Separation Anxiety

May 02, 2009 12:00 AM

Q: I’m very anxious about my baby being separated from me in the hospital. What can I do?

A: You have strong and powerful maternal instincts! When a first-time mom can say out loud in her pregnancy that she wants to stay with her baby, she’s activating a powerful mothering space within. Anxiety is often a sign of deep body wisdom.

My first advice would be to recognize this cue. The period immediately after delivery is very much a crucial time. Evidence is clear that skin-to-skin contact between babies and mothers makes for optimal hormonal changes, better temperature regulation, fewer stress hormones, and more stable blood sugar levels. Babies also have an easier time breastfeeding when they’re not separated from their mothers.

So, your first task is to call the labor and delivery nurse manager at your hospital and determine its standard of care for a healthy baby. Many offer 24-hour rooming in, which keeps mothers and babies together. Other facilities require a four-hour nursery stay, when the baby’s heart rate and temperature stabilization is examined away from the mom. If your hospital follows the latter course, consider a different location, or at the very least inquire about whether these procedures could be delayed a few hours so you can be with your baby.

Also, communicate with your partner about when you want visits outside of medical staff. Family and friends may be loving and supportive, but many first-time moms have later told me they regret not taking more time with just their partners and babies. For the first few hours, as you hold and rock your baby, sing lullabies, and recover together, you may need and want privacy. It’s a very emotionally intimate time, and a powerful threshold you’re crossing, from partners to parents. Think about it.

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