Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine publishes embarrassingly weak rebuttal to my plea to save well baby nurseries

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The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) has just published a rebuttal to my recent piece in TIME, Closing Newborn Nurseries Isn’t Good for Babies or Moms in which I address one of the central tenets of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), rooming-in, which is ostensibly about increasing breastfeeding rates, a task that it doesn’t accomplish.

This is one of the main points of my piece:

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Are we going to trot out ugly medical paternalism to insist that women can’t be trusted to know what’s good for them and their babies?[/pullquote]

Keep in mind that no one is preventing rooming in. If women want to keep their own babies in their rooms 24/7, they are welcome to do so. But that’s not enough; they insist that all women keep their babies in their rooms with them, whether they want to or not.

Apparently the folks at ABM don’t think that mothers can be trusted to make the choice they want them to make. Their response, Rebuttal to Dr. Amy Tuteur regarding Time editorial by Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett and Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter is embarrassingly weak, muddled and afflicted by remarkably foolish errors.

1. False dichotomy.

The ABM piece starts with the same false choice that preoccupies many apologists for the BFHI:

Thirty years ago, every newborn infant born in a US hospital was separated from their parents at the time of birth. Rooming-in was not an available option. We know now that that this standard practice was not optimal for the mother or the infant.

But the opposite of forbidding rooming-in is not MANDATING rooming in; it is ALLOWING rooming-in.

2. Red herring. A red herring is something that misleads or detracts from the issue at hand. The ABM red herring is pathetic in the extreme:

The image used by Time Magazine depicts an “unsafe” practice: several newborns swaddled in basinets on their sides sleeping. This sleep position carries more the double the risk of SIDS compared to infants sleeping on their backs.

The picture? Seriously, ladies, the picture? The picture (which I did not choose) is meant to illustrate the piece, not to accurately reflect contemporary well baby nurseries. You must be really desperate to be reduced to criticizing the picture instead of making a reasoned argument.

3. A whopper:

Rooming-in does not mean mothers cannot rest. In fact, studies show that mother’s sleep quality improves when her newborn is nearby, and sleep quantity does not diminish.

Studies show? Which ones? Oops, the authors could not manage to cite any of the studies! But worse than the fact that the authors don’t bother to provide citations is the fact that claims like these illustrate the most maddening aspect of the breastfeeding industry: they don’t listen to mothers. Women are complaining bitterly that they can’t rest when they are responsible for infant care 24/7 and they need to rest to heal from the ordeal of birth and any lacerations, stitches or surgery. But the breastfeeding industry couldn’t care less what mothers want; they are only interested in what THEY want.

4. Casual callousness:

It is unfortunate that the author believes Baby-Friendly is “deeply wounding” for those who choose to formula feed.

No, what’s unfortunate is that the authors don’t believe the MOTHERS who say that the BFHI is deeply wounding. I breastfed my four children. I did not directly experience the shaming and guilt of the BFHI but I don’t doubt the many, many women who have written to me and commented on my blog telling me that they have experienced the BFHI as shaming. But, as noted above, the breastfeeding industry couldn’t care less how mothers feel; to my knowledge, no breastfeeding researcher has ever asked them.

5. Speculation presented as scientific fact:

The benefits of breastfeeding and risks of formula feeding are anything but trivial. The establishment of the infant’s immune system and properly functioning microbiome are reliant on an exclusively breastfed diet with profound and lifelong results.

The only words in that sentence that are true are “and” and “the.” The rest is wishful thinking on the part of the breastfeeding industry, which routinely substitutes opinion for scientific evidence.

6. A lie:

There is no “breastfeeding industry.”

Really? Then why does a major market research firm publish a 56 page market analysis of the breastfeeding supplies industry? And that doesn’t even count the millions spent on lactation consultants, breastfeeding classes and promoting and implementing the BFHI. It’s an industry that’s so lucrative that market research analysts charge $2500 for the report, reasoning the members of the industry will be willing to pay that much to find out how to sell more goods and services.

7. Heartless indifference to the deaths of babies who die as a result of mandatory rooming in.

Mothers should be expected to use call bells when sleepy or having trouble transferring the newborn to the bassinet.

If you accidentally fall asleep with the baby in your bed and the baby dies, it’s your fault you didn’t call the nurse before accidentally falling asleep. That attitude is reprehensible.

8. Refusal to address the actual issue: lack of respect for women’s autonomy.

The issue is CHOICE. Are we going to treat women as if they are smart enough and capable enough to decide when they want their babies in the room and when they want to rest? Or are we going to trot out ugly medical paternalism to insist that women can’t be trusted to know what’s good for them and their babies?

The authors of this rebuttal are really grasping at straws if they have to resort to false dichotomy, a red herring, a whopper, a lie, speculation, casual callousness in response to women’s feelings, heartless indifference to preventable infant deaths, and lack of respect for women’s autonomy.

The issue is simple; the issue is choice. The breastfeeding industry does not trust women to make the decisions they want them to make so they prefer to restrict their choice.

I’m thrilled that the authors couldn’t manage anything more impressive than this. And if they thought they didn’t like my TIME piece, they are going to have an absolute fit when they see my book, PUSH BACK: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting – 384 pages, 256 footnotes – an extended argument on the ways in which the natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting industries promote guilt in order to monetize it.

I just can’t wait for the ABM review!

  • carol walker

    I worked on a mother baby unit for ten years and can’t even count how many times I walked into a room with the baby almost falling out of the mother’s hospital bed or silently on it’s back choking from vomit unable to spit it out. My coworkers and I routinely brought babies to the nurses station to watch over.Especially c-section babies who tended to be very “gaggy” the first 24 hours. I also strongly encouraged mothers and their significant others to let the baby spend the night with the nurses so they could sleep the night before discharge. After all, the significant other is the one driving home and sleep deprivation is as bad as being drunk when you are behind the wheel of a car.

  • Sue

    Their weak rebuttal could be used to illustrate a talk on Cognitive Error.

  • CanDoc

    Yes. YES YES YES. Well written… wish Time would publish THIS piece, too.

  • Jetset

    spot on Amy. This is exactly right.

  • Jules B

    I would like to know what your average postpartum ward nurse thinks of their working environment. It must be very hard for a lot of them to witness the frankly unsafe conditions that babies are being put in by forced rooming-in (such as when Mom is sedated and has no support person etc).

    • Sue

      I imagine they are also running themselves ragged trying to supervise everyone and keep them all safe.

    • Hannah

      I know mine intimated that they have serious issues with the pressure that mothers are under and end up breaking protocols all the time in the interests of their patients. My hospital isn’t even BFHI and the pressure was pretty ridiculous.

    • BonBon

      I remember on my first day of my student placement on a postpartum ward, my nursing teacher and I walked in to a room where a newborn baby was suffocating in the arms of a mother who had fallen asleep while breastfeeding. The mom was exhausted and medicated – she’d just had a c-section and was taking Percocet for pain (breastfeeding was encouraged even while on a narcotic). The baby had begun turning blue. I have a lump in my throat just typing this. My teacher immediately grabbed the baby and called a code, and thank god, they managed to revive the baby. The rule at that hospital is mom and baby rooming together, no exceptions. There is no well baby nursery, just the NICU for sick babies. Nurses are not allowed to watch babies, it’s against hospital policy. However sometimes during quiet periods at night, some nurses did it anyway. The nursing manager didn’t work nights, so on occasion when a mom was having a particularly difficult time, or was especially in need of rest, some nurses would bring a baby to the front desk to sit with/watch over while they did charting. The hospital was/still is “Baby Friendly”. I’m in Ontario, Canada.

      • demodocus

        well, that’s not disturbing at all. /sarcasm

      • Cindy

        This happens a lot I’m sure. I was a wreck in the hospital with no help. I’m also in Ontario. Baby friendly seems to mean mother suffers here.

      • Daleth

        That’s so horrifying. Thank the GODS you guys got there when you did.

    • Erin

      I was asked by two members of staff to complain about the conditions which I duly did. However the hospital’s response was that I was exhausted and mid mental breakdown so my perceptions were flawed.

      • Daleth

        To which the appropriate response is, “If I was exhausted and mid-mental breakdown, how on earth did you think it was appropriate for me to be solely in charge of the care of a newborn baby?!”

