Whose Babies Are They Anyway? Breastfeeding Twins in an Israeli Hospital

Trying to breastfeed twins in an Israeli hospitalRachel Gurevich left a comment in response to the proposed law requiring parental consent for feeding formula to newborns. When I wrote to her about publishing it as a new post, she asked to expand it. What follows is quite harrowing. I included a few short comments.

Rachel writes:

The proposed breastfeeding bill is extremely important and may be part of what is needed to give back rights to breastfeeding mothers. I say this as a mother who gave birth here in Israel, wanted to breastfeed, and was sabotaged over and over again at the hospital. A bill like this may have been able to protect me and my babies.

I am tired of reading all the objections to this bill, from people who are reading things into it that just aren’t there. No one is taking away anyone’s formula. No one is calling you a bad mother. You are just giving the hospital permission to give it to your baby. I mean, you sign SO many papers at the hospital, what is one more? I think legal action is the only way to get hospitals to respect breastfeeding in Israel.

Thank G-d, I had a lot of support from friends and family, two wonderful lactation consultants, and prior positive breastfeeding experience, all of which helped me undo the damage the hospital did to me and my babies. But had I not had that support, had I not had previous positive breastfeeding experience, had I not felt so terribly strongly that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my twins, there is NO WAY in the world I would have succeeded. We’re talking about weeks and weeks of pumping, herbs, medications, frequent baby weigh-ins, and very long trips in the car to see the lactation consultants. It was a nightmare from beginning to end.

Only two people know the entire story of what happened in the hospital, one of those people being my husband. No one else knows because I have never been able to talk about it without crying. My babies are 18 months old now, and while writing this, I am crying. That is how traumatizing the entire experience was.

Separation after Birth

I gave birth to my twins by c-section. My water broke the night before I had a scheduled section, for medically necessary reasons. Having given birth to my first children normally, and wanting to have a natural birth with the twins, I was disappointed but given my babies’ issues (position problems and a rare umbilical cord problem), this was best for us.

I knew going into this that they would separate me from my babies after the birth, and I was not happy about it. My first two were born in the U.S. I was never separated from my first, and my second was only away for three hours (during which I fretted until he was returned). But even my second son was allowed to try to nurse before being taken away and spent his first two hours in the world in my arms.

I knew not having the chance to nurse the twins right away might be an issue, but I hoped the time away wouldn’t be a big deal. I thought after the required separation passed, I would have the babies with me, assuming all was well, and I could nurse them then.

When the babies were born, I was told they looked great. Good weights for three weeks early and twins, and healthy looking babies. I was hopeful this would go okay after all.

After what seemed like a ridiculously long amount of time, at least four hours or more, I was brought to my room. I right away asked for the babies. The nurse told me they couldn’t bring them to me just yet because the nurses were having difficulty getting her to take a bottle.

I was shocked.

I had no idea they would give my baby a bottle without asking me or telling me. I had no idea they would feed the baby before I got there. A newborn won’t starve in four hours. [MiI: Babies are born with enough reserves for about 24 hours.] If they were so concerned, why didn’t they bring me the babies earlier and let me nurse? I had told them I wanted to breastfeed exclusively. They didn’t seem to care.

My son they said couldn’t be brought to me because he wasn’t seen by the doctor. I asked to see him for at least a little bit. They finally gave in and brought him to be for literally 5 minutes. I wanted to try nursing him, but the nurse stood there waiting impatiently, and took him away too quickly. I can’t remember now if I got to try or not. I only know it was not a possibility to breastfeed him in that time frame.

Before their birth, I had done a lot of research on breastfeeding twins. I spoke to friends who had successfully breastfeed twins, both premies and c-section births and natural births. I read Mothering Multiples several times . I knew what problems could come up and how to avoid extra ones. I had INTENDED that if my babies needed formula, I would have used breastfeeding friendly methods that avoided nipples. But with the babies away from me, and no one being willing to listen to me, and stuck in bed for the moment, I had no control.

From my research, I knew I should pump as soon as possible, if I couldn’t nurse the babies. I asked a nurse for a pump. She told me I couldn’t have one. She said I had to go to a common area to use them, they only had four for the entire floor. But I couldn’t get up. My blood pressure kept dropping every time I tried, so I had to stay in bed. I asked her if I could rent one from the hospital. She said there was no such service. I asked if I could buy something. She told me the pumps they sold in the shop downstairs were not strong enough for what I needed. Looking back, I probably should have tried it anyway. But who can think straight when you’re full of hormones, separated from your babies, and in physical pain from surgery?

Finally, my husband convinced a nurse to bring me a pump, but —œonly for five minutes—, because she said, —œAnyway, you don’t have milk now. I knew I didn’t have that much milk yet but that was sort of beside the point! But whatever. I used the pump, and they took it away. I never was able to get it in my room again. I prayed that one pumping made a difference. [MiI: Mothers who need to express milk after birth can express by hand into a spoon or test tube. The small amount of colostrum sticks to pump tubing. But any pumping is better than none.]

I asked about my babies again. I was told my daughter finally took the bottle, but she vomited so forcibly afterward that she stopped breathing. They put her in the intermediate NICU, put tube down her throat to feed her. They said she could not be brought to me. I had not seen her even once, because my blood pressure had dropped when she was born during the c-section.

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but I had been crying on and off since I was told my baby was given a bottle and they wouldn’t bring them to me. But after being told about my daughter vomiting, I started to cry hysterically. I was angry. Our family has a history of allergies, and several members are sensitive to milk. She was probably allergic to the formula, which is what the doctors decided and switched her to a hypo-allergenic formula. She never threw up again. But that might never had been necessary if they had just let ME breastfeed her first. If I had breastfed her, she would not have to have a tube down her throat. If I had breastfed her, as I wanted, she may have never thrown up so forcibly that she stopped breathing. If I had been allowed to breastfeed her, she wouldn’t have ended up in the NICU, where I couldn’t see her when I wanted or have her with me.

I was upset.

I then learned my son was wheezing just slightly. As a precaution, they put him on a monitor in the regular nursery. I couldn’t have him brought to me either.

By now, 12 hours had gone by since the birth. I had held only one of my babies for less than five minutes. I had thought being separated from them for just four hours would have been hard, and I was ready for that. I was not ready for all of this. I was emotionally a mess. I knew, also, in the back of my mind that I needed to keep pumping, but I didn’t have the emotional or physical energy to demand the nurses to bring me the pump every few hours. So I only got to pump that one time that first day.

Whose Baby Are They Anyway?

My doctor came to check on me in the evening, now about 16 hours after their birth. He asked me if I was doing ok, and I just started crying like crazy. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him I was not able to see my babies yet or hold them or nurse them. He asked me why the nurses didn’t wheel me down the hallway to see them, since I couldn’t walk myself yet. I said I didn’t know why. He got a nurse, a wheelchair, and made sure I was brought to see my babies.

I got to see my son first. There was one very nice nurse, who was there only once, who helped me get him latched on. But the other nurse there told me I wasn’t allowed to let him nurse for more than five minutes. They said they didn’t want him to get too tired to take the bottle. My babies were born three weeks early, but they were not that small and were not considered preterm and could have nursed longer. But they didn’t let me. [MiI: Bottle-feeding is more stressful for pre-terms and uses more calories than breastfeeding. Small premies may have to have regulated amounts of breastmilk–not healthy 37-weekers.]

So I fed the baby his bottle. I know that formula feeding mothers will not understand, but for me, never having given a child a bottle, this was an emotional experience.  I didn’t want this. I wanted to try a breastfeeding friendly method, like a tube on the finger or something. But at that point, I was afraid to make more trouble, and too tired to fight anymore. I knew the baby would be in that nursery, in their care, most of the time. There was no way they were going to do some crazy breastfeeding thing.

Next, I got to see my daughter, who was in a different nursery. She had the tube down her mouth, and she was sleeping. I asked if I could try nursing her, but they said there was no point. They didn’t want me to wake her up. So I just looked at her, in that little plastic baby box they sleep in. I felt so helpless and so sad for her.

I spent five days in the hospital, and every day was a fight. I told them I wanted to feed the baby the bottles myself. I wanted to be able to nurse first and then give the bottle. They insisted on feeding them on a schedule of their making, one that didn’t take into account that I had TWO babies, in two different nurseries. That meant I had to choose one or the other over and over again, which was extremely difficult to do. Most of the time, I chose my son, because they were more willing to let me nurse him.

I set alarms on my cell phone to get there in time, because they rarely came to me. If I was a few minutes late, or they started a few minutes early, the baby was already fed or in the process of being fed. This meant I couldn’t breastfeed first.

One time, I wanted to feed the baby but the timing for the next feeding was during lunch, and lunch was only 20 minutes long. I came 15 minutes early, and asked the nurse if I could breastfeed him first, and then go to lunch and she could give the bottle. She told me no. She said she was not going to let me mess up her schedule, and she wanted the baby —œto eat properly.

Nighttime Feedings

I told the nurses to wake me up in the night to feed the babies. They usually didn’t. I set my alarm after I realized they wouldn’t come get me, but not because I was sleeping– I didn’t sleep more than a couple hours every night the entire time — but because I didn’t want to miss their scheduled feedings.

One night, I came to the nursery and said I was there to feed the baby. They were already feeding him. I went over to the nurse who was feeding my son, and I almost threw up. I have never seen such a thing in my life. She was holding my baby’s cheeks together and his head back, and forcing the bottle over and over into his mouth, pressing the nipple onto the roof of his mouth so it was squirt out, essentially forcing him to take the milk. He was asleep!! But she insisted on him taking whatever amount of milk she decided he had to take. There was no reason for this.

When I saw this, I felt not only sadness for what was happening to my baby, but guilt that if I had just gotten there five minutes earlier, maybe I would be feeding him, and holding him to my chest, nursing him, and then bottle-feeding him GENTLY. Not like this. I went back to my room and cried (again).

Speaking of the night, I never slept. I was lucky if I got three hours. I had always roomed-in with my babies and always slept with my babies at home as well. It’s well known that rooming-in allows on-demand breastfeeding, something important for success. I actually choose the hospital I choose in Israel because I was told they allowed rooming-in for “some”  people. I actually called ahead (or my doula did, I can’t remember now) and was told that they allow rooming-in even for twins, even after a c-section, if you get “permission.”

This, of course, did not happen for me. How could I sleep with my babies down the hall? I spent most of my nights crying that I was apart from them, crying about the bottle situation, crying that I couldn’t see my daughter as much as I wanted, crying that I had to keep choosing one over the other, crying that I kept needing to fight with the nurses. They say that rooming-in isn’t good for moms because moms need to rest. I wasn’t getting rest with my babies so far away from me.

“Every Nurse Was Different”

Every nurse was different about breastfeeding. Some would yell at me if I tried to nurse longer than five minutes. Then, when a new nurse would be there, and I’d do the five-minute nursing, she would yell at me for not nursing long enough. Sometimes, my baby wouldn’t drink the number of milliliters they wanted, and they tried to get me to force-feed him. I told the nurse that maybe it’s because they got enough from me. “Don’t be silly, you don’t have any milk yet,  they told me. Do you want to starve your baby??”

(I heard them tell many women, with babies who had NO problems at all, this line. I can’t tell you how many women were told they were bad mothers or trying to starve their babies for wanting to only breastfeed.)

I knew I would need help, in the hospital and after, with breastfeeding, after all the bottles they received and having pumped so little. (I was pumping, by the way, between feedings, though not often enough. I spent most of the time running back and forth between the babies, trying to feed them and avoid having another nurse force-feeding one of my babies.) I asked a nurse for a lactation consultant. This was available in America after both of my boys, and I assumed all maternity wards had connections like this.

They said the hospital didn’t have a lactation consultant. So I asked if they had a name, number, someone. No one. They were no help at all. I had friends who had connections, but between trying to keep with my babies as much as possible, and the tendency to break into tears every time I talked about it, I couldn’t find time or a way to call my friends.

Finally, near the end, they allowed my son off the monitors. I should mention that his wheezing stopped after the first night, but for —œprecaution—, they kept him on the monitor for three days. I am almost 100% sure this would never happen in a breastfeeding-friendly hospital in America that encourages rooming-in and breastfeeding. There was no good reason to keep us separated all day like that for so many days.

Once I could bring him to my room, I could try nursing more and longer. I tried to nurse him every two hours, not the four-hour schedule they had insisted on before. I had formula, and sometimes I gave it to him, and sometimes I dumped it down the drain. I kept careful track of the diapers. I would never, ever starve my baby, but the nurses had totally shot my confidence. Sometimes, I worried if I was “nursing him for too long”, and I’d switch to the bottle, and then try nursing again. I never had such low confidence with breastfeeding with my older kids. But with these babies, I stopped trusting myself.

I saw a lot of moms come and go over those five days. I remember one woman who I saw breastfeeding at the beginning. Four days later, she was pumping one night, while I sat with my baby in the public area for that. She told me she was engorged with milk because her baby wouldn’t nurse anymore. “Materna is just too easy for him. He doesn’t want to breastfeed anymore. Too difficult for him.” I said I was sorry. She clearly wanted to breastfeed, but was sabotaged by the hospital’s formula pushing.

On my baby’s bassinette, I noticed on the last couple days, they placed a little sticker that indicated my baby was “breastfeeding only.” Ha! Right in the bassinette, was the bottle I was being pushed to give the baby. The sticker, by the way, had a cartoon picture which is from a formula company. Even the breastfeeding stickers advertised formula.

One night, we came to take the baby to my room to nurse him. The nursery nurse asked me, “Do you need a bottle, too?”” I was confused. I said,  “Am I allowed to not give him a bottle?” She smiled and said, “He’s your baby.” So my husband, who was with me and had much better Hebrew, explained the past few nights. She told us a mixed up sort of story that sure, we were in charge at home, but here, they are in charge, and we don’t have to give the bottle. But if he loses too much weight, then he will have to stay in the hospital, and we don’t want that. What do you think we choose to do? Of course. We took the bottle.

Sending the Baby to the Wrong Mother

In one disturbing incident, I went to go feed my son in the nursery, but a nice-nursery-nurse had already sent him on his way to my room. (At this point, they were still making him stay there all day. This nurse in particular let me “break the rules” and take him with me for an hour at a time.) I didn’t know and we passed in the hallway. I asked her for him, and she said she had already sent him to my room with the floor nurse. I went to my room. The baby wasn’t there. I went back to the nursery, and then to the floor nurse. She got this shocked look on her face and ran to my room. She had accidently given my baby to my roommate, an Arab woman who didn’t speak any Hebrew or English. And my baby actually nursed from her for awhile. [MiI: When a similar incident happened in the U.S. the hospital ended up in court.]

Meeting an Angel

Another night, I had told the nurses to come get me to nurse the baby and had been setting my alarm. They came only an hour after the last feeding and asked me to come. So I went, and found my baby happily sleeping. I asked why they sent for me. The nurse started screaming at me, and I had no idea what she was saying, my Hebrew wasn’t good enough. I asked her to please speak slower, and she spoke to me in English. She yelled at me that my baby keeps crying and maybe he is hungry. I said to her that he is asleep right now. And the time to feed him didn’t come yet on their schedule. She yelled at me, “Babies don;t eat on a schedule! Don’t you know you should feed a baby when they are hungry?”

I had no energy to argue. I took the baby into the area you can be in at night, put him on my chest, and was trying not to cry too hard. There, I met an angel. There was a woman feeding her baby with a tube, just like I had wanted to do, just like I had read about in the breastfeeding books. The woman saw how upset I was and she started up a conversation. We chatted about nothing for awhile, and then we started talking about breastfeeding. She had given birth in Israel before, and she knew how to play the nurses-games. She actually had a condition where she doesn’t make enough milk right away, but after time and with pumping, she can. But she was careful to avoid nipples. She told me the nurses often accused her of starving her baby, but she ignored them. She told me where I could get a pump, what I could do when I left the hospital, and other things.

She was one of only two or three women I saw who got up to feed their babies in the night, and thank G-d she was there. She gave me so much hope. She made me feel like I could undo what happened in the hospital. She let me know that the nurses didn’t only talk to me that way, they talked to everyone that way. She made me feel less like it was my fault what happened, and told me about the formula pushing and how as far as the nurses see things, no one is capable of exclusively breastfeeding their babies from day one. I don’t remember her name, only that she was from Telz Stone. I will never forget her.

Going Home

Finally, we went home. I emailed my LLL friends, who supported me and helped me connect with a good lactation consultant team. I got a pump. I worked so, so hard, and it was a good 6 weeks before both babies were breastfeeding almost exclusively. By 8 weeks old, we were able to put the bottles away. We had all kinds of problems with nipple confusion, getting them to open big enough to latch and not being lazy suckers, and my milk supply was hurt from the lack of pumping and nursing those crucial first days.

But eventually we succeeded, and they are still nursing, which I hope to do until at least two years, if not longer.

It took me six years to conceive these babies, with the help of fertility treatments. I’m sorry to say it, but if a miracle should happen and I get pregnant on my own, I am TERRIFIED of having another baby in this country. Terrified. I keep telling my husband that I will give birth under a tree next time. If I had to be in a hospital here, I’d probably start crying before we even entered the place.

In fact, my 18 month old boy had to stay in the hospital for a few days a week ago, for an illness. My husband stayed with him, because I couldn’t handle it. I stayed with his twin at home. Why? Because the hospital scares me to death. I visited and breastfed him there, of course, but I was nervous the entire time, and I even broke into tears when a nurse yells at me for something ridiculous. All because of my experience with my babies after birth, being separated from them, not being allowed to nurse them when I wanted , having formula pushed, being told I’m a bad mother and I want to starve my babies. A nightmare.

I do not believe that formula-feeding moms are bad mothers. I don’t think formula is poison. I’m just a regular mother who loves to breastfeed and loves to be with her babies. My tears in the hospital about my babies getting formula were not because I see formula as evil. It was because I knew it might ruin our ability to successfully breastfeed, something extremely important to me.

I hope this new legislation passes, and no mother has to go through what I went through or what I saw many other women go through in an Israeli hospital again.

Rachel Gurevich, Guide to Fertility at infertility.about.com

[MiI again:] C-section moms aren’t the only ones to be separated from their babies. I get many calls from moms who did not “receive” their healthy babies until six or even twelve hours after birth. If you examine the research, as laid out in this document from the World Health Organization, skin-to-skin contact during the first hour after birth, along with full rooming-in, play a significant role in the establishment of breastfeeding and other maternal behaviors. A mom who has been separated from her baby is many times more likely to have problems.

If moms and babies were together there would be no problems with consent as the mom would know what her baby was eating at all times. Hospitals should do everything they can to ensure that babies and mothers stay together. Period.

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  1. Wow… I am so emotional and traumatized from reading this story. Fortunately nothing that bad happened to me in the hospitals here, but I really couldn’t stand the attitude of the nursery nurses in the hospitals here, part of why I’m going for a homebirth this time around.

    Can you please share what hospital this happened at? I have a feeling I know, but I think its important that people know which hospital to avoid.

    • Hadasah Ein Kerem…

      I can’t say if this means you should avoid this hospital or not, as I heard not good stories about other places when I did my research. But now, I’m hearing good things about places I was warned about.

      I’m not saying you shouldn’t consider my story in your choice… just that you should consider your situation, and other people’s experiences, too. It’s a difficult choice, for sure!

      • I gave birth in Ein Karem last time, and didn’t have a bad experience per se, but I’ve heard tons of horror stories there, so I’m not surprised you said Ein Karem. Personally, I had a MUCH worse experience with the tinokia in Bikur Cholim.

