Stay by my side, baby

Posted by ~Summer~ on February 15, 2013

I've been wanting to write about this since Ariel was born. It's something that I feel rather strongly about after giving birth in both Sweden and Singapore.

Did you know? I've said it before when I wrote about expensive babies but I am saying it again.

There is no such thing as a nursery in the hospital back in Sweden.

When I tell people about it, especially those who are mothers themselves, the responses I get are usually along the lines of:

"What? Then how the mum gets to rest?"

"Who helps you to take care of the baby then?"

"Poor thing. Then you have to stick to your baby all day long."

"Wow, that must be so tiring."   

Indeed, it was pretty tiring. But you know what, I loved and cherished the whole experience so much that I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Which is why I was extremely glad that we chose to spend a little more and stay in a single room when I delivered Ariel this time round. Initially, we chose it so that the hubby could stay over but on the day of delivery, we were informed that you could only have the baby room-in if you stayed in a single room. *phew* Yes, I wanted to have my baby beside me as much as possible.

Rooming-in essentially meant that the baby stayed with me most of the time, except when they took her for baths and check-ups. In fact, I requested to bathe her in my room but that was rejected. Why didn't I want my baby to be taken care of in the nursery? Why didn't I want to lie down and rest? Why did I insist that they return my baby as soon as possible every time they took her? Why didn't I like the idea of them pushing my baby to and fro, and mostly away from me?

WHY? I'll tell you why.

Let's compare the Sweden style and the usual Singapore style where the babies stay in the nursery.

Are you starting to see what I mean?

Back in Sweden, as first time parents, we were the ones who learnt to take care of our baby from the start. We learnt to change diapers, we learnt to bathe her, we learnt to burp her, we learnt to cater to her every need. Since the minute she was born, we never left her, ever.

Not having a nursery doesn't mean the nurses were not around to help. They were always there. What I liked was that they showed us how to do it but eventually asked us to do it ourselves. Yes, no spoon-feeding, you gotta attempt, learn from mistakes, try again and master everything by yourself. After all, you are the parent and this is your baby for life.

For instance, the hubby was the one who gave Angel her first bath and the nurse was only standing beside to give verbal instructions. On the second night, Angel got into a crying fit and we tried all sorts of solutions but failed, only to ask the nurse for help and she showed us how to burp her and get her poo out with the use of a thermometer.

We were there with Angel for every of her vaccinations and physical examinations. I was there to hold her hand, to give her strength, to assure her that she is safe. Whenever she cried, we were the ones right beside her who picked her up to soothe her and react to her needs. In comparison, if you were to leave your child in a nursery, many things are done behind closed doors, like you can't hear her cries, can't witness her many firsts and can't even be there when she needs you most.

I get it. The nurses are professional and they know how to take care of babies for sure. They can coax the babies to sleep, they can swaddle them in a flash, they can feed formula milk from bottles, they can burp babies well and they can change diapers within seconds.

I get it. Mums need to rest after giving birth for there is no doubt it was a painful ordeal. There was even a nurse who gave me 'kind' advice to give up on the rooming-in idea because 'I will be very tired' and 'I should sleep more'. Thanks but no thanks, I felt pretty ready to scale Mt Everest, I wanted to tell her.

I get it. It's definitely easier to just pass your baby to the experienced nurses and have some breathing space for at least the first couple of days, to be able to rest, eat, sleep and even watch TV in peace. 

BUT, where is the L-O-V-E?

No matter how professional they are, they are not the baby's mother. There will always be a lack of motherly touch and it is not something that can be replaced. They do it out of obligation, caring for hundreds of babies a week; we do it out of love, caring for one, or maybe two or three, babies for a lifetime. How can it ever be the same?

Unless you decide to pass your baby to the grandparents or confinement lady after you go home, something else which I am also against, you probably won't get to rest much, so why not get accustomed to the new life of a mum? It's a matter of perspective. Resting puts us in positive spirits. But is taking care of the baby a chore or a joy to you in the first place?

The first couple of days of your baby's life only happens once. Miss out on that and it never comes back.


The next day after I gave birth to Ariel in Thomson Medical Centre, I went for this breastfeeding/bathing workshop. Not that I thought I badly needed it, but it was good to just refresh my memory a little.

I can't tell you how many times I was appalled by some of things said by the other first-time parents.

There was a dad who enquired just before discharge "How do I burp the baby?"

There was another parent who said "I don't know how to change diapers.  
They never let me do it."

When asked why, their usual replies were 
"Because the nurses keep pushing the babies out."

Seriously, am you blaming the nurses for that or are you not taking enough initiative to keep your baby by your side?

There were many things that the speaker said which I wholeheartedly embraced and agreed. 

"We should learn from the Caucasian culture. They never ever leave their babies."

"If you want to learn to care for your baby, then why do you let the nurses take your baby away from you for such a long time?"
"Don't be afraid to handle your baby on your own."

"The first days are important. It is when you learn about your baby and build up your confidence as a parent. You should know your baby best."

Sometimes, I can't help but think that Singaporeans are a little over pampered and thus take things for granted. Then when we are left to fend for our own, we become clueless, we get demoralized and we go into an unnecessary panic. That sense of confidence in upbringing a child, which I believe is vital to any parent, doesn't fall from the sky and it needs to earned. Well, I am just relieved that I have been a hands-on mum for both my girls. Feed, coax, bathe, soothe, clean, cuddle, hug, kiss. I did them from day one and I still do them every single day.

