Women are usually encouraged to breastfeed for as long as possible, but a judge has drawn the line when it comes to one mum – because of her decision to get a tattoo.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Mathew Myers ruled the mum’s new tattoo put her 11-month-old son at unacceptable risk of contracting an infection and granted an injunction to stop her breastfeeding him.
The child’s father brought the issue up in court during an acrimonious parenting dispute, reports the ABC.
Judge Meyers banned the woman from nursing despite her negative hepatitis and HIV tests. He reportedly said the tests were not conclusive, which meant the baby may still be at risk. He reportedly referred to material published by the Australian Breastfeeding Association to make his decision.
But its chief executive, Rebecca Naylor, says with no evidence the mum has contracted an infection, the injunction is “unreasonable”. “Tattooing is a regulated industry, so if you go to a tattoo parlour that is reputable then the chances (of contracting an infection) are very low,” she tells the ABC.
Breastfeeding advocate Dr Karleen Gribble, of the University of Sydney, says many women will be “horrified” by the decision. “Perhaps child protection authorities should be taking action because many mothers who are breastfeeding get tattoos — very often of their children’s names,” she says.
Ms Naylor says tattooing is low risk when done in a “reputable way” with correct infection control procedures. “We would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to,” she says.
“They’re feeding a child, it’s going to be their main source of nutrition up until they’re 12 months of age, so you do have to be careful. But it doesn’t mean that you have to wrap yourself in Glad wrap.”
A full bench of the Family Court is due to hear an urgent appeal against the ruling today.