Bringing your new baby home from hospital is a real rite of passage. That, and there’s nothing quite like being back in your own bed after the physical and emotional roller coaster of birth. But how long will you have to wait?
One night for a normal birth
Don’t worry about setting the Sky+ for too long – most first-time mums only need to stay in hospital overnight. If you’re both healthy, there’s no reason to keep you in longer and, if you’re very lucky, you could be home within 12 hours.
Before heading off, your baby just needs to pass a few neonatal tests to make sure he has normal reflexes, is feeding well and filling his nappy. And, if you’re breastfeeding, the midwife will also check he’s latching on properly.
Two nights after a tear or epidural
Your stay might be this long if you have a bleed after delivery, a tear that needs a bit of extra monitoring or an epidural.
‘It can take up to 12 hours to regain full feeling in your legs, so the staff might want you to stay in hospital until you feel comfortable walking,’ says obstetrician Shree Datta.
Two to four nights after a caesarean, multiple or premature birth
‘After a c-section, the doctors will want to make sure you’re healing well,’ says midwife Denise Linay. Most women go home after two or three but, if you’re still uncomfortable, a midwife might suggest longer. Another reason you might stay in hospital longer is your baby’s health.
‘It’s normal for twins to be kept under supervision for the first few nights,’ says Shree. ‘And, if your baby is more than two weeks premature, doctors will want to keep an eye on him.’
Five to seven nights if you have health problems
If you have an underlying health issue, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, pack plenty of kit in your hospital bag as you can expect a lengthier stay. You might not always be able to prepare, though – if you develop an infection after birth, doctors will want to keep you in to check the antibiotics are working.
Although rare, some women develop a condition called postpartum pre-eclampsia, which requires fast treatment and a longer stay. Find out more here.
4 fast facts about your labour ward stay
It’s unlikely your partner will be able to sleep over
But if you or your baby are unwell, staff will do their best to accommodate him
You don’t have to eat hospital food
It’s fine for your partner to bring you a takeaway. Check with your hospital or birth centre, too, as some have kitchen areas or shops where you can get drinks, snacks and sandwiches
You can use your mobile
In most hospitals, you’ll be able to use your mobile. Some also have phones by each bed and you can give friends and relatives the number, so they can keep in touch
You’ll be able to sleep
If you need an undisturbed nap, most hospitals have healthcare support workers who will be able look after your baby for a little while