding not only from their friends, family, etc. but also from these non-breastfeeding professionals, and that includes pediatricians (who BTW do not have training in handling any breastfeeding challenges).

    It is not the parents that are the problem. It is marketing influences and pop culture that support an attitude that does everything it can to take the inconvenience out of parenting. THIS IS THE PROBLEM with most of the physical, emotional, and learning challenges we see in our children today. There are also still way too many myths regarding milk supply that people actually believe.

    If we can increase the support and education in a new mother’s environment, we can increase exclusive breastfeeding rates. SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY is the missing link! I have re-posted the “10 Ways Every Adult Can Support a Breastfeeding Mother” (from my book) on one of my blogs at: http://grannypantsspeaks.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/10-ways-every-adult-can-support-a-breastfeeding-mother/ Please pass it on!!!

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    I don’t notice many men posting comments on this blog- let me be one to say I very much applaud your article. I DO think this is required reading for women AND men, and as such, I will post on my Facebook page in the hope of enlightening a few more souls (maybe even a few more men!).

    I think the fact that this is a Feminist Blog might put some men off, hopefully a few will have the balls to get past that & appreciate it for it’s merits!

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    @Marc – I applaud you for commenting and for passing along my article. My own husband is very much turned *ON* by my feminism, and takes any opportunity he can to spread the message of equality among the sexes. If there were more men in the world like you and my husband, we’d certainly all be much better off!

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    I have had two children. I attempted breastfeeding with both of them. With my son, the older one, I was not successful. With my daughter, I was.

    The first time, I had no help from a lactation consultant. The second time, I did have a lactation consultant.

    And yet, the LC had ZERO to do with the success of my breastfeeding relationship–which, by the way, is still going strong, and I will not relate how old my daughter is now, because you will all want to stone the freak. Let’s just say we’ve gone well beyond the American norm and we’ll leave it at that.

    The thing I want to emphasize is that just because a person has the title of lactation consultant, does not mean they know what they are doing. Mine (I had at least two look in on me during my hospital stay) mostly just made friendly noises at me and tried to help me hold my baby right. One of them SHOVED her onto me to get the latch. I wasn’t real sure at that time, but I thought probably it wasn’t a good idea to do that. Now I wonder if she’s still in practice and I feel sorry for whomever else she’s “helped.”

    Know what did it for my daughter? It was weird. I was going back and forth between formula and breastfeeding attempts the first week of her life, and I swear when she got angry *again* at the bottle not being warm enough and I tried her on the breast one more time, I swear I saw the little wheels turning in her mind–“wow, if I figure this out I’ll get warm milk RIGHT AWAY, and if I don’t, I will have to keep waiting for bottles and have them not be warm enough. HM.” From that point on she nursed like a champ.

    It is so completely random. And so much of what the “experts” tell us is, pardon my French, bullshit. You don’t need any special positions or holds. When I finally got comfy with nursing was when I resorted to lying down in bed with her and letting her reach for the breast in the way she wanted to do. I’ve learned since then that even newborn babies will move themselves around to get a better angle on the nipple if they are not being held in unnatural positions, and that this is more likely to happen right after birth when neither mom nor baby’s been bathed yet and the baby can still smell you.

    But the experts want to reinvent the wheel. The experts want us to hold our kids in weird positions and get cramps in muscles we didn’t even know we had and then give up after six weeks and go stock up on Similac. It makes them more money that way.

    In case you defensive formula-feeders failed to notice, FB did say she doesn’t blame you for not knowing any better. I’ll say the same thing. I learned how to nurse my daughter DESPITE the system, not because of it. It doesn’t matter if your doctor or the nurses or the LC make noises about wanting to help you nurse. It doesn’t matter if they give you advice. These are people who live in a culture where the vast, VAST majority of moms are not still breastfeeding by six months out, and where women are shamed for nursing in public. How many of them had ever even SEEN a nursing mom for more than five minutes here or there, before they went into their respective professions?

    The deck is stacked, mamas. Quit grousing that you got a bad hand and pay attention to the conversation. We’re never going to fix this problem if we keep trying to hurt one another because we feel guilty about our own situations.

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    Two of my kids were born in a city in the mid-west, one was born in the suburbs of New York City. In both places, I had very little breastfeeding support from my OBs or my pediatricians. I had one lactation consultant march in and tell me I was “doing it wrong”. Luckily this was with baby#2 and I knew we were fine. I pointed out that he was gaining weight back already. She actually went to the nurse and asked if they were supplementing with formula!

    We need to make breastfeeding basics (like the fact that a happily latched baby is “doing it right” and that our bodies do make enough milk) part of sex education in this country. We also need pediatricians and OBs who don’t second-guess women’s decisions. And we need supportive spouses, not jealous little boys.
    .-= Jerseygirl89´s last blog ..I Really Do Think It’s Masochism. Well, Kinda. =-.

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    excellent! well done! I do write a lot about breastfeeding on my website, but I feel brave when I read your style, though others tell me I belong to the breastfeeding maffia ;-)))

    be welcome at the famous dutch breastfeeding website: http://www.borstvoeding.com

    warm regards, stefan kleintjes

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    I have 4 children. All of whom were breasted. My 3 youngest are triplets (now 7 years of age) and I breastfed them exclusively for almost 7 months, and my oldest was BF until she turned a year old. So, if anyone had a reason to quit trying or to give up, I think I had it. But I didn’t, and guess what, they were born 2 months early and NONE of them have any health issues what so ever. And I account that to the breastmilk. So try moms, it just takes some time, and patience.

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    I am a proud breastfeeding mother! Other than the homemade pureed fruits and veggies my 7month old is eating, she is still being exclusively breast fed. I was told by every nurse at the hospital that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. They said I had flat nipples, my daughter was tongue-tied, she had poor sucking abilities etc… All of which were wrong. I sought help, from consultants, took medication to increase my milk supply, rented a breast-pump — you name it, I tried it. I finally found a good book on getting breast feeding going, and did it myself. Went off the medication, stopped seeing the unhelpful consultants, ignored the advice of others and followed my instincts.

    There were many times I wanted to give up, and it would have definitely been easier to give formula. But I persevered because I thought it was the right thing to do.

    Your blog does NOT in any way inspire me to recommend breast feeding to the other new mothers I know. Being a new mother is hard, newborns are tricky little creatures that don’t come with a manual. Not only have you created stress and pressure on some of the most emotionally and physically taxed people, but you failed to take into account the human aspect of this issue.

    I would guess, that you have overlooked the fact that the prior to the widespread availability of good formula, the infant mortality rate was much higher. What would a woman do if she became ill, and was unable to nurse? What about CURRENT women who have AIDS/HIV? They cannot nurse period.
    You should not speak for other women who have made a choice, that is frankly none of your business.

    You might also want to cite your references, if you want to have ANY credibility on this topic- and let people read the research themselves to see if your interpretation of the facts, is in any way correct or valid.

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    I would just like to say as a previous formula feeder (by choice- partly mine, partly the hospital I delivered at, long story there) I do NOT feel attacked in any way by this blog post. I do deeply regret not even trying to breastfeed. At 7 months old I spent 3 months DESPERATELY trying to re-lactate while on an elimination diet for my daughter who had food allergies that included dairy, soy, wheat, and corn among other smaller less significant ones. It didn’t work. She got 2 oz of my breast milk in the end of that 3 months of pumping around the clock and never getting her to even have any interest in latching and YES I feel guilt because of the choices I made. I am very angry with myself for not researching the choice I was making. I WISH someone had been in my face about the facts! I WISH I had at least one person in my life among all the people I had talked to about FF vs. BF actually give me the hard facts. But now I know, and if I’m blessed enough to have another child I will do everything in my power to breast feed that child. I think more people need to be thanking someone like Gina who is determined and outspoken about her message. I wish I had met her in time to make a different decision.

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    There have been a few comments in regard to mothers with low supply & their knowledge of supply management. I’m not sure if they are questions for those who have posted here or in general, or both.

    If these questions are just general questions, I’m sure that there are some moms who aren’t aware of all the supply management techniques; I think that’s true of moms who have supply issues & those who don’t.

    If the questions are asking those who have posted here, I can personally say that I am aware of many of these issues, including thyroid issues, links to PCOS, etc. and have explored my own supply issues in regard to that avenue. My own supply issues are related to insufficient glandular tissue, which does not have a lot of research or solutions dedicated to it at the moment. I’ve spoken to many experts in supply management & experts on galactagogues, etc., and there just isn’t a lot that can be done, except to work with what you have.

    Just because I identify myself as a low supply mom doesn’t mean that I don’t know just as much as someone who exclusively breastfeeds, practices extended nursing, etc. We’re all individuals and while I can understand that debates about issues tend to focus on problems and solutions that touch the majority because they have the most impact, statements such as “I don’t know if most people would go to those lengths because it’s somehow easier to blame your body for having failed and just grudgingly switch to formula” can be really hurtful. I think a lot of that is just a lack of understanding. I belong to several communities whose members express such heart-wrenching sadness and grief about not being able to breastfeed, and who have gone to great lengths to do the best they can, and feel that their voice needs to be heard, too.

    Someone mentioned developing cancer while pregnant and the impact that this has on breastfeeding. I actually have a co-worker/friend in this situation. She had this happen with her first child, too, and pumped until she had the tumour surgically removed. Her doctors are thinking that this time it will likely be radiation after her baby arrives. Does anyone have experience or anecdotes on breastfeeding through radiation? Is it a pump & dump situation? (I’m pretty sure it is, but want to verify.) Does radiation tank your supply? Any other tips/tricks?

    I have a list of contacts that I’m going to give her, but would really appreciate any information I could give her firsthand. It’s such a tough situation and a real pisser that it’s happened to her twice now.

    Thank you.

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    @Nicky – your comment actually made me cry. I wish you the best of luck next time and I truly believe it will work out. The trouble you went through to try relactation is so inspiring. Great work, Mama.

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    This is a great article. My 3yr old daughter and I did not have a successful nursing relationship. As a first time mom, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea you could be so tired. And I’d fallen into the formula trap. As we got coupons and samples, I put them away and stocked up for ‘just in case I couldn’t breastfeed’. Well duh, 1 guess as to how that went.
    In addition to the above, our hospital experience was anything but supportive. My daughter was suctioned for 2 hours before I got to try nursing her. My body was swollen from too much IV fluids and we had latch issues. They gave her sugar water. She had a lot of nasal congestion but one nurse told me not to suction her as it would just make it worse. Then the same nurse said if I didn’t get her to nurse for 20min straight she would give my daughter a bottle of formula. I cried. I was scared from the 2hr suctioning in which no one told us what was wrong and truly believed this medical person knew best. This is what the nurse did all day, after all. The hospital LC was a joke and kept forcing the football hold on us when it didn’t work(for us).
    We managed to nurse some with a shield, but that was too difficult to try out of the house. I pumped, but not frequently enough. We gave bottles of formula when I was too tired. At 4mos my supply was gone.
    And now I know better. By accident I found an online group of women that believed in the benefits of nursing. I heard about issues I had never heard anyone else talk about- engorgement, let down pain, blisters, plugged ducts- and how to recognize what was happening and fix it. So when my son was born 4mos ago I was prepared to fight. I did not buy formula beforehand. I was ready to go to bat with any nurse that threatened a bottle. And I had information to help with any issue that came along. He was born and put directly on me. Within 5mins he was at the breast and stayed there for an hour. Dad held him for a few minutes and he was back at the breast another half hour. He never left my room with out me except once when I was asleep and Dad sure heard about how that wouldn’t happen again. We didn’t pump until at least 4weeks if not later and was due to engorgement issues. My barely B’s are super producers!
    The bonding I feel with my son is so much different than what I experienced with my daughter. And I do feel guilty about what my daughter went through. That I sat in my hospital bed and watched her cry and fight those nurses for TWO HOURS. And did nothing. We reviewed her files before my son was born and learned she should not have been suctioned that long. She needed me and I didn’t fight for her.
    I knew better. I knew breast was best. I just wasn’t prepared for the challenges and traps. So that’s my schtick. Talk about them(the challenges/traps). I had NEVER heard of any breast feeding issue in my life aside from let-down pain mentioned ONCE by my aunt. It may take weeks(it still took my son and I 6 weeks before we had pain-free nursing due to engorgement, blebs, plugged ducts, thrush). But united as mothers- with effort, support and knowledge- we can work through them for wonderful nursing experiences that are SO much more rewarding than I ever thought possible.

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    To those who responded that feminism is simply the “right” to have equal pay for equal work – you are either being dishonest or are seriously ignorant of the origins and true purposes of feminism. Feminism successfully separated women from their children, and destroyed the traditional, God-created family structure and inverted the roles of men and women, while driving the costs of EVERYTHING up to such a degree that now women can hardly afford to stay home to raise their children on their husband’s salary.

    Babies are not designed to be fed from an artificial nipple on a bottle. Nor are they designed to take in “artificial” milk. Those who crowed that they have successfully breastfed their babies while they worked and went to school at the same time are being totally dishonest. Your baby was not breastfed. Your baby was BOTTLEFED, but was at least fortunate enough to receive breastmilk in that bottle, rather than formula. Your babies missed out on all the nuturing and human contact with its mother because the baby was hardly ever IN the presence of its mother. Babies weren’t designed to be raised by daycare services or YOUR mother while YOU go to work.

    An artificial nipple, bottle, or formula should be the EXCEPTION – not the RULE. But that’s what it is today, the RULE. Artificial feeding should be used because of a real emergency or grave circumstance, not so the mother can pursue her selfish desire for personal “fulfillment” while she shoves off her parenting responsibility onto someone else. Be a real woman and take REAL responsibility for your children and RAISE them while they need your mothering. You can always go back to work afterward.

    To paraphrase a Chris Rock joke about single motherhood that I think also relates to bottle/formula feeding: “Just because something CAN be done, don’t mean it’s to be DONE. You can drive a car with your feet if you want to, but that don’t make it a good f#$%ing idea!”

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    I just wanted to add another point re my experience…I had a HORRIBLE LC that I wouldn’t have recommended to my worst enemy. The problem is that by the time a woman is contacting an LC they are at their wits end and feeling pretty vulnerable and willing to accept anything they tell you as the truth. The support needs to start immediately with check-ups done in the home for at least the first few months mom is home with baby to make sure things are going smoothly and to catch problems before they arise (many european countries have systems like this in place that EVERYONE recieves).

    I think in celebration of this post I’m going to finally relay my nightmare LC experience on my blog.

    .-= Pamela´s last blog ..The SAHD Conundrum =-.

