Serenity now

The one-month pilot program at the hospital is the idea of nurse Luigina Maniscalco, who said research shows moms are leaving hospitals tired and stressed, a precursor to postpartum depression.

“Evidence out there is that moms are being discharged exhausted,” said Maniscalco, who started the serenity time pilot Sept. 1 on the 10-to-12-bed maternity floor. “Breast-feeding moms were getting too many interruptions. Moms are overwhelmed.”

Maniscalco installed a “yacker tracker,” a device that flashes green, yellow or red depending on how loud it is on the floor.

What’s going on at Melrose-Wakefield is unique to the Boston area, although some aspects, such as “do not disturb” signs, are spreading around other hospitals as the idea gains ground. Massachusetts General Hospital says it’s in planning something similar in January.

“Everything we do will be minimized,” said Lori Pugsley, nursing director of the Newborn Family Unit at MGH. “We’ll have signs, the lights will be dimmed, the rooms will be dimmed, we’ll change cleaning schedules.” Quiet hours will be in effect twice a day.

Hospital stays are shorter these days, giving moms less time to recuperate and rest, she said.

“Sleep deprivation is the No. 1 concern. It causes a domino effect,” Pugsley said. “If mom is stressed, baby is stressed.”

For Kimberly Ricottelli, a 30-year-old mom from Everett, serenity time took the pressure off her when guests showed up wanting to see son Patrick, born Aug. 31.

“It doesn’t make me feel inconsiderate,” she said. “He gets held so many times. He needs to relax.”

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