D is for Discharge

Yes, they do eventually send you home after the birth of your baby.  For some it may seem like this takes forever, and for others it may feel too soon!  If you have other children at home it may feel like either a much needed break or torture being away from your other babies.

How long you stay at the hospital after your baby is born will depend on the type of delivery you had, if there were any complications, if this is your first baby, and your hospital’s policy.  If this is your first baby and there were no complications with you or your baby then you will both be discharged around 48 hours after a vaginal birth or 72-96 hours after a cesarean.  With subsequent babies and no complications those times are typically cut in half.  If there are any complications, then you and/or your baby can expect to stay a day or two longer.

There are situations when one of you may be discharged before the other.  If you had complications requiring you to stay longer, your baby may be discharged before you – of course he/she is still allowed to stay with you if you are able to care for him/her.  If you are fine but your baby still needs to be monitored or visit the NICU, then you will likely be discharged before your baby.  If this happens it can get more complicated, if the hospital isn’t full or your baby only needs to stay another day – they may let you stay in your room.  If your baby needs to stay for an extended period of time you will likely no longer have a room.  You can find a hotel room nearby and of course stay with your baby during visiting hours, though there is likely only one chair in their room – and no bed.

After a cesarean birth, you will not be discharged until you are able to walk, urinate and pass gas, and eat and drink without getting sick.  If you are having issues with your incision, they will likely want you to stay until those issues resolve.

If you would like to leave the hospital before they routinely discharge patients, make sure you talk to your midwife or doctor before going into labor.  Some hospitals only discharge patients during a certain time of day, so if your baby was born in the afternoon and they only discharge in the morning, then you will likely have to stay past the minimum 24-hour period until the next discharge period.  Most hospitals have video requirements you have to watch before being discharged, including videos on shaken baby syndrome, SIDS, and newborn care.  Don’t forget to ask about feet prints, keepsake feet prints, and birth certificate and social security card paperwork.

Before discharge you will be provided with a prescription for pain medicine and stool softeners, some hospitals will even fill the prescription for you.  Make sure you ask your nurses to work on this first thing the day of your discharge as sometimes discharge is held up because of your prescriptions!  You will also need to schedule your baby’s first visit with their pediatrician before the hospital will discharge you.  The hospital will not let you leave until they see your baby properly strapped in a car seat designed for infants. 


Make sure when you leave you take all the goodies with you from the hospital.  For you these typically include extra pads, mesh underwear, chux pads, lanolin, sitz bath bin, perineal squirt bottle, and a can of Dermoplast if you’ve had a tear.  Don’t forget all the baby goodies as well: diapers, wipes, diaper cream, nasal bulb syringe, the baby hat, and sometimes blankets and even onesies.

Make sure you have your discharge instructions and follow them, especially the medications.  You’ll want to stay on top of your medications and not wait until you are in pain or straining to have a bowel movement to take them.  Your afterpains will typically increase in intensity when you are nursing during that first week.  Remember to call your doctor if you are having excessive bleeding or clots. If you are overdoing things when you should be resting, your bleeding will likely increase.

It’s always nice to come home to some pre-made freezer meals, a clean house, and clean sheets.  If you weren’t able to get these done before leaving for the hospital, consider sending your partner home for a few hours to take care of some of these or ask another family member to visit your home and handle these things before coming home. 


When you get home, you may want extra support and care for a few days or weeks, or you may want alone time to figure out how your new family routine works.  Make sure you think about this before saying yes to all those family visits, or ask them to wait a few days or weeks.  If you do want extra help and family isn’t able to visit, consider hiring a postpartum doula a few days a week or hiring a maid so you have one less thing to worry about.

Was your discharge a smooth one?

Next week I will be blogging on the letter E… E is for Engorgement.