Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Dangerous Breastfeeding Advocates Network

"A little learning is a dangerous thing;
drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
and drinking largely sobers us again."

Alexander Pope

I first found out about The Breastfeeding Advocates Network (TBAN) when I saw their poster, a collage of happy baby faces, hanging in one of the maternity wards in the hospital I work in. "Neat," I thought. Trying to get parents to breastfeed can be quite a challenge sometimes but if the general public wants to take up the cause, crusade away, I say! One of the cornerstones of modern Paediatrics and Obstetrics is that infants should be fed exclusively on breastmilk for the first six months of their lives and the benefits are numerous - I would tell you what they are but this is not a post about the manifold wonderfulness of breastmilk.

When my pregnant wife told me that she had just joined the group, I joined as well and for weeks, I was contented with just observing the buzz of activity within the group. A lot of new mothers are posting what are termed in-house as "SOS'es" - mothers seeking advice from other more experienced mothers to troubleshoot breastfeeding issues. One of the more common cries for help there is are mothers not producing enough breastmilk after giving birth. The mothers there rightly advice that often, the supply of milk will appear low in the first few days after a child's birth and that mothers should keep allowing their babies to latch on and suckle regardless. I mean, that is the same advice I give to encourage new mothers! Damn, this is a great place for new moms!

However, after spending some time there, I noticed that there are also mothers who post there asking for medical advice when their babies fall ill and often, they receive large volumes of opinions that are anecdotal and sometimes contradictory. This is where I started taking notice of the more questionable side of TBAN that operates beyond the boundaries of breastfeeding. What is worse, there are mothers who post about advice given by doctors that they aren't sure about, and the response these posts generate were generally abusive, like "That doctor's an idiot!" or incredibly cocksure, like "That doctor is obviously wrong!"

As an insider in the medical field, I know better than most people about the number of nincompoops that managed to escape through the graduation end of med schools, but on the web, I will never dream of making such statements on any specific case when I myself have not acquainted myself with all the details of a patient, including giving said patient a proper physical exam and getting an eyeball of some investigations. One thing that any medico would quickly learn right out of med school is that all patients are different and they sometimes warrant different advice for the same condition. However, these highly-empowered mothers are not limited by that same prudence. They think that if something applies to their few offspring, it should apply for all mothers and all babies. I suppose that this is what they mean when they say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Here's an example of a thread that demonstrates the ignorance and arrogance that is endemic and encouraged in TBAN:

Persistent Ignorance
It's someone asking "What is your favourite colour" right AFTER someone said that their favourite colour is purple.

The first commenter above, Ong Chiew Ping, immediately disputed and disparaged a doctor's diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia, betting that that doctor didn't do the required test and merely guessed it by looking at another blood test (she was referring to the complete or full blood count). See what I mean about an immediate knee-jerk distrust towards licensed, respectable medical professionals even when they know nothing about the patient discussed?

The second mother, Hui Hoon who started the thread, clarified that the test also included iron level and the total iron binding capacity (TIBC), which was what she meant by the protein that binds iron being low. The rub is that she also proved the doubtful mother above her wrong.

The really funny bit is the third mother, Xe Hui, who advised that the second mother seek a second opinion to ensure that a proper iron study is done, right after the second mother told everyone that the proper iron study was indeed done. This may seem innocuous to anyone else but to anyone in the medical line, it is obvious that the mothers offering advice only know about the medical stuff they talk about superficially, but any real depth eludes them (I mean, they didn't even recognise an iron study when it flew right into their faces flapping its wings). These are mothers who call doctors stupid, by the way. Would you take medical advice from them?

You have seen nothing yet. Here is another mother whose immediate automatic reaction is to assume incompetence on the part of the doctor,

Egg Allergy Vitriol
I wonder if these people really think replacing "fuck" with "fish" makes it okay.

The thread-starting mother, Hui Hoon, clearly stated that her child is 15 months old but in her righteous anger to threaten ballistic harm on the doctor and her eagerness to show how much smarter Mandy thinks she was compared to him, she missed the fact that the child in question was older than her stipulated age below which infants shouldn't be fed eggs. These mothers even fail to take account of a patient's details that are available on the page, let alone spend any time to consider the details that aren't available to them like physical examination findings and blood works. Would you take medical advice from them?

Here is how that exchange continued. Notice how reserved and polite I was trying to be in contrast to my usual belligerent online persona,

This is what we refer to in med school as 'digging one's own grave'.
Doubling down.

