5 Substantial Ways My Hospital Birth Sabotaged Breastfeeding – Part 2 –
As you’ll remember from Part 1 of this series, I had a hospital birth with my first child because I didn’t realize how contradictory that would be to everything I believe about giving birth. You can read more about that in Why I Had the Rest of My Kids with a Midwife. I especially didn’t realize how many common hospital practices at that time would sabotage my start to breastfeeding.
If you haven’t read 5 Substantial Ways My Hospital Birth Sabotage Breastfeeding – Part 1, you can find out how the fear and tension of the environment caused my baby to be too upset to nurse right away and unnecessary interventions meant they took my baby away from me too quickly.
Those were only the tip of the iceberg as far as ways my hospital birth sabotaged breastfeeding. The situation continued to go downhill from there, and had my mom not had extensive experience with breastfeeding, I surely would have failed. I honestly can’t imagine how difficult it is for new mothers to get through the first few weeks if they don’t have 24-hour access to a veteran breastfeeder.
Continuing on . . .
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** I am not a medical professional. Nothing I state should be considered medical advice. I am only sharing what I have learned from my own personal experiences and my own research. You should never trust me or anyone else on the internet to inform you about health-related matters. Do your own research! Seek medical advice from a provider you trust, but still DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH on everything. Be informed! Be awake!
3.) They pushed me into taking medications that made my baby super sleepy.
If you’ve read Why I Had the Rest of My Kids with a Midwife: The Birth Story of My Oldest, you know that my labor progressed very quickly. They were planning to give me Pitocin but never got around to it because I went from 3cm to 7 1/2cm in about an hour. I asked for an epidural, and they told me I was too far to get one (which I know was actually not accurate). I’m glad I didn’t get the epidural because of the potential risks which I didn’t fully understand at the time, but I’m still disappointed in the alternative they offered.
In refusing to give me the epidural, they pushed me to take Stadol without informing of the consequences of that. Really, they peer pressured me like a teenager offering another kids drugs. They told me how great the Stadol would be. Um, no! I would take the pain a million times over the way I felt with Stadol. Stadol had a similar effect on my sister, so I don’t think it was just some rare reaction I had.
More importantly, they didn’t tell me until afterward that Stadol would make my baby very sleepy. So at first, my baby was frantic and crying, but once she did calm down, she was extremely sleepy. An unnaturally sleepy baby could be a potential disaster for a mother trying to get her milk to come in. My daughter did not want to eat. She only wanted to sleep.
Nurses kept saying, “She’s just sleepy because you had Stadol.” Hmm . . . maybe someone should have mentioned that to me before I let them give me the HORRIBLE Stadol. If someone had informed me Stadol would likely make my baby too sleepy to nurse, I would not have taken it. At least they could have allowed me to make an informed decision. I had made it very clear I would be breastfeeding. It would have been nice if they had helped me make decisions that were not harmful to that goal.
I asked how long my baby would be that sleepy, and they said it could be a couple of days as the drugs work through her system. Great. That’s exactly what I wanted to do to my child. A sleepy baby for a couple of days could really delay a mother’s milk supply, but fortunately, it did not have that effect for me. Instead, I had the opposite problem.
My milk came in quickly, but my baby didn’t want to wake up and nurse often enough. I tried hand expressing without much success. I could never get a pump to work well. Even before I left the hospital, I was starting to develop what I now know was a plugged milk duct from being constantly engorged. Because this was my first child, and I didn’t recognize the clogged duct in time to take measures to remedy the situation, I was dealing with a full-blown mastitis by day four.
I had a brand new baby, a nasty breast infection, and nipples that were cracked and bleeding. I also had a pretty high fever, aches, chills, and I could barely drag myself out of the recliner to walk to the bathroom. Lots of women give up on breastfeeding when they develop a mastitis. Really stopping breastfeeding is the worst thing you can do for an infection in the milk duct because you need to keep nursing to clear the ducts, but it’s extremely painful, so I can see why so many don’t make it past that.
