Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Judge orders new breastfeeding schedule

I think this has to be a first: a judge in Toronto has ruled that a breastfeeding mother is using her nursing schedule to prevent her child's father from court-ordered visitation with his daughter. The child in question is 29 months old and was conceived during a brief relationship between Carl Cavannah, 42, and Jennifer Johne, 35. The mother was allegedly restricting the amount of time her ex could spend with his daughter because the visits didn't fit in with her breastfeeding schedule. The judge wrote in his ruling: "Jen has been unwilling to give a timetable as to when the breastfeeding will end. But now the time has come for Jen to have greater consideration for the relationship between the child and Carl. If she used a breast pump and provided the milk to Carl, he would be willing to give it to (the child)."

Now, I don't know this child's breastfeeding schedule, but at 29 months it seems she'd be perfectly capable of spending a day with her dad without needing to nurse. If she absolutely needs to be nursed to bed, couldn't the mother come over and nurse her and then leave, or pick her up at bedtime? My son is still nursing at 16 months old, but one night a week I leave the house before he does so he doesn't get to nurse in the morning. There have been days where he's been out with his father all day and by the time they got home he was asleep and he didn't nurse at all. I could see the mom's point of view more if the child was under the age of 1.

I don't think this mother needs to give anyone a timetable as to when she will stop breastfeeding, because honestly, how can she know? If she and her daughter are still enjoying the nursing, they might continue for another year or more. It's none of anyone's business how long she chooses to nurse. I think the judge is also missing a basic understanding of toddler nursing. Yes, the mother could pump and provide breast milk for her daughter while she is away at her father's house, but breastfeeding a toddler usually isn't about the milk. Toddlers nurse for comfort, to connect with mom, when they're scared, when they're bored, when they're hurt. I don't think in these cases a sippy cup of breast milk will do the trick, but it does sound like this child has a father who loves her and wants to be a part of her life. At the end of the day, what's more important? A nursing session, or a father getting the opportunity to forge a loving relationship with his daughter?

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