Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Baby Friendly" Hospitals

I've been thinking a lot about the initiative to push "baby friendly" onto hospitals .. what does the term mean for women who are already decided that nursing isn't for them ..? For example, the mom who has birthed her 4th child and hasn't nursed, nor wants to nurse, any of her children?

Then this article came out from the NY Times -

Maternity Ward Swag -

I feel like it sucks that hospitals these days have to rely on mega corporations such as Enfamil, Similac and Gerber for money, supplies, etc... for their maternity wards, I also have to be a little bit thankful for what the hospital had on hand and recommended for me when Thomas was a newborn.

He was born at a massive 9lbs 15oz after 30+ hours of labour ... via c-section ... after 5+ bags of fluids were pumped into my (swollen-for-weeks) little self ... In his first days outside of the womb, he dropped down to 9lbs.  He was a fussy little one, and late late late one night he wouldn't nurse, he wouldn't latch, I was desperate, but determined to keep on nursing (mostly because my fabulous husband wanted me to "give it a try" even though I was clueless and not to keen, but rather indecisive on the issue .. and 24-48 hours didn't seem like enough of a "try" ..).  The night nurse was a huge help to me that night .. as Thomas wouldn't stop crying, wouldn't stop fussing .. wouldn't nurse .. She helped me understand that it was O.k. to use a nipple shield .. and it was o.k. to supplement 10mL of formula at the start of a feed to help he latch and realize that the nip (and nipple shield) was an o.k. thing to hang out with for awhile!

I don't know much about what it means for a hospital to be "baby friendly" ... but I wonder if I would've been made to feel like it was o.k. to supplement those first few days with Thomas ... and if I would've been sent home w/a small stash of formula.  If it weren't for the small collection of Similac pre-made we came home with, Ryan would've had to run to the store to buy an over-priced can of formula - oh wait, we had already received 3-4 small cans in the mail that were awaiting either OUR use, or shipment to my sister, who was expecting ... so we were grateful to have the premade for our small use, and the convenience of using it at home in those tiny suringes .. squirting it into a nipple shield .. while also balancing a baby on my lap ..

Oh man, those were the days ... I was pretty determined!

To be honest, the "swag" from the maternity ward sucked for us ... and I donated it to the Good Will months later.  Someone else will find use for the tiny cooler and under-sized bottles, I'm sure.

Nursing doesn't work out for everyone ... and I think there is a lot more that goes into a woman's decision to breastfeed/nurse her baby than whether or not she gets a free enfamil/similac/gerber diaper bag ... but one thing hospitals should realize is ... women are bombarded with formula information long before the birth of their baby ... and a supportive staff is the best medicine, particularly when she needs help keeping her breastfeeding motor going ... ;-)  I think that is at the root of a Baby Friendly hospital, anyway ... not a "Formula is bad, mmkay?" kind of attitude ...

That being said - I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the twice-a-month Breast Feeding Support Group meetings we attended religiously from the time Thomas was 4-6 weeks old until he was well past 7 months ... at the St Joseph Regional Medical Center!  Not only did we receive the affirmations, support, and kindness we needed to continue on our journey - even when times were rough and he was rejecting the nipple shield and I thought for sure my nipples were going to fall right off - but we made a fabulous group of Mom Friends along the way =)

More Info on Baby Friendly -
Baby-Friendly USA
UNICEF - Baby Friendly Initiative
WHO - Baby Friendly Initiative

Regardless of your feeding choice, I think the Baby Friendly initiative has a great place in hospitals - including mandatory time with baby before he or she is removed from Mom after birth (Thomas disappeared for over 4 hours after his nearly midnight birth and 1-1 1/2 hours with us immediately after), skin-to-skin contact, lactation consultants, and a staff on hand that is supportive of breastfeeding choices in education and practice.  As my cousin said, if the hospital were to be giving away cloth diaper "swag" .. would I still be comfortable walking away empty handed? No way! hahah  ... but in my opinion, it comes more hand-in-hand with a desire to have something for free after leaving the hospital than "Ohh, hey, Similac gave me a sweet bag, maybe I should buy their formula ..."

I'd love to know your thoughts -

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