Nurse Tells Breastfeeding Mother To Go Somewhere Private 'For Her Own Dignity'

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
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Mom told by hospital nurse that breastfeeding is “sexual” and to go somewhere private

A breastfeeding mother visiting a patient at a hospital in the UK found herself on the receiving end of some seriously ridiculous shaming — at the hands of a hospital nurse, of all people. She was there to see her grandmother and when the time came to feed her infant son, she was told to go somewhere private. For her “dignity.”

Can you even? I cannot.

Darcie Pennington took to the Royal Liverpool University Hospital’s Facebook page to leave a review about the humiliating experience. Last month, she brought her 4-month-old son Vincent to see her grandmother after an operation for eye cancer. She writes, “Whilst there I walked around trying to settle my son and realised he needed feeding, I was then approached in a authoritarian manor by one of the nurses, who abruptly told me I needed to sit in a private room as I would make the other visitors feel uncomfortable.”

To which we say, who in the whole wide world gives a shit? A baby’s hunger trumps some idiot’s objection to seeing a sliver of boob, which is easy enough to light eyes on pretty much anywhere you go if a woman wears a low-cut shirt. It’s a ridiculous argument. Pennington, awesomely aware of her rights to nurse wherever in the hell she wants to, stood up to the nurse explaining just that. At this point, she sat down near her grandmother in a recovery room to continue feeding her son and the nurse came over and “slammed” the curtains shut telling the mom she wasn’t allowed to feed her baby there because there were males present who, again, might be “uncomfortable.”

She writes that the man in the room had his back turned anyway and a curtain of his own he could feel free to close if he didn’t want to be assaulted by the ghastly sight of a mother feeding her child. And this is where things went off the rails.

“I asked her why I was being targeted and why she wasn’t promoting breastfeeding as a nurse I thought was strange, she told me she was protecting my dignity. I then asked her if I was feeding him a bottle would I receive the same treatment to then she went on to say ”bottle feeding isn’t sexual.”


[shareable_quote]Why should the onus be on the nursing mother to make other people feel comfortable when the problem rests squarely on the shoulders of those who need to learn to be OK with moms breastfeeding near them or go somewhere else if they’re offended?[/shareable_quote]

Well, the nurse does have a point there. I mean, don’t we all try to sex it up a little when we nurse our babies in public? It’s customary to do a Sexy Dance before getting the baby to latch, maybe like a strip tease sort of thing. Pull out the other boob and stick a tassel on it. Or maybe like, one of those jeweled numbers Janet Jackson had on her nipple during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show. This is a very sexy thing, feeding a baby. It’s easy to see where people might be a bit uncomfortable by such an ostentatious display, but hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

Eye roll.

Obviously, a mother nursing her child isn’t the least bit a sexual act. It’s in no way the concern of breastfeeding mothers if there are creepy dudes or pearl-clutching women in their vicinity who might be scandalized if they show a little boob. Why should the onus be on the nursing mother to make other people feel comfortable when the problem rests squarely on the shoulders of those who need to learn to be OK with moms breastfeeding near them or go somewhere else if they’re offended? If anyone sees breastfeeding as “sexual” they always have the right, as Pennington points out, to simply look away.

But why look away when you can demoralize a mother and potentially harm her confidence the next time she tries to nurse in public?

Pennington acknowledges that possibility writing, “If I wasn’t so passionate and they had confronted someone who was new to breastfeeding they could have made them feel like they weren’t doing the right thing. I felt the right thing would to have been to tell the man and his partner to close their curtain as I was well within my rights, but instead I got bombarded and made to feel very insecure.”

According to The Telegraph, deputy chief nurse Colin Hont apologized on behalf of the hospital saying, “We fully support breastfeeding and visitors to our hospitals are welcome to breast- feed where they choose to and feel most comfortable.” He goes on to say there are private spaces available should a mother want to use them. Obviously, Pennington did not. And that should have been perfectly fine.

It’s really amazing that these stories are still popping up all the time where breastfeeding mothers are made to feel embarrassed and ashamed for doing what they’re legally allowed to do. Will society ever get a freaking grip and stop being upset over something so totally innocent and natural?

Probably not.

But with fantastic and brave women like Pennington speaking out about their awful experiences we might be able to stop a handful of morons from doing what these nurses did. Breastfeeding is as normal as it gets, and it’s really high time everyone calm the hell down about it.

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