An Adelaide hospital has trialled sending women home as little as 24 hours after having a C-section and I think it's absurd.
In a trial of the Enhanced Recovery Elective Caesarean program (EREC), researchers from University of Adelaide and Lyell McEwin Hospital examined the impact of early discharges. On average, women stay in hospital for up to four days after having a C-section, but the EREC had women go home from 24 to 30 hours after giving birth. The trial proved to be successful – showing possible cost savings and reduced pressure on the public health system.
But as someone who has had three elective C-sections (due to medical issues), I can not see how 24 hours after being pumped with drugs and having your body cut open and a person that you grew pulled out of it, you should be back at home a day later. The whole procedure is very gruelling on your body and can also be detrimental to your mental health.
Obviously, there is an argument that some women would rather recover with their baby in the privacy of their own home and I totally understand that sitting in a noisy hospital room can feel very unsettling. However, the problem I have is that a C-section is major surgery and you should be under constant care afterwards. Throw in a newborn baby and there's even more reason women should be forced to rest within the confines of a hospital.
Even the women who thrive on doing it all and forging ahead, need to let their wounds heal. The world won't stop turning, but it could if they push onwards too soon. Even with a special bed that can prop you up, frames to hold while you hobble to the shower and raised cots on wheels that you can pull close to the bed, doing simple things is very hard when you've been cut open. When you go home you have none of those additional supports.
Not only would the mum be expected to get moving way too quickly, her partner and extended support network would also be under a lot of pressure to take over the role of nurse. This pressure all comes on top of caring for a newborn and any other children in the home.
Those first few days getting to know your newborn in the safety of a hospital, while receiving the care you need, is essential. Being able to go home at least a little rested and more mobile means you're better prepared to face the onslaught of sleepless nights that inevitably follow at home with a new baby.
While some women would gladly put their hand up to leave early, I fear there are many women who find it extremely difficult to say no. Many women feel guilty and don't want to inconvenience others and when presented with the option, even put to them gently, will opt to leave so as not to be in the way.
After having a baby, with raging hormones, little sleep and away from the familiarity of home, the chance to sleep in your own bed might be enticing. But those days in hospital after having a C-section can be a rollercoaster, regardless of whether it's your first or fourth baby. And having medically trained support to examine not only your physical health, but also assess your mental health, is vital.
Sure, you get visits at home from health professionals following an early discharge, but it's not the same as being in a hospital.
Having a newborn is hard work. Having a newborn and being the primary carer for your partner, who has been prematurely discharged from hospital would be near impossible. The newborn would always come first and the mum would push herself to do more, before she should.
Childbirth isn't a competition. Being the first to leave hospital and battle through your pain isn't a badge of honour. Encouraging women to head home early isn't in their best interest.