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Woman Faces 5 Years for Breastfeeding While Drunk

Posted Jun 25 2009 1:22pm

North Dakota officials prosecuted a new mother, 26-year-old Stacey Anvarinia, for breastfeeding while intoxicated.

Police charged the Grand Forks mother after receiving a domestic disturbance call and witnessing her nursing her 6-week-old daughter. Officers say she appeared drunk, but there’s no report of her blood alcohol content. They booked her on child neglect charges.

And for some reason, she has pleaded guilty to the felony charge. But don’t worry. She won’t have to register as an offender against children.

But she now faces 5 years in jail.

So what’s worse: separating an infant from her mother for half a decade, or making the mistake of BFWD?


According to La Leche League, the studies on alcohol consumption during breastfeeding aren’t conclusive and often contradict one another. They do point out that,

Traditionally beer and, to a lesser degree, wine have been recommended as helpful in the making of milk–a source of B vitamins as well as a means to help a new mother to relax. Actually, it is only the non-pasteurized European beers that contain the beneficial B vitamins, and these are abundant in many foods and food supplements.

And I have to admit: my midwife gave me the “ dark beer ” tip. Seasoned mamas greeted my new motherhood with gifts the brew.

But there’s a limit, say public health officials. A doctor who is on the AAP’s panel for breastfeeding recommendations says,

Excessive alcohol while breastfeeding is harmful to a baby who is breastfeeding.We don’t know the full extent of how much harm, because many of the women who drink excessively after [delivery] have already been drinking excessively while they were pregnant.

As interesting as that blanket statement is, more research is clearly needed. The AAP says alcohol could actually inhibit milk production and should be used for celebratory purposes only. Other studies say that it could decrease infants’ suckling ability. Most agree on the “pump and dump” method or waiting at least 2 hours before breastfeeding after alcohol consumption.

One opinion page calls the situation an,

outrageous interference in the private life of this woman. This is a blatant attempt to deny individual rights to women in the guise of protecting a child.

What do you think? Should we put a mama behind bars for this? Or even keep the felony charge on her? In this case, who is truly being excessive?

Image: Mooganic on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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