A nurse in a Jerusalem hospital returned from maternity leave and placed expressed breastmilk for her 7-month-old son in the staff room’s refrigerator. One day she found a sign (pictured above) asking not to store expressed breastmilk in the refrigerator. Her complaint went all the way up to hospital management.
She writes about the decision:
“Every ending is a new beginning” – after a painful meeting with the head nurse of the hospital as well as the head nurse of my division, I cannot seem to get the management to agree that a maternity ward that respects the “personal sensitivities” of certain staff members who feel that breastmilk in the same location as adult food is disgusting, is not a maternity ward that can call itself “supportive of breastfeeding”. Everyone agrees that my personal experience was humiliating, unprofessional and totally wrong. Everyone agrees that staff members deserve a place to pump and a place to store the milk. But the upper management feels that each ward (whether it be maternity or urology) is a democracy and that the staff has the right to decide that they don’t want breastmilk in the staff fridge. I’m not 1000% sure I completely disagree with that last point, but I am certain that if such a “democracy” were to make that decision, that’s a democracy of which I cannot be proud. And so I resigned. I have loved taking care of new mothers and babies for the past 5 years, and I hope that whatever I do next brings me as much joy. I am so appreciative of everyone’s support.
The staff in the maternity ward did not make a democratic decision. They acted like bullies. The stored breastmilk poses no threat to the other food in the refrigerator. So the head nurse needed to say to the complainers, if they existed: “You’re free not to store your lunch in the staff fridge.”
If a group of vegetarians objected to a co-worker’s chicken, that’s exactly what would have happened.
This situation is the same as when groups or individuals decide that they are offended by breastfeeding mothers and try to kick them out of the cafe or post office. It’s the same as when people who don’t like to see women, tell them to get to the back of the bus or the other side of the street.
Democracy doesn’t mean that a stronger individual or group can trample on the rights of a weaker group because we need to “respect their sensitivities.” People have all kinds of hangups, but those don’t trump a mom’s right to feed her baby in public or a staff member’s right to store her baby’s food in the fridge.
It’s clear what is truly disgusting in this story.
You may also enjoy: