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Mom Barred from Nursing at Breastfeeding Exam

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Ronda Kaysen: In a case of "truth is stranger than fiction," a woman taking a breastfeeding exam was barred from nursing during the test because it might have disturbed other test takers.


Yes, you read that correctly: A woman who signed up for a 5-hour exam to become a certified lactation consultant was told that she could not bring the baby into the classroom to nurse because it would distract the other test takers. Instead, said administrators, she should have a babysitter bottle-feed her baby while she took the test that would certify her to teach other women how to nurse properly.

The woman, Chiara Pozzi Perteghella, runs a pharmacy in the town of Bassano del Grappa,  Italy, and shared her totally bizarre experience on her website.

When Pozzi Perteghella informed administrators (after paying her hefty test fee) that she had a newborn baby to feed, they told her that she wouldn't be able to nurse during the test and could either have someone else bottle-feed the infant or leave the exam room to feed the baby herself -- but she would not be allowed to make up any lost time.

To make matters worse, during a series of back-and-forth e-mails with administrators, one unfortunate missive that was not intended for Pozzi Perteghella's eyes ended up being forwarded to her. In it, according to the New York Times, the head of the Italian Association of Professional Breastfeeding Consultants described Pozzi Perteghella as "arrogant" and "patronizing" and questioned the purpose of "breastfeeding-friendly pharmacies," saying, "Those really don't make much sense to me."

The whole issue of breastfeeding during exams is nothing new, but this example strikes me as particularly odd. This is a test given by an organization that promotes breastfeeding. Pozzi Perteghella could only take the test after completing 100 hours of consultation and 80 hours of training, so clearly she's serious about her commitment to breastfeeding.

I get that babies can be distracting, but come on, people -- we're talking about a 3-month-old baby here. They don't crawl around and steal pencils; they nurse and sleep and coo and maybe cry until they can nurse again. It seems to me that the administrators were a little tone-deaf to the mission of their own organization.

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21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous July 30, 2010, 5:32 AM

Why is this unbelievable? Children,infants, anyone except for the test take is not allowed at any type of exam, class, etc. Please get over yourself and you misplaced indignation.

Kristen July 30, 2010, 5:43 AM

You know I understand not allowing her to breastfeed in the classroom but it seems insane to not allow her to breastfeed in a supervised(so their is no chance of cheating), private room and then let her make up the lost time. I think this is crazy.

XXXX July 30, 2010, 8:45 AM

BOO HOO. Give the kid a bottle and get over it!

Anonymous July 30, 2010, 9:24 AM

its funny there is formula ads on the side of this story … haha but the woman have a break to bf her baby some dont take well to a bottle of mommy milk they need the real thing

Anonymous July 30, 2010, 9:41 AM

Actually the ads are irrelevant because they are not set on the site but rather the ads are formulated based on tracking your own internet browsing history. That being said, if they don’t allow babies that’s one thing. However, if they DO allow babies with bottles, then it should be no different to allow them with breastfeeding. The article says she’s allowed to bottlefeed which means the baby can be there. So it’s all a little strange.

Anna July 30, 2010, 10:43 AM

WHY on earth should she get special treatment of any kind during an exam. No one should. Express your milk and have who ever is watching the baby give a bottle. Seriously, people want smaller government but then complain all about all these “infringements” so now there will be some new council reviewing the need to pass some new law. Seriously, what a bunch of cry babies we’ve become.

Anonymous July 30, 2010, 12:16 PM

The artical says they told her to have someone eles bottle feed the baby. Its a test and no the baby shouldnt be allowed in there , Get over yourself and Pump and dump this one time. Its still Breast milk !!

Lisa R. July 30, 2010, 1:35 PM

Wow. I’m surprised at the nastiness of the comments about this article, not to mention the slant of the opinions. Where are the pro-breastfeeding mommies? Anyway, my thought about the whole thing was simply: HAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s so ridiculous, you just gotta laugh!

liz July 30, 2010, 3:57 PM

I’m with you Lisa R. I would not expect to be able to breastfeed my baby while I’m taking the Bar exam to become a lawyer (though maybe they’d be more concerned about being sued…). But for crying outloud, it’s an organization that isn’t just about supporting breastfeeding, they are also advocating it. I’m pretty sure the other test takers would have been understanding….for crying out loud.

Anon July 30, 2010, 6:42 PM

cry me a river

India July 31, 2010, 6:36 AM

She was taking an exam to become a lactation consultant,ya kno the biggest breastfeeding advocates, I don’t see how feeding a baby would distract anyone else in the room. Btw I have a 3wk old baby boy, who completely refuses any type of artificial nipple, not all babies will take a bottle, its not always as simple as shoving a bottle in their mouths, some babies are pickier than others and really just prefer Mommy.

Theo July 31, 2010, 6:46 AM

The story is half the trues. The exam is given in two parts of 2 hours with a break with 90 minutes in the middle. The person don’t try to take the exam. Its my feeling, that the person is afraid to fail!!!

HeeHee July 31, 2010, 9:08 AM

When in doubt, whip it out!

Nancy July 31, 2010, 8:06 PM

I’m with Theo. This woman took the test last year and failed and my guess is she had a little kid at home, realized that she didn’t study enough, the refund deadline was past, she wanted her multi-hundreds of dollars back and went full drama to get her money back AND make the IBCLE look bad AND get some infamy in the bargain. Even without a bottle, a 3 month old would make it 2 hours without needing a feed, and a 90 minute break is ample time to feed the kid between sessions.

This woman is taking advantage of people’s willingness to believe everything they read, and to be instantly outraged without knowing the facts. Shame on her.

ellen August 1, 2010, 2:28 PM

I proctored this exam years ago, and we had a woman taking the exam with a fairly young baby (3-4 weeks old, I think). If the baby needed to nurse, Grandma (who was caring for the baby) came to the door and I accompanied the mother to a quiet place where she could breastfeed comfortably. When she was finished, she went back into the exam room. She also had more than an hour for lunch, so plenty of time to feed the baby again. The exam time is long enough that I believe she was able to complete it.
There was really no problem at all, no one was distracted, and I don’t understand why some women try to make it a problem.

Emilie August 2, 2010, 5:59 AM

Sorry I’m pro breast-feeding but to expect special accomodations because you choose to do so is ridiculous. I can clearly see where all the entitled children these days are being produced by.

K8 August 3, 2010, 8:21 AM


It is a BreastFeding exam, for cripes sake!

Oh, no wait! I forgot…breast feeding moms are supposed to stay in their homes hiding under a blanket until the child is weaned lest SOME RANDOM STRANGER be made to feel slightly uncomfortable. /eyeroll/ I highly doubt other LC students would have had an issue.

Anonymous August 4, 2010, 7:09 AM

Some babies wont go 2 hours in between feedings. Mine at one point wasn’t getting enough at each feeding and wanted to nurse every hour. So no, Nancy, not all 3 month olds will go 2 hours. And did you also account for her drive time there? Even if she fed the baby right before she left her house, she could have had a long drive and the baby would have needed to nurse soon after the test started. A lot of babies wont take a bottle if they are breast fed. They just want mom. And that should be ok. It is the most natural thing you can do for your child, so why are we as a society always pushing mothers to cover up and hide, not breast feed in public? At a breast feeding exam, they should have been a lot more understanding.

Anonymous August 4, 2010, 8:07 AM

Oh gosh here comes the self-entitled because I CHOOSE to breastfed everyone needs to accomodate me crowd. Pump the milk, put it in a bottle and give to the sitter, end of issue.

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