Bye-Bye Hospital Nurseries?

81 comments

One of our fabulous bloggers just had her new baby girl last week at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. She had given birth there previously and had a great experience so decided that’s where she wanted to give birth for the second time. Everything went well, her birth went great and the doctors and nurses have been wonderful but she was surprised by one change – they recently got rid of the hospital nursery.

She and her husband were exhausted and hoping to get 2-3 hours of sleep by sending their new baby girl to the nursery but it turns out, that nursery is being turned into an education room and they have a new mandatory 24 hour “room in” policy. I was really struck by this. I completely understand that many moms want to room in. I know all the pros of this – helps with breastfeeding and bonding. But what about the moms who desperately need a few hours of sleep to recover physically and mentally before heading home where they will really be on duty 24 hours a day? What about the moms like me who had a very long, difficult labor resulting in an emergency c-section? The hospital I gave birth at 2 years ago welcomed taking my daughter for a little bit so my husband and I could rest. I really feel like we’re forgetting that birth can take a serious toll on a woman’s body and that she may need extra help in those first days as her body (and mind) is recovering. A mandatory room in policy, in my opinion, has negative implications for women’s health.

Apparently there are a few other hospitals in the state following suit – getting rid of their newborn nurseries. I heard a rumor that Hartford Hospital is going to start a new 24 hour a day room in policy so I decided to call them to confirm. The woman I spoke with said that yes, they will be moving in that direction but said they will still have a nursery. I asked what would happen if a mom requested to use the nursery after the room in policy goes into effect and she wasn’t sure. She told me that they are still working out the details. I also asked her why they’re making this change in the first place and she said again she didn’t know.

I still can’t seem to figure out why this is happening and honestly, can’t think of any justifiable reasons.

In one of my research attempts I found this recent article in which a clinical nurse in Pennsylvania said “we are not doing the mom a favor by taking the baby away from her during the night for her to sleep.”

OK. After taking a few deep breaths, I guess I understand that thought process on some level – they want to instill confidence in new moms that they can take care of the baby overnight when they go home. But again, I feel like this mentality completely negates the fact that new moms have just undergone something extraordinary and with how high c-section rates are, many moms have just gone through a major surgery. Maybe we deserve a little favor, like being able to get a few hours of sleep so our body can start to heal before heading home and starting those intense weeks of life with a newborn.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying that moms should be sending their newborns to the nursery, I’m simply saying that they at least should have a choice. For some moms (including me), a brief break while trying to recover from a major physical and emotional event is important during the birth recovery process. And now that I think about it, saying that giving a new mom a break isn’t doing her any favors can really make a mom feel like shit about herself if she desperately needs a reprieve. I personally feel that women’s choices should be respected and not judged – if you want to room in with your baby 24 hours a day good for you! If you need a little break – hey, that’s OK! Let’s not start taking these choices away.

Lastly to any mamas-to-be, I highly suggest calling the hospital you’re planning to give birth at to find out what their policy is around rooming in and whether or not a nursery will be available to you.

81 comments on “Bye-Bye Hospital Nurseries?”

  1. Better yet, tell these hospitals that you will be going to a hospital that has a nursery next time! Tell them that you will no longer return to a hospital that cannot offer you a nursery! That will certainly make them think if they get enough women telling them they will not use their hospital!

  2. There are also MANY articles out there, some written by OB’s, that talk about how getting rid of nurseries is WRONG. They talk about how pushing the “Baby Friendly” initiative on women who don’t want to follow these steps is wrong as well. Some women want to formula feed. Nothing wrong with that. Some women breast and bottle feed. Some women want to use a pacifier from birth. And MOST women actually do not want to room in for their entire hospital stay. I’ve worked on 3 maternity units. Most of our women breastfeed and most of them send their babies to the nursery between feedings or at least for part of the night or part of their hospital stay. Their choice, not ours! Make your voices heard. As nurses, we HATE having to be the bad guys here and follow these stupid rules. But we have no choice once they take away our nursery nurse and get rid of our nursery! We would all vote to keep the nursery!

