Women Who Don’t Breastfeed are NOT “Bad Mothers”


At Free-Range Kids, we fight daily against the idea that there is one “right” way to parent. We also fight the criminalization of normal, rational parenting choices, like the decision to let a kid wait in the car for a couple minutes, or play outside unsupervised. Let us remember that formula feeding,  too, is a choice that parents should be able to make without being shamed or, worse, punished.

So here’s a wonderful piece from the New York Times by University of Toronto Prof. Courtney Jung, making just those points. In “Overselling innzbifffn
” Jung writes as a mom who breastfed for “years” — not some kind of formula fanatic.

The one thing I’d add is that Texas A&M Prof. Joan Wolf‘s book “Is Breast Best?“, raises many of these same issues. Anyway, Jung’s article is really long, so I am highlighting just a few of her many points:

…Oddly, the fervor of breast-feeding advocacy has ramped up even as medical research — published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, BMJ in Britain and The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition — has begun to report that the effects of breast-feeding are probably “modest.” …

The benefits associated with breast-feeding just don’t seem to warrant the scrutiny and interventions surrounding American infant feeding practices. Just last month, a British study found that breast-feeding has no effect on I.Q. from toddlerhood through adolescence. And a meta-analysis of the research on breast-feeding done by the United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2007 concludes that much of that research is weak: Some studies are too small, or they fail to control for confounding variables. The findings themselves are often inconclusive. One study will find evidence of an effect and another won’t — so we just don’t know which results to trust….

Breast-feeding has become an important marker of who we are and what we believe in. For some it signals a commitment to attachment parenting, for others it is an environmental issue, and for still others it is a protest against the predatory marketing practices of the big formula companies.

Recently, breast-feeding advocacy has begun to generate a backlash as some women, including some feminists, chafe against the message that women who don’t breast-feed are bad mothers….

In 2012, the surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics identified breast-feeding as a public health issue. Although that designation doesn’t mean much, practically speaking, it was intended to make clear that breast-feeding is a civic responsibility and a matter of public interest, not just a personal choice. In so doing it portrays women who don’t breast-feed — who are more likely to be poor and African-American — not only as bad parents, but as irresponsible citizens.

Demographic differences in breast-feeding rates also justify government interventions that punish poor women who do not breast-feed. This isn’t just the unobtrusive little “nudge” in the right direction, designed to compel people to make better decisions. It’s more like a shove, with a kick for good measure.

Middle-class women primarily experience breast-feeding advocacy in the form of education campaigns and limits on their access to formula in hospitals. Poor women are vulnerable to more explicit coercion. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, which serves more than 50 percent of infants born in the United States every year, offers different benefits to breast-feeding and non-breast-feeding mothers and babies.

WOMEN who breast-feed are eligible for WIC for twice as long as women who do not breast-feed, and they get an “enhanced food package,” which includes vouchers for a wider range of more nutritious food. Unlike formula-fed babies, who are eligible only for infant cereal and fruit and vegetable-based baby food, breast-feeding babies also receive meat-based baby food, which is richer in iron. The difference in benefits is intended to create incentives for poor mothers to breast-feed, but withholding food from mothers at nutritional risk, and from their babies, seems more like punishment to me.

And that is just the problem. All too often, breast-feeding advocacy crosses the line from supporting a woman in her decision to breast-feed into compelling a woman to breast-feed. If breast-feeding is the measure of our moral worth, it isn’t long before the idea of a mother not breast-feeding her child summons the familiar tropes of bad parenting and irresponsible citizenship that we have long deployed against poor women and minorities.

Does all this mean that women should stop breast-feeding? No. If you want to, if it’s easy for you, if you are healthy, if your baby is thriving on breast milk, if it’s important to you, then by all means do it. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would. But it would be different. Even though I might breast-feed as a way to nourish my baby, I could no longer use it as a talisman to ward off evil and disease. It’s a perfectly good choice, but it’s not the only choice, and it may not always be the better choice….

A woman should breast-feed because she wants to, not because someone tells her she has to.

Amen! And amom! – L.


Thanks, mom! But of course, I would still love you and thrive if you gave me formula!

Thanks, mom! But of course, I would still bond with you and thrive, even if you gave me formula!


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163 Responses to Women Who Don’t Breastfeed are NOT “Bad Mothers”

  1. BL October 21, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    “All too often, breast-feeding advocacy crosses the line from supporting a woman in her decision to breast-feed into compelling a woman to breast-feed.”

    “Seems to be a deep instinct in human beings for making everything compulsory that isn’t forbidden” – Robert Heinlein


  2. Hancock October 21, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    Ah! The never ending mommy wars. Brace yourselves. The breastfeeding zealots, and the I’m offend collective are about to do battle.

  3. Emily Morris October 21, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    I’m awaiting the mommy war to start here! Hah!

    Breastfeeding has been such an issue over the past century. 50 years ago, you were a bad mother if you breastfed. Now you’re a bad mother if you formula-feed.

    Parenting: you will never, ever do it right.

  4. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    The headline should be “women who don’t breastfeed may or may not be bad mothers”.

  5. librarian October 21, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    It is surprising that low-income people choose not to breastfeed – the formula is much more expensive, as I noticed, when I stopped breastfeeding. My baby was 10.5 months, and I wanted my autonomy back – but only then I realized how much money I was saving all that time. As someone with perennially limited budget, I simply had to make up the shortfall by saving on diapers via early toilet-training….

  6. cherubmamma October 21, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    WIC provides supplemental food for Women, Infants, and Children. The extra food that you mention for breastfeeding mothers is for the MOTHERS. The infant is not given more food nor are formula fed babies denied anything. Women that formal feed do NOT need extra nutrition for themselves in order to be able to care for their babies. Women that breastfeed DO need to be mindful of their diets.

    Otherwise…I agree with everything else.

  7. Jessica October 21, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    I have a friend who had to get a number of surgeries, including a hysterectomy, after her last baby was born. This killed her milk supply and she’s been struggling with this. At first, I offered her some of mine cuz I over produce, but I realized this wasn’t helpful. Her baby is getting fed, she is thriving, so who cares what she’s eating? Formula used to be a problem when it was missing key nutrients or in places where the water isn’t safe to drink, but really, what difference does it make here in the US, or any other first world country? As with everything parenting, please don’t assume that because someone does it differently it means they’re doing it wrong. They have come to their decisions based on their knowledge and experience and situation and in some cases have agonized because they know there are people who will criticize them for it. So even if you disagree with their choices, if their kids aren’t in danger (and losing a couple of iq points doesn’t count) keep your mouth shut and your opinions to yourself.

    Also, telling a woman who had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer that she should try to breastfeed is unhelpful, and milk banks can be cost-prohibitive. They’ve made their choice; deal with it.

  8. JRC October 21, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    WOMEN who breast-feed are eligible for WIC for twice as long as women who do not breast-feed, and they get an “enhanced food package,” which includes vouchers for a wider range of more nutritious food. Unlike formula-fed babies, who are eligible only for infant cereal and fruit and vegetable-based baby food, breast-feeding babies also receive meat-based baby food, which is richer in iron. The difference in benefits is intended to create incentives for poor mothers to breast-feed, but withholding food from mothers at nutritional risk, and from their babies, seems more like punishment to me.

    If this is true, it seems discriminatory to me. Not all women “choose” not to breast feed, some physically can’t. Why shouldn’t their babies receive the same amount of WIC (time, what’s offered etc) as breast-fed babies?

  9. Doug October 21, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Our first son didn’t get breast-fed often. Mom’s milk production switch wasn’t turned on. Our second son made up for it. In fact, we supplied two other new mothers with supplemental milk because apparently my wife’s body decided it had to make up for the last time.

    Our freezer was filled. Our fridge always had milk in it (my wife would bring home several bags of it from work). She wore her pump out. It was udder chaos.

  10. meg October 21, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    So…we adopted our kids, and when they were babies I used to love getting involved in those mommy-war discussions about breastfeeding, because someone would inevitably go nuclear with “formula is poison!!11!1!” and it was always a lot of fun to watch them backpedal uncomfortably (“Well…I mean…*of course* it’s fine in *your* situation…”) when I objected. It’s either akin to child abuse or it isn’t; it’s not the most awful thing a mother could possibly do except when you realize you’re being a kind of jerk to those who don’t have a choice in the matter.

    (FWIW, I always thought I would breastfeed, and I’m kind of bummed that I never got the chance to try. But it’s a choice, and not everyone would make the same choice I would. I don’t understand why people care so much how other people choose to parent.)

  11. anotherlibrarian October 21, 2015 at 11:00 am #

    Breastfeeding is NOT cheap if you have trouble with it. The amount of money I spent in the first six weeks after my son was born on the accessories needed to “increase my supply.” – That included breast pump parts, pillows, vitamins, etc. It was ridiculous. Medela is making a ton of money on breastfeeding. For me, the cost of formula was not a big deal after shelling out all the money for the breastfeeding accessories, and formula feeding was not only less stressful, but it meant that my child was ALIVE, which is something people seem to forget. My moment of revelation was one day as I was sitting with breast pump, watching a meager amount of milk drip and wondering why, with modern technology, had we not invented anything better than the breast pump to try to increase supply. Then I realized we HAD. It was called formula. I threw the pump across the room and never looked back.

    It also makes me bristle to see posters in my ob/gyn’s office that say things like “breastfeeding prevents obesity.” Which is a statement that is just not true. Luckily, I had a wonderful pediatrician who encouraged me to exclusively formula feed.

  12. Curious October 21, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    I was so fortunate when I gave birth, far from the madding crowd of judgmental know-it-alls! I was a free range mom, and got to raise my kid just the way I chose. My family was half a continent away, and my friends were childless. I lived in NYC, the Lower East Side, As I met other moms, who were as diverse a lot as one would expect in that setting at that time (1971), I found them to be accepting and generous and easy on each other. we took our kids to Tompkins Square Park among the dirt and derelicts, and let them run free. We fed them as we saw fit. We trusted our guts.

    Where have those times gone?

    When did we become so judgmental? so self-righteous?

    My son survived, by the way.

  13. Kelly October 21, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    When my son was born, and I couldn’t breastfeed, no matter how hard I tried or how many people I consulted, I was devastated. I felt like such a failure, and though everyone was verbally supportive of me, my middle class circle treated me as a failure.

    When I recovered enough to start taking another look at the blessings promised by breastfeeding advocates, I was livid. The science is simply not there. Breastfeeding does lower the incidence of childhood complications… for things that are incredibly rare to begin with. All the other benefits are really difficult to tease away from other demographics like being sufficiently wealthy and well-educated.

    I support breastfeeding, if that’s what you want to do, what you can do, and if it’s good for your family. But “Breast is Best” abusive and wrong. It’s an inexcusable guilt to place on women at an already vulnerable time in their lives, especially with the science as shaky as it is.

  14. Miriam October 21, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    Breastfeeding is cheaper than formula and a great bonding experience between mother and child, but even so, those who cannot should not be vilified. I fully agree.

  15. sigh October 21, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    I have one child I adopted as a 6-month old, and one I gave birth to.

    I will never forget the La Leche beast on my block who rhapsodized about how I had to breastfeed by adopted baby, and all the capillary systems and heroic measures I could take to do it. I also had a crazy partner who insisted we circumcise him, so dad and son would “match.”

    He’s six months old, I objected. He’s experiencing enough trauma as it is. Don’t mutilate his penis and insist he eat in a whole new way than he’s accustomed to just so you can feel like you’re doing it “right.” Holy shamoly.

    By all accounts, the kid is a marvel: a beautiful specimen, an elite athlete, a straight-A student. Despite all the losses he endured, and his crazy parents, and a whole raft of other challenges. Formula was not a problem for him.

    The bio kid got breast from day one… wait, make that day three. At the hospital, my milk didn’t come in instantaneously after the c-section and they were giving the baby glucose water and she was screaming her head off.

    “Where’s the formula?” I asked a nurse. “Don’t you have any here?” She said she’s not allowed to recommend it, a parent has to request it. “Well I’m requesting it, for God’s sake! The baby is hungry! Give her milk, not sugar water! What the hell?”

    I pumped a lot and used bottles a lot, and breastfed too. I wanted others to be able to feed her, not just me. But it was my milk, from day three. She’s had myriad issues with anxiety, phobias, and handled the divorce much less easily. She struggles with school and tends to be very sensitive. Also, a wonderful and compassionate and creative kid.

    Both kids started out in life differently, both kids are different, and let me tell you, what kind of milk they drank is the least of it.

    I was shocked to find out I’d been bottle fed, even though my older brother had been on the tit. I took it personally. My mom always did like him best… LOL

  16. pentamom October 21, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    Could the difference in baby food provided by WIC be because formula is iron-fortified, but the mother might be low in iron and not providing enough? Obviously not all nursing mothers are iron deficient, but iron-fortified formula can’t be iron deficient. And the fact that nursing mothers on average need more nutrition than non-nursing mothers has already been covered. Providing more nutrition for the mothers IS providing more nutrition for the babies, when you’re talking about breastfeeding.

    Government policy rarely favors the natural over the commercial, so I’m very dubious about the idea that the difference in WIC policy is about “punishing” bottle-feeding mothers, regardless of how misguided some aspects of it might be.

    I’m all for breast-feeding where possible and practical. I’m also all for non-persecution of those who choose to bottle feed, but I think this article is more axe-grinding than sound research.

  17. Coccinelle October 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    That’s a slippery slope in the making. Will mothers who don’t breastfeed in 2040 will get CPS visits? That seems crazy but imagine a mother getting a CPS visit because she let her son go to the park alone at 10 years old in 1990. I’m pretty sure she would have think it crazy and impossible.

