Thursday, July 22, 2010

Birth and Boobs

Welcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of The Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about birth experiences and breastfeeding. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18th through the 31st! 

When it gets down to it, everything about my pregnancy/delivery/postpartum period was fairly easy.  I had absolutely no pregnancy issues.  I had a long labor followed by a cesarean, but an easy recovery.  We had virtually no nursing issues.  It all just went smoothly along (almost) as planned.

Despite the best efforts of the hospital staff.

I've blogged so much about birth recently, I'm not going to start again (I swear!), but I will say one thing and then move on to the immediate post-partum hospital experience (because the hospital experience is a part of most American women's birth experience).

I initially wanted a natural childbirth for two reasons: 1) Control.  I did NOT want to be stuck in a bed with people yelling PUSH.  2) I wanted to breasteed.  I was going to breastfeed.  It was of utmost importance.

When I finally got 41 hours into labor with a stuck baby and the doctor said cesarean and I (exhausted) agreed, I was nervous about nursing.  About 2 hours after his birth I asked the nurses to send the lactation consultant around the next day, just to make sure things were going right.

She was actually good and supportive.  She showed me how to lightly express colostrum to reassure me that I was making some and to give him a hint of taste.  She helped me with his latch.  She said we were doing great.  She told me to rub his cheek to encourage him to open up, to watch behind his ear to make sure he was swallowing and to NOT touch his cheek when he was latched on. 

Then that night happened.  At this point, Jack was 30 hours old. 

The nurse came in at about 3:00 am to "check" on us.  She asked me when his last wet diaper was.  I told her around 1:00 (he had had 5 at that point).  She asked me when he last nursed and for how long.  I told her that he had nursed for a few minutes about 1.5 hours before.  She told me that I had to nurse more, better, longer.  I said I had tried, but that he was sleepy. 

She insisted I wake him up, right then (btw - he was a 41 weeker and almost 8 lbs).  I did.  He didn't want to nurse.  She kind of opened his mouth and forced him to latch.  Then started stroking his cheek with her hand (exactly what the LC had said not to do).  He didn't nurse. 

So she said she was going to supplement him.  I asked why.  She said "we are going to supplement him or we are going to take him from you.  Is that what you want?  Do you want to leave the hospital without him?  Do you want him to have zero blood sugar and die?".

Of course I said I didn't want that, but that he had nursed recently and he seemed fine.  He was tired. That was OK.  His stomach was the size of a small marble.  She kept yelling at me.  I started crying.  My (very very calm) husband got upset.  She called another nurse in to try to force him to nurse.  At this point we were about 2 hours from the Pediatrician coming by, so I told her that if the doctor wanted me to supplement him I would, but not in the meantime.  She stormed out of my room.

The doctor pronounced him perfect, and told me that at that point of his life all they were looking for was 1-2 wet diapers. 

One to two.

He had had five.

And yet, I was lectured, yelled at, had my boobed jammed around and smooshed.  Had my sleeping newborn woken up.  Threatened.

Had I not been so determined to nurse, I would have said fine, of course, give him formula.  Had I not read so much, researched so much, I would have been terrified.  Had Daniel and I both not been nursed for a year, we may not have known the importance or grown up thinking that breastfeeding was the normal way.

I see, now, why so many women give up so quickly.  That first supplement can begin a very slippery slope of supply and latch issues.  And the nurses tried to force it on us.

That story, those nurses are a lot of the reason I pray to avoid a hospital birth next time.  It isn't just the birth itself or the birth experience (though those are important) it's the postpartum stay and the sabotage and the medical mindset in those first few days of a very tiny person's life. 

I am out of town all week and posting scheduled posts.  If you need me, email me or just post a comment.  I may not get some linkups quite right, but I'll do the best I can. 

 Here are more posts by the Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival participants! Check back because more will be added throughout the day.


  1. Wow. That sounds horrible! When I have kids, I want to birth at home if at all possible. Hospitals are scary.

  2. OH MY GOD! I cannot even BELIEVE you had that experience. I am so sorry. That's the last thing a new mom - and baby - needs. I would have reported that to higher ups. Inexcusable!

    I had issues in that I received bad advice about breastfeeding from the hospital staff (including the lactation consultant). But our pediatrician was able to reverse the bad info and get us back on track. So it all worked out. I did have to supplement briefly in the first week - at the recommendation of our pediatrician. But DD nursed for her first year, so it did not cause us any problems.

    I tell you what I have learned - a woman has to be vehemently committed to breastfeeding, b/c there are so many forces along the way that work against her. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns!

  3. This is a completely horrific experience. I sometimes am shocked at the misinformation of "medical" people. I asked a mom working on her IBCLC recently what the different specifications were for different kinds of lactation "assistants" and she said that some people are just nurses who are given the title but actually have no additional lactation instruction or information, so there is a lot of poor information, even women being told "that latch is fine" from nurses and "consultants" or "counselors" who have NO IDEA. . . . amazing! Way to stick to your guns!