North Dakota officials prosecuted a new mother, 26-year-old Stacey Anvarinia, for breastfeeding while intoxicated.
Police charged the Grand Forks mother after receiving a domestic disturbance call and witnessing her nursing her 6-week-old daughter. Officers say she appeared drunk, but there’s no report of her blood alcohol content. They booked her on child neglect charges.
And for some reason, she has pleaded guilty to the felony charge. But don’t worry. She won’t have to register as an offender against children.
But she now faces 5 years in jail.
So what’s worse: separating an infant from her mother for half a decade, or making the mistake of BFWD?
According to La Leche League, the studies on alcohol consumption during breastfeeding aren’t conclusive and often contradict one another. They do point out that,
Traditionally beer and, to a lesser degree, wine have been recommended as helpful in the making of milk–a source of B vitamins as well as a means to help a new mother to relax. Actually, it is only the non-pasteurized European beers that contain the beneficial B vitamins, and these are abundant in many foods and food supplements.
And I have to admit: my midwife gave me the “dark beer” tip. Seasoned mamas greeted my new motherhood with gifts of the brew.
But there’s a limit, say public health officials. A doctor who is on the AAP’s panel for breastfeeding recommendations says,
Excessive alcohol while breastfeeding is harmful to a baby who is breastfeeding. We don’t know the full extent of how much harm, because many of the women who drink excessively after [delivery] have already been drinking excessively while they were pregnant.
As interesting as that blanket statement is, more research is clearly needed. The AAP says alcohol could actually inhibit milk production and should be used for celebratory purposes only. Other studies say that it could decrease infants’ suckling ability. Most agree on the “pump and dump” method or waiting at least 2 hours before breastfeeding after alcohol consumption.
One opinion page calls the situation an,
outrageous interference in the private life of this woman. This is a blatant attempt to deny individual rights to women in the guise of protecting a child.
What do you think? Should we put a mama behind bars for this? Or even keep the felony charge on her? In this case, who is truly being excessive?
Image: Mooganic on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
This is ridiculous. Why is there no mention of what the domestic disturbance was? No one can argue that whatever it was, it is more dangerous to an infant than BF while intoxicated. If it was not a physical disturbance between mom and dad, it still had to be a bad enough situation for the baby to pick up on the stress.
Cate Nelson says
Emily, There probably was something else going on with this domestic disturbance call. I just found a pic of her mugshot, which adds to the concerns:
Usually, if she were charged with something else, they’re allowed to say that to the media, even if she only pleads to another thing. It just doesn’t go on her record. I haven’t found any other references.
But yes, I wonder what this dom. problem was?
note – my “why is there no mention…” comment is directed at the North Dakota press and authorities, not this blog!
Emily Jones says
Well, there were clearly other issues going on here, as the police were already out there on a domestic disturbance call. For all we know, they might have other charges to hold over her, such as drug use or something else, and she is pleading down to a potential lower charge. I don’t really know, but I doubt they are putting up jail time for breastfeeding while intoxicated, as she is surely not the first to have ever done so.
And just for argument’s sake, this country seems to be all in favor of removing children from women who use drugs while pregnant, why not when she uses drugs while breastfeeding? Alcohol is a drug, after all, and does go to the baby.
I’m curious why alcohol and morphine are acceptable while cocaine and heroin are not…
That’s just disturbing to me. I remember being told it was fine to drink and breastfeed, that the biggest danger was being too intoxicated to care for the child. I’d be curious if there is a blood alcohol number and it just wasn’t reported or if they just booked her on drinking.
If you’re worried about this…how about toxins our children are ingesting while at school. From the styrofoam trays they eat their lunch off of! Plus the horrible environmental imopact of these non-recycable toxin. Disgusting. http://girliegirlarmy.com/blog/20090625/alexandra-jamieson-hates-styrofoam/
Crimson Wife says
Although I am very disturbed by a mom nursing while apparently intoxicated (grounds IMHO for the child welfare authorities to open an investigation), doesn’t there need to be some actual *PROOF* before sending her to jail?
