Saturday, 30 January 2010

Drawing A Family Together...

This is baby Ben, drawn by his father, Mark.

Mark hasn't seen him for a day or two, as he's finding the trek out to the Mother & Baby Unit where Kerry & Ben are, a difficult slog with no money and poor to non-existent public transport. He's had problems getting credit onto his phone, to call her. He's managed to get Kerry a cell phone, that works in Ireland, but so far, there hasn't been enough money for them to connect.

Being a responsible Dad, he's been trying to raise money by his trade - he's an artist. Ireland will welcome him with open arms, I'm sure - they have a wonderful policy on encouraging creatives to contribute to the economy. He's selling the two drawings you see here, on Ebay. You have 6 days and a few hours to snap them up. Every penny goes to the family.

Things are moving along, if slowly and somewhat frustratingly. Kerry & Ben arrived at the mother and baby unit on Thursday, and are very happy with the welcome they received. Nursing Matters helped arrange a IBCLC from the local area, to attend to Kerry & Ben that day, but there have been delays in getting into the unit. Understandable, given all the issues.

The IBCLC, whom I can't name as that would reveal the county the family are in, and no one wants them hounded out by the media... has everything needed on standby. Her expertise, a good pump, and all the time and patience required. There have been reports of Kerry's milk coming in as she has been cuddling Ben, and that's excellent. However, getting a baby back to the breast exclusively can be much more challenging than just getting the mother's milk in, so we'll update as soon as Kerry has had professional assessment and support. Hopefully, before the weekend is out. The Irish IBCLCs are fully behind this family, and are networking amongst themselves to make sure this family has everything it needs.

Others have been working like trojans, and the family finally have legal support in Ireland. Two professionals are working pro bono (free of charge) for the family from today. Rather awesome, that thought: they've got this far, just on their own. So much for Kerry being too stupid to have a baby... and not be able to understand legal matters thoroughly.

You see.. they just never believe how fierce Mamas are, and how much they will fight fight fight for their babies.

Faced with not seeing his son... Mark has relented, and will gladly accept your donations. He'll need to pay for accommodation at a local hostel, in order to be near enough to Ben to see him and Kerry. He also needs to keep his phone working for her calls, and to eat. They aren't entitled to anything in Ireland at the moment, and have been living there via charitable support. I'm pretty sure Mark will make sure any monies they get, will be passed back to the charities when he can earn it.

Paypal for them, can go to:

(If you don't know how paypal works, you set up an account that's your email address as the account name, and then you send it to the other account, another email address. If you want them to get the amount you send GIFT it. You can also state what the money is for (lactation support, travel and hostel, phone credit) in an instruction box.

Otherwise... cheques, postal orders and bank transfers to...

Nursing Matters banks at Santander, formally Abbey National.

Nursing Matters Sort Code: 09 01 27 Account Number: 24202431

IBAN: GB26 ABBY 0901 2724 2024 31

Cheques etc made payable to Nursing Matters to:

3 Barnsite Close, Rustington, LITTLEHAMPTON, BN16 3QH (West Sussex, England, UK)

If you wish any of the money to got to Nursing Matters, versus lactation support for Kerry & Ben, versus the other agencies supporting them (who are, for instance, paying their rent) please make that clear.

We've worked out that they need £500 uk, to keep them together and healthy, until the next legal hearing. That's before we add in pump and breast expenses. I'm sure we can do that!

Mark and Kerry are totally overwhelmed by your support.

They thank you from the bottom of their heart.

And from deep in Ben's soul.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Urgent Appeal for Coca-Cola For Disaster Orphans

Urgent donations of coca-cola for orphaned children are being urged by television personality, Clare Buyme-Book, in order to alleviate suffering and disasters by the world's children. Clare, who is not a registered midwife and holds no professional qualifications in breastfeeding support, has been holding media events throughout the country, in order to raise awareness of the nutritional need for coca-cola in the world's poorest.

"What most women don't understand " she said, with tears glistening in her eyes, "is that breastmilk is the equivalent to a glass of coca cola. And unlike powdered infant formula, coca-cola doesn't have salmonella or other nasty bacteria. You don't need clean water to feed coca-cola to a starving child.. and it's readily available throughout the planet. The answer is simple. Where there is disaster: feed babies coca-cola."

The view is not uncontroversial. When asked, Coca-cola itself, put the phone down on us and we were scarily contacted by their lawyers within moments. The lawyers have asked us to make clear that "Coca-cola is a soft drink for adults and contains no nutritional benefits and should not replace breastfeeding." Which we have done. Let's say that again "Coca-cola is a soft drink for adults and should not replace breastfeeding." When asked if this controversy had been good for their publicity, an off the record comment from a senior Coca-cola executive was not printable due to obscenity laws.

Clare dismisses concerns. "Starving orphans need all the sugar and hydration they can get. If the water is contaminated, and they are going to die anyway, surely better to feed them coca-cola anyway? It's not like feeding any baby coca-cola has ever done any harm." When challenged that coca-cola may not be the most reliable source of nutrition for those in emergency, Clare snapped... "For goodness sake, at least the aid workers can have some as it passes through. I'm sure the aid workers need a nice drink to cheer them up as they hand out the cartons of formula and boxes of used shoes. No one thinks twice about asking for donations of formula, at least the coca-cola won't kill any babies." However, when allowed to rant at the microphone for several moments, on the 'breastfeeding mafia' out to ruin her reputation, Ms Buyme-Book softened. A few tears later, she continued...

"The issue is not the coca-cola, really.." she confides "It's the breastmilk. Heaven knows I support breastfeeding, here... have a copy of my book, found at all decent books stores... but honestly, some women just take it too far. They go on about breastmilk as if it's some miracle substance, and quite frankly, I'm fed up of it. Every mother should breastfeed for a few hours if they want to. I'm not against it. But they have to realise the clock is ticking, and when the baby gets older - bam - it's just as good as coca-cola. That's my point, really. At least by seeing coke bottles with rubber teats on them, such mothers soon realise the 'good' they are doing their children."

Ms Buyme-Book then moved on to another car-boot sale to raise more bottles of coke for "Feed the Poor Starving Hungry Babies Of Some Poor Country You've Never Heard Of Until Now"

In other news... Ever Wondered How, With No Registration To Any Professional Health Organisation In The UK & No Breastfeeding Qualifications Of Any Kind... Can I Get Professional Indemnity Insurance For My Celebrity Practice? See next week's programme!

