Did you read the recent Boston Globe story “Maternity wards are moving away from nurseries?” Some have cited the decision to phase out hospital nurseries as a stingy cost-saving measure, others feel it’s unfair pressure on moms to breastfeed, while many think the option should always be there for a parent to decide whether or not to utilize it.
Having worked as a nurse and lactation consultant in Boston maternity hospitals for twelve years, I do see benefits of shifting away from the longtime practice of nurseries. Babies and moms are a unit, and spending time together (along with dads!) they learn about baby care and feeding, and enjoy bonding time. That said, I also think the choice should be left to mom without making her feel guilty if she chooses to have her baby in the nursery for short periods of time. Newborns spend a lot of time sleeping, and unfortunately, new moms do not spend enough time sleeping. Some women–especially those with toddlers at home–may benefit greatly by getting a good night’s sleep before being discharged from the hospital. Mom and baby can spend all day bonding, cuddling and laying skin-to-skin, which does not get negated if baby spends some time in the nursery.
If you’re feeling anxious about the idea of not having the option of a nursery after you have your baby though, try not to worry. Speak with your ob/gyn or midwife and the hospital ahead of time to get their specific guidelines on the matter. If you’re not happy with the nursery policies, find a new hospital that is more in line with your needs.
If you find yourself not feeling well in the hospital postpartum, speak with the RN and Nursery RN about coordinating short spans of nursery time. If it relates to your well being, they should be able to work something out. You can also ask friends and family to help out while you get some rest too.