New rules for rooming in, the possibility granted to new mothers to keep the newborn in their own room. The Ministry of Health is working to increase the safety procedures related to childbirth by guaranteeing greater assistance.
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It all starts with the dramatic case of the Sandro Pertini hospital in Rome, where in the night between 7 and 8 January, in the gynecology department, a newborn baby died after the mother, who was breastfeeding him, fell asleep destroyed by fatigue . The Rome prosecutor’s office has now opened a file, while the Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, has asked for a report from the Lazio Region. The 30-year-old woman explained in some interviews: for two nights, the one after giving birth and the following one, I managed, with difficulty, to keep the baby close to me; I was very tired, I asked the nurses for help, asking them if they could take him for a while, I was always told that it was not possible to take him to the nursery. On social networks, many mothers, even from other regions, have denounced the difficulties faced after giving birth, “new mothers must not be left alone”. The midwives recalled that there is a shortage of staff, while ASL Roma 2 said that in gynecology, at Pertini, the staff was sufficient and that pregnant women are informed “of the risks associated with the management of the child”. And a form is signed, also linked to the practice of rooming in.
This is the general scenario. Yesterday the Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, spoke directly and said: “I am following with the utmost attention the case of the newborn who died at the Pertini hospital and of his mother, to whom I express all my closeness in such a difficult and painful. I immediately asked for a detailed report from the Lazio Region to clarify the dynamics of the sad story and verify compliance with the protocols and procedures envisaged”. Once the report has been received, the minister will consider whether to send the inspectors. Minister Schillaci added: “What happened at the Pertini hospital in Rome has brought out problems that have concerned, and may concern, many other women, and I intend to address them by implementing all the necessary measures to ensure full safety of pregnant women and children . Just as I am committed to promoting any intervention useful to ensure adequate working conditions for midwives and health personnel assigned to the obstetrics and gynecology departments”. And the Minister for the Family, Eugenia Roccella, has assured support for Schillaci: «Helping the birth rate also means not leaving women alone. For the government this is a priority, we will do everything in our power to build a support network for pregnant women and children”.
In summary: Schillaci’s intervention, to review the rules and guarantee greater safety for pregnant women and newborns, will not be immediate, it is not expected for the next few days, there is no already written plan. An in-depth study is needed first and therefore it is possible that the new rules will arrive in the coming weeks, if not in the coming months. There will be no elimination of the “rooming in” model, promoted, among other things, also by the World Health Organization, to ensure contact between mother and newborn from the very first hours. However, it will have to be regulated, strengthening supervision and assistance. There is a problem of human resources, of personnel, which concerns the entire health system, but it affects the gynecology departments heavily. Silvia Vaccari, president of Fnopo, the national federation of professional midwifery orders, explained in recent days: «In Italy there are 20,885 midwives registered in the Register, many of whom do not carry out the profession, others are inactive, retired, or have a job abroad. In the wards we do not reach these figures, which is why we have been asking for more midwives for some time, at least another 20 thousand units throughout the territory. We are few, insufficient in number to guarantee a quality care of the woman. There is a lot of talk about Pnrr, but in some areas of Italy there are no midwives, due to strategic political choices, so they are replaced by nurses or health assistants, although this never happens inside the delivery room ».
There is another knot that Schillaci will have to untie: the use of rooming in, but also the organization of assistance to mothers and newborns, not only differs from region to region, but often from hospital to hospital. We will consider whether it is not the case to make the rules more homogeneous. The Pertini case had a dramatic and painful epilogue, but the testimonies on social media convinced the minister that we are not dealing with an isolated case. “It could have happened to me too, I was just lucky,” many mothers have written in recent days. A woman on Twitter: «It happened to me too and although I was in a valley of tears from tiredness, they didn’t help me, I put the baby in the middle of my bed and with a fresh cesarean I curled up at my feet without ever closing an eye ». And there were those who said: “Rooming in immediately after partum is the worst thing there can be for those who do not have an easy birth and need to recover”.