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Where Have the Hospital Nurseries Gone?

Some new moms don't want to let their babies out of their sight at the hospital.

Not me.

A few hours after my first baby was born, we sent her away to the hospital nursery and settled in for a few hours of peaceful sleep before the nurse on duty brought her back in to eat. By the time we went home, two days later, we weren't exactly well-rested, but we'd definitely had a fair number of uninterrupted hours of sleep. With our second daughter, there was no question we'd send her to the nursery, too.

But, at my 35-week appointment when the doctor asked if I had any questions, I casually inquired about a night nursery at the hospital.

"I think it's all room-in now," she told me. "It gives the parents time to bond with their new baby."

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To my horror, everyone I asked about it told me the same thing.

When I broke the news to my husband, his immediate response was, "Is it too late to switch hospitals?"

True to what we'd been told, our baby spent both nights in the hospital in her cozy plastic bassinet in our room.

On the second day, the nurse asked what we thought of having no nursery (this was without us saying anything) and when we both expressed how much we preferred a nursery, she said, "I wish they had a nursery too! Let those parents get a good night sleep before they go home!"

A couple of nights of reasonable sleep before you send home a mom and her new baby isn't a crazy idea either.

When I mentioned it on my blog, readers from all over the country responded saying that their hospitals had done away with night nurseries, too. Some didn't even know that hospitals ever had nurseries for babies or couldn't imagine that people actually used them. Several people said they thought that "rooming-in" was part of a hospital certification as a mother/baby-centered facility (much like some hospitals don't provide pacifiers in order to certify as a breastfeeding-friendly hospital).

One reader said her hospital had a nursery but the nurses told her almost no one ever used it because most parents WANTED to keep their babies in the nursery (obviously this wasn't a hospital where I've delivered).

A few friends told me that, while this hospital didn't have a nursery, the nurses were willing to take your baby for a few hours to let you sleep if it wasn't terribly busy. So, at least at my hospital, some of the reasoning behind doing away with the nursery may have been so that nurses didn't have to be used to staff it.

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Is this the new thing? I understand the need to bond with a new baby, but I also think a couple of nights of reasonable sleep before you send home a mom and her new baby isn't a crazy idea either.

What do you think? Would you send your baby to the night nursery? Or was it even an option for you?

Image via Janssen Bradshaw

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