I work in a small community non-profit hospital where we have baby friendly accreditation. I agree with the idea of breastfeeding and have personally breastfed all my children. What I feel, however, is we at the hospital are made to be almost cruel about it. We cannot offer to our breastfeeding mom's to take the baby to the nursery for a few hours if they look like they are losing it. If a parent demands formula, we have to try to talk them out of it. Even when they come to L&D and have the mindset to formula feed their baby, the nurses have to try and talk them out of it. I understand the educating parents to the benefits of breastfeeding, and I understand explaining to parents why introducing formula can hinder successful breastfeeding, but I know of nurses in our facility that have literally told parents that formula is poison. We deal with primarily the hispanic culture, which often chooses to offer breast milk and formula, but while they are in our hospital we offer them no cultural support even when they tell us exactly how they nourished their previous children. Many of our patients are young, and economically poor as well. I just feel there has to be a better way because this isn't working. Our numbers of mom's who leave our hospital exclusively breastfeeding are dismal.
I've recently had the opportunity to work in the community and I'm shocked by how many mom's of different cultures and economic backgrounds are still exclusively breastfeeding or offering breast milk to their infants who were born extremely premature (24-26 weekers) and are now approaching the one year mark. In our level 2 nursery many of our babies leave after a few weeks or less and are on solely formula, even though pumping and breastfeeding were initiated in the beginning. We don't keep micro-preemies obviously, but we have babies generally 32 weeks and above. Somehow we are missing the mark here and I'm not entirely sure how.
My last pregnancy I had my baby at a hospital without the baby friendly accreditation and I received excellent lactation support. My baby lost over 10% of his weight so I had to initiate supplementation. I was devastated but the lactation nurse was so kind and caring and made me realize this was only a bump in the road. I supplemented until my milk fully came in and was able to stop offering formula shortly thereafter. When I compare my experience with what we do at my hospital I realized a few things. First of all the nurses offered to take my baby to the nursery at night. I didn't have to beg for that. They also asked if I wanted them to give my baby formula and keep him all night. I said no, please bring him back in 3 hours and I will feed him. I wasn't offended that they ASKED me if I wanted formula offered. At my hospital we can be "written up" if we offer the baby to stay in our nursery and if we offer formula be given. We don't even have a healthy newborn nursery. In fact, if our nursery is closed due to no "sick" babies we usually have to tell parents who ask if their baby can go there, "no, our nursery is closed".
I think I just feel that hospitals without the baby friendly accreditation are actually more "family friendly" or better stated mom AND baby friendly, than ours, but that's simply due to my limited experience as a patient with hospitals that aren't. As a mom and patient who believes in breastfeeding, I would have never delivered my babies at our hospital....but that only comes with my nursing experience there.