Imagine a mom's worst nightmare. She settles in to breastfeed her baby girl for the last time for the night, baby snuggled at the breast, happy and content. Then she falls asleep. When she wakes up, the baby's dead. Would you judge her? Now what if she had an entire bottle of wine in her system?
Kind of changes things, doesn't it? I really want to feel bad for Emma Hector, a British mom accused of killing her baby girl, Naomi, as she breastfed the 7-month-old in the family bed back in 2009.
It's one of those "there but for the grace of God go I" situations. I've slept with my daughter in my bed. I wasn't a dedicated co-sleeper by any means, but I did it at times because it was convenient. Because the smell of my infant was in and of itself intoxicating, I was so overcome with love that I couldn't be apart. Because some nights, I was so exhausted, it was just easier.
But then there's that bottle of wine that Emma sucked down. Hector's husband was said to have found their daughter face down and motionless, with blood in her mouth and her mother's breast covering her face. His wife was passed out cold. Drunk. Not only had she drank just about the full bottle, she'd had nothing to eat.
I'm going to go ahead and say it. A glass of wine, one mug of beer, when you're breastfeeding, and most of us will look the other way. Most pediatricians these days say there's no reason to pump and dump. But I've yet to meet a doc who'd suggest the best way to build up your milk supply is to chug that wine and skimp on the eats to boot. Just like pregnancy, breastfeeding requires a mom to keep baby in mind as she eats and imbibes throughout the day. Just from a sustenance level, Emma Hector did Naomi wrong.
Add to that the fact that every parenting book out there warns that alcohol plus co-sleeping equals a huge increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, and Emma Hector -- who has two other kids, one child older than Naomi, one born since her death -- knew the risks she was taking.
I'm all about "Moms need to support each other," but I just can't do it here. Emma Hector knew what she was doing was wrong. She did it anyway. Although an inquest has just determined they're unable to prove a direct linkage between Emma's actions and Naomi's death, I think the mom should be carried straight to the clink. She's culpable.
How about you? Was this something that could happen to any mom or was this a direct "Mom did wrong, Mom caused the child's death" case in your eyes? Is it criminal?
Image via ODHD/Flickr