        • Erin

          Unfortunately I was too out of it to make any sensible replies. I told more than one member of staff that my baby was dead and that the baby I was looking after was one of those dolls they give you at school to put you off being a teenage parent. It’s very frightening looking back and realising just how ill I must have been and yet no one seemed to care.

          It’s looking increasingly like there won’t be a second, mostly because I have a pelvis which wasn’t designed for childbirth and a pathological hatred of operating theatres (pretty sure the only way anyone would get me in one at the moment would be either unconscious or through brute force regardless of what was wrong with me) caused by the unfortunate circumstances of the first’s arrival. If disaster or Dutch courage strikes however there is a really good five star hotel just down the road from the Maternity hospital and I’d be seriously tempted to discharge myself from hospital asap and take up residence in the hotel. My husband could stay 24/7, I’d get hot food delivered to me in bed and no lectures on breastfeeding. Just a shame we couldn’t bill the NHS for it.

      • Roadstergal

        Wow, ‘don’t worry your pretty little hysterical head about that’ is an acceptable response these days?

    • ConcernedDiva

      I’m a postpartum nurse! Just to clarify, my BFI certified hospital has a nursery available 24/7 so there is no forced rooming in. I talk to moms about it at the beginning of my shift, telling them it’s available and that they can make a plan for me to take baby for the length of time they desire. Surprisingly many moms say they arent interested in the nursery! But for those that are, it’s 100% available.

  • Amy

    My daughter is one who’d be DEAD if the hospital where I’d had her didn’t have a well-baby nursery. That’s not an exaggeration. She was born by emergency c-section after 31 hours of labor. I was exhausted, anemic, had suffered a lot of blood loss (they were on the verge of doing a transfusion), and most importantly for this story, doped up on pain meds. Ironically, breastfeeding was the one thing going really well! She latched on while I was still in observation after surgery, and my husband got a cute video of her first feeding. But one of the next two nights, I really really needed sleep and sent her to the nursery. I was woken by a phone call that she’d stopped breathing and was being moved to the NICU. Had she been in my room, that wouldn’t have been noticed until it was too late.

    • Who?

      Makes my blood run cold.

    • Anne Catherine

      Wow——you (and other posters on this matter) should put this story on the ABM blog (not that they will listen–but one can always hope)…

      I really think that change needs to come from within the lactivist/ breastfeeding community…. They seem to have the ear of the hospitals/policy makers.

      Hopefully some ABM members actually read the comments–but I have my doubts….

    • Sarah

      Terrifying

    • Amy

      I should add: said daughter went on to nurse exclusively until she was about six months old and didn’t wean until she was three. But obviously well-baby nurseries interfere with successful breastfeeding initiation!

  • nomofear
    • momofone

      By that reasoning, home appendectomy will be a godsend for them too!

  • rh1985

    I probably would have had a nervous breakdown if I had been forced to room in. When my daughter was born, I was recovering from severe pre-eclampsia and a c-section. It wasn’t *awful* considering I was recovering from surgery, I’ve heard of women having far more painful recoveries, but my body really needed uninterrupted sleep to heal. Even though I hadn’t gone through labor, I hadn’t slept well in a few days because I felt so sick from what turned out to be the beginning of pre-e. I sent my daughter to the nursery every single night during the 5 days I was in the hospital. When I woke up in the morning, they brought her back. She was formula fed in the nursery. The nurses LOVED having babies in the nursery and she got tons of attention since there were very few babies there – the hospital really pushed rooming in for breastfeeding moms unless they were in very bad shape after delivery and had no support person there. They fed her, held her, bathed her, even combed her hair in a cute hairstyle. I got the rest I needed and felt well enough to take care of her by the time we went home. The first few days after delivery are NOT the same as the next year of parenting. The mom deserves to be able to rest and heal from a physical ordeal if that’s what she says she needs. How is a mom who was denied sleep so she could recover, and is now hallucinating from exhaustion, going to be able to take care of the baby at home?

    My daughter went right into her own room at home. I can’t sleep with a baby in the same room. Every little noise startles me wide awake. She went in her own room, I used a monitor, and I only heard her if she cried. That was what worked best for us. I’ve shared a room with her a few times in a hotel, starting when she was a few months old, and it sucked. Any little noise and I’m wide awake!

    • Sue

      Imagine that – a cute newborn who gets fussed over by adoring nurses, rather than glued onto the side of her lactation parent, who STILL gets to bond with her mother. Remarkable!

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      They wouldn’t let me have my daughter in my room alone because I had a seizure during labor. Where would she have gone if there was no well baby nursery? The NICU?

  • attitude devant

    “Thirty years ago…” WHAAAT???? My girls were born 26 and 21 years ago, WAAAAY before BFHI, and there was a nursery for them but we could have rooming in if desired. With my second the nursery turned out to be vital, since I was on a magnesium drip and my husband was home with the eldest. I couldn’t get out of bed, let alone care for a newborn…..

    • crazy grad mama

      Yeah, my mother kept my brother in her room when he was born 25 years ago. This ide of hospitals as inflexible evil places is way, way out of date.

    • Inmara

      30 years ago my mom didn’t have a choice to room in; babies were kept in nursery and brought to mothers only for feedings, and during the night kept in nursery for long hours. Granted, it was Soviet Union and they had some weird ideas about newborn care (I just stumbled upon excerpt about infant feeding from encyclopedia published in 1984., so many things that nowadays are found to be wrong!) , not to mention that medical care and attitude during labor and delivery could be terrible (that wouldn’t fly in any capitalistic country, no matter how “paternalistic” medicine was at that time). So in our situation information and practices regarding natural birth, support person’s presence during L&D, bonding immediately after birth etc. (all that started to pour in after collapse of Soviet Union and especially with wider availability of internet) were welcome and with positive influence – until they got too far and started to negatively impact delivery outcomes and postpartum experience.

  • LibrarianSarah

    OT but related to one of this blogs more “popular” posts. Let the schadenfreude begin!

    http://gawker.com/lawmakers-chug-raw-milk-to-celebrate-legalizing-raw-mil-1763807291

    • Gatita

      I was just on my way here to post that!

    • Who?

      Well thank goodness it was them who got sick, not someone who had no choice about drinking the stuff.

  • meglo91

    OT: but I need some advice, and I trust this forum and its commenters. Or perhaps I just need to be reassured. I have had two previous pregnancies with pretty bad hypertension. With the first, I regularly had pressures in the 170/110 range — and they let me go into spontaneous labor at nearly 41 weeks (!) With the last one, the doc made a “soft diagnosis” of preeclampsia and I was induced at 38 weeks (pressures at 160s/90s). Both babies were fine, fat and healthy, by the way. The last two I had in the military health care system, which seems to be WAY more laissez faire (read: risk-tolerant) than my current civilian Kaiser doctors. I am 34 weeks tomorrow with #3, and given my history my docs have me coming in for weekly NSTs and BP monitoring, which is cool. My pressures so far have been OK, but they are creeping up slightly — into the 130/80 range, which is above normal for non-pregnant me. My OB advises that, if my pressures creep up into the 140/90 area, they’ll induce me at 37 weeks. I’d really really like to get to 38 or 39 weeks before being induced, but obviously I will do whatever is safest for me and kiddo. My question is, is it standard practice to induce at 37 weeks for mild hypertension? I can’t seem to find any honest to goodness science on this (though my sciencing skills are admittedly not top notch). Everything I find is from stupid mommy or woo websites. To be honest, I’m worried about taking home a 37 weeker who’s not quite ready for prime time — my 41 weeker slept WAY better than her 38 week sister, though that could be just the way they are, personality wise.

    • demodocus

      Mom said I was easier, and I was born in the 7th month while my sister was seriously late. Just an anecdote, of course.

    • attitude devant

      Actually, according the new ACOG guidelines your doctors SHOULD induce you at 37 weeks. It’s part of the big push to prevent hypertensive crises in pregnancy….which are the (in the US) second only to hemorrhage in causing maternal death and disability. Do it.

    • Irene

      I have four. 37 weeker and 34 weeker are hands down the “easy babies” and good sleepers. 33 weeker was sick but not tempermentally “difficult” per se. 40 weeks 3 days…handful from the beginning. Doesn’t sleep through the night now and she’s a preteen. It’s temperament and goodness of fit, not a magic date on the calendar.

