"Blakeney Ward"

About: Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital

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Firstly, I would like to say that this review is based on my experience on the Blakeney ward. This is no way linked to the midwife led unit, which is amazing. The midwives there are angels, you just can't see their wings. They couldn't be more professional, helping me have an enjoyable birthing experience. I cannot praise them highly enough, they are amazing. But then as my little boy would not latch on to the breast I was transferred to the Blakeney ward which was awful. It's taken me a year to write this as I try not to think about it. I really wanted to breastfeed and not give in to Formula milk straight away, but getting desperate as my baby was getting hungry I was confused as to what to do. I got a snotty response from one of the older midwives who told me that Formula fed babies get "diseases, they are always over full, it stretches their poor little stomachs" and "if you've seen what I've seen you wouldn't give your baby formula." Being a new mum this scared me. But once I told the midwife I was going to keep trying they were nice to me. That didn't last as they got angry when they saw my husband had bought me some lunch in and after that they didn't want to bother with me. My little boy would not breast feed at all but instead of gently helping me every midwife came in and decided they would make it happen by shoving my breast down his throat (in between his screams) and upsetting us both. As i still felt pressure to breast feed I kept trying which meant I could not leave until they had seen him feed. There was a younger midwife who helped me hand express through the night who was very sweet and gentle. Sadly I was kept up in the night (I was right by the place they all sat) by them having heated conversations about how bad their working hours are, how the nhs don't consider their childcare etc. This went on most of the night. The next day I had had enough and decided I was going to see a specialist at home to help me. This did not go down well. My husband told me he was "going to get me out of here" when he heard the midwives slagging me off (loudly and intentionally) that I (she) "should not being going home" and that my baby "may starve". 30 minutes later the head midwife came into my cubicle and said "if you go home now you will only be back in 3 days because your baby will be so under weight". When we told them that I was leaving that day no matter what there were looks and whispers but then they washed their hands of us. My beautiful little baby was planned for years so I hardly think I was going to let him starve. After a few days I had to give in and go on Formula, but my midwife from my local doctors was supportive and lovely and couldn't believe what they had said to me. If they had let me go home to see a specialist i have no doubt I would have found the confidence to breastfeed. The guilt trip they had given me did me no good. They shouldn't judge new mothers the way they do.

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Response from Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital

We are sorry to hear your story and the difficulty you had in breastfeeding. We are looking for new ways to support new Mums with breastfeeding and, earlier this year, we introduced volunteers on the ward Called “Volunteer Breastfeeding Helpers”. These volunteers will be on hand to offer support for new mothers who are breastfeeding; actively listen to any mother’s experiences and worries, describe the importance of correct positioning for breast feeding and as well as discuss with mothers the technique of hand expressing milk and benefits of skin to skin contact.

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