Breastfeeding is the most primitive mother-child bonding experience and an invaluable nutritional supply.
To be told you cannot experience this lifesaving force any longer is devastating.
And to be legally ordered to stop breastfeeding borders on child endangerment, yet one judge did so anyway.
In Virginia, a mother is facing a grim scenario where she can no longer maintain her baby’s breastfeeding schedule.
And unlike those struggling to nurse naturally, Arleta Ramirez can physically nurse her child – if the judge would let her.
After Arleta and her daughter’s father, Mike Ridgway, ended their relationship, they ended up like most separated couples with children- in custody court.
But instead of the judge looking out for the best interest of the child, he figured the dad could just make a bottle and it would be just as if her mother was breastfeeding her.
The Washington Post reports the judge ordered Arleta “to make every effort to place the child on a feeding schedule and use a bottle” to accommodate the father’s visitation rights.
At only 4-months-old, expert opinion and research shows breastfeeding is optimal for a baby’s health and development.
Not to mention, the benefits for the mother by helping to regulate her already tumultuous hormones and maintain a healthy body weight.
Unfortunately, cases like Arleta’s are not uncommon.
The Post reports:
“…because most custody disputes are handled in state courts and don’t surface consistently in public records, there’s little paper trail…”
President of La Leche League’s USA Council, Stephanie Bodak Nicholson, told The Post she personally receives at least one call each year regarding “breastfeeding-related legal issues in custody disputes.”
The father has a right to be in his child’s life as long as he’s not a danger to the child or himself, however for an infant under 6 months old, the decision to stop breastfeeding exclusively is not fair to the child.
Arleta agrees and is contesting the decision, but the court date isn’t until April, when the baby will be 9 months old – missing the prime window for breastfeeding with optimal benefits.
Breastfeeding has its own challenges without having to navigate a complicated custody agreement on top of it.
Mike’s custody agreement includes four days and some overnights with the baby, according to The Post.
While there may be good reasons for the baby to be with the father for most of the week, providing healthy nourishment for the infant should be priority one.
It is difficult to convey to a court the magnitude of breastfeeding when all they may have is data points on paper.
There is no easy answer to coparenting a child when relationships fail, but it should never be the child who pays the price.
(h/t Mommy Underground)