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Caring for Newborns and Mothers

Many of the health care providers who come to my IBLCE Exam prep course talk to me about preparing for their changed life with the IBCLC. Often, they express frustration with the “rules” of the health care organization that employs them. For most, this is a hospital. They find themselves either abiding by the rules, make the rules, enforcing the rules, or fighting against the rules of their hospital.

Are you a hospital-based nurse? Does this ring a bell for you? Is that a bell that you (or any caregiver) really wants to hear?

The word “hospital” comes from the Latin root hospes, which means “stranger” or “foreigner,” and hence,“ a guest in a particular place or shelter.” The root for the word hostel or hotel or hospital is also the root for the word hospitality, a word that refers to the relationship between the guest and person who provides the shelter. I recognize that the day-to-day operations of hostels, hotels — and yes, hospitals — require rules. What bothers me about hospital rules is that they have rules for such basic human needs as eating and sleeping — and that they try to apply these rules to the tiniest and most vulnerable members of our society: newborns.They must eat now. They must not eat them. They may eat if their serum glucose is lower than X. They may not eat if it is time to do some other activity (a hearing test, a bath, etc.) on the hospital’s schedule.

Rules can be useful. But until our hospitals are a little more hospitable, we caregivers need to help make some serious changes. We are more than a place of shelter — we are a place of care, at the start of the baby’s life.

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