  3. Michelle, I’m so glad that you wrote this! Taking away nurseries is all being done because of the “Baby Friendly” initiative. Look it up! It was started in the 1990’s. Now most hospitals are being forced to become “Baby Friendly”. Hospitals that jump through a bunch of ridiculous hoops, like getting rid of their nursery, can be designated a “Baby Friendly” hospital! Supposedly these 10 steps that “Baby Friendly” hospitals follow discharge more exclusively breastfeeding mothers. I’ve been a maternity nurse for many years. I can tell you that all the nurses that I work with think the 10 steps are NOT rooted in science. There is science out there that disproves some of the steps. And as nurses, we have no choice. When our higher up managers decide we’re going “Baby Friendly”, we must go baby friendly. Our nurse managers don’t even agree with the 10 steps. In fact, I can only think of one lactation consultant that I work with, who is NOT a nurse by the way, who believes that these 10 steps actually help with breastfeeding. Our doctors don’t agree with the 10 steps either. We definitely don’t agree with getting rid of the nursery! It’s just not safe! What we need is for patients to complain! Fill out those surveys that the hospital sends you. If your hospital has a nursery, please tell them how much you appreciate the nursery. Tell them NOT to ever get rid of it! You can even mention the “Baby Friendly” initiative, and that you don’t agree with it. It’s really a bunch of rubbish! If your hospital does NOT have a nursery, tell them how disappointed you are that they have gotten rid of it. If they had a nursery when you delivered your last baby, tell them how much better your experience was when they had a nursery, and tell them WHY you need a nursery. Hospitals are VERY concerned with patient satisfaction these days! Our Press Gainey surveys have to be good. If you did NOT get a survey, write to your hospital. Tell them how wonderful your stay was. Or write in addition to doing the survey. STart talking about how getting rid of nurseries is ridiculous on social media. Pass the info on to your friends. Let them make a fuss too! Tell the hospital how much you depended on the nursery. If you had a horrible stay, felt that you were forced to breastfeed, were made to feel guilty about giving a bottle, were made to feel guilty about wanting to send your baby to a nursery for some rest, PLEASE tell them this! Write to the CEO or the Director of Nursing, someone very high up in management in the hospital. You can also write to the nurse manager of the unit if you want. Make your voices heard! As nurses, we have NO CHOICE in any of this. MOST hospitals are trying to go “Baby Friendly”. It’s a minority of Americans, mostly crazy lactivists, who believe that everyone should breastfeed, who are pushing this initiative! The title is misleading! It’s not mother or baby friendly! It’s not rooted in science! And CEO’s of hospitals are being told that getting rid of nurseries will help more women exclusively breastfeed. They don’t know any better. It all sounds good to them. We want more breastfeeding women, don’t we? Mothers, nurses, doctors, and even most lactation consultants who are actually nurses know better! Babies who have to stay in the NICU bond just fine with their mothers. Guilting mothers into rooming in 24 hrs a day in the hame of bonding is wrong, and it’s actually dangerous! Mothers have fallen asleep and dropped their babies. It happens! If you need the nursery, you need the nursery. There should be NO question and NO guilt associated with it. As nurses, we’re here to help you, and we DO NOT agree that the “Baby Friendly” initiative is baby OR mom friendly! Make your voices heard! This is the ONLY way this will change! And I believe that we can change this is enough patients make a fuss! Make a fuss for us!!!

  4. I love this post. It should be there if you need it. You should not be shunned if you utilize it. That’s why you are in the hospital! To have some help after a major physical process! (the poll isn’t working)

  5. holy *(#€¢!!!
    I had 2 hours sleep in 4 days, despite using the nursery every night, because of uncontrolled pain from planned section…I thought I was going to die. Knowing someone else was looking to my baby while I struggled to rest was tremendously important to grasping onto the thin thread of sanity.
    I cannot imagine the hell of no nursery on top of the frontline war of getting adequate pain management.
    I’m so terrified already, this isn’t helping.

  6. Hi,
    I found your blog after doing a search. Interesting conversation! My daughter just gave birth to her third baby in a hospital that has a 24 room in policy. We were shocked to discover she couldn’t send her baby to the nursery for a couple of hours after two days of no sleep. She didn’t know this before she chose the hospital, didn’t know she had to ask!
    Anyway, her two previous children spent time in the nursery and she breastfed them each for over two years. That two hours did nothing but give her a respite. As a Mom who gave birth in the old days (30 years ago) I just don’t get the militant breastfeeding attitude. It is a choice (I acknowledge it is best for baby), but nonetheless a choice and I sense so much judgement around this issue. It should be a wonderful experience chosen freely not guilted or bullied into. Yes, I breastfed my babies back then without the help of the internet, blogs and lactation consultants!

    In my opinion it may be less about breastfeeding and what is best for the mom/baby and more about cutting costs.

    There are so many different situations out there that I believe Mom’s should still have the choice to keep the baby in the room or utilize a qualified and loving babysitter while she can.

    I had no idea this was a trend in the industry.

    1. Kelly thank you for this comment. I completely agree with you on all your points. This trend towards taking away the option to send your baby to the nursery is incredibly alarming. After this post I contacted the CT Hospital Association and they are looking into it. I’ll let you know what I find out.

  7. Hi Michelle,
    I am Annmarie Golioto, M.D., attending neonatologist and director of Nurseries at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. First, congratulations to all the new moms at CTWorkingMoms.com. Thank you for your blog post. I’d like to address the concerns and clarify information about The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC). As you may know, mother-baby care has evolved nationwide over the years and rooming-in is the current care standard for healthy newborns as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Rooming in is also part of the “Ten Steps” to breastfeeding success endorsed by the AAP, Baby–Friendly USA and UNICEF.

    At HOCC we provide parents with the opportunity to practice rooming-in because it provides parents and newborns with many benefits. While many women welcome the idea of getting as much sleep as possible after labor, extensive research has shown a mom is just as likely to get the same amount of rest with baby in the room. Having mom and baby together from the beginning is shown to be the best way for both to rest and establish a routine, as odd as that may sound. Having baby within mom’s presence helps the baby relax. Rooming-in helps parents prepare for going home with their new baby and offers more opportunities to learn about the baby’s behaviors and what they mean. Here’s a helpful link:
    http://breastfeeding.nichq.org/Newsroom/Rooming-In-Rates-April2013.aspx.