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    This is a great post! I am so sad that I missed this whole thing as it was really happening because I was MIA dealing with my latest miscarriage. What I wouldn’t give to be able to nurse another baby. I would love to have the opportunity to whip my breast out and shove it all in the phases of the people trying to tell us we can’t! After all I am going through to get this next baby here, you best believe NO ONE will tell me I can not feed him or her where ever I damn well please. Can you tell I am a little worked up? 😉

    Thank you for addressing this in such a thoughtful way! The way you equated it to the feminist issues really brings to light the bigger picture!
    .-= Crystal Gold´s last blog ..Surprise Gifts =-.

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    If I suspend my disbelief about the statistical validity of that report (I have sifted and produced enough stats to feel quite skeptical of them until I have seen with my own eyes how raw data were collated and analysed) then yes, I absolutely agree with the majority of your points.

    You’re right, breastfeeding is made infinately more difficult by a lack of societal support. But the breastfeeding story is also more than purely biological.

    If I had stayed on exclusive breastfeeding I would have likely killed my son. The first three months supply was not a problem. At month 4, it was. And I listened to all the advice I was given about just keeping on breastfeeding as much as possible and then I came to my senses when I realised that during the course of a month and a half my son had lost over a pound and had dropped from the 90th centile to the 7th. It is beyond terrifying having a child who is failing to thrive and going to a variety of hospital appointments to meet concerned professionals and formula probably saved his life. He started putting on weight and growing again and I started to breathe.

    People in the comments are talking about a milk-sharing co-op and I am all for that. Bring it on sisters! If someone had offered me breastmilk instead of formula for the feeding of my baby I would have been all over that. But until such a thing comes along and is feasible and safe and accessible, formula is the best thing we have.

    You talk about breastfeeding being available with the right support. I agree with you. But for me that support wouldn’t have been a pump or a lactation consultant. It would have been a nanny who would have come in and taken my irascible sleepless infant and housework off my hands so that I could sleep. Perhaps if I’d lived in a tribal society where we could have shared the burden of childcare then I would have felt less stressed and more rested. If I’d had a network of supportive people who could lend a hand so that I could sleep my body probably wouldn’t have been keeling over from loneliness and fatigue. I believe my milk stopped because on a biological/psychological level I felt I had nothing left to give.

    Breastfeeding might be great for the baby if your supply is enough, but after sleep deprivation it was in my case the single factor that most sabotaged my bonding with my son and my mental health. Yes, I loved having the choice to feed. I loved being able to do this for my son. But I would have loved even more some weeks in not doing it every two hours. I would have loved to have proper respite and sleep and the ability to reclaim my body a little bit, in order to sort my head out and recharge.

    Sometimes the reasons why a woman cannot breastfeed are not biological. Our minds and bodies are bonded. If we are sad, angry, exhausted – if we are poor or overworked or postnatally depressed, our bodies may begin to start stopping. I think it is shortsighted to look at the breastfeeding relationship in terms of latch/hold/pumping without also looking what is going on in the wider context of women’s lives, and when we are thinking about support thinking about how we are going to provide support for that.

    There are many wonderful things about breastfeeding, and the hypocritical bullshit about boobs being ok as objects of sex but not to be publicly displayed as instruments of sustaining babies is enough to make my head explode. I am pregnant with my second child, and already my breasts are heavy and tinged with that ache, the longing for the pulling mouth of a baby. I will give exclusive breastfeeding a good shot with my second, but if I find that my body is losing its supply again, then I will gladly turn to formula without guilt, but with gratitude to have that choice.

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    BTW, I wanted to add some info on the side issue mentioned of a connection between breastfeeding and a lower incidence of SIDS deaths. I don’t believe this to be the case. A lower incidence of infections or sickness in general due to breastfeeding and therefore less deaths from pneumonia, yes. Less SIDS, no. Why, you ask?

    Because there are several doctors right now who have made it their life’s work to show what SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome actually are, and it is NOT what you have been told by the medical establishment. It is actually a form of microvascular strokes cutting off the supply of oxygen to the brain causing swelling, subdural hematoma, and severe brain damage resulting in death, which is caused by the administration of vaccines that has killed the babies in these cases. Virtually all SIDS and SBS cases occur within 30 days of the babies having received vaccinations.

    Please google the work of neurologist Dr. Andrew Moulden, Dr. Archie Kalokerinos, Dr. Viera Scheibner, Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, and educate yourself to the very REAL dangers that vaccinations pose to your baby’s health before you buy into yet another LIE from the medical establishment.

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    Stacy – I don’t vaccinate my kids either, but saying that most cases of SIDS occur within 30 days of a childhood vaccination is kind of like saying that 98% of deaths occur within 48 hours of eating bread. It really doesn’t mean much.

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    I want to cry every time I see a woman who gave up because her baby “did not latch.” Do not blame yourself or your baby, that is purely the fault of an unsupportive team.

    Over 20 years ago, my MIL had my husband by cesarean. He was bottle fed in the NICU for a week. He wouldn’t latch for FOUR days after that (she had to cup feed him), but, he got it. My son’s friend fought her for 2 weeks before she successfully nursed him for three years. In underdeveloped countries, where there are no horror stories spread and no formula available – you don’t hear stories of babies not latching correctly.

    Again, I know whole-heartedly this blogpost was not written to insult mothers. I’m pretty sure it was written to get mothers informed and educated. In our society, if women don’t know the truth behind nursing – they won’t succeed in breastfeeding.
    .-= cassie´s last blog ..cassiethedoula: @sarahbush918 you didn’t answer me! Geeeeez. :p did you get the clothes I sent, yet? =-.

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    I am prego with my third child. I failed miserably at breast feeding with my first two and am so determined to make it work this time.
    .-= Dawn´s last blog ..The Ultimate Blog Party 2010 =-.

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    Dear, dear child. I’d be happy to stay at home with my little ones, could you do me a favor and call your state legislators and get them to give my husband a raise? That would be great. Teacher pay would put us on welfare in our state. I’m not working for a boat.

    And how do you know my child was bottlefed with expressed milk? My second child wouldn’t take a bottle, even with my milk in it. I nursed him before I left, I went home and nursed him during lunch, or my husband brought him to me. That babe was a reverse cycler, so he slept with me and nursed much of the night, which allowed him, at his own insistence, to go more hours during the day without nursing. I brought my babies to work WITH ME for the first three or four months because my job rocked.

    I will cop to the personal fulfillment I get at…wait, it’s not personal fulfillment, it’s PAYING THE MORTGAGE, and the FOOD, and the ELECTRICITY. I’m fortunate in that my babes only had to spend two hours a day with my mom or sister, because my job is flexible and my husband gets home early.

    And actually, YES, babies were designed to be with their grandmothers why moms went to work—that’s why women live longer than men, because grandmothers were biologically designed to help with babies while moms did gathering and harvesting.

    I thank Heavenly Father every day for our blessings, for the inspiration to seek an education so that my husband could do what he loves, and we can still provide for our family. So, from this feminist, working, Mormon mom, who nursed her babies, and has a career, I hope your heart can see the other side of this coin.
    .-= Azucar´s last blog ..Three! =-.

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    For all you who say PUMPS ARE DESTROYING the breastfeeding relationship…why does my LC and LLLI-leader tell me to pump every two hours at night? Just to give them money from my pump rental? How is trying to build my milk supply, since I am truly a low-milk-momma, with a pump so bad?

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    Barb, that’s not why pumps are dangerous. In fact, if you’d read our comments completely, you’d see we agree with you.

    Building a supply in conjunction with a IBCLC is fantastic use for early pump use.

    They’re dangerous if women are instructed to pump in the first 6 weeks for no reason; they can interfere with a perfectly healthy nursing relationship. Additionally, with only a pump and no educational support, some women mistakenly think that the amount they can pump is the amount they produce, leading them to supplement out of an incorrect assumption that they’re not making enough.

    Reparative use is fine.
    Preventative and needless interventionist use is not fine.
    .-= Azucar´s last blog ..Three! =-.

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    OMGosh!! I couldn’t agree more! Well said, my friend. Well said.

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    I have been breastfeeding since I had my first daughter in September of 2004, with another coming in May of 06 and another in April of 08. There were times when working and parenting stressed me out and it felt that my supply was low, “Supplement with formula,” or “You’ve done enough, just stop.” I was afraid and unsupported in the workplace as I tried to pump over a backroom toilet with people pounding on the door to come in, but I visited chat rooms and confided in a few friends who didn’t judge me for wanting to keep trying.

    It is very true that there is little support beyond those first days, your mailbox inundated with samples from Infamil and Similac, and inflammatory stories about public breastfeeding. This was a great post!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Intentions =-.

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    I live in london England. I wanted to breast Feed my baby he was 3 weeks premature and after a natural child birth he was taken away to be weighed and washed, I suppose. By the time my baby was brought back to me I was surrounded by 4 grandparents making a fuss. As soon as we were able I tried to feed my baby but was having problems trying to get him to latch on. There was no one to help and I struggled in vain. I was scared my baby was getting hungry,
    by this time they wanted me moved to a ward so that the labour room could be used. So we were moved. Still my Baby had not fed. In the end ( a good 14 hours after the birth) I had a nurse come to me and try to help baby to latch on and it was not working so she introduced me to a machine and told me to express the milk and bottle feed it to him. I spent an hour on this dam machine to get a small bottle of milk and finally fed my baby the breast milk I felt he needed. I had heard that it gave the Baby the strength of my imune system and did not want to deprive him of its goodness. I must say I have not always been a Baby person I did not baby sit other peoples kiddies I had no interest in babies until I was a mum, then suddenly I was, it was like nature took over. I spent 10 days in hospital because my baby had Jaundice and they had him under lights and they said he needed feeding every three hours instead of five to help flush the Jaundice out. So I spent an hour expressing milk to feed him between each feed for the next 10 days.I tried to carry on at home with a pump but it was so slow and painfull I was advised to give up. I feel like I am waffling on but the point I am trying to make is there was not help for a new mum who wanted to breast feed. I later read somewhere that it is best to put baby to the breast as soon as possible after birth as instinct will take over, why was I not told this in the delivery room? Why was I not given proper feeding advice.
    I had not read up on it yet as I thought I had 3 weeks 3 days to go until my due date.
    I feel that I was let down by the hospital staff they just gave up after trying for half hour and did not give me proper advice.
    I hope that since then things have improved my son is 15 now.
    .-= juliet´s last blog ..Thomas! Thomas! there’s a Mouse in the House =-.

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    fabulous post. finally made it through all the comments, and WOW! so not surprised by the divisiveness, but it makes me sad all the same. @Mina – a milk share already exists. i donated my extra BM for 12 months to a baby whose mother had IGT and couldn’t produce enough. Google MilkShare to find donor moms in your area.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..When the breasts hit the fan =-.

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    Great post, i have bookmarked it and would like to print it for future reference… I had a hard time continuing bf after going back to work with my first… The only place they could offer me was the handicap stall in the bathroom even though they had conference rooms that werent in use… I would pump and dump, i just couldnt bring that milk home…I wasnt given any time other than my two 15 min breaks and my 30 min lunch to pump… I lasted 4 months but they slowly weaned my baby… I was so happy when I found out they were closing the call center and after talking with hubby that I would be staying home, it made no sense to work just to pay for daycare… My second child turned three in january and I am still breastfeeding her when she wants too that is usually in the morning, and evenings or when she is sick, which she had a bad cold and wanted nothing to do with food but at least I could give her breastmilk… The thing that bothers me is women are not given places to bf, or support… Even my own mom after 6wks has hounded me when will i stop bf.. If i were to feed the baby in front of her she would leave the room or my house… I dont know if she is embarassed or what… I have heard the horror stories of other women who have had older women come up to them and tell them to cover up or stop that its not right to do that in public… I havent had this happen to me but i know that person would get one hell of a verbal beating … No one has the right to tell me how to feed my child when I am trying to feed them the best way I know how… They didnt have formula way back when so what did they use other than animal milk I am sure women bf and no one had issues… I am expecting my third child and plan to bf her as well… I do want to ween my 3 yr old only cause I think I will have a battle of jelousy on my hands… Not sure if E will share the boobah, her name for my breasts… thanks again for this post….
    .-= draven´s last blog ..Family Drama =-.

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    And thank god formula saves lives too.

  249. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Brooke – yes, and thank God c-sections save lives. But, they also unnecessarily kill babies and mothers.

    Thank God that organ transplants save lives – but should babies with perfectly healthy organs go in to surgery, even though there’s risks?

    Thank God that medications save lives – but should a mother put her child in way of side effects when there is a natural, safe, free, and exceptionally better alternative?

    Yes- formula saves lives. In EXTREMELY rare situations. Less than 10% of babies under a year old actually NEED formula. However, more than 80% of 6-month olds do not get the benefits and birth right of receiving breast milk AT ALL. They don’t even get it once a week. So, should we just be thankful that formula has saved some lives and ignore the fact that it has also put other infants through completely unnecessary side effects and negative reactions?

    Again – if mothers want to/need to use formula – okay, cool. HOWEVER, that does not mean they can not at least breastfeed when they can. And women NEED to know the truth about formula. Too often women are given formula as a way to “not bother” with the difficulties of breastfeeding – they are not given formula as a last resort. They are bullied, tricked, and lied into using it. Formula feeding is sometimes easy than dealing with a fussing, not-latching, frustrating start to nursing – however, at 6 weeks postpartum, breastfeeding is far easier (and, still, as always, superior). If only women knew that…

    Formula saves lives, sure. But, breastfeeding saves more.

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    One of the best posts I’ve read in response to the latest study!

    I wish many women would not react personally to study like this — taking it personal, internalizing it, resulting in guilt. Because a failure to breastfeed can usually be blamed on someone else — culture, society, hospital policies, nurses, doctor, family pressure, etc.

    I also wish doctors knew more about breastfeeding. My friend’s doctor has told her: Don’t eat spicy food. Quit breastfeeding for a day and give baby pedialyte/formula to end diarrhea. Outrageous!!!!

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    Thank you SO very much for writing this post! I posted this article on my blog and I also got a few comments that didn’t appreciate me making them “feel guilty”.

    Isn’t that sad? That by informing women of the health benefits for their precious children I’m at the same time making them feel guilty?? Thank you for so eloquently pointing out that the problem is with the message we’ve been marketed but the only way we can make a change is to quit dwelling on our own mistakes & instead vow to inform someone else before they make the same one.

