Huffington Post have posted an article today about post natal hospital stays, stating that UK Mums get one of the shortest after birth stays in the world; shorter than Ghana and Bangladesh.
My own experience of Post Natal care was pretty awful – so I genuinely couldn’t wait to get home at the time. The midwives had so many people to see that I was expected to do a lot by myself – which was impossible considering I’d been told to stay in bed, or else, because of significant blood loss.
I had no idea there was a nursery, or a day room. I never saw the canteen – Hubby went to fetch meals for me.
And when it became apparent that X was having issues with feeding, instead of having midwives around who could help me, they were so rushed off their feet they seemed quite keen to give me a bottle of formula for him and send me home – especially when I ended up being the last woman in my ward room; they couldn’t get rid of me quick enough.
At the time, I gladly consented; having not slept in days, and surrounded by people who didn’t have enough time for me, I wanted to get home to familiar surroundings and see my community midwife who was a gem.
Is a longer post natal stay better?
In hindsight, maybe I should have stayed – made a fuss of making sure we got breastfeeding going before being discharged. I’d had a traumatic birth, after all – the risk of post natal infection was quite high. And it transpires, very likely. If I’d have stayed on the ward, perhaps they would have picked up my infection earlier, what with obs and the like. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to go on non-breastfeeding friendly antibiotics to get rid of it. Or maybe going home even earlier than I did would have been best – perhaps I wouldn’t have picked up the infection, could have spent more time resting without the noise of the ward, and had more skin to skin time without feeling embarrassed as I was surrounded by strangers. It’s impossible to say. What I do know is I left that ward feeling like a failure as a Mum, which is not the way I’d hoped my parenting adventure would start.
I’m far from being anti-NHS. I flipping love the NHS. They’ve saved my life a fair few times (nothing dramatic, mostly removing broken organs). Midwifery in this country is at breaking point – I don’t blame the midwives, I blame the management who decide that the midwives have to do more than they feasibly have time to.
Post-natal hospital stays should be as long as required. There are plenty of new mums and newborns who are quite content to go home after a few hours, but equally there are plenty who need extra support, or need to be looked after a while longer. It’s determining who those in need of more support are, and how best to help them, that is key here.
What was your experience like in hospital? Or did you avoid it altogether and have a home birth?