(Above image, copyright Dorothea Lange. Coca-Cola is a trademark to the Coca-cola Company, and reference to them is made for purpose of satire only. ps You get this is a spoof, right? Humour. Joke. Sarcasm. Irony. Satire. No, not satyr, satire. That's a whole different blog...)

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Sing A Song of Freedom...

... a pocketful of joy...

Ben & Kerry now re-united at a mother-baby unit.

Kerry has unlimited, unsupervised access.

Mark has unlimited access to the them at the unit, but needs travel money to visit them, as it is an hour away.

Trying to arrange an IBCLC to see them in the unit, asap.

I'll keep you all posted.

"Today, Kerry will move into a mother and baby unit where the 17-year-old will be under constant surveillance - but that is undoubtedly the lesser of two evils for the couple, given that they feared they might lose custody of the child they fought so hard to keep."

(Note that unsupervised is different from surveillance. It means that Kerry that care for the baby within the unit and care for Ben, freely, whilst being observed. This is different from not being able to walk about with him, for instance, without another person standing right beside her. They will be observed, 24/7, but Kerry will be free to care for Ben properly.)

EDIT: Qualified IBCLC will see Ben and Kerry later on today. Many thanks to the wonderful IBCLCs in Ireland, who will be working together to ensure Kerry has the support she wants.

Donations to help support Ben & Kerry's lactation needs, can be sent directly to the Nursing Matters bank account. Details in a moment. Money to helps the charities and societies working to support Mark & Kerry and Ben can also be given. Please note that Mark thanks everyone for their suggested donations in helping his travel costs to visits Ben & Kerry, but respectively declines. As the father, he feels it is his responsibility to ensure he pays his own way... to visit his son. He will however accepts donations that support the infrastructure around them, and will pass monies on to the the various agencies and charities.

Nursing Matters banks at Santander, formally Abbey National.

Nursing Matters Sort Code: 09 01 27 Account Number: 24202431

IBAN: GB26 ABBY 0901 2724 2024 31

Cheques etc made payable to Nursing Matters to:

3 Barnsite Close, Rustington, LITTLEHAMPTON, BN16 3QH (West Sussex, England, UK)

If you wish any of the money to got to Nursing Matters, versus lactation support for Kerry & Ben, versus the other agencies supporting them (who are, for instance, paying their rent) please make that clear.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Mother Song Sings a Song of Hope

In response to Elisha's mother's gift to Ben, yesterday, another mother helped by Nursing Matters wants to sing a song of hope... for Ben, Kerry and Mark.

Mother S, or Mother Song, is the mother of Toddler A.

Toddler A was Mother Song's second child. Mother Song was an excellent mother. She was a breastfeeding supporter and attended mothering meetings to support other mothers. She excelled at mothering: so much so, Mother Song was employed by the local Council, to care for disabled children in order for their parents to have a respite break. Such was Mother Song's professional esteem, the council moved her family into a purpose built home - from which she could extend her professional care. It was equipped with all the facilities required, to care for the most severely disabled children. Eight months after moving into this local council approved and supplied home... a home designed for disabled children to be cared for properly... Mother Song went to the toilet. Mothers do.

Whilst she was on the loo, she heard the most piercing, mind shattering scream she could ever imagine to hear, from her precious daughter - Toddler A. Rushing out of the toilet, she found that Toddler A, whom she'd left perfectly happy in the living room, had wandered under the stairs. Toddler A had squirmed behind an ottoman. She'd then appeared to have fallen sideways, down into the gap.

She was screaming in incredible pain.

Mother Song discovered she had a terrible burn across both her chin, and her hand. Mother Song did not hesitate. With Toddler A still screaming, she dialled 999 and called an ambulance. They were taken to hospital, and Toddler A's burns were dressed. They were sent home, and arrangements for the dressings to be changed regularly, were made.

At home, it was discovered that the pipe under the stairs, was both for carrying boiling hot water to the radiator and was unlagged. The council were apologetic, but it was only sealed over after the family subsequently moved house.

Mother Song carried on mothering her little girl, and prayed the healing would be such, that the discussions of plastic surgery for the scars, were premature.

5 days later, when attending at the local hospital to have the dressings changed, the nurse, who has not been involved earlier, changed the dressing. The hand burn was infected, and required anti-biotics. The nurse looked perplexed, and declared she had never seen such a strange injury. The nurse said she wanted the child protection doctor to see the burns. Mother Song made a complaint, there and then.

She was asked to take Toddler A to the hospital, to see a paediatrician. Dr Christopher Hobbs examined the five day old burn, which was infected. He declared it a deliberate injury: NAI, non accidental injury.

Mother Song was told she had branded her own daughter, 15 months old.

Social workers were called, and she was asked to stay at the hospital overnight with her daughter. It would be 'voluntary'. She agreed without hesitation. She trusted the people around her.

Over the next couple of days, the shock of what was happening made it hard for Mother Song. She had two children, a home designed for her to give care to other children, and an impeccable record of caring for others for over a decade.

People believed she had burnt her own child.

She stayed at the hospital whilst it was sorted. She was never to be left alone with the children. Neither child would be allowed home with her. They would go to their grandparents, with Mother Song and her husband, but.... but... Mother Song and the children's father, were to be forbidden from seeing their children overnight. From 8pm, to 8am, they were to go live elsewhere, and not with their children.

Toddler A was breastfed. Toddler A bed shared. Toddler A had responded to the burns, by nursing more and more and more, especially at night. Toddler A used nursing, to soothe her pain and calm her fears. She used her mother' milk to heal her burns. How could it be fair to Toddler A, that her Mum was to be taken from her during the night-time, when she could have her during the day?

Mother Song asked for, and received, a Toddler Advocacy Statement. I phoned Leeds Social Services, and explained we were advocating for Toddler A in the care arrangements. I had, in fact, a free and frank exchange of views with the head of Child Services at Leeds, who uttered the immortal words "If you can't trust Social Services to protect breastfeeding, who can you trust!" I was a little forthright in my views. I my defense, I had Elisha in my mind. We hadn't fought and screamed and protested about Elisha at the beginning... we'd trusted Social Services.

Mother Song gave her social work team the advocacy statement, detailed here below. They debated, and worked through all the issues with Toddler A. They looked at Toddler A as a real child, and made judgements about her, and not a tick box in a form. They made judgments on what they had in front of them, and how Mother Song had acted and cared for her children. They looked, they listened, they heard.

Mother Song was allowed to reside overnight in the grandparents' home. She was never to be left alone with either of her children. She was never allowed to the leave the home with children without escort. Toddler A was to sleep in a separate cot, and not bed share. Mother Song agreed to this readily, she felt it entirely appropriate in the circumstances.

