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Posted on: May 2, 2019 at 10:05 pm

One of the most difficult decisions a parent has to make is entrusting the care of their children, especially infants, to other people. As much as they’d like to spend every waking second with their babies, money has to be made, and babies can’t always be taken to work. It’s difficult because despite leaving with the nannies and care providers with strict instructions, they’ll end up acting on the dictates of their own consciences.

This anonymous mom is torn between getting the authorities involved and broadcasting her case all over social media [1]. She caught her care provider breastfeeding her baby, and apparently, this went on for a couple of months.

It’s just wrong to breastfeed another person’s child without their consent

She shared her story on Dear Prudence, an advice column on Slate [2]. She’s a single working mom who entrusted the care of her baby to an experienced caregiver, who’d been in the business for about five years. Her baby is adopted, and since she can’t lactate, she feeds her formula.

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“The only bump in the road was on the first day when I pulled out the formula and bottles, and she wrinkled her nose and said, ‘You feed her that slop?’ I ignored the barb (I’m used to it), gave a quick rundown, and went on my way,” the mom wrote.

Two months later, she discovered the secret. The care provider has a baby who was right around the same age as her daughter, and she was lactating. The anonymous lady went to get her daughter earlier than usual, and she entered through a side door without knocking, which is allowed. As she made her way to her child, the assistant care provider saw her and tried to stall her with small talk.

She was in too much of a hurry for chitchat and walked straight to the main area.

“When I got to the area of the house where my daughter was, I about fell over,” she wrote. “The daycare provider was NURSING MY BABY! I marched over, took the baby from her arms, and asked her if she was crazy. The provider said that she was saving my baby from chemicals I was trying to force into her body and I should thank her for doing it all these months! I didn’t say anything; I just grabbed the diaper bag and got the hell out of there.”

The mom doesn’t know whether to report her, drag her out on social media, or text other parents to go check in on their kids. Actually, she feels the last option is a bit of an overkill. Despite her fury and rage at the woman’s act, she understands that she was doing what she thought was best for the baby, which is also concerning.

Professional advice, opinions from other moms

 She was advised by Daniel Mallory Ortberg, who strongly believes the care provider should be reported.

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Oh my GOD. That is my first thought, is just: Oh, my GOD,” he wrote. “If this isn’t worth reporting her to a supervising agency, I don’t know what is. Yes, your baby is, in the long run, safe and sound. But the whole point of providing daycare for working parents is saying, “You can trust me to keep your children safe and well–cared for, and I will act according to your wishes in your absence,” not “As soon as you walk out the door, I’m going to raise your child how I see fit.” This is a huge breach of trust, a total violation, and absolutely worth reporting. Please do it.”

Other women weighed in on this in the comment section on Slate’s Facebook post. One mom stated my points exactly.

Breast milk provides important nutrients as does formula. But breast milk can also carry infections and medicines which could be passed into a child,” she wrote. “I would be calling the police, the state board overseeing child care centers and an attorney. Her child’s health could be compromised.”

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Another comment was equally insightful about the legal offense in the care giver’s actions.

“It is also a biological, bodily fluid like blood, semen or saliva,” she explained. “If you spit on someone without permission, it is assault,” one person wrote. “If you deposit semen in someone without their consent, it’s rape. I would be horrified to discover that someone gave my child their breastmilk without asking my permission unless it was an immediate, life-threatening situation.” 

As expected, everyone wouldn’t dissect this the same way. Some women feel that the baby’s mom should have been grateful. According to them, the nanny was only trying to help.

“If I wasn’t able to breastfeed my own child, I would be eternally grateful if someone else offered to do so,” one person wrote. “Breast milk is by far the best source of nutrition for babies, and were you to pay for it, it would cost a fortune. But yeah, call the cops. Punish this woman for giving your baby invaluable nutrition. Typical American.”

Well, help or no help, no one has any right to breastfeed another person’s baby without their consent. While the usual advice will support breastfeeding as an ideal approach, that is not the point, consent and permission are really what is being discussed here. There are many reasons why a mother may not be able to breastfeed, which means they must use formula. Their decision to do so in these circumstances is theirs, and it’s not someone else’s job to change that.     

Other Articles related to Breastfeeding:

  1. Daycare Provider Was Secretly Breastfeeding a Baby Behind Mom’s Back for Months. Lauren Levy. Café Mom. Retrieved from https://thestir.cafemom.com/parenting_news/217815/daycare-provider-caught-breastfeeding-baby. February 20, 2019.
  2. Help! I Caught My Day Care Provider Breastfeeding My Baby. Daniel Mallory Ortberg. Slate. Retrieved from https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/02/daycare-provider-breastfeeding-my-baby-without-permission-advice.html. February 19, 2019.
  3. Official website. Slate. https://slate.com/.
  4. Slate. Facebook. Retrieved from https://web.facebook.com/Slate/posts/10156838136431438?_rdc=1&_rdr.
  5. Breast milk and infection. Lawrence. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15325535. September 2004.
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