    I work as a lactation counselor in my local hospital and it is so incredibly sad to see new moms with the best breastfeeding intentions get sabatoged by negative feedback they receive, or even worse, free formula bottles that the majority of US hospitals give their new patients. What does it say to a mom when I go through all this effort to get her to tough it out through the sore nipples & poor latches only to send her home with a 6-pack of ready to feed bottles. THAT HAS TO CHANGE. And I can tell you, the formula companies have some deep pockets on their side and the only way hospitals are going to see past that is if we demand better.

    Sorry for the long comment, I’m just still fired up after this being a big topic on my blog for the last week. On a positive note however it’s great to see so many other women feel the same way, now if we can all just keep spreading this message perhaps things will slowly change.

  252. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Brawa, brava! This is a fantastic post that I’m book-marking to refer to again and again. I am only 11 weeks into my nursing relationship with my first-born and despot over supply issues (exasperated by pumping to build a stasg to return to work), foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, discovering excess lipase (and having to get rid of my stash because my LO wouldn’t let it near her lips), and LO refusing all bottles (we cup feed her when I am at work), I am committed to breastfeeding her for at least a year, if not longer.

    I am grateful to have been given the support I need to accomplish the goal and it saddens me that so many women out there give up or quit because it’s too hard (or seemingly so). We need women to support each other AND for our culture/society to get with the program. I cannot, in this day and age, believe it’s still such a “hot topic”… BFing in public, etc.
    .-= married2mrwright´s last blog ..Bumpdate! =-.

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    I’m a low supply mom due to medical conditions I can’t do anything about. I have worked my *bum* off in order to provide as much breastmilk as possible for my children. We use Lact-Aids to supplement at the breast and practice child-led weaning. I also know what it is like to have a child with nursing issues. It took almost 6 months to get my second child to latch on all the time, finger feeding when she wouldn’t. Sure, it would be easier to just make bottles and not go through everything I have to provide my children with not only breastmilk but also a nursing relationship. However, that wouldn’t be best.

    If you want the *choice* to formula feed, go for it. However, recognize that every choice we make has consequences – good and/or bad. Be willing to own your decision and accept those consequences. No one can make you feel guilty except for yourself. If the choice you make is to not breastfeed, accept that decision and own it. Don’t place your blame and guilt at the feet of those who made a different choice than you. The mere fact that you are insecure in your decision (which the guilt and cry of judgment come from) doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t report the facts that breastmilk and breastfeeding are superior to other choices.

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    Ummmmmm. I exclusively BF my 7 months old and plan to do so until she is at least a year old and longer if she wants to. She has never had a drop of formula, but this article pisses me off. Formula kills?

    :::insert huge eyeroll here:::

    Get a grip. OF COURSE breastmilk is best, but formula is not poison. This whole article makes me LOL. Soooo effing extreme.

    Judgey Wudgey was a bear…

  255. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I actually blogged about this post on my site if you are interested…


  256. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Just wanted to point out, as some others have, that it’s not always a choice not to breastfeed. I tried, tried, and tried some more, but after having a c-section because my body DIDN’T provide an escape for my 11.1 lb child, it just wasn’t working. I fought against many factors, including formula given to him in the NICU and nursery, plus my own exhaustion after being in labor for 2 days and then asking to be awakened to try to feed. I was so tired I nearly dropped him. I was determined and over 3 months consulted a LC, my doula, and several other BF moms. (At one point, had 3 other people’s hands on my breasts at the same time.) The only time when my baby didn’t cry after a feeding was when I finally supplemented his meal with formula. And we were both much happier and healthier for it. If we’re going to discuss BF, realize that it’s the need of more than the ability to choose, but also to have others respect that choice, whichever way you need to go to feed your baby.

  257. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @Laura – I recognize all too well that a cesarean can make breastfeeding darn near impossible – that is a WHOLE other issue that needs desperately to be talked about (and I have talked about it in a million other posts on my site, as well as on my radio show earlier tonight.) I had a cesarean that also made breastfeeding more difficult than I could handle at the time. Wanting to nurse was one of the main reasons I fought so hard for my (successful) VBAC. Having an unmedicated vaginal birth can do wonders for the nursing relationship. But this doesn’t mean WOMEN can’t breastfeed – it just proves my point that the establishment is creating barriers, and exaggerating barriers, that may exist. If your baby had been placed directly on you, and left there, after your cesarean, I bet your nursing relationship would have been off to a much better start. The barriers must be flushed out and broken down to provide all future women with a better support system to achieve their breastfeeding goals.

  258. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I have breastfed my first son for 2 years, then currently breastfeeding my daughter at 7 mos. It IS a commitment. I was lucky to have a home birth with knowledgeable midwives that are committed to making breastfeeding work. However, I also see a lot of problems with it as related to working — or being a student as noted:
    – lack of support for breastfeeding at work (has anyone thought of a pumping/breastfeeding mom mentor system?)
    – its even worse if you are a student (um…. no nursing rooms,no breaks, its as it no one ever heard of it….)
    – lack of maternity leave — particularly PAID maternity leave. CA has a great policy – its part of SDI, and pays 55% of your income (not perfect, but a help)
    – lack of paternity leave (see above)
    – lack of education, re breastfeeding – how, what , where, what to wear… etc etc.
    And as a secondary issue here I also see an attitude about those that choose breast milk no matter what. This should also absolutely be an option. If men get paid to produce sperm, women should get paid to do milk for others. Options other than the Milk Bank (yes i support them to a point — it really bugs me how much they charge, but for preemies its important). Sharing milk should be an option.

  259. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    As with any article on the web, don’t read the comments or you’ll just feel your blood pressure rise. Egads.

    Anyways… BEAUTIFUL post. Right on.

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    I agree that breastfeeding should be done more and should have a lot more support. I breastfed my daughter till she was 5 months Iwas not producing enough with work and school I just could not eat enough calories or devte that time I needed or support. But dont ever for one minute make anyone feel like a failure because they had to use formula. It does not kill!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please learn yo word things better. I am appaled that in trying to make the world all the same we must all do this must conform to this, please spare me. Its great that your trying to promote it, but dont be stupid, be smart and classy and choose your words better. I feel bad enough that I had to give my daughter formula but im very thankful that its here and she happy and im happy. Kids come first. Also I know plkenty of children who breastfeed till almost two and yet still they get sick more than my daughter? But Im not out lookin to blame someone. So its great your promoting breastfeeding, but instaed of writing a blog go do something about it. Get off your ass, go to the hospitals, talk to women be a lactation consultant. But dont sit in front of your computer and say formula kills im making a diffrence. Nope, you just proved to me why people like you dont make a diffrence you make things worse.

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    i would just like to say that I have 3 boys 13, 11, and 3 I breastfed all 3. My 13 and 3 year old never had any formula and was breastfed the longest. They are so healthy ….never have had a earache go thru winters and never even have a cold my 3 yr old never has a runny nose like all his lil friends have. My 11 yr old did have supplement formula in the hospital due to jaundice….they pretty much made me . He is the only one that struggles with his weight and is sick sometimes. He is not near as healthy. When i had my last boy the 3 yr old he had jaundice too. The hospital tried to make me do the same as before. This time because of knowledge. I refused and nursed him on the clock every two hrs.We had to stay an extra week at the hospital but he is healthy.So both of my kids that never had formula are extremely healthy. When i say never sick…I mean NEVER. My poor 11 yr old is another story. Oh how I wish he had never had formula. Knowledge is a powerful thing.

  262. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Your right knowledge is a powerful thing and its because of that knowledge that we have choices. Choices wether to use formula or breast feed, cloth or disposable, spank or not to spank. Wow I have choices and I am my own person who can make them. Nobody forced formula down your kids throat you have a voice say something. I have one too and I dont like people saying there way is the only right way when I have choices. Thats the problem fight against not getting the choice but dont fight against formula its a choice.

  263. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I have to say that this is my 4th baby, and I am- for the first time- making it past 5 months with nursing!!! Both the hospitals that I have given birth at were great with breastfeeding support- both followed up with me and one even gave me a medela handpump. My other kids Ihad super bad mastitis with and I just couldn’t nurse through it. This time I had it 4 times but the lactation consultant really helped me come up with way to make sure I could keep going- I was able to double check the meds I was given so that they wouldn’t dry me up ( that happened with my first one!- DON’T TAKE A SULFER DRUG!!!)
    I am sooo happy to see the support that there is, I hope it keeps coming!!!!!!!!

  264. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    So concise, so honest, thank you so much for your voice and for the way you use it.

  265. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I agree that this is a great article and I agree that many women give up on breast feeding do to lack of support and resources, however as a full time student (Going into Health Promotion) with a 3 1/2 year old and a 2 month old I 100% believe that it is a woman’s choice on whether or not she wants to breast feed or bottle feed. It is perfectly fine to formula feed and still have healthy children. I tried breast feeding my daughter for 3 months. I was a single mom who just got out of an abusive relationship, I didn’t have any help, It was difficult to take care of myself properly when my daughter needed all of my attention. One morning I started to feed her on the left side: she started screaming, so I switched her to the right: more screaming. She was hungry and I couldn’t feed her. I made her a bottle out of the sample singles I had lying around, she chugged it and wanted more! It made me happy to see that I finally did the right thing, that was what she needed. 2 days later she had filled out and had gained weight and I was completely dry. When my son was born I made the choice to give him colostrum, but he has been on formula from day one and just had his 2 month check up, and from the dr.’s mouth “I can’t believe how strong he is” as my son was on his tummy pushing himself all the way up. My husband and I are very happy with my choice to formula feed and he loves feeding his son.

    So yes I agree that new moms need more support and help to breast feed, but don’t get mad at the moms who formula feed. They still have healthy babies. BTW my daughter has never had an ear infection and has only had 1 cold in her 3 1/2 years.

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    @Kayla, I’m just wondering if you read a single word of my article before going on the defense about your choice? Nowhere do I “get mad” at formula feeding moms. And BTW, I worked full time, went I school full time, and ran a cake business out if my house all while raising two children and breastfeeding. And I’m not the first woman to do it. It CAN be done : http://thefeministbreeder.com/full-time-worker-full-time-student-full-time-breastfeeder-too/

    First you say you made the “choice” and then you go on to say that you “couldn’t” breastfeed because you didn’t have the support. Being PREVENTED from doin something doesn’t make the opposite outcome a “choice.” You just proved my point.

  267. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Woohooo!!! This is fantastic!! :)
    I’m a teenage mother (19), still breastfeeding my 18-month-old daughter Madeline (we live in Australia)… and gee is it awkward when I tell people I’m still breastfeeding!! These kind of positive blogs make my day.

    Thank-you!!! 😀

  268. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I have to say that this blog entry and articles like that really offend me. It is truly a guilt trip.And it really upsets me. And this is nothing personal. I mean women who formula feed are not stupid or blind. I don’t just mix the formula in my daughters bottle without even wondering what’s in it. I have read the label so times and I understand that breast milk is a much better option. But some women just don’t have that option/ or don’t have that option anymore.
    When I was pregnant I did 2 breastfeeding classes, I had a manual and electric pump, I didn’t even know how to prepare a bottle and only had formula in my house because somebody sent me a sample. It only took a week until my breastmilk was dried out and then it was too late. I had to pay the price for the next 12 months! So I can’t stand ignorant people like that who say “we can’t handle the truth” because “we all know the truth”
    So every women who cares about their baby will know breastmilk is the best. And the ones that don’t care shouldn’t have had a baby in the first place. Formula/breastmilk doesn’t change much for that issue.
    And for the people who get the looks when they are breastfeeding in public, well I’m sick of people looking at me like I’m putting poison in my baby’s bottle too. But unfortunately that my ONLY option right now.
    And believe me every mother knows how much formula costs before she chooses that path. Just for everybodies information, a can of formula is $20 and lasts for 4 days, of course there is always WIC but they only give you 8 cans a month. And do you think I would not enjoy those special moments with my daughter? So please, breastfeeding mommies don’t be ignorant and know that we are not stupid, blind, don’t have enough information or are lazy, some just don’t have other options.
    We are not bad moms and want to give our children the best too. We care about our children’s health. So don’t make us feel bad or guilty with those stupid comments because there are two sides of that story and somebody should hear ours too…
    And YES I will try to breastfeed my next baby.
    And by the way, my daughter will be a year old in 2 weeks, she is very healthy. Her development is normal, she reached all of her milestones very early. Was never more sick that any breastfed baby that I know. We are slowly making the transformation to cow’s milk…should we start a discussion about the hormones they put in the cow’s milk that causes children start their puberty earlier? I don’t think so!
    I understand this is your blog and your opinion on things but “we’ve all grown up in a culture that tells women their bodies aren’t good enough for much of anything except being toys for men”???? where is that coming from?? I’m only 25 year old and I have never met anybody that was that naiv. Magazines have girls gone wild cover girls but Facebook never tolorated any pictures of breasts. And I don’t want to offend anybody, I promise I don’t, but WHY would you want to put a picture of your baby breastfeeding? There are so many sick people out there that think of it in a sexual way, so why even go there? And I know you can have your profile on private but shouldn’t it be a moment between you and your baby and not you and the network??
    Well I left you my information where you can contact me if you are interested

  269. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is my blog, I posted a comment in there as well. Stop by if you like!

  270. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I love you.
    Currently Breastfeeding 16 month old twins :-)

  271. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    What a fantastic article, Gina, with such a variety of responses!! Thank you for writing this, and paving the way for more (any?) dialogue on such an important topic.

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    Thank you so much for another important post of yours! I’m so glad that your educated, knowledgeable voice it out here in the blog universe, we need more breastfeeding advocates like you!

    Dagmar’s momsense
    .-= Dagmar Bleasdale´s last blog ..Not Me! Monday — Chocolate and Limousine =-.

  273. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @ Anne – yes, formula kills babies:


  274. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Dear Friends & Readers:

    I would be grateful and honored if you would consider nominating this article for the BlogHer “Voices of the Year” keynote speaker honor. Submissions close TOMORROW, Thursday, April 22nd.

    To nominate my article, “When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth” – please visit the BlogHer nomination site. PLEASE NOTE!!!! YOU MUST BE LOGGED IN TO BLOGHER FOR THIS LINK TO WORK. http://www.blogher.com/node/add/voty

    IF you get a 403 error, it’s because you need to log in. If you don’t have a BlogHer account – it’s totally free to get one! Once you sign in or sign up, this link will work.

    When nominating my post – you must use the exact URL for my article (not a link to just my blog homepage.) Here is the link.


    Thank you all in advance!
    .-= TheFeministBreeder´s last blog ..A Letter to My Friend with Breastfeeding Struggles =-.

