Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton gave birth to her third child with Prince William April 23, according to a tweet from Kensington Palace, which also revealed the Middleton also went home today. Why does Kate Middleton go home so soon after giving birth to her eight pound, seven ounce baby boy? While giving birth and going home just hours later might seem fast, it’s actually totally normal in the U.K. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine revealed that the U.K. has the shortest hospital stay for new mothers of any high-income country. "The reasons wealthier women stayed shorter might include that they were healthier, operated with more self-efficacy, or were treated more efficiently by facility staff," the study’s authors explained.
Middleton reportedly spent one night in the hospital after the birth of her first child Prince George, and she was discharged just 10 hours after giving birth to Princess Charlotte. A third tweet from Kensington Palace noted: "Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge will be leaving St. Mary’s Hospital this evening. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their son will travel home to Kensington Palace." While an in-and-out delivery might be commonplace in the U.K., the National Conference of State Legislators noted on its website that women in the U.S. are advised to remain in the hospital for 48 hours following a vaginal birth and for 96 hours following a cesarean section.
Though leaving the hospital so soon after giving birth to her third child might not pose any risk for a woman with the resource afforded to Middleton, other British women have reported that leaving the hospital right after giving birth was frightening and they felt unprepared. "I was influenced by enthusiasm for short stays from the community midwives who advised us to spend as little time as possible in hospital: ‘You’ll be more comfortable at home.’ ‘Pregnancy isn’t an illness!’ ‘Why not consider a home birth?!’" Sally Peck detailed her experience in the Telegraph. "But I left hospital too early — I felt clueless, frightened, hadn’t yet established breastfeeding in a way that I felt confident. Luckily, I had great support from my husband, wider family and friends."
She explained that she chose to leave the hospital because the post-natal ward was disruptive, chaotic, lacked privacy, and was generally not conducive to healing. "In the middle of the night, the woman diagonal to me fell asleep and dropped her baby out of the bed," Peck wrote. "The midwives came and hollered at her, too — as did the baby who, thankfully, was OK. But the new mother didn’t seem to understand. She was quite bleary on morphine. There is no way she should have been left in charge of a child."
The Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that the length of stay for each woman and her baby should be decided on an individual basis: "Each mother-infant dyad should be evaluated individually to determine the optimal time of discharge." Factors taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to discharge a new mother should include "the mother’s knowledge, ability, and confidence to provide adequate care for her infant," the journal recommended.
Also taken into consideration should be whether or not the new mother has access to "family members or other support persons, including health care professionals such as the family pediatrician or his or her designees, who are familiar with newborn care and knowledgeable about lactation and the recognition of jaundice and dehydration are available to the mother and her infant after discharge."
Because Middleton has access to all of these things, it doesn’t seem like her leaving the hospital the same day she gave birth poses a risk to either her or her child. And, because of her high profile, she’ll likely be more comfortable recovering at home in private. Kensington Palace tweeted that Prince William was present for the birth of his son, and Prince George and Princess Charlotte have already met their new sibling, whose name has yet to be announced.
Despite leaving the hospital so soon, one thing is certain. The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge made a stylish exit with the newest addition of their family in tow, a feat that almost no one who leaves the hospital the same day they give birth is able to pull off. Just some of the perks of being a royal, which means that we’re treated to some beautiful baby photos.
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