Improving sleep opportunities in hospitalized postpartum mothers

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Sleep deprivation and the fatigue experienced by new mothers remain well-accepted facts of life after the birth of a newborn. In the past, most new mothers utilized hospital nurseries to aid them in caring for their infants after birth; but recent paradigm practice changes in hospitals emphasize rooming-in, breastfeeding, and strongly discourage separation of the mother/newborn couplet. In Baby-Friendly accredited hospitals, postpartum mothers are encouraged to prioritize their infant's needs often above their own, contributing to significant maternal sleep deprivation and fatigue. This quality-improvement project aimed to increase sleep/rest opportunities for mothers through the implementation of coordinated quiet times on a postpartum unit in a Baby-Friendly hospital in the northwestern area of the United States. The Knowledge to Action framework guided this project. Staff received education about the importance of postpartum sleep and the quiet-time practice change. The implementation took place over 4 weeks. Chart reviews were completed, and the mothers who received quiet times were tracked. Practice outcomes included 51% of postpartum moms having a quiet time during week 1; week 2, 64%; week 3, 57%; and week 4, 62%. The quality-improvement project successfully increased sleep/rest opportunities for mothers through quiet times. Prior to the project, there was no standardized effort on the unit to promote maternal sleep or rest. An increase of over 50% during all practice weeks was accomplished. Additionally, there was no significant increase in infants utilizing the nursery, making this intervention viable in the Baby-Friendly hospital setting.




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