The Breastfeeding Police Should Have Made This Mom Use Formula

murder by nursingWhile 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

baby health, breastfeeding, newborns

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Bronwyn Todd

Im on oxycontin and oxycodone I have been since a car accident left me with debilitating injuries and pain 4 years ago. I fell pregnant last year and immediately asked my dr what was the best course of action with the medication during pregnanct. What was decided is that my dosages would be lowered, if i had simply stopped ( which is what I wanted) my body would have gone through withdrawals which would be more dangerous to me growing baby. When Victoria arrived I again was disturbed about the medications and breastfeeding. ( Victoria showed no signs of being a baby born ';addicted' and was perfectly healthy and normal.) Again teh team of drs, obgyn etc decided it best fo rme to stay on my lower dose and breastfeed victoria as she had been getting the medication through teh placenta. I breastfeed and I use formula, my daughter is happy, healthy and safe. So in this instance it makes me wonder what amount this mother was on and if she had discussed her medication with her dr's the child may still be alive....

Lovem... Lovemykidstw

There has to be much more to this story. How sad for the baby. If the mom wanted her baby to have breastmilk , then she should have given the baby donor milk. She should have known better since she was a nurse! I don't understand how they didn't catch that she had drugs in her system, they always take blood multiple times when you go in to have a baby?!

nonmember avatar Katy

I would just like to point out that after very little research..."Morphine is considered compatible with breast-feeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics." (source Drugs.com). While I think that it was not advisable to proceed without physician supervision, I find it hard to crucify the woman. Maybe we all need to find out a little bit more before we get out our pitchforks...

nonmember avatar cris

It's possible that the addicted mom had a screaming baby on her hands and gave the baby morphine at some point. Would she have told authorities that's what happened? I think not.

Rachael Midwife Austin

Morphine is generally regarded as safe and compatible with breastfeeding because it has poor oral availability. That said, clinical studies do not necessarily suggest this all the time. However, high does over prolonged periods could led to sedation and respiratory problems in newborn infants. If this mother was a general registered nurse without paediatric, child health or midwifery knowledge of some sort it is likely that she didn't understand the possible full ramifications of using morphine for lengthy periods of time. One of the contraindications to breastfeeding is long term drug use such as lithium and possibly morphine. If she glanced over a MIMS, she may have read correctly that it is safe and it is for short term use but on closer inspection I don't think any health professional would recommend long term breastfeeding with long with use of morphine. Such a tragedy. Who knows why she didn't disclose this information, we cannot judge if we haven't walked in the shoes of another.

nonmember avatar kg

One thing I haven't seen mentioned, perhaps her judgement was impaired by the morphine.

lilma... lilmami81

What a petty, catty little article. I'm not sure who these "breastfeeding police"  that force people to feed their children any sort of way are, but I've never met them in my 11 1/2 years of parenting.  You didn't breastfeed? Get over it and move on.  


This is a tragic story and would have been a great opportunity to point out that taking medication while breastfeeding can be dangerous.  Instead, it's drivel with a sensationalist title.


 

megatari megatari

This is why every case is it's own, if you just demand breast is best always it isn't always true. Sometimes breast isn't best, but the BF'ing fanatics forget this.

Kayte Jean Klawikowski

I don't know the entire story so I can't pass judgement and neither should you.


 

Amanda Ince-simonsen

Morphine in normal doses is considered very safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding. She consulted with a Lactation Nurse and was told it was safe. She may or may not be an addict, but I doubt the milk introduced the morphine in to the baby's body. She may have gotten ahold of a pill or had contact with a durmal patch.

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