  275. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Hear, hear! Support is definitely the keyword here. I have three kids, and I breastfed my first until he was almost three (while pregnant with my second and breastfeeding her as a newborn), and my second and third I am still breastfeeding (2 yrs old and 9 mths old). My family and friends have always been extremely supportive of breastfeeding, and my husband is my hugest fan. It’s not always easy, but there is no doubt whatsoever that I am not wasting my efforts and that it is all worth it. Breasts were meant to be used, for the health of babies and of women. That’s something to think about too. The longer you breastfeed the less likely you are to get breast cancer. Very cool.

  276. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you so much for saying this! This is such a great post!! I am a proud breastfeeding mom from Nov. 2005 till present day with baby girl #2! I have heard from family, friends and even one of my doctors that I should wean her and didn’t listen to any of them!! I believe in the child leading the way in weaning, just as our bodies know what to do to make milk when our babies are born she knows when she has had enough. We truly are heroes ladies and we have the best powers of all..to create human beings and nourish them enough to sustain life! That is sure something to be proud about :)

  277. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is a wonderful post!! Brought tears to my eyes a bit that someone could finally say this so elegantly. I have been BF since 11/05 to the present day with baby girl #2 and I am proud of that! Many times sadly I have been hounded with questions of “when are you going to wean” and “you know she isn’t getting much nutrition from you now that she is over a year” with both girls from family, friends and even one of my doctors! But I have not faultered, I stood my ground and believe she will wean herself when she is ready. The bond between a breastfeeding Mom and her nursling is magic, one of the best feeling in the world I believe. I for one will be sad when the day comes that she doesn’t want to BF anymore.

  278. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    OMGosh this is fantastic! As a mom who breastfed four kids, I am constantly trying to be a cheerleader to other moms. I actually had to argue with a nurse after the birth of my third child because I didn’t want to take the formula home. I finally told her my children don’t and won’t ever taste formula so give it to someone else! Good for you! I’ll definitely pass this on. The doctor who delivered my second son said to me, “We talk about this wrong.” She pointed out that instead of saying breastfeeding lowers your chances of x, y, and z, as if formula was normal, we need to change the focus.Breastfeeding is best. If you choose to formula feed, you will increase your chances of SIDS, allergies, asthma, obesity, lower IQ and breast, ovarian and other cancers for yourself. Let’s change the focus back to how God intended it and get mothers support to feed their babies!

  279. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is a fantastic post. I remember reading that the NHS spends 14pence on marketing for every baby in the UK, whereas formula companies spend £20 per baby in the UK. Good on you for saying it out loud and for standing up for us – it annoys me no end that women get angry about what is NORMAL.
    .-= Luschka´s last blog ..The Doula Path (Part 2) =-.

  280. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Here’s the source for that 14p/£20 info http://www.theecologist.org/trial_investigations/268337/breastmilk_vs_formula_food.html
    .-= Luschka´s last blog ..The Doula Path (Part 2) =-.

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    @ Ironica. Thank you for bringing this up. This has been an issued raised in my formula feeding support group. I also what to point out that yes perhaps more than 13% of women can breastfeed, but this is a choice and it’s up to mother to make this decision. I read this article on how 911 lives could have been saved from breastfeeding, but the truth of the matter is we really do not know if lack of breastfeeding was really a direct cause of their deaths. So you can read this article and interpret they way you want to. However, let me give you an archaeological point of view on artificial feeding.
    There has been evidence mothers or caregivers have been artificially feeding infants over 2000 years ago. Infant formula and baby bottles were on the market in the late 1800’s. My point: Women have been having trouble breastfeeding for centuries and infants have been surviving without human breast milk long before the days of Nestle. Our infant mortality rate has been decreasing now for over a century. While you can think about about how breastfeeding could be saving lives maybe in is more important to think about all the lives that have been saved because an infant was fed and not starved when they were not able to be breastfed. Yes, breastfeeding can be beneficial, but only when the mother is able to physical and mentally do this. Hospitals and maternity leave should be improved, but at the same no mother should get her choice taken away form her.

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    @ Millicent
    I understand your train of thought.. I do.. but my studies in lactation did not show how so many of those infants in history survived because of the availability of an artificial milk but rather most infants survived because of a wet-nurse or a nursemaid who “letdown” the ill mother in her lying-in state to feed the infant his mother’s milk via a variety of devices. There are devices for infant feeding resembling invalid feeders found in many ancient ruins. We know it existed. Those infants in history who were fed the inferior substitutes where often sickly, not thriving and many many died! Infant mortality rate was much higher than now ..yes.. but did not drop because there was this artificial milk fed to babies!!
    The industrial revolution and scientific advances allowed mankind to come up with an acceptable alternative for those who could not or chose not to breastfeed. I’m seriously not trying to start an argument. I just couldn’t let those statements go uncorrected.
    If you have sources that would correct me, I am happy to read them. I always like to learn.
    Thank you.
    .-= StorkStories´s last blog ..Overheard Hospital Roommate Discussion on Formula vs Breastfeeding =-.

  283. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    @StorkStories – I am completely aware that there were nursemaids. I know first hand because my great-great grandmother was fed via a wet nurse. However, she was one baby and she was born into a wealthy family who could afford a wet nurse. This was not necessarily the case for all families back then. There were also times where many children were orphaned and to help them survive they had resort to other milk sources. Yes, this was at times very dangerous due lack of knowledge of bacteria. I am not implicating that the infant mortality rate has gone down solely due to artificial feeding, but the fact is that you can pick up many history books on famines & poverty and realize many babies did starve to death centuries ago. Artificial feeding could be dangerous so over time the bottle was more perfected to be safe and then by the late 19th century the glass bottle was manufactured andthe knowledge of sterilizing them came about. Let’s think about it today when there are still yet some mothers even with improved nutrition still do not produce enough milk, or have babies that do not latch, or for some actual physical reason cannot breastfeed, they have the safe option now of resorting to formula. Now take this scenario back 100, 200, 1000 years ago when women may have been in living in isolated areas or were to poor to afford a wet nurse, but may have had a goat/sheep or cow available. What do you think she would have done? What do you think what would have happened if she did not turn to artificial feeding? Many babies did survive from artificial feeding. There are accounts of monasteries that took in abandoned babies and artificially fed them. They then grew up to work in the monasteries themselves. The matter is that formula/breastmilk substitutes became so helpful that people continued for centuries to make it work. I have a link here on baby bottles and infant feeding practices dating back to about 2000BC. These bottle were much like the ones I found on archaeological sites I worked on. http://www.babybottle-museum.co.uk/pap.htm

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    Thank you. That is a very interesting site. A lot of history! With your further explanation, I understand more what you are saying. There were countless situations over the last 200 years which forced caregivers (whether the natural mother or another individual)to resort to artificial feeding of one kind or another. It is amazing what some of them came up with to try to feed those infants! Necessity was the mother of invention. And many were able to survive. It’s wonderful that they could. Many more, however, sadly died. Many many babies were sickly or died in those times.
    You say: “The matter is that formula/breastmilk substitutes became so helpful that people continued for centuries to make it work.” I agree.
    But my take on it is that the necessity of an available safe artificial alternative to breastfeeding for those mothers who could not breastfeed their babies took centuries to formulate…to make it nutritious enough and safe enough and to come up with a safe enough feeding container. It was just that.. an artificial substitute.
    Gosh– I am NOT an expert on this aspect at all.
    I just feel that the heart of this conversation is that artificial infant feeding has risks. Risks that mothers aren’t informed about because society has normalized artificial feeding. Breastfeeding is normal feeding.
    No one should ever take away an individual’s choice..EVER…!!!!!
    Mother’s simply need better information to make INFORMED choices.
    I’m very sensitive and careful in my approach to moms… helping them with information they need to make the best choice for them. Then I will ALWAYS support that mother 100%.
    Here’s an interesting historical perspective link for your review from the American Journal of Public Health | December 2003, Vol 93, No. 12
    It covers history from about 1890 to early 1900’s.


    This pretty much makes the point I’ve been trying to convey.

    Quote: “Today’s medical community recognizes what their
    predecessors knew a century ago—that the
    American propensity to shun human milk is
    a public health problem and should
    be exposed as such.”

    Abstract: The medical community has
    orchestrated breastfeeding campaigns
    in response to low breastfeeding
    rates twice in US history.
    The first campaigns occurred in
    the early 20th century after reformers
    linked diarrhea, which
    caused the majority of infant
    deaths, to the use of cows’ milk
    as an infant food.
    Today, given studies showing
    that numerous diseases and conditions
    can be prevented or limited
    in severity by prolonged
    breastfeeding, a practice shunned
    by most American mothers, the
    medical community is again inaugurating
    efforts to endorse
    breastfeeding as a preventive
    health measure.
    This article describes infant
    feeding practices and resulting
    public health campaigns in the
    early 20th and 21st centuries
    and finds lessons in the original
    campaigns for the promoters of
    breastfeeding today.
    .-= StorkStories´s last blog ..Overheard Hospital Roommate Discussion on Formula vs Breastfeeding =-.

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    I wish my applaud icon was working right now because we found a common ground. I am pro-breastfeeding and though I had bad with Bfing and lactation consultants I do vow to attempt breastfeeding again. I come from an area in US that is very pro-breastfeeding usually mother’s who formula feed are looked down upon, but it seems to be the opposite in other parts of this country. I wish we could all find a middle ground. Yes! If a woman wants to breastfeed hospital and lactivists should stand behind her 100%. I also want to let you that you seem like a very responsible and caring lactivist because you support mothers’ in their choice and that’s fantastic and it’s people like you who will add more admiration to the breastfeeding community.

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    @ Millicent
    Thank you so much! I am glad to have “met” you and to have had this interesting discussion. I hope all of us can continue to educate and support moms everywhere!
    .-= StorkStories´s last blog ..Overheard Hospital Roommate Discussion on Formula vs Breastfeeding =-.

  287. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I love this article!

    To answer a few of the comments:

    1. There already ARE breastfeeding coops that operate for free all around the US and Canada. See: http://www.examiner.com/x-23788-Mankato-Attachment-Parenting-Examiner~y2009m10d29-Milkshare-matches-moms-who-need-breast-milk-with-those-who-have-milk-to-spare You can also contact your local LLL to try to network with other nursing moms in your community if you need donated milk. I know several mothers online who were able to get donated breastmilk for their babes for up to a full year and beyond.

    2. I know MANY women who chose not to breastfeed and took it lightly. One mom told me the hospital reassured her that breastmilk “raised a few IQ points and was a little healthier” but said “it didn’t really matter either way” when she told them she just didn’t want to do it. Where I live (rural Minnesota), most women don’t even bother to try, especially young mothers and poor mothers. It’s the norm to sign up for WIC and just get free formula.

    3. People are still missing the point. Breastmilk is healthier for babies. Period. If you couldn’t, then we as a society should have helped you overcome the issues that prevented it (many hospital lactation experts simply don’t have the knowledge they need and give incorrect advice) or should have helped you find donor breastmilk. It’s not about people being mean to you, just as we’re not being mean when we say whole foods are better for children than processed foods. It’s about simply stating the truth.

    4. As a survivor of extensive sexual abuse, I empathize with other survivors but don’t agree that it needs to get in the way of nursing. We reclaim our bodies and our sexuality with our partners. We conquer fears on examining tables, in dentist chairs, in bedrooms and showers and every other place that brings up those memories. We need to be empowered, to be told that we can do this and why, not that we’re forever victims. My breasts have happily nourished four children. I have reclaimed them, and I think that’s pretty awesome. It means I win (and my babies). :)

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    I have a question, my daughter is 2 years old and i’m still nursing. is that o.k. i tried to stop her but she want’s it most than anything. should i wait till she stops on her own ?

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    Awesome. I am way late, but I found this post when I really needed to read it. I attempted to breastfeed my daughter and of course fell victim to lies while in the hospital, my nipples were too flat and I needed a breast shield, and thus began the downfall of our breastfeeding experience. We had number two in January and we’ve been struggling since day one with breastfeeding and we’re going on 5 months ebf, and it’s so hard to keep on going through my son’s tears and my own when formula is constantly offered, as if it will solve all of our problems instead of creating a million new ones.

    Thank you for telling it like it is.

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    I am very impressed with your blog. You summed up the frustrations of the people in the field very nicely. One thing that I would like to add, however, is that moms are initiating breastfeeding their babies at about a 75% rate. So how do we get all the way down to 13% at 6 months? Missinformation, poor support, zero knowledge of breastfeeding, pressure from others to use a bottle and a very simple lack of confidence in themselves in the face of other opinions. If we want to change the way things are now we MUST make the moms that are trying now successful! When you look around you and see others succeed, it is no longer foreign but the status quo. Too bad our pockets aren’t quite as deep as the formula companies. We could provide that much needed support for every mom.

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    I would like to remind those who continue to comment on this that I will not tolerate mean comments thrown at me, or any of the other posters here. Disagreement is one thing – attacks are another.

    Also? If you insist on saying formula feeding is the same as breastfeeding, your apparently lack of the ability to read makes anything you have to say suspect and worthy of deletion.

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    Women fighting about this is exactly what fuels formula companies. Can’t women see this? They thrive and want us to fight about this. They make millions off us and our babies. They want us to fail, in fact they love it. They rely on us being against eachother, being left with no help, turning to formula.

    This is why they give forumla to doctors, hospitals, baby stores. They want formula to be easily accessible.

    The hard fact is we are mammals. We are designed to feed our young. We are also designed to have breastmilk. It is approximately 3% of women who truly cannot breastfeed.

    We need to stick together! We need to fight for eacother.
    We need to demand better support for eachother, from doctors, nurses, hospitals, paeds, health professionals, work places, family and friends.

    Formula is NOT the 2nd option. The ultimate is breastfed by the mother, next is breastmilk in bottle by mother, next is breastfed by another mother/s, next is breastmilk from another mother/s THEN the last option is Artifical Baby Milk!

    At the very least we should all do what we can for babies to get the milk they are born to have.

    Keep ABM for the rare situations when it truly is the last resort.

    Don’t get angry at mothers. Get angry at those who want you to fail, and who encourage you to fail, and who make money on you failing!

    Don’t get angry at the people who want to help. There is no money to be made in breastmilk, those who advocate it are not the enemy.

    Let’s stand together and fight for ourselves and our babies!

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    LOVED this post! I SO enjoy breastfeeding my babies, though, like you said, it’s not always easy – I pumped milk for my son for 6 weeks when he refused to nurse. Thank you for sharing the information about deaths from formula! I also agree that hospitals should support breastfeeding more by supplying pumps, nipple shields, cream, bra pads, etc.

