Adventures in Hospital Land

 |  WTF

AKA what a bloody ridiculous week and a half.

First off, my Internet dies and nobody seems to know who’s at fault. BT says it’s not them (phone line/exchange) and Plus.Net say it’s not them and everything is fine at their end. We change cables, test alternate router, etc. End up having to make several calls to Plus.Net who elevate the call and eventually find the problem.

Just as that’s mid-way, I start getting abdominal pains… and how am I supposed to diagnose myself with Dr Google without the interwebs? Anyway, cue call to Mum and have her advise me to go to A&E. They tell me I have gallbladder colic, fill me full of paracetamol (they wanted to use pethidine but I refused because I’m breastfeeding) and send me home.

Cue two days of gradually increasing pain, doctors appointments, pee and blood tests before I head back to A&E and get admitted – this was last Thursday (Feb 25th). They’re telling me they think I have gallstones floating about somewhere inside and that’s causing the problems. Not an issue in itself, but because I’m breastfeeding, they suddenly have lots of problems with finding a solution.

Now, bear in mind that we have big campaigns in the UK to encourage mums to breastfeed. Every NHS maternity ward/baby clinic is plastered in posters lecturing on the goodness of boobie juice, telling us we’re doing best by our babes etc… and yet a hospital, full of well-educated medical sorts, can’t seem to find their arses when it comes to treating a breastfeeding mum. I was told, point blank by some jobsworth bitch who obviously didn’t think I should have taken Isabel with me to A&E, that hospitals were dirty places, the medication too strong and that Izz would have to go on to formula.

I don’t particularly enjoy breastfeeding — it’s a means to an end — but I cried. How dare this woman, who didn’t know me, start making demands of my baby and our feeding. She wasn’t the last person though… all of the doctors/surgeons start lecturing me about how Izz would need to go on formula.

I had to fight to be treated with breastfeeding-friendly antibiotics. I had to fight to keep my baby on the ward with me. I had to fight to breastfeed her on demand, whilst nurses and doctors were prodding me every 5 minutes with needles, blood pressure checks, temperature checks, etc.

After x-rays and scans, piss tests, blood tests etc they came to the conclusion that I had a gallstone blocking the bile duct. It was causing the liver to dump bilirubin out into the urine and through my skin, turning me yellow. They wanted to remove the gallbladder and were pushing me to put Izz on formula so that I could have the operation because they insisted that I’d not be able to feed for 48 hours post-op (yet, caesarean mothers can feed straight away?) It was total bollocks.

In they end, they shipped me off to another hospital to have an endoscopy. After fighting with yet another childness staff nurse about how I should be feeding my child (“you must express now”) because she assumed the drugs would not be breastfeeding friendly (we had to hand her printed research, which she refused to give back; she ended up calling the pharmacy to confirm we were right) I had 2 gallstones removed. I soon returned to normal colour and, yesterday, I was able to come home.

Throughout this I’ve had nothing but sarcasm, bullshit and pessimism from a stream of predominantly male doctors/surgeons. I spent 4-5 days worrying about my daughter’s digestion, diet etc before we finally got in touch with the hospital maternity department and had our argument and theories backed up by one of the lactation consultants who came to my ward and kicked arse. I am so angry about my experience with a so-called pro-breastfeeding NHS that would have caused any less than stubborn mother to cave and change feeding method against her wishes.

And on that note… it’s time to change her nappy.

* edit 23rd May 2017: entry edited to remove insensitive wording re: formula feeding … we live and we learn

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

30 comments so far

  1. Scott said:

    Aww it sounds like you’ve had an awful time of it. :( It’s good that you’re home, though! :D

    "…stubborn mother to cave and fill her child full of shit." What about mothers that actually cannot breastfeed? It isn’t just people who DON’T want to breastfeed – there are people who actually cannot do it (due to medical reasons or whatever). Therefore, it isn’t their fault and they shouldn’t be made to feel like shit because their baby has to have forumla.

    So that’s a pretty dumb statement if you ask me. :)

  2. Hev said:

    They could have done an ultra-sound on you ?

