In general, a large part of the medical community and countless mothers agree: breastfeeding is usually considered the healthy way to feed a newborn baby. Now, while many mothers simply are not able to breastfeed for a plethora of reasons, many other mothers feel strongly about the need to breastfeed and the long-term health benefits it will have on their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics backs those mothers up: it recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months, and supplemental breastfeeding up to 12 months. Meanwhile the World Health Organization recommends continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond.
In a Louisiana custody case, the ultimate goal is the best interest of the child. Very often breastfeeding is in the best interest of the child. So when you are going through a custody battle concerning a very young child, what role does breastfeeding actually play?
If you get awarded 50/50 custody, for example, the application of that custody order seems as though it would be majorly problematic when it comes to a child’s feeding schedule. Some newborns need to nurse as often as every 1.5 hours. And while some mothers are able to pump without issue, many experience major issues in doing so and are unable to feed their child in this way.
In a handful of states, like Michigan and Maine, judges are required by law in varying degrees to consider breastfeeding when making a custody decision. This, however, does not mean that a judge won’t consider this as a very important detail in a custody arrangement when making a custody decision in Louisiana. As we’ve said, the ultimate goal is the overall best interest of the child.
Here are some possibly influential factors that could come into play during your Louisiana child custody decision:
1. The Age of the Child
The age at which a child should stop breastfeeding, for some reason, is a heated topic in the United States. Remember this cover of Time magazine? The judge may treat the breastfeeding factor much differently for a three year old child than he or she would for a newborn. Generally, the older the child gets, the general public’s perception is that the need for that child to breastfeed becomes less and less. As such, it’s very possible that a Louisiana judge would feel the same way.
2. Whether the child is supplementing with formula or solids
The time span upon which a child will need to nurse will become much greater once solids or formula are introduced. If the mother is able to successfully pump without reducing her supply, this combined with the supplemental nutrients may reduce the need for her to have physical custody of the baby every single day. This may allow for the baby to have a day or two with dad. Again, if this is the case, it is something that a Louisiana court may consider when making a decision regarding physical custody.
3. If the mother has a history of drug or alcohol abuse
Sadly, not all moms make the best choices when it comes to the well being of their children. If a mom says she wants to breastfeed her child, but is using drugs or alcohol, this could contaminate the breastmilk and pose a serious threat to the newborn baby. In this case, the judge may see it best that the child not be in the custody of the mother.
4. The father’s ability to care for a newborn baby
Likewise, if a father has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, this places his ability to take care of an extremely vulnerable, tiny human under extreme scrutiny. The younger the baby, the more susceptible the baby is to being hurt due to a parent being under the influence.