Advanced search

Upset by the nurses in the special care baby unit - long story

(70 Posts)
Jenbot Sat 16-Aug-08 20:57:00

I know they are doing a great job looking after my baby, but two of them really upset me today when I overheard them talking about me.

(This is probably a bit garbled as I am upset as I'm typing.)

OK, the background... I am breastfeeding my premature baby when I am in the hospital. I originally didn't want her to have bottles at all but the consensus from the nurses was that for premature babies having a bottle helps them to learn that they need to suck to get food and that the advice for term babies re. bottle/breast confusion isn't relevant, and that I would get her home a lot quicker if I agreed to the bottle.

So, I said OK, give her bottles at night when I'm not there at midnight and four. I plan to drop the bottles once she's home and I'm with her all the time. She is on a 4 hourly feed schedule in hospital, but when she's home I plan to feed on demand.

When she had bottles all night she was really tired during the daytime and didn't breastfeed as well, so I talked to the nurses again and we decided that she should ideally have alternate feeds of bottle and tube through the night until she grows a bit bigger and gets more energy. Or they could give her a bottle if she cries and won't settle and wants to suck something, but feed by a tube otherwise. I said basically I was happy for them to do what they thought best for her while I wasn't there.

The nurses change every day and night, so you get a different one looking after your baby each shift. Today I went in and a nurse asked me if I was going to bottle feed her. I said no, I just breastfeed her then we top up by tube when I'm there. We usually judge how well she has done then guesstimate how much top op up by from the amount she's due to have on her schedule.

I asked her about me going in to stay overnight as the nurse yesterday night said it might be a possibility this week and I should discuss it today. (They only have one room and you can only go in when it looks like your baby is getting ready to go home.) The nurse today said that it wouldn't be a possibility and that they never let babies home until they were at least two weeks older than mine. So, I was disappointed of course, but I said fine, I don't want to rush her if you think she's not ready, I'm not pushing for it, and that I only asked as the nurse yesterday told me to ask. She said the nurse yesterday was junior and had made a mistake.

Anyway, I went to express afterwards and two of the nurses on shift must have thought I couldn't hear them.

They said: "Why is that mum asking about staying over, WE tell her when she can stay over, SHE can't ask us to stay over, it is our decision." / "And look, she says one thing one day and another thing another day, she's so confused. She said yes bottles, no bottles, yes bottles. Why can't she make up her mind?" / "We'll have to get her to write something down and sign it" / "She doesn't know what she's doing" (then they laughed) / "Yes she is doing all the care in the daytime, but how do we know what she'd be like when she got home? She'd get stressed and her mum lives really far away so she'd have no-one to help her"

At this point I called out to them that I could hear everything they were saying and one came in to see me. I shouted at her, I was angry - I said I wasn't changing my mind every day about bottle feeding, I'm trying to follow their advice and she should read the notes properly about why things had changed day to day. Also, that I'm not a bloody idiot: I know that babies are hard work at night, AND I wasn't asking to stay over, a nurse yesterday had TOLD me to talk to them about it today! Argh.
Then one who had said earlier that she always remembered the babies names called my baby girl "he" then got her name wrong when I reminded her she was a girl. There are only 3 babies in there at the moment for heaven's sake.

Then I burst into tears and cried for ages.

All nurses on the shift came and apologised to me one by one (although in a way like - "you misunderstood what we were saying, we did know you could hear us really, we just meant you were confused because we had confused you, we weren't laughing, the babies were making a noise" hmm.

I really am SO upset because I feel like they have spoilt it for me now.

Going in every day, it is so hard to have to leave your baby every night already but I was being positive and I had got on with all the nurses really well before, now I'm stressed about having a row with some of them and what they are saying about me when I'm not there! Will they tell their colleagues who I got on well with before and they'll all suddenly think I'm a "difficult mum"? Will they all treat me differently now? Why would one question today how I'd cope at night?! Do they think there's something wrong with how I am?

I don't think they won't look after her, but I have to talk to all of them and work with them and I feel like it has spoilt the good relationship I felt I had with the unit over the past 3 weeks so I'm just miserable.

Then on top of everything, tonight is the first night I couldn't stay in 'til late because my husband has had to work at the last minute this evening and I don't drive and I couldn't find anyone else to take me. What a shit day.

Meh, this was going to a be "did I overreact? am I being unreasonable?" question but has turned into just being miserable, but never mind.

I will probably feel better in the morning!

Hassled Sat 16-Aug-08 21:02:25

Oh you poor thing. You must be feeling all over the place.

Just keep reminding yourself that hopefully before too long you and your baby will be out of there and you'll never have to see them. It doesn't sound like they were being in any way malicious, just thoughtless.

