I need to put my breastfeeding advocate hat on for this one, because I am HOPPING mad (and if you could see me hop you'd know how very bad that is). Warning, lots of exclamation points ahead... Thank you to Jennifer of The Lactivist for helping bring this to everyone's attention.
Robin Neorr, an Ohio mother, has been told by City Kids Daycare in downtown Columbus that she needs to pay an additional $50 per WEEK because her daughter is breastfed and receives her mother's milk in bottles while she is at daycare.
How did they justify this outrageous request?
They completely ignored all medical and legal regulations to the contrary and declared Robin's breastmilk a biohazard that had to be kept separate from all other food! They therefore claimed that they needed to store it in a separate refrigerator in another room and would have to purchase a separate bottle warmer to warm it up! They are claiming this created (completely unnecessary and medically and legally unjustifiable) extra work for the center, thus necessitating the extra $50 per WEEK. My god, for $50 a week they ought to be serving that milk in gold-plated bottles while someone fans the baby with palm fronds! First of all, there is absolutely no reason in the world for breastmilk, the most natural and healthy baby food in the world, to be stored separately, let alone labeled with a biohazard sticker (are these people for real??? A biohazard sticker??? Do they think this mother has ebola, or perhaps Deng Fever?). Are they afraid that the milk will somehow magically LEAP out of a closed bottle and contaminate the artificially-produced cow's milk formula stored in its own closed bottle on the other side of the shelf? I do read the papers you know, and I'm fairly sure I haven't seen a rash of bottle-leaping breastmilk lately.
The Center for Disease Control certainly doesn't feel that breastmilk requires any special precautions. They merely state that if the milk is being delivered to a child care provider, it should be clearly labeled with the child’s name and date. Oh yes, and they do suggest that mothers pack the milk in closed containers to avoid spillage. Dear me, that does sound difficult. Putting the child's name and using a properly sealed container. My oh my... Nor does the center's own state of Ohio see any problem with a child in care being provided with his mother's milk - the State's own Rules for Licensed Child Care Centers' section on Infant Formula and Food (section 5101:2-12-41) clearly states:
Center policies and practices shall support parent preferences (emphasis mine) in infant feeding, including breast feeding and introduction of solid foods as long as developmentally appropriate and not detrimental to the health of the child.
Infants shall be served food in conformity with dated written instructions from the parent or guardian or physician. The instructions shall include amounts of food, type of food, and feeding times and be updated as needed based upon the child's needs and parent's instructions.
As for the handling of breastmilk, it says:
If breast milk is provided by the parent or guardian, it shall be labeled with the child's name and the date of receipt and immediately refrigerated or frozen. Refrigerated breast milk shall not be stored for more than twenty-four hours. Breast milk shall be kept frozen no more than two weeks and...
If formula or breast milk is to be warmed, bottles shall be placed in a container of hot (not boiling) water or be placed in a commercial bottle warmer. The container of water shall be emptied and cleaned each day. The bottle shall be shaken well, and the milk temperature tested before feeding. Frozen breast milk shall be thawed under cold running water or in the refrigerator.and...The unused portion of formula, breast milk or food remaining in a container from which the infant has been directly fed, shall not be reheated or served again.
Hmm... I didn't see anything in there about quarantine or biohazard stickers. Let's check what that same State Code says about handling formula:
Bottles prepared at center: when infant formula is prepared by the center, it shall be prepared in conformity with written instructions from the parent or guardian, or physician. All powdered or concentrated formula shall be prepared according to the manufacturers' instructions unless written instructions from a physician or an advance practice nurse certified to prescribe medication are on file at the center.
The center shall clean and disinfect all counter surfaces and equipment needed to prepare the formula. All equipment shall be washed in a dishwasher or scrubbed with hot water containing soap, and be thoroughly rinsed. Equipment not washed in a dishwasher shall be boiled for five minutes or more just prior to filling bottles. Handwashing facilities shall not be used for formula or food preparation or for rinsing or washing dishes and bottles. Handwashing facilities shall not be used for formula or food preparation, or for washing dishes and bottles or rinsing for reuse.
Open containers of ready to feed and concentrated formula shall be covered, dated and refrigerated. Prepared formula and food shall be discarded if not used within twenty-four hours.
Any formula or food to be stored at the center for any period of time, whether prepared by the parent or guardian or the center, shall be labeled with the child's name and date of preparation and shall be used only for the intended child.
Until used, all formula or food shall be refrigerated immediately after preparation or upon arrival if prepared by the parent or guardian. Formula or food that is commercially prepared may not be required to be refrigerated until after opening. Formula and food shall be stored no longer than twenty-four hours.
Well gee, it looks to me like the guidelines are even more complicated for formula-fed infants. Perhaps the Center is planning to start charging those parents an additional $60 or even $70 a week to cover the additional effort of all that mixing and sterilizing?
Robin Neurr has removed her daughter from this childcare center and she is ready to both spread the word about City Kids Daycare and to push for legislation to prevent all Ohio daycares from discriminating against breastfeeding children. You can help.
Activism works. The National Pork Board apologized to the Lactivist with hat in hand after just two days of bad publicity. You can help by spreading the word - talk about it, blog about it, lobby your representatives, and write directly to City Kids Child Care Centers. The centers are owned and operated by Patricia Elam. Her e-mail is email@example.com or you can call either of their centers at (614) 464-1411, or (614)777-4320. Daycare centers do not have the right to try and bully mothers into positions that compromise the health of their babies.
If you are a Central Ohio mom and would be interested in getting personally involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.