getting ready to head home Making the Transition From Hospital to Home In earlier editions of this book, we jumped right in to how to take care of your baby after packing up your things, taking a deep breath, and leaving the hospital. We figured the doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff responsible for helping you welcome your new baby would also send you out into the brave new world of parenthood as armed with a congratulatory pat on the back and helpful information about this hospital-to-home transition. We soon realized, however, that we had overlooked one important fact: many of you are likely reading this book before delivery. We thus ­ de cided it would be most helpful to include some additionally useful nuts-and-bolts information about what needs to happen at the hospital, in anticipation of heading home. After all, for many new parents, the life-altering transition from 24/7 supervised hospital-based baby care to what seems like home-alone parenthood can be a bit daunting. So we decided to take a small step back into the hospital and share a quick overview of what you should do, know, and expect before you set foot out of the hospital. HOSPITAL DELIVERIES: TIMING YOUR STAY The practice of delivering babies in the hospital began nearly 200 years ago and has become a standard of care today. Just how long new mothers and their ba- bies stay in the hospital, however, has changed considerably. With the average length of stay steadily declining and a trend toward early newborn discharge, the US Congress in 1996 passed The Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act. This federal law helped ensure that hospital stays up to 48 hours following vaginal delivery or 96 hours after birth by cesarean delivery (C-section) would be covered by insurers. Today, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics also support average hospital stays for uncom- plicated deliveries of full-term newborns (at 37 to 40 weeks’ gestation) of 48 to 96 hours. Early discharge, especially within 24 hours of delivery, is approved only with careful consideration. 00 - FM - HH4.indd 25 7/10/20 9:32 AM
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