US Hospitals Gearing Towards Family-Centered Maternity Care

By Arvin Matthew, Parent Herald April 12, 05:28 am

Some hospitals in the US have started adopting a new maternity care system which health experts say is more family-centered than the pre-existing standard. The new model is especially beneficial for mothers who want to bond with their newborns as long as they want.

Spearheading the trend is Christus St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Louisiana. Cabrini's Women's and Children's ward underwent major overhaul in 2009 so that mothers and babies can be in one room after childbirth as well as for the remainder of their stay, as per The Town Talk.

Traditional vs. Family-Centered 

The traditional nursery setup where relatives and siblings peek through sheets of rectangular glass to see the sleeping infants has also been removed. Moreover, only one nurse is assigned to care for the mother and baby. This results in a more peaceful working environment for both the patient and the healthcare provider.

Briar Simpson, the maternity care manager at Cabrini, said the family-centered model is the best medical practice to date. Nonetheless, it comes at a huge cost as a hospital's maternity ward needs to be totally revamped in order to accommodate the changes.

New Method Promises To Be Safe

Beth Dufor, Cabrini's director of women's and children's services, assured that the new hospital trend is safe. She also claimed that the setup is scientifically proven.

"The family-centered experience is much more rewarding for everyone," Dufor declared. "First of all, it's what research shows is best for mom and baby, and second, it's what moms want."

Separation Could Lead To Adverse Effects

According to a study published on Biological Psychiatry via Science Daily, maternal-neonate separation does have some adverse effects on the infant's health. Scientists found that babies are 86% more fidgety while sleeping during maternal separation.

Medscape reported that an infant's natural response to separation is to become defensive to what it perceives to be a life-threatening scenario. Newborns usually react by crying incessantly and becoming restless.

Kathy Rabalais, the nurse manager at nearby Rapides Women's and Children's Hospital, has slowly adopted Cabrini's model. However, she doesn't plan on completely reconstructing Rapides' maternity ward any time soon. Despite the changes, the hospital still houses a fully-functioning newborn nursery to give mothers a choice.

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