Despite the fact that 49 states allow nursing mothers to breastfeed in public, that right is often denied arbitrarily to moms across the country.
And it never gets any less shocking — or humiliating for the women who are just trying to feed their children.
No one knows this better than Florida mom Nichole Moore, who was told she had to leave her psychiatrist’s office Thursday, June 11 when she asked to breastfeed her 8-month-old daughter. Taking to a local breastfeeding group on Facebook, Moore wrote:
Moore, who had booked the appointment two months prior, tells Babble that she thought the doctor was uncomfortable with her daughter being present during the appointment from the very beginning.
“He didn’t come out and say it. He said I needed to pay attention to him and take it seriously. He asked that my daughter not walk around his office [but] she doesn’t walk,” Moore told us.
Twenty minutes into the hour-long session, Moore noticed her daughter was growing tired and hungry. Moore, a first-time mom, asked the doctor if he cared if she nursed her daughter so that she would go to sleep.
“He said yes, he cared,” said Moore. “I said, ‘are you serious?'”
The doctor, whose name we have chosen to withhold, expressed concern that nursing simultaneously would “distract” her and that she wouldn’t be able to talk to him and feed her daughter.
She tried to assure him that it wouldn’t be an issue, but that wasn’t enough. Instead, he switched tactics to say that she was not allowed to nurse in his office without a woman present.
“I said that was fine, she’s hungry, so he stood up and said [do] ‘you want me to get a woman to come in here?'”
Moore told the doctor she was fine with having a woman present while she nursed, to which he responded by laughing — he didn’t think she would actually agree to those terms.
When the doctor went out in the hallway to fetch someone, Moore began to nurse her daughter. Shortly after, a woman accompanied the doctor into the room. But rather than allowing Moore to continue nursing, the woman asked that she leave the office.
“She said I was going to have to reschedule because I couldn’t nurse during my appointment,” said Moore. “She told me the doctor feels uncomfortable with me nursing.”
Moore then asked if she could finish feeding her daughter before leaving, but the receptionist asked her to leave immediately so the doctor could finish transcribing the visit in his office.
Florida law states that “a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.”
Moore explains, “I know [it is my right] to breastfeed where I want to and that no one can tell me to leave, stop, or cover up, which I told the receptionist. She just said ‘I’m sorry. It just made him uncomfortable. We can reschedule.'”
The distraught mom left the doctor’s office in tears and refused to make another appointment with the doctor.
Moore said she wanted to go public with her story because she doesn’t want any other breastfeeding mothers to go through what she did.
“I don’t feel like any woman should ever be made to feel that uncomfortable, embarrassed, or ashamed. No negative feeling should ever come from breastfeeding your baby,” said Moore.
Despite being embarrassed and heartbroken from being kicked out of the doctor’s office, Moore says she will continue to breastfeed in public.
Babble has reached out to Moore’s doctor but has yet to receive a comment.More On