Rooming in or hospital nursery at night? Does choosing one over the other make you a better mom? Here’s my (unscientific) thoughts on the matter.
When I went to the hospital to have Jack, I didn’t have many requests.
In fact, my nurses told me I was one of the most easy-going, laid back laboring women they’d had as a patient. I took that is a compliment!
However, I did have two requests, and they were made clear early on:
- I wanted an epidural ASAP, and I wanted to feel as little pain as possible.
- I wanted my baby to sleep in the nursery at night.
Fortunately, every nurse I had was awesome and told me no problem. However, I’m sure both of my statements make some mothers and nurses cringe.
But, I don’t really care!
I remember when I was looking at the different hospitals I could deliver at, and how each one said that while rooming in 24/7 with your baby is recommended, there is a nursery available for those who might need it.
Some of the hospitals said they didn’t even have a nursery.
I was also a member of different forums online, and many women expressed their “disgust” at women who didn’t have their baby sleep in their room at the hospital.
Just a few weeks ago I saw an article about why you should room in with your baby, and all the women commenting were saying things like, “What kind of mother would send her baby to a nursery?” and “How could you dare send your child to the nursery – you just waited 9 months to see them! Any mother who truly loves their child wouldn’t dare send them to the nursery.”
I went to a labor and delivery class at the hospital. While I loved the teacher we had, one day, she wasn’t able to teach and there was a substitute.
This lady spent half the class talking about how if we didn’t have our baby’s sleep in our rooms at night in the hospital then a few things would happen:
- The baby would not learn to breastfeed easily, because we wouldn’t be there to see their “cues”, and we would have a really hard time knowing if they were hungry or not.
- We wouldn’t likely bond with our baby easily.
- It’s just better for the mom to constantly be with their new baby.
For a pregnant woman, it felt like quite the guilt trip for anyone considering the thought of sending their baby to the nursery at night.
Fortunately for me, I listened to a much wiser (in my opinion) woman – my mom. She had six babies over the course of about 17 years.
She strongly suggested that I send my baby to the nursery at night, and that’s the advice I listened to.
I’m so glad that I did.
Here’s why and what happened.
1) I was exhausted
I started having contractions at about 9:30 the night before Jack was born. I went to the hospital at one AM, only to be sent home at three…only to go back at about 10:30 AM.
Jack was born at 5:07 PM that day. I had been up since 7 AM the day before, and quite frankly, I was exhausted. I loved snuggling my new little baby after he was born. However, by the time about 11:30 PM rolled around, I was so tired. All I wanted to do was sleep.
So, I sent him to the nursery.
The nurses brought him back every few hours, and while yes, it wasn’t a night of blissful sleep, I did feel rested when I woke up.
I wasn’t worried about every little noise Jack made, and I knew he was being taken care of.
With my second baby, the hospital was even more intense about the rooming in thing. However, I had awesome nurses who actually insisted they take him. I am so grateful for that .
2) Jack was in my room the majority of the time
I didn’t send Jack to the nursery all day and all night when I was at the hospital. For the most part, he was with me.
There were times they had to take him away for one reason or another, but unless it was night time, he was with me.
I felt like that was sufficient time for me to be with him, and that the few hours he spent in the nursery wasn’t a big deal.
Plus, let’s be honest – it’s not like I wouldn’t be taking care of him every night for at least the next 18 years!
3) The nurses brought him to me
It’s not like the nurses held Jack hostage in the nursery and wouldn’t bring him to me when I requested or he was hungry (though several of them told me he was the kind of baby they were really excited to have stay in the nursery. He was super adorable.)
They knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed him, and they brought him to me when he was hungry in the night.
When I woke up in the morning, they brought him to me as soon as I asked.
With Oliver, I had Oliver with me whenever I wanted. They did testing in my room. They didn’t take him anywhere without asking me. And honestly, the only times I didn’t have him were from about 12:30 AM to 5:30 AM, and he was with me periodically throughout that time.
4) Jack might just be too attached
Okay, not really. I don’t think he could ever be too attached to me 😉 But I want to laugh at the childbirth teacher who told us that if we didn’t have our baby with us at all times in the hospital, we’d have trouble bonding.
Jack has been a momma’s boy since day one, and he still is. We certainly did not have trouble bonding. I held him pretty much all day long when I was in the hospital, so really, he probably needed a break from me by the time night time rolled around!
It’s the same with Oliver. In the hospital, we did skin-to-skin the entire time we were together. Our nurses were constantly telling me how wonderful that was and how many moms just keep their baby in their bassinet the whole time (which is totally their choice.)
Oliver might be even more attached than Jack.
5) He was a champion eater from day one
Jack wanted to nurse the first second they handed him to me. And he’s loved eating ever since.
I feel very blessed about this, and I don’t believe that me not learning to recognize his nighttime feeding signals in the hospital the first two nights harmed his ability to eat (I’m pretty sure those feeding cues were the exact same as the ones during the day.)
