Oct 112011

“She’s fat and poor. Don’t bother going in there, she won’t breastfeed anyway.” – L&D Nurse to lactation consultant who was rounding on patients postpartum


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 October 11, 2011  breastfeeding, Fatness, L&D Nurse  Add comments

  87 Responses to “"She's Fat & Poor…She Won't Breastfeed Anyway."”

  1. *snort* then my 18 mo old must have subsisted on fairy farts for the past year and 1/2.

    I’m 200 lbs, yep got the fat part.
    I’m a stay at home mom and my husband works 2 jobs. Yep got the poor thing too.

    Utter ridiculousness!

  2. Oh no she didn’t! Take it from a fat, poor mama who once tri-tandem nursed for two months and has nursed all but two months of the last 7 1/2 yrs…. nursie doesn’t speak for all of us.

  3. Well maybe the nice nurse could tell the patient how breastfeeding can help her to drop the baby weight faster AND it’s FREE.


  4. Part of me hopes this wasn’t said in earshot of the patient, but part of me hopes it was and the idiot L&D nurse was reported for discrimination!

  5. I’m fat and poor, actually had state insurance with my last baby, I have wic so I can get free formula, yet I am still nursing 16 months later…

    • It’s hard sometimes, especially past that 1st year! Good for you!!

      • Thanks!! I wasn’t able to nurse my first, they forced me to feed her formula, because she was a little jaundiced and she wouldn’t latch. I did pump and bottle feed for 3.5 months though :) my second I nursed until he was 9 months and he weaned himself..

    • i have WIC too, and despite the fact that they cut me off on the “breastfeeding package” at one year, my almost 3 yr old would still rather have “mo mo” full of antibodies and nutrients that are so awesome they don’t have scientific names yet, than have chocolate milk. argue with the kid, you will not win.

  6. WTF??? So.not.cool.
    Has anyone ever calculated how much it costs to FF for a year?
    So many logic fails!

    • For a low income mom- nothing out of her pocket if she’s on WIC.

      Or at least so a lot of moms (and WIC employees) around here seem to think.

      I was specifically told by a WIC worker “You know its free right” about formula vouchers despite being breastfeeding successfully

      • Wow, talk about misinformed. From what I understand, WIC only gives enough for half the month or so. The rest you have to buy yourself.

        • Here in Nevada they give you plenty for the month. Some moms get enough that they sell their excess on craigslist *sigh*

          • In our part of Texas you get about enough for half the month for a normal baby. A friend of mine in high school exclusively nursed but claimed she didn’t so she could get the WIC formula and give it to her cousin whose milk never came in and had resorted to feeding her baby cow milk bottles when her WIC formula ran out.

        • With my first, I got trapped in the supplementation spiral and ended up weaning completely by about 3 months. The first couple months, we had plenty (which may have been because we’d been getting the supplementing amounts for three months and had some stocked up) then we started needing an extra can (of powder) then two. Since they gave so much of the cereal/juice, I can see why moms end up feeding the baby so much. If its all you have you want to feed the baby something. I understand that they’re waiting longer to give the other items now (my oldest is about to be 16)

      • WTF “you know its free”?!?!?!? well so is the 10 dollers of fruits and veggies, gallons of milk, cheese, whole grain bread, juice and eggs that i get in my breastfeeding package from WIC! why would i give that up for formula?!!? i don’t think formula tastes nearly as good as cheese :)

      • Our WIC office is great. During pregnancy, they have breastfeeding classes and support. Actually good LCs, loaner pumps, etc. I’ve seen them encounter women who say they plan to formula feed, and they lecture them on the benefits of bfing, remind them WIC formula vouchers won’t get them through the month, and REFUSE to provide any formula vouchers until your first newborn appointment when the baby is usually at least a few weeks old. Until then you can still get bfing support. :)

    • with wic its free, and depending on how much you feed your baby, they give you plenty

      • Sure… as in ‘if you are willing to only feed your baby half of what he needs’ they give you plenty. WIC does not and is not meant to give you enough food to fully feed your child or yourself for the full month.

        • guess I was starving my kids then, because I never ran out of formula..

