You've received some excellent responses to your thread!
Warning, this post got a bit lengthy as I typed...sorry...
Here is a little bit about my experience~~~
I worked many years on a Mother-Baby Unit as an RN. We encouraged Moms to keep their babies in their rooms as much as they felt comfortable doing to facilitate bonding and newborn baby care learning, etc. Our nursery was usually staffed by a nursing assistant who was present int he nursery anytime a baby was there. If no babies were in the nursery, the assistant would come out onto the floor to help with vital signs, passing ice, and other nursing assistant duties.
Each RN or LPN was assigned between 3-5 Moms and babies (called couplets). We also had Moms who were stable undelivered Moms so they didn't have babies yet. The RNs and LPNs were responsible for assessing the babies and Moms assigned to them each shift and to do any nursing care and certain treatments for each Mom and her baby. If the baby is on IV or other meds, the RN or LPN is responsible that these meds are given. On our unit, the LPNs couldn't give IV meds to babies but they were to make sure the RN in charge was aware and gave the medicine on time. If a Mom and baby were having difficulties learning to breastfeed, it was up to the nurse assigned to that couplet to assist them. We of course helped each other, but let me tell you, this one intervention can take up a LOT of time! Also you never know when a call light will ring and all of a sudden you are in the middle of a Mom's life threatening hemorrhage. The Mother-Baby unit (Postpartum Unit) is not all "easy" or "fun" as many people tend to think. There are medical emergencies of all kinds, tons of emotional issues to deal with, and more things than I can begin to tell you about here. I'd often smile to myself when folks would get all drippy sweet and say something like, "Oh, you get to sit around and feed babies all night." They had absolutely no clue of what all went on during a shift! I'd answer with a smile and say something like, "Yes, we do get to feed a baby once in a while and that's the highlight of our night, but we do accomplish a lot more than that during our shifts."
During the night shift nearly all babies returned to the nursery for baths, weights and usually a very thorough assessment was done at this time. Some babies returned to the Mom's room... usually breastfed babies and a few bottle fed ones. Interestingly, by around 3 am, most parents had sent their babies back to the nursery because they felt they could sleep better that way. Most parents kept their babies in their rooms for the first 24 hours because they were so excited and all, but by the time they had been basically awake for about 30 hours, they were exhausted and we would recognize this and would encourage them to let their babies return to the nursery for a few hours so they could get some rest to help their bodies heal. Often they simply needed a nurse to let them know that it's ok to let the baby spend some time in the nursery.
Anyway, the most fun time for hanging out with babies was in the middle of the night. By the time we had "put the Moms to bed", we had most of our charting done and had eaten our lunch, nearly all of us would go to the nursery and help by feeding babies. The nursery was exactly across from our nurses station so some of us would bring a bassinet with a baby and bottle out to the nurses station and we'd sit around feeding babies. Yes, it was wonderful joy as you can imagine. Of course it wasn't all a piece of cake mind you! Newborns often are very poor eaters because they are still learning to suck-swallow-breathe and often full of mucus they need to vomit before they get the hang of eating. Also, we need to be on constant alert for any abnormalities which often don't show up until the baby is a few hours or days old. Some of these abnormalities can be life threatening too, as you'll learn in school. By the way, the nursing assistants needed our help to feel all those babies too.
As the Charge RN, I had to be sure that not only were my patients (couplets) cared for, but that all other nurses and assistant's shifts were going well, and if not, I was responsible for making any necessary changes to see that whatever needed to be done to help was done. We all stayed quite busy all shift! Often we had shifts where we didn't get much of a lunch and maybe went to the rest room once. I hear this is often true of nurses who work on Med-Surg floors as well as all other floors and intensive care units.
All in all, I loved the Mother-Baby unit because is was incredibly emotionally rewarding to help parents and their babies bond. My story is just one example of one Mother-Baby unit nurse's experience.
We had several student nurses working in our unit too and if this is an option for you I'd highly suggest you look into it. There is nothing like actually being in the trenches to let you know how you'd enjoy the work. If you do this, while you are working, take time to observe the other nurses as they work so you can realistically see what your future would entail. I wish you all the best in your nursing career and joy in whatever position you choose!
I just wanted to add that, in my experience, the L&D nurses didn't get to enjoy the babies much because they only got to spend up to 2 hours with the babies before they were sent to the Transition Nursery for observation in route to the Mother-Baby Nursery. The best of both worlds, I believe, would be the LDRP Units where the Moms are admitted to one room where they go through labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum care and stay there until they are discharged home. Often when a nurse is assigned to the Mom on admission, they get to be her nurse until discharge. This is really rewarding and a fine example of "primary care nursing" because you are able to really know your couplet and their care is not as easily fragmented. Unfortunately our hospital was too large (had too many deliveries) to be able to do the LDRP thing. I found my true love in the NICU after working on the Mother-Baby unit but you must understand that these are usually sick babies or babies that need to gain weight in order to go home... they need more care than normal healthy newborns. I know of one Well Baby Nursery in our area which has a separate Postpartum Unit. This nursery is staffed by Nursing Assistants and has one RN assigned to each shift. The RN transitions the new babies for a few hours and helps Moms with breastfeeding and answers any baby-related questions the parents have as well as doing all assessments and medicines, etc. for the babies. The Assistants do to bulk of the feeding, diapering and bathing. The RNs in that Well Baby Nursery have been there for YEARS and don't plan on leaving anytime soon. I'd imagine most Well Baby Nurseries are run in a similar manner.
Ok, I'll shut up now! :chuckle