“Baby-friendly” Hospitals – Another Update {We Need Your Help!}

52 comments

baby

Well, mamas, it’s been about a year and a half since I first brought up the topic of baby-friendly hospitals here on the site. That first post BLEW up because many of you felt the way that I do – that these “baby-friendly” hospitals aren’t mom or family friendly. I did an update one year ago this month after making a little progress in figuring out why hospitals are moving in this direction. Fast forward to today and I’ve got more news for you.

Let’s step back for a minute in case you didn’t catch my other two pieces. It came to our attention that many Connecticut hospitals have gone for the “baby-friendly” designation from Baby Friendly USA. This group is at it’s core a pro-breastfeeding organization. After doing some research we discovered that in order to get this designation, hospitals must follow strict guidelines set up by the Baby Friendly folks. These guidelines include many things but what struck me the most was the forced rooming-in policy. That’s right, adios hospital nurseries and hello mandatory 24/7 rooming in.

You know what bothers me the most about this whole thing? OF COURSE hospitals want to be called “baby-friendly” and how clever of this organization to come up with that wording. It’s shiny, it’s catchy and it works. We take comfort in knowing that the hospital we’ll be giving birth at has this special designation. But we don’t know to investigate it further – what does it really MEAN to be a baby-friendly hospital? It means that you can’t send your baby to the nursery (healthy babies). It means that many hospitals are actually getting rid of their well-baby nurseries. It means that if you ask to use the nursery, even for an hour, the nurse is suppose to re-educate you about why it’s better to keep your baby with you. If you then insist, and if they still have a nursery available, they have to document in your chart that you sent your baby away. HELLO GUILT. HELLO MOM SHAME.

Now here’s the thing. I’m not anti or pro breastfeeding, I’m pro every mom making her own choices about what’s best for her and her family. I think that every woman should be able to decide what she does with her body and that extends to whether or not she breastfeeds. Plus, there are MANY moms that want to breastfeed but can’t for a variety of reasons.  And helloooooo, you can still be successful at breastfeeding AND use the nursery!

In my opinion this trend away from nurseries is extremely disturbing and is doing a huge disservice to women. It’s like we’re forgetting that women’s bodies experience so much during birth. God forbid we need a little rest to recuperate. There is nothing, I repeat nothing, wrong with asking for your baby to be taken to the nursery so that you can rest while you’re still in the hospital. Moms should not be shamed or judged for expressing their needs.

Last year I met with the CT Hospital Association to bring this issue up with them and get their thoughts. I met with them again recently because I just cannot let this issue go and I’m really happy to let you know that they’ve expressed interest in reading some of your stories. Did you want to use the nursery but couldn’t? Did the hospital you gave birth at have a 24/7 rooming in policy? Please take a few minutes to comment here and let us know about your experience so we can share it with people that might be able to help us impact change. If you aren’t comfortable commenting with your story you can also email it to me at michelle@ctworkingmoms.com. I won’t share your full name with your story but if you’re comfortable saying which hospital you gave birth at that would be really helpful. This is our chance mamas! This shift away from nurseries is taking away choices from women. We can do something about it and it starts with just telling our stories.

Image altered from Flickr Creative Commons

52 comments on ““Baby-friendly” Hospitals – Another Update {We Need Your Help!}”