          • WIC packages do differ from place to place… but *typically* a baby would go hungry on what WIC provides. A statement like “depending on how much you feed your baby, they give you plenty” makes it out that if you don’t *overfeed* the child you’ll have enough. That is very rarely true.

            Mothers have been know to water down the formula or feed less to stretch the free stuff to the end of the month because they believed if that was all WIC gave them then it should be enough. WIC doesn’t even claim to give you enough to feed your child… only to supplement what you purchase yourself.

            If your office gave you enough, fine… but it would be irresponsible to tell mothers across the far flung reaches of the internet that you don’t have to worry about formula costs because WIC will give you plenty.

          • Maybe I should have said depending on how much your child eats? I was getting I believe 10 cans a month. Mothers that water down their formula are idiots, but some babies are over fed ;)

          • Here, the maximum WIC can give is 9 cans a month, for most moms it works out to about 75% of their monthly “need” but it does depend on how much your child eats. Some babies eat more and some less.

            I have heard crazy stuff since I started working there… moms that mix the formula with tea and sugar instead of water, moms mixing the formula with soda, or mixing it with too much water. There’s a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of moms trying to stretch it out so they don’t have to pay for it.

            I always tell moms prenatally when discussing breastfeeding that WIC will not provide their full amount of formula (discussing the monetary benefits of BFing)

  7. OK, so I know that, statistically speaking, in this country lower income is associated with increased risk of not breastfeeding. But how is assuming she’s not worth the trouble of support going to help change that statistic?

    And what the heck does her size have to do with her likelihood of breastfeeding??? Talk about heaping judgment upon judgment!

    Tell me this: when I graduate from nursing school in a couple more months will I too be given the cape that allows me to form rash assumptions faster than a speeding bullet and leap quite tall conclusions in a single bound? Because actually I may pass on that option…

  8. As if social status determined wether you breastfeed or not! *tsk* I would be considered “poor” by alot of people. And if anything, breastfeeding is a good remedy to not spending much on feeding an infant, if you ask me! Frickin jerk nurse!

  9. I started doing a lot of things BECAUSE I’m poor. I breastfed exclusively. I cloth diapered. I made my own baby food. And I plan to do all of those things again. I find it to be a total bonus that these things are all healthier for my daughter. I made the choice because I did the math.
    Lactation consultants should walk around with a spreadsheet showing the cost of formula feeding over time. That would convince a lot of moms who wouldn’t have considered it to give it a try!

    • They absolutely should show the cost differences. And provide a LOT of information and support options for moms who are going to go back to work in traditionally lower income fields that are less mom and breastfeeding friendly. I keep walking towards that pretty rainbow with all the good information and nonjudgmental support…just keep walking.

      • Most poor moms in the U.S. can just get formula for free from WIC. It’s extremely hard to convince a lot of them to breastfeed, especially if it’s not the social norm in their area. That said, a WIC nutritionist convinced me to BF and I nursed my son for 2.5 years and am now nursing a second son and studying to become an IBCLC. I’m so grateful that she gave me the push that I needed and ultimately led me to find my calling in life.

        • I probably could have mentioned that I’m overweight, too.

        • What gets me is that WIC does not provide enough formula for many babies after the first few months and the good workers will make a point that its a supplemental program, not a enough food that you donh’t have to buy anything program

        • Our WIC office is awesome. I had to go to a bfing class and one of the things that was covered was laws regarding what employers have to do for bfing moms. We were also told if an employer has any problem with it, to let them know and they will be happy to talk to the employer. I’m still at home, but thought that was really cool. They also do all kinds of other things to help reassure bfing moms, or to help if things aren’t going well.

  10. But wait, I thought the reason formula was marketed to our mothers and grandmothers was because breastfeeding is what poor women did. Who knew that being poor would automatically disqualify me from wanting to breastfeed. Shelling out $25 (or whatever the cost is) for every can of formula instead of using the food my body makes for free makes financial sense to me!