      Don’t mess with pre-e or hypertension in pregnancy, it’s a killer and it moves *fast*. You don’t want to get that far and have an abruption.

    • Megan

      As mentioned below, ACOG guidelines for gestational hypertension is delivery at 37 weeks. If it makes you feel better, this is my second pregnancy with gestational hypertension and I’m going for repeat CS tomorrow morning at exactly 37 weeks. My first daughter was born at 37w4d and turned out just fine. She wasn’t a great breastfeeder but seemed like every other term infant I’ve cared for otherwise.

      • Montserrat Blanco

        I hope you have a nice CS and recover well.

      • meglo91

        Good luck with the RCS and congratulations on the new baby!

    • No advice about the hypertension, but I have a 35 weeker and a 36 weeker. Both are doing fine. The 36 weeker had a short NICU stay but that was because of our very, very bad C section, not related to being preterm.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Agree with the advice to induce at 37 weeks.

      FWIW, my 2 babies were both born at ~38 weeks. One baby was an absolutely terrific sleeper, the other difficult. It’s the baby, not the gestation.

    • meglo91

      Thanks for the replies, everyone. I’ll take my doc’s advice, of course. But it was helpful to get your takes and reassurance that it would all be fine.

      • Mishimoo

        Hope everything works out well and that you get a good sleeper.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      I would not mess with high blood pressure and get the induction at 37w. Hope you have a safe and nice end of pregnancy and delivery.

    • An Actual Attorney

      Fwiw, I just went through this. With pressures that hit 140s/90s in week 36, and protein in my urine. ,I had a scheduled cs at 37 weeks. Actual Baby decided to come at 36w6d, but she’s already very independent minded. She’s 9 days old and slept for 8 hours last night.

      • demodocus

        woo-hoo! sleep!!

    • ForeverMe

      I had one baby vaginally at 43 weeks (I was 15 years old and lived in a small town in Oklahoma, on state medical assistance). In my late 20’s / early 30’s I had 2 c-sections at just-turned-37 weeks. ( I knew the actual date I got pregnant, too). Just speaking for me, my 37 wk babies were regular 7 lb newborns. They both ate great (bf to 18-24 months), slept average and had no issues at all. Trust your doctor- I agree that the benefits outweigh the risks at 37 weeks. Good luck.

  • Why is women’s autonomy such a struggle? Why is it so hard to assert that women continue to maintain their autonomy after parenthood? Fathers do not face such infringement, so why do women?

  • CSN0116

    …and it took TWO people to construct something that inadequate and laughable in an attempt to counter ONE person, haha!

  • CSN0116

    An Academy of Breastfeeding MEDICINE? WTF does that even mean? In what world do those two words go together?

    • yentavegan

      I took a Lactation Counselor certifying class through the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The instructor was very science based and we saw a film about breastfeeding rate in rural Philippines. In under staffed impoverished hospitals, the elimination of the healthy newborn nursery increased breastfeeding rates and saved lives,( protection of cross infection) The benefits to a rural community without electricity/running water ought not be extrapolated to the United States.

  • Roadstergal
    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Wow, whoever wrote that knew a LOT about the state of homebirth midwifery in the US. Amazingly, that was 2004.

      • Roadstergal

        I didn’t even see the date – the Onion reposted it to their facebook feed today. I wonder if someone there reads this blog. :p

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          If it was today, she would have posted the question on Facebook instead of calling her sister at Dennys.

    • Mel

      The only thing I object to is the “All Creatures Great and Small” reference – he delivers way more than one calf. Wait. She’d only know that if she read the entire book instead of just the first few pages. I stand corrected. 😛

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        Those cows just didn’t trust birth enough! Maybe James Herriott should have tried delivering calves in a birthing pool.

  • guest

    I cannot believe they think number three is true. Studies may show that when a woman is doing 100% of newborn care, she sleeps better when the infant is nearby. Or that women who don’t know where their baby is, or don’t know who is taking care of it don’t sleep as well. But I just cannot see how a legitimate study would show that women who *must* do 100% of newborn care get *more* rest than a woman who can send an infant to a nursery when she wants to sleep.

    I slept 6-8 hours straight nights 2-4 post birth. Mine were in the NICU, so there wasn’t any reason for me to get up (though I suppose some hardcore NCB types would criticize me for not choosing to get up and bottle feed them during that time). I credit the easy of my recovery from a c-section and pre-e to this extra sleep I got. I knew my babies were in good hands, one floor below me. No woman undergoing forced rooming-in could get that much sleep without neglecting her newborn, since they need to eat more often than that.

    • mythsayer

      I’m not sure how Japan worked before I had my baby… like if they used to do nurseries and then switched to rooming in, although I suspect they’ve been rooming in for awhile… but anyway, when my daughter was born, they kept her for the first night, wheeling her in and out a couple of times so I could see her and feed her and learn to change her, etc. But on Day 2 (I stayed for 5 days because I had a CS and they’d have preferred to keep me 14 days…. vaginal births stay about 10 days there… so 5 is a concession for the Americans only), the baby was moved into my room and I had to practically beg them to take her away for a few hours on night #2. I was so exhausted and she just kept screaming (because it turned out she was starving since I wasn’t making any breast milk). They did NOT want to take her.

      I can attest to the fact that she HAD to go. And my husband was there with me. We just couldn’t take it anymore. We were at our wits’ end when we asked she be taken to the nursery. We got about 6 hours of good sleep and they brought her back in around 6 am and after that, I kept her in the room… but I really wish they’d have taken her away EVERY night. I really could’ve used that time to rest. As it was, I appreciated the 5 day stay. It was so nice to have nowhere to be… and to know that I had doctors and nurses right there if I needed them.

      • Tokyobelle

        My Japanese friends marvel at how we’re discharged so soon after birth. They tell me that they’re expected to rest, and when they’re sleepy, they call for the baby to be taken-and that’s just fine! Even once they get home, it’s quite common for the woman to return to her parents home for the first few months to have help taking care of the baby-quite the opposite from the States. And the Japanese are lauded for having high breastfeeding rates, so why doesn’t anyone look at what they’re doing? It certainly doesn’t match with BFHI…

        • DaisyGrrl

          I think it’s a money thing. Even other western countries have generous maternity leave laws that allow for mothers to rest and recover and breastfeed if they want to. While we might have similar hospital discharge policies as the US (in my province, women stay in hospital for as little as 24h after an uncomplicated vaginal birth), women are expected to stay home for several months and look after the baby. Even without family, there’s at least a physical recovery period built in before returning to work is expected.

          The problem is that this costs money. Women receive benefits from the government and/or their employers during the maternity leave. This costs money, and I doubt that the current political climate in the US is conducive to successfully introducing such a policy. The result is policy makers rabidly promoting low-cost programs that shame and harass women rather than making substantive changes that would actually effect change.

          • Roadstergal

            “the current political climate in the US”

            Uppity needy women, bleeding out of our whatevers.

          • Daleth

            women are expected to stay home for several months and look after the baby. Even without family, there’s at least a physical recovery period built in before returning to work is expected.

            Um… looking after a newborn baby is much more physically demanding than an office job.

          • DaisyGrrl

            True, my office job is not physically demanding. But I might feel differently if I had a new baby who didn’t sleep through the night, if I had to take pumping breaks, and couldn’t nap during the day.

  • indigosky

    #1 of theirs is a huge lie. I was born 34 years ago. If my mom and I had not nearly died during my birth, she would have been able to do rooming in. My mother and were actually chatting about that a few weeks ago. She was planning to formula feed, but still wanted to room in. Both hospitals in the area offered rooming in.

    • Gene

      I’m almost a decade older than you. Same for my mother.

    • Guest

      The hospital I was born at 33 years ago had a little bassinette on a drawer track. The nursery was in the middle of all the rooms and if my mom wanted me in the room with her, she could, but if she needed to sleep, go to the bathroom, whatever, she could push the bassinette on the track into the nursery. I’m seriously so jealous of that set up. I’ve been lucky to have my husband at the hospital to help with my babies for most of the time, but with the last two he’s had to leave to help with our older children. It would have been nice to have the option of nurse care for my little ones so I could rest for a few hours.

