Tuesday, May 20, 2008


A mother cries over her newborn. He is barely 22 hours old. He has been born for less than a day.

Why is she crying?
Is he sick?

No, thankgoodness.

But, what is that in his arm?
It is an IV access. Since birth, her newborn has travelled by wheeled bassinet to the NICU for IV antibiotics every 6-8 hours. He spends about 30 minutes in the NICU while he receives his dose; depending on the nursing staff he might be brought back sooner. He is receiving these antibiotics prophylactically, just in case. His mom was positive for Group BetaStrep and received only one dose of antibiotics before delivery. She came into the hospital in active labor and simply delivered too quickly to receive the second dose. Her membranes were ruptured less than 6 hours total, her baby was full term, but still; according to hospital protocol, she should have received 2 doses of IV antibiotics before delivery to protect her infant from the possibility of infection.

Well, isn't she silly to cry like that!

The hospital is simply making sure that her baby is safe and doesn't get a serious infection that has a particularly high mortality rate!


Well, she isn't crying about that. She is actually very grateful about her infant being born healthy and she is grateful that he is receiving such excellent medical attention, just in case he were to be at risk for infection, even if the incident of GBS infection in her case is actually very rare.

So, why the Tears?

The Neonatologist says that her baby needs some Formula supplementation! She is suddenly feeling very inadequate and insecure. This is her first baby. During her pregnancy she decided that she wished to breastfeed. She hoped to be able to avoid formula, at least in these early days after birth, when his digestive system is most sensitive.

Well, why does the Neonatologist recommend supplementation?

When the baby was in the NICU receiving his antibiotics, the doctor observed the baby sucking on his fists and acting irritable!

Did he assess a breastfeeding session?
Did he assess the infant's weight loss since birth?
Did he assess the infants wet/stool diaper output?


Does this kind of thing happen everyday in hospitals?


The NICU nurse returned the baby to the room with formula in the bassinet. The NICU nurse tells the mother that the doctor has recommended Formula.

Now this new mother is worried, concerned, scared.
Maybe she doesn't have enough milk? Maybe the baby really IS hungry and unsatisfied? Maybe his IV access hurts when she pulls him in close to nurse.

She has a healthy baby.

now this mother's head is full of Worries.
now she holds her baby in to nurse Tentatively.
now her eyes are full of Tears.


pinky said...

I didn't know sucking on your fist was an indication for similac? WTF????

tie-dyed doula said...

I am crying now reading this. I also feel very frustrated with policies and such in the hospital. It reminds me of a situation that was brought to my attention recently and I am screaming on the inside with my hands tied. Read my blog title "keep your policies off my body" if you ever get a chance. Thanks for sharing!
Shine On!!

Yehudit said...

That is so awful. Here GBS+ve mum with well term baby and no other risk factors would go to the postnatal ward and feed as she pleased (breastfeeding or formula) - and get some help with feeding too. Certainly would be reassured about milk supply (and if formula feeding, told that just because the bottle is 90ml does not mean you should give 90ml!). Baby obs done every four hours for 24 hours. Mum would also be told symptoms to watch out for. No prophylactic IV antibiotics. If other risk factors and prophylactic if IV abx given then (if beds available) Mum would go with baby to transitional care ward, and IV abx given on the ward with mum right there.

pinky said...

Time for a new post. I check you every day......Oblige me....

Jessie said...

I just discovered this blog. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a new nurse (this is my second career). After my 1st birth (during nursing school) I discovered how passionate I am about giving women a voice in birth and helping them know the truth. It is the policies and things you write about though that make me wonder if I could really be an L & D nurse. I am working in Peds right now. I have friends from nursing school who have started in OB and I just want to lecture them on what to watch out for. Of course I don't. Unfortunately I will probably need to birth Baby #2 in the hospital. I got severe pre-e with #1 that was missed/overlooked by the MDs (even when I told them I knew something was wrong - even when they didn't follow-up on the horrendous labs) and frankly am nervous about getting the disease again. Enough for now - can't wait to hear more stories and thoughts.

twoluvcats said...

Oh! this could have been me with baby #1....except I wasn't even GBS+...they just decided my baby needed monitoring and then formula, which soon escalated to an IV and full monitoring & tests.

Pregnant with #2 and having it at home.

Thank you for sharing your stories. Its so great to hear there are medical professionals that recognize the problems with 'modern' L&D....makes me feel less crazy!

Nicole said...

I just found your blog ..this one almost made me cry. How sad that women are made to feel that they are not adequate enought to nourish their babies. Like Pinky said......sucking on fist (and being irritable????) is an indication for similac? Crazy, someone should tell that neonatologist to take a breastfeeding course!

Mount Belly Mama said...

Hey, if you get a chance read my post on my hospital tour... you might find it, uh.. interesting.


Kayce Pearson said...

This kind of happened with my daughter... I hate how doctors can make women feel so completely worthless after having a baby. It's wrong.

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Luezette said...

this is so crazy! now the new mom is feeling inadequate all because her child is sucking on his fists? oh give me a break! what the doctor/hospital should have done was encouraged the mom. now her anxieties may make it SEEM as if she doesn't have enough milk. ridiculous! shame on them!

Midwife International said...

Very sad and unfortunately common situation. That mother's autonomy was stripped from her by the hospital. This can no longer be the norm!

At Midwife International, we work to transform this norm through making childbirth universally natural, safe, and peaceful. The way in which we do this is through training midwife who are equipped to work in resource-constrained regions where maternal and child mortality is high and the need for midwives is the greatest. For more information, please visit: http://midwifeinternational.org/midwife-training/.

Thank you for sharing this story.
In solidarity with you and this mother & baby.