  11. Fat.
    & breastfeeding almost 9 months strong.


  12. Did I miss the slot in my boobs where I put in a quarter before the milk comes out?

  13. Fat & poor here, too. Why WOULDN’T I breast feed…IT’S FREE!!!

  14. I don’t often have a jaw-drop reaction from MOSW, but I did just now.

    Is nurse saying that obese and poor people don’t want what’s best for their kids?

    • No, she’s saying obese and poor people aren’t worth the effort.

    • I actually think she is saying that she is fat and poor and too stupid to listen to good advice so don’t bother wasting your breath. Which could very easily be true if the mother has already stated that she has no intension of breast feeding. But more than likely some other mother last week or last year was fat, poor and bullheaded so this nurse gave up on all of them and doesn’t bother anymore. (Burn out) She wants the LC to not bother anymore either because if the LC succeeds where the nurse failed (or didn’t even try) it will make the nurse look bad. In other words the nurse has burn out and wants the LC to slack off too. I hope the LC took it as a challenge and if the mom heard it she could take it as a challenge too and have a wonderful nursing relationship!

  15. NO. YOU. DIDN’T.

  16. This just makes my eyeballs explode.

    I agree with Aron. Yes, statistically, poorer people and “obese” women are less likely to initiate breastfeeding. But as she said, “how is assuming she’s not worth the trouble of support going to help change that statistic?”

    Oh yes, and many of us fat folk DO breastfeed our children. AUGH.

  17. Poor women need more breastfeeding support than anybody else. Infant mortality rates are disproportionate among the poor. Breastfeeding would help those numbers plummet. Shame on this nurse foe enabling this public health debacle.

  18. I’m fat.
    I’m poor.
    I breastfeed.
    Can’t afford formula. Yes, there’s WIC, but they only give you so much.

  19. as a fellow nurse, I apologize to you. am so thrilled when thanks to Healthy Baby, a mom decides to breastfeed this child where before she bottle fed due to lack of knowledge. you can tell how pleased she is and proud as she ought to be. I have been young and poor, that did not make me dumb even though i was treated like that.it really helps to have been on the other side.

  20. I weighed 299.5 when I got to the hospital to be induced with my daughter. Seeing as how I’m only 5’1ish, I definitely meet the qualifications or fat, especially since I only gained 8 lbs while I ws pregnant. I’m a stay-at-home mom/full time student, and my husband’s a staff sergeant in the USAF, so we’re raking in the big bucks, lol. I’m glad that the lactation consultant where my daughter was born thought I was worth the effort, because between the insane amount of swelling and the incredibly sleepy baby after a c-section I didn’t get to hold for several hours, I wouldn’t be nursing 7 months later. I can’t wIt for the pink link to hopefully hear that the lc told the nurse where she could stick her opinions.

  21. Not to mention that around here (it varies by state, right?), WIC will give a breastfeeding mother extra food (she’s saving them on formula, and she needs it). Including protein-type stuff – peanut butter and tuna, I believe? And maybe carrots – I don’t remember exactly, it’s been a while since I talked to them (as a breastfeeding support person, we make too much money for WIC, huh).

    • Here, if you don’t BF, WIC won’t give the mom ANYTHING but the formula. I read the pamphlet they hand out. WIC will only put the baby on its program and mom gets nothing.

      • Really? Not even postpartum? I thought the postpartum women were part of the program everywhere?

        • Hmm. Not sure. I just remember reading the pamphlet seeing everything BF vs non BF families got. And that BF families got food and FF families only got the formula and certain purees until baby was a year old.I’ll have to look at it again next appointment.

          • When I last called to see why I didn’t have checks for myself when baby was 8 months old I was snipped at by a lovely woman who told me you don’t get anything after baby is 6 months old. I reminded her that we were nursing and she told me that it didn’t matter anymore.

            However when I went in to pick up my next set of checks (baby 11 months old) I had the full breastfeeding package again. (And should have till he is one year). So I suppose snippy chick is used to dealing with formula moms and gave me their info… but I could be wrong and she was just making up nonsense all around.