I always nurse immediately before having a glass of wine or cocktail to make sure my body has enough time to metabolize the alcohol before the next feeding.
I’ve seen those strips to test the alcohol content of breast milk, but it seems to me that if I feel the need to test my milk, that in itself is a sign that I’m drinking too much.
This is completely ridiculous! If they are going to arrest women with alcohol in their breastmilk, they should be arresting women who feed their baby formula! Breastmilk is STILL SUPERIOR to formula when it contains alcohol! (Reference–Dr Jack Newman foremost breastfeeding expert in North America).
I don´t know. It definitely depends on how intoxicated she was and if that had happened more than once. If this mother just doesn´t care if it could harm her child or not than it might not be the worst thing to send her to jail. It´s always sad if a child has to be without one of the parents but it´s much worse to have a parent who just doesn´t care.
And VeggieMommie…I am big on brestfeeding myself but there are still women that can´t breastfeed so not so fast in making them criminals!
1001 petals says
To answer your question, I guess it really depends on what sort of mother she is. I would love to say being with even a so-so mother is better than not, but there has been so much news lately about really horrible mothers that I do wonder. . .clearly there is a lot we don’t know.
To be safe, I think it’s best to not drink at all while breastfeeding or even just taking care of a child. Is it really that hard for some people to do? Some people may not think it’s a big deal, but if there is even the slightest chance it could bother a baby, why take that chance? I don’t see why people care about drinking so much.
Carrie at NursingBras says
I’m also curious about how good the police work was here. How can she face charges when her blood alcohol wasn’t tested?
If this woman has a drinking problem, she needs AA. But NOBODY should interfere with her god-given right to feed her child. There is NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE that concludes her child will suffer anything from being fed after she has been drinking. Yeah, I agree that women’s rights are not being protected here.
Ok. What she did is wrong however if they are arresting her then they should also arrest any lady who smokes while she is pregnant too. Everything is just getting so messed up here. I mean if a woman likes drinking or something like that, then she should just use formula for those days or just from the start. I understand breast milk is better for the baby but some women just aren’t really cut out for it. Plus there are a lot of women who wont breastfeed because of certain medications they are on. They don’t want to take a chance of harming their baby. But back to the mom arrested. They should have tested her. And maybe she just made a stupid mistake but she shouldn’t get 5 years in jail. She should have to go to classes or something like that because you shouldn’t just take the baby away from the mother.
I would just like to say this is one of the most rediculous things I have ever heard of.
She plead out on the charge so there must be something else going on there, B/c I know that is a crap charge I would have took to court. She could have pumped the worst part of the milk out and the new milk coming in wouldn’t have a very high content of alcohol in it, this will cause alot if the other issues surrounding this arrest are not released.
I also strongly Agree with VeggieMomma- It says in numerous books that while drinking and smoking ciggerettes are not the best its still better than formula- And seriously how many of your grandmothers didn’t give you a hot-toti to help you sleep at night when you were a baby-did you turn out ok, I did.
Why bother to breastfeed the kid the substance, dope, poison, booze etc. Just pour it straight into the b0ttle, because that’s what these stupid idiot mothers, are doing. I bet the same breastfeeding lush refuses to feed the baby formula, and will throw a temper tantrum at the mere mention of someone else feeding her baby, anything but her tainted breast milk. Drinking while pregnant and breastfeeding should be discouraged as assault, child abuse and neglect. After all, tampering with food, slipping a substance or medication into someones food or drink without their consent or knowledge … is a felony. This should be a double felony, because the infant is completely helpless and at the mercy of the mother, If a woman can’t even lay off the booze long enough to have a baby, or breast feed her infant, then she has an alcohol abuse problem. At the very least, she should bottle feed the baby formula. Alcohol kills brain cells, why would a new parent want to subject their baby to that, especially while the infants brain is at its most critical, and rapid stage of development? If you drink your kid will grow up screwed up, end up in ALANON and hate you one day. How will this child grow up to compete in life, not to mention have the ability to pay for your ne liver. Duh!