      • Jenny

        What a clever idea! That sort of setup, with the nursery in the center and the cradle on tracks to the mother can safely push the baby back herself, gives new mothers real flexibility and choice.

    • I am 37; my brother is 36. We were born in the same hospital. I went to the nursery, and 1 year later my brother roomed in. My mother doesn’t remember being given a choice in either case, but she does remember that when my brother was born, rooming in was considered to be newfangled. (Not to discount your point in any way – clearly rooming in was A Thing 36 years ago- I just wanted to add my own anecdata.)

    • guest

      It probably was a choice in some hospitals, but I know my mother didn’t have a choice in her hospital 42 years ago.

    • Hannah

      I roomed in with my mother 31 years ago. In Australia, where it’s now almost impossible not to room in if you’re in the public wards, but all the same. It wasn’t unheard of in Australia then, despite what ABA advocates try to crap on about.

  • SL27

    I sleep better when baby isn’t in the room. This is true in the hospital when I could send the baby to the nursery, the first week home when I could let my mom hold the baby all day while I slept, and 5 weeks out when I moved baby to another room so I wouldn’t wake up every time she made a noise. Yes now I need to get up and go to another room for night feedings, but I only get up when she is truly hungry and crying instead of fit every snort made.

    • Young CC Prof

      Impossible! Everyone knows all mothers sleep better with their babies close. How could your personal experience possibly be a valid way of determining what works best for your family? *sarcasm*

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        The dumb thing is, I never even realized “mothers sleep better with the baby in the room” was supposed to be a thing.

        My wife had no interest at all in having the babies in the room while she slept, and appreciated the nursery.

      • Amy M

        I’ve also heard the bed-sharing crowd say that only Mom will wake up, instinctively, when baby either needs to eat, or is about to suffocate or fall off the bed. But Dad, if he is even in the bed, would have no idea, and blissfully sleep through the night. The idea that Mom will sleep better with baby nearby isn’t really in line with that, if she’s constantly being roused to feed or rescue.

        And when you get down to it, the hardcore lactivists will just fall back on: “Mothers with new babies don’t get any sleep! Too bad for them, they decided to have children, and deserve to suffer!” If that’s how they feel, then suggesting that Mom will sleep better with baby nearby is an empty claim, designed to convince Mom that rooming-in is awesome, and they know it.

        • Sean Jungian

          Or, like that dipstick in Michigan who let her children suffer through whooping cough, “Mothers who sleep probably just drug their children!!”

          Just piping up that I definitely go into the “no baby in the room (and CERTAINLY not the bed) column. I tried co-sleeping ONCE when I was breastfeeding and I hated it.

          When I had my son lo these 14 years ago, I was in Seattle (a crunchy place) and so we had the option of having him “room in”. He had a little bassinet on wheels next to my bed and that worked out fine for me – BUT! I was not exhausted, the birth had been pretty easy overall, and mostly I just wanted to get the HELL out of the hospital.

          • mythsayer

            Probably a good choice. Mine is nearly 6 and she sleeps with me every.single.night.

            We are going to have to try to break her of that when my husband gets back from his deployment.

          • Sean Jungian

            If it doesn’t bother you, then there’s nothing wrong with it, IMO. I’ve just never been able to fully relax with my kid in bed with me. When he was little I would of course lay down with him in his bed, and I’d let him sleep in my bed if he really needed to (feeling sick usually). But I always went back to my own bed once he fell asleep.

            I don’t like the dog or cat to sleep with me anymore, either. Maybe I’m just old and crabby!

          • BeatriceC

            I have a difficult time sleeping with MrC in bed with me. I was a single mother for so long that I simply have never been able to get used to another person in bed with me.

          • Roadstergal

            My husband loves a dog in bed, I can’t stand it. We’ve compromised on me letting them into the bed with him when I get up to go to work. Every morning, they hear me get up and trot eagerly to the baby gate.

            Now I just need to keep Mr Rgal from stealing the damn covers every time he rolls over.

    • Michele

      Every time I’ve had a roommate I’ve actually shared a bedroom with, there’s been an adjustment period where I had to get used to their sleeping noises. When my husband and I moved in together, I had to get used to his sleep noises. I don’t know why they would think that someone would automatically not be disturbed by unfamiliar noises sleeping in a room with yet someone else, just because the new “roommate” is their newborn baby.

    • crazy grad mama

      But you see, Dr. Sears would tell you that waiting until she is truly hungry and crying is ruining your relationship and your bond. Doncha know you’re *supposed* to stick your breast in her mouth at every snort?

      (Gag. And Dr. Sears actually does say this.)

      • Amy M

        Yes, I’ve heard the claim that “if the baby is crying, then its super-hungry and YOU, Terrible Mother, missed its early cues, so its practically starving.” Basically more of the “if the baby is crying, ever, you are doing it wrong” thing.

        • crazy grad mama

          As the mother of a baby who bordered on colicky, I hate that attitude. I hate it so much.

          • Roadstergal

            “Babies cry. He’s fine.” -Into The Woods

          • crazy grad mama

            I really appreciated it when my grandmother came to visit and said, “Oh, he’s fussy because he’s two months old. He’ll get more human when he hits three months.”

          • Inmara

            She was spot on about getting more human! My dad was very eager to finally meet his first grandchild but when he visited us (baby was one week old) he was perplexed to realize that newborns are actually weird creatures who don’t look you into the eyes, don’t react directly to voice or touch and in general are not decent human beings. At 3 months he finally got used to baby and baby himself was ready to interact with people. Now dad is looking forward to have a walk with grandson; I warned him that it will most probably mean that either he’ll have to chase little one or to carry him back home (or both).

          • Kelly

            My brother was deployed overseas and told me that he was planning his vacation around the due date of my first. I told him to wait until she was about three months old but he was adamant that he did not want to miss her first weeks. He regretted coming that early on in her life as he was bored out of his mind.

        • Amy M

          Of course, the baby might be crying and cueing all over the place that it is starving, if Mom isn’t producing enough milk, but in THATcase, well, babies cry sometimes and/or baby is working through its birth trauma.

        • mythsayer

          Sadly, my baby actually WAS super hungry every time she cried early on. I remember one time when we were still in the hospital and I fed her the whole 2 ounces and she was still screaming 30 minutes later and I finally made the nurses come in to see what was wrong with her. They brought her back an hour later and told me she ate another 2 ounces and had just been hungry. I’d been insisting she couldn’t have been hungry since she’d just eaten a bunch. I literally starved my daughter in her first 5 days. I felt horrible once I realized it. That was me, trying to breast feed. She wasn’t getting ANYTHING from me….

      • SL27

        Too bad for Dr. Sears, I feel way better bonded to my children when I am not resenting them for being awake because I’m exhausted.

      • SL27

        Too bad for Dr. Sears that I feel more well bonded to my children when I am not resenting them for being awake because I am so exhausted.

      • guest

        Please. My infants snorted, bleated, hiccuped, sighed, smacked their lips, squeaked, whimpered, and made noises like gremlins every ten minutes at least the first few weeks. Dr. Sears can suck my…well, you get the idea.

        • tariqata

          We did room share for the first few months. My husband said it was like sharing a room with the soundtrack from every zombie game ever made.

          • guest

            That is a very good way of describing it.

          • Roadstergal
          • Sue

            Minchin is brilliant.

            Always worth watching this one too:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkJEp2TbFHA

          • Roadstergal

            I love Storm. Especially the line about using bollocks for ammunition.

            On-topic:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESFANzZTdYM

          • LaMont

            Is it weird that this makes me feel a little reassured? I am years away from having children but one of the things I hear that scares me is this idea of having to wake up at a moment’s notice – I sleep like the dead, so it pretty much *takes* a horror movie to wake me back up once I’m out (I’ve slept through blaring alarms for ages, particularly when sleep-deprived). This is weirdly one of my top ten concerns about the idea of having children one day! I feel like I’d be neurotically setting alarms to go off every five minutes. Of course on the flip side, I don’t fall asleep any more easily than I wake up, so maybe this won’t be a problem in the first place. And of course, I haven’t been there so I have no idea if this concern even makes the slightest iota of sense, either.

