Mother-baby bonding, breastfeeding push leaves some feeling unsupported

Erin Knoedler holds her 3-week-old daughter, Amaya Rose. (KATU Photo)

There's a national push to get newborn babies breastfeeding and bonding with Mom right away and in the first few minutes of life.

This means many hospitals are eliminating nurseries, so babies are with Mom full-time. Some local moms are loving the new trend, while others don’t feel so supported.

At just three weeks old, Amaya Rose is right where she belongs: in her mom’s arms.

"She's, gosh, just really easy,” says Erin Knoedler, her doting mom.

She's nursing; they've bonded, and Knoedler says it all started the moment her daughter entered the world at the hospital.

"They'll help you with the latch and they're on your bedside and everything,” she says.

No more looking through the nursery window at all the babies. Instead, it's all about rooming in, with the baby never leaving Mom's side. It's all to promote breastfeeding.

"There's no doubt that breastfeeding is the best. It's the best way that you can keep your baby healthy and safe," says Dr. Lara Williams, an OB/GYN at The Oregon Clinic.

She loves this trend, but says, "It's a catch-22 because you've got moms that really want that baby and that's lovely, but they're falling asleep on the baby or they don't have the support."

Rachel Bies, a mom of three, is a lactation consultant. She wishes moms could get more rest in the hospital, especially moms who are all alone.

“It's amazing how much more realistic and rational you can think when you've had a couple – two to three -- hours of sleep, rather than that constant being awake, and you're hyper-vigilant and it's scary," Bies says.

My post about this in the "Portland Mamas" Facebook group got more than 100 comments -- and counting.

About half are 100-percent supportive, like Angela, who writes: "I can't wrap my mind around anyone who would want to be separated from their newborn."

But Angie writes, "I'm glad BF (breastfeeding) is supported more now, but in my opinion, some moms need to have nurseries available as they recover.”

Destini writes, "I, of course, wanted to be with my baby as much as possible, but I desperately needed rest, to heal, to produce milk, to FUNCTION. I have never been more exhausted (almost delusional) as I was when I went home with my newborn for the first time. It was terrifying."

Terrified is not what some of the strongest breastfeeding advocates are going for, advocates like Trish MacEnroe.

"Our goal is that each mother gets individualized care,” says MacEnroe, who runs Baby Friendly USA, which helps hospitals get what's called a Baby-Friendly designation. She wants moms to tell hospitals if they've had a bad experience, so the system actually works and doesn't harm moms unintentionally.

"As they say, it takes a village; and so one of the things that maybe we can do – socially -- how do we create that village to support mothers?" MacEnroe asks.

Dr. Williams says moms need to reach out for help, and maybe look at doulas if they can afford it.

"Maybe they come to the hospital for labor support, but for postpartum support," Williams says.

Back at Knoedler's home, little Amaya Rose is hungry, again, and she wouldn’t change a thing about their strong start in the hospital.

Dr. Williams joined us in the newsroom Monday for a live chat on Facebook. If you missed it, you can watch it here.


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