    Breastfeeding is normally better for babies’ health just because it’s how humans work and what was done for millenaries. But the thing is, it’s not because it’s better for their health that it should be mandatory or that it should invoke shame! Many things a parent can do have a direct impact on their kids’ health and they still should be able to decide what they want to do with their kids. The problem, in my opinion is that we have to put the line somewhere and once we do, it’s hard not to try to change where it’s drawn. We can’t let parents abuse their children but we can’t force them to parent only one way either. It’s hard to do, but we, as a society, must do it.

  18. Bonni October 21, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Yes, this is good!

    Although the WIC portion of the article is a bit misleading. The extra vouchers for breastfeeding families are for adult food for the mothers, as breastfeeding moms have to eat more and also eat nutritious food in order to produce breastmilk for the baby. As one who recieved and was grateful for WIC help, my extra vouchers were for milk, cheese, dried beans, canned tuna, and $10 of produce a month.

    Actually, my baby didn’t get any vouchers until 6 months old (a formula fed baby would be getting formula vouchers the whole time), when the vouchers for mommy food reduced. The vouchers for jarred baby food kicked in at 6 months, and then only veggies and a small amount of meat. Oh, and dried cereal and juice.

    The vouchers are very, very, very specific as to what types of food can be bought, and they change with time to be age appropriate for the kid.

  19. Emily Morris October 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    cherubmamma is correct. Since WIC isn’t paying for breastfeeding, the money going to buy formula is going to the mother to eat to provide breastmilk.

  20. Brenna October 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    I saw another editorial on this on another site, and you should have seen the ‘lactivists’ come out – immediately attacking any notion or scientific study that dared to suggest that breastfeeding didn’t cause world peace. It was rather depressing. There is no best way, as long as your kid is fed. I had someone tell me that I didn’t really love my child, because I didn’t stop taking medication so I could breastfeed. Yeah, the medication that keeps my digestive tract from attacking itself is totally optional! And I can absolutely nourish both myself and a baby while starving! Switched medication by the time I got to my second kid, but couldn’t come close to producing enough milk to keep him fed. So thank God for formula!

  21. Beth October 21, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    @Miriam, you really don’t believe that there’s no bond between mothers and their bottle-fed babies, do you? Cuz it kind of sounded like it…..

  22. Havva October 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    On the iron issue. I was told shortly after my daughter was born, that iron does a very poor job passing into milk. My breastfeeding support kit from the hospital included a coupon for infant iron supplements. Also the pediatrician told me to start those pretty quick. As I recall I was told something about the kid’s iron reserves attained while in utero depleting, and being really low by the time she is old enough to get iron from food. And they said this wasn’t an issue for formula fed babies because the formulas have a lot more iron than breastmilk does.

  23. Warren October 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm #


    Even as a dad I take offense at your stance that it is can or cannot breastfeed. What happened to choice to breastfeed or not to?

    With every one of our kid’s births the barrage of people asking about what my wife intended to do continued. I always answered with “Not my body. It is her choice all the way.”. Formula all the way.

    As for the bonding factor………………it is bull. Because it is the holding, caring and feeding time that creates the bond, not what they are eating. And formula feeding by nature allowed me, the dad, to enjoy more of that. I am by nature a night owl, who needs less sleep than most people. Unless I was out on a call, I handled pretty much every night feeding. I loved it, my kids loved it and mom loved the sleep.

    Breastfeeding has become more about the mom than it is about the baby.

  24. Carl October 21, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    Good discussion. A point that I don’t see anywhere, though, is that this is all about the USA and maybe other prosperous first-world countries.

    The balance of the argument is quite different in developing countries where clean water and fuel for boiling water (and soap for cleaning bottles) may be expensive or hard to find, and where formula costs much of the family income and is often adulterated because of weak regulation.

    In this context, prevention of disease and survival through infancy are the most immediate reasons for promoting breastfeeding.

  25. SKL October 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    I do think the fervor behind the breastfeeding movement has decreased since my kids were little. (Or maybe I just learned what sites to avoid.)

    I am very pro breast feeding, but my kids (adopted around 1yo) were not breastfed (as far as I know) and they are more than fine. I would encourage moms to try breastfeeding, especially if their culture of origin doesn’t encourage it, because it’s a good thing, but it isn’t that much better than formula.

    I think the WIC stuff might be misunderstood. Formula provides some nutrients that breast milk does not, so it makes sense to fit it in some other way. Also, the mom has to eat well in order to successfully breastfeed.

    And the government is on a budget, so I do think it is reasonable to ask moms who don’t work (I know some on assistance do, but many don’t) to try to breastfeed and save costs. It could also have the positive effect of spreading the practice in cultures where it had fallen into disuse. I have seen this happen, and the moms involved were happy to breastfeed once they realized that it wasn’t something horrible like they had been led to believe.

    My background is as the daughter of a mom who went against the tide back in the 1960s-1970s and breastfed when she could. There still are people (like my sister’s mother-in-law) who think breastfeeding is disgusting and discourage it in the child-rearing generation. So I can understand people wanting to do something to counter that.

  26. John October 21, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    Being a 59-year-old single male without any children, this is obviously a subject I know absolutely NOTHING about! But just to throw out a few observations here, I see NOTHING wrong with mothers who breastfeed their babies in public which seems to be somewhat controversial. If the mother is wearing a button down blouse and she unbuttons the top few buttons and holds the baby up to her chest allowing the baby to put his mouth around one of her nipples, there is nothing revealing about that as the one breast is covered by the baby’s mouth while the other is covered by the blouse. I remember seeing a mother breastfeed her baby in this same manner at a picnic I attended and I saw nothing shocking about it. Now my niece never breastfeed her baby son in public BUT she would do so in the living room in front of family and friends or around people she knew. Whereas 50 some years ago, my brother in-law absolutely forbid my sister to breastfeed her babies in front of anyone, including family! She had to take the baby inside the bedroom and shut the door.

    On the other hand, if a mother chooses to NOT breastfeed her babies in public or in private, that’s OK too as far as I’m concerned! Either way, it’s none of mine or anyone else’s business.

  27. SKL October 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Yeah, I got excited when I heard I could breastfeed as an adoptive mom. I did some research. I learned that it wasn’t really feasible unless I took drugs to make it happen (and even then, the supply would not be like a typical mom’s supply, so I’d need to supplement anyway). I’m not big on taking drugs, especially while breastfeeding, so I dropped that line of research. Good thing, too, considering how busy I was after bringing two babies home as a single working mom. 🙂

  28. MI Dawn October 21, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Hooray to Lenore for daring to post this. And yes, bonding is from the loving contact of parent and child. Breastfeeding helps but is not the only way. As I told a good friend who was pregnant (I was working as a midwife but not HER care giver), I’d much rather have a happy, loving formula feeding mother/baby dyad over a tense, unhappy (due to abuse issues) unwilling-but-pushed-into-it breastfeeding dyad. She got a LOT of crap about her decision to not breastfeed. This was a woman who couldn’t even let her partner of many years touch her breasts. She bottlefed, and raised 3 wonderful, happy, intelligent boys.

    Disclaimer: I breastfed until I had to return to work at 6 weeks. Then breast/bottle fed. Both children are alive, happy, intelligent, productive adults. I don’t think not being fully breastfed hurt them….they KNOW they are loved.

  29. Miriam October 21, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    @ Beth. Pardon, I was not clear. There are chemicals released by the mother and given to the child through the breast milk when a child is feeding. These are not present when a baby bottle feeds.

    @ Warren. No offense was meant. I am sorry you took it that way. I don’t look at others who bottle feed and wonder to myself “oh, how sad that they can’t/won’t breast feed.” No, I say, “aww, what a cute baby.”

    Yes, holding, caring and feeding do help the bond, but there are extra chemicals that are released during breastfeeding that you simply won’t get elsewise. Does this make the child ‘neglected’ if they aren’t breastfed? No, but that doesn’t negate chemistry.

  30. Elizabeth October 21, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    I used to know all these La Leche League gals but I couldn’t take their constant breast feed talk. Why do they keep going to those meetings when their kids are 4 years old? Haven’t they figured it out by then?

    Breastfeeding propaganda fits into the idea that parenting is all about acting on your child like he or she is a natural resource, and not a relationship that you build with a human being –like putting kids in a million courses, or restricting their consumption of gluten for no medical reason.

    That’s why sensibility on breast versus bottle stirs such vitriol.

  31. Jana October 21, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    I breastfed my first child because it was cheaper than buying all that stuff for bottle feeding. It had been quite difficult since my daughter could not do it properly (strange, some babies are more “gifted” in this area than others :-)), had two very painful breast infections and, moreover, I lived with my mother who kept on saying that my milk is “bad”, “insufficient” etc. But I clenched my teeth and continued till my daughter was 13 months old. With my second child, everything was smooth and great. My son knew from the very start how to suckle and although I could easily afford to buy everything I needed for bottle feeding, I enjoyed breastfeeding him so much that I almost cried when he weened himself in 16 months of age. I do not think that mothers who do not breastfeed are “bad” and dislike all those who “proudly” show their breasts in public claiming that it is “their right to breastfeed” etc. The last sentence in this article is so true…

  32. Fiamma October 21, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    When I get pregnant I was stunned to find out I might make milk. You see, I had breast reduction surgery over twenty years ago and was told then I would never be able to breastfeed. Well lo and behold my ducts reconnected and I got a little milk. I was jealous of the moms pumping out 8 ounces, hell three ounces at a clip, but I gave him what I was able to make and substituted with formula. Thank you Target!
    Personally, I am a little sick and tired of the self righteous remarks and how breastfeeding passes on so many good antibodies and how if you give formula you are a bad parent. I hate to break it to the lactivists, but I know quite a few breast fed kids with serious allergies. So while I agree breastfeeding is more affordable and a nice way to bond, there is no guarantee a breastfed child won’t end up ill, or with allergies or just normal. You know, just like kids that are given formula. 🙂 I also concur that bonding happens during the feeding process not because you are giving them breast milk. People aggravate the hell out of me.

  33. Emily Morris October 21, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    I have to laugh at the notion breastfed kids can’t get sick. Now, I have to confess, I’m very much the crunchy rah-rah-breastfeeding-cloth-diapering mom who breastfed my toddler until she turned 2. Stone me now (but also know that just because I can get all “breastfeeding rocks!” and promote it does not mean I am against formula-feeding.)

    Any who, the day everyone was commenting on how healthy my daughter was (she was about a year at the time) and some were even saying it was the breastfeeding, she got the second worse illness I’ve ever seen on her.

  34. Beth October 21, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    I guess I’d like to see a link from a reputable source about these chemicals that strengthen bonding between mother and child. I’m unaware of those and always thought that my children and I DID bond.

    I tried to breastfeed my first child for 3 weeks. She never latched properly, I got mastitis, and by the end of that 3 weeks when I decided to switch to bottle/formula it had been such a frustrating experience that I think we both hated each other. The relief I felt when I gave her her first bottle was incredible. (I did pump until I went back to work though.) She is now grown up, a productive member of society, has a sunny disposition, and loves her mom.

  35. Emily Morris October 21, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    If the chemical we’re speaking of is oxytocin, then that is going to be released via physical contact no matter it be breast or bottle. Hence why dads bond with the babies just as much.

  36. Caroline P October 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    It is sooooo rare for me to take issue with anything on your fine site. Nor do I want to be the predictable commenter we KNEW would jump on in here to engage in a war.

    But, I have to disagree with your statement that women should only breast feed if it’s “easy” and “important” to them.

    “Does all this mean that women should stop breast-feeding? No. If you want to, if it’s easy for you, if you are healthy, if your baby is thriving on breast milk, if it’s important to you, then by all means do it.”

    There are many things not “easy” about having a newborn. It should be a birthright, barring extenuating circumstances, that new humans be fed the food for which they were biologically intended, and not a concoction of chemicals including but not limited to “corn syrup solids.”

    I am a free-range supporter all the way, but I just can’t wrap my head around how it is OK for a mother to “decide” to deny a newborn its intended food source for the sake of articficial chemicals that are “easier.”

  37. BUFFY October 21, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    And…..we’re right back to “mothers who don’t breast feed ARE bad mothers.”

  38. Momof8 October 21, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    The information about WIC is wrong. But who’s going to bother checking it? If you breastfeed, you get food from WIC. If you don’t, the baby gets formula (and food later) and you don’t get any food. Pretty simple.

    I don’t like how this article minimizes the benefits of breastfeeding. I have done both, and in my experience, there is no bonding like breastfeeding. However. Sometimes it can be a nightmare and cause more problems if it doesn’t go well. So for the mothers’ mental health, a bottle is the better solution. And the way Americans eat, sometimes there are not a lot of health benefits for baby. Crap in, crap out.

    I feel this author has swung the other way (anti-breastfeeding) and is spreading misinformation. But she’s stealthy and glosses over things like antibodies and enzymes and other scientific stuff that proves breastmilk is highly beneficial.

    Bottom line: Do you whatever helps you and baby thrive best. Trust your instinct. Don’t judge others for their choice.

  39. Fuzzyfuzz October 21, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    As a pregnant 31 year old with countless pregnant and new parent friends, I just about jumped up out of my chair and cheered at the message of this article–which I wholeheartedly agreed with even before I got pregnant and had to face the nonsense breastfeeding advice firsthand. The benefits they claim are trivial in first-world countries and the research is riddled with confounding factors that make their results pretty useless.

    A number of friends of mine drank the condensed version of the ‘breast is best’ koolaid, and had so much difficulty adjusting when their supply failed or they faced other physical problems because they were terrified of the ‘risks’ of formula. One friend’s baby was termed failure to thrive because she refused to supplement, and it was only after this that she finally fed him formula–his health completely turned around. Another friend bragged to me about her birth and childcare class, which refused to discuss formula feeding because it was ‘against hospital regulations.’ These are the same women who would join my outrage against abstinence only sex ed policies, but they support hiding information about perfectly healthy ways of feeding babies due to misguided paternalistic advice. Makes me nuts.

