Should a mother go to jail for having a drink while breastfeeding her baby?
Some police officers in Conway, Ark. clearly think so: After getting a report that a woman in a restaurant was consuming alcohol while her infant nursed, police arrived on the scene and arrested her for allegedly endangering the welfare of a child, ABC News reports.
The woman, mother of three Tasha Adams, maintains that she had just a couple of beers, wasn’t drunk and “was sober enough to breastfeed.” But a waitress at the restaurant — the person who alerted police — disagreed with Adams’ account, saying that Adams had two or three drinks in front of her that contained “strong liquor.”
Last week, Conway’s deputy city attorney dropped the child endangerment charge against Adams, citing a lack of evidence.
But if Adams did have just two beers, was that dangerous for her breastfed baby?
According to La Leche League, alcohol levels in breast milk peak 30 to 60 minutes after consumption, and the American Academy of Pediatrics advises women wait two hours or more after consuming alcohol before breastfeeding.
But clinical pharmacologist Thomas Hale, a La Leche League advisor, argues that “mothers who ingest alcohol in moderate amounts can generally return to breastfeeding as soon as they feel neurologically normal.” Adams may have met that criterion — she told ABC News’ Juju Chang that she doesn’t get buzzed, let alone drunk, off of two beers.
Personally, I wouldn’t risk drinking while breastfeeding — but I am enough of an alcohol lightweight that even half a beer might make me tipsy. If I had Adams’ tolerance, I might feel differently.
I will say that, especially if Adams wasn’t drunk, putting her behind bars seems like serious overkill.
I checked in with other moms and they agreed. While they had varying opinions about whether what Adams did was dangerous, not a single person thought she should have been arrested. Check out some of their reactions below and watch the full story on ABC News’ “20/20” Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
“I would not have hesitated to have a drink or two over food and over a period of time and still nurse. If this mom was not drunk, I don’t think she was ‘endangering’ her baby. I would not support a law that makes any drinking while nursing illegal.”
“This is absolutely ridiculous! I see nothing wrong with having one or two drinks over several hours with a meal and nursing. With my first baby I would pump and test my milk with strips — it was never too much alcohol when I had a glass of wine or a beer with dinner.”
“In my personal opinion I think that she should not have been arrested, however I think that what she was doing was 100 percent not okay. If you are breastfeeding you are taking on the responsibilities that come with that, and it says pretty much everywhere you can have one drink but just wait 2 hours to feed.”
–Andrea, New York
“Unfortunately I don’t think it can be worthy of jail time. Same premise as drinking while pregnant. I worked as a server while in college and was told that we could not refuse service if a pregnant woman ordered a drink. I think she deserves worst mother of the year award.”
“This story is absurd. To arrest someone for this is just crazy. If that is the case then pregnant and nursing mothers might as well stay home and not go out in public in fear someone could say their beverage was alcohol. We need to stop being so involved in other people’s business. Clearly she was not meaning to harm her child and there isn’t proof she actually did.”
–Amanda, New Jersey
“I was always told that if you are going to have a drink you should do so in the evening when your baby is about to go down for the night, breastfeed and have your drink at the same time because it’s not going to go straight into your milk. I don’t think she should have been arrested, I think it might have been alarming for some, but then again some people just don’t like public breastfeeding.”
“I cannot believe she was arrested with almost no proof that she was still drinking. Drinks in front of her don’t count, and when others get loud you get loud also with or without alcohol. I do however think she was not acting in the best interest of her child. I had a very strict one drink and wait 2 hours to breastfeed/ pump. When you know your child depends on you for nourishment you need to plan everything accordingly.”
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Image via ABC News.