What Kind of Government Separates Breastfeeding Moms from their Kids?

Breastfeeding Family Separation
Photo Credit Clarion Ledger 8/2019

Breastfeeding is one of the most precious acts of bonding for new mothers. The practice is good for mommy and baby, both physically and emotionally. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), research shows that children that are breastfed have a higher survival rate and an increased defense line against infections commonly found during childhood. Skin-to-skin and suckling contact is also known to benefit children long-term. The American Psychological Association (APA) has found a link in their own findings about the positive effects on the connection between mother and child. There is reason to believe the bond formed during breastfeeding helps a mother’s response time and understand the needs of the child better. Although, there are different ways to strengthen the ties between the two, there is proof of the mutual benefits the exercise can create.

Family Separation Breastfeeding
Photo Credit Clarion Ledger 8/2019

The breast milk a woman produces can be gold in a bottle for moms that have made the decision to breastfeed their child. Mothers may sometimes go through a lot of trouble to make sure their babies receive the proper nutrition. Making a commitment to breastfeed can be difficult because your baby is reliant on your body. If a woman returns to work, she may or may not decide to continue providing milk but has to plan ahead to ensure that child gets what is needed. If that calls for pumping their milk into a bottle in the middle of the day, it means figuring out how to produce the nourishment in a private setting. The privacy is not always possible, as not all organizations provide nursing rooms. Therefore, there is a lot of consideration that goes into breastfeeding because it is important to an abundance of mothers for various reasons.

Knowing what breastfeeding means to me, I cannot wrap my head around the legitimate reason for government agencies allowing for officers — immigration or not, separating babies from breastfeeding or any mother. My heart aches imagining how the mothers feel but more so, defenseless babies.

There have been claims stating that breastfeeding babies have been ripped from the arms of their mothers at the border. The crisis has people afraid, angry, and resentful of the alleged abuse happening at the borders. In 2018, a group of illegal immigrants was caught crossing the borders, among them was a Honduran woman. She attests that US border authorities snatched an infant from her arms while breastfeeding. Offenders were detained at the border between the United States and Mexico, the incident sparked outrage everywhere. US officials strongly denied the reports and refused to respond to queries about cutoff ages targeted as part of their zero tolerance policy. Eventually, the administration entered reasoning or caved into pressure when the policy was terminated. Detained families are to remain together during the processing to avoid this from happening to others. The question remains, what kind of leadership institutes a policy that allows government agents to separate a mother from her young child? These types of injustices have shifted the conversation about immigration, as they raise concerns about empathy and basic humanity. 

Father Deportation Family Separation Breastfeeding
Photo Credit Clarion Ledger 8/2019

The administration has explained that the extreme measures were taken to deter families from attempting to cross the border illegally. There is a vetting process that should be followed in order to come to the US. The expectation was to discourage the behavior by enforcing their tough stance on the issue. There are supporters who believe it is a means to an end. It will instill terror refraining illegals from trying to cross the borders. While there may be a need for procedure to secure the safety of the borders. It is inconceivable to an abundance of the population the consequence of separating families is severely flawed. The American Bar Association (ABA) website states that 2,000 children were removed from their parent’s physical custody between mid-April to June because of the zero tolerance policy implemented by the current cabinet.  The US’ immigrant policies continue to be a topic of debate and will be for some time. People can rationalize both sides of the argument to support their views on the matter but how do you justify taking a newborn from his mother’s arms?

Although, my daughter is now a teenager, I remember as if it were yesterday. She spent nine months in the womb before we met. My deepest love began the instant I felt her living inside of me. The instinct to protect and care for her with my life was immediate. The choice to breastfeed was made selflessly for two reasons. The first was to help nourish her using my body as the instrument. Contributing to her well-being was a gift from me to her. Secondly, the bonding effect, I envisioned having with baby girl was priceless. I’d be giving her something no one else could because as her mom, it was the part I’d play in welcoming her into the world. Having all these emotions come into play during the first months, I could only describe what is happening with mothers and children at the borders as torture.  

Tearing babies away from breastfeeding moms is cruel and inhumane. Research reported by The Association for Psychological Science shows that separating a child from mothers has the ability to cause traumatic consequences long-term. A mother-child bond formed while in the womb is sufficiently powerful to create responses by the mere sound of her voice. The connection is made early on in the gestational stages continuing well after birth. Recognition of face, the scent of nurturer forms comfort. Eliminating this security aspect early in life for indefinite periods of time can be detrimental to a child’s development. As human beings, it is essential to acknowledge these facts to hopefully encourage new and better solutions that might improve immigration challenges. Matters of immigration have gone past the point of no return, if children are being victimized. This should be a warning flag, signaling change in policy is necessary to protect the children of the world not just one country. Children are the future, they are also helpless when it comes to decision making. Therefore, forcing the innocent to pay for the actions of adults seems rather unfair, doesn’t it? 

We are all citizens of the world with a paramount responsibility. It is our duty as humans to care, at the very least feel some sympathy. If we can begin by showing compassion for newborns, babies and children that do not have a voice then there is a chance for humanity.