October 16, 2018
Breast cancer survivor and new mom Meghan Koziel is making headlines for posting a “No Breastfeeding Zone” poster in her delivery room. Koziel who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at the age of 26, underwent a double mastectomy (along with a long list of other aggressive treatments), preventing her the ability to breastfeed her newborn.
Koziel’s sign reads, “NO BREASTFEEDING ZONE. Though breastfeeding is a very special task, please be aware before you ask. Our miracle baby will be formula fed, and it will not affect her future ahead. This mommy is a survivor.”
Koziel who worked in a hospital herself, knows medical professionals don’t always read patient's charts to their entirety. After a friend gave her the idea of the sign, she knew it was the best way to avoid the pain of having to repeat her medical history.
Koziel took to Instagram to share her photo with the caption, “Attention please, attention please. We do indeed have a mommy-to-be who had breast cancer and a mastectomy which means, without boobs in the houseeeee!” She continued, “Got the banner raised just in case people are confused at why we are NOT going to be breastfeeding our little bundle of joy. Yes I have foobs, no I do not have boobs (or nipples) therefore... my body is incapable of breastfeeding:) -sign was made by me!!!!!)”
As it turns out, the hospital staff were big fans of Koziel’s sign. The experience was even educational to those who asked to hear Koziel’s story—hopefully, they will now know to think twice before assuming someone can/are choosing to breastfeed.
For the most part the public has responded positively to Koziel’s sign and message, but she still faces unsolicited advice from strangers recommending milk donations as a better option. Koziel explained to Parents.com that her local milk bank only provides milk to preemies and multiples, there is no insurance coverage for mastectomy patients, and tested donor milk goes for $3-$5 an ounce.
“I was then referred to local Facebook milk donation groups but was turned off because the milk has no way of being tested,” Koziel explained. “Yes, breast milk is fabulous and filled with utmost nutrition... however, it can also carry disease! I am not willing to risk my daughter’s life simply to use breast milk when formula has been used for years and there is no known difference from a breastfed to formula fed baby.”
While Koziel is using her platform to bring attention to the scrutiny many women face for not breastfeeding—even if that choice is out of their control—she also has some powerful words of encouragement to survivors with hopes of becoming mothers.
“All survivors who are wanting to be moms, never ever give up hope! Doctors cannot guarantee fertility, but if you think about it... fertility isn’t guaranteed for anyone in life! Miracles happen, and whether you can conceive naturally, through IVF, or adoption... there is ALWAYS a way to become a mom! You just have to find the path and trust in it once it’s found.”
And to fellow moms facing criticism for the responsible, educated decisions they make for their children, Koziel says, “To all the mommies like me facing complicated health histories of facing social media trolls for how you're raising your child, I would say... keep on being you! We all must make decisions that are best for our families, and it is truly no one else’s business if it doesn’t affect them! Raise your child surrounded by love and with happiness and that baby will be amazing.”