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Single and breastfeeding
By Jo-Anne Lawless, HCA, LC

Jo-Anne LawlessQ. I am 8 months pregnant and single. The father is threatening joint physical custody as soon as she is born. He has said that breastfeeding can be "easily overcome". I want him to be involved but I also want to breastfeed and him taking her for overnights or longer than three hours concerns me and how she will react to breastfeeding. It makes me upset to think the father would risk his child's health for the selfish need to have her 50/50. It seems like a lot of work on my part to make it easy on his part. Is it easily overcome to have joint physical custody as far as breastfeeding goes?

A. Breastfed babies should not be separated from their mothers until breastfeeding is well established, at LEAST 6 weeks, and even then, the emotional ramifications of prolonged separation are significant. Breastfeeding is not a thing to be "overcome"; it is the child's sole nourishment, and as people on this board can attest, it doesn't take much to mess it up sometimes.

A newborn child's first need is for its mother, as I'm sure your child's father's lawyer is aware. It is important for you to get legal advice. Do not let anyone persuade you that you should be separated from your nursing baby for one moment.

And if I may offer personal advice, in these last weeks of pregnancy, the last thing you need is the stress of dealing with someone who is threatening you. If you can, only have dealings with those who are supportive of you during this time.

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