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So Now We're the Gestapo, Eh?

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

We knew that World Breastfeeding Week would bring out some folks that are none to happy with the lactivist world. We've already seen it in action this week on shows like The View, where the hosts criticized New York City's new ban on free formula in public hospitals.

If you haven't read anything that ticked you off yet this week, let me point you to a winner of an editorial over at The New York Post.

Columnist Andrea Peyser must be filling like her email inbox has been a little dusty lately. I can't think of any other reason she'd allow her name and email address to be attached to an opinion piece like this.

TAKE it from a mom. The pressure to breast-feed can make a new mother feel as if she lives in a forced-labor camp - where the uniform is half-nude.

It's getting worse.

Now the city has gone beyond propaganda. As The Post reported yesterday, it has banned free formula - the item that nourished an entire generation - from goodie bags sent home with moms at all 11 Health and Hospitals Corp.-run hospitals.

I find her choice of words..."nourished an entire generation" to be interesting.

Anyone out there know the definition of the word nourished?



According to Princeton's Wordnet site...

nourished: being provided with adequate nourishment

Hmm...let's look up a few more words, shall we?

adequate: about average; acceptable

nourish: to feed and cause to grow

So...technically...I could rewrite her statement to say formula is the food that "fed an entire generation enough to grow and be average."

Woo boy. Now there's a ringing endorsement. Call me crazy, but I actually aspire to be ABOVE average and encourage my kids to do the same.

Now, want to read the kicker? Oh, you'll really love this part.

At Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan yesterday, the staff was giddy about the formula ban.

Breast-feeding "decreases breast and ovarian cancer in the mother. There's less postpartum depression, more bonding and less child abuse," said a pleasant "breast-feeding coordinator" named Dianne Velez.

Then, she said, "They have higher IQs! The IQs of breast-fed babies are 1 to 2 points higher."

Wow. That was enough to make this mother feel guilty for yanking the breast before my kid hit 16. But when I asked Velez for statistics, she did not have them.

"There are studies on this. We're not making things up," said Dr. Sari Kaminsky, the chief of obstetrics.

"The idea is to educate women positively about all the benefits of breast-feeding."

But renegade docs making stuff up is exactly what may be happening.

Leading Manhattan shrink Dr. Shari Lusskin has told me that "some of my colleagues believe the data is made up."


Let's use a shrink to tell us how all those facts and studies and bits of data about improved health due to breastfeeding are all just figments of our imagination.

Some days, I find myself amazed at what the mainstream media will print.

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  1. Blogger Birdwell | 9:27 PM |  

    Hmm, yeah nourished an entire generation of over weight and obese adults! Yeah for formula!! It's just the best thing ever.

    Argh--don't you ever feel like your beating your head against the wall?

  2. Blogger Blair | 9:38 PM |  

    The most striking part of that article to me was, " We'll see if the next generation is smarter, healthier and stronger than the last one. Or, if stressed-out mommies killed themselves for nothing." Um, wow. Does she really think that the benefits of breastfeeding could possibly be equivalent to NOTHING? Regardless of her doubts about individual studies and research, who does she think she is to fly in the face of what pretty much any dummy, even formula companies, recognize - that "breast is best." (Even though I hate that phrase, it's true.) And since when is breastfeeding equivalent to killing oneself? Many women have rough beginnings, but that is largely due to lack of education, both of the women and of the health care professionals that routinely give breastfeeding support. With adequate support, it's really not that hard...

  3. Anonymous jessica lietz | 4:59 AM |  

    hmm... I didn't feel any pressure to breastfeed. People asked me if I was going to but I get more pressure to send birthday cards to assorted relatives than I did to breastfeed!

  4. Blogger Stacie | 7:21 AM |  

    Would it have killed her to look up the information herself rather that simply suggest it may be made up. It IS widely available. Whatever happened to responsible reporting?

  5. Blogger Sarahbear | 7:46 AM |  

    You know, even if breastfeeding doesn't lead to a generation of smarter and healthier adults, I bet it will lead to a generation of more educated adults and parents that actually have money leftover once their kids leave the nest.

    Formula runs us about $30 a week. Multiply that by 52 (the length of time kids are on formula) and you've got a lot of cash that could have been better spent towards college funds, investments or even going out to dinner and a movie with your significant other to keep yourselves sane and in touch with each during those early years.

  6. Blogger Fat Lady | 10:09 AM |  

    I've come to the conclusion that Andrea Peyser and others like her who are so against breastfeeding and so vehemently outraged about formula companies no longer being able to push their wares on women, have had bad experiences that have left them emotionally scarred and incapable of rational thought when it comes to the topic of breastfeeding.

