Controversy: Keeping Your Newborn In The Nursery Overnight

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Several weeks ago I wrote a post on tips to help you stay comfortable post-delivery. I’m not an expert, just a mom of two, pregnant with number three and only offered my experience and what works for me. Boy did I get some people fired up over some of these tips!  Especially keeping baby in the nursery at night while you are in the hospital.  Here’s what I originally wrote:

If you are a first-time parent this may totally freak you out, but after that first night with the baby you will wish you had listened. Hospitals at night are like ghost towns dark, quiet and empty. You will most likely find yourself exhausted and scared about caring for this super tiny and frail person. The frail person may scream and cry and have difficulty latching on and you may have difficulty getting a nurse. Just do yourself the favor of taking a break for those first couple of nights, the baby will be very well-taken care of and you will get some much needed rest. I take it one step further and tell them to offer the bottle and not wake me for feedings in the middle of the night. I know my milk will come in and my baby will be fine having formula.

I stand by this tip, all of my tips. Keep reading for a more detailed explanation…

Like I said, I am not an expert and these are tips that worked for me and I thank my friends who have passed them (including keeping baby in the nursery) down to me. In this day and age there doesn’t seem to be the village of times past and taking help and tips wherever you can is kind of nice.  I live in a huge city with my family over 700 miles away so there’s no mom popping by to watch the baby or my sisters bringing me food and giving me a break to take a shower. It’s all on my husband and I and our wonderful friends dropping off tasty treats.

My experience after giving birth, in a hospital, with an epidural, and minimal tearing, was exhaustion. It is exhausting! You just gave birth! Then there are the crowds of visitors wanting to see the baby, and if it’s not your first, there’s introducing your older child and looking after their needs. By the end of day one, at midnight, I was so glad to have the nursery there to give me a much needed break.

Sure it was tough to let my baby out of my sight, just like it was tough on the first day of preschool and my first night away, basically anytime I leave my two precious babies (now 3 and almost 7). But I knew that I needed rest, real rest. One mom wrote her issues with leaving a baby in the nursery ‘I’ll just name a few issues here: baby switching, kidnapping, lack of care, experiments, no regard to your wishes for feeding, etc.’ This mom has never given birth in a hospital so she is unaware of baby lojack. You see, I had no fear of baby switching or anything she mentioned. For those of you who are new at this, times have changed. Most hospitals put a sensor on your baby’s umbilical chord and one around the ankle. If the sensor is removed or the baby is taken past the sensors in the maternity ward alarms start ringing all over the place like there’s a fire lights flashing and all! Security comes running too. I witnessed this when a dad tried to take his newborn for walk outside the maternity ward. He never tried that again! As for the care, those nurses are amazing. They chose a career that takes years of study just so they can take care of other people’s babies. Yes, I trust you.

With my first child I had her taken to the nursery around midnight and asked them to bring her in for feedings. They brought her in and left and I was a mess, had no idea what I was doing, she had a poor latch, my legs were still wobbly from the epidural and I had to change her diaper. It was just my husband and I and he wasn’t a whole lot better than I was him half asleep and me in pure exhaustion. The next night I asked them to give her a bottle if she needed it in the middle of the night. That night, from midnight to 6am was bliss. Six hours of sleep, more than I would have for several months after that!

One mom made a good point ‘For a lot of people it sets the tone for how much milk you will ultimately be able to produce and every exclusively breast feeding mom wants to make sure they will have plenty, not everyone can skip several feedings and naturally keep a good supply.’ Yes, it’s true, your milk coming in is about supply and demand, but I felt that missing two feedings in a 48 hour period was a sacrifice I was willing to make so I could go home and be rested as I set out on my village-of-two parenting. As it turned out, this had no effect on my milk production or either of my babies latch.

My milk actually came in before I left the hospital, in fact I had a lactation consultant come while I was still there and she was shocked at the amount I had already produced, then helped my baby girl with her latch and from that day forward she NEVER took a bottle. Not that I didn’t try, over and over and over. That’s just the way it happened for me, 18 months of boob only.

If you are not comfortable letting your baby have an ounce of formula, then that is not for you. One person commented that ‘WE KNOW that formula hurst [sic] baby’s fragile gut. It makes bleeding holes in it.’ Wow. No, formula will not do this to your baby and thousands of mothers who are unable to breastfeed will tell you that their babies are just fine having only been fed formula. Some of my close friends were unable to breastfeed due to medical reasons, they wanted desperately to breastfeed, but could not. I know their children and they are equally healthy if not more so than any other child I know.

Several people were concerned about bonding and skin to skin contact. This post was about tips on making you comfortable, not about how to bond with your baby. Bonding is very personal and I am not going to tell anyone how to bond.

One mom felt I was doing permanent damage by saying ‘do you know the psychological damage you could give a human being if you separate them from their mother even the first hours of being born? babies need mommy’s milk as soon as they are born and skin to skin!’ Well, I think my kids are just fine, just like those babies in the NICU that are separated from their mothers or any baby or mom that are unable to be together, no matter the circumstance. Also, let me just say that I practice skin to skin. My husband and I and even our older child spent many hours holding the baby skin to skin. This is a special way to bond and feel close, but I feel my baby will be just fine in a nursery for 6 to 7 hours. After all there are many babies who are unable to have skin to skin and they bond just fine with their parents. I am not going to judge a mother if she does not or cannot do skin to skin.

I think the most important thing for us moms and parents to remember is that we are all in this together, that it does take a village. In this day and age many of us have to create our own village, through friends, the internet (and post like this), and even hired caretakers. We need to support each other and be open and accepting that we all have different styles of parenting. Instead of judging and drawing quick conclusions just provide support in the choices we each make as parents. Sometime we all make mistakes, but most of the time we are doing an amazing job of raising our kids with all the love we can give.

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