by Justine Deputy, RN, BSN

One of the major differences in delivering at The Birth Center versus a hospital is early discharge. Mamas and babies head home with their family between four and six hours after delivering baby. For some, this notion can seem overwhelming and maybe even a bit terrifying. Not even 24 hours ago you arrived with your partner, but now you are going home with your precious little one in the backseat. Although this notion can be frightening, Birth Center mothers find relief in learning The Birth Center provides a tremendous amount of support postpartum. You become more educated about what is normal and not normal for baby and the follow-up is like none other!

Starting in pregnancy, we prepare you to head home four to six hours after delivery by taking the required Mother-Infant Assessment class. The class reviews how to care for both mom and baby during the first few days at home. Various topics are covered including what is normal in a newborn, how to be sure baby is getting enough to eat, and the importance of rest to aid mom’s healing process.  The goal of this class is to help parents feel more prepared to take baby home after an early discharge. This class should be taken by 34 weeks.

Next, after you deliver and before you are discharged the RN will review important points related to the care for you and baby postpartum. You will even get to practice counting baby’s breaths with the nurse before having to do it on your own at home. The paperwork the nurse will give you has all the normal ranges and times to do vital signs. Moms and dads are usually exhausted by this point so the notes will be your friend!

After you head home, you monitor yourself and baby according to the times on your paperwork. But, do you want to know the best part of early discharge?! YOU WILL GET MORE SLEEP! There is no one waking you up to do your vital signs or deliver your food tray. No one will stop in your room just as you get baby down to sleep! These are very precious moments you want to take advantage of with your new baby.

Because babies feed every two to three hours, we ask that you just do your vital signs within two hours of the assigned time. Vital signs due at 2:00AM? Do them at 1:00AM after you nurse baby so everyone can get a chuck of rest!

Question, concern, or vital sign out of the normal range? Our midwives are on call 24/7 to talk with you about postpartum issues.

In the first 48 hours, you will have your first pediatrician appointment. Baby will get a full head-to-toe exam. In the first 72 hours, a Birth Center RN will come visit you at you home to check on you, baby, and your breastfeeding relationship.

So yes, Birth Center clients go home between four and six hours. But, Birth Center families gain sleep and receive follow-up care like nowhere else!