Are Hospital Baby Nurseries Becoming a Thing of the Past?

It ain't no lie: The hospital baby nursery may be going bye-bye-bye.

newborn babies in hospital nursery Blend Images - ERproductions Ltd/Getty Images
After my three babies were each born, I loved "rooming in" with them, and opted not to send them to the nursery. This was the right decision for me, but I know many tired mamas who say baby nurseries provided just the support they needed to make it through the first few nights with their newborns.

Unfortunately, we moms may not have a choice soon. According to Today.com, a trending new "baby friendly" initiative may see hospital nurseries going the way of dads not being allowed in the delivery room, and become a thing of the past. Why? Because more and more hospitals feel babies rooming in with moms encourages breastfeeding and bonding, while nurseries do not.

"The research is abundant, and it shows the benefits of keeping a mom and baby together in a room really creates an environment that's the healthiest for the baby and the healthiest for the mothers," Lori Pugsley, newborn family units nursing director at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained to Today.com.

Currently, there are 355 so-called "baby friendly" hospitals in the U.S. But by the end of next year, that number is expected to grow to 530, or about 1 in 4 births.

So, does the term "baby friendly" imply these hospitals are not "mom friendly?" For some moms, the answer is absolutely not. As I said, I preferred having my newborns with me at all times; after all, I'd waited nine long months to meet them!

But for other moms, the absence of a nursery makes recovering from giving birth harder than it has to be. As new mom Christiane Boezio, who endured a 48-hour labor, told Today.com, "I asked the nurse if she would take him to the nursery for a few hours so my husband and I could get some sleep. And she said no. That it was policy that the baby stay in the room."

It'd be unfortunate not to at least have the option to use the nursery. And to me, it feels a bit like health care providers are telling us how to parent from moment one—as if by not having your baby with you 'round the clock from birth, you're somehow a bad mom. Oh, and let's not forget the "you must breastfeed to be a good mom, by the way" subtext. Ugh.

But here's the takeaway: If you're about to give birth, make sure you understand what the policy of your delivery hospital is so you are prepared. And if nursery care isn't offered, it may be time to call for reinforcements, i.e. grandma and grandpa!

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