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Preventing Newborn Falls & Drops

Newborn Falls & Drops are uncommon, but they do happen. The best way to avoid these accidents is to be aware of the risk factors to know when to be extra cautious. This discussion is focused on newborns still in the hospital, but the information can be carried to home as well.



Risk Factors


C-Section:

  • Having delivered through cesarean section can increase risk of falls from many reasons, due to anesthesia, typically more pain medications needed, and greater difficulties moving around due to the surgery, IV's and catheters.

Breastfeeding:

  • Skin to skin and breastfeeding are invaluable for mother and baby, but they do create some hormonal changes that encourage fatigue. Prolactin and oxytocin, both major players in breastfeeding can cause feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. Prolactin is responsible for milk production and peeks at night, so frequent nighttime feedings are imperative in the early days, but cause a cycle of interrupted sleep and exhaustion.

Nighttime:

  • Parental fatigue and lack of sleep peaks around the 2nd and 3rd night after birth. In one study, mothers slept on average of 3.7 hours per night while in hospital. This also coincides with "baby's second night" when they are often more fussy and cluster feeding (check out my previous post and blog about this!)

Opioid Pain Relief:

  • Opioid medications are known to cause drowsiness. Studies have shown falls and drops coinciding with having taken opioids within the past 4 hours prior.

Other:

  • Other common circumstances for falls and drops are:

    • Partners falling asleep in a chair, couch or bed with baby

    • Baby left on a bed, couch or chair unattended

    • Baby being transferred between visitors

    • Walking in hallway with baby in arms, rather than in a bassinet


Prevention


Since so many of the risk factors are unavoidable, the best approach is prevention. New parents will be tired, not only from changed sleep habits, but also from the endeavor of labor and birth.

  • When possible, have a support person with you at all times. A support person can be there to help you move around, assist with transferring baby and be by your side during feedings.

  • Since skin-to-skin and breastfeeding cause sleepiness, an awake person by your side can be alert and aware of if you are nodding off and can put baby safely into the bassinet.

  • Sleeping on chairs, couches and in bed with baby are the most common causes of infant falls at home, but coupled with new-onset exhaustion, physical discomfort from birth and hard hospital floors, this makes circumstances that are particularly dangerous. Newborns sleeping in their bassinet in hospital is truly the safest place for them.

  • If you are by yourself and/or feel drowsy or unsure, please always call your nursing staff for help!


How we can help!


It is normal and expected to be tired in the first few days, weeks or even months after birth. There is a lot of energy expended through recovery, breastfeeding and a whole change in routine and sleep habits. If you need help, bring an RN home with you who can be a support person with you overnight, helping you stay awake during nighttime feedings, aware of safety concerns and caring for baby when you need rest. We can also be with you during the daytime so you can catch up on sleep, other household responsibilities and self-care, so you can conquer the night with more energy and awareness. Contact us for more info!




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