Once again, a disclaimer to this post: I am an advocate of breastfeeding. I'm not a psycho-advocate and I'm not judging those who end up using formula. But I do have opinions and these are them. Also, some might not care at all about this stuff. Fair enough, feel free not to read this one either.
My birth story hospital experience was very positive. Aside from one pushy (literally) nurse, the doctors and nurses were really supportive of my choice to be natural. However, the post-partum stay was not quite as positive. For some reason, the hospital here is kinda stuck in the dark ages. In Winnipeg, they have these beautiful LDRP (Labour, Delivery, Recovery, Post-Partum) rooms, so you don't have to change rooms when you're in labour, rooming in with your baby is automatic (and the only option) and all of the nurses are trained lactation consultants who teach new moms how to breastfeed.
Here, not so much. I was in a room with four other beds - luckily only one roommate (there were three of us for a few hours at one point). There was quite a bit of pressure to put my baby in the nursery for the night, and the nurse in the morning was "shocked" that they let me keep her with me for the night. I am a strong believer in bonding after birth and there was no way I was going to let them take her away just to bring back every 3 hours to feed. I wanted to see my baby when I wasn't pressured to feed her! The best part was there was a big sign on the wall about how rooming in was the best way for mother and baby to bond and to get breastfeeding started. It's a shame the nurses don't read that sign!
Since I had breastfed G, I had very little trouble this time, so I didn't need much help from the nurses. I hated having to share a room and just wanted to get home, but I was okay in most respects.
However, the other woman in my room and the treatment she received made me realize why Newfoundland has the lowest rate in Canada of breastfeeding moms.
First of all, she was completely ignorant of breastfeeding to start with, so obviously the education needs to start prenatally. She assumed that since she didn't leak milk in pregnancy that she couldn't breastfeed at all (that's not how it works for 90% of women), so she was surprised when her daughter latched on and she was told she could breastfeed. However, she was not given any decent instruction in the hospital and by the time she left, she had fully decided to bottlefeed. I put the blame almost entirely on the nurses and the clear lack of education in the hospital.
The first nurse she had asked if she had "taken any classes" or "read any books" on breastfeeding, and when she hadn't, the nurse indicated that she might have missed the boat.
The overnight nurse offered to take her daughter to the nursery and she accepted, and when she brought her back to feed 3 hours later quickly asked "Should I just give her a bottle or do you want to nurse her?" Given these options, she asked "Oh, can I do both here?" and the nurse said she could, so she chose the bottle for the night.
In the morning, the next nurse asked her what she had decided, saying "Well, we don't pressure women either way, but if you bottlefeed we won't have to worry about bringing your baby to you every 3 hours and making sure you're properly feeding her." When the woman said she was thinking about bottlefeeding because her daughter was "so big" (at less then 8lbs) and "didn't seem like she was getting anything", the nurse made no effort to correct her about when milk comes in. The final nurse was the nail in the coffin of breastfeeding. She killed any chance of this woman choosing to breastfeed instead of giving formula.
It killed me to listen to these exchanges. I didn't have the guts to speak up, but I wonder if I should have. She went from "maybe I'll breastfeed after all" to "Heck no, formula is better" in the span of 24 hours.
I think this post is long enough, so... Coming Next: The First Days were Yellowy