Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Alabama Mother Harassed for Nursing in a WIC Office!

If Beyonce can do it, so can you!
Today I received an email from a mother that absolutely floored me! She was in a Montgomery WIC office waiting room breastfeeding her baby discreetly when she was chastised by a health department employee  who told her that she shouldn't nurse in the waiting room because she was "distracting people." She tried to explain that she had a nursing cover and a blanket, but before she could even get it out she was moved into a cluttered storage room where the employee had to move papers and pamphlets out of the chair so the mother could sit down to nurse.

From Woman's E News
To add insult to injury, as the mother was beginning to nurse again, the employee began banging on the closed storage room door demanding that the mother open it. Then another employee came to "supervise" the mother. The first employee then brought a blanket and threw it over the child's head. This was NOT the mother's own blanket, and the mother had absolutely no idea where it came from or what germs might be on it. The baby began to fuss and kick off the cover with the end result that she did not get to nurse adequately before the mother was called back for her appointment.

There is SO MUCH wrong with what happened to this mother, but I think the thing that is MOST upsetting is the fact that she was in an office where infant nutrition is supposed to be the highest priority. What better nutrition is there than breast milk? Is the WIC system so dependent upon their contracts with the formula companies that they have to discourage breastfeeding? Are the workers completely unaware of Alabama state law? For anyone who is wondering, here is what our state law says:

 Breastfeeding children in public or private locations.
A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.
 Or is the bottle-feeding culture just so culturally ingrained in them that they really don't care about what the law says?

Fortunately this mother is taking some proactive steps. She is writing a letter to the WIC department in her county. I can only hope that it will help. However, if every mother who reads this encourages every mother she knows who is on WIC to make it a point to nurse in the WIC office and have a copy of the law on hand just in case anybody says anything, it won't be long before that department gets the message!

I do have to conclude by emphasizing how impressed I have been with the Madison County WIC office and the desire I have seen in some of the workers there to encourage breastfeeding. I was honored to be invited by them to speak to their moms about breastfeeding last year. So not all offices are the same. Nevertheless, if you live in an area where your WIC office isn't very supportive, remember your rights and exercise them!!

3 comments:

  1. Hi A Nurturing Moment,

    I really admire your personal and engaging voice. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing such great advice and stories on your blog for busy mothers and parents of young children! This post, in particular, tackles an issue that is prevalent in society: viewing breastfeeding as unnatural. Thank you again for tackling this.

    I’ve taken a look through your website and we think you’ve done a fantastic job in covering topics that our brand's audience of expecting mothers would be interested in reading. It would be great if you could join our community to feature your blog entries.

    If you would like to learn more about this, please send an email to info at atomicreach.com with “mothers” in the subject line.

    Sincerely,
    Tina

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  2. I canot thank you enough for writing aout what happened to me. I was actually in the Huntsville Al WIC office. That was a moment of realization for me. I started speaking up more and I found my voice as a minority attachment parent. I have been encouraging other women with similar experiences to speak up and file complaints. WIC was very supportive. When I go back again for my next appointment I will see if things have changed. I was told there was employee education and also the "nursing lounge" has been cleaned out for moms who want a quiet place to nurse their babies. I am determined to make sure I know the laws in every place I go so that I can protect myself and other women as well. I hope after I become a nurse I can be a lactation consutant and doula too. My experiences were not in vain. Thank you Glennie for helping me find my voice and learn the law.

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  3. Jessica, I had no idea you were here in town! That is awful!! I'm so thankful that you have spoken up and that this has changed you so profoundly! I'm so proud of you!!!

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