• Tue, Mar 4 - 6:00 pm ET

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

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)

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  • SusannahJoy

    Yeah, I’m sorry to be that person that you predicted, but seriously, this wasn’t “oh nos! You can’t have a traffic violation without risking not being able to breastfeed!” It’s jail. It’s jail because not only did she break the law, but then she got slapped with a contempt charge, which they actually don’t just hand out for no reason. It sucks that she couldn’t pump, it really does, but plenty of law abiding women have had to stop breastfeeding before they wanted to, so I have no sympathy.

  • Nica

    No sympathy here either. She BROKE THE LAW. Period. End of story. It’s a crappy situation, but one completely of the mother’s own making. How hard is it to follow traffic laws and NOT be found in comtempt of court (that alone makes me think there’s much more to the story than is relayed here…)?

    • CMP414

      I seriously thought I would be the lone poster who does not have sympathy for this woman but I can see I am not alone. There probably is much more to her story. Who knows if she has had any other issues with the law. The fact is jail is jail. It’s a punishment and often the children of those incarcerated suffer by default.

    • Miriam

      But her punishment is supposed to be the jail charge, not losing the ability to breastfeed her child.

      How hard is it for a jail to stock a breast pump and refrigerate the milk anyway? It’s not like she didn’t have plenty of time!

    • CMP414

      A prison is there to provide a punishment. It’s not there to have ammenities so to speak. If you are incarcerated you lose your rights. It is a sad thing don’t get me wrong but this is life and she is there as a result of her own actions. I’m a mother and a social worker. I have done outreach in the women’s prison where I live. There are a lot of regretful mothers there whose children suffer due to their actions. Of course, I am there to provide support to the caregivers of their kids while incarcerated and for them when they come home so it’s definitely a great experience.

    • Sarah

      She wasn’t in prison, she wasn’t incarcerated, she was in jail where she went on a contempt of court charge for not paying a fine…..a judge can slam you with contempt of court charge for smirking, or forgetting to turn off your phone or dressing inappropriately. there was no “trial by her peers” to determine her punishment OR crime. This woman was held for ransom by a judge and an innocent child pays the price.

    • CMP414

      I’ve been a social worker for 11 years and have been to many court cases as a part of my job. I understand the many reasons for being held in contempt and have always tried to make my clients aware that they need to be on time, dressed appropriately, and be polite and respectful because their can be pretty harsh consequences depending on the judge if you are not. A judge can make some pretty big decisions regarding your life and subsequently your children, spouse, job, etc can be affected by this

    • Iwill Findu

      I totally agree she was in court for a traffic case. Lets face it if you’ve ever made a driving error like speeding you could wind up in traffic court, and there the judge could find you in contempt for what ever reason. This women was at worst at poor driver not some hardened criminal.
      So remember people no speeding, always keep track of what works needs to be done and if your car needs work don’t drive to the garage because you’re cars not safe to be on the road you have to pay for a tow truck. Also no cell phones, or music (as even the radio can count as distracted driving). Always have your mirrors in the right spot, don’t tail gate (remember 10 second following distance at all times) high/low and daytime running lights beams keep track of them at all times you can’t use the wrong ones at the wrong time. Never ever forget to signal. But since we’re all prefect drivers all the time we should total hang this evil woman.

    • Psych Student

      Don’t forget to signal unless you’re in California. Damn! I truly believe that when cars get their emissions tested, they must disable the blinker because it is insanity! (At least in the Bay area). :)

    • Sara

      If she’s so concerned about losing the ability to breastfeed she can hand express. Plus, wouldn’t thejail needs place in fridge for things like food and insulin, maybe?

    • brebay

      Wrong, the punishment is the legal deprivation of your liberty. This includes all things you would rather be doing with your time, including raising your children.

    • Momma425

      Well, seeing as there could potentially be multiple women breastfeeding and pumping in prison, and women are there for varying lengths of time, etc… I can see how that would be difficult to keep track of and storage could become a problem.

      If anything, the prison should have allowed her to bring her own pump, so that her milk supply wouldn’t go away for the time she was in there and could have continued to breastfeed after she was let out. Asking the prison to have to deal with storage and whatnot is absolutely ridiculous and impractical. The guards are there to guard the prisoners, not handle breast milk storing.

    • Sarah

      EXACTLY and Sheesh all these women on here who think an innocent child deserved to be deprived of the best food available, all because mommy was poor or may have messed up and not paid a traffic ticket need to go take a serious look in the mirror and contemplate the circumstances that makes them feel A) certain this woman comitted the “crime” b) certain they will never be falsely charged themselves and c) qualified to decide that being deprived of the right to breastfeed is an acceptable punishment, considering A CHILD PAID PRICE HEALTHWISE. This is just another example of the courts holding poor people for ransom.

    • Tina

      Okay I think you’re going a little overboard. Many many babies are fed by formula and turn out just fine and perfectly normal. Just because breast milk might be a bit better doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world and the baby is paying some huge price for what her mom did.They were not depriving it of life-saving medication or anything extreme. Lot’s of children pay the price in various other ways too when their parents go to jail, that’s just the way it is.

    • Véronique Houde

      And in any case, if breast-feeding means so much to her, there is always re-lactation. It’s not the end-all, she can stimulate her breasts with that valuable breastpump until her milk comes back.

    • rrlo

      I don’t see this breast-milk vs. formula issue. Formula is perfectly fine. We all know that.
      For me, in general (outside of prison situation) forcing someone to breastfeed is just as bad as forcing someone to feed formula.
      That is always the context I think of these situation. For me it is a human rights issue and I take mine VERY seriously.
      It isn’t so open and shut for me – judges and the legal system has its flaws. I don’t think it’s a good thing for us to be flippant about what rights we give up simply because we don’t think it’s a big deal.

    • Tina

      Like you pointed out, outside of a prison situation you cannot force someone to do either breastfeeding or formula because they have the rights of a free, law-abiding citizen. I would absolutely say that sort of woman has full rights to choose what she feel is best for her baby no matter what. But by being incarcerated, man or woman, it means some rights are forfeited by default because of that situation. Since the baby will not starve and be unhealthy without breastfeeding these days, why should we consider it a right that is deserved and should be enforced even in a cell? Yes the legal system has it’s flaws but this really isn’t one of them and it is something we don’t need to focus on. There are bigger problems at hand than one woman’s plight because of where her own life choices led her.

    • rrlo

      I think that way to avoid bias – breastfeeding is such a sensitive topic that I find I don’t always think objectively.

      And you are absolutely correct that we do forfeit some rights when we are incarcerated. However, I think in this case I am not sure the hardship fits the crime.

      Due to one week in prison this person lost the ability to breastfeed her child (let’s set aside the re-laction and other options for a minute). Now she has to buy formula and bottles etc. – potentially increasing her expenses. She suffered physical pain- potentially a lot – from abruptly stopping the nursing. She is put at risk for breast abscess or mastitis because of it as well. And for me, the kicker is – if a wealthy person was in this exact position, they could afford the bond and not be in this situation.

      And it could be relatively easily remedied by allowing her the use of a breast-pump to maintain her supply. Although I don’t know if she could have sourced one on her own or not. That’s another discussion – like whether the prison has to provide her a breast pump.
      So in this situation, I think her hardships do not match her crimes.

    • Tina

      Hm. You do make one good point that it could be an effective preventative measure to have her pump so that she does not develop actual medical problems (abscess or mastitis) which could then result in her needing medical care that she does in fact have the right to regardless of being incarcerated.

