Judge orders mother to stop breastfeeding
A mother has successfully appealed against an interim parenting order which included that she be prevented from breastfeeding her 11 month old child.
The mother had been primarily responsible for the care of the child during the couple’s relationship. Following separation it had been agreed by the parents that the father would spend 3 hours with the child. The father did not return the child due to concerns he had about the risk of harm of the child remaining in the mother’s care.
At the interim hearing the Judge raised the issue of the mother’s breastfeeding. The solicitor for the father told the court that the mother had had a tattoo one month prior.
The Judge was concerned about the prospect of the child contracting Hepatitis from breastfeeding and adjourned the matter. The child remained in the father’s care.
When the hearing resumed, the mother produced blood test results showing that she did not have Hepatitis or HIV. HIV then became the issue as a test taken less than three months after exposure to the virus would not exclude the virus. The court allowed the return of the child to the mother but ordered the mother not to breastfeed the child.
The mother appealed. The Full Court was satisfied that the trial judge had failed to properly consider the “best interests” of the child noting that although the court should protect a child from physical harm it must weigh that up against the other “best interest” factors.