When Is Hospital Discharge Too Soon?
You’ve been through childbirth and you’re excited to take your newborn home, but when should you be discharged from the hospital? For a new mom, it is often before she feels prepared to leave the hospital with her new baby.
Discharge is too early any time before the mother and baby are medically ready to leave the hospital environment. Occasionally, however, your doctor may determine you are ready before you believe you are. Here’s what you should know about when you’re likely to be discharged and why.
US Federal Legislation
In response to many insurance health plans that required discharge 24 hours after delivery, the federal Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act of 1996 was passed. This law requires health plans to allow at least 48 hours of hospitalization after a vaginal birth and 96 hours after a Cesarean section. The legislation is helpful, but what is really needed is a matching of the hospitalization to the family’s medical situation.
Get All Needed Care First
Mothers and babies should leave the hospital as soon as they have received all the care that requires a hospital setting. The time at which this occurs varies with the mother’s and child’s health, support systems,
access to healthcare, and other individual factors. During the hospital stay, the goal is to detect and treat infection, congenital heart disease, jaundice, and other problems that may show up in the first day or two after birth. (New parents should note that national guidelines call for a follow-up visit on the third or fourth postpartum day for infants discharged within 48 hours of birth.)
For some families, this might be a very short stay. How do you know if a discharge at 48 hours or less is right for you and your baby? If you are both at low risk for complications and all appropriate care has been given, it is time to leave. So how can you assess your risk and what must be accomplished before discharge?
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