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Bringing your baby home early from hospital

5-minute read

If you and your baby are released early from hospital, when you get home you are bound to be excited, but also tired, overwhelmed and probably wondering ‘what do I do now’? But advice and information is available.

The reality of bringing a baby home from the hospital or birth centre, especially if you are first-time parents, can be an overwhelming experience. You have probably done your best to prepare for life with a newborn – going antenatal classes and setting up the nursery, for example – but nothing can really prepare you for what it’s actually like when you first get home.

Surviving without round-the-clock care

Many women usually spend a couple of days in hospital where the midwives and hospital staff can help you with feeding, settling, bathing and nappy changing. This also gives you a chance to get some sleep to help in your recovery.

But if you are discharged early from the hospital – in some cases on the same day you have your baby – you will find yourself at home having to do all these things yourselves.

If you have a partner, make sure to rely on and support each other as much as possible. Mum will need some time to recover from giving birth, and will be sore and tired. Partners can help out as much as possible by doing nappy changes and preparing meals.

Don’t worry if the house is a mess! It’s best in the first few days that you limit the amount of family and friends that come over to meet the new addition to the family.

If you don’t have a partner, ask a close relative or friend to spend a few days with you to help out while you find your feet.

Your baby will also be adapting to their new environment and this is sometimes referred to as the ‘fourth trimester‘. Remember that you and your baby are in this together and will learn along the way.

Your baby will eventually start to develop a routine. Newborn babies mostly sleep, eat, cry and poo and you’ll probably soon learn the difference between an "I’m hungry" cry and "I need my nappy changed" cry.

At-home visits

Before you leave the hospital, your midwife may organise a time to come and visit you at home to check on how you and your baby are going. You will also have your first appointment with your local child health nurse at home after about a week. They will also check on the health and wellbeing of you and your baby and you should use this time to ask lots of questions.

Listen to Dianne Zalitis, midwife, on the podcast Feed Play Love with Shevonne Hunt about what to expect when you bring your baby home.

Looking after yourself

As hard as it may sound, you need to make sure to look after your own health and mental wellbeing when you get home from the hospital with your baby. Getting some sleep, eating healthily and, when you are ready, doing some gentle exercise, will all help your body and mind recover from giving birth.

The best time for you to try to catch up on sleep is when your baby is sleeping. Ask your partner, a close family member or a friend to look after your baby for a couple of hours if you need a break or some rest.

Some parents prepare and freeze a few meals in advance before the baby is due, so you have some quick meals ready to go – or ask a friend to make some freezer-friendly meals for you.

More information

Where can I go for help?

If you find yourself home from hospital early and not sure what to do, there are a number of online and phone services to give you advice and support.

You can find more phone and online support here, including the Parenting Line in your state or territory.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2020

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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