    I can’t believe the way you were treated. I would write a letter to the administrative board detailing the way you were treated. I realize that it probably won’t do any good, but it may make you feel better & who knows it may do some good.

  3. Scott said:

    Oh, and another point: if a mother dies whilst giving birth or decides to just ‘abandon’ their baby (the dad is looking after the baby) then does that make the father a bad parent because he cannot give the baby breast milk?

    I know you’re talking about your experience here and what you personally feel, but I’m only commenting on the last statement you made.

  4. Scott said:

    I do understand the point you’re making for you personally, but it sort of came across that you meant any parent that feeds their baby forumla is ‘bad’ or ‘shit’. And good for you not caring, I know how you feel about breastfeeding and all. I know giving your baby breastmilk is much better than formula, but some people can’t (exactly my point). :D

  5. Scott said:

    Yeah, I just re-read your post and realised I shouldn’t have said that at this time (it doesn’t really relate to your post). It’s about how THE hospital were treating you, not what you think of people who don’t BF (the last statement confused be a bit). :)

  6. Chans said:

    Jem I’m glad you where so strong to push for breastfeeding Isabel but it’s shocking to learn that a not so head-strong mum would have caved in and listened to ‘the medics’. It’s outrages that they advice mothers to breast feed yet when it comes to it they would rather take the ‘easy route’ and push for formula.

    I’m happy to hear you are feeling better again and they where able to help you and meanwhile where able to breastfeed your daughter.

  7. Macca said:

    Jem meant that formula is shit. It is. So is McDonalds. You’re not a bad parent if you let your child eat McDonalds, but you wouldn’t want them to eat it all the time if you were a good one. If I couldn’t breastfeed, I would try to find a wet nurse or milk bank breastmilk before opting for formula. Formuila vs. breastfeeding is like the only case of ‘doctors fear to give advice in case of offending the parent’ ever. You don’t get offended when a doctor tells you to stop eating so much junk ’cause it’s bad for you, why should it be any different when it comes to feeding your baby imho.

    Good that you got through it OK, Jem. :) Now you understand why I would opt for private/independent medical care if I could afford it. I think the NHS is good (and often a godsend) if you have generic medical problem with few implications on the outside, but I think that if you want more specialised care tailored to your personal needs without a fight – you gotta pay for it.

  8. Charlie said:

    Good for you for making a stand, it’s just a pity they probably won’t take it to heart and think about it next time they have a breast-feeding mother in. Many doctors seem unwilling to think outside the box these days, it’s frustrating. Your case shows it can be done. Glad to hear you’re well again :)

  9. Erin said:

    It sounds like a horrible, horrible experience for you. I’m so glad that you are feeling better and hopefully you won’t have those sort of complications ever again.

    Although I must say, the entire time I was reading this post I was picturing you decked out like Lara Croft about to school some doctors and nurses. =)

  10. Audrey said:

    What an awful experience. I am glad that you were able to stick to your guns and keep Izzy there and fed with you throughout, despite the inane criticism of so many.

  11. Tanya said:

    Glad you’re back home and still breastfeeding despite all you’ve been through Jem, well done for standing your ground.

  12. Vixx said:

    Macca > Breastfeeding IS best, there’s no doubt, but saying formula is shit is … well, shit. It was formula there and then in the hospital or my son, sick and dehydrated because I wasn’t making enough milk (not my diagnosis, but that of the midwives), would’ve gone into special care. I’m tired of people villanising parents who use formula, particularly when they only seem to have half a fucking story. I’d love you to have been stood crying and terrified over your sick kid half an hour away from serious medical intervention and have made a different choice than I was forced to do. My son is now a happy, healthy, tall, strong, gorgeous little boy and I did exactly what I had to.


    Jem, glad you’re home. And I’m so glad you were able to stick with your principals. Do you know if there’s going to be any ramifications from your complaint? I hope so. Do keep us informed.

