Damaged By Accidentally Breastfeeding Someone Else’s Baby? Seriously??

by Jake Aryeh Marcus    Find Sustainable Mothering on Facebook and Jake on Twitter.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Jennifer and Scott Spiegel are suing the hospital in which Ms. Spiegel gave birth because she was accidentally brought the wrong baby to breastfeed. I haven’t found a copy of the legal Complaint seeking damages in excess of $30,000 for the couple, but in every interview with the Spiegels I can find there is no allegation that their baby was harmed in any way.

Switching babies is a serious matter. If babies are not properly identified, they can be given the wrong medication or sent home with the wrong family (lest we forget Kimberly Mays). All the more reason for babies to be born at home whenever possible and to room-in with their mothers when they are born in hospitals. And I believe that Jennifer Spiegel

was exhausted and worried. She wondered, “Was he with someone else? Where is he?”

If someone brought me the wrong baby, I would wonder whether my baby was with someone else. However it appears that baby Logan Spiegel was not harmed in this mix-up. Jennifer Spiegel was brought a baby other than her own son, breastfed him, the error was discovered, and Logan Spiegel (who was never nursed by anyone other than his own mother) spent the rest of the stay in his mother’s room.

So where then is the damage?

Jennifer Spiegel says her obstetrician told her there was only a slim chance of the baby or her passing each other a disease or virus.

Let’s examine that sentence for a moment. If we remove the part about her passing disease to the baby, would we still be talking about even a “slim chance”? Isn’t the “slim chance” of disease transfer from her to the baby and not from the baby to her? And she is the one suing for damages?

But wait for it. The lawsuit needs to state the damage.

Jennifer Spiegel, a first-time mother, didn’t sign up to feed another woman’s child, the lawsuit says.

I’m trusting the Chicago Sun-Times for the phrasing. I really hope the Complaint doesn’t really refer to breastfeeding as something one “signs up for.”

What does seem clear from what is publicly available now is that this is a lawsuit about being damaged by nursing another woman’s baby. And I find that offensive and implausible.

There was a mistake made here. One that had the potential to be quite harmful but in fact harmed no one. If there is an Illinois lawyer reading this, I would like to know what the state regulatory scheme does to hospitals that make such potentially harmful mistakes. But was Jennifer Spiegel damaged by having breastfed someone else’s child? Or was her husband Scott, who appears to be both plaintiff and plaintiff’s lawyer in this case (heads-up on that folks, when we lawyers represent ourselves it is usually because we can’t find another lawyer willing to do it)?

I’ll be watching this one. I’m afraid this will be a sad display of greed and the mischaracterization of breastfeeding another woman’s child as traumatic.


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