I think that every new mother's fear is that when she has her baby, she won't be given the opportunity to bond right after birth. That the baby will be wisked away for testing, bathing, first shots, and given a bottle of formula all in a matter of moments.
When I had my first child, I felt that the Nurses didn't allow me to bond with my new baby as soon as possible. They took him away for what seemed like an eternity, while they did all of their exams and evaluations and I remember thinking, "Can't this wait?" It really affected me over the next few weeks, as it seemed harder to form a bond with my newborn after the initial minutes of his life than it would have been had we been given the opportunity to do so immediately.
The birth of my second child was much different, and I think that it took my by surprise! And it looks like my surprise was for good reason. The Hospital that I deliver at had adopted a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, which I can tell you made ALL of the difference in my experience second time around. Although I had my second child in 2008, and these practices were not officially Surveyed for this facility until 2009, I can tell you that these items were already put in to motion at that time. Their Baby Friendly Hospital Initiatives include the following:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
2. Train all healthcare staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
7. Practice “rooming in”-- allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage unrestricted breastfeeding.
9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
In their initiatives, they do not list their policy on Skin-to-Skin Contact immediately after Birth. In the information page for Labor & Delivery Policies and Procedures, this little tidbit is tucked away: "We practice skin to skin contact and an enhanced bonding experience for the parents and newborn right after birth. Due to this we ask all visitors to wait outside of the LDR for the first hour to 1 ½ hours after birth so the newborn can get to know his or her parents."
This all seems very commonsensical. Really, it does. But in reality, most Hospitals do NOT practice these initiatives. For me, these initiatives were the difference between bonding immediately with my child, or struggling for days after those first minutes of life had passed by to gain what I had lost.
Sure, when my friends hear that I drive to see my Obstetrician 21 miles away and deliver at the Hospital next to his office they think I am completely looney for doing so- especially when I live 5 minutes away from a sister-facility with a level III NICU just like the Hospital I deliver at. But I can honestly tell you the the distance is worth it.
Now, if we could just hurry up and get to my delivery date...