Custody battles and breastfeeding: Mum ordered to stop breastfeeding baby to better accommodate father’s visitations
A mother has been ordered to stop breastfeeding her five-month-old baby to better accommodate her ex-partner’s custody visits.
According to the Washington Post, the Virginia based mum-of-two Arleta Ramirez was told that despite her daughter having been exclusively breastfed since birth, she should now introduce a bottle.
Ramirez had breastfed her son for two years and had hoped to do the same for her daughter.
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When she and her former partner, Mike Ridgway, split soon after her daughter’s birth, WAPO reports the pair entered into a custody arrangement that allowed her ex to visit their daughter four days per week.
This was to be extended to overnight stays this month, and included the condition she both stop feeding on demand and switch to a bottle, as her baby could at times feed every hour.
“Mother is to make every effort to place the child on a feeding schedule and use a bottle,” the order read,” WAPO reported a judge from Prince William County ordered.
This was reportedly in response from complaint’s from the baby’s father that too much of his visiting time was being lost to her feeds.
The ruling was made despite Ramirez sharing she was unable to produce enough milk to pump, and that their daughter rejected the bottle.
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“Why are they forcing me to stop breastfeeding?” the publication quoted Ramirez. “Isn’t that her right? Isn’t that in her best interest?”
Ridgway said in an email correspondence that he had given Ramirez ‘space’ to nurse and pump milk so he could bottle-feed their daughter.
“Past the age of six months I will continue to support breastfeeding and bottle-feeding our daughter breast milk as much as possible, while also supplementing with formula only when absolutely necessary,” he said.
However WAPO reported his attorney, Tara Steinnerd, was quoted arguing the mothers in the custody cases she had been involved in used breastfeeding as a means to complicate visiting rights.
“They come up with a myriad of excuses,” she was quoted. “It’s about using breastfeeding as a weapon against visitation.”
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The Australian Breastfeeding Association defines the breastfeeding relationship between a mother and baby of ‘critical importance’ to their health.
The World Health Organisation state that it is “an unequalled way” of providing ‘ideal’ food for an infant’s growth and development.
The ABA said that breastfeeding should be accommodated in the case of separation.
“In cases of family separation involving a breastfed child, the parents will need to consider parenting arrangements that accommodate this important relationship,” they said.
“It is entirely possible for separated parents to work out shared care arrangements that allow the partner to have plenty of time with their child while not sacrificing the breastfeeding relationship that child has with their mother.”
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