  1. This is really disturbing … the twist that’s been applied to what a Baby-Friendly Hospital is. My hospital recently went through the designation process. In a nutshell, being Baby-Friendly means that the nurses are educating moms on breastfeeding, skin-to-skin, rooming-in, exclusive breastfeeding, etc so that the mom can make an INFORMED CHOICE. As a nurse, there are MANY healthcare issues that our patients do not fully understand. It’s our job to educate so that the best decision for THAT mom is made …. by her. If a mom wants to leave the unit and smoke, we need to educate her on how smoking will increase her baby’s risk of asthma, allergies and other respiratory illnesses. When a mom doesn’t want to get up and walk the day after a cesarean because it hurts, we have to encourage her and educate her on how moving and not lying in the bed will help her recover in a number of ways. When a mom has her baby lying on a fluffy pillow in the bassinette, we have to educate her about infant safe sleep practices. The education on smoking, ambulation and safe sleep is based on evidence-based practice …. meaning that excellent research, numerous studies, has shown us what is best for our bodies, or our babies’ safety. Will moms continue to smoke? Yep! Will moms continue to refuse to lie in the bed and not walk? Yep. Will babies continue to be placed in unsafe sleep environments? Yep! That’s because no one is going to MAKE a mom do anything. It’s THEIR choice. Trust me, the nurses would RATHER have nurseries and have the babies in there all night long. It’s WAAAYYYYY easier for them. But research shows, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that babies cry less and moms sleep better (seriously) when baby is at the beside. Are there exceptions? Of course!!!! There are no guidelines, rules or policies that are absolute. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to see that there are hospitals who are Baby-Friendly who don’t exactly get the “informed CHOICE” part of this. But, please, blame and bad mouth the hospitals. Not Baby-Friendly. It’s articles such as yours that give Baby-Friendly a bad name. I’ve worked in three hospitals, all offering different programs. Baby-Friendly, when executed the way it was intended, is the best option for ALL moms. Did you know that part of the Baby-Friendly “must-dos” is teaching formula feeding moms how to properly prepare formula after they go home and how to properly feed from a bottle???????? Yeah, you never mentioned that. Just bashing away about how mothers are FORCED to do things they don’t want to do. Baby-Friendly is about encouraging safe infant FEEDING and mother/infant bonding. Baby-Friendly was actually started in 1991 to support the moms who really wanted to breastfeed and/or keep their babies with them, but the policies and procedures of birth facilities wouldn’t allow for success in either area. Moms HAD NO CHOICE. In Baby-Friendly Hospitals they actually have a choice now.. I can tell you that at least 90% (probably more) of the moms who delver with us embrace our education. Some may choose not to do what is recommended by research, but they are fine. Then there’s the other group of moms who think as you do. I live in the south where breastfeeding rates are the lowest. WE live in the United States which ranks LAST in breastfeeding and FIRST in infant mortality worldwide. Something needs to change. It needs to start with education in the hospitals. You probably influence a huge number of moms. Please tell all of the facts.

    Respectfully,
    Sally

    1. I’m not sure how baby-friendly designations impact infant mortality up to one year old. Bit weird to pull that factoid in. Are you implying that formula feeding affects infant mortality?

    2. But when hospitals take away a choice by getting rid of the option od a nursery, then your telling them, not showing them. I’m sure it is better. But not for everyone. I had a long hard pregnancy with twins, had a csection and a tubal ligation. I was exhausted and still got up to walk and still breastfed. But one of my babies wouldn’t latch well and then was a lazy eater no mater what I did to get her to eat. So feeding her took 1 1/2 hours I was getting about a 1/2 hour sleep. I was in tears after 3 days when the nurse came and took them and kept them for 4 straight hours. I have another child at home. My husband needed to be home with her at night. How is forcing me to take my twins 24/7 after a tough surgery by myself all night and day a good thing for all of us? I was thrilled to have a few hours of sleep. I see no problem with explaining the benefits to new moms but keep the option open to them.

  2. I will be giving birth to my son in about two months:) I loved the experience I had at the hospital with my first son – my hospital wasn’t considered baby friendly but definitely had most of the traits of a baby friendly hospital. I was never asked if I would like my son to be taken to the nursery and personally didn’t want my son to leave my site…anxious mom:) I have been told that our hospital is now baby friendly.
    For me personally, I was extremely tired and disoriented after the birth of my first son. My mind couldn’t think straight, the lights seemed too bright (I don’t know if it was a migraine, or normal after birth symptoms) my hands were not stable, and I could barely stand— and I had a wonderful delivery!! So I cannot Imagine how I would have felt with a bad delivery. I literally did not take care of my son the first night, besides breastfeeding — which made me nervous because I was afraid of dropping him bc of feeling disoriented. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who did Everything else — changed the baby, woke up when he cried and comforted him. I was so thankful because of how I was feeling.
    My sister had a baby last year who had difficulty breastfeeding — he lost 10% of his body weight because the nurses would not supplement with formula. This was my sisters third child, and the first 2
    she breastfed like a pro, she did great! She ended up finding out, after her 3rd sons horrible hospital stay, loss of weight, and degrading comments from a nurse suggesting it was just because she was a “first time mom” (hence the nurse did not know she successfully previously breastfed 2 babies)…my sister was thankfully discharged from this unhelpful hospital and her son was diagnosed the next day by their pediatrician with Pierre robin syndrome. A hole in the back of his mouth- poor baby was starving, and my sister was trying to tell the nurses he isn’t taking to breastfeeding. He needed a special bottle!
    My point is– there’s so many different situations that can occur. We love our babies and want the best for them, and then in some circumstances we’re too tired, disoriented or weak or be able to do the best, and we may need a nurses help. Or a baby may not be able to breastfeed – but nurses will be taught breastfeeding is the only option.
    I think breastfeeding is wonderful — It didn’t work for me, because of different circumstances. Hospitals just need to remember there are so many of these different circumstances – and we’re learning mothers, who can get tired. It’s best to do what’s best for the mom and baby – and not be so structured to rules that will not fit each scenario.

