Intro

All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

The Breastfeeding Nazi - For Real?

If there's one phrase that switches me off a conversation or article instantaneously, it's the utterance of the words "Breastfeeding/Tit Nazi".

And it's getting tiresome.

Really it's just plain offensive, as are variations like "Breastapo".  Godwin's Law if you're not familiar with it is worth a read.

Mafia is no better:
An organised international body of criminals, operating originally in Sicily and now esp. in Italy and the US. Any similar group using extortion and other criminal methods.

Nope, not many breastfeeding mums tick those boxes either.

What also confuses me is where these "breastfeeding militants" are hiding?  They must be super covert.

A flick through the press offerings include thisthis and this and there have been more I haven't bookmarked.

So where exactly are all the articles that supposedly call formula "poison", written by these "judgy mummies"?  How often do they feature in the press?

Sure we might get the odd piece from the perspective of a breastfeeding mother, but they only make the cut if they're respectful and understanding towards non breast feeders, ie when did you see an article referring to the formula feeding fascists or beady eyed bottle users?

And rightly so.

But this rule doesn't work both ways.

Just last year, Singer Lily Allen (one of the few I thought was really cool up until this point) tweeted:
"I'm not going to breastfeed."
Replies that followed included: 
"Let's hope the breastfeeding Nazi aren't following!"
Before Lilly replied:
"I have every intention of breastfeeding, just fancied antagonising the milk mafia"
The tag line for this story read:  "Lily Allen's wicked sense of humour caused a mini Twitter uproar yesterday"

Yeah....Wicked.....Sigh

How hilarious this is even vaguely socially acceptable.

Think that's bad enough?  These comments are echoed by a DOCTOR, a registered Healthcare Practitioner.

Check his tweets:














When someone replied to his Tweet with the following:
The link to this post you are reading now - about how calling people Militant isn't perhaps the nicest idea... Doctor Christian replied:







And there's me thinking I have an evidence based blog, and that was precisely why a couple of Doctors followed it - interestingly none of whom I've ever heard name call.

More perplexing is that what more evidence would Doctor Christian like that people call us "militants" - than his own blog tweet?  I'm not sure there are any studies exploring the percentage of people who name call breastfeeders....

But - just in case you're wondering if perhaps he's having an off day and you should give him the benefit of the doubt.  It seems having a lil rant about breastfeeders is something Doctor Christian has done before - last June, again on Twitter to be precise:



Doesn't it strike anyone else as rather unprofessional?
(more of Doctor Christian's tweets at the end)

Imagine if  the comments read exactly the same but, the words "breastfeeding" or "milk" were replaced with  race, religion or sexuality - it would be completely unacceptable.  But whilst it's not politically correct to name call most - breastfeeders are fair game; it's clearly considered funny!

Why not stop for a moment and consider just how breastfeeding unfriendly our culture is.

We have debates and see polls online and on TV shows discussing whether it's OK for mothers to feed their baby milk of their own species, in the way it was intended to be delivered, in public - with some stating that it's akin to taking a dump.

Where are the debates and polls discussing whether it's OK to bottle feed in public?  When did Nascar driver Kasey Kahne tweet that he was grossed out by seeing someone bottle feed in public?

When are photos of bottle feeding considered obscene?  Heck Facebook recently deleted photos of a toddler pretending to breastfeed her doll as it felt even they were unacceptable.

When a breastfeeding doll was released, how discussion raged across the web as to whether this was "appropriate"?  How many dolls you can buy come with bottles and/or pacifiers?    Children have play kitchens, washing machines, prams, dolls - all to emulate adult life, this is how children learn we are told, through play.  Except of course when it comes to infant feeding - then the plastic bottle is the norm.

Where are the special "bottle feeding rooms", that non breastfeeding mothers are expected to use rather than the main facilities?

Where are the "bottle feeding covers", to ensure modesty when using a replica breast and nipple?

When did it hit the news a mother was asked to stop bottle feeding or leave somewhere for bottle feeding in public?  Would this judge have had a meltdown in court if it had been a bottle not breast?