The hospital gave me no guidance on what to watch for with clogged ducts. I was just fortunate that my mom knew what I needed to do to take care of it. Conventional medical wisdom would say you should see a doctor immediately for a mastitis. That is probably good advice. But my doctor was out-of-town that week, and I refused to see the on-call doctor, so I just dealt with it myself which could be an entire post of its own.
4.) They woke me up all through the night.
I am not a person who can fall asleep in just a few minutes no matter how tired I am. My husband can go from midsentence to snoring in a few seconds. I must lie in the bed for hours before I fall asleep. Therefore, the little game where they take vitals every hour or two hours or whatever it is does not work for me. They could have just looked at me to make sure I was breathing. The next hospital where I had my son did not wake me up in the night, so it’s apparently not the law or anything.
Consequently, I went two entire nights and almost three days at that hospital without a wink of sleep. Just when I would start to almost doze off, they would come into my room again. I was a New Mom Zombie by the time I left the hospital. I’m sure the lack of sleep contributed greatly to developing the breast infection.
5.) They made me stay at the hospital too long.
I had to stay at that hospital for about 48 hours or something like that. A strange environment was the last place I wanted to be while trying to figure out how to breastfeed. Getting milk letdown requires a relaxed state. If you are tense, it’s very hard to get letdown. That hospital was anything but relaxed. There are constantly people coming in and out of the room. The bed is not comfortable. There’s not a comfortable recliner like the ones at home.
The rooms are super cold even when you turn the thermostat as high as it lets you. I was shivering most of the time I was there, and I wasn’t even running a fever at that point. Being cold also makes it difficult to get milk letdown.
But you want to know what does cause milk letdown, surprisingly? That Drop Zone ride at King’s Island. Yeah. You should not go to King’s Island without wearing nursing pads even if your baby is old enough that you aren’t all leaky anymore and can normally go out without them. If you want to avoid any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions, you should wear breast pads to amusement parks for as long as you are breastfeeding. Thank goodness those hand dryers are really powerful ones because nobody wants to walk around with two huge wet spots on their shirt. Am I right?
Seriously though, breastfeeding is way easier when the mother is relaxed, and EVERYTHING about the hospital was the far opposite of relaxed to me. I was not imprisoned with any of my other kids. Even with my second birth which was still at a hospital, just a much better small community one, I was released 12 hours after the birth. I was back in the comfort of my own home where I could actually rest and feed my baby.
Education Is the Key
I was ignorant for the birth of my first child. I read The Baby Book by Dr. Sears, and it was good. It gave me enough information about breastfeeding that I knew I could not give up even though the cracked, bleeding nipples made me have to fight tears every time my daughter nursed. Dr. Sears was more pro-natural parenting than most resources at that time, but there just wasn’t a lot of information available to me about alternatives with the birth of my first. I can’t even remember if we had dial-up yet when she was born. I couldn’t rely on the vast wealth of information about natural parenting and natural birth available today on the web.
Thankfully, that all changed before the birth of my son. By the time of my next pregnancy, I was able to educate myself more on birth alternatives. Empowered by the knowledge I gained through my own research, I actively sought a birth environment that fit more closely with my wishes, and because of that, I delivered my whopper son with no medications and no pain.
People have different ideas about the type of birth they want to have, and that’s totally fine! Some people have real complications that arise that prevent them from having options they might have liked to have had. I understand that. I have no problem with anyone else’s birth choices. I only take issue with a mother’s wishes not being respected.
This is not a debate of whether you should or should not breastfeed or whether you should or should not have a hospital birth. The issue is whether or not your wishes are supported or disregarded. Do not back yourself into a corner! Do not place yourself in an environment where what you want will be ignored or even sabotaged.
I learned the hard way. I later realized the only way to ensure my wishes were respected was to do my homework ahead of time, seek out a provider and a birth environment where my desires would be supported, and empower myself with enough knowledge to back up my choices.
This is your body and your baby! Don’t let anyone else bully you into a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Don’t let others disregard your choices. You are THE MOTHER! You know what’s best for your own child. Trust yourself, and most importantly trust God who created your body to do what it needs to do!
What did you learn from your first round of childbirth? What do you wish you had known beforehand?
You’ll have to stick around if you want to hear all about the pain-free birth of my 11-pound son which is coming soon!
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