After giving birth, a woman held her healthy newborn baby for a few minutes. Then, hospital staff took her baby to the well-baby nursery and moved the mother to her hospital room. During the day, the mother and her baby stayed together in the hospital room; during the night, however, the baby stayed in the nursery because, as hospital staff advised the mother, she would get more sleep this way. The mother realized she had spent a lot of time apart from her baby, and she wondered if the hospital”s routine procedure truly met the needs of mothers and babies after birth.

 

 

Years ago, when birth moved from homes to hospitals, most babies didn”t stay with their mother. The mother went to a hospital room, while her baby was cared for in a nursery. Mothers waited long hours to see their baby, and their baby”s visits were often only during feeding times. The medical community thought that when babies were cared for in the nursery, the babies were safer and healthier and the mothers were more rested.

Yearning for Closeness  As an essential resource for helping you understand how decisions about your care during pregnancy and childbirth can positively affect you and your baby, Lamaze International offers scientific evidence about why keeping your baby close after birth is important for both of you. Since the beginning of time, women have needed and wanted their baby close to them. In their arms following birth, and while resting or sleeping, women kept their baby safe, warm, and nourished. Today, we know this “yearning for closeness” is a physical and emotional need shared by mothers and babies.

In recent years, studies have shown that it”s best for mothers and their healthy baby to stay together after birth (Bergman, Linley, & Fawcus, 2004; Bystrova, Matthiesen, et al., 2007; Bystrova, Widstrom, et al., 2007; Christensson et al., 1992; International Lactation Consultant Association, 1999; Moore & Anderson, 2007; Moore, Anderson, & Bergman, 2007; World Health Organization [WHO], 1998). And e xperts agree that unless a medical reason exists, healthy mothers and babies shouldn”t be separated after birth or during the early days following birth ( Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine [ABM] Protocol Committee, 2007; American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007; American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] Expert Workgroup on Breastfeeding, 2005; International Lactation Consultant Association, 1999; UNICEF/WHO, 2004; WHO, 1998). Interrupting, delaying, or limiting the time that a mother and her baby spend together may have a harmful effect on their relationship and on breastfeeding success (Enkin et al., 2000).