    • Ronit, I’m also looking into a home birth now. (Not because of this story.) Do you want to get in touch? Is your “next time around” in the near future? Below is a link for my top choice and it has a lot of info about home births http://www.homebirthisrael.com/midwife/about1.htm.

  2. Sabrina Chalom says

    So sorry to read about your horror stories from giving birth to twins
    In Israel. I delivered twins at Sharrei Tzedek in Jerusalem and had a
    completely opposite experience. Hope you have lots of nachas from
    your twins! -Sabrina

    • I’m so glad you had a good experience at ST. I was told you avoid ST, but maybe it would have been better. Hard to say.

      Did you have a c-section? That could make a big difference in experience, it seems…

  3. I’m not sure which hospital the poster was in, but my c-section baby was born at Shaarei Tzedek. I was in recovery for about 2 hours, then taken to my room and half an hour later a nurse brought the baby to me. I was able to keep him with me as long as I wanted. At night, they called me to come and feed him. There was ONE night they gave him a bottle, but I honestly think there was a misunderstanding where I thought the nurse asked me I wanted to be called at night and she actually asked if I wanted to sleep through. Needless to say, I was VERY careful after.

    My VBAC baby was born 2 years later at Beilinson and again, I had no issues with nurses giving bottles or making me feel like I was intruding at night.

    And yes, at both hospitals I got the ‘you’re starving your baby’ line a couple times, which I ignored.

    I’d be interested in hearing what other moms of multiples went through in Israel though.

    • Devo, I didn’t choose ST because they do not allow rooming-in (or so I was told), and someone told me they make a lot of trouble at night if you want to nurse the baby. Sounds like you had a better experience, however.

      I often wonder if I made a mistake in choosing the hospital I did (Hadassah Ein Kerem, btw… who were wonderful during prenatal hospital visits, which with the twins occurred frequently).

      I think it’s easier to ignore the “starving your baby comments” when you are taking your baby out of the nursery to care for him or her. In my case, for the first three and a half days with my son, and all five days with my daughter, I had to feed my babies in the nursery, in front of the nurses. I didn’t write about this in the post, but one time, when I was giving the bottle, a nurse came, put her hands over mine, and made me do the forced-bottle-feeding thing I wrote about to my baby. She made some comment about how if I wanted to go home with these babies, I needed to make them drink the milk.

      Now, if I were in my room, or even the hallway… I could have nursed them as I liked, given or not given a bottle as I like, etc. This choice, however, was taken from me. And by the time I had my son with me, and at home my daughter, I knew I had not been able to nurse or pump often enough to confidently build my milk supply. So the starving comments were hard to ignore at that point as well.

      Of course — the nurses shouldn’t be saying such things, ever, to anyone. Women shouldn’t have to ignore it.

  4. I gave birth to my first and second at Shaarei Tzedek. With the first, it was a battle to get her to latch, and even when she did, we never heard sucking, so I gave in and gave her a bottle. It turned out I’d retained placenta, and actually had no milk. like zero, so I don’t regret that decision. With months of pumping and domperidone, I got all the way up to 10cc in a session.
    With my second, I was more determined and he had a pretty good latch early on. I decided that I was going to “room in” with him at S.T. even though at the time they didn’t have rooming in. You’re allowed to have the baby in your room all day except for doctor’s checkup times, and at night, I’d spend all but 2-3 hours with him in the nursing room. I ended up giving him a bottle because they wouldn’t release him until he produced urine, and he didn’t urinate until I gave him a bottle, (which should have been a clue that I was having serious supply issues….) but I was hearing swallows so I figured we were doing ok… I ended up doing half-and-half for him to eight months, which is pretty good when you don’t have an adequate supply.

    • Leah, I think half-and-half is a wonderful thing when that is what you can do. I kept telling myself when I was struggling that if in the end, I couldn’t nurse exclusively, then I could at least do both, which is also good.

      I’m curious… you said the nurses wouldn’t release him until he urinated. Did the nurses ever tell you how or help you track the diapers? I know where I was, they were keeping track, but they never took the time to teach me about what or why. In America, with my first, a nurse gave me a sheet and explained to me how many pees and poos they should make, so I knew the baby was getting enough milk.

      I think the nurses should help moms with that, both to help build confidence in new moms who don’t know about tracking diapers, and to help moms like you who do need some help beyond just nursing.

      I also took Domperidon, actually up until three months ago. It helped me very much so, and until I took it, I couldn’t build a strong enough supply for the babies on my own. Since I had nursed my first babies without problems, it seems for me personally, my lack of supply was based on the lack of pumping/nursing during those first few days, when the body takes it’s clues to how much milk to make for the long term. Some people can overcome a hurdle like that on their own, but I couldn’t.

  5. I actually choose the hospital I choose in Israel because I was told they allowed rooming-in for “some” people. I actually called ahead (or my doula did, I can’t remember now) and was told that they allow rooming-in even for twins, even after a c-section, if you get “permission.”

    I don’t understand why nurses and doctors act as though they are decision-makers about a child’s care and not the child’s parents. It’s so bizarre to me to read that a hospital has to give a mother permission to have her baby in her room with her. HELLO! Who, exactly, do they think is going to be taking care of the baby when it goes home? Is the mother not capable of feeding, diapering, and clothing a baby hours after he or she is born but magically capable 2 or 3 days later when mom and baby are at home?

    • Fern, I agree 100%. I don’t understand the logic. If a mother is having complications after birth, or something, and she needs help, that is one thing. But if a mother is asking to care for her baby around the clock, why not allow her??

      At night, there were just two nurses and one or two assistants for over 30 babies. Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just let the moms care for the babies? Especially when they *want* to do so??

  6. Michal Levy says

    My story has many similarities with yours. My twins were also born 3 weeks early (not preterm), and 1 was in the NICU for a few days, just because of her weight. They pushed formula just like you’re describing and I hated it just as much. It also took me 6 weeks to produce enough milk to BF exclusively.

    • I’m sorry you had a similar experience. 🙁 Thank you for posting, it helps me feel less alone with the entire story.

    • It’s so sad that they pushed formula. I understand that docs like to see and measure how much a baby is eating, but I wish that formula was seen as a medical intervention, in which case all involved would have to understand the risks. You would be given help to get your milk to come in faster even with the supplementation (like pumping while bottle feeding…literally, at the same time to help let down) and your baby would get help learning to latch well to you even with the bottles where the milk just squirts right out.

  7. What a painful experience! I feel sorry you had to go through all this. I can understand that nurses and doctors may have different views from the parents but the lack of communication and empathy in this case sounds incredibly pointless and counterproductive for everyone, especially the babies.

  8. This just makes me so, so sad. I wish I could have been there to help her. Its so difficult to deal with things like this after giving birth.

    • Thank you for your comment. I agree that after birth, for many women I imagine, it’s difficult to fight and make a scene. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone unaffiliated with the hospital, a volunteer or something like that, would come around to each room and ask if they need help? That would be so wonderful.

  9. What a horrible story – thank you for sharing it with us.
    I had a similar story with my oldest 17 years ago in the now defunt Misgav Ledach hospital. I only wanted to BF and he dehydrated. They gave him a bottle in the middle of night wihtout my permission. IIn retrospect, it was the right thing to give him a bottle, but they should have asked me. I strated crying hysterically at this point and all the nurses did was yell at me. With the help of the wonderful lactation consultant Batya Davis, I was able to get him nursing using a tube , like you mentioned in your post.
    I had a wonderful experience 13 years later at Hadassah Ein Kerem, where they have a lactation consultant almost full time.
    it seems like all hospitals are different

    • This is the second time I’m hearing that Hadassah Ein Kerem has a lactation consultant. I asked and my husband asked, several times, for help and to speak to an LC. They told us they had no idea what we were talking about, that there wasn’t a LC, and they didn’t even have a name and number of someone private to speak with.

      I don’t understand what happened. Did they once have a LC and now don’t? Were the nurses we spoke to clueless? So strange.

      • Did you ask in Hebrew for a Yoetzet Hanaka? LC in English means nothing to Hebrew speaking nurses.

        I was just seen by an LC at my birth 2 months ago at EK, so they definitely still have LC’s on staff and the nurse I asked knew exactly what I was talking about. Was this your first birth in Israel?

        • Abbi, yes, we did. My husband speaks fluent Hebrew, unlike me, and asked using the right terms.

          I didn’t know the term but I was able to explain what I needed, ie, someone to help with breastfeeding.

          Like I said, I don’t know why no one helped. Yes it was my first birth in Israel.

          Maybe I’m wrong, but I get the sense from you that you are going with a “blame the victim” mentality. Why? What can you gain from that?

          • I guess what you call “blaming the victim” I call “reflecting on the experience so the next one is better”. If you don’t speak Hebrew fluently, yes, you will have a more difficult time dealing with the staff in Israeli hospitals, no matter what kind of birth you have. All the more so with a c-section twin birth.

            It sounds like you went into the situation with very specific expectations and few resources to communicate these expectations. It also sounds like you didn’t fully understand how Israeli l&d wards/maternity wards work, and were probably extrapolating from your American experiences. Without the right Hebrew terms, of course it would be very difficult to have your expectations met and to communicate effectively with the staff. (not sure how you asked for an LC but “someone to help me with nursing” might sound like you wanted someone else to nurse your baby for you, which is probably why you got quizzical looks).

            My point is that lack of language probably made a difficult situation that much more difficult. My birth educator provided my class with a sheet with major birth terms translated for all students, I’m surprised your doula didn’t provide you with one. Your post is a good reminder that communication is very important for a good birth experience.

          • It seems you have selectively read my reply. I said that my husband *did* use the right term. And yet, you focus on the fact that I didn’t.

            And why would a nurse think I wanted a quiz on breastfeeding?? I’d like to think the nurses are smarter than that, and having several nurses in my family, I’d say they certainly are. If someone asked for help breastfeeding, they should understand I don’t mean a quiz.. ?!

