Saturday, November 28, 2015

Drinking while breastfeeding...

The "On this day..." feature on Facebook is interesting.  Sometimes it's fun to look back on the things that were on my mind a year or more ago.  Two years ago, I read a story about a 28 year old woman who was drinking alcohol and breastfeeding in an Arkansas restaurant.  An off duty waitress called the cops on her and she ended up getting arrested for endangering the welfare of a child.  The story I originally read is now gone from the Web, but here's a story from ABC about the case.

Evidently, Tasha Adams of Toad Suck, Arkansas (a dry town, by the way) didn't know that drinking while breastfeeding could get her arrested.  I didn't know, either, though I think if I had a child, I wouldn't want to breastfeed in public.  It's not that I don't think moms should be able to breastfeed wherever they want.  I just don't know that I'd want to do that with people looking on.  But that's just me, of course.  Actually, given how everybody watches moms and their babies, I think I'd want to be a shut in until the kid was at least three.

It turned out it wasn't against the law to drink and breastfeed, at least at the time when this incident occurred.  But the officers made a "judgment call" and arrested Adams anyway, without offering her a Breathalyzer test.  Since prosecutors couldn't prove that the two beers Adams admitted to drinking had actually harmed the baby, the charges were dropped.  The off duty waitress who called the law was fired.

Anyway, I posted about this on Facebook and one of my friends, who is a certified women's health nurse practitioner and delivers babies for a living, posted an article from La Leche League that basically says the baby was likely never in any danger.  Naturally, it probably is safest not to drink alcohol while breastfeeding.  On the other hand, I don't know that throwing a breastfeeding mom into jail is all that great, either.  I mean, sure, she should go to jail if she's a danger to the public, but if she's not, putting her in jail deprives the baby of his or her meal ticket.

Here in Europe, it's not uncommon for women to drink while pregnant, let alone while breastfeeding. They are more concerned about what a pregnant woman eats than alcohol use.  But the United States has a long history of puritan attitudes about alcohol.  We also have a lot of folks out there in the world who seem to think pregnant women or new moms need a keeper.  To be honest, these kinds of stories scare me.  It's very easy to be thrown in jail these days.

Comments on stories that involve lactating moms always bring out the most self righteous all knowers.  It's always fun to read the comments, especially when they come from men.  Sometimes, I like to respond.  One guy wrote this...

Gary  • an hour ago
Nope... not insane... just looking out for the innocent and defenseless in harsh world.

And I responded with...

You enjoy the smell of your own farts, don't you Gary?

Of course, that is a reference from South Park...


It's fun being crude.

I don't know if he responded in kind.  I just thought it was funny.  I haven't checked out the comments on the ABC article I posted.  I'm going to do that now and see if there are any holier than thou ones I can post here.  Sure enough, there are...  Check out this conversation.   Commenter 2 is on a soapbox.

Commenter 1


Wow, talk about the nanny state! Throughout much of Europe and South American and many parts of Asia it is more common to drink wine than water due to the quality of he water supply. the children are routinely breastfed because of the cost and convenience. Are we saying that the entire world (except for the US)has developmental problems? Talk to the CERN scientists and engineers and thy will tell you that breast-feeding while having their dinner wine is normal. We are hampering the formation of natural antibodies and creating susceptability to super bugs.

Commenter 2


ive heard that too...that a glass of red wine once in a while is ok supposedly gets the blood flowing...so that means drink a couple beers and possibly long islands and then breastfeeding is alright?? no i don't think so

Commenter 3

I would say the mother who actually drank the 2 beers knows what she did or did not drink. The waitress was guessing, because there were glasses on the table in front of the mother when the waitress came in, that she drank long islands. Many times I've been out with friends and glasses get moved around on the table. Just because they're in front of you doesn't mean you drank them. The other thing everyone is missing is that beer doesn't leak out of your throat and into your breast as you are drinking it. It takes time to get into your milk and I expect if they could have tested her milk on the spot for alcohol, it would have come up clean or close to it. So the breastfeeding at the restaurant did not likely endanger the child at all. It's the next session that would have had the alcohol. Further, how about knowing the facts of alcohol and nursing before we start passing laws about it-

Commenter 2

ok sure.....so when she got home and breastfed then that's when the beer would get into the baby's system right...?...ok...and we don't need more laws... what we DO need are mothers who don't need to drink at all while pregnant or breastfeeding....but i guess that's not gonna happen huh?