    Plus, these publicity campaigns do nothing but induce guilt and give fodder to uneducated busybodies. I’d rather see policies that actually invest in healthcare and parental support for families (especially low income ones) than see another ‘breast is best’ poster campaign or have some agency encourage hospitals to coerce women into certain behaviors by disseminating advice that is not medically sound.

  40. Donna October 21, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    “It is surprising that low-income people choose not to breastfeed”

    It is not surprising at all. Contrary to sound-bites, the vast majority of low-income mothers work outside the home. They work at low-income, hourly, manual-labor jobs that rarely have the flexibility or facilities necessary to make pumping during the workday even remotely realistic.

    Breastfeeding is simply not part of the low-income culture. I’m sure that it is more complicated than work as to why, but the prospects of attempting to pump while working on the line at the poultry plant or as a cashier at Walmart or cook at McDs would certainly put it out of my mind as an option.

  41. Jenny Islander October 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    What Donna said. If I had had to go back to work full time after my babies were born, they would have been raised on formula. I tried pumping. It doesn’t work for everyone; it didn’t for me.

  42. Donna October 21, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

    I can’t understand at all why so many people are so invested in how other people feed their babies. It seems like a very odd thing to get your knickers in a twist over. Sure if you see someone feeding their children actual poison, it is probably a good idea to step in, but beyond that it is really not your business.

    “I just can’t wrap my head around how it is OK for a mother to “decide” to deny a newborn its intended food source for the sake of articficial chemicals that are ‘easier.'”

    Can you wrap your head around why someone might actually feed their children store bought bread rather than baking every loaf at home from scratch? Or use store bought flour to bake that bread rather than growing and milling their own? Have you actually managed to do something no other person in the world has done and established the exact food sources intended by nature for optimum human consumption and consume solely those items?

  43. Warren October 21, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    I get a kick out of people like Caroline P.. By their comments and logic, it is inferred that children that were not breastfed, because their mom could not, are doomed.

    During our last pregnancy we had to make a trip to the hospital. Our daughter was kicking the crap out of my wife and she had excessive spotting. While in the ward waiting for confirmation on everything being okay, I overheard the couple beside us. This young father to be, later found out he was 18, was telling his girlfriend that she had to breastfeed, because his mother did. I caught up to him in the coffee shop, and told him to shut the hell up. I told him it is her body, her choice, and he damn well should just support and care for her no matter what she chooses.

  44. Kelly October 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Dear Caroline P.

    There were a few things that I wanted to say to you, but I decided not to. The thing that I am going to say to you is something that should be obvious: our “birthright,” as is all mammals, is for many of us to suffer and die as infants or consequently suffer and die as we give birth to infants. And that birthright I reject, and wholly give myself over to yes, modern conveniences, but also to modern technology – which includes the amazing technology to keep infants who otherwise would have died alive.

    Our “extenuating circumstances” are that we’re scraping out a living and doing the best by our children that we can. Not just their physical health, but also all of our mental health as well. I think that’s why we’re all here.

    As for the “chemicals” in formula – those are vitamins and minerals. “Corn syrup solids” is sugar. Which is what we all run on, plants and animals, including you. In short, you’re being ridiculous and you need to leave good parents alone.

  45. MichelleB October 21, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    Yes, breastfed babies can and do get sick. But if my breastmilk contains antibodies against whatever nasty bug the rest of the family is suffering from and can give the baby some extra help, I’m all for it. It’s not going to make any longtime difference in my child’s life, but it makes that stretch of days easier.

    I was completely formula fed and healthy. My kids were completely breastfed and healthy.

    I got hit with a lot of pro-bottle propaganda while I was nursing. I think it’s a case of “whatever you’re doing it’s wrong.”

  46. Kate October 21, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    I am disturbed by this article’s interpretation of WIC’s guidelines for breastfeeding vs non-breastfeeding. The inclusion of iron-rich babyfood has nothing to do with “punishing” non-breastfed babies and everything to do with one way in which breast is *not* best–that breastfed babies are slightly more likely to be anemic because iron is not efficiently transferred through breastmilk. And the difference in length of supplementation for Mom is again, not a punishment, but a simple nutritional assessment based on the calorie needs of breastfeeding.

    I get frustrated when misinformation is countered…with more misinformation, all of it meant to create further division between parents.

  47. Stafir October 21, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    Honestly I think this should probably lead back to free range as an overall issue.

    Just a few decades back..you were considered a bad parent if you did breastfeed. You were expected to hide it..to not let it be seen. Done out of sight..covered up. Some modern societies have spent years getting to the point where a mother isn’t stigmatized for breastfeeding her children. And where a mother can sensibly breastfeed in public (and by sensibly I do mean with covering it up as reasonably as possible) without being looked down upon. That has taken multiple years of work to get to.

    With that said..back to this being an overall free range issue.

    I do see breastfeeding as the better, preferred way to do things..I do believe when at all possible it should be done BUT.

    Part of the free range mantra is that not everything needs to be perfect. That kids can fall, scrape their knee..and survive. That a child can be left alone, asleep, in a car for a few minutes and not die from neglect. That a young child can be left home alone for a short period of time. That a younger one can be left home alone longer, maybe even make their own meals. That falls will happen, they will get hurt..BUT, the child will grow up well sometimes in spite of it..but sometimes because they were allowed to experience both the good and the bad.

    That basically, things can go not perfectly..and all of us, and all future of us, will grow up just fine.

    Which leads back to what I said. I do believe breastfeeding to be preferred, that if at all possible a child should be breastfed. But there are enough reasons why breastfeeding might not be the best choice all the time. From thousands of reasons a mother might not produce enough milk or not produce milk at all. To thousands of reasons why a mother might not be around in order to feed often enough..or might even feel uncomfortable..such as a woman who feels a bit turned on when fed from..and that leads her to not want to because it feels wrong to her (just using as an example).

    But that is kinna all about free range in the end. Raising children in a world that is not perfect.

  48. Andrea October 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

    Ugh, I hate these articles. The “new mother issues” she describes in her article don’t just happen with respect to feeding, but also day care, strollers, whether to have a glass of wine during pregnancy, type of car seats, reading to baby during bedtime, letting them cry, so on and so forth. There is an article like this to write about ever single thing a parent chooses to do, it’s not just feeding. Actually there is an article to write like this about everything any of us do, because, well, it’s the internet, it’s infinite and there is a lot of space to fill. So we opine on everything, to an absurd degree.

    But let’s talk about breast feeding for a minute, since that’s what she writes about. For many, mostly low income women, breastfeeding actually is beneficial to the child in a way that not breastfeeding is not and in a way that is not applicable to working-, middle- and upper-income families. Because in the case of low income families, it’s not a choice between breast milk or formula, it’s a choice between breast milk and whatever they have in the apartment, which is often not much. I’ve heard stories from CHWs of mothers who fed their babies soda, Hi-C, Carnation Instant Breakfast, Nestle Quik, coffee, pureed rice and beans mixed with water, etc., not because they are bad mothers, but because they are good mothers doing their best and not knowing any better, and not being able to afford formula. I’ve seen a woman give her 2-month-old expired milk that had been sitting on the counter since I got there. In that case, yes, breast milk really can ward of disease and it’s good that these women are encouraged to breastfeed and taught that breastfeeding is, in fact, better than the alternative (i.e., Sprite). But we middle and upper income moms don’t see that side of things, because, for us, breastfeeding is one of two great options, so downplaying breastfeeding has no effect on our children.

    Of course, we middle and upper income women make how we feed our child into a validation of our “worth” as mothers, because we have the time to care about that — hence the copious number of blog posts on the subject. But those who don’t have that time? For them the fact that they feed their child at all is a validation of their worth. Query why we middle and upper income women can’t bring themselves to feel the same.

    I disagree with the WIC allocation of benefits, but that is a broader problem related to the governments in the US and their unwillingness to do things that are actually beneficial, and rather take half-steps to do things that look good on paper. If Professor Jung thinks that the mothers of formula-fed babies are being punished in this case, she would shudder to see the other ways in which they are punished, regardless of whether they formula feed or breast feed. I wish people would write and care about that. But we don’t, because that’s not our world, and it’s not our problem. But making sure middle and upper class women don’t feel like bad mothers when they have to live with one of two great options — apparently that’s worth a New York Times Op Ed.

    Finally, Lenore, has anyone been arrested or had DCFS called on them for feeding their child formula? Maybe they have, and if so we should discuss THAT. If not, I don’t see how this is related to leaving your child in a car for a few minutes or playing outside supervised. This is a debate closer to “public school or private school?” or “let your kid watch TV or not?” or “nanny or day care?” or whatever other ‘first-world’ choices we get to make. I get you are trying to fight off the world where parents aren’t allowed to make any choices with respect to their own children, but I would warn you against leading the way down that slippery slope yourself, which is what your commentary looks like.

    (Meanwhile, we don’t seem to notice that, for some, the aforementioned choices look more like “go to school and learn nothing or skip school” and “Star Wars movie or Transformers movie” or “leave them home alone or leave them with auntie, whose husband molested me when I was a kid.”)

  49. Buffy October 21, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    The crux of the breast v formula debate is that many of those who believe that breast-feeding is best also believe they have the right to decide what is best for other women who are not them, similar to so many other issues. “I would never leave my child in the car for even a second, so I get to decide that my neighbor can’t either.” How did we get to this point, culturally?

  50. James Pollock October 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    It’s a false dichotomy.

    Breastfeeding is very good for the baby (in most cases). Formula feeding is good for the baby, maybe even better than breastfeeding in some cases.

    It’s “good” vs. “gooder”, not “good” vs. “bad”.

    Not feeding baby is bad. Feeding baby plastic popcorn and rat poison is bad. Feeding baby to wild dingoes is bad. Telling baby to get a job and feed herself is bad (unless your baby twins are Mary Kate and Ashley.. that one worked out OK.)

  51. Emily Morris October 21, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    “”” Contrary to sound-bites, the vast majority of low-income mothers work outside the home. They work at low-income, hourly, manual-labor jobs that rarely have the flexibility or facilities necessary to make pumping during the workday even remotely realistic. “”””

    What’s interesting is that it’s these hourly-wage jobs that generally have the legal requirement to give moms time to pump… and even with the best intentions of employer and mom it’s too often too much hassle. I technically don’t have any legal claim to pumping during the work day, yet I’m going to be more likely to get it done than the gal who’s worked four years down at the office who has the law on her side.

    Yeah, despite laws, many places just don’t have the flexibility or facilities.

  52. Cassie October 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    Gah, I hate mummy wars. The problem is that advocacy is aimed at the masses, not the individual – but the individuals take it extremely personally.

    I am a breastfeeding advocate, and while going on about high IQs is ridiculous, I think there is no doubt that breastmilk is gold.

    Having said that, advocacy happens on a large scale, aimed at the same people who are receiving a heavy dose of advertising from companies that, let’s be real, are primarily interested in making money by selling formula.

    On an individual scale I have complete understanding for the reasons why so many women opt for forumal, and the reasons are wide, from medical needs to simply not having the education or support or even desire to continue breastfeeding…

    I hate when mums feels that they have to explain there reasons behind switching to formula — the don’t. The advocates (and organisations like the Australian Breastfeeding Association) support the women and the choices that they make, while trying to advocate globally so that in the future women have more support in their journey.

  53. Donna October 21, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    “What’s interesting is that it’s these hourly-wage jobs that generally have the legal requirement to give moms time to pump… and even with the best intentions of employer and mom it’s too often too much hassle.”

    Except the employer in those types of jobs rarely has the best intentions. They are worried about the bottom line, not breastfeeding mothers. Walmart isn’t going to shut down a register for 30 minutes every couple hours to allow you to pump. They are going to cut back your hours and give you bad shifts until you quit or stop breastfeeding. If you are a waitress who needs to take a 30 minute break every few hours on someone else’s schedule to pump, do you think you are going to get scheduled for high-tip weekend dinner shifts or deadly slow times? How about if you are a cook? (although both of those places would likely be exempt anyway as having under 50 employees) Even if they do give you the time, do you really want to pump anywhere in a poultry plant? And you are going to schlep all this stuff on the bus? And you aren’t guaranteed pay for that time so your already paltry paycheck is now less.

    The fact is that the employees who do these jobs are generally completely powerless. They have no education. No idea what their rights are. Don’t know how to find a lawyer to handle such a case. They do know that they are one paycheck from homeless so they damn sure better keep their job. And the employers know that and that they can get 20 people to fill their job tomorrow who don’t need to breastfeed.

  54. Kelly October 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm #


    I think there is doubt that breastmilk is gold. This article does a good job of summing up what I found when I also dived into the research:


    This thought in particular: “the medical literature looks nothing like the popular literature. It shows that breast-feeding is probably, maybe, a little better; but it is far from the stampede of evidence that Sears describes. More like tiny, unsure baby steps: two forward, two back, with much meandering and bumping into walls. A couple of studies will show fewer allergies, and then the next one will turn up no difference. Same with mother-infant bonding, IQ, leukemia, cholesterol, diabetes. Even where consensus is mounting, the meta studies—reviews of existing studies—consistently complain about biases, missing evidence, and other major flaws in study design. “The studies do not demonstrate a universal phenomenon, in which one method is superior to another in all instances,” concluded one of the first, and still one of the broadest, meta studies, in a 1984 issue of Pediatrics, “and they do not support making a mother feel that she is doing psychological harm to her child if she is unable or unwilling to breastfeed.”