    It made me really frustrated recently – I am going to a pain management doctor for a tailbone that was injured when my daughter was born five months ago, and at my last visit, she said that she couldn’t give me any pain medication since I was nursing (I wouldn’t want to take it anyway). Then she, a trusted medical professional who is also a mom of young kids, suggested that I should wean my daughter at 6 months so that I could take pain medication. WHAT??? Shouldn’t she, of all people, be encouraging breastfeeding???
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Summer Goals – 2010 =-.

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    I agree, the reason a lot of women don’t breastfeed or produce enough milk is due to societal pressure. The trouble is, how do you reduce that? How do you, really, change a woman’s circumstances to make it easier for her to breastfeed?

    My daughter was born 14 weeks early. She spent almost 5 months in hospital and I expressed until the day she came home. I really do believe that breast milk saved her from getting NEC and am incredibly grateful to the nurse who called me in maternity just to make sure their records saying Erin was to have formula were correct.

    That said, having a child in the NICU is incredibly stressful so while, physically, I was perfectly capable of producing enough milk for her, emotionally it was an entirely different story.

    Getting up to pump in the middle of the night when you rarely even get to hold your child because she’s so fragile is stressful. Knowing that if you’re sick and don’t know it you really could kill your child is stressful. Questioning whether that’s toothache or a sore throat, or if that cough/sneeze was something to be concerned about is stressful.

    To top it off, a month before my daughter came home my mother was hit by a car so I had to deal with her needs as well as Erin as well as her worthless, abusive, soon to be ex husband. What this meant was that I lost the plot. I was barely functioning most days by the time Erin came home, so she came home on formula.

    It wasn’t what I wanted, nor what I intended, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    My point isn’t that you’re wrong, it’s just that things aren’t always as cut and dry as they seem. All the free breast pumps and encouraging words in the world don’t change a woman’s circumstances.
    .-= Bec´s last blog ..Julie and Julia =-.

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    I have mixed feelings towards this post – some of your points are VERY valid (health care, free breast pumps and society’s view of BF in public), but a few others I think are a bit off the mark and only contribute to the condemnation that women feel when moving over to formula feeding.

    While some of your comments may be designed to empower women, I think it also propels the myth that women who have tried Bf and had troubles, have given up because they believe that they can’t. This is trivializing the the health issues that some women experience that leads them to formula feeding and only encourages mothers to judge each other.

    I have posted a response to this post on my own blog

    .-= Mummydiaries´s last blog ..Truth according to who? =-.

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    I also want to add that I found the statement that “911 babies die in America every year from not being breastfed” as a misrepresentation of the study.

    In actual fact the study stated that nearly 95% of the deaths were attributed to conditions that can be greatly reduced by breastfeeding.

    So it didn’t actually state that those babies had died from not being breastfed, or if in fact any or all of those 911 babies were formula fed or breastfed.

    While no one can dispute the health benefits of breastfeeding and I breastfed my sons, I think it’s important to represent statistics correctly when using them within articles.
    .-= Mummydiaries´s last blog ..Truth according to who? =-.

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    Yay!! I love this site. It is fantastic!!!!! I BF my first until she was 13 months (I swear my boobs were screaming at me to stop!) and now my second it 5 1/2 months I’m going to see how long I can go. 12 months will be the minimum unless something terrible happens that prevents me from my goal. This year I’ve even managed to beat 4 kidney infections, get through 4 operations and yell abuse at doctors for wanting me to quit breastfeeding. My daughter is STILL EXCLUSIVELY breastfed. The only time I gave her a bottle was while I was waiting for the drugs to leave my system after each operation and all the bottles contained breastmilk. I even had some severe arguements with doctors to make sure that they gave me breastfeeding friendly medication. Us mums and future mums who support breastfeeding need to stand up to our governments and be heard that enough is not being done to help our future generations.

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    I love your article and agree with you up to a point. I am a woman who had a ton of support and fought to breastfeed with every fiber of my being, and seriously and honestly did not have enough milk. At the very most I could pump 1/2 ounce from each side, and with each day it became less and less no matter how I fought. I took supplements, went to daily lactation appointments, watched my diet, breastfed and pumped as often as possible, and endured a hell of lot of pain. I kept going until I squeezed out every last drop. The last days (at the end of only one month) I was pumping out mere drops. I can’t be the only one out there. So it makes me very very sad when people lump everyone who says “I couldn’t make milk” into “I didn’t have support and didn’t really try” because I wonder how many of them really did have support and try. And maybe some of them have more milk than I did, but I pushed myself through more stress and pain than I would wish on anyone. Most women may be able to make milk and it may be as “natural as getting pregnant” but think of all the people who can’t get pregnant naturally these days too (I am one of those as well!)

    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Nikki, I’d be interested to hear how your delivery went. That can have a major impact on the breastfeeding relationship – another component that our medical system often ignores. I had a terrible time breastfeeding after my cesarean. Nobody told me that would happen, I found out the hard way. There is usually more to the story than “I just couldn’t do it.” We have to find out exactly WHY women are struggling, and treat that problem if possible. Unfortunately our medical model of childbirth often causes many problems that we end up needing to treat. I’m not saying that’s what happened to you, I don’t know your story, but it happens to MANY women.

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        I have very small breasts that did not get bigger with pregnancy. When my milk “came in” they swelled to a whopping A, but weren’t even very hard or tight feeling, and the next day were back to AA. I also have fibro cystic tissue, which I don’t know if that affects things, but it does make them very sensitive all the time and may have attributed to some of the pain. My delivery went well. I had 3 days of contractions, but once things finally got going I had an epidural (ordered by midwife because I have vaginismus – but also wanted by me because I was having horrible back labor) had a vaginal birth, everything went smoothly, I pushed her out in 20 mintues and I was able to cuddle her immediately and nurse her right away. She was 4 days overdue (my little twice-baked potato) so she was a big girl, 8lbs 10oz, very strong and always hungry! But unfortunately she didn’t suck hard enough (I think because not much came out, she prefered to use me as a paci and fall asleep)… we found the pump would get more than she would, even after she nursed 15 on each side. So I kept pumping along with feeding her to help get more out. But I was having so much pain I don’t even know now how I did it all. I just sobbed every time I even thought about taking off my bra. I am glad I gave her all the breastmilk I could, but she had a much happier, more relaxed and peaceful (though guilt-ridded) mamma once we were done.

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    @ Alicia – thank you SO much for sharing that link! I’ve said many times that in my perfect world, if a woman can’t BF her next option should be donor milk, not formula. I had no idea there was a coop like that. When I have my next child I will be joining in and pumping extra (Lord willing) to help another baby have the best start there is.

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      I did not know about this either. If I’m still dry next time, I will definately look into this. I have been saying for a year that I would have gladly paid hundreds of dollars a month for somebody’s extra breastmilk but didn’t know anyone with extra. Thank you April for deciding to join in and help people like me!
      I read a weird article about a man making cheese from his wife’s extra breastmilk because they hated to see it go to waste. I thought that was so dumb – it was going to waste because a baby like mine could have drank it instead. We have plenty of cows making cheese. =(

  300. bottle feeding mum | Profile
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    I reackon its all about support from fam and friends, back when – they had mums all around to support and feed other mum’s and their babies. I felt so isolated and frustrated and overwhelmed with breast feeding even though i wanted to do it. my midwife said she had never seen someone so adverse and scared of feeding as me. I dont really even understand why it was in my head i couldnt do it, my babies didnt help much as they had other problems such as colic. I felt as if my breasts werent the babies they were mine and suffered from undiagnosed anxiety especially with the first, they need to dig deeper and spend more time with us so we can learn to relax and accept and trust that after a little struggle us and baby and breast will be ok

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    I love this! I couldn’t have said it better myself! Please, please, please keep writing and fighting the good fight! I love it!!

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    I’m reading this post late linked from the BlogHer “voices” nomination page and wanted to chime in with something I didn’t see in the comments above (I skimmed, so sorry if I missed it): It IS possible to return to work and to pump efficiently and effectively. Personally, I get tired of hearing “I just can’t pump that much” or “I don’t have the time to pump at work.” Out of necessity, I went back to work when my firstborn was only 6 weeks old. As a salaried employee, I wasn’t “entitled” to any breaks (union workers had built-in smoke breaks, but not me) — so I talked with my boss. I made a “privacy please” sign for my office door, which I shut two-three times per day, and I hooked myself up to my Medela dual pump and worked while I drained, which took about 15 minutes each time. My workplace never pushed back; I got the support I needed, because I asked for it. Years later, my state of California has laws protecting breastfeeding and requiring companies to provide a clean, private place to pump. In an ideal world, yes, we’d have longer maternity leave — but in the meanwhile, we can just ask for what we need to facilitate breastfeeding. And moreover, we can tell our fellow mothers-to-be that it is possible and show them the way. I’ve heard more people say, “Why would you pump when there’s formula?” than I’ve ever heard people say, “I had this great pump and found that it was easier than I expected; want me to send you a link to that and to a great nursing poncho?” If we support each other and show that it is possible, more people will make the healthiest choice for their babies. [Thanks for a great, inspiring, post!]
    Rox´s last blog post… One Year LaterMy Profile

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    I agree, more support is needed for new mothers. But, the kind of support that is needed is tough to provide. Lactation consultants prescribed BFing followed by a supplement after every feed as my baby had very low blood sugar. So, mom and baby go home after a 3-day labour. Very complicated delivery. Baby takes one hour on the breast only to require 3 additional ounces to fill him up (no one mentioned that this was abnormal). Then, express breast milk. Baby wakes up 20 minutes into expressing, so definitely not done. Baby is hungry again – this is, after all, three hours after last feed started. Repeat this 24 hours per day. It’s no wonder I almost lost my supply. What I needed was a nurse to come home with me to take care of the baby while I expressed to keep supply up and recovered from our delivery.

    Fast forward, four months later. It takes at least an hour to provide 1/2 the milk baby needs for one feed. Need to express 7 hours minimum each day to MAINTAIN supply even with the use of milk-boosting drugs. Depressed mommy – not having time to play with baby or go out with friends. So, after all of this, I am thankful that we have formula. I now have time to: bond with my baby, interact with other adults, keep my house relatively clean (and pleasant to be in), and be human. For some of us, the choice was hardly a choice. It just made sense to go to formula. Would YOU sacrifice 7 hours each day to provide breastmilk to your baby? (only 1/2 of what was needed – so the baby is getting formula anyways)

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    Love it! Awsome article! My son was premature and didn’t latch on, I tried so hard but he just wouldn’t. So what did I do? I pumped. 22 months and 3 breast pumps later I’m still providing breastmilk for him and intend to do so at least 2 more months when he turns two, possibly longer.

    Has it been hard? ABSOLUTELY! Those first few months I remember being so sleepy I would spend my days crying, but I continued to pump instead of sleep and decided I could deal with a few miserable months for the sake of my child. I’m so glaad I stuck with it, after about 5 months it got much easier and now I’m down to just pumping twice a day. It was miserable, my husband works long hours and we moved away from all our friends and family. My son had HORRIBLE colic and never wanted to sleep, but I didn’t give up and for that I am extrememly proud. I even had formula from the hospital in the pantry, but not once did I reach for it, as tempting as it was sometimes. My point is, doing the right thing is hard sometimes, but worth it in the end.

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    It’s almost ironic that I come from a town where both our hospitals work to make you feel guilty for not breastfeeding. With my first daughter, I tried and tried and tried until I bled. By the time we left the hospital, we couldn’t figure out where we’d gone wrong- we’d been “feeding” her. It wasn’t until my second baby that I was informed that sometimes having a c-section makes it harder for your milk to come in. I wish I’d have been told that the first time around…
    My son is now 7 months old, and I’ve spent the last 7 months, every 3-4 hours, stopping what I’m doing to pump. No, I don’t feed at the breast, because I’m one of those women who can’t handle people staring at me as I feed my baby in public, but that wasn’t going to deter me from breastfeeding. Exclusively pumping is hard, but my husband and friends support me and know my schedule and work with it. Had it not been for their support, I’d have give up months ago.
    I really do wish there was more public support. My college has a “mother’s lounge,” (part of the reason I decided to dole out $52,000 to them) but it’s just a chair and outlet in the handicap restroom, and half the time, someone’s using it as a restroom so you’re stuck waiting. Or the room is being repaired. I’ve been late for class because of this, and the best answer my college has given me is, “we’ll talk to HR” and then give you a blank look when you complain that you can’t go 10 hours without pumping…
    Here’s hoping something in our society changed because I’m tired of the awkward glances when I’m having to warm my son’s milk in a cup of warm water at restaurants instead of just whipping out the shake and make formula…

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    Hey, thanks for this. I really needed a breastfeeding pep talk. Been on the fence about to keep at it or just quit. Btw, my mother-in-law called me a bad dairy cow…how’s that for making me feel useless?
    Lynet´s last blog post… Garys Birthday!My Profile

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    I enjoyed your article and I agree with much of what you said, however, to yourself and many others who responded, there is truth that there does come a long a woman from time to time that has significant trouble breastfeeding, such that it become humanly impossible for her to accomplish such a feat. I remember sitting in my breastfeeding class before I had my first baby, believing with such confidence that all women could breastfeed because La Leche said so. I was grossly shocked and disappointed when I faced the troubles I did. My first breastfeeding experience was by far the worst, as I believe I never had any milk come in at all, later finding out I was badly hypothyroid, which likely contributed. My son lost a pound, gained back none and became lethargic and dehydrated even though I attempted to feed him every 2 hours or more. Later while my experiences were better, I have always battled such severe low milk supply that none of my 6 babies ever gained beyond their birthweights. By 2 months each one of them was not gaining, still sitting at the same weight they were at 1 month. I tried EVERYTHING!! Supplemental nursers, pumps, herbs, Reglan, switch nursing, cluster feeding, co-sleeping … on and on and on, I even rented a baby scale that I could measure the baby to the oz after feedings to be sure he/she got enough. I could probably earn an honorary LC certification with all of the knowledge and experience I’ve gained. NOnetheless, NONE Of my babies gained weight and were often failure to thrive by 2 months old. I’ve never understood the problem but I have resented both sides of the issue. My peds solution was always to supplement, often even belittling how much work it was taking me to even make the milk I did make by saying, oh just pump, or supplement and nurse…having no clue what trite answers those were. I was killing myself trying to breastfeed. I also resent the trite response of those who say everyone can breastfeed and glare at me when I give my baby a bottle. My babies needed to survive and I did what I needed to make that happen.