      But just because a person who was better off financially (I wouldn’t say wealthy because it was only $1066, not an absurd amount only the rich can afford, come on now) could get out and continue breastfeeding their child, doesn’t mean that the system isn’t fair. I know I’ve worked hard for what I have and can afford. It is only because of what I’ve worked for to save that I can feel at comfortable and safe knowing that I will have always have money for unexpected expenses that might arise, whether it be a broken car, medical expenses, or even bail (although hope to god that never happens). And that isn’t because someone just handed me a pile of money and left this other woman with nothing.

      Perhaps it could be phrased it this way: it would have been the kind, decent thing to do as sympathetic human beings to have the prison supply her with a pump even if she couldn’t source one herself, but I wouldn’t say she has a deserved right to it.

    • rrlo

      I am cool with that. I still disagree but you have your valid points.

    • Tina

      Exactly the same to you. Thanks for the interesting discussion.

    • Shea

      That, and it’s not as though the child was going to starve to death in the absence of breast milk. Millions of babies thrive on formula from day 1. I mean, it’s unfortunate that the mother was unable to continue breastfeeding if that’s what she really wanted to do, but, well…when you break the law, you lose some of your rights and privileges.

  • Crusty Socks

    What harm results from not pumping for 7 days and the 3 week old not getting breastmilk and instead (I assume) got formula?

    • Jen

      Going that long without nursing signals to the body that it should stop making milk. So, because of 1 week in jail, she no longer has the option to nurse her baby.

      I think it’s absurd that they wouldn’t provide her with a pump because of a lack of refrigeration, especially considering that the person caring for the baby would’ve likely needed to come pick it up everyday.

    • Crusty Socks

      Hm…maybe the jail can hire breastfeeding fluffers?

    • MellyG

      That was my thought – can’t whomever is taking care of the child pick it up? and i’m not going to advocate breastmilk over formula, i think they’re both fine, BUT, the woman, for health reasons, should at least be allowed to pump, yes? I mean, can’t it cause problems in your breast (pain, infection, etc) from not pumping?

    • sarah

      The most serious, infant death from formula not being sterile– DOCUMENTED CASES. Ear infections, intestinal infections, mommy is too broke from buying formula and waters it down causing malnutrition, diaper rashes, mother child bond damaged (I dont care if you “successfully bonded” while using formula not every woman is unaffected the same)…but it’s just formula.

  • Jillian

    Yeah no sympathy here either. I get that breastfeeding is great but we seriously need to stop using it as an excuse for women in some situations to just get things their way. Between the women using breastfeeding as a reason their ex’s aren’t allowed to ever have over night trips with their children under two years of age to women breaking the law, like this lady, and claiming the law shouldn’t be allowed to affect her feeding schedule. I have breast myself but that doesn’t mean I can just start getting exemptions or special circumstance just for me because there happens to be milk coming out of them at the moment. Here’s a tip: pay the bond related to your traffic issue. If she was not able to pay then maybe she should have spoken to someone in the court about her issues and tried to explain her circumstances and pay it at a later date, I am sure the baby can survive on formula if it they have to for a few days till mommy gets home, Is it a inconvenience? Hell yeah it is but paying your court fees is also an inconvenience and it doesn’t seem like she was in a rush to pay those off.

    • Morganjane

      Do you know how breastfeeding works? If the breasts don’t get emptied that signals your body to stop making milk, so it’s not a matter of the baby having formula for a week, it’s forever at that point because after a week the mother won’t be producing anymore.

    • Sara

      There are drugs and home remedies that can help the supply get going again if I’m not mistaken.

    • Morganjane

      Those things are to increase supply when you’re not making quite enough, its very rare for your body to start producing milk other than during and immediately following pregnancy, and since it takes seven to ten days for your milk production to completely stop, so there’s a good chance that she would have nothing left by the time she got out.

    • Sara

      See I wasn’t sure. But can’t stimulation get the supply back? Like, getting the baby to act like it’s nursing, doesn’t that trigger something?

    • Sarah

      A mother can try, but the brain-body connection may be difficult to re establish once she has endured engorgement, and her child has learned to suckle an artificial nipple.

    • Sarah

      You are suggesting a woman take a drug in order to relactate? A drug that costs $ which this poor woman was clearly already lacking, and of course the only drug to cause lactation is Reglan, (metoclopramide) which is not FOR lactation, only prescribed off label because it can INCREASE milk supply. But it’s too bad because it’s actually causing tardive diskenesia, severe neurological condition in patients.

    • Sara

      That’s why I said if i’m not mistaken. And if she doesn’t want her supply to dry she can always hand express.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Hand expressing is very ineffectual for maintaining supply. You can do it to alleviate discomfort, but you’re not going to empty your breasts enough to create a demand for more milk. You’d have to squeeze your breasts empty every two hours around the clock with no mechanism to wake you and indicate the breasts were actually empty.
      It’s not a week-long solution.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Didn’t work for me. I was separated from my baby for two days with limited ability to pump. Lost almost all my milk. Took drugs and herbs and pumped when I got home. Never worked out. Some women could recover their milk. Others can’t. You don’t know until you try. The body isn’t a machine.

    • Véronique Houde

      You can always re-stimulate your breasts to re-lactate. It’s not the END ALL.

    • MellyG

      Also, what about the pain to the mother? Prisoners have a right to medical treatment, and i’m not a breastfeeding expert but i’d imagine that stopping cold turkey is painful to the mother. That’s my main concern

    • HaydenT

      I am very disappointed in the Mommyish readers right now. Sociological studies show that people like to mentally distance themselves, and support penalizing, those in less fortunate circumstances than theirs, but watching fellow Mommyish readers do it after railing against injustice that apply to their own circumstances is a bitter pill to take. Shame on all of you for the “she deserved it” attitude when not knowing anything substantive about the situation.

    • LiberalGilt

      wow..is your occupation village idiot? you dont have to know anything beyond 7 days for contempt of court. No one gets 7 days for that so it’s clear she did something egregious.

  • MaebykittyRN

    I want to feel sorry for this woman, but…I just can’t. She committed a crime and was being punished. The person I feel sympathy for is the baby. Hopefully this mom can get her sh*t together. Having a mother who isn’t incarcerated is more important than being breastfed.

    • CMP414

      My daughter was exclusively formula fed from birth and I have never even gotten pulled over let alone a traffic ticket. I definitely feel I am providing my daughter with stability which will matter most in the long run. What is going to be the most important is how this mother conducts herself and parents when she is released. I also hope her baby was with loving caregivers during this time even if it was just 7 days.

    • PSsssT!

      Ya feed your kid something that makes COWS SOOOOOSMART lol but you never got a ticket GOOD FOR YOU!

    • CMP414

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with formula feeding and not getting in trouble is good for me and the rest of society. Your comments have added nothing intelligent to this conversation which is sad because all posters have all added comments that were interesting.

  • Crusty Socks

    I agree. If this woman didn’t want to be in this situation, she shouldn’t have had the baby.

    • Sarah

      that makes NO SENSE. by your rationale, NO WOMAN SHOULD EVER have a baby, since she cannot guarantee that in 8 months she’ll not get a ticket for accidently rear ending someone, or doing a rolling stop, or not getting plates on her car exactly when they run out, and since she cannot gurantee the fines wont be due when she is broke. Silly women shouldnt be having kids unless you are absolutely perfect (and a fortune teller!)

    • Crusty Socks

      I was exaggerating… should have made it more clear. Obviously that’s not a reasonable statement ;P

  • Ellefont

    Seems like the there would have been a middle ground without much burden on the jail- couldn’t they just let her have a hand pump and let her dump? I can see it not being feasible for longer stays, but if her issue isn’t paying her fines, stopping her ability to breastfeed when she gets out of jail is just going to reduce her available income because she will have to start buying formula.

