Breast-Feed -- or Else

Last Tuesday, the New York Times ran a front page science article titled "Breast-Feed or Else." It included lots of interesting information about moms who breast-feed (charts showing that they are wealthier, older, better-educated) and evidence of indisputable longterm health and (possible cognitive) benefits to children.

The article also communicated a warning: U.S. public health officials are very publicly, very judgmentally proclaiming (through a two-year television awareness campaign and lengthy newspaper quotes) that not breast-feeding may be hazardous to your baby's health. Okay. Close to my edge, but not over my edge.

Hypothetical next steps is where the debate gets sticky. Should women be forced to breast-feed? Should we be punished (I see $50 pink tickets) if caught giving baby a bottle? What if a woman determines, because of postpartum depression or health issues or her need to return to work quickly, that it is in her best interest, if not the baby's, to curtail breast-feeding?

Let's pause to note a few potential ironies:

-- Women are currently ticketed when we do breast-feed (in public). So one day, could we be ticketed for breast-feeding and for not breast-feeding?
-- The Times article cites the fact that more than 60 percent of mothers of infants work. However only 7 percent of companies offer on-site or near-site day care. So do we have to decide whether to pay a fine for not breast-feeding, or risk getting fired if we leave work every two hours to nurse baby? (I can already hear the childless employees ranting: "I'm picking up her slack again!")
-- Only a third of large companies offer a private, secure area for pumping. I've yet to find a public restroom with space for pumping. How can we be forced to provide milk if there's no place to pump it?
-- Would we get ticketed if we bought breast milk from other moms? Must the milk be our breast milk?

This is clearly as ridiculous as expecting women to work full time and raise children full time without any major accommodations from men, the government or our society. Wait - wait! That is our life right now.

A better solution: Let's apply "choice feminism" -- give women opportunities but leave the choices to them. Bring on information about the benefits of breast-feeding. Lots of charts, statistics, objective information. Provide support too -- private space for pumping (don't forget electrical outlets), maternity and breast-feeding leaves and flextime, and convenient, affordable close-to-work day care.

Then let each woman decide whether to breast-feed. Everyone else -- public health officials, conservative factions, breast-feeding coalitions, other moms on the playground -- gets a fat, pink ticket if caught judging moms for our choices. The ticket proceeds can pay for stupendous day care, breast-feeding spaces (with cable hookup so we can watch Oprah) and maybe even a few extra pumps.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  June 26, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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And while we're at it, why don't we divert some of the money currently being wasted on these bullying ads to educate the health professionals who are supposed to be helping choose how to nourish their babies? The amount of ignorance of some professionals (even so-called lactation consultants), and the misinformation they spread, has amazed me.

I live in an upscale, educated community with excellent health care. However, I know of at least three women who are formula feeding because they were told by their doctors and nurses that they'd never be able to breastfeed successfully. For my part, I was advised when my daughter was 18 hours old that I was starving her by nursing and that I had to give her formula. Later, a "lactation consultant" took one look at my chest and told me I'd never be able to (a) get her to latch properly, or (b) produce enough milk to sustain my daughter. They were wrong, of course -- my daughter is going on seven months, and is still nursing just fine. But if I hadn't been well-educated about breastfeeding, and hadn't had the rock-solid support of my husband and mother-in-law, I probably would have caved to the pressure.

So, education not only of the general public (men _and_ women), but also for the doctors who really should know better, but apparently don't.

Posted by: SAHM | June 26, 2006 7:35 AM

SAHM,
Based on my experience, I'm having difficulty believing that a lactation consultant would tell anyone not to breastfeed. Some of them tell women to continue to breastfeed even if it's not working and the baby is getting dehydrated. I've seen babies die because a lactation consultant from a certain militant lactation group, by phone, told a mother to continue to feed despite the fact that baby/mother couldn't and by the time the baby was brought to the hospital, it was too late.

Anyway, the ads may be silly, but it is also a little silly to assume anyone is going to get tickets for bottle-feeding. And Leslie is right--it is a little unfair to expect 100% of mothers to breastfeed when society puts up so many barriers. When I went back to work, I had to stop because of the reasons cited--I couldn't take breaks every 2 hours, no place to pump, etc. Perhaps instead of "ticketing" women, we should provide tax incentives or some other type of incentive to workplaces that institute policies to promote breastfeeding amongst it's employees.

And one has to be a bit careful about preaching the "cognitive" benefits of breastfeeding. Since it is the wealthier, more educated women who do this, there are a number of confounders to these studies.

No doubt breast is best and we should be promoting and supporting breastfeeding as a public health measure. And pediatricians and OBs should be promoting it and supporting it as well. As with many things, one needs to balance the pros and cons for each individual.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 7:59 AM

And it's not just the pumping--it's storing the milk, getting it home while still cold, cleaning the pump in the sink at work...overall it's hard. Ideally, a pumping room at work would have a lock, a comfortable chair, a fridge, and a sink. I've never seen this, anywhere (although I guess some employers do provide). Maybe the feds should be first--shouldn't someone get the GSA involved in making sure federal employees have access to these kinds of facilities, if the gov't is so concerned?

Posted by: Arlmom | June 26, 2006 8:12 AM

I gave birth to my first baby at Inova Alexandria, and the "lactation consultants" never visited me, and never taught me how to latch on-- even when I brought them my baby and asked them how, she just showed me a video and tried to sell me on rented breast pumps and lanolin. Clearly they weren't taking it very seriously. I also strongly suspected they were bottlefeeding my daughter when they took her away for checkups, based on her behavior upon returning.

When my second daughter was born at Prince William Hospital we had wonderful support for breastfeeding every step of the way. I would love to know what the differences in breastfeeding rates are at those two hospitals (though of course there are different populations going into them).

Posted by: Ms L | June 26, 2006 8:21 AM

SAHM: My wife had an identical experience at a top NYC hospital. Night nurse stated that our first was hungry (first night of his life) and that my wife wasnt nursing well enough and demanded authorization to bottle feed. Post partum, first night, new mom. Pediatrician was livid. We were reassured by lactation czar that milk doesnt come in on first night for everybody... horrible experience. Thank goodness my better half is stubborn and stuck to her guns! All three of our kids were nursed but we went to the bottle eventually, but after 3 months or so.... I think. It's kind of a blurrr.

Posted by: Fo3 | June 26, 2006 8:49 AM

As a breastfeeding mom who hasn't seen the ads, but has heard about them ad nauseum from irate formula feeding moms, I must say I think they are over the top.

FWIW, it's NOT illegal to breastfeed in public. Just because a state does not have laws specifically allowing breastfeeding in public does not make it illegal. Many states now do have laws specifically allowing breastfeeding in public because women were harassed while trying to feed their children. As one of my favorite pro-breastfeeding sayings goes: "Don't think of it as a woman's right to breastfeed. Think of it as a baby's right to eat."

I agree that we would be better served by using the advertisement money in education, both for the general public and for doctors. Many educated people still think that formula is the same as breastmilk, when it is very different indeed. There are good LCs out there - there are also horrible ones. It's the luck of the draw which one you get - IF you can get them to visit you at all in the hospital.

My baby and I were lucky that I am stubborn enough to get through the first 2 weeks... and that I am working a job where I demanded (and was allowed) a private place to pump during the day. If every woman who wanted to breastfeed had the tools available that I did, breastfeeding rates in this country might rise above the abysmal rates they are now.

Posted by: Mary | June 26, 2006 9:07 AM

WHO says breast is best for 2-years, AAP for 1 year, most doctors say any is better than none, so what's the timing? I nursed for 8 weeks. I wanted to nurse for 6 months, but had a very difficult time pumping (No room, not even a private bathrooms, so I had to kick my office-mate out, which she didn't mind, and I felt very rushed). After 3 days, I couldn't pump a drop. So where does that leave me? I nursed, and I bottlefeed now. Am I a bad mom?

Posted by: NewMom | June 26, 2006 9:07 AM

Well-educated moms who already know a lot about the benefits of breastfeeding may be too sensitive about the "bullying" ads. If a woman has tried breastfeeding and it doesn't work out (for either physiological or practical reasons), bottle-feeding is necessary.

But many low-income moms don't really consider breast-feeding. There may be practical reasons (for example, the need to return to a job that doesn't allow pumping), but there's also a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding. One medical professional told me that some young mothers think of breastfeeding as similar to elimination---in other words, disgusting. They don't want anything to do with it. It may be these mothers that are the target of those ads.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 9:15 AM

breastfeeding is not an all or nothing practice. working? try bottles during the day and breast feeding at night. The milk supply will adjust, as long as you stay on a regular schedule (keep weekends the same as the week days.) I had friends who were more helpful and encouraging than the busy, distracted lactation consultants. Best of luck to you all!

Posted by: experienced mom | June 26, 2006 9:18 AM

NewMom,

You did a great job considering your circumstances and your baby (I'm sure) is just fine. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not a good Mom! Anyone who does hasn't walked in your shoes and is a jerk.

And, nice that you had an understanding office-mate. See if your business can take the two of you to lunch - it couldn't provide you anything else...

Posted by: NotNewMom | June 26, 2006 9:24 AM

Leslie, your column today is nothing but sensationalistic. You take a scientific article about breastfeeding and its health benefits, label a public ad campaign to encourage breastfeeding as "judgmental" (whatever the heck that overused word means), and then state that people will start getting tickets for NOT breastfeeding.

One joke about such tickets would be bad enough, but you seem to take it seriously and continue to talk about how tickets for breastfeeding and NOT breastfeeding just isn't fair.

GIVE ME A BREAK! Nowhere did anyone suggest giving a ticket for not breastfeeding. Just because it's far better to breastfeed doesn't mean you will get a ticket for not doing so. We don't give tickets every time someone eats unhealthy food, do we? What about buying margarine containing trans-fats instead of butter? No, we certainly don't give such tickets.

This kind of sensationalistic, twisting of ideas is truly horrible -- and shouldn't be allowed on the Washington Post, even if it is a blog. Rather than use this column purely to promote greater acceptance of breastfeeding in society, you begin to demonize those who want to promote breastfeeding.

Shame on you!!!

Posted by: CallingLeslieout | June 26, 2006 9:24 AM

NewMom- no you are not a bad mom and you should never think that based on whether you bottle or breat feed! I, for one, am sick of the lactation nazis. They just add more guilt -- as if there isn't enough going around after you have a baby.

I was bottlefed when I was an infant. I am fine. No health problems and no "cognitive" problems. I am hard pressed to believe much of what is said by the anti-formula people. Those same people that say we "must" breatfeed until 1 yr dont actually encourage breastfeeding til 2 or older because it is somehow against societal norms to have an older child still nursing. Very contradictory and self serving.

I breastfed for 4 months and switched to bottle. She had no problems with the transition. She also had no problems with the transition to cup or whole milk now. She's fine and I was much happier with a
bottle than I was breastfeeding.

Bottom line is if you want to breastfeed great. If you dont want to, fine. Do what is best for mother and child and don't make formula evil. There are alot of truly evil things in this world, but a bottle isn't one of them.

Posted by: PTWM | June 26, 2006 9:26 AM

What ticks me off about these ads is that they don't address those of us who simply can't produce enough milk to feed our children! When you arrive totally frazzled at your childs 6 week check up because you are spending 12 hours a day with a small creature attached to your breast, wondering how you are supposed to survive till solid foods are introduced, and are then told by your ped that she is only at her birth weight and you MUST supplement with formula, it's awful. With the help of a breast pump we determined that I was not even making about 1/4 what she was eating every day of formula.

Did I feel horrible guilt that I couldn't do something that is the very basis of what we humans are: mammals? Yes. I don't need a PSA telling me that I'm harming my child by not breastfeeding 24/7 to make me feel any more guilty than I already am.

For what it's worth, I couldn't totally give up on the breastfeeding. She still nurses twice a day (it takes 12 hours for my breasts to get "full" and about 2 minutes to empty them), but it's for comfort, for both of us, instead of nutrition. She went from the -20% in weight to the 50% in no time, and is currently fat, happy, and a joy to be with.

Posted by: nat | June 26, 2006 9:30 AM

I had an almost identical experience to SAHM's (the first post here). Doctors, nurses -- none of them were capable or really interested in providing me with accurate breastfeeding information. It was more like they just wanted me to go to bottle feeding because then I wouldn't be bugging them with questions anymore.

I educated myself and persisted, with great support from my friends and family. I'm so glad I did! But I when the deck is so stacked against new moms, I'm not surprised that few moms persevere.

As an aside, when I had trouble finding time to pump at work, I got up extra-early to pump before the baby woke up, so I would have enough milk stored for her day. It's a good alternative for moms who can't always pump at work.

Posted by: BF mom | June 26, 2006 9:34 AM

ps -

the ticketing idea Leslie wrote about was SARCASM, people! Get a clue!

Posted by: nat | June 26, 2006 9:34 AM

I had one daughter at Arlington Medical Center. The hospital was wonderful and they really tried to help me learn to breastfeed. That being said, my milk didn't come in for three days after I had my daughter. The pediatrician told me not to give her a bottle, so I didn't. Right before I took her for her first check up, she started screaming. I called my mom, she heard the scream, and she said give that baby a bottle. As soon as I did, she calmed down. On the car ride down, I looked at her in the sunlight and she looked yellow. When we got in to the doctor's office, a different doctor said she had jaundice and had lost half her birth weight. She acted like I did it on purpose, my husband was livid, luckily for the other doctor, he wasn't there that day.

I began pumping and supplementing with formula for six weeks, then I got sick and was in the hospital for seven days so I couldn't breast feed at all anymore. My daughter is healthy and smart, so I disagree that breast is always best. In my situation it wasn't. I think that doctor's who push new mothers to only breast feed should also have to check and make sure they can breast feed, that is they have milk, the baby is getting enough to eat, etc. The ads don't bother me because I just won't pay attention to them. I've always been of the philosophy that I had my baby, so other people's opinions don't mater that much. Unless, I ask for advice of course!

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 9:36 AM

"I was bottlefed when I was an infant. I am fine. No health problems and no "cognitive" problems. I am hard pressed to believe much of what is said by the anti-formula people."


As always, research findings are based on averages. Obviously, the experience of individuals underlie those averages, but one person's experience doesn't invalidate the averages.

People must do what works best in their individual situations, but arguments anecdote and personal experience don't invalidate research results based on large populations.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 9:38 AM

I was very angered by the ad campaign as well. Basically, according to the article, the ads state that you are endangering your child's health if you do not breast feed. In one ad, a pregnant woman is thrown from a mechanical bull. The tag line is something like "You wouldn't risk your baby's life before it is born. Why risk it after?". I cannot believe the tone of the campaign. I had a difficult time breast feeding my daughter for various reasons, but I stuck it out. I had to quit before she turned 6 months because my husband was dying of cancer and it became too much for me. For anyone to even suggest that I would put my daughter's health at risk willingly because I couldn't breastfeed is infuriating.

What about adopted kids? The ad campaign doesn't seem to address that. Or women who are on medication that they need to take and cannot breastfeed? Are these women "endangering" their babies? What about women who simply don't produce enough milk? The whole thing seems designed to add to the burden of guilt many mothers already carry around with them.

The fact that this is a government sanctioned campaign makes it even worse. I understand the desire to pass the benefits of breast milk on to a baby, but condemning women for not breastfeeding is ludicrous. Step up the campaigns to have really high qulaity lactation programs in hospitals. That would be a much better use of money and time.

Posted by: doc k | June 26, 2006 9:46 AM

"But many low-income moms don't really consider breast-feeding. There may be practical reasons (for example, the need to return to a job that doesn't allow pumping), but there's also a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding." I think the one of the best arguments for low-income moms would be to discuss the cost of formula feeding. I was shocked at the cost when I switched. There is definitely an economic argument.

Posted by: SLP | June 26, 2006 9:48 AM

breastfeeding is not an all or nothing practice. working? try bottles during the day and breast feeding at night. The milk supply will adjust, as long as you stay on a regular schedule (keep weekends the same as the week days.)

This is so true. I had quite a bit of trouble breastfeeding when my son was born. My mild did not come in for three days after he was born, and he was hungry, so I started giving him formula. Some nurses at the hospital encouraged this, and others told me he would never take to the breast of we gave him a bottle. I was lucky enough to have a great pediatrician who had just attended a conference where breastfeeding was a topic. He told me to continue with the formula, until my milk came in, and to continue to let him suck on the breast as well. So I would begin each session letting him suck on the breast, even when it seemed there was nothing there, and then I would supplement with a bottle of formula. And then I would pump. Soon enough, I was producing plenty of milk. I went back to work after 6 weeks, and my husband stayed home with the baby, so I would pump at work and my husband would bottlefeed the baby the milk I had pumped. We did this for two years. I was lucky enough to have a private office and a mini fridge, but even so, it was work. I continued to night nurse after that for another year. My son is now 6 and he has never had an ear infection or been on antibiotics. He had a couple of viruses with low grade fevers, but nothing over 101 degrees. I truly believe that breastfeeding has contributed to his good health.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 9:53 AM

YES to CallingLeslieout!

You win, Leslie. You're right! Everyone is against you having it all! It's a PLOT!

Why is it inappropriate for a single (non-mom) co-worker to complain that s/he's picking up your slack again when you do that constantly against men in general and your husband in particular?

Posted by: fract'l | June 26, 2006 9:58 AM

I breastfed both of my girls for 15mo and 13mo respectively. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. And I had the advantages of a very supportive husband, a private office and no one regulating my minutes. That said, I had only one doctor visit outside the regular well-baby checks and neither of the girls have had antibiotics yet at 3y and 17mo.

It is definitely not for everyone and there were times when I wondered why I was doing it, but I see the advantages for my girls. I also agree that the cost of formula is downplayed as is some of the ease of breast feeding--no sterilizing, always ready, portable....

We do need more education about breastfeeding and better lactation assistance for new moms. Guilt-trips are not needed, on either side of the issue--every woman's choice....

Posted by: Sunniday | June 26, 2006 10:08 AM

The first week or so is rough for most new Mom's and Baby particularly the first child. If you can stick it out, breast feeding is a rewarding, intimate experience. However,the goal is to have a well norished , happy , healthy baby and Mom and if breast feeding isn't accomplishing that, there are just too many other options. I nursed both my children but developed pneumonia when my second was 5 weeks old and the medication I was on was not apprpriate for her. It was tough to pump the 2 weeks I was on antibiotics just to pour it down the sink but my milk stayed and she went back to nursing. Kids are flexible so parents need to learn to be also.

Posted by: G'Burg Mom | June 26, 2006 10:08 AM

Just putting out some breastfeeding information so people will not think they have something "wrong" with them in the beginning...

It is normal for milk to "not come in" until the third day or so after giving birth. The detachment of the placenta is what tells the mother's body to start making milk, instead of colostrum. Colostrum is exactly what the baby needs in the first few days while the body gears up to make milk.

Supplementing with formula will not help your supply in the beginning. Yes, the baby is attached to you 12 hours per day - that is what helps bring in the milk and regulates supply. It doesn't mean the baby is starving. Breastmilk is also better than formula for clearing out jaundice, because it has a laxative effect, and most babies with jaundice simply need time to clear the excess from their systems.

Yes, there is a time and place for formula. It's obviously life-saving for those infants whose mothers cannot make enough milk. However, either we in the US have managed to somehow genetically create a higher percentage of mothers who "don't make enough milk" than most other countries in the world, or there is simply bad information/lack of education in our society.

Posted by: Mary | June 26, 2006 10:09 AM

Just an aside to those posters who say their milk did not come in right away after birth. It's not supposed to. The first couple of days the breasts are producing colostrum (a milk-like substance), and the milk iself only comes in around day 3. This colostrum is supposed to be enough nourishment for the baby until the milk comes in, but as in the case of my daughter (and many posters here) that is not always the case, which is why I was also told at first to supplement with formula.

I have to say that my experience with breastfeeding support was also very disappointing. I was also told by a nurse at the hospital that I would not be able to nurse because the baby would have trouble latching on, nobody ever came by to explain to me what to do (and believe me, new moms are not born with this knowledge!), and then came the thing with the milk not flowing yet and having to substitute with formula for a day. But I persevered, and I have to say I'm really glad I did.

As for attitudes towards nursing/bottle feeding, I don't know why they have to be so polarized. It's not an either-or proposition, as someone has already said. My attitude was to try my absolute best to make it work (and I did nurse/pump for 8 months), and not feel guilty if it didn't.

Re: being ticketed in public for nursing: I got a wallet-sized card from the hospital saying something to the effect: Thank you for letting me feed my baby. According to Virginia code blah blah blah, exposing a breast to nurse is exempt from the description of obscene behaviour, etc. I was supposed to show this in case someone objected to me nursing in public. But nobody ever did so I never had to use it (and I never got comfortable with nursing in public so I rarely did it anyway).

Posted by: vj | June 26, 2006 10:11 AM

Husband weighing in here --
I think most readers seem to have missed the point of the ads. Maybe I have less emotionally invested in it as a Dad, but this seems to me to be a simple re-framing of an old debate.
The question is, when we discuss breastmilk vs. formula, should we assume formula is the standard and breastmilk is some improvement on it? If so, then we should talk about the "benefits of breastfeeding". Or should we assume breastmilk is the standard and formula is some slighty less-effective replacement? If so, then we should talk about the "risks of formula". That's all this is. And it makes some sense to assume that the solution that most of the world has used for most of history is the baseline, and the fifty-year old (I'm guessing there...how long has formula been around?) industrial-age solution is the wierd one.
I'm sure the formula makers would love to see us keep discussing "the benefits of breasfeeding" as though it were some supplemental option for indulgent moms. But the truth is that a study that shows that breastfed babies are healthier is not a study about the benefits of breastfeeding, it's about the risks of not doing it.
Society NEEDS to be more supportive of nursing moms. There is no question about that. I think a positive first step is to see the government and the medical establishment re-frame this debate in terms of the risks of formula feeding. Then the resources for moms to pump at work, excellent lactation support at (and after) every birth, etc, will follow.
Maybe wives like mine wouldn't even need to educate their husbands on this stuff some day -- men would even know the arguments and be supportive.

Posted by: Sean | June 26, 2006 10:11 AM

I agree with many others that the focus of PSAs and outreach should be educating people (both new parents and professionals) on its benefits, etc. They should not be designed to guilt people, as it isn't right for everyone, but be supportive of people who do.

I think the more important discussion we should have is about balancing work, being a new mom, and nursing. I was VERY committed to nursing my daughter when I returned to work. While I insisted on getting and received a special room to pump, it was still very challenging-- especially at the beginning. I find with working and motherhood, there is a point where you need to switch gears mentally in order to maintain focus. With pumping, that was difficult. Every three hours I would go to the lactation room, look at my daughter's picture, mourn not being with her (even though I like working), think about something sweet she did that morning, etc. before I would let down. Then, I would have to walk out and be completely functional again work-wise. I truly felt like I could not think completely straight those first few months; it honestly felt hormonal, etc. which isn't surprising. I was so committed to nursing her for a year as AAP recommends, and I did it.... am so happy I did it and will do so again with my next this fall.

Either way nursing can be very challenging. What is most important is that people are getting support... from helpful lactation consultants and other medical professionals who respect the goals of each mother, the workplace, other caregivers, etc. I was lucky I had just enough support (believe me, I had many roadblocks put up by ignorant people) and persistence to do it. I try to act as one of those supportive people when I meet new moms, especially working ones.

Posted by: gdc | June 26, 2006 10:12 AM

Well if the stats are averages, and the numbers say that most moms who breast feed are well educated, well off, etc... then it stands to reason that maybe these babies who are pulling the averages down for "cognitive" and "developmental" stats are doing so for other reasons, such as poverty, lack of education and genetics.

How about a study just in the highly educated, well to do camp of Bottle vs Breast. I'm willing to bet that there will be little statistical deviation between the groups. This study is just a political ploy.

Posted by: Anon | June 26, 2006 10:12 AM

I think ticketing/not ticketing for breastfeeding is absurd but probably Leslie inserted that to get us to respond. Being an educated older mother who falls into a category of those who breastfeed, I was determined to breast feed. With my first child, the hospital where I delivered was supposed to have lactation nurses but none came to visit me. My son had hard time latching on properly and so when he was not gaining weight the pediatrician said we must supplement with formula. I was devastated and took this as a personal failure as a mother while my husband went to get the formula and the bottles. I decided not to give up breastfeeding and contacted a lactation consultant from the list given to me by the hospital. I was lucky -- she was knowlegeable and immediately put me on the pumping regimen and explained how to solve the latching. But it still was not working and so I called La Leche League. Again, I lucked out and the two nice ladies who came literally saved my breastfeeding efforts. They showed me a lot of tricks that made nursing easier. They did not demand that we stop the supplementing -- that was up to the pediatrician. I was able to stop supplementing and nursed for nearly a year, pumping at work. It was hard but worth it.

