Breastfeeding and Custody...help!

Mary Renee - posted on 01/24/2011 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Aloha,

I don't know if many of you can help me but I find myself in a situation where I'm about to file for custody of my 8-month-old daughter.

My greatest fear is that if the courts rule that her father and I get split custody, can they force me to wean her? I wanted to breastfeed her until she was two years old. She has been exclusively breastfed (I started her on solids at 6 months, but in spite of having breakfast, lunch, and dinner - usually a steamed and mashed fruit or vegetable) she still gets the majority of her calories from my breast milk.

On New Years I drank three glasses of champagne after storing enough breastmilk for her night feedings. When we tried to give her my pumped milk in a bottle she REFUSED to take it. In fact, trying to give it to her in a bottle just made her scream even louder. I even gave in an tried to feed her formula (I still had unexpired formula that the hospital had given us - I had never opened it or fed her formula but kept it in the house just in case of an emergency) She would take that either. After about 45 minutes, I gave in and just breastfed her.

The idea of her father getting custody and her having to suddenly be weaned is going to be absolutely traumatic for her - but I fear that the courts might not have an extensive understanding of breast feeding. Can they force me to wean her?

Please help, I am stressed to the max as this is probably going to be the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

Mary

p.s. I have a Medela Electric pump and used to pump as much as possible but I've never had much success. I usually only get 2 oz (pumping BOTH sides) no matter when I pump. There's no way that I could be able to pump enough for her to go spend a week with her father and continued to be fed breastmilk - not that she takes a bottle anyway.

Also, my whole family lives on the east coast, and her father lives in Hawaii. If I am given permission to leave the state, I'll be moving back to the east coast. That's why any visitation agreement would have her out here for at least a week or two.

Does anyone have any experience with this? HELP!!!!

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Adrianne - posted on 01/29/2011

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I was gonna be in the same situation but me and my hubby decided it was best to stay together but this is some information that I found while researching...
Q: Our son is now 18 months old and I am involved in a custody dispute in which I am asking for overnight custody. His mother is still breastfeeding and argues that overnights would disrupt her breastfeeding schedule and her bonding time. I am convinced she is only doing this to deny me visitation. She has produced studies and data showing the health, psychological and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. She has even argued that breastfeed is a “privacy right” guaranteed by the Constitution. I thought that breastfeeding was recommended only for the first 12 months and I cannot understand why she can’t pump so that I can feed my son when I have him for overnights.

A: I am not a pediatrician, but your wife is correct that there are many health, psychological and emotional benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother. Studies show that breastfeeding increases an infant’s immune response and leads to fewer illness, improves growth and vision and accounts for an increase in cognitive capacity and higher IQ. It also increases bonding between infant and mother and improves the mother’s health reducing the risk of breast cancer and diabetes

Q: Our son is now 18 months old and I am involved in a custody dispute in which I am asking for overnight custody. His mother is still breastfeeding and argues that overnights would disrupt her breastfeeding schedule and her bonding time. I am convinced she is only doing this to deny me visitation. She has produced studies and data showing the health, psychological and emotional benefits of breastfeeding. She has even argued that breastfeed is a “privacy right” guaranteed by the Constitution. I thought that breastfeeding was recommended only for the first 12 months and I cannot understand why she can’t pump so that I can feed my son when I have him for overnights.

A: I am not a pediatrician, but your wife is correct that there are many health, psychological and emotional benefits of breastfeeding for both the baby and the mother. Studies show that breastfeeding increases an infant’s immune response and leads to fewer illness, improves growth and vision and accounts for an increase in cognitive capacity and higher IQ. It also increases bonding between infant and mother and improves the mother’s health reducing the risk of breast cancer and diabetes

The Breastfeeding Relationship and Visitation Plans
By Elizabeth N. Baldwin, JD and Kenneth A. Friedman, JD
Miami, Florida, USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 13 No. 1, January-February 1996, pp. 4-7

Breastfeeding is an important parenting and health choice for mothers and babies. But when parents separate or divorce, conflicts may arise between the mother's desire to continue breastfeeding and the father's plans for visitation. However, breastfeeding can be protected in family law cases without sacrificing the father's bond with his children. Babies need the love of both their parents, and it should be unnecessary for the courts to pick one relationship over the other, when both are so important.
Why Breastfeeding Should Be Encouraged in Family Law Cases

Many people may wonder why encouraging breastfeeding in family law cases is so important. To answer this question, one must first ask why breastfeeding is important at all. Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF recommend that babies be breastfed for at least one year, and preferably until age two or beyond. As James T. Grant, the former Executive Director of UNICEF, wrote in the July/August 1994 issue of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Newsletter:

"Study after study now shows, for example, that babies who are not breastfed have higher rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrhoeal diseases, otitis media, allergies, obesity, and developmental delays. Women who do not breastfeed demonstrate a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancers."

Breastfeeding is no longer considered to be just a lifestyle choice, but a health choice for mother and baby. More and more health benefits to the mother and baby are being discovered every day. For instance, a recent study indicates that if all mothers breastfed their children for two years, breast cancer could decline in the US by 25%!

Breastfed children are half as likely to have any illness during the first year of life. At one time it was believed that artificial baby milk products (formula) were basically equivalent to human milk. The research now clearly indicates otherwise. Human milk is a living substance that contains antibodies and immunities along with perfect nutrition. And the longer a mother breastfeeds, the more protection she provides for herself and her baby.

The breastfeeding relationship is not only the healthy choice for mother and baby, it also promotes a close, loving attachment between the mother and baby. The mother's bond is born of biology. After spending nine months inside the mother's body, the baby continues to depend on mother for nourishment and protection after birth. It is not until the second six months of life that the baby even recognizes that he is a separate person from the mother. The more responsive a mother is, the more secure the attachment. Many experts have said that having a close relationship with a primary attachment figure is critical to a baby's health and well-being. Although there are some experts who argue that attachment needs are not all that crucial and that children are resilient and can bounce back from having no attachment figure or having a close bond disrupted, they all agree that ideally, every child should have this close primary attachment. Other experts believe that when this bond is disturbed or not allowed to form, serious psychological disturbances in a child's development may result. In addition, the research indicates that the children who do better later on in life are the ones who had secure attachments in the early years, and a significant factor in developing secure attachments is responsive parenting. Preserving loving attachments is always best.

