Parent-Child  separation  in  the  Hospital

Parent-Child separation in the Hospital

Many hospitals prefer the presence of a parent when a child is in hospital although at times it can be impossible to keep them together. The reason for encouraging child and parents to stay together is because kids develop separation anxiety when they are not in the company of their usual caregiver.

Separation anxiety can be severe to the extent of causing these effects that impact therapeutic interventions.

  • Physiological arousal
  • Autonomic hyperactivity
  • Increases motor tension
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Excessive worry
  • Refusal to eat

Nurses play an essential role in finding ways of easing the separation anxiety if it is necessary to separate a parent from the child.

Reasons for Parent-Child Separation

There could be different reasons for keeping parents and children apart in these hospitals, but these are the primary reasons:

Complete routine procedure

Completing procedures is one of the reasons why medical personnel take away a child from a mother even some moments after birth. It is subject to the extent of the procedures and at times the nature of the mother's health but if impossible they can take place in the presence of a parent.

Monitor and control

Nurses can take a child to another room if there is a need for close monitoring and control of some factors such as body temperature. However, whenever possible, a mother plays a better role in keeping the baby warm than an infant warmer. Incidents of infant hypothermia decrease when mothers are skin to skin with their children.

Parent-child separation might be necessary to monitor the glucose levels of an infant which is essential if a mother got IV solutions during containing glucose during labor or has been diagnosed to have diabetes. Maternity room nurses also state that it is crucial to separate infants from mothers for observation because there are reports of incidences where some develop cardiac or respiratory problems that were not clear in the first minutes of life. It will be fatal if such difficulties develop when the young one is not in the hands of trained personnel.


Parents are anxious when their children are unwell and barely get time to rest. It might tire them, and it is necessary for them to separate and allow the parent also to get some rest. It is even more critical when the wake/sleep cycle conflicts because the mother will always wake in alarm when the child cries. Fatigue is the reason why doctors will prefer to put newborns in a nursery to give the tired mothers a rest break after the birth procedure.

How to Ease the Effects of Parent-Child Separation in Hospital

Assignment of designated caregivers

There should be provisions to assign one or two caregivers to a child for him to get familiar and comfortable with the caregivers rather than the anxiety of receiving care from different people. The consistency also makes the parent comfortable when they leave a child while the caregivers get time to understand the preferences of a child.

Frequent visits

The parents should visit the child many times as possible, and if it is difficult, they should make arrangements with someone who the child knows to check on the child frequently.

Share the child’s routine to nurses

Parents can make it simpler for nurses to take care of their kids by informing them about the child's habit at home such as the time he/she wakes, sleeps or eats well. Parents should also find out the schedule of care activities at the hospital such as dressing changes or doctor rounds for them to turn up at the significant moments. They may also request alterations for them to be with their children when the critical procedures take place.

Parents who have a sick child in a hospital should inform the hospital especially the nurses where they will be and when they will come for a visit. They will have the right answers when the child asks.