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What Is Rooming In And Why (Not) To Choose It

Updated on July 12, 2011

Rooming-in in hospitals and birth centres

If you are pregnant and preparing you for giving birth pretty soon, one thing you should consider is rooming in. There are many advantages and disadvantages and different opinions about having rooming in arrangement. The most important thing is that you are aware of how it really works and what you could expect.

Rooming-in means that after giving birth, a woman is placed with her baby all the time. No setting apart, except maybe for washing and examining by the doctor. Mother is supposed to take care of her baby from the moment it was born. The accent is put on the breastfeeding, which is the only food for babies, especially in baby friendly hospitals.

The opposite from rooming-in is when mother gets her baby for breastfeeding and the rest of the time the baby is placed with other babies in separate room and is fed on the bottle especially during the night.

This arrangement led to increased number of women having mastitis and troubles with breastfeeding, so besides better bonding between mother and a child, rooming-in was introduced to help women breastfeed more successfully.

If you are planning a home birth, it’s pretty logical you will want to have a rooming in arrangement, because you will be with your baby from the moment you deliver it.

But, if you decided to have hospital birth or in a birth centre, rooming in can be an option and depending on your physical state and your preferences, you can choose to have or not to have it.

Although, it may look awesome, to be with your baby from the first second, it can also be very demanding and exhausting and affect you in a physical and emotional way during the days that will follow when you come home.

When I was preparing myself for the childbirth I made a very specific birth plan. One thing that found its place in my birth plan was that I wanted rooming in arrangement. I wanted to start breastfeeding my baby immediately to stimulate milk production and create relationship with my daughter.

But, the things didn’t go so well like I planned.

Rooming in and Baby Friendly Hospitals

Rooming-in, breastfeeding and bonding with child
Rooming-in, breastfeeding and bonding with child


Advantages of rooming in - hospitals and birth centers

The best thing about rooming in after hospital birth, in my experience, is that you can spend the whole day looking at that little creature you created. You can touch your baby, kiss it and hold it. You don’t have to be apart at all!

These are the top reasons why rooming in could be a great thing for both you and your baby:

  1. You can be with your baby all the time. You waited to see your baby for nine months; you went through painful contractions and finally gave birth to your baby. You are still full of adrenalin, reliving your birth and it’s normal that you want to have your baby close to you from the moment it was born. In that case rooming in is a perfect solution.
  2. You can start breastfeeding your baby immediately. This will start that special connection between mother and a child. It will also stimulate the milk production and prevent possible mastitis. So, rooming in will maybe prevent some unpleasant things that a mother could be going through and make the beginning of breastfeeding more successful.

If you are lucky to have a non-crying and eager-to-eat baby (which is no way to know it until you give birth) you will definitely enjoy rooming in. I’ve seen women with newborns eating and sleeping all the time after hospital birth. They had time to go to the toilet, have shower, and see some relatives who came to visit. Those women even had a time to read a magazine or talk on the phone. In their opinion, rooming in was probably a great experience.

You will probably have to change diapers by yourself, so it can be a useful experience before getting home and start doing things on your own.

If you happen to be in one of those baby friendly hospitals, no one will give your baby a milk formula or a soother, so you plans for exclusive breastfeeding will be respected.


Disadvantages of rooming in after hospital birth or the one in birth center

But, things don’t have to be so perfect and you should also consider the other side of rooming in when making that decision. I really wanted to have rooming in. I gave a very long though about it and I was sure that was the right thing. But, my baby was crying all the time and no way I could have made her to breastfeed. My breast milk didn’t start producing, she was hungry all the time and I was really tired, because I didn’t sleep for two days. I was admitted on Friday and spend the weekend in hospital, so I couldn’t get hospital nurses to give me the help I needed. They were under numbered and would come only one or two times to see how we were doing. I had to carry my baby practically the whole day, because she didn’t stop crying. I missed my lunch, I was hungry and tired. To sum up, those were the two horror days in my life.

Consider those facts when deciding upon rooming in arrangement:

  1. Handling the baby is not easy. If you had a c-section you will need somebody to handle the baby to you and place the baby in the position for breastfeeding. It is possible that in some moments nobody will be able to help you and you will have to do it either by yourself or you will listen to your baby cry until somebody shows up.
  2. Taking care of the newborn is very demanding after going through contractions and birth. Although your hospital birth can be a great experience and you might not have to take epidural, you can still be physically weak to take care of the baby. Especially, if you had an episiotomy, sitting and standing up can be very painful.
  3. If your birth centre or hospital encourages breastfeeding, they might refuse giving milk formula. And, if you don’t have any breast milk yet or have problems with your nipples, looking at your hungry baby or listening its cry is emotionally stressful.
  4. Birth centre or hospital nurses may not be on your disposal whenever you want or need. If you happen to deliver your baby during holidays, weekends or summer period, there is a possibility that there will be lack of hospital nurses and that you will not get the help you need.
  5. You will have to change the diapers by yourself. One of the rooming in features is taking care of baby’s diapers mostly by you. Although this can be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage. You will have to stand or sit while you do it, which can be very difficult and painful if you hade some medical intervention, such as episiotomy or c-section.
  6. You won’t sleep at all and after everything you’ve gone through, sleep is the number one thing you need. If you are very sensitive to baby’s cry you will probably spend most of the day and practically the whole night trying to calm down your baby. Not all women are physically and emotionally capable for this and that is absolutely normal. Think about how much you can handle, because one thing that a baby needs more than rooming in and everything that comes with it, is a happy mother.

So, try to talk to your ob-gyn or visit the hospital or birth centre where you will deliver your baby. Talk to the hospital nurses to be sure how often they visit their patients, if they offer help during breastfeeding and what is their diaper changing policy.

If you choose one of those baby friendly hospitals, be sure to get all the information about breastfeeding policy and rules regarding bottle feeding and using soothers. Be sure to check if it is possible to give the baby to hospital nurses during the night, as this is also a possibility in some hospitals with rooming in. this will allow you to be as longer as possible with your baby and still have some sleep.

If you gather this information, you will for sure be able to make the best decision for you and your baby.


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