Rooming-in is available in most hospitals and should be initiated as soon after birth as possible. It allows the mother to keep the baby in the room with her for all or part of the day. With complete rooming-in, the baby stays with the mother day and night, while with partial rooming-in, the baby stays with the mother from morning until evening and then goes to the nursery for the night. With the latter, fee mother can have fee baby brought to her for nighttime feedings. With flexible rooming-in, the baby stays with the mother but can be returned to fee nursery whenever the mother desires.
Even with complete rooming-in, many hospitals return the baby to the nursery for a short period each morning for a pediatric examination. During this time, the mother can shower and receive any required nursing care. In other hospitals, the pediatrician examines the baby in the mother’s room.
The bond of affection formed immediately after birth can grow and deepen during the hospital stay. The close association and interaction between mother and baby continue as the mother cares for her infant. Mothers who opt for rooming-in feel more confident and competent at caring for their babies than do mothers who are separated from their babies by traditional hospital routines. Since hospital stays are approximately 24 hours after a vaginal birth, the more time you can spend with your baby under the guidance of a nurse, the more competent you will feel when you take your baby home.
Drs. Klaus and Kennell believe that while in the hospital, mothers should have complete care of their infants, with nurses available as consultants. As a result of extended contact with their babies, rooming-in mothers seem to develop maternal feelings more quickly and to resume physical activities earlier than mothers who do not room-in. Babies who interact with just one caregiver-the mother-appear to be more content. They cry less and organize their sleep-awake rhythms and feeding patterns more quickly than babies who interact with several caregivers and are fed on a rigid schedule. Rooming-in on a 24-hour basis provides the best opportunity for successful breastfeeding.
Rooming-in also gives the father a chance to hold, care for, and enjoy his baby before bringing him home. This strengthens the paternal bond and helps the father adjust to the new baby.