After having their babies, many parents leave the hospital feeling like they need an instruction manual to care for their little bundles of joy. They may be anxious, unsure of themselves, and even a bit confused.
A new study, published in August 2015 issue of Pediatrics, found about 20 percent of new parents said they did not receive basic information about the best ways to care for their newborn from their doctors.
The study was conducted by a joint team of researchers from Yale University, Boston University, and Boston Medical Center. It looked at mothers who had given birth and what they said they were told by their doctors or other medical professionals two months, and then six months, after giving birth. The study surveyed 1,031 moms from 32 hospitals nationwide.
Focusing on five aspects of infant health including breastfeeding, sleep position and location, immunizations and the use of pacifiers, the study found many moms were lacking information.
About 20 percent of mothers reported not hearing about the importance of breastfeeding, the best sleep position for the baby, the time period to start immunizations or even the specifics of when and how a baby should use a pacifier.
About 20 percent of new mothers in this study reported that they were told nothing regarding breastfeeding.
The same number of new mothers said they were not told babies should be put to sleep on their backs, even though experts have agreed that it significantly lowers the risk for the baby of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
About 50 percent of the moms in the study said they were not told that the optimal sleeping situation for a newborn is in the parents’ bedroom, but not in their bed.
The study also found that some moms reported receiving some advice on these topics, but for 10 to 25 percent of the women the advice did not follow recommendations by leading health organizations.
While this study may suggest that doctors are not giving new moms enough information, it may also suggest that the information they are giving them is just not being effectively communicated.
Doctors might think they have shared everything they need to share with a new mom but due to various issues, their information was not received.
Doctors also might be wary of talking about potentially divisive topics like breastfeeding or co-sleeping. They may choose, instead, to assume that moms have all the information they need to make their lifestyle decisions.
The key takeaway from this study for moms is to always listen carefully and ask questions if something doesn’t seem to make sense.
For doctors, the takeaway is perhaps even more important. Doctors working with new moms need to reevaluate their method of getting important information to these patients.
They need to make sure their communication is clear and concise. It must be easy for people who did not go to medical school to interpret. And even if they think the mother already knows the information, or has made up her mind about how she plans to take care of her baby, the doctor should still tell her the same thing.
There's no such thing as too much good information when it comes to taking care of a newborn.
What doctors aren’t telling new moms. Yahoo.com. Web. 26 July 2015.
Study: Some new moms get too little advice from doctors. USAToday.com. Web. 27 July 2015.
Maternal Report of Advice Received for Infant Care. Pediatrics.aapublications.org. Web. 27 July 2015.
Reviewed August 13, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith