health

New mums are being sent home 2 hours after giving birth.

Anyone that’s had a baby knows the feeling of arriving home for the first time with your newborn.

The jet-lagged ache of your body, the glare of the harsh sun directly in your eyes for the first time as your leave the car, the sheer terror of what this next step will bring, knowing once you cross into your home you are expected to take over and know what to do for this tiny creature you just birthed.

Anyone that’s had a baby will remember turning to your partner with that stunned feeling of, “What now?”

So imagine doing it just four-hours – or even two-hours – after you gave birth.

Imagine leaving hospital just two hours after giving birth? Image via iStock.

That’s the very real situation faced by women at the Murwillumbah District Hospital in Northern NSW, who will now face a two to six-hour turnaround after they give birth.

That’s right.

In the time that I was only just managing to sit up in the birthing suite and was still gazing incredulously at my newborn’s tiny frame, these women will be standing in their living rooms with their own newborn babies propped up in the car capsule.

Home four hours after birth, some home within just two-hours.

The hospital has the conditions set as a part of a last minute stay of execution for the birthing service.

Murwhillumbah district hospital: community protests convinced the government to keep it open without its postnatal ward. (Twitter)

It was set to be axed and obstetrics concentrated a 30-minute drive away in Tweed Heads but as Fairfax Media reports, community protests convinced the government to keep it open without its postnatal ward.

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A Northern NSW Local Health District spokeswoman told Fairfax Media the four to six-hour standard was common among hospitals with low-risk caseloads around Australia, including Ryde and Belmont hospitals.

"In consideration of these women being at low risk and remaining at low risk during the labour, birth and immediate postnatal period, this is an accepted length of stay," the spokeswoman said.

WATCH a new mum who didn’t even make it to hospital, giving birth right outside the maternity ward’s door. (Video via Barcroft Media.) Post continues after video...

"The mother is then provided with home visits by her own caseload midwife, who supports her through the antenatal, birth and postnatal period for up to six weeks," she continued.

Now, I know there are plenty of mothers who choose to leave hospital straight away after birth – who find hospitals too invasive, too noisy, too “medical” for what they see as a natural procedure.

Many, many women do leave hospital immediately after birth and hats off to you if you managed to cope but I imagine for other women the prospect of having no choice in this is terrifying.

The days after birth are not just vital for establishing breastfeeding and monitoring both maternal and infant health (and providing information about vaccinations) but they are also vital for a mother’s mental health.

delivery room regrets
How many women can manage to put on a brave face for the 30 minutes a midwife is in attendance and then fall apart an hour later? Image via iStock.
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There is a very great fear that a woman too overwhelmed to speak up could easily fall through the cracks if discharged too early and sent home.

The hospital, of course provides home visits by her own caseload midwife in the weeks after birth.

But is this enough? How many women can manage to put on a brave face for the 30 minutes a midwife is in attendance and then fall apart an hour later?

When the Duchess of Cambridge departed hospital just ten hours following the birth of Princess Charlotte Australian obstetricians spoke out saying they hoped that Australian mothers would not feel pressured to go down the same route.

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William depart hospital with their newborn daughter. Image via Getty.

Australian Medical Association Obstetrics and Gynaecology spokesman Gino Pecoraro told News Limited the practise contains risks to the mother’s well being and the baby’s welfare.

“There are some studies showing that early hospital discharge is one of the factors in breastfeeding not continuing long-term, and it has been linked to an increased risk of post-natal depression," Pecoraro said.

But not all experts agreed with him.

Midwife Cath told The Motherish, “It is absolutely safe and so many women go home after six hours, we are talking a normal vaginal delivery with no complications. For a lot of women, it is better for them to be in their home environment in their own bed than staying in hospital. ”

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In the local community in Murwillumbah the issue has received a mixed review with many saying they feared that percentage of women who either can't go home or don't feel comfortable going home would be harmed by this decision.

scurvy from almond milk
The fear with these imposed tight turn around discharges is that women lose that choice and that the ones who do need help may miss out. Image via iStock.

Labor health spokesman Walt Secord told Fairfax Media that mothers around NSW were being "ushered" out of hospital to achieve a higher bed turnover.

"Young mums – especially first-time ones – need postnatal support and rushing them out of hospital is unacceptable," Mr Secord said. "Nurses have told me about local health district bureaucrats putting pressure on them to discharge new mums as early as possible. In some cases, it can be as little as two hours, if the mum and the baby are healthy."

What is of utmost importance for women giving birth is choice. The choice to have their baby the safe and healthy way that they wish free from judgement.

The fear with these imposed tight turn around discharges is that women lose that choice and that the ones who do need help may miss out.

What do you think about mothers being discharged two, four or six hours after giving birth?