Last week, my youngest was under the weather and we had a brief hospital visit at the end of one very long day.
While sick, he was nursing nonstop. This meant he was still nursing when we arrived at the hospital — him in my arms, feverish, comforted by my breast.
A nurse, leading us to our room:
“I’m so sorry, I wish I had a blanket or something to cover you with!”
Me, smiling politely:
“It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
“I just wanted to offer you privacy.”
Me, with the logic:
“Really it’s fine, I mean it’s a hospital…”
Nurse, disregarding my logic:
“When we get to the room I’ll check for a blanket to put over… him.”
Me, having lost any sense of humor:
“I don’t think he’ll like that.”
My feverish child did not want or need a blanket on top of him. Minutes later, they were advising that we remove his clothing to decrease his body temperature. But an extra layer of nursing bib — that’s good protocol?
To the nurses in question here:
If my “privacy” is your concern, please trust that I can be responsible for setting and maintaining the parameters for my own modesty. If a woman likes to cover, she’ll probably be using one or asking for one. If she’s too shy to ask, her body language will give her away; she’ll look uncomfortable and may be desperately trying everything she can to shield whatever part of her breast feels exposed. In any case, it’s best not to assume a woman wants a cover. Especially if she appears perfectly at home the way she is currently breastfeeding, and especially especially if she has already declined your offer for a cover.
No other patients would notice or care that my son was breastfeeding. Isn’t that something to be encouraged in a health facility anyway? What with all the anti-infective, anti-bacterial, immunity-boosting properties in human milk, tailored specifically to a mother’s own child?
Interestingly, the doctor was happy to hear he was urinating just fine despite his sickness, as children tend to dehydrate easily.
“Is he drinking water?”
“He’s been mainly breastfeeding.”
Another A+ for the convenience and back-up support from mother’s milk!
Anyway, I think perhaps I should have known better than to bring him here. It reminded me of the time I had brought my older son in several years ago for a concerning incident of a bumped head. Guess what happened?
We were prompted to move from our private waiting room into another room. A nurse entered to walk us out. She noticed me nursing him, grabbed a blanket from a shelf, and placed it over us with no warning or explanation of any kind.
My son immediately threw it off.
She said, “Oh, I guess he didn’t like that…”
What kind of experiences have you had while breastfeeding at the hospital, whether at the Emergency Room like us or a regular doctor visit? If you’re a nurse, what kind of training did you receive about treatment of breastfeeding dyads within the hospital’s public and private areas? I’m interested to know your thoughts!