HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - An Athens mother is speaking out about an “embarrassing” visit to Huntsville Hospital. She says a security guard kicked her out of the waiting room and escorted her to a private space to breastfeed her 4-month-old baby. Hospital staff calls the encounter “a mistake.”
“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," explained Ariana Elders.
Sunday night, Elders and her family traveled from Athens to Huntsville because her 4-year-old son was sick. They went to the Women & Children Emergency Room at Huntsville Hospital. “We got there around 11:30 to get my 4-year-old seen," said Elders.
While waiting, Elders says her 4-month-old baby boy Deklin got hungry and antsy. A security guard persistently told her she had to nurse in private, according to Elders.
She says while she is not embarrassed to nurse in public, the confrontation in the waiting room nearly brought her to tears. To avoid further confrontation and the deescalate the situation, she played along by leaving her son and husband. Elders was taken to a private room to continue nursing.
“He said that according to the Huntsville Hospital rules that they’ve had implemented for years, a breastfeeding mother had to be in a room,” explained Elders.
Alabama State Code 22-1-13, mothers are allowed to breastfeed in any location, public or private, where the mother is authorized to be present.
It’s also the policy of the hospital.
Huntsville Hospital staff sent WAFF 48 the following statement:
“They need to stand up for themselves. It is legal to breastfeed wherever you want," stated Elders in an ‘encouraging’ message to mothers. "Feed your child whether by breast or bottle. You know, don’t let anybody shame you for making your child healthy.”
Elders says she doesn’t want the guard fired. In fact, she says outside of the encounter her visit was pleasant. Speaking up on the matter was to serve as a teachable moment for everyone.