Why I would never go home from hospital just hours after giving birth

Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge wave holding their newborn baby son just hours after his arrival.
Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge wave holding their newborn baby son just hours after his arrival. Photo: AP

There are a few differences between myself and the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton. Notably, the lack of a palace, servants, designer wardrobe and lustrous head of hair.

But nowhere are we more different than in relation to our post-birth recoveries. While she checked herself out of hospital within a few short hours of giving birth, I was inquiring if I could stay just one more day.

While her post-birth plan involved getting her hair blown out and donning a designer outfit (now sold out) and high-heeled shoes, I was languishing in my hospital room wondering what was being prepared in the hospital kitchen for my dinner.

I remained in hospital so long after my first child was born, the staff would have been forgiven for thinking I had retained a twin and was waiting for the other one to come out.

Even after we were discharged, we hung around for a few more hours in case the baby woke up for a feed.

In fact, I am pretty sure security would have been called to escort me from the building if I hadn't left the new parents' lounge when I did.

There are a few reasons why I wasn't in a rush to go home, some of which apply to Kate, and some of which don't.

I had no freaking idea what I was doing

You will be pleased to know this mainly applied to my first child, and not my second, but during the hours and days after I gave birth, the realisation hit me that I had absolutely no clue how to look after a baby.


I thought I did. I wasn't one of those people who had never held a baby. I had held plenty.

But I hadn't breastfed any, and while some babies take to the breast like they enrolled in some sort of master class in-utero, my first child had absolutely no idea. Better yet, he had what the midwives and lactation consultants called "breast refusal". Yes, he hated my breast. Actually he hated both of them equally and would turn red and scream every time I poked one in his face.

So you would probably have forgiven me for not wanting to take this red-faced, screaming, breast-refusing baby home with me.

I didn't have a team of baby experts waiting for me at home

Now I am not sure what Kate's babies thought of her breasts, but if they did hate hers, I am pretty sure she would have had her pick of lactation consultants to take home with her, and while this wouldn't have fixed the problem, it would have helped.

Chuck in a baby nurse and possibly a nanny and I can see why she feels comfortable departing the hospital so soon, but for us mere mortals, I would strongly suggest hanging around anywhere you are surrounded by experts in the field of caring for newborns, which is what you will find in most maternity hospitals.

For me, the sight of a Mothercraft nurse wheeling in a trolley of bath water that was just the right temperature was a Godsend.  Wrapping the baby as if it were a tortilla then holding it like a football under your arm while you washed its head was not something I wanted to attempt for the first time at home.

So if you are like I was and don't know what you are doing, I would strongly suggest staying put in a place where there are people who do.

I don't live in a palace

This one is pretty obvious and applies to just about everyone. Granted, some women who give birth may have access to varying degrees of home help, however I was on my own.

Why would I go home to a place that had carpets to vacuum, toilets to clean and meals that needed preparing if I could stay somewhere those things were done for me? The lovely nurses would even arrange for a leftover hot meal or at least a plate of sandwiches to make its way to my appreciative husband if he was visiting at meal time.

And all that extra time you don't need to spend doing chores can be devoted to learning how to look after a baby and maybe even catch up on a little sleep.

There were doctors at my finger tips

While I am sure Kate only has to pick up a phone and arrange a house call from the Queen's private physician, the rest of us aren't so lucky.

So if you have a post-partum bleed, which can happen hours after giving birth, or you spike a temperature in the middle of the night, there is a doctor either nearby or on-call to rush to your aid.

I had time to bond with my baby

For me, this was actually more important with subsequent babies than my first. Like Kate, I had my children close together, less than two years apart, so the time I spent in hospital with my second baby was even more precious.

Like other second-time mums-to-be, I couldn't believe I would possibly be able to love another child as much as my first. In many ways, he was still my baby, and being separated from him while I was in hospital was heartbreaking, but I am still glad I did it.

Any guilt I had about spending an extra night or two in hospital with my newborn evaporated after I got home and learned how demanding life with a baby and a toddler can be, especially when the jealous toddler began attempting to rip his sister's head off my breast every time I tried to feed her.

So while Kate reportedly has a nanny or two at home to help care for her older children, we all know no one else will do when children want their mum, so having those few extra days to give your newborn a fraction of the attention a first child got is, in my opinion, worth its weight in gold. Or even a king's ransom, or two.