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Hospital breastfeeding on an adult surgical ward – Jennett

I'm 35 and had my 4th baby, Clara, last year. First girl after 3 boys. I found out during pregnancy last year that I had gallstones. I was living with the pain after having Clara due to her being so breast dependent. She's a bottle refuser and doesn't eat much yet. Still feeds multiple times in the night and we bedshare.

End of July this year I was really ill. Bad pain, vomiting and hadn't passed urine for 24 hours. I went to an out of hours as it was Sunday and I had bilirubin markers in my sample. Straight to hospital.

We went to Hospital A and went straight into surgical care. I told them about Clara, who was 8 months old at the time, and she and my husband were welcomed too. I had blood tests and they thought I had a blockage as well as cholecystitis. I had to stay in. They gave us a side room so Clara and Lee (my hubs) could stay. They brought him meals and cups of tea with mine. I told them I bed-shared so they gave us lots of pillows and showed us how to raise the bedsides so I could get comfy and safe.

I ended up staying 3 nights. I was moved to ward 23 the next day and was put into a general ward all day but was promised a side room by night-time. We got it after a shuffle around. Lee was still catered for too. The staff were absolutely amazing. Clara was the star, everyone kept coming to see her!

I was offered my op on the Thursday but due to inflammation I declined and was put on the cancellation list. I had my surgery 2 weeks later.

We were admitted to pre-op but baby and Lee weren't allowed in. I explained I wanted to feed Clara up until my op so again a side room (an office actually) was found and cups of tea brought for Lee! None for me though as I was nil by mouth!

The surgeon came to see me (who I met previously on the ward when I was in) and congratulated my still feeding. He asked what our plan was and I said to go home after surgery to the baby but IF needed I had built up a freezer supply of expressed breastmilk since my last admission. Clara won't drink from a bottle but will from a cup so I knew she would stay hydrated if not comforted. The doc was very pleased.

I had my op and came round in agony. The op hadn't gone to plan and my gallbladder had ruptured inside and I'd been pumped with morphine. The doc was most apologetic but I had to stay in overnight with no baby under obs. We had prepared for that eventuality thankfully. Clara was very upset overnight but was allowed into my ward at 8:00 the next morning. I was discharged that evening.

From my perspective the hospital and staff were amazing. I was terrified over how Clara may be separated from me the first time but they went to every effort to help our situation. I took my breast pumps in with me in case of staying in after my op and I was too poorly to get out of bed (and on a drip) but was quite engorged. A nurse came and helped me to get comfy to pump and took the resulting milk away to dump too. Again, more than was expected. I did have one snot of a male nurse ask me when I was in with the infection, why I didn't just send her home with formula to make everyone's life easier. I said to make your life easier you mean???

The pharmacist came to see me before I was discharged to see what I was willing to take. I said paracetamol and ibuprofen to which she was pleased and got them sorted for me. They kept offering me more oramorph and codeine but I refused. Thankfully I have a high pain tolerance.

I hope other mums find their voice to make known their wishes. I'm quite forthright and confident so I spoke up straight away about needing Clara with me. I know some mums just do as they’re told by staff without question, so the option to keep baby with them needs to be more widely known.

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