Bizarre breastfeeding rule at Brisbane hospital leaves mum 'devastated'

'Mums don't need the judgement from the government as to how they chose to feed their child,' she said.

A Brisbane lawyer who was denied food at a hospital where her baby was being given emergency care said "parents struggle enough" without "the judgement from the government over how they chose to feed their child".

Queensland mum Sarah Stoddart, who opted to bottle feed, said three weeks ago she woke in the middle of the night to find her 12-week-old daughter seriously unwell.

Ms Stoddart "knew something was wrong" when her baby "took the milk and then basically projectile vomited everywhere". She also noticed "the temperature coming off her skin was crazy".

Brisbane mum Sarah Stoddart with her newborn, who she was forced to rush to hospital.
Mum Sarah Stoddart said she was denied food at a Brisbane hospital over breastfeeding. Source: 9News.

Some 12 hours after rushing her child to the emergency department at Prince Charles Hospital, in the city's north, Ms Stoddart said her issues began after being handed a "welcome sheet".

"They had circled and brought to my attention that only breastfeeding mothers were entitled to meals," she told Nine News. "First of all [it] made me feel devastated and guilty but then quite enraged, that is a decision that is being made in this country and this state in 2023."

Furious, Ms Stoddart claims staff eventually told her that they could "make an exception" and would "sneak through an approval" so that she could get fed.

According to the mum, her partner was at home looking after the couple's other kids, and the whole ordeal left her feeling guilty over a decision that was made for the health of their child. She added that mothers are "already struggling with enough" in the first trimester and "don't need the judgement from the government as to how they chose to feed their child".

The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane
The Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. Source: Twitter.

Hospital changes policy after complaint

After the saga was raised with Metro North Health, and as a result of Ms Stoddart's complaint, the hospital has since changed its policy at Prince Charles and others in the region, including the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Nine News reports.

"The Prince Charles Hospital now provides meals to parents of children six months and under who are admitted into our care," it said in a statement.

"Parents of all patients admitted to the Paediatric Ward at The Prince Charles Hospital have access to food, water, tea and coffee. "Further paid options, including fresh food vending machines, cafes and a stocked fridge, are accessible 24hrs a day."

Queensland's Health Minister Shannon Fentiman she would work with other hospitals across the state to ensure a similar scenario does not occur again. "It shouldn't really matter whether you are breastfeeding or not, it should be about trying to make our parents who are doing the best they can to look after their sick kids as comfortable as possible," she said.

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