Is hospital the best place to recover from giving birth? Once returned to the main maternity ward I failed to sleep at all. All around me was a tremendous din of crying babies. Surely there was something seriously wrong? All the newborns were crying; was it from shock, from separation from their mothers as they lay alone in plastic cots, seeking milk and the familiar warmth of bodies they had so recently left? The primeval sound haunted me. They were communicating in the only way they knew. Why was everyone ignoring them?
Is hospital the best place to learn how to breastfeed? An unfamiliar, clinical, stressful environment full of risk fuelled rules? I was instructed to feed Ewan in the communal nursery because it was apparently too risky to feed him in bed. I repeated the process of getting out of bed (no mean feat having just had a serious abdominal operation), and slowly pushing Ewan in his cot to the nursery. I was prohibited from carrying him in case I, his mother, dropped him. I managed to feed him sitting upright in a bright room. I was exhausted. The room was filled with other women who looked in a similar state of shock and dishevelment. I craved a familiar environment in which to recover and bond with my son.
At last I was transferred to Darley Dale Birthing Centre, where both Ewan and I received an excellent standard of care. Beginning to feed Ewan independently after four days was hugely satisfying. I could walk short distances and care for myself again. Sharing a room with one other mother instead of twelve enabled me to sleep a little. Even so, Ewan still had to sleep separately from me, making breastfeeding exhausting and more difficult. For many reasons bed-sharing isn’t practised in state hospitals in the UK. Still, a cot which slots onto the bed would facilitate and aid breastfeeding, enabling baby to have unrestricted access to the breast, so essential in those vital early days.
About Caroline Jane Cole
I am a full-time Mum to Ewan James, born in June 2010. When I get chance, I write on natural parenting issues, on topics including sustained breastfeeding, baby-wearing, bed-sharing, home-education and natural living, for parenting magazines and websites. I am an active member of La Leche League GB and a trained breastfeeding peer supporter. See my website; www.stoneageparenting.com.