Battle for Breastfeeding – Part 1
Breastfeeding. Sadly I’ve come to find this one of the most controversial issues out there. If you don’t breastfeed your child you’re a bad mother. If you breastfeed past a certain age you’re weird and warping you child. If you’re feeding in public it’s wrong. If you’re feeding in a washroom it’s wrong. If you formula feed you don’t care about your child’s health. If you spend money on formula and have a tight budget you’re lectured.
I could go on and on about how you may be judged. I breastfed Victoria for as long as I could. I had milk trouble around 6 months (but that’s a different story), so I both breastfed and have been judged and bottle fed to the same outcome.
Having said that I want to get one thing straight: I am most certainly pro breastfeeding. Leading into World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month in the United States I want to write a few posts about it. This particular post will focus on some of the troubles I had in hospital with Victoria and breastfeeding.
I was determined to breastfeed Victoria if her cleft lip would allow it. Until she was born we were unsure of the severity. As it turned out she only had an incomplete cleft lip and a notch in her gum line, while her palate was completely intact. That being said it was still no easy feat trying to breastfeed her. Nova Scotia is very pushy (and not always in a helpful way) when it comes to breastfeeding, that is until your baby has a cleft anything…
Minutes after she was born the nurse tweaked my nipple and said “you don’t have any colostrum, she probably can’t breastfeed anyway let me go get the formula”. In my pain induced stupor I thought, hold on a sec, I’ve been leaking milk since 20 weeks. Colostrum was not the issue. I called Andrew over (my one hand hurt so I couldn’t do much with it) and we squeezed out a bunch of colostrum for Victoria. Thus my Battle for Breastfeeding had started.
The next day her plastic surgeon came in and let us know she would have no problems breastfeeding (apart from the usual newborn issues). She could suck and seal no problem. Great, right? Not so much. Unfortunately Victoria was one of those who had newborn feeding issues. Each nurse would come in every 3 hours for feeding and to watch. Victoria would struggle and they’d say, ‘oh it must be the lip you should syringe feed’… Then, ‘you should cup feed’… ‘Nipple feed’…’Catheter feed’… ‘Bottle feed’… ‘Spoon feed’…
It became aggravating telling a new nurse every 12 hours what the specialist had told us about Victoria’s ability to breastfeed and being ignored each time.
Finally we opted for cup feeding as we found that the best. Well one nurse on loan to the newborn unit that night said they never cup feed in the NICU and that we shouldn’t either. She wrote down we were doing it wrong and the next day we were told not to attempt it again until properly instructed. Apparently it was also noted on our chart that we were ‘potentially difficult parents’ who were not ‘following instructions’.
We didn’t know this at the time, but we were told later on. Apparently the nurses keep score of parents who they don’t feel are following the ‘rules’. Too many points and you get a referral to child services. Just what any new parent needs…
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