Becoming Acquainted with Your Baby
Years ago. babies would spend the majority of their hospital stay in the newborn nursery. Today, parents, as well as the healthcare team, know how important it is for babies to stay with their families as much as possible. Family centered maternity care is when the new mother and her partner keep the baby in the room with them at all times. One nurse cares for the mother and the baby together. You may hear this called rooming-in or rooming-together. Whatever your hospital calls it, you should not be expected to provide the total care to your newborn in the hospital room. This model of care does not expect the parents to give total care to the baby, but you have a nurse with you that helps and assists in getting to know your baby and learning how to care for your baby.
Research has shown that babies, minutes after birth, begin to interact with their parents and give “cues” as to what they need and want. Learning the “cues” your baby gives is vital to help his brain growth and development, as well as helping new parents gain experience and feel comfortable in caring for and interacting with their new baby. Being able to ask questions of the healthcare team and having the availability of their skills if needed, allows new parents to feel more secure about the prospect of going home.
When you and your partner have the baby with you in the hospital room, you will find that you become comfortable with your baby early on. You will learn to recognize your baby’s smell, noises, expressions and movements. You will also learn how to handle and comfort your newborn. With the baby in your room at all times, it will be easier for you to recognize those early feeding cues. Your baby, on the other hand, learns you and your partner’s touch and how to feel safe in your arms. In addition, keeping mother and baby together at all times is enormously beneficial for breastfeeding, as it facilitates infant led feedings.
It has been shown that a baby who stays in mom’s room is generally more content, cries less and seems to develop more regular sleep-wake cycles earlier. This is because you are recognizing your baby’s cues and sleep-wake cycles and feeding your baby frequently (8-12 feedings within a 24 hour period). This is beneficial for early and plentiful milk production.
Mothers and babies should stay together at all times unless otherwise indicated or the mother makes a fully informed decision to allow the baby to reside in the nursery. If your baby rooms in with you, you actually tend to get more rest. Sleep when your baby sleeps.
Safety tips for rooming-together in the hospital:
- Call for help anytime.
- Remember to NEVER leave your baby unattended or alone for any reason.
- Pull the emergency cord or push the button if you feel a nurse is needed immediately.
- When you need to use the restroom or shower, and you are alone,wheel the crib to the restroom door and keep it open so you will be able to see and hear your newborn.
- Keep the baby close to your hospital bed – the furthest point away from the doorway.
- Do not give your baby to anyone you do not know or who has not properly identified themselves.
Most facilities offer and most parents choose to have their baby room-in the whole time they are in the hospital.