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The GEM Debate: Babies And Beer: Mother Jailed For Breastfeeding While Drinking

Creative Commons/David Leo Veksler

Creative Commons/David Leo Veksler

The GEM Debate:
Babies And Beer: Mother Jailed For Breastfeeding While Drinking

We talk about breastfeeding quite a bit at TeamGEM. Many of us have nursed our babies and we support other women doing the same. We notice breastfeeding stories that become national news because there’s typically an unusual twist. This one is no different. A mother was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child because she was breastfeeding her baby while drinking beer.

Tasha Adams is a 28-year-old stay-at-home mother of three children. She lives in Toad Suck, Arkansas, which is a dry town. After the funeral of a family friend, Adams and her parents stopped for dinner at a restaurant in the nearby town of Conway, where she says all she had to drink was two beers. She brought along her six-month-old baby, Ana, because at the time she was still nursing. Ana became fussy and Adams nursed her.

This is where Jackie Conners enters the story. She was a waitress at the restaurant, who showed up early for an after-hours staff meeting. She says that she saw Adams breastfeed Ana and that there were several drinks in front of Adams, and not just beer.

Conners reported Adams to management, but the manager had already decided not to cut Adams off. She talked to her mother and then decided it was best to call the police.

The police showed up and made a judgment call to arrest Adams for endangering the welfare of a child. The city attorney dropped the charges because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove she had one too many drinks to care for Ana. Conners was fired from her job the week after the incident.

You can catch the full story tomorrow night, March 28, on ABC’s “20/20” at 10 p.m. EST.

Related: The GEM Debate: Say What? Breastfeeding In Church…Is It A Do Or Don’t? (POLL)

I didn’t drink alcohol at all while I was pregnant or nursing. When I was eight weeks pregnant with my oldest child, my husband and I vacationed in Italy and I didn’t have even a sip of those wonderful Italian wines. I didn’t bother with pumping and dumping while nursing because I wasn’t sure how much alcohol would or wouldn’t be present in my breast milk.

My uncertainty came from the fact that there has been little research done on drinking and breastfeeding. “Conventional wisdom will say that breastfeeding is best for both the mother and the baby, and that moderate consumption, which really means once in a while to consume a drink, probably will not do any harm for the baby,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a practicing ob-gyn and ABC News contributor. “But we have to remember that alcohol is a toxin. It’s especially toxic to the newborn’s brain, to the developing brain.”

Just because I wouldn’t drink and breastfeed doesn’t mean that every other woman can’t make this decision for herself. I’m not sure why the waitress felt she had to call the police. She said there were other glasses in front of Adams, but that doesn’t mean she was drinking from them. Glasses are routinely moved around as food is brought to the table and empty glasses are moved out of the way. I also think the police were out of bounds, too.

You and I may not like that Adams was drinking and breastfeeding. We may think she took an unnecessary risk. Some people will call her every name in the book. The fact remains that Adams did not break any law. How did the police determine that she was endangering her baby? Did they test her breast milk? Did they determine that she was drunk? I’m guessing they didn’t because she wasn’t charged with public drunkenness.

Additionally, are pregnant women charged with child endangerment if they drink a glass of wine? I don’t think so. We know for sure that alcohol, once it enters the bloodstream, will cross the placenta. But we are not certain about the process when it comes to alcohol in breast milk.

I’m not surprised the charges were dropped. They should have been. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to drink and breastfeed, but Adams is entitled to make this decision for herself. It looks to me that the “morality police” arrested her, not the ones charged with enforcing the law.

Related: “It’s Just For White People” And Other Myths About Breastfeeding

What do you say, GEM Nation? What do you think about Adams drinking and breastfeeding? Was Conners right to call the police? Did the police overstep in arresting Adams? Share your thoughts below.

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