One North Carolina mom rushed her infant son to the hospital this weekend after a daycare worker ignored her instruction and breastfed her son. This mother now wants police to press charges for putting her son’s life in danger.
ABC11 reports that the mother, Kaycee Oxendine, recorded her own video from security footage of a daycare employee nursing her three-month-old son. The incident began with her son’s teacher telling Oxendine that he was constipated. Another employee in the room “asked Oxendine if she could breastfeed the boy to see whether it would help.” Oxendine reports telling the woman no two times, adding “no, that’s nasty. We don’t do things like that.”
After the mother left the room, security footage shows the employee “picking up her baby and breastfeeding him for several seconds.” The worker stopped when another staff member stood up to leave the room. Later that same evening Oxendine had to rush her baby to UNC Hospital after “he became ill and was throwing up.”
The baby was born prematurely and has a dairy allergy that prevents him from tolerating any milk products. Oxendine reflected, “To me, a criminal act was committed against [my son]. Not only did you put your breast to my son, you also made my son sick because he’s lactose intolerant. So you’ve put something in his body that his body can’t digest.”
The daycare worker was fired on Friday, the same day she breastfed Oxendine’s son. Carrboro Early School, where Oxendine took her son for childcare, said the teacher usually worked at another school. The woman was licensed for her profession and “had been working in childcare for more than a decade” prior to last Friday’s events.
Daron Council, director of the daycare, says he learned of the incident when another employee reported what happened. Both the Carrboro Early School and the other daycare where the woman usually worked had been given superior classifications from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) after being inspected in the fall of 2016.
Council has taken great measures to correct what happened at his facility. He told ABC11 that nothing like this had ever happened before in either of the daycare centers. He reported the incident to DHHS as soon as he was notified of it “and informed parents of the children who were under the woman’s care that day.”
Oxendine says she has no hard feelings toward the daycare or the director. She noted that Council has “done everything in his power that he can do so I’m not angry at the director… I’m not angry at the childcare center. I’m very angry at the employee. I do hope there’s justice for my son.”
The matter has been turned over to the Carrboro, N.C., Police Department for investigation. They are currently considering if misdemeanor child abuse charges are warranted, but no charges have been filed at this time.
This mother’s horror story brings about an interesting dilemma in our modern culture. Just a few generations ago, women held careers as wet nurses, extending their lactation period in order to profit from feeding the babies of other women. My husband’s grandmother was kept alive by the breast milk of others. Her mother had what was classified as a “nervous breakdown” at the time (which would be called postpartum depression today), so her father literally took her up and down their neighborhood streets asking any women he knew to be nursing their own babies if they would feed his daughter. Without the breastfeeding of others, she would not have survived infancy.
The invention of formula alleviated such desperate situations when the products gained popularity in the 1950s. What was once culturally acceptable—breastfeeding another woman’s baby—has now become mostly taboo today because there are other options available.
Although many women give their abundance of breast milk to donation centers, accepting milk from a credible organization and bottle feeding your child are very different than nursing someone else’s child. Today’s prevalence of food allergies (estimated as high as four out of every 100 children in some studies) muddies the waters in this debate even further. As in Oxendine’s situation, exposure to an allergen could leave a baby hospitalized—or even worse.
The bottom line, in this case, is that if a mother tells you no, THE ANSWER IS NO. Ignoring a mom’s wishes is not only rude, it could also put her child’s health in jeopardy.