My daughter's birth. Same hospital. The child latches on like a dream and does not leave my breast for the first 24 hours. Of course, she is not getting any milk yet. Numerous post-partum nurses come and in a tell me to let them give her formula to stop the nursing. I resist and as a result my milk comes in muck quicker. I think if it was my first child and I did not have the knowledge gained from my first nursing experience, I would have let them.

There are babies who never "get" the latching on. I have two friends who had this experience. One did not lose any sleep over it and switched her son to formula right away. The second suffered through a grueling pumping and bottle feeding ordeal until giving up after 3 months.

Finally, an example of white educated upper middle class mother who may need some "educating". A few years ago I ran into a high school friend of mine who is a SAHM and married well. She told me that she did not nurse because she did not want to be inconvenienced and tied down. Hard not to pass a judgement.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 10:15 AM

I think the guilt factor that these ads are creating is very unfortunate.

I hope moms or moms-to-be realize that the health benefits of breastfeeding can vary a lot!

I breastfed my second child for an entire year. Regardless, starting at six months (at the beginning of the school year) she came down with *an ear infection per month* because her older sister brought home minor colds from school that turned into full-blown infections in her baby sister.

After 6 ear infections (one a month), our pediatrician and the local ENT recommended that the baby get tubes put in (her eustachian tubes were too small and negative pressure was preventing her inner ear from draining). She was so much happier y when she wasn't on the sick-cranky cycle. We were relieved that she did not have any ear infections after that.

The punchline is that it can be hard to tell if breastfeeding improves your child's health, especially if there are older (school age) siblings in the house.

Oh, and I was working from home and pumping when I couldn't nurse her (grandma or the sitter were taking care of her). Pumping was easy since I had access to a private room, our kitchen, and the sink, but still - it does take a lot of energy.

Posted by: MarylandMom | June 26, 2006 10:16 AM

I had to go back to work and so only breastfed my children each for about three months. I understood at the time that breastfeeding providing the baby with the mother's antibodies but that after three months or so the benefits of transferring antibodies diminished. My husband, a microbiologist confirmed that studies stated this was true. I felt good about breastfeeding and good about bottle feeding.

I also think that what is best (breast or bottle ) changes with the times in which we live. My mother bottle fed her children exclusively and we are all productive, well adjusted members of society just as I suspect my breastfed children will be. I suppose any study can be slanted in whichever direction the researcher wishes to slant it.

Long-term breast feeding, I always wonder about women who have a big two year old pawing at their breasts...who is it really for at that age...the toddler or the woman? I am not being judgemental just curious.

Posted by: Texasgirl | June 26, 2006 10:20 AM

If people can breast feed in a coffee shop why do they need private facilities to Pump milk into a container?

Posted by: huntleyh | June 26, 2006 10:26 AM

This is ridiculous. What if you adopted a child? Surely you can't be fined for not "coughing up" some breast milk.

The whole subject is nonsense. Get a grip, people. Babies have survived for years on formula and turned out just dandy.

I nursed both my kids for 18 months each. Their cousins had bottles. Can't tell the difference.

Get on with life.

Posted by: SC mom | June 26, 2006 10:29 AM

"How about a study just in the highly educated, well to do camp of Bottle vs Breast."

Anon, do some reading. There are LOTS of studies showing the benefits of breastfeeding, even within the well-educated.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 10:31 AM

"If people can breast feed in a coffee shop why do they need private facilities to Pump milk into a container?"

Because, for one thing, when baby is nursing, no one is really going to see anything. But when you're hooked up to something that looks like a mideaval torture device, it's a lot more obvious, and you're a lot more exposed.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 26, 2006 10:32 AM

Yes, most women know that colostrums is what comes in first from reading their baby books. However, that doesn't help any of them if their babies are starving, like mine was.


I agree that breastfeeding is best, but sometimes, it's not always the best for each mother and each baby. I really wanted to breast feed my daughter for longer than six weeks, but when I was lying in the hospital close to death and just trying to hang on so I could watch her grow up, pumping was the last of my worries.

I think the guilt from breast feeding or not is all unnecessary. People should worry about their selves and their children, not what other people are doing. Because in the end whether you child is breast feed or not only affects you and your child, not the neighbors.

I also agree with the other poster about people who adopt? How are they supposed to feel.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 10:32 AM

To huntleyh:

Why do women need to pump instead of breastfeeding "directly"? Um, how about because my boss wouldn't like me to bring my 6-month-old to work with me every day?

Try thinking before you post!

Posted by: Good Lord! | June 26, 2006 10:33 AM

because it's a lot easier to hide a baby on a nipple under a descreet little blanket or your sweater or just sit with your back to the crowds even.

women need private places to pump b/c many of them are doing it at work - a professional environment etc. i know the guy in the cube accross from mine would pass out if i just pulled out a pump, scurried under my desk to plug it in, undid my shirt and put two suction cups onto my breasts and turned it on, and the poor guy then had to listen to the whir-whir of the pump and the drip-drip of the milk.

a private place to pump is good for everyone :)

Posted by: to huntleyh | June 26, 2006 10:33 AM

We are not harming our children by formula feeding. We would be harming children if we smoked/drank etc which is why those products have warning labels.

These labels are not "informative labels" - they are "Warning Labels."

Posted by: NewMom | June 26, 2006 10:39 AM

Bravo for all of the exclusively breast fed babies who have had no sick visits or ever needed to take antibiotics.

My 3.5 year old formula fed child hasn't either. We are a healthy family with great immune systems. We get to see the pediatrician for well-child visits and an annual flu shot. He has no cognitive issues and is on the verge of reading. I chalk a lot of this up to the fact that we earn a comfortable income and are very well educated people and spend lots of time with our son doing not only fun things but also fun things that are learning experiences.

Posted by: mommyworks | June 26, 2006 10:41 AM

I would hope that breastfeeding would become the default option-- something that people would try, to see if it works for them and their baby. I would further hope that those who gave a good effort and didn't have success (for whatever reason), or adopted, etc. wouldn't feel guilty. We moms have too much guilt as it is!

I love it when shopping or entertainment places have nursing stations. I like the Busch Gardens theme parks (Sea World, Sesame Place, Busch Gardens), which have stalls with rocking chairs instead of toilets, and are quite nice. Ikea wins the prize, though.

Posted by: Ms L | June 26, 2006 10:43 AM

I breastfed my son for 7 months. However, my milk did not come in for FIVE DAYS. Yes, he got a lot of colostrum, but if I hadn't started supplementing with formula, he would have starved to death. I wish the nurses at the hospital had given me some formula for him, and believe me, for my next baby I will be giving formula in addition to colostrum those first few days.

The reason I stopped after 7 months is because, even though my government office building had a private room with a bed, an outlet and a sink to pump, I stopped producing milk. I think for some of us, our bodies know that the pump is not a baby. What are we supposed to do? We get absolutely no maternity leave, yet we are supposed to breastfeed our children for a year. I don't know anyone that has that much annual and sick leave saved up.

So, NewMom, you are not a bad mother. Not even close. We don't have a lot of choices when it comes to breastfeeding. We do the best we can with the circumstances.

Posted by: Dylan's mom | June 26, 2006 10:44 AM

I would hope that breastfeeding would become the default option-- something that people would try, to see if it works for them and their baby. I would further hope that those who gave a good effort and didn't have success (for whatever reason), or adopted, etc. wouldn't feel guilty. We moms have too much guilt as it is!

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! amen, sistah!

Posted by: j | June 26, 2006 10:50 AM

CallingLeslieout - Did you read the NY Times article? It quotes a federal scientific adviser who compares the risks of bottle-feeding to the risks of drinking during pregnancy. How is that *not* judgmental?

I'm currently nursing my second child who is 6 months old. I'm about as pro breastfeeding as you can get but I was appalled at the idea of using shame to get mothers to breastfeed. I also work full time and I understand just how hard breastfeeding can be to combine with work. In addition to the pumping problems everyone has mentioned, there are also challenges specific to breastfed babies for some women. Some breastfed babies prefer the breast to bottles, or refuse bottles all together, even if bottles are introduced at the proper time. Then you end up with a baby who spends the entire evening and most of the night nursing and a sleep deprived mom walking around the office like a zombie. Would you really advocate making the mom who can't handle that feel guilty???

And what about babies who simply can't nurse? My first child was premature and physically incapable of nursing for quite some time. I had the luxury of a great deal of paid maternity leave to spend the incredible amount of time necessary to get him to breastfeed exclusively, but most moms don't have that option. Should we make those moms feel guilty too?

Leslie may have exagerated a bit with the ticket idea, but she's dead on about the "judging" aspect of breastfeeding. Moms already face too much pressure to do everything and be everything. Education about breastfeeding is great! I'm all for it and it certainly couldn't hurt to begin changing attitudes about nursing, but let's do it in a supportive way. People who compare formula feeding to drinking during pregnancy are the irresponsible ones here.

Posted by: Nursing Working Mama | June 26, 2006 10:51 AM

I think that the idea that these sorts of ad campains are producing guilt in mothers is kind of a cop-out. If you have truly given breastfeeding a chance, and it didn't work for you, then you have no reason to feel guilty. I'm not talking about the moms who do it for two days and say "I don't have any milk!!" (my milk came in on the 5th post partum day with my first baby and the 3rd with my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th babies) Or the moms who have cracked and bleeding nipples and they can't deal with the pain (don't get me started!) Or those who just are having some problems "getting it" and ask their pediatrician for help and he gives them the OK to supplement or quit (because like another poster said, he wants the mom to quit bugging him) and they do it because "the doctor said I could." I'm talking about the *minute* portion of the population who cannot breastfeed. And yes, I know women who had this problem and *really* tried to overcome it, so I'm not saying they don't exist. So if you're having guilt problems by seeing ads like this, maybe you should consider the real source of the guilt? I feel guilty because I nursed my first two children for 3.5 months compared to 2 years and 2 yrs 4 months with my 3rd and 4th. I could blame the fact that I was trying to pump at work and that I didn't have the support I needed to keep doing it. But the real reason I quit was because I was tired of doing it and didn't commit to it. So I accept that guilt and even before I had my 3rd child, didn't get all huffy when I was told "you should breastfeed for a year."

Re: giving women support to breastfeed successfully....yes, providing spaces at work for breastmilk pumping and storage is part of it. But not poo-poohing and mocking ad campains (by talking about the ticketing people for bottle feeding thing, which is obviously absurd) and that promote breastfeeding by labeling them "guilt-trips" is a big part of it. Professionals not giving moms an "easy out" by telling them "oh, it's OK if you want to quit, I know it hurts/is hard/you're tired/etc." is a HUGE part of it. Yes, it CAN be hard, it can hurt, but let's talk about that before we have our babies....let's educate moms so they KNOW it might hurt, it can be time consuming, that their milk might not come in until the 4th or 5th day....while they're pregannt! Or BEFORE they become pregnant!

I definitely feel that women should have a choice in how to feed their babies. I certainly don't think that formula should be illegal and I don't think it's "evil." But I do think it's OK to say "women should breastfeed if physically possible because it is superior to formula." It doesn't mean that formula is "bad" - it means that it's not as "good" as breastmilk. Using absolutes about things like this is not being judgemental...it's just saying that you feel strongly that one way *is* better than the other.

Posted by: momof4 | June 26, 2006 10:57 AM

Here we go again with someone thinking this is a black and white issue where we can all see on these posts that everyone has different experiences, different geneitcs, different health issues, and different lives. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY!. I was adopted and had formula and have rarely been sick. My daughter was born a month early and I tried to breast feed her and she just wouldn't do it, in fact all she wanted to do was sleep and we had to wake her up every 2 hours just to get her to eat what I would pump at about every hour interval. She never would breast feed and I stopped pumping after a month because I just couldn't get enough out of me. I was so disappointed especially when she gets ear infections but then I remember I wasn't breast fed and I was rarely sick so I've gotten over it.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 26, 2006 10:59 AM

My mom could not breastfeed me because of her thyroid meds. My husband's mom chose not to breastfeed him. I am a very healthy adult. And as a well-off, educated woman, I am making the choice not to breastfeed. It just isn't for me. A few ads are not going to change my mind.

Posted by: Please | June 26, 2006 11:04 AM

this whole ad campaign has infuriated me. whether a woman breast or bottle feeds is a very personal decision. I appreciate getting the knowledge out there but there shouldn't be any bullying. I am college educated working mother and I bottle fed all three of my children (ages 12, 9, and 3)- no regrets. it was what was right for us. what worked for us may not work for others. I have friends that nursed - it was what was right for them. I still remember when my eldest was born the incredible pressure put on me to nurse by the hospital staff. luckily, by #3 they realized that I wasn't going to nurse and gave up. Just because I didn't nurse it doesn't mean that I'm less of a mother or less concerned with my children's well being.

Posted by: professional engineer & mom of 3 | June 26, 2006 11:04 AM

Wonderful comments today, Leslie. More companies need to provide a peaceful, clean environment to breastfeed along with a culture that supports it. My last company provided me a small filing room space, but my stress about being away from my desk (I'm a secretary) and having to go to the public kitchen to rinse the machine/store the milk made it very difficult to continue more than 3 months.

Posted by: Meagan | June 26, 2006 11:04 AM

Well I am glad the federal government is using my tax dollars for a guilt trip that will hit two favrotite targets: low income moms and working moms. As if I didn't have enough guilt, now I get to pay taxes for it.

I wanted to breast feed for the first year. At the hospital, the lactation consultants were militant about breastfeeding, but completely bullying and ineffective (my conspiracy theory was that their training was sponsored by Enfamil). I also had a great pediatrician who referred me to a wonderful private lactation consultant. The bottom line, however, is that some women have a much more diffuclt time with feeding than others--as do some babies. It took my daughter 20 minutes to an hour to latch on, then she fed for at least forty minutes EVERYTIME, then she has to be fed every two to four hours upon STARTING to feed, so then in about an hour to an hour and a half, feeding again. Plus, I had to use a nipple shield because of my nipples and her fenulum (which we had clipped-didn't help). After three all nighters, including a twenty-four hour period where she literally fed for 16 out of the 24 hours, my husband started supplementing with a bottle of breast milk. After 4-6 weeks, we added more bottles and started supplementing with formula. I lasted four and a half months on this plan, until my milk dried up. I had an incredibly supportive husband, friends and employer (letting me pump as much as I needed), but even with all of that some things just don't work.

And I am really sick of the nipple nazis. For months, I felt as though I had failed the first and most basic test of motherhood: I couldn't feed my baby. But low and behold, once I started bottle feeding she and I were both much happier and she was much healthier--gaining weight and developing much more on target and even ahead of the curve. Further, my daughter was not in a constant state of feeding and being "trained", my husband got to participate much more in taking care of her, and I could get up off the couch, sit on the floor with her and actually enjoy her.

Posted by: AustinMom | June 26, 2006 11:09 AM

I have to say I'm a little disappointed in Leslie's take on this as well. I think the problem with the ads, and much of the way we talk about breastfeeding in this country is that we emphasize it as an individual issue and not a public health issue. That means we lay the pressure and the guilt on mothers without providing the public policy that would support breastfeeding for women who want to. For example:

-State laws that provide a woman with a legal right to breastfeed anywhere she otherwise entitled to be. A few states have done this, but many states only exempt women from public indecency laws, and some haven't even done that. In those states women have no right to nurse in a store or mall or similar private establishment. How comfortable a woman feels breastfeeding in public is the #1 factor in determining how long she will breastfeed - making sure she has the right to do so is an important step in making her comfortable.

-Requiring employers to provide lactation breaks in addition to regular breaks and lunch, and to provide a private, non-bathroom space to pump in.

-Requiring health insurers to pay for breastpumps. How many women decide not to cough up $300 for the good pump and try the cheaper hand held instead, only to come out of the bathroom an hour later with 2 ozs of milk and carpal tunnel? SOme insurance companies already provide this benefit to their own employees because they recognize the health benefits of breastmilk.

-Educating pediatricians and obs. I have have heard sooo many stories of women getting incorrect info from drs and supposed "lactation consultants" (like SAHM's experience) that ends up leading them to stop breastfeeding. This kills me. Also, getting OBs to stop handing out "breastfeeding success bags" that have nothing in them other than a can of formula.

Obviously breastfeeding is an individual choice, but right now there is not the public policy support for breastfeeding because we tend not to think of it as a public health issue. Only 30% of mothers in the US breastfeed for a full year after their babies are born. Based on the women I know, I think there are a lot of women who would like to breastfeed more but end up being stymied by bad advice and lack of support - let's focus on helping those women rather than laying a guilt trip on the women who either aren't interested or can't breastfeed.

I love nursing my son (he's now 19 months and still nurses a couple times a day) and have been lucky to be able to do so because of the support and flexibility I've had, and I'd love to see more women have that same support.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 11:11 AM

I agree that breast-feeding is one of the most important things that a mother can do to give their child a solid start on life.

One of the things that shocked me was that breast-feeding does not always come naturally. My daugther was born with a respitory issue and spent her first 9 days in the ICU at Sibley. I was unable to hold her until she was 4 days old. They suplimented the breast milk that I was able to pump with formula always starting with the breastmilk then toping it off with the formula, until we were able to try breastfeeding.

She had a 'disorganized suck', and just refused breastfeeding, despite the assistance and support of every lactation consultant in the hospital. We kept on the breastfeeding campaign for 3 weeks and is just never worked out.

I ended up purchasing a $300 pump, and perhaps due to the brainwashing that breast milk is best, I pumped for 9 months and fed her by bottle the milk(I am proud of the fact that 6 months was exclusive breastmilk). It was tough, because I also feared that we were missing out on the bonding aspect of breast-feeding, and of course pumping for 15 minutes with a screaming kid is never ideal.

The point of this tome is to say that yes, it is possible, but very very difficult to breastfeed for the year that AAP reccomends. Not everyone has the money for the pump (I had to borrow money), and tempatation to go to formula is strong (especially if the woman is on a WIC program and formula is free, and I do not think pumps are). I was also not working at the time, and cannot imagine many employers supporting pumping breaks... Society has to do a better job of supporting breastfeeding mothers before coming down so hard on them.

I would have to say that fear based social marketing never works, and the backlash to this one proves that point.

Posted by: single mom | June 26, 2006 11:11 AM

I once sat in a Dr.'s waiting room in South Philly and watched a tired, distracted (stoned?) mother give her 3 month old baby JUICE!!! I flagged down the RN and told her about it privately and heard her lecture the mother strongly about it. Am afraid it did no good,in terms of changing the mother's behavior, but I know the practice will be watching the baby carefully, if the mother brings him back.
That said, I didn't like the "Breast Feed Or Else" article because it was an either/or debate; there's a whole spectrum of breastfeeding/formula combo possibilities that are often ignored, usually because the mom and/or the doctor feels that a single mode of feeding is some how preferable.
Four years ago, I was in emotional agony because I couldn't properly nurse my child. I didn't realize what was happening until I realized my son was holding his weight--not gaining properly--for about 2-3 weeks.
I wound up using a supplemental feeder--look it up, not sexy at all--to help my son nurse more strongly and to give him the nutrition he needed. It was unflattering as heck, but it worked. My milk supply, although still in adequate, stabilized, and my son learned how to nurse properly.
We ended up nursing and supplementing with formula from a bottle, so he got the comfort/health benefits of breastfeeding with the calories he needed from formula. At 20 months, our son was eating solid foods, drinking lactose free formula from a bottle and nursing at night; he weaned himself (thank heavens) when teething and a cold made nursing impossible.
My message to moms out there who are struggling with this issue: don't beat yourself up about breastfeeding "failure" issues--chose your own path, and experiment to see what works for you and your baby. Don't spend too much time agonizing. You'll miss the lovely fun part of those early months.
Good luck!

Posted by: JanetP, Philly | June 26, 2006 11:13 AM

I want to start by saying that breastfeeding or bottle feeding is a very personal choice on the part of the mother.

My dear friend breast fed both of her children and I had the upmost respect for her decision.

I choose to bottle feed my babies, in the hospital I was the only mother on the baby ward that did, the nurses treated me like a leper as a result....I even had to go an request the formula because they refused to bring it to me.....

My second child in a different hospital, I was not treated as such.....

There is no right or wrong solution here, as long as parent's love their children, and the babies are well taken care of- that is the only thing that matters.

Both my boys, are thriving, have no allergies and rarely get sick, for myself bottlefeeding was the way to go, it also allowed my husband to feed his boys in the wee hours of the morning, when I needed to catch up on sleep.

My husband cherishes those feedings to this day.

It's a matter of choice, and as women we must stand with our sisters and respect our choice to breast feed or not.

Posted by: Mom in Canada | June 26, 2006 11:20 AM

We need more education in this country, either to help women truly give breastfeeding a try (if they want to!), and if it doesn't work out, to show that there are so many grey areas between only breast and only bottle.

With my daughter, I was fortunate enough to have wonderful support from a great LC and some LLL friends (the sterotype that they are all militant nipple nazis is so so wrong), but still couldn't get my supply up to the point where my daughter could get all breastmilk and thrive.

It's sad that I needed validation from my LC, LLL friend, and my pediatrician that it was OK to wean off the breastfeeding, that if i wasn't producing enough milk at 3 months then I probably wasn't going to produce enough milk, and that breastfeeding (which isn't really "feeding" since she still has to get a bottle afterward anyway in order to fill her tummy up) twice a day still "counts" as "breastfeeding."

So yes. I breastfeed. But my daughter gets her nutritian from formula. Where's the PSA that says that that's an OK solution, too?

Posted by: smw | June 26, 2006 11:26 AM

The guilt about this topic isn't a short-term thing, either. As I'm nearing the time to start having children and am collecting information, I asked my mother about something related to breastfeeding. She, apparently, had immense trouble feeding both my brother and myself (he apparently had an overbite and I just wasn't gaining weight) so we ended up formula babies. She was apparently treated badly by the La Leche women and I was amazed at how bitter she still sounds about this 26 years later. Don't make women feel guilty - they're just trying to do the best for their babies. There's a fine line between offering advice and passing judgment.

On a separate topic, are there any parents of multiple births (twins, etc.) here who could comment about that. I've always been curious about how that works. Can a single body really feed two babies without serious supplemental formula?

Posted by: SEP | June 26, 2006 11:31 AM

I think and believe BF is better but I always mix it. I am a working mom and I BF when I am home from work and my baby takes formula when I am at work. On weekends it is still a mixture. I am not good enough to pump but I think some BF is better than none. That is how my mom did for all of us her six children. What is bad in that?

Posted by: Ms.J | June 26, 2006 11:37 AM

One simple option that wasn't mentioned in your post: allow mom's to bring their babies to work. Then there is no expensive pump and mom may be willing to return to work a bit sooner.

Posted by: NAC | June 26, 2006 11:41 AM

Everything for mothers should be done in a supportive, kind, loving manner - not with an "I know better than you do" attitude. Women should be taught that breastfeeding is best for the baby, and best for the mother, and given all the loving encouragment and support possible.

Turning a personal decision not to breastfeed into a chance to scold or put down mothers is cruel, counter-productive and unnecessary.

It's also arrogant to assume knowledge of another's situation. I breastfed all my children, but the one with the heart defect was only breastfed for 5 or 6 weeks b/c he was too weak to suck. I tried pumping and fortifying (he needed extra calories) but I had other young ones, and no help - so no time to devote to the pumping. He would have been better off with breast milk, but I was distraught and didn't have extra time between his medical appointments, hospitalizations, etc. He needed me to hold him more.

Posted by: Mother of Five | June 26, 2006 11:43 AM

"Judgmental" is an overused word. That's why I don't like it. It's become so overused that it has been rendered meaningless.

A poster above me made the exact right point: Is breastfeeding or bottle-feeding the baseline?

The truth is that breastfeeding should be (and has for the 6 million years humans have been around) the baseline. This is a fact. Not an opinion. If this makes you feel guilty, I don't know what to say. Obviously, the campaign is targeted at those who "choose" not to breastfeed. If you can't breastfeed, that's one thing. However, if you can breastfeed but choose not to, I have to say that you ARE, in fact, going against what is best for your child. You are increasing their risk for various health problems by CHOICE. Again, this is a scientific fact -- not an opinion. If you CHOOSE not to breastfeed and feel guilty, then GOOD!

Posted by: CallingLeslieOut | June 26, 2006 11:47 AM

Believe it or not, there ARE upper middle class women who have C-sections so that they "won't get all stretched out down there" and then bottle feed "so their boobs won't get saggy."

There are two of them in my family, God love 'em. And both women will admit that it was sheer vanity that led to both decisions. They also claim that all their friends from the country club did the same thing -- and that there was a lot of peer pressure to follow this trend. I know I was surprised that my SIL actually found a doctor who had no problem with elective C-sections for the aforementioned 'stretching out down there' issue -- but apparently her girlfriends recommended him. So I'm just saying. . . though it's doubtful these women would be much affected by the commercials either.