As you can see above, the mother trying to justify her position have obvious trouble telling the difference between early exposure of allergens to prevent the development of allergies versus exposing a child with egg allergies to eggs to treat said allergies. You might want to read that last sentence again. Medicine is rife with subtleties demonstrated above and this further underlines the importance of knowing one's patients thoroughly before advising anything. Would you take medical advice from mothers who don't understand those subtleties?

Anyway, the mother was basing her advice (directly or indirectly) on the old 2000 feeding guideline by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which the AAP retracted in 2008 due to lack of evidence for its efficacy. Would you take medical advice from mothers who do not bother themselves with the latest evidence? In fact, based on the latest news in the world of allergies, Mandy Chee's advice may actually cause more children to develop allergies. Thanks Mandy, for making other people's babies sick!

But after I was banned from TBAN (more on that later), the same mother who doesn't understand those subtleties was seen bragging about how she knew better than I do,


See the fire-breathing pomposity of someone who still cannot tell the difference between preventing the development of allergies and treating children who are already allergic? How the fuck does someone prevent allergies in an already allergic child anyway? She can type an entire sentence of complete nonsense and not even realise it.

Of course, this kind of behaviour is fostered and nurtured by the admins who run the group - admins who claims to be certified Breastfeeding Peer Counselors but nevertheless, does not shy away from giving advice unrelated to breastfeeding. They have many quacky beliefs, but one of the worst of them is this,

Dangerous Quacks
Okay, I may or may not have baited them into saying those things, but I was gathering evidence.

Now, for a bit of background. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a nebulous entity and a boogie man of all new parents everywhere. According to the AAP, there are many things that reduce its risk and many that increase it based on countless studies over the years. Now, one of the latest, largest study and analysis into the phonomenon turned up a startling find: co-sleeping, when it takes the form of bed-sharing, increases the risk of SIDS in infants below 3 months old by 5 times. It was estimated that 81% of SIDS cases with no other risk factors could have been prevented if parents choose to sleep on different surfaces than their babies.

Yes, these Breastfeeding Peer Counselors are dispensing medical advice that increases the risk of babies dying suddenly. I wonder if their certification can be stripped away for doing that.

Their justification? "Other studies" which they have not exerted themselves to provide and that it helps them sleep better. Gina, the founder of the group, even wondered if the researchers are parents - as if that somehow changes the numbers and stats those researchers found. By her logic, shouldn't you avoid all male obstetricians because they have never given birth themselves? Most practicing oncologists are not suffering from cancer, so does that mean that they don't know how to treat cancer?

While doctors have yet to determine the exact cause of SIDS, the medical community have observed it for decades, learning what we could about it. In 1994, there was a huge campaign called Back to Sleep which exhort parents to place their babies on their backs to sleep, and it resulted in more than 50% decrease in SIDS. That recommendation too was based on pesky "research" and "studies".

Some of them cited Dr Sears who advised co-sleeping but he did not make the important distinction between bed-sharing and room-sharing - which was irresponsible. Just to be clear, bed-sharing is bad while room-sharing is good. You'd notice that in his article, he recommends sleeping with babies on different surfaces. He also talked about his two books as evidence of his expertise, but they were written in 1996 and 2005. The latest and largest study on bed-sharing was published in 2012, evidence not available to Dr Sears when he wrote those books.

An admin of TBAN, however, does make that distinction and proudly announced that she bed-shared and endorses the practice,

Queen of Woo
If there are identifiable underlying issues, it wouldn't be called SIDS, lady.

The admin Daphne Lee-Yang is also the admin of another group which is part of of the anti-vaccination movement,

Anti-Vaxxer Advocate
That's because your unvaccinated babies are being protected by the herd immunity created by other parents who decided to vaccinate, you bloody parasites.

Talking about how the anti-vaccination movement have made ill and even killed countless babies, children and vulnerable adults would require a ten-hour long lecture and a 200 slides presentation on its own, but needless to say, this woman is using her positions of influence to give dangerous advice to other parents. I feel that as someone who witnessed such harmful unscientific ideologies being sold to so many trusting parents, I have a responsibility to say something against this breastfeeding advocacy group that clearly oversteps their boundaries of expertise.

Now on my banning, I have always stayed completely polite when I was in TBAN. I never said anything I couldn't back up with evidence and I have never used my qualifications to bully others into agreeing with me, preferring instead to refer to respectable medical organisations and medical studies. My profession is irrelevant. I could have been a plumber or a rubbish collector but if what I said came from reputable sources, they can stand on their own. This stood in stark contrast to how I had been treated there in turn. The mothers who disagree with me prefer instead to attack me, pointing out that my profile picture is boo-hoo-hoo scary and that I, as a medical doctor, should be out saving lives instead of posting in a Facebook group. Their abusive behaviour had not gone unnoticed,

Voice of Reason
Finally, a voice of reason!

