About the No-BS Breastfeeding Resources page

Suppose you're a normal mother-to-be who is planning to breastfeed... or, maybe thinking about it but not committed either way. You're looking forward to doing the sort of things the ordinary, everyday mothers around you do--you're planning a hospital birth with lots of nice drugs, you want to get your baby onto some vague sort of routine so you can plan the day, you'd certainly like baby to start "sleeping through" sooner rather than later, and you'll want to be able to leave your baby with your husband/mother-in-law/babysitter regularly so you can go out. You might go back to work while your child is still young.

Or maybe you're a second-time mother. You tried to breastfeed the first time round--oh, so very, very hard. And it didn't work out. Trouble is, by then you'd already spent months reading all the books and blogs--the ones that told you in no uncertain terms that your formula-fed child was going to be stupid, asthmatic and fat, that you wouldn't "bond" properly, and that anyway this was all your fault because you didn't have an all-natural birth bouncing up and down on a yoga ball, and because you caved and let the nurses take baby to the nursery for a couple of hours because you were too exhausted to see straight. A spiral into gloom, anxiety and hystronic post-partum depression was more or less guaranteed. Now you're girding your loins to try breastfeeding again. But the thought of reading those books again... the ones that were whispering in your ears at 3AM every morning while the tears rolled down your face...

I think you can see why most breastfeeding resources--the books, the blogs, the forums--are problematic for either one of these women. Such resources are heavily oriented towards natural birth, "natural" parenting, and natural just-about-everything-else, and waste no time in telling you about the horrors that await you and your child should you weaken and allow even a single bottle of that ghastly white stuff. And they are full of sloppy science, urban legends and pet theories.

Other books (usually not "breastfeeding books" but rather general how-to-look-after-your baby books) talk about routines and sleeping-through-the-night (almost fanatically, sometimes) yet fail to get the basics right regarding breastfeeding. For example, Gina Ford tells exhausted new mothers to start pumping pretty much from Day 1 in order to stretch out the gaps between feeds. Claire Byam-Cook and Tracy Hogg (the Baby Whisperer) tell women to measure how much milk they are producing by doing a "yield," i.e., pumping and measuring their output, apparently unaware that there are many women--including Yours Truly--who have a good supply but are mediocre at pumping. If I had followed these writers' advice, I would have been convinced that I was starving Little Seal with every feed.

For these reasons, I've decided to start compiling a comprehensive list of breastfeeding resources which I reckon are credible, science-based and reasonably representative of how most of us actually mother. I'll keep updating this as I come across more sources, but this is a start. There's some practical stuff here; there are also discussions of breastfeeding research and politics to muse on, or to wheel in as counter-evidence when someone online is talking bollocks.

A while back, the Fearless Formula Feeder wrote a blog post in which she expressed disappointment in the way a certain breastfeeding website had behaved--all the more so because this was a website which the FFF had previously considered to be one of the better breastfeeding resources. The site in question had previously been seen making efforts to bridge the divide between breastfeeders and formula feeders and to express respect and support for all mothers, so it had come as something of a surprise when the site (a) ran an interview with a breastfeeding celebrity which had come across to many readers as rather smug and provocative, and (b) deleted comments by some posters (including the FFF) which had expressed criticism of the interview.

When the FFF blogged about this, she drew the following comment from a follower of her blog:
"I cannot conclude anything other than that BFB has gone over to the dark side. It's unfortunate, but it seems that a lot of lactivists, in order to maintain their core readership, find themselves being pushed more and more to the extreme, leaving those in the middle (who are probably a very large majority) marginalized. Breastfeeding bullies–which BFB seems to be increasingly leaning toward–do not just harm bottle-feeding parents. They harm breastfeeding ones, and potential breastfeeding ones too."
while another commented,
"I have always liked Best for Babes as an organization that was “supportive” to all mothers... I just think that at the most basic level, moderate attitudes and being supportive of everyone just doesn't get readers and ad impressions. Showing your ass and leaning toward militancy does."
There's an important lesson here for us all. Sites like Best for Babes, Kellymom and all the others are the way they are because that's their core readership--that's who hangs around these sites and posts the most. As a result, more moderate voices tend to be drowned out, and will continue to be drowned out unless these more moderate people get more proactive about speaking up and expressing some alternative viewpoints... in a sensitive, respectful and non-trolling way, needless to say. Meanwhile, the small number of breastfeeding-related Facebook pages and sites which are committed to discussing breastfeeding in a sensitive and non-extremist way have tiny followings compared with the big lactivist resources. There's an Evidence Based Breastfeeding Facebook page, sure--but maybe people need to start being more proactive about posting on it and inviting people to it (and by "people" I'm including myself, by the way). We need to keep an eye out for good resources, comment on them, share them with others, link to them and bring them into discussions at our mother's groups and due-date-clubs. It's a case of "Use them or lose them."

If anyone reading this page feels, like me, that we need better breastfeeding resources... less antagonistic, more moderate, more representative of the full range of mothering styles, and well, just.... saner... then it's all very well complaining about this amongst ourselves, but the current situation is not going to change unless we all step up and "become the framework of support that we want to see." And that's something which we all need to get behind.


  1. Which facebook groups are you referring to when you say, "the small number of breastfeeding-related Facebook pages and sites which are committed to discussing breastfeeding in a sensitive and non-extremist way have tiny followings compared with the big lactivist resources."???

  2. Here's a good example of a great FB group that is "committed to discussing breastfeeding in a sensitive and non-extremist way " - although I'm not sure how the size of the following compares to the others. https://www.facebook.com/groups/EP.BWN/