    • Véronique Houde

      I don’t think they needed to “let” her hand pump. She could well have stood over the sink and hand pumped if she wanted to maintain her supply.

    • darras

      I suspect Ellefont meant a manual pump when she said ‘hand pump’. As for standing over the sink to hand pump to keep up her supply, you are making the massive assumption that hand expressing does anything for that woman. It did nothing at all for me.

    • rrlo

      Hand expressing did nothing for me. It didn’t work at all and hurt like a BITCH. So the hand pumping is not for everyone. I couldn’t even get enough milk to make the rice cereal by hand pumping – I had to get the pump out.

  • Sara

    Wouldn’t pumps be a safety hazard? Don’t they have like wires and hoses and crap? And if she really doesn’t want to lose her supply and is committed to not losing her supply couldn’t she self-express?

    • MaebykittyRN

      Yea, I was wondering why she couldn’t just manually express. It’d be a time consuming pain in the ass, but it’s not like she would have much else to do in jail…

    • Ro

      That might be a concern when dealing with a murderer or a suicidal person, but I doubt she would be considered so high risk that they couldn’t let her be around cords.

    • Sara

      There are other people in jail and presumably where the woman would be breast feeding. And I was talking more about the pump being made into a weapon.

    • Véronique Houde

      She also would have had access to a kitchen to clean and sanitize the pump after each use, which would not have been possible in most facilities. And the staff probably wouldn’t want to touch the stuff since it CAN be considered a biohazardous risk.

    • rrlo

      There are manual hand pumps. And even the heavy duty electric breast pumps is just a little motor. Works perfectly fine with four AA batteries. The pump itself is not dangerous or a safety hazard.

  • Jayamama

    I understand that jail is supposed to be a punishment. But why punish the baby, too?

    • brebay

      By that logic let’s let everyone whose child misses them out of prison…also, baby formula is not a punishment.

    • Jayamama

      I didn’t mean punish the child because he/she is missing the mother. I meant you’re depriving both the mother and child of the breastfeeding relationship and all the benefits associated with that.

    • Surfaces

      You mean all those benefits that women who use formula/babies who are formula fed are capable of receiving too? Yes, it IS possible!! Wonders will never cease.

    • Jayamama

      No, I’m talking about the benefits that are exclusive to breastfeeding, such as reduced risk of breast cancer for the mother and reduced risk of SIDS and other conditions for the baby. I’m not hating on formula because I’m glad it exists for those who need or want to use it, but all studies point to the fact that breastfeeding has certain benefits that formula doesn’t.

      I don’t pretend to know a solution to this problem, though. I just think the whole thing is unfair to the baby, is all.

    • brebay

      There are benefits associated with bonding with a baby generally, whether you breast or bottle feed, it’s one of the liberties you give up when you break a law that allows a jail sentence. Of course every child is hurt by having a parent in prison, the harms are different depending on the age of the child; you can’t make an exception for one and not all.

    • Jayamama

      Also, I know formula is not a punishment, but you conveniently edited your comment to include that later and did not mention that you had added the last part to make it seem like I thought it was. Thanks.

  • The Kez

    Wow, heartless much?? How awful and agonisingly painful those few days must have been for that poor woman. At the very least she should have been able to take a hand pump with her to relieve engorgement and keep up her supply until she got home.

    • Muggle

      I’m a soon-to-be LE wife and I’m stunned by the heartlessness in the comments, too. This isn’t about “oh, well, she broke the law, tough cookies for her” this is about physical discomfort and doing something that may affect her and her child long-term. The milk doesn’t have to be kept around, it can be tossed out so her supply can keep up. I don’t see the point in punishing someone long after their jail sentence is up.

    • Ms. Anne

      Yep. Every time I start thinking that people are basically decent, I go on the internet and find that, NOPE, people are awful.

    • brebay

      Nothing says she couldn’t hand express to prevent engorgement. Women did manage before pumps were invented.

    • darras

      I suffered terrible engorgement until my baby was six months old, and to be painfully honest about it hand expressing didn’t do shit to relieve the problem. It was the baby, the (manual) pump or rocks-on-my-chest-holy-god-I’m-going-to-explode. And believe you me I had ALL the lactation consultants in town attempting to get hand expressing to work. I’ve had more pairs of hands on my breasts than a really successful porn star ;) So I’d guess hand expressing doesn’t work for everyone, not to say it wouldn’t have worked for this woman.. But the generalisation certainly isn’t particularly fair.

  • Kristen

    In all reality, they didn’t need to refrigerate it. She should have been permitted to pump and dump to maintain her supply. If this woman couldn’t pay $1000 and change for a bond how does she pay for formula for a year. What a joke. Breastfeeding is not a privilege that SHE had taken away. It was a right for her and her baby

    • brebay

      She got arrested because she didn’t show up for court, there’s really no excuse for that.

    • Kristen

      Do you know why she didn’t show up for court? No. You don’t.
      Unless you are in this situation perhaps you should be a little more open minded.

    • brebay

      Yes, she had a court date, didn’t show, a bench warrant was issued for contempt, she got arrested. The articles about this clearly state she was arrested on a bench warrant for contempt for failure to appear, that’s what failure to appear means. Open-minded means seeking out the facts, which is what I did, thanks.

    • waffre

      Are you being willfully obtuse? That in no way explains WHY she didn’t show up.

    • brebay

      “because she was afraid of being arrested while pregnant.” That’s what her mother stated to the local paper and is the first sentence of my post.”

    • waffre

      I’m not seeing where you wrote that. Sorry if I’m mistaken.

    • Tina

      How is there a possible excuse for failing to show up for court unless you’re hospitalized? It legally takes priority over anything else.

    • Sarah

      By that argument, FORMULA should be considered a privelege…lost when you do jail time….Breastfeeding IS A RIGHT, because without it a woman is forced to buy formula or her infant will starve….she is now forced to PAY for something that was FREE until the STATE SANCTIONED KIDNAPPING.

    • Tina

      Lmfao “state sanctioned kidnapping”. You make her out to be such a victim from the very start. Regardless of what you think her rights should be while incarcerated (I don’t think it’s ideal for her to be in pain and lose the ability to breastfeed either), she was only in the situation to begin with because of her own actions, nobody else’s. Let’s label this properly please: it’s called getting ARRESTED for breaking THE LAW.

  • brebay

    You absolutely do lose your privilege to make day-to-day parenting decisions while incarcerated. No way should a jail or prison be accommodating this. It’s a liability issue for them as well. Do you know what inmates do to each other’s food when they’re on kitchen duty? You don’t want your kid’s food coming out of a prison kitchen. If you don’t have the right to take a poop without an audience, breastfeeding is waaay down on the list. Too bad for her kid, but that’s what formula’s for. After only 7 days there are many things she could try to get her milk going again, but it’s really no one else’s problem. Kids face worse issues than this from having a parent incarcerated, but that’s the price you pay.

    • bl

      I wouldn’t suggest the jail’s kitchen. I think the wherever the medical staff keeps medication would be more appropriate. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the jail to have a small fridge available (if there isn’t room in the medication fridge because I can’t believe the demand would be unreasonably high for this option and create a situation of an overwhelming amount of milk to store) that they can store breast milk in for a day or two at a time if inmates want to keep breastfeeding. They could put a name and date sticker on it and enforce a rule of tossing it out if someone didn’t come to pick it up by a certain deadline. The women in this type of jail are likely not serving long sentences where they need to make a permanent adjustment to things like this. And shouldn’t the goal be to make transition back to regular life as successful as possible? Doling extra burdens on prisoners when they’re already struggling does nothing to encourage them to stay out of jail again.

