Beware of Baby Friendly Part 2

Ruth made an excellent observation after my previous blog.  She said “If you want breastfeeding to work, it’s a bad idea to introduce any artificial nipples (bottles or pacifiers) before breastfeeding is well established. Some babies can switch back and forth with no problems, but others completely lose the ability to nurse properly after being given a pacifier. So why take the risk when you don’t know how YOUR baby will respond?”

She is absolutely right.  I am pro-breast feeding to the core.  Nurses and lactation consultants in the hospital need to educate women about breast feeding, and about things like pacifiers and supplementary bottles that will undermine a woman’s ability to successfully nurse her baby.

But…..I know women who do not want to breast feed.  I have heard the reasons.  I wouldn’t make the choices they have made.  But I do not think a doctor or a hospital or a government should force a woman to breast feed her baby.  If she wants to bottle feed; if she wants to give a pacifier, the hospital should not forbid it in the name of “Baby Friendly.”

The case I mentioned in the previous blog, was not by any definition “Baby Friendly.  It was downright unfriendly.  The baby was born with a condition that necessitated him being under powerful lights for several days.  They were continually pricking his heal to draw blood.  He was stripped to a diaper and put in a bassinette without anything soft.  The parents’ hands were not allowed to give comfort under the lights.  He had to wear goggles to protect his eyes.  And that poor baby was hysterical.  He was flailing his arms and legs, and screaming – with the real possibility that he would knock off the goggles.  I thank God for the nurse who allowed DD’s friend to get out the pacifier she had hidden in her bag to sneak into the hospital.  The pacifier soothed him.  The treatment worked.  He is now at home and thriving.

Now to Part Two of DD’s experience in a “Baby Friendly” hospital.

DD is positive for Strep B.  This means that she has no Strep symptoms, but she has Strep B in her body including the birth canal.  Her small town doctor explained the situation to her during her first pregnancy.  He told her not to worry, and said that as soon as she arrived at the hospital they could start IV antibiotics and the baby would be fine.  DD’s water broke at home.  She got to the hospital, got the IV, and an hour and a half later she was holding her baby.  Everything was fine.

DD told the big city doctor that her labor was fast.  They discussed a birth plan that included an antibiotic IV.  But the afternoon DD went into labor her doctor was not at the hospital.  She was attended by a young doctor from the same clinic.  She arrived at the hospital 5 centimeters dilated, and they started the drip.  They asked her if she wanted an epidural or pain med, and she said that she was fine.

A short while later she was feeling the urge to push.  She asked the nurse to check her and was told that it was way too soon.  She insisted that they check her and she was at 8 centimeters.  Her water had not broken.

A few minutes later she was at 9 centimeters and the doctor came to check her.  The doctor said that she had to have two bags of IV with antibiotics before she would be allowed to deliver the baby because of Strep B protocols.

A few minutes later DD was at 10 centimeters.  This is the point where the baby is ready to be born.  Before the pain of one contraction ends, the pain of the next begins.  The doctor said she would not break DD’s water, and DD was not allowed to push.  DD asked for pain medication, and was told.  “Sorry.  Pain medication might make the baby drowsy, so it is only allowed between 5 and 8 centimeters.”  I guess that protocol is “friendly” to the baby, but what about the mother who is an agony?

DD said, “Mom I was shameless.  It was like those women in the movies.  I screamed and screamed and screamed.”  SIL was beside himself seeing his wife in this condition.  Only half of the first bag of IV had dripped in.  Protocol said she would have to endure this for six more hours.

After an hour and a half, DD’s water broke.  She said it exploded.  And two minutes later PB was born.  No “Baby Friendly” hospital protocol could stop childbirth at that point.

Here is the really scary, really unfriendly part.  SIL was watching for the birth of his son.  When the head came out, the doctor called out a code word followed by the number 2.  SIL watched the doctor unwind the cord twice from around Precious Baby’s head.

They did not give the baby to DD.  They took him to the side and jostled him to make him cry long and loud, then at last they gave him to his mother, skin to skin.  The doctor never told DD about the cord, and SIL didn’t tell her until two days later.

It still makes me angry and terrified at the same time to think of that baby in the birth canal, ready to be born for an hour and a half with the cord around his neck.

I have two more stories.  They will be in Part 3.


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