          • I work for WIC. For the first 6 months postpartum, all moms get food. After 6 months, they only get food if they are breastfeeding, and that stops at one year. Moms who breastfeed exclusively get extra food. They also get baby food meat once the baby is eligible for solids. The kid can keep getting food until age 5. In no way does the extra food breastfeeding moms get have the same monetary value as the infant formula provided to moms who bottlefeed. However, breastfeeding mothers are eligible for certain services and supplies at many WIC clinics, including breastfeeding peer counseling services and breast pumps.

          • ^This is exactly how I’ve understood things to work for years… but when I called as an exclusively breastfeeding mom to an 8 month old the snippy lady tried to make me feel like I was trying to scam the system. If I wanted to scam the system I’d tell them I formula fed, sell the formula and have even more money to buy food of my own choosing! Fortunately I’m the ‘honest to a fault’ type who wouldn’t let the worker lie in my favor to get us extra food stamps the brief while we needed those… and she *really* tried.

          • When I was on WIC, they always acted like I was trying to scam the system too. At our 6 month appointment the first person I saw asked, “Is s/he on formula?” “No.” Second person, “How much formula does s/he take everyday?” “None.” Third person (same visit mind you), “And s/he’s not formula fed? No formula at all? EXCLUSIVELY breastfed? No bottles?” “S/he gets the occasional bottle of breastmilk, but we don’t even keep formula in the house.” Even after all that, I was still given speculative looks. As soon as we could financially drop the support of WIC (even though we still qualified), we stopped getting it. It was just too stressful!

          • I’ve had a lot of friends drop WIC for some of the crazy ways they have been treated too. I get a lot of attempted guilt trips from them because a couple of my kids are small for their ages.

            It’s genetics all the way, but on hubby’s side so they see this fat mommy with the short skinny kid who doesn’t even make the charts and they are convinced that I’m sitting around eating bon-bons so that it completely slips my mind to feed the kids. Or maybe I’m just encouraging the ‘big’ kiddos to take food from the scrawny ones… yep it is all one big episode of survivor around here.

            I do ok ignoring them… but now and then they even make *me* wonder if I am doing something wrong. So I feel bad for the moms that *always* believe the ‘experts’ know best and they must be doing a bad job just because they have a *healthy* but naturally small child.

            I think that is part of why I *don’t* drop the WIC. With me and a thorn in their side reminding them constantly that my child is *fine*… I know it, my doc knows it, and they need to face it… maybe just maybe they will back off some other mom with a small child tomorrow. Probably not… but I just refuse to let them walk all over *every* mom that comes in. They won’t get me! And I won’t leave! :P

          • I have the same problem with WIC. I have been told no less than THREE times that I *HAD* to give my son formula!!! Jaundice, low weight gain (because I was given IV fluids and he lost the water weight which skewed his weight) and because I couldn’t *possibly* be making milk still. THEN I was told I would be “allowed” to use Baby Led Weaning as long as he continued to gain weight (allowed to or what??).. EVERY time we pick up my youngest is flagged as high risk. I usually refuse to meet with the RD. This time I did meet with her but she was “warned” about me so she came in with her speech and wouldn’t let me talk. My kids are healthy. They don’t eat a bunch of junk (lunch was apple slices and broccoli/rice/cheese today). Not to mention that SOMEONE has to be the low end.. just as SOMEONE has to be the high end of their “perfect” charts to make the “median” they try to shove the kids into. If EVERY child was in that median then the median would change! Oh yea, and don’t forget the forced iron testing at 6 months when I was asked how much cereal he was on and how often and I said none (I see it as cardboard with chemicals to make it look good AND he wasn’t yet interested in food. He didn’t start solids until 8 months.. his choice). But OMG!!! I am KILLLING him by only breastfeeding!!! OMGOMGOMG!! I was told there was NO iron in my breastmilk and he would be anemic *unless* I fed him the cereal (no options for other foods I could feed him that could boost iron.. JUST the cereal!!). His iron came out on the HIGH side of normal. I tried to educate the worker then, the RD then and the RD last week on this “phenomenon” but they are simply not interested. :( If we didn’t need the milk for my nearly 4 year old so bad I would tell WIC to shove it… but my 4 year old still drinks a TON of milk instead of solids and needs the milk :( I wish he was still nursing but it is what it is (thanks Memorial Health Systems for killing the breastfeeding).. :( *sigh*.. anyway, the ick with WIC isn’t new, isn’t area specific and isn’t going to end any time soon :( The RD this time told me they are only following Gov’t Guidelines (Guidelines are not supposed to be set in stone.. they are not rules.. wanted to hand her a dictionary..).. and that it is completely out of their hands. I suggested teaching about whole foods and how to make them safe for baby vs the crap they give out now. *sigh*.. she wasn’t interested in listening to a single thing I had to say. Not ONE. :(