    That's the only conclusion I can come to. When the whole world, and numerous studies have shown that human milk is superior to formula. When even the formula companies admit that breastfeeding is preferable - to deny the benefits of breastfeeding is illogical. To believe that refusing to do the marketing work of formula companies by distributing samples of their product is tantamount to government interference and to compare those those who encourage hospitals to stick to medicine to the Gestapo is at best, irrational.

    I can't take these people seriously, because they don't put forth arguments with any merit at all.

  7. Blogger Eilat | 12:23 PM |  

    How is this the Gestapo?
    These are public hospitals owned and run by the city. They serve predomnantly lower income people (compared with private hospitals) whose bf rates are much lower (only 24 percent of women leave these hopitals breastfeeding). The babies who are not breastfed are more likely to get sick and since lower income people are less likely to have health insurance, guess who will foot the bill for the hospitalization of a baby with pneumonia, or even antibiotics for an ear infection? And who will foor the bill for the formula that the mother cant afford? WIC, paid for by the taxpayer.
    Aside from Bloomberg instituting a wonderful public health policy, he is also looking out for the taxpayers and the city's bottom line.
    No one is forcing a private hospital to do anything. Nor is anyone being forced to breastfeed. Most women would like to try at least, and are sabotaged from day 1. So, this policy supports, educates and makes it easier to try breastfeeding. How dare they! Those mean mean mean hospitals.

  8. Blogger Bethany | 3:16 PM |  

    Maybe she feels that if she is able to convice others (and herself) that breastfeeding has no benefits over formula feeding, she'll feel better about the fact that she didn't breastfeed for very long, if at all. Because there's no way a mother who breastfed their child for any substantial length of time would come up with any nonsense like that.

    I have never felt pressured to breastfeed. In fact, I get much more pressure to wean, and have been pressured by my formula-feeding friends since my baby was 4 months old.

  9. Blogger Abigail Munday | 4:00 PM |  

    Has anybody checked out what her real job actually is? Closet formula company employee?

  10. Blogger Chris | 10:21 PM |  

    I emailed Peyser ProMoM's list of 101 Reasons to Breastfeed, which includes links and citations for the studies that demonstrate the multiplicity of breastfeeding benefits (http://promom.org/101/index.html).

    Her first response, "It's just that info given out to moms is so absolute - Your kids will be sicker! Dumber! Etc etc... with anything else, it's numbers - there is a 20 percent probability your toenails will grow 2 percent shorter with this drug -- you know what I mean."

    Okay. That made no sense...I wrote back to her to say, "It is irresponsible of a person in your position to ignore the truth and worse, convey falsehoods to your audience." Her response:

    "It is a falsehood that the bottle cannot lead to a healthy child."

    Wuh-wuh-wuh-WHAT?!? Who has ever said that formula fed children cannot be healthy? Why is a person who clearly has no understanding of statistical risk in a position like hers? No one ever said that every person who smokes will get lung cancer, just that it dramatically increases your risk if you do smoke. So, for 40+ years we've spent vast sums of money trying to convince people to quite smoking. Were those anti-smoking advocates part of the Gestapo as well?

    I agree with Fat Lady, methinks Peyser doth protest too much. She and her ilk sound just like I do when I'm feeling defensive and no I have no rational argument for my position. I like to think that I do at least come to my senses, usually rather quickly, when presented with evidence that I am mistaken. It disturbs me tremendously that so many irrational people like Peyser are in such positions of influence, fueling the irrational fires of others like themselves.

  11. Blogger Sara | 10:09 AM |  

    I found her last sentence to be wildly offensive and horribly inappropriate. Her generalizations are incredible! And then she claims recent research is a lie! My daughter (7 months) is the latest of at least 4 generations of breastfed babies in our family (and I suspect the previous generations were breastfed too)....so, at least in our family, previous generations have been nourished with the real stuff!

  12. Blogger Brandy | 3:03 PM |  

    That article just makes me sad for that woman and her obvious ignorance.

  13. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:10 PM |  

    Does anyone have a link to the comments made on The View?

  14. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:39 AM |  

    I wonder where Gestapo came from hey - you are all so supportive of another way! It is clear that none of you millitants ever had any problem breastfeeding, imagine not being able to breastfeed your child. The way you feel about formula - (you may as well licken it to smoking); can you not see that it could drive some mothers to postnatal depression and even suicide? If people like you would just accept that it doesn't work for some mothers which is why they turn to formula as an alternative to a miserable time. I know what you will all be thinking - this mother didn't try hard enough and gave in but I am the only person along with my husband that knows I tried my very very hardest and only stopped because I didn't want to hold my child because I was so upset and anxious about the next feed. Gestapo is narrow minded and of the opinion 'our way is the only way' - can you not see why you are being lickened to this group? I understand that breastfeeding is nutritionally the best for children, but formula is a good second best alternative so why do you feel the need to slate it so and be surprised that it sparks anger amongst people who cannot do so - I know some mothers who have had total mastectamies and as you can imagine feel horrendous because of people like you.

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