Toddler A would not be deprived of her mother's breast.

Social Services had done the work, and made care arrangements that would protect Toddler A, whilst ensuring she was as safe, and as nurtured and nourished, as possible.

I broke down and cried, when they phoned to let me know. A lot of us cried a lot of tears, for Toddler A and Mother Song.

The chasm opened under the family's feet. The looming threat of the investigation - police came and photographed 'the crime scene' and squeezed under the stairs - and the crushing weight of the power of one person - the Child Protection Paediatrician, threatened to strangle them. Mother Song discovered that the opinion of one man, or woman, can carry the weight of the entire social care system. Dr Hobbs had taken one look at the burns, almost a week after the event, when they were infected, and declared them deliberate. Therefore, they were.

That Dr Hobbs was not an expert in burns, was not the issue. He had spoken: the children were on the pathway to the Family Courts.

There were no opposing voices. The system, which looks as if it has opposing voices on paper, had none. A children's advocate was appointed. Mother Song hoped this would help. The children's advocate read the reports of Dr Hobbs, and agreed. The lead social worker, who had the power to challenge Dr Hobbs, read his reports, and agreed. Everyone read the same bits of paper. Everyone chanted from the same hymn sheet.

The family moved down, inch by inch, to oblivion.

Mother Song was shocked by it all. It took about ten days, for that shock to wear off. She had been waking in a confused and anxious state, and wondering what had happened, how had it come to this, so quickly, so completely? She was grateful for the social work team caring for her family. She knew they had acted well, and she knew they had the interests of the children as their only focus. But she watched as The System took over, and began to crush the hope that this nightmare was going to be over any time soon.

About ten days in, she woke up and found a mother bear in her soul, and she came out fighting. On day 1 she had actively sought a lawyer who would fight for her children: she determined that her this lawyer would not sit back, and comply, comply, comply the children away. With the spectre of Elisha in my eyes and ears, I advised Mother Song to fight fight fight fight. Never let a statement she disagreed with to pass without mention. Never shout, never argue, never be angry. But be adamant for what she believed to be right, and true. She fought. And fought. And fought. We fought with her, on the edges.

The 'usual suspects' on breastfeeding and children involved in the care system, started to emerge.

Dr Hobbs declared that Toddler A was underweight, and cited this in the paperwork as evidence of neglect. He demanded regular weighings, and the threat of removal of Mother Song from her children if weight did not go on, hung in the air. We contacted the World Health Organisation and sent them Toddler A's weight charts. We then took their answers, and prepared an advocacy statement on Toddler A's weight.

The weight 'issue' disappeared from the paperwork.

Mother Song was watched in her interaction with her children. Other socials workers and health professionals watched and noted and made reports. It was noted that when Toddler A was distressed, Mother Song would offer her the breast for comfort.

This was not appropriate. You do not mother a child who can walk, at the breast. This was evidence of bad mothering.

Mother Song took every scrap of evidence presented against her breastfeeding, to her lawyer, and instructed her to fight. The lawyer went into court, and faced out The System, and told them that in the UK, you could not criticise a mother for breastfeeding. The just released NICE guidelines were quoted: it was the duty of all health professionals to support breastfeeding for as long as the mother and child were happy. The System backed off. A court order protecting the breastfeeding was written.

This was a small section of the fight. The main fight was on the burns, and how Toddler A came to fall upon the unlagged pipes. Mother Song contacted burns experts all over the world. She garnered evidence from them, on the nature and type of Toddler's A burns.

All this going on, whilst living in her in-law's home, and then her own mother's home, and never being allowed to be alone with either of her children. Her income gone, their own home abandoned.

Mother Song won. Dr Christopher Hobbs's assertion that the burns were deliberate, were thrown out. The family were cleared.

Toddler A's burns healed, with no scarring. No plastic surgery required. And yes, a lot of breast milk was washed over those terrible burns. Just as a lot of breastmilk was suckled down by an injured child, in need of her mother's breast.

It took months before it was all settled. Even after they were cleared, they had to wait for the police investigation to process through, before they could go on holiday and try and put the nightmares, and fears, behind them. Another little girl joined the family last year. Three daughters, to hold and love and laugh with. Three daughters to learn how to sing their mother's song.

There are a few moments that stick with Mother Song. The moment she had to say in court "I was having a poo, m'lord, and when I heard the scream, I wiped myself and ran." The moment she reheard the 999 phone call in court, with her darling daughter's scream forever frozen in time. The feelings inside, when she googled Dr Christopher Hobbs and the record of his involvement in supporting the Cleveland paediatricians flashed in front of her eyes. The history of miscarriages of child justice, stemming from his unerring ability to see a child once, and know they were being abused. Turning up to the police station to be charged with suspicion of harming her own daughter.

There are other moments, of course, that will never fade. How her friends and community rallied, and believed in her. How the initial social workers at Leeds conducted themselves impeccably, and supported her daughter in her breastfeeding. How many people helped, supported and worked for them.

In that free and frank exchange of views I had with the head of Leeds Child Services, I said that we, Nursing Matters, would praise them to the skies if they did the right thing. She replied they'd do what was right, and that was all that had to be said. I've never been able to praise them, and thank them. Mother Song was still too wounded, too unsure. The scars too deep, as yet unhealed fully.

But when she read of Elisha's story yesterday, in support of Ben, she contacted me and said "Tell them our story, they need to know there is hope."

There is hope Ben. There is hope, Kerry and Mark. Social Workers do act properly and correctly - they do look at the child, and not the paperwork. Mother Song needs you to know that. We all need to believe that. There is right in the world, and sometimes... sometimes... the right decision is made, no matter how bleak it looks.

Here's hoping your own song, will end so well.


We are advocating on behalf of XXXXX, a breastfeeding infant. We would like to bring to your attention several pertinent points about XX, and her specific needs. These facts need to be taken into consideration when you discuss care arrangements for XXX during this investigation: specifically, the proposal to enforce an abrupt cessation of night feeding upon XXXX, by prohibiting her access to her mother’s breast between 8pm and 8am.

XXX is a bed sharing, night time breastfeeding infant. She feeds anywhere between 5 and 7 times a night. This represents normal parenting practice with a breastfeeding infant. It is both the cultural norm, globally, and medically researched and evidenced as excellent parenting practice.

An abrupt cessation of night time feeding will adversely affect the health and well being of XXXX, and her mother in the following ways.

