Benefits of Rooming-In With Your Baby After Birth

Newborn in the hospital with mom

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Rooming-in after birth is when your baby stays in your room with you, as opposed to spending the majority of the time in the hospital's nursery. This type of arrangement offers benefits for both you and your baby post-birth. Your baby staying in your room can help promote breastfeeding, encourage rest, increase safety, and allow you to ensure that your baby is cared for in the way that you prefer.

Types of Rooming-In

Rooming-in can be done in a variety of ways. Depending on the type of care that your hospital offers, the actual amount of time that your baby spends in your room can vary.

It's important to be clear about your plan to room-in or not post-birth, and discuss with hospital staff your specific wishes concerning the type of rooming-in that you want.

Full Rooming-In

During full rooming-in, your baby stays in the same room with you for the entire duration of your hospital stay, all day and night. Instead of being transferred to the nursery for tests, procedures, and exams, nursing care for your infant will be done within your room when possible.

Partial Rooming-In

Some hospitals offer partial rooming-in, where you can send your baby back to the nursery at night, but they stay in your room during the day. If you choose this type of rooming-in, you'll want to specify whether or not you want to be awakened for nighttime feedings or if you would rather your baby receive pumped breast milk or formula from a bottle in the nursery.

Benefits of Rooming-In

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their parents for at least the first six months of life, and preferably up to one full year, as this can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by up to 50%. Rooming-in after birth follows this recommendation and has a number of additional benefits for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding Benefits

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life is recommended by the AAP. They also recommend that hospital routines follow the World Health Organization's "Ten Steps To Successful Breastfeeding," which outlines rooming-in as a strategy to support exclusive breastfeeding.

Should you choose to breastfeed, research shows that rooming-in can positively impact the duration of breastfeeding. When your baby stays with you after birth, you'll be able to start learning how to respond to their feeding cues immediately, which can increase your ability to breastfeed on demand. This experience can also lead to reduced stress overall as you learn how to care for your newborn.

With your baby in your room, you'll likely have more time and opportunities to engage in skin-to-skin contact, which can promote breastmilk production and lead to successful breastfeeding outcomes.

Sleep Benefits

After giving birth, you'll likely want to get as much rest as possible, so it makes sense that sending your baby to the nursery instead of rooming-in sounds like it might give you a chance to rest. However, some studies show that parents who room-in actually get more sleep than those who send their baby back to the nursery.

During your hospital stay, interrupted sleep will be the norm whether your baby is rooming-in or not. Between hourly checks shortly after birth, routine lab draws at 4 a.m. (because your practitioner needs the results before they arrive at 7 a.m.), nurses waking you up to take your sleeping pills, and techs turning on lights in the middle of the night to check your pulse, temperature, and blood pressure, there isn't a ton of time for uninterrupted rest.

If you're going to be woken up anyway, having your baby in the room can at least provide some peace of mind knowing that your baby is right there with you, and you can still sleep when you do have the opportunity to.

Care Benefits

If you choose to room-in with your baby, you'll have the ability to ensure that your baby receives the type of care that you prefer. For example, if you do not wish for your baby to use a pacifier or a bottle, you'll be able to closely monitor what they're given and can easily express your desires to nursing staff as they tend to your baby.

This also applies for any tests and procedures that are needed for your infant. If your baby is in the room with you, you'll have the opportunity to communicate with staff as they administer these tests and oversee any procedures.

As previously mentioned, skin-to-skin contact can be soothing for your baby and promote breastfeeding, but it can also be done as part of your overall care plan to help prevent babies from spending time underneath electronic warmers. Babies actually warm best skin-to-skin with their parent and if needed, hospital warmers can still be placed over both parent and baby.

Safety Benefits

Although rare, baby switching can happen during a hospital stay. Most hospitals have safety procedures in place such as monitors, bracelet matching, and bassinet sensors to prevent any type of mishap where a baby might end up going home with the wrong parents. However, rooming-in can help ensure that you know where your baby is and who they are with at all times to help provide another layer of safety.

Most hospitals will have a rolling bassinet for your baby to sleep in that can be wheeled around your room and between your room and the nursery. While hospital policies vary, if you are rooming-in and your baby does need to be taken to the nursery for a test or procedure that can't be performed in your room, one parent can usually accompany the baby to ensure their safety.

COVID and Rooming-In

The AAP says that rooming-in is safe even when the parent has confirmed or suspected COVID-19, as long as the proper precautions are taken, including mask wearing and hand washing.

The NICU and Rooming-In

If your baby requires treatment in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), you will not be able to room-in in a typical fashion, but many NICUs offer different options to help support parents who want to stay close to their infants. Depending on your baby's needs and the hospital's NICU arrangement, it is still possible to reap some benefits of rooming-in even while your baby receives NICU care.

Some NICUs have cubicles where parents can stay on a cot with their baby, while others have designated areas where parents can engage in skin-to-skin contact, breastfeed, and be hands-on with their baby's care. NICU arrangements that offer a cubicle with a cot or private areas for bonding are also handy for times after you have left the hospital and need to return to care for your baby.

A Word From Verywell

Because every hospital is different, it's important to check in with hospital staff about their specific rooming-in procedures in order to decide if what they offer is right for you and your baby. While there are many benefits to rooming-in, the choice of whether or not to have your baby in the room with you throughout your hospital stay is a personal one.

Additionally, if you experience delivery complications or are having difficulty recovering after giving birth, talk to your doctor about how rooming-in could impact your own post-birth recovery.

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