    This care delivery change means we at HOCC no longer need a large, separate nursery area off of the postpartum floor. Instead, we now have a smaller “respite” nursery in our Family Birth Place where babies can be taken care of by our nursing staff a few hours at a time when parents need a break. Whatever mom’s wishes, it is our goal to provide her with the best possible experience while preparing to care for her newborn at home. Moms should let our staff know how we can best assist them.

    The best advice we can give new parents is to learn how to rest when your baby sleeps day and night in the first days. Early in the newborn period, babies eat frequently, and find comfort and security in being close to mom and dad. We welcome moms and dads to come visit the Family Birth Place before delivery and learn about what to expect during their stay. For more information, please feel free to call me at 860-224-5011 x 4155

    1. Thanks for your response. I appreciate that your hospital wants to be engaged in this dialogue, as I really see this of critical importance.

      I don’t think anyone is arguing against the benefits of rooming in. The problem is that when a mom needs a break for whatever reason, more often than not in hospitals that have a 24/day room in policy, she is made to feel guilty for even asking to send her baby to the nursery (as unfortunately many of the comments on this post indicate). It can take a lot of courage for a new mom to even say, “hey, can you please take my baby for an hour or two so I can get some rest” and her needs should be respected and accommodated.

      Getting rid of the nursery at your hospital, in my opinion, is a disservice to new moms. I understand that you are saying you have a small space where you can still try and accommodate a new moms request but with a new lack of space, if you have multiple moms request a break you simply can’t accommodate them all. Additionally, we’ve heard from more than one mom who gave birth at your hospital that they were heavily discouraged from sending their baby out of the room to a point at which it made them feel like absolute crap about themselves. A high standard of patient care should include making sure that women who have just experienced an intense physical and emotional event are not made to feel badly for asking for what they need.

      There is already a lot of pressure on moms and a lot of guilt placed on us for our parenting choices. New moms should be able to voice their need for their baby to be taken out of the room so they can have a break while they recover, without feeling like bad moms for asking. Educating moms about the benefits of rooming in is one thing but taking away or heavily discouraging their choice to send their child to the nursery is doing a serious disservice to new parents.

      I spoke with someone at your hospital on the phone the other day, but certainly would welcome speaking with you directly about these concerns. If there is any way to work with you to ensure that women’s needs post-birth are more respected, that would be the absolute best outcome of this dialogue. Thank you again for taking the time to comment here.

      1. Hi Michelle,
        I would welcome a call from you at 860-224-5011 X4155 to further discuss these issues. I will be away from my office for a few days for a medical conference but if you leave a number and good time to call I will get back to you. Thank you again.

    2. There is no way I would have gotten the same amount of rest with my baby in the room. I was able to sleep 4-6 hours at at a time at night (I would have slept even longer but I woke up a couple times from discomfort/pain) when a newborn needs to eat far more frequently than that. I formula fed, so my daughter did not have to be brought to me for night feedings, the nurses fed her in the nursery from when I went to bed until around 8am in the morning. I had pre-eclampsia and a c-section, and I am a single mom who had no one to stay with me in the nursery. I needed that sleep to recover from MAJOR surgery. Yes I had to care for her at night at home the difference was that by then, I hadn’t just had MAJOR surgery a couple of days earlier.

  8. At night, at home with my babies, I was able to nurse and watch TV (with my familiar remote). I had all the pillows and blankets I needed. I had help from my husband and my mother. I knew where to get snacks and had all of my favorites.

    In the hospital? I was in this bed I could barely get out of. I had to use a restroom where I couldn’t find the light switch or the soap. The floor was slippery and freezing. I was so hungry and had no food. One hospital had no chair to sit in, and the other had a freezing sticky plastic covered thing that was completely uncomfortable. I was alone except for a roommate I didn’t want to wake up. It was hard – and not because of the baby or my body.

    Just shoving a baby in the room for the night isn’t supporting mothers. These hospitals have found a whole new way to screw up the childbirth experience.

  9. Like many of the other woman who have commented already I had a very difficult and complicated delivery. I had to recover in the delivery room and couldn’t go to the postpartum room for a couple of days. My daughter had to go to the nursery the first night and part of the first day because there was no way I would physically have been able to attend to her. Both my husband and I hadn’t slept for almost 24 hours and we were exhausted and I needed time to recover. The nurses were great and they knew how important it was to me to be able to breastfeed her so once I was medically stable enough they brought her to me when she was hungry so I was able to still have that bonding experience with her. There was no way that I would have been able to have her in the room with so it was important for her to be able to go to a nursery. Once I was able to go to the Postpartum room then we had her stay in our room but I think it’s important for it to be the parent’s choice and for both options to be available.

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment Jen. I’m so sorry you had a difficult recovery (I did too) but am so glad that the hospital you gave birth at was able to accommodate you happily. I totally agree that the point is new parent’s should have the choice.

