Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dr. Rick's Response

Remember my disgust at Dr. Rick recommending "12 Hours in 12 Weeks" to listeners of Southern Remedy?  I called into the show that day and explained how this book and the cultural phenomena of insisting young babies sleep through the night can be detrimental to breastfeeding relationships and followed up the call with an email.

I finally got a response from Dr. Rick.  Let's just say I am as unimpressed with his reply as I was with his original negative reaction to breastfeeding.  I have so much to say about his letter that I am honestly left speechless.....for now but possibly not forever :)

Although there are real advantages to breast feeding, the science shows that children who are not breast fed do just fine in the long run. I am very careful about making folks feel guilty about not doing it when it is difficult or impossible. I am sticking with this science on this.  Breastfeeding is best, but not essential in the long shot. If that changes, so will my opinion.  I know there are other heartfelt opinions on this and i respect them.

Hope this helps,
Dr. Rick


Mississippi might have the fewest breastfed babies in the country but we certainly have our share of informed and passionate mamas.  Thank you, friends, for sending in your letters to Dr. Rick!

Dear Dr. Rick,
With your recent push on focusing on Mississippi's health and specifically our state's issue with obesity, one would expect you to be very knowledgeable and supportive of breastfeeding. The statistics on the health benefits of breastfeeding are outstanding and specifically the significantly lowered rush of obesity and childhood diabetes. The AAP suggests a minimum of 1 year which is lax compared to the WHO's recommendation of a minimum of 2 years. Recently, the AAP released a statement that breastfeeding is not a lifestyle choice but a public health issue. Support at all levels from hospitals to workplace to community to physicians is imperative in improving breastfeeding rates and reducing a multitude of health disparities. At a conference this past weekend, I was pleased to hear a Dept of Health leader proclaiming the benefits of breastfeeding to establish healthy eating habits among our children. I have included a link to a really great Time magazine article of the new AAP statement and it's impact. I'd also encourage you to connect yourself and your listeners with Dr. Rebecca Saenz who is a Specialist in Breastfeeding Medicine in Jackson. Her expertise not only benefits the metro area, but the entire state. She is known nationally and internationally for her expertise in the breastfeeding field and our state is lucky to have her.

Also, since you mentioned that breastfeeding is nearly impossible for working mother's, which it is not, I'd like to take the opportunity to commend our State for having such breastfeeding friendly laws in place. Not only is it written in the books that a woman is doing no wrong by breastfeeding her baby anywhere they have the right to be, but MS laws also provide that any workplace must allow a breastfeeding mother time and place to pump without exception and without negative consequences or penalties. This sets the stage for Mississippi workplaces being highly conducive to breastfeeding mothers. The issue arises in the lack of support elsewhere. Along with it's awful rates of childhood obesity and other health issues, Mississippi has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. (correlation? I think so.)Here is the article I referred to that discusses breastfeeding as a public health issue:


Dear Dr. Rick,

I have listened to the show for years and there have been times I've disagreed with a statement or two on different topics. But the show this week on pediatrics left me very disappointed. When the caller from Starkville discussed breast feeding I felt like she received quite the brush off from you and Dr. Allyn. Not necessarily her personally but the importance of breast feeding in general. Considering the alarming state of health in Mississippi, especially concerning obesity and diabetes, I would think this would rate higher on your scale of importance. I know how hard you've worked and are currently working to help pull Mississippians up out of the bottom of the barrel in obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure rankings and I would have thought you would have been better informed on the benefits breast feeding has on the long term health of a child who receives it. The statements you and Dr. Allyn made regarding breast feeding made it sound like a lifestyle choice for moms. And while I agree that many many women have difficulty breast feeding for very long and some at all- I think it's inaccurate to say that there are a lot of women who can't breast feed. Our bodies were made by divine creation to feed our children. 