Breastfeeding promotes responsive parenting, thus encouraging secure attachments. In order to be successful, breastfeeding requires the mother to be responsive to the baby's hunger, sleeping, and crying signals. Babies self-regulate their feeding at the breast and breast milk is very different from formula. Mothers must be careful not to overfeed a baby formula; this is rarely a problem with breastfed babies. Most breastfeeding problems result from the mother following the clock or the book rather than the baby. When a child is lucky enough to be breastfed, the courts should take steps to protect that relationship, and encourage it. Breastfeeding is good for the baby, and it helps the mother know and respond to her baby.

Lengthy separations from the mother can seriously jeopardize the breastfeeding relationship when the baby is young. Given the potential health benefits to both mother and baby, continuance of this relationship should be a priority in family law cases. Once past infancy, many children continue to nurse, and the health benefits to the child and the mother are still significant. Studies show that the immunities and antibodies in breast milk are more concentrated as the child grows, providing the same protection as in infancy even though the child nurses less. As the child grows, the breastfeeding relationship can continue while the child spends longer times away from the mother. However, this does not mean that lengthy separations are not potentially damaging to the child. The securely attached child, breastfed or not, needs to work up to longer separations gradually. The court, as well as the parents, must look at the child's developmental needs, and what separations the child is accustomed to.
How a Bond with the Father Can be Encouraged without Interfering with the Breastfeeding Relationship

Some people assume that if the breastfeeding relationship needs to be protected, and the primary bond with the mother is not to be disrupted, then the father's attachment must be of secondary importance. This is not true. Every child has a right to a loving, responsive bond with both parents. The father's bond with the child is just as important as the mother's. However, it should rarely, if ever, be necessary to interfere with the child's attachment to the mother in order for the father's relationship to be promoted and encouraged. In the ideal relationship, the bond with the father and siblings flows out of the strong bond with the mother. But in any case, the child should not be torn from one parent, or forced to choose. The child should feel that both parents will protect and encourage the other parent's relationship with the child, and both will help the child to feel safe.

There are many advantages to the parents, and their child, if they encourage their child to have a strong, healthy relationship with both of them. No father wants to come for his child and have him clutching his mother's legs screaming not to make him go! Both mother and father will benefit if their child gleefully leaps into his arms, so excited to see him and go off with him! But how can this be accomplished?

It makes it much easier if the parents can avoid or end the war between them. Parents must realize that although they cannot or will not live together, they have brought a precious human being into this world who has rights and needs. A child needs to have a mother and a father, not one or the other. These two parents will be raising this child together not just until age 18, but for the rest of their lives. Do they really want legal battles where total strangers (lawyers, judges, guardians, etc.) make decisions about when and where they will raise their child? There are alternatives.

There is a trend in the United States and Canada today toward settlement of cases out of court. Courts are trying to get out of the custody business, and to encourage parents to work these matters out themselves. There are many ways to settle a case, rather than have a judge decide all the issues. The parents can talk together. Or meet with their lawyers. Mediation is another popular method of settlement. This is especially beneficial to the children involved, as it is not divorce or separation per se that negatively affects a child, but the anger between the parents. Some judges have awarded custody to fathers because of the mothers' anger. One Florida decision rotated custody of a one-year-old baby every two weeks. The reason was that the mother's anger was so great it was believed that this was the only way that the father could have a relationship with the baby.

If the parents can talk each week and work out visits that will be best for their child at that point, exercising flexibility will benefit their child. Young children need frequent and continuing contact with both parents, and a close bond with the father is promoted by frequent contact, seeing him every day if possible, rather than less frequent visits that involve lengthy separations from the mother. Arrangements should be flexible enough to take into account the child's needs. The father should always bring the baby back to the mother if he is crying for her. This will build trust and eventually allow the child to enjoy longer and more frequent visits with his father. If the child is brought back, the visitation time should be made up as soon as possible. The child should not be made to feel as if the father is pulling him from his mother, or vice versa. Help him feel that both parents respect his needs and care about how he feels.
Visitation Plans

Ideally, visitation plans are flexible. Parents talk to each other regularly, looking at their schedules and working together to help their child have frequent contact with both of them. Both parents would support the other's relationship with the child, and make the child feel safe and secure. The child would know that if he wanted to be with the other parent for any reason, then the parent he was with would help meet this need. Mother and father would help their child to look forward to overnight visitation, and try to follow their child's lead in that area. Many two-year-old children will ask to spend the night with Daddy, if the parents get along well and present the idea as something fun rather than a dreaded event.

But many parents are unable to work together in a fashion that avoids the need for fixed visitation plans. If the parents can't get along, they need a specific visitation plan that involves frequent, daily if possible, visits with the father, regardless of the age of the child. The initial visitations should be as long as the length of the separations the child is already accustomed to, and gradually work up to longer visits, changing every few months. An overnight visit would not be appropriate until the child is comfortable with two full days of visitation. Certainly, full weekend visitations should not begin until the child is accustomed to one overnight. Week-long visits should not occur until the child has mastered weekends, or even four-day visits. Mothers who do not want the father in the child's life at all have a very difficult and explosive situation to deal with and need excellent representation and evidence to support this request.

In forming visitation plans, there are several factors that should be looked at:

1. What separations has the child had from the mother? Look at how long the separations are, who the child is left with, and how often they take place. These make good guidelines for how long the father should have for visitation without disruption. For example, a six-month-old baby who has been separated from the mother for two hours at a time on several occasions but otherwise is glued to her could probably handle a two hour visit with his father several times a week. If a mother of a four-month-old leaves the baby on weekends with her mother, then there is no reason why the baby could not be with the father for weekends.

2. What style of parenting has the mother engaged in since birth? If the mother engages in an attachment style of parenting (nursing on demand, shared sleeping, etc.) then this relationship should be protected and encouraged. (If the mother keeps the baby in the crib at night in a separate room, and Grandmother takes care of the baby, giving a bottle during the night, the father can do this just as well.)

3. What involvement has the father had since birth? Look at the time the father spent with the children before separation, and since. The father needs to learn how to cope with this particular child, responding to needs and patterns that exist, i.e., naps, foods his child eats or is allergic to, bedtime routines. Working out these matters can be difficult for people who have decided that they cannot live together, but must work together now, maybe more closely than ever before, in order to do what is best for their child.

