Short-Term Incarceration Shouldn’t Have Stopped This Mother From Breastfeeding

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shutterstock_163040090__1393960763_142.196.167.223A Wisconsin woman wasn’t allowed to pump breast milk during her recent seven day incarceration on contempt of court charges at Brown County Jail . As a result, she was unable to continue breastfeeding her three-week-old.

Sheriff’s Capt. Larry Malcomson said the jail has “limited refrigeration capacity and lacks other necessary facilities to allow all incarcerated nursing mothers to express milk.”

“We try to be very accommodating,” said Malcomson’s boss, Sheriff John Gossage. “But the fact is that when you’re incarcerated, you lose a lot of privileges that you otherwise had when you’re not in jail.”

Breastfeeding a child is not a “privilege.” It’s ridiculous that it would even be referred to as that. Providing nutrition for a newborn is a necessity. A seven-day stint in jail should not force a choice that is only a mother’s to make.

Britney Weber couldn’t afford the $1,066 bond related to charges in a traffic case. She claims workers in the jail “didn’t show an interest in her situation other than saying rules “prohibited” her from pumping breast milk.” She was also not provided with the iron supplement her doctor recommended she take.

I know what some people will say “Well then don’t break the law!” But it seems pretty unfair that a woman who wants to breastfeed no longer can because of a traffic violation and a small stint in jail. How hard would it be for the jail to stock a few breast pumps? I’m sure they have to provide plenty of other medical necessities.

The jail allows inmates to express milk in cases where a physician or nurse considers it necessary. But they say they can’t do so without a medical reason.

I guess, “this baby needs to eat” is not a good medical reason? What about, “my boobs will explode?” I can’t imagine being forced to stop cold turkey three weeks after my milk came in. That must have been incredibly painful.

The article cites a report by Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, which found that mother and infant “both benefit when the child can continue to be fed breast milk while the mother is incarcerated.”

“The newborn’s nutritional needs were met with expressed breast milk while awaiting his mother’s release from jail,” the researchers found. “For incarcerated women, pumping and storing breast milk is … an uncomplicated way to promote maternal-infant attachment, and improve health for both.”

(photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/ Shutterstock)