How Long Will I Stay In Hospital After Giving Birth?

If you are getting ready to deliver your baby, you may want to know when you can go home. It is understandable that you are excited to bring your new baby home, and sleeping in the hospital is nearly impossible. The length of hospital stays after having a baby depends on your condition, and how your baby is doing. This article looks at some of the possible reasons you or your baby may have to stay for observation or care, length of stays for delivery types, and complications that may arise.


How Long Do You Stay In The Hospital After Giving Birth?

Hospital care is very important to you, and your new baby’s health in the first few days. You and your baby need to be watched for complications that may come up. Nurses will check you both of your vital signs, help you recover from delivery, and teach you how to care for your baby.

Prior to 1970, the length of stay in the hospital was about 5 to 7 days. The average was about 4 days after delivery. As the cost of healthcare went up, hospital stays were cut down to save money for insurance companies, and families.

A law was passed in 1996 that stated health insurance companies have to cover at least 2 days in the hospital for a vaginal delivery, and 3 days for cesarean section deliveries. The minimum stay for a normal uncomplicated vaginal delivery is at least 24 hours after the baby is born. Women who go home prior to 24 hours have a higher risk of complications, as well as newborns. Still, the length of time spent in the hospital after labor depends on the individual situation.

Keep in mind that the day your baby is born is considered Day 0. The first hospital day is 24 hours after delivery, and the second day is 48 hours after delivery, day 3 is a full 96 hours after delivery. Your time in labor prior to giving birth is not counted. In order to go home, you will need to meet certain criteria for discharge from the hospital.

Requirements For Hospital Discharge 

While you are not legally bound to stay in the hospital, it is recommended that you and your baby meet the following criteria for your own safety. In order to go home with a “clean bill of health,” they look for the following:

Mom Is Healthy With No Complications

They will watch you for things like; excessive bleeding, uterine contractions to slow bleeding down, no evidence of blood clots in your legs, blood pressure is stable, and that you can eat and drink okay. If you had a cesarean section, they will make sure your incision looks okay.

Baby Is Healthy With No Complications

They will make sure your baby has had his or her first “poop,” which is the meconium produced prior to delivery. They will also making sure your baby is having enough wet diapers. Newborns can get dehydrated very quickly. Your baby will also be examined by a pediatrician, get required lab testing for congenital disorders, possible hearing screening, and make sure they don’t have any infections.

Developmental Testing

The nurses will be watching your baby for developmental skills needed for survival outside the womb. They need to be able to; suck, swallow, and breathe so they can eat and oxygenate their bodies. There are certain complications that can prevent feeding like; being tongue tied, cleft palate, or brain injury from low oxygen at birth.

 New Mom Teaching

If you are a first-time mom, the nurses will want to work with you on things like; breastfeeding issues, how to bathe your baby, how to change a diaper, and what to do in an emergency. They will also do a quick car seat rehearsal to see how everything works before the big going home event.


The hospital registor will stop by and help you fill out the form to apply for your baby’s birth certificate, and social security card. You can still do this even if you haven’t picked a name for your baby. It must be done prior to leaving the hospital so they can record the birth.

Complications That May Prevent You From Going Home

How long do you stay in the hospital after giving birth? The reason you stay in the hospital is to watch for complications. Giving birth is hard on both you and your baby. Complications usually arise in the first 24 hours after birth, and the chances decrease slightly each day. Things they watch for include:

  1. 1. Heavy Bleeding

It’s a given, whether you have a c-section or vaginal birth. You will have bleeding after you deliver a baby. They will watch to make sure you don’t soak more than 2 pads per hour. They will also massage your uterus (this can hurt a bit) to make sure it is contracting and clamping down to slow down the bleeding.

  1. 2. Blood Pressure

Preeclampsia and/or high blood pressure in pregnancy can show up at anytime in the last trimester of pregnancy, and may even rear its head in the first six weeks after your baby is born. You may also suffer from low blood pressure after delivery due to heavy bleeding. They will closely monitor your blood pressure until it is stable.

  1. 3. Low Blood Sugar in Baby 

Your baby is used to getting a steady, constant stream of nutrition through the umbilical cord. Now, their body has to adjust to taking in food by mouth. This is often common in babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes. Babies with low blood sugar after birth may need treatment to stabilize blood sugar levels.

  1. 4. Meconium Delivery

If your baby had a bowel movement during labor, they may inhale some of the stool into their lungs. This can cause issues with getting enough oxygen after they are born. It is usually mild, but the nurses will want to watch them closely. Some babies need suctioned and extra oxygen.

  1. 5. Low Birth Weight

Babies under 5 pounds are usually kept until they gain a little more weight. Your baby may also be kept longer, and you go home before them if they were premature and less than 5 pounds.