This post is dedicated to my postpartum hospital stay, and the first few days of Shira's life. It does seem as though I mostly write about baby-related topics these days... which is, of course, understandable.
I think I have already mentioned that I was highly satisfied with how the birth process was handled at the hospital; the midwives were wonderful, and I was able to have the active, natural birth I wanted. I even had a volunteer doula who helped me with massage and breathing techniques.
However, I believe hospitals in general, and the one I chose in particular, still have a long way to go before they are anywhere near their "baby-friendly" and "breastfeeding-friendly" claims.
The hospital was supposed to encourage "rooming in", but our initial wishes to have the baby with me at all times were ignored at first, and our daughter was whisked off to nursery. That was early in the morning. After a couple of hours of recovery, I did get my baby back, but at night I was requested to leave her at the nursery again. The nurse, who just started her shift, promised someone would wake me up during the night to feed the baby. So I left my little one at her charge, and went off to try and get some sleep.
And let me tell you, it was in vain. I kept waking up, with a horrible feeling that something is missing. I felt a terrible emptiness without my baby. I tossed and turned until I fell into an uneasy sleep late at night.
Of course, when I woke, it was already morning. Despite the arrangement that was made earlier, no one called for me when it was time to feed the baby, and instead they had given her formula. When I confronted the nurse (the same one from the night before, as the shift didn't change yet), she mumbled something about me "not being clear" about what I had wanted. After I pointed out that there's a label on my baby's crib saying "breastfeeding ONLY - at night as well!", she said something along the lines of, "oh, but it's just one bottle, and you do need your sleep!"
(Now is a good time to mention that formula advertisments were plastered all over the nursery. I think it's actually illegal, but I didn't inquire further.)
Even worse, my baby was simply miserable when I finally took her to my room. She was restless. She looked as though she cried and cried for hours, and was neglected - which she probably was. I went to the reception and insisted to be transferred to another room, where my baby could stay with me during the night as well.
Turns out it isn't a very popular choice, and since there are three women in each room, they had to make a "match" between me and two other moms who wanted their babies to "room in" with them as well. Luckily for us, it was done, and for the next two days and two nights, I remained with my baby the entire time.
It was so much better. I could nurse her whenever she woke during the night; sure, there were two other babies in the room, but I didn't mind. I slept much better with my baby next to me than without her. I carried her in my womb for nine months, and nothing in the world makes more sense than remaining as close as possible during the first days and weeks after birth.
I'm so very happy I insisted on having my baby in the same room - despite the assertions of some well-meaning relatives that I'd better leave her at the nursery at night, because I "need my rest", and "it's not too bad if she gets formula a couple of times". When I said that early breastfeeding is highly important if I want to nurse exclusively, and that no one will care for my baby the way I do, I was told - "Oh, just wait. You might want to do this now, but I'll bet you won't feel the same way next time, when you already have a child at home. You'll be ready to do anything in order to get a break from caring for babies, even for a few days."
Well, one of the women who stayed in the room with me just gave birth to her sixth child, and she felt exactly the same way I did: how can you rest, when you know your baby might be crying in the nursery, all alone, and no one cares?
The routine of separating a newborn baby from his or her Mommy is one of the most illogical I ever knew, and in my opinion, it actually borders on cruelty. Next time, God willing, I will do anything in my power to avoid that. Remember: it's your baby, and despite various hospital regulations, no one has the legal right to take him or her away from you against your wishes. I wish I had been bold enough to say this from the start.