Milk and Beer Do Not Mix

When I was a breastfeeding mother, I did not abstain from alcohol. I didn't party like a college kid, but I didn't deny myself the glass of wine or bottle of beer that I am known to enjoy a few times a week.

So where exactly is the line at which combining drinking and breastfeeding becomes a bad choice? Like pornography, I think I'd know it if I saw it, or came anywhere close to it. Certainly being drunk while breastfeeding is a bad, a stupid choice. But criminal?

I found a post today on a local parenting blog about a young mom who was arrested for drunken breastfeeding. She lost custody of her child.

Should she have lost her baby for this offense? Is it criminal or just bad parenting? Aren't we all guilty of bad parenting? I would never do what this woman did, but I've made plenty of bad choices as a mom.

Is it better to criminalize this woman? Or give her support, resources, options, directions, possibilities to make better choices?

Is that too bleeding heart liberal of me?

I may sound like I know exactly what I think of this question, but I really don't. I'm horrified by the visual picture I have of a drunken woman with a babe at her breast, disgusted really. Is it criminal?

Go read this post. Then come back. And tell me what you think.

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Anonymous said…
Even beyond the question of the right or wrong of breast feeding while drunk, no one should ever suffer legal consequences for some act that is not strictly prohibited in the legal code. It is not enough to let some cop interpret "reckless behavior" according to his or her personal belief. To deprive someone of their freedom is an awesome power that is easily abused by kangaroo court moralist judges and their over zealous police support.

Here's what should have happened. Local family services should have had an opportunity to interview the woman and determine if she needed counseling and to determine if the baby was being raised in a safe environment. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, steps could have been taken or not taken to best deal with the child's welfare.

One os the many sad things about this case is that an opportunity for instruction and education may have been missed.
Anonymous, this is great. You laid it out perfectly, and I couldn't agree more. It seemed absurd that she was criminalized. Why is "help" sometimes so oppressive??

Thank you for leaving your comment. It helped me figure this whole thing out.
Sarah said…
I find it crazy scary that her child was removed because she was breastfeeding while drunk.

If she was the only adult with the child and so incapacitated that she could not safely care for the baby, I certainly understand the need to step in at the time. However, I don't think it should matter how she was feeding the baby.

If they would have left the baby at home if she'd been feeding formula, they should have done the same for breastfeeding.

Nursing moms have enough mis-information and lack of support to deal with already. The last thing we need is women being fearful of loosing their babies if they are seen nursing while having a drink.

Breast milk, even with moderate drinking (and even with heavy drinking), use of most medicines etc is still the healthiest choice for babies.

*I do realize this woman was past the point of moderate drinking on this occasion and was commenting on the part of the article where they discussed breastfeeding & alcohol consumption.
Viv said…
I have a healthy respect for breastfeeding mothers...drunk or otherwise. I can see the potential for a mother who does not supplement with bottles or formula to put themselves in just such a situation. Frankly though, I find taking the child away from the mother more criminal than feeding said child while under the influence! What she did wasn't smart...but, it wasn't criminal.

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