  55. Warren October 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Certain chemicayls in breast milk aids in or increases bonding? That is not bonding. That is chemical dependency and or chemical withdraw.

    That special bond between breast fed babies and mom is nothing more than “cupboard love”. An instinctual reaction to go where one’s food supply is, when hungry.
    No different than a teenager heading to the kitchen to find food.

  56. JKP October 21, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    Totally agree with everything that Cassie said including: “The problem is that advocacy is aimed at the masses, not the individual – but the individuals take it extremely personally.”

    Even if breastfeeding only has a slight advantage over formula feeding, if you multiply that over masses of people, higher overall rates of breastfeeding do have an impact on public health and healthcare costs.

    The point of advocating for breastfeeding should not be to shame women for formula feeding (no matter the reason for their choice, even if the reason is just because they don’t want to breastfeed), but instead to lower the barriers that prevent women who would otherwise breastfeed from doing so.

    When women are shamed for breastfeeding in public, it becomes a huge hassle to hide away every time they need to nurse, so they are likely to quit breastfeeding sooner. So making it more socially acceptable and emphasizing the benefits to society as a whole when more mothers breastfeed helps nursing mothers feel more comfortable feeding their babies while going about their day.

    When doctors lack education in breastfeeding (most only have 0-3 hours total training in it), they can give bad advice about it that discourages mothers from continuing to breastfeed (for example most of the weight gain charts are based on formula-fed babies which can lead to a mistaken belief that a breastfed baby is not thriving. Also, milk usually doesn’t come in at the hospital, the first few days are collostrum which is nutrient and antibody dense and newborns only need about a pea size of it to meet their needs, so a mother told she won’t be able to nurse because her milk didn’t come in might actually be getting bad information). So helping educate women about breastfeeding and providing support from experts can actually make them *more* educated about breastfeeding than the doctors and prevent them from succumbing to bad advice.

    When employers have no facilities for new moms to pump, they have no choice but to stop breastfeeding. Lobbying for legal protections so working women can pump allows women to continue breastfeeding after returning to work.

    Making it easier for moms who want to breastfeed to be able to do so raises the overall rates of breastfeeding which is good when averaged over a large mass of people. But that doesn’t mean that those who choose not to breastfeed should be stigmatized or punished for their choice.

    To say that “Breast is Best” is not saying that formula is toxic poison. Best is a comparison word, and compared to formula, breast is a little better. That’s why formula companies are always trying to improve their recipe to get even closer to breastmilk. Scientists are always discovering new things about breastmilk, which then allows them to further improve the formula for all formula-fed babies too. For instance, a recent study discovered that when nursing from the breast, babies backwash a little back into the mother’s body which allows her body to produce a “made-to-order” cocktail of antibodies for the next nursing session. It’s pretty cool what the body can do.

    Also, understanding the effect of breastfeeding/not breastfeeding on the mother can help support formula feeding moms too. Moms who formula feed have a higher rate of post-partum depression. It’s not just that society is pressuring them to breastfeed and making them feel bad for formula feeding. But on a biological level, it’s only recently in human history that there are other options for feeding a baby other than breastmilk, so in the past if you didn’t breastfeed, that meant your baby died. So on a biological level your hormones and body can feel the “loss” of your baby even as your baby is healthy and thriving on formula. So formula feeding moms may need even more support as their body adjusts to being a mom who is not breastfeeding.

  57. theresa hall October 21, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    it seems that moms who do breastfeed aren’t allow to go anywhere. because the horrible thing called breastfeeding might needed while out . how dare those babies need feeding. to my feeling getting worked up about this is as dumb as the racist fruit basket. but then common sense is dead or dying so what do we want?

  58. Kelly October 21, 2015 at 6:25 pm #

    Just want to make it clear to JKP and Cassie that I am NOT saying that breast isn’t a little better. That is clear, and it’s good if you can do it. But language like “breast milk is gold” really overstates the advantages and DOES shame women, whether you think that’s the intention or not. It’s not the type of thing to lose your mind over as a mother, and it’s definitely not the kind of thing to lose your mind over as a stranger sitting next to a mother feeding her child at the park, which is why it’s here.

  59. Liz October 21, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    By the way, here’s my argument over if it’s better for long-term health to breast-feed:
    I am the youngest of 4 siblings. My 3 older siblings were born in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when formula feeding was the norm. As such, all of them were formula fed. I was born in 1981, and my mother made the choice to breast-feed me (my grandmother, and RN, said “are you no different than a cow?”). My siblings are all more or less healthy. I get sick all of the time and always have, and have chronic health problems. To me, it doesn’t seem like my getting breast milk made much of a difference in my long-term health, especially compared with my siblings who didn’t have that “advantage.”

  60. Kami October 21, 2015 at 6:59 pm #

    I’m a mom of three, and yes, I’m a breastfeeding advocate and encourage every woman to try if she is able. That said, it is incredibly encouraging in this day and age that women have the choice of formula available to them as there are a multitude of reasons why a woman can’t or doesn’t want to breastfeed. That she has the choice is awesome. I’ve seen some incredible mothers who can’t breastfeed. They are just as committed to their children as those who can.

  61. JKP October 21, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    “To me, it doesn’t seem like my getting breast milk made much of a difference in my long-term health, especially compared with my siblings who didn’t have that “advantage.””

    That’s like saying “I never text and drive, but I’ve still had multiple accidents, but my siblings who are always texting and driving have never had a single accident. That makes me believe that texting and driving isn’t as dangerous as they make it out to be.”

    No, that just means that you have to look at a large enough sample size of people to determine if there is a trend, but accept that there will always be outliers. In your case, it’s possible that other factors made you more prone to getting sick and if you had been formula fed like your siblings, you would have gotten sick even *more* frequently than you did, so in your case, it’s probably to your benefit that you had the extra protection of breastmilk because it sounds like you needed it more.

  62. Fuzzyfuzz October 21, 2015 at 7:33 pm #


    I don’t think you mean this, but your analogy is pretty offensive. Texting and driving is actually risky and potentially deadly behavior. Formula feeding is not. It is one of two excellent ways to nourish an infant, each of which have benefits and drawbacks and both of which have good outcomes. It’s possible that Liz’s situation is as you describe, but we can’t know this. And the actual research makes conjecture shaky at best.

  63. Liz October 21, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    I looked it up, and yes, in CT the WIC program more than promotes breastfeeding. If you look at the information on what formula you can feed, the program will only pay for a specific one that it has worked out a price with the manufacturer, so if your baby has specially needs or allergies I don’t believe your formula will be covered.

  64. Sarah October 21, 2015 at 7:48 pm #

    I can sort of understand the WIC program trying to encourage women to breastfeed. Using formula is a *lot* more expensive, and if you’re using WIC then you’re doing it on the government’s (i.e. the taxpayers’) dime. So there’s definitely some incentive to get women to nurse if at all possible. Obviously not everybody can, and many women might be the family’s sole provider and unable to pump at work so they simply can’t, but it does make sense that they’d push it.

    Furthermore, baby formula is iron-fortified. So it makes sense that the iron-rich meat baby foods would be encouraged for babies being breastfed, but not deemed as necessary for babies who are already getting their iron through formula. I do think that some of the difference, though, is that the breastfed mother is getting the foods she needs to eat herself in order to breastfeed, whereas the formula mother is getting foods to feed directly to the baby.

  65. JKP October 21, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    @ Fuzzyfuzz – The analogy was meant to help illustrate as clearly as possible that you can’t determine population trends by looking at your own specific personal experience as the sole data point. I used texting and driving because it is something I assume everyone could agree on the basic conclusion without any grey area or controversy, and yet you could still find an outlier who might disprove that basic conclusion.

    In no way was the analogy meant to compare texting and driving to formula feeding itself nor did it imply any danger in formula feeding. The analogy was solely to illustrate the difference between looking at trends in a large group vs individual personal experiences.

  66. Warren October 21, 2015 at 9:27 pm #


    “When employers have no facilities for new moms to pump, they have no choice but to stop breastfeeding. Lobbying for legal protections so working women can pump allows women to continue breastfeeding after returning to work.”.

    Sorry, but I get sick and tired of personal choices turning into things that employers/businesses have to construct, maintain and fund. I have heard arguments being made for more employer daycare centers, more family washrooms, more breastfeeding rooms to now pumping time. Sorry, but what happened to the good old days when people went to work to uhhhhhh………………..WORK.

    Oh and if you really want to pump at work, do it on your breaks, or lose that hour or so of pay.

  67. JKP October 21, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Another reason that more studies now show only moderate benefits to breastfeeding vs formula is that they are measuring a moving target. As science figures out more about what makes breastmilk so good, they apply that knowledge to improving formula, so the gap between breastmilk and formula is constantly shrinking, which is a good thing for all moms. For instance, DHA and ARA in breastmilk may have given breastfed babies an advantage in neurological development in the past, but now you can get formula with added DHA & ARA. So more recent studies comparing breastfed and formula fed babies don’t show as wide of a gap because formula is constantly improving.

    Now that they discovered breastmilk changes throughout the day, with differing nucleotides to either put baby to sleep or wake baby up, I would expect that in the near future you will see daytime and nighttime versions of formula too.

  68. Donald October 21, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    this is a breastfeeding story but the comparison of ignorance is off the topic

    Uganda mothers with AIDS are given formula so that they don’t give their healthy babies AIDS. However some of them breastfeed instead as they don’t trust formula. They give their baby AIDS because they are ‘protecting them’. (a much worse fate)

    This is the same as parents that believe that the best way to protect children is to pump as much fear and anxiety as they can in them. They think its better to pump them full of self doubt, nil self esteem and nil self worth to prevent them from a possible kidnapping.

  69. Jenny Islander October 21, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    @Warren: That’s not how breasts work. Frequency of nursing or pumping directly drives production of milk. Nurse or pump less, make less milk. Also you may end up with mastitis.

  70. Warren October 21, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    Jenny Islander,

    And that is the employer’s problem how? And why should they be on the financial hook for the personal choices of their employees?

    Like I said, if one has to pump, don’t expect to be paid for that time. Just like others don’t expect to be paid to meet with a realtor, go to the bank, and so on. Personal time is personal time.

  71. JKP October 21, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    Warren – “Oh and if you really want to pump at work, do it on your breaks, or lose that hour or so of pay.”

    First of all, employees already lose that pay when they pump. Employers are not required to pay for that time.

    The problem is that preventing a breastfeeding mother from expressing milk can become a medical situation, with uncomfortable engorged breasts the least of the possible problems. It usually takes longer than a 15 minute break to pump, which could leave a mother suffering hours between feedings if she can’t do it at work. And over time, not pumping at work turns off milk production. If a mom returns to work at 6 weeks, she might be forced to stop breastfeeding before the AMA recommended 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.

    What would you do if an employee had a medical condition where they had to use the bathroom frequently? Or if they had certain injections and medication they needed to take on schedule? Would you limit them to doing so only on their breaks and risk a problem, or would you accommodate their medical needs? A lot of medical conditions require accommodation and breastfeeding should fall under the same protections. It’s only temporary, and the employer is not required to pay for those breaks.

  72. Warren October 21, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

    Another analogy fail.
    Personal choice to breastfeed does not equal a medical condition. And bluntly, if they had a medical condition before they applied for the job, that would interfere with the performance of their duties………they wouldn’t get hired.

  73. JKP October 21, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    “Personal choice to breastfeed does not equal a medical condition.”

    But denying a breastfeeding mother the opportunity to express milk can in fact CREATE a medical condition. Thus, why it should require an accommodation. And why the law now requires such an accommodation in spite of your opinion.

    And my question about the medical condition was not about whether it predated their hiring. Although, if you refused to hire someone who could do the job but with some minor accommodation of their medical condition, you could be in violation of the ADA. Likewise if you fired an employee who developed a medical condition that required accommodation.

    Really, what is so hard about giving periodic breaks so a nursing mother can express milk, especially if you don’t have to pay for her time? I’ve worked at companies where they allowed employees periodic time to go get their chemo treatments and then come back to work. One guy had to leave every day for an hour or more for medical treatments, but he made up the time at the end of the day.

    I currently own my business, so I understand being an employer. But part of being an employer is having the flexibility to accommodate the fact that you employ human beings who have periodic needs that take them away from their work.

  74. Emily Morris October 21, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

    I don’t think the law requires extra breaks beyond other breaks for pumping. If an employer doesn’t provide breaks normally, they’d have to provide breaks for pumping. But if an employer already gives breaks, well, they followed the legal requirement to provide pumping time.

  75. Warren October 21, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    People do not choose to get cancer, people do not choose to get sick. Women choose to breastfeed. It is that simple.

    And no, as an employer myself, when I hire people have the choice to choose those that can do the job. If I have two people, equally qualified. One is healthy, the other has medical issues, there is not a law in the world that says I can’t choose based on that final detail.

    I understand that issues can arise from failing to pump or nurse. Again not my problem as the person CHOSE to breastfeed. Employer’s should not be on the hook for personal choices.

    Working out and physical fitness is beneficial to health, and not working out can lead to medical issues. Does that mean we should supply time and space for that? No. Your body, your choice, your time and dime.

  76. Warren October 21, 2015 at 11:16 pm #

    Emily Morris,

    Here there are laws that govern employee breaks. Basically paid morning and afternoon breaks, and an unpaid lunch break. That is the minimum.

    People think that even if you are not paying someone for their pumping time, that it doesn’t cost. Well it does. Because when mom is not doing her job, someone else has to cover, taking time away from theirs.

  77. Jenny Islander October 22, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    Warren: You’re once again coming awfully close to, “If you’re not robustly healthy, well off, and free of responsibilities that I wouldn’t choose for myself, then you deserve whatever happens to you.”