*XXXX will become distressed and emotionally distraught at the sudden weaning. She will probably lose weight, as she will have lost much of her calorific intake, as night feeding is higher in fats than day time feeding. Her distress may become so great, she might refuse the breast completely. This premature weaning will raise her risks of significant illness later in life, including a higher probability of heart disease and diabetes.

*Her mother will suffer engorgement from the abrupt weaning. If not given appropriate support, this could lead to swelling and infection, and require anti-biotic treatment. Her milk supply will be adversely affected by the lack of night time feeds, and this may result in the loss of the breastfeeding relationship.

Night time breastfeeding supports XXXX’s health and well being by:

giving her excellent nutrition, important when already fighting an infection

supports her immune system, important in helping her heal her burns

comforts and soothes her pain and distress, she is in pain and distress from the burns

protects her mother’s milk supply, particularly when she is distressed herself

We urge you to consider XXXXX’s night time breastfeeding needs as you consider how to support her during this investigation. Her mother has already offered to reside with XXXX in any residential unit you might suggest. Given that enforced and abrupt night time weaning will adversely affect XXXX, and may have life enduring health consequences for her, we advise extreme caution in relation to any proposal to deny her breastfeeding rights.

Evidence and experts

We’ve enclosed full supporting material on all the statements made here, about XXXX’s breastfeeding needs. Many world renowned experts have hurried to XXXX’s defence, and their supporting letters are copied here. Lactation experts such as Dr Jack Newman, Pamela Morrison, and Karleen Gribble, have all written in medical support of XXXX’s needs, with references. Pamela Morrison and Dr Newman are also undertaking an exhaustive study of XXXXX’s weight records from birth, to see if evidence of a clinical problem can be found. This will also allow us to clearly identify any weight loss from enforced weaning, and allow that to be excluded from any investigation of her health since statutory agencies became involved.

All of these experts are happy to be contacted by the statutory agencies, free of charge, in order to give further appropriate medical advice.

If you wish to discuss the risks to XXXX’s health with a breastfeeding expert who is neither part of our organization, nor knows the family, and is local to you, please phone XXXX. She is a breastfeeding counsellor and trainer with the NCT in XXXX.

The European Court of Human Rights’ imperative that breastfeeding infants not be denied the breast is recognized within the English court system:

"Per curiam. If the state, in the guise of a local authority, seeks to remove a baby from his parents at a time when its case against the parents has not yet even been established, then the very least the state can do is to make generous arrangements for contact, those arrangements being driven by the needs of the family and not stunted by lack of resources. Typically, if this is what the parents want, one will be looking to contact most days of the week and for lengthy periods. Local authorities also had to be sensitive to the wishes of a mother who wants to breast-feed, and should make suitable arrangements to enable her to do so, and not merely to bottle-feed expressed breast milk. Nothing less would meet the imperative demands of the European Convention on Human Rights."...
In the matter of unborn baby M; R (on the application of X and another) v Gloucestershire County Council. Citation: BLD 160403280; [2003] EWHC 850 (Admin). Hearing Date:
15 April 2003 Court: Administrative Court. Judge: Munby J. Abstract. Published Date 16/04/2003

If you require any further clarification, or medical evidence from us, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Should you decide to enforce night weaning upon XXXX, we advise you that her mother will immediately require proper lactation support. She will need access to a hospital grade breast pump, at night, to deal with her engorgement and maintain her supply. The expressed milk will need to be stored and transported to XXXX under appropriate storage conditions. We have collected the appropriate information for you, on pump hire suppliers and costs, and couriers capable of cold storage delivery in the XXXXX area.


We are advocating on behalf of XXXX, a breastfeeding infant. We have been informed that XXXX’s growth has been called into question, specifically her weight gain profile and status. Therefore, we commissioned an independent and well qualified and experienced expert in the field, to conduct as assessment of XXXX’s official NHS weight gain records since birth. Her comprehensive results and analysis are in the next section of this statement.

The expert has stated that there is no indication of any problem in XXXX’s weight chart.

Understanding how to interpret weight gain charts is a complex business. Therefore, for the advantage of the layman, we have also included here a brief summary of how to use weight gain charts. Our expert used the internationally recognized and globally accepted standard of growth, the World Health Organisation’s Child Growth Standards.

The growth standards encompass a weight to height graph, with the normal bell curve of small growth children from smaller than average growth parents, through average growth ranges, to larger growth ranges from larger than average parents. The important factor is not which percentile (where you lie as a reference to rest of the normally growing population) but the individual pattern of growth, the ‘trajectory’:

"The assessment of growth implies looking not at a single measurement point but at the overall trajectory of growth to determine whether a child is tracking along the curve or is crossing centiles towards the lower centiles. Infants born with low birthweight will be expected to track along the lower centiles of the WHO standard since exclusive breastfeeding does not alter the fact that they were small for age in the first place. By looking at a single point, a baby in this category will indeed be considered low weight-for-age; but before deciding that exclusive breastfeeding is inadequate, most health professionals will consider the baby’s birthweight, growth trend, any problems with lactation, and infections that might explain the apparent growth failure." “WHO Child Growth Standards” Dr Mercedes de Onis & Dr Adelheid Onyango, Co-ordinators, WHO Child Growth Standards Project, Geneva, published, The Lancet, January 19th, 2008

Therefore, there is no causality between being on a low numbered percentile, and this being an indicator of faltering or problematic growth. An infant that tracks through from the 10th percentile from birth, is as healthy and robust as an infant in the 90th percentile that is tracking equally smoothly.

In order to make this more clear to the layman, in terms of XXXX’s status as a normally breastfeeding toddler on an appropriate diet of offered complementary solids, we contacted Dr Mercedes de Onis, at the World Health Organization, and explained that a perfectly tracking infant on the 15th percentile (XXXXX) was being flagged up as having problematic weight growth on the basis of the sort of ‘single point’ assessment the above quote flags up. Her co-worker, Dr Adelheid Onyango, responded on XXXXX’s behalf:

“The internationally accepted cut-off for underweight (by a single-point evaluation) is 
equivalent to the 3rd centile.   Therefore, a child whose growth is tracking on the 15th 
centile cannot be considered to be underweight.”
Dr Adelheid Onyango, Coordinator, Growth Assessment and Surveillance, 
Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD), World Health Organization,
CH-1211, GENEVA 27, Switzerland,
(telephone contact via Family & Community Health, GENEVA, + 041 791 2888)

Therefore, as XXXX’s advocates, we have to inform you that using all current, evidence based medically researched data and theory, no suitably qualified expert can find any indication of a problem with XXXX’s weight gain and pattern of growth, from either a long term trajectory analysis or a single point evaluation.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if we can help in any other way. Both Pamela Morrison (IBCLC) and Dr Onyango are happy to comment further if required.

