Back in September I wrote a post about how it seems like more and more hospitals are either getting rid of their nurseries or are strongly discouraging new moms from using them. I only discovered this issue because I went to visit my friend and fellow blogger Marie at a local hospital and she told me that when she asked to send her daughter to the nursery for a little bit, she was informed that they no longer had a nursery and encouraged 24/hour rooming in. I was really struck by that and wanted to know why this was happening. Was it for financial reasons or because of something else?
I reached out to the CT Hospital Association for answers and they looked into this for me. Turns out that yes, most hospitals in CT either have a 24 hour room in policy for new moms or are moving in that direction. And the reason isn’t because of money, it’s because hospitals want a baby-friendly certification from Baby-Friendly USA.
Baby-Friendly USA is a pro-breastfeeding organization that created a Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, which is backed by the World Health Organization and many other heavy hitters. There are specific requirements that a hospital must meet to receive their certification and enforcing a 24/hour room in policy is one of the major components. In fact, within their guidelines they state that parents receiving pre-natal education should be informed of the benefits of rooming-in.
The guidelines go on to say:
“When a mother requests that her baby be cared for in the nursery, the health care staff should explore the reasons for the request and should encourage and educate the mother about the advantages of having her infant stay with her in the same room twenty-four hours a day. If the mother still requests that the baby be cared for in the nursery, the process and informed decision should be documented.”
Excuse me, what? If a mom asks to use the nursery she has to be re-educated about the benefits of rooming in (essentially meant to deter her from using the nursery)? If she then still insists (and really who would after being made to feel bad for asking in the first place), her request has to be documented, like she’s doing something wrong?
I’m sorry but to me, that’s not very mom-friendly. New moms should be able to make the choices best for them, not be deterred from asking for help. If a mom wants to room-in, she should. If a mom wants to send her baby to the nursery so she can rest or simply have a break, she should be able to do so too. It’s about women having choices and those choices being supported, not discouraged or shamed.
Birth, even the most wonderful, easy birth, can be hard on a woman’s body. Birth can also be hard on a new mom’s brain – many women struggle with feeling overwhelmed or develop postpartum depression and/or anxiety. If a mom who is tired/overwhelmed/not feeling well has the courage to ask to send her baby to the nursery and vocalize her needs, she should not be turned down and she most certainly should not be made to feel like she’s a bad mother for her request. And in my opinion, telling a mom again why she should keep her child in her hospital room is doing exactly that – making new moms feel like crap for asking for what they need.
Heavily discouraging women from using the nursery or taking away the nursery entirely, is doing a disservice to new moms. I believe in choice and I believe in supporting new moms fully without judgment. Breastfeeding or formula feeding, rooming in or using the nursery – these are personal choices and the only person who really knows what’s best is mom.
Unfortunately I’m not sure what can be done about this other than calling the hospital you plan to give birth at and confirming what their rooming-in policy is. It seems this trend has taken off and there might not be any stopping it.
We all know that when things get bumpy, moms are told to put their oxygen mask on first and then take care of their child. Well isn’t having a policy that is baby-friendly but not 100% mom-friendly, doing the exact opposite? A healthy, happy mom who feels supported is the most baby-friendly thing I can think of.
I’m sure that there are hospitals in CT that do a good job at individualizing care and supporting moms who ask to use the nursery (if they have one). But more & more moms are being advised against using the nursery and that’s alarming. Lastly, just for clarity, I’m not talking about the NICU, just the healthy infant nurseries.