I had also received private messages from lurking members who wanted to know more about the information I was sharing in TBAN, but they did it quietly because they didn't want to appear to be supporting me for fear of drawing the ire of other moms and the admins, which is yet another indication that TBAN is intolerant of anything that deviates from their orthodoxy.

I was banned because too many mothers disagreed with me. And what is even more baffling is that my wife too was banned from the group as well, even though she wasn't "guilty" of the crimes they executed me on. When my wife asked an admin regarding the reason for her banning, that admin couldn't give her one. Maybe they just didn't like the fact that she's married to me.

A couple of those messages sums up the environment in TBAN quite well,

Private Message 2

Private Message 1

Last I checked, they were calling me a "quack" after I had been banned. That is libel, of course, and I can sue them for it. I was also accused of being a House Officer in Sabah when I am actually living in Sarawak. According to them, I was also guilty of the heinous crimes of taking time off from saving lives, reading from a Kindle and blogging about my cats. Ho boy.

Actually, I do have an answer for one of those accusations. I didn't take time off from saving lives. I used my free time to try and save the lives that they were inadvertently harming.

And if they kicked me out for calmly explaining my case (and my wife for being married to me), why then do the admins allow such vitriolic, abusive speech in the group? They talked about me giving off negative vibes and undermining the supportive atmosphere in the group but seriously, what the others were saying were far more mean spirited than anything I would dream of saying - yet they get to stay on. Why?

Because they agree with the admins. They are the echo chambers that insulate them from ever learning anything that doesn't sit well with their personal biases.

In summary, The Breastfeeding Advocates Network is a good peer resource for breastfeeding. Full stop. Take everything there with a sackful of salt. Aside from that, it is nesting site for arrogant mothers who would bully people with views that are different from theirs and while dispensing often misguided medical advice themselves of their own to trusting parents in need. The admins there encourage such imprudence while recommending dangerous medical practices of their own. They also remove anyone who share opinions that upset their monopoly on the minds of their members there.

Needless to say, I'll be directing my patients to safer, more civil and ethical breastfeeding groups in the future.

P.S. Don't take my word (and screen caps) for it, go visit them and see for yourself!

Milking it,
k0k s3n w4i


also a mother said...

This is somehow a funny read, sorry for not taking breastfeeding and medicine more seriously than I should :p I don't think they are worth your time and it's unlikely they will let anything in their thick skulls.
It's more convenient to blame medical practitioners than questioning their own mothering methods.

Let them have their quack beliefs & suffer the consequences. And yes, you can actually sue them for defamation if you want. The thread is still there for public viewing. I have print screened it for continuous humour.

lydia said...

You are right about the group. It is dangerous herd mentality. I was told about breastfeeding week and introduced to it by a friend. My joining was only approved today and when I stumbled at the thread you were in, I posted my pov. Needless to say, I too, got flamed by this lady named Daisy Daisy. I left the group shortly after. It's Raya afterall and this is totally unnecessary for my short holiday.

Goodness, I didn't know breastfeeding mothers can be so deluded and bitchy!

Anyway, I'm trying to reach your wife. I know Cecelia chiu and siti from the bar council so we have common friends. If she's cool with adding me.

Anonymous said...

get a life mr kok. is that all u can do? threatening? creating fake accounts?

Anonymous said...

Psychologists will tell you that when someone who acts arrogant or superior, does so because he lacks self-confidence. Instead of truly feeling superior, he instead, truly feels inferior. So he'll use intimidation, or act conceited to cover up that lack of self-esteem. In the school yard, this doctor was a bully. In a medical setting, that bully's intimidation takes the form of arrogance.

This doctor will think that everything he tells you is right, or the best answer.

Anonymous said...

Pity your unborn child.

Cheryl said...


I know Celia but not Siti Kasim personally. You can PM me, I don't think I have change my settings. The reading materials are also set as public, so you can access that too. In any case, I will include them here for you:




I particularly like this quote from Dr. Amy Tutuer that sums up the current attitudes of modern mothers. She is spot on the issue of moralizing of breastfeeding.

[motherhood obligates mothers to be experts in everything their children might encounter, to become LAY pediatricians, psychologists, consumer products – safety inspectors, toxicologists, educators, and more...Lactivists have no right to lie to women about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding, and they have no right to present their view of mothering as superior to anyone else's view.]

[Breastfeeding advocates have gone far beyond simple attempts to educated women about the benefits of breastfeeding. They have explicitly framed one feeding choice as “good” and another as “bad.” And they imply that only those women who make “good” choices can be good mothers...Breastfeeding advocates disingenuously claim that they are merely trying to convey the facts about infant feeding methods. In reality they are attempting to promote one particular ideology of mothering and to shame women who refuse to conform.]