    • Momma425

      It seems easy enough when you are storing breast milk for one mother, or two. The problem is, there are how many women in prison? And if you allow one to pump and store milk, you have to allow that option for everyone.

      Then, your staff resources are being used labeling breast milk correctly, paying for an extra fridge somewhere, and going through said fridge to toss out breast milk, and cleaning/sanitizing breast pumps. That’s not the guard’s job.

      Further- some prisoners could potentially take apart the breast pump and try to use it or pieces of it as a weapon.

      People keep forgetting that whatever they let this woman do, they have to have as an option for everyone. That could potentially be hundreds of women.

    • bl

      Yeah, it could be complicated, but it seems they already do have some sort of process in place if they allow it when deemed medically necessary, so it would just be an expansion of that. I wouldn’t expect a guard to do much; I would think it would fall more to the healthcare staff (or whoever handles it for the medically approved moms).

      Dangerous prisoners might have to have the option rescinded, which I think is fair. Inmates could be required to bring their own pump and sanitize it, or they could set up a system of the inmate cleaning it before and after her use; it would get cleaned twice and ensure the woman had the opportunity to make sure it was sanitary.

      I don’t know; just throwing out ideas that could stop breastfeeding women from suffering the pain of stopping breastfeeding, incurring the added cost of switching infants to formula, disrupting the health benefits to the infant, and having to get a doctor’s note when many are likely uninsured.

    • Momma425

      We don’t know what she was held in contempt for. For all we know- she did something messed up and was being treated as a dangerous prisoner.

      People are in jail with a ton of painful medical conditions. Kidney disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, diabetes… People deal with pain on a daily basis. I remember after my c-section, my good for nothing ex stole all of my pain medication. It was SO painful getting out of bed every three hours in the middle of the night and all day long to care for a newborn. I didn’t breastfeed. My doctor was CONVINCED I would change my mind and flat out refused me medication that would stop lactation. I didn’t change my mind- so I had to literally bind my breasts in ace bandages and take cold showers for two weeks. It hurt. I have sympathy for the pain, I really truly do. But, you know, we are adults and we have to deal with pain sometimes.

      Pump and dump would have been nice of them to let her do, but they aren’t required to and I can understand the reasons they didn’t let her.

    • Iwill Findu

      They said the reason she couldn’t pump was storage they didn’t have the fridge space. How does pump and dump take up fridge space?

    • Véronique Houde

      And that they must then accept liability of the storage/labelling/sterilization was done wrong and let to a baby getting ill.

    • Véronique Houde

      Since breastmilk is a bodily fluid that can contain contaminates and STIs, I’m sure that it would be against the law for infirmaries to store it next to medication. And she would have had to have access to a kitchen/dishwasher to sterilize the machine and parts after every pumping session (every three hours), which is absolutely unrealistic. And staff cannot touch the stuff since, as mentioned, it can be considered biohazardous.

    • bl

      Breast milk is actually not considered a biohazard by the CDC and they recommend no special handling procedures. I agree, though, that the sterilization issues would be a pain, but I don’t side with the jail on this because they obviously do have some kind of procedure in place for those moms who get a doctor’s recommendation. This probably also covers liability issues. They could at least consider expanding that.

    • brebay

      I think she’ll be encouraged plenty.

  • brebay

    curious about the original charge, “traffic case” is pretty vague, I wonder why no one is reporting the charges?

  • Morganjane

    I’m going to assume that all the people posting things like “going to jail means you lose your privileges” have never actually pumped large amounts of breast milk, trust me, no one is waking up in the morning thinking “oh goodie I get to attach myself to a glorified milking machine for half an hour, and then three hours later I get to do it again, and again, and again, lucky me!!!!!!!”
    And yes, hand expression is always an option, but its not as simple as people are making it seem, there’s quite a bit of technique to doing it right and if you don’t know what you’re doing it would be really hard to do it effectively enough to keep up your supply for a week

    • brebay

      Women are in prison with cancer, lupus, MS, paraplegia, kidney disease, and diabetes. Expressing milk is an evolutionary instinct, you really can figure it out enough to get some relief. Compared to all the woman receiving substandard medical care in prison for years, one week of discomfort seems like the least worth fighting for. You may not be an expressing expert, but it really is not that hard to figure out how to get milk out of a breast.

    • Morganjane

      It’s not a matter of expressing enough to get some relief, that’s incredibly easy, you’re engorged, you squeeze, milk comes out, it’s emptying the breast enough that your body gets the signal to keep making more, that is difficult to do.
      And I’m not really sure how women in prison with the serious diseases that you mention is relevant. Yes, those women have it much tougher than a mom who’s there for seven days with engorged breasts, but that’s not the point. Also, I’m guessing that they’re being treated for those things, not told that if they wanted accommodation for their medical condition they should have thought about that before they broke the law.

    • brebay

      They’re not treated very well, actually, and no one seems to really care about medical treatment of prisoners. They have much higher death rates from the same diseases as women not incarcerated. I just wonder where all this sympathy is for a mother dying of cancer in prison not getting all the meds her doctor wants her on or the chance to participate in clinical trials, etc. But a week without breastfeeding is where people draw the line? That’s what incenses me about it. And I breastfed, so I understand the mechanics of it

    • Morganjane

      But this is a parenting website which is why parenting issues are discussed over cancer treatment. If the website was called Cancerish it would probably be a different story.

    • rrlo

      Even relieving the engorgement with hand expressing was painful for me. So much so that if I knew I was going to skip a nursing session or if baby slept longer at night, I had to use my pump.

    • Sara

      She’s in jail. She has nothing but time to figure out how to hand express if she’s so committed.

  • brebay

    In the long run, having a parent is much harder on an only child than on an infant, especially when it’s only a week. Moms on this site have blogged about taking vacations from their baby, the baby did fine being spoiled by relatives for a week.

    • HaydenT

      Please just stop.

    • brebay

      No, thanks. You need to stop trying to stop anyone who disagrees with you. This is a public forum, and I have as much right to express my opinions as you do, which is what happens on this site generally. If you want to be a bitch, go over to The Stir. I disagree with you, that doesn’t mean you get to express your views and I don’t.

  • Allen

    I think it’s unreasonable to expect a jail to be able to refrigerate breast milk. Not only could it be difficult to accommodate everyone, but special care would probably need to be taken to make sure the breast milk was stored correctly and wasn’t contaminated.

    But I think the the reasoning that it’s okay jail is supposed to be punishment is short-sighted. First of all, jails don’t just house people who have been convicted of crimes. They also house people who are awaiting trial. If this was an innocent woman who spent time in jail until charges against her were dropped, would people feel differently? Secondly, at the very least, jails have a responsibility to help keep the inmates healthy. There’s no reason why some help couldn’t have been given to keep her comfortable if she was in pain and help her express her milk in order to keep her supply going. I don’t really feel for the baby because I’m sure it was just fine on formula. But I do feel for a woman who may have been in pain and has lost a bodily function that she wanted to keep.

    • MellyG

      THIS very much

      also, i don’t understand why the jail has to house it – maybe i’m missing something, but couldn’t someone (Whomever is caring for the child) pick it up? Am i being naive on that?

