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Mum’s anger at being ‘told off’ by doctor for bringing newborn baby to hospital appointment

Brittany Oat and her son, Matheson.
Brittany Oat and her son, Matheson.

A mum is on a crusade to ensure better treatment for breastfeeding women after being “told off” for bringing her six-week-old son to a hospital appointment.

Brittany Oat spoke out about the difficulties many women face with breastfeeding in public areas after she was nearly refused treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow on January 14.

The NHS has confirmed it is investigating the complaint, and apologised to Mrs Oat.

The 35-year-old attended the hospital with her son, Matheson, to get her medication renewed after she developed blood clots in her lungs as a result of the birth.

The condition has required regular check-ups and numerous appointments in the last two months – all of which Mrs Oat has attended along with Matheson “without any issues”.

It was to her surprise that during her last visit to the gynaecologist, she was told by a senior member of the medical staff that she could not attend her appointment unless she returned without the baby.

The mother was then forced to leave her son “starving for an hour” with her husband in order to get treated.

Speaking to the P&J, Mrs Oat described the situation as “frustrating” and “wrong”.

She said: “The doctor concerned came out quite irritated and she loudly told me that I couldn’t bring the baby in with me, and that I could come back when I was ready to have a conversation free of distraction.

“I told her that I was exclusively breastfeeding, that he needed to be fed and that under the law and under the hospital policy I’m able to bring a breastfed child in with me, but she just didn’t want to listen.

“I understand that kids are not allowed in, but breastfed children are an exception to that rule.”

Mrs Oat added: “She approached it in an extremely hostile, uncaring and unsupportive way and that was the hard thing – on top of being told that I can’t bring him in, I was also treated in a poor way.

“As I’m working full-time, I take Zoom calls with clients from all over the world and feed my baby during these calls every day.

“I’ve also taken him to numerous other appointments without any issues at all, so to have that in a maternity ward, which is supposed to be WHO and Unicef accredited, is not only completely confusing, but pretty upsetting.

I never thought that I would have to choose between his health and mine – but I did”

“I’m lucky I had my husband out in the car, but what is a single mum supposed to do if she can’t bring her new-born baby to an appointment with her.”

The case was brought to public attention by award-winning journalist Catherine Deveney in her weekly Press and Journal column.

However, Mrs Oat says her ordeal is not an isolated incident.

Following the appointment, she shared her experience on social media to find out that many others have been through a similar situation.

“I was horrified to learn that there are dozens of other women who have had the same experience in the hospital”, Mrs Oat added.

“For some people it takes a lot of courage to be able to breastfeed in public, or as a whole, so these little things can really be a major deterrent.

“To me personally, breastfeeding is everything, so anything that can jeopardise it makes me really frustrated.

“My concern is that other women will get turned away and they are going to give up on their breastfeeding journey, because they would think that it would be too difficult, if even the maternity department is not supporting them.”

‘Be strong about breastfeeding and stand your ground’

The mother has since filed a complaint, with an investigation into the matter currently ongoing.

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Oat for her experience.

“We can confirm we are investigating and will respond in full to her concerns.

“Across NHSGGC, wherever possible we aim to support women by creating an enabling environment for those who are breastfeeding.

“If, following investigation, we feel there are improvements which can be made to further enhance support available, we will implement as soon as possible.”

Preventing a mother from breastfeeding a child under two has been illegal in Scotland since 2005.

However, the Scottish Maternal and Infant Nutrition Survey in 2018 revealed that more than a quarter of new mums who took part in the questionnaire had been made to feel uncomfortable when breastfeeding in public.

Royal College of Midwives director, Dr Mary Ross-Davie, said that while the public perception is changing in the right direction, there is still a lot to be done.

She said: “People need to focus on compassion and support for new mothers, because it’s a really tough time for them and they can often feel so judged and alone.

“It is a woman’s right to be able to feed her baby where she needs to and women shouldn’t feel that they have to be trapped in their homes or knocked away in places like public toilets to feed their children.

“We should be supporting women to continue making this choice and they certainly shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed, whichever way they choose to feed their baby.”

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