If you wish to discuss further, please pm me. Some mothers from TBAN also came forward to share their own reading materials and proposed another breastfeeding group which is more conducive. I can direct you there if you are interested :)

Cheryl said...

I was just telling my husband that this is probably something that plagues most of the middle-upper middle class mothers, where they need to validate their self worth through breastfeeding and total motherhood. Most modern mothers we know are struggling to strike a balance between career and parenthood/family, and are faced with this constant pressure to provide the best for their babies (hence the need to be lay pediatricians & know-it-all, breastfeed, power pump etc). If you have been in the group long enough, you will also realize how these mothers take pride in being able to lactate, store the whole fridge with their milk, have extras to donate or even make spas for the babies, fret over their purchase of the best breast pumps, nurse in public or with a poncho, so on and so forth.

I've seen mothers from the lower income groups here breastfeed at govt hospitals without much trouble or similar concerns. They don't have the siege mentality that most mothers in TBAN do when it comes to formula milk simply because they cannot afford FM, period. They also cannot afford to fret over the brand of their breast pumps, milk storage bags, cooler bags etc.

To be able to choose how you want to mother/nurse your child is no longer a basic mother's right (unlike how the TBAN admins like to put it), it is now a choice and more accurately, a lifestyle. Just like all the hype about organic food, breasfeeding-friendly confinement centers where these are HUGE business opportunities for lactivists, they are just as business centered as the formula milk industries.

True advocacy allows access to ALL information (the good & the bad)- abundant, uncensored, and open to discussions. Not absolutes. Because this is how you allow parents to make informed decisions themselves.

On a side note, these mothers are now trolling the post anonymously. Bravo to parenting.

darshan said...

I saw this episode of the Winfrey Oprah show years ago. She was against a certain US govt policy and in this episode, she invited a govt official to sit on her panel of guests, apparently to hear his side of the story.
Mistake of the chap to do so! Right from the start the nigga mamma bad mouthed the policy, cheered on by her mostly female audience. He tried to get a word in but the negroess steamrollered on. He could only just shake his head and stared at the floor.
He was invited to the show but you waded yourself into the hens' cackle. No difference if you were invited, they would have pecked at your manhood anyway. There is something silly about a mob of women caught in a herd mentality.
I am with you on this. Next time if you want to bring some girls to their senses, I suggest you ask Cheryl first. Seems to me she is the practical ttype.

darshan said...

Practical as in being able to mediate, and see the bigger picture. You got yourself the complementary half, which doesn't happen in most marriages I know.

Cheryl said...

Moralizing of breastfeeding is huge in US back in 2008, I think. It's said to only affect first world country and rich parents (or more accurately, parents who have high consumer power).

This is also why breastfeeding-friendly centers are only a hit in cities like KL, Penang where parents have the luxury to choose how they want to birth/nurse. However, one can't say the same for the rest of the Malaysian women where they breastfeed only because it is the most natural & common thing to do and not because they have something to prove.

Over on this side of the country, there is blackout almost every other day. Most families don't even have electricity let alone a separate deep freezer for breastmilk storage. Can you imagine how it's like for mothers who fret over spoilt/thawed breast milk they have stored in expensive one-off storage bags?

I laugh out loud when they claim they are empowering women. Which group of women, exactly hmm?

Anonymous said...

sigh...the downfall of all women. why are they so petty AND defensive?

TBAN AH SO said...

here join this group: Malaysia Education Info (And Homeschooling too)
I find it the most civilized bunch of all. No bickering with genuine positive vibes and fun to boot!
TBAN, OHUB, BBT and the likes are kinda annoying after a while. The topics are repetitive and every small 'attacks' gets banned, just like our msian government.

Eileen said...

I'm a paediatrician based in the UK and read with interest what has been written in the TBAN posts. I was a former member myself but quit the group as I could not stand some misinformation that is openly promoted there. Don't get me wrong, it does a wonderful job advocating breastfeeding and has helped many stumbling first time mothers. However, I think the group has gone beyond its remit of advocating breastfeeding , into almost an anti-vaccination group, amongst others. Those who are differing opinions from the group are openly vilified and judged. One hot debate is always about vaccination...with strong anti-vacc voices quoting sources like Dr Mercola(!) et al. If this was TBAN and anti-vacc group then fine, they can post all sorts of horror stories about vaccine and ignore all the successes of vaccines(don't read about them and there is no story there if people don't get diseases) but their remit is breastfeeding. Period. And they do a good job at it. It is interesting no one mentions about the recent measles death in UK that spurred on a MMR catch up campaign. There is an unfairness where the strong anti-vacc voices are given a free reign but those who disagree and instantly squashed. Could this be a reflection of the admins own personal bias? Why let this influence other gullible mothers? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but it is dangerous when imposed upon others. Remember it is meant to be a breastfeeding group.

