I read an interesting article in Slate this week about baby-friendly hospitals and now that I’ve delivered at both a “non” baby-friendly hospital and a hospital trying to get certified as baby-friendly, I will say it was two very different experiences.
In Utah, where I delivered Future President, breastfeeding was encouraged. However, I was still given a gift bag from formula companies and a pacifier was provided to help soothe the new baby. My baby was in the nursery a lot, but that’s because he had a bad case of jaundice. Even if he hadn’t had jaundice, I would have had the option of sending him to the nursery to get a little sleep. Not once did I think these policies were unfriendly to babies or breastfeeding. I had a lactation consultant visit my room and the option to take a breastfeeding class while in the hospital.
Here in the Northwest, I delivered Junior at a hospital that is trying to get baby-friendly certified. That means baby was with me in my room during the entire stay except during his circumcision. Pacifiers are not provided except during procedures like circumcision. I brought my own and the frankly the nurses seemed relieved. One nurse even told me that she thought these new policies made breastfeeding more stressful for new moms and that a pacifier wouldn’t ruin breastfeeding. I agree.
During our stay, my breast was handled by a few different nurses. It was a little weird. As soon as I was in recovery, I had the baby skin to skin and the baby nurse reached over and helped baby get a mouthful. In the moment it didn’t seem weird but looking back, may have been a little aggressive. The same thing happened during one of the daily lactation consultant visits when a nurse reached across my chest while baby was nursing to help him get a “sandwich” amount in his mouth.
When I chose formula over banked breast milk to supplement on the first day, I definitely felt judged. I don’t know why, but the idea of banked breast milk weirds me out. From a friend that I know, no, but feeding my baby a stranger’s breast milk just seems too weird.
I think there has to be a line drawn when hospital policies make new moms feel guilty about their choices, and if a mother does choose to breastfeed it should be encouraged and resources provided to help. I don’t think pacifiers are evil, nor am I opposed to formula. New moms have a hard enough road ahead of them, we don’t need to feel guilty about our feeding choices.