As a new mother, I can attest that spending nine months pregnant had its challenges. Some women absolutely love it and some don't. I fell more on the "don't" side of the spectrum. I missed turkey sandwiches and jogging and clothing that fit and wine. I mostly missed wine. I don't drink more than the average person, but I like a glass of wine here and there; it makes life seem nicer to me.
I've written before about the growing inconsistencies on whether or not it's okay to drink during pregnancy. This topic is a never-ending debate, like global warming or whether Modern Family is actually a good show or we've all been duped. I struggled to get pregnant, so to me not drinking was a no-brainer. Whether it hurt or not, why take the risk?
But drinking while breastfeeding, now we are onto a totally different situation.
Last week the news hit that an Arkansas woman, Tasha Adams, a mother of three, had been arrested for having a beer while nursing her child. In an interview with ABC's 20/20, Adams told her sudsy tale. She was out to dinner with some family, having a bite to eat and a beer. Her six-month old baby also was hungry, and so Adams fed her, as a mother should do when her child is looking for food.
A off-duty waitress happened to come into the restaurant, and took it upon herself to call the police. The waitress didn't know how many drinks Adams had had, nor did she go and discuss her concerns with the mom; she just called the cops. The police came and arrested Adams for endangering her child.
Just so you know, Arkansas might have some strict laws and many dry areas, but drinking and breastfeeding is not illegal there. It's not illegal anywhere.
The charges were dropped last week because there was no reason for them.
I used to work in a bar down on Wall Street in my early twenties and there was a woman who would come in from time to time to meet her husband after work. They'd have appetizers and a drink or two. They seemed like a lovely couple. She always brought her baby, which I judgmentally thought was a disgusting thing. A baby in a bar!
Last week, I had a bite with my family at Hughie's Tavern on 18th. Naturally, I brought my babies along because it's illegal to leave them in the car with the windows cracked, I just found out. At some point, one of them got hungry, and I thought it was a good time to get over my hangup about breastfeeding in public. I had a glass of wine sitting in front of me. I thought nothing of it, nor was I arrested. Prior to this story, it would have never occurred to me to be concerned.
I took a breastfeeding course at the hospital in which my babies were born. After about five minutes, a mom-to-be asked about nursing and alcohol. The rest of the class breathed a sigh of relief that they weren't the ones to ask. The teacher said that it was "okay." Those were her words. She said that, in general, very little of what a mom eats passes through her milk, and she left it at that. I high-fived myself.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs, alcohol and breastfeeding is kosher. The academy "lists possible side effects if [alcohol is] consumed in large amounts, including: drowsiness, deep sleep, weakness, and abnormal weight gain in the infant, and the possibility of decreased milk-ejection reflex in the mother." In large amounts.
Dr. Jack Newman, member of the LLLI Health Advisory Council, says this in his handout "More Breastfeeding Myths": Reasonable alcohol intake should not be discouraged at all. As is the case with most drugs, very little alcohol comes out in the milk. The mother can take some alcohol and continue breastfeeding as she normally does. Prohibiting alcohol is another way we make life unnecessarily restrictive for nursing mothers.
The website goes on with various other statements of a similar sentiment. I take it that as with anything, moderation is key. Don't go to happy hour and down ten Jäger bombs and then bust out a boob; that might be harmful and kind of gross.
Evidence aside, obviously the woman who called the cops on the breastfeeding mom thought she was doing the right thing. She said in a statement that she was looking out for a baby that couldn't speak up for itself. If it could, perhaps it would say, "Coors Light? What kind of low-class baby do you think I am?"
Seriously, though, I think "speaking for the baby" has other implications in our society. In the past few years, this country has taken a stand-up-for-baby approach to everything. It's a part of our views on health care, our legal system, abortion and motherhood. It is beginning to feel as if no matter what you do as a mom, you are doing it wrong. The collective conscience knows what's best for your baby, not you, and it's beginning to get pretty annoying.
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Of course we need laws to protect our children. There are too many horrible people out there to allow us to do whatever we want, but there has been this growing trend in mom-shaming and it's getting out of control.
If you're a teen mom, you are a slut; it's called a condom, girls. But let's not teach sex-ed in schools because that will encourage you. If you abort your baby because you are a teen mom, you're a horrible person and you're going to hell, by the way. If you want drugs during labor, you're weak and if you insist on a natural childbirth, you're a hippie. If you breastfeed because it's supposedly healthier, you're a snob and if you give your child formula, you might as well be feeding her Fiesta-brand orange soda. If you go back to work right away, you are selfish and if you stay at home, well, welcome to 2014, lady; get a job or three and lean your ass in. What the hell is a mother supposed to do?
Despite being a mom for only less than two months, I've already been let in on the secret that every mother knows but doesn't quite know how to express properly because moms are a humble sort: Being a mother is the hardest job there is.
Moms, if you want to have a beer and you feel comfortable doing so and then you want to breastfeed your baby: Go for it. Then go change her nasty, leaky diaper and clean up the puke that's all over yourself and the floor and then make dinner and finish the laundry and know where your husband left his keys and what homework Billy has due this week and how much spaghetti to make that isn't too little or leaves too many left-overs because left-over spaghetti can get nasty and when you go to the grocery store, know everything that your family needs for the entire week and break out the money-saving coupons that you had the foresight to cut out of the newspaper that you didn't even have enough time to read and then pack everyone's lunch for the next day, including your own because you also have to go to work and solve problems there and then come home and bake some fucking brownies. And then have another beer.