4. What visitation does the father want? Visitation plans usually can work up to what the father wants, if that is reasonable. If the father wants weekend visitation and is seeing his child for four hours on Saturdays, some time is going to be needed to work up to full weekends. A good place to start is with the visitation the father has now, or the length of separations the child has already experienced from the mother. Then one can look at what age the father's requested visitation would be acceptable. Many parents are surprised to learn that, in some jurisdictions that address visitation for preschool age children, the best they can hope for is overnight visits that begin at age two, weekends at age three, and week-long visits for the summer at age five or six. Once the starting and ending points are determined, visitation can be gradually increased every month or two, until the goal is reached. The more frequently the father can visit, the easier it will be to work up to lengthier visitations.

5. What visitation is feasible given the parties' individual situation? What work schedules must be worked around? How far apart do they live? If the parents live near to one another, there is no reason why visitation cannot occur frequently, if not every day. If they live far apart, or if they cannot get along well enough to have frequent contact, it will take much more work to determine what visitation is feasible.

It is important when devising a visitation plan, that the convenience to the parents does not take priority over what is best for the child. Too often the father is not willing to visit frequently, or the mother does not want to see the father that often. If the child's needs are to be a first priority, this attitude must be changed. And if someone other than the parents needs to fashion a visitation plan, that person should look realistically at what can be accomplished rather than what the parents may want to see happen. For instance, if the father works a few minutes away, could he see the child each day on his lunch break? For an hour or two after work?

Dependency needs do not last forever. In a few years children will be able to handle the "requested" visitation without disrupting their bond with either parent. Often there is intense pressure to speed things along for the convenience of the parents, rather than because that is what is best for the child. If the parents are not able to resolve these issues themselves, then someone must do it for them. It is important that the child's needs will be protected by everyone involved.

Elizabeth N. Baldwin was an attorney and family mediator in private practice with her husband, Kenneth A. Friedman, in Miami, Florida. She died in March 2003 after an extended illness. Her family law practice primarily focused on protecting young, securely attached and breastfed babies in divorce cases. Elizabeth was also a La Leche League Leader, and a member of LLLI's Professional Advisory Board, Legal Advisory Council. She published numerous articles on breastfeeding and the law, and often spoke at conferences. She assisted hundreds of parents involved in breastfeeding legal cases, and provided information and help to parents, attorneys and other professionals dealing with these issues.
Edited by the authors.

COPYRIGHT 1996, all rights reserved. This article may be printed out for personal use but may not be reproduced in any other manner nor for any other purpose without permission

[deleted account]

I don't know about how the courts work with breastfeeding, but I do know here in Iowa that when my son was 18 months old the judge deemed him to young to be away from me overnights. Our custody agreement was that my ex-husband got him every Saturday from 9-6. Now that he's older (11) we do every other weekend all weekend, but when he was younger the judge agreed that he was too young to be away from me for overnights.

Good luck!!!

Abcprintingweddings - posted on 04/27/2014

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Wana sign my Petition? I'm going to try to change visitation rights that no over nights with the noncustodial parent take place until the age of 3 or 4. I'm sorry if this gets some dads upset, but I'm fighting to protect my daughter. I have put a petition together for you to sign. Please do so by going to this site and sign it and share it PLEASE!!..I will have proof of how it effects our children. I need 2000 signatures! Thank you so much!! http://www.thepetitionsite.com/281/518/8...

Adrianne - posted on 01/29/2011

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This is probably the best one and can be used in court she states that she gives her permission for use in the letter. Get you a good attorney and get this letter to him or her....

Kathy's Commentaries

Letter for Court Cases
(in support of extended breastfeeding)
by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology,
Texas A&M University and
Department of Anthropology,
University of Delaware, Newark, DE
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Prepared by Kathy Dettwyler, in the process of being updated -- December 2007. Can be downloaded and sent to lawyers, judges, social workers, ex-spouses, pediatricians, family physicians, etc. If you would like a signed paper copy, please send a legal-sized SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) to K.A. Dettwyler, 1 Orchard Ave., Newark, DE 19711-5523. Contributions for photocopying costs are encouraged/welcomed. Please do not call me to tell me your story -- I have, unfortunately, heard it all way too many times before. Please visit http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/bf-law... for links to issues concerning breastfeeding and divorce/custody/visitation/family law/etc.

DATE: March 2005

TO: Whom It May Concern

FROM: Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology Texas A&M University, Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, Kadettwyler@hotmail.com

RE: "Extended" Breastfeeding

I am a biocultural anthropologist who has conducted research, since 1981, on cross-cultural beliefs and practices concerning infant/child feeding, growth and health, as well as the evolutionary underpinnings of human feeding practices. I am the acknowledged world expert on extended breastfeeding and weaning from both evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives.

My research concludes that the normal and natural duration of breastfeeding for modern humans falls between 2.5 years and 7 years. Some children nurse less than 2.5 years, and some nurse longer than 7 years. It is quite common for children in many cultures around the world to be breastfed for 3-4-5-6-7 years, including quite a few in the U.S. (see below). My research on the age ranges for natural weaning has been published in a peer-reviewed scholarly book, and in the medical journal Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology (2004), and I have presented my research at many scientific meetings and conferences to audiences of anthropologists, doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, and other health care professionals.

In addition, my research has been used to counter charges of child abuse and "inappropriate parenting behaviors" in many court cases, especially involving divorce and custody disputes, where fathers may accuse the mother of "inappropriate parenting by virtue of extended breastfeeding" as a strategy to gain custody of children, or may simply claim that 'continued breastfeeding' is not relevant to shared custody arrangements.

At this point (2005), all of the research that has been conducted on the health and cognitive consequences of different lengths of breastfeeding shows steadily increasing benefits the longer a child is breastfed up to the age of 2 years, and no negative consequences. No research has been conducted on the physical, emotional, or psychological health of children breastfed longer than 2 years. Thus, while there is no research-based proof that breastfeeding a child for 3 years provides statistically significant health or cognitive benefits compared to breastfeeding a child for only two years, there is no research to show that breastfeeding a child for 3 years (or 4-5-6-7-8-9 years) causes any sort of physical, psychological or emotional harm to the child. This has recently been confirmed in the 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics "Recommendations for breastfeeding the healthy term infant" (see below).