            You’re right that the lack of language made the situation more traumatic for me. But that does not change what happened. With or without Hebrew skills, I would have been separated from my babies after the c-section, per this hospital’s policy. With or without Hebrew skills, they gave my baby formula when we told them we wanted only breastfeeding. With or without Hebrew skills, many of the nurses were uncaring, unhelpful, and quite against me breastfeeding. With or without Hebrew skills, they would not allow me to nurse my baby when I wanted, against their schedule. Something you never would have experienced, not having your baby stuck in the nursery for some silly reason.

            I’m glad you had a good experience in the hospital, and If I had had a normal birth, did not have twins, and did not have a baby allergic to formula, this story may have gone very differently. Had the allergy not been an issue, that one bottle may not have landed my daughter in the pikida. Had this been a normal birth, I would be like my roommates, who were with their babies all day.

            But that was not my situation. I find it somewhat disturbing that you insist on making this about my language skills and not the hospital. Is it also my fault the nurse gave my baby to my roommate?? (Which the nurse did blame on my roommate, saying she didn’t speak Hebrew or English and that was the problem. However, all mothers and babies have tags to ID. There was no need for language.)

            Are you saying it was my fault that the nurses didn’t come for me when I asked them too? Trust me, I made myself very clear in Hebrew and English. Are you saying it was my language issues that somehow led to my baby being forcibly fed formula? Are you saying the other women I met and spoke to there all had the same language barriers to blame?? One woman I spoke to was Israeli, and two others were Americans with excellent Hebrew. Trust me, this isn’t about Hebrew.

            I don’t know what to say.

          • Yes, i saw that your husband speaks Hebrew, but obviously, something got mixed up in the communication because despite his language skills, you didn’t get what you needed.

            Again, please read my post slowly- I said you got “quizzical looks” not “a quiz”. And, once again, I’m not sure why you insist on feeling blamed, because I’m certainly not blaming you for your bad experiences. I’m pointing out that language is an issue when you’re an American having a baby in Israel. That’s all. You posted a guest post on this blog, not only for your own emotional need to vent but for others to learn from. I’m simply pointing out for the edification of other readers that it’s important to be ready to communicate your needs effectively, even if you’re not fluent and even in the midst of what can be a very confusing and stressful time.

            You seem to be demanding some kind of affirmation from me that you have suffered tremendously so here it is: yes you had a very bad experience. I hope it never happens to you again.

          • Ah, sorry I misread, Apologies.

            I don’t need your affirmation, but thank you for writing it in any case.

            I wrote this post not to vent, as I could have vented earlier in some other way if I needed to. I actually wrote it to educate people about what *can* happen, if any little thing isn’t perfect with your baby or the mother. That’s all.

            I felt it important to reply to the language comments, to make clear that this was not just a language problem. If it is filed in the language-problem-only box, then my story was misunderstood. Just as you feel it’s important that people understand this is not the experience everyone has in Israel, I think it’s important for people to know it’s a potential experience – no matter what your mother tongue.

            I’m sorry if I sound defensive. It’s difficult to read replies like yours, though I’m sure your intentions are good.

  10. This is a harrowing experience and makes a great blog post but matches none of the experiences in all four births I’ve had in Israel. I was always woken up when I wanted to nurse at night, I was always able to nurse my baby on the delivery table and was actively encouraged to do so, (but I’ve never had a c-section, so I can’t speak for those) and I’ve never been denied access to my baby for any significant length of time, even immediately after the birth. After my recent birth, my daughter still hadn’t been seen by the doctor, but they had no problem with me taking her and said they’d come to fetch her when the doctor was around. Also, when I went to nurse her at 3 am when my milk came in (after I had even told them to give a bottle at night so I won’t be woken up), they handed me a hungry baby and I quietly nursed in the nursing area with no fuss at all.

    I’m sorry for this terrible experience but I really don’t think it’s representative of Israeli births at all. And I fear this blog has turned into “Horrible Israeli Birth Stories” (thinking back to past posts on the mother who was told to abort her 40 week old baby and then had a terrible c-section, video on babies being roughly bathed in the nursery, etc.).

    I’ve had 4 relatively pleasant birth experiences in Israel (had to be in the hallway after one, the midwives pretty much ignored me during my third) and successfully nursed all four subsequently. I can’t believe I’m an anomaly.

    • Abbi, there is a big difference–you had normal births and your babies had no problems. And you didn’t ask to be woken at night. From the mothers that I talk to, the problems start as soon as there is even a minor issue with the mother or baby. To give only one not so small example, moms with c/s are usually not allowed to have their babies with them at night and the babies can’t leave the nursery at night. Unless they have someone to wheel them to the nursery, or they are very assertive, their babies get bottles. That is an awful lot of babies.

      • I had a c-section in the US and I was able to nurse my baby at night. But when I went to the doctor he told me that i was starving him.. Well , lo and behold I found myself a pro-nursing pediatrician and he calmed me down and helped me be able to nurse my baby properly and saw that the reason why my son was so skinny was because that is just the way he is!!

      • I was woken up every 1.5 hours at night with my first. Never encountered any objection, this was 8 years ago.

        My main point was, I think a post on “Getting the Israeli Birth You Want” (common Hebrew birth terms translated, how most maternity wards work, why it’s a good idea to take a doula, etc) would be a good companion piece to stories like these . Because it is possible to get what you want, if you know what and how to ask for it.

        • Just wanted to say I had a doula. I actually wrote two books on doulas. I spoke to my doula, and others, on how to get what I needed. In my situation, none of that helped.

          Just sayin’…

          But I agree, a post on how to get what you can — when possible — would be good. It would not, however, solve all the issues, nor would it have helped me.

    • Abbi, I’m really glad to hear you had good experiences, but I also think that maybe your standards are different. When I am scared to go to the hospitals in Israel, it is not from hearing horror stories, it’s from hearing “best case scenarios from you and hospital literature. You are saying that you were able to go and nurse quietly in the nursing area. I think that sucks! I don’t want to get out of bed after having a baby. I want to reach over and pick up my baby, change them on my bed, and nurse them in my bed, preferably without strangers in the room. This doesn’t seem to be a possibility in even the best hospitals in Israel. What’s so terrible about having American expectations? Israel is an advanced country and the outdated policies don’t lead to safer or cheaper care or faster recovery.

      • Some hospitals do offer rooming-in, which I chose for my first four children, and if my Israeli neighbors (and the women whom I saw in the hospital who did not choose rooming-in) are representative of the general population, many, if not most, women do not WANT rooming-in, even the ones who exclusively breastfeed. When a friend of mine had rooming-in our Israeli friends were horrified. I am NOT exaggerating. They said, and I quote, “The babies are right there! With the mothers!” “What?! How horrible!” These were women who exclusively breastfed their babies. You can imagine how the women who don’t breastfeed exclusively feel about rooming-in. (For my fifth child I was too exhausted to even consider having her with me at night, but she was with me all day and no-one ever tried to give her a bottle.)

        • Michal Levy says

          There is still a lot to be educated to israelis.
          I am for 100% rooming-in with the option of a nursery for those mothers who need it.

          • For a charedi woman giving birth to her 5th, 6th or 7th child, the most precious gift is 2 uninterrupted nights of sleep. Same goes for women who have had difficult births or who suffer from PPD or women who just don’t want to be with their babies 24 hours a day. Those are all legitimate reasons to put a baby in the nursery in the hospital and even request bottles at night. The fact that it’s so hard for you to understand that different women have different needs when they give birth is disturbing and a big reason why many women like me, who do exclusively breastfeed, are turned off by breastfeeding advocates. I dislike the attitude that in order to promote breastfeeding, choices for women need to be discouraged or severely curtailed.

          • Abbi, did you read the rationale that I linked to, from the WHO, and the study references? There is no evidence of better outcomes, including more rest for mothers, when babies are kept in the nursery.
            The hospital’s job is to promote health, not care for healthy newborns of healthy mothers in the nursery. In Canada and in many other progressive places, they do not provide this “choice.” I’m sorry, but I cannot advocate for a practice that causes harm but no measurable benefit. It is not a “gift” to mothers and babies. It is antiquated.
            One study on infant sleep: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1552-6909.1988.tb00522.x/abstract “The data collected from the mothers in the study indicated that mothers did not sleep longer or better when their infants were returned to the nursery during the night.”
            You’ve mentioned mothers sleeping through the night as a way to decrease PPD several times (not only on this post). This article is about whether night nursing increases risk of depression (the opposite is true): http://www.ibreastfeeding.com/content/newsletter/nighttime-breastfeeding-and-maternal-mental-health

          • Michal Levy says

            For the record Abbi, I *AM* that mother giving birth to my 5th, 6th, 7th child. And I want nothing more than being with my baby uninterrupted.
            From what I see, charedi women want nurseries and bottles at night because that’s how things are done in their culture. That’s how their mothers and sisters and friends all did it, so that’s what they do. They are made to believe that this is best for them, and babies are doing ok in the nursery. So, that sector needs to be educated.

  11. I also had a baby in Hadassah Ein Kerem. However, the reason why I didnt’ see my baby until she was 2.5 days old was because I was in the ICU recovering from my hysterectomy due to placenta accreta. When I was finally allowed out of the ICU and back into the maternity ward they greeted me with my baby and were all so excited for me to have come out of the whole ordeal alive. YET I will say that they did not allow me to nurse my baby because they felt that being born at week 36 that she couldn’t nurse because she didn’t take the bottle well enough. My baby kept trying to nurse but I didn’t because they wouldn’t let me. When I brought her home at two weeks old I persisted and used an SNS with bottle on my neck and tube on myself so as not to bring nipple confusion. It’s hard to say in my situation whether it was because they are not into nursing or because I was after major surgery. The nurse in the baby room DID encourage me to pump and for the baby to drink my milk. My daughter nursed until she was 23 months old when she literally told me “Mommy, no more!”

