Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Breastfeeding Mix-up Article: Why, Why, Why?

A midwife friend posted this on facebook this morning:

Wrong Mom Breastfeeds Baby in Hospital Mix-up

Take a look at it. When I finished reading it, I wasn't quite sure whether to laugh or throw things at the computer screen.

The main gist of the story is the fury of the baby's father, who calls the incident (in which another woman breastfed his infant by mistake), "every parent's worst nightmare." He rants throughout the entire article about the "tragedy" - "'We're, ahhh," the father said, his voice trembling, "I can't even put it into words. My wife has been physically sick. I'm trying to support her. I think it's every parent's nightmare.'"

Okay, a few points....

(1) Um.... every parent's worst nightmare? Well, I must admit that I have lain awake countless nights thinking about the possibility (oh, horror!) of some other woman breastfeeding my baby. I don't worry about things like, you know, child molestation, crib death, child kidnapping, drownings, car accidents, or any such lesser evils - I just worry about another woman nursing my newborn!

(2) The possibility of any disease passing through breast milk to an infant during one feeding is so small as to be almost zero.

(3) What do you think milk banks and milk donations are about? Babies drinking other mothers' milk. It happens.

(4) The mess-up here is about baby switching. Pure and simple. Not breastmilk switching.

(5) The newspaper writes this article in a purely tabloid-style fashion. The least they could have done would have been to tone down the sensationalism and put the matter into perspective. Poor job on their part.

For my part, though I understand the couple's being upset over the (brief) baby swap, I was absolutely disgusted at the father's attitude, words, random complaints (he was worried because the other baby's father might have had a jail record?), and hysteria over what was a minor incident - his baby getting one feeding from another woman.

I wondered briefly if this might be tied into the weird fixation that society has over breastfeeding. Breastfeeding in public is seen as obscene; breastfeeding past baby's one-year birthday is seen as indecent. It kind of seems that breastfeeding is really seen as a sexual act that is tolerated when baby is "gender-less" (i.e. not manifesting many symptoms of its gender), but unacceptable as baby gains personality and gender traits. The man in the above article was really acting as if his wife (or his baby) had been raped - and seeing breastfeeding as a sexual act could definitely lead in that direction.

Anyway, it's weird... Thoughts, anyone?


  1. Agreed!

    I had seen an article about this, and almost wrote a smug post about it being impossible to mix up babies born at home, but then the article I read made it sound like the woman would have been risked out of a home birth anyway, so just didn't go there. But, "my worst nightmare?" -- not even close!!


  2. Hi there,

    This is a very informative post about breastfeeding. I'm also a mother of a 14-month old baby and I blog regularly about baby care tips and my experiences raising him.

    The link address is Raising Daniel.

    Thank you.



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