Women held in the Los Angeles County Jail who are mothers of newborn infants will be allowed to lactate and provide their breast milk that can be picked up and given to their child outside the jail, under a new pilot program initiated by the Sheriff's Department.
The first woman to participate in the program gave birth to a son while in the jail on Valentine's Day, said Nicole Nishida, a Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.
The woman, 19-year-old Keymoreah Chorm, is in custody on a charge of identity theft. She is being held at the Century Regional Detention facility in Lynwood.
"Upon delivery of their child, the incarcerated women are given the opportunity to lactate and continue providing their breast milk to their newborn child,'' Nishida said. "The incarcerated women who elect to breastfeed and/or maintain lactation will be provided a breast pump and instructions on how to use it.''
Under the program, a responsible caregiver is required to pick up the breast milk at the jail on a daily basis. The person is provided instructions on the handling, thawing and warming of frozen milk.
Nishida said the county jail system averages between 40 and 50 pregnant women a day in custody. Pregnant women have the option to participate in the program, which provides a series of classes about parenting, breastfeeding, body changes during pregnancy and infant care.
After the woman gives birth, she can either pump her breast milk in her cell or in the jail's medical clinic, Nishida said.
The Sheriff's Department initiated the program in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union, which advocated for the program.
"We want to ensure that both baby and mother have a bright future," Nishida said, "and we understand that we play a vital role in that endeavor."