Push to get new babies home in four hours

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HOSPITAL to home in four hours? It would have been unheard of a generation ago when new mothers regularly spent up to two weeks in hospital, ''lying in'' post-birth.

But in the NSW maternity wards of the future, it won't be unusual for women to give birth in the morning and go home in time for lunch.

Early hospital discharge for women with low-risk pregnancies, uncomplicated vaginal births, a healthy baby and good support at home, is part of NSW Health's Towards Normal Birth directive, to be implemented by 2015.

Women who opt to go home early would be visited by a midwife for up to two weeks after the birth ...

... there was no reason why more women could not leave hospital soon after giving birth, particularly when they were under the care of the same midwife throughout.

... if women could be well cared for at home, it would alleviate pressure on maternity staff.

... ''I don't really like hospitals and my feeling is that if you're not sick there is no need to be in one,'' she said. ''I wanted to go home as early as possible if I was healthy and the baby was healthy. I would rather be in my own home, in my own bed.''

... NSW president of the Australian Breastfeeding Association, had concerns about early discharge programs. She said the state was over-represented in calls to the association's helpline, which she suspected was due to women leaving hospital before feeding was well established ...

Early discharge hospital programs typically delivery one to three home visits per woman. Although the woman may be under the care of the hospital for up to two weeks, on some of those days, the woman will be called instead of visited and on other days, there is no phone call or a visit, but the woman is always able to call in if she has any issues and a midwife is always available for help over the phone. Private midwives provide a wide ranging schedule of postnatal visits, ranging from one or two visits only, to as many as 12 postnatal visits over a 6-week period. Most private midwives will provide postnatal are for 6 weeks. It is best to ask your private midwife for her schedule of postnatal visiting before you engage her services and to always ask if you feel that you would like more visits.

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