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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Some Things Can't Be Unseen

You never know what you're going to encounter and see walking into an exam room.

This afternoon I had a routine exam on a dog and a rabies vaccine.  My assistant went in, talked them into a heartworm test and and prevention, then came out to update me on the case.  She warned me that the client was breast-feeding in the room, something I've encountered from time-to-time.  So I gave it a couple of minutes before going in so the woman could finish.

When I walk in the room their baby is lying on the exam table getting his diaper change while the dog is sitting on the floor.  The parents are both there and mom is doing the change while dad is helping.  Definitely not a sight I was expecting!  Especially since I could tell pretty quickly that they had a boy and he was uncircumcised.  Did I really need to know that?

Being the professional that I am, and having children of my own, I didn't make a big deal about it and for the most part ignored the dirty diaper, concentrating on talking to them about their dog.  I made a joke about the dangers of changing boys but overall went on with the visit.  Their son started to cry and be fussy so mom said that he was probably still hungry.

Remember the whole thing about breast-feeding?  Yeah.  Let me also mention that the woman was not exactly tiny and had a rather ample chest.

Sitting on the bench in the room she pulls up her shirt and bra, her left breast spilling out for all the world to see.  Unfortunately that world included me as well as her husband.  I had a rather graphic view of the entirety of her breast and all of the details.  She started to adjust herself and her baby until he was latching on.  During the rest of the conversation she continued to feed him right there in the open, periodically having to shift herself or him on her nipple.

Please understand that I am not a prude, have no problems with the human body, and find breast-feeding very natural.  However, I think there are appropriate places and times to do it.  In an vet's exam room is NOT the time or place, especially when this is your first time meeting him!  I spent a LOT of time focusing on the husband and directing my comments at him, even though neither of them seemed phased by the events.

Was I uncomfortable?  Heck, yes, and it was a very awkward situation for me. I most certainly did not want to see their baby's genitalia or the size of the mother's areola.  But I think I handled myself well and hid my discomfort.

Yes, these kinds of things really do happen to veterinarians.


  1. We had one client whose extremely fake, extremely ample chest fell right out of her dress when the straps just couldn't take the stress any more. Unfortunately for her (she'd hit on him every time she came in), the vet she was seeing was not interested in women at all and merely stepped out of the room and closed the door very quickly. He then got one of the receptionists to take her some safety pins so she could fix herself up.

    I still think she wore the stressed-out dress on purpose :)

    (also, my verification word is "moBra"--appropriate!)

  2. I haven't had that one yet. Give it time right?

  3. This happened to me, but I was the client. With my second child as an infant, I had to take some of my pets in. The vet I was seeing that day was a woman, my child became hungry, she offered her office but also said she was fine if I stayed. (I love my vet, but she can be a little spastic.) I tried my best to breastfeed discretely, and was mostly successful. When one of the very young male assistants came in to get one of my pets, he didn't take notice at first until the vet said, "She can't help because she's feeding her daughter!" That poor young man turned purple, and it probably took him two years before he could look me in the eye again :-).

  4. Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world and should be seen as such. Not every place is the best place for doing it, but it should be accepted almost everywhere.


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