With Oliver, my milk came in before even 48 hours had passed. I nursed him very frequently and even though he initially had low blood sugar due to being IUGR, I was able to avoid supplementing by how well he was nursing.
He had his struggles with gaining weight later on, but it was not because he didn’t stay with me 24/7.
6) He wasn’t secretly fed formula
I remember one thing I heard people say was that if you send your baby to the nursery, the nurses will secretly feed the formula.
Now, if your nurse secretly feeds your baby formula when you’ve specified they are exclusively breastfed, that’s sketchy.
I like to trust most nurses, and that they aren’t going to go against your wishes (unless you are actually harming your child.) While I can’t say with 100% certainty this didn’t happen, I can say with about 98.5% certainty that they didn’t.
7) I was still happy he was here
One of the comments that really bugged me in the article I recently read was that you must not be a good mom because you don’t want your baby with you at all times.
Well, I think I’m a pretty good mom, and I was so happy to have him there.
Did I feel like I had to have him with me at every moment? No. But that didn’t mean that I didn’t love him or was happy that he safely arrived!
This single decision didn’t make or break my ability to be a good mother. In many ways, I think it did enable me to mother better during those first few days because I had gotten a few extra hours of sleep.
This is what worked for me.
He’s turned out just great! I’m not entirely sure if something happened between the hours of 11:30 PM and 7 AM at the hospital that is going to seriously harm Jack down the road…but my instincts point toward no.
Some say you get the same amount of sleep whether you send them to the nursery or not, but I don’t think that would have been true for me. Jack was awake all night – content, but awake. There’s no way I would have slept if he was awake. I hold my babies in the hospital (and after we come home, to be honest) every chance I get, especially when they are awake.
With Oliver, after they brought him to me around 5:30 for a feeding, I just kept him with me. He slept very well in the night, and he was still wanting to sleep then. However, from the start, he always rolled to his side to sleep, and it freaked me out. I didn’t sleep anymore after that (and I’m certain I wouldn’t have had he been in my room all night!)
It can prevent some issues
I also want to share a story from my sister. She had her first baby over 15 years ago. The first night she was planning to room-in, but after her nurses told her to consider it, she decided she would.
In the middle of the night, Alexis turned blue. A nurse caught it, and she was sent to the NICU for several days.
My sister may have noticed, but she might not have. But she is forever grateful for the nurse who took her baby.
I think the biggest issue is that moms are being told what is best for their baby.
They are given no choice.
There is no one size fits all scenario.
Some moms may not have a spouse or partner to help her.
Some moms may be recovering from a very difficult delivery and can’t even walk.
And some moms might just be exhausted.
If a mom wants to keep her baby with her 24/7 – great! But we all deserve a choice and shouldn’t feel guilty.
All I know is that both of my boys are thoroughly attached, happy, and well-fed.
And that is what matters.
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Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.
As a mom that hadn’t slept for TWO days and was absolutely exhausted. I needed that nursery. I had already felt like a failure because I couldnt successfully breastfeed and I knew she was starving but the nurse I had the night before she got put in the nursery was a young pregnant girl that was ignorant and thought she was better than me and couldn’t get through her thick skull that nothing was coming out and my baby was starving . I finally got this girl to give me formula after her attempt to get me to pump. In which I sat up all night nearly balling my eyes out because i was so tired oh my. But luckily the next day I had this amazing nurse that told me about the nursery and she said that she would gladly take the baby to nursery so I can get rest . So for the women that think they are better than me/ other mamas just because they kept their child in the room the whole time they were in the hosptial, it must be nice to have a good support system/good nurses because not everyone had the luxury.. the stigma around breastfeeding or sharing the hosptial room w them and not even getting a few hours of a break is ridiculous because it gets pushed on new moms way to much. Like I think they need to stop pushing breastfeeding in general. It’s ridiculous because you go to the hospital thinking your baby is gonna be on the boob when 9 times out of 10 you’ll end up in the same situation as me . And don’t even get me started with the OBGYNS/ Family members that basically force you to make the decision to breastfeed because omg they’ll have you feeling like a failure . At the end of the day , when they take nurseries away they are taking that support system away from mothers that need it . Stop catering to just one side the “natural” way of birth and afterbirth . Because lord knows they are taking these nurseries out and leaving the parents that need them the most to drown.
As a first time dad, watching my wife get through nine months and then labor I think every mom deserves nights with lots of sleep! You all deserve it and go through some incredible things for your babies! Much support from this father and hope us dads can help out!
Thanks, Andrew! I think supportive dads can make such a difference. I’m sure your wife is grateful to have such a great dad by her side 🙂
Thank you for writing this article! I sent my daughter to the nursery when I had her. I had a difficult delivery and I was exhausted. All moms are exhausted after childbirth and they should, under no circumstances, feel guilty about needing some sleep to recuperate. It should be the mother’s choice. It seems like everything I hear now is all about “rooming in” and how that’s the “best thing for your baby.” Well, you need to do what’s best for the whole family unit, including the mom, who just went through a pretty extreme experience. I hope more moms read this article and realize that they shouldn’t feel guilty for sending their baby to the nursery for a few hours. THANK YOU!!
