"Leighton maternity ward"

About: Leighton Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

In January 2012 I gave birth to my son at Leighton hospital in Crewe. I was in labour for 36 hours from latent stage to delivery, I had an epidural, ventouse delivery and did not sleep at all throughout this 36 hour period. Everything in the delivery suite was good and the staff were incredible.

The problems began when I got to the ward. Looking back, I think my baby was shocked and exhausted. He did not begin to 'root' for the breast and instead slept peacefully in skin to skin contact with me. Staff began to encourage my son to latch about an hour after arriving on the ward. He sleepily refused. After a while, their efforts became more and more interfering and soon a series of women were taking my son and forcing him to latch repeatedly. This went on for 36 hours at one or two hourly intervals. I was never allowed to sleep during this time, repeatedly being told 'he has to feed, keep trying'. If I did manage to close my eyes, I was told to wake up. I remained awake and constantly trying to feed for a further two days and nights.

By my discharge day, I was utterly exhausted and even hallucinating. Eventually so many people had handled my baby, and often seemingly very roughly, that he began to become extremely distressed with each forced latch, finally going limp and 'playing dead'. Many of the midwives I met who failed to get him to latch would tell me that he was stubborn or lazy. That was often the last I'd see of them before another would appear an hour or so later and begin the whole process again.

My son became cold, weak and jaundiced during this time. I was given conflicting advice. One woman told me he must be wrapped up on the heated cot mattress. No sooner had she gone off duty than someone would come in and tell me that he was too hot and that was why he was not feeding and that I should strip him off. Moments later someone came in, found me doing skin to skin as directed, and told me off for not having him clothed and in the heated cot. So back down he went. Overnight, my son latched on his own and fed for 50 minutes. No one witnessed this as it was late at night and the curtains were drawn.

In the morning when I told a midwife what had happened I was told he couldn't possibly have fed for 50 minutes. After he had a blood test that morning, checking his blood sugar levels, I was again told that I must have made this up. He couldn't possibly have fed at all. As I had been on the ward for some time by now, it was clear that I was becoming an increasing burden and the attempts to force my son to latch grew more extreme and heavy handed. One woman, was bouncing my baby's face so hard off my breast that he again screamed in distress until he turned floppy and 'played dead'. This was when one midwife, taking pity on us said that I might be allowed to express. I had been finger feeding him drops of colostrum since birth. I didn't see that midwife again and when I asked someone who appeared fairly senior for the pump I had been promised, she seemed to snap at me. She also told me I could not have a pump, that it was "the slippery slope to formula feeding" and that she was disappointed.

On day 3, I was allowed a pump and expressed milk which my son greedily drank. I expressed every two hours around the clock and he showed no difficulty drinking from the bottle. It is my belief that all of the forced latching and repositioning and man-handling of a tired newborn led to a breast aversion. When we were discharged that day, it was made clear by the breast feeding advice woman that I had disappointed her. I was told that I would be unable to keep up the expressing and she literally tutted at me. I am a professional with a doctorate. I feel like I was spoken to like a naughty 13 year old. I was so tired and beleaguered by then and was desperate to get home.

I really want everyone on the maternity ward to pay attention to what happened when I got my son home: I did express every 2 hours. My son and I, finally left in peace, maintained skin to skin contact and on day 14 he naturally latched on and fed. After that, he breastfed for six months.

I want to remind you that not all women appreciate being told that expressing is not a viable option for non-latching babies. I also wish to remind you that some babies need to be left alone for some time to find the breast themselves without interference. I also wish to inform you that it is possible for a baby to find their latch very late on after birth and you should perhaps give mothers the credit to have the determination and intelligence to achieve this on their own.

All in all, I feel I was treated with little respect during my time at Leighton, especially by the impatient and heavy-handed breast feeding advisor. The advice I was given by some midwives was inconsistent and pushy. I was literally told that I was a failure and a disappointment because I had to express.

I am dreading the birth of my second child as I fear I will end up in a similar situation. This time, I will try to get discharged as soon as possible to avoid this humiliating, degrading and very distressing, traumatising experience.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Leighton Hospital

I am very sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience relating to the care and support received whilst breastfeeding. At the time of your experience, Leighton hospital did not have a dedicated Infant Feeding Coordinator in post. I am pleased to say that we have now filled this post and, since the birth of your baby, a further 133 staff have received two and half days training each. This training is Baby Friendly accredited and the hospital is very active in working towards the attainment of stage 2 Baby Friendly accreditation in the very near future. If you would like to meet with the infant feeding coordinator in advance of the birth of your second baby please do not hesitate to contact me on 01270-273675 and we can discuss the care that is recommended and the care you would like to receive. Kind regards Colette Palin Infant Feeding Co ordinator I am really sorry to read that the support you received with breastfeeding your new baby was not up to the standard which both you and I would expect. I am also sorry that you felt you were not treated with respect and that your previous experience is making you anxious about having your second child. I would very much appreciate an opportunity to speak with you regarding this and see what can be done to provide you with the support you require. If you would like to discuss this further, please contact the Customer Care team here at Leighton hospital on 01270 612410 Kind regards, Sara Nightingale, Ward 23 Manager, Maternity, Leighton Hospital.

  • {{helpful}} of {{total()}} people think this response is helpful

Updates, changes and questions related to this story