A MUM has blasted health bosses for banning her eight-week-old daughter from hospital.
Marianne Andrews has been admitted to the Western General Hospital because she needs intravenous antibiotics to treat mastitis, an infection common in mothers who breast-feed.
But Marianne was left devastated when she was told that her first child Zoe would be unable to stay with her overnight due to a lack of facilities and because nurses have not been trained to look after babies.
The decision has meant the mother and daughter have been forced to spend 14 hours a day apart, after NHS Lothian refused Marianne’s request to be treated in the Simpson Centre at the Royal Infirmary where babies are able to stay with parents.
The health board today apologised to the family and said it was working to establish why treatment at the Simpson Centre was not offered.
Marianne, 35, a freelance contractor in the banking sector, said: “They just said I would have to be admitted to the Western and Zoe couldn’t stay with me. I was shattered and in total disbelief.
“I said I was breast-feeding and asked how I could feed her, but they said we would have to buy bottles and formula and that someone else would have to look after her.”
The decision has meant Zoe’s dad, Matt Andrews, has been forced to take Zoe into the Western to spend time with her mum through the day before taking their baby to the family home in Pencaitland, near Tranent, every night.
The couple say they have been told that Marianne is not allowed to spend any time alone with her daughter and that Matt must take Zoe with him even if he leaves the ward temporarily.
Marianne added: “I’m in floods of tears before she goes. There is a time when you stop being with your baby all the time. I haven’t got there yet, but for 14 hours a day I’m not with her. When I see her she just wants skin to skin contact so we’re not playing which is important for her development..”
Matt, 37, who also works in banking, said that the decision was at odds with medical advice over breast-feeding and antenatal care which is promoted by NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government.
He added: “I was utterly shocked when they said Zoe couldn’t stay with her mum. The government makes such a big thing about breast-feeding. They put a lot of pressure on mums and push it as the be all and end all.
“If Marianne was critically ill or needed to be in intensive care I could understand it, but she only needs antibiotics..”
The couple have been told that around four mothers and their babies are placed in the same position every month – as NHS Lothian policy means women with mastitis have to be treated in the specialist breast ward at the Western, rather than the Royal Infirmary. Marianne hopes to be discharged at the weekend.
Dr Valeria Skafida, a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh and public health specialist, said: “Feeding from a bottle is very different, and once a baby has adjusted to formula milk it is often difficult to get it to breast-feed again.”
BEST FOR MOTHER AND CHILD
NHS Lothian has made extensive efforts to promote breast-feeding in recent years.
The health board offers midwives and health visitors to help mothers to breast-feed and promotes various breast-feeding support groups and helplines.
It is widely accepted that breast-feeding has benefits for both mothers and their babies. Breast milk contains antibodies linked to individuals and breast-fed babies are less likely to develop stomach infections, chest infections and ear infections.
They are also less likely to suffer from allergies, asthma and eczema, or be overweight or suffer with type-two diabetes in later life.
For mums, it lowers rates of obesity and the risks of breast and ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.