Hospital breastfeeding a child with Kawasaki's Disease – Marie
The first hospital we were admitted to was Hospital W and even though we were in a private room, it had windows onto the corridor. When I started to breastfeed, a nurse rushed round to draw all the curtains and close the door for 'my' privacy. Bearing in mind my son was very poorly, barely feeding and about to be put on a drip, this just made me self conscious.
In Hospital S we had a private room that had no windows so I had no problems here. Even though they were weighing nappies and asking me to write down how long and how often he fed for, they still didn't once mention formula, even though it would have been much easier to measure his intake. While we were there, we were sent to Hospital R for a scan and had to wait in a cubicle. Once again when I started breastfeeding, a nurse rushed over to draw all the curtains around which was just really uncomfortable. They then suggested I might like to use the feeding room which was more of a cupboard right down the corridor. I didn't want to make too much of a fuss, I was never sure whose benefit it was for - were there Mums that couldn't feed that were sensitive to breastfeeding Mums?
When we were admitted at Hospital R, they would come around each morning and distribute formula and bottles; each time I had to explain that I was breastfeeding and it would be a big deal. Some offered me the formula 'just in case', some just looked confused. Only one, more senior nurse, said “good for you”.
In the ward, they had visitor chairs with quite high arms that I found impossible to breastfeed in. We were admitted on a Saturday morning and for the first 2 nights they left the bed I slept in next to my son's cot there all day so I would sit cross legged on that or lie down and feed. Once Monday came, the new staff insisted the beds be put away. I asked if I could keep mine (I had a cubicle right at the end of the ward so was in nobody's way) and explained why but was told no (health and safety!). So I climbed into my son's cot and sat cross legged in there each time I fed him. One nurse said “well you need to be able to feed anywhere so you better get used to it”! The point was I was living in that cubicle! Feeding every 4 hours for 2 weeks! It's not like I'd been caught on the hop and had to have a one off awkward feed. Gosh, I can feel the frustration building in me again!
It's a difficult thing to change, it seems to be the culture rather than policy or procedure. Breastfeeding isn't expected or encouraged. I spoke to the mother of a premature baby who lived quite far away and had other children but was expressing and having to really keep pressure on the staff to make sure they gave the breast milk to her baby. She also resented the constant curtain pulling so you have to spend half an hour looking at the back of a curtain.