Breastfeeding a child beyond the age of three years is not common in the United States , but it is not unknown. It is more common than most people realize because families that practice extended breastfeeding often do not tell others, who they fear will be judgmental. A breastfeeding child of 3 or 4 years or older will typically only be nursing a few times a day - usually first thing in the morning, before nap and bedtime at night, perhaps more often if they are sick, injured, frightened, emotionally distressed or developmentally delayed. It is quite easy for even close friends of the family to be unaware of a continuing breastfeeding relationship. A pediatrician who is vocal in his non-support of breastfeeding may not even be told if a mother in his practice continues to breastfeed. Thus, "extended" breastfeeding - beyond three years - seems more rare and unusual in the United States than it really is.

It is quite feasible for divorced parents to work out shared custody or visitation arrangements that allow the father to have ample time with his child while not sacrificing the breastfeeding relationship the child has with its mother. There is no reason why the child cannot have close relationships with both parents, including spending substantial amounts of time with both, without weaning having to take place before the child is ready.

Breastfeeding and co-sleeping with children are perfectly normal and healthy behaviors, practiced by many people in cultures all around the world, and in the US .

In conclusion, there is no research to support a claim that breastfeeding a child at any age is in any way harmful to a child . On the contrary, my research suggests that the best outcomes, in terms of health, cognitive, and emotional development, are the result of children being allowed to breastfeed as long as they need/want to. Around the world, most children self-wean between the ages of 3 and 5 years, but given that the underlying physiological norm is to breastfeed up to 6-7 years, it is quite normal for children to continue to breastfeed to this age as well, and the occasional "normally" developing child will nurse even longer. Children who nurse for more than a year or two tend to regard their mother's breasts as sources of love and nurturance and comfort, and are more or less immune to the broader society's attempts to culturally define breasts as sex objects.

I will be happy to provide more information and input on this subject if needed. You can contact me at (302) 738-5631 or (302) 388-7836/cell or by email to: kadettwyler@hotmail.com. More information can be found on my web site at: http://www.kathydettwyler.org

In any specific court case, there will be many factors to which outside observers are not privy, and many different perspectives that must be brought to bear in deciding what is in a child's best interests. As a general rule, the child who is allowed to breastfeed as long as they need is the lucky child, one who has a mother who deeply cares for and respects her child. In the absence of neglectful or abusive circumstances, a child and mother should never be punished or criticized for breastfeeding longer than the cultural norms, and a child should not have to lose the breastfeeding relationship with its mother just so the father can have the child for overnight or weekend visits.



Expert Recommendations on Duration of Breastfeeding

What do pediatric nutrition experts at the national (United States) and international levels recommend concerning how long children should be breastfed?

World Health Organization: "two years of age or beyond"

http://www.who.int/nut/documents/gs_infa... )

Promoting appropriate feeding for infants and young children

10. Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond . Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.

American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy Statement, Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 2 February 2005, pp. 496-506, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cg... :

Recommendations on Breastfeeding for Healthy Term Infants (#1-9 and 11-15 removed)

10. Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life {ddagger} and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. 30 , 34 , 128 , 178 - 184 Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child . 185

*

Complementary foods rich in iron should be introduced gradually beginning around 6 months of age. 186 - 187 Preterm and low birth weight infants and infants with hematologic disorders or infants who had inadequate iron stores at birth generally require iron supplementation before 6 months of age. 148 , 188 - 192 Iron may be administered while continuing exclusive breastfeeding.
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Unique needs or feeding behaviors of individual infants may indicate a need for introduction of complementary foods as early as 4 months of age, whereas other infants may not be ready to accept other foods until approximately 8 months of age. 193
*

Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk. 194
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During the first 6 months of age, even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary for breastfed infants and may introduce contaminants or allergens. 195
*

Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births). 196
*

There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer. 197
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Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk but should receive iron-fortified infant formula. 198

American Academy of Family Physicians: " Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired. . . If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned."

http://www.aafp.org/x6633.xml

AAFP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the physiological norm for both mothers and their children. The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for about the first six months of life. Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired. Family physicians should have the knowledge to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding. (1989) (2001)

AAFP, Specific section on nursing the older child:

Nursing Beyond Infancy

Breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is currently not the cultural norm and requires ongoing support and encouragement.85 Breastfeeding during a subsequent pregnancy is not unusual. If the pregnancy is normal and the mother is healthy, breastfeeding during pregnancy is the woman's personal decision. If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned. Breastfeeding the nursing child after delivery of the next child (tandem nursing) may help to provide a smooth transition psychologically for the older child.61

References cited

61. Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding: a guide for the medical professional. 5th ed. St. Louis : Mosby, 1999.

85. Powers NG, Slusser W. Breastfeeding update 2: clinical lactation management. Pediatr Rev 1997;18(5):147-161.

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"Extended Breastfeeding Survey" --

A survey of "extended breastfeeding" - beyond three years - was conducted by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4352. The data summarized below come from the United States , and most were collected between December of 1996 and March of 1998. Most of the respondents were middle- and upper-class, well-educated, and of European ancestry. These data have been published in "When to Wean: Biological Versus Cultural Perspectives," in the medical journal Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology , Volume 47, Number 3, pp. 712-723. In addition, I have reported on them at a number of professional conferences.

In brief, during the late 1990s, I surveyed 1,280 children in the US who breastfed for a minimum of three years. The mean age of weaning for these children was 4.24. years, with a median of 4.00 years, a mode of 3.5 years, a standard deviation of 1.08 years, and a range of 3.00 to 9.17 years . The half-yearly break down of ages at weaning was:

3-3.49 years 297 children

3.5-3.99 yrs 286 children

4.00-4.49 yrs 213 children

4.50-4.99 yrs 162 children

5.00-5.49 yrs 154 children

5.50-5.99 yrs 58 children

6.00-6.49 yrs 50 children

6.50-6.99 yrs 17 children

7.00-7.49 yrs 22 children

7.50-7.99 yrs 7 children

8.00-8.49 yrs 7 children

8.50-8.99 yrs 2 children

9.00-9.49 yrs 5 children

To quote from the Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology article: "The demographic characteristics of the sample indicate that in the United States, extended breastfeeding is most often found among middle-class and upper-class women, women who work outside the home, and women who are highly educated. . . Areas of the country with relatively large groups of mothers and children nursing beyond 3 years of age included Seattle , Washington ; Salt Lake City , Utah ; College Station , Texas ; and Wilmington , Delaware ."



