I was so excited about holding and feeding my son for the first time, I had imagined it a thousand times while I was pregnant. What I didn’t know was that there were a thousand different factors that could interfere with that moment that I pictured in my head. Things did not go as I expected, which happens often during the process of childbirth. I was taught once again that I need to be flexible and I can’t control everything. Although some things do need to change…
When my son was born I planned to have skin on skin contact right after they took his vitals and to try nursing right away. He had to go to the NICU for a few hours immediately following birth and I was only able to hold him for about 15 seconds before he had to leave, so unfortunately that didn’t happen. I was sad we didn’t get to bond right away but of course his health was much more important so I wasn’t too upset because I knew he was getting the care he needed. Once they brought him to my room it was late in the evening and by the time my husband and I asked the nurses about feeding him, all the lactation consultants had gone home for the night. I was overwhelmed with the helpless feeling of not being able to feed him on my own. My husband told me to try and nurse him…well I had NO IDEA what I was doing so that was a complete failure. I wish I could watch it back for humor purposes now, he was not even using his sucking reflexes and my husband and I just sat there completely clueless.
When the nurse came in next, we asked her if she could help because I was a first time mom and didn’t have any idea how to feed him. She tried to help me, but you could tell it was not her expertise as she didn’t do much more than what I had tried. She said he was not acting very interested and was having trouble sucking, possibly because he didn’t use his sucking reflexes right after birth. She said if we wanted to feed him that we could give him a bottle, and she left one for us. She did say that lots of babies don’t need to eat right after birth, but his blood sugar levels were being monitored and were right at the lowest they suggested. I asked about a lactation consultant and she said I could not see one until the following afternoon, approximately 24 hours after my son was born. So that meant we were forced to give him a bottle that night because of his blood sugar levels of course. She said it was up to us, but there was no way I was going to risk anything just because I wanted to nurse him. This is not what I had expected as a first time mom. Had I thought about this ahead of time? Of course not. I never even considered I’d have to wait that long to be taught how to feed my baby, one of the most important things I will do for him, one of his essential needs in order to survive. I thought for sure this would be addressed quite suddenly after his birth.
WHAT I WISH HAD HAPPENED
I understand not everything goes as you have planned, which is life. So I know there was no way around him going to the NICU right away and missing that skin on skin bonding and breastfeeding. The hospital called a few weeks after my son was born to conduct a short survey and I said the only thing I’d suggest is having lactation consultants working at night. Eating is one of the most important things a baby does, and as a first time mom I really wanted that support shortly after he was born. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming them or the nurse who tried to help by any means! I think it’s the SYSTEM that is broken. I talked to a few of my friends who are labor and delivery nurses and they said their lactation consultants are extremely busy all the time. These are very important professionals for new parents and their babies. I feel it would have been extremely beneficial to get at least a 20 minute instructional meeting with a lactation consultant at least a few hours after birth, especially for first time moms! I think this could be accomplished if there was a higher demand for them and if hospitals hired enough of them that they weren’t put to work so hard and stretched so thin.
I will say that we had the most amazing lactation consultant when we were in the hospital. She was extremely helpful and HILARIOUS! My hubby nicknamed her the boobie whisperer, HAHAHA! She knew what she was doing and was very upbeat about it. She had me begin pumping at our first meeting and came in again the following day to check in. Make sure you read my failed attempt at breastfeeding article, where you may learn a few things from my experience if you aren’t successful right off the bat!Make sure to follow Artsy Mama Bear on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, or subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter! :) This post may contain affiliate links, read our Disclosure Policy for more information.