Posted by: Not Just in Europe | June 26, 2006 11:51 AM

To the anonymous poster at 7:50 am,
Hard to believe or not, that's what happened. My pediatrician's LC was definitely pro-formula -- she must have told me a dozen times "don't be afraid to give her formula" when we were having trouble getting established in breastfeeding. She also told me I should use a nipple shield, which I later learned can cause problems with milk supply. When I eventually challenged her on her advice, she told me proudly that she wasn't one of those breastfeeding activists, and that her primary goal was to make sure babies get fed, no matter how it happens.

Now, that's all well and good. I don't think anyone wants to see starving children. But if had taken this woman's advice at face value from the start, I'd never have stuck with breastfeeding. And I find that infuriating. Those first few weeks with a new baby are hard enough without professionals who should know better trying to make the new mom feel like she can't feed her child.

Posted by: NewSAHM | June 26, 2006 11:55 AM

I have no problem with anyone, especially health professionals, saying that breastfeeding is best. Part of the job of health professionals is to communicate such information. But, as with many things, there are ways to do it and ways not to do it. When my second child was born, she had to see her pediatrician the day after we got home from the hospital. I was already breastfeeding. Her pediatrician was asking the various patient intake questions. The doctor asked how long I had breastfed my elder child, I said four months (although only two months exclusively). She asked how long I intended to breastfeed my second. I said six months. Rather than congratulating me on my goal to go further with breastfeeding the second time around, she said something stupid. She said, "Well, if you're going to do six months, you might as well do twelve." In what world does 6 equal 12? I was highly annoyed. Ironically, despite that, I probably would have gone past six months except that I landed in the hospital when my younger child was 5 1/2 months old, and I had enough to do dealing with my own health issues without the added burden of pumping (and dumping) until I could breastfeed again. Interestingly, my second child hasn't had an ear infection to date (18 months) while the elder one who breastfed a shorter period of time had 7 or 8 her first year.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 26, 2006 11:58 AM

Slc,
Low income mothers are on WIC which provides formula. The economic incentive is to NOT breastfeed. There is little to no support in the WIC program for breastfeeding. So why should low income women do something that is so hard?

Again people are arguing extremes and anecdotes. There is no doubt that "breast is best". There will always be incidences where it is not possible, but really those are not that common. Workplaces need to realize that new mothers come back to work and their needs should be accomodated. Making a private space for this is not such a big deal.

By the way, babies are supposed to "lose" weight during the first week of life. They are born with "excess" fluid and breastmilk does not come in for 48-72 hours. The first "milk" is colostrum (antibodies, proteins). By age 2 weeks babies are supposed to be back to birthweight. Breastfeeding is hard, especially for first time moms, and should be supported by pediatricians and lactation consultants.

Good luck

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 12:03 PM

I keep hearing how relatively cheap nursing is, but so far I have invested at least $500 in pumping supplies...

Posted by: hate the ads too | June 26, 2006 12:05 PM

I am one of those who only breast-fed for a short time and CHOSE to stop. I was not having trouble - I just didn't want to do it anymore and I don't feel the least bit guilty about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 12:06 PM

My mother had 3 children, none of us were breast fed. My brother in fact rejected the breast milk to the point that he was not thriving, it was simply passing straight through him with out him absorbing any nutrients. I realize that this case may be an "exception to the rule", but why should my mother many years later be made to feel guilty because immunologically our systems could not accept her breast milk. And by the way the three of us are doing fine - I'm a high school chemistry teacher with two masters degrees, the one who had such a difficult time is finishing up his PhD in Chemical Engineering, and our baby brother also graduated from college with his bachelor's and is a successful manager. I don't see why there has to be so much guilt out there as to what is a choice!!!!

Posted by: not breast fed, but doing fine... | June 26, 2006 12:06 PM

I totally agree with the people who have said that we should see breastfeeding as the default, not the exception.

I'd like to see how that would translate in the medical field - particularly with the focus on weight gain in infants. My understanding is that the weight charts that are used now were first produced by milk companies who were giving away canned milk to mothers in an effort to rehabilitate their image after they were busted for altering the fat content of canned milk. As a gimmick, they would weigh the mothers' babies when they came to pick up their free sample each week, and eventually used these records to make the charts. I'm sure that today the charts are based on both formula fed and breastfed infants, but I can't help but wonder if our obsession with infant weight gain isn't still biased toward formula feeding. Our pediatrician never charted our son against those stats; he said that so long as the baby regains his birth weight by 1.5-2 weeks, and then is basically healthy and not losing weight, he doesn't worry about the rate of weight gain or where he falls on the charts, and I loved that attitude.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 12:17 PM

"However, if you can breastfeed but choose not to, I have to say that you ARE, in fact, going against what is best for your child. You are increasing their risk for various health problems by CHOICE."

You may believe that, but a mother does not need to feel guilty if she does choose not to breast feed. It is NOT a certainty that the child will be sick, not as smart, not as well-developed, etc.

"I don't see why there has to be so much guilt out there as to what is a choice!!!!"

AMEN! FWIW, I was bottle fed, was a healthy kid, and graduated with 2 Bachelor's degrees and then a Master's. I'm doing just fine, and no mother should be made to feel her kids will turn out badly because she bottle feeds.

Posted by: AG | June 26, 2006 12:18 PM

NotjustinEurope,
Boy those vain women who elect c-sections and don't breastfeed because of what it does to a woman's body are in for a shock. C-sections DO NOT keep you from being stretched in the abdomen and it weakens the abdominal muscles. Higher risk for sagging abdomen. And the vagina is pretty elastic and shrinks eventually so one is not stretched permanently (ok so if you've had 8 vaginal births there is likely to be stretching). And it's been shown that c-sections DO NOT protect a woman from urinary leakage. And breasts sag with age whether you breastfeed or bottlefeed.

So, the joke's on them. Tell them they'll likely still need their tummy tucks and breast lifts.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 12:22 PM

to Good Lord - maybe you should try reading before you post.

huntleyh was questioning the need for private facilities for pumping, not the need for pumping.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 12:29 PM

to JanetP

Mommy Police may not be a strong enough term.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 12:32 PM

I think its more a "People need to mind their own business" issue. I don't get to lecture people on smoking, or wearing shoes that hurt their backs, I don't get to query them on if they're saving enough so that I won't have to support them in their old age, and I don't really have the right to tell them how to feed. Yes, there's this innocent child involved, however, that does not make a serious lapse in my manners permissible. If they were somehow hurting the child (making said child smoke a cigarette) that would be a different situation.

Bravo to the women who have said that insurance should be paying for at least some of the cost of the pumps. And somehow I really doubt that it would be that expensive to the average business to have one room with a mini-fridge and a chair for those mothers. Plumbing brings up different problems. We could start up a campaign with a catchy phrase like "Children suck" and see what political party wants to be family friendly. (smile)

its just heartbreakign to hear about these women who have been attacked by "know it all" mothers. There are too many special cases, its like insisting that everyone wear the same pair of black pumps, regular width. Its just inappropriate.

Posted by: ljb | June 26, 2006 12:32 PM

Those ads are meant to keep women at home with a baby attached. One woman -- touted as a breastfeeding hero on the news -- interviewed on MSNBC said she had to quit her job to breastfeed. Either that's just a good excuse for being lazy or there is some horrible, powerful tide against moms getting anywhere in the professional world.

The whole breastfeeding situation is getting a little out of control. Is it really healthier? The two examples I've seen: One friend who is on copious amounts of a powerful anti-depressant and breastfeeding. Hello, second-hand pharmaceutical exposure from milk or formula? If I were the baby, I'd choose the formula. One other friend, who claims to be a huge breastfeeding advocate, has a 2 1/2-year old son and an 8-week old daughter. Breastfeeding wasn't "working out" with the daughter, so she stopped feeding her and went back to just breastfeeding the toddler son. He has teeth, walks, talks, eats with utensils, sasses back, and still takes the breast at night while the infant is fed from a bottle? Um, that's just a little weird, people. Just a little weird.

Posted by: stupid_ads | June 26, 2006 12:33 PM

Vegetarians think we should not give our children meat. I doubt that people would all stop feeding their children meat even if numerous studies stating "meatless is best" were published. Give the formula parents a break.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 12:36 PM

I fully agree with many of the readers who describe this as a choice. One has to way so many factors (work, your health, the baby's health, etc.) that one cannot say that one is better than the other. Contrary to a lot of the publications out there, breastfeeding doesn't necessarily cut down on children's allergies (one false fact that needs to be discussed because the default assumption is that it does), some women simply do not produce enough milk for their growing babies (sorry LaLeche people, it's a fact of life), some women don't have the luxury to stay home all day and finally many non-breastfed people turned out pretty well in the end. The hysteria that the media is about to create over this is not going to make a difference in any of our children's lives, trust me. It takes a lot more than breast or bottle to make or break a child.
My personal experience: I breastfed and bottle fed my 2 children until 6 and 8 months. One has enough allergies to food and the environment to keep the manufacturers of zyrtec and singular in business forever. The other, who received less breast milk has no obvious allergies right now and is just as great as the first.

Posted by: hysterical-not | June 26, 2006 12:42 PM

To answer SEP's question: I have twin girls and they were fed breastmilk for 1 year. They spent their first days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit so I began with a breastpump. I had no trouble making more than enough milk for two. Breastfeeding is a supply/demand business, as most mothers know.

When others saw the amount of work involved in breastfeeding 2 infants they invariably told me that I should use formula "because it would be easier for me". I am extremely strong-willed; anything but helpful advice was immediately ignored.

Lets not forget that all of these opinions and advice come from people with their own inadequacies and self-image problems.

Posted by: TwinMom | June 26, 2006 12:42 PM

Megan,

Growth charts for infants are now moving toward a mix of breast and formula fed baby weight averages. This was NOT true until 2000, and some doctors still use old charts - which were "brought to you by formula company X.". However, they still don't take into account the fact that breastfed babies tend to gain quickly the first 2 months, then level off, then actually decline a bit towards the end of the first year.

Supposedly the CDC and WHO are trying to come up with exclusive breastfed baby weight charts as well. Until then, many breastfeeding moms will be hounded to supplement because their baby doesn't match the "formula" charts. FWIW, because of the research that indicates formula-fed babies are more likely to be obese later in life than breastfed babies, some doctors are now finally realizing that forcing a breastfed baby to try to meet the "formula" weight isn't healthy after all.

Posted by: Mary | June 26, 2006 12:44 PM

I think the one benefit these ads may have is to start getting men/decision makers more aware of the pros of breastfeeding, so that there can be more supports for breastfeeding mums whether that's pumping rooms or longer mat leave (which, as a Canadian, I enjoy) or better education for health providers or in the community or whatever. (I have to thank the person who pointed this out to me as I didn't see it when I first came across the ads.)

However, I agree that they're unnecessarily sensational. Also, they seem to be directed at women ("when YOU'RE pregnant) and I agree with the comment that once again lower income moms are being targetted as "a problem."

For the actual breastfeeding/bottlefeeding argument - I think it's somewhat ridiculous. Almost all mums and dads want what's best for their child, and I can see how it would be nice (as a breastfeeding mum) to think that my ONE DECISION has assured my baby's health for all eternity but - it doesn't work that way. It's all tradeoffs and balances and sheer luck. Yes, I do think studies have shown that breastfeeding is a little bit better - overall.

Does that mean a stressed out mother who's not getting enough sleep because she's working AND pumping AND feeding her baby is the best environment for that baby? (Or, for that matter, for milk production?) Ha. It might be better to provide a whole range of supports and let families choose what helps them.

Posted by: Shandra | June 26, 2006 12:50 PM

What's that Disraeli quote about lies, damn lies, and statistics? You can make numbers say anything you want, and given that this is the same federal government that's delayed the OTC reclassification of the morning-after pill for political reasons, and that spreads mistruths and sometimes outright lies through its federally funded health ed programs, pardon me for being a bit cynical for any "warnings" that come out of our esteemed federal agencies. The numbers may not lie, but the people reading them just might.

At any rate, most raw figures indicate that bottle-feeding is generally done by lower income, younger, and less educated mothers, right? I'm willing to bet many developmental issues come from inadequate access to proper prenatal care and inadequate prenatal nutrition rather than *just* whether or not mommy breastfeeds. Also, if good breastmilk is tied to good nutrition in the mom, who's to say, really, whether breast is truly best, especially if the mom can't afford the healthiest food - but is getting free or subsidized formula?

These ads stink something fierce. Someone forgot to tell the folks behind them that feminism is supposed to be about choice, not bullying.

Posted by: cynical | June 26, 2006 12:50 PM

your three day old baby was not starving! Many babies want to suck for comfort, not because they are hungry. I used a pacifier first, if I thought they might not be hungry yet. When the pacifier no longer satisfies, then it it time to feed.

Posted by: experienced mom | June 26, 2006 12:57 PM

looooonnnngg essay ahead...

THS's comment is exactly right. The ads that emphasize the risks of not breastfeeding are primarily directed at mothers with low incomes, or little education, or who may be immigrants, or all three. Mothers in these groups tend to breastfeed at *significantly* lower rates. They are also directed at mothers of color, who tend to breastfeed at *significantly* lower rates.

I am the child of Third World immigrants and can testify to the fact that mothers in some ethnic groups do not even consider breastfeeding because they consider it low-class or a waste of time, or because they've heard it's too difficult or because they honestly believe formula is better. I have a well-educated (Ph. D.) friend originally from another country in Europe, who works in computer science, who was horrified to find out this year that American women were expected to breastfeed if they could manage it. Until recently, she thought that breastfeeding was unhealthy for the baby and kind of gross. In her country, very few women even consider breastfeeding their children, and that factor is unfortunately significant in their levels of childhood health.

If you have medical conditions that do not allow you to breastfeed, if you are among the 2-3% of women who do not produce enough milk for a full day's calories, if your financial situation does not allow you to take time during the workday to feed or pump, if your baby is unable to breastfeed for health reasons, if you tried for a couple months and just couldn't make it work out, even with supplemental formula feeding, then please realize that *THESE ADS AREN'T AIMED AT YOU*, just as the guilt-trip ads about buckling up your child or knowing where your child is aren't aimed at mothers and fathers who know about car safety and about keeping their children away from unsafe situations.

Unfortunately, it is statistically true that guilt-trip persuasion that reminds people about the significance of their loved ones *does* make for more effective advertising, and it is also true that many (not all, we understand) of the women in the groups targeted by these ads may never have considered that not breastfeeding can pose its own risks.

Overall, yes, the benefits of breastfeeding and the risks of not breastfeeding become clearer every year. Even mothers who smoke are often advised to breastfeed, because breastfed infants of smokers are, depending on circumstances, often in better health than formula-fed infants of smokers. The overall cognitive abilities (IQ) improvement in breastfed babies is true *regardless* of mother's education and social class. Most recently, a study done in mice indicates that formula-fed infants may be at greater risk for Parkinson's disease due to the excessively high iron content of most infant formulas.

Once mothers know that breastfeeding is usually the better choice, the onus should be on their culture to accommodate them. And regrettably, that is not often the case in American society. Almost all of us should agree that our culture *needs* to change its view of public breastfeeding and *needs* to address breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace. It is too hard for many women today to keep up with breastfeeding once they are able to begin working and going out into public again.

It is *especially* hard for low-income, or uneducated mothers, and mothers of color, because they are much more likely to hold jobs that make it extremely difficult for them to take time to breastfeed or pump! This is not fair to those children, and we know it!

My friends, this is a public health issue. If you have children and you gave breastfeeding the honest consideration it deserves, then you can relax because you know that whatever choice you made, whether to formula-feed or to breastfeed, it was probably the right one. But we cannot pretend that we would be just as well off if every baby in this country were formula-fed. It is simply not true.

Posted by: breastbest | June 26, 2006 1:00 PM

I am another one who breast-fed for a short period - exclusively for 4 weeks then tapered off. I did it mostly because when I had my kids in the 80's, where I worked I was the first woman at my workplace in my position (scientist) to have children and felt under intense scrutiny to perform a job that was considered a man's job. Heck I hardly mentioned I had kids, let alone ask for special accomodations for pumping or extra time off. I felt like there were people there just waiting for me to fail and didn't want to make a fuss. At the same time I wanted to do what was best for the babies, and felt like my solution was a compromise. (Plus I pretty much knew that most of the immune benefit comes in the earliest weeks/months). Do I feel guilty about it - no. Not at all. I was just doing the best I could with the circumstance I was in.

I have to say too - I read the La Leche book back then or at least started to - wow how extreme. I literally threw it against the wall somewhere in the first few chapters. I mean I think that breastfeeding is great but it is not a religion folks. And I don't think a PSA campaign to make people feel guilty is a good idea. JMO!

Posted by: Cat | June 26, 2006 1:02 PM

One more thing......

Here is one thing I did not know until today, after reading several studies and abstracts via PUBMED:

The overall drop in IQ for groups of children who are formula-fed is of order the drop seen in children of women who smoked during pregnancy, even when the data are adjusted for maternal IQ and alcohol use.

Posted by: breastbest | June 26, 2006 1:02 PM

I breastfed my first child. I was low income, so I think that those facts are highly skewed. Many low income moms breastfeed. WIC even encourages it, even though they foist formula off on you. I didn't mind, really. After 3 months, I stopped breast-feeding my oldest (got to be too painful) and transitioned her to bottled formula. She wasn't happy with that, but she adjusted.

My second baby was born 28 weeks premature, so I had to go through the agony of pumping every two to three hours, storing it in the freezer, and transporting it to the hospital. They still had to fortify it with a special preemie formula. I had to go through this torture for over two months, and despite my religious pumping, my milk supply steadily decreased. By the time my baby came home, I could barely pump out 8 ounces a day. She also wouldn't latch on properly, despite my best efforts, and she still had to be fed fortified breast milk. So I continued valiantly on for another month trying to pump out milk and stimulate production. Nothing worked, so I threw in the towel. Luckily for me, I had a freezer full of milk, so that supply lasted me another two months. Then it was on to formula full-time.

Breast milk is not the miracle elixer that people want to make it out to be. I've given my children allergies through my breast milk. And they are extremely intelligent in spite being given formula most of their infant lives. Government doesn't need to mandate my feeding choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:04 PM

I don't care if a baby is supposed to lose weight in the first few days. A baby losing half of its birth weight is not normal. I would caution anyone who listens to people who say that babies are supposed to lose weight, to talk to their doctor, hopefully a good one, and ignore the baby is supposed to lose weight people on this board.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:05 PM

Mary, thanks for the additional info on weight gain and weight charts!

Also, as THS pointed out, individual stories about breast fed babies having allergies and formula fed babies being healthy do NOT undermine the studies that demonstrate the benefits of breastfeeding (and yes, the studies DO control for income, and other factors). Think of it this way. If you roll a regular die, you have a 1/6 chance of rolling a six. If you roll a die that has three faces with sixes on them, you have a 1/2 chance of rolling a six. It doesn't mean that you will never get a six rolling the first die, or you will always get a six rolling teh second die. It simply means that you have a higher chance of rolling a six if you use the second die.

Breastfeeding is like rolling the second die instead of the first, it means that the babies less likely to develop certain problems and more likely to have certain advantages; that doesn't mean they never have those problems or always have those advantages. Individual variations don't change the underlying statistical likelihood for babies overall.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 1:06 PM

For context, I breastfed for 14 months.

It is a choice AND breastfeeding is simply better for the vast majority of babies. Parents are entitled to make the decision that is best for their family considering the entirety of their circumstances, but they should not delude themselves that formula is nutritionally equal to breastmilk. I am not going to judge them, but I am not going to lie and say it was an insignificant decision.

There are many nobel prize laureates out there who were bottle fed, so bottle feeding your baby is not a prescription for low achievement. That said, breastfeeding has scientifically documented properties to help in brain development so it is not surprising that it is associated with higher levels of cognitive abilities overall. Just because babies do well does not mean they could not have done better, why not give them the best start possible.

I second (but will not repeat) the need for the focus to be on educating those medical personnel that come into contact with new parents on breastfeeding. We cannot rely on our families (moms, aunts, etc), the historical source of breastfeeding education, to help us through because of both distance and the widespread promotion of bottle feeding in their childbearing years.

Posted by: Another DC Mom | June 26, 2006 1:11 PM

Another thing that would help with the stigma against breastfeeding in public would be for our society to stop viewing the breast as purely a sexual object. The sanitation and storage issues would still be issues in the workplace, but at least people might get over some of the embarrassment factor.

Of course, changing attitudes like that take a very long time. But it'd certainly help.

Posted by: SEP | June 26, 2006 1:11 PM

"your three day old baby was not starving! Many babies want to suck for comfort, not because they are hungry. I used a pacifier first, if I thought they might not be hungry yet. When the pacifier no longer satisfies, then it it time to feed."

I'm sorry do you know me? Do you know my baby? Do you know that she went from 7 1/2 pounds down to 31/2 pounds in three days. Had jaundice and was put in the hospital? Are you a doctor?

Don't just assume you know everything and that just because you are an "experienced mom" you know my experience or anyone else's.

And how would you like to go three days without anything to eat?

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 1:14 PM

So as a mother of an adopted infant, what do I need to do, carry a card that "exempts" me from breast-feeding? I wish other women would stop making this such a black-and-white issue. It's great to get information out there, and I believe we should do more to publicize the health benefits and even financial savings of breast v. formula. I believe breast is probably best in many situations, but because I am hypothryroid and take meds, I wouldn't be able to breastfeed a child anyway, so I'd prefer everyone to butt out of my personal business.

Posted by: LMN | June 26, 2006 1:15 PM

"done in mice indicates that formula-fed infants may be at greater risk for Parkinson's disease due to the excessively high iron content of most infant formulas."

This is misconception about formula--that it is "excessively" high in iron. Breast milk has a lower amount of iron because it is iin a more bioavailable form. The iron content in formula milk is appropriate and necessary for growing human babies. Another frequent misconception is thatthe iron in formula causes "constipation" in babies. Breastfed babies have more frequent, softer stools than formula-fed babies. So sometimes parents believe that formula causes constipation. But most parents do not know what constipation in infants is (it's not a low frequency of stooling it's rock hard stools). I have taken care of infants who were fed low iron formula who became anemic from not having enough iron. Low iron formula is for premature infants at risk for eye disease from their prematurity.

And I agree with the writer who said scare tactics don't work to change behavior. While breast is best, bullying a family into breastfeeding is ridiculous. On the other hand not providing appropriate information and advocating for breastfeeding (by medical professionals) is also not right. The medical profession/institutions can do a better job of educating families. I think pediatricians do this better than OBs who, in general, don't take the time to discuss this issue with moms-to-be.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:15 PM

SEP:
When I was pregnant, I went to Argentina for work. They had one PSA -- a poster that was everywhere-- for breastfeeding. It was a beautiful, artfully done photograph of a baby nursing from a nice round breast. I can't ever see America allowing a poster like that, but I wish they would.

Posted by: Ms L | June 26, 2006 1:17 PM

Just for informational purposes, I believe that WIC does cover the cost of pumps.

CallingLeslieout - Just b/c you don't like the word "judgmental" doesn't mean that it's not appropriate here. I'm sure that *none* of us could stand up to intense scrutiny of every single parenting choice we make. How many of us have ever let a toddler have a french fry or a cookie? Vegetables are certainly better for them, so isn't that the same sort of thing? Yes, I realize that breastfeeding has unique health benefits, etc..., but I'm trying to make the point none of us consistently make the *best* choices for our children.

Breastfeeding is wonderful. Aside from the physical benefits for my children, I wouldn't trade the memories I have of breastfeeding for anything. But I've had a ton of support, I've educated myself, and I've been fortunate to have a supportive employer. Even with all of that, it's been hard. So who am I to pass judgment - that's right JUDGMENT - on another woman who is forced to or wants to bottlefeed? The best we can do is try to educate women and give them the support to make the right choices for their families. The new campaign discussed in the NY Times article is a long way from "supportive."

And if I ever do find myself judging someone for CHOOSING to feed formula, I'll try to remind myself that I'm not perfect either....

Posted by: Nursing Working Mama | June 26, 2006 1:17 PM

breastbeast quoted..."The overall drop in IQ for groups of children who are formula-fed is of order the drop seen in children of women who smoked during pregnancy, even when the data are adjusted for maternal IQ and alcohol use."

that is really interesting since all my children were bottlefed (formula) and my oldest is an honor roll student and my middle child is in the gifted and talented program. my youngest isn't in school yet but appears just as intelligent as her brothers.

Posted by: professional engineer & mom of 3 | June 26, 2006 1:19 PM

To all those women on here who are trying to make me feel guilty: If you breastfed but still had your son circumsized for nonreligious reasons, you did a BAD and WRONG thing. So go feel guilty over that.

Posted by: Get over yourselves | June 26, 2006 1:22 PM

Professional engineer & mom of 3:

I think the studies say breastfeeding can add about 10 points of IQ. So that's great that you have G&T kids who may have IQs of 130, but that doesn't prove that they wouldn't have been even smarter with breastmilk.

See Megan's excellent point above. Anecdotes about how great you or your kids are despite bottlefeeding aren't really relevant to the discussion.

Posted by: Anecdotes do not equal evidence | June 26, 2006 1:24 PM

So, according to these statistics, all adopted infants already have one strike against them, eh? Or should their moms just hire wet-nurses?