          • I’m lucky in that our nutritionist (RD) is *great* and hates that the nurses send people to her over nothing. So we always just end up sitting and chatting for a bit… in the end she genearlly just tells me I’m doing just fine and my kids are doing just fine and to ignore her panicking coworkers. I do realize that they ‘have’ to send people to the nutritionist if the numbers say to do so… but I would hate that fact if the nutritionist wasn’t bright enough to realize the numbers and charts don’t tell the whole story. They are always shocked that my kids’ have normal to high normal iron as well… lol… . Must be some kind of miracle… or breastmilk. ;)

          • I looked into this, and apparently, places where WIC funds are low have a system where they can prioritize participants by need. Sometimes, not even babies can get food if they aren’t at risk for nutritional deficiency. :(

    • i get lots of nutritious goodies because i’m nursing instead of formula feeding. heck, i bet my package costs less than just the formula would, and my little guy drinks over 40oz a day so i’m super stoked that i have it on tap instead of shoveling out to get it from the store.

  22. I’m fat(225lbs), poor(under 12K a year, living in SoCal where I can’t even afford rent right now) and my DD just turned three yesterday and is still nursing! I sort of hope this nurse slipped on some amniotic fluid after she said this…

  23. I work for WIC. For the first 6 months postpartum, all moms get food. After 6 months, they only get food if they are breastfeeding, and that stops at one year. Moms who breastfeed exclusively get extra food. They also get baby food meat once the baby is eligible for solids. The kid can keep getting food until age 5. In no way does the extra food breastfeeding moms get have the same monetary value as the infant formula provided to moms who bottlefeed. However, breastfeeding mothers are eligible for certain services and supplies at many WIC clinics, including breastfeeding peer counseling services and breast pumps.

    • Some clinics though talk about breastfeeding but don’t know anything about either peer counselors or pumps. I tried to get information about pumping for my daughter, and they said they didn’t do that. (I found out differently later) My daughter was hospitalized, and our insurance paid for a good pump, but if that hadn’t happened, we’d have been hurting when I went back to school and work when DD was three months old.

      • Individual agencies have enormously leeway regarding the breastfeeding services they provide. Even within a county with a single administration, different clinics may have different services available for breastfeeding. If you don’t get what you want, it can help to call a higher up. Most “WIC ladies” are the nicest people, but there’s an occasional bad apple in every bunch.

        • Do you have the problem of ‘panicky’ or misinformed WIC ladies a lot where you are? We have some good ones at my office, but like I pointed out above far too many of them freak because I nurse till my kiddos are ready to wean and because some of my kids are small due to genetics.

          They are nice enough ladies… but they just seem *convinced* that I’m starving my kids. I also think they truly believe that I have kids just so I can stay on WIC. Yes, I have five kids and yes, I use the WIC benefits I’m entitled to… but we aren’t on any other sort of ‘aid’ (and my WIC ladies know that) and believe me… the WIC packages are not *that* good! We have five kids because we want five kids… not for the WIC.

          Now… when I had babies with tongue tie and needed a good pump pronto to pump and feed the good stuff… they came through for me. They just also thought my daughter was ‘so small’ at 2-3 yrs old *because* I was still nursing her. They wanted me to deny her the one healthy food I consistently knew she would always eat… bizarre in my book.

  24. I’m only slightly overweight by most charts (not even that much by others), but I am definitely what most people would call “poor.” I breastfed both of my boys for a year, and plan to go longer with the one we are expecting in March.

    I think the implication here is Fat + Poor= Lazy and stupid. How horrible that she would write people off and judge them so harshly without even making an effort. Can’t wait to read the whole story here.