When did someone suggest bottle feeding was sexual or they should stop having a teat once they have teeth, that to continue beyond that with a bottle was purely for your enjoyment?

As one mum on Facebook said:
"I have been called an exhibitionist, disgusting, perverted, accused of harming my child, told to go hide in a bathroom/closet, & alienated from family situations because of breastfeeding."
How many bottle feeders have received pressure to just pack up and "give a breast" when things have been tough?  You were breastfed and you are fine!  Give a breast it will help him sleep better...

An NCT survey of 1200 women found 65 percent didn't even intend to try breastfeeding because they felt too self-conscious about people staring at them.

There is a huge pressure to be "discreet", which given nature stuck breasts right on the front of us, and babies don't realise social graces - can be difficult!

I've blogged here about the passive support women receive, where they are simply told to stick at it, before this shifts to "you've tried long enough now supplement" - without any help featuring in the equation at all!

Our society so firmly holds not breastfeeding as the norm, that 99% of studies write from the perspective of formula as the basis for comparison.  Breastfeeding holds benefit X or reduces risks of Y.  It's upside down.

Statistics tell us far more people are bottle feeding than breastfeeding after the first few weeks - by 6 month those still breastfeeding is minute, so who exactly makes up this so called army of breast feeders who are making lives so difficult for non breastfeeding mothers?  How come rates are so low at 6 months if this Mafia is bullying everyone into breastfeeding?  On the one hand they're everywhere according to some, yet on the other rates are dismally low - confused yet?

Out of those that managed to breastfed as long as they wanted, how many had it tough yet are not allowed to verbalise their pleasure at continuing - otherwise they are accused of making those who didn't feel bad, or they're smug?

Yet the Daily Telegraph ran an article last year headed:
"Breastfeeding: Protect us from the Breastapo"
Crikey - breast pumps at the ready ladies!

It seems now that anyone vaguely pro breastfeeding or who feeds in public, or who decides not to use a bottle <sharp intake of breath>,  earns this militant badge - it isn't just given to those who are judgemental or who do not understand the politics of breastfeeding, and how everything is actually stacked against mothers succeeding.

I'm pretty tired of  the press only ever covering one side of the story - mothers feel judged however they feed, but terms like these only serve to ever widen the gaps.  Breastfeeding mothers are the minority, and a good deal of those have been through a whole heap of crap and understand more than well how someone can stop.

Labelling the majority because of the actions of a few fuels prejudice, and frankly it's only serving to make all mums feel uncomfortable.


Further discussion with Doctor Christian on Twitter:
I'm confused at how me objecting to him using statements such as "breastapo" and "militants" is proving his point beautifully, I wasn't rude or aggressive at any point.  But I can't see the point in asking - logic and reason doesn't appear to the main feature of this Doctor's replies!


@efaitch also commented: 
"How did I prove his point beautifully? I was also polite too. I also tweeted that I'm not a lactivist (either), I'm a mother who's providing the best that I can for my children. I don't think that I could trust a doctor who as he himself is in a "minority" (homosexual) can put others into a minority and label them as forcing others to breastfeed - I really wish that someone could've forced me to breastfeed my daughter... if only there was such support!
It's really riled me that he has no consideration for people who are trying to do their best for their children. I was devastated that I couldn't access the support that I needed to breastfeed my DD. Only sheer bloody mindedness helped me successfully feed my son. I felt guilty that *I* had failed. Nobody AT ALL made me feel guilty. So, as a formula feeding mother *and* a breastfeeding mother, I'm able to see things from both/all angles. But, because I was able to succeed 2nd time round, I'm also classed as a militant..."

23 comments:

  1. Cheering, very very well said! i think the majority of BF supporters (Mums, counsellors etc) will go out of their way not to make others feel uncomfortable.

