Stefanie Dyer lies in a hospital bed and holds her son, Abram, in her arms at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. She poses for a photo with her husband and smiles.
Stefanie Dyer, who experienced the do-not-disturb initiative when she gave birth to her second son, Abram, said it was a night-and-day difference from when her first son, Ezra, was born. (For Spectrum Health)

More than 50 times a day.

That’s how often Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital staff and supporting cast members interrupted moms and infants on the postpartum floor.

But all that changed last fall when the hospital adopted a do-not-disturb initiative to address moms’ rest when infants roomed in.

No more people popping in every few minutes for talks, photo shoots or vitals. The visits are now coordinated and streamlined to allow mom and baby more time to rest and get to know one another.

Distractions are limited.

“You’re pretty exhausted right after you give birth,” said Stefanie Dyer, who experienced Butterworth Hospital’s new do-not-disturb initiative when she gave birth to her son, Abram, in December. “To have that time to rest is important. Some of the nurses asked if I wanted a note on my door during the day if I was going to take a nap.”

Dyer knows what the postpartum experience used to be like. She gave birth to her first child, Ezra, in 2012.

She noticed a drastic difference with her most recent experience, and applauds the initiative and staff.

Ezra, 2, holds his baby brother, Abram, at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital.
Ezra, 2, holds his baby brother at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

During her stay with Ezra, she remembers visits from not only medical staff, but car seat safety personnel and photographers.

“After my first delivery, it seemed like people were constantly coming in and out,” the Byron Center resident said. “It’s more streamlined now. I felt a lot more rested with my second child. I noticed a big difference.”

The relaxed pace begins immediately after birth, when mother-baby bonding takes precedence over procedure. Instead of the baby being rushed off to the nursery, he or she spends skin-to-skin time with mom.

“That was a special time for me just to hold him and get to know him,” Dyer said.

Spectrum Health is now putting a premium on quiet time and uninterrupted skin-to-skin bonding time between mother and child.

Laurel Jander, RN, nurse manager for Spectrum Health women’s and children’s services, said moms were getting interrupted at an alarming rate prior to the changes.

“We had a patient count how many times she was interrupted in 24 hours and it was between 50 and 60 times,” Jander said. “It was too much—physicians, nurses, photographers, dietary, birth records. It was all legitimate, but it was excessive. We realized that the infant being with the mom wasn’t necessarily the reason for the lack of rest. We as caregivers were a large part of the problem.”

Under the new standard of care, the nurse is a gatekeeper and the patient is in control of the plan. The nurse and patient partner together. If the patient is tired, the nurse will offer to put a “do not disturb” sign on the door.

If the sign is up, any other employee or visitor should be connecting with the nurse before disturbing the patient.

“It’s literally a stop sign,” Jander said.

The only reason anyone should enter a patient room when such a sign is posted is if there’s a medical emergency.

Jander acknowledges that if a physician is rounding while the privacy sign is up, the patient can choose to make an exception and let him or her in.

“We are a hospital. We do need to check on patients to be sure they are safe,” Jander said. “It’s just finding that balance and trying to coordinate our care. We try to bundle our tasks. Rather than go in five times to do five different things … we do it all in one bundle.”

And that service, for many moms, is yet another bundle of joy.