How long should you stay in hospital after giving birth?

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Think the Duchess of Cambridge made a quick escape from hospital after having Princess Charlotte? She was in and out in less than 10 hours. However, a recent survey reveals the average length of time UK mums remain in hospital after giving birth is even less than this. Prepare to be shocked!

Most mums in the UK are discharged within six hours after giving birth. Yes, you read that right. Six hours.

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The findings, from a recent survey of 486 mothers by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), found that two out of five mums feel they left hospital way too soon. Public hospital budget constraints, a shortage of midwives and a lack of beds have all been blamed for the short average hospital stay.

In Australia, the average maternity hospital stay is three days for public patients and five days for private patients. In 2004, only 11 per cent of mums reported leaving the hospital less than 48 hours after giving birth. By 2014, this number jumped to 36 per cent.

While the average length of stay for Australian mums is definitely longer than mums in the UK, it is still relatively short compared to other countries and to our birthing practices of the past. In the 1970s most mums remained for seven to 14 days after giving birth. In the 1980s, this dropped to between five and 10 days and in the 1990s, three to seven days.

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The drop in the time new mums spend in hospital after giving birth in Australia is mainly attributed to the Early Discharge and Midwifery Support Programs, which give mothers continued postnatal care in their own homes after being discharged. Under this program eligible mums can leave the hospital as early as four hours following the birth.

While some mums are more than happy to return to the comforts of home, others would prefer to stay in hospital for longer. According to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) the length of time a mum remains in the maternity unit will vary but should take into “account the health and wellbeing of the woman and her baby and the level of support available following discharge”.

The most important thing should be that mum is happy with the decision to discharge and that it is safe for the baby to leave.

How long did you stay in hospital after giving birth? Was it long enough? Could you give birth and return home six hours later?

(via the Medical Journal of Australia and the Guardian)

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