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