Mother Ordered To Give Breastfed Baby Formula At Father’s Request

August 31, 2017
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A Mom has been ordered to give her breastfed infant formula at the Father’s request

A Maryland breastfeeding mother is entangled in a court battle after an official said she must let her estranged partner give the 6-month-old boy formula while the child is visiting him.

Amber Brown, 27, of Upper Marlboro, gave birth to the boy in February. Brown and the boy’s father, Corey Donta Lewis, separated shortly after their child was born.

At a July custody hearing, Monise A. Brown, a family magistrate in Charles County, addressed a dispute between the couple: Amber Brown wanted to exclusively breastfeed her child, while Lewis insisted the child be able to consume formula to facilitate overnight visits with him, according to court documents.

After Amber Brown explained that she couldn’t pump enough milk for an overnight visit, the magistrate sided with the child’s father.

“The magistrate stated pointedly that breastfeeding is not a reason to prevent [Lewis’s] visitation, and that insisting on breastfeeding would be considered deliberate alienation of [Lewis],” according to an affidavit from Jay R. Halleck, an attorney who represented Amber Brown at the hearing.

At a follow-up hearing, Magistrate Mistey L. Metzgar appeared to agree with her fellow family magistrate, recommending overnight visits start on August 4th, according to court filings. However, Amber Brown filed a request for an exception on Aug. 10, saying that the child’s pediatrician said the boy couldn’t tolerate formula — and that, during one visit, Lewis had fed him formula anyway.

“It was simply more convenient for [Lewis] to feed the baby formula than to ensure the baby remained healthy,” the request for exception reads.

Brown’s request for the exception alleged a “clear and improper policy” in Charles County courts “creating a presumption that breastfeeding is used to alienate fathers and that babies should be switched from breast milk to formula in order to accommodate overnight visitation.”

Lewis declined to comment on the matter, citing the need to contact legal counsel. The magistrates in the case didn’t return a request for comment on Wednesday.

Amber Brown reportedly said she tried home remedies in an attempt to produce more breast milk, including lactation cookies and herbal tea, but was unable to pump enough for an overnight visit.

Citing the American Academy of Pediatrics and other heath officials, a Maryland Senate bill that became law in 2003 indicated “the state is interested in the promotion of family values and to that end encourages public acceptance of this basic act of nurture.”

Jeanette Rice, Amber Brown’s attorney, said that she was outraged by the magistrates’ recommendations. “I’ve been practicing for 20-plus years,” she said. “I’ve never had a magistrate tell someone not to breastfeed.”

Custody disputes related to breast-feeding are not completely unheard of.

A mother in Pennsylvania said that a judge in 2013 ordered her to stop breast-feeding to accommodate visits with the father of her child. Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, said that in court last year her former fiance’s custody demands would disrupt her breast-feeding schedule.

One Comment

  1. Sam Smith

    October 12, 2017 at 2:47 am

    This is horrible. Either the judge has no kids, or paid someone else to raise them if she thinks that breastfeeding isn’t important. Poor child. The father is the worst one, though, pushing to destroy the child’s breastfeeding relationship to spite the mother. He could have asked for more frequent, but shorter visits. This is pure selfishness on his part.

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