Saturday, July 17, 2010

open letter to women's and children's hospital of buffalo, ny. go ahead and sit down.

Dear Buffalo Women's and Children's Hospital,

I just got this message posted to my effbook wall.  And since you don't know me, I call F.a.cebook "effbook" on my blog because, well, I do.  Here's the message:

I have a real doozy for you. Sitting down? My little sister had to go to the ER at Buffalo Children's last night because her 4 year old son sustained a concussion while flying through the air after impacting a car with his bike. Bad enough already, right? So she's sitting in the waiting room nursing her 3 WEEK OLD BABY. The receptionist says, "Can I get you a blanket?" Mama: "No. The baby is warm enough thank you." Receptionist: "No. I mean for you. So you can cover up." Mama: "I'm alright. It doesn't bother me." Receptionist: "No. I mean for other people. We're a children's hospital. There are children and other people here."
 Mama: "NY State law protects my right to breastfeed my baby in public." Receptionist: "NY State law allows you to breastfeed as long as you cover yourself and the baby." Mama: "No. You're wrong. I'm allowed to breastfeed my baby where I need to. I can't believe you're saying this to me and I'm done with this conversation." Not. Kidding.
I am so utterly furious that this happened.  You are a WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL for the love of all things holy and unholy and everything else.  What are you even THINKING allowing your employees to HARASS A BREASTFEEDING MOTHER?  Especially one who is IN YOUR EMERGENCY ROOM. WITH A FOUR YEAR OLD WHOSE HEAD IS BROKEN.  Thank God this mama knew her rights and did not stop providing nutrition to her tiny babe because of this receptionist.

You run a pretty busy place.  I've been to your ER before, three or four times, actually, in the "off" hours, you know, the times when the ER isn't standing room only.  This woman was there on a Friday night.  How is it that your extremely ill-informed receptionist had the time to walk away from her post, seek out the breastfeeding mother who was COMPLETELY WITHIN HER RIGHTS to be feeding her THREE WEEK OLD BABY???  How does that happen in such a busy place?  And even if she didn't get up from her desk, supposing the mama was registering her hurt child to receive care, why would the receptionist waste time, thereby denying care to a head trauma victim, to address The Breastfeeding (Non)Issue? 

This is completely unacceptable.  If there is any place in Buffalo where nobody should EVER EVER EVER speak unkindly to a nursing mother, it is YOUR. HOSPITAL.  I'm not even going to tell you why you should support the breastfeeding relationship, because you should have this information locked inside your collective brain.  With all the sick and dying children you see every day, you should be kissing the ground breastfeeding women walk upon, because they are keeping babies out of your hospital.

Encourage.  Support. Provide. Be kind.  And deal with this nonsense immediately.  Because when this story goes viral, your immediate response of how you have A) apologized personally to the mother, B) handled your reckless employee,  and C) how you are going to prevent this abuse from happening in the future, will be helpful.

I expected better from you, Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo.


  1. NOW I've heard everything there is to hear. What is WRONG with that place???

  2. Go, Pamela! You know what my sister told me when she shared the story with me? "At least this happened to me at a point where I was confident in my ability to mother and breastfeed." And at that, every protective big sister bone in my body wanted to go whup some receptionist butt at Buffalo Women and Children's.

  3. I think, the fact that people are offended by a breastfeeding mother reflects very badly on our society here in the US. There is nothing more natural and loving. It's a shame that people view it with disgust. Kudos to the mama for standing up for her rights and the rights of her child.

  4. Comment submitted on hospital website :

    I recently became aware of an unacceptable incident at your hospital. An ER receptionist asked a breastfeeding mother to cover up while feeding her 3 week old, because it is a children's hospital and there are children there. NY state law protects a mother to breastfeed her child in public. It is unlawful to ask a breastfeeding mother to cover up. In addition, the hospital staff should be well aware of the risks associated with not breastfeeding. Praise instead should have been given to the mother for breastfeeding and feeling comfortable enough to provide nourishment for her child when it is necessary. Why would the recpetionist walk away from her duties to address a non emergency issue on a busy Saturday night? Her action was unacceptable and very unprofessional. Please address this issue immediately.

