Despite WHO/UNICEF push for 'rooming-in,' mothers and babies being separated at birth


Mothers of newborns are not rooming-in with their babies, even when they think it is valuable, according to a study published in Birth.

Research supported by the Swedish Government and conducted in Stockholm, Sweden, suggests that mothers who left their babies in the hospital nursery at night more often perceived that the staff believed that was where the babies belonged. Of the mothers who did not room-in, 73% were in favor of the option but were influenced by negative staff attitudes toward night rooming-in. The mothers who did not room-in rated closeness between mother and infant lower and were more worried about their own and their babies' sleep and disturbing noises, when compared with the mothers who chose to room-in.

"Negative staff attitudes towards night rooming-in might implicitly suggest to mothers that closeness between mothers and babies is not important," said principal investigator, Kristin Svensson. "There is reason to believe that if mothers could be negatively influenced by staff attitude in this important matter, they could also be influenced in other factors including giving the breastfeeding baby formula, or not advocating breastfeeding on demand."

Twenty-four-hour rooming-in is listed as an important step in the "Ten Steps" to promote and support breastfeeding by the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Despite this recommendation, hospitals in many countries are not practicing rooming-in around the clock. A recent survey in the United States showed that 26% of American infants stayed in nurseries at night, and in many European countries, Canada, the former USSR, and many other Eastern countries, rooming-in is not a common practice, despite the known benefits.

This study is published in the June 2005 issue of Birth. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this study please contact [email protected].

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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