          • mythsayer

            You’ll wake up, don’t worry. I was like you and was sure I’d forget to feed and/or check on the baby because I sleep like the dead, and so does my husband, BUT I do think something instinctual takes over after you have a baby. I just naturally woke up frequently even if she wasn’t crying, and I woke up immediately when she DID cry. So I wouldn’t worry too much.

          • Nick Sanders

            I don’t know about waking up more often, but babies’ cries trigger very specific and strong reactions in the brain. We have a very deep instinctual reaction to them:
            http://www.parents.com/blogs/baby/2015/07/17/babies/this-is-what-happens-to-your-brain-when-you-hear-a-crying-baby/

            https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/oct/17/crying-babies-hard-ignore

          • Sean Jungian

            I had the same worries you have, that he would need me and I wouldn’t wake up. Let me assure you, having gone through it myself – you WILL wake up. It’s actually kind of annoying!

            And I still wake up if he gets up at night. There’s some kind of alert system going on even while you sleep. Even on the occasions on which I’ve taken sleeping pills, I still woke up when he needed me.

            You’ll get the hang of it if and when you ever do decide to have a baby. I’m not trying to be flip or say it’s always easy for everybody, just that I had that exact same dread and one day I realized, hey, no sweat, I ALWAYS wake up.

          • tariqata

            I’m a very light sleeper normally, but the past couple of months have been rough for my kid’s sleep and therefore mine (either I’m getting up to feed/soothe, or I’m lying awake while my husband takes a turn). There have definitely been some nights where I’ve fallen into a really deep sleep because I’m so tired, and woken up terrified that he’s been crying for ages because I can’t remember if I actually got up to deal with the previous waking or tried to wait it out. Fortunately our monitor has a nifty feature that shows the time when he started making noise, so I have external confirmation that my body woke as soon as the crying started, even if full consciousness took a little longer.

            The kid’s also got me sleep trained pretty well – I often wake up at his normal waking times even on the blessed nights when he happens to sleep through them.

          • momofone

            I worried too. I’m a sound sleeper, and I just knew I’d sleep through his wake ups. Not only did I wake, but even now (he’s eight) I can sleep through very loud storms and other loud noises, but I can just about hear him if he blinks.

          • guest

            Because mine were NICU babies, I was sent home with instructions to feed them no less than every three hours (on demand was fine only if they demanded at least that often). So for the first couple of weeks home, I did have alarms set to go off all the time. It was annoying, but it worked.

          • Young CC Prof

            Ah, setting that alarm for the 3 am feeding when you go to bed at 1 am. Those were the days!

          • BeatriceC

            I sleep like the dead as well, in all circumstances *except* every little grunt or sniffle from one of my kids. I was really worried about how soundly I sleep when my first was born, but for whatever reason I can sleep through a 150 piece marching band in my bedroom but a child of mine sneezing 200 feet awake will cause me to bolt wide awake. It’s not quite as bad now that they’re teenagers, but still pretty bad.

          • demodocus

            I didn’t wake up at the least sound but my sweetheart can; we both heavy sleepers. You can probably blame the hearing impairment and my tendency to sleep with my good ear in the pillow.

          • demodocus

            course, I do hear when he falls out of his bed and wake instantly.

        • Kelly

          My husband thought our daughter was dying with every noise. Once we got home, she got sent quickly to her own room.

  • MaineJen

    “Studies show that mothers’ sleep actually improves with rooming in?” I call BS. Links to said studies, or it didn’t happen.

    • Alexicographer

      No, no, you misquote (Dr. Tuteur did correctly quote the piece, I checked): “In fact, studies show that mother’s sleep quality improves …” Note the use of the singular! One mother’s (not specified which one — I suppose Dr. Feldman-Winter’s or Dr. Boynton-Jarrett’s, or perhaps one of these rebuttal authors is using her own experience but expressing it in the third person?

      It does seem odd, though, that multiple studies would focus on one mother. Case-selection bias, anyone? Perhaps this explains why the referenced studies were not published, assuming the lack of citation reflects that %)!

      • MaineJen

        Wow…once again, grammar, for the win. 🙂

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    OT: I’m thrilled to share the early endorsements of PUSH BACK: Guilt in the Age of Natural Parenting.

    Below are excerpts from the Amazon page. A big thank you to Dr. Susan Lemagie, Dr. Roy Benaroch (The Pediatric Insider) and Suzanne Barston (The Fearless Formula Feeder)!

    http://www.amazon.com/Push-Back-Guilt-Natural-Parenting-ebook/dp/B011IT59ZC

  • Allie P

    I know I have shared this before, but my hospital went “baby friendly” with the new one, the one I am literally breastfeeding right this minute, eight months later. She was a quick birth, and since BFH don’t bulb suction (“the parents may choose to do that” as if we know how!) she spent the first night of her life desperately coughing up amniotic fluid. I could not sleep, I was so scared she was going to choke, so I finally called the nurse and begged her to take the baby out for a few hours so I could rest.

    Other joys of my BFH experience : being woken at three am on night two because I failed to hike across the room with my restive baby in my arms and fill out their little hour by hour breastfeeding chart since eight pm. Attending the breastfeeding “class” out of boredom in the private mother/baby lounge where I was shamed for breastfeeding “in public” (for the first, and it turns out, only time in my now 18 months of breastfeeding), told I was holding her wrong (I was using the cradle hold, as I did for ten months with her sister, but the lactation consultant was insistent on pushing football), and watching this LC tell two first time minority mothers that the correct response to one’s inverted nipples was “just keep trying”. I was also called by three different LCs after coming home (hospital, OB office, and ped), who all got quiet and awkward after I told them in no uncertain terms that I was supplementing with formula and yes, I was quite comfortable with my decision.

    The breastfeeding industry is full of crap. If they really wanted to support moms , they’d jettison the shaming and the orthodoxy. There are many successful ways to breastfeed. Or not!

    • Megan

      What is the obsession with football hold?? I hated football hold!

      • Erin

        They told me its better for big breasts which I have but its also “better” for losing babies down the side of sofas and off chairs. I felt much safer with a cradle hold.

        • tariqata

          I also feel like it must be easier with short babies/light babies. I tried the football hold a few times to see if it helped with spitting up in the early days, but there never seemed to be any space for the kiddo’s legs unless I was sitting straight up on the edge of a seat, and I just couldn’t support him at the breast that way. Cross-cradle and cradle holds seem much more comfortable for both of us. (I guess I was lucky, though – midwife, hospital LC, and Public Health lactation clinic all told me that if baby is latching and drinking well and gaining weight, then whatever position we were comfortable with would be just fine, and gave me some tips on hoe to make the cradle hold work better).

          • Michele

            I could never get football hold to work for my long heavy babies either. Even though I had C-sections and giant nursing boobs (J, thank goodness they shrunk some after weaning), which that position is supposed to be better for both those situations, cross-cradle worked better when baby was new and cradle when he was a little older and had the hang of nursing.

        • mythsayer

          Maybe that’s why it worked better for us…mine are decent sized (D…not gigantic but admittedly big for my frame). Cradle hold just wasn’t working.

        • Suzi Screendoor

          The LC at my hospital told me it was the easiest hold for large breasts, flat nipples, and given that my wrists were weak from carpal tunnel. She seemed to think that it would reduce nipple damage, as well (it didn’t). But didn’t I also read on this blog that it is more likely to result in smothering if the mom falls asleep? Especially with large breasts, I would think.

      • MaineJen

        I can see that being useful if you’re trying to feed twins. Otherwise, cradle hold makes so much more sense.

      • demodocus

        The LC at one point (2 days in), laid him long ways along my abdomin. granted, kid had an apparently surprising level of head control, but it never seemed anything but awkward to me.

      • mythsayer

        It was one of the only ways my daughter could breastfeed. It was more awkward but she just couldn’t latch with cradle hold early on.

      • Roadstergal

        I can never read about the ‘football hold’ without some strange part of my brain visualizing victoriously spiking the baby after a feed.