    • Iwill Findu

      What about pump and dump? It would have allowed her to keep her supply up for 7 days without having to store it. They said storage was the reason she wasn’t able to pump so just allow her to dump the milk down the drain. Mom doesn’t have to deal with the discomfort of stopping nursing and gets to keep her supply, and the jail doesn’t have to store it. Ta Da.

  • Sarah

    This is F’d up, she couldn’t afford her bond, and now she’ll be scraping by to afford formula… “contempt of court” could have been anything from forgetting to notify the court of a new phone number, or rolling her eyes to just irritating the judge…and not having $ for bail, gee maybe it had something to do with the fact she just had a baby, and wasn’t working!

  • Sarah

    Hi ladies, I’d just like to share my story real quick, only so you can see why i’m taking this woman’s side ok? I had a vehicle that was totaled in a flood and my husband and i spent just over a year replacing the engine. During that time plates expired, but the day it was running again I drove it to the nearest town to get plates renewed and got a ticket ONLY FOR THE PLATES NOTHING ELSE. I decided not to pay it and fight it in court as I had legal proof i was not required to register the car for those two years, except within two weeks I was admitted to the hospital for severe hyperemesis gravidarum and the dr. refused to release me to go to court. my license was suspended and fines incurred, which I of course could not pay. Please quit acting like only criminals go to jail. Lots of innocent people go to jail when they are falsely accused. Educated people know we are dealing with a broken system, one that punishes the poor, the uneducated, and plain unlucky, It is all fine and dandy until you realize that it could be anyone. We are not talking about a woman who comitted an actual crime or had a victim, and went and got pregnant thinking “ha, ha, they can’t put me in jail now!”. This was a traffic offense and she was ailed for not paying her fines, that is very simple. We are talkng about a punishment only she endured, the AGONY of engorgement, and the disappointment of watching her milk supply dry up, all while going through a rough three week postpartum period where she was broke, separated from her child and thrown in jail for it, and will now have 12 months of paying for something her body was making for free. NO COURT AND NO JUDGE should have been allowed to inflict that kind of punishment, and I cannot believe there are women on here advocating for that kind of shit.

    • brebay

      I get you, I had the same think for expired tags when I was 19, and was terrified! The thing is, everyone has extenuating circumstances; maybe they’re the sole caretaker for an elderly parent, maybe they just started a new job and will lose it and have to go back on welfare, maybe their kids have no one else to stay with and go into foster care and get molested. The thing is; while judges have some discretion, they have to consider the law, not the person in sentencing. It’s not fair, it’s not perfect; but it’s also the best deterrent we have. To me it seems far worse to lock up someone with HIV or cancer than to not allow someone to breastfeed for a week. Everybody has their own standard, and we can’t all be judges.

    • Tina

      You need to think through the language you are using if you expect people to take you seriously with your arguments. Of course she committed “an actual crime”. Anything done against the law is, in fact, “an actual crime” even if it is not as serious as something on the extreme end like murder. She wasn’t “innocent” of the things she was accused of, even if they were rather minor to other crimes. And it could not “just be anyone” like you say because most people would not break the law yet again by avoiding showing up to court for a minor traffic offence only to get arrested for failure to appear. Even though she could have been shown more mercy for her condition and allowed a pump to keep her milk supply, it is only based on human compassion that I say that, as you make a very poor case for it here.

  • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

    This comment thread is one of the most depressing things I’ve read. Enjoy your just-world fallacy, mostly-middle-class readership, and keep telling yourself how this bitch (and her baby) totally deserved this for. Hand expressing is sooooo easy (if you’re even aware that hand expressing is a possibility, or have had time to read up on it or get LC training to know how to do it well enough to actually drain your breasts) and it would be SUCH a burden for jails to have a hospital grade pump and fridge for each inmate (or, you know, a couple of hand pumps available for pump and dump purposes to at minimum keep supplies from drying up). And obviously, no, formula isn’t poison – it’s good for your kid, and perfectly nutritious! It’s also definitely more expensive than the magic price of free, and considering money is what got this woman in jail in the first place, well … let’s just keep perpetuating that cycle, huh?

    I’m going to walk away now so I don’t have to read any more people congratulating themselves heartily on having the good sense not to be poor.

    • Tina

      I don’t think it’s just about her financial situation and not being able to pay bail though. I think that most people would just have the good sense not to get arrested for contempt of court if they were already in a situation like that.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      But we literally have no idea what the contempt charge was for, so how can you say she should have had the “good sense” not to be charged with it? People have been hit with contempt charges for yawning in court, or talking out of turn; or, say, for not showing up on time to court because they’re taking care of a sick three-week-old. Or because they don’t have $200 on hand to pay for traffic tickets. I see an awful lot of armchair-quarterbacking in here, and probably mostly from people who have never had to worry about how they were going to feed their kids.

      And you know what? Even if she did stand up in her chair and call the judge “dickwad”, I don’t think giving her a hand pump to pump-and-dump would have been either a profound inconvenience to the jail nor an unwarranted privilege for this woman. I’ve been engorged a time or twelve and it’s not something I’d wish on someone for a week, even if they did commit the horrible sin of not “having good sense” for a moment – let alone the risk of mastitis that could have cropped up going cold turkey like that.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      It’s really nice that everyone here has the good sense to have a support system that can back them up if the babysitter bails when they’re supposed to be in court, or to not to let their baby run 101º fevers, or the good sense to be able to pay $1000 bail, or the good sense not to do any other of the reasons she could have been found in contempt (yawning at the judge? talking out of turn? – we don’t know why because we weren’t there). That’s exactly why I mentioned the just-world fallacy above. Everyone here is so busy feeling superior to this woman because this could NEVER happen to them, that they haven’t bothered to think that this could totally happen to them.

      And you know what? Even if she got charged for standing on her chair and calling the judge a dickwad, I still don’t think she “deserved” to incur a year’s worth of formula costs that may be difficult or impossible to pay for. I don’t think she deserved the pain of engorgement and the risk of mastitis – I’ve been engorged before and I can’t imagine staying that way for a week. I don’t think it is a terrible inconvenience to the jail to have a few manual pumps on hand for pumping-and-dumping purposes. I don’t think this woman deserved to be deprived of her iron pills. I don’t think people in jail forfeit the right to be treated humanely while they’re incarcerated, and if you think people should suffer as much as possible and receive as little care as possible while they’re there, I have to wonder what you feel the purpose of jail is? If it’s supposed to be a deterrent, I don’t see how risking someone’s health and depriving her of more of her income after she couldn’t pay traffic tickets in the first place is going to help anything.

    • MellyG

      Exactly!

    • Tina

      You’re right. I have no idea what it’s like to worry about how I am going to feed my children. I wouldn’t end up in court for not paying traffic tickets because I have the good sense to save and be able to pay them off. And I am not saying she shouldn’t have been given a hand pump to pump-and-dump to maintain milk supply, it would have been the decent thing to do and we should all be compassionate human beings. I really wouldn’t want her to have medical complications because of it either. All I’m saying, jail is hardly the place to expect and advocate for that if you find that human understanding isn’t present. She should take some responsibility as well for her actions and should have tread more carefully through the intricacies and requirements of the legal system, that’s all.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      “I’d have the good sense to save” – wow. Do you really not know that there are people out there who would have to make the choice between saving up to pay parking tickets and paying their rent – or, hey, for their baby’s formula? Or maybe – we’re back to this again – she just should have had the good sense not to be poor. Maybe she shouldn’t be from Brown County, that would have been a good place to start – if only she’d had the good sense to be born in Dane!

