After you’ve had a new baby, the hospital stay immediately after is a period of time for you to rest, rejuvenate, and get to know your new addition. It also allows doctors and nurses to watch over you and your child to make sure that you’re both perfectly healthy and strong.
In general, many moms stay in the hospital about 24-48 hours after vaginal birth, and 48-72 hours after a C-section. These times can vary greatly, however, according to different hospitals, insurance companies, doctors, or sometimes personal preferences. If you don’t have a strict limit, how do you know when it’s time to go home with your new baby?
The First 24 Hours
You should always stay in the hospital for at least 24 hours after giving birth if there were no complications with the delivery. This gives you some time to rest, and it also gives an adequate amount of time for monitoring you and the baby for any health issues. Potential health problems in babies don’t always appear immediately. In my case, my son was born perfectly healthy, but several hours later he began having trouble breathing, and he was rushed to the NICU.
The Doctor’s Opinion
Even if you feel healthy, strong, rested, and ready to return home, you should always listen to your doctor’s opinion. They will be able to tell you what’s the best idea for your health. You should also listen to the hospital doctors who will tell you what’s best for your baby’s health. In some cases, your doctor will say you can go home before you feel that you’re ready to.
Your Own Instincts
Whenever possible, you should listen to your own instincts if you feel that you want to stay in the hospital longer. Some hospitals will allow you to stay several extra days as long as there are empty rooms in the maternity ward. My insurance company covered my stay for up to 48 hours. When I was discharged, I was able to take advantage of the hospital’s “nesting” program, which allowed me to stay at the hospital up to 72 more hours as long as a bed was available (nursing care or meals not included).
I felt most comfortable staying longer because my son was still in the NICU with breathing difficulties. I was stressed and having a hard time adjusting, so staying longer allowed me to be closer to him and have a longer transitional period. While this worked for me, it would have been much more difficult had I not had the support of family members who lived very close by and were able to bring me meals, clothes, etc.
How Long is Too Long?
If you and your baby are perfectly healthy, you shouldn’t need to stay in the hospital for more than several days. A longer stay might be preferred for some people who are having trouble nursing or adjusting. However, at some point, you do need to return home and get used to your new life as a mother in the environment you’ll be spending most of your time. Staying longer than a week will only make it more difficult to adjust at home after you’ve gotten used to being in the hospital.