And to the poster who talked about breastfeeding being "the baseline" for thousands of years, that is true in part. On the other hand, women have also used wet-nurses for many different reasons, and one reason was that they chose not to nurse.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:24 PM

that is really interesting since all my children were bottlefed (formula) and my oldest is an honor roll student and my middle child is in the gifted and talented program. my youngest isn't in school yet but appears just as intelligent as her brothers.


You should know, as an engineer, that this does nothing to disprove the facts that breastbest cited, because you cannot prove the contra-positive. All it means is that had they been breastfed, they might have been even smarter because of the additional benefits of breastmilk. It's great that they are smart and succesful and you should be very proud, but like others are saying, it doesn't disprove the stats.

Posted by: statistics | June 26, 2006 1:26 PM

So, they pay you to cite a news story, make up some bizzare twist to it and then rant about how stupid the twist, which you made up, is? Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Wes | June 26, 2006 1:27 PM

From above:

"that is really interesting since all my children were bottlefed (formula) and my oldest is an honor roll student and my middle child is in the gifted and talented program. my youngest isn't in school yet but appears just as intelligent as her brothers."

Nice logic. Not breast-feeding wasn't your kids first problem w/ regards to IQ -- having you as a Mom was.

Posted by: dagger | June 26, 2006 1:28 PM

I breastfed both my girls for a year (4 months maternity leave, only half of it paid, 8 months while working), and it was a hard, hard, hard thing to do, even with a private office with a locking door (also, I work for the government, and there is a lactation room with outlets, a fridge, and a locking door, but I didn't need to use it). However, because my first daughter wouldn't take a bottle while at daycare and her weight dropped dramatically, I started my second on the bottle much earlier. Then, again because of supply issues with the first, I started putting a scoop of formula in each bottle of breastmilk so she would get used to the taste in case I couldn't pump enough. Second got to the point at 7 months where she wouldn't nurse at all, but I kept pumping for the remaining 5 months. That said, even though I could pump at work, in my own office, doing so 2-3 times a day and then pumping at home in the morning and night was very difficult. It's easy to point fingers and make judgments about what a mother should or shouldn't be doing. I was lucky, though--I work in an office and manage my own time. What about the mom working at Burger King, Wal Mart, or whatever, trying to pump? What are they supposed to do? I would not be surprised if the majority were using formula, and who can honestly blame them? And take our children to work? Please, give me a break. What a ridiculous posting.

Posted by: allmomsworkingmoms | June 26, 2006 1:29 PM

In the big picture, what difference does 10 extra IQ points matter? The character of a person matters much more than their IQ, IMO.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:30 PM

Dagger why was that comment needed? You don't even know that person and if someone says that their child was smarter than yours you;'d say something back too.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 1:31 PM

One's IQ score actually does not have that much to do with later success in life. So much I'm reading on this blog today sounds like "my child is better than yours!". I know many mothers who live their whole lives around this "I'm going to give my child the best chance!" mentality, which includes regulating their children's lives in every last detail. Gag. So competitive. Get over it. Take a break and realize that most parents DO try to do their best for their child, but this sort of bullying ad isn't going to do anything but make a bunch of bloggers sit down and type nasty notes.

The ad that Ms. L mentioned seeing in Argentina sounds beautiful and should be the type of thing to try here.

Posted by: Stop the competition | June 26, 2006 1:33 PM

I can't believe that some of you idiots are debating over 10 IQ points. Get a life.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:34 PM

professional engineer & mom of 3,

Every kid is an honor roll student now. Gifted and Talented only means that they don't get along with the other kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:39 PM

Until the majority of workplaces have private nursing spaces, let's get off the kick of telling mothers they're doing something awful when they don't breastfeed their baby. In the meantime, why don't we do more to educate parents in general about nutrition and get the huge amounts of non-nutritious food out of the homes and schools? I don't mean "junk food", I mean foods full of sugar and salt. I was amazed that my friend who I thought was very knowledgeable didn't realize that large amounts of apple juice were not good for her 2-year-old. She also had no idea that most processed foods contain sugar.

If you want to jump on a cause, start with something that would improve the health of all families and get off the "breast is best!" bandwagon.

Posted by: Clover | June 26, 2006 1:39 PM

professional engineer & mom of 3,

Every kid is an honor roll student now. Gifted and Talented only means that they don't get along with the other kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:39 PM

Scarry - any chance you'll go back into retirement? And stay there this time?

Posted by: Wishful Thinking | June 26, 2006 1:40 PM

As a man, I think it is highly ignorant and appalling to be harrassing a woman wanting to breastfeed her baby in public. Some states may differ on laws that govern or don't govern it, but have we grown so ignorant and uptight in our U.S. society when it comes to sex, that we consider a woman breastfeeding her infant child in public as a crime? What kind of message are we sending mothers? Instead, our government enjoys taxing us a Federal tax, and all the ridiculous taxes we get charged for cell phone use, and even home phone use, and using public tax dollars to increase the corruption that has long plaqued this current administration. How bout using that same money being raked in the public education of the benefits of breastfeeding as opposed to non-breastfeeding. And also, if a woman for some reason can't publicly breast feed for fear of harrasment, then she should be educated thoroughly on what other steps can she use to make sure her child is getting the proper nutrients it needs to grow up as healthy as possible as compared with children who do breast feed.

We can educate to no end, the dangers of smoking, the dangers of terrorism, the dangers of pirating bootleg movies, but we can't publicly educate woman on the positives of breastfeeding without her feeling like she'll be harrassed for breastfeeding in public? Or get the retail industry to step up to the plate to accomodate their biggest consumers by providing the means necessary for a mother to breastfeed in their malls and shopping centers.

It's now 2006 and we still are arguing about why women don't have more public facilities that accomodate breastfeeding stations along with changing stations. I mean with the plethora of public malls and shopping centers, the government and retail industry still are that ignorant that they won't cater to some of the biggest consumers and workers in our nation, which are women.

Then, to even begin to think to force a woman to do anything, especially force her to have to breastfeed is no diffent than how middle eastern women are being treated having to wear black veils to shield their faces and walk 5 paces behind men. It's archaic and barbaric. We've already getting into a pattern of trying to tell a woman, "KEEP YOUR BABY, OR ELSE". It doesn't matter if you were raped or not. No difference in philosophy.

Then again, maybe women do need to be told to go a different route, because it is women who are giving birth to these same morons (majority of them men) who long haven't given women the respect and the just due in the workplace, at home, and as consumers.

What A Country!

Posted by: Insanity | June 26, 2006 1:41 PM

"The overall drop in IQ for groups of children who are formula-fed is of order the drop seen in children of women who smoked during pregnancy, even when the data are adjusted for maternal IQ and alcohol use."

Wow, so does this mean that if my mom had breastfed me I'd have an IQ of 150 instead of 140? Darn you, Mom!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 1:42 PM

"Scarry - any chance you'll go back into retirement? And stay there this time"

Any chance you will post something worth reading instead of acting like a jerk and attacking people.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 1:44 PM

Actually, Scarry, you're the one attacking people. Every time someone disagrees with you, you start with the "do you know me? are you a doctor/mechanical engineer, etc". People are entitled to their own opinions, you know.

Posted by: bv | June 26, 2006 1:46 PM

People aren't entilited to opinions about my experince and what happened to my daughter. My daughter was starving, so if someone wants to be so bold as to say "your three day old daughter wasn't starving." Yes, i'm going to say something back.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 1:49 PM

Here is the problem: some women really can't provide enough milk to nurse their babies, but breast feeding activists ignore this reality. I am one of these women. It's not that I was ignorant or lazy -- the problem is biology. I have several degrees, I went to classes before my first baby was born, and I saw numerous lactation consultants. I am one of the most determined people you would ever want to meet (or maybe not). The result of all this? My first child ended up hospitalized for dehydration. I was able to nurse her then supplement with formula, but my second baby refused to nurse at all, so my life became a round of feeding and pumping (with a hospital grade pump), even at night. I never was able to pump more than 4 to 6 ounces of milk per day. A lamaze rep came to visit me in the hospital after the birth of my second child. I explained my problem, including the hospitalization of baby number one 20 months earlier, and this nut kept on as if I hadn't said anything at all. She's not an anomaly. What would have happened if I took her advice? I'd have another baby hospitalized with dehydration. Do we really want to "encourage" breast feeding to the extent that people don't switch to a bottle when it is necessary? Dehydration in infants is severe and can be fatal. (For those who still believe I just screwed up: a baseline mammogram later confirmed that I do not have as many milk ducts as most women do. It happens.)

Posted by: Couldn't Do It | June 26, 2006 1:53 PM

Scarry,
Everyday you tell these horror stories about yourself, and when people don't feel sorry for you (except Megan), you get all upset. Maybe this isn't the forum for you.

Posted by: MeAgain | June 26, 2006 1:54 PM

How bout we give up beating up on Scarry (when did this become a blog pasttime?) and focus on the topic? It's a sensitive subject, lots of people have made defensive posts, so let's move on.

Posted by: Good Grief | June 26, 2006 1:57 PM

Not only are there potential
BreastFeeding Police out there,
but associated with reproduction is the latest movement to have
all women of childbearing age -- and their friends and family and strangers on the street? -- consider them to be, astoundingly, "pre-pregnant." And therefore, we must always be on guard against laziness, lack of exercise, too much junk food, excess alcohol consumption, too little sleep, inadequate folic acid, and on and on and on. Just in case. Just in case there might be a conception. Maybe. Perhaps. Will we find people checking our menu choices (and refusing to fill our orders) and going through our grocery carts (and tossing out the Ben & Jerry's) because we appear to be physically capable of bearing a child and we should always think of ourselves as moments away from conceiving? All of this zeal for HEALTH! HEALTH! HEALTH! rammed down our throats by even just well-intentioned medical know-it-alls (I mean experts) reminds me of "1984" or "The Handmaiden." I've had it with the whole bunch of them!

Posted by: SF Mom | June 26, 2006 1:58 PM

Its amazing how ugly this has gotten. I've been tracking from this morning, but we've hit a new low.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 2:00 PM

The ad campaign really needs to be directed at the medical profession. Women trying to breastfeed need more help than they are getting from the people who are supposed to know best. Breastfeeding requires a certain level of dedication (in some cases, like mine, just pig headed stubborness that I was going to do it no matter what). I think it goes without saying that it's better for the baby -- I don't know who could dispute that based on the overwhelming medical evidence. But formula is not the evil toxin that some groups make it out to be. I can completely understand why women might choose not to breastfeed, especially if they're working. Especially at first, it's really hard!

Posted by: Umm | June 26, 2006 2:01 PM

I believe I am echoing some of of you on the board.

If the government is going to push these ads, they should be providing the infrastructure and support for women to do it-- tax breaks for companies that provide lactation rooms, longer maternity leave etc. It is hypocritical to put out those ads (and spend all that money) in the absense of support...

Posted by: UP | June 26, 2006 2:01 PM

"Any chance you will post something worth reading instead of acting like a jerk and attacking people."

Just expressing my opinion (which seems to be shared by more than a few here). I'm sorry to offend you but I find your comments like nails on a chalkboard, no matter the subject.

Posted by: Wishful Thinking | June 26, 2006 2:05 PM

I was still breastfeeding my daughter when she went for her one-year appointment. The doctor told me I needed to wean her or she would "never develop normally". She was nursing twice a day before nap and bedtime. Luckily for me, she was my second child and I knew better. Unluckily for him, I made sure his supervisors knew what he'd recommended (which goes against the AAP statement about breastfeeding). I have been repeatedly appalled by the lack of knowledge in the medical field about when/how/why/for how long, etc., to breastfeed. Also, this for me goes into the same basket as the mommy wars. The only person whose opinion you need to care about when it comes to your decisions about your kids is your partner/spouse. Why we all seem to require validation from people we've never met before is beyond me.

Posted by: Mixed Up | June 26, 2006 2:14 PM

"I can't believe that some of you idiots are debating over 10 IQ points. Get a life."

Ten points on an IQ test is actually quite a lot. An average IQ is 100. Given a normal distribution, which is appropriate in a large population, 66+ of the population will have an IQ between 90 and 110. 83% of children will have an IQ below 110, barring any intervention. If breastfeeding raised a child's IQ from 110 to 120, that child would have a considerable intellectual advantage.

This is NOT to say that children who aren't breastfed will fail in school. Again, averages people. The only way the differences we're discussing here make sense is across a large population, and, in any population, there'll be people at the extremes.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 2:15 PM

"I can't believe that some of you idiots are debating over 10 IQ points. Get a life."

It's not just 10 IQ points. It's reduced likelihood of diseases, both for mother and child, and many other benefits. If you think it's just about IQ then clearly there is a lot more education that needs to take place.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 2:15 PM

I'm 27 and was born in the 70s. My mom's expirence was different than mine. When I was born, formula was actually encouraged and thought to be better. When I spit up milk, I was thought to be allergic to it and put on Soy formula. So i was never breatfed. I actually grew up with a ton of ear infections. My husband was also not breast fed and has really bad eczema. When I was pregnant with our son in Texas, I read about the benefits of breastfeeding. the state of Texas actually does a lot to promote it. Anyways, I took a breastfeeding class, and the teacher there pointed out that the big push to breastfeed now is actually to do more to reverse the push in the 70s to use formula. In fact when I had our son, my mom was really supportive of nursing, but couldn't help me because she never did. My husband who took the class with me had to help me because he knew more about correct positions etc. than her!!!

Also, another thing people should consider is that in many areas, drinking water is not that great, and perhaps breatmilk is better because you don't have to worry about getting clean water. or worry about mixing proper ratios of formula to water.

Posted by: New to DC (from Texas) | June 26, 2006 2:17 PM

1. Statistics are easily manipulated, and no matter how hard you try, you really can't control for social factors. Studies on human behavior are almost always suspect, it's the correlation does not equal causation problem.
2. I don't have any children, but to be perfectly honest, I'm terrified of the idea of breastfeeding. My mother told me she had blood blisters and it hurt so badly that she was sobbing the whole time and my dad was begging her to switch to formula. Is that normal? Everybody talks as if it were a wonderful, painless process. She toughed it out and it worked out fine, but I can't help but wonder if a happy mom bottle-feeding a baby is worse than a sobbing, obviously-in-agony mom breastfeeding. You'd think even an infant would pick up on that and be disturbed by it. I will try to breast feed when I have kids, but I'm not going to force myself if I just can't bear it, and I refuse to feel guilty about that.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 2:19 PM

Ok I'm going to try to be a little constructive and throw this out (I new breastfeeding was going to be a hot topic). When I was pregnant with my first, I decided I was going to nurse from the begining. But after baby is born, you get a lot of free formula samples. I always thought, you know formula is so expensive, is there a program for woman who decide they don't need the formula to donate it? I'm pregnant again, and I thought it might be a good idea. I mean its food and expensive at that. I'm sure some mother would apprecite it. Can anyone give me any ideas?

Posted by: new to DC | June 26, 2006 2:22 PM

"Scarry,
Everyday you tell these horror stories about yourself, and when people don't feel sorry for you (except Megan), you get all upset. Maybe this isn't the forum for you."

I didn't ask anyone to feel sorry for me, I was just stating my experince with breastfeeding and how I felt about the ads. Having someone tell you that your kid was not starving is ridiculas.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 2:24 PM

And on the other comment,

Let me get this straight. I can post my experience that happened to me. I can be non-judgmental towards breastfeeding or not, but someone else can post back referencing what I posted, even refuting it and I'm not allowed to say something back?

So they are allowed to have an opinion on my experience, but I'm not allowed to reply back to them?

That makes a lot of sense. It's okay if you don't like me, but the rules should be the same for everyone on the board.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 2:25 PM

Are people actually reading what they write? Why do you care how someone else is feeding their child as long as they are being fed! Not to trot out the "starving children" line but how privileged are we that we get to debate how to feed instead of if we can feed. And simmer down already! This is incredibly un-pc but fighting on a message board is like competing in the special olympics (except with out the pride of accomplishment). . .I'm not going to finish that I'm sure you all get out the point.

Posted by: Oh please | June 26, 2006 2:29 PM

Some long-term perspective on the whole breastfeeding experience:

I was bottle-fed in the late 1940's. as were most post-war babies. So were my sibings. It was the "modern, hygienic" thing to do. It was quite a lot of work, what with glass bottles, sterilizing, mixing and cooking up the formulas (that's why they are called "formulas", by the way!) It incurred extra expense. Mom was not tied to us by breast but she was certainly tied to the kitchen to keep us in bottles. Hardly any women back then had outside jobs so all this medically-approved "make work" was possible.

My sibs and I were not always super healthy as kids but we are all very smart, have college degrees - despite neither of our parents having attended high school - and have done well.

Only bad effect on me was that I was running with a glass bottle dangling from my mouth and fell. The bottle broke and so did all my brand new upper baby teeth! I had emergency oral surgery to remove the broken stumps and then had NO upper front teeth until I was 7 years old! Those teeth then came in VERY crooked. I was 16 months old when the accident happened and the operating room's big round light is, unfortunately, my earliest memory!

I had my kids in the 70's and breastfed them because it seemed healthiest, easist, cheapest, and I wanted to. No one ever told me to - no one! But no one told me not to, either. It was early in the back-to-the-breast movement and there was almost nothing to read and no one but La Leche League to ask questions of. The docs and nurses had no interest. I read the only book I could find on the subject: "Breastfeeding Your Baby", distributed mostly through the La Leche League, so not easy to find. It was very helpful and I learned enough to do the job.

Later, when my first was still nursing and then when I had my second, I joined a local La Leche group for some support and companionship but luckily never really needed any help with the nursing thing. I didn't feel "cultish" about it.

I was a SAHM during those years. But, I am pretty sure it would have been nearly impossible to continue nursing if I had an outside job. Electric breast pumps were not sold in stores. You could rent them for way too much money from medical supply companies and even then they were not often locally available and usually required a doctor's note to get one! Hand pumps were just too slow and hard to use. Expressing by hand was simply a joke. And workplaces were not at all geared to Moms.

The concept of breastfeeding AND pumping AND sterilizing containers AND working seemed totally ridiculous. "Make work" as my hard-working parents used to say. So I skipped 3 of the 4!

(BTW - We had one car and little spare money while I did not work. It was a choice we made and sometimes it was not very fun!)

First kid was totally breast fed for a year and weaned himself very quickly at 13 months. He already knew how to use a cup. Second kid nursed much longer - over two years but it was only a couple times a day by then. He was such a sweet kid, I could not really refuse him. And I was still a SAHM, anyway. As it turned out, the lengthy nursing was probably a good thing for him. He didn't seem to like to eat much. At age five he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis but it has been a very mild disease in his case.

I would nurse my babies if I was starting over again. It was good. I got sore at first. I had to wear only clothes I could get into easily. I had to be there at all feeds for most of the first year. I had to be creative in public to nurse without exposing my breast but I did not ever "hide" to nurse. No nursing on toilet seats!

Full circle - I have a grandchild. He nurses and also gets his mom's milk from a bottle. Lots of paraphanalia involved. They own an electric pump, which you can now purchase at any big baby store. But Mom will be returning to work at 6 months so this is what works. Plus Dad gets to hold and feed baby. So do grandparents!

Whatever works, grows a healthy baby, and makes a good experience for all is the right thing to do. I still prefer breast milk but have to concede that the great experiment of an entire generation of bottle-fed boomers who turned out to be smart and successful shows that bottles are not inherently evil.

Peace.

Posted by: granny | June 26, 2006 2:29 PM

New to DC,

Local foodbanks are a great place to donate them. You can visit the foodbank yourself or visit a local church-- most churches have boxes for donations. It's great that you're thinking about this!

Posted by: Ms L | June 26, 2006 2:29 PM

What is rather interesting here is that I do not see the term "wet nurse" mentioned anywhere. The fact is, lots of women throughout history found breastfeeding either inconvenient or impossible, and before formula, women with less status had to pick up the slack (how's that for a great job opportunity, eh?)

I grew up on formula because "high-tech" solutions were the thing when I was born; "attachment parenting" theorists have turned that around. For the most part, that's a good thing. My mother had me whilst flat on her back, in an operating room, and anesthetized into a stupor - and she surely didn't get to see me right away. Things have improved.

But we never do anything by half-measures here, do we? I breastfed both my babies for a little over three months. And here's my terrible secret: I hated it! And guess what, I don't have to justify that - I just did not like it! However, my kids are quite thoroughly bonded to me, thank you.

What it comes down to for me is this: NEVER do men hear this condescension in PSAs regarding what they do...women are still treated like addled simpletons. Witness same in the current debate over post-menopausal hormone therapy. (Meanwhile, look at those flashy ads for Viagra!)

Posted by: Jill in Denver | June 26, 2006 2:31 PM

Formula is Soylent White.

Read the Bell Curve. Everyone here seems to be smart enough to comprehend it. If I had to feed my kid ground up baby seals to get 10 IQ points, I would.

Posted by: Analyst | June 26, 2006 2:31 PM

Leslie, why the snide remark about childless people not wanting to pick up the slack? How is that not a legitimate complaint?

If BreastfeedingMom has to stop what she's doing every 3 hours and go sit in a little room for 30 minutes and then take another 10 minutes to clean up, how does that *not* require effort from other people in the office to make up for the lack in productivity?

Is anyone going to cover for me if I want to take a 30-minute nap three times a day? More sleep would be good for my health ...

Posted by: Laverne | June 26, 2006 2:32 PM

Laverne, if you know someone who's taking 40 minutes to pump breastmilk, you should out her. There is no way it should take that long. In defense of pumping moms, however, what about the SMOKERS!! How about the slack you have to pick up during the "nic fits"? They are killing themselves on office time, whereas at least pumping moms are helping to keep their babies alive.

LOL about Soylent White, Analyst. That cracked me right up.

Posted by: Whoa! | June 26, 2006 2:35 PM

BreastfeedingMom doesn't go out for smoke breaks or Starbucks, does she?

Posted by: Analyst | June 26, 2006 2:36 PM

"I don't have any children, but to be perfectly honest, I'm terrified of the idea of breastfeeding. My mother told me she had blood blisters and it hurt so badly that she was sobbing the whole time and my dad was begging her to switch to formula. Is that normal? Everybody talks as if it were a wonderful, painless process."

I think you've hit on one of the biggest dilemnas of promoting breastfeeding. First, no, painful blood blisters is NOT normal. BUT, it is common to have problems breastfeeding in the early days, because it is not something that is common enough that everybody knows how to do it. If the baby isn't latched on properly, it can cause a variety of uncomfortable and downright painful problems. If the baby is latched on correctly, it is a wonderful painless process. But it made me crazy that breastfeeding advocates so want to promote how good it is that they often seem to minimize the difficulties women can experience, which is really frustrating.

The best advice anyone gave me was to give myself 6-8 weeks, and to ask for help from a good lactational consultant if I had more than a little bit of discomfort or if lasted more than the first few days (I think a little nipple tenderness in the first few days in inevitable given the dramatic increase in use...). I had trouble getting the latch right on one side and had some pain (though nothing severe) and it wasn't really until about 7 weeks that we found the right positions, my milk supply stabilized, and everything felt easy and normal. I know that 6-8 weeks is a long time to wait, especially if you have to go back to work, but if you want to breastfeed I think that you have to allow yourself that time to "get it right." For me, it was a very worthwhile investment as we are still nursing at 19 months and it's been a wonderful part of our relationship.

PS - Scarry, ignore the blog police, they have a lot in common with the mommy police.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 2:36 PM

"The truth is that breastfeeding should be (and has for the 6 million years humans have been around) the baseline. This is a fact. Not an opinion. If this makes you feel guilty, I don't know what to say. Obviously, the campaign is targeted at those who "choose" not to breastfeed. If you can't breastfeed, that's one thing. However, if you can breastfeed but choose not to, I have to say that you ARE, in fact, going against what is best for your child. You are increasing their risk for various health problems by CHOICE. Again, this is a scientific fact -- not an opinion. If you CHOOSE not to breastfeed and feel guilty, then GOOD!"

AMEN!!!!

To those of you who are using the whole "I was bottlefed and I'm smart and I have 47 college degrees" argument...

Me too. I also rode in a car un-car-seated and un-belted and oftentimes standing on the seat right next to the driver, and am still alive. I also fried myself in the sun as a kid and never used sunscreen and have (so far - I had a scare a couple of months ago) managed to avoid melanoma. I also rode my bike without a helmet and never incurred a life-threatening brain injury.

I like to think of us as an evolving society that takes new information and uses it. We do that with carseats, helmets, and sunscreen. Why can't we do the same thing with breastmilk?

Posted by: momof4 | June 26, 2006 2:37 PM

These lactation people are loonies. When our daughter was born, my wife was unable to breast feed (long story). We bottle-fed our daughter; she's fine. I was a bottle baby as well. I'm mid-forties, well-educated, reasonably successful. Sounds like these people need to get a life.