  25. How friggen ignorant!
    I am fat, poor and cerebrating 12 months of nursing my youngest, but have nursed for near 3 years total if you tally my 5 year old for 9 months and my 3 year old for 15 months…
    What an ass!

  26. This is terrible!! I am fat (200+lbs) and when my second son was born we were homeless and I was unemployed. I breastfed him until he was 13mos old and we were homeless the entire time. I’d like to punch that OB.

  27. Once again, this site has rendered me speechless.

    I’d be really curious to know what the LC told the nurse!

  28. Let’s try this… “She’s poor and unwed. Don’t bother giving her pregnancy counseling, she’ll just have an abortion.” “She’s old and primip. Don’t bother giving her fertility counseling, she’ll never get pregnant anyway.” “She’s a lesbian. Don’t bother giving her sexual health counseling, she’ll never have a healthy sex life.”

    Sound good to anyone else?

  29. I breastfed for MANY reason. First and foremost because of it’s health benefits to my baby. But ALSO because I am poor and fat!! Breastmilk is completely free. I don’t need to buy formula, nor worry about buying dozens of bottles. And it’s only an added benefit that feeding my baby the way God intended can help me shed some pounds.

  30. Everyone else has said it all.

    Also, what logic is that? Okay, so what if the mother is overweight…??! There is nothing better than breastfeeding to lose some (or at least not gain more) weight. I’m not overweight and I didn’t gain insanely during pregnancy, although I ate like a pig (just like before), and after birth and exclusive breastfeeding I was still eating like a pig (not fast food, just love large/double portions) and quickly back to my pre-pregnancy weight (and 2kg under). I was tempted to add extra cream to some of my meals because I was worried I’d soon produce “diet milk”, haha. Good that it doesn’t work that way. (I have enough cream in my regular diet, though. Rice pudding, mmmmmhh!)

    I’m wondering, but shouldn’t formula moms – regardless of the reason why they can’t/chose not to breastfeed – have more problems with losing weight (if they’re inclined to do so)?

    I can only imagine that they think of “fat and poor” as uneducated and thus not interested in bf. :-(

  31. Fat.
    3 babies breastfed 18 mo, 18 mo, and 26ish mo, respectively.

    If she’s going to go on statistics or stereotypes, the ‘poor’ bit is all the more reason to usher that LC into the room. Statistically this woman is less likely to breastfeed, not because poor people are too stupid or don’t care about their babies, but because they may not have the example, family support, or information they need (thanks to the concerted efforts of formula companies, in large part).

  32. Fat (over 200lbs).
    Poor (disabled SAHM with husband who has a job 45 minutes away, meaning that a good 1/5th of our income goes to gas)
    First child: Nursed 4.5 years
    Second child: Nursed 2.5 years (weaned due to pregnancy and never having been as much of a comfort nurser as her sister)
    Tandem time: 27 months.
    Baby three? Planning to breastfeed exclusively for 6+ months and nurse on cue until self-weaning, like the last two.

    So, fuck you, Nurse Judgeyjudgerson. I’m very glad for my LC during my learning time for nursing. I’m glad for the supportive, informed nurses that I had. People like YOU can go jump in a lake.

  33. Who sent this in? The LC? Or did the nurse say this so loud that it was overheard by fat, poor mom and everyone else nearby?

  34. This makes me sick to see. I’m mordibly obese, barely making it with my husband and I’s jobs… I breastfed both of my babies, the second til 18 months!

  35. While i am highly offended! I am also curious to know if the lady ended up breast feeding because statistics show that we fluffy poor girls do breast feed considerably less than the skinny or non poor. it’s sad but true.

  36. I had a similar issue when I was a student nurse. The mom was a young, low-income woman of color and expressed a (slight) interest in nursing her baby. I tried to help her out because no one else was available or inclined. I was later told by one of the nurses that I really shouldn’t have bothered because “the first negative word anyone says and she’s going to quit.” *facepalm* It’s true that she wasn’t highly motivated and her family circumstances weren’t encouraging but even a little colostrum would have been a nicer start to life for her beautiful baby.

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