Further to this post about a family being threatened with removal from a Ronald McDonald House for breastfeeding – in the eating area – with one twin post-op from brain surgery and exclusively on breastmilk – and with their banishment room being three stories above – comes this followup. You can read the brief updates from the family here at Birth Without Boundaries, or follow the entire story with reactions and activism suggestions at the Mothering forums.
The family has gone above the head of the individual manager they were dealing with, to Naomi Scott, the Executive Director of the RMH Houston, who thinks this issue is important that she cut her holiday short to “deal with it”. But they’re still banging their head against a Nestle-sponsored McBrickWall. Ms. Scott actually compared breastfeeding in public to smoking in public. Because they’re so alike, y’know – smoking causes cancer, and breastfeeding kills cancer cells. See how that logic works?
A family member reports:
“…she told me that although they are not kicking us out right now that it is a guideline(an oral one) to ask all breastfeeding mothers to go to their rooms to nurse. This is the first I have heard of any oral guideline from anyone. It was never mentioned before. She told me this was because they had multicultural residents here and that they need to protects all the residents from feeling uncomfortable. Because of this they are not changing their stance on us breastfeeding downstairs.”
“When asked if they would ask the same of bottlefeeding moms, she laughed and asked why would they do that?”
So, Big Mac with a NAN chaser? Great for babies and fun all round! Mother’s milk? Not so much.
This RMH house reports receiving calls from corporate about it, but that “each RMH is run independently”. They’re also receiving calls from national donors. And that “all the emails crashed their server”, but that it’s fixed now.” That’s three big spiky cluesticks, but I guess all the McNuggets with Coke got to their brains first.
A follow-up meeting was held, two hours long, and including a LLL rep and a doctor with an interest in breastfeeding research. Such an enormous waste of time for the very simple principle that “babies eat”! The outcome of that?
“After a very lengthy conversion with many twists and turns the RMH is allowing us to stay. We are from now on allowed to breastfeed in the communal areas if we follow some rules they have set forth and not too many people complain about it. […] The rules we are to follow are that we are to be discreet, this is at our discretion, meaning we choose what discreet means but they said they will obviously know if we are not being discreet if people are complaining that they are uncomfortable with us nursing.
We are also being asked to inform the people around us before we begin nursing if we think there is anybody that may be uncomfortable with it. We are to tell them nicely that we are going to breastfeed, in case they want to leave or look away.”
Mandating that you trumpet your intention to breastfeed, while insisting that you “be discreet”? That’s a gotcha of Texan proportions, isn’t it?
Well, FUCK THAT. With a Quarter Pounder, sideways.
Here are the contact details if you’d like to have your say:
Please call or email Naomi Scott at 713-795-3560 or firstname.lastname@example.org
and call or fax corporate if you feel you can as well.
Corporate Ronald McDonald House: Phone: 630-623-7048
Tell them that Texas law states that a child is entitled to breastfeed anywhere the mother is authorised to be. The law isn’t conditional, it’s absolute. Tell them that there are no regulations about “discretion” or “fair warning”. Tell them that these strictures are ridiculous and discriminatory, and designed to create a hostile environment for breastfeeding families at their most vulnerable. And tell them to keep their noses out of other people’s business.
RMH had a chance for some good publicity here, to assert their support for all families and their support for optimal child nutrition and nurturing – and they failed.
The family has specifically requested that action be confined to phone calls, emails and faxes at this stage.
One more thought: if you have a connection, contact a major sponsor. Their pressure is the most likely to produce change. RMH’s major sponsors are here, and include the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Standard, Benjamin Moore & Co, Bissell, BrandSource, Christmas Décor, Coca-Cola, Dillard’s, the Georgia-Pacific Corp., the Kohler Company, Nestle, Select Comfort, Southwest Airlines, Stampin’ Up!, USA Today, and Valassis.
McNipple painting thumbnailed from caseyweldon.com.