Two days ago, everyone’s favorite duchess, Kate Middleton gave birth to her third child. Seven hours later, to the amazement of moms everywhere, she emerged from the hospital, perfectly coiffed and ready to go home with her new son in tow, Prince Louis Arthur Charles. She spent a total of 12 hours in the hospital, 5 hours before and 7 hours after delivery. She essentially had a home delivery in the safety of the hospital.
This wasn’t the first time Duchess Kate made a quick exit after delivering: When her first child, Prince George was born, she stayed overnight but went home the next day, and when Princess Charlotte was born, she left after 10 hours.
Was her quick departure simply because of all the media hoopla surrounding the royal couple? Yes, and no.
Of course with Kate Middleton’s prestige, the atmosphere created in a hospital by inquiring minds post delivery would be nothing short of a circus. It’s also a given that she would likely find a quieter environment at home in Kensington Palace with a bevy of medical professionals ready, willing and able to help her 24/7.
But it’s more than that.
On average, a new mom in the U.K. spends on average just 36 hours in the hospital after giving birth vaginally as opposed to the typical 48 hour hospital stay in the U.S. The U.K. actually has the shortest hospital stays in the world for new moms, and with good reason. The system in the U.K. allows for new moms to be cared for by midwives, stressing that “many safety issues could be missed if a midwife does not see the woman at home.”
If new moms go home too early (often due to lack of staff and beds)before doctors have the chance to thoroughly access the mom and baby complications can occur:
“Midwives need to check to make sure women feel up to going home. However, provided the woman is medically fine, has the support she needs at home and the right postnatal care plan in place, and a good community midwife service, then going home even five or six hours after birth may be absolutely fine.”
In Kate’s case, her labor was relatively short, she had a vaginal delivery, and she had no epidural or complications, which makes recovery time faster and easier.
In the U.S., going home so soon might be considered negligent, however, there is no routine follow-up postpartum other than the typical postpartum checkup, which is one short doctor visit that takes place six weeks later.
Having access to a supportive and experienced team of midwives enables new moms to adjust physically and emotionally to the stress that her body and mind have gone through, and continue to go through in the postpartum period. In addition, having support at home helps mothers cope with early discharges.
Yet another reason for going home early is cost. “American hospitals charged moms with employer-provided insurance about $32,000 on average for vaginal births and $51,000 for Cesarean deliveries.” Though partially covered by insurance, not every woman has health insurance or even a decent insurance that will pay the bulk of the bill. And there is no provision in the American health system to do home visits for mothers.
In stark contrast, Kate gave birth at the Lindo Wing at the NHS St. Mary’s Hospital and was given access to “state-of-the-art equipment, WiFi, modern decor, daily newspapers, meals prepared by on-site chefs and afternoon tea.” She essentially brought her home to the hospital, had a home delivery in the hospital with all emergency support if necessary, and then she was discharged seven hours later, and the cost of her calm, thorough, and peaceful delivery experience may just shock you. Duchess Kate’s hospital bill for firstborn George was just $15,000 even with the royal treatment and is presumed to be similar with this new baby as she opted for private care again, now for the third time. And it’s not only Kate’s royal status that afforded her this perk; the National Health Service “provides free maternity care to U.K. residents who give birth in their hospital system, but all new moms also have the option of pursuing private care.”
It makes you wonder why we can’t employ a similar system in the U.S., doesn’t it?