Selected References

Dettwyler, K.A. 2004 When to Wean: Biological Versus Cultural Perspectives, Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology , 47(3):712-723.

Dettwyler, K.A. 2001 Weaning. Breastfeeding Annual 2001 . Washington DC : Platypus Media.

Dettwyler, K.A. 2001 Believing in Breastfeeding. ORGYN , XII(2):42-45.

Dettwyler, K.A. 1999 Evolutionary Medicine and Breastfeeding: Implications for Research and Pediatric Advice. The 1998-99 David Skomp Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology , Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 47405.

Dettwyler, K.A. 1995 A Time to Wean: The Hominid Blueprint for the Natural Age of Weaning In Modern Human Populations. In Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives , edited by Patricia Stuart-Macadam and Katherine A. Dettwyler, pp. 39-73. New York : Aldine de Gruyter.

Dettwyler, K.A. 1995 Beauty and the Breast: The Cultural Context of Breastfeeding in the United States . In Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives , edited by Patricia Stuart-Macadam and Katherine A. Dettwyler, pp. 167-215. New York : Aldine de Gruyter.



Kathy's Commentaries

Letter for Court Cases
(in support of extended breastfeeding)
by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D.

Department of Anthropology,
Texas A&M University and
Department of Anthropology,
University of Delaware, Newark, DE
****



Prepared by Kathy Dettwyler, in the process of being updated -- December 2007. Can be downloaded and sent to lawyers, judges, social workers, ex-spouses, pediatricians, family physicians, etc. If you would like a signed paper copy, please send a legal-sized SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) to K.A. Dettwyler, 1 Orchard Ave., Newark, DE 19711-5523. Contributions for photocopying costs are encouraged/welcomed. Please do not call me to tell me your story -- I have, unfortunately, heard it all way too many times before. Please visit http://www.kellymom.com/bf/normal/bf-law... for links to issues concerning breastfeeding and divorce/custody/visitation/family law/etc.

DATE: March 2005

TO: Whom It May Concern

FROM: Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology Texas A&M University, Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, Kadettwyler@hotmail.com

RE: "Extended" Breastfeeding

I am a biocultural anthropologist who has conducted research, since 1981, on cross-cultural beliefs and practices concerning infant/child feeding, growth and health, as well as the evolutionary underpinnings of human feeding practices. I am the acknowledged world expert on extended breastfeeding and weaning from both evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives.

My research concludes that the normal and natural duration of breastfeeding for modern humans falls between 2.5 years and 7 years. Some children nurse less than 2.5 years, and some nurse longer than 7 years. It is quite common for children in many cultures around the world to be breastfed for 3-4-5-6-7 years, including quite a few in the U.S. (see below). My research on the age ranges for natural weaning has been published in a peer-reviewed scholarly book, and in the medical journal Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology (2004), and I have presented my research at many scientific meetings and conferences to audiences of anthropologists, doctors, nurses, lactation consultants, and other health care professionals.

In addition, my research has been used to counter charges of child abuse and "inappropriate parenting behaviors" in many court cases, especially involving divorce and custody disputes, where fathers may accuse the mother of "inappropriate parenting by virtue of extended breastfeeding" as a strategy to gain custody of children, or may simply claim that 'continued breastfeeding' is not relevant to shared custody arrangements.

At this point (2005), all of the research that has been conducted on the health and cognitive consequences of different lengths of breastfeeding shows steadily increasing benefits the longer a child is breastfed up to the age of 2 years, and no negative consequences. No research has been conducted on the physical, emotional, or psychological health of children breastfed longer than 2 years. Thus, while there is no research-based proof that breastfeeding a child for 3 years provides statistically significant health or cognitive benefits compared to breastfeeding a child for only two years, there is no research to show that breastfeeding a child for 3 years (or 4-5-6-7-8-9 years) causes any sort of physical, psychological or emotional harm to the child. This has recently been confirmed in the 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics "Recommendations for breastfeeding the healthy term infant" (see below).

Breastfeeding a child beyond the age of three years is not common in the United States , but it is not unknown. It is more common than most people realize because families that practice extended breastfeeding often do not tell others, who they fear will be judgmental. A breastfeeding child of 3 or 4 years or older will typically only be nursing a few times a day - usually first thing in the morning, before nap and bedtime at night, perhaps more often if they are sick, injured, frightened, emotionally distressed or developmentally delayed. It is quite easy for even close friends of the family to be unaware of a continuing breastfeeding relationship. A pediatrician who is vocal in his non-support of breastfeeding may not even be told if a mother in his practice continues to breastfeed. Thus, "extended" breastfeeding - beyond three years - seems more rare and unusual in the United States than it really is.

It is quite feasible for divorced parents to work out shared custody or visitation arrangements that allow the father to have ample time with his child while not sacrificing the breastfeeding relationship the child has with its mother. There is no reason why the child cannot have close relationships with both parents, including spending substantial amounts of time with both, without weaning having to take place before the child is ready.

Breastfeeding and co-sleeping with children are perfectly normal and healthy behaviors, practiced by many people in cultures all around the world, and in the US .

In conclusion, there is no research to support a claim that breastfeeding a child at any age is in any way harmful to a child . On the contrary, my research suggests that the best outcomes, in terms of health, cognitive, and emotional development, are the result of children being allowed to breastfeed as long as they need/want to. Around the world, most children self-wean between the ages of 3 and 5 years, but given that the underlying physiological norm is to breastfeed up to 6-7 years, it is quite normal for children to continue to breastfeed to this age as well, and the occasional "normally" developing child will nurse even longer. Children who nurse for more than a year or two tend to regard their mother's breasts as sources of love and nurturance and comfort, and are more or less immune to the broader society's attempts to culturally define breasts as sex objects.