  5. oops... it was Friday, not Saturday. i am fabulous for not knowing the actual day of the week. today = saturday, yesterday = friday.

    am awesome.

  6. Wow. Just wow. Good for your sister for standing up for herself!

  7. Well, even though I got the wrong day in there...I hope they get the message, along with any others who opt to also send them a nice message :) Thanks for posting this!

  8. Effing WOOT!!! So, you've called the local news station haven't you? Seriously.

  9. I think maybe the nurse should try covering her head with a blanket while she eats dinner and see how she likes it!

  10. I would love her to say something like "I am feeding my child. Stop projecting YOUR perversion on us."

  11. If I hear of another person complaining about nursing because 'children are here' I'm going to have a stroke. Children should know about and SEE mothers nursing their children. There is nothing uncouth or unsavory about it! IT is what they should see to normalize it.

    gag me!

  12. Gah! This is horrifying.

    Also, if there's anyone who SHOULD see breastfeeding, it's children. Because we really don't need them to grow up and harass nursing mothers, too. If breastfeeding is normal for them, we can put an end to this ignorance.

  13. Pretty much speechless...especially given the context. What was that receptionist thinking? Wait, she wasn't thinking!

  14. I am astounded...well, maybe I shouldn't be really in our society. That is way past unacceptable for so many reasons, and it is truly saddening and disgusting that any staff member of ANY hospital, much less a Women's and Children's hospital, would say something so ignorant and counterproductive to mother and child health. If she had been intimidated it could have had serious consequences to the nursing relationship and the health of both parties.

    I guess that staff member would have been happier with a hungry and screaming infant, a traumatized and engorged mother, and a confused patient, or maybe she would have preferred a mother and child hiding and hot under a blanket with the child screaming from being covered up rather than have a perfectly happy mother and baby. How sad, horrifying, and truly bizarre.

    This is a sad statement on the state of so many aspects of our society.

  15. @Sardine Mama ~ I did, actually. They seemed interested, and said they were going to investigate.

    @StandardSpicyWhatnot ~ I think I may have had a mini stroke this morning.

    @Amber ~ you are ABSOLUTELY correct to say children should be able to view breastfeeding. it is when we hide things away that they become taboo.

    @Gumbo ~ i think she was thinking that there was another job she was more suited for?

    @ram ~ i see many people who seem quite content to let infants scream instead of stopping what they are doing and tending to the baby they made. it is a sad statement about our society.

  16. Sent this to

    I recently became aware of a mother being harassed by one of your employees. She came to the ER with her 4 year old son, who sustained a concussion, and her 3 week old newborn. After her arrival, her newborn needed to be breastfed (which newborns do quite frequently) and she proceeded to do so. She was approached by an ER receptionist while breastfeeding and was asked to cover up. This was in violation of her rights as a breastfeeding mother! New York State Law protects a mother to breastfeed in public. I am disappointed to know that your hospital does not provide training to your employees regarding the legal rights of a breastfeeding pair. This makes me come to the conclusion that your hospital must then be unsupportive of breastfeeding. As a Women and Children's Hospital, I would think that breastfeeding would be more than supported on your premises since scientific evidence has proven how beneficial breastfeeding is to both women AND children! I hope that this issue is addressed immediately and that there is policy put in place to educate ALL of your staff about the legal rights of a breastfeeding mother and child.

  17. Infuriating! At a hospital, of all places, you'd think they would know better.

    I had the opposite experience at a hospital in Atlanta (Crawford Long). My baby was about four months old and my husband was in the emergency room. I was in the room with him and nursing the baby. A nurse who came in to check his vitals said "Oh that's so great that you're still breastfeeding! It's so good for them and so many women don't make it that long." As someone who was always extremely self-conscious about nursing in public, it was so nice to hear reassuring words from a stranger.

