As mothers, we know guilt. If guilt was a college degree, we’d have earned a PhD by our child’s first birthday.
Here’s my guilt list…
- I didn’t take my prenatal vitamins regularly enough.
- I had an epidural with my third child.
- I didn’t eat enough fruits and veggies during pregnancy.
- My house was too messy (still is).
- I didn’t read to my children enough.
- I didn’t give them enough “tummy time”.
- I put my first child to sleep in my bed.
- I worked full-time so my children went to daycare.
- I was late getting a couple vaccines.
- I was a little hit or miss with the well-baby visits.
- I never made my kids wear helmets…
Actually, as I write this, maybe I should be expecting a visit from the state any minute now.
But rest easy…I just sent my first child to college and he shows signs of being a productive member of society. So now I don’t worry as much about “my list”. But many of you are in it…you are still pregnant, recently delivered or have young children. This may make it more difficult for you to expose what you consider your short comings, but you aren’t alone.
I recently had a conversation with a friend about breastfeeding and guilt, even though her son is 7 years old. He’s been weaned for a very long time, but she still feels terrible guilt for “failing” at breastfeeding. Her story is one that I have heard all too often. She planned on breastfeeding, but once the baby was born she couldn’t get the baby latched. It hurt, and she didn’t “have any milk” so out of frustration and the fear of starving her baby, she turned to formula. When I asked for more details about her hospital experience she described an all-too-familiar story. Her son was born, immediately taken to a warmer, wrapped in blankets, handed to her without any breastfeeding education, taken to the nursery and given a pacifier. She was not provided with good lactation education and then sent home to fend for herself.
The scenario my friend described is the perfect recipe for breastfeeding failure and unfortunately, it’s the recipe that hospitals have been serving for far too long.
The Baby Friendly initiative is changing that. Created in 1991, Baby Friendly was a World Health Organization and UNICEF collaboration to identify hospitals who were implementing breastfeeding appropriate practices in their birth facilities. Twenty five years later, less than 20 percent of babies are born in Baby Friendly hospitals, but many hospitals are working to change that and Spartanburg Medical Center is one of them! At the heart of achieving “Baby Friendly” are the following ten steps:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
- Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
- Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
- Practice rooming in to allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.
Implementing these ten steps require a huge culture shift for hospitals, families and even communities as a whole but the rewards will be incredible! With more mothers reaching their breastfeeding goals and who knows … maybe shortening our “guilt lists” just a bit …