I will be happy to provide more information and input on this subject if needed. You can contact me at (302) 738-5631 or (302) 388-7836/cell or by email to: kadettwyler@hotmail.com. More information can be found on my web site at: http://www.kathydettwyler.org

In any specific court case, there will be many factors to which outside observers are not privy, and many different perspectives that must be brought to bear in deciding what is in a child's best interests. As a general rule, the child who is allowed to breastfeed as long as they need is the lucky child, one who has a mother who deeply cares for and respects her child. In the absence of neglectful or abusive circumstances, a child and mother should never be punished or criticized for breastfeeding longer than the cultural norms, and a child should not have to lose the breastfeeding relationship with its mother just so the father can have the child for overnight or weekend visits.



Expert Recommendations on Duration of Breastfeeding

What do pediatric nutrition experts at the national (United States) and international levels recommend concerning how long children should be breastfed?

World Health Organization: "two years of age or beyond"

http://www.who.int/nut/documents/gs_infa... )

Promoting appropriate feeding for infants and young children

10. Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond . Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.

American Academy of Pediatrics, Policy Statement, Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 2 February 2005, pp. 496-506, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cg... :

Recommendations on Breastfeeding for Healthy Term Infants (#1-9 and 11-15 removed)

10. Pediatricians and parents should be aware that exclusive breastfeeding is sufficient to support optimal growth and development for approximately the first 6 months of life {ddagger} and provides continuing protection against diarrhea and respiratory tract infection. 30 , 34 , 128 , 178 - 184 Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child . 185

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Complementary foods rich in iron should be introduced gradually beginning around 6 months of age. 186 - 187 Preterm and low birth weight infants and infants with hematologic disorders or infants who had inadequate iron stores at birth generally require iron supplementation before 6 months of age. 148 , 188 - 192 Iron may be administered while continuing exclusive breastfeeding.
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Unique needs or feeding behaviors of individual infants may indicate a need for introduction of complementary foods as early as 4 months of age, whereas other infants may not be ready to accept other foods until approximately 8 months of age. 193
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Introduction of complementary feedings before 6 months of age generally does not increase total caloric intake or rate of growth and only substitutes foods that lack the protective components of human milk. 194
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During the first 6 months of age, even in hot climates, water and juice are unnecessary for breastfed infants and may introduce contaminants or allergens. 195
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Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother, especially in delaying return of fertility (thereby promoting optimal intervals between births). 196
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There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer. 197
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Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not receive cow's milk but should receive iron-fortified infant formula. 198

American Academy of Family Physicians: " Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired. . . If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned."

http://www.aafp.org/x6633.xml

AAFP Policy Statement on Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is the physiological norm for both mothers and their children. The AAFP recommends that all babies, with rare exceptions, be breastfed and/or receive expressed human milk exclusively for about the first six months of life. Breastfeeding should continue with the addition of complementary foods throughout the second half of the first year. Breastfeeding beyond the first year offers considerable benefits to both mother and child, and should continue as long as mutually desired. Family physicians should have the knowledge to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding. (1989) (2001)

AAFP, Specific section on nursing the older child:

Nursing Beyond Infancy

Breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is currently not the cultural norm and requires ongoing support and encouragement.85 Breastfeeding during a subsequent pregnancy is not unusual. If the pregnancy is normal and the mother is healthy, breastfeeding during pregnancy is the woman's personal decision. If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned. Breastfeeding the nursing child after delivery of the next child (tandem nursing) may help to provide a smooth transition psychologically for the older child.61

References cited

61. Lawrence RA, Lawrence RM. Breastfeeding: a guide for the medical professional. 5th ed. St. Louis : Mosby, 1999.

85. Powers NG, Slusser W. Breastfeeding update 2: clinical lactation management. Pediatr Rev 1997;18(5):147-161.

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"Extended Breastfeeding Survey" --

A survey of "extended breastfeeding" - beyond three years - was conducted by Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4352. The data summarized below come from the United States , and most were collected between December of 1996 and March of 1998. Most of the respondents were middle- and upper-class, well-educated, and of European ancestry. These data have been published in "When to Wean: Biological Versus Cultural Perspectives," in the medical journal Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology , Volume 47, Number 3, pp. 712-723. In addition, I have reported on them at a number of professional conferences.

In brief, during the late 1990s, I surveyed 1,280 children in the US who breastfed for a minimum of three years. The mean age of weaning for these children was 4.24. years, with a median of 4.00 years, a mode of 3.5 years, a standard deviation of 1.08 years, and a range of 3.00 to 9.17 years . The half-yearly break down of ages at weaning was:

3-3.49 years 297 children

3.5-3.99 yrs 286 children

4.00-4.49 yrs 213 children

4.50-4.99 yrs 162 children

5.00-5.49 yrs 154 children

5.50-5.99 yrs 58 children

6.00-6.49 yrs 50 children

6.50-6.99 yrs 17 children

7.00-7.49 yrs 22 children

7.50-7.99 yrs 7 children

8.00-8.49 yrs 7 children

8.50-8.99 yrs 2 children

9.00-9.49 yrs 5 children

To quote from the Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology article: "The demographic characteristics of the sample indicate that in the United States, extended breastfeeding is most often found among middle-class and upper-class women, women who work outside the home, and women who are highly educated. . . Areas of the country with relatively large groups of mothers and children nursing beyond 3 years of age included Seattle , Washington ; Salt Lake City , Utah ; College Station , Texas ; and Wilmington , Delaware ."



Selected References

Dettwyler, K.A. 2004 When to Wean: Biological Versus Cultural Perspectives, Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology , 47(3):712-723.

Dettwyler, K.A. 2001 Weaning. Breastfeeding Annual 2001 . Washington DC : Platypus Media.

Dettwyler, K.A. 2001 Believing in Breastfeeding. ORGYN , XII(2):42-45.

Dettwyler, K.A. 1999 Evolutionary Medicine and Breastfeeding: Implications for Research and Pediatric Advice. The 1998-99 David Skomp Distinguished Lecture in Anthropology , Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 47405.

Dettwyler, K.A. 1995 A Time to Wean: The Hominid Blueprint for the Natural Age of Weaning In Modern Human Populations. In Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives , edited by Patricia Stuart-Macadam and Katherine A. Dettwyler, pp. 39-73. New York : Aldine de Gruyter.