As a fellow Malaysian I think that sometimes we need to grow up and be able to engage in mature debates. Engaging in name calling, personal attacks only reflects badly on the person.

I agree with Cheryl about it being a middle class issue using breastfeeding to validate their own self worth sometimes. We should empower and support mothers to make their own decision, breast or not., and not be judgemental. Why make new mothers feel guilty, a failure or less of a mother? Aren't there enough pressures out there for mums already? Sometimes women folks are the harshest critics of ourselves out there. Just saying.

WQ said...

*thumbs up* :)

k0k s3n w4i said...

also a mother: The saddest thing is that they probably wouldn't suffer for their quack beliefs. For example, the risk of SIDS is small, no matter how many risk factors you pile on but when they spread the idea of bedsharing to a large enough number of audience, there are some babies that will statistically pay for it.

lydia: I just went and look and apparently they are now misrepresenting my contributions as lying beyond ethical boundaries - which is baffling because I have neither diagnosed anyone there nor suggested any specific treatments. I was merely sharing some info with accompanying references. And it seemed that Daisy Daisy engaged in further libel when I was no longer available in person to contradict her.

Anonymous #1, #2 and #3: Thanks for dropping by to give a practical demonstration of the kind of contributors that flourish in TBAN - ones that is unable to refute anything I said but instead, chooses to come here to insult me and attack my character behind the cowardly cover of anonymity.

Cheryl: Nooo, don't discourage them! I want them to continue coming to spew their vitriol here! They are making my points for me!

darshan: As much as I dislike Oprah Winfrey and her role in elevating that anti-vaccination nutter Jenny McCarthy and allowing her to spread her dangerous views, I must chastise you for using derogatory names for African Americans.

Anonymous #4: That is a sexist generalisation. Cut that out.

TBAN AH SO: Haha, I have enough of joining new Facebook groups for now. Thanks for stopping by with your comment :)

Eileen: Yes, I agree that some information shared there are great and according to some studies I've been reading, peer counselling and support is one of the most effective methods of promoting breastfeeding. And as you can probably gather from my post, I too feel that they have grown far beyond the role they are claiming to play. I didn't encounter any anti-vaccination threads in my short stint there but I wish I had. I could have used those as further evidence that TBAN supports dangerous ideologies in my review.

WQ: Thanks :)

c3rs3i said...

I gave the site a quick visit. Wished I hadn't - Too high a concentration of bitchy close-minded claim-to-know-it-alls for my liking (and I wouldn't have liked even 1 or a fraction).

But it's your fault, really.. you couldn't leave stupid alone.

IMO, at the end of the day, we all make our own beds - if they are adamant on going against professional advice and will not be counselled (expect by people who tell them what they want to hear) or if they believe what the next Auntie tells them without doing their due diligence and things go awry (touch wood, they don't), then that's natural selection for you.

If I sound abrupt it's because I haven't learnt to deal with my lack of ability to unsee a pair of milk-sodden breast pads and it's making me cranky.

ps: Have a safe delivery and happy, healthy baby, CC and KSW.

lydia said...

Thanks Cheryl for the links but I wanted to ask about cloth diapering, after I saw your posts. I"'m still trying to get the hang of fb via mobile. My account was dormant for some time & I forgot my password so I created a new one after my DH bought me a new smart phone. Abit alang alang but trying it out while I have a week off for raya plus I'm also expecting soon so no more running around from high court to magistrate :-)

Ignore the aunties from TBAN because they obviously have issues with new and differing views. They are so defensive and suspicious that I am now considered a fake and being new to the group, I was supposed to be berbudi bahasa and not engage in controversial threads. How ridiculous is that?!

Let them continue to be abusive and stupid. It's just very sad because these are the parents who will be bringing up their children and we wonder why Malaysia isn't moving forward and be mature enough in handling public discourse.

lydia said...

Kok you might want to seriously shooting Daisy Daisy a letter for defamation. I don't do cyberlaw but you can go with a police report first and then demand the group admins to remove offensive materials/stop perpetuating the behavior. The way I see it, it's admins agenda and daisy daisy is just doing the dirty job of a running dog for them. I will be directing my friends and colleagues to the group as well to take a hard look at the kind of advocacy work they claim they do online. More people should be writing about this, definitely.

cheryl said...

