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Is St. Vincent’s Really “Baby Friendly”?

When signing onto the Connecticut Post this morning, I clicked on an article about St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport being deemed a “Baby Friendly” hospital in Connecticut. The standards for becoming a “baby friendly” hospital revolve around breastfeeding for new mothers and babies.

But what is not being discussed in this article are several factors that should be impacting mothers choices on having their babies at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.  First being that St. V’s has the highest surgical birth rate in Connecticut. At 44.5% of all babies being born by cesarean section they hold the highest c-section rate in all of Connecticut.  That is also accompanied by a ban on vaginal birth after cesarean. Meaning women cannot choose the kind of birth they may want if they have had a previous cesarean section. While their ban is not an official ban on vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) it is what people in the birth community call a “defacto ban”.  No provider on staff at St. Vincents will allow a mother a trial of labor after a previous surgical birth.

Why is this alarming for local women?

For several reasons. The World Health Organization recommends a cesarean birth rate for a hospital to be no higher than 15% including their high risk patients. St. Vincent’s exceeds this by nearly four times.  Along with the fact that they are not allowing women to make medical decisions based on evidence based medicine which shows that VBAC or Vaginal Birth after Cesarean is safer for mother and baby than elective repeat cesarean sections.

Birth advocates in the state planned a protest in front of St. Vincents medical center earlier this spring but were unable to obtain a permit to stand on public sidewalks. With threats of arrest or tickets, local mothers opted not to exercise their first amendment right to assembly.

I hope women will take the time to research St. Vincent’s Medical Center more, and make an informed choice on where to give birth to their baby, rather than jumping at the chance to visit a “baby friendly” hospital.

Danielle Elwood

8 Responses

  1. elwood says:

    It should not pose a problem, but ALL of it holds risks for mothers and babies. Nothing involving epidurals, or narcotic use during labor is risk free.

  2. Krista says:

    Just an FYI … it’s not unusual for a continuous epidural used to manage labor pain to contain a small dose of very short acting narcotic along with local anesthetic. When used correctly, neither should pose any problem for the mother or baby as the narcotic used is very short acting.

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  4. elwood says:

    And thank you for commenting from Connecticut Hospital Affiliates :)

  5. elwood says:

    Mandy, it sounds like you may have got some incorrect information on Epidurals.
    Just like narcotic pain medication, epidurals can also cause a baby to be sleepy or lethargic at birth.

  6. MandyO says:

    I recently gave birth at St. Vincent’s. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and was able to attend a free class given by one of their lactation consultants before the birth. After researching pain control methods, I knew I wanted an epidural but not any narcotic pain medicine shots that would make me too sleepy to experience the birth and the baby (and may also make the baby sleepy). My nurse and I talked it through when I came in, and she very accommodating to my wishes. Even though I had a difficult labor and the doctors had to watch baby’s heart rate, the staff made sure I was able to start breastfeeding within one hour of the birth.

    My milk was delayed in comming in. I can remember my last night in the hospital sitting up at 2am crying because I was exausted and frustrated and baby seemed so hungry. Even though he was nursing almost constantly, he had lost more than 10% of his birth weight, which was medically concerning. I was at the point of asking for a bottle because I didn’t know what else to do. Two nurses sat with me that night and helped and encouraged me. They helped me use a supplemental nurser (which I took home and used for a few days until my milk came in) and I wound up not needing to give a bottle. The lactation consultants both spent a lot of time helping me. Without the support of these wonderful nurses, I don’t know if I would have been successful at breastfeeding or if I would have given up.

    I was able to room in with my baby which was wonderful because as a brand new mom I did’t want to let him out of my sight. My husband was also able to stay with us the entire time because they have a pull-out bed for the dads to sleep on. Having him there with me and baby was a one-of-a kind bonding experience, which many of my friends did not have at other hospitals. Even baby’s doctor did the daily exam in our room with dad and I present so we could ask questions.

    Overall, the enviornment at St. Vincent’s is fantastic and the staff is skilled, caring and supportive. I would recommend this hospital to everyone.

    So, is St. Vincent’s really baby-friendly? In my opinion, YES!

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  8. Anon Y Mous says:

    I had my daughter at St. Vincent’s. I, personally, had a pretty good birth experience there. I would go back there if I were to have another baby.
    I was very disappointed in several things.
    I chose not to have an epidural. I ended up being so exhausted by the time I got to the hospital that I chose to have an intramuscular shot of a pain medication so I could get some rest. As I was pushing, I was told (not really asked) that they were going to administer a second dose of the drug, which was a narcotic. Thus, and this is truly the most disappointing part, I don’t really remember the hour or so immediately following her birth. I don’t remember holding her right after she was born, thank goodness I have pictures of that special moment.
    The other disappointing thing I encountered there was that I had made my choice to breastfeed immediately known to the entire staff. I was visited by a postpartum nurse several times who was incredible with helping me learn to breastfeed. We had a little bit of trouble at first. My daughter loved to sleep, I couldn’t get the kid to wake up to eat and when she *was* awake, she wasn’t interested. I became frustrated and was encouraged to give her formula because “We don’t want her starving, now do we?” And yes, that’s a direct quote. Yeah well I gave the kid formula and she projectile vomited it all back up every time we fed it to her. When we got home, breastfeeding went off without a hitch and then I couldn’t get her off the breast for 15 months.
    The last thing I found disappointing wasn’t until I went home and found out months later that they did indeed have a defacto ban on VBAC and such an high c-section rate.
    I’m lucky. I did not need surgical intervention, but a good friend of mine did and when she wanted to try a VBAC she had to go all the way to Danbury to find a group that was supportive and VBAC friendly and were, frankly, pretty amazing. The fact that she couldn’t have gone to St. Vincent’s (which is like 30 minutes closer to her than danbury was) is upsetting. Hospitals are businesses too, and they are essentially saying, “We don’t want the opportunity to serve you,” is kind of disturbing. Hospitals shouldn’t pick and choose their clientele like a hollywood night club.
    That being said, I do think it is a wonderful hospital. I’d go back there in a second. But knowing what I know now, I’d go back there and do some things differently this time.
    But that’s just my two cents.