Posted by: Seattle | June 26, 2006 2:39 PM

Hey, Seattle, hop on the clue bus. Maybe you'd have been the next Warren Buffet if you'd been breastfed.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 2:42 PM

"Just expressing my opinion (which seems to be shared by more than a few here). I'm sorry to offend you but I find your comments like nails on a chalkboard, no matter the subject"

Why would you say this? That was really not nice. Maybe I should just start posting under 50 differnt names like a lot of the other people on here and you just won't know who I am.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 2:42 PM

I see your point about the Starbucks - we all have our moments -but I'm not ready to equate an occasional coffee run with a several-times-a-day standing appointment for months and months.

I work in an environment where *nobody* could get away with spending that much time on "personal breaks" (Starbucks, smoking, etc.).

Posted by: Laverne | June 26, 2006 2:45 PM

Thank you for pointing out the lack of pumping facilities. I pumped for 9 months at a company that not only didn't have any outlets in the bathrooms, they didn't have a single office or conference room that didn't have a big window. I pumped in a supply closet.

Posted by: Liz | June 26, 2006 2:47 PM

Just a little levity since it's getting so serious...

My dad's middleaged friend read in the paper that breastfeeding can add 10 IQ points. He called up his mom, but she said it was too late.

Posted by: Ms L | June 26, 2006 2:47 PM

"My dad's middleaged friend read in the paper that breastfeeding can add 10 IQ points. He called up his mom, but she said it was too late."


Great comment. I haven't asked my 82-year-old mother, but I kinda think she would feel the same way!

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 2:51 PM

Some more levity -

One woman I know used a battery operated electric pump in the bathroom stall at work during her lunch hour (this was probably in the 80s sometime, when it still wasn't very common to pump at work). One day she was a little late and had just gone into the stall and closed the door when two women came into the bathroom. They were standing together at the mirrors talking, and one of them said to the other, "I wonder where the lady with the vibrator is." My friend was appalled and ended up finding a more private place to pump.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 2:51 PM

"Hey, Seattle, hop on the clue bus. Maybe you'd have been the next Warren Buffet if you'd been breastfed."

I don't think that Warren Buffet's IQ is the leading factor to his wealth. If it was, then MENSA wouldn't be filled with a bunch of underachieving, maladjusted, losers.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 2:52 PM

does the Washington Post provide facilities for the women there who must pump their milk? I keep waiting for Leslie to tell us how her employer handles such things as daycare and breastfeeding, I keep assuming an enlightened employer like the Post must be up to speed on these things but Leslie always lovingly describes her Johnson & Johnson benes,not the Post's. So does a big enlightened newspaper do anything for its valued women employees who are new moms?

Posted by: RitaMae | June 26, 2006 2:53 PM

And to the poster who talked about breastfeeding being "the baseline" for thousands of years, that is true in part. On the other hand, women have also used wet-nurses for many different reasons, and one reason was that they chose not to nurse

And yet, through wetnurses, babies were getting breastmilk, not formula, so comparing wetnurses to formula really does not work.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 2:53 PM

Even More Levity,

"My friend was appalled and ended up finding a more private place to pump."

...was your friend named Scarry?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 2:56 PM

Was Warren Buffett fed breastmilk or formula?

Posted by: curious | June 26, 2006 2:57 PM

"What is rather interesting here is that I do not see the term "wet nurse" mentioned anywhere. The fact is, lots of women throughout history found breastfeeding either inconvenient or impossible, and before formula, women with less status had to pick up the slack (how's that for a great job opportunity, eh?)"

Definitely not a great job opportunity, but I don't think many women ever had access to a wet nurse---not if you consider history and the rest of the world. Generally speaking, human history--and for way too many people, the present--involves poverty and a basic struggle to survive. Given that, I don't think too many people had the opportunity to hand their babies off to somebody else for feeding.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 2:58 PM

some of the posts on here today seem like they are from a bunch of twelve year old boys.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:01 PM

some of the posts on here today seem like they are from a bunch of twelve year old boys.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:02 PM

"Just expressing my opinion (which seems to be shared by more than a few here). I'm sorry to offend you but I find your comments like nails on a chalkboard, no matter the subject"

Why would you say this? That was really not nice. Maybe I should just start posting under 50 differnt names like a lot of the other people on here and you just won't know who I am.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 02:42 PM

There are plenty of people on here that says things that I disagree with. And disagreeing/agreeing with others is what we do here. However, I must agree that the personal attacks are unnecessary and irrelevant. If one is going to be personal, you have to be careful. For instance, in general, a three-day-old baby wouldn't be starving to death. But in the specific case of losing half their body weight in that time, they probably were. Sometimes people can say the same thing, you just need to put in the caveats.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:02 PM

Human babies were designed to drink human milk. PERIOD. Anything else isn't "second best"; it's downright inferior, harmful, and dangerous.

Formula should be available - by prescription only - to women who, through medical or other reasons are UNABLE to breastfeed. Of course these women exist - and it is ashame these ads make them feel guilty for something they had no power over. But it's not only these women who are giving their babies bottles of formula all over the country. Not even close. The majority of bottlefed babies have mothers with two wonderful, working breasts full of milk (at least until it dries up). And due to lack of experience and/or lack of information and/or lack of support and/or outright selfishness, the mother decides to formula feed. What a pity. Because each of those reasons, except the selfishness I guess, is easily remedied and should be the target of our ire, not some ads promoting something nearly all of us should be naturally doing in the first place without debate. Where is the horde of women pissed off that their mothers are clueless about breastfeeding because they themselves formula fed? Where are the women blogging about how much it stinks that you can't nurse in public wherever you want? Where are the women sending hate emails and letters to the "big pharma" companies who make sure each and every one of us comes home from the hospital with "free samples" of formula and cute little brochures supposedly about breastfeeding but containing formula coupons? Come on ladies, are we actually arguing about ads that promote nurisng our babies??? It's so sad the world has come to this. And it's even sadder that our anger is so misdirected.

Posted by: True | June 26, 2006 3:02 PM

Warren Buffet, *second* wealthiest man on the planet? Formula fed.

Bill Gates, on the other hand, was clearly breast-fed.

I mean, clearly.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:03 PM

Why would you say this? That was really not nice. Maybe I should just start posting under 50 differnt names like a lot of the other people on here and you just won't know who I am.

Umm, because it's true. Sorry, Scarry, but you are annoying, and I guess you would be annoying under any name.

Posted by: somebody else | June 26, 2006 3:03 PM

True, I'm suprised that you call them "breasts" in your post and not udders.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:05 PM

"And yet, through wetnurses, babies were getting breastmilk, not formula, so comparing wetnurses to formula really does not work."

My point was that for ages some women have not breastfed their own children and let others do it, for whatever reasons. Yes, they were getting breastmilk, but if formula had been around in 1000 BC and promoted as a healthy and safe alternative, some babies would have gotten formula.

Every parent can put a helmet on a child's head or buckle the child in a carseat. Not every mother can breastfeed, so that's why I see this whole intrusive "Breast is Best!" push (women commenting on the behavior of other women they don't even know) and the sickening level of "If you don't, you're HURTING your child!" as totally unproductive. With bike helmets, people got educated, and over time, most parents came to insist on them. Education in a non-agressive, non-belittling, nonthreatening tone will work wonders where all this shrill guilt-tripping is sure to fail.


Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:05 PM

After reading a few of the posts in supportof breastfeeding, I realize how much smarter I could have been if I had been breastfed. Also I would be smarter if I hadn't grown up in a city whose air was polluted by leaded gasoline emmissions, where houses all had lead-based paints, and factories spwewed god-only-knows-what into the air. I really am pretty smart but I could have been waaaayy smarter. Dang!

Parents do the best they can. Really. Mostly. Really.

Posted by: granny | June 26, 2006 3:06 PM

better annoying than immature.

Posted by: you are a jerk | June 26, 2006 3:08 PM

Thank you Megan :) my cousin also had the blood blisters, although she ended up bottle-feeding because she couldn't bear the pain, so maybe this is something that runs in my family (God I hope not).
With regards to the breast milk as baseline, I never realized how wierd this is until now, but my father was raised on goat's milk because he was allergic to his mother's milk (and maybe normal formula too?). Anyway, my point is that while we think of breastfeeding as having been the norm throughout history, there have always been alternatives for those who needed them.

Posted by: M. M. | June 26, 2006 3:09 PM

"Umm, because it's true. Sorry, Scarry, but you are annoying, and I guess you would be annoying under any name."

There are plenty of people on here who annoy me at times, I don't attack and say mean things to them. In fact I usually only reply to people who say things to me or who are being down right mean like you are. Sorry doesn't cut it when you attack someone.

I can't believe you people. get a life.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 3:11 PM

"Human babies were designed to drink human milk. PERIOD. Anything else isn't "second best"; it's downright inferior, harmful, and dangerous."

Actually, why do so many parents then think their children have to drink gallons of cow's milk from ages 2 to 20? Many people are lactose intolerant and are harmed by cow's milk. It used to kill me reading how some parents would howl in the Post after a big snowfall. When their local DC streets weren't cleared immediately, they ranted at the lack of plowing, "My child needs milk and I can't get out to get to the store!!!!" like their child was in serious danger. (And please, most residents of NW DC live within walking distance of at least a convenience store.) And no, your child will not die from going a day or two without milk. Give your child WATER.

I think that if you are giving your child cow's milk then you are harming him/her. If you are feeding your children meat of any kind, you are harming them. Many people would agree with me on this. So can we stop the screeching mommy police? If you are so convinced that everyone capable MUST breastfeed or harm their child, then start making it easier and more acceptable for all moms to breastfeed rather than telling mothers they are doing a "bad thing".

Posted by: Everyone has an opinion | June 26, 2006 3:14 PM

I see nothing wrong with promoting breastfeeding as the best way to feed a baby. It is. I don't see why so many people take offense at this truth. If you have an exceptional situation where breastfeeding is not the best option, then you should do what is best in your situation, but this does not mean that as a generality, you should not say that breastfeeding is best.

Not every generality works for everyone. I find the posters who take offense to the promotion of breastfeeding because they adopted to be just stupid. Of course, if you adopted, you can't breastfeed. That's just a no brainer. No one is saying you should feel bad about breastfeeding if you adopted or are ill or take special meds, etc. But saying that breastfeeding should not be promoted as the best option for feeding babies because there might be some exceptions is just dumb.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 3:15 PM

Rockville, How many people are saying breastfeeding is NOT best. No one really is arguing that. What we are saying is that many many women can't breastfeed, for a variety of reasons. Yes, some simply choose not to, but many more would probably do it if they could. As many have pointed out, employers don't make it comfortable or easy for working moms, and some women simply can't for lots of reasons. A campaign that guilt-trips and makes these women feel BAD really does nothing to "promote" breastfeeding and isn't that helpful. Why not a better campaign? Most of us are taking issue with the "too bad if you can't, but if you don't you are HARMING your child" camp.

Posted by: LMN | June 26, 2006 3:20 PM

My baby was in the NICU and not digesting at all. I pumped everyday (just in case she got better) and established a milk supply while sleep deprived and highly stressed due to baby's condition. I had an over abundance of milk and donated it to a hospital in NC that redistributes the milk to adopted children or children of mother's who've had masectomies, etc. I was sad when I had to stop pumping...........

Posted by: Some interesting points.. | June 26, 2006 3:21 PM

"I find the posters who take offense to the promotion of breastfeeding because they adopted to be just stupid. Of course, if you adopted, you can't breastfeed."

Yeah, well tell that to the "mommy police" who approached me in public and started a whole "breast is best" litany. What a moron! It happened to another friend of mine a few years ago. All I want if for people to get out of my personal business.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:22 PM

I used to direct infant care centers and supported family day care providers and much of YOUR success mom will have to do with their understanding and active involvement. So ask questions, educate and create alliances. Mine are 14 and 18 and were both breastfed til they were about 15 months-- then they weaned themselves! I had no problems nursing #1, but used a lcatation specialist, family and laleche to resolve many problems w/#2.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:23 PM

"Formula should be available - by prescription only - to women who, through medical or other reasons are UNABLE to breastfeed."

Are you for real?! Unbelievable. Do women who go back to work 6 weeks postpartum b/c they need the money to pay the rent/mortgage but whose offices provide no place to pump fall into your "other reasons" category? I really don't see how this is possible until there are more accomodations made for breastfeeding mothers. If you decide to be or must be a WOHM, you really have no choice but to stop breastfeeding before a year is up. There are a few lucky women with the opportunity to pump at work, with expensive pumps, but the majority of women in this country do not have this option.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:23 PM

I don't know what all the studies re: breast versus formula were based on, but the one I recall from Denmark regarding susceptibility to disease and IQ had a balanced study for low versus high income, low versus high IQ moms, and adjusting for everything else, still suggested that breast was better. Which puts moms on the defensive, just like studies which suggest that one should stay home over working and day care, serve balanced meals, let the kids watch less than 1 hour of TV a day, that 2 parents are better than one, that families should be eating meals at home as a family etc. Some of us have to work, so we have to put our kids in day care. Some people have no choice over being a single parent, and can't give the children that two parent environment. Some people can't breast feed, and you know what, some can and don't. So let's let everybody off of that guilt trip merry-go-round. None of us make perfect choices all the time, and some of us don't have choices.

I was very lucky. I could and did breast feed for a year for each child, and I got the loan of someone's pump who was done with it, and I was an attorney who knew my rights so when I looked a judge in the eye and said that I need a break in trial to breast feed, that judge darn well knew he'd better grant me one. And I had an office with a door that locked, and had an outlet. I am very glad I made the choice, but the reality is that it was often an hilarious farce of rushing from court to lock the door, turn off the phone and practice instant relaxing. And that competitive gene would kick in and I'd start developing anxiety about volume production, and that I only had 20 minutes and there's not enough milk or time, and, oh right, relax....

The most supportive people in my office were the men whose wives breast fed. The least supportive were all my women colleagues, none of whom breast fed, because they found it gross, and who let me know that what I was doing was gross. I couldn't even utter the word "Pump" without some of them gagging. The hostile environment came from the women. By the way, I never ever suggested to them that they might be doing something wrong by bottle feeding, but that's another posting.

The bottom line is, surrounded by well educated people and an office equipped to allow it, as well as being an educated mom who knew her rights, it was still stressful and hard and I can see why some might not opt for it. I would do it all over again, and never back down, but you've got to have awfully tough skin to survive the onslaught of negative feedback for breastfeeding. And out here in the midwest, on your first appointment to determine pregnancy, the doctor hands you a packet filled with free coupons for formula. What kind of message is that? I'm with the Canadian commenter, perhaps the ads are good, to educate the non nursing public that we're doing something good for our children and that we'd better be supported.

Posted by: midwestener | June 26, 2006 3:28 PM

I forgot-- how I did it was that I was lucky enough to stay home til they were about 4 months. I'd feed babies at day care at 8 and at lunch and then as soon as I arrived for pick up at 5 while providers fed cereals and fruits. Both of mine were able to adjust their nursing schedules (I added an extra early am feeding) and formula was never really necessary, although I was okay with it as long as it was very occasional.

Posted by: infant care director | June 26, 2006 3:31 PM

Megan,

Thanks and don't worry about me i'm fine. People can gang up on me and be jerks if they want too. If they are picking on me they are leaving someone else alone.

Posted by: Scarry | June 26, 2006 3:31 PM

I'm a WOHM who is planning to breastfeed for at least a year. A year is minimum for me - we've made it to 10 months already. So don't assume that others can't do it too.

To whoever said that people aren't debating whether "breast is best" - actually, YES they are, all the time. Even in the responses to this blog many people say "I was a formula-fed baby and I'm fine." I was a formula-fed baby too... but I actually know about the risks of formula, and made a different choice. Yes, I said "risks."

A few months ago a major formula company recalled their product because of metal particles in the mix. No, formula isn't rat poison, and it does have its place, but I wish it wasn't the norm here.

I think until breastfeeding is a money-maker for a huge corporation, it will still be seen as something for the fringe groups in the US.

Posted by: Mary | June 26, 2006 3:33 PM

Some Interesting Points, you deserve a round of applause. You have done a wonderful thing that will serve many children well for years to come. If there were more people like you on this planet, we would be better for it.

Posted by: I bow to you | June 26, 2006 3:34 PM

My first was fine with breastfeeding, my second will only nurse at night, after everyone is asleep, and there is no activity. My solution is to pump when I can, and realize that there is no such thing as supermom. (The cost of formula was a huge factor in decision making to head for the breast first.)

Do what is right for you & your kids first & always. If you find that your pediatrician is judging you, well for goodness sakes, you are a consumer of their business of medical care! Do what you do when a business relationship is not working: Find another doctor that can hear and understand your issues!

(The other benefit of nursing is the cuddle time you get with the baby.)

Posted by: this is quite the emotional issue | June 26, 2006 3:35 PM

"I don't know what all the studies re: breast versus formula were based on, but the one I recall from Denmark regarding susceptibility to disease and IQ had a balanced study for low versus high income, low versus high IQ moms, and adjusting for everything else, still suggested that breast was better."

I don't know about that one, but the 1990 study in Scotland that determined that breastfed infants have lower risk of infections had SIX TIMES as many formula-fed babies in the study as breastfed babies. It was 97 Bf'd babies to almost 600 Ff'd babies. The *only* socioeconomic factors they adjusted for were maternal age, working-or-upper class and maternal smoking. Most reputable studies have 30+ variables. And yet this study is unquestioned gospel by La Leche League. It's all about hearing what you want to hear.

Next up: a breastfeeding study that guarantees your child a Senate seat if they take to the breast

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:45 PM

Just a quick note regarding the WIC program: WIC supplies mothers who want to bottle feed their babies with formula and mothers who want to breast feed their babies with things like tuna fish, carrots, cheese and other healthy foods for the mothers to eat. The people who work at the WIC offices are supportive of good nutrition in every form.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:47 PM

By the way - even if you are adopting a baby, you are capable of breastfeeding. Not an easy option, by far, but possible, apparently, as I've heard this anecdotally (i'm sure if you google, you'll find information).

Posted by: atlmom | June 26, 2006 3:48 PM

"Formula should be available - by prescription only - to women who, through medical or other reasons are UNABLE to breastfeed."

Again, we go to extremes, and ultimately, these attitudes are detrimental to breastfeeding. Formula should be accessible to whomever wants to buy it. It is not medicine, it is food. I would much rather that formula was accessible than that babies were fed inappropriate other foods (which would happen if formula were only available by prescription).

I think this all or nothing attitude is very detrimental to breastfeeding. Some women cannot breastfeed at all, and some have trouble breastfeeding exclusively because they have to work or have supply issues. This was my case. When I went back to work after my son was born, I pumped regularly, but still, it was not enough to keep my son satisfied, so I also supplemented with formula. I had to work really hard to keep my supply up. I might have decided my supply was inadequate and gone to all formula if my doctor had not assured me that I was doing the right think by pumping and nursing as much as possible, and also supplementing with formula as necessary. I never felt an ounce of guilt over the formula I gave my son, because I knew he was also getting breastmilk. He was healthy and happy and still is. If I had not had the option to supplement with formula, I would have been stressed and worried that he was not getting enough calories.

We need to be flexible about our options. The all or nothing attitude is self-defeating.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 3:48 PM

"I was an attorney who knew my rights so when I looked a judge in the eye and said that I need a break in trial to breast feed, that judge darn well knew he'd better grant me one."

I LOVED this. Good for you, Midwesterner. I think you made great points about the difficulties of pumping and working - for the brief period that I was working in an office and pumped I didn't have any problems with my coworkers giving me grief, but it was definitely a pain. Any mother who does this for any amount of time deserves a lot of credit.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 3:50 PM

"(The other benefit of nursing is the cuddle time you get with the baby.)"

This is something that has always fascinated me. Why do people think that parents who give their children formula are not cuddling with them? We do. Not only that, but my daughter looked at me lovingly while taking her bottle, she played with my hair, we would sit cheek to cheek so I could give her kisses while she ate, etc... Do people think that parents who give their children formula are just handing their newborn a bottle, saying "have at it" and going away? Babies still need to be held to eat, they can't manage any other way.

It makes no sense to me why people think there is some form of heightened bonding that goes on if a child is breastfed over bottle-fed.

Posted by: Jolie | June 26, 2006 3:50 PM

"I think until breastfeeding is a money-maker for a huge corporation, it will still be seen as something for the fringe groups in the US."

Fringe groups? Are you kidding? How old are you? I don't know a single mother who didn't breastfeed for at least 3-4 months. I'm talking about perhaps 25 women, age 25 to 43, within the past 5 years. Some had to stop because of going back to work or whatever reasons, others made it to a year or longer. My female friends are totally typical, and live everywhere from downtown DC to little towns in Appalachia. Breastfeeding is not a "fringe" activity, it's quite the norm among many women, all of whom are well aware of the benefits so make the effort to breastfeed as long as possible. Acting like most women still consider breastfeeding something only radical hippie women do is silly.

Posted by: LMN | June 26, 2006 3:51 PM

By the way - even if you are adopting a baby, you are capable of breastfeeding. Not an easy option, by far, but possible, apparently, as I've heard this anecdotally (i'm sure if you google, you'll find information).

I have heard of this anecdotally also, I also know that this is the exception, and that even adoptive mothers who can produce some milk do not produce enough to really feed their babies. Some women do it for the bonding experience, but seriously, expecting to actually feed a baby this way is only going to set you up for failure in most cases.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 3:52 PM

Granny, thanks for the historical perspective. Interesting. (Granny wrote: I was bottle-fed in the late 1940's. as were most post-war babies. So were my sibings. It was the "modern, hygienic" thing.)

mam·mal
Any of various warm-blooded vertebrate animals of the class Mammalia, including humans, characterized by a covering of hair on the skin and, in the female, milk-producing mammary glands for nourishing the young.

Breast feeding is a mammalian thing to do. It's something we humans have in common with all other mammals. This is interesting. As humans, I think we spend a lot of time feeling seperate from the natural world, especially those of us who live in cities.

I was talking with a highly organized friend the other day and she said something interesting about child-bearing being the one thing thing in her life that was beyond her direct control. Other things (education, work, etc...) happened right on schedule for her. But having a child created a beautiful chaos that she deeply appreciated. It's like it allowed her to tap into a more intuitive, expansive animal side of herself.

My guess is that historially, we humans haven't always been comfortable with the power and mystery inherent in women's bodies. Hence, the switch to formula in the 40's. Maybe the breast feeding activists are angry at having been made to feel ashamed about their bodies and want to create a social environment where women are comfortble breast feeding anytime, anywhere so they can fully participate in whatever activities they'd like to do.

I'd like to see a world where women are comfortable breastfeeding anywhere too. But without creating an environment in which women who can't breastfeed are made to feel ashamed. The fact that this is such a polarizing issue tells me we (as a culture) have a long way to go in understanding and accepting women's bodies.

Posted by: Friend | June 26, 2006 3:54 PM

"It makes no sense to me why people think there is some form of heightened bonding that goes on if a child is breastfed over bottle-fed."

The only way you would understand the "heightened bonding" is if you've actually done it. I breastfed my first baby for 6 weeks full time and another 2 months part time, bottlefed my second baby with breastmilk for 6 weeks full time and another 2 months part time, and exclusively breastfed (including at night, while cosleeping) my 3rd and 4th babies for over 2 years. The bonding is different and not something that someone who has only bottlefed would understand.


Posted by: momof4 | June 26, 2006 3:55 PM

Hi LMN. I'm 32, and I live in NC.

Trust me, I know from which I speak. I am the ONLY woman in my very large family who breastfed. For me, breastfeeding was normal... for my family I AM a hippie chick. This may not be what you have seen, but I know I am not alone in being made to feel like I am a part of a "fringe group."

Please note I didn't say I believe breastfeeding is something only someone in a "fringe group" would do. I do still believe that MANY MANY people think that though.

Posted by: Mary | June 26, 2006 3:55 PM

You said it Friend. So many women here are so willing to attack other women and assert that THEY know what is best for all children. No wonder women still can't get equal pay, guaranteed maternity benefits, breastfeeding stations at work and in malls and restaurants, and all the other things we want. We spend too much time fighting each other to prove how superior and right we are.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 3:57 PM

Granny -

"Parents do the best they can. Really. Mostly. Really."

So....a mother who chooses to feed her baby formula even though her breasts are overflowing with milk, doesn't have any workplace pumping woes, has a support system of friends, a husband, a mother, a mil, lactation consultants, La Leche League.....she's *really* doing the "best she can"?

I disagree.

Posted by: momof4 | June 26, 2006 3:58 PM

I had it pretty good. After they wisked my daughter away and my husband had to stop them from bottle feeding her first, I worked through the learning curve and got to be a pretty good nurser. I pumped early and often, fed her when she needed to be fed regardless of where we were. I had a private office, lactation room, fridge for storage. I managed to pump enough milk to not only keep daycare supplied, I kept my husband supplied through several trips (hotels will store milk for you and it can be transported in a cooler). She gained plenty of weight.

