When expecting a baby for the very first time, a mom (and perhaps also a dad), may approach the situation in one of two ways when it comes to the postpartum hospital stay.
First of all, I’d like to point out that I am willing to bet that many couples don’t even get as far as thinking about said stay because the anticipation of giving birth for the very first time is probably considered a more pressing matter in their minds.
But birth is fast. Birth is fleeting — that is, compared to the aftermath.
To get back to those two ways parents may approach it: Some may want to stay as long as they can. They may enjoy the various amenities the hospital provides as if it were a hotel. They may love the comfort of having nurses and cafeteria staff (and cleaning staff) on hand to help out with, well, everything; from newborn care to breastfeeding to bathroom stuff — a new mom has it all!
And then there are others (hi second-time parents!) who would prefer not to be there a second longer, really, than they have to. Then there are those who just don’t really dig the idea of being confined in a hospital, for whatever reason. #DollaDollaBills
I, personally, realized pretty quickly that all was well and I’d really rather head home, back to my toddler, and let the period of incredible adjustment begin. Curiosity piqued? Then scope out these 20 surprising things that can get a woman sent home from the hospital early.
20 You Have Another Baby At Home
So, I forgot to change my mindset. When I looked forward to the birth of my first baby a handful of years ago, I went in with the attitude that I should accept all the help that I could get. I should take advantage of those precious hours in the hospital, where there were other people there to help me, people who had seen and done it all when it came to recovering from childbirth and making sure a newborn stayed alive. No joke. I needed every minute that I was there.
But midway through the second time? Nah. I wanted to get home and check up on my toddler (and her grandma, trusted to watch her for the first time…). Doctors understood.
19 Being Tight With the OB
I don’t know if I’ve had the very best experience with OB/GYNs or one of the hardest. I’d say I’d give my experience something like a B, I suppose, if I had to get all teacherly about it. But I do know that when the doctor who had delivered my baby came in and looked at my face, she knew what she saw: a mom who was not in need of being treated like a patient, but rather a mom who was ready to get dressed, pack up, and head home. WhatToExpect.com has a piece on various levels of tightness with your lady doc, in case this subject interests you.
18 Wearing Makeup During The Doctor’s Rounds
I was not just up and ready to leave the recovery room, I was indulging my more vain side. They say the whole #selfcare thing is important as a mom, right? And I was up, in front of the mirror, putting makeup on when the obstetrician came around to visit me that day, within a day of having given birth to my second.
Also, I believe I was actually somewhat put-together when our pediatrician came in to do the required follow-up, noting that a little (JK, super-important!) matter called breastfeeding was going well. They’re people, and they can tell pretty easily if you’re doing fine or could use a longer rest/recovery.
17 Skipped The Epidural
It can take a while to be able to move around at all on your own after you’ve chosen certain pain-relieving measures during childbirth. However, if you’ve skipped said measures, it may be easier to get up, use the bathroom, and so on and so forth without the aid of a trained professional. (Score!) All I’m saying is, it may be a factor in how long you have to stay after giving birth. Each scenario is so different, as is each mama, and a new mom’s doctor will be the one to make the call (and inform her about all the various choices and consequences pertaining to this unique time).
16 Is On The Ball About Using The Bathroom
There is very likely not a button in your home that, once pressed, produces a person (a professional, at that!) to guide you safely to the porcelain throne and assist you as needed during and after said throne’s use (pro tip: run some water in the sink if going numero uno is proving to be tougher than anticipated, by the way, without WASTING water, of course). Helping with potty stuff is the main part of what postpartum nurses do, and if the need’s not there, well then good for you. Just be sure to grab some extra Tucks pads and antiseptic spray before you go (pun intended).
15 Being All Over Breastfeeding
A BIG part of the postpartum stay is that new moms have the chance to try out breastfeeding. That is, of course, if that is in their plan and in the cards. By the way, MANY women struggle, and MANY women overcome this struggle, to the extent that MANY studies have been carried out on the important public health topic. And hey, dads, “25 percent of women whose partners participated in a program on how to prevent and address common problems with lactation (such as pain or fear of insufficient milk) were still breastfeeding at six months, compared with 15 percent of women whose partners were informed only about the benefits of breastfeeding,” says NCBI. And if it’s clearly going well, one less reason to need to stay.
