Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My mom's comment

My mom made a comment on the NICU discussion we're having that I thought would be good to publish where everyone can read it. She's got a good perspective, because she works in the field. Here is what she had to say:

From my experience, the NICU you visited is no exception, though the degree may be worse than others. What you describe is the "standard of care" promoted in north american hospitals. Nils Bergmans research is not well known or well received. Pediatricians are not trained to value "attachment parenting" in the NICU and often sabatage any enlightened nurses. We healthcare providers can model and educate our peers but I feel parents have much more power to elicit change. Spread the word! These babies belong to their parents, not the institutions caring for them. Come prepared with research and evidence. Through out my career I have seen the biggest changes in maternity care come from consumers. My generation got rid of enemas and shave preps (aka brazilians!) and got dads in the delivery rooms. Now you guys are challenged with lowering the C/S rates, taking control of labour and demanding your parental right to advocate for and nurture your your children from birth.
makes me tired just thinking about it!
I'm passing the baton, Melissa!
love mom

I'd also like to add that this morning I spent four hours on the maternity ward shadowing the Lactation Consultant in the VERY SAME HOSPITAL and saw a totally different world. In fact, two of the babies/women we helped had been in the NICU and were sent to the pediatric ward, where every baby had a private or semi private (shared with one other patient) room, and a bed for a parent next to their crib. And parents were rooming in, around the clock. The presence of a bed for a parent, and privacy, and a little (okay, a lot) more square footage is a powerful message that "Parents are welcome here!" And so they are able to follow their natural instinct for proximity to their infant.

What an amazing difference a bed makes, eh?

I also saw a woman today who had her baby yesterday (by VBAC! Yay for VBACs! I told her "Good for you!" at the end of our visit, and she flashed me the proudest smile!) who probably has breast cancer. She has what is aptly called 'orange peel' appearance to her skin, and a breast lump, both of which developed in the last two weeks. Her doctor did not examine her breast when she mentioned it at her prenatal appointment, and it got progressively worse and now her baby is unable to latch on that breast because the tissue is so hard and swollen. Orange peel appearance is indicative of a virulent form of breast cancer. Ooch, poor woman. Poor baby. Poor little family! Here's praying and hoping it is not cancer, but rather some form of dermatitis or something!!! So sad. She breastfed her first baby for 13 months and was hoping to do the same with this one, and the L.C. I was following did not discourage her in any way, because she cannot diagnose cancer, but afterwards we discussed the fact that chemotherapy is contraindicated with breastfeeding. She will have to wean if she does, indeed, have cancer and needs chemotherapy. Radiation treatment is not contraindicated, but this looked pretty bad, likely not a candidate for radiation therapy only. Of course, I'm not an oncologist! So I could be wrong!

Toss a prayer out for her, okay? Some paths are so steep and difficult...


nancy said...

thanks for moving my comment - don't know how it ended up misplaced. Your ? breast cancer mom story is so sad. I was successful once in getting donor milk for a babe who's mom had cancer and needed chemo.
ps I got 26/27 on my fetal health suvailance course today - I thought for sure I'd fail!

Asheya said...

That is really sad. I hope she find donor milk if she does have breast cancer. Do they have a milk bank in Vancouver at all?

I love your mom's comment (hi Melissa's mom!). It totally is up to us to fight for ourselves and our babies. But it can be overwhelming for individual parents in the sea of medical authority.

I'm thinking of starting a national maternity care advocacy group, which would include postpartum advocacy, for Canadian women. There are a few groups in the states, but I haven't found any in Canada. Big project! But I am a big dreamer. I've got some good ideas, some of which are already being done through the groups in the states which we could learn from and adapt for Canada.

I think my calling is really in being a consumer voice and rallying women, rather than a midwife or more professional voice, at least at this point. I found what your mom said really encouraging, because I feel like that should be the truth, that what consumers want matters and that we can make a difference.