The first thing you will want to do after you give birth is to get a good night's sleep. Scratch that. After you cuddle that beautiful bundle, deal with the hospital staff, breastfeed, deal with the relatives, etc. you will want to go to sleep. You probably won't get to. But you're getting the picture. Sleep. It's almost as beautiful as your newborn.
Which is why I understand how Zelia Blomfield fell asleep in the maternity ward, breastfeeding her newborn baby girl. I understand how she accidentally smothered little Bela Maddison Lee Heidrich to death. It was a tragic accident, but an understandable one.
So what don't I understand? Why Zelia Blomfield is suing the hospital for falling asleep.
See, Blomfield says it's the hospital's fault that her daughter is dead because a midwife positioned her with her baby at her breast and said it was OK to fall asleep. Blomfield says it was up to the hospital staff to check in on her to keep the baby safe.
I'm sorry, Ms. Blomfield, for your troubles. But the whole point of the "rooming in" movement is to have Mom go solo with her baby. The goal is for a mom to develop her own sense of "what works" as she bonds with her baby, to make her own decisions. If we had doctors and nurses in there all the time, it would defeat the purpose.
They aren't going to go home with us and decide when we sleep and when we stay up. They won't tell us when baby is hungry or when baby needs to change boobs. Rooming in is our chance to see if we can swim, with the hospital staff a quick bang on the buzzer away. They shouldn't come in to see us unless we call.
Blomfield made the decision to cosleep with her daughter. By and large, breastfeeding moms have coslept successfully with their babies for centuries. But it remains one of those parenting issues that's intensely personal because it does have risks. It's up to a parent to decide how they feel about it, and then take the risks of deciding either way (because there are, indeed, drawbacks to not co-sleeping too). She fell asleep alone in a room with her daughter, and she took the onus off the hospital in doing so.
It would have taken round-the-clock intrusions from hospital staff to save this baby girl from the tragic accident that took her life. But they didn't need to do that. Because her mother had choices to make, and she made one. She picked rooming in and cosleeping.
If moms can't be expected to take care of their own kids when they room in, when will they ever be responsible for what happens to their kids?
Image via sdminor81/Flickr