Monday, November 19, 2012

And then, behind the curtain...

I gave birth to Douglas at St. Luke's Baptist.  Obviously, a local hospital.  One of the things they pride themselves on--and I have discussed this in the past with a hospital administrator and his wife with whom I attended church--is that they are supportive of breastfeeding.  They have a "lactation center" and lactation consultants on staff.  The postpartum unit (which I think they call Mother Baby, because punctuation is for chumps) has multiple displays of nursing paraphernalia.  They are supportive, dammit.

Only...not really.

Douglas was 9lb 4oz at birth.  This isn't outrageously huge, but any birth weight over 9lbs prompts regular blood sugar checks for the first 12 hours of life.

He was born at 0310.  We were in a postpartum room about three hours later.  As happens, they took him back to the nursery to be bathed and anointed with various things they feel necessary, and also to do a heel prick and check his blood sugar.  Turns out his blood sugar was a little low.  Nurse called me to tell me this.  Also to tell me they wanted to give him "a little formula."

"No! Bring him back so I can feed him!"

Let me spell this out very clearly.  My son was not even four hours old, and they were already pushing formula.  Already insinuating that what I was making wasn't good enough.  I know better, because he is my fifth child, but what about a first time mom?  Particularly, what about a first time mom who is poorly educated, possibly speaks little English, and has been conditioned to follow along with medical staff?

One low blood sugar reading is no reason to supplement with formula.  The correct action for that in a baby is, shockingly, pretty much what it is with a child or adult--eat some of whatever you'd be eating anyway.  (Oh, I have seen candy given to diabetics just to get their blood sugar reading up, and having watched my uncle decline and die due to that disease, it makes me twitchy as hell.)

If mom is planning to formula or combo feed anyway, fine.  But if you know she's going to breast-feed, don't push a fucking bottle of formula.  I know from personal experience with my first child that one bottle can really fuck things up and make it very very hard to nurse afterward, so I guess I should just be happy they didn't do it without my knowledge.  (I was, however, very nervous whenever he went to the nursery after that.)

And of course, when I left, they were there to support my breastfeeding again, this time with a bag.  From Enfamil.  Because of course the company that loses money if I nurse is the perfect source of support.  I actually did get the "breastfeeding bag" this time, and while I cannot tell you exactly what is in it as I left it behind, I can tell you (from reading the outside, and poking at it) that it contained at least one big box of powdered formula. 

In case I decide to supplement.  Like those supportive nurses tried to get me to do.

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