I just spoke with a labor and delivery nurse about her hospital’s initiative to become a Baby-Friendly hospital. She has been a nurse for over 40 years and has seen quite a shift in thinking, especially in regards to breastfeeding and early mother-baby bonding. She took a moment to share her own experience. She told that after giving birth to her first child, the baby was immediately taken from her and placed under a warmer. She did not get to touch or even see her baby for 16 hours. It had nothing to do with the baby being sick or needing intervention. It was simply the practice and the way things were done at that time. Once she finally got to meet her little girl, she wanted to breastfeed, but had no support. At that time, formula was the norm and hospitals weren’t equipped or encouraged to guide and educate moms on how to nurse.
Listening to her story made me realize just how different my experiences were. With all three of my babies, I had immediate skin-to-skin contact for the first hour to two hours of their lives. When they were taken from me, it was after they had nursed and only for a short amount of time. I was given ample time, encouragement and support when it came to initiating breastfeeding, thanks to my midwife, the doctor, nurses and lactation consultant.
The nurse went on to say that she remembers when the routine in the hospital was to keep the babies in the nursery and return breastfeeding babies to the mother every three hours during the day. Mothers were instructed to allow the baby to nurse for only 10 minutes per side and then give them glucose water. The babies were then returned to the nursery after 30 minutes, where they stayed until the next feeding session. Every nursing baby. Every three hours. Every day.
Since her hospital has become Baby-Friendly, there has been a shift in philosophy and a steady increase in breastfeeding success in early postpartum. As she said, “This is how babies and moms should be treated. They are a unit. We need to promote things to help them succeed at what they want to accomplish.”
What was your experience like? Were you encouraged to bond with your baby? Did you receive breastfeeding support, if you choose to nurse? Could anything have helped improve your postpartum bonding and breastfeeding?