Should newborns sleep in the hospital nursery or in mom's room after birth?
Posted July 25
Instead of newborn babies sleeping in a separate nursery after birth, hundreds of hospitals are encouraging mothers to let their infants stay in their rooms.
The trend was sparked by the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative that allows hospitals to become certified as a baby-friendly atmosphere — aiming to improve breastfeeding rates and encourage mother-infant bonding.
Over 350 hospitals and birthing centers across the U.S. have incorporated a baby-friendly designation, "ensuring that mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of giving birth and have immediate skin-to-skin," according to the Huffington Post.
The BFHI has caused 24/7 nursery care for newborn babies to fall since the late 1990s, the Huffington Post noted, leading to the creation of the "rooming-in" concept.
"The rooming-in requirement specifies that hospitals should have at least 80 percent of healthy moms and babies rooming-in 24 hours a day, regardless of whether they intend to breast or formula feed," the Huffington Post explained. "If a mother asks for her baby to go to the nursery, hospital staff are to explore the reasons behind her request, and to inform her of the advantages of rooming-in."
Rooming-in has sparked debate among mothers and experts.
MomZette, a parenting site, noted opponents of rooming-in said "the forced move infringes on a mother's freedom to choose what is best for her and her infant, and that it could lead to increased sleep deprivation for her when she needs it most."
Forbes reported Dr. Amy Tuteur, an obstetrician gynecologist and critic of BFHI, has continually argued "that shaming mothers who choose to formula feed is anti-women and detrimental to the health and well-being of mothers and children alike."
And a study published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health was inconclusive as to whether the BFHI has improved breastfeeding rates.
"Many of the studies regarding the effectiveness of the BFHI have been hampered by weak designs or methodologic limitations," researchers wrote. "Research conducted in the United States and employing experimental designs would help to more conclusively determine the effectiveness of the BFHI as an intervention to improve breastfeeding rates."
The Huffington Post cited research that analyzed sleep patterns in parents and their children and found that moms and babies do not sleep better when they are apart.
According to Stanford Children's Health, the immediate care of a newborn baby varies with the method of delivery and health of the baby after birth. If the baby is delivered vaginally and healthy, they are usually able to stay with the mother. Newborn assessments are often performed in the mother's room.
If the baby is delivered through a cesarean section, nurses or pediatricians check the baby right after delivery near the operating room before they are returned to the mother because they may have more complications.