ALL SETTLED: Midwife Hazel Mastin holds Emma McLeod’s six-month-old son Connor.
ALL SETTLED: Midwife Hazel Mastin holds Emma McLeod’s six-month-old son Connor. Claudia Baxter

New mums can't wait to go home sweet home

MORE Ipswich mums are opting to leave hospital just hours after giving birth.

Ipswich Hospital reported an increasing number of new mothers requested to go home soon after birth, rather than stay in hospital.

Where women once stayed an average of eight to 14 days in hospital during the 1950s, now it seems it's not uncommon to take the express check-out within six hours of giving birth.

Bundamba mum Emma McLeod was out the door within 4.5 hours after her second child Connor was born at Ipswich Hospital last year.

After spending 24 hours in hospital with her first child, Taylor, she said she couldn't wait to leave.

"I would have preferred to be out straight away," she said.

"The whole night I was in hospital with Taylor, I woke up 15 times at least to other people's babies. It was so much easier coming home early.

"If it is unnecessary for you to be there then why waste the resources for people who genuinely need it."

Mrs McLeod is among a wave of Ipswich women choosing Ipswich Hospital's early discharge program, or accessing midwifery services from their home.

Figures released by the Queensland Centre of Mothers and Babies showed postnatal hospital stays have dramatically shortened in recent years. In 1991 the average length of stay was 5.3 days and by 2000 this had reduced to 3.7 days. In 2009, a majority of women spent less than two days in hospital after a non-instrumental vaginal birth and four days after a caesarean section.

My Midwives Ipswich director and practising midwife Hazel Mastin said an Ipswich mum could expect to be home within four hours of having a natural birth or in 24 hours of a caesarean, if she chooses.

"Most of our mums leave four hours after if everything is straight forward," she said. "We visit them at home at least four to six times a week, and if there are any concerns, it could be twice a day.

"It's all about choice. A lot of women like the security of having their baby in hospital because if the birth isn't straight forward then you have the emergency support right around you. But for the vast majority of mums, their births are pretty straight forward."

As long as a mother was supported by midwifery care at home, Mrs Mastin said there were little to no risks for first time mothers who chose to come home early.

"One of the benefits of coming home is the woman is in her own comfortable environment," she said.

"She is able to sleep much better.

"Breast feeding also establishes much better at home and you have less risk of infection because there are less people around you."

West Moreton Hospital and Health Service chief executive Lesley Dwyer said new mothers could request to go home soon after birth provided they had had a normal birth and were medically well and their baby was well.

"Midwives and medical staff assess women and their babies to ensure they are fit for early discharge," Ms Dwyer said.

At St Andrew's Ipswich Private Hospital mothers tended to stay for longer, according to chief executive officer Chris Went.

"We offer the mother as much choice as possible as to when they are ready to go home," she said.

"We like to ensure the family is ready and well prepared to take home their new baby so it is fairly rare that the mother likes to go home on the same day."

Mrs Mastin said up until 70 years ago all women had their babies at home.

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