    That said, finally after failing 6 times and no help from mainstream doctors, I plan on demanding my general physician help me explore medical issues that kept me from being able to make milk that could sustain my babies. Not everyone CAN breastfeed and I plan to find out why … doctors and peds need to recognize what these symptoms and warning signs are and help equip the woman who does want to breastfeed beyond the typical trite solutions.

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    Facts of Child Hunger in America

    •Nearly 14 million children are estimated to be served by Feeding America, over 3 million of which are ages 5 and under. Formula or Breast milk I advocate FEEDING children! So if the bottle is what you can do whatever the reason I say do it and the same for the breast Try saying to the mother to your left and right “I am proud of your choice to feed your baby and do the best that you could for him/her”

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    I did both! Breast Fed both of my children and then switched to formula when it was time to go back to work. Did not feel one ounce of gilt because I knew when I was at work (was active duty in the Army then) I knew my children were not going hunrgy. Oh I was coaxed, “educated” and even judged harshly by family and the new momther community for my decision, but here is what I did. I IGNORED IT! I am smart and I knew the “risks” but the “risks” were not greater than the risk of SIDS, Influenza, an adverse reaction to vaccinations, random accidents, and bringing them into the world via emergency C-Section hey Potosin almost killed my daughter faster than any formula I gave her. So save the 911 babies die every year from formula so many more die of other things, Hell the war I saw in Iraq in 2003 probably killed more than that in a month. There is your truth. Find a new issue to debate about moms and be happy that these mothers who make the choice to do the best they can for their children, whatever the best is for them. I have seen the worst that humanity has to offer and guess what formula is NOT it.

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    I have been lucky enough to have support in breastfeeding my 2 month old son, and it has truly made all the difference! Throughout my entire pregnancy, my midwives helped me to prepare for breastfeeding, and the moment my son was born, before my husband even cut the cord, he brought him to my breast and I began to nurse him. The hospital I gave birth in never gives out formula samples or pushes formula feeding on new parents. The hospital does not have a nursery, and has 100% rooming in with parents and babies, which truly helps to foster a quality feed-on-demand relationship, as well as giving families more opportunity for quality, skin-to-skin contact. Lactation consultants came to see me every day during my hospital stay, and all of my nurses were trained in breastfeeding support. Each of my postpartum appointments included a lactation consultant, and my son’s pediatrician has a degree in lactation science. What saddens me, is that my experience is rare, and it shouldn’t be. As a 19 year old, first time mother, I needed all the support I could get to establish breastfeeding (my wonderful life partner being my number 1 breastfeeding cheerleader!), and if I hadn’t received the support I did, I don’t know if I would still be breastfeeding today. I completely hear you on having paid maternity leave for at least a year, as well as mandating that all workplaces provide private places to pump/breastfeed that are not bathrooms and not forcing women to clock out in order to do so.

    The only way we are going to see any change is if we as mothers stand up and DEMAND it! Let’s start supporting our fellow sisters and get breastfeeding rights back on the agenda!
    Anne Marie Hiestand´s last blog post… Baby StepsMy Profile

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    This article was amazing. I am an “to each his/her own” kinda person, but I loved this! When I gave birth to my daughter I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed. She was early and the nicu put her on formula. I was heartbroken, but I pumped while in the hospital and made sure they gave her what I pumped. I was also on the low supply issue too. I took 27 vitaminsto help produce milk for weeks…went to lactation consultants a couple times a week. And I am PROUD to say my daughter is six months and is EBF. It was a long road, but we are here and if I could get past my short supply anyone can. It just takes persistance. =)

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    Beautifully said…..my facebook account was actually just deleted for posting breastfeeding pictures…just another example of how breastfeeding is viewed in this country when scantly clad girls are allowed to post nearly pornographic pictures but a picture of a mother doing what is natural and best for her baby is demonized and censored and removed.

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    Between this post and reading in your bio that your first band was called Emil Muzz, I think I am majorly in love with you. Just sayin.

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    I wound up with a perforated small intestine as a result of a botched c-section. After 2 weeks in the hospital and 3 surgeries in as many weeks, I had low milk production. I believed, as I was told by my doctor, my daughter’s pediatrician as well as several lactation consultants, that as long as I exclusively breastfed, my milk production would increase over time. So I did. And a month later, when I brought my daughter in for her checkup, she had lost weight.

    I started supplementing with formula, and also started taking reglan (and saw a LC again.) My milk production did increase while I was on reglan, but as soon as the prescription ran out, so did my milk. After four months, I stopped breastfeeding and exclusively FF my daughter.

    You know, it had never ever occurred to me that I might not be able to breastfeed, and I was devastated when I couldn’t. And yes, I dealt with a lot of guilt as a result. What I think that people forget is that just because a person can’t control something, that doesn’t mean that they don’t still feel guilty about it.

    Now as far as the study goes, I do have one issue with it. I wasn’t able to find how the sample group was put together. Did they just look at a number of deaths and classify them by breast or formula fed? If so, it would seem to me that these numbers are skewed. If, as the study indicates, the majority of babies are not exclusively breastfed, then it would make sense that the majority of babies who died in infancy were not exclusively breastfed. If on the other hand, they followed a predetermined group of babies, half of which were exclusively breastfed and half who weren’t exclusively breastfed, and the results were the same, that would be a completely different situation.

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    I have breastfed my son now for 4 years. If I wouldn’t have found support, I wouldn’t have made it past the first two, painful weeks and I wouldn’t have started to write my blog.

    Thank you for this important post, Gina. So glad it went viral so more moms get educated about breastfeeding.

    Dagmar’s momsense
    Dagmar Bleasdale´s last blog post… Facebook Deletes Leaky Boob Support Group for Breastfeeding MomsMy Profile

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    GF you have it down pact. Man what an a ha momment. You should seriously go on Oprah!! Keep saying it like it is even if others don’t always like it!!!

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    thank you so much for posting this, it is so well writen and my feelings exactly recently i became a piriah in an online group of women because of my views/statements supporting breastfeeding and this really made me feel a bit better

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    It’s really interesting the statistics on breastfeeding.
    In Ausrtalia, in all hospitals, both private and public, they have a policy that stops midwives from encouraging formula feeding at all. The midwives are pretty much only allowed to give it to you/your baby if you cannot physically produce enough to support your baby’s growth/development and even then, they still try and assist you with building your supply up.
    They have no advertising for any formula companies and don’t encourage dummies either. In our antenatal classes, they drummed into us how vitally important it is for our baby’s health for us to breastfeed. Whenever I have talked to anyone about breastfeeding, it has always seemed like there is no other option, unless there HAS to be. So much so that when I wasn’t allowed to feed my son for a week as he needed an operation and my milk dried up, instead of just going to formula then I fed constantly for the next two weeks to get my supply up again.

    It makes me really cranky that women who are breastfeeding in public are often put down and harassed, but no one would ever telll a mother bottle feeding her baby to put it away, or go and do it in the toilet. Society is so ignorant.

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    I love this. Shared on facebook!
    Katy´s last blog post… March Calendar SquaresMy Profile

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    When I had my second son, Max, though he was full term it was very clear something was terribly wrong. He was carried away to the NICU with my husband in tow. During the next the new few hours Max struggled to just breathe. I am a diabetic, and it may have had an impact on him, but the was something else. He couldn’t breathe on his own, swallow his own saliva. He had an abnormal heartbeat, PDA, couldn’t keep his temperature up and would often forget to breathe even WITH the CPAP. He was dying. There were tubes all over him. I was not allowed in, I was not well and they worried I would die from the shock. I began to pump, every three hours, because that is what I could do. My husband sat next to him in constant vigil until 48 hours passed and I was allowed to hold him. Slowly, he began to improve and was able to feed. Eventually, he came off the machines and was able to go home. I still breastfed. At about three months strange symptoms began occuring, and after a long process we discovered that Max had severe food allergies, including Dairy, Soy, Peanuts, Treenuts,Vanilla, all animals, severe asthma, under developed lungs, and a heart murmur. NO neruological deficits, he was just like every other rowdy boy. He had lost some of his intestine to do the damage the food caused while we were trying to figure out what was wrong, it had taken SIX MONTHS to discover it all, while he was vomiting blood and having bloody diarrhea countless times day and night. Still I breastfed. Guess what? Hes almost four. Had I not nursed him, and we’d tried dairy or soy Formula, his allergies are so severe that he would have dies when the rest of his intestine was killed. Nursing is naturally what your child can eat. Thankfully, I was smart enough to know that.

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    I’m sorry if this has been addressed. I read most of the comments, but have run out of time. 😉

    There ARE free breast pumps. The WIC program, a Government program provided on an as-needed basis, provides free breast pumps to women who are nursing and qualify, as well as professional support and peer counseling.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      More incentive through WIC’s “Loving Support” program –

      WIC mothers choosing to breastfeed are provided information through counseling and breastfeeding educational materials.

      Breastfeeding mothers receive follow-up support through peer counselors.

      Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.

      Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package.

      Breastfeeding mothers can receive breast pumps, breast shells or nursing supplementers to help support the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.

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    This bothers me so much because I so desperately wanted to breastfeed my children and without going into a long story of my experience I’ll just say that it didn’t work. To all of you who say that it’s ‘Natural’ and ‘Normal’. You obviously had luck with it, and I’m happy for you that was the case, BUT it is NOT ‘Natural’ for everyone. If it were, we wouldn’t need lactation consultants!

    • VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      There’s an old saying: “Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally.” Like anything else in life, it is a learned skill. That’s why we have consultants – to help us learn. But like other learned skills, that doesn’t mean that breastfeeding itself is “unnatural.” It just means that it’s one of those human skills that mat may require help from other humans to master. Back in a day where everyone’s mother and sister breastfed, there was far less need for lactation consultants because women grew up learning how to breastfeed from women in their family. With our dismal breastfeeding rates, it’s a lot harder to find family members who are experienced with it.

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    I am one of those mothers who tried to breast feed my first set of twins and didn’t produce enough milk. I saw two different lactation consultants, was on fenugreek, blessed thistle, more milk plus, and drank mother’s milk tea and ate oatmeal all the time. I fed the babies on demand and pumped every two hours to try to get my supply up. My boys lost weight and the pediatrician and lactation consultant both agreed that I should begin supplementing with formula. I cried for days about my lack of ability to do what was supposed to be the most natural thing for a mother. I began scouring the interenet for something that would tell me that it was okay not to breast feed and that I wasn’t the only failure. I eneded up finding out that, because I needed fertility treatments due to anovulation, my dysfunctional hormone levels that caused my infertility were likely to blame for my inability to produce milk as well. I know breast feeding is best and I felt so guilty giving my babies formula, but I think people should know that if you can’t it’s okay. Do what you can, thank your body for what it was able to give you, and forgive yourself.

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    Not “knockin'” any woman who formula feeds. Saying that:

    God bless you women for doing what is natural and not giving into social pressure; much less some doctors who push the formula crap. Breastfeeding ROCKS!

    As the man of our home, I thank you for the support you women give each other through word-of-mouth, blogs, websites, etc. about breastfeeding. Although my lovely wife was adamant about breastfeeding to begin with, I cannot imagine how difficult it was and can be.

    Keep on doin’ what you’re doin’. Your children will thank you for it, someday.

    Like our little girl; our finances (because we weren’t buying “formula”), are fuller and healthier.

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    Breastfeeding is great and I plan to breastfeed my children as long as I can. However, I won’t be surprised if after returning to work, my milk supply won’t be sufficient, no matter how it is for women spending most time with their babies. Somebody would say – quit your job. However, staying at home has its obvious cons, and it might be hard to choose. I suppose that compared to Europe (where in many countries, maternity leave is between 6 months and 1 year), fewer american women are breastfeeding longer than 6 months, even if they find breastfeeding superior to formula feeding, and that the length of maternity leave can be accounted for the difference.

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    Great post, beautifully summed up. I went a bit further into the issues as the main problem I hear so much about is women just finding it too hard and worrying it is affecting bonding which just isn’t true.

    Support, as you say, is incredibly important but most of that belief needs to come from within.
    Elle´s last blog post… Breastfeeding Battles and Victories- How hardship strengthens a bondMy Profile

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    This may be my favorite post on breastfeeding ever. Thanks! I’ll definitely be sharing it!

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    OMG, how am I just finding this blog NOW??? I nursed both of my kids until just about age two. Do you know what *I* think hinders breastfeeding a lot in this country? Over-sexualization of the breast and prudishness. *SO* many people seem to think any type of nursing outside of your home is some kind of public perversion, it’s unbelievable.

    And it makes no sense. We can see naked boobage in just about any PG-13 movie, but God forbid we see a glimpse of an exposed breast being used for its natural purpose. You know, hence the term “mammals.”

    Again, love the post! 😀
    Debra´s last blog post… Write Hope- Kidlit Auction of AwesomenessMy Profile

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    Ok, I am going to make a few comments that aren’t meant hostile, I’m making them b/c I’m looking for feedback so please be kind!
    Not particularly interested in having kids, but if I did, I don’t think—-as in, I “know” I wouldn’t want to breasfeed. It does seem, well, disgusting. Why do women go so crazy for it! Can’t you just cuddle and bond in other ways? Don’t your boobs get all saggy?
    I wonder if I might change my mind if I had a child.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I’m curious – why exactly does feeding a newborn seem disgusting to you? Do you think it’s disgusting when kittens and puppies feed from their mothers? It’s the natural mammalian process. We don’t remove infant animals from their parents to bottlefeed them unless there are extreme circumstances (like maternal rejection or abandonment). The human being is an animal too, and breastfeeding is how mammals feed their children.

      I am not a mother either, but I would not be surprised if, when you asked a mother whether cuddling forms the same bond as actually nourishing a child, the answer would be a resounding no. Close cuddling is WONDERFUL, but it’s not the same as actively giving your child food and life from within your own body.

      The whole sagging breast thing, I imagine, may not be a phenomenon that necessarily happens to every mother who breastfeeds – and even if it were, well, yes, that would come with breastfeeding. In which case, valuing the appearance of your breasts over breastfeed is a choice I suppose you’d have to make for yourself. I think it’s a shame that society is so revulsed by the natural processes of the female body, though, and says more about the culture than anything else that the question even comes up.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Sagginess comes from pregnancy hormone changes not from breast feeding.

      I love breast feeding. I once thought it was “gross” and I changed my mind.

      Ultimately its up to you but I will say this. Ok, so if breast feeding is gross, then how is consuming a product made from the breasts of animals that aren’t human any less gross?