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  2. I suspect that one reason bf supporters are perceived by the general public as militant by default is because it is only the minority that perseveres for any length of time. In other words, you must be an extremist *because* you have chosen to do something outside the norm, and more to the point something that is generally perceived to be very difficult. Only a militant would soldier through the battle that breastfeeding is generally seen to be, particularly if one breastfeeds past a certain time frame. And if you are helping extremists (i.e., breastfeeding moms) by profession or avocation, you are extreme among the extreme! Marginalizing the other is one mechanism people use to normalize themselves. :-(

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  3. I don't like the connection to them Nazis especially because they were against breastfeeding!
    Mothers were encouraged to bottlefeed, because the regime needed independent soldiers for the war instead of well-bonded children who their mothers wouldn't let go...

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  4. I have used the term "boob nazi." Back when I was struggling with low supply with my first child (due to as yet undiagnosed IGT) and came across the livejournal community (http://boob-nazis.livejournal.com/profile) while seeking answers and support.
    I'm a member of a fantastic support group now for moms with low supply, and we've coined the phrase "wacktavist" as a substitute for the more offensive term.
    Many of the members of my support group HAVE had confrontations with "wacktavists" while seeking support and information, with one even telling a low-supply mom she shouldn't even have children if she's unable to breastfeed exclusively. They do exist.
    There's a huge difference between a lactivist who informs and supports a struggling mother without passing judgement, and a wacktavist who writes such a mother off as lazy, uneducated, and unwilling to do the work.

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    1. I'm so sorry you had such an awful experience! "Wacktavists" are no better than any other fanatic...
      Mothers, most mothers, want to do what is right for their baby, and i commend you for tackling your supply issues and making it work :) I've been very blessed, my breast feeding support has also formed my way of offering support, which is to offer support/advice etc to any mother who wants it, and to leave those who have chosen differently in peace.
      I've never met one (Wacktavist/BoobNazi etc) and hope i never do, but i don't doubt they exist.

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  5. I agree that it would be loads better to link up positive words with breastfeeding, however, I get lots of requests for 'member of the breastfeeding mafia' badges and mugs from breastfeeding mothers, to the extent that they sell out fast which is great for me! I only sell slogans that sell, having spent the last 7 years pruning and refining the ones I have, I'm really surprised this slogan is so popular. Every time I stop doing it I get requests for it.
    It's difficult to write about this without it looking like a blatent plug so please delete if you prefer.

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  6. Lisa yours is tongue in cheek though!

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  7. I think its the other way around that the mafia belongs to the formula feeders. I got so much flack from people in my playgroup even for still nursing at six months. My Mother gave me no support, I had overactive letdown and six breast infections. Thank goodness for La Leche League and their support. I learned to help myself and educate others. It does offend me that people still think formula is the way to go and just as good. I learned to stare back at the ignorant dolts who tried to make me feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. I was always as discreet as I could be but felt that my baby had the right to eat as much as the person next to me eating. I worked hard for women to have the right to BF when and where they needed. I was trained in counseling and am always kind. The BF nazis do not exist, it's just more misogyny and fear out there.

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  8. thank you thank you. so well said. i am sharing this around. i often wonder where are those breastfeeding meanies that everyone is always talking about. i have yet to run in to any and i know some very big breastfeeding supporters who are always respectful to formula feeding mom, and yet on occasion i have seen and experienced the exact opposite from from formula feeding moms. have been asked to cover up and use the bathroom. while in a shop the other day i smiled a a mom making a bottle for her baby and when she saw me nursing later she wouldn't let her husband go near me. yet i didn't give her a dirty look, keep my kids away from her using an artificial nipple in public.

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. If only you'd published this a week ago! You have a much better way with words than me and I'm sick of this argument!