  12. Rachel,
    So sorry for that very traumatic experience. I’m going to guess that you were in Yoldot Alef? I happen to be one of the lactation consulatants at Hadassah Ein Karem – so I can tell you that it is 100% bull$%^& that there aren’t any – each ward has at least one. In Yoldot Alef, due to their choice, they have a lactation consultant who comes one day a week only. However, I often go to other wards (including pediatrics and pediatric sugrery) if I am called or made aware of a situation that needs help. I work for the rooming-in ward, and yes, we happily accept women after twin c-sections. Not many choose us, but those who do are welcomed. If your babies required monitoring for any reason, then that’s the reason we couldn’t accept you.
    I do hope you have a better experience the next time around. You can feel free to ask for me by name if you need…Noa from Yoldot Gimmel.

    • Yoldot Gimmel is awesome! Spent the day there waiting for my contractions to start. Really nice head nurse and volunteers.

    • Hi Noa,
      I had a baby at Hadassah EK 4 years ago and in my ward there was a lactation room. She consultant was awesome and really made it a great experience for me!

      • I gave birth at Ein Karem this past year – I am not sure what ward I was put in. I had no problems with being woken up to feed, but otherwise, the nurses were unresponsive. Although I asked for the lactation consultant every day I was there, she was never around and the nurses did not notify me when she came, even though I asked them to. On the last day, after I had been discharged, I stopped in the nursing room and met her for the first time. I think HEK can improve their support for breastfeeding.

  13. I didn’t read past “Separation At Birth” because I’m due in October and I REALLY don’t want to go to a hospital. I don’t think reading on will make me feel better. But on the bill, you said, “I mean, you sign SO many papers at the hospital, what is one more?” What’s keeping that form from going into a big pile where a mother in labor and pain is told, “just sign it.” Will it be in several languages? A different color that moms will know to look for? From what I’ve read and heard and what I’m guessing your nightmare would attest to, formula is only the beginning of many outdated practices in Israeli hospitals that do nothing to help mother and baby bond and have a healthy, natural recovery.

    • I remember signing one, maybe two short forms when each of my five children (single births) were born in Barzilai, Ashkelon and Ma’anai HaYeshua, Bnei Brak. Perhaps women with twins or complications have to sign more forms. Both hospitals strongly encourage breastfeeding. At Ma’anai HaYeshua I was very briefly on a separate floor from my baby, who was born on Shabbat (so I couldn’t call the other floor), and wanted to ensure that she wasn’t given a bottle. The nurse to whom I spoke said that it would be a crime (yes, that was her word) for the “breastfeeding only” sign not to be put on her bassinet and obeyed. As we were speaking the baby arrived, the sign was placed AND obeyed.
      If your Hebrew isn’t good, do not be shy about asking for help from an English speaker. I never had to, but I know that in any staff some will know better English than others. Ask a doula about which hospitals are best for breastfeeding and other issues, because even if you choose a homebirth, anything can happen and you wouldn’t want to have to choose a hospital at literally the last minute.

      • The JPost had an insert this Friday with information for expectant moms. It was mostly information and ads from Laniado, Hadassa, and Bikur Holim. And all the things they were bragging about just didn’t impress me, and only scared me. If they’re the best, what could I end up with?

  14. There’s never a problem… until there’s a problem. Obviously if all goes well with the birth and everything is straightforward – you have rooming-in and no one touches your baby or interferes with breastfeeding. The second there’s even the slightest issue such as jaundice, low or high birth weight… suddenly the doctors and nurses come on scene with threats and scare tactics which are really hard to not listen to unless you have a lot of experience and determination.

    What an amazing story… I’m sad that Rachel had to go through the trauma that she did. The part where they sent one of her babies to the wrong mother made my whole body tingle… I cannot imagine what I would have done in that situation… that is unacceptable! She certainly took feeding her babies to her heart and the story of her success at breastfeeding twins left me in tears of emotion. Rachel certainly was determined and she did everything to protect her babies and feed them the way that she chose to.

  15. What a horrifying experience! I am so sorry for you and hope you are now enjoying your babies.
    But I wonder if the current proposed legislation would really help much wth situations like yours, where negative attitudes towards breastfeeding and mothers are so ingrained into the nursing staff. Isn’t it possible that if the current legislation had been in effect, they could have kept your babies away from you for a variety of “medically necessary” reasons, and then browbeaten you into signing a formula form so that your babies wouldn’t “starve” in your (forced) absence? Changes may need to be a lot deeper than signing a form.
    In terms of the discussion about LCs in hospitals, my lactation consultant relative told me that some hospitals (I think including Ein Karem) have no IBCLC’s on staff, because the administators feel that IBCLCs would undermine the nurses. So nurses have breastfeeding training (to whatever extent???) but there’s no board certified IBCLC. My experience at Ein Karem was that any time I asked a nurse to see a lactation consultant, she’d say “I’m a lactation consultant!” (all this was in Hebrew – yoetzet hanaka) – you don’t need any specific certification to call yourself that, and the quality of their breastfeeding advice was uneven.

    • Channah, yes, this occurred to me. I doubt the form would make everything better, and as you said, I can also see nurses brow-beating mothers to sign it. But it’s one step in the right direction. In my case, it *may* have avoided that first bottle, which led to the allergic reaction, that complicated the entire situation. Probably not a common issue, but something that might have been avoided.

  16. Jill Davis says

    This is an incredibly powerful story Rachael. I am so sorry this happened to you, but you definitely are a strong voice in the conversation that should lead to the reform that is needed. I have heard that the story picks the writer 🙂 My heart goes out to you. Peace and Grace, Jill

    • Rachel, thank you for sharing what is clearly a traumatic and distressing time for you and your babies. What an incredible mother they have, to have battled through to where you are now. I hope breastfeeding them now helps in some small way to heal parts of the initial trauma. In my own experience and the experiences of others, women are so incredibly vulnerable after giving birth. Even women who have births that go well and where they speak the same language as the health care professionals. I don’t live in Israel however my husband has many cousins who live there and have given birth there.

      While I have not heard a story quite as traumatic as yours (not to say it has not happened, by any means), the stories I have heard have often distressed ms greatly for the lack of respect and control the women seem to have, both over their birthing and over their babies. It sends shivers down my spine to imagine what women go through, women who want to and can and should be able to breastfeed.

      Thank you again for sharing your story and I hope no other women is forced to under go such a traumatic situation. You are certainly an inspiration, to have managed to establish exclusive breastfeeding despite all that you were fighting against and to have shared your story.

  17. Channa—
    Hadassah Ein Karem has 4 IBCLC’s on staff (including myself) – all of whom are also nurses (so if one of us responds to a request with “I’m a yoetzet hanaka” we’re not making it up!). Currently there are about 10 nurses in the final stages of a year-long Misrad Habriut breastfeeding course, all of whom studied under and are mentored by IBCLC’s. I don’t actually know of a single hospital in the entire country (including the hospital in Nazareth!) that doesn’t have at least one IBCLC.
    Again, I feel very badly for Rachel and her experience – which is terrible. I think it would be a good idea to send your letter to the hospital ombudsman (in hebrew pniyot hatzibbur) – he letter can be in english. it is very important for te higher-ups to hear your story.

    • That is good to know. I guess my relative was talkng about somewhere else. BTW, I think you were the nurse who first got my son latched on at the breast 14 months ago – thanks again!

    • Noa,

      I wish I had known you were there! I find it interesting that one floor can have a different LC policy than another in the same hospital. How would having an LC come only once a week help, when women are giving birth and leaving all the time?

      In any case, I’m glad there are LCs at Hadasah, and I wonder what went wrong that the wing I was on didn’t help connect me to you or another LC.

      I am going to send my letter to the hospital, thank you for the encouragement to do so. To be honest, complaining formally didn’t even occur to me at the time or right after. During it all, I was just trying to protect my babies, and after I got home, I was CRAZY busy with the twins, the LCs, the nurse-sup-pump schedule, etc. And after that, I didn’t want to think or talk about it at all.

      Plus, honestly, having this be my first birth in Israel and not hearing many positive stories, I assumed what I went through was a typical Israeli experience. Looks like that isn’t *quite* true.

      I hope my letter will make a difference, somewhere. Thanks again for your thoughtful replies!

      ~ Rachel

  18. So, I gave birth at Sharei Tzedek…and I have to tell you, they woke everyone up 2x a night by LOUD SPEAKER to come nurse their babies. EVERYONE. So the assumption was that everyone was breastfeeding. Plus, they kept bringing my son in the middle of the night when he cried. Honestly, as a first time mother…..this was totally unexpected on my part (I guess i didn’t know what to expect)….but i was so sleep deprived I was starting to lose it, b/c I had zero idea if my baby was getting enough milk that i would stay up for hours nursing him . Finally on the second night after I fell asleep holding my baby in my arms…and nice nurse came to get him (i was supposed to bring him back, but couldn’t muster the energy to get up), she gently suggested that they formula feed him for the next feeding. I was terrified of that b/c of all the nursing books and blogs that basically tell you that’s courting disaster—but I agreed all the while feeling this tremendous guilt that I was going to ruin his chances of being breastfed…..but I finally got more than 2 1/2 hrs sleep…he was happy, I was happy and we went on to have a lovely breastfeeding relationship. I guess I have the opposite feeling about this law (and this is in no way commenting on rachel’s experience which clearly was traumatic)…..i feel like the books and blogs etc…put so many rules and stumbling blocks before you..no pacifiers before ONE MONTH….no bottle feeding ever! etc etc…..that the guilt i felt over potentially not nursing exclusively almost led me to give it up entirely. In the end, I nursed for a year. My soon took a pacifier from day 1 (gave it up on his own at 7 months)…I pumped and gave him a bottle in addition to BF..and after about 3 months, we started giving him one formula bottle a day (with much guilt) b/c my husband worked nights and was always awake at 4 AM anyways. With the second kid, please g-d, I am going to feel no such guilt. I know better now that I can still breastfeed and be close to my child and provide the benefits of BF…AND still allow some formula to creep in when I need some time without ruining his or my life. This was no thanks to the BF advocates. Again, I’m commenting on the law here…not Rachel’s experience. I just found that the advice about BF nearly ruined my experience with my son….and it took a lot of time, energy and hiring of some really good lactation consultants to correct that.

