Jail Refused to Let Mother Pump Breast Milk for Her Newborn

Illustration for article titled Jail Refused to Let Mother Pump Breast Milk for Her Newborn

A mother in Wisconsin says she was not allowed to provide breast milk for her infant during a recent stint in jail.


According to the Green Bay Press Gazette officials at the Brown County Jail denied inmate Britney Weber's requests to pump her breast milk to provide for her baby. Weber was serving time stemming from contempt of court charges related to a traffic case.

The Brown County Jail wouldn't let a 27-year-old woman pump breast milk for her newborn daughter during her recent seven-day incarceration, which prevented her from continuing to lactate and causing digestive problems for her baby....The jail allows inmates to express milk in cases where a physician or nurse considers it necessary. But they say they can't do so without a medical reason.


Wait—why do they need a "medical reason?" Wouldn't the "medical reason" just be "I have a newborn baby who needs breast milk?"

Sheriff's Capt. Larry Malcomson said the jail has limited refrigeration capacity and lacks other the necessary facilities to allow all incarcerated nursing mothers to express milk. "We try to be very accommodating," said Malcomson's boss, Sheriff John Gossage. "But the fact is that when you're incarcerated, you lose a lot of privileges that you otherwise had when you're not in jail."

Is that what breastfeeding is now? A privilege? We're not even talking about Weber physically breastfeeding the baby—we're talking about a mother pumping milk to give to someone else to feed her baby. Actually, we're talking about a mother providing food and nutrition to her baby, period. I mean, that's great, Sheiff Malcomson—prisoners should lose privileges when they're in jail. But a newborn baby shouldn't lose the "privilege" (I cannot believe this is how it's being referred to) of getting breast milk as nourishment.

Britney Weber says her now 4-week-old daughter, Elsy, has been spitting up and having other digestive issues because jail officials would not allow her to express milk before her release on Feb. 26.


"Everybody stresses the importance of breast-feeding," Weber said. "You'd think that for people who were there for a short time, they would allow it."

Image via Shutterstock

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I don't see how it isn't a medical issue for the mother. Stopping breast feeding cold turkey puts the mother at risk for clogged milk ducts which can rapidly become mastitis, a pretty debilitating infection of the milk ducts. Imagine the worst flu you ever had, plus excruciating pain in your breast.