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  11. But for as long as we have to cart around NHS material embazoned with 'Breast is BEST' we will look like we are being smug, superior, divisory lactivists who want to thrust bf at everyone and treat all non-breastfeeding women as neglectful mothers... For as long as women are treated to that tagline at their midwife appointments and see it plastered everywhere in hospitals and drs surgeries, it fuels the 'them and us' culture, and projects bf mums as self satisfied and judgemental. It's only natural to want to hold your baby close. It's only natural to want to nourish that child, to meet their every need, to give them the best start you can. It's only natural to breastfeed. But we live in a bf unfriendly society where women don't know how it should work, how it does work, where it went wrong or how to fix it. And they don't want to ask for help, in case they are seen as veering away from the path of 'best for baby' so they struggle, quit, and then resent those who are still going and become bitter, and start to refer to other mums as breastapo etc. And sadly there are bf supporters out there who feed that perception, who are in the role because they like the feeling of power and superiority, and who DO judge women. And one mum exposed to one of those will have ten times the negative effect on bf society that any one mum being well supported has positive effect. No, I don't enjoy being judged as militant, or having people make what are, frankly, offensive suggestions about my choices as though it is totally acceptable to run a public poll on how long I may feed my child. But I do understand why it happens, and I don't think it will reduce even slightly for as long as we have the establishment thrusting campaigns at women and not backing them up with funding for active support...instead, we have mums on each side feeling resentful and intimidated from working together to move forwards...

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  12. The lactivist/nazi/mafia thing is something I feel so strongly about, and I seriously think that the 'all publicity is good publicity' approach is taken on this. Every time you say something negative about breastfeeding, or positive about formula, there's an all out war between mothers, and it promotes the cause of formula COMPANIES. It's all free advertising and takes focus off the issue at hand: support for mums, and what's really best for the babies.

    http://www.diaryofafirstchild.com/2011/03/24/lactivism-breast-feeding-bottle-feeding-formula-and-mothers-at-war/

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  13. Does anyone have any evidence of diet and exercise proponents being called "gym Nazis" or "salad police", or anti-smoking campaingers being called "fagstapo" or anything else along those lines? Why is it breastfeeding supporters - those who spend countless hours and more actually HELPING other mothers to meet their own breastfeeding goals, not just those who think it's a good idea - are open targets for this kind of abuse? Surely there are people in the above groups that abuse the fat, the unfit, the unhealthy, the smokers just as badly, if not more, than these alleged "militant breastfeeders"?!

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  14. I liked his article in places. However being in defense of one whilst attacking the other = pot & kettle. Both should be informed and supported choices choices and currently really neither are. If the choice is informed and the support is there to allow a mother to EITHER breast or bottle feed then there should also be the structure and tools around them to allow them to do so in the best possible way. No woman should be made to feel guilty or feel the need to hide away from their choice whatever it is. But there isn't enough support. There's lots of prejudice on both sides and a lot of preconceptions. That's what needs to change. And it's a shame he didn't write that.

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    1. Hmm where exactly does this article attack formula feeders? The way I read it was criticism against those who label all women who breastfeed or support breastfeeding as "nazi's", and the general lack of support for breastfeeding mothers in our culture.

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    2. Doh, you're talking about his article, never mind.

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  15. I think that man needs to do a litte more research and maybe return to school...

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  16. I actually agree with his article in the main, new mums are made to feel pressured into breastfeeding and very guilty if its not going right, alongside incredibly conflicting advice from NHS staff and a complete lack of support. If we could turn down the pressure and turn up the accurate information and support we'd be going a long way to improving breastfeeding rates and improving maternal mental health.
    Why he had to go and sabotage his quite reasonable article with unreasonable tweets and name calling I have no idea. If a militant is a breastfeeding mum who is happy to give support and share experience with others, whilst criticising the NHS for its conflicting messages, pressure and lack of support, then I am happy, and more than a little bit proud, to be one (I would prefer a different term though, are we allowed to choose one ourselves?).

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  17. I didn't get as far as his article, because I thought the tweet was insulting - it could be the most amazing article in the world and it wont change the fact his tweets were offensive.
    I totally agree new mums are pressured to breastfeed, often receive conflicting advice from NHS staff and passive support - but who are the "mafia" who are making these mums feel guilty beyond a figment of the imagination of the media/AF manufacturers?
    Is there a blog that pops to mind? A webpage? Newspaper article? I genuinely want to learn more!
    AA

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  18. http://sunshinemamaandtheboys.blogspot.com/2012/02/breastfeeding-nazi.html Thank you so much for this post. I linked to it in my own recent post. I was recently called a Breastfeeding Nazi and Hippie Super Mom by a life-long friend, and that really, really stung me. Thank you so much for being a voice of reason in a society that can be shockingly anti-breastfeeding.

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