  10. What a timely article, Michelle. This has been a big discussion with my circle of moms. Many of them have recently delivered babies and had no idea that their hospital had changed to a room-in policy. In my opinion, I did not utilize the nursery enough with my first delivery (twins). The nurses actually strongly encouraged me to put them in the nursery my last night at the hospital because I was having such a major challenge with my recovery (c-section, preeclampsia, etc.) and once I did, I realized I should have been using that resource all along. With my second delivery (another c-section), I utilized the nursery a lot more, especially in the evenings to help me get some solid rest. My daughter was actually sleeping really well, but with her in my room, I felt like I never truly fell asleep because I was constantly wondering if she was doing ok. With her in the nursery, I knew she was well taken care of and I could safely close my eyes for a few hours. I think choice is the most important thing for this discussion. Moms need rest after delivering a baby and moms that have had a c-section need a lot of help with recovery. The hospitals should give them a choice when it comes to the nursery. Are you thinking about starting a petition? 🙂

    1. What a wonderful comment Mandy, and hi! No petition yet, right now I’m in research mode and am calling all the hospitals in CT to find out their policies. Then we can figure out who needs pressure 🙂 Would you mind either commenting here or emailing me (michelle@ctworkingmoms.com) to let me know what hospitals your friends gave birth at that changed to a room-in policy? That would be really helpful so I kind of know before I call! Thank you!

      1. It was Hartford though I don’t know if they were just encouraging the room-in policy or saying that the nursery wasn’t an option. I can check and will let you know.

      2. See this is a major part of the problem. It’s one thing to educate new parents about the benefits of rooming in, there are many of course, but it’s another thing to cross a line from educating to discouraging women to use the nursery.

  11. I am actually surprised that CT still has nurseries. Having given birth twice in two different hospitals on the west coast I thought that rooming in was the norm. Most of the nurses were there to help when I needed my rest and I never even questioned why they didn’t have a nursery. Thinking back on it now, I realize are a lot of health and safety issues taken into consideration for a hospital to opt for a room in policy. Imagine the liability hospitals face taking care of healthy newborns outside of parental presence. Also, it is financially beneficial for hospitals to not have to staff a nursery.

  12. Thank you Michelle. What an important conversation about women’s health and choice. I used the nursery after both of my children. With my first, my son, I had 25 1/2 hours of labor followed by a c-section. I was exhausted, clueless, and emotionally drained. The nursery gave me some relief and they partnered with me and brought my son back each time he wanted to feed because of my desire and commitment to breastfeeding. I brought this issue of no nurseries up with my sister last night, who is due with her second baby girl in 3 weeks!! She and I are very different but have come a long way in our mutual respect and judgement-free mothering. She mentioned that she had been at a baby shower and was told this same thing…no more nurseries. She lives in NC. So, it appears this isn’t just a CT thing and has been happening elsewhere for some time. My take…it’s all about money. Hospitals are struggling financially-thats a fact. And so, unfortunately, once again, women’s health seems to be the thing that is put on the chopping block with an obnoxiously paternalistic message of, this is best for you. Even my husband, who can sometimes be challenging when I engage him in a feminist rant, immediately noted how major giving birth is…either natural or by c-section. Women should do what they feel is best, but we should be given an option. This new policy of no nurseries is crap. Thanks for bringing attention to it!

  13. Do you know why these hospitals are eliminating nurseries? Is it a cost thing, or a principle thing?

    I can’t see how it would work where, for example, new moms don’t have private rooms. My sister in law had both of her kids in a hospital where they have two beds per room – she was lucky in that there was no one else in there, but there in theory could be. That would mean that there could potentially be someone else’s baby in the room with you…stressful.

    1. Two beds in one room, I didn’t even know hospitals did that. So far I haven’t gotten straight answers about why except from one hospital who told me that to be deemed “baby-friendly” they had to get rid of their nursery. UMM WHAT?!

  14. Thanks for this article! The nursery being there was something I took for granted when I had my son almost 3 years ago at Hartford Hospital, and I’m so glad it was there! Definitely a savior when I just wanted to sleep. And I was fine, and my son was fine, and he breastfed like a champ and there was no shortage of bonding. So it really frosts my cookies to hear that this is supposed to be best for the babies and best for the moms, when it sounds more like the hospitals just don’t want to staff a nursery. The nurses are great and do so much already; I wonder if the hospitals have considered the extra burdens this might put on them? Anyway, I’d just like to see women continue to have the choice – it doesn’t mean you love your baby any less if he spends a few hours in the nursery! Just like it doesn’t mean you love him any less if you choose/have to formula-feed. People can be so judgmental about the choices of others, it’s a shame to see institutions join in.

    1. “Frosts my cookie” lol I love that phrase! Thanks so much for sharing your story. I totally agree with you, the point is for new moms to have a choice and it doesn’t mean anything about the kind of mom you are if you need to use the nursery!

  15. I delivered at a NH hospital in January. They had a small nursery, but it was no longer staffed 24/7. They said that their policy was for babies to stay in room unless the mother needed rest due to a prolonged or difficult birth. Then they’d make accommodations to either bring the baby to the room or have the baby with them at the nurse’s station. When I learned this, I was a little shocked since all the books I’d read said that it would be up to the mother whether she wanted the baby to stay or go to the nursery. Fortunately, I had a pretty easy labor and my son was a relatively calm baby so I was able to get some rest. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have used the nursery even if it was fully staffed. My protective instinct went into gear full-force and I didn’t want that kid out of my sight for a minute. I was a wreck when they had to take him for a car-seat oxygen level check (he was 3 1/2 weeks early so apparently they run this test to make sure his oxygen levels stay normal while in the carseat carrier). Still, it was nice to know that if I really needed a break, there were options available, even if not the traditional 24/7 nursery.

