Leading Families to the Slaughter: An Open Letter to all so-called Breastfeeding "Advocates"

The hypocrisy of conclusions in “But is it safe for my baby” and “Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis” featured in Mothering Magazine, and other actions of breastfeeding advocates is quite disturbing.

I feel that it is relevant to include some background about the way that families have been led astray, particularly by institutions and people who claim to be promoting natural health.

First, here is some background on how I became aware of the issues that tie breastfeeding and psychiatric drugs.

In 2004, my 3-day-old son suffered a life-threatening choking incident (from formula he could not digest) only a few minutes after we arrived at Children’s Hospital, having brought him in on the recommendation of paramedics due to the fact that he was overly lethargic and looked like he was blue around his mouth, on his hands, and on his feet. The staff at Children’s hospital saved his life and admitted him for observation overnight, but I was so upset about having witnessed him choking nearly to death that I became extremely anxious about his safety. To make a long story short, I was given Zoloft samples by my OBGYN at 6 days postpartum, for anxiety, and as a “preventive” treatment to ward of the possibility of severe PPD. By postpartum day 9 (day 3 on Zoloft), I was suicidal and homicidal. I checked into an ER and they forcibly held me in a psych unit for 2 days. They tried to give me several new drugs in addition to Zoloft and told me that I had to keep taking Zoloft. If I had not been breastfeeding my son, I may have agreed to take them, but all of the new drugs they tried to give me (one of which was Zyprexa) were listed as being clearly contraindicated for nursing mothers. I declined the new drugs.

I observed other patients in the hospital who were sleeping nonstop for the first couple of days they were there, and one man who was so disabled by his medications that his speech was slurred, he could barely keep his balance, and he was extremely confused. I also observed a patient locked in a padded room who jumped violently at the window and stared out with wide bloodshot eyes- he reminded me of an angered caged animal. I was thankful that I had not become as disabled as they were and it was obvious to me that the drugs I was taking were not quite as physically toxic as the ones they wanted me to add.

I returned home with strict orders from the psychiatrist to stay on Zoloft and see a psychiatrist, a therapist and take parenting classes. Over the next few months I experienced a dose-dependent worsening of homicidal thoughts from increases in Zoloft dosage. Finally I got off the drugs and went back to being a normal person not obsessed with homicide or suicide. Since then I have been following the actions of the FDA, drug companies, and breastfeeding advocates closely.

Thanks to the FDA black box warnings I am confident that my life, my son’s life, and many others that I have come in contact with have been spared. This is not good news for Eli Lilly, Pfizer, or any other multi-billion dollar drug company.

Prior to my decision to discontinue Zoloft, the homicidal urges were so bad that my psychiatrist recommended that I wean my son and go on Zyprexa. She clearly stated I would not be allowed to breastfeed if I took it, and this was one factor in my decision not to try Zyprexa. The continuation of Zoloft also eventually led to my realization that Zoloft was not working for me no matter how many months’ time I let it “start to work.”

I eventually wrote a letter to a breastfeeding advocate and psychologist named Kathleen Kendall-Tackett expressing my concern that new mothers were being encouraged to breastfeed while taking SSRIs because this could lead to psychosis and the perceived need to wean to take drugs like Zyprexa. see: http://chaada.org/smf/index.php?topic=189.0 http://chaada.org/smf/index.php?topic=236.0 and

I also wrote to Peggy O’Mara at Mothering Magazine to ask her to do an article about the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs like SSRIs for new moms.

To my surprise, this past spring Mothering Magazine (“Natural Family Living” is its subtitle) published an article titled “Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis” in which they cited Kathleen Kendall-Tackett’s opinions and Thomas Hale’s research (he is the author of Medications in Mother’s Milk) as justification to condone breastfeeding continuing, despite the use of drugs like Zyprexa.

This article was the story of one mother who went psychotic, and was hospitalized. In the hospital she recommended that her psychiatrist check out Hale’s book, and the psychiatrist actually allowed her husband and child to come to the hospital to stay with her 24-7 and cosleep and allow the baby to nurse on demand for the 9 day stay while she was also taking antipsychotic drugs. Breastfeeding was touted as the only connection the mother had left to reality and sanity and the only healing force in her life. (So why take the antipsychotic drugs?)

The author described her first experience in the hospital as one where they injected her with a drug because she was rambling off a paranoid delusional speech about her fears that someone was plotting to murder her grandmother, and after the injection she quickly passed out and slept for the first time in a long time. The article claimed that mothers should be allowed to take antipsychotic drugs while breastfeeding as long as they avoided nursing during peak concentration times.

I was truly shocked at the position of the magazine and the so-called health experts, both because of their failure to address the dangers of drugs, and their endorsement of a practice that puts mothers and babies at serious risk.

To make a very long story much shorter, over the past year I have seen antipsychotic drugs promoted for breastfeeding moms in New Beginnings (LLL magazine), Mothering Magazine, and on the Thomas Hale website. Knowing that Mothering Magazine’s online forums have a lot of natural-health minded people, I also attempted several times to post information about the dangers of psychiatric drugs. Almost invariably, my threads were deleted. At two different points I complained but I was told that my posts were deleted due to violation of the User Agreement. This seemed to be untrue because my posts were only deleted after I began posting proof of what I was saying by posting articles and abstracts that demonstrated the dangers clearly.

Prior to my providing additional proof when what I was saying had been “discredited” by drug users on the forum, I had violated the user agreement from the very first post. Yet the threads I was posting in were going on as debates for weeks before the threads eventually were removed altogether. (To read the paradoxical and restrictive user agreement, click here: http://www.mothering.com/mdc/mdc_useragreement.html It prohibits posting links to other forums, even if you wrote the thread, for instance my personal story on the CHAADA message board was not allowed because it disrupted the continuity of their message board by taking you to another, you are not allowed to post any links or text that go to a website that is critical of Mothering Magazine or their discussion boards or website, you are not allowed to debate sensitive topics, you are not allowed to debate with a moderator or raise any public questions about what the moderator has done, and you are not allowed to post text of any copyrighted material that exceeds 100 words despite fair use guidelines which allow this for educational and non-profit distribution).

