Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Help Me Howard: Breastfeeding
Choosing to breastfeed is a joy many new moms get to experience. But that experience turned unpleasant for one woman when, she says, she was asked to leave, of all places, a doctor's office for nursing her newborn. Fed up, she turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Lynette Ryan: "Our genealogical history is really deep. We are related to John Adams, John Quincy Adams."
Lynette's ancestors go back, way back in American history.
Lynette Ryan: "They signed the Declaration of Independence, they stood up for their rights."
Her ancestors knew a thing or two about peoples' rights, and Lynette thought she did too.
Lynette Ryan: "I was at my doctor's office."
Lynette had gone to her doctor because of a breastfeeding issue, and after her appointment, Lynette got a call from her kids for milk.
Lynette Ryan: "And I was feeding my kids because it was over their feeding time. I have a 16-month-old, and she's 4 months old, and I started to feed both my children."
Lynette was breastfeeding the kids just like this, in the doctor's waiting room. It was empty, until the doctor walked out.
Lynette Ryan: "He came out of the back, twice and kept asking, 'Why are you here? Why are you still here?'"
Lynette thought it was obvious, but since she had her breasts covered with a blanket, she explained it to the doctor.
Lynette Ryan: "I was still feeding my kids, I had to feed them, and then, less than five minutes later, he came walking through the waiting room, opened the front door and said, 'Well, can't you do that at home?'"
Lynette was stunned at being asked to leave a doctor's office for breastfeeding a child.
Lynette Ryan: "I just looked at him, and said, 'You are kidding, right? You are kidding, and I just started crying because he said, 'No, I'm not kidding.'"
Lynette says she took her two hungry kids and left, and she says it's not the first time she has been berated for breastfeeding a child.
Lynette Ryan: "If it is not guys making perverted remarks, it is women giving you dirty looks, or people telling you to go to the bathroom to feed your baby. It is very hard. It is very overwhelming. It is extremely overwhelming, and it is very depressing."
But does Lynette have the right to breastfeed her baby in public or in a doctor's office, Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "In Florida, legally, a mother can breastfeed her baby anywhere and does not even have to cover the breast if she chooses not to. She can breastfeed in a public place or a private building, as long as it's a place the mother is allowed to be, and if someone tries to stop you, call the police."
When we called the doctor, he denied even talking to Lynette, saying: "I never go out into the waiting room to talk to patients, and I have no idea what you are talking about."
But his office manager told us he may have told Lynette, he'd like to leave the office early, but it was on his way out, and that nothing was said about her breastfeeding.
Needless to say, Lynette is looking for a new doctor and hoping the next time her child gets hungry, she doesn't have to battle to breastfeed.
Lynette Ryan: "Absolutely, people think breasts are for something other than feeding babies, and unfortunately, it is a backwards society I believe right now. Today's day and age, people look at the breasts as nothing but sex objects. I hate to say it like that, but that's the truth."
Legally, Lynette had the right to breastfeed before her appointment, the question would be how long she could sit there after her appointment and feed her children? The law does not specify, and the word lawyers love is "reasonable," meaning she has a reasonable amount of time to feed her child.
Fed up at facing frustrations? Need someone to nurse your attitude back to health? Make an appointment with us. We may not be legal whizzes, but we won't throw you out of our office.
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