Nursing was a joy, there is nothing to compare to "Momma Snack Naps". She'll probably be in therapy for years because I even nursed her in the middle of a 20K race, she wasn't quite old enough to handle a bottle on her own and we hadn't figured out that the tilt-necked bottles could be used to feed her while we kept going. Yes, I was lucky I had a lot of work and family support and I wasn't particularly shy about feeding any time or anywhere (extremely convenient!).

In fact, the only problem I ever ran into was needing desperately to pump after running from the end of the F terminal to the C terminal at O'Hare to catch a flight. My seatmate didn't mind, but a flight attendent sure did -- she expected me to cover myself with a blanket and work a manual pump at the same time (I was doing my best to be discrete, but please..). United's response to my complaint? I should have pumped in the bathroom. Hmmm, a filthy airplane bathroom occupied for 30 minutes holding a plane up from being able to take off. No thanks.

I wouldn't fault anyone for using formula, but the trend I've seen from this column is a lot of people having to defend breastfeeding. I loved it, I was happy I did it. In the grand scheme of things, I think you bond with your baby regardless. However, I will always advocate breast feeding because I had such a good experience. And no sagging, if I do say so myself.

Posted by: Military Momma | June 26, 2006 3:58 PM

"The bonding is different and not something that someone who has only bottlefed would understand."

The bonding may be different but that doesn't mean it's not bonding and not as meaningful. My friend tells a beautiful story about how his father bottlefed his little brother. I don't know if the bottle held formula or breastmilk, but the infant boy preferred for his father to feed him over his mother, and the father loved to feed his son. They had a little ritual where the boy would put one finger in his father's mouth while taking the bottle. They built quite a bond this way. Different experience, still very important and meaningful.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 4:02 PM

FYI: I believe IQ tests were originally developed to detect mental retardation, so a low score could indicate cognitive deficits, but to say a high score indicates cognitive prowess therefore might be a logical fallacy.

Remember the roundly debunked book "The Bell Curve"? IQ tests are also culturally and ethnically biased. Intelligence and success (let alone kindness and compassion) do not boil down to a number!

The guy with the highest IQ score on record (to my knowledge) is a bouncer in New Jersey. Don't know if he's kind, compassionate, happy or healthy (much more important, I think)...

Posted by: IQdoesn'tEquate | June 26, 2006 4:04 PM

I must have a lot of free time today. This is my third post...

I just thought of what this breast vs bottle (of formula) debate reminds me of - the hand-versus-machine quilting movements.

Do you know why women made quilts entirely by hand? Because they did not yet have sewing machines, that's why. (like most historical breast-feeding)

In the 1930's women who could afford it sent their hand-sewn quilt tops out to be machine quilted by companies. Lots of them.(wet nurses, anyone?)

Soon after that, most households had electric sewing machines but quilting itself was no longer a necessity or even popular hobby. (Moms needed for War Work made formula-fed babies seem a good idea.)

With the 70's quilt revival, the hand versus machine debate began. There were adament factions. (like in today's blog!) This went on for YEARS. But, it turned out that machine-made quilts can be stronger, fancier, more artistic, etc than even most hand-made quilts. (Commercially prepared formulas became the norm.) Now, most quilters use the machine for all stages of the process.

Here's the thing - Our ancestral quilt-makers were not stupid women. If they had owned machines, they would certainly have used them!(Electric breast pumps should be covered by health insurance - and not hust for working moms, SAHM's need to go out, too!!!!)

Back to main topic: so, is formula by now better than breast milk? No, not yet. Will it ever be better? Probably not. Never say never, though. Thenm again, maybe moms will take special supplements to make their breast milk "better", too!

I can easily imagine that someday oommercially "harvested" breast milk, maybe even further enhanced, will be available (at a price) to busy upscale moms, adoptive parents, and moms who just cannot breastfeed.

Then it comes down to the pleasure, comfort, and bonding of holding your baby skin-to skin several times a day. (Like the fun of doing hand embroidery on a crazy quilt.) It's just very good.

Meanwhile, kudos to all the moms who attempt breastfeeding. And - what the heck - to those who use formula but still hold the baby close and look into his/her eyes for feedings. That matters, too.

Posted by: granny | June 26, 2006 4:04 PM

The reality is, people can give their stories, but it's not really that important. Sure you can be healthy if you haven't been breastfed (my sisters and I had a mom who smoked during her three pregnancies, and didn't nurse), but the statistics are quite compelling - breastfeeding IS best for babies, when they've looked at the statistics over time, over however they've looked at them, the results are there, over and over again, no matter how you slice the data. But to guilt people to nursing is not really a good way. It was too much of a bother for one of my sisters to do - it *didn't matter* what anyone said. When my mom had kids, the dr. was god, and they said: this is better than nursing, plus 'you're not tied to the baby.' Today, that is astounding, but then, it was what the dr. said, so it was believed (no such thing as a second opinion or the web back then).
So probably (I haven't seen the ads yet) the ads sound like a very ineffective way to get people to nurse their kids - but truly, we as a society DO have an obligation to try to get moms to nurse their kids more. Will an ad campaign work? I doubt it - people on here are correct, we need more help from companies, the govt, networks, friends, relatives, etc, to see this is as a health issue - JUST LIKE getting people to stop smoking and JUST LIKE discussing the obesity problems in this country.

Posted by: atlmom | June 26, 2006 4:05 PM

"It makes no sense to me why people think there is some form of heightened bonding that goes on if a child is breastfed over bottle-fed."

I think there is a heightened bonding here. Nursing a baby causes a mother's body to produce hormones which intensify the bonding experience. We sometimes forget that nursing is part of our biology.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 4:15 PM

You've got to be kidding about the Bell Curve being "debunked", right? It was far from it. The statistical analysis is sound, as is the sample and the sample selection. Some people didn't care for what the ststistics proved and they attempted to "debunk" them, but most of those people didn't know what they were looking at or just focused.

IQ, or the G factor of General intelligence has a lot to do with many different aspects of life. Just to give you a summary of the findings, people with a low IQ measurement get sick more often, aren't as well off, and generally have more bad things happen to them over the course of their lives.

G or IQ has absolutely nothing to do with occupation, like a bouncer. Read some on it before making a comment.

Posted by: Analyst | June 26, 2006 4:16 PM

Our first and only was born 5 weeks early. We were not ill equipped, we were NOT equipped. She was too small to latch on to me, milk came in about 2 days after she was born. Lactation consultant was irritating at best, recommended small tube of breast milk and syringe taped to nipple. What a very bad, messy and unproductive idea. I pumped and put milk in a bottle for one year and one month. Really. Our daughter never learned to breastfeed but she got the stuff. I traveled for work and sailed a boat competitively the whole time. That pump became part of my life. It went everywhere with us. It was a big hassle, but I think it was worth it. If you are lucky enough to have an understanding employer and support, you can still do the breast milk thing, even if it comes from a bottle. (This allowed Dad to bond more, too, which was great.)

Posted by: AJPsMom | June 26, 2006 4:19 PM

Breastbest, your essay was long but worthwhile. You are right on all points.
As long as people are giving anecdotal evidence right and left, here's mine:
Like my siblings, I was breastfed as a baby (born in 1960, when my mother, thankfully, resisted what was then very strong pressure to bottle-feed). I breastfed my own kids, not for 4 months or 6 months or 12 months, but until they were preschoolers (between 3 and 4 years old). So I'm one of those ultra, super-duper breastfeeding moms who would get gold stars and lots of adulation from La Leche.
That said . . . getting a newborn to latch on can be difficult, and producing enough milk when you're exhausted from an extremely difficult and complicated childbirth can also be difficult. I had trouble early on myself. Persisting in breastfeeding can be difficult in a culture that can be outright hostile to the idea.
I am fortunate that I had absolutely fantastic lactation consultants (I still send them cards), wonderful nurses, supportive docs, a flexible work situation (how else could I be writing on this blog at midday?) and also that I happen to live in one of the hippie-dippie corners of the USA where people are not so uptight about glimpsing a little boobie in a non-sexual context, and in fact people are totally cool about babies and kids in general. Also, I can be very stubborn, so that helped.
I've had great success with breastfeeding, and my kids have thrived on breast milk. But I have to admit, this is not because I'm so special. It's because I was really, really lucky to have all the medical, economic and cultural advantages that set me up for success. I only wish more mothers had similar advantages. We would benefit as a society.
(I do have to add, as a response to those who say, in effect, "I was bottle-fed and I'm OK," it's true that bottle-fed babies grow up to be fine, healthy, wonderful adults, just like breastfed babies. It's just that in general, on average over the entire population, the formula-fed route to that desirable result is a little rockier than the breastfed route. And if you don't think the route matters, you might not have spent many nights sitting up with a sick and/or colicky baby.)

Posted by: Lucky mom | June 26, 2006 4:21 PM

I'm so tired of the argument that breastfeeding should be allowed in public because "it's natural." So is having a bowel movement but you don't do that in public whenever you feel the urge. Do you?

Posted by: cover_your_boob | June 26, 2006 4:22 PM

I'm so tired of the argument that breastfeeding should be allowed in public because "it's natural." So is having a bowel movement but you don't do that in public whenever you feel the urge. Do you?

No, but you EAT in public, don't you?

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 4:24 PM

What happened to: happy mother = happy baby? Other than today, that seems like the most prevalent thought mentioned on the board...but all of a sudden with breastfeeding, that thought seems to go out the window. I don't get it....

Posted by: Have a question | June 26, 2006 4:24 PM

By the way, Military Momma, I loved your post. In the middle of a 20K race? That's pretty funny. And United and that bathroom advice? Feh!

Posted by: Lucky mom | June 26, 2006 4:28 PM

"What happened to: happy mother = happy baby? Other than today, that seems like the most prevalent thought mentioned on the board...but all of a sudden with breastfeeding, that thought seems to go out the window. I don't get it...."

Because a happy baby doesn't necessarily mean the healthiest baby (emotionally, physically, mentally).

That argument bothers me when used in other discussions, but it's especially not applicable when used when talking about breastmilk.


Posted by: momof4 | June 26, 2006 4:30 PM

We all do the best we can, right?? So why are women going back to work when their babies need them for sustenance? That is just selfish.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 4:34 PM

Is there a reason we can't just all get along on this?

I mean, if you want to breast feed, fine. I agree it should be easier for working women (insurance pays for pumps, nicer rooms, etc), and if that's your choice, fine. I think all of ujs can agree that more needs to be done on supporting working mothers who want to breast feed.

If you want to formula feed, IMO, tha's fine too. You don't know what a woman thought through before she made her choice. Maybe she can't feed, maybe she doesn't produce enough milk, maybe she's on medications that can be passed through breast milk. (Which, to bring in an earlier article on this blog, if she's suffering from PPD and gets medication, is almost vertainly the case...) Or maybe she just doesn't want to. SO WHAT? It doesn't hurt you, it only "hurts" her and maybe her child. I really don't see the harm in having your average middle-class woman bottle feed.

But what about the lower class women, I hear you ask. Fine, give them information on breast feeding, but make it part of an overall health program that can increase the chances of them having healthy babies. Better nutrition, alcohol counseling, smoking cessation aids...breast feeding may help poorer mothers have healthier children, but is that good undone by the poor food the mother's eating? I don't know - but having an overall program to help them out can only bring improvement, IMO.

I guess I just don't see how guilting a new mother can help. All it can do is make her feel depressed and resentful.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 4:35 PM

Two comments about this blog "community":

1. I just reread the guidelines under "Post a Comment," and "personal attacks" are one of the things that supposedly "will be removed from the site." I hate to call down the Blog Police, but there was definitely personal attacking going on today. What's more, personal attacks often (but not always) come from unsigned posters--another reason listed under "Post a Comment" for removal of content. Leslie, I know you're a busy woman, but I think maybe some moderation might be in order? When we get distracted by these disruptive posts, we lose the opportunity for those of us who really care about this blog--including Scarry, who was slammed repeatedly today for no good reason--to connect.

2. Speaking of connecting: do any of you regulars feel like you really know another poster, as in know them in real life? Rockville Mom, I think I used to work with your husband... :)

Posted by: niner | June 26, 2006 4:35 PM

Actually babies DO have bowel movements in public. That's one of the reasons they wear diapers. Better a nursing baby in public than a stinking diaper in public, I would say.
But seriously, which is worse for a bystander: A howling, screaming baby who needs nourishment and/or comfort and a mother whose breasts are totally shielded from public view, or a little glimpse of someone's breast and a quiet, contented baby? Most people I know would go for the quiet baby, no matter how much boobie is exposed. Besides, covering up is sometimes easier said than done when a baby is squirming.

Posted by: Lucky mom | June 26, 2006 4:36 PM

cover-your-boob,
So you equate breast feeding with defecation? Interesting....

Posted by: Friend | June 26, 2006 4:37 PM

I am particularly looking forward to being vilified in public by women like "momof4" when I bottlefeed my child. Two days ago people on this board were saying they wouldn't interfere when a child was being berated by a parent in public, now....what a difference a few days and a boob makes.

Posted by: Have a question | June 26, 2006 4:40 PM

It's fascinating how a society that so fetishizes breasts does a complete 180 when a hungry baby is attached to one, especially since that's what they're designed for...

Posted by: niner | June 26, 2006 4:45 PM

Analyst writes: "G or IQ has absolutely nothing to do with occupation, like a bouncer. Read some on it before making a comment."

To Analyst:
What kind of analyst are you? Freudian, Jungian, Adlerian, Lacanian or financial? I'll comment whenever I please.

"The Bell Curve" WAS roundly debunked on its statistical methods. I've read plenty about it.

Normative definitions serve those in the norm very well, me thinks.

"Just to give you a summary of the findings, people with a low IQ measurement get sick more often, aren't as well off, and generally have more bad things happen to them over the course of their lives."

I already said that IQ tests were designed to detect low functioning individuals. Thank you for seconding my post.

Posted by: IQdoesn'tEquate | June 26, 2006 4:45 PM

It's fascinating how a society that so fetishizes breasts does a complete 180 when a hungry baby is attached to one, especially since that's what they're designed for...

You are so right about that. We see so much skin, including breasts, and aren't offended, because it is part of our culture, as long as it's in a sexual context. But the minute we see a breast in the context of feeding a baby, yikes, gross, hide the boobie, that's disgusting. What is really disgusting is our squeamishness about breastfeeding. It is not defecation and should not compared to it. It is just a baby eating in the way nature intended.

Posted by: Rockville | June 26, 2006 4:50 PM

Oh another thing... the drugs they use for anesthesia are not that good for your baby either. I took that seriously and had 2 unmedicated deliveries. That was a big issue back in the 80's, that you were endangering the baby if you had an epidural, why doesn't anyone guilt you over that anymore? When I tell people I had natural childbirth they look at me like some kind of masochist. I don't get any credit for that. But I guess since I only breast-fed for 6 weeks I am bad...? Which issue are we going to bludgeon mothers with next???

Posted by: Cat | June 26, 2006 4:50 PM

Studies like this one that show brestfeeding to be less common among lower income families always seem to be misinterpted something along the lines of 'these women are uneducated and don't know about brestfeeding or are to lazy or unconcerned about thier children's health to bother with the hassel'. I've seen very little about the reasons why lower income mothers don't breastfeed. Many of these women have to return to work right away in order to support thier families. Many of the lower income jobs don't allow for breastfeeding. My mother works in a factory and has been repremended for leaving her station too often to use the restroom. If employees can't even take a restroom break how are they going to take breastfeeding breaks? I've worked retail jobs and found similar attitudes. You can't leave your station/register unattended and the managers won't put up with you asking someone else to cover for you. Often durring slow periods there may only be a couple of employees in the store and they're not about to have an extra person on the clock just so one of the employees can take breaks to pump. Often lunch breaks are for only 1/2 hour so you barely have time to eat much less pump. And I haven't even begun to address the private area and refrigertor issues.

If we really want more lower income women to breastfeed we should make that possible in their workplaces. Spending money on ads that make women feel guilty for not breastfeeding when thier is no practical way for them to do so is a waste of our tax dollars. I'd love to see a more moderate approach or more education about being able to both bottle and breast feed. Maybe we should be encouraging these women to breastfeed when then are home and can and giving a bottle when thier at work.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 4:51 PM

Hi, momof4 - Well, that fictional mom is definitely not doing THE personal best at being a Mom. But she is most probably doing HER personal best.

Much as I sometimes wish that people would be required to earn a license to have and raise kids, I realize that it is not a good idea. No one has ever done everything possible they could/should for their kids. It's probably not humamly possible to be that selfless and perfect.

It's not against the law to feed your baby formula. Just not to feed her at all. The child protection laws are there to protect kids, not to make their lives absolutely perfect. (Thank goodness, or we'd all be in jail!)

(But if we can add more food rules, I personally would like it to be illegal to include trans fats in any food! Like your selfish-mom example, some people just don't choose well, even after reading the label.)

Posted by: granny | June 26, 2006 4:52 PM

I once had the unfortunate experience of being on a plane with a very young mother who was breastfeeding her baby but was, apparently, too shy to do it w/ other people around---even though, in a plane, the only person who can see what you're doing is the person sitting next to you. It was horrible. Moms who are breastfeeding should do so wherever they are when the baby is hungry. End of story.

A little discretion doesn't hurt, but, really, it's a hungry baby. Anyone who would object to feeding it isn't worth paying attention to.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 4:53 PM

Have a question... I totally agree with your sentiment. Judgemental, superior attitudes about breast feeding being the ONLY choice, like those expressed by some on today's blog, only make me want to bottle feed MORE. This is not how to encourage more women to breastfeed, especially those of us who were bottle-fed and are doing just fine. Regardless of whether that is simply "anecdotal," it certainly feels like strong evidence to me, especially when I look at my sisters, cousins, nephews, etc, who were also in no way harmed by formula.

Posted by: inarlington | June 26, 2006 5:04 PM

2. Speaking of connecting: do any of you regulars feel like you really know another poster, as in know them in real life? Rockville Mom, I think I used to work with your husband... :)

Yup. I've thought of e-mailing you because I almost felt like I was eavesdropping seeing your comments here and you (maybe) not knowing it. :)

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 26, 2006 5:07 PM

"Long-term breast feeding, I always wonder about women who have a big two year old pawing at their breasts...who is it really for at that age...the toddler or the woman? I am not being judgemental just curious. "

Actually, at one year, the immunities double in breastmilk and at 2 years they are even more in abundance. Breastfeeding a toddler is very normal, everywhere but her of course. For me, once I was nursing a toddler that`s when the pregnancy weight came flying off. Also, when a woman breastfeeds for approx. 36 months total her chances of breast cancer drops dramatically. Since that is such a huge killer of women why not nurse an extra year? Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Posted by: sam | June 26, 2006 5:10 PM

"I already said that IQ tests were designed to detect low functioning individuals. Thank you for seconding my post."

No, you misundertand. IQ is a variable and so are health, wealth, and the other outcomes that are associated with IQ. "Association" means that there is a relationship all across the whole range of IQ scores. Higher IQ scores are associated with better outcomes, and lower outcomes are associated with worse outcomes.

IQ is no more a tool to detect low functioning than it is a tool to detect high functioning. Unless you are a psychometrician, you might want to hold off on pushing this argument. (And if you were a psychometrician, you wouldn't be pushing it in the first place.)

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 5:11 PM

A year or so ago, Barbara Walters made a comment on the "View" (stupid show) that she had been embarassed by a woman breastfeeding on a plane. To her, and to the woman who thinks breastfeeding in public is like pooping in public, I say I'm thinking you must be jealous because you didn't breastfeed and/or you are just plain ignorant. Breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural process. It's why women have breasts. How has that escaped you?

Posted by: Not my "View" | June 26, 2006 5:12 PM

There are just some things you don't want to see people do in public. Go to a private location if you have to breastfeed. Have some discretion, ladies. You're not uncivilized animals.

Posted by: cover_your_boob | June 26, 2006 5:14 PM

psychowhatnow?

Posted by: huh? | June 26, 2006 5:15 PM

sam, you are right on about toddler nursing. Globally, most children breastfeed until between 3 and 5 years. Breastmilk continues to provide a superior source of nutrition and provide other health benefits to toddlers. I think that our squeamishness with nursing toddlers is much more to do with our societal discomfort with breasts than anything else.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 5:15 PM

mamaf4 said:
"The only way you would understand the "heightened bonding" is if you've actually done it. I breastfed my first baby for 6 weeks full time and another 2 months part time, bottlefed my second baby with breastmilk for 6 weeks full time and another 2 months part time, and exclusively breastfed (including at night, while cosleeping) my 3rd and 4th babies for over 2 years. The bonding is different and not something that someone who has only bottlefed would understand."


Since you've always breast-fed your kids, how do you know the bonding would be different if you had not breast-fed them?

A better experiment would be breast-feeding some of them and bottle-feeding the rest, then do the comparison. That would give you an answer more close to the correct one.

Posted by: b.a.d. wu | June 26, 2006 5:16 PM

To huh?

Psychometrician: Someone who specializes in measurement, especially of human abilities and knowledge (i.e., educational outcomes, but also someone who specializes in measurement as used in scientific psychology more generally.

Posted by: THS | June 26, 2006 5:17 PM

Yes, GLOBALLY most are breastfeed until they're 3. But that's when other adequate forms of nutrition are not available. Here in the U.S., there is no reason for a walking, talking, potty-trained, solid-food-eating, well-spoken child to still be attached to teet. Women who continue to breastfeed after about a year are doing it for their own weird, selfish reasons.

Posted by: dontbreastfeedthattoddler | June 26, 2006 5:21 PM

Well, "cover", I don't want to see people smoking in public either. Nothing natural about that. That you would probably not even think twice about someone having a cigarette in front of you but want people to breastfeed their babies in "private" leads me to believe you might have some hangups (as do most Americans) about bodies. I say get over it.

Posted by: Not my "View" | June 26, 2006 5:23 PM

I think you mean "teat" not "teet".

You're right -- no reason to breastfeed after a year. Immunities for the baby/toddler, big time reduction in doctor visits, decreased rates of almost every disease and problem known to man, that's no reason to breastfeed after a year. That's just weird and selfish, right? Not to mention the benefits for the mom with regard to breast cancer. Weird and selfish? What a screwed up world you live in.

Posted by: Get it Right | June 26, 2006 5:26 PM

Not my "View" sure is defensive. You must like flashing that booby with reckless abandon. How would you know my feelings about cigarettes? I just ask that people exercise some discretion in public places. Face it, no one wants to see your breast or breastmilk. I know. That's tough to handle. But it's the truth.

Posted by: coverthatboob | June 26, 2006 5:27 PM

THS: who's pushing what?

IQ tests are indeed culturally and ethnically biased and have their origin in testing for mental deficits and needs for remedial education. Check it out yourself. Google "Alfred Binet".

Posted by: IQdoesn'tEquate | June 26, 2006 5:27 PM

GetItRight,

There's no concrete proof of any of the "health benefits" of breastfeeding a child until a ridiculously old age. There's a book called "How to Lie with Statistics." I suggest you buy it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 5:29 PM

"Yes, GLOBALLY most are breastfeed until they're 3. But that's when other adequate forms of nutrition are not available."

Actually, there are many places in the world that have adequate nutrition other than the U.S., and breastfeeding toddlers is still the norm. As I and others have stated, there are well-documented health and nutritional benefits for both toddlers and mothers who breastfeed in toddler-hood, and it isn't just selfish weirdness that motivates mothers to do so.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 5:34 PM

Don't worry, cover. I'm not defensive, I'm confident. My honor roll student will beat up your lower IQ child any day.

Boy, you people sure are easy.

Posted by: Not my "View" | June 26, 2006 5:34 PM

"Since you've always breast-fed your kids, how do you know the bonding would be different if you had not breast-fed them?

A better experiment would be breast-feeding some of them and bottle-feeding the rest, then do the comparison. That would give you an answer more close to the correct one."

I did not breastfeeding my second child - I bottlefed her with breastmilk for 3.5 months and with formula after that. (She "refused to latch on", which at the time seemed like a reasonable reason to give up trying to nurse her but is something I would do differently now.) I also only exclusively nursed my first child for 6 weeks, and bottlefed him partime until 3.5 months and fulltime after that.

So I *do* have experience with both ways - bottle and breast, and I still feel that there is a heightened bonding experience with breastfeeding.

***
To whomever it was said that I would chastise (or whatsever the verb was) someone publicly for bottlefeeding - you haven't been reading my posts very carefully. I fully support the right of women to choose how to feed their babies. Just because I might feel that choice is selfish or inferior doesn't meant that I don't think you should have the right to make it or that I would tell you that you're in the wrong for making it.

NOTE: I said *choice*, referring to those who *do* have a choice between breastmilk and formula.


Posted by: momof4 | June 26, 2006 5:37 PM

Megan, I read this blog most days and just want to say that even with the most scurrilous topics, you are the voice of calm and reason. I may not always agree with everything you say, but you don't fall prey to bashing like so many do. Well done.

