Breastfeeding

QLD Mum Fights for Change after Hospital Denied her Food for Not Breastfeeding

A Brisbane lawyer and new mum was left hungry, guilty and enraged when her request for food at a hospital was denied because she was not breastfeeding her infant. She was told that only breastfeeding mothers are entitled to a meal while in the hospital with a sick child.

Sarah now shares her story in hopes it will inspire change in hospitals that have this policy in place.

Breastfeeding mums only

Sarah Stoddart arrived at the ED at Prince Charles Hospital with her 12-week-old baby girl Sophie.

Sarah Stoddart requests change for not breastfeeding mums
Sarah spoke to 9News about her experience. Source: 9News

Sophie woke up one evening with a high temperature and projectible vomiting. Sarah knew something was wrong so rushed her daughter to the ED. Sophie was admitted and for 12 hours Sarah remained by her baby’s side while her partner stayed at home with their other children.

Not breastfeeding? No meals provided. 

Any parent who has been in the ED or hospital with their child knows how stressful this can be. In most instances, there’s no time to pack snacks or even water and often we don’t want to leave our baby’s side to go and grab a meal from outside the hospital. This is exactly how Sarah felt.

After 12 hours by her baby’s side, she asked if she could have access to a meal. She was then handed a welcome sheet.

“They had circled and brought to my attention that only breastfeeding mothers were entitled to meals,” she told 9News.First of all [it] made me feel devastated and guilty but then quite enraged, that that is a decision that is being made in this country and this state in 2023.”

The hospital staff “snuck through an approval” so Sarah was allowed one meal but the situation left Sarah shocked and vowing to fight for change.

While Sophie has since recovered and returned home, Sarah has shared her experience to help other mums and hopes the hospitals change their “breastfeeding mums only” policy around meals.

“In that first trimester and beyond they’re already struggling with enough, they don’t need the judgment from the government as to how they chose to feed their child,” she said.

Meals for ALL mums

We are happy to report that Sarah’s actions have instilled change with both Prince Charles Hospital and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital changing their policy.

Prince Charles Hospital changes policy for non breastfeeding mums
Source: Facebook

“The Prince Charles Hospital now provides meals to parents of children six months and under who are admitted into our care,” it said in a statement.

“Parents of all patients admitted to the Paediatric Ward at The Prince Charles Hospital have access to food, water, tea and coffee. Further paid options, including fresh food vending machines, cafes and a stocked fridge, are accessible 24hrs a day.”

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman chimed in on the situation as well:

“In my view it shouldn’t really matter whether you are breastfeeding or not, it should be about trying to make our parents who are doing the best they can to look after their sick kids as comfortable as possible.”

Fentimen said she will be working with other hospitals across the state to make sure mothers – breastfeeding or not – are provided with food during a hospital stay with their child.

Kudos to Sarah for encouraging change and bringing this important problem to light. We would love to know if your local hospital has this policy in place too and if you have ever been denied a meal because of not breastfeeding. If so, please let us know in the comments below or get in touch at he***@mu********.au.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar of Shane

    Meals should be provided for all parents of children under 5. You can’t just leave a baby or toddler in hospital without you even if you’re just running downstairs, you can’t always have someone bring you stuff.
    I got told off twice for not having an available babysitter for one of my other kids.

  2. Avatar of Blossom

    Some hospitals require a parent or other authorized person to stay with a baby / toddler and notify the staff that they are leaving the ward. A baby or small toddler cannot ring the bell for help.A Hospital staff member has to responsible to check that the food in the fridges etc are definitely fresh

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