  18. I am sure she was totally topless and all hanging out right, 'cause that's certainly how I breastfeed, half-nude! People act like we are just shaking them in their face or something. Ughhhhhhh. Taking a deep breath so I can return to my regularly scheduled meal preparation. Maybe I should cook topless too!!

  19. My jaw is on the floor. How completely, totally sickening that someone had the gall to tell that woman to cover up. I'm fuming.

  20. My letter to the head of lactation services:
    Kyle Brach RN, BSN, IBCLC
    I have seen the many on-line references in the breastfeeding community to an incident which occurred in your ER waiting room on Friday July 16th in the evening. A mother was nursing her 3wk old while waiting for her 4 year old to be evaluated for a head injury following a car vs bike incident. The ER receptionist hassled this mom about her bfing in public. This is inappropriate beyond words! I bring this to your attention rather than hosp administrators because you may have a better understanding of her rights than they do. Please encourage this worker to educate herself and encourage the hospital to make a public apology to this mother. Believe me this has spread all over the internet!
    Of all places, a mother should feel free to breastfeed her neonate in a Women and Children's Hospital!
    Recent WBW materials encouraged us to place signs all over our facilities welcoming mothers to breastfeed wherever they needed to and to ask IF they wished for a more private location.... although that is up to the mother!
    For this mother..... your facility failed to "Deliver Peace of Mind" as is you slogan.
    Thanks for your attention to this matter,
    Former IBCLC and fellow lactation professional,
    M Yetter

  21. as someone who is offended when she sees someone FORMULA FEEDING their baby, I am trying to sympathize with this woman because I too have prejudices against feeding preferences.





    I can't sympathize with her.

  22. My experience with Children's was NOT-VERY mother-child friendly either. No actually it was VERY-NOT mother-child friendly. Weird huh!

  23. This story has made me reflect on my own public nursing experiences. A year ago you couldn't have convinced me that I'd be a breastfeeding I nurse my 10-month-old son wherever and whenever he needs to be nursed. When he was 8 months, we went to Orlando, where I nursed him at 7 different theme parks (including Disney, Universal, and Sea World, all of which were teeming with children) and in several restaurants. Even if I had been a shawl user, I would have quit that week, as it was 90+ degrees, and that would have been cruel. I half expected to be harassed for doing something so disgusting surrounded by (literally) thousands of people, but NOT ONCE was I approached in a negative way, and trust me, there were plenty of opportunities to do so. In fact, I have since become friends with a woman who sat down next to me and started talking with me while I was nursing. I share this long story to make the following point--if I can safely nurse in very busy, very public theme parks, why can't a mother nurse in the waiting room of a children's hospital? Seeing a baby nursing is probably one of the LEAST disturbing things a child would see there!

  24. I am a mother that proudly nursed my baby boy for 13 months. I did get a lot of support, but just as much of the disgusted comments by narrow minded people that think there is something "gross" about breastfeeding. Sadly, some of these people were my own family members. I don't get it. What is wrong with people in this country? I HATE children's hospital ER for other reasons. I had 2 horrible experiences there with my son. At the time it wasn't one of my major concerns, but when my son was there after having a febrile seizure at age one I had a similar experience. My son was dehydrated from the high fever and the staff had given us a bottle of pedialite for him. He would not drink it because he was a nursed baby and had never really had a bottle. So after a long while of sitting in the room trying to get my fussing sick baby to drink, I just decided to nurse him. A male nurse came in and practically jumped out of his skin because I was nursing, then proceded to act weird and refused to make eye contact with me. It's just nuts! Kuddos to the mom who stood up to that ignorant receptionist.