        • LaMont

          Reminds me of a fun but very OT story: I was working auditions for a production of “Pericles,” b/c weird Shakespeare is the best Shakespeare! There’s a scene where Pericles is holding his newborn baby daughter and mourning his wife, dead in childbirth, and he talks to the nurse. We were pretty set on our Pericles by then, so we had him stay at the callback while we ran through all our options for the nurse, and it was such a long, exhausting callback (and it was clear he basically had the part at that point), so at one point the actor actually *did* threaten to spike the doll football-style after a particularly good run of the scene. And then, when the director made it clear he wasn’t going to be offended, the actor went through with it. Theater is weird.

          • Roadstergal

            That’s a fantastic story. 🙂 I love crack Shakespeare – I acted going all through high school and college, and miss it. :

        • tariqata

          During our prenatal class, at one point the instructor told all the men, who were practicing giving a bath, to hold their ‘baby’ in a football hold. We joked after that all the hipster dads looked at her in confusion, while the Portuguese and Italian dads (the predominant newcomer communities in our area) hoisted their dolls over their heads.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Do the Icky Shuffle

      • With my second, the LC kept pushing the football hold as well. I explained that I had nursed my first for 18 months and never used the football hold and that made her shut up. I thought it was weird.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        My hypothesis: the football hold is uniquely a breastfeeding hold. Therefore, get the baby doing a football hold will make them not want to eat in a cradle hold like they would have with a bottle.

        Damn, I am getting cynical.

        • Amy M

          We had a semi-football hold, while bottle feeding our twins, since sometimes, one person fed them both simultaneously.

        • Roadstergal

          I think you’re on to something. Next up – “Hold confusion.”

      • Gene

        Three exclusively breastfed kids and the number of times I successfully used a football hold: ZERO. It’s a nice technique to offer, but why push something that doesn’t work??

        I was always cradle if I needed my other hand, cross cradle if I didn’t (depending on which side I used), and side lie at night in bed (we used a do sleeper and it rocks!). Football never gave me a secure grip.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          True Breastfeeders(TM) use the football hold.

          • Gene

            (Snort). Add it to the LONG list of ways I’ve totally failed as a mother.

            Does that mean I’m not going to get my diamond and ruby Boobie award?

        • BeatriceC

          I had two that nursed from the breast (third one bottle fed expressed breast milk). I also have gigantic boobs; a 34K prior to pregnancy (thankfully down to a mere G now). The football hold simply never worked for me.

      • SarahSD

        It was good for the early combination of tiny newborn/huge boobs. But we gave it up pretty quickly once the baby got a little better at latching, as it was very rough on my arms and wrists.

      • guest

        I did football hold almost exclusively, but the LCs I worked with taught me that specifically because I had twins – it’s one of the easier ways to bf newborn twins. Neither of them pushed it for singletons, although they both provided information on 4-5 different ways. Personally, I liked it because feeding two at once saved me time, but it made me feel like a milk cow and l would have preferred a more “cuddly” style otherwise.

    • Lindsay

      Is that why my baby spent the first two days of her life coughing up amniotic fluid? Are you telling me that could have been prevented? What is the reason for it? Is there one?

    • Roadstergal

      How on earth is ‘not suctioning’ friendly for babies? Or even conducive to YOU WILL BREASTFEED OR ELSE? It doesn’t seem to make any sense even by their twisted logic.

      • crazy grad mama

        Their “logic” is: medical intervention = bad.

        • Roadstergal

          Oh, you’re so right. Hacking up fluid = natural = better.

      • Irene

        I think their twisted reasoning is that it will cause nipple confusion? I don’t know.

    • Kelly

      My second was throwing up amniotic fluid and it was terrifying. I don’t know if they did not suction her but they don’t tend to be baby friendly and so I am sure she did. They told me that it was because of a fast birth but man, it was scary. I can’t believe they would do that on purpose to a child.

      • Monkey Professor for a Head

        I don’t think his birth was particularly fast, but minimonkey threw up bloody amniotic fluid for the first day too. Not fun for anyone.

        • Who?

          My second threw up black, sticky horrible stuff (meconium(sp)?) for the first night after she was born. And screamed her head off in between vomits.

          The hospital midwife told me she wasn’t sure she’d settle down-I told her there were no instructions for re-insertion, so we’d just have to make the best of it.

  • Lindsay

    I was excited to have my baby in the room with me before something unexpected, unforeseeable and unavoidable came up and my husband could not be with me. We live over a thousand miles from our nearest family, so I was alone. I had pretty severe tearing and I almost passed out several times in the hospital. I was exhausted. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t reach the basket. I only took ibuprofen, but I was offered and honestly needed stronger pain relief. When I called for help, it could take 30+ minutes and never took less than 5. I fell asleep holding my daughter repeatedly. I spent the whole night crying. The hospital emphasized that she was my baby, and I should care for her, so I felt guilty when a nurse offered to hold her while I slept for a couple hours. I only said yes because one of the times I’d fallen asleep, I woke to find my daughter’s nose pressed firmly against my breast. I can clearly remember the rush of fear and the relief on hearing her desperate little gasp. I could have smothered her; I nearly did. I could have dropped her. And for what? For some breastfeeding initiative? Better a dead baby than one fed formula?

    As for that breastfeeding initiative, I didn’t even consistently get that support. I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to position my daughter to feed her. Every time she needed feeding, I had to put in a call to the nurse’s station for assistance. The attitude I got from some (not all) of the nurses was bizarre. They’d show up in a huff, help me position her and walk out annoyed. They acted like what I needed to do was obvious. Eventually, I discovered that it was incorrectly marked in my chart that she was my second baby instead of my first. I think this was a contributing factor, but even if she had been my second, it’s entirely possible she was the first child I’d tried to breastfeed. If breastfeeding really was the goal, they should have been falling over themselves to help me.

    I went into this experience without any thought as to why someone wouldn’t want their baby with them in the hospital. I didn’t want to be separated from my daughter. I wanted her in the room with me, but she needed care that I wasn’t in a good position to provide. There should have been somewhere for her to go. There should have been someone to care for her while I could not.

    Baby friendly my back side.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Better a dead baby than one fed formula?

      Yep, that appears to be the manta. “Better dead than formula fed.”

      • Lindsay

        That’s beyond disgusting. It’s horrifying.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Oh, they’ll deny it, but you know, actions speak louder than words.

          BTW, when this came up a couple of weeks ago, I claimed that I copyrighted that phrase 🙂

          But you aren’t the first to “infringe on the copyright,” unwittingly, which just goes to show how obvious this attitude is.

      • Who?

        Like the homebirth devotees, the lactivists don’t believe anyone ever dies from following their advice (or, should I say, from hearing them speak about their experience and deciding to do the same).

        It’s easy to be callous (perhaps, ‘seem callous’) when your behaviour has no effects, or at least when it only has the effects you want to take credit for.

    • Michele

      Eventually, I discovered that it was incorrectly marked in my chart that she was my second baby instead of my first. I think this was a contributing factor, but even if she had been my second, it’s entirely possible she was the first child I’d tried to breastfeed.
      That would be entirely possible for someone’s second child to be the first she’d tried to breastfeed. I pumped for my first after nursing didn’t work out, which doesn’t count according to some in the breastfeeding industry. I was an expert pumper but when it came to nursing directly I made it clear to the nurses that I was basically a first-timer in terms of experience.

  • Maya Markova

    Is anybody familiar with the actual research on optimal baby sleeping position? I thought that sleeping on one side is the best, because if the baby sleeps on his back and vomits, it is too easy to inhale.

    • Allie P

      Where would you get that idea? There is a reason “back to sleep” is stitched on half the baby clothes. Back to sleep. The back to sleep initiative was the site Glenn biggest factor in slashing SIDS rates.

      • Maya Markova

        Maggio et al. Increased incidence of apparently life-threatening events due to supine position. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2006 Nov;20(6):491-6

        Also, increase of cranial deformations: Peitsch et al. Incidence of cranial asymmetry in healthy newborns.
        Pediatrics. 2002 Dec;110(6):e72.

      • Mel

        That was the rationale that my parents were taught in the eighties with all of us kids.

      • guest

        I heard (and no citations for this, it’s just an idea that was floating around) that it used to be stomach to sleep out of fear of vomit asphyxiation, but since the incidence of that was much lower than SIDS, “back to sleep” won out as the least dangerous even if not without danger. Side sleeping would be fine, but an infant on its side could roll either way. I dunno. My NICU used side-sleeping with positioners, but they get to do things like that because the babies are on monitors that alert them instantly if they stop breathing.