Yah, I don't think anyone will dispute the benefits of breastfeeding or go all out to make life for those who intend to do so difficult. These advocates need to understand that at the end of the day, breast or not, it is a personal choice. Whether to bottle feed, top up with FM or completely switches to FM, it is entirely a woman's right to decide.

I have seen how mothers (who posted on TBAN) being shot for the reasons above. These are women who find breastfeeding too emotionally taxing/time consuming. Lets not forget how it changes the women's bodies (ie leaking, pumping every 3 hrs, handling of milk etc). And what about the spouse? Breastfeeding & constant latching (for babies breastfed beyond 1 or 2 yrs) can be an issue for some couples. People need control and time alone with their body, especially the women (who experience changes the moment she conceive right up to the time she decides to stop breastfeeding) and I don't see how being a mother changes all that needs.

So the point is, there's more to motherhood than breastfeeding. In fact, motherhood is about having the right attitude, NOT merely what you can do for a child biologically/physically.

Eileen, I remember seeing the anti vaccines threads and now that you mentioned it, I managed to dig up quite a number of screen shots sent to me by concerned mothers and gawd, they are scary. I also realized they are the same people on TBAN who are most vocal & dominating.


Thanks for your well wishes :) And trust me, milk sodden breast pads are nothing. You haven't seen anything yet :P I lost count of the number of pictures of blood tainted breastmilk. When people NIP, they post pics. When they accidentally spill their precious BM, they post pics. When they have a fridge full of BM, they post pics. When they bathe their babies in expired bm (coined milk spas), they post pics. When they reach 6months, 1 yr etc of bf milestones, they post pic & 'submit report card' to the group to earn 'likes'.

Recent post, a mother has mastitis and her doctor prescribed a course of Zithromax, advised her to stop breastfeeding TEMPORARILY. One mother responded by saying, "Dump Zithromax, just get a course of Augmentine 625 mg and continue to direct latch."

I guess we all have funny ways to validate our self worth, I just didn't think pretending to know medicine is also one of it. So lets play doctor and diagnose people over FB, shall we?

Sarah's mom said...

I'm a member of the group and the group NEVER CLAIMS to be more than a peer resource group. They have always posted disclaimers. Admins are just admins - it does not mean their advice is any better than any regular member.
in any case ANYONE OF US have the responsibility to validate the information gained from the world wide web. It is common knowledge - the internet can be useful or it can be harmful -

but the responsibility lies on the individual to validate the information that he/ she gets before acting upon it.

So I think your argument is quite baseless for the very fact that the facebook group has never claimed to be anything more than a peer resource group.

Of course the nature of facebook groups is that it can foster herd mentality and sure, its the responsibility of the admins to warn against this. Which the TBAN admins have done from time to time.

jun mun said...


I'm glad you're standing up to the truth and resisted from your solid facts.

It's hilarious how interesting some anonymous comments can be.

Feels like the time we were in med school.

I still can't believe you're gonna be a dad

Happy fatherhood.


Anonymous said...

This comments sounds like their admin michelle Koh..

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous who posted at 5.50pm and 6.21pm, if u cannot engage in a mature debate, pls do not launch personal attack. I read some of these threads at TBAN and I think it's nothing wrong for dr kok to voice out his opinion and to help mummy see things from another perspective. That's what the blog is for...sharing of views and info!

Cheryl said...

I guess end of the day we both did dig our own graveyard. We should have just concentrate on being new parents and not being busybody in some meaningless group in facebook. I am so pregnant and bored and my husband is a child, forgive him.

cheryl said...

^^ see the level of maturity these ppl hv? Now they resort to using my name to post comment. Wow. I mean, WOW.

Hahahaha. You people just proved our point. Jeez.

k0k s3n w4i said...

lydia: Thanks for the legal advice. Most doctors aren't interested in the fringes of society (I do because I was already a sceptic prior to joining the fraternity) so most don't bother engaging them at all. Anyway, just by talking about certain issues like I have in that group have gotten some mothers to question the reliability of the information that is bartered there - so I consider that some good had come out of it. There are people out there who are interested in writing about good science and just this week, a friend asked for my help editing an article on vaccination. I was told it would be out on LoyarBuruk shortly.