    • Michal Levy says

      It’s the whole system that’s inherently wrong. If the system would actually be mother-baby friendly, chances are that you wouldn’t have been sleep deprived and wouldn’t have needed to give a bottle.
      If there would have been full time rooming-in, you wouldn’t have needed to be woken up artificially (not by your baby – much harder!!!) to feed him. If they would have allowed you to lie down while nursing, and nurse-sleeping, even better.
      It’s a million kinds of wrong to wake up a whole ward by loudspeaker that it’s ‘feeding’ time. Brings us back to those set feeding hours all over again 🙁
      If you are gently woken up by the noises (NOT cries) of your own baby, can take him in bed with you, are allowed to rest when it SUITS YOU (without being disturbed by visiting hours, mother meal times, and so on), you may very well not have reached the point where bottle feeding was absolutely necessary.
      I think you did the right thing under the circumstances, no need to feel guilty. No need at all. But what all of us should fight for, is MOTHER-BABY-FRIENDLY maternity care.
      And the rooming-in ward of EK comes very close to that ideal. That is, when nothing goes wrong.

      • I roomed-in at Barzilai, which the hospital actually prefers, so nursing whenever I wanted was not a problem. The nurses were trained lactation consultants. In Ma’anei HaYeshua although there is no rooming in, during the day other than at doctor examinations babies are free to be with their mothers as much as the mother wants. We were called by loudspeaker, ONLY during the day, to please bring our babies to the nursery because, “We (the staff) need them.” The nurses spoke so sweetly! Although technically I saw nursing hours posted (I think) no-one, including the staff paid any attention to them. During the night a volunteer came to each woman who wanted it when her baby woke up. There was a communal nursing room because most roommates did not want to be disturbed by someone else’s baby at night. I suppose mothers with quiet babies snuck them into their rooms. I found the nursing chairs in the nursing room so comfortable that I nurse-slept in them as did other women. The nurses gave lactation advice and a professional lactation consultant was present most of the time. It could be that there was always one on the premises but not always on both floors.

      • Fair enough. I hadn’t actually considered it from that point of view.

  19. Nathalie says

    Wow. I cried for you, especially as some of what you wrote was so familiar.
    I had my first 2 kids in Ein KErem.
    #1 was born at 26 weeks and transferred right away to Har Hatsofim (to the serious NICU), and I only saw him once I was discharged 5 days later. When my husband went to see the baby a few hours after the birth NICU told him I should start pumping as soon as possible (breastfeeding was obviously not relevant at this stage), and I got everything I needed from Ein Kerem, and lots of support from the nurses who knew pumping was my only link to my son.
    In NICU they were very helpful. Didn’t have a lactation consultant (she was in the regular nursery), but I had a MIL who supported me a lot and had made me read about breastfeeding when I was pregnant… In the end my supply went down after 2 months of pumping and my little boy never had the strenght needed to restart my supply. but he always got some of my milk in NICU (even if it was 10 cc pumped over a whole day mixed with formula). Si even if I didn’t end up breasfeeding for food (he sucked for comfort), I had a positive experience

    With #2, I knew I was scheduled for a c-s at 35 weeks, and planned everything in advance knowing she’d also be in NICU for low weight. I saw her for 30 second then I wad wizzed to CICU for 24 hours. 3 hours after surgery, I was pumping (lying down…)with the pump I had brought with me. Unfortunately, this milk never got to my daughter and that was the one time she got formula. After that, I made sure to either walk to bottle feed her my milk or nurse (when allowed). I had issues with NICU till they let me nurse her, but they always gave her my milk, and would usually wait for me to come unless she was screaming. She was in NICU for 3 weeks , went home nursing half and bottle feeding half, and switched to EBF (no bottles) within a week.

    #3 was born in Beilinson. I got to hold him a tiny bit longer than his sister, and then went to CICU (my medical issues) where I proceeded to pump right away. HE started in the regular nursery but was moved to NICU the next day (jaundice, low weight and suspected infection)- to tell the truth once I saw the incubator in the regular nursery where he has stayed, I was happy about the move- at least in NICU the nurse took care of him when he cried, and he would not have been near me in any case. In his case, my milk took much longer to come in and they were feeding him big amounts very fast (compared to his siblings) so for the first few days, he only got formula, and then gradually got my milk. Some nurses in NICU let me nurse (he was born at 36 weeks), others said I shouldn’t so he’d gain weight faster. I played it by ear. It was worth it to give him a bottle of my milk sometimes so Id be able to pump enough to leave him for the rest of the day and avoid him getting formula. In his case too, we were fully breastfeeding within 3 days of getting home.

    I think I had a few great advantages: a very supportive MIL (my mother is not in the country) who gave my literature before the birth, a very strong will, previous knowledge (with kids 2 and 3) which allowed me to make sure they’d get my milk- even if it was bottle fed, and a very strong will to get them to EBF once home.

    I agree that not every one gets this suport. But from my experience, NICU is supportive of PUMPING and giving your milk, even if not of breastfeeding proper (gain weight..) . Once you pump non stop, you are committed to give your own milk, and making the transition to breasfeading is much easier since it;s easier than pumping then giving. I did not see a single mum beong encourage to give formula as opposed to breast milk (in a bottle ) in the 3 NICUS I visited

    • Thank you for sharing your story, too. I’m sorry you had to be separated from your babies, I know how hard that is, even when it’s necessary.

      It’s true that the NICU was supportive of pumping, and there were two nurses there that encouraged me to pump (this was after I was already up and walking). When I did have milk for my daughter, they gave it to her. They weren’t very supportive of breastfeeding directly, however.

      If I had just had her to care for, I may have been able to pump enough and be with her enough to get her more breastmilk. But because of the two babies in two places, the scheduling of their feedings out of my hands, and the running around between them, I wasn’t able to pump often enough to give her just breastmilk. Sometimes I wondered if I should have just pumped and pumped, and given up on actual nursing either of them, to save time and get the babies my milk at least, but I really didn’t want the nurses in the regular nursery feeding my son after what I saw. I also had this strong instinct to be with my babies whenever I could. I couldn’t pump and be with them, so I made the choice to be with them more than pump.

      I also had only one breast pump set, as the floor had run out of sets. (I got the last one… I saw a few women who wanted to pump were told they couldn’t because of the lack of pumping kits.) So I was pumping only one side at a time. If I had two kits, I might have had a better chance of getting more as well.

      What I usually did was directly nurse my son, but whatever I pumped, I gave to my daughter. That was the only way I could work it out.

      I also would like to say that the nurses in the NICU were generally MUCH BETTER than the regular nursery, which is another reason I tried to stay with my son more than my daughter when I had to choose between who to feed and care for.

      Hard choices mothers shouldn’t have to make. 🙁

      Thank you again for sharing your story.

    • PS. It’s totally true that going through it once gives you info you might not have had before. You mentioned bringing your own pump, and knowing what I know now, I would rent a breastpump before birth, to have with me, if I knew I could need it or if I was having twins again. Having a pump would have made a big difference in starting the milk supply.

      • Nathalie says

        I’m aware I had previous info which most mothers don’t have, both about NICU and pumping. It was also the same info which enabled me to demand (and I mean to use this word) that I hold my baby after cs.
        On the plus side, pumping at all hours in the main pumping area enable me to speak to other mums, making my stay in hospital a “mini crusade” for helping new mothers with their nursing (and reassuring those with babies in NICU)
        While I do not wish anyone to go through what I went through, I actually remember the births and NICU stays rather fondly, and do not see them as something traumatic. Maybe it is partly because my first baby was in such precarious condition that nothing else than optimism and a brace face would do, and the other babies were “normal” so I didn’t see any reason to be less than ecstatic about them.
        This, and the fact that pumping was ALL I could do gave me a big push to make sure my kids would get milk. .

        • While I was with my daughter once, triplets were brought into the NICU. They were being transferred, and there was lots of commotion to get them breathing, hooked up to all the monitors and in their incubators. My husband and I watched this and said to each other we were very, very lucky that we didn’t have a good reason to be there like those babies.

        • Oh… and I love that you made your stay a mini-crusade.

          You were someone else’s angel. <3

  20. This sounds appalling and is very different from my experience of having twins in the UK. About 11 1/2 years ago, I gave birth at 36 weeks – the second twin was an emergency c-section and they left our baby boy outside the theatre, pretty much on his own, so that my husband was running backwards and forwards between him and me. The doctor wanted to give him either formula or sugar water, while they were delivering the second twin,but I refused and they respected that, although they wrote it on the notes. I’m pretty sure I held our son before I tried to deliver his sister, and there was no suggestion that they would take the babies away – they were 6 and 6 1/2 lbs. They wheeled me up to the ward, holding the babies and were very supportive of my breastfeeding. There was no suggestion that I would do anything other than room-in with both babies (although this was one time when i could have done with a nursery!). I spent 5 days in hospital, with the babies, and then went to Beis Brucha, our wonderful London mother and baby home for another 6 days, where they were also very supportive of me nursing the babies. In general, the 3 different hospitals in which I have had babies here have all been supportive of breastfeeding on demand, and I’ve seen/heard nurses encouraging mothers to feed and asking them why they weren’t even trying, even when there was some medical reason to bottle feed.

  21. Rachel, this is nothing short of horrific. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I didn’t cry when I read it… I got increasingly angry, so much that I took a break in the middle! I’m so sorry that this happened to you, I can not believe how far removed some hospitals are from a natural birth, how big pharmaceutical and formula companies have leeched into the practices of our hospitals. I’m so glad you have been able to build that bond with your twins after all of this emotional trauma. I honestly don’t know what I would do, if put in the same situation.

