I realize that I am too late to join in on the November Carnival of Breastfeeding, but I figured I could share my story anyway.
We had planned to have Peanut at The University of Utah Hospital—even though it is 45 minutes away. We were living in Salt Lake City before I got pregnant, but moved to West Haven so that we could live with Curtis’s parents until Curtis graduates school. My OB/GYN (and later my midwife when I transferred to one in the same office) was in Salt Lake, the U of U hospital is the only Baby Friendly certified hospital in the state and very pro-natural birth, etc. We had a perfect birth plan and were well versed in what to do in nearly every situation regarding a hospital birth (thanks to our Bradley Method teacher Amy). The best laid plans of mice and men. I gave birth to Peanut on March 20th, 2009 at 1:30am in our bathroom after 33.5 hours of labor. Curtis caught her—still in her amniotic sac. Curtis’s parents were on the phone with 911. We were rushed in an ambulance to a hospital closer than the one we had planned.
I did not initiate breastfeeding within the first hour. I know that’s the golden rule, but it just couldn’t happen. I tried at home, but no one knew how to help me. Even after taking a class on breastfeeding, reading extensively about it, and attending La Leche League, my mind was entirely blank. I even ripped off my dress—in front of about 5-10 paramedics, 2 sherriffs, my in-laws, and of course my husband—trying to figure it out. I finally settled for cuddling with her skin to skin.
Once we got to the hospital, I was taken into a delivery-type room. A nurse there helped me breastfeed and then took Peanut over to the other side of the room to get checked while I was stitched up from tearing (on a side note, if I tear next time I’m not getting local anesthetic to get stitched). We went to the room and I ate and fell asleep.
We only stayed in the hospital for about a day and half, but it was enough that I never want to have a hospital birth. Since my blood pressure was high when I was admitted (I just had a baby in my bathroom! I would hope I would have high blood pressure!) and was strep B positive (obviously I didn’t get antibiotics during labor) nurses had to come in and check our vitals every 2 hours.
I was having problems getting Peanut to stay awake long enough to eat and positioning her correctly to latch. Every time one of the nurses came in to check our vitals, they would tell us to do something different. Some tried specific holds, some said I need to press my breast to make sure she can breathe, and there was even one who said she had no clue what-so-ever. Finally I talked to a lactation consultant who walked in, put Peanut on the breast, and walked back out. That was good for one feeding, but by the next one I was confused again. They also told me that I need to feed her on both sides for 10 minutes. While that’s good for initial supply, it made her projectile vomit once my milk came in. Would have been nice to know that I don’t need to continue to do that.
My biggest regret with breastfeeding in the hospital is that they told me I had to give Peanut Pedialyte. They told me her blood was too thick (I have no proof of this, but I’m convinced it was the vitamin K shot I didn’t even want to give her) and she needed it. I told them no bottles, so they luckily let me syringe feed her at the breast. A few hours later, they said her levels were normal. Considering she just spit up all that we gave her, I don’t think it was the Pedialyte that fixed it.
I still consider Peanut exclusively breastfed because the Pedialyte was for medical reasons, but I don’t want to go through that again. I don’t want to go through all of the silly procedures and I don’t want to sleep in a hospital bed. I truly believe that hospitals are for sick people, not healthy moms giving birth. Though this is something I wouldn’t have even thought of before having my Peanut, I plan on doing a home birth next time around.