Morgan Gallagher


** XXX’s Weight Chart Assessment (Pamela Morrison, IBCLC)

** Handy ‘understanding weight and babies’ info sheet (Dianne Weissinger, IBCLC

Sunday, 24 January 2010

In Ben's Name... love from Elisha

Mother and Child - Reshma Azmi

I'm crying as I write this. I hope it doesn't mean there are too many typos. I'll correct them as I edit over the next day or so.

In 2007, I asked for help for Baby E. Baby Elisha, as it happens. Elisha was 5 months old, when she was taken from her mother's arms, literally, in the street, by Essex Social Services. Her mother, Rachael, who was a teenager, had exclusively breastfed her from birth, and safely co-slept with her. Rachael was a stroppy teenager - and wasn't very good at being told what to do by anyone. Whilst she was a loving, caring and supportive mother, utterly dedicated to her daughter, she had a fraught relationship with her own mother. Rachael had gone to live in a supported mother and baby unit, and lived there, with Elisha. She didn't get on well with many of the other teenage Mums who were in the unit, many of whom thought she was weird when she breastfed, and didn't start solids early, and slept with the baby in the moses basket beside her. Maliciously, and without any evidence, one of the other teenage Mums told the Health Visitor that Rachael was taking drugs.

One Monday, Rachael attended a hearing that she'd been told she had to go to. No one had told the family why. She went on her own, and the family had no idea it was a 'serious' meeting. Without any warning whatsoever, and without legal representation, Rachael emerged from the hearing, with Elisha now on the 'at risk' register. The family rallied round, and in the middle of the shocked disbelief, it was arranged that Elisha and Rachael should stay with Rachael's mother - Elisha's grandmother.

On the Friday, Rachael and her Mum had an argument, and Rachael stormed off out, with Elisha. Rachael was going to go round to her grandmother, Elisha's great grandmother, and calm down. She first went to a friend's, to moan about how her Mum didn't understand her.

Unbeknowst to Rachael, and in an moment of worry that the grandmother will carry with her for the rest of her life, Rachael's Mum phoned Essex Social Serives, and asked for support. She wanted to chat to someone, and have someone advise her on how to manage the weekend, with Rachael being so unhappy at having to stay there.

Essex Social Services phoned the police and initiated a search for a mother who had stolen her own child.

Social workers spotted Elisha in the arms of one of Rachael's friends, in the street. Rachael, on the way to her own Gran's for tea and a chat, had nipped into the loo in the house of another friend, as they passed. The social worker tried to pull Elisha from the hands of the girl holding her. Rachael emerged to find her friend, hysterical and distraught, arguing with complete strangers trying to take the baby.

Elisha was screaming her head off.

Rachael, whilst trying to calm Elisha, breastfed her. In later reports, the social worker claimed this was evidence that she was not a fit mother, as it was inappropriate behaviour to breastfeed in the street.

In the middle of all the screaming and crying, the social worker told Rachael the baby was only going to be taken for the weekend, in order to let Rachael calm down. Finally, the social worker toook Elisha from her mother's arms, put her in a car, and drove off.

Such was Rachael's shock, she and the rest of the family attended the local police station a few hours later, to report that Elisha had been kidnapped. The police explained that social services could do what they wanted.

Elisha's grandmother, distraught and in shock, desperately tried to get through to social services - Elisha was exclusively breastfed. She'd never had a bottle, would they monitor this properly? The family were terrified Elisha would end up dehydrated and distressed, and in hospital. Meanwhile, Rachael was becoming engorged and in pain herself, so they also desperately arranged a pump and lactation support. I was put in touch with them on the Sunday, and they sent me all the court papers, there and then.

Elisha was not returned.

The months passed... and with Rachael being asked not to breastfeed in access meetings, with Rachael being criticised for not having a high chair, as this was evidence she was not in tune with her baby's developmental needs, with Rachael's insistence on breastfeeding Elisha during access meetings being cited as evidence she was not a responsible mother... Elisha moved further and further towards permanent adoption.

Rachael was forced to attend parenting classes, where she was instructed on how to strap her baby into a high chair and force feed it solids. Or rather, how to strap a doll into the high chair, as she wasn't allowed to attend with Elisha. Where she had to prove she knew how to parent according to the social services book and had to buy equipment they deemed crucial, even 'tho it went against her every instinct as an attached, baby wearing, co-sleeping and baby led weaning, mother. Before the removal, in the accommodation she and Elisha had had in the mother baby unit, Rachael had been told that it was not good enough that she had no bottle steriliser, no bottles, or baby formula, or a crib in the room. These 'lacks' were evidence that Rachael was not a good mother.

Finally, when the paperwork emerged with active criticism of the breastfeeding in writing, and at the request of the family, I asked for your support. Mor Dioum of the Victoria Climbie Foundation, also took on Essex on behalf of the family, attending the meetings being held.

Elisha was returned to her family, but not her mother. Breastfeeding had been severed. Elisha had carried on for months, in the access meetings, but, finally, the trauma was too great, and she refused to breastfeed. Rachael was devastated, feeling she had lost so much with her precious, gorgeous, and beautiful first born.

Now, over two years later... Elisha is back with her Mum. Her and her new baby sister, who had automatically been put on the at risk register the moment she was born, are free from social services and live happy lives. The family could not be more grateful, to all of you who phoned, faxed and emailed Essex, and demanded to know why breastfeeding was being used as evidence of lack of mothering.

There never was a single scrap of evidence that Elisha had either been harmed, or that Rachael was in any way involved in drugs. Throughout it all, Rachael refused point blank into being bullied into drug testing. Even this, was used as evidence she was unfit to mother her own child. Elisha has always been a happy and completely healthy child: there was never any evidence of anything, other than the malicious gossip of one teenager, to a third party. And that a teenager left her own mother's house, to walk to her grandmother's, to have a cup of tea with her, after having an argument with her Mum. Elisha was removed in less than an hour of Rachael going out for a walk. She had signed a written agreement that she would sleep overnight with her mother... well, there had been no overnight for her not to sleep in her Mum's house. The baby was gone before night fell.

The family have knitted back their lives. Rachael has found her life partner and had another child, Elisha's sister. Elisha's sister breastfed until she self-weaned, never had a bottle, never had a dummy. Only recently, have they managed to finally free Elisha of the dummy habit forced upon her by the foster carer.