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      There are hormones at play when you breastfeed. Oxytocin (The love hormone), prolactin (the mothering hormone), and endorphins (pain killers/natural happy drugs). When I nurse my child, it forces me to take a break from the stressful craziness around me and just focus on him/her. While I’m sitting there (because it’s not convenient for me to give a bottle for baby to hold on his/her own or give someone else a bottle to feed baby–as it was when I formula fed), I have these hormones rush over me. I don’t give a crap about the drama or the broken dishwasher or the fact that my older child drew on the wall with his crayons. I’m not mad anymore. I still get up and deal with life, but I had like a natural anti-anxiety and anti-depressive in my nursing session. That’s my number one reason.

      I formula fed my firstborn. I breastfed the last three. Not only does it smell better, but there was less work. Just put baby to boob and feed. No other steps, nothing to clean, dry, mix, or heat. Those endorphins are also present in the milk that my baby drinks, so if she gets a boo-boo, no tylenol necessary. Another huge reason for me: My aunt died from breast cancer. I think about my lowering risk of breast cancer everytime I sit and nurse my child. So far, I have 7 continuous years. (last three babies born in 2004, 2007, and 2009. Two of them nursed for four years each. Still nursing my last)

      My boobs might be saggier, but I’m ten years older than when I started out and that’s what pushup bras are for!! I’m so proud of my body and what it is capable of, what it has done in growing, birthing, and feeding my babies, I don’t care. I have better self esteem now than when I had a tight, rockin, late teen body. Everyone sags in the end…

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      I think that you have hit the root of the problem: a mother’s views of bf before she had her first child. Thank you for sharing. The challenge is to change the image of this “disgusting” act and make it normal and accepted. Not an easy challenge. I think we should start antenatal education for three year olds, as it is far too late once a women is an adult, as you have kindly shown us Sara. To his end I have breastfeed infront of my son’s kindergarten class.

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    I think the real problem is in our medical system, media, and the public. The mothers who formula feed are not at fault. There are so many booby traps that cause mothers to fail at breastfeeding or not want to breastfeed that we really can’t blame them. There will be the occasional mother who doesn’t breastfeed for selfish reasons, but they are few and far between. We all love our babies and want what’s best for them. =)
    Camille´s last blog post… Stuck In The MiddleMy Profile

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    My son basically started weaning himself at a year old. I went faithfully to a local breastfeeding support group once a week run by an excellent nurse/lactation consultant. When he (my son) started biting me, putting actual holes in my areaolas, I starting doing as suggested at my group. . . putting him down for a few minutes and going away from him. I was told he would learn not to bite. That was not the case. He started biting harder. I wonder if he wasn’t getting enough milk, or not getting it as fast as he’d like at that point. I don’t know for sure. It got to the point that anytime he got near my chest, he’d bite. By the time he was 14 months old, I was completely dried up. I really miss being able to nurse him.

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    I don’t agree with this. After I had my son, my body did NOT produce ANY milk. EVER. I went to MANY specialists and lactation consultants and no one could figure out why my body wouldn’t produce any milk. I even took supplements that were supposed to help with the prodcution, ate healthier, exercised etc. I had no choice but to formula feed or allow my son to starve to death. I will also bring up that breast fed babies aren’t necessarily always healthier. I have two friends whose children are sick more than any other kids I know and all 3 of those children were exclusively breastfed until after a year old. Hell, my boyfriends daughters are sick pretty much all the time and were both breast fed babies. My son is sick waaaaaaay less and he never got even a drop of breast milk. Trust me, I’d have rather saved the $37.00 for each small can of special formula my son ended up being on to breast feed but it was an impossibility. It wasn’t a choice I made to formula feed instead of breast feeding and I think people need to understand that breast feeding isn’t always an option. “The major problem here is that someone in your life probably put their own ignorance ahead of the short and long term health of you and your baby, and you believed them because women are used to feeling shamed” I TOTALLY disagree with that statement, I did NOT feel ashamed that I couldn’t breast feed. My body produced NOTHING. All I wanted was for my son to be healthy and have a full belly and if I didn’t formula feed, he’d have died of starvation.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      It is always a bad decision to use formula. In your case, it obviously was not a desicion, you had no choice. Formula, when correctly used (as in your case) is indeed a life saver, just as artifical insulin is for diabetics. You had no choice, so congratulations for saving your son’s life. The problem is not the 1% or so of mothers who have had awful experiences like yourself and have had to use formula. The problem is the 79% who have beed conned into abusing the product when it is not necessary. No one should ever make you feel ashamed of something that was out of your control.

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    Fabulous post! I read some of the comments, but couldn’t get through all of them because there are so many. Suffice to say, many of you fellow mamas made some excellent points.

    Despite having read all the BF research out there, I have always felt guilty for pushing “my way” onto other mothers or expecting mothers. I think the idea of being tolerant
    has become so enmeshed that we are seen as the enemy when we speak up on these issues. Similar to telling people they shouldn’t eat sugar and refined foods, like someone else pointed out. But in the case of BF, it’s a baby who can’t make that decision for him or herself.

    Formula companies make money just like any other commercial food, and it’s in their best interest to make their product look good. And in a society of convenience like ours, it
    seems like such a good idea at first. This website (http://www.lactivist.net/?p=1307)
    has excellent information on the ingredients in formula, and how other countries have actually controlled its availability due to its harmful effects. There may be instances where the giving of formula is medically necessary, but we are doing our children a disservice by allowing it to be so widely available and not informing consumers of its true nature.

    I believe there are instances where some mothers truly cannot – for whatever reason – nurse her child. But this is the exception, not the rule. And you can always find a
    story to defend your position rather than looking at the facts and statistics. While breastfeeding may have many benefits, it’s not a cure-all. Kids that are in daycare or
    some type of school environment tend to get sicker just by being around other children. If you’re giving your older baby or toddler fast food or refined foods, or course she’ll have a tendency to get sick. But as a rule, BF babies tend to get sick less often, and when they DO get sick, it’s for a much shorter duration. I can attest to that. Go to the La Leche Leauge’s website to read all about the benefits (http://www.llli.org/nb/nbbenefits.html).

    I didn’t have an easy time nursing my first. She was only a week early, but weighed just over 5lbs. I have rH disease, and had IUGR during my first pregnancy, and everyone was concerened about her size. My pediatrician wrote “poor growth” on her charts, harped on it with each visit, and I felt horrible – like I couldn’t feed my own baby. She kept talking about supplementing, which I was firmly against. Despite the fact that my baby was healthy, she remained on the small side, so I all I got was insistence that she was too small and I needed to supplement. Well, I didn’t give in, and my daughter’s
    just fine. I wonder how many mothers just take their doctor’s say-so because they’re supposed to be the expert. I did see a couple lactation consultants, and will honestly
    say they weren’t much help; when my babies were newborns, they didn’t have a good latch so I just had to work at it and give it time.

    I went back to work part-time, and pumped so my daughter would have breastmilk. I never made much, so I would set my alarm and get up at different times at night. Inconvenient? Heck yeah! But I’m so glad I did it. I ended up nursing her past a year, until one day she shook her head when I went to nurse her – I wasn’t ready to wean her! Now, with my second child at 19 months, we’re still going strong. I love nursing him, and will be so sad when he stops. Just “cuddling” isn’t the same as nursing – besides the nutrition and antibody aspect, it provides an intimacy and comfort that can’t compare.

    Anyhoo… I’ve rambled enough! Thanks for writing this, and I hope other mothers give nursing a chance.

  334. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Our society as a whole sets us up to fail at breastfeeding. There are some that make it dificult, I had to fight with hospital staff to nurse my daughter, and had to fight again when my son was in nicu, they wanted to measure what he was taking in. When you go to hospital to give birth they give you a bag and formula, if ya want a pump you have to ask and beg for one,
    Here is another issue med, most meds that are not compatible with nursing have an alternate that is, however their are exceptions
    and yes there are issues which make breastfeeding impossible, however providing breast milk is not. Long gone are the days of wet nurses, but there are breasmilk banks but how many know that, how many doctors give out that info, the milk is tested for safety and you can get soy and milk free
    I know breastmilk is healthiest for baby but is also best for mom, in most wic offices they have a poster with baby ages up to age 7 telling benefits of nursing for mother and baby.
    I do not look down. At any mom for choice od breastfeeding or not I look down at or society and doctors for not helping moms, and giving options to moms who can not which is possible to ntbe able.
    It is sad and pathetic that we have come to sucha place about something so simple and natural

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Even though it’s a year after this blog post was made, I have to reply to this post.

      Yes, there are other drugs that are safer for breastfeeding, however, they are not *exactly* the same as the other drug. There are a whole slew of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers that I could try, but they don’t all work to control my bipolar II disorder. After many trials and errors, what works for me and my own biochemistry is Seroquel and Effexor. Neither are safe for breastfeeding. I could try to switch to Zoloft, but the last time I was on it I fell into the deepest depression I’ve ever had. Why? Because it didn’t work for my unique biochemistry. I’ve also tried Lexapro, which sucked the life out of me. Other people I know don’t get any benefit from Effexor and have a great experience with Zoloft. As for the mood stabilizers, there are very few that are safe for breastfeeding, and Seroquel is one of the safer ones for pregnancy even though it’s not safe for breastfeeding. So saying that someone can just switch meds shows a huge amount of ignorance on the subject of how medications (in all classes) work with each person’s biochemistry.

      Additionally, I don’t want to switch if I can help it! Psychoactive drugs, especially SNRIs and mood stabilizers, are a *bitch* to get on, and a *bitch* to get off of. Some people require hospitalization to get off of them because the side effects are that severe! I literally can’t function if I miss a single dose of either of my medications because of the chemical withdrawal, and it took over a month for my brain to function when I started taking my mood stabilizer. (My husband had to stay home from work on the worse days so our son could be cared for!) So it’s easy to say, “Just switch your meds so you can breastfeed!” but the reality is much more difficult. Also, a lot of us would rather be healthy mentally and not breastfeed, than lose our minds just to give breastmilk!

      As to the main blog entry, the question of how humans survived if it was true that many women couldn’t breastfeed is easy: A lot of babies didn’t. Unless a wet nurse could be found if a mother died or couldn’t produce her own milk, the baby died. Or else the baby would be fed another type of animal milk such as goat milk, or a gruel, but most often the baby would die from malnutrition. But even when breastfed there was a high chance the baby would die due to other reasons like illness. Equating breastfeeding with survival is a misnomer. It helps, but there are many reasons why a baby would die, and we’re damn lucky to have a healthy option these days in formula. No way is formula the equal to breast milk, but it’s the best alternative ever offered in all of human history.

      My last comment is that the study itself should be studied before being commented on. It’s a fact that news stories about studies only pick and choose what they report about studies so they can get the most attention about it. I’m curious what the actual study says.

  335. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Excellent! @danijela, FB was saying ‘we can’t handle the truth’ to our nation, our healthcare providers, and our social influences in general. She wasn’t saying it to the individual new mommy. (correct me if I’m wrong, FB)

    @Amber Couch, With breastfeeding, milk supply increases with baby’s demand. So, a large baby (like my third child)who weighs more than ten pounds and double-fists the boob, nursing every hour for days and sighs in relief when the milk replaces colostrum will demand more and raise your supply. It may look like they are desperate, but it just takes more work for them while your body adjusts. Supplementing at that point will just keep your body from knowing it needs to make more. Ten pound babies can nurse exclusively, even from moms that don’t make an overabundant supply of milk. IME with providing breastfeeding support, babies that refuse the breast were usually given something else that confused them. Or it’s a nursing strike (if it’s an older baby). No guilt. Just providing info.

    RE: free, as-safe-as-you-work-out-with-your-donor milk-sharing groups::: 1.) Human Milk for Human Babies, 2) Eats on Feets Global. Facebook pages are all over. Take advantage ladies! There’s your second best option with supplementing.

  336. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I almost killed my son by trying to exclusively breastfeed w/the help of 2 lactation consultants. I had twins and was trying to exclusively bf and both lc’s said to keep trying, no formula, have the baby to the breast whenever he wanted. Well, turns out i had a very low supply and he was not getting enough milk and expending too much energy trying to nurse and he ended up in the nicu for 3 days. I had all the support in the world and the people that were helping me had agendas to get me to breastfeed no matter what and they didn’t do what was best for my son. The lies and political agendas go both ways. I think ebfing is great and is best for most babies and mother’s (i tried so hard, took supplements, meds, pumped etc), but don’t vilify formula and those who need it. If it weren’t for formula, my son would likely be dead.

  337. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I appreciate your enthusiasm for breastfeeding, but I think you’re oversimplifying the issue. It may be true that there are a lot of women out there who could breastfeed if given more support, but there are others who would not be able to no matter how much support was given, and there are plenty of babies whose lives have been saved due to access to formula.

    Personally, I love breastfeeding my healthy 9-month-old son. But my daughter (now 22 months) was born prematurely and has a facial palsy, so she could never open her mouth wide enough to latch on. She also couldn’t drink from a normal bottle until she was several months old for the same reason. For some reason, although my body makes plenty of milk for my son, it just wouldn’t do the same when I was pumping, and I never had enough milk for my daughter. She had to have formula.

    I understand that you’re trying to make a statement about the value of breastfeeding, but you should also bear in mind that for the moms of babies who legitimately can’t breastfeed, this kind of one-sided view really makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us, or that we’re bad moms for something that’s totally out of our control. Believe me, I still wonder sometimes if I could have done more to try to make breastfeeding work for my daughter. Try to have a little more empathy for those in situations you obviously haven’t had to face yourself.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      Thank you for posting this. When I was pregnant, my only option was breastfeeding. I never even thought about formula. I didn’t purchase bottles, didn’t sign up for coupons or samples. Then my baby had a major drop in her sugar levels (single digits) at the hospital and they had to syringe feed her formula. They sent us home with bottles of ready to feed similac for “just in case.” After 8 weeks of a perfect latch, medicines, a perfect diet, lactation cookies, herbs, and a major lifestyle change, I still had a baby who was screaming because I didn’t produce enough breastmilk and who was not gaining weight. I consulted with a LC and the LLL in my area. There is nothing I could do, I had to supplement. Then I completely dried up. I later found out from my mom (who didn’t want me to know this because she wanted me to give it my ALL) that both of my grandmothers and my mom herself had the same issues. Genetic? Maybe. But I know I gave it EVERYTHING I had, then another 200%. I felt (and still do) feel like a complete failure. This article just makes that feeling worse. But I now have a healthy 11 week old baby, that is thriving because of formula. No, NOT EVERYONE IS ABLE TO BREASTFEED.