  25. Dear Lisa,

    I have seen many on-line references in the breastfeeding community to an incident which occurred in your ER waiting room on Friday July 16th in the evening. A mother was nursing her infant child while waiting for her 4 year old to be evaluated for a head injury following a bike incident. The ER receptionist asked this mother to cover up with a blanket. That's not supportive of that mother making the right choice to breastfeed her child. I am disappointed that the Women and Children's Hospital would discriminate against a breastfeeding woman and her child. Please encourage your employees to cover a breastfeeding woman with encouraging words, not blankets. You might also want to make some kind of official statement about how much you love and support breastfeeding women and children to encourage and assure those of us with nursing infants that we are welcome in your Emergency Room.

    Thank you for your understanding in the matter.

    My first name and last name
    My city, my state

  26. this is nuts. You would think a Hospital that deals with Maternity...PICU..NICU...Children and Babies and MOthers..that they would ENCOURAGE a Mother to nurse . Makes me sick. Poor lil E to. :( Hugs to Mama and the kids and Boo on the idiot receptionist at Womens n Childrens. ugh

  27. I, too, find it disgusting that she was approached in that manner. I hope that the hospital responds quickly and appropriately to the situation.

    *hugs* and kudos to her for standing up for her rights to breastfeed in public. It took me until my third child to have that confidence with it.

  28. Don't knock the hospital for some secretary's lack of sense.
    Women and Children's Hospital does some amazing stuff and it shouldn't be brought down over one person's ineptitude.

  29. I posted to the hospital asking that an apology be made.

  30. Hi,

    I just read this blog as it was linked from another site. I am truly appalled! So much so that i just emailed the following letter to them.

    ps - i hope that bitch gets fired

    To whom it may concern,

    I have recently been made aware of an incident that occurred at your hospital emergency room on Friday 16th of July.

    A mother was waiting for care for her 4 year old son who had sustained a concussion, whilst waiting this mother began breastfeeding her 3 week old baby. Allegedly a receptionist employed by your hospital approached the nursing mother and requested she would cover up, so she would not offend "children and other people".

    As I am sure you are aware, not only has your employee berated and publicly humiliated a nursing mother, she has demonstrated that your hospital is obviously not providing training for your staff or a supportive environment in relation to breastfeeding.

    I'm not going to rant on about how you should know the benefits of breastfeeding etc, as seeing as you run a hospital I assume it would be beneficial for you to have more sick babies around so you can make money 'caring' for them (as we all know that formula fed babies = sick babies)

    If none of the above makes you feel ashamed of her actions, than at least be aware that she has also gone in direct opposition of N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 79-e (1994) which 'permits a mother to breastfeed her child in any public or private location. (SB 3999)'

    I hope you act swiftly in regards to this matter, and it would be beneficial for you to provide training to your other employees so another incident of this nature does not occur.

    By the way, I am from Australia and this type of behavior from a hospital employee would not be tolerated for a second (in fact, in Australia it is AGAINST THE LAW to even ASK a breastfeeding mother to cover up or move on)however I want it to be known that all the way over here I have heard about this (even though i do not personally know this mother), and I am that disgusted by it I have taken the time to write this letter.

  31. @Steven Yunghans ~ I understand that the employee made a very poor decision, but at the same time, the hospital did not communicate either A) at all or B) strongly enough that it is against the law to approach a breastfeeding mother about covering up. And even more disturbing, that the employee felt she had carte blanche to continue to harass the mother even after the mother kindly and respectfully told the employee to stop. The moment the employee crossed the line into harassment territory was when the mother told the employee to leave her alone and the employee refused.
    Yes, that was the employee, but the hospital hired that employee. And for that, they are responsible.
    That being said, I have never experienced anything other than good care from Children's Hospital. My infant was a patient there in April, 2009, and everyone was wonderful to us.

  32. they also have an effbook page...

  33. almost forgot. did someone have the woman who was harrassed contact ???

  34. My letter via online submission form:

    To whom it may concern:

    I have recently become informed of an incident that occurred on Friday, July 16th, in your emergency room. It is my understanding that during this normally very busy time, a breastfeeding mother was feeding her three week old baby while waiting for care for her four year old when she was harassed by your receptionist. The receptionist offered her a blanket to cover mom and baby and then proceeded to explain that the hospital had children present (which this mother assuredly knew since she was there FOR her child). The icing on the cake was when your employee incorrectly informed this mother that under the law she *must* cover up.