And congratulations, btw

littleducks Sat 16-Aug-08 21:05:50

you must be going through hell, your baby was prem, presumerably is a bit poorly if in scbu and you have to leave her there which would be hard for any new mum

you just had a baby so are also going to emotional, that is normal

you may be a tad paranoid and defensive, i turned into a bit of a mama tiger when mine were born and took a few things the wrong way

but they were unprofessional

i would act normal and if you still feel uncomfortable mention it to the dr

hope your dd cn be home soon!!!

TheRealMrsJohnSimm Sat 16-Aug-08 21:06:27

Oh Jenbot. First of all....massive hugs to you. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to leave your newborn behind every evening - let alone the stress of having your lo in a scbu.

I don't think you behaved at all unreasonably. They were unbelievably rude to discuss you in that manner (and it sounds like they were trying to cover their backs by the way in which they apologised but tried to make it still seem like you had misunderstood).

Could you perhaps have a chat with the most senior nurse on the team and explain how you are feeling and what happened today?

sunshineandshowers Sat 16-Aug-08 21:07:07

You are not being unreasonable.

You are going through a VERY difficult and stressful time atm. Try to be kind to yourself.

Try not to analyse what they think of you/what they meant etc etc. You need to conserve your energy for your little one. I know this is easier said than done, and I would be doing the same as you, but from a distance and if I was your friend I would be trying to get you to focus on your daughter not on these nurses. I can see why they upset you, but your little one is the important one in all this.

You sound like you are coping really well considering you only gave birth 3 weeks ago.

constancereader Sat 16-Aug-08 21:09:27

You were in no way unreasonable, nor did you overreact. I think you handled it very well actually.

Remember that they apologised, they KNOW they were in the wrong.

What a stressful situation you are in, all I can do is offer you my best wishes for the present and future.

Congratulations also x

cheshirekitty Sat 16-Aug-08 21:10:23

Poor you. One of my biggest bugbears when I worked as a midwife was all the conflicting advice given to new mums by staff.

Can you express milk for the staff to tube feed dd in the night? Or to give breast milk in a bottle (expressed). They could initially give it in a bottle, then when dd got tired, tube feed the rest.

You have just had a baby, but I feel you could do with a bit of tlc yourself. If you where one of my mums I would have given you a big hug.

Do not worry about what the nurses think. They will have forgotten this by the next shift.

tiggerlovestobounce Sat 16-Aug-08 21:11:41

Poor you.

Do you think that the nurses may have been a bit embarrased about things? Not that it is any excuse, but what you have quoted them as saying sounds a bit defensive. Do you think that they could have been embarrassed at the poor communication that is going on (hence them not reallly knowing what you are doing, or what you have spoken with other nurses about) and having a bit of a defensive rant about it. That was what came into my head when I read what you had written.
I dont think it sounds like they seriously doubt you. Dont worry about them thinking you are difficult either, that isnt really important.
Nurses in a SCBU should be used to dealing with emotional parents.
If you can bear it it might be worth trying to speak to the nurse in charge about this - If the nurses cant see from their notes where you are at and what the plans are then maybe there is a problem with documentation or handover techniques. I would probably also mention to the charge nurse that you overheard them criticising you and that it was hurtful.

WorzselMummage Sat 16-Aug-08 21:11:48

Oh honey (((hugs)))

I am sure you didnt overreact, they should not have been talking about you like that if was completly unprofessional and if i were you i'd complain.

Your doing a wonderfull thing breastfeeding your baby, dont let them make you feel like your wasting your time because ultimatly what they're bothered about is that your making their job a little bit more difficult but so what, who cares the only thing that matters is that you and your baby are happy.

My daughter was premature and i went though much the same series of events as you have mentioned, I said i wanted most of my daughters feeds down her NG tube and i'd like them to call me at her feed time to offer her a feed from me ( i stayed in hospital for a week ), it had never even occured to me to bottle feed her yet they really didnt seem to care about that i felt like a milking machine. I walked in once and found them giving her a bottle without my knowledge, i cried, they appologised and then i caughtt them doing it again a few days later.

I thing scbu nurses by nature like to be in control, the ones in mine refused to make me make even the smallest of decisions because they thought they knew better.

Please dont let them bully you in you in to doing thing their way so they get an easy life... if you want to breastfeed then do it and make sure you tell them in no uncertain terms what you want. It is YOUR baby, not theirs YOU know best not them YOU deserve to be spoken to like a the parent that you are.