Dettwyler, K.A. 1995 Beauty and the Breast: The Cultural Context of Breastfeeding in the United States . In Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives , edited by Patricia Stuart-Macadam and Katherine A. Dettwyler, pp. 167-215. New York : Aldine de Gruyter.

Michelle - posted on 01/29/2011

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My daughter refused the bottle and I was worried about starting work again. But while I was at work my partner had no trouble getting her to take. Maybe try go out for a little bit and see if someone can try give her the bottle then?

22 Comments

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Brittany - posted on 11/01/2014

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help please someone my son is 5 months old and the judge granted visitations to the father on a domestic violence protection order for overnight visitation in the core I express the fact that I did not have a working pump and was not able to provide the father with milk to feed the child the Commissioner did not care basically he told me it was my responsibility to figure out a way to provide him with that. So I had to give him to him on Friday with no food and I court his lawyer told me that they will be having a wet nurse not in front of the judge and there's no certification no testing no documentation that this woman is clean has no diseases are going to spend anything to my child not only that my son is with me a hundred percent of the time the father has been absent for the last month and a half after he abandoned us and proceeded to ask his father to text us my family and have me move out of our shared home I'm not sure what my options are I just know that this is not right this is not okay my son does not bottle trained and has never been away from me for more than 4 hours his entire life and my ex husband's mother made the comment that if he's hungry enough he'll take a bottle so basically they're willing to put aside the best interest of our child and make him suffer emotionally mentally and nutritionally what do i do what are my options I'm alone in court and cannot afford a lawyer for the fact that my husband has asked me to be a stay at home mother and abandoned me after and I really feel like the court system is not seeing the issue or the best interest of the child at this point cuz I was high had to give him the child and I have a protection order and they want a wet nurse my child with their sister there was no no permission by the court for that what do i do please help anyonebecause coming next Friday I have to do the same thing if I don't get help immediately

Samantha Noel - posted on 11/13/2012

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I'm sorry, iguess i have no help to give but i am in a similar situation. Dad has had LO since Friday now and my breasts are so hard and swollen. I can do a little with my hands but not much, pumpnever worked for me either. I had prychological and substance abuse issues in my far-off past, but i slipped up once since having Dagny. She's fine and my milk is fine by now, but i may be sent to a 30 treatment facility. I DO NOT want to wean her and it is safe to say she DOES NOT want to be weaned. This is east tn and no one breastfeeds, at least not for an extended time. Please help, i don't think my lawyer gets it. thank you.

Maren - posted on 02/01/2011

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I've never experienced this myself but I can relay what my cousin went through.

Let me start by asking if you have a double electric pump. Pumping both sides at the same time will stimulate your body to make more than a single pump. I highly suggest investing in one now so you are as prepared as you can be.

My cousin lived in IL. She had a little girl with a man she lived with but was never married to. The relationship ended and my cousin married a military man that lives in Colorado. She went through a custody battle so she could move out of the state. Of course, her daughter was 2.5 when this started and not breastfeeding so it is a little different. It took several months but the final arrangement was she was allowed to move out of state and every three months her daughter has to travel to visit her dad for three weeks (so she's home with her mom for a little over 2 months before leaving again).

Now, I don't think this has been too difficult on her daughter but I can only imagine it is a hard situation. You may want to think long and hard about moving back east. I know HI is expensive. Maybe you could find something reasonable in CA. Just find a way to stay as close as possible.

Additionally, does her dad pay child support? If not, it's very important to tell your lawyer about that. Keep all hostile texts, emails, letters, and record all conversations that show any hostility. It sounds to me he's more interested in making things hard for you to be vindictive rather than find the best solution for his daughter. These things are very awful and the kids suffer the most but you have to find a way to make it sound like an unfit parent.

My aunt and uncle lost their daughter almost 2 years ago. She had a 1.5 year old son when she died. The father was never really in the picture but, of course came out of the woodwork when my cousin died. It took them over a year but they were awarded full custody by showing him as an unfit parent (no steady job, drug use, etc.). That's the only way you'll get permanent full custody, I would imagine.

I'm so sorry you have to go through this and even more so for your daughter. She certainly doesn't deserve any of this but it's there and you have to make it as easy on her as possible. Be upfront with the lawyer about BF and see what the realities are. You may have to wean her to make the transition as calm as possible for her.

Not to make things worse, but would her dad give her your expressed BM if you sent it with her anyway? If he has a visitation with her and you provide BM and you find out he doesn't give it to her, record that too. Record anytime you get her back and it seems that he didn't take proper care of her (excessively dirty diaper, no bath, unusually hungry...). I hate to put all this out there but it's important.

Sorry for the book. Good luck to you and let us know how this goes for you.

Ann Marie - posted on 01/31/2011

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I can't help you with the divorce laws, but maybe I can help with the pumping issue. If you are pumping *and* breastfeeding at the same time, you will only get a little bit of milk, because the baby will drink most of what you produce. However, if you pump while the baby is away, you should get much more milk, because the baby is not taking any of it.



You may still only get 4 oz in each session (2 oz per side), but you'll probably get more. Also, most breastfed babies do just fine with 5-6 oz of milk in their bottles. I've never heard of a baby needing more than about 8 oz of milk, and those babies space out their feedings more. They don't need as much breastmilk as they would formula, because breastmilk is almost 100% digestible.



kellymom.com has guidelines for how much milk your baby probably needs at different ages.



HTH.

Amanda - posted on 01/30/2011

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First of all you can not be forced to wean her. Second of all I know in Texas no judge will allow overnight visits before 2 years of age. I am currently going through the same thing with my 9 month old. My lawyer told me that being breastfed is a factor as well but in most case kids under two do not tolerate being separated from their moms overnight.

Ania - posted on 01/29/2011

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I don't think they would seperate an infant from a mother at that young age. Honestly I believe you should fight to be able to BF your child. Introduce your situation to the court Can you talk to your ex and try to resolve this between the two of you for the sake of your baby... I'm so sorry you have to go through something like this

Merry - posted on 01/29/2011

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My husband is in college for criminal justice and I asked him to look this up, and MOST times a judge will allow full custody to the mom until 12 months if breastfeeding is an issue. But beyond one year he found no reason legally a mom can keep the child from visitation with the dad.
Sucks, really bad. The best I can advise is to talk to her dad and get him to understand the importance to his daughter to continue, if you can get him in agreement that she needs to breastfeed, then you can work on it out of court. But in court, odds are likely that past one year there's not much hope of using the breastfeeding to keep her with you.

Melanie - posted on 01/29/2011

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Is your husband in the military, is that why your in Hawaii? I understand your pain and panic at the thought of having to wean. But it's doubtful the judge will make you give her up overnight IF you are willing to stay in state.. you know, compromise. good luck! btw my daughter never accepted the bottle from me or my husband, we tried. She is now 16 mos and though still WANTS it, she is ok without it. Hopefully you can at least keep it up full time till a year.

Mary Renee - posted on 01/29/2011

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It is very frightening to think I might not be able to leave the state. Hawaii has the highest cost of living in basically the whole country (80% of our food is imported and therefore like twice the cost of food on the mainland) and there is almost no way I could afford to live here on my own. Back on the mainland my father said he'd love to have me stay with him while I get on my feet and he has a three bedroom house so my daughter could have an nursery for the first time in her life and I have many more connections as far as jobs, friends, and family go back on the east coast (where I'm from).

I wish that judge would understand that I came out here to go to college- not to live permanently - and I got pregnant. I know that the father should have rights and I wouldn't want him to be able to take her away from me - but the whole thing is very frightening.

My mother said that my lawyers were good and they should be because it's a $5000 retainer! My father is going to pay for it until I can pay him back - I just hate this whole situation - I alway thought that spending this time with my baby would be a time I would aways cherish and I hate that her life is tainted with this fighting.

Michelle - posted on 01/29/2011

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I don't know a lot about this and a lot depends on the judge. I do know that generally speaking they are going to set up a custody arrangement that is best for the baby. If you are and have been breastfeeding a judge is not likely to set up an arrangement to change that. But the arrangement is likely to be changed once weaned and deemed old enough for a joint custody situation. I also know that you are not likely to be allowed to leave the state without the father agreeing to it.

Kris - posted on 01/29/2011

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I don't have personal experience with this, but I think it would be well worth the investment into a very, very, very good lawyer. See if your family can help with the legal fees, maybe? Hawaii to the mainland is a big deal; do you have an adequate support system there so you can stay for a while?

Also, any time your husband makes a remark like that "titty thing" record it. Write it down. Write what he said, when he said it, and be as accurate as you can. I think your lawyer may be able to use it.

I can't imagine the grief and pain you must be feeling. As you go through this, is your husband at least willing to do what is best for your daughter? Because making it hell for you is going to have a vastly negative affect on her.

Lisa - posted on 01/29/2011

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I am so sorry you're dealing with this. My husband blindsided me a few months ago when he informed me that he didn't love me anymore, wanted a divorce, & then began seeing another woman. We were so happy & absolutely adored our toddler son, so this was the shock of my life. I know we'll begin custody issues soon, too, & I also still breastfeed.

Is there any way her father could have a trial run with your daughter for a day or maybe an overnight & see how she does with a bottle or sippy cup of breastmilk or formula? She might take it from him if you aren't around (my son took bottles from others fine but if I was there he wanted the breast). Either she'll take it, easing some worry, or if she refuses & screams for hours & hours her dad will at least realize that it might not work for him to have her for an extended time.

The best part of breastfeeding is that it isn't all or nothing. I realize you don't want to give her formula, but that wouldn't be the most horrible thing & it doesn't mean you have to wean completely. You may not pump a lot of milk out at one time, but as long as you continue to pump regularly your body will continue to produce the milk, which will keep your supply up while your daughter's not with you. Then when she gets back to you I'm sure she'll immediately resume nursing. Just don't stop pumping altogether & you can continue for as long as you want.

Good luck!

[deleted account]

If you file for custody in Hawaii you will not be able to remove your daughter from the state until the custody arrangement has been finalized. If you don't have full custody you will need her father's permission to leave. Even if you have full custody he will be able to petition the court to keep you from moving her out of state. I don't think the judge will look too kindly on you wanting to take your daughter 6,000 miles away from her father, but that depends on the judge.

How would you feel having your 2 year old (I know she's not 2 yet) spending a week or two.... or 4 6,000 miles away from you.... especially w/ a man that you don't have a decent, working relationship w/.... ??

The judge can not order you to stop breastfeeding, but he/she CAN award custody/visitation arrangements that make weaning inevitable. I don't 'think' her father would get overnights at under a year, but that depends on the judge and the specifics of your situation.

Sorry I don't have much more supportive news, but the realities of custody/visitation are NOT pretty.

Mary Renee - posted on 01/24/2011

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Yeah, I don't have a good relationship with the father. He has told me that he wants to make this whole thing hell for me and that "The judge will see right through this whole titty thing" I set up... yeah, so that's how much support he has for my breastfeeding efforts, he probably wishes I never did.



The problem with pumping and sending it with her is that the amount I get out pumping doesn't come near the amount she drinks.



I wanted to go out with my friend for Halloween and I had to pump every day for a month in advance just to make enough milk for one night and her morning and mid-morning feeding just to be safe. If she was away for a week I don't believe I could EVER pump enough for that.



To say I love breastfeeding my daughter is an understatement. I can't even explain how much I cherish being so close to her and getting that quality time with her. It's especially poignant for me because it was VERY difficult in the beginning and I didn't know if I would even be able to due to a breast reduction I had as a teenager. I feel like breastfeeding is something we accomplished together and bonds us and oh my god, the idea of having to stop when she isn't even one yet is so horrible to me. I haven't even begun to think about the idea of having to be away from her... period. I've been a stay-at-home-mom up until now when I'll have to start supporting us on my own.



But I will look in to La Leche League for suggestions. I was just wondering if the court has any respect for breastfeeding?

[deleted account]

Do you have a good relationship with her dad? Maybe he could come visit her if he's really understanding. I would contact La Leche League. They know a little about legal issues they may be able to help you. Did she taste your milk at all? Have you tasted it? If it tastes soapy you may have too much lipase and this can make it taste funny after being stored. If she has to go with him you could try putting it in a sippy cup or regular cup. These things take some time so if she's over a year I have heard of moms just pumping while baby was away and when they came back they came right back to the breast. Sorry I can't be more help. Good luck to you!

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