If you thought you've seen it all in the never-ending battle of breastfeeding versus formula feeding, I'd like to present to you the mother who was denied free hospital food because she wasn't nursing. A mother of three accompanied her 5-month-old baby to the pediatric ward, where he was admitted for a lung infection, and when the staff was made aware that she wasn't breastfeeding, they informed her that she could have some toast in the morning, but beyond that, she'd have to pay for any food she wanted -- which isn't the case for mothers who nurse. "Because you're not breastfeeding, you won't get meals here," the mom who wishes to remain nameless said she was told. And the thing that bothered her the most, more than the ridiculous policy, was the fact that she had to leave her recovering infant son alone to go get herself some food.
"For me to go and get some decent food, I have to leave my child," she said. "I understand they are busy but that's why I think there's more reason to feed us so we don't have to leave our children." She recalled a particularly upsetting instance when she left her child and she returned to find him screaming. "It's not so easy on a mom who cares about her children to go and get herself some nutrition when you come back to an anxious, upset baby," she said.
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And adding insult to injury is the fact that this particular mom wanted to nurse. Quite badly, actually, but it just didn't work out, due to severe food allergies and reflux. Bottle-feeding with prescription formula was the option that made the most sense for her family.
If this is this particular hospital's attempt at increasing breastfeeding, boy have they missed the mark. Denying the mother of a sick child food because she's using formula is almost too insane to even wrap my head around. This woman is being punished because breastfeeding didn't work out for her -- by a hospital. Aren't hospitals supposed to be places mothers feel comfortable and not "less than"? Mothers who formula feed their kids -- because something went wrong, or because they simply didn't feel like nursing -- get enough crap for other women already. (And, yes, I breastfed in case you're wondering.)
This needs to stop. Yes, there have been countless studies, touting the benefits of breastfeeding, but not everyone is going to do it. Let's all just deal with that fact and move on. A hospital forcing a mother to leave her sick child because she bottle-feeds is not the way to get more moms to nurse. In fact, it only fuels the fire of this never-ending battle.
What do you think of this?
Image via nerissa's ring/Flickr