After my threads were deleted (without warning, so I do not have a copy of the first thread which was removed) I got into a dispute over this issue with the administrators and Peggy O’Mara, and eventually I was quite rudely written off. I stayed away from the boards for a while but then went back to post on different topics and also noticed that some of my threads were removed without explanation or comment.

So if you go to the PPD board or any other board on Mothering.com’s discussion board, you can see that the only information that is invariably allowed and not subject to removal is that which promotes a pharmaceutical agenda. Although you may find information about alternatives, if you say anything negative (especially if the information is compelling) about psychiatric drugs, your posts are likely to be removed.

According to a friend I met on the forum who came to my defense, Mothering Magazine has been engaging in discrimination against certain sectors of society (including Scientologists) since the 1980s. This realization was a disappointment considering their appearance as being a magazine about acceptance and tolerance and natural family living. Why would a PPD forum which promotes drugs to new breastfeeding mothers fit in with that mission?

In addition, I was not the only one who was censored. A long-time member of the board who wrote a book on the dangers of vaccines was censored and angered to the point that she left the board altogether and all of her posts from several years were removed by moderators.

My friend’s posts have also been subject to censorship and removal and she has received warnings of being banned. The moderators even removed threads she had written about her husband’s death while she was newly grieving.

I have noticed other turnarounds in the Mothering magazine opinions, notably on breastfeeding in public. They went from writing about the power of women (they even published a report I wrote claiming our constitutional rights to stand up for each other and defend nursing in public as a human right, to a position which claims that our rights are non-existent due to a lack of enforcement or a lack of adequate state and local laws. See: http://www.babywhys.org/nurse%20in.htm and http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/breastfeeding/lactation-law.html
and also http://www.babywhys.org/philosophyoflactivism.htm and http://www.mothering.com/resources/bfpocketguide.pdf and http://www.mothering.com/articles/new_baby/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-law.html )

Although, it seems, based on the dates, that the magazine has just been confused. One year you need to be afraid, the next year breastfeeding is fine, the next year you better bring your lawyer and 2,000 supporters if you want to feed your baby.

Now it seems they have also begun to turn around on the stance against vaccines, publishing an article in the most recent edition by a doctor who is in favor of vaccinating every patient no matter the consequences. Mothering Magazine has long been known as the most radical of anti-vaccine advocates in all of the major parenting publications. They have even come out against HIV and AIDS drugs for women who want to breastfeed, saying that it’s perfectly ok to risk giving your baby HIV by breastfeeding, and not to use them to help your own case of HIV or AIDS (because they are contraindicated for nursing). Yet now it seems that to these breastfeeding advocates, an unnecessary and dangerous drug for a nonexistent chemical imbalance is fine to use while nursing an infant, and can rightly be promoted as a good preventive for severe cases of Possible Andrea Yates Copycat Disorder. (PAYCD)

It would not surprise me very much if they soon start to come out against cosleeping or in favor of circumcision or hospital birth with epidurals. Although the root of this recent position on drugs and breastfeeding seems to be the notion that you must breastfeed at all costs. However as I stated in the original UNITE article “Leading Families to the Slaughter” – formula has never put a baby into a coma, as far as I am aware.

Recent studies undertaken on antipsychotic drugs have revealed that patients on placebo actually improved more than those taking atypical antipsychotics, like Zyprexa. Any magazine or advocate who ignores the facts and censors those who try to get the word out about dangers poses a very serious danger to families and society and shows a total disregard for ethics. We have been slowly deluded and our society is being eaten away, our rights are eroded and ignored, and our health and safety threatened.

I have been reluctant to speak out against Mothering, Thomas Hale, Kathleen Kendall Tackett, and New Beginnings because I know people make mistakes. But this type of mistake seems to be more a generally intended goal than an accident.

I examined the research which has been claimed as evidence of safety of both SSRIs and of Zyprexa for nursing moms and what I found was disturbing. A full written analysis is forthcoming – but in short, the studies were done on extremely small samples, side effects were disregarded, and most of the women in the studies were not exclusively breastfeeding. When a significant portion of a baby’s diet is formula, it’s obvious that any exposure will be reduced.

Given the absolute refusal of the FDA and certain mental health advocates to accept the negative outcomes from our current slew of psychiatric drugs and interventions, it is not too surprising that others such as those in the media or in positions of influence in the natural health community can get away with ignoring the facts.

I guess it all comes back to the original lies of chemical imbalances and the backwards serotonin theory (see http://uniteforlife.org/links.html#books)

For anyone who has not seen it, the DVD Psychiatry: An Industry of Death is extremely informative on the history of psychiatry and psychology. I highly recommend you watch it. You can find it at http://www.cchr.org/index/5285/15242/

Needless to say, my subscription to Mothering Magazine is not being renewed. I encourage others to speak out if they too have been censored or if they disagree with the ideas in the magazine. The readers won’t continue buying the magazine if it becomes too full of false and dangerous ideas. In fact one of the only reasons to continue reading would be to monitor the manner in which decline of reason and the rise of dangerous dogma are promoted and innocent young families are unknowingly deluded.

To Mothering Magazine, should you read this blog, I urge you to prove me wrong by changing your ways and apologizing to those who have been censored. I also encourage you to overhaul your user agreement and revamp or remove the PPD and mental health forums so they will not be players in supporting one of the most evil of all enterprises we face in our world.

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