  16. I just had my third child. I sent him to the nursery because I couldn’t sleep. Not because of him, but because the staff kept coming in every 45 mins to an hr to either check on him or me. I have three kids three and younger-I needed some sleep! While the staff was nice at Hartford hospital, it seemed they didn’t get why I needed rest! I had a really hard pregnancy, a delivery that turned scary for a few minutes and I really needed a few minutes. I have gotten more (and better) rest at home.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! May I ask what the response was from staff when you asked to use the nursery? It sounds like they made you feel badly about. I spoke with them earlier in the week (as indicated in my post above) and they told me they are moving towards a 24/day room in policy. I would be curious to know more about your experience, if you are comfortable sharing.

      1. One if the nurses asked if I “read the handbook” I was given that says they encourage rooming in because it doesn’t prevent the mom from getting rest. I scoffed at that. Because my baby was a 9 and a half lb-er, they had to keep coming in and testing his glucose. Then people were coming in to clean, drop things off, pick things up-food trays, paperwork, my medications, vitals checked every hour or two. I felt like it was a circus in my room. My family barely visited so I could get rest. When I picked my son up at the nursery the next morning, there were about 6 babies in the nursery. There were a lot of staff in there as well and they all were very happy to watch my son overnight.

        Do you think this is a cost cutting measure? I’m starting to wonder.

        My newborn is now a month old. I haven’t received a survey yet from the hospital but really would like one!

      2. I don’t understand how people can say that rooming in doesn’t discourage moms from getting rest. Obviously it does for some moms because they are still asking to send their child to the nursery, while other moms love rooming in and prefer it. For me, the whole point is that moms needs should be valued and respected. We are forgetting or downplaying the major physical event that women’s bodies just went through when we tell new moms that the benefits of rooming in outweigh their need for rest and recovery. Thanks so much for your comment. We’ll be sure to keep you and all the other mamas posted about this stuff as we move forward with doing some research.

  17. This is very interesting. I, too, just had a baby last week. After the 4am feed on her second day of life my husband wheeled her in to the nursery. Thank God he did. Our nurse noticed within the hour that her color was off she was she taken to the NICU where she was diagnosed with very serious heart issues. What would have happened had she been in our room? I shudder to think. Our pediatrician who called to see how we were doing said often heart and jaundice issues arise around the 24-48hr mark. We forget that these babies aren’t always born healthy, nor are all moms without post birth complications. This trend scares me and I’m so thankful for the care and nursery at Yale.

    1. Melissa, I’m glad your daughter’s condition was caught early. This is just one of the many reasons why nursery care is critical in my opinion. Congratulations on your new daughter.

    2. Melissa I am so glad you were able to give birth somewhere that had a nursery available so they could catch this. Your story (and Cora’s) about how the nursery identified a serious health issue I think is critical as we move forward looking into the different hospital policies and potentially placing pressure on hospitals that are moving to a 24/day room in policy. Thank you for sharing your story here. xo

    3. I’m a 30 year NBN RN . We are being told by administration that the 24/7 is on the way . We as nurses and moms have been trying so hard to fight this for this exact reason . It is not safe for the baby or the exhausted medicated new mommy . Keep the conversation going !

  18. You know what’s weird? At Middlesex Hosp, it was never offered (that I remember), and I never asked. It was a combination of being anxious (honestly, paranoid someone would steal her or she’d be mixed up with another baby. Ridic, I know.) and feeling guilty asking for help – like I SHOULD be able to do everything on my own immediately. New mama, already affected by the mommy war guilt trip. Awesome, huh? In hindsight, I wish I would have sent her to the nursery for a few hours – I was frustrated with breastfeeding, exhausted, and a scared FTM. If we have a baby #2? You bet I’ll take a few hours of sleep and trust that she’ll be ok in the nursery for a bit. I agree that it should be an option, and the Mama should have the choice — and I hope the nursery is still there if we have #2!

    1. Oh I feel you. Even though we used the nursery one or two times, I felt really guilty about it. In retrospect I should have used it more than I did because I ended up having some complications after I went home. More rest would have been good for me. We plan to research what the policies are at other hospitals across the state so stay tuned for more info over the coming months!

    2. OK so I was curious and looked at their website. I LOVE what they say!! It reads, “Skin-to-skin contact is critical to the development of a lifelong bond between mom and her baby, so we allow and encourage babies to “room in” with moms throughout their stay — and your baby will even be bathed and examined in the room with you. However, we also understand that it’s important for moms to get a break at times, so our nursery is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for infant care.” I left a message with them to confirm this is still the policy and that they aren’t planning on any changes. Will let you know what I find out!

  19. I am in California, north of LA, they stopped providing nursery care at our hospital in 2008, I had my 1st in 2006 when they still had it, then was surprised when they told me with my 2nd in 2008 that they no longer provide those services. So with my 3rd in 2011, I told them as soon as I can go send us home. I plan on doing the same with my 4th when I am there in January.

    1. I’m really curious, did they give you a reason for getting rid of the nursery? I totally understand why you would want to go home as soon as possible. Congrats on your 4th pregnancy!

  20. Thank you for this thought-provoking post! My first is due in a few months and now I will definitely ask about this when we tour the birthing center. I have no idea how I’ll feel, but I want to know what options are available ahead of time!