Commenter 3

A lot of mothers pump out the milk a while later and don't feed it to their baby if they've had some drinks. I'm not trying to be antagonistic but the mother says she had 2 beers and I expect she knows what she drank rather than the waitress who did not witness what she drank but made a guess based on the glasses on the table....  I think that if she wanted to lie, she wouldn't have admitted that she had the two beers. Are 2 beers the best thing for baby? No. We can agree on that. Are 2 beers going to do so much harm that it should classify as abuse? Really? Is that a reasonable standard? Would you ever give your kids mac & cheese from a box? Is that the best thing for them? Apples with pesticides? The truth is that through life we and our children sometimes ingest things that aren't the best choice. It is a matter of balance.

Commenter 2

matter of balance? really?...listen...i have 4 kids and ive been a smoker since i was 19....every single time i found out i was pregnant i quit cold turkey...thinking about the baby in my belly drinking and smoking it up made me quit easily...it's that simple...i don't understand half of u people...alcohol does things to adults that should not have to happen to babies....doesn't make sense to me...

Commenter 4

So you still smoke then? Around your 4 kids?

Commenter 2 (she clearly doesn't see how rich her comment is...)

i do smoke yes....outside and not in the car...is that ok with u?

Commenter 3

This right here is the whole point. You are entitled to make a decision about your habits and how they relate to your family. So should the rest of the mothers. We are not talking about abuse in this case. In fact, there is debate about whether there are any detrimental effects as long as this is an occasional behavior. I agree it wasn't the best decision but neither do I think what she did warrants the humiliation of a public arrest and the ridiculous vilification to which she is being subjected.

Then a male commenter weighs in with this...

Commenter 5

..not that I am supporting a law against it, just personal responsibility based on scientific fact. Two beers would definitely affect, and even harm a newborn. It is suggested that for 1 12 oz a mother waits 2-3 hours to metabolize before feeding, she had 2. Studies have clearly linked increased rates of developmental disabilities due to newborn exposure to alcohol.

Commenter 6

Baby was not a newborn. Anyone can google 'drinking and breastfeeding' but that little question and answer can not cover all implications of consuming an alcoholic drink and nursing a baby. If the mother was also consuming food that would slow the rate the alcohol was absorbed by the mother's bloodstream.

Let's ask this question: If everyone was concerned about the exclusively breastfed baby, why would they arrest her mother and separate them? Because formula is just as good? It's not, especially to an infant who has never consumed it.

Commenter 7 addresses Commenter 2 with this...

So you clearly have a line that is different from other people How would you feel if others jumped down your throat and said "she says she smokes in the car, but I doubt it. The pack of cigarettes was right there in her pocket and she was holding that baby." The point is, don't judge based on assumed facts.

Commenter 2

oh i don't judge!! im not the one on here calling her trash and other things like that....

Commenter 7

I thought you said "She is on TV. Do you think she is really going to say how much she really drank."

Commenter 2

yeah i did....that's not judging her though

Commenter 4

You need to look up the word Judging

Commenter 8 to Commenter 2

Pot, meet kettle. You so judged her. You can't back out now. done. Oh, and I get to add HYPOCRITE. Nicely done!

Commenter 9 to Commenter 2

That's calling her a liar. You JUDGED her a liar.

Commenter 2

it's true though....everybody says they've only had 2 drinks when they are in trouble...its like a happy medium i guess

Commenter 10

Everyone says they smoke outside when they have kids... everyone says they quit cold turkey when they found out they were pregnant... everyone says they only smoke 5 a day... you see how easy it is?

Commenter 2

me smoking outside and not blowing smoke in my kids face is way better than chugging 2 beers and then breastfeeding...sorry

Commenter 11

wow, you really need to read up on some second hand smoke studies. Even if you smoke "outside", you are exposing your children on a daily basis to the toxins in those nasty cigarettes.

At this point, I quit reading.  Here's what I would tell Commenter 2, who is so hellbent on shaming Tasha Adams for drinking and breastfeeding.  You say your smoking habit doesn't hurt your kids.  And for right now, as long as you're not doing it in front of them or in the car with them, maybe you're right.  But what about years later, when they are adults?  When you end up with cancer or emphysema or COPD, are you going to expect your kids to take care of you?  What if you get sick before they are fully grown?  What if you die when they are teenagers?  What if your nasty habit influences your kids to smoke? 

Of course, you could do everything right and still die.  Or your child will end up exposed to something bad, no matter what you do to prevent it.  The point is, everybody is living life.  You should worry about your own life and not other people's, unless of course they are doing something that is immediately dangerous to themselves or someone else.  A woman drinking beer while breastfeeding doesn't fall into that category in my humblest of opinions.  

The thread continues with lots of people enjoying the smell of their own farts and yelling "Educate yourself!" to strangers on the Internet.  It's very amusing indeed.  Commenter 4 gets especially pompous.  Personally, I think if I had a baby and wanted to drink booze, I'd simply do it at home, away from the prying eyes of the moral brigades of do-gooders.  Problem solved.  :D


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