Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has been an advocate for natural birth, but she upset people during World Breastfeeding Week by suggesting there should be “a worldwide law, in my opinion, that mothers should breastfeed their babies for six months.” She has since “backed down” from these comments, but women in Indonesia face exactly such a law.
The Jakarta Post reports:
Women who refuse to breastfeed their newly-born babies may face jail sentence for denying their children’s right.
Article 128 of the 2009 law on health stipulates that babies have the right to six months of exclusive breast milk unless their mothers could not fulfill their obligation due to medical problems.
Article 200 of the draft says a mother who declines to exclusively breast feed their children will face a maximum of one year in prison term or Rp 100 million in fine.
The law also applies to anyone that interferes with breastfeeding, including employers. US health care reform law also now protects breastfeeding moms, but it obviously does not require all moms to breastfeed.
It is unlikely the Indonesian law will be enforced “due to the absence of implementing government regulations,” but it raises some interesting questions about women’s right to choose to breastfeed. Certainly, there is a better way to support breastfeeding than making it law. Imagine how US prisons would fill up if such a law existed.
Arlington Mama says
It’s noteworthy that they cite the “children’s/babies’ right” to breastmilk. I think that’s great. It’s interesting how the woman’s right to choose or not choose to breastfeed overlaps with the baby’s right to have the proper nutrition s/he needs. The Indonesian law has the baby’s interest as top priority, and the US law has the mother’s. I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong either way; it’s just interesting to ponder.
Jennifer Lance says
Good point! Babies aren’t given a choice regarding breastfeeding unless they are offered the breast. Children’s rights are important, and obviously babies can’t advocate for themselves beyond crying to their parents.
Heck yeah! It’s a shame that this has been a tough week for breastfeeding…considering all the BS that gets relayed the other 51 weeks of the year. One week off to celebrate, or even herald sucessful breastfeeding would have been nice (O’ the risk in that!). Simply put, let your child decide what they want and don’t let anyone, or any for-profit company, get in the way. Yes, I know that sometimes kids don’t always want the right things and we have to protect them from accidents, but not in reference to food. Babies only want breastmilk, period. Breastfeeding may not always be the easiest way to feed your child, but it is ALWAYS the best! And, let Moms know that if they want to do it long term, they will have to feed at night (bed-sharing). It keeps the milk supply up as sleep hours are generally 33% of the day.
I understand that breast is best, but this is ridiculous. We had our son naturally, planned on breastfeeding, and were heartbroken when I was not able to. Thousands of dollars in lactation consulting later, we gave up. I have insufficient glandular tissue, a congenital condition, and did not produce enough milk. There are thousands of women like me out there, who would LOVE to breastfeed their babies but cannot. Making it illegal not to do something that is out of your control is ignorant and harmful.
Bed sharing is *not* necessary for successful breast feeding. In fact, I have NEVER shared a bed with my child, but my breastfeeding was VERY successful. My child has always been in the 95th% for weight/height.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that parents NOT share a bed with their baby due to risk of infant suffocation.
Do not impose attachment parenting techniques onto breastfeeding. They are not the same thing. If I thought I had to do attachment parenting or bed sharing in order to breastfeed, I would have serious thoughts about switching to formula.
That said… I think Arlington Mama’s thoughts are interesting, about the right of the child vs the right of the parent. While I would not condone such a law in the US, I would vigorously support other laws that support breastfeeding (longer paid parental leave, for example).
Heather Dunham says
Liz, the law states an exception for medical issues. True medical issues that prevent mothers from lactating are rare, certainly rarer than they would have us believe, but as you know they do exist. Nobody is talking about jailing women who truly are unable to make milk!
And Sara, you are free to bedshare or not, but please do some research about the truth about bedsharing and don’t just blindly follow the AAP, which is heavily influenced by manufacturers of various products. Thousands of infants die in cribs every year, but they never say “don’t let your baby sleep in a crib” — they say “here are the guidelines for safe crib sleeping.” But when just a handful of babies die in their parents’ bed, they say “OMG!! Bedsharing is DEADLY! Don’t EVER EVER EVER do it, ever!!!” … instead of just calmly saying “here are the guidelines for safe co-sleeping.” Do you see the double standard?
Because every single one of the babies who died in parents’ beds did so under conditions KNOWN to be unsafe for co-sleeping. Most often, it’s intoxicated parents, for instance… Also, parents who never intended to bedshare but end up doing so out of desperation (which happens a lot) are at greater risk. Because they never intended to do it, and were always told “it’s dangerous so just don’t do it, period”, they never actually looked up the safety guidelines; so they’re more likely to unknowingly break a rule.
The fact is that bedsharing is just NOT as dangerous as the powers-that-be would have us believe. Sure it has risks, but it also has enormous benefits. And the risks are LESS than the risks of sleeping alone, isolated in a crib in a separate room. Is that going to be dangerous for all babies? No, of course not. But it has its share of risks. Most babies who die of SIDS do so alone in their cribs. They also die from entanglement in unsafe bedding, unsafe crib slats, blind cords too close to the crib, faulty manufacturing or setup, etc etc, not to mention aspiration of vomit from unheard (or ignored) crying, or offgassing from crib mattresses . None of these are a risk with bedsharing. As long as the parents are healthy and the bed is not overdone with massive pillows, it’s pretty darn safe. Many would argue that it’s even SAFER than crib sleeping, and the actual numbers would seem to support this.
I believe the numbers are in the neighbourhood of 3000 babies dying in cribs per year, and 50 dying in parents’ beds. More babies sleep in cribs, of course, so if the death rate were equal than you would expect to see more crib deaths. But 60 times more? Especially when you consider that pretty much every one of the co-sleeping deaths is easily attributable to parents’ intoxication or other known risk factors, co-sleeping comes in as statistically pretty darned safe.
Anyway, I don’t think anyone said that bedsharing is NECESSARY for successful breastfeeding. But it does make it a heck of a lot easier. 🙂
And yes, longer paid parental leave– we’re 100% in agreement about that!!! 🙂