To Nursery or Not to Nursery?

To Nursery or Not to Nursery?

The following is a student blog post by Emily Soderlund

To nursery or not to nursery?  That is the question! Quite a while ago, Mayo Health System – Mankato, updated their nursery and the policies surrounding it.  The nursery used to be open to all babies.  In fact, nurseries have been the standard of care in hospitals for decades! Today, at Mayo – Mankato, parents are required to keep baby in their rooms to encourage the benefits of newborn bonding.  Research shows that skin – to – skin contact, nursing and those first precious hours the family has with new baby are actually crucial to infant development! So… no nursery! This is a good thing!  Right?
Over a decade ago my son was born at Mayo – Mankato.  I was told that it was in my best interest to opt for an elective cesarean being my first pregnancy, which was high risk twins, was also a c-section.  So, on September 18th, 2006, I delivered my 10 pound baby boy via c-section.   Back then, the nurses actually encouraged me to let them take my baby back to the nursery so I could get some rest after surgery.  I remember that I didn’t want him to leave my sight but the medications were warring off, I was sore and absolutely exhausted.  So, I decided to let him spend some time in the nursery so I could sleep.  I still made sure my baby had skin – to – skin, I was supported by the nursing staff to breastfeed and honestly, the nurses at the time were wonderful at making sure all of my and my son’s needs were beyond met.  I didn’t think much about my son spending time in the nursery until I stumbled across a thread in a local Mom’s Group on social media regarding the “no nursery” subject.

Let me just say, that in my profession as a doula, I do not judge, criticize or even pretend to know what the perfect birth is! It is so different for every woman!  And I 100% support my client’s right to choose what their birth plan should be.  But what I saw in this particular conversation were opinions, ideas and emotions galore!  Some moms absolutely loved not having the nursery option, while others felt it made their own recovery incredibly difficult.  Some women felt that it was a good move for the hospital in recognizing how important immediate postpartum contact is for newborn attachment, and others seemed to feel that having baby in their room actually  hindered the bonding experience as the nurses were continually entering the room to check on baby .  Why so many varying opinions?  Why were so many mothers seemingly unhappy about the disappearing nursery?  I had only supported one woman as a doula at Mayo – Mankato, so I decided that this was a great opportunity to reach out to some of these gals and listen to their birth stories and postpartum experiences.
After reading more than a dozen emails, several messages and even texting a with a few ladies, what I came to find was that every woman I spoke to who disliked the “no nursery” policy had gone through a cesarean.  Of course, there were women who loved having baby next to them every second during their stay, and some of those women also had c-sections, but even still, the correlation between disliking the “no nursery” policy and cesarean births seemed to be the trend.
What a women’s body undergoes during a c-section is major, major, let me repeat, major surgery!  If you don’t believe me watch one on YouTube 😉 And I had two of them; I know what recovery afterwards entails.  What these women were telling me was basically this; I just had a serious surgery and was bed ridden, making it incredibly hard to tend to baby…  Of course it was! While the birth of your baby is amazing and wonderful and gives you all the feels, it can also be exhausting, especially if you had a c-section.  These mothers also expressed, that at times, they felt overwhelmed with having to care for their newborn while being bedridden.  They had to rely on dad and the nursing staff to do all the things they couldn’t.  Simple things, like getting them a drink, getting baby out of their crib, helping them change baby’s diaper… so on and so forth.
As a doula, I passionately believe in the work I do; supporting all types of births, all kinds of women and I pride myself in remaining unbiased and encouraging no matter what! So many of the women I spoke to told me they wished they would have hired a doula for the birth, especially for the postpartum hospital stay.
Most of my work, thus far, has been attending mothers who are birthing at the Birth Center in St. Peter, which also does not have a nursery.  But for a totally different reason then the hospitals.  When a woman gives birth at the Birth Center, she doesn’t stay there for a few days after.  Actually, mom and family are able to go home just a few hours postpartum.  Because mom has not undergone major surgery, or been given any drugs, she is capable of walking out the door to be driven home to care for her new baby.  Often, the birthing family will hire a doula to support them through the labor, delivery and postpartum, which helps relieve some of the exhaustion and also allows mom to completely focus on her task of delivery.   By the time the family leaves the birth center, given the excellent midwifery care, they are ready!  I do not work for the Birth Center… meaning this in not a sales tactic.  It is simply what I have witnessed while supporting mothers there.
Newborn bonding is VERY important! It has been shown that skin – to – skin contact following birth helps mom and baby is several major ways which include the following:
·         Higher success rate at breastfeeding
·         Helps build babies immune system
·         Helps baby better regulate their own temperature
·         Promotes mother – baby attachment
·         Reduces baby’s separation anxiety
·         Promotes delayed cord clamping
So I am obviously in favor of moms having a quiet bonding time with their babies as the evidence clearly states that it is beneficial.   And this is also the standard of practice in most Birth Centers! So, we should all be pro “no nursery” in hospitals as well, right???
While I think the mothers who gave birth at Mayo – Mankato understand the no nursery policy, it’s kind of one of those things that looks better on paper than it does in reality.   The national average for hospital cesarean rates is 32.2% according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).  That’s high people! The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends rates to be no higher than 10 – 15%.   It is no secret that women who give birth in a hospital are way more likely to have a c-section.  And that’s ok if that’s what you choose!  Some of my best friends loved their c-sections! They loved being able to schedule the date of delivery.  They loved having the delivery over and done with! They still were able to care for their babies without problems and they still had choices regarding their birth plans!  But in those first few hours following delivery, what I found, from talking to a very small percentage of women about their c-sections / no nursery / postpartum / hospital stay… yes, we covered many topics… was that all of them could have benefitted from doula support.   A doula can fill the gaps between mom, dad, family and nursing staff.  All the little things a mom might not think of going into birth, a doula will!
Not having a nursery available after a c-section may be challenging at times, but in the end, I think the hospital is trying to promote a better experience for families.   I personally support the hospitals vision, but I also understand, after talking to several mothers, that not having a nursery available, may have added stress they were not prepared for.  If you, at anytime feel you need doula support, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of the many fabulous local doulas!  Whether you are planning a cesarean, hospital, birth center or home birth, a doula can add to the experience and help to alleviate some of the stresses while encouraging you through guided support and love.


All student article posts are the expressions of the student who wrote them. We do not take responsibility for the content, these are done as part of the educational experience and we try to encourage students to use their voice and learn to connect with clients through blogging and social media.
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