Posted by: Compliment | June 26, 2006 5:40 PM

Not my "View,"

Maybe I didn't make it clear that I DO breastfeed. Unlike you, I just exercise discretion. And I'm sure my child is much more well-mannered than yours.

Posted by: coveryourboob | June 26, 2006 5:40 PM

Good online info on the history of the IQ test: Note the ties to the modern eugenics movement:

From http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/binet.shtml

"Binet was upfront about the limitations of his scale. He stressed the remarkable diversity of intelligence and the subsequent need to study it using qualitative as opposed to quantitative measures. Binet also stressed that intellectual development progressed at variable rates, could be impacted by the environment and was therefore not based solely on genetics, was malleable rather than fixed, and could only be used on children with comparable backgrounds (Siegler, 1992). Given Binet's stance that intelligence testing was subject to variability and was not generalizable, it is important to look at the metamorphosis that mental testing took on as it made its way to the U.S."

"While Binet was developing his mental scale, the business, civic, and educational leaders in the U.S. were facing issues of how to accommodate the needs of a diversifying population, while continuing to meet the demands of society. There arose the call to form a society based on meritocracy (Siegler,1992) while continuing to underline the ideals of the white upper class. In 1908, H.H. Goddard, a champion of the eugenics movement, found utility in mental testing as a way to evidence the superiority of the white race. After studying abroad, Goddard brought the Binet-Simon Scale to the United States and translated it into English."

"Following Goddard in the U.S. mental testing movement was Lewis Terman who took the Simon-Binet Scale and standardized it using a large American sample. The new Standford-Binet scale, was no longer used solely for advocating education for all children, as was Binet's objective. A new objective of intelligence testing was illustrated in the Stanford-Binet manual with testing ultimately resulting in "curtailing the reproduction of feeble-mindedness and in the elimination of an enormous amount of crime, pauperism, and industrial inefficiency (p.7)" (White, 2000)."

"It follows that we should question why Binet did not speak out concerning the newfound uses of his measure. Siegler (1992) pointed out that Binet was somewhat of an isolationist in that he never traveled outside of France and he barely participated in professional organizations. Additionally, his mental scale was not adopted in his own country during his lifetime and therefore was not subjected to the same fate. Finally, when Binet did become aware of the "foreign ideas being grafted on his instrument" he condemned those who with 'brutal pessimism' and 'deplorable verdicts' were promoting the concept of intelligence as a single, unitary construct (White, 2000)."

Posted by: IQdoesn'tEquate | June 26, 2006 5:42 PM

So you say, but then, you can say anything on a blog and who's to prove otherwise? I don't believe that you do breastfeed. I have never met a mother who breastfed who spouts the vitriol you do about it. If anything, they are more sympathetic toward women who breastfeed, having done it themselves. So I'll go on thinking of your opinions (poorly) as I did before your last post.

Posted by: Get It Right | June 26, 2006 5:44 PM

This is why women just make things harder for ourselves. Why do we have to come to a blog like this and fight? All of you are acting like children yourselves. I was hoping to find some support in breastfeeding. I am breastfeeding a six week old. But as a breastfeeding mother I'm embarrassed at what I'm seeing. It appears as though breastfeeding lowers our I.Q.s.

Posted by: newmom | June 26, 2006 5:49 PM

NewMom -- I would try to ignore the childish posters. About getting support, I suggest you go to www.lalecheleague.org and look for a local chapter near you. Usually the local chapter websites have a number for one of the leaders that you can call literally day or night. LLL has a reputation for being pretty militant, and some of them are, but the leader I called was so, so helpful and supportive when I was having trouble nursing my son at first. (And by at first, I mean for the first 4 months of his life.) If you are committed to breastfeeding, I would absolutely recommend them. I didn't have much luck with the lactation consultants at the hospital. Good luck to you.

Posted by: NewMom - Suggestion | June 26, 2006 5:55 PM

Thank you for the suggestion. I will give them a call.

Posted by: newmom | June 26, 2006 5:59 PM

NewMom - I second the suggestion to seek out some La Leche League groups, and would add that it's worth it to go to a couple if there is more than one in your area to find one that suits your personality - some are really, really militant but some are very laid back and supportive of women at whatever stage they are in.

And Compliment, thanks, that was really nice.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 6:01 PM

Scarry, of course you can comment back. But I wish you'd say something insightful about your situation and not "you're a jerk"

Posted by: bv | June 26, 2006 6:25 PM

New Mom- Best bf'ing info I found online is babycenter.com and kellymom.com. Better than the LLL. Sometimes simply posting on the message boards on BC will get you the info and support you need to get over a bf'ing hump. Growth spurts happen at about 1 week, 3 wks, and 6 wks (and then some). Baby will be attached even more then and it can be really challenging. Ride it out though b/c the more time baby is stimulating the milk the more your supply will increase.

I think way too many moms cry "I couldn't make enough milk! My baby would have starved without formula." If the problem was those early days consider your birth...lots of drugs and fluids? That can delay the milk. 90-95% of moms go with medicated births and c-section rates are at almost 40%. Maybe we should be looking closer at connections there to poor bf'ing experiences at the beginning.

Also, it really IS NORMAL for a baby to lose 7-10% of their body weight. Most will regain it in 1-3 weeks. A healthy baby is designed to be able to handle that. So many moms don't know or believe it.

I think that the first 7 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding were harder than anything I ever went through. But, I am so glad that I stuck it out. It got so much better. I had mastitis and thrush in the beginning. I cried thinking about the baby needing to be fed. Many moms would have given in but I knew it had to get better.

So many moms never push themselves and then go on to tell everyone they know how awful bf'ing was. Well, yeah, if I only knew what the early weeks were like I would say the same thing. And I would thus contribute to all the negativity that surronds bf'ing. There is almost a culture of defeat set up around bf'ing. So many moms go into it expecting it to be hard and know they will half heartedly try before quitting.

It is helpful to be realistic about breastfeeding and know that it may be hard the first few weeks. But we don't need to make it out to be as bad as some women on here have done.

If someone had told me I would make it to 19 months at the beginning I wouldn't have believed them. I just know that once we figured it out there was nothing better. It was free, easy and just right for both of us.

Posted by: Beth | June 26, 2006 6:25 PM

Those of you that are uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public, Don`t look! You will see more boobage at the beach than you will ever see when a woman is nursing. Get a life.

Posted by: sindy | June 26, 2006 6:35 PM

I'm sorry bv if I hurt your feelings, but maybe if you and the other posters on this board didn't gang up on me today, maybe I wouldn't have called you a jerk.

Apparently, you think that it is perfectly acceptable for someone who doesn't know me to post that my baby wasn't starving. That was the most hurtful, disrespectful thing anyone has ever posted towards me on this blog. oh, and I want sympathy, you and everyone else should know that women like me don't need it we give.

That's like someone saying "I had cancer and couldn't have a baby."

And me replying back "you didn't have cancer you had an STD, it's your own fault. good, I hope you never have one"

Don't act like you didn't provoke me because you did.

Posted by: scarry | June 26, 2006 6:42 PM

niner,

Thanks, I think I made some people mad over the SUV talk on the other blog. I'm okay, i'm used to it. I always the biggest mouth in the room and the one who advocates for everyone else. Some woman love to hate me becasue I am assertive and I speak up no matter who is listening. Some men are intimidated by me for the same reason. Go figure.

Posted by: scarry | June 26, 2006 6:53 PM

"I did not breastfeeding my second child - I bottlefed her with breastmilk for 3.5 months and with formula after that. (She "refused to latch on", which at the time seemed like a reasonable reason to give up trying to nurse her but is something I would do differently now.) I also only exclusively nursed my first child for 6 weeks, and bottlefed him partime until 3.5 months and fulltime after that. "

Is it possible, then, that your lesser bonding with the child you did NOT breastfeed was due more to guilt at not being able to achieve the outcome you wanted and less with the fact that she wasn't actually sucking your breast? I guess what I am asking is are you projecting your guilt onto that relationship? I have no guilt over my decision to feed my daughter formula, and since I knew/know in my heart and soul that my decision was correct for us, I have no guilt so I had nothing getting in the way of my bonding experience. I think for many women who choose to breastfeed and then can't, the biggest reason for any lack of bonding is probably one sided (coming ONLY from the mother - I doubt the baby feels any less bonded) and is likely due to feelings of inadequacy.

Posted by: Jolie | June 26, 2006 6:57 PM

Scarry, you're mixing up the posts. You never called me a jerk!

Posted by: bv | June 26, 2006 7:00 PM

I went back and re-read the blog, I didn't call you a jerk, I called wishful thinking a jerk, so unless you are posting under both names, what's the problem.

Leslie, take myjerk commenent off becasue of all the "innocent' people I hurt here today with the comment.

Posted by: scarry | June 26, 2006 7:03 PM

To sindy and others re: public feeding.

There are people who are uncomfortable with this, including myself. I don't really think that it is 'wrong', but I am nevertheless uncomfortable. I am closer to 50 than 40, and I was raised by a mother who taught 'modesty'. As a teen in the late 60's - early 70's, I was told that it was disgusting to leave the house braless - no cleavage showing, just braless but my mother thought this was completely unacceptable. I was taught that certain things were done in privacy. So, as a result of my background, I do believe that breastfeeding is a personal, private activity. However, I would never tell someone they shouldn't do it - I just feel uncomfortable around it. Maybe this is where Barbara Walters was coming from also.

I also would never be comfortable on a topless or nude beach - for the same reasons. Understanding that it is natural and feeling comfortable don't necessarily go hand in hand.

Posted by: bjt | June 26, 2006 7:07 PM

I wish someone had told me how hard breastfeeding could be because I really wasn't prepared for the pain of those first two weeks. I had an excellent lactation nurse, a mom who had nursed (at a time when no one was nursing), and a supportive husband. Things really improved after a week and I nursed for 14 months.

I thought I was prepared for a difficult start when my twins arrived, but it was even worse and didn't get better for a year! Throughout my MIL, who had formula fed all four of her kids, kept telling me to quit, which probably made me continue! Thankfully, supply wasn't an issue and I had two very healthy and happy girls (it was just mom who had the hard time). It is possible to nurse twins, but definitely a challenge and incredibly time-consuming. My then 2.5 year old watched a lot of PBS while I nursed his sisters. After 14 months, I was done with nursing.

Obviously, there are reasons why people don't or can't nurse and that's really none of our business. But, studies show that breastfeeding is better. This information should get to the public and hopefully encourage women to breastfeed and push others (bosses, co-workers, partners, etc.) to be more supportive. Studies have told us to put our kids on their backs, to use carseats, to stop smoking, etc. and these studies gave us information on how to keep our kids a little bit safer. I constantly fear for my kids' safety. There are somethings that I just can't control, but there are things that I can control (breastfeeding, carseat, etc.) and it makes me feel a little better to do them. What wrong with that?

Posted by: momof3 | June 26, 2006 7:09 PM

"Studies have told us to put our kids on their backs, to use carseats, to stop smoking, etc. and these studies gave us information on how to keep our kids a little bit safer."

My first child slept on the stomach (late 80's) and the second on the back 4 years later because that was the conventional wisdom at the time. Now I think the recommendation is on the side (not sure cause I no longer have babies). Also, I remember when eggs were bad, eggs were ok, only part of the egg was OK.

It's great that everyone is concerned with being informed parents doing the best for their children, but over the years there have been many instances where expert opinions have changed.

My philosophy was to listen to the advice of female relatives whom I trusted, discuss options with my husband, and trust my insticts and trust my pediatrician's advice (I'm not the one with the MD).

I breastfed for only a short while with each of my children and stopped because I wanted to.

For those who advocate the ease of breastfeeding, I say that the easiest feeding for me was when I turned it over to my husband and he fixed bottles and fed babies and I could actually get some sleep ;-).

Posted by: bjt | June 26, 2006 7:23 PM

"Women who continue to breastfeed after about a year are doing it for their own weird, selfish reasons."

The science contradicts the above statement. . .unless you believe that it is weird and selfish to want to boost children's immune systems and improve your own health. The American Academy of Pediatrics, among other groups, recommends that children be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life, and that they continue breastfeed until they are at least two years old. So there.

Posted by: look at the science | June 26, 2006 7:27 PM

If you want to breastfeed, then do it. That doesn't give you the right to tell others, especially strangers, that "breast is best". I put you in the same category as the people who come to your door because they believe that their religious beliefs are the right beliefs and that it is their duty to convert everyone else.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 7:33 PM

I was always disappointed my infant daughter slept whenever we were on the Metro. I really wanted to see who they'd ticket -- me for feeding her, or her for eating/drinking on the Metro.

If nothing else, breast feeding took a lot of humor.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 7:47 PM

I breastfed my first for 10 months until my milk dried up. Now I formula feed. I can definitely say that I felt more "bonding" with her when I was breastfeeding than I do now when I give her a bottle, even though we still hold hands, look into each other's eyes, etc. I thought for sure once I made it to 6 months I could make it to a year, but it wasn't meant to be.

To coveryourboob: a baby's head is generally larger than a breast, or covers the vast majority of it. When I breastfed on planes, in restaurants, etc., no one was the wiser.

Lastly, I'm fortunate to live in MN, where companies of a certain size are mandated to provide pumping facilities. I also had a very supportive manager whose wife breastfed. I just took my computer down to the lactation room every day (old office with small cubicles and a sink) and thus I didn't lose any "work" time (so I wasn't slacking off). Also, most pumping moms I knew used their pump time as their lunch break -- so I would eat at my desk so that I could take 30 minutes in the a.m. and in the p.m. to pump and clean up.

I don't know a lot of people who made it to one year breastfeeding -- the babies weaned themselves (like my daughter), their milk dried up, etc. My baby turns one in a couple weeks and I tell you, I can't wait to spend my formula dollars on something else!

Posted by: NewMom | June 26, 2006 8:06 PM

Re: June 26, 2006 07:33 PM ... My sentiments exactly. I don't doubt the benefits of breast-feeding. But please, why can't people just stop with the evangelism already?

Posted by: Tonio | June 26, 2006 8:27 PM

On breastfeeding in public (and others' discomfort with it) I'm wondering if the discomfort is with actually seeing a breast (or the mere possibility of that happening) or the knowledge that the baby is nursing. I know there are some women who nurse in public who leave themselves exposed either before or after the baby latches on - is that the problem? Or does it still bother you if you see a woman with a baby already latched on (in which case you wouldn't really see anything out of the ordinary in terms of exposure)? I know that it is possible to nurse in public without revealing anything so it just made me wonder if its modesty or discomfort with the breastfeeding itself. And I do mean this in honest curiosity, I'm not trying to be sarcastic or obnoxious.

Posted by: Megan | June 26, 2006 8:51 PM

Megan, as a woman (2 months pregnant! :)), I have seen women nursing under a blanket, which I have no problem with. Baby latches on under the blanket, breast is never exposed, no problem. Out of sight, out of mind. I hate seeing women who leave themselves exposed or use a sling, where there always seems to be the possibility of a peep show happening. Let's face it: most new moms aren't Heidi Klum or Sarah Jessica Parker, who look amazing after a few weeks. I **really** don't want to see their overweight, sagging, blistered-nippled bodies. I know I will probably look no better after I give birth: and I plan on keepin' it covered up, nobody needs to know that much about my body except my husband.

I don't plan to breastfeed at all, not for that reason though. I will be on medication which I am not willing to forgo. I am sure that there is some benefit to breast milk - though probably much less than what LLL squacks about - but it isn't great enough for me to change my mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 26, 2006 9:10 PM

Leslie,

Thanks for weighing in on the breastfeeding debate - fanned by the federal campaign. I was probably what some other posters would have called a lactaction nazi with my first child. Breastfed him for 13 months. He had formula 2 or 3 times and didn't like it (only when I was completely unavailable). With my second child I only breastfed for 10 or 11 months, and not exclusively. With the first, I had a wonderful, flexible schedule and great places to pump (though they were not designed for that). With my second, my health was in danger a few days after her birth so she had to have formula to get enough calories. ANd I went back to a traditional work schedule at a place with limited places to pump. So I know both sides and I still believe breast is best, but choice is absolutely a woman's right. I think more women would choose to breastfeed if they had all the information, support and time at home. It's time to make that happen.

Posted by: NappyHappyMama | June 26, 2006 9:13 PM

Megan,

my husband is a law student and I just have to say that as hard as he works, I am doubly impressed that you are studying for the bar and a mom who managed to breastfeed! rock on!

and Scarry, I don't always agree with you but you add a really nice flavor to this blog (in the same way Fo4 does...who else misses that nut?)

for the rest of you, I am a SAHM and it has taken me until 9:09 pm to finish reading this blog. I can't keep up with ya'll. I t is so hard to squeeze in some reading time. my 2 year old doesn't cooperate.

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | June 26, 2006 9:13 PM

I forgot to mention that Sean made the same points my husband did...that the arguement should be framed in the context of formula raises your risks vs breastfeeding advantages... and I just wanted to say I wish there were more guys out there who were as supportive. I wouldn't have been able to breastfeed until my daughter naturally weaned if my husband hadn't been so supportive during a bad stretch where I had to be on medication and we didn't know whether it would be for the rest of my life or just a couple weeks. He was so encouraging during that "pump and dump" period...which felt like eternity.

My hat is off to all you ladies that pumped for any length of time. i found that to be the hardest/most annoying part of nursing.

LLL has some fringe dwellers but it is an amazing resource if you are struggling. Just remember they are just moms like you, trying their best and hoping to help others.

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | June 26, 2006 9:20 PM

Maybe father of 4 is on vacation? With all the scarry bashing that went on today, I really didn't get a chance to respond too many of the great posts.

However, I feel that new mother's shouldn't be made to feel bad about whether or not they breastfeed. My sister was a new mother and she worked in a factory, which meant after 2 months of breastfeeding she couldn't do it anymore (yes, I want everyone to have a pity party for my sister.

My mom, never wanted to breast feed, therefore I was bottle fed. (Must be the reason for my low IQ, thus the reason why I lied about my daughter's starvation, my annoyance level to other people is so high, and why I call people jerks.

I really wanted to breastfeed since I was blessed with some big ones, but alas, my daughter didn't really latch on that great and, like I lied about before, lost half her body weight in three days. I breastfed her for six weeks until I got really sick and couldn't even lift my head off the pillow in the hospital. (Whoa, I want another pity party here). You all say the rosary for me five times!!!!!

So she got some breast milk and formula, which must be the reason why she is so darn cute and lovable, although she is really hard to potty train.

Just love your children and like granny said, do the best you can.

Posted by: scarry | June 26, 2006 10:18 PM

Something else to think about - since when is it anyone's *right* to do something that makes others uncomfortable? Just because you *can* breastfeed anywhere you like doesn't mean you should. I once had dinner at a very expensive DC restaurant and my date was treated to a lovely view of a woman breastfeeding and then burping her baby (who proceeded to spit up all over the place) at a table directly in his line of vision. Several other patrons suggested quite pointedly that she'd be more comfortable and less "on display" in the manager's office or the ladies' room, but she insisted that she had "the right" to feed her child anywhere she chose, regardless of the fact that the rest of us wanted to enjoy our meals sans baby-vomit! There is such a thing as consideration for others, even if you think your child *is* the next Warren Buffett.

Posted by: here's why | June 26, 2006 10:41 PM

Scarry
i know what you mean about the challenges of potty training. we are in the throes of that now.

I am sorry you struggled both with breastfeeding and with health problems. It is hard enough to suddenly be the sole reason a human being survives, but to deal w/ complications can really be scary/frustrating for all involved.

btw is your name "scarry" referencing your scars or do you mean scary? I've wondered for a while because I vaguely remembered your first post being about something that was scary, although I can't remember about what.

Hopefully those tough times made you more able to cope with possible future situations.

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | June 26, 2006 10:55 PM

"Some men are intimidated by me for the same reason."

Now THAT might be the funniest thing ever posted on any blog, anywhere.

Posted by: Har har | June 26, 2006 11:14 PM

I fully support every mom's right to choose whether to formula feed or not. I would never challenge that decision, being a mom is too hard in those first weeks and months.

People, however, seem to be mixing up respecting choices with analyzing the evidence endorsed by respectable medical establishments (such as the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics) of what is optimal for babies. Formula was developed (originally by Nestle I believe) for those mom's who could not breastfeed, not as a replacement.

The evidence REALLY IS OVERWHELMING that breastfeeding is best. A mom makes what her baby needs, her body responds with antibodies to the various illnesses that mama and baby are exposed to. It has special properties that support brain growth. Formulas seek to emulate breastmilk, they do the best they can, but it is simply not the same.

In response to the questions regarding whether women with poor nurition should be breastfeeding, the mom's body takes what it needs to feed the baby first, it is the mom's health that suffers if she does not eat right, not baby.

Regarding breastfeeding in public, I support it. I have breastfed in restaurants, in airplanes, whereever I was that my baby was hungry. If I was shopping, I chose to go near a Nordstroms because they provide a lovely lounge to nurse in. I tried not to ruin anyone's dinner, and my baby virtually never spit up. But, babies need to eat quite often and if you think that nursing moms should be required to live their lives in the short windows of time that exist between feeding times, that is simply cruel. Being a mom is hard and often isolating. Those first few months are about survival. If I had to keep myself out of the public anytime there was a chance that I might have to feed my baby, I would have been a good candidate for PPD (see last weeks chat on that). And if you think it is a good idea to just give a bottle when out and about, not only does that create supply problems, in many women, myself included, it creates major leakage problems, which are probably more disturbing that the public nursing.

Posted by: Another DC mom | June 26, 2006 11:30 PM

some background: upper income, over-educated, SAHM, breast-fed the first two for just over a year, when they weaned themselves. boob exclusively for first six months in hopes of avoiding allergies. never gave any formula. hand-pumped some for the first so i could leave her with her daddy for a few hours now and then, but second wouldn't take a bottle, and i didn't go anywhere without her. had mastitis with the first - IV antibiotics, etc, and cried every time she latched on, but after two months it was really pretty nice. second no problems, and hope the third will be a born sucker, too. (heh.)

assorted thoughts:
*telling people what they should do when it is none of your business is rude, even if you are right. a store clerk told me she hoped i was nursing, which i was, but i was floored! anyone who would approach a stranger and tell them they should breastfeed should get a verbal smackdown from their intended victim. i can't believe these nazis really think they are going to change the situation - they go into the encounter to belittle the bottle-wielder and give themselves a little thrill.

*formula companies are at least a little evil. i've traveled extensively in third-world countries, and it disgusts me that they've done such a good job of convincing moms who really can't afford not to nurse their babies that formula is superior. (i'm talking about healthy women here.) these moms and babies need every advantage they can get, since health care can be spotty, but they believe formula is better.

*obviously our society is cracked. didn't barbara walters even say it made her uncomfortable when she saw breast-feeding on a plane? very sad that breasts are first and foremost sex toys, and secondarily "feeders." part of the overall second-class position of women. working women will never get the support and facilities they need until society places more value on what women do. it would be great to see gov't/business lead the way.

*i know a bunch of wealthy, educated women who never even tried to nurse their babies. it was too "icky" or "gross." because i would never, ever, be anything other than polite or supportive to a person's face, and would only talk about them to my husband or anonymously on a crappy blog, they would tell me all about it. one woman actually said she didn't know what was happening when fluid leaked out of her boob, and that her husband had to point out that it was milk. i swear these women have excellent educations and are otherwise savvy, but they are so far removed from what these appendages are for that it is truly sad. that a few have had implants post-child-bearing seems to underline why they think we have boobs. (not an implant slam.) the unifying themes in all of their comments was that they had heard endlessly breast was best, society made them feel guilty, but that it was too nasty/just wasn't them so they would never try it. they had "turned out fine" from bottle feeding, so they suspected that there really wasn't that much of a difference. no ad would change them, i'm sure. not sure that anything would. society again? perhaps their daughters will feel differently if enough changes?

*the times article kept referring to "extended" breast feeding as having extra benefits, but i never saw where "extended" was defined. can anyone tell me? obviously multiple years must count, but is a year enough? from what i can tell, a year is a pretty long time for most people - hadn't realized only 30% make it to that point. we have mega cancer risk in my family, so if i need to push kid three beyond a year, i'll try harder.

*haven't seen the ads, not sure they sound effective. sounds like lots of moms quit/don't start because of work obstacles, not total indifference to infant welfare, so obviously some changes at work might need to be mandated, while the gov't is getting busy on the issue. perhaps more could be taught about nursing back during sex-ed? what are some constructive ways the gov't can help?

*in some ways it seems good that the gov't is actually putting some money into the issue, even if all that happens is that people start talking. so long as somebody listens. not too sure that happens on this board.

Posted by: blahblah | June 26, 2006 11:44 PM

Megan,

The discomfort comes from knowing that the breastfeeding is taking place whether there is a visible breast exposure or not. It has more to do with the belief that some things are meant to be private. And it really has more to do with how someone has been raised and how they feel about it emotionally than how they see it intellectually. Knowing that it is Ok doesn't automatically make you comfortable with it.

