It doesn’t take more than a simple Google search to see that breastfeeding in public is still not widely socially accepted. So while certainly disappointing, hearing a story about a mother told to cover up while feeding her child is probably not surprising in itself. What may surprise you is that the mom in this story was told to cover up while breastfeeding ... in a hospital. You know, where they literally deliver babies.
Fortunately, the hospital has already issued an apology to the mother and insisted the incident was due to a misinformed staff member. Scott Larson, the hospital’s PR Manager, told TODAY they’ve spoken to the individual employee and the team as a whole about the issue. “The individual involved... has been re-educated on our views regarding breastfeeding," Larson said to TODAY. “We have used this as an opportunity to reiterate our strong support for breastfeeding mothers with our other co-workers.”
Kymmie Snyder, the 24-year-old mother, was feeding her 10-month old son Kylo while waiting for an appointment at the hospital. Snyder said that while she was breastfeeding, the aforementioned hospital staff member walked up to her and her son. The employee then placed a towel over Kylo’s head, suggesting Snyder cover up. “When I snatched it off she tried to tell me that I "had to cover his head" and myself if I wanted to remain in the hospital,” Snyder shared in a Facebook post. “The only skin on my entire body that was showing was on my arms,” Snyder told TODAY.
Because Kylo has cystic fibrosis, his body has a hard time absorbing nutrients from food and requires feedings “once every hour or two,” Snyder told TODAY. As Snyder stated in her Facebook post, she needs to nurse “a lot.” However, she believes Kylo’s condition shouldn’t be the sole reason mothers like her be allowed to nurse in public.
“Even if he wasn’t a sick baby, you have no right to put anything over my child or me,” Snyder said to TODAY. “What if I’d been a first time mom? That’s just discouraging. Nobody in a hospital should be asking anyone to cover up.”
In addition to their public apology, Larson and the hospital said they have reached out to Snyder and hope to apologize personally.
Again, this is far from the first time a mother has been told to “cover up” while nursing in public and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely that it will be the last. Women have been asked to “cover up” in churches, on airplanes, on their social feeds, even a local branch of H&R Block. The societal pressure not to breastfeed in public has quite literally backed mothers into a corner. Recently, women shared stories using the hashtag #IPumpedHere, detailing the absurd and often uncomfortable places they’ve had to pump. These stories highlight the necessity for both breastfeeding-friendly policies in public spaces as well as a push toward overall societal acceptance.
Companies like Target are setting an example for progressive breastfeeding policies. Workplace pumping rooms are becoming more common but have a way to go before being widely accessible to all working moms. Additionally, women like Snyder who share their breastfeeding realities help to amplify the conversation, empowering mothers to feed their babies wherever they please and encouraging the greater public to be equally supportive.
It’s equally encouraging and validating that Snyder’s Facebook post has been shared over 1,000 times, garnering thousands of reactions and messages of solidarity from fellow mothers. Women want the conversation on public breastfeeding to shift towards acceptance. Babies probably want it to. I mean, I wouldn’t want to have to eat lunch under a courtesy blanket.
Snyder concluded her Facebook post with a message to anyone who doesn’t want to see her breastfeeding in the future: “Cover your own damn head if you have a problem with my son eating.”