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Union hospital and breastfeeding policy

  1. #1
    expatmom is offline Registered User
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    Union hospital and breastfeeding policy

    I'm planning to breastfeed my newborn exclusively.

    I've heard that in order to succeed with this, it is important that bottle feeding is not introduced in the first 4-6 weeks.

    I'm booked at the Union hospital and have just found out that they restrict access to the nursery to every 4 hours UNLESS we pay for a private room where baby gets to room in with the mother.

    I am really worried that by not allowing me to breastfeed whenever I want and by supplementing with formula, it would reduce my chances of succeeding with breastfeeding.

    Can someone tell me if it is still possible to succeed in direct breastfeeding if the hospital formula feeds (with me putting bb to the breast every 4 hours when they allow me to until bb gets home)? Will it work if I switch to complete breastfeeding when baby gets home? Will it starve baby if I did that?

    How can I ensure that I do not lose my supply if baby doesn't drink as much from the breasts due to bottle feeding at the hospital? Do I pump it out? Will this affect my breastmilk supply for baby?

    Any help will be much appreciated. Thank you.

  2. #2
    TNT
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    Expatmom I agree that hospital policies like these are completely unbreastfeeding friendly, and Hong Kong is still in the dark ages in this regard, however it is still possible to fully breastfeed. Please contact La Leche League in Hong Kong (lllhk.org.hk) it is free to talk to them and they have lots of experience with this- including knowledge of different hospitals - and can make some really good suggestions as to how to manage the experience. But you definitely can exclusively breastfeed once you are out of hospital - just make sure you are as informed as possible beforehand as that will make a huge difference. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Gataloca's Avatar
    Gataloca is offline Registered User
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    I guess you can tell them that you want to breastfeed exclusively. I didn't mind and did combined feeding, as most of the people there. They do feeding every 4 hours, and you can breastfeed your baby for like 30 minutes. After that they give you a bottle for you to top up.

    My milk didn't really come too the last day I stayed in the hospital (I had c section). When I went home, I let my baby feed for longer time, and giving formula at the end. I noticed the amount of formula he was taking each time, and in few days, I was producing enough milk for my baby without having to top up.
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  4. #4
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    nicolejoy is offline Registered User
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    Of course there is "ideal" and then there is "reality" as well.

    When my daughter was born, she was immediately taken to NICU. She has a genetic disease that we knew about before she was born but I was still hoping to nurse her. When she was born, she was on nil by mouth for the first few days or so, in which time I wasn't very good at manually expressing my colostrum. I only started regularly expressing by hand when she was already two days old, and then I started pumping when my milk came in around day 4-5. Not expressing very much the first two days didn't hinder my milk supply at all - in fact I have an overabundance of milk! What is more important is feeding (or pumping) regularly once your milk does come in.

    I would try and "push" the hospital as much as possible to follow your requests regarding breastfeeding. You can refuse formula for your baby, or if you prefer, you can insist on the baby being cup fed instead of bottle fed (it's meant to be better to prevent the baby from refusing the breast).

    Having a healthy breastfeeding relationship with your baby does take a lot of "resolve" (that's the only word I can think of) - you need to be set on what you want and educated on how to get there. It's not completely easy and natural, at least at first. But once you get the hang of it, it's SO much easier than having to worry about bottles etc.

    I learnt when my daughter was in NICU, there were things that I can control and there are things that I can't control. When I wasn't happy with the medical system here in HK, I couldn't just take her out and bring her to Australia instead. I had to make the most of it. And maybe likewise for you, you might not have the option of changing hospitals (but if that is an option, the public hospitals while they aren't great for a lot of things ARE pretty good with breastfeeding/rooming in) - so you might just need to make the most of the one that you are in instead :) Not ideal, but reality here in HK!

    Hope my rambling makes sense :)

  5. #5
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    i agree with nicole. my daughter was born slightly prematurely and was taken to the special care unit and i didn't even see her for about 24 hours after she was born as i'd had a c-section under general anesthesia and was in and out of consciousness for about 20 hours afterward and couldn't make my way up to see her.

    during the time that she was upstairs, i was unable to do anything...couldn't help it, just couldn't stay awake long enough to do anything. so, they gave her formula.

    from about 24 hours after her birth, i exclusively breastfed for the next 6 months.

    yes, it is best to start as soon as possible and continue in the same manner, but just because you are not able to do that, doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to.

    also, remember that if it doesn't work out and you end up not breastfeeding doesn't mean you are a bad mother.

    my kids are now 4 & 6. it is impossible to distinguish any difference in health, happiness or intelligence even though the older one was 50-50 breastfed/bottlefed and the younger one was 100% breastfed.

