An acquaintance of mine once admitted to dropping her newborn baby while feeding her in the middle of the night. At the time I inwardly scoffed—how can someone be that tired, I thought judgmentally. Fast-forward to a few years later when I can now speak as a new mother—and to being that tired.
Sleep deprivation is no joke. And it doesn’t necessarily begin when the baby is born. The last few months of pregnancy and the discomfort that comes with it make for difficult sleep preceding the birth.
Many maternity units now promote “rooming in,” where a newborn baby stays in the mother’s room rather than with the nurses in the nursery. This makes newborn fall prevention an important issue. Take poor sleep in the last months of pregnancy and the physical and mental exhaustion of labor and add pain and limited mobility from the birth itself, especially a C-section birth; large rails on hospital beds making the transfer of one’s baby from bassinet to the mother’s bed difficult; and possible pain meds for mom, and the recipe could spell disaster.
In my case, with an emergency C-section and limited mobility, I found it very hard to pick my baby up from his bassinet and bring him into my hospital bed for a feeding. Luckily my husband stayed in the hospital room overnight and the nurses checked in around the clock, but not all mothers may be as fortunate.
In the November Safety Monitor column, “Preventing Newborn Falls While Supporting Family Bonding,” the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System highlights examples of such falls, pointing out that most occur “between midnight and 7 AM.” The article also highlights what hospitals—and nurses—can do to prevent these occurrences. Newborn fall prevention programs might include:
- assessment of mom for level of risk (for example, fatigue, C-section, pain medication)
- safer bed design
- implementation of a “post-fall huddle” to identify what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again
- increased monitoring by nursing staff
- education on how to prevent falls for families
Read more about how nurses can help prevent falls in newborns here. The article is free for the month of November.—Amy M. Collins, managing editor