D.C. Cop Suspended Over Breastfeeding Concerns
Breastfeeding expert confirms that D.C. cop is right
A Washington, D.C. police officer who recently gave birth was suspended without pay for her decision to continue breastfeeding her infant. Officer Sashay Brown had been working a desk job following her return to the police force from maternity leave in May. When she requested to continue at the desk she was declined under a new policy designed to facilitate healthy officers' return to the streets.
The reason for Brown’s request: Her bulletproof vest would be painful on her lactating breasts and could result in a decrease in her milk supply.
Monique Jones, an international board certified lactation consultant and La Leche League leader for the D.C. area, confirms Officer Brown’s concerns:
“Many women experience plugged ducts or mastitis after wearing an underwire bra or badly fitted bra, wearing breast shells, or even from pressure from a seat-belt, tote bag strap, or from sleeping on their stomachs,” Jones told The Loop 21. “A bulletproof vest would apply so much more pressure than any of those things! At the very least prolonged pressure on the breasts would be painful and lead to lowered milk production -- at worst it could lead to recurring plugged ducts, infection, even breast abscess.”
Even with these confirmed risks, a police department doctor still determined Officer Brown fit for full duty upon medical examination. She was given the option to take any available sick or unpaid leave if she refused to return to the field, which she took though she had no sick leave left. She is currently filing for short-term disability.
The new policy affects not only police officers, but firefighters as well. Their respective unions are contesting the policy as unethical.