Neeerly3 Sat 16-Aug-08 21:14:12

hey jenbot - couldn't let this one go, I had twins in SCBU for 8 weeks, and by god it was hard even WITH understanding nurses. I got on with most of the ladies there - but did always feel like I was only 'playing' at being mum, they were the boys real carers.

About the bottle thing - i think what they have said about learning to suck is complete cobblers. I had decided to breast feed my two (changed when i got home, but another story), so they were fed by tube with EBM while I wasn't there and breast fed when I was. They NEVER pushed bottle feeding - in fact I was told they wouldn't be home any faster either way. A prems sucking reflex is under developed, and bottle feeding is an easier technique to learn, so if a prem is bottle fed early on, they are likely to get 'lazy' about breast feeding, and thus you will find it harder to establish proper breast feeding once home.

The four hourly feeding pattern however is quite a blessing once home, but your DD will probably reduce down to 3 - 3.5 hours like mine still quite nice compared to every hour some of my friends went through.

You didn't over react, in answer to your OP, but do take into account your stresses/worries and concerns about your DD being in special care and the fact that those nurses see babies come and go from their unit all the time - they are hardened to it, and are very likely to have built the opinion of 'they know best' about everything forgetting how stressful being a new mum is, never mind a new mum to a prem.....#

Use the next few weeks to rest up, get your house ready - some lovely homemade meals in the freezer (all the luxuries that new mums who take their babies straight home from hosp don't get).

Oh and be ready for the few nights that you get in hosp with your DD before you take her home to be hell on earth.....noisy, beds with water proof sheets, baby unsettled, you completely on edge...BUT its just a few days til you get your precious one home and you can do things YOUR way.

If you need to talk at all, shout up - my prems are now nearly four and you'd never know!

Doodle2U Sat 16-Aug-08 21:14:16


Ditto everything else that everyone else has said.

In a few weeks, when your DD is home, none of this will matter.

moondog Sat 16-Aug-08 21:14:36

Jen ,that is so so awful fro yuo. sad
If I were you i would conserve your energy for mo. and concentrate on baby.
But make notes on names, times and dates and when feeling stronger, compose stinging letter and send it to all concerned.

Bitches. angry

I don't think you've over reacted at all. I'd put it all in writing and give it the ward sister so she knows what her staff are like.

I wouldn't worry about them thinking you're a difficult wrong. For one thing they will know they were wrong talking about you like that and will now be crapping themselves. Secondly they will now know you're not happy and will go out of their way I'd have thought to be extra nice to you.

BTW - I work with Transitional Care babies, so some as young as 34/35 weeks gestation and if mum is going to B/F we never give a bottle. As they get stronger and they look interested we will get mum to put baby to breast while having a tube feed so they associate the breast/sucking with a feed. Then as they get strong enough to effectively feed/suck we do the 1 b/f to 2 tubefeeds and then increase the number of breastfeeds. I hope you get your dd home soon.

moondog Sat 16-Aug-08 21:15:15

I would also get proper b/feeding advice from b/feeding counsellor.

Doobydoo Sat 16-Aug-08 21:16:21

Firstly Congratulationssmile
Secondly YANBU! And if you ever actually are so damn what you are going through a very difficult time
I used to work in SCBU'S and NICU'S and feel very sad that this conversation between the nurses happened.
Someone on here mentioned about talking to the senior nurse,I think this is a good idea and it would not hurt to have it written down.That you were upset and how you would like your dd to be fed.Hopefully your notes will be read!
I really hope you feel comfortable with the staff again.and am sure it will be ok.Some nurses just don't think how it must be for mums and I am sure they were not malicious but thoughtless and not empathetic/sympathetic.
Really hope you do feel better

Peachy Sat 16-Aug-08 21:21:53

You handled it very well, and actually to shout you could hear them was brace- well done you.

This is a ahrd time, yous ound like you are working hard to get the best balance for your DD and you will be a fantastic mother

Peachy Sat 16-Aug-08 21:25:02

oh and yes get bf advice

it's years ago that I did the unicef training (less than cpunsellor but te one lots of nurses do) so might ahve changed but this certainly was NOT the advice given then!

Suggest a call to the assocaition of breastfeeding mothers, they are good on premmies I think

sherbetdipdab Sat 16-Aug-08 21:35:02

OMG, this kind of thing just makes my blood boil!

Good for you for telling them you could hear.

I hope they feel terrible.

You have absolutely no reason to feel you have done anything wrong.

And they do tend to all close ranks like you said they did, telling you that you had misunderstood etc, which is not on, as they were essentially blaming you!

I would speak to the Nurse Manager about it, honestly I would. After all they are there to look after your daughter and you.