  3. I gave birth at a baby friendly hospital, Scripps Memorial in Encinitas, CA. My water broke unexpectedly at 33.5 weeks gestation, and after 3 days of emergency treatments and on and off labor, my daughter was born. She was sent straight to the NICU, so we skipped the rooming in. But, because of the breastfeeding emphasis, I was told I had to pump every 3 hours and attempt to breastfeed her twice a day. This is of course in addition to recovering from birth, preparing to bring home for a surprise baby 6 weeks early, and commuting to the hospital twice a day after I was discharged. Pumping, including the cleaning, took up 1 hour out of every 3 including overnight. I was so exhausted that after 2 nights I gave up and woke up only once to pump. When I admitted this to a NICU nurse, she gave me a huge guilt trip about supply, breast is best, etc and made me feel like a terrible mother. I tried the next night to wake up every 3 hours but just could not, so I began lying to the nurses about how often I was pumping. The worst part of our ordeal was that for the final week in the NICU, the only thing keeping our baby in the hospital was her inability to eat enough, requiring a feeding tube. This was partly because she wasted energy twice a day trying to breastfeed and getting nothing due to a weak suck, leaving no energy to drink her bottle. I think if breastfeeding wasn’t pushed for us, she would have come home sooner which would have be better for her and for us. When she did come home after a 2 week NICU stay, she could bottle feed but not breastfeed. Predictably, it was overwhelming having to pump, store and fortify the breast milk, clean pump parts, prepare bottles, clean bottles, and do everything else to care for this fragile newborn, so after 2 weeks we gave up and switched to formula with our pediatricians approval. She is now 11 months old, exclusively formula fed since 1 month old, and perfectly healthy. The push to breastfeed added unnecessary stress, guilt, and exhaustion to an already tough situation for our family, lengthened our NICU stay, and turned out to be all for naught. I can’t even imagine how much harder this would have been if we had another child, or if my husband couldn’t take the time off work, or if our health insurance hadn’t covered 100% of our very expensive and prolonged NICU stay.

    1. Noel I am so sorry for what you experienced. I have no words other than I’m sorry, and women shouldn’t be made to feel badly about things like this. Lots of hugs and love to you. xo

  4. I gave birth to all three of my babies at the same hospital within a 5 year period. My hospital experiences with my first two babies (2009 and 2010) were amazing. Fast forward 3 1/2 years with my third baby (2014) and I was very disappointed in how “baby friendly” the hospital had become. I knew when she was born that I wanted to formula feed my baby. The staff brought one bottle for her right away then tried to talk me out of formula feeding. My husband and I requested a second bottle a while later and they kept us waiting an unacceptable amount of time.. obviously hoping that I would be encouraged to give breastfeeding a try. The hospital provided several pacifiers when I had my first two babies so I assumed they’d provide them for my third also. When I asked I was told the hospital had a new “baby friendly” policy and no longer provided pacifiers. My husband had to go out and get a package while the baby lay there sucking on my pinky for comfort. When I had my older two they were taken away pretty quickly, cleaned up, bathed, dressed and brought back to me. I much prefer this process. With baby #3 they wiped her down but kept her in the delivery room with me, unbathed, hair unwashed and wearing only a diaper for six hours because of their new “baby friendly” policy. Personally I thought she’d be a lot more comfortable if she were bathed and dressed while we “bonded” but the hospital staff insisted otherwise. Once we were in the recovery room they finally brought in a nurse to give the baby an awkward sponge bath over her bassinet. They also strongly encouraged keeping the baby in my room as much as possible to the point where I felt like I had to give explanations every time I sent her to the nursery even when I was alone with the baby and had a splitting migraine or needed a shower. The way the “baby friendly” policies were pushed at my hospital are absurd, unpractical and totally uncalled for. At the very least they should hand out a check list sheet when you register or check in so you have and understand your options. I know some people probably prefer the “baby friendly” options but it should be the mother’s choice as to how “baby friendly” she wants her hospital stay to be.

    1. You’re right, baby-friendly hospitals can not give out pacifiers, that’s clearly stated in their guidelines. I also agree with your last point (well all your points) that if hospitals are switching to this baby-friendly format they should inform people ahead of time about what to expect. This entire thing just takes choices away from moms and it’s wrong on many levels. In my opinion.

  5. To me it can be summed up like this:

    Mandatory rooming in (where you’re by yourself with minimal nurse support) is as bad as mandatory nurseries (where your child is taken from you at X time and returned at Y time).

    The same way mandatory breastfeeding (formula is only given when you’ve signed a form in triplicate, in blood while reciting the LLL code) is as bad as mandatory formula feeding (where your child is given formula and your own choices don’t count).

    Extremes will never work, what we need is some middle path where parents have a voice and a choice. Where we can choose rooming in or a nursery for a few hours; can choose breastfeeding, combo-feeding or formula feeding and be given the support needed promptly, respectfully and willingly. Is that really too much to ask?

  6. My oldest son was born before baby friendly was a thing and I hated that it seemed the default that they kept wanting to take him to the nursery. The nurse kept giving me a hard time when she saw me awake at night nursing. I didn’t have a baby so I could get more sleep, I had a baby to be his mom. I hated the struggle to find support for breastfeeding and keeping him near me. Last year I gave birth to twins at a baby friendly hospital and I loved it. No one tried to take them, they were set up to do all the tests in my room and no one interfered with our nursing. The nurses were there to help me when I needed them. I’m so confused to read all of the comments about wanting someone to take the baby away because it’s my worst case scenario. I understand everyone is different, perhaps mothers who may want a nursery should just not choose a baby friendly hospital. I personally will be going back to mine this summer to give birth again with a lighter heart knowing I won’t have to fight the staff to keep my baby close.

    1. I think it’s great you had a good experience. I think the whole point of this is that the baby friendly hospital thing is like a one-size-fits-all program when care should really be individualized to the unique needs and desires of each mom. Some moms can’t imagine not having their new baby away from them and some moms really feel they need a break and want to use the nursery. Both scenarios are totally OK! What’s right for one person isn’t necessarily right for someone else and I think people at least still deserve the choice. Just my two cents! Thanks for commenting.

  7. I delivered my daughter 2 years ago at Hartford Hospital, which is a “baby-friendly” place. We were able to use the nursery the first night, but she was brought back in to nurse every couple hours. Still worth it for the overall sleep though! But the second night we were told she had to stay with us, even though we asked for her to be roomed out. I’m not sure what the point of having people start off on their parenting journey by being sleep deprived is!

    The nurse on the first night was perfectly nice and understanding about using the nursery, but the second night was a complete switch. If they had been reversed, I’m sure we would have had a much more negative view of our stay at HH. Do the people requiring 24/7 room-ins remember what it’s like to give birth? I had a fast and simple delivery but I was still exhausted after and hardly mobile. I do remember the second night nurse saying it was to get us used to the way it’ll be at home, but at least there no one is waking me up every hour to check vitals!

    I’ll have to look into their policies more when we get around to having another child. The nursery is essential to my sanity for the first night.

  8. I delivered both of my girls at the Hospital of Central Connecticut, the first in 2010 (literally the week they announced they were working toward Baby Friendly) and the second in 2013. With the first I had a high risk induction due to preeclampsia and had to be on mag sulfate during labor and for 24 hours after her birth. The labor and delivery really did a number on me and you’d think I’d have wanted to send her to the nursery, but I didn’t. It actually really upset me that at the time the hospital still required babies to go to the nursery for assessments during every nursing shift. It didn’t matter if she was due to eat and I hated that I “had” to let my baby go for an hour or more. They promised they’d bring her back if she was hungry but between the stress of delivery and the crazy hormones, it really caused a lot of anxiety that she couldn’t stay with me 24/7. When I delivered our second daughter the hospital had fully implemented the Baby Friendly steps and it was SUCH a great experience. Every assessment and procedure for her was done in the room. There was even better breastfeeding support from the IBCLCs and nurses. The only time the baby left my side was 12 hours before discharge when she went for her hearing screening, and she was back in 15 minutes. I was very happy that my baby could stay with me without the interruptions to go to the nursery – but I was told that if I needed to take a break, to just let my nurse know and they’d take care of her for a while.

    I agree with you that moms should have the choice. The Baby Friendly hospital initiative does not require that nurseries are eliminated or can’t be used – they require that hospitals promote and practice rooming-in so that healthy babies can stay with their moms and routine procedures/assessments are done in the delivery room or postpartum room rather than in a central nursery.

    These steps are important, evidence-based actions to support moms who choose to breastfeed. Having experienced it without and with the steps implemented in the same hospital, I personally choose Baby Friendly.

    1. No, they are actually taking the nurserirs away. I went to visit my niece and they converted the nursery to a classroom to teach room in benefits…

  9. I delivered at UMASS Memorial in Worcester (not CT but close by!) a year ago and they do rooming in, but our first evening there, the nurse said she could take my son for the night if we wanted. We were going to keep him with us, but around midnight we decided I needed sleep. He was in the nursery for 3 hours until it was time up nurse him, then after I nursed he went back for another 2 hours. We did the same thing the second night. I remember feeling awful about sending him away, but I think it’s very important to give exhausted new moms the option to use a nursery!

  10. With my first I decided to breastfeed and my hospital “helped” me a lot in information and such. They tried to teach me comfortable holds and such, I was there for 48 hours and my nipples were already bleeding, my baby cried constantly and I begged them to take her to the nursery for a little bit, even an hour so I could sleep. They gave me dirty looks, she was gone 3 hours and I finally got some sleep. I kept telling them how badly it hurt to breastfeed, and they told me “I would get used to it”, they made me feel like it was my fault. I found out months later after giving up on bf that my Daughter had a lip tie, very prominent. No one even looked at maybe she had a problem, she was starving. My 2nd daughter, same hospital, I told them I decided to formula feed right off, they helped me with information on breastfeeding but told me a LITTLE bit on how to feed her formula. and a few tips on how to help me dry up. She stayed with me and it was a wonderful experience. They are great if you are okay, but horrible if you really need help with something like bf’ing, and sleep. North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, I will still choose them over any other hospital because my care is really amazing, but lacking in the one area I really needed… All because of no nursery. 😦

  11. Nurseries should be available to give moms a break when they need it, without being made to feel guilty or ashamed. Everyone has differing circumstances and reasons why it is helpful to have their baby spend time in the nursery. St. Francis Hospital in Hartford still has a nursery available, and moms are welcome to have their babies spend time there when they need some rest.

  12. I gave birth to both of my girls (2.5 years apart) at St. Francis- when they didn’t have a rooming in policy. I sent both girls to the nursery for both nights we were there- they brought me each of my daughters when it was time to nurse them- then I promptly sent them back. I knew that I needed my rest before i was going to go home and not have awesome nurses to help me. I gave birth and successfully breastfed both of my girls (still breastfeeding one of them). I am not pro or anti breasfeeding, but I just want to say that successful breastfeeding is absolutely possible- even when the babies spend both nights in the nursery. The “baby friendly” or “rooming in” policy takes the choice away from the parents/mothers, which I find the most disturbing. There is so much you don’t have control over in the while birthing process, then they take choice away from you? My guess is that it all comes down to money for the hospital- they can clear out the nursery and add more patient rooms now. I’m really annoyed at this new policy- i think it should be parent (mother) choice, and that should be the final call.

  13. I delivered at a baby friendly hospital in the suburbs of Chicago and was very disappointed in my experience. Not only did I have my newborn in the room with me which made rest and recovery difficult, I also had the misfortune of delivering at a hospital that didn’t grasp the concept of night time being quite time. They entered my room loudly. Spoke in normal loud voices despite me whispering and asking them to keep voices down. Slammed doors upon entering and leaving…. I work at a hospital myself. Night shift too, and I know how to enter a room and not wake someone. They need to be taught that.
    The worse part of my experience was that I feel they just forgot about us. The door was closed and the call light was off, so in their minds we never needed to be checked in on. I had a horrible time breastfeeding. My baby wouldn’t latch. Milk wasn’t coming in… I would request interventions, I kept saying it doesn’t feel like he’s sucking right. They never seemed bothered. I was discharged from the hospital with a hungry baby who I found out had lost just under 15% of his birthweight. I’m thinking some red flags should’ve gone off then. After these experiences I can promise if I have another child I will be delivering at another hospital for certain.

