To stay or not to stay: are fears about shorter postnatal hospital stays justified? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Common concerns raised during a Ministerial Review of Birthing Services in Victoria, Australia about the potential detrimental effects of shorter hospital stays after birth were examined in a study of women's actual experiences of and opinions about their hospital stays. Just under one in four women left hospital within five days of the birth, with the greater majority staying five days or more. Satisfaction with length of stay was high in the sample, with 82% of women feeling their stay had been about right, 11% feeling it had been too long and only 7% of women feeling their stay had been too short. A number of the concerns about the consequences of shorter lengths of stay were not borne out. Women who left hospital earlier than the traditional 5-7 day stay were not less likely to breast feed, nor were they more likely to be depressed 8-9 months after the birth. They were also much more likely to feel confident about looking after their baby when they went home than women who stayed five days or more. Implications for further research and for policy development concerning length of stay are considered.

publication date

  • December 1992