14 Having A Big Baby
A really big thing that comes into play after a baby is born is to make sure that they are on a track to regain the mass that they often lose in the first little while after they are born. If a baby clearly has a sufficient and healthy ratio when it comes to matters of size, it’s one less thing to keep the new family within the hospital’s florescent-lit rooms and halls. Nurses put the baby on a scale, take its temperature, and perform other routine checks throughout the stay, and if a little bundle is, well, not so little (but doesn’t have any complications due to being TOO big), it might just equal an early exit.
13 Saying That She Wants To
What I really love about getting the opportunity to write about pregnancy and childbirth is that I get to reflect on the things I experienced, thought about, and felt during a really memorable and pivotal point in my life. And one thing I remember very clearly is that basically, the doctor left it up to me.
I didn’t even know that it was an option to go home early. I was like, "Well, if the insurance covers a few days, we’ll be there a few days." But then, when it was clear there was no real need to say, the OB offered an early discharge, and at first, I didn’t take it. I was scared, maybe. And I had just never considered giving up an extra 24 hours of being surrounded by medical staff. But then, I changed my mind, and I spoke up, and I was that much closer to being in my nest.
12 Not Needing Much Assistance From Nurses
First of all, always be honest with what you need and how you are feeling with the people paid to take care of you in the hospital. But second of all, if it’s clear that you aren’t needing help with every little thing, then it will be clear that staying in that room with nurses the click of a button away probably isn’t really necessary. They can be great to help with bathroom stuff, information, newborn care, and so much more. But they can also sort of be annoying (no offense to nurses!) in that they come to check your BP every so often and are essentially strangers coming in and out of the room when you would rather (perhaps) be alone and bond.
11 When Getting Stitched Up Was NBD (Or Nonexistent)
“A small, or first-degree, tear involves the skin only (not muscle), and stitches may not even be necessary,” says BabyCenter.com. And then there are the various other degrees, which may require additional types of repair and additional recovery. Checking on how a woman is healing and faring with all of this after giving birth is a big part of what nurses and doctors on the labor and delivery floor do. If a woman is physically less affected down there, she’s likely readier to function safely at home, rather than needing more time to recover in a hospital setting — but, of course, this judgment call is one every woman’s doctor will make.
10 When It’s Not Her First Rodeo
I swear they can smell fear. First-time parents may clearly need to stay in the hospital as long as is reasonably justifiable to their insurance companies. But second-time parents (or, hey, maybe also particularly confident first-timers) may clearly have the hang of things. See, a HUGE part of the postpartum stay (I know after having done it twice in the last handful of years) is allowing medical staff to determine whether a new mother and her new baby are capable of surviving and thriving once they are on their own at home.
And if you’ve done it before, things like feeding and diapers and caring for your nethers may come easier, is all.
9 Being All Over The Paperwork
If you checked the above entry, you’d know that hospital staff will really want to make sure, basically, that you’ve got this. You can go home and do what you need to do. They literally—and no, I am very much NOT joking you—tell you to mark on a paper all the feedings, all the pees, and all the poops that occur. It’s kind of like homework right at that moment that you really don’t want to be bothered by something like that. However, it can be the only way that staff coming in and out can tell how your lil nug is faring, and so if all is on track, and the baby is clearly eating and excreting enough, that’s one less reason to keep you under watchful eyes.
8 Blazing Through In-Hospital Work
They make you do other stuff, too. See, not everyone knows about things like postpartum recovery, the baby blues, breastfeeding nutrition, and so on and so forth, even in this age of information galore. So, as standard, they pop in a VHS (okay, maybe it was available streaming over the hospital’s network, actually) about this stuff, and you check off on a paper that you watched the stuff you were supposed to watch. And hey, even if you read all the books and took all the classes, something in those vids might make a lightbulb come on that will really help you out! I just remember feeling like I had to accomplish a long to-do list right when I was trying to figure out how to feed a baby — because I did.