      I guess I have higher expectations because while we’re telling this woman to take responsibility for her actions, I also think the jail staff need to take responsibility for theirs and provide their inmates with appropriate treatment. I don’t think “basic care to avoid painful mastitis” is at the level of some kind of special “compassion”, I think that’s still at the level of prisoner’s rights. If our jails treat people without compassion, then that’s the jailers’ fault, and our fault as a society for letting them function that way; and saying “she should have been more careful” not to have her rights taken away when she was in prison is victim-blaming, thanks but no thanks.

    • Tina

      Wow – All I tried to do was be civil and explain where my thinking is coming from but obviously you aren’t even going to consider what others might have to say. Victim-blaming?!! Basically you’re saying that everybody can be a victim just by whining and complaining about their circumstances and not doing anything to prevent or change them. I’m sorry I believe that life is what you make of your situation regardless of where you were born. This woman is an adult. A responsible adult needs to set themselves up and conduct themselves accordingly if they are about to have a child. As a hardworking taxpayer I am not here to just give money to make sure poor people’s families have enough to eat whether it is through breastmilk or otherwise, or to pay for the pump the jail could have provided. That is why I called it compassion because OF COURSE I do not want people to suffer and I am all for helping out a struggling mother, but it is not their RIGHT to demand I work hard for something they can receive just like that and use while incarcerated for breaking the law. Do you have any idea how much it would cost for every single jail across the country to be equipped a few breast pumps and fridges to accommodate this “right”? It’s just not realistic. And it’s JAIL for Christ’s sake, it is never going to be sunshine and roses.

      Now as your socialist blood starts to boil with rage, I am bowing out and going to enjoy my middle-class, medium-sized, comfortable home that I have purchased through nobody’s struggles, hard work and good sense other than my own.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      (TW: rape, sexual assault)

      Do you think just because someone is in jail, it’s impossible for them to be a victim? I guess all the sexual assault cases that have emerged about prison guards assaulting inmates are okay because the prisoners should have known better than to be in jail?

      I’m happy for you that you have a nice house and nice life, but structural poverty exists in this country whether you like it or not, and I’m okay with the ~36 cents I pay every year to help poor families get food stamps and feed their children (much moreso than I am with the amount of money from our taxes that goes toward corporate welfare. I wish more of my tax money went to food stamps, in fact. I’d be happy to pay the extra $5-10 a year if it meant no one in this country had to know what it felt like to go to school on an empty stomach, or hear their mother crying about how they were going to eat for the next week. Fling around the word ‘socialist’ all you want, it doesn’t hurt my feelings to think that people know that children’s hunger is an important issue to me. I don’t know why you think you wouldn’t be able to have all your nice things and still be able to help CHILDREN NOT STARVE – but I’d be happy to have a few less nice things myself in trade for living in a slightly less unfair world. No one is going to send incarcerated mothers to your door to demand you take her out to buy her a breast pump, but I don’t see why jails can’t spend some of the money they already get from taxpayers to take proper care of their inmates. You don’t actually get to decide how your tax money is spent (or I would be spending a lot less funding unending wars overseas/domestically and giving a lot less corporate welfare).

      Jail isn’t supposed to be sunshine and roses but I would have thought we could agree that it’s also supposed to not be risking people’s health unneccessarily. I guess for you it’s not so much about rehabilitation and returning functional people to the outside world so much as it is about punishment and shame, and hopefully some good pain and suffering while they’re at it!

      P.S. How nice that you have all those things without any help from anyone else! It is amazing how you taught yourself to read and write without going to schools, to have water and power for your house that you generate yourself without using government utilities, that you pave your own roads to where you are going (or perhaps just live off the grid entirely?), that you did not have your nice house built to government-mandated standards but despite that it remains standing/unburned down, that you have invented your own way to connect to the Internet that did not depend on government DARPA research, that your house has never been robbed and your hard-earned assets stolen despite your refusing police protection. You are truly amazing to live without relying on the struggles of anyone else, and I hope to see your story made into a heartwarming movie someday.

      P.P.S. I wasn’t asking for refrigeration, I was asking for pump-and-dump provisions. It looks like the cost for a cheap manual pump is about $30, so to provide one to every prison in the country – let’s make it two, I’m feeling generous – would cost about $250,000, or $50,000 per state. Truly outrageous, I know, considering incarcerations nationwide cost taxpayers about $40 billion a year. Now let’s say each jail springs $30-90 for a couple of pumps, and the women who pass through jail who are able to save themselves ~$2000 each of formula costs – money that may make a huge difference to their lives, and to their ability to pull themselves up by those bootstraps you are so excited about. Why on earth would you NOT want to provide them with this basic amenity? Let’s put it in terms you will appreciate: maybe that ability to continue breastfeeding will keep them from needing WIC to buy formula, so less of your tax money will go to those awful welfare queens!

    • Tina

      Look, you missed the entire point of what I was saying.

      She wasn’t assaulted for god’s sake. Completely, one-hundred-percent different. Nobody purposely harmed her. Nobody touched her or verbally abused her. Nobody forced her get pregnant and lactate during that time. You’re twisting the situation into something it’s not.

      Of course we need the help of others in society, but once I was a legal adult I worked for money which paid for all those services you talk about whether directly or through taxes. Before that my parents worked hard and paid taxes to send me to school to learn how to read and write so I could then go on to pay for my own post-secondary education. I don’t have and use all those “nice things” out of nowhere for free. Don’t you dare try to belittle those who work hard for themselves and their families.

      And despite what every single response you post seems to assume, I keep reiterating that I am not heartless and I support helping struggling people and society get basic amenities to everyone and nourish every child, I too feel such contribution for those in need is absolutely necessary. I would also not mind giving more than I do now, especially to families who do not have these basic things, struggle to make ends meet and respectfully abide by the law.

      Just give me fucking break if you expect me to get enraged along with you at the system because one poor mother found JAIL to be unaccommodating. So she was put in some jail that didn’t find that to be a priority. Too bad, so sad. That’s life. There are definitely bigger priorities out there for us to fix in the system.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      Let me break down the fallacies for you here:
      1. “If you work hard, you will have enough money for the things you need!” That is super insulting to the many millions of people who work hard in difficult jobs for low pay and no benefits. How hard you work has no correlation to how well off you are. Do you think investment bankers really work thousands of times harder than fast food workers or fruit pickers?

      2. “She went to jail, so she forfeited her rights.” She forfeited her right to freedom; she didn’t forfeit her right to medical treatment or to be treated humanely. Going to jail for a week doesn’t mean you no longer have any right to what happens to your body, especially when it has such long term consequences as lactation.

      3. “Nobody forced her to lactate.” You … you know that you can’t really pick when that happens, right? That it takes nine months to set that up? She had been pregnant a long time before she had a baby and went to jail. Maybe she should have gotten an abortion or put the kid up for adoption when she got her traffic citation?
      4. “I support taking care of people as long as they don’t break the law.” I’m really glad that kids can count on being taken care of as long as they have the GOOD SENSE not to have parents that go to jail.

      5. “There are bigger priorities so who cares?” I’m allowed to care about small injustices as well as big ones. I don’t expect you to get “enraged”, but my opinion is that this woman’s situation was mishandled and that her pocketbook and her baby’s immunity are going to pay the price for that. I can care about one poor Green Bay baby at the same time I care about widespread poverty, refugee camps, and other crummy things that happen.

      You also didn’t address the point that this is really perpetuating the cycle that made this woman unable to pay bond in the first place and that keeps her from pulling her up by her bootstraps and being able to work hard for nice things like the ones you have. No, the $2000 she could have saved by not paying for formula probably wasn’t the $2000 that would have helped her escape poverty, but we’ll never know for sure. Nor the point that she could easily have gotten an infection from this; if she’d gotten ill and sued the jail to pay for her medical costs, that would have used up a lot more of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars than a $30 breast pump would have done.