I was a staff nurse for 11 years and left when I had DS as I hated the attitude that was creeping into the caring profession.

I hope you and your daughter get the care you deserve. Take care and thinking of you

Pannacotta Sat 16-Aug-08 21:35:37

Agree you handled it well (good on you for calling out that you coudl hear them) and sorry that you have had such a bad experience, not what you need at all in these v stressful circumstances.
I would try and get a bit more control over the situation, DD is your baby and it's up to you, not the nurses, how you feed her. If you want to b-feed then the more you can feed her and the fewer bottles she has th better.
Def worth getting some advice from b-feeding counsellor/helplines etc.
Hope things improve for you all.

Hangingbellyofbabylon Sat 16-Aug-08 21:47:54

Ouch! you poor thing - that is totally unreasonable and I don't blame you for being upset. My dd was born at 35 weeks and I refused to let her have a bottle at all - despite some nurses trying to convince me otherwise. Luckily it was a transistional care unit so I was in with my dd but the nurses all thought I was mad as I was the only one who kept dd with me at night and didn't send her down to the nursery - I even kept her by my side when she was having phototherapy for her jaundice. They implied I was a bit loopy for insisting they wake me every 2 hours to express - but it paid off - within 3 days all of her tube feeds were of my milk and she started to breastfeed on day 7. I fed her on demand and again they thought I was a bit weird - there was a girl trying to establish breastfeeding in the bed next to me and her baby was crying so I suggested she put her to the breast - her reply was 'but it's only been 3.5 hours since her last feed shock.

I think you are doing an amazing job and when you do get your dd home you will be fine - you know it will be hard work but you will do it.

Have they told you the criteria for your baby to go home? for me it was to be off tube feeds for 24 hours and to have got back to her birth weight. It was useful for me to have a goal to work towards and I made damn sure she gained weight by feeding her on demand - sometimes every 20 mins! it was horribly hard when I felt that they didn't believe in what I was doing but worth it in the end.

Hang in there and much love and good wishes to your lovely little girl.

nametaken Sat 16-Aug-08 21:53:07

Jenbot, when you go to SCBU tomorrow, ask to have a meeting with the ward sister. When you see her/him explain your fears and be really open and honest about everything, ask if they can review things, draw up a care plan for your baby with all things agreed with you and to put this in baby's file.

I know the nurses change a lot this is why you need to have these decisions written in the file.

It sounds exactly like the SCBU my baby was in (Cheltenham).

nametaken Sat 16-Aug-08 21:56:38

The reason they want you to give bottles is because it makes life easier for the night shift workers sad

I know because I'm a night shift nurse.

VictorianSqualor Sat 16-Aug-08 22:00:33

Oh sweetheart, please remember these women are doing a job, you however are looking out for your baby, your flesh and blood, don't worry about anyone else's interests, just yours and your LO.
I wish I'd have known this much when DD was in SCBU and still BF'd her.
Hope you are together at home again

HonoriaGlossop Sat 16-Aug-08 22:04:35

agree with those who said put this in writing. It's really good you've posted this today because you can save it to remind you of what happened; agree with moondog you need to write down names, times etc as well.

This was VERY poor and unprofessional practice and senior staff need to know so that they can deal with it. If the hosp has a website it might be helpful to look up their complaints procedure so you can be sure you're sending a letter to the right person. I imagine it would be the ward sister but it's worth checking.

And BTW i think you dealt with this brilliantly and really assertively. You are a new mum with a baby in SCBU - you should NOT have to be dealing with this crap! I hope you're ok and can feel calmer and get a good night's rest.

And I really hope you feel able to take this further.

blueshoes Sat 16-Aug-08 22:09:01

Jenbot, I am outraged at the treatment you got. My dd spent 2 weeks in NICU/SCBU and during that time, what we did bf-ing/bottles/yube feeding-wise changed from feed-to-feed exactly as you described. THis is because bf-ing is not yet established and our dcs have health issues to contend with.

My observation is that the nurses were fanatical about dd getting her 4-hourly feeds and were instinctively not supportive of bf-ing because there is no way there could record in their book how much she took in. I believe this lack of support was underlying their (unjustified) frustration at the greater complexity of feeding your dd as compared with straight bottle/tube feeding.

Keep pestering them about rooming-in with your dd. You will find that once they let you into that room, it will be bliss on earth - they finally let go and leave you and dd in peace.

As for their shocking behaviour and patronising apologies (they are shit for f..king with your head when you are so vulnerable), there is simply no excuse and agree with other posters that you concentrate on baby now but record dates, times, events (get Their Names) and write a well-placed letter of complaint once dd is discharged.

Oh to see their faces when you exposed them!

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: