Okay, I’m no supermom. I’ll admit, I breastfeed while surfing the internet, eating dinner, and even once while using the restroom. (Yes, I know – gross!) And, I know I’ve made some big parenting mistakes, such as letting my toddler eat chips as a complete meal. (Oh, come on, he’ll survive – it’s not everyday.)
But no matter how hungry my baby was, and how desperate I was to get somewhere quickly, I would never, ever, breastfeed my child while driving. I would never allow my baby or child to be in a car without being properly restrained in a carseat.
I became livid yesterday when I found this article about a Dayton, Ohio mother, Genine Compton, who was facing charges for breastfeeding her daughter while operating a vehicle. She was driving her other children to school.
I think what made me the most angry was he said she said that she would talk the officers advice into consideration, but may breastfeed her baby while driving in the future if necessary. She stated, “If my baby’s hungry, I’m going to feed it.”
I searched online and found another article of a mother who was caught breastfeeding while driving in 2003. Her response was horrendous:
“It’s not like I’m trying to change a diaper while I’m driving,” Donkers told Perrine. “She pretty much just lays there on the pillow in my lap. I would certainly submit that talking on a cell phone causes far more distraction than nursing a child while she’s just laying there.”
She thought that it was the distraction that was making it dangerous!
While I do give them kudos for choosing to breastfeeding their children, I don’t feel this issue is about breastfeeding at all. It’s about protecting your child from serious harm.
After I cooled off a little from my anger with these complete strangers, I decided to be proactive. I wrote an open letter:
Dear Ms. Compton and Other Mothers Who Breastfeed While Driving:
Imagine you are attending the funeral of your baby. You’re grieving, uncontrollably crying, and overwhelmed with guilt and regret.
Or, picture yourself taking care of your child for the rest of your life. Imagine changing his/her diapers as an adult, never hearing a “Ma-Ma I love you”, and sadly watching him/her live life in a vegetative state.
Also, imagine sitting behind bars for months or years. You feel hopeless and depressed as you wonder daily how your older children are coping with life without you.
Then imagine finding a magic time machine. The time machine would allow you to erase a bad mistake you made, and ultimately change the outcome of a horrendous situation. The time machine would allow you to “undo” your choice to breastfeed while driving. Would you use this machine?
Of course you would!
This letter is your “time machine”. It’s you chance to prevent the possibilitly of causing serious harm and/or death to your child.
Please, vow never to breastfeed youe child while driving again. (Or, for that matter, drive while your child is not restrained for any reason at all.)
You child could be seriously injured and/or killed, even from just a very minor fender bender. The airbag could be released and cause significant brain damage (and eventually death), as it happened to a mother in Spokane, Washington. Read more about it here. Here is another article about a similar case.
If you feel you must feed your child at that moment, please pull over to a safe place. Your child’s safety, health and well-being should come first. The inconvenience is miniscule compared to the serious risk you are placing on your precious baby.
Yes, it can happen to you.
Please be the ultimate advocate and provider for your child – do not place him/her in harms way!
Thank-you for taking the time to read this. If you are looking for parenting referrals and education, please call 211 – read this article.