Breastfeeding Experiences in the Hospital

Welcome to the November Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month mothers share their experiences of breastfeeding in the hospital. I rather prefer a home birth myself, so this time I’m leaving the job up to two mothers who wrote to me to share their experiences. At the end of these comments, check out the links to the other carnival participants!

Newborn breastfeeding in the hospital. Photo courtesy of Daquella Manera

Newborn breastfeeding in the hospital. Photo courtesy of Daquella Manera

Sutter Davis Hospital in Davis, California

Stephanie Cassidy emailed me the following:

I just wanted to say that my experience at Sutter Davis Hospital in Davis, CA was great! They are pro breast feeding and fully support it. The nurses are encouraging and lactation consultants are available to support and educate you. The thing I liked was that if you chose not to breastfeed, use a pacifier, or supplement you have to sign a waiver. So no one is going to give your baby something you do not want them to have. They encourage breastfeeding on their website: “Breastfeeding allows you and your baby to emotionally bond in a special way that cannot be matched, because breastfeeding meets both the nutritional and nurturing needs.”

I love the use of a waiver! It emphasizes the importance of the decision not to breastfeed.

A Not-So-Good Experience

Kelly wrote to share her less-than-ideal interaction with a hospital lactation consultant:

I had my third daughter one year ago yesterday and I am still breastfeeding. I have now breastfed for a total of 5 1/2 years. I LOVED the hospital she was born at. The only bad experience I had was with the lactation consultant. When I got pregnant with my newest addition I was still nursing my almost 2 1/2 year old. I was slowly weaning her off but once I found out I was pregnant I went ahead and called it quits. I never really dried up completely. When I gave birth to my newest little one I had an emergency C-section (yuck) and I wasn’t able to nurse her until about 5 hours after she was born. They had to keep her in the nursery and as soon as I could feel my legs they let me go down to feed her, she latched on perfectly. I got her in the room that night and was able to feed her with no problem. The next afternoon I was already engorged. The lactation consultant came in and I was very open to her being there. I explained to her that this was my third daughter and I breastfed my oldest for two years and my second for 29 months and that my milk never dried up while I was pregnant. My husband hadn’t brought my pump up yet and that I was so engorged that I wanted the pump for a little relief from the pain, so that I wouldn’t get mastitis and so Chloe could eat more comfortably. She basically told me there was no way that my milk was already in and that I shouldn’t pump the milk out. So I then squirted the milk out across the room. I felt like she thought that I no idea what I was talking about. She basically shrugged off everything I said. At least that’s what I felt. Then she told me how I was holding the baby wrong. I was thinking in my head, You know she is making this very stressful. If I hadn’t been so comfortable with breastfeeding she would possibly be making me not to want to do it at all. Breastfeeding is overwhelming enough to have someone like that making you feel like an idiot. Someone else finally brought the pump to me and I did what I need to with no help from her and everything is still fine today. On a positive note, I was surprised to see the diaper bag for breastfeeding mothers. With my other two daughters there where only the formula bags. It’s nice to see that hospitals are more involved in helping mothers breastfeed. That they even have lactation consultants is wonderful I just happened to get someone that thought she knew everything. All I can say to that is everything isn’t written in black and white, there are other circumstances to what she thought was correct, mine was one of those. I’m not saying that every mother will need to pump like I did. I am now going to school to become a nurse and I will then do what is needed to become a lactation consultant.

Kelly, I laughed out loud at the image of you squirting your breast milk across the room to make a point for that lactation consultant! Good for you! Best wishes for your career training — I can tell that your experience will make you a compassionate and helpful LC!

Other Carnival Participants (Stay tuned as links are posted as they come in!)

The Milk Mama: Newborns, Nursing, and Hospital(ity)
Momma’s Angel: My Hospital Experience in Norway
Hobo Mama: Breastfeeding Support: A Tale of Two Hospitals
Whozat: The Nipple Intervention
The Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Had a Good or Bad Experience in the Hospital? Tell Them!
BreastfeedingMums: Top Tips for Breastfeeding Success
The Beautiful Letdown: Breastfeeding in the Hospital

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    • Whozat

      For what it’s worth, my sister nursed her almost-three-year-old through her second pregnancy, and when her milk “came in” (although it had never totally gone away) with the second baby, she was incredibly engorged. I’ll be it’s not an unusual phenomemon, and something that you’d think the LC would be familiar with.

    • Lauren @ HoboMama

      Thanks for sharing their experiences! I’m glad that Stephanie had a good experience. Usually just the disappointed people write (ahem, me), so it’s nice to hear a good story. I just had one thought in regard to the waiver, though. I might be misunderstanding it, but a waiver to me suggests that you’re not doing what’s expected. What if the breastfeeding and no artificial nipples were the norm, the hospital policy, and you instead had to sign a waiver that artificial nipples and artificial milk could be given to your baby? That way, you’d have to think harder not to breastfeed, and the hospital’s default position would be to support breastfeeding. Does that make sense? Same with the goodie bags — it seems like the breastfeeding ones should be the default, and maybe formula samples are given only if they’re specifically asked for or needed.

      Kelly, I also loved that you shot milk across the room! It’s so aggravating to have your experiences and knowledge contradicted and dismissed. I’m sorry you had to go through that. You’re right that if you hadn’t been so committed to and familiar with breastfeeding, that insensitive treatment could have been enough to discourage you.

    • Casey

      Thanks for sharing their experiences! I think it is so important to talk about these things. Many women discuss doctors and birthing choices and how they affect breastfeeding, but I haven’t heard many discussions about breastfeeding support from hospitals.

    • Jill

      I loved my recent hospital birth experience as well as the breastfeeding support at the hospital. Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC, was very pro mother-baby relationship, and they were supportive and encouraging about breastfeeding. The nurses made sure we latched on properly within 15 minutes of the baby’s birth, and continued to check on us throughout our stay. The LCs came by twice on their own and once when I paged, and though we were doing really well with breastfeeding they still gave me helpful suggestions that made it even better. I was so pleased.

    • Shelly

      I also had a horrible experience with the LC at the hospital for my first daughter’s birth. Honestly, I still fear for the women who take her advice seriously. Just like there are good doctors and bad ones, good midwives and bad ones, etc. there are good LC’s and bad ones. :o(

    • Amie

      I had my first in the hospital. The LC came by to see my on day 2, observed, and said, “He seems fine, everything looks great. I’ll come by again tomorrow and we’ll talk about supplementing.”

      No thank you.