  14. Until I got teary reading this article and comments I think I had been blocking out part of my hospital experience! I gave birth at Hartford Hospital last April after a long induction and a very fast delivery. I had lots of “repair work” done after baby’s arrival and was not able to take much in the way of pain medication due to some other health needs. I had read all of the fairy tales about breastfeeding and rooming in and was looking forward to it all…it was not until I was exhausted, in pain and stuggling to satisfy my incessant sucker that reality clobbered me over the head. My husband had to juggle our business and being with me and the new babe so I had to be alone for much of the day. During the middle of our second night after babe’s birth we hit the wall! I had just held the baby for almost 12 hours straight because she would have nothing to do with being put down. I was having an internal melt – down and thinking “what the hell have I done”? The nurses had all been sweet but just kept reminding me to not fall asleep while I had the baby in the bed and suggesting I put her down so I could rest…as if anyone could rest with a screeching newborn 2 feet away! FINALLY, our kind and experienced night nurse took control. She said she would be taking the baby for a while to let us get a little rest, she quietly left and snuck back in the room with the baby a couple hours later. Those 2 hours were enough to revive my husband and I and help me start the day eager to learn how to soothe my babe instead of terrified that we were all on a sinking ship. That awesome nurse did what was best for me and my babe…but the whole thing felt like a dirty little secret shared between us that none of us were to speak of. I felt like I had failed a little to need a break and that the nurse was taking a bit of a professional risk by accepting the baby for a while.
    In spite of having actually taken a 2 hour break from my newborn at the.hospital, I have EBF since the beginning but I give credit to that to my own persistence and the help I sought in the community after I was discharged.
    The only negative staff interaction I had while in the hospital was with the lactation consultant who left me in a puddle of tears after dismissing my concerns and questions.
    I feel like people were trained to be “baby fiendly” by saying the right things and following a protocol, but there was a disconnect with truly engaging with us and meeting our needs. I hope the system evolves into a more open and supportive one that meets the needs of each family individually.
    Wow…feels good to get this off of my chest!

    1. Thank you SO much for sharing your story Meghan. I’m so glad you had that nurse that was willing to help you (on the sly). I, of course, totally agree with you about there being a disconnect in truly meeting individual needs. That’s the problem with the baby-friendly policy, in my opinion. Taking away women’s choices and not looking at each new mom individually, what are her unique needs? There are many moms that want to do 24 hour rooming in and that’s totally OK! But for moms that need a break they should be able to use the nursery, without feeling guilty about it!

    2. I had a similar experience at Hartford Hospital. Although my husband stayed with me the entire entire time (this was our first baby), the night nurses politely expressed the benefits of rooming in and nursing often and always followed up by telling me the nursery was there if we needed it.

      I specifically replied to you, Meghan, because one of the lactation consultants left me embarrassed and in tears. She assumed it was okay to expose me in front of visitors (let’s just say we weren’t that close) and have them watch the manual expression video “in case I needed support.” I kept trying to excuse my shellshocked visitors. All the other staff was great, but I had anxiety about nursing in public for months afterwards.

      1. Can I ask, when the nurse spoke about the benefits of rooming in, did it make you feel guilty about considering using the nursery? I fear that happens a lot, that moms ask about it, are then told about why it’s better to room in and then are afraid to push and ask again to use the nursery.

  15. I gave birth this December at DayKimball in Putnam. We love the nursing staff and overall had a very positive experience. The 2nd night at the hospital my husband had to leave me to be home with our toddler. He asked the nurse if they could take the baby if I needed help throughout the night. They said no. That night the baby was inconsolable, cluster feeding, and I did not sleep a wink. I was recovering from delivery and felt terrible everytime I had to call a nurse that night. They always came willingly and were helpful but I could have used a break. In general I agree with and am happy with the baby friendly ideals but I certainly think that they should be able to offer the nursey or support while you are there for two days. I got a call within the week to pay our bill of nearly $2,000. Ugh.

  16. With my first child, rooming in was no big deal. I’d had an emergency c-section and was pretty shaken up by it so my husband stayed 24/7 with me and the baby and I felt secure and happy with her in the room us. But the logistics of that change with a second child when there is no “us”. I gave birth to my second daughter in a new hospital, as my OBGYN had switched hospitals and I followed him. My husband was home with our older child at night so I was alone. It was a big deal in her little life and shipping her off to family or friends seemed like a bad idea, we wanted to keep her life as consistent as possible which meant sleeping in her own bed with dad home while mom was in the hospital. I’d had a repeat c-section and was still hooked up to the catheter (basically I could not stand up or move around much at all) and after my husband left to go home with my older child, I was told the nursery was closed and I had to keep my newborn with me for the night. This was like 8 hours after I’d given birth. I couldn’t move even to put her in the bassinet and if I had gotten her in the bassinet, I wouldn’t have been able to get her back out. So I layed in bed all night holding her in my arms afraid to fall asleep and drop her and not be able to pick her back up. Every time the nurses came in to check my vitals I asked them if they could take her so I could sleep and they told me the nursery was closed. It was a nightmare. The second day I asked if she could go to the nursery during the day so I could sleep and they said they’d take her for an hour or so but since I was breastfeeding (which was going fine and I’d done it without issue with my first child as well) they would bring her back to me for the majority of the day. They took her for about an hour and then brought her back and told me she’d cried the entire time and that she needed to be with me. They also mentioned in passing that she’d choked on mucus and that it was a common thing for c-section babies to do, so I needed to keep a close eye on her and suction her quickly with the bulb syringe if it happened again. I suggested that since I was still on the catheter and alone and hadn’t slept in over 24 hours since having a baby, maybe it would be better if she was with medical staff to be kept an eye on. I was told it was best for her to be with me and then the nurse left. Again, I spent the entire day and night holding her (except when I had visitors) and trying not to fall asleep b/c I was afraid to drop her and not be able to pick her up. On the third day I was able to get up and walk around a bit and she did have a mild choking issue that I was able to help her with. SCARY!! The morning of the 4th day I signed myself out of the hospital early b/c I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt that at least if I was home with my husband, I’d be able to sleep between feedings and wouldn’t have to hold her all night. I basically went 72 hours with no sleep and maybe 2-3 hours without holding my newborn after having a c-section. Personally, I found the treatment I received at the “baby friendly” hospital to be nothing short of abusive, but never really knew what to do about it. I did complain to the hospital and I told my obgyn about it (he was horrified), but I never followed up to see if they’d changed their policy.