    Thankfully, this mother, and thousands across the country have armed themselves with the knowledge of their state's laws and their rights as nursing moms. Thankfully, this mother was able to correct the receptionist's mistake and end the conversation before further embarrassment could be attributed to your hospital. Thankfully, your uninformed employee did not break the spirit of this mom who is doing the most selfless and beneficial thing she could possibly do for her child.

    Unfortunately, women have had to arm themselves with facts and legislation because of ignorant employees and citizens who make it their personal agendas to prevent seeing a completely natural practice in public. Unfortunately, there's no way to tell how many well-intentioned moms your employees have scared and bullied into being afraid to breastfeed in public. Unfortunately, it is those very moms with babies who didn't receive that precious gift that you will see back in your waiting room because they aren't protected like a breastfed baby.

    I am disgusted by your employee's complete disregard for this mother, her baby, and her son. I suggest you train all of your employees (from heads of staff down to janitors) in how to handle (read: leave alone) nursing moms. If something *must* be said or done, then teach them to smile at her or thank her for doing what so many can't or won't do.

    And apologize to this poor woman whom your employee harassed.


    Hope this helps - it breaks my heart every time I hear these absolutely ludicrous stories.

  35. This is a fabulous example of why my child will NOT be delivered there. Disgusting.

  36. Pamela - is there any way you could get me in touch with the woman this happened to? You can reach me at NursingFreedom (at) gmail (dot) com


  37. She could have taken her entire shirt off legally to nurse! Oooh, I bet if she wasn't preoccupied with her poor child at the ER she could have given the supervisor some words! That just gets me spitting nails over that ignorance! I try to cover up to some extent, but my 7 month old (#4 and I nurse in front of all 3 of my other children, ages 8,6 and 2 and they think nothing of it. Why do you think G-d gave you breasts???) wants nothing to do with that- he wants to see what is going on! Blessings to all! Happy nursing!

  38. Thank you for bringing this out into the open! I simply hate it when anyone bothers breastfeeding mommies! It's hard enough in this day and age since many of us don't have mothers and sisters to mentor us and the breastfeeding guidance doled out at birth in hospitals is so rarely all three timely, accurate, and complete. I will share the link on my facebook and if I can get just a few more minutes without my toddlers crawling all over me or my bun in the oven punching me in the kidney I'll try to post it up on my blog as well! ;)

  39. 2 of my sons (at different times) were transferred to the NICU at CHOB because of respiratory distress after they were born. I had to pump because the boys could not bf at that time. When I was finally allowed to start bf'ing the first one, the nurse was horrible about it. She stood over me and complained numerous times that I was doing it wrong and that she should just take the baby and give it my expressed milk mixed with formula instead. I was appalled by this. I contacted her supervisor and she was spoken to about it, but continued to give me a pissy attitude each time she cared for my child. Fortunately, when my second son was in their NICU, they were much more pro-bf'ing at that time. I really think that CHOB needs to teach their employees about the benefits of bf'ing and the rights of bf'ing mothers. I do really like CHOB, and honestly, they saved my 2 sons lives and I will forever be grateful for that. I just wish that they were a little more pro bf'ing.

  40. It's so strange to me that someone would think breastfeeding is something children shouldn't see. Um. Boobs are for children. It's thier whole purpose! When are people going to stop being such weenies about nursing in public? It's food. It's perfectly innocent and people need to get their minds out of the gutter. I blame porn and 3 generations of formula feeding that separated us from the very purpose of our breasts. The idea that breasts are always and everywhere sexual objects is why people are so uncomfortable with breastfeeding. It's maddening. Some people really do seem to think that breastfeeding is a sex act to be kept undercover. Disgusting.


talk to me, people. because you know i get all giddy when you do.