Would you say something if you saw a mother putting beer in her infant’s bottle? How about if you saw a woman breastfeeding after drinking beer? In Arkansas, a mother was arrested when she chose to breastfeed her infant daughter after drinking two beers. Although the charges were dropped, it has brought public attention to the question: What exactly are the rights of breastfeeding women?

Tasha Adams was arrested last week for breastfeeding her baby after drinking alcohol. The mother of three had attended the funeral of a family friend earlier that day. After the service, Adams, along with her parents and 6-month-year-old daughter Ana, had dinner at Gusano’s, a local restaurant. Over the period of an hour and a half Adams claims she had two beers before breastfeeding her daughter. “We had a pizza, and then we had a big old thing of spinach dip. Then, I had a beer with that, and then I had another one later on after,” Adams explained to ABC News. Off duty waitress Jackie Conners saw the situation from a different perspective. Conners believed the stay-at-home mom could not safely breastfeed her child due to the amount of alcohol she consumed . “There were several drinks in front of her, about … two or three drinks in front of her already when I got there,” Conners said in defense of her presumption. Management at Gusano’s chose not to act on the issue, but Conners disagreed with their opinion on the matter and instead informed the police of the situation.

Adams was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. The mom claimed that she didn’t know she was breaking the law. Turns out she was right as there is no law in the state of Arkansas to regulate alcohol consumption and breastfeeding. A judge dropped all charges based on lack of evidence to prove that her child was in fact in danger.

This case touches on a sensitive area where women’s rights intersect with the rights of their children. There is no argument over whether or not drinking while breastfeeding is harmful to a child. A study conducted in the late 1980s found that alcohol ingested through breast milk has a slight but significant detrimental effect on motor development, but not mental development, in breastfed infants. The subject in question is the rights of a breastfeeding mother, and as based on the precedent set by Arkansas, we now know the right to consume alcohol is one of them.

 

Source: Little RE, Anderson KW, Ervin CH, Worthington-Roberts B, Clarren SK. Maternal Alcohol Use during Breast-Feeding and Infant Mental and Motor Development at One Year. New England Journal of Medicine. 1989.