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Early discharge after birth research

10 March, 2016

Early discharge after birth research

New research shows that many women in countries around the world do not stay in health facilities for long enough after giving birth.

The authors state that this could result in them receiving inadequate postnatal care.

They add that a new mother in the UK spends an average of a day and a half in a maternity unit, which is the shortest stay of the high-income country assessed.

The country with the longest length of stay was Ukraine, at 6.2 day, and the shortest was Egypt, where women spend an average of half a day in a maternity unit after birth.

Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, stressed that it is ‘very difficult to make comparisons’ globally, due to ‘so many different models of care and health systems’.

She said: ‘The length of time a woman spends in hospital will vary depending on their needs, and many other factors, for example, if a woman has had a CS.

‘Midwives need to check to make sure women feel up to going home. However, provided the woman is medically fine, has the support she needs at home and the right postnatal care plan in place, and a good community midwife service, then going home even five or six hours after birth may be absolutely fine.

‘Some areas may expect women to go to a clinic for postnatal care which is fine if she is feeling well and has transport, but not if she is unwell and does not have transport.

‘I would also stress that many safety issues could be missed if a midwife does not see the woman at home.’

Louise added that UK postnatal care is under pressure due to staffing issues and budget cuts.

An RCM/Netmums survey of women from 2013 revealed that 40% of women said they were sent home before they were ready to leave.

The authors of the new paper are from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the research has been published in PLOS Medicine.

For more information, and to read the paper, click here. To access the RCM/Netmums survey, click here

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