They've also been pursuing formal complaints against Essex Social Services. As part of this, we at Nursing Matters prepared a complaint advocacy statement, on Elisha' s behalf, to further the complaint against Essex.

But, as this complaint has still to be even heard properly, we'd not publicised the case. It was more important, to keep a low profile, and pursue Essex for their actions.

This changed this weekend. Rachael and her mother, Juliet, are in such agonies... for Kerry, Mark and Ben. This weekend, hearing the reports of how Ben was taken from his mother's arms, as he'd been breastfeeding... the pain they are feeling is just immense. The memories are sharp and tearing.

But they want to help. Above all, they want to help. Therefore, in Elisha's name... they are releasing the advocacy complaint. It's below. It's a gift from Elisha, to Ben. From Rachael, to Kerry. She knows it will hurt to read, but also knows that it needs to be read.

Be warned. It is not good reading. We took the careful notes made by the foster carer in charge of Elisha, and wove them into the complaint on her behalf. It contains details of Elisha's stress, when being force fed by bottle. It describes her distress. It also mentions perhaps the most damning element of all, in how Essex failed to care for Elisha: it reveals that Essex interpreted Elisha's distress as withdrawal from drugs, given via her mother's milk. They noted the distress. They noted the baby's refusal to feed from the bottle. They hadn't a clue how to interpret that distress. No preparation had been made at all, for Elisha being breastfed. In fact, they simply told the foster mother, if she won't feed, take her to Accident & Emergency. That was their 'care plan' - get her to hospital and have her put on an IV drip if she starts to dehydrate.

This is a huge thing for this famly to do. Damnit, I'm crying again. Their pain, over the past two years, and Elisha's pain on being removed from her mother's breast... such pain is not for public consumption.

But it is for public notice, if it will prevent another baby going through this. If it helps get Ben back to his mother's breast, in the next few days. If it helps get proper guidelines in place, so that all babies taken from the breast, have the support they need to continue breastfeeding until the case against their mothers is clear: no baby should wither from the lack of their mother's breast until is is _proven_ that they will come to harm. Mother and baby units exist - they should be used first and foremost. Other family members can always be in attendance - they should be empowered. Social services have to stop being afraid of breastfeeding. Afraid there is something they cannot control. Mothers will submit to 24 hours observation, to keep their babies safe: the option has to be made available until harm is proven.

Innocent, until proven guilty.

Dear Ben... have this, in case it helps... much love, from Elisha. XXX


Nursing Matters advocates on behalf of breastfeeding babies, by presenting evidence based medical information and informed medical opinion based on the biological needs of babies and infants. As an organization, we seek to support the baby’s own biological imperatives and to speak for the baby alone, in any disagreement or involvement of the mother, with statutory services. We speak for the baby.

Nursing Matters was contacted by the family, within 48 hours of Elisha’s removal on Friday 22 June, 2007, and have therefore been documenting on her care throughout her entire time away from her mother. We advised the family of lactation care for Elisha’s mother, as well as instigated a global alert on the need to protect breastfeeding when Essex Social Services sought to criticise a mother for breastfeeding her baby in access meetings. And to cite breastfeeding as evidence she did not understand her own baby’s needs. We will continue to work with statutory agencies, the international medical and lactation community and all relevant political structures, to ensure the human rights and biological needs of normally fed babies are not ignored by statutory agencies.

Based on the care records and actions of Essex Social Services in their care of Elisha during her removal, we would therefore add our voice in complaint, in Elisha’s name, for the care she received by Essex Social Services on her removal.

Please note, every quote made in this document by a health care professional with lactation qualification, is made directly about Elisha, and is made as a result of reading the notes in her case, written by the foster carer and social workers. They are not generic. They are in response to Essex Social Services own records.

Therefore, in Elisha’s name, we support the formal complaint made by the family, that Elisha’s needs and rights as a breastfeeding baby were not accounted for, or supported appropriately, by Essex Social Services. Further, that her care actively destroyed her breastfeeding relationship with her mother.

“What is striking in the document you have provided for comment is not that Baby Essex’s breastfeeding relationship was neither considered nor supported but that it was actively undermined and, eventually, extinguished in the face of decades of evidence and public health statements about the importance of breastfeeding to the health and well being of infants.” Nina Berry, University of Wollongong, former Breastfeeding support field worker for Save The Children

In the first instance, Elisha had a right to her mother’s breast, a right which was denied her. The European Court of Human Rights has recognized this dynamic– the right of the child to the breast as long as the mother wishes it, as a basic Human Right, and this is recognised in the English courts:

"Local authorities also had to be sensitive to the wishes of a mother who wants to breastfeed, and should make suitable arrangements to enable her to do so, and not merely to bottle-feed expressed breast milk. Nothing less would meet the imperative demands of the European Convention on Human Rights."...In the matter of unborn baby M; R (on the application of X and another) v Gloucestershire County Council. Citation: BLD 160403280; [2003] EWHC 850 (Admin). Hearing Date: 15 April 2003 Court: Administrative Court. Judge: Munby J. Abstract. Published Date 16/04/2003

At no point were Essex Social Services sensitive to this need. We are aware that the family requested expressed milk form her mother, was sent to Elisha, and Essex Social Services did nothing to arrange, support or facilitate this. Elisha’s access to her mother’s breast appeared not to have been part of the paperwork we have seen, or part of their planning at all, as a facet of Elisha’s care. This is completely unacceptable and Elisha suffered for the lack of this planning:

Any milk expressed by the mother should be given to the baby as soon as possible. There is no justification for discarding it or withholding it from the baby, unless the baby has some medical condition requiring some other type feeding. Babies are put at health risks from formula feeding, and any breastmilk feeding reduces those risks.” Alison Blenkinsop, IBCLC

We wish to highlight that at the time of the international appeal to Essex Social Services, about their procedures and criteria for care of a breastfed infant, the service repeatedly stated it was following National Guidelines for the care of a breastfed infant. And yet, there is no evidence of this in the paperwork to and from the foster carer, and practically no mention made of it. Breastfeeding is not a category included in the standard form for transferring breastfeeding babies to the foster carer, and no checks are evident on how the breastfeeding is supported. There is no advice or support plan at all, on how to support the breastfeeding.

Nursing Matters therefore has to request that the guidelines Essex Social Services have stated they were adhering to in Elisha’s care, be made public by Essex Social Services, in order for appropriate assessment to be made on their being fit for purpose. Nursing Matters has requested a copy of statutory guidance for supporting breastfeeding babies during removal by social services, from the Department of Children, Schools and Families, and have been informed that there is no current guidance available from them, as they are still being developed. In light of this, we request , again, that Essex Social Services reveal the guidelines they have stated they worked with at the time.

