Prof. Breastfeeds Sick Baby While Lecturing

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-20-2009
Prof. Breastfeeds Sick Baby While Lecturing
7
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 10:57am

I think this is an interesting story that's caused some debate:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/american-university-professor-breast-feeds-sick-baby-in-class-sparking-debate/2012/09/11/54a06856-fc12-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_story.html

An American University professor's baby woke up with a fever, so she brought her to class.  During various parts of the 75 minute lecture, the baby crawled on the floor, put a paper in her mouth, and had to be shooed from an electrical outlet.  When the baby grew restless, her mother breastfed her while she continued lecturing.

Needless to say, her actions that day have brought her some unwanted attention from students, the university administration, and now the media.

What do you think you would have done in her situation? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-20-2009
Wed, 09-12-2012 - 11:02am
I think a personal day or sick day would have been in order, and that's the route I would have taken if I felt like I didn't have anyone available to watch my child when she was sick. Regardless of the breastfeeding issue, I don't think that sick babies belong in a university lecture room.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2008
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 12:21am
While I agree that taking a sick day or personal day would have been best, it's possible that wasn't a good option for her for some reason, especially since it's that start of a new academic year. I not convinced that having a sick baby in lecture room is totally a bad thing even if I don't view it as ideal. I doubt the child is going to catch anything serious from the room or pass any illness on to the students. The main issue though from all I've read on this story seems to be here BF'ing in front of the students which I think should be a non-issue.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2008
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 9:49am
Frankly, I would prefer my prof to be breastfeeding her sick baby in front of me, vs. the prof I had that brought his dog to class one day. It peed and pooped in the floor.

Academia is also different than traditional jobs. I work in an office at a university, and I've brought my baby to work and nursed in the office and at meetings. Or maybe we're just relaxed...

What bothered me about the story was the baby crawling around the room. That would have distracted me as much as the cute dog did.
by sara photo sigbysara.jpg
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-20-2009
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 10:08am
I agree with you that the BFing *should* be a non-issue. In this situation, I don't think having her baby with her was the best idea. She was sick, crawling around on the lecture room floor, found paper clips to put into her mouth, and had access to electrical outlets. It was unprofessional and unfair to her students, herself, her child, and her TA.

I was curious if the university had child care options she could have taken advantage of. While they do have child care available, the child has to be in the age range of 2.5 to 5: http://www1.alumni.american.edu/content.cfm?id=21 I don't know if that's the standard when it comes to university child care. I'm trying to remember if babies were accepted at my university's child care building, and I think they were (it's been 10 years, though...I might be wrong). I think the university should re-examine the age range for their child care offerings.

I do think the university is right in saying that she should have taken advantage of one of her paid sick days. I think the mom made a bad judgment call that morning (and I get the impression that she knows this), and I think that breastfeeding while lecturing is what wound up making this national newsworthy. Had she not breastfed, I wonder if there would have been any complaints about the baby being in class that morning.

Now, since she teaches a class called "Sex, Gender & Culture," maybe she can turn this situation into an interesting lecture/lesson for her students.
Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 12:12pm

 I believe this will be the first time in the history of undergraduate education in which a student was not fully focused on the lecture being given.

To borrow Sarah Wildman‘s line, I particularly enjoyed the detail “about how distracted the kids tweeting and facebooking through class were by her breasts.”

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2012/09/your-breasts-are-interfering-with-my-angry-bi-er-your-lecture

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-16-2008
Thu, 09-13-2012 - 12:17pm
Our university's child care center starts accepting kids when they turn 1, but it's more expensive than many other facilities in town, and has a long waiting list. I commute an hour and drop my son off in our town at 6:30am (dad picks up at 5) just to save some money.

As for the age to accept, it's tough because of state guidelines for infant-teacher ratios. Around here, most places can only handle 4 infants max.
by sara photo sigbysara.jpg
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-17-2007
Mon, 09-17-2012 - 12:51am
It doesn't matter whether she could have used the university child care for an infant. Just about any daycare won't accept a child with a fever or other obvious sign of illness.

And missing the first day is a big problem. Many students use the first day to gauge what the class will be like. Many others will show up trying to add the class. Hard to accomplish either if the prof is not there.




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