Habiba Hits the News: Doctors Speak Out

El Pais, a major Spanish newspaper ran a story today about Habiba, confirming that the case is, indeed, legitimate.

But more than that, three doctors and members of the Breastfeeding Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics spoke out: the separation was a violation of human rights, and totally unwarranted. Dr. Carmen Pallas, head of the NICU of a hospital in Madrid, Dr. Adolfo Gomez from the University Hospital of Tarragona, and Josefa Aguayo of the Virgen del Rocio hospital in Seville are all irate.

These three doctors assert the separation is based on the following three reasons:

1. “Chaotic” breastfeeding – Habiba fed Alma at irregular intervals, or when she needed comfort. In the US, we call that “demand” feeding. Much of the rest of the world calls it “life.”

2. Co-sleeping – Habiba used Alma’s cot for storing clothing and other items, and brought Alma to bed with her. (Has anyone seen my Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper?!) I doubt she’s read Dr. James McKenna’s research on the benefits of co-sleeping, but my guess is that Habiba is using an even better resource – her intuition.

3. Hygiene – There are no formal details about this, but the report alludes to Habiba lacking proper hygiene. I live in my own apartment, have a supportive husband, and adequate money for cosmetics and hygiene products. And I still go days without showering. Are we really going to allow a mother living at a shelter, caring for her child the best she can, to be separated because of hygiene issues? Perhaps empowering Habiba through education, and providing her with the necessary supplies and support would be a more humane response to this issue.

The doctors found not only was there no neglect, but Alma was cited as being “fed, cared for, and loved.”

So what’s stopping the reunion?

The IMMF’s prosecuters are still hard at work trying to drum up a case that Habiba is unfit, despite professional advice to the contrary. They’ve generously given Habiba one hour a week to nurse her baby. Until Habiba secures both a job and a home, the IMMF will not reunite the nursing dyad.

No alternatives have been offered.

Though Habiba is allowed her hour per week, understandably Alma was upset, and was not affectionate with her mother. Anyone with a basic understanding of child psychology could tell you this doesn’t mean Habiba is unfit: it means the child is traumatized.

It’s difficult to know how to help. If you’re of the praying kind, please lift up both Habiba and Alma. You can also sign the petition here:


And you can hug and kiss your child tightly – for Habiba. For Alma.

How has this story affected your relationship with your children?

8 thoughts on “Habiba Hits the News: Doctors Speak Out

  1. Just a note, but sleep hygiene (referred to in the “report” on Habiba that was linked to) is not “hygiene” in the sense that we commonly use it in English. It’s a specific term meaning sleep behaviors. Typically “good sleep hygiene” means things like a quiet bedroom that is only used for sleep/sex, that is not too warm or cool. Or no exercise or excessive mental/physical stimulation for X amount of time before attempting sleep, or not eating a large meal too near bedtime, etc. I believe that’s why there wasn’t any more information regarding any cleanliness issues or the like. It appears they simply observed that she didn’t attempt to put Alma to sleep in a quiet, dark bed/cot of her own. 🙂

    1. I hear what you’re saying about sleep, but it appears that there is a distinct third reason cited in the article, separate from the sleep issue:

      “La tercera razón es que las pautas de higiene de la madre tampoco son las adecuadas.”

      Translated, this roughly means that her hygiene habits were questionable!

  2. Wow, I just want to squeeze my baby tight forever and ever – no mom should have to go through what Habiba did! Thank you for this post!!

  3. OMG this is outrageous – 1 hr a week. OMG. The poor mother and child. I am so so sad – I am lost for words. This is a breech of human rights – where is amnesty international?

  4. This is so heartbreaking to read why are people so cruel the child is suffering so much and poor habiba well I just can’t breath at the thought of her trauma.
    The people that are doing this need to educate themselves read some Bowlby, they make me sick.

    Thinking of you Habiba be strong for your baby. X

  5. Every time my 20 month old looks at me and says ‘mummy’ today, my eyes well up. It is a crime this, and I hate thinking that these officials are going off for their weekends while this mother and child sit in their heartbreak. This is ‘big fish in a small bowl’ syndrome, and someone doesn’t want to admit they messed up. And I’d seriously look into who is benefitting from the drugs and formula that the shelter must be going through. Someone’s making money from these vulnerable women.

  6. I’ve been following this story, my husband has gotten used to me holding our son and crying as I read more articles. What is happening is insane and criminal.

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