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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.