Mom Says She Was Stopped from Breastfeeding in a Hospital Waiting Room: 'Mothers Shouldn't Be Shamed'
An Alabama mother is speaking out after she was stopped from breastfeeding in a hospital waiting room.
Ariana Elders, from Athens, had to take her 4-year-old son to the hospital late on Sunday, March 17. As she and her family sat in the waiting room at Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, her 4-month-old son Deklin started stirring and needed to be fed.
But soon after she began nursing, a hospital security guard came over.
“I started feeding my son and about 5 minutes later he comes up to me. He’s like, ‘Ma’am, you’re not breastfeeding are you?’ I was like, ‘Yeah?’ Because it was obvious I was breastfeeding,” Elders tells WAFF 48.
According to Elders, the guard then insisted that she had to move out of the public area to nurse.
“He said that according to the Huntsville Hospital rules that they’ve had implemented for years, a breastfeeding mother had to be in a private room,” she said.
Elders said that she nearly started crying, and decided to follow the guard to a private room — even though she knew that it is legal to nurse in public in Alabama — to avoid any conflict, leaving her older son with her husband.
In a statement, Huntsville Hospital told PEOPLE that they apologize for the mix-up and are going to make sure their staff is properly trained.
“Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children allows breastfeeding in public. In Mrs. Elders’ situation a member of our staff made a mistake. We spoke with her earlier today and apologized. We want to assure her and our community that we are reviewing our training process to ensure our staff recognize, respect and uphold the rights of breastfeeding mothers.”
Elders said that it was frustrating that this happened at this hospital in particular.
“To have a hospital for women and children shame me for breastfeeding a child — that shouldn’t happen, and mothers shouldn’t be shamed for that,” she said.
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But she doesn’t believe the guard should be fired, and instead is glad that people can learn from the experience. Elders wants other moms to know that they have the right to nurse in public.
“They need to stand up for themselves,” she said. “It is legal to breastfeed wherever you want. Feed your child whether it be by breast or bottle. Don’t let anyone shame you for making your child healthy.”