My husband seemed surprised when I sent our son to the nursery for the night. I felt like it was safer for him to be with someone who was alert rather than me when I was completely exhausted. I was so worried I would fall asleep and drop him while nursing. Even with him sleeping in the nursery, I probably didn’t sleep 5 hours the entire 2 & a half days I was in the hospital!
I totally agree with you!
Oh, I wish I would have read this before I had our son 7 months ago! My first baby, our daughter, had to go to the NICU and I didn’t get to hold her for 48 hours after she was born. So when our son was born, I wanted him with me all the time and refused to send him to the nursery. That first night was AWFUL! I had a C-section so I was so worried about him choking that I didn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. I wish I would have sent him to the nursery!
I can’t imagine not being able to hold my baby for 48 hours – I can understand not wanting to let your son out of your site. I do think it’s a lot more nerve wracking to have them with you those first few days all the time, especially when you are recovering from a c-section 🙂 At the hospital I delivered at, they initially told me they wouldn’t take the baby unless I really needed it…Fortunately, I had a nurse that practically begged me to let her take my son at night!
I could have written this!!! (Well…birth time line was similar in that I was in labor all night that ended in a white flag/c-section after 18 hours – 9.7 lb thankyouverymuch) I was one of those first time moms who was just aghast at the thought of sending my precious new baby off to those evil nurses and I could never part with him…but after those 18 hours of labor, c section, and hours in recovery adding up to about 25 hours of royal wtf just happened to me…yep. Sweet baby went to the nursery with a big blue sign announcing he was a boy and breastfed ONLY (capped and underlined by one of those so-called evil nurses). Best. Idea. Ever. Great article 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience! I think most of us go into child birth with expectations…that usually get dashed once reality sets in! The Hospital Nursery is awesome.
I am a hospital newborn nursery nurse. You are most definitely not a bad mom for sending your baby to the nursery, and I am here to say I agree 100% with what you said. It is all about how mom sleeps best. Some people sleep better knowing their baby is in the room. Some don’t. It’s personal choice. For the people that think that the nurses are going to secretly feed your baby formula, let them stay paranoid and don a tin foil hat while they are at it. 😉 99.9% of us would never do anything like that. You, the person who “gets” that nurses can be trusted and we aren’t all out to get you, get your rest and do what you think is best. 😉 We will love and snuggle your baby and bring them to you when they are hungry and you can actually sleep in between feeds. Win-win in my opinion.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! I went on a hospital tour recently, and when I mentioned that I was planning to use the nursery at night, the tour guide seemed appalled. I couldn’t believe it. Fortunately she wasn’t a nurse, so I’m hoping that isn’t the opinion of the nurses 🙂 When Jack was born, the nurses always were asking when we were going to send Jack to the nursery because they loved him so much! haha
Katelyn Fagan says
I am so glad you wrote this! I am so PRO nursery! I actually wasn’t aware that the hospital I had Mike at didn’t have a nursery until after I delivered, and I was a bit upset about it! Like you, my labor was long and I was EXHAUSTED! So, I kept him in my room with me, but would end up just snuggling with him in the bed because I was just too tired to put him back down after a feeding in his bassinet which is always too high when sitting on those hospital beds. We would just kind of fall asleep during the feedings together. But, then the nurse would complain because I shouldn’t have my son sleeping with me in bed.
Eventually the nurse took him for several hours (not sure where, but I don’t care!) and brought him back to me when he needed to nurse. It was wonderful to get 3ish hours of sleep! It’s partly for this reason that I didn’t stay another night and left the hospital as soon as possible!
Charlee @ Humble in a Heartbeat says
That’s interesting I’ve never even thought about whether you are a good or bad mom if you send your baby to the nursery. My first was a NICU baby, so I couldn’t be with her the first 4 nights. It was hard, and I slept almost straight through the night the second night because I forgot to wake up (I was supposed to go at midnight, 3 AM, and 6 AM and I missed the 3 AM). I was sooooo mad at myself for forgetting my baby, but 1) my husband wasn’t there to wake me up, 2) the nurses don’t come to get you to feed your baby when your baby is in the NICU (if you don’t show up, they give them formula), and 3) I was a first time mom so I wasn’t used to waking up in the night or worrying about my baby in the night.
The second time around I had my baby in the room, but my husband was there to help me this time. If he had gone home, I probably would have asked to take her to the nursery! Good thing you didn’t listen to all the chatter and feel pressured to do something that wouldn’t work for you.
Chelsea @ Life With My Littles says
I love this! I completely agree with you. I never once felt guilty when I let both of my kids sleep in the nursery. I think it’s important for you to get sleep while you can because once you are home, it may not come so easily with your newborn. I never had any problems with either of my babies, and I was able to get the rest I needed since I couldn’t sleep super well when I was pregnant, and also because labor is exhausting! Thanks for sharing, and I totally agree with you!!!