    You’re going to be older and sicker than you are today. Nothing you do or say can stop it. You may very well end up poorer as a result or concurrently. Better hope that somebody near you chooses to take on responsibility for keeping you from dying a miserable, lonely death even if you do have inconvenient needs.

    Also: Babies are the weakest, poorest, most dependent, and least productive human beings of all. But considering your attitude toward people who take on the responsibility of caring for babies, I guess you know that.

    And I’m done.

  78. jennifer October 22, 2015 at 12:32 am #

    @Havva – I’m not sure if you just have outdated info (can’t remember how old your children are) or if they just gave you really, really, bad info (for what we know now). While there is less iron in breastmilk it is in a form far better absorbed than the iron in formula – and for many infants there is “too much” iron in formula – thus the issues with constipation, which is exceedingly rare in exclusively breastfed infants. The reason that infants are at risk of anemia is because of premature clamping of the umbilical cord (i.e. right after birth). We now realize that the baby actually needs all of the blood circulating between their placenta and their circulatory system and current recommendations are to delay cord clamping for at least 1 minute following birth (there are other reasons as well). Non of that is neither here not there regarding choices in infant feeding, but whatever we decide we should at least have the most up-to-date info 🙂

  79. Drew October 22, 2015 at 12:44 am #

    I am a man but have always been a full time parent to my daughter. I spent countless hours bottle feeding my baby daughter and her mother spent even more time either directly breastfeeding or pumping. I hope people do chose this way of feeding their newborn. Also I would say the effectiveness of feeding mainly mothers milk to the child is greatly dependent on the food the mother eats. She breastfed our daughter for 1.5 years and it was a beautiful gift to start her life.

  80. jennifer October 22, 2015 at 12:47 am #

    @Donald – that’s not exactly how that has been working out. Many mothers in those desperately poor situations are given a little bit of formula – but certainly not enough to cover the first year of the baby’s life. And they have difficulty finding access to the safe water sources for preparation or clean-up of the formula. Research actually shows that an exclusively breastfed baby has a fairly low rate if cross-transmission of HIV. The risk comes when other foods (such as formula are added in). So when moms are given this woefully inadequate formula substitute (given their situation) and then breastfeed to fill in the gaps (or prevent other illnesses from unsafe water sources) it is actually the formula that put them at risk of HIV transmission, not the breastfeeding. The WHO’s recommendations under such conditions are exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and then abrupt weaning.

    Another heart-wrenching example is the Syrian refugee crisis. There has been a strong anti-breastfeeding campaign going in in Syria for decades (think the US in the mid 20th century) and breastfeeding rates are abominably low. How do you think all of these formula dependent babies are faring at the moment?

    Again – not reflecting on any given mother’s personal decision, but there are big picture issues to consider as well.

  81. jennifer October 22, 2015 at 12:55 am #

    @Andrea – need the like button. You really nailed it.

  82. Warren October 22, 2015 at 1:03 am #

    Jenny Islander,

    So you are saying that it is my best interest, when given the choice between two equally qualified applicants, that I should choose the one that will be least productive? Not going to happen. And I doubt any other employer will see it your way.

    And I never said that employers should not allow the time for pumping. I stated that employers should not be paying for that time, nor should they have to provide, at their cost, facilities for that activity.

    Let’s just say for the sake of it, that one needs an extra 1.5 hours per day to pump. Now for just 6 months. That is works out to 180 hours. Divide that by a 40 hr week, and it is 4.5 weeks or one month. That is a lot of money lost by the employee, but it is also one month of lost productivity lost to the company. Not due to an illness, not due to an injury, not due to unanticipated events. Due to a personal choice of an employee. Over a year it is two months and so on. That is a lot to expect out of an employer.

  83. jennifer October 22, 2015 at 1:06 am #

    Great discussion of the Atlantic article that @Kelly mentions http://usfoodpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/03/oh-really-hanna-rosin-in-atlantic-makes.html – most of the critiques and considerations apply here as well.

    This quote from those comments was particularly provoking – both to our discussion about personal choices and those mothers who are the ones who are actually threatened with state action (not to take their children away, but their freedom to access public accommodations)
    “As for her assumption that only formula feeders are given a hard time, I beg to differ. If you took a sample of 1000 women, I am dead certain that 100% of that sample would say that their infant feeding choice has been criticized, regardless of what choice they made. If you took a sample of 1000 women on any parenting issue, you would find the same results. BUT, there is a false equivalency in this statement. If you looked at the degree of negativity in the “criticism” you would find that the most negative, disgusting comments are reserved for women who nurse in public. There is a huge degree of Lactaphobia in the culture due to the sexualization of the breast. You would never get away with saying that African Americans, homosexuals, the elderly, Jews, Muslims or any other group would have to eat in the bathroom. Yet, routinely, women are told that the only place their infants can eat normally is in the bathroom.”

  84. JKP October 22, 2015 at 1:16 am #

    Warren – “If I have two people, equally qualified. One is healthy, the other has medical issues, there is not a law in the world that says I can’t choose based on that final detail.”

    Except that there is a law that says it’s illegal for you to ask if they have medical issues. Also illegal to ask if they have children. And people savvy enough to realize employers might pass them over for those reasons are not going to voluntarily disclose that they have a medical condition requiring accommodation, nor whether they have a baby they are currently breastfeeding at home. So if you do happen to hire someone who needs accommodation (or if the circumstances of a current employee change), you are legally required to accommodate them. And if you fire them after discovering they need a reasonable accommodation protected by law (such as breaks to pump breastmilk), you can be sued for discrimination. And if such a future employee found a post like the one above spouting off about how you have an actual plan to discriminate, they would likely win (possibly with a pro-bono or contingency lawyer so it wouldn’t cost them a cent to sue you).

  85. jennifer October 22, 2015 at 1:17 am #

    And just wanted to add – one certainly does not need to eat a perfect diet to provide adequate nutrition for her child through her milk. This is just another way to criticize (or shame if you prefer) mothers. If there is enough milk for your baby your baby will be fine enough nourished, regardless of your diet. Living on coffee and last night’s leftover pizza (was this only me as a new mother???) will not, in anyway, harm your milk or your baby.

  86. Puzzled October 22, 2015 at 1:21 am #

    Fun fact: It’s relatively well-known that kosher laws prohibit eating milk and meat together (among many other things, of course). It’s much less well-known that kosher laws consider human breast milk to be parve (neither meat nor dairy). I’ve heard more than one orthodox Jew discuss the idea of opening a restaurant with kosher cheeseburgers and such…

  87. jennifer October 22, 2015 at 1:40 am #

    “In 2012, the surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics identified breast-feeding as a public health issue. Although that designation doesn’t mean much, practically speaking, it was intended to make clear that breast-feeding is a civic responsibility and a matter of public interest, not just a personal choice. In so doing it portrays women who don’t breast-feed — who are more likely to be poor and African-American — not only as bad parents, but as irresponsible citizens.” This is just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Breastfeeding is not a civic responsibility, supporting and protecting breastfeeding *for the mom who wants to breastfeed* is the civic responsibility. What it does is makes it incumbent upon all of us to support all women who want to breastfeed, regardless of their ability pay out-of-pocket for lactation support and supplies, take time off work to establish the breastfeeding relationship, etc. breastfeeding had been systematically dismantled in communities of color by racism, poverty, and oppression http://acquandastanford.com/lactationjourneyblog/ – and that’s just not okay. Back to Andrea’s post – Jung is still coming at this from her privileged position of “choice”. “Choice” has to be understood in context.

    An example – mom comes in in labor, poor, living in a home with domestic violence, receiving methadone treatment for opiod addiction. Asked if she plans on breast or bottle feeding she answers “bottle”. Baby is born, showing some symptoms of NAS. It is shared with mom (privately) that there is research that tells us the breastfeeding under such circumstances can ease baby’s symptoms – would she be willing to try or to express some milk. Mom shares that she would actually love to breastfeed but didn’t think she could due to the methadone (incorrect info) and that her partner told her she couldn’t. Plus her mom is taking care of the baby when she goes back to work in 2 weeks and told her the “tit milk” is gross. Help her start breastfeeding, distract partner, contact local DV shelter. Not sure where the story goes from here – but even if this mom “decides” not to breastfeed it isn’t her “choice”. not in the way that Ms. Jung means it. And this is were the public health piece comes in… it isn’t just a “bummer for her” situation any more. It’s a denial of mom/baby rights to access health supporting resources. Just as problematic as food deserts, lack of access prenatal care, etc.

  88. Warren October 22, 2015 at 2:05 am #


    Nice try. We are allowed to ask if an applicant is physically able to do the job, as set out in the job description. Two things to keep in mind. Within the first 3 months, considered the probationary period, we are free to terminate employment at any time. Even more so if the applicant lies about their ability to physically do the job.
    You see, in our line of work, there are physical demands that above and beyond most lines of work. And by law that goes both ways. We have to be open and honest of what is expected, and the applicant must be open and honest about their abilities.

    And again, I never said that employers should not allow or penalize someone for breastfeeding. I just said it is a lot to ask of an employer, because it is a choice and not a medical problem. I also said that an employer should not have to bear the cost of a facility just for pumping and breastfeeding. Don’t like that, well that it your problem. And just for you…………..all our hiring procedures are reviewed on a regular basis, and we are well within our rights and the law.

  89. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 2:31 am #

    “if you refused to hire someone who could do the job but with some minor accommodation of their medical condition, you could be in violation of the ADA.”

    The ADA is U.S. law, and thus does not apply in Canada. On the other hand, Canadian Human-Rights law is fairly sweeping.




  90. JKP October 22, 2015 at 3:00 am #

    Warren – I actually worked in HR for a few years where we were hired to consult for other companies (like yours) who had gotten themselves into trouble by breaking laws in hiring and firing (and sexual harrassment, etc). While it can vary state by state, and by size of company etc, you should definitely check what applies to your business before you get yourself into trouble.

    “We are allowed to ask if an applicant is physically able to do the job”

    And if an applicant knows that they can do the job with the reasonable accommodation protected by law, they can tell you that they can do the job without disclosing to you the reasonable accommodation.

    “Pre-Employment: Any question that may elicit disability-related information is prohibited. Whether a reasonable accommodation is needed would be protected information.”

    “Within the first 3 months, considered the probationary period, we are free to terminate employment at any time.”

    Actually if the reason you are firing them is that they need a reasonable accommodation as protected by the ADA, then that would be considered discrimination and could get you into trouble. I’m not trying to start a fight with you, but having witnessed a few small business owners such as yourself go through painful discrimination lawsuits, I wouldn’t wish it on you. Sometimes the employee was just a terrible employee rightfully terminated, but then pulled the discrimination card to get back at their employer and even when the employer won, it still cost them a lot of money in attorney and consultant fees.

    “I just said it is a lot to ask of an employer, because it is a choice and not a medical problem.”

    So you are saying that you would FORCE a mother to formula feed against her will, thereby effectively making the choice for her? Because that is in essence what employers do when they don’t provide reasonable accommodation for pumping. That makes it not a choice anymore then, doesn’t it? And what employers are being asked is not such a huge burden: a private room that’s not a bathroom to pump in and unpaid breaks to pump. You’re not being asked to outfit a whole specialized lactation room built out special for that purpose. Any company with more than 50 employees should be able to find a storage room or empty office they can put a lock on and designate as a lactation room. It can still be used for other things when not in use for pumping.

    The point Jennifer made a few posts earlier is that it is a civic responsibility for our society to support moms who want to breastfeed to be able to do so. Giving women a free choice, not pressured to breastfeed if they don’t want to, but likewise not prevented from breastfeeding if they do want to, because even if you think there are only slight benefits to breastfeeding over formula feeding, when you add them up over the aggregate, it benefits our society as a whole to have higher breastfeeding numbers. That’s why it is a public health issue. When someone has a child, we don’t make them bear the full cost of educating that child simply because it was their choice to have a child in the first place.

  91. JKP October 22, 2015 at 3:18 am #

    James – The article is from the NYT (an American paper), discussing WIC (another American program), citing the surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics (more American references) calling breastfeeding a public health issue (in America). Canada and every other country out there may possibly have different laws and attitudes about breastfeeding, but the original topic was about American attitudes and policies. So I don’t see the point in your post because yes, obviously the ADA is an American law. When other posters in this thread referenced other countries, they specifically said what other country they were talking about.

  92. Warren October 22, 2015 at 4:05 am #

    James piss off. Only speak when spoken to. You couldn’t cut it as a lawyer or teacher so just shut up.

    For the hard of hearing. …..I never said I would force anyone to do anything. All I said was having an employee take one month out of six off just to pump is a lot to ask.

    And considering the many health and safety factors in our business and the fact that an applicants lie or omissions could endanger others, their fitness to perform is a condition of employment. We are not the only employers that require it. If you don’t like it then you tell me what accommodations can be made to a job that requires lifting over 120 lbs. on a regular basis. He’ll the impact gun we use runs 75 lbs. And then torque wrench 50. And we torque to 500 lbs. All day long, all night and all weather.
    So tell me what kind of accommodations do you think should be made?

  93. Andrew October 22, 2015 at 5:18 am #

    We had twins. We tried breastfeeding for a few weeks but it was not working and we ended up supplementing with bottles, particularly at night when I was at home to help (which enabled my wife to get more sleep), and after a while mostly bottles. Number three was breastfed all the way through.

    In the developed world, there is a rational choice about of methods to feed your child (the issues are somewhat different in less developed countries). There is no “right answer”. Breastfeeding is fine; bottlefeeding is fine.

    The real problem is that so many people think they know better than the parents, are so judgemental, and are not afraid to upbraid parents (and try to make them feel guilty) for the reasonable choices that they make. It is hard enough without random strangers offering unsolicited hostile opinions.

