Anyone who watched the latest season of The Office probably remembers the classic scene from the delivery episode where Pam, in a confused and tired state, reaches over to the bassinet on the side of her bed to breastfeed the crying newborn. When the baby latches on, Pam is ecstatic as her baby was having feeding problems the day before. That is until she realizes the baby isn’t hers. It belongs to the woman she’s sharing a hospital room with.
The TV show scene was laugh-worthy, but apparently this situation happens in real life too and it’s not such a funny moment for new parents. A baby mix-up at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington County led to another woman breastfeeding Suzanne Libby’s newborn and now she is calling out the hospital for the mistake.
Libby told her story to the Washington Post. The day after her child was born in January, she realized he was missing from the nursery at the hospital. After a search of the maternity ward, her son was discovered in his hospital bassinet in another woman’s room. Not only was he hanging out in the room of a stranger, but she had actually breastfed him too.
From the WaPo:
“It was the worst moment of my entire life,” Libby said, when she realized her son was missing and nurses didn’t know where he was. “On top of that, to find that another mother breast-fed him, without my knowledge, without my consent, was horrid. . . . He was exposed to someone else’s body fluid.”
So why is it such a big deal? Breast milk is breast milk, right? Wrong. Exposing a baby to another woman’s breast milk could put the child at risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis B or C. Nasty.
Libby and her son were lucky. Blood tests showed the stranger was clean. But she’s still pissed. How did this happen? A nurse aide failed to match up the baby’s bracelet to the mother. And apparently the other mother never noticed her baby changed faces in the nursery. They all look like splotchy aliens anyway, right?
And this isn’t a totally random occurrence. Baby mix-ups have happened at least two other times in recent years at Washington-area hospitals, but it didn’t turn into breastfeeding mania.
But enough about HIV-laced breast milk. Check out The Office clip:
Photo by maessive, via Flickr.