Montreal

Breastfeeding mom almost kicked out of Charles-LeMoyne Hospital

A Longueuil woman was reduced to tears after she was asked to leave the premises because her breastfeeding made patients uncomfortable.

Woman at Charles-LeMoyne Hospital told her breastfeeding made patients 'uncomfortable'

Sarina Vehar, seen here breastfeeding her four-month-old son, was told to 'sit out of view' of other patients at Charles Lemoyne Hospital because her breastfeeding made patients uncomfortable. (Jay Turnbull/CBC)

A Longueuil woman was reduced to tears after she was asked to leave the premises of a South Shore hospital because her breastfeeding made patients "uncomfortable."

Sarina Vehar was at Charles-LeMoyne Hospital in Greenfield Park for a rheumatologist appointment Thursday afternoon. 

While waiting for her father to pick her up, Vehar had her four-month-old son partially covered by a scarf while she breastfed him in a front carrier

"Somebody approached me and poked me in the arm while I was on the phone asking me if I'd like to have a seat off in a dark, closed-off area," Vehar said of a woman later identified as a volunteer with the hospital.

"She said that I was making people uncomfortable and that there had been several complaints to her and she wanted me to go sit out of view," Vehar said.

Vehar protested, saying it was illegal to force her to move.

"She told me to respect my elders, and out of respect for the other patients, I should go and sit down."

Though Vehar started crying and walked away, she said the same woman called a security guard to escort her out of the premises. Vehar then decided to file a complaint.

No apology, but a free parking pass

Vehar's grief with the hospital continued when she arrived at the complaint office.

"She told me that it would take 45 days for me to get an answer back and she couldn't apologize until it had been confirmed or not," Vehar said. "And she asked me wouldn't it have been possible for me to go and be more discreet."

When Vehar threatened to go to the media, she said the woman at the complaint office begged her not to do so and offered her a free parking pass.

I've never been more humiliated in my life.- Sarina Vehar

"I wouldn't have gone to the media if she had she just said 'I'm sorry.' If somebody could up and apologize, that would've been the end of it."

In addition to an apology, Vehar hopes Charles-LeMoyne Hospital will follow the example of other hospitals by posting signs that normalize breastfeeding. "This is totally, totally normal, especially in a hospital," she said.

Though Vehar believed the discomfort with breastfeeding in public may be a "generational thing," the experience was nonetheless painful.

"I've never been more humiliated in my life," she said.

Hospital says it's 'baby-friendly'

Charles-LeMoyne Hospital said they had a "baby-friendly" approach and breastfeeding was welcome. 
Julie Goudreau said the Charles Lemoyne hospital's "baby-friendly" approach meant Vehar should not have been apprehended for breastfeeding. (CBC)

Julie Goudreau, director of youth services with the regional health authority that deals with the Charles-LeMoyne Hospital, said the hospital had issued an apology to Vehar and would take her recommendations to heart.

"I'll meet her to see what were her problems so we can work on that," Goudreau said.

She added that the hospital had taken measures to deal with the volunteer that confronted Vehar but would not specify what they were.

With files from Jay Turnbull

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