Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center believes in the bond between a mother and her baby. That bond is supported from the start.
Fort Sanders Regional labor and delivery nurses have launched a “couplet care” program to give every baby an even better bonding experience. This evidence-based care model focuses on the physical and psychosocial needs of the mother and baby.
With couplet care, “Our nurses work hard to keep babies with their mothers without having to take baby out of the room unless there is a medical need or a request from the mother to rest,” says Diana Johnston, director of women’s services at Fort Sanders Regional.
Mother and baby both see the same nurse instead of the mother being cared for by one nurse and the baby being cared for by another. One nurse who cares for both can watch interactions and offer the best help, whether it’s support for bonding or advice on breastfeeding and infant care.
In addition to being a more family-centered approach, couplet care allows the nurse to act as a bridge between the pediatric and obstetric teams. That’s a win for every healthcare provider involved.
Couplet care has to be a dedicated effort. It doesn’t happen in a hospital at the flip of a switch or with the stroke of a pen on someone’s schedule.
It involves nurses who usually care for mothers switching things up to learn more about pediatrics, or pediatric nurses learning more about the needs of a new mom. It requires strategic planning, heightened awareness and plenty of cooperation.
Johnston says it’s worth every effort made, because the benefits are so obvious and so rewarding. Providing couplet care for mothers means providing support and education that ensures a safe transition home.
“Change can be hard for nurses,” Johnston says, “but their nursing practice directly impacts the outcomes of mothers and babies.”
Johnston says the transition to couplet care began with a nurse clinical practice council in September 2019. The council brought nurses together to share and reflect on their methods, then consider how the care they practice could improve outcomes for mothers and babies within the community.
Couplet care began, giving newborns and their parents a head start. Mother and baby leave the hospital feeling more comfortable with each other, and better prepared to face new life together at home.
“We are proud of our Fort Sanders Regional nurses who love what they do,” Johnston says, “and it reflects in the care they provide.”