(RxWiki News) Many hospitals still keep a baby in the nursery while moms recuperate in the days after giving birth. More and more, however, are having the baby "room in" with mom.
The practice of "rooming in" appears to have numerous benefits, according to a recent review of the literature.
The leading benefit of this the review was specifically higher rates of breastfeeding.
"Have your newborn "room in" with you."
The study, led by Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, MD, from the obstetrics and gynecology department at KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital in Malaysia, started with 23 studies that discussed 19 different clinical trials related to rooming in.
However, only one of these trials met the specifications the authors of this study were looking for. That trial involved 176 women.
It found that, four days after the babies were born, the breastfeeding rate was twice as high among the women whose babies were rooming in with them than among the women who were separate from their babies.
Unfortunately, however, the trial did not assess the women's breastfeeding after discharge from the hospital for a longer period of time.
Therefore, with regards to the impact of rooming in on breastfeeding duration, the authors could not draw conclusions about the effects of rooming in or separation on breastfeeding once the mothers returned home.
"We found little evidence to support or refute the practice of mother‐infant separation versus rooming‐in," they wrote. Therefore, they continued, they see no reason to practice separation.
Their other research revealed a number of other benefits linked to keeping the mother and her newborn together in the days after birth.
Those benefits include better bonding between the mother and her baby, more frequent breastfeeding (on-demand) and lower rates of newborn complications, including sudden infant death syndrome.
In a news release about the review, Alison Stuebe, MD, pointed out that separation after birth is unique to people.
"Humans are the only mammals that routinely separate mothers and infants in the first few days of life," Dr. Stuebe told the Health Behavior News Service in discussing this study.
"The mother-baby dyad is meant to be together," said Dr. Stuebe, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
However, she noted that flexibility is important because different circumstances call for different practices.
"If a mother is completely exhausted after 40 hours of labor, five hours of pushing, and a C-section, refusing to allow the baby to go to the nursery because hospital policy mandates rooming in may not be in the best interest of mother or baby," Dr. Stuebe told the Health Behavior News Service.
"Policies that enforce a clinical practice 'always' or 'never' often have unintended consequences."
The study was published September 12 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The research was funded by the Royal College of Medicine Perak, Malaysia and the SEA ORCHID Project in Malaysia. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.