Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scenes from a Baby-Unfriendly Hospital

Before my baby was born, I thought that women who didn't breastfeed chose not to.  In fact, most women who don't breastfeed wanted to, but were unable for reasons already mentioned.  In my view, getting things right in the birthplace is the key to fixing this problem, with far-reaching benefits including better health for moms and babies.  Here is one excerpt from a forum post by a new mom:

"How long will I be in mourning over the loss of breastfeeding? I feel so cheated and disappointed in myself. I should have NEVER let the lactation consultant give her a bottle. I should have taken her home and looked up other methods of supplementing her. I should have taken responsibility, taken charge, NOT trusted them. This is why I had a midwife! I never trusted medical people, and this is why. They didn't even let me see her for 2 hours after she was born, and I was so exhausted and out of it I couldn't even bring myself to argue. It was all I could do to yell at my husband to make sure she knew he was there... I know I just have to get over it and "let it go," and be happy that I have a now-healthy baby, but sometimes it is overwhelming and I can't help but sob. Every time I see something about how much better breastfeeding is for your baby I re-live that guilt, anger, frustration, disappointment."

I see a shocking FIVE violations of Unicef's 10 Steps to Succesful Breastfeeding by this new mom's hospital:
4 - Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5 - Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6 - Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
7 - Practice “rooming in”-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
9 - Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.

As a result of the hospital's failure, this baby is at increased risk for common health problems such as obesity, asthma and respiratory infections, despite her mother's commitment to breastfeeding--not to mention the effects of guilt and anger on the mother and the family.