It's statements such as yours and the careless attitude of so many health professionals that gives women the idea that they probably won't be able to breast feed successfully-starting out with this type of atmosphere, how can anyone be expected to keep trying even when it's difficult-and it is especially at first. Sure, there are medical explanations for why some women can't breast feed but these cases are few and far between in comparison to the number of women who don't succeed due to lack of support and education. Also, one of the worst things a new mother can do for her breast feeding relationship is try and 'train' her baby to sleep thru the night before a strong supply has been established. Books like the '12 hour sleep in 12 weeks' are the cause of many a failed breast feeding relationship. If you stop removing the milk, your smart body stops making it. Please be careful of recommending such books without this information included.

I have included a few links to articles detailing the benefits of breast feeding for obesity and diabetes since I know fighting these is a passion of yours. The benefits of breast feeding go far beyond these two topics but I'm hoping that referencing two of your interests will have you interested enough to do a little more research and possibly have a show devoted entirely to breast feeding. Most Mississippi women are sadly uneducated on the topic and views such as your statements seemed to portray it-as a life style choice for the mother. Breast milk is the best gift a mother can give her newborn and with proper education and support most women can succeed in providing this lifelong gift to their children. Thanks for all that you do and I hope to hear more on this topic in the future, for the sake of Mississippi's children who so badly need the best start possible.

Thank you,
A listener in Mississippi


squigglycarrot said...


Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

Great letter Mandi. Well, he was respectful-he's just WRONG!

Lindsay Tennant said...

Yeah, what science is he looking at!?!?

LauraOMML said...

Obviously none of the links we sent him :)

LauraOMML said...

He was respectful but still an idiot.

LauraOMML said...

None of the real stuff :)

Melissabrenn016 said...

it was hard to continue breastfeeding at work despite the laws. I pumped at work until my little boy was a year old. I work in a very breastfeeding friendly environment (a hospital) and even got to breastfeed at lunch since my son attended the hospital daycare. I am very pro-breastfeeding and still found it overwhelming. Pumping over 4 times a day and breastfeeding as well as carrying a full case at work is very, very hard. Just wanted you to know this since you did not return to work after having children. I had one of the best and supportive work places for continuing breastfeeding and it was still not like being at home. This can lead to low milk production due to stress and just the physical fact of not having baby near you. I consulted several times with our lactation consultant and still had to supplement with formula. Just remember these things when you are talking about it next time. Some of us really want to continue to breastfeed with our own milk, but it is not always possible. I know this for a fact, and comments about mothers needing to continue to breastfeed at work from mothers who don't necessarily work only makes it more difficult and stressful for the  mother who does have to return to work and wants to continue to breastfeed. Yes, we need support, but we also need a pat on the back and not made to feel guilty if it doesn't happen the way it should! Thanks.

Bianca Wooden said...

His response to you is really surprising to me.  My first thought is the study that came out a couple of years ago showing that 911 lives could be saved each year of 90% of infants were breastfed according to guidelines.

I recently did a presentation titled "Breastfeeding & The Law" in Mississippi.  I research both state and federal laws.  I want to clarify a couple of things from Mandi's letter.

Here is a link to the state laws related to breastfeeding:

Regarding expressing milk at work, the MS law is:  "Miss. Code Ann. Ch. 1 § 71-1-55 (2006) prohibits against discrimination towards breastfeeding mothers who use lawful break time to express milk."  So, the employer does not have to provide any additional break time or space to express milk. They can not discriminate because you use your break time to pump.

There is also a federal law that was part of the Healthcare Reform Act, it is part of FLSA regulation.  This law applies to non-exempt (hourly) employees.

It requires that employers provide reasonable break time and a private, non bathroom, place to express milk during the workday until the child reaches one year old.  This does not apply to exempt employees.  Also, if the company have fewer than 50 employees AND can prove this would be a hardship, they do not have to comply.

Here is more info on that:

I hope this information is helpful to women seeking to express milk at work.

LauraOMML said...

Thank you for the links, Bianca, especially the first aap link regarding lives saved by breastfeeding.  It *is* a public health issue, especially in Mississippi.  

And, thanks for the clarification on the MS law!