Thursday, April 19, 2007

New York Times Covers Ronald McDonald House Breastfeeding Debacle

The New York Times covered the RMH story in this morning, but missed some important points.

"They [RMH administrators] agreed that the sisters could nurse in public areas if they were sensitive to others around them. McDonald House would work on clarifying its guidelines, Ms. Scott said." Being sensitive to others, as defined by the RMH administrators, means the moms are to announce their plans to nurse, yet then nurse "discreetly." As I wrote yesterday, this is extraordinarily silly and contradictory.

"Asked if the staff might have avoided the confrontation, [RMH Houston Executive Director] Ms. Scott said: 'It happened so fast, I don’t know what else we could have done. We feel we fell down the rabbit hole with all this.'"

What else could they have done? Hmmmm. Think think think. (Yes, I'm answering her Alice in Wonderland reference with a Winnie the Pooh reference.) How 'bout acting with as much concern for this mother and her young child as they were for the complaining father? How 'bout educating the father that this is how this mom comforts her child, instead of passing along his complaints to her? How 'bout not issuing thinly veiled threats to have this family removed from their accommodations?

What's missing from the Times coverage is what's still missing in this story. RMH administrators have not apologized for adding to this family's anxiety or for how insensitively managers at Holcombe House handled the situation. It has not made any public announcements to fully support breastfeeding in all its facilities and to educate its staff on the importance of accommodating breastfeeding families. It's hard to knock an organization like Ronald McDonald House that does such marvelous, charitable work for families with desperately ill children. One has to wonder, however, how this situation got so out of control and how even with a story in the New York Times, no one at RMH has come out with unequivocal message in support of breastfeeding families.


Katie said...

Thanks for keeping us up to date on these issues and for the great blog, in general.

Would you consider a change from white on black to something else? I find white on black virtually impossible to read and it leaves a funny impression on anything else I look at for quite a while afterwards.

Sorry if this is not the right place to comment about this, I can't figure out where else to post a comment.

Chris said...

Hi, Katie--

Thanks for the kind words!

Thanks also for your feedback about the color format. I actually find black text on white background rather difficult to read, myself. (In fact, just typing on this comment page is making my eyes feel wonky.) You could try changing your browser preferences...I recall that you used to set preferences for specific background and text colors, though I couldn't even begin to tell you how!

rValley said...

Hello! I am new to this blog.

If I may introduce myself my name is Rachel Valley and I am a nursing mother/wife, professional photographer and lactivist.

I recently received a micro grant I will be photographing bf mothers for a breastfeeding gallery to open in Northern California and the gallery will subsequently travel after it's initial stint hopefully worldwide! There will even be a Q&A with mothers and the press. I have the gracious support of Placer County Breastfeeding Coalition, Placer Arts Council and LLL of California & Hawaii

I am in search of breastfeeding mothers to model for this gallery. I am taking pictures of the dark side of bf in public (bf in restrooms and other unsavory places). I really want the gallery patrons to view the photos and ask themselves "what is our society doing to our mothers and their young?"

I dream big so forgive me if this sounds lofty....but I would love to photograph Jessica Swimeley. I live in California, but I am still drumming up sponsors for the gallery and I am sure I would be able to go to Jessica to honor her struggle and document her and her beautiful children. If anyone can help me to get in touch with Jessica or in any way such as being a model, to inquire about becoming a sponsor, or if you have a great story I can base my photos on please email me.


Rachel Valley

My website & Portfolio

Georganne Hampton said...

For the reader who has difficulty reading in these colors, I find I have the same problem only with other colors. It helps if you highlight the text. It changes the color so it is easier on the eyes.

Mama Luxe said...

Great coverage...

When my daughter had heart surgery at 3 months, we almost stayed at the RMH (in San Antonio) but ended up staying in the room with her.

I cannot tell you how emotionally I would have reacted at the time if someone had told me to move elsewhere to breastfeed her.

The hospital staff told me that they believe breastfeeding is what made her so big and strong (she was and is 90th percentile, and usually heart babies are teeny tiny) and helped her sail through her operation and recovery.

I also agree that this is in violation of the state law, in addition to common sense and compassion.

Kudos for this mom for working through the situation calmly and rationally, in a way that will benefit other moms and babies!

Loraine said...

Thank you for following through with this, esp. in a calm, rational manner. I am a mom of a two yr old and we're still breastfeeding. It isn't accepted around here (middle of Florida, in the middle of nowhere, near nothing- know it?) and my family isn't supportive either, as well as the father of my child. It's difficult but the benefits to my son far outweigh the negative things I have to hear. :-) loraine

Anonymous said...

new to this blog and happy to know about it. just wanted to add that the most infuriating thing about the rmh response in the times article is their referring to breastfeeding as a "cause," as in, "we don't advocate for causes." in addition, they stated that their job was to help parents trying to save their children. last i checked, feeding a child is a very sensible way to help prolong life.

JuneBug said...

My son has been in the hospital for over 100 days and I have been unable to breast-feed him, though I am pumping. I WAS staying at the Ronald McDonald House but had several issues with them, one being that pumping(and breast-feeding) mothers need plenty of fluids. The kitchen officially closes at midnight and no drinks are allowed elsewhere in the house, including your room. I was repeatedly told not to bring drinks into my room, even water and was eventually asked to leave because I had complaints. They did not help my stress level at all, and had no sympathy for new mothers trying to feed their babies.