Ariana Elders and her husband were at the Women & Children Emergency Room at Huntsville Hospital on Sunday night because their four-year-old son was sick. While they were waiting, her other son, four-month-old Deklin, started to get hungry.
But when Elders went to nurse her baby, she was quickly approached by a security officer. “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,” she told WAFF.
The mom went on to explain that the officer told her that “according to the Huntsville Hospital rules that they’ve had implemented for years, a breastfeeding mother had to be in a room.”
Alabama state law says that “a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private.” However, to avoid making a scene, Elders, who said she was humiliated by the encounter, ended up going to a private room to breastfeed Deklin.
Now, she hopes that in speaking out, she’ll encourage other moms to stand up for their rights. “Feed your child whether by breast or bottle,” she said to WAFF. “You know, don’t let anybody shame you for making your child healthy.”
The hospital has since apologized for the staff member’s mistake in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. Emphasizing that Huntsville Hospital does allow breastfeeding in public, a spokesperson said, “We want to assure our community that we recognize, respect and uphold the rights of breastfeeding mothers.”