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Judge Says Breast Isn't Best

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A Texas judge in the polygamy case should keep an eye out for the La Leche League.


Judge Barbara Walther, the judge presiding over the polygamist sect case, has managed to offend all Moms with her ruling to continue to separate the nursing mothers from their children:

"Every day in this country there are thousands of mothers who after six weeks' maternity leave must go back to work and they deal with the issue," she said.

But what Judge Walther fails to mention is that working mothers get to go home after work, and be with their children at night. Or does she mean that being a working mom is basically the equivalent of having your child removed by a child welfare agency? Hmm.

And as anyone who's nursed knows, breastfeeding is a crucial time for Moms to bond with their babies, not to mention the documented nutritional benefits. Even if the mothers are allowed to pump, who knows if those babies will take a bottle?

"The judge has a very difficult call to make," says pediatrician and momlogic contributor Dr. Cara Natterson. "She's weighing the potential risk of abuse and neglect risk against maternal bonding."

Brenda Goldstein, Leader of La Leche League of Los Angeles Westside, is less forgiving, "They will be missing out on the very necessary bonding and comfort. What the judge is doing is very dangerous. It's inhuman."

What do you think: Should a mothers right to nurse override the law?

next: Not in Front of the Kids, Russell
16 comments so far | Post a comment now
Crisa April 29, 2008, 9:44 AM

I am as probreastfeeding as you can get and I still think that possible abuse trumps nursing.

Mom2Divas April 29, 2008, 9:49 AM

I agree that possible abuse is bigger than nursing. Also..we dont hear this “controversy” being plastered all over the news when its just one breastfeeding mother who is possibly abusive and her child is taken away. They pop a bottle in and thats the end of it. The only reason we are hearing anything about it now is because this whole thing is being so played up that my 5 year old asks if she will be taken from us. I’m pro mommy milk..but both my kids were/are bottle fed. My oldest just couldnt get the hang of it and i was young with no support system and my youngest is a special needs child so has to have all of her meals measured and kept exact. I think its smart to keep them from breastfeeding to stop possible abuse!! 100%

Amy April 29, 2008, 9:50 AM

I agree with Crisa. Besides, what does that say about us mothers who were unable to breastfeed at all — we are endangering our babies with formula??

megan April 29, 2008, 11:46 AM

first of all i believe that mothers are already bonded with the baby hello remember the 9 months you carried. and breastfeeding allows fathers and sibling to also bond with the baby i find it selfish to breastfeed and not allow other members of the family bond. and with whats going on in texas its not like the women are coming out and saying who are their children anyways

Tanya April 29, 2008, 12:25 PM

I agree with Crisa. I am also a breastfeeding mom and VERY much pro-breastfeeding if it is at all possible. However, if there’s abuse going on the situation there’s something that should be done and maybe, unfortunately, breastfeeding may have to be put on the back burner.

However, someone mentioned it’s selfish to breastfeed?! Like many aspects of motherhood, breastfeeding takes a lot of time and patience. If you’ve ever breastfed you’d know that it’s not always convenient and easy. While it’s a very special bond to have with my child, there are definitely times I’d love for my husband to be able to take part in nursing. We did try a bottle with our son and he was just not having it. Breastfeeding is a huge, huge commitment on the mother’s part. My husband doesn’t feel as though he’s missing out with bonding with my son. He spends a lot of time playing with him and taking part in diaper changes and bath times. Also, he’s able to help feed our son his solids when he has them.

I feel so, so badly for those poor children and babies.

April April 29, 2008, 12:25 PM

If these mothers cared at all for their children, they would do everything in their power to stay with their babies. Instead, they are abandoning their children and allowing the state to take them away, while they stay at their little compound. These babies will be MUCH healthier in a new environment, even if that means not being breastfed.

k April 29, 2008, 12:30 PM

The judge should’ve given the option for the moms to pump and offer the babies pumped breast milk over formula. Breast milk is best for babies development, immunity and health. As a nursing mother I find it cruel that a baby could be denied its most basic need and right, its mother and its mothers milk. Supervise the visits, allow the moms to nurse even once a day. What impact will this have on the mother’s health? If and when they get their children back their milk will no longer be there and their child will have been forcibly weaned. Sad. the whole situation is just sad.
and to megan that wrote that breastfeeding is selfish? really wow, its the most selfless act there is! its an extension of pregnancy a commitment to your child and his/her health and well being. You are giving what no one else can. Its selfish to want to hand your child off with a bottle of formula so you can get an extra hour of sleep.

Lee April 29, 2008, 8:42 PM

How old are these breastfeed babies? The one in the picture looks plenty old enough for solids.

Anonymous April 29, 2008, 11:39 PM

The idea that breastfeeding is necessary for maternal bonding is extremely insulting to those of us who aren’t able to do it. I am pro breastfeeding for the nutritional advantages, cost savings, and because it’s better for the environment but the bonding thing is a load of crap. I don’t believe for a second my daughter and I would be closer if I had been able to breastfeed her.

