The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued a policy statement updating guidelines for releasing healthy term newborns from the hospital. The new guidelines aim to ensure that both baby and mother are ready to go home based on their unique situation.
Newborns and mothers need to stay in the hospital long enough to identify problems and make sure that the mother is adequately recovered and prepared to take care of herself and her newborn once she leaves the hospital, the guidelines state. The timing may vary based on a number of factors including the baby’s health and stability; the mother’s health and ability and confidence to manage at home; level of support in the home; and access to follow-up care.
The discharge decision should consider input from the mother and her obstetrical care providers and should allow for mother and child to go home together if at all possible, the AAP recommends.
Before discharge the infant should be free of illness or other reason to stay in the hospital as determined by clinical and physical examinations and have completed at least 2 successful bottle or breastfeedings. The parent(s) should have an appropriate car seat for transporting their infant and know how to use it properly.
In addition, family, environmental, and social risk factors need to be evaluated. They include: untreated parental drug or alcohol use; mental illness in a parent; and a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect in the home.