      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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        @roxymay53 WHY would you feel like a “complete failure” when you did everything you could, and then some? This article is about scientific facts and evidence, and clearly states that NO, not everyone can breastfeed, but certainly a far cry more than are being convinced they can’t. If you did everything you could to reach your own goals, why would scientific evidence make you feel guilty? It’s time for people to stop internalizing and realize that these facts are here for people who need education, and may not apply to everyone, and are not talking about you and your specific situation.

  338. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Hi there! I am new reader only two posts in, but I am already on fire. I am due to have a baby in like five or so minutes and this is such a relevant issue in my life at the moment! As an American ex-pat living in the UK I can say that having a baby here has been incredibly different (wonderfully so) than I anticipated. Well, admittedly I still have the birth and parenting for the rest of life to go, so I have spoken a little soon, but I know you smell what I am cooking here…

    Comparing notes with family and friends in the US just breaks my heart. I have had incredible support and education leading up to the big, special day. I feel empowered to go as natural as I want. I am constantly reminded by the way I am treated that pregnancy and birth are not medical problems requiring medical intervention; complications secondary to pregnancy may be medical problems requiring intervention–western society just forgets to separate the two things.

    The support in the UK for breastfeeding is not the foremost in the world, but it’s light years away from the US I think. During one of my classes I think I heard correctly that it is illegal for formula makers to market to babies under six months of age. Labels on formula sold for ‘from birth’ use are required to contain certain wording to the effect that it is understood that giving formula is a last resort. I got a free CD Rom to watch at home and a health visitor will come to my home several times after baby’s birth to make sure the mum and baby breastfeeding like champs (among other things).

    I am not an advocate of making women (or any people) feel terrible for choice they have made. However, I do really desire to live in a society where the choices (and research, social policies, etc.) we are presented with are not fueled by commercialism, but rather on sound science (including the psycho and social sciences that don’t get enough credit). Lately it is at the forefront of my mind that raising kids is the most important thing for society to do. I mean, it’s not my job to raise your kids, but I certainly think I should support you as your neighbor… Your kid is probably going to be my president some day and I want you to have everything you need to give her the best start in life, you know?

    People think my friend is crazy (and I probably did in the beginning too). She gave both of her adopted children expressed breast milk. At this stage of my parenting journey I see her situation in a completely new light and I just couldn’t admire her more for making an unpopular decision.

    Have mercy what am I even on about?!

    Oh yeah.

    Way to go Feminist Breeder! You definitely have the heart to spread the word and say the unpopular things out loud where there need to be said. I admire you. I applaud you.

    I look forward to being a source of nutrition to my baby in an environment where it’s not considered weird. I want my US counterparts to have this, too.

    XO Jen from Tennessee in London

  339. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thank you. I LOVED this post. I am vehemently PRO breastfeeding. Yes, it can be hard. Yes, it will kill your nipples at first. That’s another bit of misinformation: “if you’re doing it right, your nipples shouldn’t hurt.” Bullsh*t. If you’ve got someone applying incredible suction to your nops every couple of hours day and night, of course they’re going to hurt.

    I also feel sad when women say “I tried it, but it felt uncomfortable and I didn’t like it.”

    Listen: I had a newborn son who FREAKED every time I wasn’t doing it right, or if the milk wouldn’t let down quickly enough. I got the shimmy shakes over it, but I persevered.
    karen somethingorother´s last blog post… JUNK FOOD HANGOVERMy Profile

  340. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Thanks for posting this very very important information!!!

    I breastfeed my daughter, and she is now 12 mths old.
    I had trouble like many new mothers… it hurt a lot to begin with… she started not feeding well at about 8wks old and I thought I’d lose my supply… I had bad advice from people… etc etc.

    I’m so glad I persevered. I believe she is happier and healthier because of it! I believe that the reasons that some mothers give it up are just not good enough. I don’t wish to make anyone feel bad, I just want to urge them to get support, keep trying, do their utmost to persevere.

    As it turns out, my daughter is badly allergic to dairy products and soy. So if I’d failed early on with breastfeeding, we would have had a very serious problem… there ain’t no formula she could have had…. I don’t like to think about what might have happened :(

    Thanks again for your honesty and your conviction!

  341. VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    A well written article. Something I’ve believed in strongly for a long time. How can 80% of women be so unable to breastfeed?!! Pffft! If we were back in 1850, a hell of a lot more babies would be perishing! The human race wouldn’t be getting very far! So tell me this, if without breast milk (not including medical issues) your baby was going to do die ,…..you would feed it. by hell or high water. But because formula is available, you don’t have to force yourself. Be honest. The choice we are talking about is choosing to give up because with formula available you can. Because it hurts at the beginning, because someone else can take over once in awhile, because you feel weird with a baby on your boob, because you want a drink, because you’re tired, because you want to go to the movies with hubby for ‘date night’ (wtf?!) Its a choice. The dishonesty in admitting it is the annoying part. Just say you don’t want to at least?! I fed my baby from my breast, never handing my baby over to anyone. Always with me. I should get extra brownie points.

    But just one other thing TFB, I noticed you’re into natural birth, bf’ing etc etc, but found out the gender of your third baby in utero (no Kobain pun here) which isn’t exactly ‘natural’? I’m a gender-surprise advocate :-)

  342. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    We finally learned to breastfeed at four months and I always believed my body provided enough milk for my baby, and, it did. We nursed to full term, and, I’m very glad I persevered. It is a very rewarding experience to mommy and baby to breastfeed, after all, it was only sixty years ago or so that this “choice” came about. Can’t change the mammal that fast….

  343. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I didn’t read all the comments but for the one who mention medical reasons to suppliment with formula I agree. However I don’t think TFB I ntend to offend those o f medical problems. I do wish she had mention the percentage of women and or babies who wasn’t able to be bf but I have to say I breastfeed myself and will if able with all my children. But if not I’m not afraid to formula feed my babies.

  344. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I have recently seen a couple of commercials (one from Gerber, the other I forget) that state their formula ingredients are “just like those in breastmilk.” Has anyone else seen these? What do you think about that false reference?

  345. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Hi there,

    I am new to your blog, and I realise this post is getting on a bit now and you’ve possibly moved on, but I thought I’d comment anyway.

    I have been doing research on reproductive experiences in the non-Western world and have been fascinated to find accounts of women who bring on lactation in order to breastfeed an orphaned baby in the family. Sometimes these women have never even given birth themselves yet (there is even one account of a prepubescent girl achieving lactation to save her baby sister) and by repeatedly stimulating their breasts, these women are able to get themselves lactating and save the baby. (Where bottles and formula were not an option). I know there are studies about adoptive mothers in the West doing the same, although I haven’t yet found the figures.

    Anyway, I have just started blogging about this stuff myself. I had some similar reactions to the ones you describe when I was talking about the carbon footprint of infant formula and how many million extra lactating cows would be needed if the whole world abandoned breastfeeding….

    Please take a look, I’d be interested in your thoughts!


  346. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I am also new to your blog, I love it! I know that the post is from months ago, but it is such an important topic,that I just had to respond.

    I breastfed my daughter until a couple of weeks before her second birthday. Breastfed exclusively until 6 months!

    I’d like to add two things to support what you are saying.

    One issue that has to be addressed is maternity leave. I think a very important reason why women aren´t breastfeeding longer or at all–even when they do have the tools–is that they don´t have the time, in other words, maternity leaves are too short! It is an external factor that has to be take into account.

    A decent maternity leave helps exclusive breastfeeding to work out and Spain has one of the shortest maternity leaves in Europe! As far as I understand, normal maternity leave in the US is much less and regular jobs don´t admit many exceptions… If I was exhausted, my friends in the US were extremely exhausted, I wasn´t surprised that breastfeeding was dropped after a few weeks being back to work. I admire those mothers who have been able to continue breastfeeding while holding regular 40hrs/week jobs.

    Secondly, I would like to share my personal experience regarding Americans’ view of breastfeeding and the female body.

    I visited my family once in the US while my daughter was still breastfeeding. I was shocked. First, that I had to cover up. Obviously if you have always covered up, you are used to it, but if you haven´t the baby just won´t breast feed normally. It was a nightmare for me because my daughter kept on pushing everything I put over her off. Please understand , it is not that I like showing off–as I am actually a pretty private person an even here in Spain I was quite discreet–it is just that I was shocked at the looks and comments I was getting. I was shocked at stories of breatfeeding women at restaurants or planes asked to cover up or leave! It is not exhibitionism, it is nourishing a child. I thought, “do you prefer to hear her crying? I am going to breastfeed her, if you don´t like it, don´t look”. It makes you feel it is wrong, and that is very sad.

    When did breastfeeding stop being normal in the US? My grandmother already had formula pushed on her back in the 1940s…and my Mom was not breasfed. My Mother was told by her mother-in-law that her milk must not be nutritious enough because look how skinny I was.. I don´t know, call me a conspiracy theory fan, but I suspect formula producing brands and their lobbies have something to do with this twisted disaster.

  347. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I am also new to your blog, I love it! I know that the post is from months ago, but it is such an important topic,that I just had to respond.

    I breastfed my daughter until a couple of weeks before her second birthday. Breastfed exclusively until 6 months!

    I’d like to add two things to support what you are saying about problems that need to be addressed to encourage breastfeeding:

    One issue that has to be addressed is maternity leave. I think a very important reason why women aren´t breastfeeding longer or at all–even when they do have the tools–is that they don´t have the time, in other words, maternity leaves are too short! It is an external factor that has to be take into account.

    I live in Spain and I had a 5 month maternity leave and I can say that a decent maternity leave helps exclusive breastfeeding to work out! As far as I understand, normal maternity leave in the US is much less and regular jobs don´t admit many exceptions… If I was exhausted during that time, my friends in the US that were back at work by month 2 or 3 were extremely exhausted, I wasn´t surprised that breastfeeding was dropped after a few weeks being back. I admire those mothers who have been able to continue breastfeeding while holding regular 40hrs/week jobs.

    Secondly, I would like to share my personal experience regarding Americans’ view of breastfeeding and the female body.

    I visited my family once in the US while my daughter was still breastfeeding. I was shocked. First, that I had to cover up. Obviously if you have always covered up, you are used to it, but if you haven´t the baby just won´t breast feed normally. It was a nightmare for me because my daughter kept on pushing everything I put over her off. Please understand , it is not that I like showing off–as I am actually a pretty private person an even here in Spain I was quite discreet–it is just that I was shocked at the looks and comments I was getting. I was shocked at stories of breatfeeding women at restaurants or planes asked to cover up or leave! It is not exhibitionism, it is nourishing a child. I thought, “do you prefer to hear her crying? I am going to breastfeed her, if you don´t like it, don´t look”. It makes you feel it is wrong, and that is very sad.

    When did breastfeeding stop being normal in the US? My grandmother already had formula pushed on her back in the 1940s…and my Mom was not breasfed. My Mother was told by her mother-in-law that her milk must not be nutritious enough because look how skinny I was.. I don´t know, call me a conspiracy theory fan, but I suspect formula producing brands and their lobbies have something to do with this twisted disaster.

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I have just looked into the earnings of Market Biosciences, which manufactures DHA oils used in infant formulas.

      “For the third quarter of fiscal 2010, Martek expects infant formula revenue to be between $76.0 million and $80.0 million” http://investors.martek.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=476437

      Mead Johnson, a buyer of Martek DHA oils and maker of Enfamil formula, had the following earnings in China alone for their infant and child nutrition products (formula):

      “Mead’s China sales rose from $74 million to $745 million from 2001 through 2010″ http://seekingalpha.com/article/289670-a-bigger-world-means-bigger-profits-for-mead-johnson

      This is just one formula company’s earnings in one country. So yes, formula is a BIG business. And as the middle class grows in Latin America, China, and India, it will grow bigger.


      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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        I also wanted to comment on your “My mother was told by” story:

        When you go to the doctor here in America your baby gets weighted and their growth is shown on a chart. These growth charts are based on a mix of data from formula fed and breastfed babies, so when an exclusively breastfeeding mom goes into the doctor and their breastfed baby’s growth is slow or takes a slight dip, for example, they can get pressured into supplementing with formula and made to feel like their boobs aren’t good enough.

        Doctors are supposed to use the World Heath Organization charts, which have exclusively breastfed babies data, but many do not. The WHO charts were available in 2006 and my doctor’s office still hasn’t made the transition!

        There is a great article about this: http://www.babble.com/baby/baby-feeding-nutrition/breastfed-baby-growth-chart-weight/ @cristinamhl

  348. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I really think that a big reason that breast feeding has been made into a “dirty” thing is because as a society we have taken away the nobility in being a mother and staying home and actually raising our own children. Instead we’re told to give our baby a bottle, a baby sitter/ daycare provider, and get our asses back to work. I think that it is absurd! If a woman in a 3rd world country with almost no food can breast feed her babies than we most certainly can! Quit making excuses!

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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      I love that word: nobility. I agree! Stay at home moms don’t make an income, therefore they aren’t contributing to our capitalistic society. You’re only worth something if you have a paycheck. @EmiAnneRoberts

    • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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       @EmiAnneRoberts You had me up until “Quit making excuses”. I’ve had three breastfeeding babies, and each time had hugely difficult periods with them that almost had me ready to give up, but for my mother’s advice that nursing is something we do even if it hurts, because it’s good for the baby. Nursing a baby with no suck by milking the breast into her mouth is HARD and if I’d had to work to support my family, there’s NO way I could have sustained it, as it was I barely slept for months. Nursing a baby with a tongue tie is brutally painful, and my son’s tie was one that went undiagnosed for months because most people don’t know that posterior tongue tie even exists. Had I not had good breastfeeding experiences in the past (my first baby put blisters on me until we fixed the latch, then it was easy and pain free for 6 years) I could very easily have given up. I am fortunate to live in a “Breastfeeding culture” community and family. Not all women are.  

      • VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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         @jenrose Thats not the kind of excuse I’m talking about. I know all about having tongue tied babies and that is totally different than the excuses that have to do with not having time or patience because women are too busy doing things other than being a mother because our culture has told us that motherhood is secondary to them. Breast feeding takes time and effort! Good on you for working at it and taking the time to finding out what the real problem is. So many women go to their ped and they say “Oh it hurts well then its probably just not for you.” I just think that the answer is almost never that we can’t do it. If its not happening then there is more than likely and underlying problem like a tongue tied baby and not just that women have evolved into creatures that can no longer feed their babies.

        • Mommiss |