As an adoptive mom, breastfeeding was never an option. But that didn’t protect one mom from being judged by her day care provider.
As the letter writer explained, she’s a single mom who recently adopted a baby. Because she also works full-time, she had to find regular care for her child and felt fortunate to find an excellent home day care provider with a child just a bit older than her daughter.
Because she isn’t lactating, the mom chose to feed her baby formula. As she explained, her choice received a bit of snark at first:
The only bump in the road was on the first day when I pulled out the formula and bottles, and she wrinkled her nose and said, “You feed her that slop?” I ignored the barb (I’m used to it), gave a quick rundown, and went on my way.
With hindsight, that comment was a red flag.
One Friday, after going to this day care for about two months, the mom arrived to pick up her baby a bit earlier than usual. She entered a side door to the house, where parents can come in without knocking, then went over to sign her daughter out.
That’s when a day care assistant came over to try to talk to the mom. However, the mom was eager to pick up her daughter and go home, so she “brushed by her.” She continued:
When I got to the area of the house where my daughter was, I about fell over. The day care provider was NURSING MY BABY!
Not only did the day care provider breastfeed the mom’s baby without her knowledge or consent, she went on to defend herself by insulting the formula again:
I marched over, took the baby from her arms, and asked her if she was crazy. The provider said that she was saving my baby from chemicals I was trying to force into her body and I should thank her for doing it all these months! I didn’t say anything; I just grabbed the diaper bag and got the hell out of there.
The mom has no intention of sending her daughter back to the day care but isn’t sure what else to do. Should she report what happened to the company the day care belongs to? Should she post about it on social media? Or perhaps notify the other parents at the day care about what happened?
In response, “Prudence” (aka Daniel Mallory Ortberg) advised the mom to report what happened to the supervising agency. He called the provider’s actions a “huge breach of trust” and added:
Yes, your baby is, in the long run, safe and sound. But the whole point of providing day care for working parents is saying, “You can trust me to keep your children safe and well–cared for, and I will act according to your wishes in your absence,” not “As soon as you walk out the door, I’m going to raise your child how I see fit.”
Though Ortberg understood why the mom might not want the attention that would accompany a social media post about what happened, he was adamant that the incident warranted a report to whatever agency oversees day care companies in her state.
On social media, responses were mixed. There were those who agreed with Ortberg that this was a total violation, warranting a report to the state — and possibly the police. Several pointed out that the day care provider could have put the baby’s health at risk.
However, there were also some who believed that a report was an overreaction. They pointed to the tradition of wet nursing or cross-nursing in other times (or societies) and felt there was no harm done.
This objection was met with criticism from others who felt that — regardless of the benefits of breastfeeding — the provider crossed a line by not asking permission first. As one mom pointed out, “If she wanted a wet nurse she would have hired a wet nurse.”
What do you think? Should the mom have reported the day care provider to authorities, or is that an overreaction?
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