    1. Good for you! You should definitely ask, and then let me know 🙂 Best of luck with the birth and arrival of your first little one!

  21. I had three C-sections all at Hartford Hospital. I breastfed all three of my daughters, I cuddled them, and nursed the ever-living heck out of them. That being said, I was in extreme pain two of the three times around. I was having reactions to various pain medications, and at times during the night and day I needed sleep and needed to have my incision examined. The nurses at Hartford Hospital were amazing, they would take the baby for a few hours while I napped, and would bring her back when she was hungry. They also brought the baby to the nursery for weight checks, temp check and vitals. The nurses never tried to formula feed my daughters when they were out of the room. Also, the first time around my husband was at my side for my entire 5 day stay in the hospital, so even if there was no nursery he would have been able to help. By the time my third daughter arrived my husband was busy taking care of our other two daughters, so many times during the day I was on my own. Anyone who has had a third C-Section can tell you, one or two days out, you are not hoping up out of bed to lift a crying baby. I could go on and on about my personal experience using a hospital nursery, but the larger point is how does a hospital administrator or board of directors know what is best for each mother and child. Anything that limits the choices of parents, is, in my opinion, counter productive. Also, as an analyst I don’t understand the fiscal/policy/legal implications of this decision? It seems to me like it’s putting more liability on the hospital and certainly not saving any money…but more importantly, it’s making restrictive health care policy decisions…NOT GOOD!

  22. Our older daughter was born at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in 2010, and at the time the nursery was still in full use. We were told that she HAD to go to the nursery for several hours when she was around an hour old for her bath, assessment, and formal admission. I was able to breastfeed first but then she had to go. As I had been induced due to preeclampsia and was in bed on mag sulfate for 24 hours after delivery, I couldn’t go with her and that made me really upset (although my husband went with her to the nursery). We also found out that they brought all of the babies to the nursery for the pediatricians’ rounds in the morning and then again at night for hearing tests, bili checks, etc. They promised they’d bring her back to me if she cried or was showing hunger cues, and if I was nursing her when they came to my room to get her, they’d come back later. It was still a great experience with wonderful staff but it bugged to have to let her go to the nursery several times a day, for up to 2 hours at a time.

    Our second daughter was born in June at the same hospital and the changes are awesome (IMO). The newborn assessment is done right in your labor and delivery room after an extended period of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding if you choose. The baby’s first bath is done right in your postpartum room. When the pediatricians do the initial assessment of the baby and morning rounds, they go to each postpartum room. The nurses and doctors still do the exact same checks and assessments, just in your room rather than taking the baby away. It was nice because we could ask questions as the pediatrician was examining her. She only went to the nursery once, for 20 minutes for her hearing test; everything else including her bili check and cardiac defect screening was done in our room. I absolutely LOVED not having to send her to the nursery!

    When we were moved to our postpartum room we were told by our nurse that while rooming-in is now standard practice, that means that they just aren’t staffing the newborn nursery 24/7 anymore. If mom is exhausted and requests it, they WILL make it so that she can rest and everyone stays safe. My nurse said that they could either take her for a while or would help me out in our room (so I wouldn’t have to get out of bed or whatever) – it would be up to us. This was just three months ago, so hopefully that’s still the case and it just wasn’t communicated clearly by the staff.

    1. I hope that they do communicate that change. I agree- I was feeling extremely anxious about ANYONE being with my babies except me, though in hindsight, I do think for my own mental health it might have been good to have maybe 2 hours of sleep in my hospital room. I think it’s great that your hospital made it clear that if mom needs rest they will accommodate that. My 2nd son was in a light bed for jaundice treatments in my room with me- screaming uncontrollably- for a full 24 hours. The nurses helped a bit as they were able to, and seemed to really want to help, but I just literally had no sleep for at least 36 hours after giving birth and it was awful. 😦 I wish they had said more clearly that I could have him in the nursery if I needed sleep.

    2. Thanks for the comment. How interesting. When I was there visiting on Friday, my friend said she was told that they literally do not have the nursery any longer, they are making it into a neonatal education room. She specifically asked to use the nursery and was told that they won’t take the babies anymore. I think my friend (who hopefully will comment later!) had also been at the hospital 2-3 months ago for some kind of test and saw the nursery still intact so didn’t think to even ask. Then when she needed it last week, that’s when they told her they don’t have the nursery anymore and are doing a 24 hour a day room in. I will call this particular hospital soon to re-confirm everything, but I did confirm it for Hartford Hospital.

  23. I delivered my second just last week. (I should mention that I live in another state.) The baby needed 48-hour observation. We roomed-in the first night and around midnight the second night I just really needed more than 90 minutes of consecutive rest. I was so exhausted from the previous night of continuous feedings and the night prior to that I had been in labor.
    With tears in my eyes and a shaky voice, I tentatively asked the nurse if she could take the baby to the nursery for 2-3 hours. I was so surprised when she said that she would have to ask the charge nurse because they might not have enough nursing staff for someone to “watch the baby”. I was already feeling guilty for asking and her response opened up the flood gates of emotion even more.
    They were able to take the baby and the sleep really set me up for the next few days/nights. I’m feeling very bonded with my baby. We breastfeed and cosleep and have had plenty of bonding time. I certainly hope that asking for a few hours of rest during a hospital stay (or from a friend/family member at your home) the first few days with a newborn doesn’t turn into yet one more thing mothers feel guilt and shame for needing.

