A JUDGE ordered a mother to stop breastfeeding her six-month-old daughter amidst a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband.
Arleta Ramirez was told by the judge to “make every effort” to bottle-feed her child in order to accommodate her ex’s needs.
Mike Ridgway, Ramirez’s ex, complained that her breastfeeding was “interfering” with his time with the children.
The mother has been breastfeeding her daughter since she was born in July and also breastfed her older son for two years.
“Mother is to make every effort to place the child on a feeding schedule and use a bottle,” wrote a Virginia judge on November 28, in an order that allows Ridgway to visit his daughter four days a week.
Overnight visits are scheduled to begin this month.
Ridgway complained that his daughter’s feeding times were cutting into his visits, however, Ramirez said she was having trouble pumping milk, reported the Washington Post.
The mother, who agrees with most experts that “breast is best,” also said that her daughter had initially rejected bottle feeding.
She is preparing evidence for a hearing in April from breastfeeding experts along with a letter from her pediatrician that explains that her daughter is exclusively breastfed.
“Why are they forcing me to stop breastfeeding?” she told the Washington Post. “Isn’t that her right? Isn’t that in her best interest?”
However, Ridgway told the outlet that he had given his ex-wife “space to both nurse and to pump milk for me to bottle-feed our daughter while she is in my care.”
He added: “Past the age of six months I will continue to support breastfeeding and bottle-feeding our daughter breast milk as much as possible, while also supplementing with formula only when absolutely necessary.”
Ridgway’s attorney, Tara Steinnard, accused Ramirez of trying to use breastfeeding “as a weapon.”
“They come up with a myriad of excuses,” she said referring to women who refuse to pump. “It’s about using breastfeeding as a weapon against visitation.”
Stephanie Bodak Nicholson, president of La Leche League’s USA Council – a nonprofit that supports new moms on their breastfeeding journey – said that she receives a call every year about breastfeeding being used during custody battles.
“It’s definitely something we get calls on. It’s frequent enough that we keep it on our radar,” she said.