In addition to the complaint that Essex Social Services did not facilitate Elisha’s right to her mother’s breast during the removal, we would also like to highlight the problems that arose as a result in the deficiency of her care at the foster home in the first few days. We would suggest that Elisha’s right to continue her breastfeeding relationship with her mother, was actively undermined by the standard of care she received.

This complaint refers only to the description of care that is detailed by the records of Essex Social Services, and quotes the notes made by the foster carer. For the purposes of clarity, we will distill out the main areas of complaint, on Elisha’s behalf.

1) Primarily, as outline above, the lack of support for Elisha’s right to the breast, as detailed above.

2) The complete lack of preparation of either the removing social worker, or the foster carer, on the most appropriate methods of feeding and comforting an exclusively breastfed baby. Attempts were made by a social worker to bottle feed Elisha within hours of her removal, and no understanding of the harm this could do, is evident in any of the interactions. There is no mention of the removing social worker or the foster carer being aware that cup feeding was the most appropriate method of feeding for Elisha. In fact, there are several distressing descriptions of how Elisha refused the bottle teat completely, and displayed physical and emotional distress on being forced to engage with the bottle. As she had so completely refused the bottle teat at first attempt, and was already under threat of dehydration when she arrived at the foster carer, the foster carer was alerted that syringe feeding should be used and if all else fails, have Elisha admitted to A&E. We find this lack of basic understanding of the feeding needs of a normally fed infant bordering on professional negligence and something that needs to be addressed within Essex Social Services, as a service provider, with the utmost urgency.

Negligence is a powerful term, and should only be used when completely appropriate. We would suggest that the forcing of a bottle teat and syringes into Elisha’s mouth, in conjunction with the introduction of a dummy, is strong evidence of negligence in the matter of the supporting of Elisha’s breastfeeding:

There is no medical reason for a breastfed baby to ever receive a dummy. A five month old infant who had never had a dummy before would not be able to use a dummy for comfort-sucking, and no doubt would have been extremely distressed by not being able to receive either nutritive or non-nutritive sucking at the breast.” Pamela Morrison, IBCLC, in response to Elisha’s notes from her foster carer.

It is also of note that no permission from the mother had been given, for the use of either a bottle and teat, or a dummy, in Elisha’s care. We would ask… why was a dummy forced into Elisha’s mouth, and repeatedly returned to her mouth, in order to teach her to use it?

3) Lack of understanding of her emotional and physical distress, in particular, repeat attempts being made to force bottle feeding on her without due attention being paid to her breastfeeding status.

“Feeding from a teat or sucking on a dummy is not a physiological norm. A fully breastfed baby may not be able to feed in any other way. Abrupt cessation of breastfeeding puts a baby at risk, both physically from difficulty in taking milk another way, and psychologically from the loss of comfort, sucking, and familiar sensations.” Alison Blenkinsop, IBCLC

Breastfed babies are in control of their own feeding, and have never experienced having anything forced into their mouths, such as a syringe, bottle teat or dummy, and of being forced to swallow. Despite her obvious signs of distress:

“I did not know when Mum had last fed her and the family care worker said they had tried to feed her by bottle and she took half an ounce. Tried SMA Gold via a bottle, but (baby) unable to take this also unable to suck a dummy.”

“Fed her via syringe, a slow job but she managed 3oz. Very restless and fidgety, thrashing about a lot. Cries and fights when nursed in arms, more relaxed when put on shoulder.”

“Woke at 12.30am, offered her a bottle, held her in my arms and made eye contact, and sang – she seemed to relax a little and she took 4oz from a bottle. Woke at 4.45 am, crying and thrashed about. Not interested in feeding and I nursed her on my shoulder, and she slept.”

Elisha is repeatedly subjected to being held in the cradle position, a bottle feeding position, and forced to accept either a syringe, a bottle teat, or a dummy into her mouth. The carer notes Elisha’s distressed behavior, but is seemingly unaware that it is the feeding methods, and the dummy use, that is causing much of it.

Thrashing about and crying are normal behaviours of an infant in distress - particularly exhibited by a baby who cannot feed, eg a hungry newborn baby who cannot attach to the breast, or an older baby who is being "fed" for the first time by a stranger with an unusual and unknown hard silicone teat, instead of the expected feeding and warmth of the soft and familiar mother's breast.” Pamela Morrison, IBCLC.

“This behaviour is normal in a healthy, fully breastfed baby. Difficulty in taking feeds any other way is normal. This baby is demonstrating that difficulty. Bottle/syringe feeding requires different actions from breastfeeding. A fully breastfed baby’s co-ordination would be affected by enforcing another feeding method, which could put her at risk of choking and aspiration, and is likely to be very distressing.” Alison Blenkinsop, IBCLC

“The description provided of Baby Essex’s behaviour when first faced with a bottle offered by a stranger is completely congruent with the behaviour of other exclusively breastfed babies I have worked with. Forcing a teat into a baby’s mouth is often associated with significant distress evidenced by the kind of thrashing behaviour described by Baby Essex’s carer. It is not uncommon for an exclusively breastfed baby to refuse bottles and many mothers seek my help with this as they consider returning to work. These babies commonly arch their backs, turn their heads from side to side to avoid the bottle and do so with considered determination. They do not recognise bottles as either a source of food or comfort and it often takes many weeks of quiet persistence to familiarise a baby with a bottle.

This phenomenon has been observed, documented and described by Elsie Mobbs (Mobbs 2007 ). Her work notes that ‘infants exhibit great emotional distress when their fixated sucking comfort object is not available … replacement fixated sucking objects are at first rejected and there is great emotional distress before a switch is achieved’. In the case of an infant who has only ever been fed and comforted at her mother’s breast, her mother is her ‘fixated comfort sucking object’. Therefore Baby Essex’s behaviour could well be explained, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, simply by the fact that she had been deprived of her mother.” Nina Berry, University of Wollongong

Our understanding from the family, is that Elisha’s distress, as so carefully recorded by the foster carer, has been linked to her mother’s care of her prior to the removal. If this is indeed the case, and records emerge to prove this, we should advise Essex Social Services that several international professionals, such as Elsie Mobbs, whose academic work is referred to above, are happy to provide expert witness on Elisha’s behalf, based on the records of the foster carer. The lactation community as a whole, are anxious that clear, evidence based scientific and medical research, is applied thoroughly to understanding the distress caused to Elisha by forcing hard objects into her mouth, at a time when she had been removed from her mother’s breast. And suggestion that this is a minor matter, that did not impact on Elisha’s wellbeing dramatically, will be met with a sustained, professional, response.

