Separating mother and baby can cause trauma

When a mother is told she’s being discharged from the hospital before her newborn baby, fear sets in. How will she bond with her baby if she lives an hour away? How can she afford to stay in a hotel for potentially months until her baby is ready to come home?

Mothers of high-risk babies face this situation at Texoma Medical Center in the new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But the NICU partners with Reba’s Ranch House to sit down with a family and explain the option of staying at the ranch house within sight of the hospital.

“They need a place to stay so they can be close to their sweet little baby,” says Angela Yancey (MSN, BSN, RNC-OB). She is the Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Texoma Medical Center. Her role covers the NICU, the newborn nursery, labor and delivery, postpartum, and pediatrics.

A special time for bonding

“It’s super important for a mom to spend time with her preterm baby while it’s in the NICU,” Angela says. “It really promotes bonding, breastfeeding specifically. Even if the baby is too small to latch on the mom, it’s very important for a mom to be at the bedside. Studies have shown that a mom who pumps while even looking at her baby is able to produce more breast milk.”

Sometimes, mothers pump in the privacy of their room at Reba’s Ranch House. There is a special refrigerator at the house to safely store the milk until feeding time. As the only NICU in the area, they have an agreement with surrounding facilities.

“We’re excited to offer the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to North Texas,” Angela says. “We are the closest Level II NICU within an hour and a half north and 45 minutes south. If a baby is delivered at any facility in the surrounding area, they can come here. We have that same arrangement with OU. If they have a transfer that can come to us, maybe because the family lives in Durant, Oklahoma, they will bring that baby to us.”

This allows the mother and a support person to stay at Reba’s Ranch House until her baby is discharged. According to Tracy Anderson, who is over Transports at OU, Reba McEntire donated funds to OU to set up a staff chair for the NICU department. She was pleased with the connection for the babies.

“Having a baby in the NICU is a period of great stress for families and mothers, so it’s really nice that Reba’s Ranch House can alleviate one of the stresses,” Angela says. “I’ve had patients literally start crying when we told them there was the option of Reba’s Ranch House. Some of our moms live an hour away and would have to commute otherwise. This is already such a traumatic time for them. We try to do everything ourselves, setting it up so they just have to go across the parking lot and be able to come right back to their baby.”

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