My aunt died and after a while my uncle started seeing someone else. I love my uncle, want him to be happy, and believe that my aunt would also want him to find happiness again. Regardless, I was uncomfortable seeing him with the new woman. Not completely rational, but it was how I felt. In fact, I was surprised I felt that way. IMO, I think that non-rational human emotion comes into play with the breast-feeding issue. So, while I believe that it is OK to breat feed publicly and I will try to hide my discomfort, I will feel uncomfortable around it.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 1:14 AM

Fine. But if you are asking for affordable daycare & "flex-time" (WTH?) for moms, you had better ask for it for dads, too, and for caregivers of elderly, often forgotten. I think that that's the issue: the older I get, the more I realize that one parent should stay home to do the job right. Period. And I should not have to pay for them to do so. Heck, I haven't been blessed with kids (thank God that I do have many other blessings), so why should I pay for their rugrats? I have been caring for an elderly parent since my thirties.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 1:57 AM

Oh, and people should breastfeed wherever they are and want. Period. It's ridiculous to have it any other way. Completely indisputable. (I'm the poster above w/no kids caring for parent.)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 1:59 AM

pro-nursing mama,

my name is scarry, pronounced like scary. The potty training is super hard, sometimes she goes all day,other times not at all. I geuss all you can do is keep on it.

Posted by: scarry | June 27, 2006 6:32 AM

I am a board-certified lactation consultant in the Washington Metro area. I understand and empathize with all of the anger in this blog. I am angry too, that there is official recognition of the importance of breastfeeding for maternal-child health, but yet so little real support in terms of dollars, time, corporate support etc.

Most LCs work their tails off helping mothers and babies, often for free or reduced rates, get no reimbursement from insurance companies, and there is no official recognition of the IBCLC credential (meaning that your "lactation consultant" could have taken a week-long class, or read a book, rather than someone like me who is board certified and has devoted 5 years of her life and tons of money to studying lactation management, in order to provide the best quality lactation care to mothers and babies).

I am angry on behalf of all of you who have not gotten the support that you needed to make breastfeeding work. But nothing is going to change without an outcry from citizens, oops "consumers," demanding high-quality (IBCLC) lactation services in the hospital and after discharge. We need to demand this from insurance companies, hospitals, and the government. This is where our tax dollars and our emotional energy should be invested.

I hope this post inspires a few people to write to their hospital, insurance company, representative in Congress, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Posted by: IBCLC | June 27, 2006 8:07 AM

When my nephew was born six years ago, I watched how my sister-in-law would always be running off to another room for privacy when she needed to nurse him. And this was at family gatherings, not even out in the general public. It seemed like she spent her life in another room while missing everything else that was going on. So when my daughter was born two years later, I determined that if I was going to go the breastfeeding route, I was going to get over my natural modesty and deal because there was no way I was going to constantly be running off to hide in order to bf. And really, once you get the hang of it, you really don't expose yourself to others. It's not that hard. And while I agree that a mother should be able to bf wherever whenever the baby's hungry, modesty aside, there are occasions when it does seem more appropriate to go to a more private area. But certainly not MOST of the time.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | June 27, 2006 9:00 AM

The reality is that it is healthier for baby AND THE MOM to nurse the kids - there are tons of studies on that, as well (lower cancer rates, for one).
You have the right to nurse anywhere, but, as someone mentioned above, a 'nice' restaurant is probably not the place. If it was a place where kids typically go, then I would say, it was appropriate (I've nursed plenty of times in restaurants). Many people are uncomfortable, and so what, really.

Posted by: atlmom | June 27, 2006 9:03 AM

I have GOT to spend more time on the computer! I only got to read the first and last ten posts to get the tenor of this chat. My own personal experience with breast-feeding (and I may be outing myself if anyone I know reads this because there just aren't that many people like me out there!) was supposed to be one year per kid. I ended up nursing the first one for a year and a half but supplementing with a bottle after 6 weeks. The second one did the same but would not wean by age two, so I had to go out of town for several days. I pumped sometimes, I had mastitis twice (that sucked), leaked, bled, etc. It was totally worth it. I was never breast-fed because I was a premie some 30 years ago and stayed in the hospital for 6 weeks. My mom had other kids at home and was not encouraged to breast-feed or pump. I am fairly healthy and have no known allergies. My oldest sister, however, was breast-fed and is allergic to every known allergen in the world. Pollen, nuts, eggs, animal dander, etc. Go figure.

Also, when I was having babies, my husband was in the service. Go to a military base anywhere in the world (o.k.--not the middle east) and see how many babies and small children are around! The general adult population is of child-bearing age. At the same time, many are not highly educated, and the age of first-time motherhood is lower than average. I knew lots of mothers who nursed and many who were never encouraged to do so. I nursed whereever I was, but you would never have been able to tell because I had a special blanket that tied around my neck and had a stiff collar at the top that allowed my baby to nurse, allowed me to see her if I needed to, and allowed everyone else to enjoy their space. I am proud that I did influence my young neighbor to try nursing her second child. She was extremely grossed out by it, but was able to see the many benefits of it as well. I think the practical advantages of breast-feeding should be advertised--helps you lose baby weight, you don't have to make bottles in the middle of the night, no worries about bad formula (you did see that law and order episode?). But bottle feeding is a good alternative and supplement. As a bottle-fed baby and healthy, productive citizen, I proclaim that you should do whatever you want. Just please, for the love of insert-your-flavor-here, don't put soda/coke/rootbeer in the freaking bottle! That is all.

Posted by: parttimer | June 27, 2006 10:28 AM

i just think it's funny how the pendulum swings: during the 70s, my mother was denigrated for her choice to breast-feed; now, it seems that formula has fallen from favor. really, i don't care what society says about my choices; i'm going to do what is best for baby.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 10:34 AM

Women have come a long way from the days in which their primary responsibility was care of their children. Back then, breastfeeding was the only source of nourishment for infants, and because of that, mothers had extensive support systems--friends, mothers, sisters--and a vested interest in becoming well-versed in the nuances of nursing.

The world of modern mothers has now greatly expanded - women have been able to participate in the workforce for generations, and even SAHMs have the opportunity to venture beyond the boundaries of the home.

I'm a huge fan of breastfeeding and its benefits, having breastfed both my son and daughter until they were 2 years old. I look at charts and notes I wrote to myself in the early days--all the time and energy spent nursing, pumping, cleaning equipment, running over to the daycare to breastfeed, all while holding down a full time job--and I'm amazed (and proud) that I lived through such a regimen.

It's because of my experience that I recognize every woman may not be able to devote the time and energy needed to make a 100% commitment to breastfeeding. It would be nice if women had the resources to be fully informed, and be allowed to make their own decisions about feeding without the clattering chatter of society's running commentary ringing in their ears. Until that day, mothers will just have to fully educate themselves, whether formula or breastmilk, and take comfort in the fact that they made the best decision for their babies and themselves.

Posted by: Valerie | June 27, 2006 10:44 AM

Thanks pro-nursing mama! Good luck to your husband and on the toilet training (I'm not looking forward to that one...)

Posted by: Megan | June 27, 2006 10:47 AM

Holy coupons, Batman! I just read that there was an economic incetive for WIC participants to bottle-feed. Someone is misinformed. Go to WIC, read the labels. I was on WIC. Because I breast-fed, I received more food than a mother with a bottle-fed baby. Why? Because I needed more calories.

Posted by: parttimer, again | June 27, 2006 10:52 AM


" I do believe that breastfeeding is a personal, private activity."

Actually, anywhere a baby can be bottle fed a baby should also have the right to be breastfeed. It really is a public health issue and how can we get more people to nurse successfully if people are still so prudish about something so normal?

The fact that our culture sexualizes something that is a vehicle for food in the entire mammal kingdom (!) is not babies faults. They still deserve the biological norm, not something inferior, made with the cheapest of everything so it can make more of a profit.

Posted by: sindy | June 27, 2006 11:27 AM

sindy,

talk about taking something out of context. "I do believe that breastfeeding is a personal, private activity." is only part of "So, as a result of my background, I do believe that breastfeeding is a personal, private activity. However, I would never tell someone they shouldn't do it - I just feel uncomfortable around it."

I was only stating my personal viewpoint based on my age and experiences to explain why someone might be uncomfortable. Nowhere did I say that it was the only viewpoint or the "right" viewpoint.

Yes, there are still some prudish attitudes, but it takes time for society to change how things are viewed. I can remember when people were not comfortable with non-married people co-habitating, or with inter-racial couples whether they were married or not, or with gay/lesbian couples being open about their relationships. My guess is that your parents and grand-parents don't have the same opinion on everything that you do. But I would guess that they are more accepting of your ideas than you are of theirs.

Posted by: bjt | June 27, 2006 11:47 AM

bjt, and others, thanks for sharing your thoughts on discomfort with breastfeeding in public. I was curious about it because as someone else said, being able to breastfeed in public comfortably is really important to being able to breastfeed for more than a few weeks, otherwise new mothers would have to be shut ins, and I wondered what might make others more at ease with it. I think bjt hit the nail on the head by saying it will just take time, I guess people just have to see it to get used it and not think of it as either indecent or just gross.

On the subject of nursing under blankets, that's something I think is sort of conundrum. On the one hand, it does eliminate the possibility of seeing any breast, belly, or whatever. On the other hand, it often also makes it much more obvious what is going on. I remember one day one of my law school professors had a "bring your babies to class day" as there were a couple of us with infants in that class. One mother who I think was quite nervous about nursing in public waited until her babe was getting fairly agitated, and then spread out this huge green blanket over herself and her baby to nurse under, and ended up holding one corner of it with her teeth because she couldn't get it situated. Needless to say, this was quite a production. I have no problem with nursing in public, and when my son started to do the baby bird mouth thing, I just popped him on. My guess is that fewer people realized that I was nursing, but it is true that those who did faced the possibility of a quick peep (though I seriously doubt they got one, we're pretty quick), so I'm not sure which is really better. Also, blankets can get very hot in the summer...

Posted by: Megan | June 27, 2006 1:00 PM

Why aren't there more accomodations for breastfeeding women in the workplace, or in public places for that matter? There are plenty of changing tables in the women's restrooms.

Breastfeed away but keep your opinions to yourself. It should be a private decision. Why women feel like they have to violently defend their decision and spew insults like children on here is inexplicable to me.

I am pregnant and plan to breastfeed. I do plan to find an appropriate weaning age though. I had a boyfriend in college who was breastfed until he was 8! He had some serious issues from it too.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 1:46 PM

Mothers don't need anymore reason to feel guilty. Sure breastfeeding is best, but so is sending your kids to Harvard and we can't all do that.

I breastfed both my children for 12 months, but i almost gave up after 6 weeks witht the first because it was so stressful and painful. I have had nothing but bad experience with militant lactation consultants and the dogmatic preaching of La Leche.

Everyone should be encouraged to give it their all, but if women can't do it for whatever reason, a little formula isn't going to severly hurt their child.

C

Posted by: C. F. | June 27, 2006 2:01 PM

I will reaffirm my comments from a post last week. I knew going into my second pregnancy that post partum depression was a very real possibility, especially since I was carrying twins. I made the choice to bottle feed exclusively, although I had breastfed by earlier singleton for 18 months. It was the best decision of my life, and I believe that it saved my health and that of my babies. I found it unspeakable that people not knowing our situation felt so free to chastise me with the "breast is best" mantra, and did so relentlessly until they were toddlers. Since I didn't feel that they were entitled to my psychiatric history, I kept my mouth shut. But I have never forgotten the judgments. It has destroyed whatever credibility breastfeeding advocates had with me, and convinced me that it's every Mom for herself out there.

Posted by: lifermom | June 27, 2006 2:22 PM

Lifermom, you have my sympathies. As I said earlier, I have been a big-time breastfeeder, and while I do believe strongly that "breast is best" and that breastfeeding should be the norm and the default, your story is a good reminder that outsiders have no business judging mothers' decisions.
I have a friend whose baby was born at the same time as one of mine. She was, at first, a committed breastfeeder. But after a few months, she was diagnosed with cancer. That meant immediate chemo and immediate weaning. I'm not really sure if any strangers gave her grief about bottle-feeding her baby after her cancer diagnosis, but if they did, shame on them. Like she didn't already have enough problems without some bossy strangers butting in!
To me, it seems like mothers are criticized more than just about anybody. Take the breast-bottle argument, which is just one aspect. If you do breastfeed, you're criticized for going out in public, being a "nipple Nazi," having something wrong with you, being weird and selfish. If you don't breastfeed, you're equally criticized for being weird and selfish and wrong, regardless of your individual circumstances. And don't even get me started on the work-versus-stay-home debate.
For some reason, mothers seem to be pretty much fair game for any and all sorts of criticism from all quarters.
But back to breastfeeding: I do believe that it, including extended breastfeeding, is the most economical and healthful option in most usual cases. And I do believe society as a whole should do more to support breastfeeding, starting with an ix-nay on the boobie disapproval that shows up even on this motherhood board. But obviously, breastfeeding is not the best option in all cases, and sometimes not even possible, so it has to be up to the mothers to make their own decisions.

Posted by: Lucky mom | June 27, 2006 3:42 PM

"Sure breastfeeding is best, but so is sending your kids to Harvard"

(sarcasm warning - just for a little fun)

Oh, I completely disagree. Yale or Princeton would be much better or perhaps go west coast and do Stanford.

Posted by: Dlyn | June 27, 2006 5:41 PM

lifermom,

First, I can't imagine having two babies who need my attention, it was hard enough with one, so for you doing it with two-you deserve a medal!

I can't believe that anyone would come up to a mother and say breast is best, that's crazy and so uncalled for. I'm sure your twins are healthy and happy and that you did what was best for you and them and that is really all that matters.

Posted by: scarry | June 27, 2006 7:52 PM

I forgot to mention something that I did that I have not yet seen on the board today. Have any of you heard of the term "wet nurse"? Before formula, birth control and indoor plumbing, rich women could hire out the chore of nursing a child to a woman who was currently lactating. Well, it just so happened my sister and I had kids 6 months apart. She needed surgery so I came to take care of her kids while she was in the hospital and for a day or two after. She had pumped and stored loads of breastmilk but her kid would not take the bottle. I think he was about four months old, maybe younger. Anyway, she hadn't been without him for a second since his birth, and was actually looking foward to the operation if only to get a little peace!! I offered to try to nurse him, she said why not, and, like most men offered the breast of a naked woman, he quickly latched on and nursed with no complaint. She grabbed her purse and keys and was out the DOOR! I only did it a few times, but we still giggle about it. It is a complete secret because I think he might freak out if he knew now!!!

Posted by: ohonemorething | June 27, 2006 11:45 PM

Those ads, and the near fanaticism of some breast-feeding advocates, made me really wonder "if it is so good, why are they having to scream so loud?" I don't really trust people who are that extreme, about basically anything, and certainly about the way to raise my child. Anyone who has to shreik at me on how to raise my children is someone I'm not going to listen to, no matter what they are saying.

Posted by: Andrew | June 28, 2006 7:38 AM

Background: My husband and I had *heard* about the research about the benefits of breastfeeding and, believing it, spent hundreds of dollars hiring lactation consultants, doing acupuncture, supplemental stimulation via pumping, using a Supplemental Nursing System, and still could not get a full supply of breastmilk. It was so challenging. I was able to partially breastfeed for the first 2 months and then, when I returned to work, whatever little supply dried up. I had to bottle-feed.

Feeling guiltier than all-get-out, I decided to take a closer look at the research. I can speak with some authority on the research about the cognitive benefits of breastfeeding. The research I read mapped children's educational gains against a standardized intelligence test, the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R), a test commonly used in the process of determining learning disabilities. It's not the greatest test for assessing student abilities -- see this link on the web about its drawbacks in relation to unique student populations:

http://mason.gmu.edu/~lshafer/ELL-LD/ELL-LDcritoflit.

To make a long story short, the more I read, the more I began to suspect that the educational claims supporting breastfeeding were not as strong as proponents are claiming.

My doctors (and midwives) have strongly pointed out to me that the main advantage for breastfeeding is in relation to the *immune system*, especially in the first 6 months. I agree. I'm doing my best to offer my child a safe, nurturing environment and to feed her healthy solids. (Let's face it: If breastfeeding were the only thing mothers had to do, then why waste all that other money on feeding them well, sending them to good schools, avoiding secondhand smoke, and so on.)

Oh and by the way, my child caught her first cold at 3 months -- ironically, from children who had been *breastfed exclusively*! Maybe my child will be healthier if she can avoid contact with sick children, something that is unrealistic.

Posted by: New Mom with Ph.D. in Education | June 28, 2006 10:01 AM

Raising children and their care will always be a personal choice. We now have generations of babies who were raised on formula AND breast milk- I don't think anyone would be able to just point to someone and say which they were raised on, so I think that's a pretty good indication that the method itself isn't the end of the world for whether the child will grow up to be a happy and healthy adult.

Second, Leslie's choice of the word "judgemental" as some sort of adjective was amusing. What's wrong with something being judgemental? Making judgements is a GOOD thing. That's like teens these days who say "Thats soooo gay!" as if that's supposed to mean something?

Finally, raising children is now considered "requiring major accommodations from men"? Silly me, I thought parenting was supposed to be at least a two person responsibility and that both people agreed to raise it. The only people I see allowing men (on a large scale) to not "accommodate" their lives to be parents are the moms.

Posted by: Liz | June 28, 2006 1:40 PM

For nat:

I also couldn't produce enough milk to sustain my two babies, and went through major guilt both times. A breast pump helped a lot, but I had to supplement with both, although my daughter was gaining weight (my son had lost some). The worst was the comments from people (including my mom): "I had milk coming and coming!" "I just had so much milk!"

I was reassured by the peds that what matters is the healthy, well-fed baby. And I hated to seem them frustrated and then constantly wanting to nurse. Plus, my daughter bit and munched like it was taffy and not a breast. So I nursed a total of 10 months for my son and about 8 months for my daughter. I supplemented with both, although I had a bit more milk with my daughter.

I was lucky to have an office and could pump twice a day. But sometimes people could not understand "do not disturb" signs. Luckily my back was turned.
With my daughter, my job was stressful and more time-consuming, so less milk.

I agree that Inova Alexandria wasn't great about sending lactation consultants around. I told them to NOT give my daughter a bottle. When I called the consultant later however, she was good about suggesting a pump rental source than the hospital. Luckily, I was already educated from my son about what to do.

As for brestfeeding in public, I did it with no problem. In fact, when my husband and I met with our home builder to go over the specs at contract time, I nursed my daughter in front of about three or four men (she and my breast were well-covered). They didn't blink an eye.

Posted by: momoftwo | June 28, 2006 2:18 PM

Since it's a few days back from the latest blog and most have moved onto a newer subject, I assume it's OK to post a few personal thoughts and secrets about breastfeeding without getting scolded.
My wife was a natural breastfeeder. She was never worried about not having enough milk. We both noticed that the mothers we knew who did have problems breastfeeding were also the ones we both judged to be stressed, uptight or very prude.
After the obligatory 1 month waiting period before sex, I learned very quickly that my wife would leak her milk upon sexual arousement, and when she experienced climax, milk spilled everywhere. To prevent any future incident, I began to anticipate this phenonena and did what I could to prevent the covers and sheets from getting soaked. I loved it even though it did make me burp alot. My wife was a little more hesitant, but she did like the fact that it helped her lose the pregnancy weight. Not only that, she produced so much milk she could have easily subsidized a entire diet for another baby. Too bad modern times has rendered this practise unacceptable.
I know, many of you will find me absolutely disgusting for posting this, but mark my words, in a few years, sex therapy to enhance milk production will be incorporated into childbirth classes along with PPD awareness training and there's nothing immoral about it.
As far as public breastfeeding goes, I'm hoping that Hollywood, unshamed by all their gratuitus sex sceens, will someday hop on the bandwagon and provide gratuitus breastfeeding sceens for their audience. Maybe this approach will help women feel more comfortable about breastfeeding in public and reduce the anxiety nursing mothers experience on a daily basis. folks, breastfeeding is not gross. What is gross and unacceptable is to send a mother to a germ-ridden stall in a public bathroom to nurse their child or pump.
The first time I witnessed a mother breastfeeding her baby in public, I was completely awed. It showed me the magic that mommies possess in their intimate love for their child. I didn't mean to stare. I blushed a little though. When I left the sceen, I promised that if I ever became a father, I would do the best I could to give my child the best of everything.

Posted by: Father of 4 | June 28, 2006 4:06 PM

Hmm, I'm not sure what to make of the previously posted sexual details; I think that might have been just a little too much information. I do have to say that as far as I'm concerned, the a 1-month wait is far, far, far too short.
However, on the observation about stress affecting breastfeeding, sure, of course that's true. The more stress in your life -- maybe from an unhappy marriage, or from job responsibilities or whatever -- the harder it is for your body to function, including your breasts. I do feel compelled to point out that stress is not entirely emotional. A new mom, even a happy new mom, can be stressed by her physical state, as I was after a difficult emergency C-section. And then, if you're having trouble breastfeeding, and you're exhausted to boot, that creates more stress and it just becomes a vicious circle. Which is why some new mothers need a timeout and a little pampering, like a good, uninterrupted night's sleep, with the baby spending the night in the hospital nursery, and maybe an extra day or two in the hospital for mom and baby, to halt the stress-exhaustion spiral that can hinder breastfeeding. (Of course, then you get into insurance issues about who's going to pay for that extra time in the hospital. . .)

Posted by: justamom | June 28, 2006 4:52 PM

Father of 4, you RULE! I love that you posted about that. We had a very similar expereince with sex and milk production, and all my nursing mom friends report the same. We tried to use that phenomenon to our advantage when I needed to pump milk (back when we thought we could convince my son to take a bottle, which he never did), I always got a lot more milk after a little fun with hubby.

Happiness and pleasure makes for more milk, stress and worry definitely makes for less.

I hope more men and women can incorporate the pleasure and awe you exhibit about breastfeeding...

Posted by: Megan | June 29, 2006 12:04 PM

Father of 4-

I am glad you are back. I knew you would have something good to add to this string. I am thrilled you are so supportive and I bet your wife knows how good she has it!

I swear this post and the first one I read by you have been my favorites! (the one about the stressed mom with an appointment and giving her the kittens as payback- hilarious and touching)

Posted by: pro-nursing mama | June 29, 2006 1:35 PM

Regarding the question of breastfeeding with twins - I don't have twins, but became pregnant with my second when my first was 8 months old, and still breastfeeding. My otherwise excellent OB-GYN said it would be too much for me to feed 3 (the firstborn, the unborn, and myself), so I should stop breastfeeding. I did, but have always regretted following his advice without doing some research on my own. I don't think it would have been too much, for me.

Posted by: kac | June 30, 2006 8:49 AM

Father of 4 -
Nice to have you back, but too much information.

Posted by: Rockville, | June 30, 2006 5:01 PM

"Low income mothers are on WIC which provides formula. The economic incentive is to NOT breastfeed. There is little to no support in the WIC program for breastfeeding."

Isn't that like saying the economic incentive is to be nudist because there is little to no support in the WIC program for clothing?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 3, 2006 5:57 PM

Although Leslie's comment about tickets was over the top, I think the underlying idea that women may someday be penalized for not breastfeeding is not unthinkable. I read an abstract for a medical article that proposed that moms of children who fail to thrive (i.e. fail to gain weight) be assumed to be abusively neglectful. Another article argued that women who fail to completely eliminate caffeine should be suspected as alcoholics (long logic, I can give the whole argument another time). My point is that the way our society works, any non-optimal outcome is considered to be a sign of neglect. When I was in the hospital with the birth of my first, breastfeeding went poorly. I was nursing my baby 20 out of 24 hours. The LC literally told me I was being cruel to my child because I could not get him to latch on properly.

I think ad campaigns such as this discourage breastfeeding by turning women against the advocates. Breastfeeding success is far more mental than physical: when breastfeeding advocates are nasty people who make moms feel like dirt, then moms don't call for help because they're afraid of being treated like dirt and they already feel like bad moms. 70% of new moms try to breastfeed their babies. That in itself tells you that women know it's better. These ad campaigns are castigating the converted. The way to achieve better breastfeeding outcomes is with more support. And by support I don't mean blaming moms who are failing. I mean more funding for research into: (a) how to explain good technique (b) understanding of how BF works and (c)how frequent various problems are. Also there should be more access to BF info through more frequent and free classes; national laws protecting BF in public, and/or BF/pumping rooms in public facilities; laws extending maternity leave to allow moms to stay home and BF if that works better for them.

Last but not least, I think there should be laws exempting tv portrayals of BF from indecency fines. I have yet to see BF shown on tv, even on the learning channel. I think the main problem with low BF rates is lack of knowledge about technique, since there's a whole generation of women out there (our grandmas) who were encouraged not to breastfeed and don't know how. TV is an efficient medium to disseminate that kind of knowledge. It irritates me that BF advocates can produce a nasty commercial to publicly shame moms who can't breastfeed properly but can't produce educational programming to show them how.

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