Once delivering in the hospital became common, it also became common to have baby taken from you and put in a nursery while you recovered. You could go to the nursery to visit or feed your baby or have baby taken to you for feedings during the day, but giving baby formula at night and letting mom sleep was common practise (and still is in some hospitals).
These days, it is becoming more common to have the nursery option eliminated altogether, and have baby stay in the room with you after delivery. From what I have heard and read, there are mixed feelings on this. Some mothers like the option of letting others have baby for a few days so they can recover and sleep before having to take over care of their child at home. I think this is completely reasonable, especially after a difficult labor, a late night labor, or having had complications arise during delivery, which all can contribute to make a mother too tired to be able to safely care for her child on her own right away.
Of course even with the rooming in option, nurses and volunteers are always a call away and can be there to help you out with anything you might need. But when baby is in the room at night, his or her every little sound can have you waking up and disturbing your rest that you need so badly.
However, some mothers feel they cannot sleep with baby away because of the anxiety and worry that sets in about their baby. Is she hungry? Does he need a diaper change? Is someone keeping their eye on him just this minute to make sure he is still breathing?
There is also the problem of feeding. Will the nurses bring baby to you to be fed if you are breastfeeding? (and I hope you are, if it is at all possible) Or will they pop a bottle in her little mouth at night so as not to disturb you? Your wishes on this matter have to be clearly communicated.
Because of the changing ideas in medicine and general opinion about what is best for baby, as mothers and doctors learn more about the consequences of different practices, there have been a lot of changes in some hospitals. Some hospitals no longer have a nursery option, as it is better for baby to be in the room with mommy, to be close for bonding time and feeding time. A lot of hospitals have stopped giving out so many formula samples and instead started encouraging mothers to breastfeed, and one of the ways they do that is keep baby in the room with mommy at all times to be conveniently there when hungry or needing a snuggle.
This brings me to another big change, the switch from encouraging formula to encouraging breastfeeding. Hospitals that give formula samples and have the nurses feed newborns formula at night in the nursery instead of bringing baby to mother can interfere a great deal with the mother's decision and ability to breastfeed, and with the baby's acceptance of nursing over a bottle.
This causes problems when mother can't really afford to use formula. Mothers have starved their babies and even killed them by adding too much water to formula to "make it stretch". Not sure why these women couldn't see the next logical point, which would be that water does not feed a baby, and baby is going to starve. It also is much better for both baby and mother to nurse, something that has apparently only been discovered in the last decade or so. Confused on why that would be? I think its strange too. I mean, we've been doing it for thousands of years, really it took this long to know it was good to do? So, a lot of hospitals have started promoting breastfeeding and stopped trying to shove a bottle on newborn babies. To me, this is a change that has no controversial angles to it. Its just a good thing, all around.
The contoversial issue is the elimination of a nursery. From experience, I was one of those mothers who could not let her baby out of her sight, and could hardly sleep for worry about baby even when he was right next to me in his little bed. There was no "regular" nursery available for me to send him to, but when the nurses offered to take him to give me a little break for sleep, I couldn't even do that. I felt I would worry to much and not sleep anyways. The only sleep I got was when he was in bed with me and I could feel and hear him breathing, even though I know that is not the safest thing to do.
I do know, however, that that was very hard on me, and I could have done well to get a little more sleep before having to take care of him myself at home while hubby went back to work. I learned to nap when he napped, and our house was never completely clean for a few months. And now, a few months later, it's become "never completely clean" again, since he is now big enough to destroy an hours worth of cleaning in 2.5 seconds. So this time, I believe I will try hard to take advantage of the nurse's offer's to take baby for a few hours and to bring her to me when she's hungry. I think that I will not worry so much with this one, either, so that will help.
I am glad I have the option of having baby room-in with me though, and I rather think for the most part its the best option. Some hospitals, I have heard, still do not even offer this option. I am not sure why. Maybe because they need to update their rooms? It may be hard to room-in with baby when you have to share a room with someone else, as some hospitals still also make their patients do. I do not know because I have fortunately not had to experience that.
If something were to complicate my delivery, however, and there would be a need for a c-section that maybe went a little wrong, or perhaps I became really sick and unable to care for my baby, I would still want the hospital to make every effort to let me breastfeed, and I would want to know there is a place for my baby and people who are watching and caring for her while I could not be. If I felt like I was unable to care for my baby, that it would be better if I got some rest instead, and wanted someone else to take baby while I recovered, I would like to have a hospital that listened and did not try to make me do it anyways.
I think that unfortunately most hospitals get stuck on "procedure" and forget to use logic and see every delivery as an individual case that may have individual needs. As I was relatively lucky in my choice of hospital, I hear many mother's birth stories and often become incensed at what they had to go through at the hands of the staff and procedures there. As I have heard more, I realize these things they tell me are still actually the norm in a lot of hospitals and not an unusual thing. Is it really that hard to change the way hospitals treat and care for mothers and infants during and after delivery?
I begin to see why so many people are opting to deliver baby at home again, 100 years after it fell out of common practise.