  94. lele October 22, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    This is a topic that bothers me, the breast feeders vs. The bottle feeders. It seems to me that I have seen so many breast feeders posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding their babies on social media with hashtags like:

    “because I love my baby”, “I actually care”, “breast is best”, “doing it right” ect

    I gotta say I have never seen the same type of quotes or even posting a picture of a bottle feeding parent feeding their baby a bottle just for the sake of showing the method. Its sad how its almost like bragging, no it is bragging. I’m not saying every breast feeder lives with breast out on a soap box. But it seems even those who claim no biggie, no judgments, end with a p.s. Breast feeding is better.

    I’ve witnessed a breast feeding coach try to pressure a new mom who had planned with her dr. Not to breast feed. Why? Because she did not want too. (uh oh ya, not she couldn’t, she did not want too)

    It is insulting to have one group tell you, an adult how wrong you are if you dont breast feed. And even more so strangers.

    For such a bonding & intimate thing, people, strangers, sure give opinions freely, wanna get deep into your personal details as to why you arnt breast feeding, share pictures of bonding time, use this natural act to put others down, to brag, and to validate themselves. And the best of all, pretend not to judge but in the same sentence do just that. Get over yourselves, no one in particular, you arnt special because you breast fed. And because you made that choice that does not make you the all knowing trusted guide in the matter.

    How about who cares as long as the baby is getting fed?

  95. Heartfruit October 22, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    Thank you for raising this important topic. There has never been a time in my 11.5 years of parenting that I felt more like a “bad mother” then when I failed to be able to breast feed. And it wasn’t by lack of trying. I’d gotten all the literature. I’d made the chose to breast feed. I hadn’t even considered buying bottles.

    I don’t know why I was never able to produce enough milk to feed her. It might be because she had medical complications meaning I could only pump for the first few days. It might be because she is my only child and I’ve read that supply is often lower with a first born. Or maybe it is just me.

    I tried. I was supported by the nurses at the hospital, by the public health nurse who came to visit and by my family doctor. But in the end the fact was that I was not producing enough milk to feed my child. She was not thriving. Formula saved her. And looking back now, I refuse to feel guilty.

    But when I see friends breast feeding their babies, I’m a little jealous that it worked for them.

  96. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    “””People think that even if you are not paying someone for their pumping time, that it doesn’t cost. Well it does. Because when mom is not doing her job, someone else has to cover, taking time away from theirs.”””

    But if the mom is just using the break time you already gave her, the same break all your other employees get, what’s the big deal? Is she suddenly less productive because she is pumping instead of smoking or checking Facebook?

  97. lele October 22, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    And besides, arnt we free rangers the ones who many times have posted this saying on diff topics :

    ” so what your saying is you care more about my baby than I do? ” ( again not any you’s in particular) in regards to someone questioning & shaking there heads about your personal choice not Breast feed.

    I think this article is interesting. Great topic for this website.

  98. sexhysteria October 22, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Of course, bottle-feeders aren’t “bad” mothers, but anybody who soft-peddles the benefits of breastfeeding should sign a “No conflict of interest” disclaimer, and that includes the AMA and the American Pediatric Association. Virtually all of the money spent on medical research comes from Big Pharma, and they’re not doing it out of altruism. There are US$30 billion in annual sales of infant bottle formula worldwide, and countless infant deaths and serious injuries are attributable to the attempts to sell various breast milk substitutes over the past 50+ years, not to mention outright fraud and dirty tricks nowadays tolerated as “innocent fraud.” Bottle-feeding mothers aren’t “bad,” but they are definitely in need of some voluntary guidance. Read Gabrielle Palmer’s great book “The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business (3rd ed.)”

  99. Kelly October 22, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    Jennifer: I read the critique, and I found it mostly in agreement with my point.

    The things that there is actual solid research to support – Bactracemia, stomach infections, diarhhea – these are things that are almost wholly ameliorated by access to clean water and are things that are not something that parents should be overly concerned with in Western countries, whether breast feeding or not.

  100. Doug October 22, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    “Voluntary guidance.” Sounds suspiciously Orwellian.

  101. Ann October 22, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Thank you for raising this issue! When my first was born 14 years ago, I had gone to all the breastfeeding classes, had it drilled into me that breast was not only “best” but the only acceptable way to go, and I was all set. Then, I got mastitis when she was 3 days old. I found myself in the ER with a raging fever from unknown origin and completely unable to breastfeed at the time. Thank goodness formula companies were still giving out samples to every new parent those days. We brought our samples along and my husband fed our newborn formula from a tiny cup to avoid nipple confusion. When I finally got out of the hospital a few days later, I started pumping and nursing like a mad woman to get my supply back up so I could breastfeed. Then I got mastitis again a couple months later, then again a couple months after that. I was meeting with lactation consultants, doing everything “right” to avoid mastitis, and it kept coming back. Each time, I was sick with what felt like the most horrible flu ever. I couldn’t get out of bed, take care of my child, or enjoy motherhood. My husband had to take time off work to take care of both me and the baby. I was miserable, and it was all because of breastfeeding. Still, the guilt at the thought of stopping was overwhelming. Finally, my cousin (a LLL leader) was the one who was able to talk some sense into me. She had helped me as much as she could and realized my body and breastfeeding just didn’t get along. She said, “My kids are 8 and 10 now. I look at their friends, and there is no way I could tell you which ones were breastfed and which ones weren’t. It seems like a big deal when they are a newborn, but by the time they are little older, it just isn’t going to matter. You need to enjoy motherhood and just let breastfeeding go.” It was so freeing. When the second kid came along, my body decided to fight breastfeeding with thrush. I was given every thrush medicine that exists by every doctor and lactation consultant out there, and I couldn’t get rid of it. The pain was excruciating every time the child nursed. Still, there was that nagging guilt that I would be doing my child wrong if I stopped. Finally a lactation consultant said to me, “You’ve done everything you can. You just need to stop breastfeeding.” I was so much happier bottle feeding my child not being in pain for every feeding, and I’m sure my child was happier too. By the time the third child came along, at the first sign of thrush, I quit. No qualms about it. In the end, the child who was breastfed the longest has asthma, reflux, several other chronic health issues, and has spent the most time in the hospital over the years. The one who got the most formula has been the healthiest by far.
    There is so much more that goes into being a mother than simply whether your child gets breastmilk or formula. I wish I had figured that out sooner. I had been brainwashed by all the over the top breastfeeding propaganda though. I think I would have enjoyed motherhood a lot more with my first two if I had given up breastfeeding sooner.
    And to commenter librarian – for a lower income family, breastfeeding may be impossible if mom has to go back to work right after having the baby and works in a job that can’t accommodate breaks for pumping. Sure, formula is certainly more expensive than free breastmilk, but if it means you can’t go back to work or you’re going to get fired, it quickly becomes vastly more expensive.

  102. Dirge October 22, 2015 at 9:22 am #


    I used to hang out on a message board where a woman told the story that when she had twins, but could not produce milk. A nurse at the hospital did try to get CPS involved because she “chose” not to breastfeed and was not doing what was best for her child.

  103. Jennifer October 22, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    @Dirge. I call B!#& S=$&. Did.Not.Happen. That’s how urban legends get started.

  104. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    “The article is from the NYT (an American paper), discussing WIC (another American program), citing the surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics (more American references) calling breastfeeding a public health issue (in America).”

    OK. And? At which point did I say that the NYT isn’t an American paper, that WIC isn’t an American program, or suggest that either the surgeon general or the AAP aren’t American? In fact, at which point did I make reference to any of them at all?

  105. Donna October 22, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    Actually, at least in the US, Warren absolutely doesn’t have to make any accommodations for pumping mothers. He runs a small business with less than 50 employees and the law does not apply to him (the breastfeeding law, not the laws in general). The reason that small businesses were excluded is that it IS onerous to expect a business with few employees to provide extra coverage and a place to pump for months.

    I have a single employee (well she is an intern getting course credit, but assume for the sake of argument that she is an employee). While time would not be an issue for this particular job, I can’t provide space for her to nurse. It would require me renting a bigger office. That isn’t going to happen as her business worth to me is her salary, not her salary plus the additional cost of renting a larger work space.

    “But if the mom is just using the break time you already gave her, the same break all your other employees get, what’s the big deal?”

    Except she isn’t using just the break time you already gave her. Breaks are generally 15 minutes and it will take at least 30 to pump so she is getting twice the break time as her coworkers.

    Further, you have to deal with the timing issue. Instead of timing breaks based on the flow of business, you have to time her breaks based on the feeding schedule of her child. She has to pump when she needs to pump, even if it is extremely busy and closing down her workspace would impact business and require her fellow employees to do her job. Warren can’t tell someone stuck on the side of the road “we can’t send someone for an hour because our tire repair person has to pump” if he expects to keep their business. He has to send someone else and that someone else is now doing his own job and part of the breast feeding mother’s job.

  106. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 10:18 am #

    I’d agree that if it takes one longer to pump, then other things must be considered. I don’t mean to base every woman off of myself, but myself and plenty of others I know can sufficiently pump during 15 minutes and can arrange our pumping schedule to the regular breaks of the day.

    And doesn’t a business under 50 employees still have to prove unreasonable hardship to be exempt under the law?

  107. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Now, please note that I consider myself rather libertarian and am all for protecting the rights of small businesses where pumping just isn’t feasible. I get it and I agree.

    But I don’t see the point in getting all picky about who gets to do what on breaks.

  108. SKL October 22, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    OK so my mom was a working mom (full time), and she breastfed her youngest 2 kids until age 2. She never pumped (she had tried it with one of the older kids and found it too painful and cumbersome). Breastfeeding doesn’t have to be exclusive. If a woman is on assistance and also working, she probably has some times in her day when she can feed her baby and/or pump if she wants to. Also, work conditions have nothing to do with the fact that many unemployed women, and women employed in more flexible jobs, also choose not to breastfeed. Making it about working conditions and penalizing employers for things they can’t control is not logical. And telling moms that they can’t breastfeed if they don’t pump is unfair to them and their babies.

    At my last job (an office environment), we had a room dedicated to pumping. However, nobody used it. The sole female partner stated “I am not a cow” when a friend asked if she was going to breastfeed. Alrighty then. (My mom is not a “cow” either.) Our workplace was flexible enough that if anyone had wanted to pump, she could have. Given a realistic choice, the choice is still “no” for many women. Fine and dandy, but let’s be honest about it.

  109. SKL October 22, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    I think my employer should give me time off to farm so that my kids can eat the food I organically produce for them until they are 18yo. Because there’s nothing quite as good as home-grown.

    For that matter, I think employers should have to accommodate employees who choose to homeschool. They should be able to do what’s best for their kids at the employer’s expense. Why shouldn’t they? Don’t we care about kids’ education in this country?

  110. LGB October 22, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Even as a breastfeeding mom and La Leche League aficionado, I refuse to participate in this mommy war, (or go into too much detail over the author’s cherry-picked evidence 😉 ).

    All I ask is that when you hear from mothers and health care providers enthusiastic about the benefits of breastfeeding, please understand the difference between the accusation that you’re a Bad Mommy ,. , , , versus your own perception that somebody is pointing an avocado at you: http://momastery.com/blog/2013/06/21/quit-pointing-your-avocado-at-me/

    Largely, these so-called Mommy Wars are created by our own projections and sensitivities.

  111. That_Susan October 22, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    SKL, are you talking about the electricity a mother uses for pumping while she’s on her lunch break? If so, how is that any different from providing a refrigerator for employees to store their lunches in, or a microwave for them to warm them up? Or a coffee pot?

  112. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 11:18 am #

    My point is, if a woman can sufficiently pump during a normal break time given to everyone, be it lunch or whatever, and of course wants to pump, and let’s say doesn’t mind pumping in something besides some vague official pumping room, is it really so hard on the employer to allow this? What kind of employer is that fussy and makes every employee turn in plans on what they’re going to do on their lunch break?

  113. That_Susan October 22, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    sexhysteria wrote: “Of course, bottle-feeders aren’t ‘bad’ mothers, but anybody who soft-peddles the benefits of breastfeeding should sign a ‘No conflict of interest’ disclaimer, and that includes the AMA and the American Pediatric Association. Virtually all of the money spent on medical research comes from Big Pharma, and they’re not doing it out of altruism. There are US$30 billion in annual sales of infant bottle formula worldwide, and countless infant deaths and serious injuries are attributable to the attempts to sell various breast milk substitutes over the past 50+ years, not to mention outright fraud and dirty tricks nowadays tolerated as ‘innocent fraud.’ Bottle-feeding mothers aren’t ‘bad,’ but they are definitely in need of some voluntary guidance. Read Gabrielle Palmer’s great book ‘The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business (3rd ed.)'”

    I totally agree with this, and I’m assuming that by “voluntary guidance,” you’re talking about the medical industry doing everything it can to help new mothers breastfeed, and not about all and sundry giving new mothers advice. It’s weird because when I became a new mom fifteen years ago, formula was still being promoted by some of the medical professionals that I came into contact with — but now, apparently, nobody’s pushing formula at all?

    It’s so weird that a nurse even hotlined a new mother of twins who didn’t breastfeed. As a mom who breastfed both her children until they weaned, I was concerned about someone hotlining me for still breastfeeding children who were walking and talking. Hopefully everything will become more balanced soon.

  114. Beth October 22, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    I wish the post-and-runners would come back. I’d love to hear Caroline P’s response to Donna’s question about baking bread with flour she’s grown and milled on her own, and Miriam’s link to that chemical in mother’s milk that makes for far better bonding than bottle feeding.

  115. Crystal October 22, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    I saw a study that said that the higher IQ from breastfeeding was not replicable in places where the upper classes mostly formula feed– meaning that it could have more to do with income levels than breastfeeding.

