How Long Do You Stay in the Hospital After Giving Birth?

by | Jul 19, 2024 | Birth Parent Blog

Birth mother holds her baby at the hospitalMany pregnant women anticipating their baby’s due date wonder, “How long do you stay in the hospital after giving birth?” The answer can vary due to several factors, such as hospital policies, insurance coverage, and the specifics of your delivery.
On average, most hospital stays range from 24 hours to four days. However, you might need to stay longer if there are complications. Additionally, if your baby is born prematurely or requires care in the NICU, their hospital stay may extend beyond yours.
If you’re choosing to place your baby with an adoptive family after delivery, you may have mixed feelings. It’s normal for women choosing adoption to have questions about their hospital stay, such as, “What will it be like? How will I feel?” and “When will the placement happen, and what comes next?”
Although nothing can fully prepare you for this emotional journey, your adoption specialist will support you in feeling as prepared and confident as possible before your hospital stay.

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How Long Do You Stay in the Hospital After Delivery?

After an uncomplicated vaginal birth, you’ll typically remain at the hospital for 24 to 48 hours. During this time, several important things will happen before you go home:

  • Rest and Recovery: You’ll need to rest and wait for anesthesia to wear off.
  • Medical Evaluations: Your healthcare provider will check for perineal tears, monitor the uterus’s return to its pre-pregnant state, ensure there isn’t excessive vaginal bleeding, and observe both you and your baby for any potential issues.
  • Room Transfer: You’ll move from the labor and delivery unit to a new room on the hospital’s postpartum floor. While some hospitals have combined rooms for labor, delivery, recovery, and postpartum care, most will move you to a postpartum unit a few hours after delivery once you’re stable.

If you prefer to be discharged sooner than 24 hours after giving birth, discuss this with your doctor during your final weeks of pregnancy. You may be encouraged to stay for the full 48 hours if complications occur during labor and birth, like blood loss or infection.

How Long Do You Stay in the Hospital After a C-Section?

On average, a hospital stay after a C-section is two to four days. You may need to stay longer if there are any complications during or after delivery. Just like after a vaginal delivery, your doctor will monitor you and your baby to ensure you’re both doing well.
Before you go home, your healthcare provider will make sure you can:

  • Walk to the bathroom unassisted
  • Urinate without a catheter
  • Eat and drink without vomiting
  • Pass gas

After you go home, you should limit your activity for several weeks, depending on how you recover. Your doctor will give you guidance and a prescription for pain medication. The incision on your abdomen may be sore for a while.

“Can I spend time with my baby at the hospital?”

You have the right to spend as much time as you wish with your baby in the hospital after you give birth. Some birth mothers want the adoptive parents to experience the birth themselves as much as they can and bring them into the process. For example, they might ask one of the adoptive parents to cut the umbilical cord, be the first to hold the baby and start the bonding process right after their baby is born.
Others decide to spend as much time as possible with their baby, which can help with the healing process. After all, it’s hard to say goodbye to your baby if you haven’t first said hello. Spending time with your baby, holding her, and talking to her can help with your healing process.

Your Adoption Hospital Experience

You have many options for your adoption hospital experience. For example, you may want your hospital stay to be special, including just you and your baby. Or, you might like to spend time with your baby and the adoptive family. It’s up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
It’s common for women choosing adoption to worry about how things will go down at the hospital. The more you can prepare and plan ahead, the more confident you will feel. That’s why at Lifetime, we encourage you to create an adoption hospital plan.
Your adoption hospital plan will allow the adoptive family, the hospital staff, and Lifetime to know how you want them to handle your hospital stay. Having your plan in place before you go into labor allows everyone (especially you!) to concentrate on the birth of your baby. Like your adoption plan, you’re also in the driver’s seat with your adoption hospital plan. You have many choices to consider.


Making a Plan

To get started with your adoption hospital plan, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I OK with the adoptive family I chose being present in the delivery room? Or should they stay in the waiting room?
  2. Do I want any of my family members, close friends, or other people in my support system to be with me at the hospital?
  3. Who will care for my other child(ren) while I’m at the hospital?
  4. Would I like to spend time with my baby? If yes, do I want to spend time as just the two of us, with the adoptive couple, or both?
  5. Who gets to hold my baby first?
  6. Do I want to be admitted to the hospital confidentially or recover away from the maternity ward?
  7. How much time would I like to spend with the adoptive couple at the hospital?
  8. Would I like to have pictures taken with my baby?
  9. Should I leave the hospital before or after my baby and her adoptive family?

Your Adoption Specialist will start talking with you about your hospital plan early in your adoption process. But you probably won’t have finished your hospital plan until a few weeks from your due date. That’s because your preferences could change. For example, you’ll probably get more comfortable with the adoptive family during your match. You might decide that you want them in the delivery room with you when that may have seemed awkward before.

How Long Do You Stay in the Hospital After Giving Birth?

When it comes to adoption, you have many choices, including how much time you’d like to spend with your baby and how long you stay in the hospital after giving birth.
You might have a lot more going on at the hospital than a woman planning to parent her baby. Clearly communicating your needs to everyone involved on this day is crucial. Lifetime Adoption will help you create a hospital plan tailored to your every need, ensuring your labor, delivery, and overall hospital experience are exactly as you envision.
When you create a birth plan with an adoption agency like Lifetime Adoption, your specialist can help you prepare for the emotions you may experience at the hospital. This will be one of the most physically and emotionally challenging aspects of your adoption plan. By discussing these feelings while making your adoption birth plan, you can approach your delivery with greater confidence and a sense of control.
Your Adoption Specialist is here to assist you in creating your hospital plan. For more information, just call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784. We’re here to help as you prepare for your baby’s birth!

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 8, 2019, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

Read more about Heather Featherston

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