Mother Breastfeeds the Wrong Baby Thanks to Horrible Hospital Mix-Up

Say What!? 113

baby The mother of a baby switched in a Minnesota hospital this week is understandably upset about the switch. But that's not what has Tammy Van Dyke really all hot and bothered. The newborn boy was breastfed by the wrong mother!

Think that's no big deal? For a second, I was right there with you. So she breastfed him, so what? At least it was a kind and loving moment. Except ... let's think about what happens when you breastfeed a baby.

You are giving that baby breast milk, something made by your body. You're giving the baby all sorts of good things: antibodies to diseases. But if you have something not so good in your body -- say an actual disease -- you've just put the baby at risk.

In Cody's case, he was taken into the room of a woman who had just given birth to twins. The other (wrong) mother started to breastfeed, but something felt off. So she took the baby boy off her breast and checked his name tag. He wasn't hers!

The switch was solved pretty quickly, but because breastfeeding had been initiated, Tammy's son has already had to undergo blood tests for HIV and hepatitis. That means additional needles going into this teeny, weeny little guy. And he's going to have even more as the months go on; he'll have to be tested again and again over the next few years.

As a mother, that's nerve-wracking. It's not just the fear of disease (although that is obviously the biggest concern), but the thought of your baby being put through additional pain over and over. I remember holding my daughter for her lead test, and seeing the needle coming at her tiny arm put tears in my eyes. We're supposed to protect our kids from pain, not have to sit there and watch it happen.

Would you be freaked if another mother breastfed your baby? What would bother you the most?


Image via limaoscarjuliet/Flickr

baby health, breastfeeding


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Mrs.S... Mrs.Sparkle

Diseases for all you spellcheck ladies.

Janis... Janis_1975

what?  Wouldn't the women who accidental breastfed him, have already been tested for these things?

Virid... ViridianSoul

When I was pregnant with my son, I was made to have the HIV and hep B tests before he was born, otherwise they would have performed the same on him at birth "just to be sure". Did this (wrong) mother never get tested for these things while pregnant?

Also of note, here's yet another good reason to never let your newborn leave your room or your sight. When DH and I add to our family, we hope to do so with a midwife and in a birthing center...but should the unexpected happen-- such as having to transfer to the hospital-- either he or I will be with that child 24/7, whether the doctors like it or not. I can say, with full conviction, that I don't trust the lot of them.

Jennifer Bell

Testing the mother that breastfed the baby would achieve the same outcome. If the tests come back positive, then and only then is it necessary to test the baby. Come on.

Elizabeth Ahmad

Bunch of bruhaha over nothing.  Women all over the world breastfeed each other's babies.  American obsessiveness with the idea of germs.  Women are tested for everything under the sun when pregnant.  I know from experience.  When I had to to have an emergency induction and later c-section due to preeclampsia, my Strep B test results weren't in.  They went ahead and gave me the antibiotics just to be safe.  Found out later that the results got back to my ob/gyn later that evening after my DD was born.  I was Strep B clear.  Not a big deal for the breastfeeding...the big deal should be the lapse in security measures.

nonmember avatar Hannah

Knowing that instantaneous bonds can form during breastfeeding, especially so for a first time, I would be really heartbroken if I had learned my child was breastfed by another mother. Being on the flip side, and nursing another woman's newborn, I would feel quite guilty for the same reason. It's really a shame. Both for the practical reasons of formerly unnecessary tests, and for the emotional reasons of bonding and skin to skin contact, I would feel like it was a substantial loss for the mother and a significant mistake for the employees at the facility.

Karen Dowling-Barth

This seems fishy to me.  My husband worked at a prison and he was bit by an inmate and had to go on some medication and get tested for 6 months ( we couldn't do anything physically) until he was cleared after six months.  It don't go on for years unless maybe the woman had  hiv

EcoErin EcoErin

I don't understand, whats the big deal? Milk sharing is w onderful bonding experience for women. There obviously isn't anything wrong with the other woman breastfeeding, like HIV/Disease otherwise she wouldnt be breastfeeding her own child.
Your completely over reacting. I would love to have another mother breastfeed my son (5 months) rather than having to give him some bottles of formula because he wasn't gaining any weight with my milk. I really wish there was a program devoted to milk sharing. It would promote breastfeeding and solidarity.

Amanda Lynne Harry

After 3 c sections I'm sorry to say that even after the births I can remember exactly what my babies look like and would NEVER not know. My babies never left my side and the mother should have paid better attention as well. My opinion as a mother of 3.

Amanda Lynne Harry

If this did happen to one of my babies I'd want to know everything about the mothers health history and if it were questionable then do more bloodtests and whatnot.  I agree that testing the mother would result in the same outcome , no? 


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