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A Mom’s Right To Breastfeed Doesn’t Trump A Father’s Right To See His Child

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breast-pumpAn Arkansas mother wants to enact a nationwide law that she thinks will “protect” babies in custody cases. She’s calling it “Landry’s Law” – after her own daughter. She appears to want mothers with breastfed babies to not be kept from their children overnight until they are done exclusively feeding. Has this woman ever heard of a breast pump? I’m sorry, but the right of a mother to breastfeed her child from her nipple does not trump the right of a father to spend time with his child.

Rachel D. Woolar- Weston‘s mission stems from her own experience with Landry’s custody case. Just this week, a judge ruled that in three months, the father of her child we be allowed overnight custody visits. Custody cases are incredibly difficult. I can’t even imagine having to spend time away from my small child, so I feel for her distress. But a father has every right to spend time with his daughter, too. On her blog she says:

There is no present law protecting breastfed babies in custody cases. While I am all for paternal rights, as a mother, I’m even more for the rights of a child. In child custody cases, the “best interest of a child” is to be considered; how is it the best interest of a child to rip them away from their only source of nutrition?

She’s losing me here, because this is just over-the-top dramatic. Her “only source of nutrition?” Woolard-Weston claims the baby refuses artificial nipples because she has been exclusively breast fed since birth. She’s now seven months old. Three months is plenty of time to get a child used to an artificial nipple. My daughter hated bottles too, but when I started leaving her for the day to write, she eventually would take one when she got hungry enough. A baby is not going to starve itself rather than suck from a plastic nipple. That is just ridiculous.

A nurse is backing up Woolard-Weston. Sheri Rickards says that an exclusively breastfeeding mother can suffer if she tries to pump: “When a mom has been exclusively breast feeding and then relying on pump for two or three days, what happens is mom can get some plugged ducts that can result in mastitis which is a breast infection.”
Oh, come on. Plenty of breastfeeding mothers need to pump due to work and other obligations. She has three months to prepare herself for these overnight visits. She just needs to start pumping now.
A quick look at Woolard-Weston’s blog shows that her husband left her for another woman when he was deployed. She’s pissed about it – and clearly taking it out on their daughter. You may think that is presumptuous of me, but it’s pretty clear in her post that she’s angry – as she has every right to be. She does not, however, have a right to pay him back by keeping him from his daughter. That’s not how grown-ups handle the custody of their children. Sorry.
If she really cares about the best interest of her child she will allow her to bond with her father and figure out how to get that liquid gold of hers out of her boobs and into a bottle.