  6. #6
    CFM
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    I gave birth to my first child via emergency c-section at Union hospital in May. Admittedly I did book (and pay for!) a private room so my experience is different to perhaps how yours may be....but I thought I would share anyway.
    Contrary to popular belief about Union Hospital - they are not anti-breastfeeding, however having said that, their 'policies' do not go all out to actively encourage it either...! One important thing to note is that I was told a lot of things when I toured the hospital and during the lead-up to my birth, that turned out not to be true at all. (perhaps some miscommunication?!) I was told that the baby could not room in (even though private) unless I hired a night nurse etc etc, all sorts of bollocks! But anyway, back to the feeding issue. There are certainly many things you can do to support your cause.....one thing I did was ensure that I had a really detailed birth plan and I went through it with my doctor first. Of course, this all went to pot when I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia and had to have the c-section. However, I still made sure that my doctor understood my express desires about breast feeding and NO supplementing with formula. she made sure that a copy of my wishes was placed on my file. I even went to the extent of asking her if I should have it translated so that everyone would know what I wanted but she reassured my that was not necessary. I think by asking, it helped press the issue about how important this was to me.
    My baby was very small at birth and the pead doc asked permission to give her glucose supplement initially due to low levels. This was given through a syringe. I was only able to see her about 4-5 hours after surgery but immediately offered her the breast anyway. I was blessed with a baby who knew what she was doing from the outset (lucky - because I certainly didn't!) My baby was brought to me whenever I requested, but basically spent most of the time with me in the room. On the second night I sent her back to the nursery at about midnight as I was in too much pain to keep getting up and down to her. They brought her back when I asked again at 6am. In between that time they offered her glucose via syringe if she cried....but I don't think she did!
    I know that they do feed the babies in the nursery on a schedule (every 4 hours i think) if they ask for food or not, so that does go against the demand feed principles of BF, but I know that you can (if you are in a shared room where baby cannot join you) ask the staff to come and get you if your baby is hungry - ANYTIME of day or night. Yu will have to trek down to the nursery because they will not allow babies into the shared rooms, but you can do it on demand if you tell them you want to be told every time baby wakes up - even in the night time! In addition, they do have specific 'breastfeeding' sessions, a room that all the mums can go to feed and get advice/help from staff. I went once but felt it was a waste of time!
    They have labels for the babies cribs, and my daughter had one on there for exclusive BF and glucose via syringe if necessary. Make sure you check that as soon as soon as you are able.
    The other thing to remember is that your milk won't really come in until a few days after the birth, but it is really important to get your baby sucking as much as you can in the first few days so that he/she can get the good stuff! The best advice I can give about BF is to do some reading beforehand about the latch etc and relax!
    The staff on the ward are wonderful, and they want you to be happy, so I found them willing to bend over backwards to ensure that my needs were met. i am sure that you will find the same. Be firm and friendly with your demands, but make sure they are known in advance and I am sure that you will find the staff willing to cooperate.
    I think that many of the 'policies' are in place, simply because that is what the clientele expect/wish. I was told by the midwives that most of the new mums just want to rest for those few days in hospital and would rather the nurses take care of the baby (especially at night). This is of course a very different perspective to most western expatriates, so some adjustments have to be made on both sides!
    The other down side for not having a private room is the visiting situation....it is pretty rough. Daddy can come and visit baby only at set hours in a room with all the other mums and dads.....he must 'gown up' (including face mask etc!) Other visitors can view baby through the nursery window. Very archaic! The advantage of a private room is that anyone you like can come and go as you wish and dad can stay in the room with you. It is expensive but I know that I could not have coped any other way!
    I think that Union is getting more and more western expats through their doors and so they are learning to cater better for those different needs and expectations.
    Certainly I had an incredibly positive experience and I really wish the same for you! Please PM me if you want any more info. Good luck with everything.

  7. #7
    CFM
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    Wow - didn't realise how long that had got - sorry!

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