  22. This post has been sticking in my mind and the question that I keep coming back to is the one that Mother in Israel put as her title – whose babies are these anyway? (though maybe you meant it rhetorically…) In other words, what exactly are a mother’s rights when she is in the hospital with her newborn?
    I hesitate a little to ask this because I don’t want to make Rachel second-guess herself – it sounds like she was nothing short of heroic in her efforts – but because I think mothers really should know… what are your rights as the baby’s mother?
    If nurse says “you can’t nurse the baby now, it will throw off his schedule,” does a mother have a right to insist on nursing her baby anyway?
    If a nurse says “we need to keep your baby on the monitor because he wheezed two nights ago”, does a mother have a right to insist that he be removed from the monitor?
    If a nurse says “we can’t discharge your baby because he lost a pound of weight,” does a mother have a right to insist on taking her baby home anyway?
    I know that in most cases such confrontations shouldn’t be necessary and mothers should find ways to work with the hospital staff, not against them. But when push comes to shove, when communication completely breaks down as it did in this mother’s case, who decides what happens to the baby?

    • I would like to know the answers to these questions, too. For moms whose babies are not in the nursery, AND especially for moms like me, who had their babies in the nursery all day and all night.

      These are very good questions.

      BTW, on the last day, my husband and I were prepared to sign the babies out AMA, if it would come to that. But only on the last day did this occur to us (thanks, actually to a suggestion from a friend, who told me I could do that if they tried to keep the babies longer.)

    • Channa- I think these are good questions, but they really only apply to cases of babies in the NICU. All babies on the regular ward are kept with their mothers all day from 5 am till 10 at night or 24 hours if the baby is rooming in. There is no “schedule” and they just need the baby to be checked by the ped once a day to make sure no jaundice or infections are brewing. The nurses stop by to make sure everything is ok and ask how many wet diapers there have been and how many times the baby has been fed, noting it down on the chart. There was also a visit from a hearing specialist to check hearing.
      I can answer in terms of discharging- you can discharge your child against medical advice. If they feel your child’s life is at stake, the hospital might alert misrad harevacha .

      I’d just like to remind everyone also that electric breast pumps can be rented from Yad Sarah-which has branches at both Hadassahs, Shaarei Tzedek, Tel Hashomer, Ichilov, Beilinson and dozens of other towns all over Israel.

      • Abbi-this is not the case at Bikur Cholim. you are “allowed” to take your baby from the nursery on a strict schedule (opposite of visiting times) and are discouraged or just plain not allowed in the nursery between times, except in the middle of the night. I’ve given birth there 3 times in the last 4 years, so I’m very aware of the policies. (I’m the one who was advised to have an abortion at 40 weeks with my most recent pregnancy)
        After my c-section I dind’t get to touch my baby (not sterile) andmy husband saw him in the hallway for 30 seconds before he was taken away from us for more than 12 hours. They wouldn’t bring him to my recovery room even the until I started -literally- shouting. I had been trying nicely for 4 hours or more and I was done.

        I have also checked myself out of the hospital in Israel AMA more than once. The process can take up to 6 hours and as many lectures as there are staff. I’ve never tried to check a child out that way, but I can imagine the process would be harrowing.

        • Judging from the comments, it appears there are vastly different policies depending on the hospital and even depending on the floor in the hospital. I’ve delivered 4 times in Israel, 3 at EK and once at Meir. I’ve never once been denied access to my baby, l’hefech, all four times my baby was with me the entire day and once all night as well. Eight years ago, EK had an LC every weekday (so although I didn’t see an LC the first day after birth, Shabbat, I saw her the second day, before I left)

          The nurses at Meir were all effectively able to help me with nursing; many of their positioning tips eased my nipple pain tremendously. At EK 2 months ago, there was plenty of food for moms between meal times, especially at night- tea, cookies, sandwiches and fruit, which I loved because it was hard to unlatch for mealtimes.

          In short, I’ve only had positive, pro-breastfeeding experiences.

          I checked out early from Meir, which they didn’t try to stop, but getting all the papers signed and stamped by the right people took a tremendously long time.

          • It doesn’t bother me that different hospitals have different policies; it’s the patient’s job to be informed and to go where she can get what is important to her. Knowing bikur cholim’s policy, I would never go there. (Rabbi’s wife didn’t mention why she kept going back there… presumably she didn’t mind the separation policy too much.)
            It is much more disturbing that there can be so much variation within one hospital: Going to Ein Karem was a totally reasonable choice for a mother who wanted to be with her babies a lot – it worked for you and for many other people (myself included; when my son was born there I had him by my side from his birth to our discharge other than when I asked the nurses to watch him while I took a shower), but then you hear nightmare stories like this one.

          • It bothers me that so many hospitals have a harmful policy, regular separation of mothers and babies.

          • From Rabbi’s wife
            I actually kept going back there because it is the closest to me and my second birth was fine there. I will never, ever go back. I hated the separation, but was told that it was the normal thing in Israel. It is difficult for my husband to come to a farther hospital, as we don’t have family here to help directly after the birth, but that will not keep me from going to a different hospital in the future, as it has in the past.

  23. I couldn’t even read the entire story from how upset it made me. I gave birth in Maayanei Hayeshua both times so far, and had to FIGHT to keep the babies with me and nurse them exclusively. When you say you might give birth under a tree next time, I’m totally with you!! Or rather, if it is affordable to us at the time, I might go through the expensive and supposedly risky route, and give birth with a private midwife. I’m terrified and disgusted after my hospital experience.

    • I’m surprised to learn this. When I was there most of mothers nursed and anyone who wanted to nurse exclusively, including at night, was individually woken up when the baby woke up. I could have easily brought my baby to my room at night without anyone noticing, but I didn’t want to risk waking up my roommates. My baby was with me almost all day and no-one minded. A lactation consultant was almost always at hand and the bulletin board in the nursing room was filled with notices from board certified consultants, who could be called with questions.
      I’m in favor of rooming in, but if you’re at a hospital that doesn’t have rooming-in it’s best not to advertise how much you’re keeping your baby in your room. Sometimes if the staff doesn’t know, you don’t have to fight.
      Before I gave birth I asked a friend who’s a doula about Laniado vs. Ma’aynai HaYeshua. She said that most of her clients go to Laniado. You might benefit from talking to a doula about the same subject.

  24. I had 3 of mine in Misgav Ladach in Jerusalem (sadly, no longer functioning as a maternity hospital) and 1 in Hadssah Har Hatzofim. B”H I had straightforward births and nursed them all successfully. However, in Misgav Ladach they had a semi-rooming in policy, which meant that I could keep the baby with me as much as I wanted, but could also take him/her back to the nursery if I wanted a break or a sleep.

    I was so used to that that I was absolutely shocked when Har Hatzofim only gave me access to my son at fixed times that suited their schedule. A friend came to viit and I said “let’s go and see the baby”. I marched confidently into the nursery, only to be told “It’s 3:00 pm – you can’t have your baby now”. I was astounded.

    He nursed well, so I don’t think they gave him formula between feeds, but I wouldn’t really know for sure.

    • I had nursing traumatic issues and can identify with what you said, that you cry everytime you talk about it.

      My little girl is over 5 and we were meeting with a new health care provider and had to talk about her development, and all over again, there I was beginning to cry (After 5 YEARS!!). I hope you are not offended , if I say that maybe it is a good idea to have professional post-trauma treatment, as this is such an emotional issue.

      I also identified with how you wrote that the nurses do not think to “look after” the mother and take her in a wheel chair to see the baby. After one of the births I lost a lot of blood, baby was in Intensive care and I had not seen him, and did not have the faintest idea what was happening with him.

      I recomend you have a look at the support group MOBI. (Mother overcoming breastfeeding issues), a yahoo group email list, it is excellent.

  25. Where to start? First off, Rachel, I remember you from back at Myria/ePregnancy WAAAAY back in the day. My eldest was born in Israel, and the experience was so AWFUL that 3 of my next 4 were born in planned home births. My 4th baby was born in the hospital in the states, and the experience was MUCH better. The five I have keep me very busy and I have no plans to have more now that we are back in Israel (just arrived 2 weeks ago), but if I were to have another, there is NO WAY I would have a baby in an Israeli hospital. NO WAY.

    With my first, they also sabotaged my bf attempts, and it was FOUR MONTHS before my daughter nursed properly. The whole thing was horrifying, and I was so unhappy. Feel your pain — but so happy you have your beautiful babies. 🙂

  26. RACHEL:

    “Having given birth to my first children normally”

    i think you mean vaginally rather than normally.


    works fine again non-mobile

  27. This is from Keren. It got lost in the move: I thought,
    Each time there is a post here, and we end up “bashing” Israel’s hospitals

    Let me think of something good to say,

    baby number 1 – not allowed to see him till 12! hours after birth, no-one had heard of rooming in then – so no -that was not good

    baby number 2- extremely high jaundice, family doctor would not allow us back to hosptial for the blood tests follow up, so we were left going to kupat holim, and ended up getting admitted to hospital a short time before shabbat. with high bilirubin. Baby not allowed to post-natal dept. but sent to regular children’s dept (with sick infants) – so could not get the special light care. What is the treamement – stop nursing for 24 hours. IS there a pump? – not in the children’s dept. Maybe in the babys ward – but no you can only use it if you are in maternity, and at any rate you have to buy a special part + it was shabbat. (ended up sleeping on the floor after a ceaserean, and expressing milk into the sink by hand) so – that was no good either

    What about number 3 – Well he stayed in hopsital (jaundice again) and I had to go hope, and pump with one of those terrible old pumps from yad sara which made me bleed. And of couse, they hardly allowed me to nurse him., as you are not allowed to take them out of the “light” treatment – so not so good

    Number 4 – Difficult birth, I am very weak in a bed, baby in ICU, no one is telling me what is going one, I did not see him for over 24 hours after the birth, it did not occur to any of the nurses or team to let me know what was going on , or update me about his situation, or take me there. – never go there again either

    Number 5 – Total nursing failure – hospitalized for over a week in childrens department – with the hospital trying to find out why baby did not grow – while there is no one who had any understanding of nursing on the team, who could have sent me home after 2 days. – in the end nursing failure and permanent trauma

    These were in 4 different hospitals, so I guess it is the system that is wrong, not we who are writing here!!