    1. Oh I so understand. Thank you for sharing this very recent experience. Congrats on the birth of your child, I’m sorry that they didn’t respond more positively when you asked to use the nursery, that’s not right. I’m glad they still took the baby and that by doing so, it set you up for a good next few days. That is exactly what I’m talking about! And I couldn’t agree more with you, we shouldn’t be shaming or guilting moms about this, not at all.

  24. My first daughter was taken to the nursery at St Francis for a bath and so we could rest for a few hours. I woke several hours later to discover she was still there. Turns out the nurse in the nursery noticed something “off” with her cry and called in the on call pedi for more info. My daughter was subsequently diagnosed with a facial nerve defect that most likely wouldn’t have been diagnosed as quickly had she not gone to the nursery. So yeah, I’m all for maternity departments with nurseries.

  25. This is a really thought-provoking post, and a subject I haven’t seen come up too frequently. Having had both my kids at home, this issue never even occurred to me. I am not sure how I feel about the breastfeeding-promotion aspect. I would hate to see women give up breastfeeding just because it’s easier to let a nurse give the baby formula in the nursery, but at the same time, it would certainly be counterproductive to force an exhausted mom to have baby in bed with her when she’s really not up to the stress of getting the hang of nursing, recovering physically and emotionally from birth, and just trying to get some much-needed rest. I like Sarah’s thoughts above about having the nurses be on top of things and ready to help if a mom needs it, and I think this could be the solution. I had a number of follow-up visits from our midwives, including one within 24 hours, and it really helped. With that said, I am one of those moms who felt great and wanted my babies with me at all times to nurse as much as possible, so it’s easy for me to say that not having had the opposite experience.

    1. Mel with all due respect, that is exactly what a forced room in policy does so I don’t see it as a solution. Also, just because you send your child to the nursery for a few hours doesn’t mean they will be formula feed. The one or two times we did this, I was breastfeeding and they brought her back to me when she needed to be fed. I really don’t think we should be taking the ability to use the nuresry if needed away from moms. Saying that they can get all the help they need within the room doesn’t cut it for some women who desperately need a tiny bit of sleep/rest.

      1. Ok. I thought my comment was supportive; I’m sorry if it could be misinterpreted. I’m saying that I can see it both ways. That’s why I said above that I *understand* how counterproductive it would be to force a mom to do something she doesn’t want to do. As I said above, I have no experience with the hospital, so maybe I’m using the wrong words here. I want to understand the issues, so I hope no one is upset unnecessarily because I’m asking the questions. 🙂

  26. I had two totally different birth experiences, both at UConn, both great. My first baby needed to be in the NICU for a full week so having her with me wasn’t even an option. My experience with the NICU was amazing. My second baby was in the newborn nursery and they didn’t make me feel like I “should” do anything. I could leave her in there to get some rest (I was formula feeding from the start) or I could room in. Whatever I wanted. I kept her with me most of the time and in hindsight, wish I’d had used the nursery that last night before going home to my 22 month old with a newborn who screamed all hours of the day and night for ten solid months and didn’t sleep through the night until after age two. Coulda used that one solid night of sleep.

  27. Bonding is so important-yes rest is good, but natural birth and being with that newborn is a selfless act and the child deserves its mommy right away
    its not suppose to be a country club exp being a mom is work work work as we all know
    breast feeding does not wait cuddle the bundle before you know it they will be all grown up.

    1. As someone who has had three natural homebirths, I still say that embracing ALL choices, even and especially when they’re different from our own, is a selfless act. The most loving and compassionate act.

    2. I had a tramatic delivery and the hospital that i was at tried to get me go room in 27/7, actually it was the same one as our blogger went to. i told those nurses i needed a break, because i was in such pain and overwhelmed. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to be super moms, we are only humans and should deserve a few hours to rest and recover, we have in fact just created a life.

      1. Melissa as you know, I too had a very traumatic birth experience so I know exactly what you mean when you say you were overwhelmed. And yes, are are HUMAN and hell we just went through a serious physical and mental event. We deserve a bit of compassion.

  28. So I did a quick google search and found this (from Wikipedia so might be more out there if you dig more):

    As you will see #7 talks about rooming in (again I am all for rooming in but some mothers need that nursery and I feel should be there).

    The criteria for a hospital’s Baby Friendly accreditation include:

    1.Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
    2.Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
    3.Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
    4.Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.
    5.Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
    6.Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, not even sips of water, unless medically indicated.
    7.Practice rooming in – that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
    8.Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
    9.Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
    10.Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

    1. So interesting, thank you for this. If I could I would change #7 to ‘encourage rooming in’, so it comes across more as a suggestion rather than a mandate, like #8.

    2. Wow!! I gave birth in one of these hospitals and wound up almost dying during my c section. I had planned for a natural birth though. I think that most of the things on this list are ridiculous and lack common sense. I mean really this list does not take extreme circumstances into account. I could barely move after my surgery, went into shock twice, was stuck in a room after delivery with essentially no help at all. I also went 72 hours with no sleep!!! When I asked for help I was told to call family or friends. My fiance had been up as long as I had been and we both needed the sleep. We had no one else to help us. A hospital like this made my.recovery even more miserable. What happened to fricken common sense in our society?????

