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How Soon Can a Newborn Leave the Hospital?

by Jeremi Davidson

After your baby is born, you will likely want to take him home as quickly as possible so that you can begin your life together. The amount of time that you spend in the hospital before returning home varies, as it depends on the health of the baby and the mother. Choosing a time to go home is an important decision, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org, as leaving the hospital too early could put the baby at risk.

Vaginal Delivery

After an uneventful vaginal delivery, you can generally take the baby home within 48 hours. Keep in mind that although you might feel ready sooner, certain medical conditions, such as digestive problems, heart malformations and jaundice, might not appear until 24 hours or more after the baby is born. It is important for doctors to watch over you and your child during these first few hours, as experts with the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that this is when complications are most likely to appear.

Cesarean Section

If you have a C-section, it is a good idea to stay in the hospital for two to three days afterward. Take this extra time in the hospital to recover from your surgery, bond with your baby and rest. A C-section is a major surgery, so you will feel a great deal of pain for the first couple of days, according to the MedlinePlus website. You can still spend time with your baby, however, as you can begin breastfeeding in the recovery room with the help of your nurses.

Premature Delivery

When a pregnancy lasts less than 37 weeks, the infant is considered premature. Often times, a premature baby will end up in a neonatal intensive care unit, as it has more basic needs than a full-term baby. Generally, these babies are too underdeveloped to breastfeed until they are 32 to 34 weeks old in gestational age and must be fed by a tube, report child development experts at the Kids Health website. A premature baby could end up in a high-risk newborn clinic after leaving the neonatal intensive care unit, depending on how she develops. While the mother can usually leave the hospital shortly after having a premature baby, the baby should stay under constant care until she is strong enough to live in the outside world.

Before You Leave

Before leaving the hospital, make sure that you have the proper equipment in the car and at home to care for the child. You should have installed a federally approved car seat in the back of your automobile for transporting the baby home. This seat should be rear-facing and appropriate for your baby's size. It is important that the seat is installed properly, so HealthyChildren.org suggests having it checked by a certified professional before driving with your baby. You should also make sure that you have enough diapers, clothing and blankets at home because it will be difficult to find time to purchase them while tending to the constant needs of a newborn.

About the Author

Jeremi Davidson began freelance writing in 2005. Davidson enjoys writing about sports and personal fitness, contributing to a number of different health and lifestyle websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Thompson Rivers University.

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