Before you get me wrong, I'm not totally against the idea of nursery. I do believe in cases of C-section, medical complications or in cases where the mum feels really weak to even stand up, it is probably a good idea to leave your baby in the nursery while you rest and regain your vigour. But other than that, I believe even more strongly that every mum is able to not only take care of herself but her newborn as well, as long as she believes that she can do it.

Also, I am not saying that everyone should burn their pockets to stay in single rooms for we all know how absurd the rates can be. Still, it is always possible to request for your baby to stay by your side for extended periods each time when the nurses bring him/her to you before they absolutely need to bring them away again. The only question is: Do you want your baby to stay by your side in the first place?

What do you believe in, as a parent?


  1. I agree with you. With my first baby they took him away for hours at a time for everything and I didn't know I had a choice. My husband and I both hated it. After that I read a lot about childbirth and next baby we had naturally and she was with us 100% of the time. Our 3rd baby we had at home and that was the most amazing experience. I think the early bonding is important and I cherish every second I got to spend with my tiny newborns.

    1. Hi Amy, absolutely agree that early bonding is important, glad we think alike! Home birth sounds like a great chance to bond and I'm glad everything went well for you! I wouldn't have it any other than 100% to be with my newborn or at least as close as that I can get!

  2. Woot absolutely agree! I had a c-section and was knocked out right after, baby was separated from me at birth and for the next 5 days on and off. I regretted it till now.. that chance is never going to come back. It only dawned on me when I took care of the little girl on my own after going home.. TIRING but super blissful. :D

    1. Oh gosh 5 days sounds like a lot! But I guess it was crucial for you to recuperate. Super blissful is the word! So is tiring. Haha. It might be the fatigue the makes the reward all the sweeter though. =)

  3. You know, I cried when I read this because you made me realise that both my babies went through such scary and unfamiliar things (such as vaccinations and their first baths) on their own :( :( :(

    But I'm very glad that with #2's birth, I decided to push my way through and insisted she stay with me all the time. I was in a 2-bedder and chose not to return her to the nursery and she slept on the bed with me for almost the entire time we were in the hospital. It was wonderful :) I'm so glad that I chose to do this over "rest" even though I knew that going home was going to be tough with a 4-year old to care for as well, and no additional help. You are absolutely right - these first moments are so precious and I would not have traded them for anything!

    1. Oops, so sorry that it made you tear! Oh yes, lucky Calla to have mummy by her side throughout! I'm happy to hear that it is possible to do it even in a 2-bedded! So it's just a matter of choice in most cases! Those first moments are precious and priceless!

  4. Wow what a hearfelt post. I agree that the baby should room in as much as possible, for me I didnt even get to change my girl's diapers till I got home. Thankfully NUH strongly recommends complete breastfeeding so I got to see my girl often throughout the day/ night. It's tiring as hell but it is a bond we share till today. No one comforts her like her mummy!:)

    1. Definitely, mummy is the best! Lol. I agree that the bond can never be forgotten or replaced, never! I bet you changed countless diapers after that and ain't it great to have total breastfeeding? I just hope more mums do it!

  5. I had Victoria all of the time except for birth and checks- 1 hour away from me. But we did the poo clean up etc all by ourselves. She was with us every min of the whole stay. U can request here with the nurses. Try it here in singapore .. they will entertain u :)

    1. I did, Florinda, my first girl was with me 100% of the time and second girl was at least for 98% except when they absolutely had to take her away for baths and checkups. No way I would like others clean her poo! Hehe! Love the experience!

  6. Love your positive and gungho spirit which is encouraging to most first time parents. As I had a C-Section, I appreciated the help that the nurses rendered in the initial days though I was quite disappointing that the hospital or should I say nurses were not as pro-breastfeeding as they claimed to be. Thankfully, I did picked up the ropes in the hospital and also from my confinement nanny after that. We all learn along the way, be it on our own or from the experts. What gets to me is when some moms just wants to outsource everything to their helpers and miss out the joys of hands-on parenting.

    1. Thanks, Susan! I don't think of myself as gungho too often. Haha. Yeah I wish the nurses here are more pro-breastfeeding too, it seems much too easy to give in to formula and if nurses don't encourage mums and push for it, mums give in too just to let babies sleep better. In Sweden, everyone (or almost everyone, I didn't see any formula!) breastfeeds! Agree with you on the point of third parties, I just wish more mums can learn to enjoy the rewards and joy of motherhood, be it cleaning up poo or breastfeeding in the middle of the night. =)

  7. I have found that you can't beat price of honest diapers and the best thing is that they show up on my door step often in less than a week!!!!!!!! No tax and no shipping.

  8. We didn't know as a first time parents. wish we didn't miss out on all that. I had to ask for my baby to be brought to me at Thomson. The gynae pd nurses all just rushed in and out. The baby had jaundice and after that was quite terrible. We weren't allowed to have baby any more. Nurses kept telling me they could only bring baby every 3 hours. They also asked me to prove I was producing milk by expressing colostrum into a syringe when baby's weight went down on Day 2. And just kept telling me to give baby formula asap. I was so ashamed that I had no milk on day 2. Instead of enjoying my Family spent day 2 shopping for a manual pump so I could learn how to pump asap and show I had milk. So indeed I was one of the parents who had no clue how to care for baby at the workshop. I just wanted to leave and be done with the hospital.


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