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Overheard Hospital Roommate Discussion on Formula vs Breastfeeding

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We don’t often “double-up” the new mothers on the postpartum unit but occasionally in times of high census, we simply have no choice. We were incredibly busy this week, so short term doubling occurred.

In one room there was an experienced 3rd time breastfeeding mom (BF mom A) born and raised in an Eastern European country and her roommate was a new first time formula feeding mom born and raised in the USA (FF mom B).

Both were within about 12 hrs of birth.

I had been in the room doing basic exams/vital signs for each baby, asking each mother how she thought things were going etc. etc…. I stepped to the doorway to converse with a co-worker about unrelated tasks and that’s when I started to overhear a very interesting conversation.

I admit it…    I eavesdropped–> I learned.


I stayed in doorway reading a chart……..

FF mom B: “So — are you breastfeeding your baby?”

BF mom A: “Oh yes– Is best for us” (heavy accent)

FF mom B: “Does it hurt?”

BF mom A: “No no- not hurting, good feeling. You do too?”

FF mom B: “Me? No, I’m bottle feeding. My mom said that was easiest.”

BF mom A: “I see…”  pause ……. “Why you not breastfeed? In my country– we are told is healthy way- natural way, most everybody does this. You are told this- yes?”

FF mom B: “Well– yeah, I remember hearing that it was best, but I didn’t try to learn about it because I have to go back to work in 6 weeks and my mom said formula was the same or just as good. And everyone can help me feed the baby too.”

(I’m still looking at a chart in doorway waiting……)

BF mom A: “Is nonsense…sorry don’t know words..false?”

FF mom B: “What’s false?”

BF mom A: “Is false- the baby bottle is same as mother’s breast. False. You are baby’s mother, you do what you must, but all more important reason to know truths– as his mother– so I tell you…  You need truths….   just ask nurse.”

I’m thinking, this will either be a great opportunity to educate a new mom further OR I’ll be moving beds because the bottle feeding mom is now all upset with her roomie…..

FF mom B: “Is it true? (She asked me)…. Is there really that much of a difference?”

I said actually there is a big difference and I’d be happy to talk to her about if she’s interested. I felt this mom was possibly considering to breastfeed and I wanted to preserve that gently… away from any real or perceived pressure. I invited her and her baby into a little conference room so I could have a private conversation with her and give her information without the possibility of her well-meaning roommate piping in.

We actually had a very good discussion. She had a lot of questions which I was so happy she felt very free to ask ….such as all the health benefits, combining work and breastfeeding and how to get started now after 13 hrs.  I answered them and asked her if she wanted to think about it or if she was interested in getting started.

She said she’d like to do it now before her mother got here. She felt fine going back to her room. Since her baby had been fed a bottle only an hour before this started, I suggested she spend some time skin to skin and maybe…. her baby would root and self attach when he was ready.

I assisted her into a comfortable position and we snuggled a naked sleeping baby skin to skin. She was smiling but not feeling very sure of things. I told her to rest and I’d check up on both of them.

Her roommate chimed in “You are good mother learning this for baby. You feel better yes? I help- if you need- I help”

In the end, the baby nuzzled, licked & rooted about a half hour after being placed STS, but didn’t self attach. I assisted her to latch him in a football hold. She was very surprised to see colostrum and became quite engaged in the process. She was breastfeeding when her own mother arrived. This grandmother was kinda taken back at her daughter’s change of heart but was more supportive than the young mother thought she’d be.

Perhaps the roommate had another discussion I didn’t overhear…….. Sometimes you never know…..

The door to more education opens from many different angles. Sometimes pushed open from an individual with a different background.

I hope we have more happy beginnings like this in the future.


26 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a lovely story! Sometimes we’re so reticent as mothers to share experiences, but what a gift to this new mother and her baby that her roomate stepped forward to chat.

    May 2, 2010
  2. I love this story. I hope that mom continues to breastfeed. You never know, she may find a way to make it work once she returns to work, even if that means combo feeding. Thanks for sharing!

    May 2, 2010
  3. What a great story! I think sometimes we falsely believe that ffers just don’t care when in reality they might just need some information. I hope she still breastfeeds for 2 or 3 happy years! 🙂

    May 2, 2010
  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this story! And thank you SOOO much for sharing! See, this is exactly it, women need TRUTH. We can’t be so scared of being offended that we shut out facts and information.

    Mom A just changed Mom B’s life (and her baby’s life) if she sticks with it. Good for her for having the guts to say something! And great for you for being able to swoop in and assist her!

    And can I just say I’m so glad that YOU were the nurse she asked because another nurse may have just said “Oh, it’s fine, you don’t have to try.” That woman was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

    May 2, 2010
  5. What a beautiful example of education without judgment, and of a mother who is open to conversation/learning without feeling any need to be defensive. I wish every interaction could go as smoothly!
    Thank you for sharing.

    May 2, 2010
  6. Lynette RN #

    Very nice story! Brings a smile to my face. The truth and accurate information for decision making. I love it. Good job sisters! 🙂

    May 2, 2010
  7. What a great story! I love how the roommate just set it all up for you to take over. I hope that the mother goes on to enjoy a long and happy breastfeeding relationship!

    May 2, 2010
  8. This was a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. I hope that I can influence moms like this – gently, with just the right words, at just the right moment.

    May 2, 2010
  9. alisa #

    Beautiful story. It helps to see someone else breastfeeding when you yourself are just learning. My first was born at home..but I was worried about nursing. My midwife had a 2-month old at the birth and she was quick to allow me watch her nurse her baby up close and personal while I worked with my own baby. It was wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.

    May 3, 2010
  10. Crystal M. #

    This story brought tears to my eyes!!! It is amazing how a baby can learn to eat from a bottle than to a breast and that mama should be so proud of herself to try breastfeeding when she was “encouraged” to formula feed. What a wonderful story!!!

    May 3, 2010
  11. This is so great!!! It makes me wonder if those who decide to ff only do so because they’re poorly educated or are scared about breastfeeding.

    May 3, 2010
  12. Lovely! but it is a shame that there is a huge formula ad at the end of this story.

    May 3, 2010
    • StorkStories #

      Thanks for stopping by….No one else can see a formula ad… I hope it was a fluke. I have no ads on this site. Please let me know if you see it again… Thanks for reading.

      May 3, 2010
      • Its gone 🙂

        it was a google ad, I wonder if it was because I came from another site? hmmmm…..

        May 4, 2010
  13. That gave me shivers and brought tears to my eyes. Love it!!!

    May 3, 2010
  14. StorkStories #

    Thanks everyone.. I am so glad I overheard this exchange and could be of assistance to the mom. She did reach out to me after the discussion and I provided her with correct information in a very informative yet non-judgmental manner.
    Many young mother’s in America don’t receive adequate information for informed decision making about birth options, feeding, parenting etc… or they are influenced heavily by peers/family and other barriers in their immediate circle…including their care providers! I suspect FF Mom B had been influenced heavily by her own mom but we never explored any of that. Perhaps she always thought about breastfeeding but never saw it happening.
    It was so refreshing to me that this experienced mother from another culture felt no societal pressure to stay quiet, or keep her mouth shut. She spoke her mind and this young girl listened.
    It is really so wonderful for a young new mother to have the exposure to an experienced and supportive breastfeeder. Mother to mother help does so much for many moms.
    Wonder how this would have played out if we hadn’t had to double up?

    May 3, 2010
  15. Becky #

    Love this story! Thanks so much for posting it. 🙂

    May 3, 2010
  16. This is a great story and I love the way you told it. We are often too afraid to speak the truth. Thanks to mother A and to you for a job well done. Nurses can make one of the biggest differences in educating women about breastfeeding.

    May 3, 2010
  17. Thank you for being there for this mom and telling her story. It is wonderful to see how moms help each other by simply sharing their thoughts and experiences.

    May 4, 2010
  18. Linz_UK #

    Sometimes BFing isn’t possible. Please don’t assume FFers ‘can’t be bothered’ or ‘aren’t interested’ or ‘aren’t supportive’ of BFing.

    May 4, 2010
    • Jenny Z #

      I really don’t think anyone’s assuming anything. Please don’t perceive a positive story like this as an attack on those who have to formula feed.

      May 7, 2010
  19. Magical Childhood #

    What a wonderful story! What a great thing one mother did for another, and for that baby. 🙂

    May 9, 2010
  20. I just found your blog from TFB’s and wow! Really, WOW! This story gives me chills and makes me grin ear-to-ear.

    I thought I was going to tear up for a minute there.

    July 27, 2010

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