New Mums In Britain Have The 'Shortest Hospital Stays' After Giving Birth, Research Suggests

British mums are sent home from hospital after childbirth more quickly than in any other developed country, new research suggests.

They spend an average of a day and a half in maternity units after giving birth, which is the shortest stay for any high-income country assessed, according to data published in PLOS Medicine.

The country with the longest length of hospital stay for new mums was Ukraine where new mothers spend an average of 6.2 days surrounded by health workers.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine complied data from 92 different countries on the length of time women stayed in health facilities after childbirth.

British mums had the shortest hospital stays after birth compared to other developed countries

"Our new findings suggest that a substantial proportion of women around the world are leaving childbirth facilities too soon after giving birth," said study lead author Oona Campbell, professor of epidemiology and reproductive health, according to PA.

"This is especially alarming in low-income countries where access to care after being discharged is often limited.

"It is crucial we make sure not only that childbirth facilities have skilled care attendants and effective monitoring and treatment, but also that women stay in hospital long enough so that they and their newborn babies can benefit from these."

The study authors warned that short stays mean there could be insufficient time for medics to carry out proper checks on mothers and their newborns.

The percentage of stays that were deemed "too short" ranged from 0.2% to 83% for vaginal births and from 1% to 75% for cesarean-section deliveries.

According to PA, women in Bangladesh, Ghana and Liberia have longer stays in hospital than new mothers in the UK.

Campbell said labour and the hours that follow are the "highest risk period for women and babies" and many women and their families undertake great efforts to reach health facilities to give birth, travelling long distances at expense.

"The challenge is to commit to achieving adequate lengths of stay for women in low- and middle-income countries, while ensuring any additional time is used to provide high-quality and respectful postnatal care," she added.

Commenting on the research, Louise Silverton, director for Midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, 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 caesarean section.

"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."

Senior policy adviser, at the National Childbirth Trust, Rosemary Dodds said: "Some women are ready to leave hospital soon after giving birth, but we know from research that lots of women feel they do not receive enough help postnatally, whether in hospital or at home.

"We also know that many women do indeed feel rushed out of hospital due to a shortage of staff and a pressure for beds. Giving birth can be an overwhelming time and it isn’t acceptable for new mothers to be made to feel this way, especially when midwifery support at home has also been cut back in recent years.

"NICE guidelines state the length of stay in a maternity unit should be discussed between the individual woman and her healthcare professional, taking into account the health and wellbeing of the woman and her baby and the level of support available following discharge."

Lesley Gilchrist, and independent midwife at Bespoke Birthing, said she agreed in most parts with the RCM.

"Most women and babies are well following childbirth and as such don't require a hospital stay primarily due to the increased risks of infection without any benefit.

"Equally, community postnatal care needs to offer adequate support for breastfeeding and newborn surveillance to ensure that both mother and baby remain well and flourish in the early postnatal period. In many instances this isn't happening in part due to a combination of inadequate government funding.

"If postnatal care was properly funded and adequately resourced then women and babies would receive appropriate and adequate support in community, especially with breastfeeding."

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