    1. Meredith this is horrifying and I fear is happening to new moms far too often. Thank you for sharing your story, it really helps.

    2. This is unbelievable and absolutely abusive. A c-section is major surgery – do hospitals expect other post-surgical patients to get up and resume their normal activities after 15 minutes?

      I am due in April and am now worried that my hospital (Norwalk H) has the 24/7 policy, will be checking ASAP. My previous 3 births (all born in a different city/state) were vaginal, but I still desperately needed rest after birth and thankfully my previous hospital had a nursery. Husbands/partners in families with multiple children often don’t have the luxury of hanging out with a mom for 2-3 days, helping to care for the newborn. I will have the other 22 hours of the day to bond with my baby, 2 hours is not going to damage him/her. For moms who like this, great. But don’t force it on all new moms or guilt those who choose to send their babies to a new nursery for a brief rest. We/they are not bad mothers and this is not a contest.

      This is my 4th, so I don’t want to hear any nonsense from any nurse or lactation consultant about bonding or best breastfeeding practices. I’ve been there, done that, and have a serious axe to grind with nasty lactation consultants from my prior experiences (who left me sobbing, seriously depressed, and feeling guilty for months/years after being unable to breastfeed for longer than 3 weeks). Shame on these people for putting new moms through such abuse in such a critical period – the post partum time for many is horrible and difficult enough without this.

  17. I gave birth to our son in NH back in 2013. All the books I read leading up to the birth encouraged me to take advantage of the nursery so I could sleep… so, on my tour of the facilities a few weeks prior to the birth, I asked about the nursery. It was then that I found out that the hospital had a 24/7 rooming in policy. The nurse giving the tour did mention that accommodations could be made if needed, but that it was encouraged that the baby stayed in the room with us. I nearly broke into tears (preggo hormones full blown!) for fear that I’d never get any rest and also for feeling stupid for asking what I thought was a basic question that all my books mentioned. As it turned out, once I had our son, I really didn’t want him to leave the room, but I also had a pretty non-traumatic childbirth and he was a pretty good roommate – only fussed when he was hungry. 🙂 Had any of those factors been different, I might have felt differently about wanting him in a nursery. If nothing else, leading up to the birth would have been a little less nerve-wracking if I’d known I had at least the option of the nursery, even if I didn’t opt to use it.

  18. I had a very positive experience with the rooming in policy. For my mental health, I would have gone crazy if my son was taken out of the room. I couldn’t be at peace not knowing where or how he was. I was actually upset that they didn’t have a better bassinet where he could sleep closer to me. Even for all of his medical procedures, one of us went with him. For me, I expected to be tired and have no sleep. For me, I know that being a mom goes along with being tired. I never once even felt like I wanted to ask for the nursery and there was one night where I didn’t sleep at all. I love the policy. I believe it helped me and my son bond and absolutely was necessary for the breastfeeding process. I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, that is my experience and my feelings. If other moms feel differently and want differently, that’s their right.

    1. I’m glad it worked out for you! I think the tricky thing here is the “forced” part. If a mom wants to do 24/7 rooming in she should be able to! But if she does find she needs the nursery she should have that option as well. Thanks for commenting Krystal!

