Closing Newborn Nurseries Isn’t Good for Babies or Moms

By Dr. Amy Tuteur, Obstetrician-Gynecologist
February 11, 2016

I’m deeply disappointed to learn that the hospitals in my state, Massachusetts, are closing their newborn nurseries. It’s a submission to the entreaties of breastfeeding activists (lactivists), and doesn’t accomplish its stated aim. Most importantly, it’s unsafe.

The Boston Globe explains that women can no longer leave their babies in the nursery in order to rest, called “rooming-in”—the nurseries are being closed, in response to the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), the breastfeeding industry’s program to promote breastfeeding. The hope of this initiative is to get mothers to breastfeed on demand, which means having the baby nearby round the clock, and, potentially sharing the bed.

Never mind that the name “baby friendly” is deeply wounding to women who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. The BFHI offers a credential for hospitals that can demonstrate they have done everything possible to pressure women to breastfeed: lecturing them about purported benefits, making formula inconvenient and humiliating to obtain in the hospital, and depriving women of free formula to use when they go home.

Forced rooming-in is unsafe. Mothers who have trouble lifting babies out of hospital bassinets often keep babies in bed with them. Yet we know that both soft bedding (such as that in hospital beds) and maternal sedation from narcotics (given for pain relief after C-section or vaginal tears) are associated with accidental infant death. For safety’s sake, someone should watch a baby while his or her mother sleeps.

Read more at TIME Magazine.