4) The matter of asking Elisha’s mother to restrict her breastfeeding during what little access Elisha had to her breast. We will not elaborate on this here, as it is an area that has already generated a huge response to Essex Social Services, and the clear evidence of the requests to her mother for her to refuse Elisha’s request to be fed, and subsequent statements that a mother’s desire to meet her daughter’s clearly expressed need for the breast is evidence of her inability to mother her baby… are already a matter of public record. We can revisit it in detail if required. Just to note, that this complaint on Elisha’s behalf, also includes this vital area, and Nursing Matters would be expecting this area to be fully covered in the complaint process finally underway.

We are, of course, available for further comment and evidence based response, at any point. Nursing Matters will seek to uphold Elisha’s breastfeeding rights in the process of this complaint, in its entirety.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Dear Fife Social Services...

Nursing Matters

..advocating for breastfeeding babies.. everywhere

From: Morgan Gallagher, chairperson

January 22nd, 2010

To: Stephen Moore, Executive Director, Social Work, Fife Social Work Department, Rothesay House, Rothesay Place, Glenrothes, KY7 5PQ Tel: 08451 555555 ext. 444112 | Fax: 01592 583253

cc: Nicola Sturgeon, Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, St. Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG +44 (0)131 556 8400. FAX: 0131 348 5949

cc: Mike Brady, Baby Milk Action, 34 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QY, UK. From the UK phone: 01223 464420 From outside the UK phone +44 1223 464420 Email:

Dear Mr Moore,

I’m writing as chair of an NGO, to express our utmost concerns over the handling of the removal of Ben Robertson, from his mother’s breast, this past weekend, under the direction of your Social Work department.

Breastfeeding, as you will know, is a human right. We are concerned that Ben Robertson’s Human Rights are being infringed by the actions of your social work department.

As we understand it, Ben was removed from his mother’s breast on day 4 of his life, and he is only being allowed access to his mother for 2 hours every other day. This is totally unsupportable. I would draw your attention to the following ruling from the English and Welsh courts:

"Per curiam. If the state, in the guise of a local authority, seeks to remove a baby from his parents at a time when its case against the parents has not yet even been established, then the very least the state can do is to make generous arrangements for contact, those arrangements being driven by the needs of the family and not stunted by lack of resources. Typically, if this is what the parents want, one will be looking to contact most days of the week and for lengthy periods. Local authorities also had to be sensitive to the wishes of a mother who wants to breast-feed, and should make suitable arrangements to enable her to do so, and not merely to bottle-feed expressed breast milk. Nothing less would meet the imperative demands of the European Convention on Human Rights."...
In the matter of unborn baby M; R (on the application of X and another) v Gloucestershire County Council.
Citation: BLD 160403280; [2003] EWHC 850 (Admin). Hearing Date:
15 April 2003 Court: Administrative Court. Judge: Munby J. Abstract. Published Date 16/04/2003

Whilst this is the English and Welsh courts, it refers to the European Court in terms of its ruling on Human Rights. Therefore you’d think that a Scottish council, would be aware of the magnitude of the injury that has been inflicted upon Ben.

Lack of breastfeeding injures Ben’s health. It increases his chances of several life threatening illnesses. As a breastfed baby, removed from his mother’s breast, his pain and anxiety will be extreme. Babies removed from their mother’s breast in this fashion, often suffer a lifetime of stress and the medical results of such stress. I don’t feel I need to outline the entire catalogue of disaster that could be triggered in Ben’s life, by the lack of provision to accommodate his well being, whilst his care order is being processed. The risks of not breastfeeding are well documented, and the risk of harm to Ben from removal of his mother’s breast should have been part and parcel of the risk assessment of the care package being offered to support Ben at this extremely vital time.

We are extremely concerned about the apparent lack of thought about any aspect of maintaining Ben’s breastfeeding. Why, for instance, were Ben and his mother not removed to a mother and baby unit, where they could be monitored? As Fife is in charge of this care order, we require that Fife stand responsible for the arrangements.

Why is regular daily access to allow breastfeeding to be established, not in place? Has the mother received adequate lactation support, to prevent her suffering pain and the loss of her milk supply? Our understanding is that the mother has requested her milk to be fed to Ben – has this been carried out? Has she been taught to hand express? Is her milk being collected and taken to Ben? Has she been supplied with an industrial grade hospital pump? Her milk supply would be barely in on day 4, has Ben’s milk been protected? Is he being cup fed to protect his ability to latch? Has the foster family been told that Ben should not be given a dummy or pacifier, if he has never had one, in line with NHS and WHO guidance on protecting and establishing breastfeeding in the newborn?

The mother is still the mother, and as the above court ruling makes clear – it is the duty of social services to support the baby’s breastfeeding, in order to protect the Human Rights of the Child. We see no evidence of this in your reported care plan for Ben.

We protest in the strongest possible terms, and ask that adequate facilities are immediately put in place to support Ben’s breastfeeding, at all costs. Formula feeding is a risk activity – it risks Ben’s health both directly, and indirectly. On this, there is no confusion or doubt. As a child in the care of Fife Social Services, you have a duty to uphold Ben’s Human Rights, and to allow him access to his mother’s breast in order to support his breastfeeding. At the very least, you can ensure that formula is not given to Ben unless the mother herself wishes it.

I look forward to your early reply to our concerns and questions. We can supply expert witness, on all the statements I have made above, as well as extend any professional help that Fife may require in making sure that Ben’s needs are met adequately under the care order. We have been campaigning for years for adequate guidelines to be published by the Department of Children, Family and Schools to enable them to care for the needs of breastfed children, whilst their safety is assessed. We do understand the complete lack of appropriate guidance leaves you in a vacuum.

However, the vacuum that Ben is now in, without access to his mother’s breast, is completely intolerable. I’m sure that many others in the lactation community will be in touch, to request that Ben’s rights are upheld at all costs. Until a permanent order is in place, removing the mother’s rights to her child, Ben’s breastfeeding should be upheld – it is his right.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require further information


Morgan Gallagher

Chair, Nursing Matters


If you wish to also complain, do not complain about the removal. You cannot complain about the removal, and be heard. It is their right, and brief, to assess for harm. They have a duty to the child, to keep it safe. That's why the complaint is about not making provision for breastfeeding, whilst that assessment is made. It is no business of ours, to second guess the assessment. Only after the assessment, can comment be made on the outcome. The issue is the care provision.