7 The Pediatrician Is Your Pal
Our family’s pediatrician had known us since I was pregnant, not on a personal level or anything, but we had interviewed the dude when I was expecting because the checklist in my fave book had told me to. After I gave birth to my second, with him down as our pediatrician, the “exam” went like this: stand two feet inside the door, observe that I was currently looking well and comfortably feeding my newborn (with the support pillow that I brought from home, thank you very much), crack innocuous doctor joke, and say “see ya in two weeks,” more or less. He clearly knew that we knew what we were doing, more or less.
6 The Baby Is Thriving Like Woah!
I can’t get too technical with it here — I am very much NOT a doctor. But all the various checks that are performed on and off throughout a postpartum stay, in regards to that brand-new little baby, are for a reason. They make sure that all systems are a go. Things like the size of the baby and the vital stats and all that good stuff are considered. Basically, the postpartum stay is very much not just about a mom and seems, in fact, to be very much about the baby, of course. If they are clearly thriving, what’s the need to keep them any longer?
5 Not Afraid To Use That Buzzer
Although it may feel like it’s just you, your partner, your newborn, and well, that’s it when you are inside the walls of that hospital room, you may become more aware of reality when you consider how long it can take to get a response to any number of requests you make after hitting that little buzzer by the bed. I don’t mean to sound like a diva or anything (and really, I’m not!), but the hospital staff are people (sometimes very tired people working very long/double shifts), and so if you need something from them, you may have to be insistent or repeat yourself (politely, of course). Basically, I had to follow up a time or two about the fact that I’d changed my mind and I did, indeed, want to accept that offer to be discharged early.
4 Exams Show Healthy Postpartum Contracting
I’ve said that I recall so much of the postpartum stay being about making sure the baby is ready to roll in the real world. But also, a central concern is making sure that the uterus is doing its super-cool uterine postpartum thing and well underway to contracting back toward what it was like before things got quite so real (real pregnant, that is). “Involution” is what it’s called, as is noted by Today’s Parent. Sometimes moms are even given meds to assist the process if it looks like it’s not happening quickly enough on its own. On the other hand, if the process appears to be happening normally (as determined via an external abdominal exam), then cool!
3 Reports Of Pain (From 1–10) Aren’t Off The Charts
When a nurse comes in to check on you, he or she will ask, as standard, what your pain levels are, on a scale of one to ten. I always found this kind of funny, by the way, as pain we experience, is relative — but I digress. If a momma is clearly having a rough time, she’ll likely need the professional help (and quite possibly meds) that nurses and doctors in the hospital can provide. If her pain is at a low level and quite manageable, however, some over-the-counter anti-inflammatories at home might do the trick. (Each woman’s doctor is the person to instruct her on this stuff.)
2 Any Health Questions Have Been Satisfactorily Answered
Maybe it was somebody’s BP (checked incessantly with one of those inflatable cuffs). Maybe it was the levels of sugar in the new baby’s system, or how well they were latching on and feeding. The point is, there may very likely be a question that comes up: Is all okay health-wise for both mother and baby? If so, they’re likely on a faster track to heading on home. If all follow-up tests have come back with satisfactory results, the woman or man in the white coat may be more likely to sign your ticket out that door.
Bon voyage, mamas — and be sure to consult with your own physician for all things health-related.
1 Being Up And About
I’m gonna go ahead and say it: things like moving around (at all — I mean even shifting your backside on the bed), going potty, and, like, lifting a finger can feel really, really hard after childbirth.
“Giving Birth Is Harder Than Running A Marathon” reads a headline at Parents.com/ FitPregnancy. And you know what? The mom-of-two, runner, and ‘90s child in me wants very badly to type, “No duh!” That’s why when my OB saw me out of bed while my newborn (and HUSBAND) snoozed peacefully, she got the idea to offer an early discharge. As in after only a day. #MomBrag?