17.1 What can I do if I’m threatened with my child being taken from me while breastfeeding?

1. Carry on breastfeeding. Do not agree to stop. Stress that your child needs and has a right to your breastmilk to thrive. Refer to the official medical advice and evidence confirming the critical importance of breastfeeding to giving the child the best start in life nutritionally, health wise and emotionally, setting her/him up for long term health and well-being. Refer to proven risk of significant harm caused by formula – it can make your child very ill in the short and long-term. (See [59].)

This is a key argument against taking a breastfed baby (or would-be) away at birth or during infancy because if that happens, the best interests of the child are clearly not at the heart of the decision. The baby is being deprived of the best start, and this cannot be replaced. There is no comparable substitute for a mother breastfeeding her child. 

2. If Children’s Services are determined to take your new born away press them to find a residential or foster placement that keeps mother and baby together. If time is needed to set up a placement, press to be allowed to stay in hospital with your baby until one can be found. 

3. If the baby is taken away, you can express milk – ask them for a breast pump. Some mothers have been given one, but if they are slow getting it to you, don’t wait – borrow or buy one. Ask for your milk to be given to the child again on the grounds it is the best food for her/him. Expressing will also help maintain your milk supply so that you can breastfeed during contact visits.

4. Get as much support as possible with making the above demands: try to always have someone with you whom you can count on as a witness and to back you up when you press your case – relative, friend, breastfeeding counsellor. Put your request and reasons in writing, and keep a copy. 

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