    • Tina

      Jesus this is exhausting, I don’t even care anymore. I’m out.

  • aliceblue

    While I certainly think that the VA health experts are more informed about the issue than I am, I wold certainly want to read the facts that back up ““For incarcerated women, pumping and storing breast milk is … an uncomplicated way to promote maternal-infant attachment, and improve health for both.” It may be uncomplicated for the mother but, as I mentioned in my reply to Aimee, not so much for the jail. I am also confused how attachment is improved for the baby; can it tell that a bottle of mom’s milk is different from formula or from donor milk?And spare us the dramatic hyperbole. Yes, this was NOT ideal, and yes, I wish there was some way the woman could have had at least a hand pump. However giving “this baby needs to eat” as a medical reason is disingenuous (no indication that the baby was going hungry) as is calling incarceration “state mandated kidnapping.” Get a grip people.

    • Tina

      YES. Exactly what I was thinking, well put!

    • MellyG

      I think it should be less about the baby needing to eat, and more about the mom potentially being in pain from not breastfeedng. Perhaps some breastfeeding mothers can weigh in, but if you’re breastfeeding and then stop, doesn’t that cause problems? Not to mention PAIN?

    • Iwill Findu

      My daughter cut back on her feedings well she was cutting a tooth I ended up dealing with engorgement, and plugged milk ducts. The pain from the engorgement was so bad it hurt to wear a t-shirt, and the plugged ducts gave me fevers, muscle pains in my whole body, and made me feel weak and tired, I couldn’t even walk to my bathroom at one point. Pretty much felt like the worst flu I’ve had in years without the vomiting and runs. And that was just a plugged duct not mastitis. I don’t see how 7 days in jail should mean having to suffer though that much physical discomfort. That’s kinda like torture.

  • JulySheWillFly

    It is a physical punishment and frankly dangerous to make a lactating woman stop cold turkey. It can lead to infections and a whole host of problems. How is that not a medical necessity?

    I believe that a good prisoner right’s attorney could win a case for her quite easily, despite the shockingly unsympathetic comments from all the Mommyish readers.

    • rrlo

      Yeah, I didn’t even think of the infection aspect. Mastitis is a awful and can often require surgery. I think you just won the argument for me.

    • MellyG

      That was my worry. I’m not even going to weigh in on the baby side of things (the kid CAN drink formula, it won’t starve) BUT, 1) it’s the mother’s choice to breastfeed and in this country we have a fundamental right to decide how our kids are raised. This mom wants her baby on breastmilk and not formula, well, it’s HER decision damn it and 2) i’ve never breastfed but i’d imagine it would be a LOT of pain if you just STOP? I don’t understand how they can just make her stop?

  • rrlo

    I am not even going to go down the whole sympathy line. I think we need to decide, once and for all, is breastfeeding your baby a right or a privilege. If it is a right, then it should be protected. It doesn’t matter if this person was falsely accused or committed a murder. We can’t keep deciding on a case by case basis. I don’t know how something like that would be legislated or enforced. I would prefer to have some laws around this. It shouldn’t be a “moral” judgment.

    But for me this isn’t an issue of “I don’t like what she did. She can suffer” – people are incarcerated for a variety of reasons. Some reasons make them a bad person, other reasons make them just like us. If she was jailed because she was protesting – I don’t know GMOs or something – should she THEN be allowed to maintain her supply? Should it matter whether we agree with her crime or not? I don’t know… just some rhetorical questions.

    Btw, considering how difficult lactation is – re-laction after a week of not breastfeeding I am assuming is not possible for a lot of people. Hand expressing is awful. Takes forever and can be extremely painful.

    I personally don’t see what the big deal is to allow a lactating woman to bring her breast pump for a week to maintain her supply to prison. She was only there for a short period of time – so what is the big deal?

    • CMP414

      One thought I had was about the storage issue. We don’t know how many people work in this jail and in what capacity We also don’t know how many people are being housed there. They may not have the storage space or even the staff for this. My thinking is it wouldnt be the responsibilty of a guard to take the expressed milk from her to deposit in a fridge. Do they have adequate medical staff or social service staff for this? How big are the caseloads of the social services staff already without additional duties.

    • rrlo

      I agree with you on the storage issue. And I totally agree that baby will be fine to be on formula for one week – in fact it is much better to feed them formula for a week than risk dubiously stored breast-milk.

      However, I am now thinking that letting this woman maintain her supply with some support – like a manual pump or an electric/battery operated pump should not have been such a big deal.
      The she can just throw away the extra milk but maintain her supply to an extent. And if they let the baby visit – she can breastfeed so that baby doesn’t forget how to nurse.

      I am also thinking that it is sad she was not able to afford $1000 for bond. Like I wouldn’t be in this situation EVER – even if I committed the same “transgressions.” She is being penalized MORE for being poor than committing crimes. It is making me more sympathetic – the more I think about it. Poor lady.

    • CMP414

      I thought it was sad that she didnt have any friends or family toscrape up the $1000. She didnt commit a horrible crime and a $1000 isnt a crazy amount of money especially if it is split a few ways. It makes me wonder alot about her support system.

    • MellyG

      That depends, for some people it IS a crazy amount of money!

    • CMP414

      Believe me I do understand that, if this had been me not even 10 years ago it would have been an impossible expense. That’s why I was wondering about family and friends. Maybe a group of people in her life could have come up with the money. Of course, we have no idea about their financial situation or if she even has anyone. I’m Intake for a great social service program in my city that she sounds like a good candidate for. I wonder if where she lives has any good programs for moms in need?

  • Jessica

    So begins a collection of commenters who: do not have even a fundamental understanding of how breastmilk supply works; are formula sancimommies (which I didn’t even know existed until now); believe that only mustache-twirling villains are sent to jail; and who don’t understand the difference between jail and prison.

    Slow clap, mommish readers. You have outdone yourselves.

    • rrlo

      Umm… people can have opinions. It’s a good thing to have some discourse. That’s what I LOVE about Mommyish.

    • Jessica

      I like your comment, but I guess my opinion is that there is a lot of judgmental and flawed thinking in this comment thread.

    • rrlo

      I think some people had a very strong reaction to this story – especially from people who are generally very opinionated and have been closely following stories in the media where various women have used breastfeeding as an excuse to manipulate certain situations.

      I do think that all the logical and exception anecdotes people are offering will help lots of them change their mind. I think the Mommyish community is the only one on the Internet where I have seen this happen.

    • darras

      I love the Mommyish community, but holy hell there is more judgement right here on this comments’ thread than there’d be if a bottle was whipped out at a lactivist rally! :D

    • rrlo

      Something about breastfeeding just inflames the passions of the Mommyish readers.

  • MellyG

    I’m shocked there isn’t more sympathy from the mothers that have breastfed. I haven’t, so i don’t know how it all works, and i’m not opposed to formula, nor do i think it’s evil. However, i DO know that ceasing pumping causes great PAIN to the mother….so i feel like some of the commentators are advocating that her it’s ok if her punishment (ie, being in jail) is painful…and that’s not ok. If she were allowed to pump and dump, and they couldn’t store the milk, i’d feel better about the situation, but i worry about the state making a woman stop expressing milk after 3 weeks. Seems incredibly painful, and dangerous.