        • Beth

          yes – I vaguely remember that there was a time when side to sleep was recommended, to prevent aspirating.

          • Hannah

            Yeah, I side slept because that’s what they recommended at the time. With a towel each side to keep me that way.

            Then they coslept with my brother because that was recommended briefly in the late 80s for boys who were born shortly after a sister. Lols for days.

        • Inmara

          I can add some citation-less bits too – apparently, babies instinctively turn their heads if spitting up or vomiting so asphyxiation while sleeping on back is very unlikely (my baby was a first class spitter and I can attest that he indeed turned his head). Sleeping on one side has other benefits, though, at least in our case it was easier to soothe baby and for him to self-soothe (we tried putting him on back and swaddling, it worked for a while but not for long, and then he started to roll over and swaddling ceased to be and option).

    • swbarnes2

      I don’t have the citation handy, but my understanding is that the Brits looked at this as Back To Sleep was being adopted, and saw no increases in deaths by that cause. The paper someone cited before mentioned dangerous incidents, but not deaths.

    • Sue

      Trachtenberg et al in Pediatrics April 2012

      Risk Factor Changes for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
      After Initiation of Back-to-Sleep Campaign:

      “Prone sleep, bed-sharing, maternal smoking during pregnancy, and prematurity increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. The sudden infant death syndrome rate initially declined dramatically after the initiation of the US Back-to-Sleep campaign in 1994, but
      subsequently plateaued.”

      We used to think that lying face-down allowed secretions and vomit to drain out, but it was found that it was actually associated with more airway obstruction. Lying supine (on the back) is safest, but there are other recommendations like keeping bedclothes away from the face and minimising the objects within the crib.

  • The Computer Ate My Nym

    Re the question “which studies”: A quick Pubmed search revealed two articles that said that maternal sleep quality was no worse with rooming in versus nursery care and…that’s all I could find. No studies that said maternal sleep quality was better. Incidentally, also no studies saying that breast feeding rates were better or any other named outcomes were better. Could be I missed something, of course.

    • Rabbit

      Just curious, did the studies say how mother’s rated their sleep quality? I mean, did anyone actually rate their sleep quality as good? In my experience, the sleep quality went from “abysmal, I’m not sleeping well at all and would kill someone for a good solid hour where no one woke me up” with the baby in the room, to “crappy but at least it was longer than 20 minutes at a time” with baby in the nursery. The difference between abysmal and crappy meant the crappy actually felt pretty damn glorious in comparison.

  • BeatriceC

    Another random thought: What do these hospitals that have shut down their newborn nurseries do with mothers who are giving up their babies for adoption? Most of those mothers are very young and making a heartbreaking decision. It seems indescribably cruel to force them to room in with a baby they’re giving up.

    • Gene

      NICU. Sometimes the Peds floor.

    • Rabbit

      So I agreed to be a gestational surrogate for a family member. This is one of the questions I have for the hospital where I think I will deliver, if the IVF cycle works and the pregnancy is successful. I am not breastfeeding their baby, and my family member does not want to induce lactation either. I think I’m ok with the baby and me sharing a postpartum room during the day, as family member and her husband will be there to do the baby care, but I’m not having the baby in the room overnight. I really like my OB, and this is the only hospital where she delivers, so if they can’t take the baby to the nursery overnight, or provide a separate room for baby’s mom and dad to keep baby with them, I have to find a new doctor.

      • BeatriceC

        Good luck with the IVF. You’re doing an amazing thing for your family member. I really do hope that you don’t have to find a new doctor.

      • demodocus

        I’m upvoting for you being a surrogate, not for possibly needing to find a new doc so your relatives can snuggle their baby. Fortunately for my family, none of my generation need a surrogate, though I needed IVF to have my husband’s babies (and I’ve no desire to cheat on him), but I was willing if any had asked.
        Good luck with the hospital and the IVF both.

    • guest

      I can’t speak for all hospitals, but a friend who was adopting an infant at birth was given a room even though she wasn’t the birth mother. Not sure for how many days, etc.

      • Roadstergal

        Did she get access to formula, or did they try to get her to breastfeed? :p

        • guest

          Right? I actually don’t know if they gave her formula or if she brought it. But she is now one cute and healthy formula-fed toddler.

    • Young CC Prof

      Like I said on a post a few days ago, infants who will not be cared for by their gestational mothers don’t particularly matter to this agenda.

  • BeatriceC

    Pretty much the only advantage of having preemies is that they get whisked away to the NICU and mom can sleep. The rest of it pretty much sucked, but after sleeping for at least half of the first 24 hours, I was ready to tackle the world.

  • Sue

    They seem to have missed something very fundamental: the immediate time recovering from childbirth is not the same as the rest of child-rearing.

    Yes, sleep may be better for the mother at home who has the baby in her room so she can feed at night without having to get up and go to another room, but this does not mean that sleep is better with the baby in the room for a bombed-out, exhausted woman who has been in labor for 48 hours.

    Feeding the baby in bed during the night might be great for a well mother to reach across from her own bed to a crib, feed the baby and put the little one back again, roll over and go back to sleep. That doesn’t mean it;s better for an exhausted mother who can’t keep her eyes open, to safely hold her baby to feed without falling asleep, unsupervised.

    • Who?

      Even the most well new mother has just been through a fairly dramatic physical and emotional event. Suggesting it should automatically be ‘business as usual’ defies reason.

    • Inmara

      Not to mention that most hospital beds are NOT safe for bedsharing – they are too narrow to put baby away safely.

      • Suzi Screendoor

        Didn’t stop the nurse from putting my daughter in bed with me at about 3 am. Swaddled in a huge, fluffy fleece blanket no less. Then again, another nurse at the hospital told me that no breastfeeding mother has ever killed a baby while co-sleeping. Not ever. So if that’s the philosophy they’re going with, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

    • MaineJen

      But didn’t you know…after a “natural childbirth” you are supposed to pop right back up, feeling like a million bucks. …No? /snark

      • Rabbit

        I am incredibly lucky to have very easy, short labors, and all starting with an induction at a semi-reasonable hour in the morning after what counts a good night’s sleep when 9 months pregnant. I still felt like pure shit come midnight. I can’t imagine how much worse it is for women who have longer and rougher labors.

  • namaste863

    FSM forbid we treat the wimmin folk like adults with the capacity to make well reasoned, informed, thoughtful decisions. That’s what their husbands are for.

    • Mishimoo

      Exactly! At least, that’s what the doctor in A&E thought when we took our eldest in for a head injury when she was 18months because I was concerned about the risk of a subdural haematoma. Talked over me to my husband, who kept pointedly referring the doctor back to me because “She’s the primary caregiver. Talk to her.”

      (It’s on my mind again because I’m now watching the youngest for signs of a concussion thanks to him taking a tumble as soon as I went to the bathroom)

      • Amazed

        Good luck to the tumbler!

        • Mishimoo

          Thanks! He was running around fine a little while later, and the lump is barely there this morning. Head injuries just worry me because my brother has memory issues which have taken a few years to get better thanks to a concussion.

      • Angharad

        Kids have a knack for trying out dangerous things as soon as they’re unsupervised. Fingers crossed everything turns out ok.

        I have the opposite problem with my daughter’s daycare. Even though they know my husband drops her off every morning and they have his phone number on file they will call me to ask if he’s bringing her in when he’s running late, and when she is sick and needs to go home they always call me.

        • Mishimoo

          Thanks! He seems to be fine, no concussion or other symptoms. They certainly do! Take your eyes off them for a second and they’re into everything.

          Argh! That would be so frustrating!!

    • Cartman36

      OT but related. One of the vets that we used, my husband literally never stepped foot in the place it was always me. They sent all correspondence to him even though I was listed as the primary contact.