    2. Yes!! For my first, I also was really glad they didn’t take the baby away at all. The thought of him leaving my side gave me major anxiety. However, with my 2nd, I was just too exhausted to even care for him — and couldn’t pick him up our of his jaundice therapy bed– and my husband was home with our 2 year old, so it was all on me. I love the idea of offering rooming in, but I was really shocked when they pretty much refused to let me use the nursery for even a 1 hr power-nap for baby #2. 😦

  19. Thank you for bringing this up again! I remember your first post and thanking god that Hartford Hospital still had a nursery when I had my son in 2010. I’m now pregnant again and due in June, and this reminds me to bring it up at my next appt and call the hospital! I know they have a 24/7 rooming in policy, but I’m curious what happens if you ask. They can document away for all I care; no one can make me feel guilty for doing what I need to be able to rest and confidently bring my son home. I developed anxiety after my first son was born and admittedly am anxious about more anxiety after my second! So I’m curious about how they handle the mental health of a mother – sounds like it’s the luck of the draw as far as having a nice nurse or not. But overall, yeah, this is total BS and should be changed! People just need to give the all or nothing breastfeeding push a rest and let mothers make choices that work for them!

  20. YUP. I also gave birth at a “baby-friendly” hospital, and had a hard birth with my 2nd. I passed out (twice!) and Josh was jaundiced. I was weak and really exhausted, and Josh was SCREAMING his head off in his light therapy bed. I asked the nurse to please take him to the nursery so I could get even a few hours of sleep (knowing I had a 2 year old waiting for me at home!), and she really snapped at me, saying “Well, I COULD do that, but just know he will STILL be crying there– he’ll just be crying ALONE without you.” So…instead of sleeping, I spent the night sobbing into his little light bed holding a pacifier in his mouth. One of the worst nights ever. Not to mention I felt terribly guilty for even asking!! 😦

  21. I apparently gave birth in one of those “baby-friendly’ hospitals. I desperately wanted my son to go to the nursery for a few hours after the second night of NO sleep. The nurse took him but brought him back almost immediately because he was crying. She told me I had to breast feed him. It was an extremely frightening, traumatic, negative experience. No new mother should have to go through those feelings just hours after giving birth.

  22. I gave birth to both of my girls in Chicago–8 and 10 years ago (at Prentice Women’s Hospital, Northwestern). The best advice I got before going in for the first (which I almost ignored) was to take advantage of the nursery. Given how exhausted I was after my first (24 hours of labor), I needed the sleep. Both of my daughters were exclusively breastfed, but the nurses were able to keep her a little longer between feedings and every additional 15-30 minutes of sleep made a world of difference for my sanity. For my second, she mostly roomed-in with me, but I do recall sending her to the nursery one night, knowing I was going home to a 2 year old and a newborn and knowing that one more night with a little extra sleep would do me some good.

  23. I gave birth to my daughter about a year ago at the Hospital of Central CT (New Britain General). I believe they have a 24/7 policy, but I pretty much assumed she would be hanging out with me in the room the whole time anyway. There was one night though when my husband and I were simply exhausted, I had just finished nursing her, and nothing either of us did would stop her crying. So, I asked a nurse to take her for a few hours so we could sleep. I can’t remember if either of use used the word “nursery,” but wherever she took her, she did so without any comments or questions. She just said “okay, I’ll be back later” and it was great. That was the only time I really felt like I needed a break, so it might have been different if I asked for this repeatedly. In general, I thought the nurses there were amazing, and that they were looking out for me and my well-being just as much as my daughter’s. I actually got a call from Baby Friendly about a week afterwards, asking me about my experience. Almost all of their questions were about how much the hospital pushed breastfeeding. Luckily for me I guess, I wanted to and could breastfeed. Even though I was giving the “right” answers, this aggressive Baby Friendly woman was really stressing me out, and I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I didn’t breastfeed. And if she was this aggressive with a woman who just gave birth, then I’m sure they are even more pushy with the hospital staff, and I am impressed that the staff did not put any of that on me. I struggled to breastfeed and not once did they make me feel like if there was the chance that I couldn’t do it, that I would be a failure. If we have another baby, I am actually looking forward to my hospital stay.

    1. Wow, they actually called you afterwards to talk about the baby-friendly thing?? I think you’re right, if it stressed you out and you DID breastfeed, can you imagine how that call would have felt to someone who didn’t?? I’m glad you had a good experience other than that but holy cow, that’s blowing my mind right now!

      1. Yes, the Baby Friendly organization itself called me and asked if I would take a survey about my experience, as if they were checking up on the hospital to make sure they were following all the “rules.” So obviously my experience is extremely limited, but it seems like the Baby Friendly organization needs to evaluate how they are making mothers feel (as opposed to the hospital staff who made me feel great).

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