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Combined care for moms, newborns

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 26/05) - New mom Natalie Bromm could not imagine it any other way.

Bromm said sharing a hospital room with her newborn son Wiley was a positive experience she would not want to change. "The last thing I would want would be to have the baby in another room," Bromm said.

Her husband Eli Bintner had access to the room "and he was the one who took care of the baby much of the time," she said.

Bromm's experience in the obstetric unit at Stanton Territorial hospital was the result of what a combined care model that was implemented in February. Combined care provides care for both mother and newborn as a team during the post-partum hospital stay.

Wendy Baker, manager of maternal child services, said the program is in response to mothers' requests for more time with their infants.

"It's been good for all of us in some ways because we learn to look after mother and baby in the unit," she said.

"But I don't know if it has been easier. I think any change that involves a different workflow makes it a little harder for the nursing staff."

Mothers still have the option to say they are too tired or feeling unwell and need a break, Baker said.

"We try to individualize the care."

Ready and confident

"But now the mother looks after the baby herself, which means that she goes home sooner because she is ready and confident because a nurse hasn't taken over her role," she said.

Baker said the response to the program has been mixed.

"A lot of mothers that have had children here before were really keen to have this change take place. Others that want to go out on a pass or on a smoke break still have to negotiate around that and we have to try and meet their needs, too," Baker said.

"It's been the rare mother that has said she really doesn't want to have anything to do with her baby. Most mothers are very keen to have the baby in the room with them."

Baker said the average stay for mother and child is about two days, although it is ultimately the mother who decides when she is well enough to go home.