We've all become (unfortunately) familiar with the idea that some places get upset when women breastfeed in public — you just wouldn't think a hospital would have that same, narrow-minded mentality. But now it seems a woman in Lubbock, Texas was thrown out of a hospital after breastfeeding her baby in a waiting room. And the details only get more bizarre from there.
In fact, it seems that Erin Peña was not only escorted out of the University Medical Center in Lubbock by the hospital's security after breastfeeding her four-month-old, but the whole reason she was there was for an appointment for the baby's vaccinations. That's right, she was in a pediatrician's waiting room.
Peña told news channel KCBD that after waiting for an hour for her appointment, she began breastfeeding her baby, but was asked by the receptionist to move to the restroom. Peña refused, on the grounds that Texas law gives women the right to breastfeed anywhere. Unsatisfied with this answer, the receptionist apparently threatened to cancel Peña's appointment if she did not at least cover up (also not required under Texas law) — and then the receptionist actually did cancel when Peña still refused. Because apparently making sure a baby gets the proper vaccinations is less important than making sure that no one ever dare to nourish their child in public.
Peña says that the situation got even worse when her doctor took the receptionist's side in the argument, and security was called to escort her and her child from the building.
The whole thing feels wrong to me. For one thing, the fact that people get super upset and uncomfortable about breastfeeding makes no sense. But even more than the baseline principle of the thing, if there's anyplace where it should be absolutely OK to breastfeed your child, it really ought to be the lobby of your pediatrician. I mean, they do want you to feed your baby, right?
Plus, the whole thing is a huge violation of trust. As Peña said, "I was confused, shocked, humiliated. This is really heartbreaking for me because this is the woman who delivered my baby. I had a lot of respect for her."
The University Medical Center has not commented on all aspects of Peña's account, but they have taken responsibility for asking Peña to cover up, KCBD reports. Spokesperson Eric Finley said in a statement, "Our staff asked that woman to leave unless she covered herself up, which is absolutely wrong. We apologize to that mother and to all breast-feeding mothers."
However, he also claimed that Peña was not escorted out because of the breastfeeding, but because she had gone into a restricted area in order to speak with the doctor about the incident. "She was then in a place where she was not allowed to be, so she wasn't asked to leave because she was breastfeeding," Finley said. "But still, had we acted more appropriately this never would have happened."
Amen to that.
From now on let's all just agree that women breastfeeding in doctors' offices is nothing to get upset about. Cool? Cool.