While there are a zillion benefits of breastfeeding, we ignore the downsides at our own peril. Stephanie Greene, a South Carolina woman being charged with murdering her 5 1/2-week-old baby, would know this better than anyone. Because Stephanie breastfed her infant while she was taking morphine, and her baby died of a morphine overdose. She is now facing charges of homicide by child abuse because she firmly believed breast is best. Also, because her research did show that taking morphine while breastfeeding was not a danger to her baby. So now who's to blame for the death of baby Alexis?
This case is incredibly complicated, and we only know bits and pieces of what's going on in the courtroom and what happened in the Greene home. The one thing we do know is that it's heartbreaking, and we should try to learn from this tragedy.
Stephanie Greene suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic pain, and was taking morphine during her pregnancy and after. She was also called an addict in this article, and it's unclear which scenario is more accurate. What is clear is that Greene lied when doctors asked her if she was taking any medication when she was in the hospital giving birth to her daughter. Greene claims, as a nurse herself, she knows the history of taking babies away from mothers who are on medication. Which means she also knows the dangers of mothers being on medication, one would assume. It's confusing, but one thing that is obviously disturbing is that Greene hid her morphine use from physicians, and perhaps did not use her best judgment in this area. Or when she chose to breastfeed when she knew what she ingested also went into her tiny baby.
What I don't understand is how a mom could think her breast milk was somehow healthier than formula that did not contain potentially lethal narcotics. I'm hoping she wasn't listening to breastfeeding fanatics who think that breast is best, no matter if you've been smoking, drinking, and shooting up. (You are out there, and you know who you are.) Because obviously, that is not true.
Now if bad judgement can lead to a murder charge, well, that's frightening. We've all had moments in child rearing where we made mistakes. We're simply lucky they weren't deadly. There are also plenty of mothers who have nursed their babies while under the influence, and the baby did not die. But whether or not every breastfeeding mom kills her infant is not particularly relevant in this case. Because a baby is dead of an overdose. This baby, in this case. That should be enough to make us all wake up and realize that sometimes, breast is the worst option for your baby. But it seems to me that Stephanie Greene has already suffered enough without calling her a murderer.
Do you think Stephanie Greene should be charged with murder?
Image via blmurch/Flickr