  29. I delivered at Middlesex both times. They did have a nursery, but like Arlene said, they really discouraged it unless you really needed it. I never used it. I will say, however, the nurses were excellent about coming to help me in the room at ALL hours with my babies. My 2nd delivery was awful (not a c-section, but couldn’t move after), and they literally would come pick up the baby and hand him to me to feed him, then put him back in the bassinet. I would hope that if hospitals ditched nurseries there would be more supportive nurses out there for this kind of thing (like I’d been fortunate to experience). It’d also be helpful to KNOW ahead of time so you can arrange for a friend, parent, spouse, whomever, to come and care for your new baby in your room while you napped. I hope this info will be clear ahead of time so moms can at least plan!

    1. Oh I totally hear you that nurses can be awesome at coming into the room to help. And I completely agree that women should find out ahead of time if there will be a nursery or not but honestly, how do you plan certain things? Like what if you plan a natural birth and end up needing an emergency c-section? If you chose a hospital with no nursery and are having a difficult and painful recovery, sure hopefully the nurses would help out in your room but you can’t exactly sleep when your baby is crying. You know what I mean? My kid was a screamer and colicky right from birth and cried ALL THE TIME in the hospital.

  30. Wow! I’m surprised at the mixed emotions this brings out in me! When I first saw the title I thought “Yay! That’s a step in the right direction!” But after reading your whole post, I’d have to whole-heartedly agree that there should still be a choice for the Mama. Taking away our choices certainly doesn’t empower us. I absolutely agree that each Mama and family should decide what’s best for them and their needs.

    1. Thanks for this great comment Kate. I feel like oftentimes there are unintended consequences to movements. If it’s true that hospitals are trying to fit some kind of certification (like Arlene mentioned) by creating new 24 hour room in policies so they can say they are breastfeeding friendly, that to me, is a failure of the breastfeeding movement. If the breastfeeding community wants to truly support women’s personal choices, they should encourage 24 hour room in but not say that hospitals should require it or discourage women from using the nursery. That’s not helpful to new moms who are struggling and need a little extra help along their birth recovery path. We should be supporting and expanding women’s choices (to breastfeed or not, to room in or use the nursery), not limiting them.

      1. YES! Supporting ALL choices paves the path to empowerment! I also feel that “movements” can do a disservice by going all the way to the other extreme ~ such things are still based on fear (ex: You HAVE to do it THIS way or there will be consequences….”). When we can meet in the middle and realize women can be EMPOWERED no matter what they chose, THAT is when we find the balance. Again, such a great post and great conversation.

  31. The hospital I delivered at this past Feb (MidState Medical Center) still has a nursery but highly suggested it only be used if really need. But I did learn that at the time that they are trying to become one of these national certified breastfeeding friendly hospitals (or something along that line) and to do so a lot of things have to change. They were coming up on a review soon and some of the things were in the process as I was there (no formula samples, pushing for breastfeeding only, skin to skin for minimal for an hr after birth, no weight check or anything else until after that skin to skin and first feeding, etc). One of the biggest things they did tell me was having the babies always be with the mothers. So this may be why many of the hospitals are moving away from this. Many of them want to be on this list of certified hospitals. I am on your side, if I mothers needs it, it should be there.

    1. Wow that is really interesting. I’m going to have to look into that and see what the requirements are to be certified as a breastfeeding friendly hospital, because taking away the nursery and not giving women the choice to use it seems pretty anti-new mama to me. Like I said in my post, I totally 100% understand that rooming in has wonderful benefits, but removing that choice harms those that really need the extra help. Thanks for your words Arlene!

      1. I did a reserach paper on formula and read several research article on theBaby Friedly Initiative. http://www.babyfriendlyusa.org/ One of the requirements is to allow for 24 rooming but it’s vague about that requirement, and what exactly it mean. It’s a very good initiative that has help improve rates of breastfeeding. I’m 100% for rooming in, in fact we did skin-to-skin contact during 99% of our hospital stay. However, after reading your article I see and appreciate your viewpoint. I think we should be asking how can we make the birthing experience better for mothers. All the interventions that seem so normal to us increase the chance of C-sections (and we’ve come to beleive this is the easier birht…but I know you can attest it’s very difficult and the the recovery long). Women have been shamed about the birthing process (vaginas, poop, how will our vaginas look after…the horror!). Anyways, now I’m ranting. Thank you for your opposing view, it’s good for me to see the otherside of things…You rock!

      2. Great comment Michelle. I really understand that rooming in helps improve breastfeeding, I really do. But it should be a woman’s choice whether or not to use the nursery, not a choice made by the hospital (as I think you agree). And yes! We don’t need ANOTHER thing to make women feel guilty or shameful about in regards to birth (or in general really). 100% wholeheartedly agree!

  32. I struggled with this after my second was born. I tried rooming in with the first and realized I needed a break after the c section! This time with another planned c, I planned to send the baby out at night especially since I would be alone (Daddy was home with our big kid). The nurses said the nursery was full with sick babies so I needed to keep my loud healthy one with me. It was really hard to get a nurse to help me lift and maneuver him in the middle of my exhausted nights. I was really upset and disappointed. Thankful I had the healthy kid but still 🙂 I needed some TLC too!

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