Just in case you somehow missed all the headlines, newspaper covers and general chit-chat yesterday, here’s the big news: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (i.e. ‘Kate and Wills’) have welcomed their second royal baby.
Admittedly, the whole event was a bit of a whirlwind. On Saturday afternoon, news broke here in Australia that Kate had gone into the early stages of labor; and just a few hours later we learned she had given birth to a little Princess.
Then, when the nation woke up on Sunday morning, photos of the beaming couple with their new bundle of royal joy leaving St Mary’s Hospital in London were already everywhere, having been released around 5am our time. (Post continues after gallery.)
Keen number crunchers were quick to deduce the Duchess had spent 10 hours in hospital before heading home in that beautiful Jenny Packham dress.
Today, it seems a lot of people are curious as to whether it’s common for a mother to leave hospital in that space of time; considering some women can spend days in medical care post-birth, it can seem like a relatively short amount of time.
“Kate Middleton’s obviously in a very fortunate position where she’d have access to a range of disciplines, including midwives and doctors on call for her, despite the fact she’s left the hospital. It gives her the rare ability to be able to do that,” says Melbourne-based obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Joseph Sgroi.
“But that’s not to say there are’t women, even here in Australia, who several hours after giving birth can and do leave the hospital … [10 hours] is relatively early, but I’ve seen women leave earlier in the public sector. We probably wouldn’t necessarily advise it.”
In an interview with iVillage.com.au, midwife Cathryn Curtin agreed that the Duchess’ early departure wasn’t unusual. “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,” she says.
Historically, it was common for women to remain in hospital for a week after giving birth, but in the public health sector this has changed largely due to financial pressures. Dr Sgroi, a representative of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says the typical length of stay is around two days and slightly longer following a caesarian.
"I think that gives time for the adjustments, particularly for new parents, in terms of all the skills they need to acquire — changing nappies, breastfeeding, bathing the baby and also bonding and attachment," Dr Sgroi says.