Mom breastfeeds wrong newborn after hospital mix-up: suit

By Kaja Whitehouse and Reuven Fenton – February 10, 2017

A New Jersey woman claims she was handed the wrong child in the hospital for breast-feeding.

Melissa Richman, of Montvale, says in a new lawsuit that she spent about 20 minutes happily breast-feeding the newborn, who was handed to her by a nurse about 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 30.

“It was the middle of the night. I had just had a very serious, three-hour C-section. I was extremely sick from all the medication. I was not in my right mind, and I didn’t think to check,” the 39-year-old mom of three told The Post on Thursday.

Suddenly the nurse returned, yanked the child from her breast and finally handed her the right kid, the lawsuit says. But by this time, Melissa was empty of milk, said lawyer Rosemarie Arnold.

Her crying, hungry daughter, Scarlett, was forced to drink formula from a bottle, meaning she didn’t get her mom’s colostrum, the special milk that mothers secrete in the first days after birth and which aids the baby’s digestion and immune system while ridding it of lingering toxins, her suit says.

That mistake deprived Scarlett of the nutrient-rich colostrum that “rightly belonged” to her, says the lawsuit targeting Valley Hospital of Ridgewood.

Arnold said the 4:30 a.m. feeding was the second time Melissa had breast-fed after her daughter’s birth — leaving the mom worrying that she may have nursed the wrong kid the first time, too.

That would mean her own daughter might not have eaten since her birth, a total of 14 hours, the lawyer said.

“This is just a horrible thing for a mother,” Arnold said.

Adding insult to injury, Melissa was later forced to undergo three blood tests so that the hospital could ensure she didn’t pass any diseases on to the other couple’s child, the lawsuit says.

But the hospital staff took far less care when it came to Melissa and her own baby’s health, the papers say.

The nurse, upon realizing the mix-up, had immediately shoved Scarlett on Melissa’s breast without wiping the other baby’s saliva off first, leaving the Richmans’ daughter exposed to a potential transfer of bacteria and other health concerns, they said.

The family’s lawyer said Scarlett now suffers from reflux, rashes and allergies.

Meanwhile, the mix-up made the Richmans wonder for weeks if they had even taken home the right baby, Melissa told The Post.

“I was deprived of the opportunity to properly bond with my daughter those first few weeks until we had the DNA results back that assured us she was ours,” Melissa said.

Melissa and her husband, David Richman, are suing in Hackensack state court, alleging malpractice and seeking damages.

Valley Hospital did not return a request for comment.