Taylor Chaice Buzbee was suffering from an intense toothache and called her dentist’s office early one morning. They were able to squeeze her in right away, but as the appointment was in 20 minutes, she told them she wouldn’t be able to find a babysitter for her 9-month-old son. They told her she could bring her baby with her and that it wouldn’t be a problem.
And it wasn’t a problem, until her little boy became fussy and wanted to nurse. Buzbee says that initially the hygienists that were in the room with her acted like it was no big deal, but later, when the dentist and another employee came in, she was told she wasn’t allowed to breastfeed there. A little later, while the dentist was checking her teeth, the same employee then took her baby from her arms and put him in his stroller, saying the baby was in the way.
Buzbee says she had never nursed her baby in public before because she was afraid she’d get bullied or confronted, so she felt really humiliated when she was told to not breastfeed her child at the dentist.
A representative from Aspen Dental Management Inc. says they are looking into the incident and that the company has reached out and apologized to Buzbee. “We at Aspen Dental Management, Inc., and the Aspen Dental practices we support take this matter very seriously,” Kasey Pickett, the company’s director of communications, said in an email to AL.com. “We are reviewing what happened today and will take appropriate steps to ensure every patient who visits an Aspen Dental practice feels comfortable during their visit.”
While I understand that the dentist’s office may have a policy where people cannot hold infants while being worked on, I think the staff in this particular case could have handled this situation differently. Was it the breastfeeding or the baby-holding that they objected to? Either way, they could have given Buzbee time to nurse her baby by seeing another patient while she finished up. The dental staff should not have handled her kid without her permission either.
Yes, you should be able to nurse a hungry baby when he needs it, and yes, staff have the right to dictate what you can and cannot do while you’re receiving treatment. Care, kindness and compassion go a long way, though, and trying to keep an office running smoothly should go hand in hand with patient well-being and comfort.