    • Keren, LOL thanks for trying to say something nice!

      FYI – I was in Schneider Children’s when my baby was almost 3 months old. There were other babies under a week old. I believe “Eshpooz Gimmel” is only for not contageous kids. There was a breast pump being passed around that seemed modern, but even though it was a double, they would only give you enough equipment for one side. I think for a new, recovering mom it would be really tough. Only one parent is allowed to stay, parents don’t get food or pillows, you are only allowed to open the chair/bed between 8-8, and you’d have to be washing your own pump parts and taking care of yourself and the baby. Changing diapers, taking their temp twice a day… But the nurses seemed to look the other way about most of the rule breaking for the really new moms, trying not to wake them during the day and stuff.

  28. And from Melissa:
    I had one confrontation with a nurse in Ein Karem. I was upstairs, in the new ward, the first night with my second. He had been born with low blood sugar (I was on insulin with GD), and even though I had nursed him in the delivery room, his sugars were 32 (instead of 55). With my husband’s permission, they first gave him a syringe (in his mouth) of glucose. Then I nursed him again, after about an hour or so. The first night was terrible. I knew I needed to nurse him every two hours to keep his sugars up, but the nurse would not come and get me every two hours (only three), so I basically set my alarm. I couldn’t sleep anyway. I sat in the chair in the tinokia and told them I wanted my baby to nurse him. This one nurse told me that if I didn’t give Materna, she was going to hook him up to an IV and give him sugars. I told her “over my dead body” — and that I knew full well my milk was enough for him to do fine. I think if it had been my first birth experience, I would have acted differently. He was tongue tied as well, so nursing was painful! Once, I succumbed to the “fear factor” and tried to get him to drink a few cc’s of the formula — which he promptly spat out. I asked for a nurse who supported breastfeeding, and a wonderful woman came to meet with me. She also arranged my transfer to the rooming-in ward, where Noa was my nurse! I slept with him on my chest, nursed him while sleeping, and no one said a thing. A pediatrician came to see me and told me to express colostrum and put it directly in his mouth with a syringe or my finger — and that helped his sugars stabilize within 24 hours. He nursed only (took pumped breastmilk from 3 months to 7 months only when I went back to work — after that he reverse cycled), and he only weaned at 21 months.

  29. Oh my goodness, that is terrible! I gave birth to b/g twins last September and nursed them through out their 13 day NICU stay and it was nothing like that. I am SO sorry to hear what a terrible experience you had with your babies. I would have lost it with those nurses, I’m pretty sure. Good job for keeping your head up and doing what you knew was right for you and your babies. I would have been so upset with someone else intervening under the sole idea that “they are in charge”. We gradually switched to formula, but not under any circumstances that made me feel like we “HAD” to. Hope those hospitals redeem themselves at some point. All of those poor moms, especially the first timers. Take care.

  30. As far as I am aware, in the UK, there is rarely, if ever, the option of a nursery. They just don’t have them here. You have your baby with you, either in a little cot beside your bed or, if you are lucky enough, you may have the option of a clip on cot. However, the clip on cots are not found that often, so the vast majority of women just have their babies beside them. Most women do not have private rooms; certainly in big cities/big hospitals, it is not uncommon to have 12 or more women in a room, all with their babies beside them. The only time you would not have your baby with you might be if they were in SCBU, but even then, I have known many mothers who have slept beside their baby’s incubators or nearby. While not all of this is ideal (huge wards with lots of women and babies is not especially restful and the UK has its own share of traumatic birth and postnatal stories) and while UK breastfeeding rates may not be wonderful, it does at least show that the idea of nurseries is not a worldwide concept at all. In some countries, it is just not done. Babies stay with their mothers, mothers with their babies, at least in the majority of cases. Irrespective of whether the mother and baby are breastfeeding or not.

  31. Hi, I also read the Jpost magazine about the three hospitals. I laughed because when I gave birth at Laniado 2 1/2 years ago, I told a couple of nurses that I wanted to nurse as soon as DD was delivered. They let me hold her for long enough to take 3 photographs and then they whipped her away to the nursery! The next morning I asked and asked for her and they said she was waiting to be checked by the Dr. I got her at 13:00 after getting quite upset. They brought her to me with formula milk dribbling down her cheek with an enormous pacifier popped in her mouth. I was upset because I told the nurses NO FORMULA, I want to nurse her. Anyway, I thought the nurse would show me what to do but she just left so I just held the baby (actually I just looked at her in awe while she lay in that plastic basinette until a nurse spotted my and told me to pick her up – she didn’t break so that broke the ice) (yep, clueless first timer). When my family arrived, they asked if I’d nursed her yet. I said no and they encouraged my to to it asap because it was almost 24 hrs after the birth. Well, she sucked away for 2 hrs and was hungry after that. On my 3rd and last day, a lactation consultant wandered in and I asked her if I was doing it right. She said DD was just sucking, not drinking because I wasn’t holding her right. I kept trying to do it her way but I was afraid to smother her. When we left the hospital, the nurse checked DDs record and told me she hadn’t put on enough weight and I had to give her a formula suppliment (why didn’t they tell me about her weight before that?)
    I didn’t know anything about pumping but we hired one from Yad Sarah. I pumped regularly for a week but it was so painful. Later on I was talking to a friend and she looked shocked when I said ‘and it really hurt as I put it up to full speed’. (Don’t do that – only ’til the milk starts spraying out).
    That is a long story cut short but nurses must be trained to cater for totally clueless first time mothers. Explain the obvious and even show them where the dining hall is (I sat there waiting to be served like you see on T.V. then I missed the meal!) Show us where to get a drink of water and a cup (No, I only found the drinks area on the last day and it was so hot in the ward) and most importantly, show us where the baby is, explain hospital policy on formula/ nursing etc and even have an LC come in straight after delivery to show us what to do and explain how and when to nurse next.
    It’s funny looking back and as I reread this, I sound like I’m totally naive and lacking common sense. That’s not me at all and I really had ‘mommy brain’ for at least 6 months after the birth where I couldn’t think straight (I think sleep deprivation played it’s part).
    Finally- to all hospitals – even of there is an LC and nursing room – tell the new moms about it face to face- don’t expect us to ask about something we’ve never heard of!
    My second DD taught me what to do and I was at Rambam who were great! (especially the LC in the nursing room who helped me express onto a plastic spoon and fed my screaming DD until she calmed down enough to sleep. THANKS

  32. The “birth horror stories” may be happening in other countries also. I just saw this article in the British Daily Mail. (Yes, I know , it’s a sensationalist newspaper, but it’s still interesting.)


    In spite of the title, the article points to a number of things which are contributing to things going wrong in the maternity wards.


    • I am pregnant with twins and TERRIFIED of giving birth in Israel. My third was born here and although the midwives were great and put off weighing him for an hour so we could bond, they put him in the nicu due to low birthweight (2460g). The nicu was in a different building than maternity, so three hours postpartum I walked to the nicu to nurse. The nurse said “you only have to nurse every four hours!”. I said, he’s low birthweight and you want him to eat do little???
      I ended up fighting to get him released from the nicu after 24 hours, and roomed in. I had 4 roomates and they hardly had their babies at all. I was woken up every morning at 4 am for feeding call (the one feeding a day that moms were expected to do on their own) and after 3 days I checked him out AMA (he was slightly jaundiced but not enough that they putbhim under lights) and dealt with horrible doctors and nurses who accused me of trying to kill my child, being an arrogant and idiotic American and threatened to call child services and have him taken away from me.
      It was terrible. I know it will be even worse with twins. I want to do a homebirth but am afraid of that too (only because of the twin factor).

  33. This story made me shudder. It is horrific and traumatizing. My tendency (if it had been me) is to be adamant with the nurses and say that this is MY baby and I am nursing him/her exclusively, period.
    I had to fight with my doctor in the States, who supposedly ‘agreed’ to letting me have an unmedicated birth with my first in 1972 (when this was unheard of), but when I was ready to deliver, he ordered a saddle block. Against his ‘better judgement,’ my husband and I insisted and had an unmedicated birth, except for a little Demerol which I had been given earlier because I had back labor and couldn’t relax.

    For the doctor and staff, it was the first time they had ever seen a woman give birth without a saddle block or epidural. However, after my daughter was born, they merely ‘showed’ her to me–wouldn’t let me hold her–and I didn’t see her after that for the first 12 hours! Despite this, and being engorged in the beginning, I successfully nursed my daughter for two years or so.

    Having had that experience and knowing what I know now, I would not tolerate such treatment or behavior from the nurses, . I hate to say this, but thank G-d I didn’t give birth to my five children in Israel, although perhaps they are now more open to “new” ideas about rooming-in and nursing exclusively.

    • My mother had her oldest in 1961 and all of her five were born in a hospital, in America, and not medicated. I suppose that wasn’t so common at the time, but it did happen. Her doctor was also very supportive of her breastfeeding, which was rare at the time. I haven’t heard from any of my many friends and neighbors in Israel who have exclusively breastfed that the Israeli health system has ever been opposed to breastfeeding, on the contrary I’ve read that it supports breastfeeding. That is the official policy. What happens in hospitals is, of course, dependent on the staff, and I have heard horror stories. The staff with whom I came into contact (5 times, 2 hospitals) was very supportive of breastfeeding exclusively.