Jail Refuses to Let Incarcerated Mom Breastfeed Her 3-Week-Old Baby

jailIf you're a mom who has been arrested and put in jail for a few days, shouldn't you still be able to pump milk for your baby? A woman is complaining that she wasn't allowed to express her breast milk in jail during her week-long stay, and now she's lost her milk. "Everybody stresses the importance of breastfeeding. You’d think that for people who were there for a short time, they would allow it," says Britney Weber, mom to now 4-week-old daughter Elsy.

Apparently you have to have a medical reason -- and a note from a doctor or nurse -- if you want to pump milk while incarcerated. And the jail supposedly has limited refrigeration. The sheriff at the Brown County Jail in Wisconsin sounds downright heartless, I think, about Weber's situation. “We try to be very accommodating,” says 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.”

Okay ... we're talking about breastfeeding, right? I mean, whether you consider it a right or a privilege, what about some compassion for someone who made a minor mistake? Whatever Weber did, a week's stay implies it was foolish but not horrible. Can't a mom make a mistake without it impacting the way she cares for her baby -- and her baby's health?

Weber says Elsy has been spitting up and having digestive issues since she's returned from jail. It's bad enough she was separated from her newborn for a whole week (which would feel like an eternity with a newborn). Pumping milk would have been the only connection Weber could maintain with her baby, and they denied her that. Seem too harsh to me. Unfortunately, failing to allow moms to pump milk while incarcerated is a problem all over the country. We should do better by breastfeeding moms -- even the ones who get arrested.

Not to mention, I think this punished Elsy, too. This is a newborn baby who has been breastfeeding. What about what's best for her health? Whatever Weber did, making her daughter suffer is a cruel double punishment. The county jail got it absolutely wrong this time.

Do you think this new mom should have been allowed to pump breast milk while in jail?


Image via moodboard/Corbis

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nonmember avatar Shannon

Really! She was in jail. They shouldn't have to accommodate pumping and storing milk. And if her crime was so minor she wouldn't have been in jail. Maybe the mom should have thought about her baby before committing a crime to land her in jail.

Taisie Taisie

I just want to say that I can't see breasts totally drying up in a week. You may have to work a bit to get them to make plenty of milk again, but completely dry? I doubt it...

nonmember avatar Tina

She was arrested for TWO contempt of court charges. If you don't want to get arrested then show up to court! If you don't want to miss out on nursing your baby then follow the law like the rest of society. She isn't above the law. Actions have consequences and at 29 years old it's time this woman learns this.

Choco... Chocodoxies

Completely dry for a mother only three weeks into a breastfeeding relationship... yup. 

AliPa... AliParker

She should not have been able to breast feed/pump. Are you kidding? She was in jail not on a plane, not in a museum, or at a public park. Jail. That's just more work that the officers don't need. They have to get her pump, take her out of her cell to a private area, stand there while she pumps, put it in their refrigerator for her, someone has to come pick it up, the officers have to be bothered to meet with that person and go get the milk and then take it back out front to that person. It's too much. The sheriff is 1000% correct. This woman is ridiculous to expect special treatment. 

aeneva aeneva

Agree with chocodoxies.  3 weeks in supply is NOT established yet and could easily be completely dry after a week of no stimulation at all.  IF the mom had a pump of her own then she should have been able to pump and have someone pick it up at the jail daily for her child.  The jail/state should not be providing the equipment though.

nonmember avatar blue

Our actions have consequences. Sometimes, those consequences affect our children. Better she learn now, then to continue to make these bad choices. She was in JAIL. She looses to the right to do what she wants for her baby. That is HER fault. She needs to take responsibility, instead of placing blame. Don't land in jail and you can feed your kid.

Shannon Elysabeth Mundorff

@AliParker, if nothing else they could have given her a small pump and had her pump and dump for the week. That would have kept her supply going till she could go home. They made a life changing decision for her that lasts WAY beyond a week, AND made a decision for her CHILD. Whatever she did did NOT warrent that much punishment.

nonmember avatar SickOfHearingIt

She should have been more concerned for her daughter before she broke the law.

lulou lulou

Id agree with the points here if that was actually the case.

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