    As you know, I had my gallbladder removed last year, so I know how intensely painful it is. Thank God you have a temporary solution. Feel better soon, me darlin’. Chat soon. *hug* x

  13. Carly said:

    Jem you’re totally right. I say not only make a formal complaint, but get a petition going on the number10 website for compulsory training for all doctors in the area. Even if it’s a case of getting a load of fliers printed up to hand to doctors and mothers. I’m sure there are many weaker mothers who would have given in under ‘doctors orders’, I know I sure would have, thinking ‘they know best.’ I’m sure all your loyal readers would be more than happy to support you and sign the petition

  14. Vixx said:

    > I haven’t made any official complaints yet (don’t think swearing on my blog counts) but I am considering it.

    Please do. As you say, someone not as strong as you may have caved and that shouldn’t be allowed to happen. I know empty words on the interwebz don’t always count, but we’re behind you!

  15. Travis said:

    Meh, Scott, I think you are a reading into this post a little bit too much. Jem is obviously pro-breastfeeding, and good for her! The science doesn’t lie, it is healthier to breast feed. Luckily for her, she was able to. I doubt she seriously looks down upon mothers who don’t actually have the option.

  16. Clem said:

    Ugh, that’s awful – just one bad event after another. :( I’m glad you’re home now, although the way they treated you sounds just terrible.

  17. Scott said:

    Yeah, Travis, I did comment after saying I’d misread the post and it wasn’t the time or place to have said something like that…

  18. Hannah said:

    I second (third or whatever it’s on now) filing a complaint, and a petition is a wonderful idea. Having to fight to breastfeed and keep Izz with you is just ridiculous.

    I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better now and I hope it stays that way for a while! :P

  19. Echo said:

    I HATE formula. Mostly because it makes me think of dog food and it stinks.

    It took me a while to not look at breastfeeding as ‘Well, this is inconvenient… .’ For the longest time it really just wasn’t my favorite thing- and while it’s still NOT my favorite thing, I no longer get annoyed by it : P

    Good for you for not caving. I’ve had a few experiences having the joy of explaining to someone, ‘I can’t take that medicine because I’m breastfeeding.’ ‘Well, just give him formula for 12 hours.’ *uhg* I don’t bother going the ‘rational discussion’ route. I just say no/walk away.

  20. marjo said:

    Jem, I’m so glad that you were firm and brought in a lactation consultant to back you up but it’s horrible to realize that less strong headed mothers end up giving up breastfeeding for no apparent reason just because of ignorant doctors.
    Did you know that when studying medicine there is just ONE lecture troughout the entire course about breastfeeding?
    How can we stimulate mothers to breastfeed if the ‘experts’ they come in contact with can’t even give proper advice?

  21. Manda said:

    That’s an awful way to be treated, by a hospital that seems to be pro-breastfeeding no less! I definitely think you should file a complaint as you have absolutely no right to be treated in that manner.

  22. Lilian said:

    What the actual fuck :/ I’m sorry you and Izzy had a bad time in hospital — but I can’t believe that the staff would exacerbate the situation rather than co-operate with your wishes for the well-being of you and your child. I think you should complain, even if you just forward on this blog entry to your MP or GP.

    HOWEVER, I am glad to hear that you and the family are well. Don’t let this get you down — focus on the positive! :)

  23. Jenny said:

    Wow they really didn’t want you breastfeeding anymore huh? Evil doctors… I’m sorry you had such a hard time. But I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  24. Jenn said:

    I know we don’t agree on many levels, Jem, but I’m proud of you for standing up for your right to breastfeed and the importance of breastfeeding. Too many women don’t, and too many ignorant and/or uncaring doctors and medical staff get away with railroading women into poor feeding choices.

  25. Rise said:

    That’s a very good point, Jem. I love how everywhere in England we have these posters, but coming to think of it, when it comes to someone being ill and breastfeeding, it’s like they see it as an inconvenience and seem to make it hard for themselves…I don’t know. I fucking hate the NHS…The lady on the phone that deals with complaints and helps patients get adequate support made me cry today and told me I couldn’t go back to have a post-op consultation with the doctor that did my operation, that I’d have to go back to my GP (who I have never even met). It sucks because it was a major operation and I have ANOTHER disease resulting from the first disease not being dealt with in good time. I was on meds for two years before surgery. Blah. Not that it has anything to do with breastfeeding…But the NHS just sucks.