    • darras

      Oh I’m with you here. I have ALL the sympathy for this situation judging by what little knowledge I have of the case. I had a mild case of mastitis over christmas just from accidentally sleeping on my breast as it was in the process of getting itself painfully engorged and that was NOT fun. I can’t imagine how unfun full blown mastitis would be if I’d been forced to stop expressing for a whole week! And before you all jump on the “She could just hand express her supply up!” train, you all don’t KNOW that. Not everything about breastfeeding works for every mother, if it did then we’d all breast feed and there’d be no need for lactation consultants so get off that ridiculous high horse.

      I also struggle to believe some of your harsh judgements! Prison should be able rehabilitation not hard core punishments. You don’t even know the circumstances behind her missing the court date. Read Sarah’s story below and have a little rethink before you get judgemental.

    • MellyG

      I will admit i don’t get the “hand express” thing, but it doesn’t sound like something that would be easy. I’m just picturing a woman standing over a prison toilet trying to milk herself like a cow….and it doesn’t seem like that’s a good idea. But i haven’t tried it, i don’t know

    • rrlo

      Totally with you. My mother ended up with a breast abscess from her mastitis and she had to undergo surgery and was very sick as a result.

      I think this woman should pursue a medical angle and she should be able to get her way. It IS dangerous to stop breastfeeding suddenly. It is very painful too. That’s why those that decide to give their baby up for adoption are offered medication to stop lactating.

    • MellyG

      That’s what i don’t get – and she probably doesn’t have a good lawyer since she’s basically in jail for being poor.

  • Rachel Sea

    It is absolutely nuts that we punish children along with their parents. The more sane jails and prisons keep infants with their mothers, because it is proven to better for the child, for reducing recidivism, and for society as a whole.

    • Jillian

      The child is not going to starve if its mom is in jail for 7 days. Formula does exists for those couple of days. Plenty of kids take formula when it is required and they are healthy, normal babies. Its not like she was incarcerated for years or anything it was a few days I don’t think her child is going to need therapy and severe medical treatment someday because of that one week mom did not esclusively breastfeed. If she had given birth in prison and was sentenced to several years I could understand keeping the baby with her but it was a week, seriously.

    • rrlo

      I don’t think it is about starving the baby. Baby will be fine on formula. In this case, a week is enough to diminish her supply fully (or at least partially) – so her ability to breastfeed her child has been taken away from her potentially forever.

      And as many mentioned, abruptly stopping breastfeeding can lead to severe pain, infections and breast abscess. So she has potential health risks.

      I think many of us disagree that the hardships fit her crime and short stint at a jail. So we are sympathetic.

      And the whole bond thing makes me MORE sympathetic – not less (I see that it makes you less). Because it makes me think that if she wasn’t poor, she wouldn’t face these hardships.

    • Rachel Sea

      So what if it was only 7 days? That’s little assurance to a 3 week old whose food source and major source of security and comfort have been removed.

      One of the benefits of breastfeeding is that it’s cheap. A family which can’t afford a traffic ticket is probably not in a great position to buy formula. We have a social safety net so that this baby can be fed through WIC now, but that’s funding that didn’t have to go to them.

      And she’s not the only breastfeeding mother that has ever been arrested. It’s not just the incarcerated person who pays. It costs society more in the long run when families are disrupted, and have to rely on social services instead of self supporting.

      Her incarceration could have been deferred until the baby was older, she could have been assigned to community service, they could house the baby with the mother in jail, they could arrange for breast pumping, whether or not they have refrigeration, but they don’t, so every year life is made harder for families who are already at-risk, and all of society pays.

  • Valerie

    I think its sort of ludicris that she did jail time for this to begin with. I have heard of sex offenders just getting an ankle bracelet, parole and having no jail time at all. You can abuse kids but don’t you dare consider being remiss on your fucking traffic fines. Love our justice system!

  • SA

    There needs to be more support for the mother-child bond during incarceration (not limited to breastfeeding) and studies prove it is beneficial.

    Seems to be a lot missing from the story. If this woman knew that jail time was a possibility she should have worked on getting a doctor’s note stating it was medically necessary for her to breastfeed. (I am sure that her doctor would have written one). I would think she would have known jail time was on the table and had foresight into looking into how she would be able to provide for her kid while in jail.

  • Emly

    What is the big deal for allowing the woman to pump a prescribed amount, say every 6 or 12 hours. i know from my personal experience of exclusively pumping literally every 2 hours around the clock for newborn twins, i would have been grateful for a pump for even that scant amount of time. Engorgement/mastitis is no joke. She could have just dumped the milk if fridge space was a big deal, pump parts could have just been simply wiped down, but at least this way she wouldn’t have been at risk for mastitis and could have continued to lactate after released. Of course I might be very wrong to assume this, but I sorta bet she was hand expressing to alleviate pain (it really hurts!) but one can only get so much relief and production with that method.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    Here’s my two cents:

    Mom should have been provided with the recommended iron supplement and her pump to maintain supply, and some soap to clean the pump after use. Mom should have been allowed a daily visit from baby to stimulate some milk production and bond. But storing her milk for her is too much. Sterilizing pumps and safe storage of bodily fluids is not a guard’s job and would you really trust a jail to handle your milk properly? Pumping in that situation should be for milk maintenance and the comfort of the mother who would be dealing with engorgement and possible milk loss.
    Baby can be fed formula in her absence. And then upon arrival home, mom can work on resuming breastfeeding with a supply that has hopefully not tanked due to her in-prison efforts.
    I’ve been in the position of being separated from a baby without being able to pump. No milk for me, no matter how much I tried afterwards. A lost week of breast milk is small compared to a loss of milk overall.
    Though, frankly, considering the nature of her crime, one would think house arrest would be an option as well.

  • ALPEA

    Yeah. No sympathy. Shouldn’t have broken the law.

  • Emily

    I feel so bad for this mother and the child. it’s sad that other readers are posting “oh well” or “she deserved it”. Probably, but the baby certainly did not. Some babies have a hard time latching on to their mother’s breasts and then for something like this to happen is very unfortunate. It’s very easy to say that the baby can drink formula but perhaps the mother did not choose to do so because breast milk is virtually inexpensive, I mean she spent time in jail because she probably couldn’t pay a fine. Formula is not cheap folks, that’s why many mothers choose breast milk .

  • MM

    She couldn’t afford a traffic ticket. Does that have to be a jail-able offence? I guarantee everyone on this board has at one point committed a traffic violation, even if they didn’t know it or were not caught. If you can be 10000% sure that you have NEVER, EVER, in your lifetime, gotten your car inspected a day late, accidentally run a stop sign, forgotten to use your directionals, run a yellow light, or violated any other traffic law, then by all means throw the first stone. Traffic courts are not exactly fair, and we don’t know all of the details of her offence. Maybe she did try and work out a payment plan, protested upon their refusal, and then was charged with contempt? We don’t know, and it’s none of our business. They easily could have provided her with the iron supplements, a pump so she could pump-and-dump at the least, or maybe worked out a house arrest situation, so she could care for her newborn without us paying for her stay in prison. (Honestly, IMO criminals who are not at risk to themselves or other should not require prison time. It’s a waste of money and jail space. The Justice System should be about repairing what one did wrong, and rehabilitation, not punishment.)

  • LiberalGilt

    Who gets 7 days for contempt of court?

  • LiberalGilt

    Whoever wrote this article is giving misinformation. there is more to this story than is being said. firstly, if the bond is over a grand, bail is 10 times that! For a traffic ticket? something smells. Then 7 days for contempt of court? nobody gets that unless they dont shut up in court and have to be removed.