  • Monica

    I couldn’t help but notice the glaringly obvious irony of the fact that they started out their argument with 30 years ago women had no choice and were forced to be separated from their babies, then that changed and they could choose, and now they can choose to call a nurse. As if this is any better than what we had 30 years ago. So those already over worked nurses now have to drop everything for every mother who needs to call the nurse? And honestly, I’m not too keen on having a stranger in the room while I sleep. Nurse or not, that would sure make me uneasy at best. And what happens when one of the other moms the nurse is in charge of needs a little rest and hits the call button? Does the nurse split herself in two so she can be two places at once? Wake up one mom to go give another mom 5 minutes of rest before being called to another room? I don’t get the logistics of this just call the nurse. They can’t possibly have one nurse on shift for every patient and that’s the only way I can see how this would even remotely work the way they seem to have envisioned it to work.

    • Gene

      Don’t get me started on nurse to patient ratios!

      OT: a very good book on ED nurses published less than a year ago (and very very likely based partially at my current hospital) is The Nurses by Alexandra Robbins. It’s great. Check it out! Though the antagonism between doctors and nurses is much much less on the peds ed side.

      • demodocus

        My dad, a grouchy 60-something year old respiratory therapist with a nurse sister, would tell off young docs and nurses he caught disparaging each other at his hospital.

  • Young CC Prof

    Also, when discussing the merits of baby-friendly hospitals with no nurseries, they insist on comparing them to the hospitals of 1960, rather than modern American hospitals which are, shall we say, whole-family-friendly. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want to admit that it’s possible to allow rooming in and provide lactation support while still providing formula and taking babies to the nursery when parents ask.

    Perhaps it’s because those hospitals that support feeding choices, rather than enforcing one feeding choice and telling you how kind they are to do so, are a dying breed. We’ve traded male doctors telling us what to do for female nurses and midwives telling us what to do, is this what our mothers marched for?

  • Madtowngirl

    Regarding your point #7 – often, when I called for the nurses, they were busy and could not get to my room quickly. Considering the fact that I was hallucinating and falling asleep in the middle of conversations, using a call button wouldn’t have solved a damn thing.

    • namaste863

      I was just thinking that. Just because there’s a call button doesn’t mean there will be someone who can to respond to it, or that the staff themselves haven’t been drinking the kool aid.

      • Bombshellrisa

        Also depending on the charge nurse, call lights might ring at the nurses station but the nurses are expected to be watching for them so the bell just rings and rings. There was a British charge nurse on the med unit who would expect her nurses and nurses aides to be watching for the call lights and wouldn’t answer them at the desk. The problem with that is obvious: nurses aren’t always in the hallway staring at the ceiling and even if there are nurses out there, they might not be the ones assigned to care for you. The other really big problem with it is that if someone can’t yell for help and really needs it, there is going to be an unnecessary delay.

        • guest

          After my c-section I spent some time in a recovery ward. The beds there are raised and lowered by someone standing next to the bed using muscle – not the push-button electronic ones. At some point my bed was raised for something or other, and then it was left up and everyone left my little bay. The call button had fallen where I could neither see nor reach it. And very soon, sitting up became exceedingly painful on a fresh surgery scar. I could see the ward nurse about 30 feet away, but I could not call out loudly enough for her to hear me. I was in tears before anyone checked on my (my support person had gone to check on the babies). Shit happens – no one meant to leave the bed up or for the call button to fall. But the human voice can’t always make itself heard.

    • SporkParade

      I was thinking something similar. The nurses in my hospital were actually crabby when I called them for things like “making sure I don’t faint again when I get out of bed.” Hell, I was expected to go to the nurses’ station to get my pain meds. I was also expected to go to the nursery to get my baby whenever he was hungry; there wasn’t even a procedure in place for the nurses to bring the baby to me.

    • Mel

      When my husband had gastric sleeve surgery, he was having low blood oxygen saturation numbers (dropping into the 70’s) because the CPR valve on his bed was open so his chest was lower than stomach (he looked like a gummy bear) and because he has life-long sleep apnea and the respiratory therapist hadn’t hooked up his CPAP machine.

      My “job” was to wake my husband and encourage him to breathe in through the O2 cannula on his nose and breathe out through his mouth. There were two problems with this. First, he was still so sleepy from GA that he’d stay awake long enough to breathe in, then be asleep before he breathed out. The other problem was that I was exhausted. We had to drive in to the hospital starting at 5am which means I had been up since 4am, helped my husband relax before surgery, kept myself calm-ish during his surgery, and went up to see him in his room at 3pm. I started having micro-sleep episodes where I would fall asleep standing up next to the head of his bed leaning on the side rails and would wake up when the alarms went off. Thankfully, his surgeon came in to check on him and found me sound asleep and then realized that I was shaking my husband awake every 2 minutes while the surgeon was explaining something about the surgery to me and he decided that this was a bad situation. Once Nico was put on a firmer mattress and had his CPAP on, his sat number went back to 100% and I caught a badly needed nap.

      I bring this up because assuming that the family member in the room was competent to care for the patient – or an infant – could end very badly. I was quite able to help out after my three hour nap – but before that I was pretty wasted myself. I imagine this is often true for the Dad/SO involved especially if the labor is prolonged or Dad/SO is used as a labor coach.

      • Kelly

        Yes! My husband was always tired because he had been there for the whole delivery plus he was being woken up every time the baby cried or someone came in the room. He was not as tired as I was but he was not always incredibly helpful.

  • Anne Catherine

    I hadn’t seen your time article until today (when I read the rebuttal on the ABM)–I’m surprised I missed it–it was great as usual.

    Yes that rebuttal was weak—The denial these women are in is just astounding–The authors are just so sure of everything–they don’t even seem to think that one woman could could have benefited from a little even a little time away from the baby.

    Women get more sleep!! No one really knows why those babies died while rooming in!! Women breastfeed longer!!

    And guess what? Breastfeeding saves us, “…tens of billions of dollars per year for both maternal and childhood illnesses”

    • Azuran

      Considering how sleep deprived everyone I know who has a baby is, I’m not sure how they came to the conclusion that mothers sleep better with their baby in the room.

      • Kelly

        They let me sleep for eight hours the second night after I had my third baby and I can never ever sleep with my kids in my room. I follow every rule but that one. Getting that eight hours helped me start fresh. I vowed after my first one to get as much sleep as possible so that I would not start out with a huge sleep deficit. With my first kid we had to send her to the nursery because my husband was freaking out every time she made a noise. They brought her to me every three hours to nurse and I was glad when she had to go to the nursery the next night for jaundice so that I did not have to feel bad about sending her again.

      • Gatita

        I was so desperate to get sleep that when my son was a few months old I checked into a motel for the night. Another night I slept in a friend’s guest room. Hubby took over those two nights because I was getting psychotic from the lack of sleep. Fuck these women, seriously.

      • Anne Catherine

        They won’t cite a study for that one—(as usual). Didn’t you that breastfeeding can do anything lactivists want it to do?

    • rh1985

      I was able to find one study that wasn’t behind a paywall a while back. In the hospital studied, yes, they did find similar quality of sleep for rooming in moms and non rooming in moms, but here is the big thing about that study – rooming in was not mandatory at that hospital, and I don’t believe it was a RCT (and even then, they can’t do a RCT without consent, so women who knew they definitely didn’t want to room in could refuse consent) but just a study of moms’ responses to a survey about how they slept in the hospital. Presumably the majority of the women who would have the most difficulty with sleep while rooming in – moms with very hard births, moms who had medical conditions, moms with sleep disorders, moms with very fussy babies – were basically self selected out of the rooming in group. So that particular study absolutely does not justify forced rooming in – and honestly, even if on average the sleep were the same in a true RCT, it should still be up to the individual women, because some women’s individual circumstances mean they will not be able to get enough sleep while rooming in EVEN IF most women would be able to.

      My daughter was formula fed in the nursery. So there is literally no way I could have gotten the same amount of sleep with her in the room, since I slept through all night feedings with her in the nursery. And I NEEDED that uninterrupted sleep or I would not have recovered well enough to get up at night when we got home and probably just had a nervous breakdown.

      • Young CC Prof

        To draw an analogy, researchers performed a study in which they allowed subjects to choose whether they wanted a pillow or not, and both groups reported similar sleep quality. Therefore, pillows are unnecessary and you personally can sleep just as well without a pillow as with one.

      • guest

        Did the study indicate whether the moms were sharing rooms with other mothers and babies? Because that would affect their sleep too.