    That being said, I still felt so so guilty when I was unable to produce enough milk for my baby and had to supplement with formula.

  116. SKL October 22, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    That_Susan and Emily Morris,

    Nobody is asking people not to use their own breaks to pump if that is what they want to do. The controversy is over whether employers should be forced to make extra accommodations such as a private pumping room, longer paid breaks, or redistribution of responsibilities to non-breastfeeding employees.

    Employees aren’t generally told what they can and can’t do during breaks, be it smoking, pumping, reading, or napping. Have you heard otherwise?

  117. Donna October 22, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    “My point is, if a woman can sufficiently pump during a normal break time given to everyone, be it lunch or whatever, and of course wants to pump, and let’s say doesn’t mind pumping in something besides some vague official pumping room, is it really so hard on the employer to allow this? What kind of employer is that fussy and makes every employee turn in plans on what they’re going to do on their lunch break?”

    Where do you get the impression that any employer anywhere has ever stopped this? Do you have any data whatsoever to back up the belief that employers are stopping people from pumping during their regular lunch break?

    That is certainly not what I am talking about. I am talking about a part time waitress. She works a 6 hour shift so doesn’t get a lunch break. She may get a 15 minute break which is scheduled according to the demands of the business – meaning she gets that break when it is slow enough to allow her to be gone for 15 minutes, not when she feels that she needs a break. She works a variable schedule so cannot simply adjust to missing a specific feeding every day.

    Demanding that she be allowed to pump requires that she definitely get a break, that break may need to extend longer than 15 minutes and may need to be on demand as opposed to when business allows, meaning that someone needs to cover her tables and their own while she is gone. And apparently the business is required to provide her a private place to pump too. Even if she is fine with simply throwing a chair in the broom closet, other people now can’t use the broom closet while she is pumping.

  118. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    SKL and Donna, you failed to make clear your distinction. So far, the conversation has failed to talk about the extra accomodations, just the dislike of employers not wanting someone pumping. I’m simply asking if it’s such a big deal. If you want to argue about extra accommodations, let’s do that.

  119. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    And by the way, there has never been any US law saying the pumping breaks need to be paid, so why does that keep coming up?

  120. SKL October 22, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Emily, I never said anything about employers disliking the idea of pumping. I have always been talking about economic concerns. Why do people believe any employer cares how its employees’ babies get fed?

  121. Donna October 22, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    “So far, the conversation has failed to talk about the extra accomodations, just the dislike of employers not wanting someone pumping.”

    Actually, that is all that anyone has talked about. I’m not sure where you are getting the idea that we were just talking about what employers like or dislike.

    “And by the way, there has never been any US law saying the pumping breaks need to be paid, so why does that keep coming up?”

    I don’t see where anyone other than Warren brought up pay at all.

  122. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    ” I have always been talking about economic concerns. Why do people believe any employer cares how its employees’ babies get fed?”

    Because the way the babies get fed can have an economic impact on the employer. Societally, however, we’ve decided that the interests of protecting women’s right to employment overcomes some complaints of economic nature from employers.

  123. SKL October 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    I’m not aware that any employer is currently required to pay for pumping breaks (I don’t follow the topic at all), but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a movement in that direction or that nobody will try to make this a requirement in the future.

    I have heard people argue “pumping is not a *break,* there should be a break in addition to pumping.”

  124. That_Susan October 22, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

    SKL, I was responding to your following statement:

    “I think my employer should give me time off to farm so that my kids can eat the food I organically produce for them until they are 18yo. Because there’s nothing quite as good as home-grown.

    For that matter, I think employers should have to accommodate employees who choose to homeschool. They should be able to do what’s best for their kids at the employer’s expense. Why shouldn’t they? Don’t we care about kids’ education in this country?”

    But you’ve explained it more clearly here: “The controversy is over whether employers should be forced to make extra accommodations such as a private pumping room, longer paid breaks, or redistribution of responsibilities to non-breastfeeding employees.”

    I sure don’t see any need for a private pumping room — but I’m also one of “those” breastfeeding mothers who never saw any need to look for a private place to breastfeed. It should be fine to pump in the general break room; just do what you need to do and assume that your coworkers are capable of coping, and they will most likely prove you right. I’ve got no problem encouraging breastfeeding moms to grow some balls and do what’s right for their kids without needing a special room to do it in.

    I have no experience with pumping as I was not working at that time and was always able to take my babies with me everywhere, but if a mother needs more than the allotted amount of break time, I’d think that she and her employer could work out some kind of arrangement, such as her either being paid for less time or finding a way to make up the time that satisfies her employer.

  125. Dirge October 22, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    @Jennifer – It is ABSOLUTELY true, I did read about someone who claimed that.

    But her story may have been complete rubbish.

  126. Donna October 22, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    “I’d think that she and her employer could work out some kind of arrangement, such as her either being paid for less time or finding a way to make up the time that satisfies her employer.”

    There seems to be some mistaken belief that everyone works a job that just has independent tasks that they complete during the day and it doesn’t really matter when they do them.

    The reality is that few jobs are like that. If I am running a restaurant and I schedule 4 people to wait tables, it is because I need 4 waiters during that time and not because I really only need 3, but am paying a 4th for kicks and giggles. If one of those waiters is off pumping, either I can’t seat people in her section (upsetting customers who now have to wait for a table some of whom might go elsewhere rather than wait) or someone else has to do her job while she is gone. Docking her pay the 30 minutes or her agreeing to stay an extra 30 minutes to make up the time, doesn’t solve the problem of what to do while she is gone. And what about the person who comes in after her? Does she lose 30 minutes of time because pumper has to work an extra 30 minutes and how is that fair to her? Or am I now paying both of them to be there when I really only need one of them?

  127. Papilio October 22, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    “Largely, these so-called Mommy Wars are created by our own projections and sensitivities.”

    Now THAT is indeed the impression I get reading this post and the comments here. A big fuss over a small difference, with polarizing and projections and putting words in each other’s mouths. As if mom A casually tells mom B that kid A got an A+ for the test the other day, and mom B just starts screaming at her, ‘WELL MY KID GOT AN A AND THAT’S VERY GOOD AS WELL! HOW DARE YOU CALL MY KID STUPID!’
    Ehhhh… No one said kid B is stupid or that an A is somehow ‘bad’ because A+ is slightly better.

    Anyway, personally I feel breastfeeding is basically option 1, the natural default, but if that doesn’t work out for whatever reason, no biggie, go for option 2.

  128. Emily Morris October 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Donna, then why does the law already provide exceptions to places of fewer than 50 employees who can prove causes undue hardship? Why the complaining? If it’s such a problem for small businesses, why don’t they j ust enact their rights and prove allowing time to pump causes undue hardship instead of everyone bellyaching about it? The law is alreay there. You’re right, I misunderstood what people are saying.

  129. hineata October 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    I can’t believe that this even continues as a debate in the Western world, with our access to clean water etc. I was lucky enough (because I wanted to..) to be able to breastfeed the first two of mine…..though number one was after 3 ridiculous weeks of swinging both ways, after he managed to draw blood…but no.3 was on the bottle from about 3 weeks of age, and the entire family was much happier for it.

    @Ann – yes, all the way . No.3 was and is the healthiest of my kids, so healthy she gets 3-yearly letters from the doctor asking whether she still wants to be a patient….while no. 2, who never tasted formula, is her doctor’s and orthodontist’s
    retirement plan .

  130. hineata October 22, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    @Warren – OK, am going to show my extreme ‘oldfashionedness’ but do you actually employ women in the field as tire techs…..or whatever the term is? I just can’t fathom a very pregnant woman being able to handle very heavy equipment without popping something.

    And before we launch into laws about employing women, the disabled, older people etc, it is easy to come up with another excuse for why you didn’t employ someone .

  131. Warren October 22, 2015 at 4:11 pm #


    I have never in all my years met, or even heard of a woman as a licensed tire tech. It is heavy, nasty work. Very few applicants ever make it through the 400 hours of training. Though in shop doing light truck and passenger tires is another story. I have trained and worked with several women.

    Mind you in the other areas, front of house, management and office there are quite a few women in the industry, including regional sales persons from the major manufacturers.

    Their position within a company is irrelevant. Short handed is short handed. Work is not being done. Either the absent person’s work, or the work of the person pulled to cover for them.

  132. Miriam October 22, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    @Beth. Links for breastfeeding releasing chemicals:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1036151/Breast-feeding-DOES-help-mothers-bond-babies–releases-love-hormone.html “…A study out today has discovered that the action of a baby suckling actually changes how the mother’s brain behaves. This results in a massive rush of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin in women’s brains.”

    http://www.breastfeeding-problems.com/breastfeeding-hormones.html “The production of Oxytocin is also caused by an infant’s suckling,”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breastfeeding “Breastfeeding releases beneficial hormones into the mother’s body.[73] Oxytocin and prolactin hormones relax the mother and increase her nurturing response.”

  133. pentamom October 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    LGB, that avocado article is spot-on! Many thumbs up!

  134. Beth October 22, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Thank you. I will read those with an open mind, but I still find it disturbing to learn that non-breast-feeding moms do not bond with their babies. Is the theory really that when you hold, cuddle, and talk to your baby it’s all for naught because it’s a bottle, not a breast?

  135. James Pollock October 22, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    ” I still find it disturbing to learn that non-breast-feeding moms do not bond with their babies.”

    Imagine how dad feels!

  136. Cassie October 22, 2015 at 7:13 pm #


    With regard to hormones produce by mum and bub… I believe it is skin-to-skin contact that causes this. By breastfeeding 8-12 times per day the mum and bub get very regularly and prolonged skin-to-skin contact.

    Easily replicated by mums using other methods (ie formula or pumping), and it works for dads as well! Really you don’t need to be feeding to do it, but because feeding happens so frequently that it serves a dual purpose of providing regular skin-to-skin contact as well.

    Wouldn’t it be great if part of learning to be a parent involved us being advised to open our shirts and rest the baby right against the skin every time they had a feed… Use feeding as a good reminded of the importance of this contact and the way it increases ‘happy hormones’ in the body.

    If you want to test it out… give your partner as skin-to-skin cuddle…You will feel the hormones in your own body, you will naturally relax… it is quite amazing.

  137. hineata October 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    @Beth – even breastfeeding is not enough to bond mother and child. Bonding is a magical experience that occurs only when a child is birthed naturally (drug free, of course ) into a quiet, sunlit room with unicorn -summoning music playing in the background and a midwife and partner dressed in organic clothing ready to welcome the baby and place it directly back on your naked bosom. The following 18+ years of actual interaction with the child is meaningless and doomed without this type of beginning.

    Excuse me, I must be off – my unicorn requires feeding….

  138. The Other Mandy October 22, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    I breastfeed my daughter, and I struggled with low supply (due to my son’s undiagnosed tongue-tie) and had to formula supplement with my son. And while it would never be my choice to formula feed unless I had to, guess what? It’s none of my business what others do. It’s none of my business whether other moms use a baby carrier vs a stroller, or do baby-led weaning, or cry-it-out, or co-sleep, or cloth diaper vs disposables.

    We all do the best we can with what works for us and our own kids/families, and anybody who criticizes another’s style (short of actual harm/abuse) should just STFU.

  139. Beth October 22, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    hineata, you’re right. We’re doomed. Never try.

  140. That_Susan October 22, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    Donna, I’m aware that every job is different, and I only had a short two-month experience of working as a waitress — years ago, long before even having babies. But I think Emily gave a really good explanation about the exception in the law for smaller businesses. I imagine most restaurants are small businesses.

  141. Beth October 22, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    And wait. Skin to skin contact causes chemicals to be present in the breast milk that I’m n*not* feeding the baby, but yet I will still have bonded better? The head spins.

  142. Donna October 22, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    I don’t think you completely understand how this exception thing works. There is not some exception fairy that flies around the country to various businesses deeming them as having an undue hardship and therefore exempt without a business having to do anything. What happens is that you fail to provide an accommodation and this works just fine until someone challenges you. Then you have to expend time, effort and money to prove that you are exempt.

    Further, I’m not sure why you think the hardship only applies to small businesses. No business, no matter the size, schedules excess people to just have some ready in the wings. I worked at Kroger – the country’s biggest grocery store chain – all through college and there were many times that getting cashiers minimal breaks was a struggle. Not just overly busy times, but also the regular occurrence of being down registers because people called in sick, quit, were fired or schedules got messed up. If I am opening or closing (essentially accounting) and need to go onto a register for a half hour to cover for someone pumping then I am going to pull a half hour of overtime because I can’t leave until the accounting job is done. Now the store may not be paying you to pump, but they are essentially paying me time and a half to allow you to pump.

    The simple fact is that you generally can’t have it all … at least not all at the same time. If you choose to have babies while working certain jobs, you may not be able to pump during the workday. This is not because employers are anti-breastfeeding or anti-mother, but because the job is not conducive to pumping. This is not a tragedy and there is no reason that employers should have to be compromised so that you can try to have it all.

    I am not pro-business in general. In fact, I am usually quite the opposite. This is just part of the general trend of people trying to create a world in which they don’t have to accept the notion that every choice we make brings some form of loss. They want to make whatever choices that they want and then demand that other people accommodate them so that they have to feel as little negative effect from those choices as possible.

  143. Donna October 22, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    And before anyone starts with class warfare, we were talking about low-income jobs, but I can think of several professional jobs that are not particularly conducive to pumping. Surgeon is one. Stopping in the middle of heart surgery to pump is probably not best medical practice. Many other jobs in the medical field would fall in this group as well. Emergency workers – cop, fire fighter, EMS, search and rescue – are another group. Explaining to a family that their house burned down because you had to pump before heading out to the call would not go well.

