I remember rushing home to breastfeed my infant after work during those first few months. Knowing she was waiting for me and that I was providing her with sustenance would bring me all kinds of joy as I made the drive.
Every working and breastfeeding mother should be able to experience that feeling of anticipation as they wrap up a hard day’s work and return to their loved ones. No one should carry the fear and uncertainty that their children may not get the sustenance they depend on, or of not knowing when they’ll see their children again.
That’s why this August for National Breastfeeding Month, I’m standing up for moms like Maria Domingo-Garcia who have been separated from their breastfeeding infants, held in detention centers that don’t provide adequate food and water to maintain their milk supply, or had the parenting of their children purposefully disrupted by the Trump Administration’s inhumane, divisive, and damaging policies.
Families belong together, period. And families should be strengthened, not weakened, by our government. This is true for all families, and especially for those with vulnerable babies who rely on their mothers’ bodies for the most basic, essential sustenance.
Last week, Maria Domingo-Garcia was separated from her four-month old breastfeeding baby after the ICE raids on Koch Industries in Mississippi. This is not the first time there have been reports of ICE separating mothers from their breastfeeding babies – and this is absolutely not okay.
Equally disturbing are reports from a physician who toured a Texas border patrol facility in June who heard from nursing mothers that they were only receiving 1.5 liters of water a day at meals when mothers who are breastfeeding should drink at least 3 liters a day and be given extra food.
The whole situation is unconscionable and wrong. In fact, ICE waited a full 12 days after Maria was detained to examine her and then tried to say she’d never nursed at all despite the fact that experts know that the process by which lactation ceases varies, can happen relatively quickly, and is dependent on many factors. The fact that whether Maria is lactating or not is being debated is demeaning to any mother who’s put their baby to the breast hoping for a good latch. Ultimately only one thing is important: There’s an infant who needs their mother.
Women already face the possibility of discontinuing breastfeeding earlier than they’d like as a result of returning to work. We now have to add the possibility of children being taken from their mothers during a critical period in their life to the list of those reasons.
The Trump Administration’s devastating family separation policies must be stopped. We know that separating families and even incarcerating children with their families causes tragic, long-term consequences to the health and well-being of children. In spite of that knowledge, the Trump Administration continues to push policies that do just that: Purposefully hurt infants, children, moms, dads, and families.
*Every mother deserves to be with their breastfeeding child – whether they are breastfeeding or bottle feeding or eating solids! Demand that the Trump Administration and Congress protect children and families!
We must continue to fight for breastfeeding mothers! For their treatment, for their accommodations, and for the ability to continue to nourish their children in a way that makes sense for their families.
Together, we are standing up for all families of this nation.