Sarah's mom: Thanks for representing a demographic of TBAN that could do more than engage in personal attacks. I am aware of the disclaimer that the admins of TBAN put up (which is very similar, if not identical to the one that they put up in OHUB, the anti-vaccination group). But that is for naught. The thing is, these admins are seen as authority figures and they present themselves as certified peer breastfeeding counselors - so for people who don't know what that actually means, they wouldn't know if what they are advocating is within the boundaries of their certification (how hard is it to be a breastfeeding peer counselor anyway? I have no idea but it seems that anyone can be one after a day or two of attending a seminar). And the ones in TBAN came out very strongly on co-sleeping and bed-sharing. I have no problems with parents choosing to co-sleep on different surfaces and if they want to bed-share in a "safe way", they are welcome to do that. But a mother is not making an informed decision when a bunch of authority figures all came out strongly saying that they unequivocally advocate co-sleeping/bedsharing "to ALL MUMMIES IN TBAN" (their words, not mine) without also disclosing the medical risks associated with the practice, that is beyond the height of irresponsibility, particularly when directed towards Malaysian mothers (Chinese especially) that consume alcohol during confinement. And the latest evidence found that the risk remains even amongst mothers who do not smoke or imbibe.

Anonymous #5: Huh?

Anonymous #6: Thanks. Perhaps consider employing a temporary screen name? There are far too many anonymouses for me to keep track of.

Fake Cheryl: More uncivilised underhanded behaviour from TBAN? We've been expecting you. You are helping me prove my points about TBAN better than I could ever do so myself. Keep the personal attacks coming :) P.S. The actual expression is "to dig one's own grave", not graveyards. You are welcome.

Glo-w~* said...

It baffles me how some people reason. Affirms my theory of parenting licence. On the anti vaccination, I'll respect their decision of "natural selection". Drunk with power/hormones these women are. A new dark frontier for anthropology? BTW Hi real Cheryl. I like your words and thoughts. The voice of reason like your husband. All the best wishes.

c3rs3i said...

Yeah, some of these mothers are being extremely irresponsible with their bold statements and dispensing of unqualified advice. They sorely need asking, "You talk so much, if I ignore the doctor and listen to you instead and something happens to my baby, are YOU going to be held accountable?" But of course, in that situation, I predict the answer will be "Who ask you to listen to me, I'm not a doctor also!"

k0k s3n w4i said...

Glo-w~*: Hey, long time. How's Constance? How old is she now? The anti-vaccination movement is a product of a generation which have not known the terrors that plagued parents before the advent of vaccination. Thanks to these irresponsible parents, we are now witnessing the comeback of diseases that vaccines prevent. Their number is still small in Malaysia and the other parents who vaccinate have kept the herd immunity high so these parasites can boast about their "healthy unvaccinated babies". But once we start having outbreaks like in Australia, UK and the US, their innocent children will pay the price.

c3rs3i: Oh dear. Looks like I have missed reading your comment earlier. And no, it's not my fault and I resent that remark. I stuck my neck out to try and reason with these people on my own time (and for the people who were grateful for my input and contacted me in private, I feel that I have done good for them).

Wendy said...

I came to read this with interest and while I am not taking side on either party, I agree that breastfeed or not its a personal choice. Likewise to vaccinate or not its also a personal choice. Its really awful to hear a doc calling people parasites because of their choice.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Wendy: It is awful to hear a doctor call people who choose to not vaccinate parasites? What then do you call people whose actions expose their own kids and the babies of other people to harm, people who actively labour to undermine our herd immunity while benefiting from it? Figuratively speaking, "parasite" is the kindest and most accurate thing I can call these people. They have the freedom to abstain from vaccination, but there's no reason for them to be free from criticism.

c3rs3i said...

I wouldn't take it to heart - my eyeballs and inner peace were disturbed at the time. You did a good thing there; the lack of appreciative audience does not negate that.

It's sad though - You stuck your neck out and the people who claim to have benefited from it hardly even chimed in a squeak in your defense. No wonder the moderators are such bullies and opposing views cannot survive in that environment - they are enabled by these people who quite happily take your advice and then let you get dragged to the gallows for it. PM thank yous? Apart from their feel-good factor, what are they worth really? Not enough to spell 'gratitude' I don't think.

I think it's quite commendable, what you have done/do - I know you didn't do it for the recognition, and there's not much anyway - and I hope you never get disenchanted.

AL said...

I tried looking for the said thread but it's gone now I think they must have removed it to save their faces since they only look stupid especially daisy's and felicia's posts. They worship the admins and members find it hard to counter their nonsense sometimes because they don't make any sense. Most of us are tired mommies & would rather just ignore.

It's good that this keeps them on their toes now because they know people are starting to take notice. The admins have a lot at stake due to the nature of their businesses and would not risk bad publicity. They ought to be ashamed of themselves for fostering such an environment & allowing bullies to run the discussions and cornering new & confused mommies.

They are no better than those people they constantly criticize.

Just FYI said...

