I was reading Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress blog this week — one of my favorites for keeping up with research in the field and personal stories of moms struggling with PPD. She has a great list of her top 10 postpartum depression stories from 2010 — the most commented-on and widely-read. It’s really worth reading for a snapshot of the year in the field.
And one story caught my eye “Should Moms Be Required to Keep their Newborns in Their Hospital Rooms?”
It started with a mom’s story from a New York City hospital, in which she was denied her request to have the baby taken care of in the nursery, even for an hour, so she could get some rest.
Lots of people in the medical field responded, some saying that moms get equal rest whether they room with their babies or not, and that having babies in the hospital room with you lowers the risk of postpartum depression.
Stone didn’t buy that, and neither do I.
Of course skin-to-skin contact is important post-delivery. It helps with nursing and it gives parents time to bond. I let my son crawl his way up to the breast after he arrived, and wouldn’t let the doctors take him to have a bath, or do any of the number of procedures they wanted to do for hours after birth. When they did go off, my husband basically stalked them until they brought my son back to the room.
But that was my personal preference — it was a choice that felt right to me — I don’t think it had a lasting impact on my mood or my son’s health. In fact I think we give too much weight to all the practices around labor and delivery, when in fact, withing reason and in the grand scheme of things, they probably don’t matter that much (and doing it “right” can make us feel more anxious than anything). Childbirth is an intensely emotional experience for us, but things like attachment and postpartum depression are way too complex to be swayed one way or the other by a few days of a hospital stay.
Again, nursing, yes — highly influenced in the first day or so. And I agree that being close to mom or dad is important in the early days. But preventing a serious mental health disorder by rooming in? I don’t think so.
What’s your take – should hospitals require rooming-in? And do you think it has a major effect on babies and moms?
And here are Postpartum Progress’ 2010 Top 10 Stories on Postpartum Depression.