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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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