I have read the whole thread (related to your blog) and is a member there. I agree with your statements in the thread and I applaud your politeness in your answers. I sometimes see posts and replies telling mothers to consume medication (when they do not have the license) and these replies can be dangerous. Thankfully, there is a pharmacist who regularly corrected the mothers in the group. Actually, I do not agree with their action to boot you out and whatever that they are posting (after you were banned) seems to be pretty unfair as you are not able to defend yourself.
Some mothers just love the feeling of power to influence while they are just supposed to share their experiences. I have gotten attacks from a mother (not in TBAN) when I seek medical help every time I have gotten mastisis, telling me I should not have taken medicine and fight it with my immune system. I do not have a maid at home like she does. When I am sick, who is going to take care of my baby? Some mothers are just too full of themselves thinking their way is the best.
I noticed too that there are many mothers in TBAN who love to belittle other mothers (feeding FM, bottle feeding, the way they feed, the way they teach their kids and etc) without even knowing them personally. I have many friends who fed their babies FM, other than getting sick slightly more often, they are reaching milestones well. Some mothers just like to gloat about how bf makes their kids smarter, achieve milestones faster and etc. My siblings and I are formula fed and we are also achieving greatness in our lives.
Personally, I have learned a lot from TBAN and the group helped in my breastfeeding journey. I thank the people who supported me emotionally (knowing that there is someone else out there having the same issues as I made the perseverance seem bearable). Some mothers want to post their baby pictures when they achieve their milestones as a form of motivation to themselves (not that I do it). I do not mind those pictures and it's great to see cute baby photos. What I do is, take the information I need, leave the bickering aside. :)

Cheryl who is not a super mom said...

Hi back, Glo-w~*:)

Just FYI,

Yup, agreed, TBAN is great if it just does what it does best - as a support group for breastfeeding mothers. The reason I joined is because I wanted to better prepare myself for my own bf journey. My sister had trouble with breastfeeding because of flat nipples and my nephew couldn't latch properly. He's bottled fed and still clings to his mother like crazy. So as much as they say breastfeeding is crucial for mother-child bonding, I don't see how it changes anything much at all if we do end up going a different route. Her supply was also consistent.

And speaking of supply, many mothers on TBAN including the admins constantly talk about having faith in our own body; that is is meant to do what it's supposed to do (hence, no such thing as not having enough milk). Mothers get stressed/offended/hurt whenever they are told that their milk is 'not enough' or when they see their milk supply decreasing. If they really believed in al naturale and that our body is capable of regulating supply base on demand, then why fret? Why the contradiction? Why the need to encourage & promote supplements like fenugreek and what not? It's like...cognitive dissonance :-/

Doctors are criticized for being salespersons for FM companies but nobody wondered the same for all these organic food/milk booster supplements - who are the ones benefiting from the whole breastfeeding obsession they are cultivating?

Like you said, most of us are FM babies and we are doing just fine, if not achieving greatness in our own lives. This explains what Dr. Amy said [Breastfeeding advocates have gone far beyond simple attempts to educated women about the benefits of breastfeeding. They have explicitly framed one feeding choice as “good” and another as “bad.” And they imply that only those women who make “good” choices can be good mothers].

Nobody is expecting TBAN to (also) support FM (like, duh). But it has no right to moralize breastfeeding and demonize FM the way it is being done.

To whoever who is interested: I attended bf lecture/class organised by govt clinic and all mothers were told about the benefits of breastfeeding and how we could go about it (positions, food management/storage, balanced diet). They said nothing about milk boosters, power pumping and reminded us to NOT co-sleep with baby. These are all communicated to us by people versed in medical field ie nurses who are ALSO mothers themselves btw.

A. H said...

Hahaha.Dr Kok Sen Wai, always on the heels, and nerves, of quacks. Good to see you're still giving them a hard time.

Anonymous said...

Good to see your blog while looking up about TBAN on google as I've just removed my self from the group just after 3 days joining it on Facebook. Found the admins are arrogant. Also I felt the mums seemed not so interested in evident based medicine or research based breastfeeding practice unless it's from the admins. Read your blog the examples you gave were hilarious esp the allergy one. The responses above also very true esp the middle upper class mums syndrome! Good that I've found you all who felt the same in the group. I had to remove myself from the group as I found it hard not to comment after seeing the admins and some mums giving inappropriate advises! Haha! Don't have an active Gmail account hence leaving feedback as anonymous. Steph

franiqueblack said...

It's baffling to see some parents refuse to accept the existence of SIDS. A distant relative of mine lost his 14-week-old son after he accidentally suffocated his newborn with his arm throughout the night. He didnt realise it until a few hours after noticing the baby did not wake up for milk. Yup. They co-slept.