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Why mom and baby stay together following birth

Women's Care
Oct 14, 2021

Educating parents before they leave is a main goal at the Telfair BirthPlace at St. Joseph’s/Candler

The days of walking up to the glass window and looking for your newborn baby amongst the others are fading. Hospitals across the country are nixing baby nurseries as research has shown many benefits to mothers and healthy babies staying in the same room following birth.

At the Telfair BirthPlace at St. Joseph’s/Candler, mom and baby – those that don’t require special care in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – have stayed together for more than 12 years. We have a specialized unit just for labor and delivery, and then after a couple of hours, mom and healthy baby are moved together to a room in our postpartum Mother-Baby unit.

“There are several reasons for this but the main one is so we can educate mom on how to care for her baby,” says Angela Strickland, clinical nurse manager of pediatrics, special care nursery and lactation for Telfair BirthPlace. “It also gives mom and dad time to bond with their newborn.”

Angela Strickland, St. Joseph's/Candler nurse

Education and safety

Educating parents so they feel comfortable and safe when they leave our hospital is one of our main goals on the Mother-Baby unit at Candler Hospital. It may be you, your partner and baby in the room, but you are not alone to care for your newborn, Strickland assures.

Our highly-skilled Telfair nurses check on mom and baby every one to two hours, sometimes more frequently. Nurses also have phones with them and leave their number written on a board in mom’s room. That way you can call your nurse directly. Nurses help with feeding – whether breast or formula – bathing, car seat safety and other needs.

You also can expect visits from lactation consultants, an OB/GYN, a pediatrician and others to screen and perform tests on your newborn.

“A lot of moms feel like it’s less stressful to have the baby right there because they are going to go home with these babies, and they are going to need to know how to care for them, even if it’s in the middle of the night. While you’re here, the nurses are right here to help,” Strickland says. “It’s really all about education and to make sure that when momma goes home, she’s comfortable caring for that infant.”

Bonding and skin-to-skin

Another benefit to staying together following birth is bonding.

“This is a special time. Nowhere ever in your life will you get this back,” Strickland says. “With all the other extended family members and maybe other children at home, not to mention chores and eventually a return to work, you’ll never get these first couple of days back. We want it to be special. We want parents to bond and have that first family time together.”

Besides the memories, staying together allows for more time bonding through skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin is placing your unwrapped baby directly on your bare skin, typically the belly to chest area. At St. Joseph’s/Candler, we do this for approximately an hour immediately following birth. We also encourage skin-to-skin contact as often as possible during your stay.

Related Article: What is skin-to-skin contact following birth?

Skin-to-skin contact has shown to not only help with bonding, but also calming baby, regulating baby’s temperature, heart rate and blood sugar and supporting breastfeeding, Strickland says.

Now, we don’t expect you to do skin-to-skin or feel like you have to hold baby your entire stay. We encourage you to sleep when baby sleeps, and baby does have his or her own specialized bed. There’s also a place for your partner to sleep, and each room has its own private bathroom.

Learning your baby’s cues

Additionally, when you spend more time with your baby in the first days of his or her life, you will pick up on cues. These are signals from your baby telling you how he or she feels or what they need. Some cues indicate they are hungry. Others may mean they don’t feel well or are sleepy.

For example, when babies are hungry they may cue by licking their lips, bringing their hands to their mouth or moving their head back and forth searching for the breast, if it’s a breastfed baby. Crying is a late cue for feeding.

However, crying, as well as fussing, losing interest in people or toys or sucking on their fingers, could be signs your baby is tired.

Related Article: Five tips to be successful at breastfeeding

Baby-Friendly Designation

In 2017, Candler Hospital received recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility. This prestigious international designation encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

While the Telfair BirthPlace has kept mom and baby in the same room for years prior to the recognition, it is part of receiving the Baby-Friendly designation, Strickland says.

Learn more about Baby-Friendly here.

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