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Published on August 17, 2018

mother with newborn child

Together Is Better for Moms and Newborns

There was a time when newborn babies were whisked to the hospital nursery, soon after delivery, so their exhausted moms could rest. Those days are no more – and for good reason. The more time mom and baby can spend together in those precious first hours and days, the better.

“It created a burdensome situation to have a new mom who had to get up and go to another room to see her new son or daughter,” said Kimberlee McKay, MD, an Avera Medical Group obstetrics/gynecology specialist and Clinical Vice President of Avera’s OB-GYN Service Line. “The old approach with the nursery didn’t help breast feeding and the mother’s mood, so we began to see a shift from nurseries to in-room, bedside stays for baby.”

Why It Makes Sense

Newborn nurseries still play a role in post-partum stays at Avera hospitals, including Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center. But rooming-in, as the practice is called, is encouraged whenever possible. In fact, most of the exams and evaluations that once took place away from the new parents can be done right in mom’s hospital room.

This includes the head-to-toe assessment that is often completed several times during the baby’s first few days.

“We can do these evaluations with the mom and baby together. As a mom, you want to have that information and learn about your new child in real time,” McKay said. “So that’s another advantage.”

Many treatments, such as ultraviolet light for jaundiced babies can take place in the room. Women do need rest after delivery, so nurseries are still available if a new mom wants to get some uninterrupted sleep.

“For all these reasons, Avera has moved toward the in-room approach across the board,” said McKay. “The mom-and-baby-together approach is much more baby-friendly, and it can help in that critical period of time as they begin to bond.”

One Nurse For Both

Traditional approaches in obstetrics saw a pair of nurses giving care to the mother and child.

“One nurse for both mom and baby is ideal, because you have continuity of care and we’ve eliminated any issues that might come from communications between two people,” she said. “One nurse can be more accustomed to both mother and child as patients. They can help as they build their bond.”

McKay said that success in breastfeeding is among the most advantageous parts of rooming in. A mom can hear her baby’s cues and respond.

“Five minutes can make a big difference. In the old model with a nursery, a baby might be hungry and crying but would have to wait to be brought to mom’s room. Not anymore,” said McKay. “The lessons new moms can learn in those first hours and during that first day are extremely valuable.”

Those lessons are especially important for first-time moms, who can begin their lifelong learning about being a mother sooner.

“Nursery care was seen as a way to help moms rest after delivery, but we find moms rest better at home,” said McKay. “Back in the day, new moms were told ‘Rest, dear.’ But now we know their togetherness is a critical part of the growing family’s health.”

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