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Breast-feeding advocates rally around FLDS mothers

   |  Posted Apr 22nd, 2008 @ 4:05pm



 

Courtney Orton reporting

Nursing babies are among the children that have been taken into state custody in Texas. Although still with their mothers, a judge has refused to protect them from separation in the future. She left it up to child welfare officials.

Advocates for breast-feeding in Utah and Texas are now rallying around the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mothers.

Lactation consultants don't want to weigh in on the allegations of child abuse at the FLDS ranch. They just want Texas authorities to know how damaging abrupt weaning can be for infants.

"It's not my right to judge whether the children should be with their mothers, but I do feel it is our right to make sure they have the best care and the best nutrition," said Nicole Hoff, a certified lactation consultant.

Hoff, the founding member of the Texas Breast-Feeding Coalition, says the best care and the best nutrition is breast milk. She set up a Web site to organize support and make breast pumps available to nursing mothers if they are separated from their children.

"These children have been breast-fed and that is the only thing they've known. It's what their body, what their system, is used to. It's important for them that they continue to have that breast milk," Hoff said.

Hoff says that could be accomplished in a couple of different ways: either in supervised breast-feeding visits or allowing FLDS mothers to pump their breast milk.

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services says breast-feeding can come up in custodial cases. "When it comes to something like breast-feeding, we wouldn't want to be making the decision on our own. We would be a part of that team, but we would be looking to medical professionals, law enforcement and that kind of thing to help us make a decision," said Charri Brummer, deputy director of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.

Brummer says removing a child can be traumatic regardless of the circumstances. Breast-feeding advocates say taking breast-feeding away from the child can make it even more traumatic.

"To separate them only causes trauma. If these mothers have chosen to be with their babies, then their babies are used to being with them; and they are not only used to being with them, but the are programed to be with them," said Nicole Bernshaw, also a certified lactation consultant.

Texas judge Barber Walther responded to the FLDS women's plea by saying that women every day in this country go back to work after six weeks of maternity leave. Advocates for breast-feeding say the comment was insensitive to mothers who continue to breast-feed even after returning to work.

To view Hoff's Web site, click the related link.

E-mail: corton@ksl.com

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