Kelley April 30, 2008, 9:37 PM

We all need to remember that the children were not asked to be put in this situation. Supervised visits for nursing are absolutely a solution to this problem. I am an advocate of breast feeding, but was unable to do so myself. There are other ways to bond with your baby, but there is no better nutrition for your baby.
I feel for these women and children. The children have no idea what is going on and the mothers have to be incredibly torn. The hold these sects have over their members is staggering.
Let’s remember that all of these families need our support.
I constantly pray that people with power will have good sense and people with good sense will have power.

Angie May 1, 2008, 3:46 AM

I agree with Kelley, as a breastfeeding mother I definitely agree with and have personally seen the benefites of breastfeeding. I do believe that these mothers should have supervised visits with their children in order to breastfeeding. One report that I read is that not all of the mothers new exactly which children belonged to them, so in my opinion, maybe they should have evidence of who’s the mommy or the baby.
This is such a sad story, because the children are truly innocents in all of this.

Isshalove May 1, 2008, 4:48 AM

People are just crazy this day and age! When there wasn’t any bottle’s around what you women use!!!!!

MJ May 5, 2008, 1:35 PM

I’m not certain how I feel about this particular instance, but the statement at the end of this article bothers me.

“What do you think: Should a mothers right to nurse override the law?”

Mothers don’t have a right to nurse - babies do. We are discussing a baby’s right to eat the food most appropriate for him or her as an infant. Until we, as a culture, recognize that this is about babies, not mothers, we will never be a truly breastfeeding friendly society.

Morgan May 23, 2008, 8:47 AM

I breastfed both of my children, and with both of them I tried to introduce the bottle so other people could help feed them. For my son it never took, he wanted nothing to do with it no matter how often we tried, my daughter eventually after many months of trying will take a bottle, but she wont drink breastmilk from it, only juice.
I just think from my experiences that it would be really hard on the child depending on the age and how much they have been exposed to the bottle.
I’m all about breastfeeding, but I have no problem with anyone that decides not to.
It says in the article that after maternity leave women go back to work and deal with the issue.. well yes they do, but they have time to prepare the child for whatever it is they decide to do, whether it be wean from breast to bottle or formula. These mothers really didn’t have time.
Don’t let that read that I’m ok with the whole polygamist issue, it makes me sick to even think about it. But we have to remember that most of these children were raised this way and they know nothing else. The women though, you would think, would at least feel that the way they are all being treated is unfair and just not right.

anita June 6, 2008, 11:29 PM

this judge is not looking at the future. we may not agree with other parts of their lifestyle but why can’t these moms get to nurse their little ones? these children are not still at the compound; the mothers are all willing to do what is necessary to feed and comfort with their babies. forcing the babies to wean just to “satisfy” the law doesn’t justify that decision that the judge is making for everyone without regard for the consequences. Abrupt weaning can send mothers into depression, nursed babies don’t take to the bottle very well and can get ill quickly. forcing solids onto them is also not a solution. supervised visits and pumping are temporary safe measures that can be worked out until they are reunited. the judge did not consider allergies to cow/soy milk here, solid foods nor the emotional trauma of being torn away from mother. The babies should not be punished more than they already are.

Starr July 29, 2008, 10:41 AM

This whole raid was a load of crock! The judge & CPS overstepped their boundries in accordance with the law. Civil rights, parental rights & children’s rights have all been ignored. These families may live an alternative lifestyle to the status quo, but that doesn’t mean that they are all abusive just cause they live on the community compound.
Many of the so called “pregnant teens” they claimed they found, only 5 were still considered “teens” (as in not 20, but then 18 & 19 are supposed to be adults. In some states, 17 is old enough to be responsible for your own actions.) A few of these women were in their late 20’s! Yet the CPS tried to claim they were teens so they could take their newborns into custody when they were born.
I’m glad someone was smart enough to challenge the whole raid & seizure. During the separation, police officers turned away & couldn’t do what CPS demanded. Tearing children from their mother’s physically! When the police wouldn’t, the workers did. Some officers were crying because they believed what was being done was harsh, cruel & wrong. These children have lived a life separate from t.v. violence & such. Have lifed on wholesome, fresh, health community grown foods & away from the current society with all it’s problems.
Teens as young as 14 are having their 2nd child! No one is raiding those homes to take their children. Abuse is up out here in our wonderfully blind society, that doesn’t emotionally or physically support those that need it the most. On that ranch, those girls had a support system. Don’t like their lifestyle? Who are we to judge? There are all kinds of different lifestyle choices, different kinds of families & there is such a thing as being tolerant of others religious beliefs.
We also have laws that are there to protect, but they are made to protect both sides, not just one.
Too many try to impose their beliefs and choices onto others. Yet get angry if someone tries to do it to them.
I’m glad that this whole thing was overturned & they got their children back.

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