  144. Warren October 22, 2015 at 11:31 pm #


    Wouldn’t most judges grant you a recess every time you needed to pump?

    When it comes right down to it, there are probably more jobs that are not pump friendly than are.

    It has been stated that even though time off to pump is unpaid, it still cost’s the employer, in time, money and productivity. Why should your choice to breastfeed be an expense for your employer? Why should your personal choice cost anyone but you? One of the problems is that people think, well I am not being paid for it, so it is not costing the company anything. That is wrong. It always costs the company, and a lot of times more.

  145. olympia October 22, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

    Aargh. This makes me angry. All this time we’ve been lead to believe breast feeding is some kind of magic- turns out the health benefits are negligible. All this torturing of women for something negligible? I do think there are ecological and financial benefits to breastfeeding, and that ain’t nothing, but come on. I’ve known women who’ve tortured themselves with extreme elimination diets in the interest of feeding their delicate stomached spawn, and wound up with health problems of their own as a result. This can’t be good.

  146. Cassie October 23, 2015 at 1:16 am #


    Not really that hard to get. Skin-to-skin contact increases oxytocin levels, which is the ‘love hormone’. It is not something that is exclusive to mums and newborns. It is something a person will experience with a partner, with a sibling, with a parent/child.

    There is no need for a ‘transferance’ of this hormone from one person to the other, it affects the way that you feel about the other person… and vice versa, the other person (be they newborn, partner, sibling, friend) is also experiencing a surge in oxytocin making them feel much closer to you.

    Why this is important for bonding is because of the need in any close relationship (parent/newborn, partner/partner) to use this reaction to strengthen the relationship.

    It is why a cuddle, or sex is such a healing part of a healthy adult relationship, and it is why cuddles, and skin-to-skin contact are important parts of child/parent relationships.

  147. Beth October 23, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    And you can’t have that nurturing and bonding while giving a bottle? Do you truly believe that every child that bottle fed is not bonded with their mother and, as hineata pointed out, the next 18 plus years of mother’s interaction with that offspring is meaningless?

    Just another way of saying what this post is trying not to say…that formula-feeders are bad moms.

  148. SKL October 23, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    I think at this point, mature people have had the opportunity to see for themselves what breastfeeding does and doesn’t do. I do think there is a window of opportunity to educate young parents so they can make an informed choice. There is a “now or never” aspect to breastfeeding that doesn’t exist with formula. Also, even if a mom stops breastfeeding (or cuts the number of feedings from the breast), there are specific benefits to having breastfed in the earliest days. I think we’d get better, happier outcomes if people could stop trying to make this a black or white issue.

  149. SKL October 23, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    See, this thing about bonding. Why are we even arguing about this? Most of us are parents and have observed other parents and kids for decades. We see healthy bonding occur in almost all parent-child relationships. Doesn’t experience count for anything any more? How can the human mind be so irrational? It’s like saying young kids are at serious risk of death from chicken pox, or babies will die if they flip onto their stomach while sleeping, or a child will surely be snatched if she walks herself to the park. And people start believing this, even though their entire life experience proves it wrong. Scary.

  150. Papilio October 23, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    Oh SHEEZ guys. No one said that there is NO bonding between mom and formula-fed baby, just that there’s more with skin-to-skin contact.

    Oh look, every other comment doesn’t have a white background. Clearly that MUST mean they’re black, right? Amazing how we can still see the text…

  151. Papilio October 23, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    “Women Who Don’t Breastfeed are NOT “Bad Mothers””

    I want an exorcist to remove your inner tabloid journalist.

  152. Cassie October 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm #


    Are you commenting on my posts? Please re-read them. I am certainly not saying that that bonding can’t happen while a child is fed in alternate ways to breastfeeding (ie pumping or formula), in fact I already mentioned that.

    I detest mummy wars, I think I have wrongly assumed that you were interested in the subject of oxytocin and its effects on bonding. It is hard to tell on forums.

    Please re-read my post. Skin-to-skin contact can be done anywhere anytime. The bonus of breastfeeding is that it is an inherent part of the act, so the child gets regularly and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother. In my first response to you I mentioned that and commented on how wonderful it would be if these effects were explained to all care-givers so that they could use these tools. I don’t mean a once per day naked cuddle, but what if we were all taught to use feeding time (regardles of method) as a regularly cue to initiate skin-to-skin contact with baby. What if regardless of method we habitually undid our tops (mum or dad, bottle or breast) and fed the child snuggled in that way. It doesn’t need to be done at feed times or only at feed times of course, but feed times are a great cue.

    I mean, we are all told about ‘tummy time’ and every mum knows that they must do that… what if that same attitude was applied to skin-to-skin contact and we taught mums (and other caregivers) to use feed times as a cue, and how important regular and prolonged contact during the day is.

    Again, if you are reading any judgement into anything I have said then please re-read until you can see that none was intended.

  153. Warren October 24, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Do you people read what you are writing?

    Bonding, because of raised levels of chemicals?

    Those chemicals do not strengthen the bond between mother and child. They can’t. What you are talking about is a chemical reaction, not an emotional reaction. It is artificial and temporary. Emotional bonds are not created or strengthened by chemicals. It is done with emotions and time.

  154. Just a Mom October 24, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    I had to ask the doctor to write on my babies charts that they are allergic to formula. I had so much pressure from the nurses to give formula, because it fits a schedule for all the other formula fed babies. That way they could bring all the babies for feedings to the mothers at the same time! The hospital tried to give me containers of formula and coupons and bags etc.
    The one thing I never got anywhere in the USA ( not at the hospital, schools or Doctor) was information about how this government can destroy your family for letting your child play outside or leaving them in the car for a few minutes. If only the same amount of advertising, brochures and money will be spent by the government to inform parents that they have no rights and thus have to protect themselves and kids from government prosecution. We might even then have a family protection group established since the rules and regulations will be easy to see for families. If only parents had a right to protect themselves and kids in the USA. Then we can believe in the word freedom that the USA is suppose to stand for. Parents are treated as criminals and kids are destroyed in the process.

  155. Rook October 25, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Those were some hard, hard days for us. I gotta applaud any moms who can find a job that will allow them to afford to work. There was nothing for me if I couldn’t figure out how to work from home because the only jobs available would have paid less than a babysitter or daycare would have cost for me to work outside the home, and all our family was working just as hard as we were to get by so they couldn’t keep him either. When your income is at 50%-70% of the poverty level, you really watch all your nickels and dimes, and those pennies too! I breastfed and had him in cloth diapers. Not for some stupid moral reason, but because we were broke as hell. I did think it healthier anyway and I did enjoy getting to do it. And before some narrow-minded twit says we were irresponsible, we had multiple doctors tell us we’d never have children due to sterility. It was a shock to us when he came about. And very infuriating that so many doctors and others were pushing us to kill him because he was *gasp* UNPLANNED. Just how the hell are you supposed to plan a baby when you’re dead-as-a-doornail sterile? Go knock up the neighbor at exactly midnight?

    I was not impressed with WIC. I quit the program early to save myself a lot of headache since some items never quite matched up and the stores weren’t consistent. One Walmart let us get WIC-approved cheese, the other refused the exact some product, and another store carried none of the items that were approved but still had a WIC sign out front. Not to mention dealing with social workers in general is always a nightmare because they are very rude to you no matter how nice you try to be to them. I got a few of them to smile, laugh, and relax a bit, but most of them were very bitter and hateful. You’re a criminal for talking to children that aren’t your own and you’re a criminal if nobody will hire you no matter how qualified you are.

    As an employer now, I don’t mind hiring people of various conditions so long as they actually bother to communicate with me so I know to what extent we need to cover for them. We’re a small organization driven by common sense and reality, and often do a lot of things mega-corporations would faint at the thought of doing, such as allowing a reasonable dress code of tshirt and jeans if our employees want or need it. (I have sensory issues myself, so high heels and other “fashionable” things put me in a lot of pain that distracts me from my job.) We have some old women that take off half a day every week due to a medical condition that requires them to take care of. It’s not a paid break, but we don’t shame them out of taking care of themselves or their families, unlike how I was treated everywhere else I’ve ever worked. Our customers know it and they also work around it, and don’t hate us for it.

  156. Buffy October 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    How do you find out just after giving birth, while you’re still in the hospital, that your baby is allergic to formula? I’m not being a dick, I’m genuinely curious. With routine deliveries moms are barely in the hospital for two days, which seems really quick to determine an allergy in a newborn.

  157. J- October 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm #

    Every fiber of my being whats to strangle this woman.

    My wife wanted to breast feed our first born (and currently only) child. She tried. She really tried. She just couldn’t produce enough. We (yes, we) saw lactation counselors, we changed her diet, we did everything we were told. My wife nursed until she bled, then went to pumping. I’m not being a bit hyperbolic when I say she was pumping 6 hours a day. She would pump for an hour, wait three hours, pump again, around the clock. The entire time she was miserable, and our son did not gain weight.

    Finally, our pediatrician convinced her to give up breast feeding and go to formula. It was the best thing that happened to her. She could sleep a full night (I got up to handle the boy so she could rest for once). The boy gained weight, was much less fussy since he finally had a full belly, everybody was happy.

    Then the “breast is best” harpies descended on my wife at the baby groups. It was non-stop proselytization why she’s not giving it her all because she’s using formula. My wife, in tears, explained why she HAD to use formula and one woman just looked at her and called her “a quitter” and then explained how she should have kept trying. They drove my wife into a state of depression.

    I couldn’t convince my wife to stop going to the baby group that was torturing her. She felt obligated to be with other new moms.

    Now I’ve never hit a woman. But I was, for the first time in my life, seriously tempted to. I exploded at those cackling b!*ches, with every bit of invective and profanity that I could muster in a tirade that could have stripped the paint of a barn. My wife was so mortified at my behavior that she made us leave, and never went back. Not surprisingly, she started to feel better not being around those woman twice a week.

    Nothing my wife said made any difference to them. Not her doctor’s orders, not how much better our baby was doing. Nothing. They were true believers. Zealots. And I will never forgive them for the emotional hell they put my wife through. If you want to breast feet, fine. If you want to spread the breast feeding gospel, you can kindly f*ck off.

  158. Buffy October 26, 2015 at 8:46 am #

    What woman do you want to strangle? Neither Lenore nor anyone she quoted is on the militant breast-is-best bandwagon. That was the whole point of the post.

  159. Donna October 26, 2015 at 10:21 am #


    Wouldn’t most judges grant you a recess every time you needed to pump?”

    Some judges would and some judges wouldn’t. Even if they did, how interested are most attorneys going to be in lugging a breast pump around with them to court every day and pumping in the courthouse bathroom in their fancy suit? The ADAs and some public defenders have offices in the courthouse, but the rest of us don’t. I don’t even like to use the public courthouse bathrooms to pee since my clients have no boundaries and often try to follow me in there, so I can’t imagine trying to pump there. And what do you do with the milk afterwards if you are there for an all-day appearance?

    I stayed home until my daughter was 14 months old and was able to breastfeed exclusively. I never would have continued breastfeeding if I had had to go back to work sooner. Breastfeeding and pumping are two completely different animals. There is simply too minimal benefit to breast milk to justify the majorly increased hassle of pumping.

  160. BMS October 26, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    I love having adopted kids.

    Having your kids spend the first 6 months of their lives in a 3rd world country, where you have no control whatsoever over what they eat, drink, hear, touch, feel, etc. really gives you perspective on the resilience of little humans. My older son has some spots on his teeth that indicate poor prenatal nutrition. He was 5 lb 4 oz when he was born. Somehow, he survived, we bonded, and other than a complete lack of desire to do homework, he’s a perfectly normal teenager. His little brother had surgery at 1 month old, in a third world country, needed extremely expensive hypoallergenic formula, and again, managed to bond with me and survive to teenagerhood. Whether they survive beyond that depends on whether or not they pick up their bloody clothes off the bathroom floor.

    As long as the kids get enough food of some kind and SOMEONE takes care of them in a loving way, they will be fine. Really. It doesn’t have to be that complicated.

  161. Papilio October 26, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    Eh, Warren…? I love it when you go all romantic, but chemicals – perhaps hormones is the better word – have everything to do with it.

    Wikipedia: “[Oxytocin] plays a role in intimacy, sexual reproduction of both sexes, and during and after childbirth as well as social bonding.[6] It is released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and uterus during labor and with stimulation of the nipples following childbirth. This helps with birth, maternal bonding, and lactation.[7]”

  162. Jennifer October 26, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    @Dirge “I did read about someone who claimed that.
    But her story may have been complete rubbish.”

    That I’ll totally believe. People love hyperbole, especially when it means they can play the victim.

    But to again point out the reason that moms who wish to breastfeed need public support and protection in a way different from moms who don’t..

  163. Theresa October 28, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    A lot of people are saying that WIC doesn’t reward breastfeeding families with extra baby food.

    WIC does in fact incentivize breastfeeding with larger infant food packages. As a foster parent, I spent enough time in a WIC office to see the fliers etc and you can look it up.

    And no, it isn’t just meat with iron. The breast feeding packages are generally twice as many jars of fruits and vegetables per month plus the meat on top of that. There is no rational for the additional fruits and veggies other than to reward breastfed babies/ punish those children whose parents don’t breastfeed.

    From the USDA

    “he food packages for fully breastfeeding mothers
    (those whose infants do not receive formula fr
    om WIC) and their infants are designed to
    supplement their special nutri
    tional needs and serve as incentives for mothers to
    breastfeed without supplementation. Mothers
    should be advised that fully breastfeeding
    women who do not accept supplemental formul
    a from WIC receive the largest quantity
    and variety of foods in their
    food packages, and their infants
    at 6 months of age receive
    the largest quantity and vari
    ety of infant foods.”