Early postpartum discharge versus traditional length of stay: patient preferences

South Med J. 1998 Feb;91(2):138-43. doi: 10.1097/00007611-199802000-00003.


Background: Despite a vast body of literature on postpartum safety issues, little has been written about patients' preferences for hospitalized versus home-based support and reasons for those choices.

Methods: A questionnaire was offered to obstetric patients at a prenatal class. Data were analyzed using chi-square analysis and logit modeling, searching for factors accounting for the patient's choice of discharge plan.

Results: Neither demographic nor style-of-care variables affected patient choice significantly. Personal issues like comfort with child care were highly correlated, both individually and as a group, with choice of length of stay. Less than 25% of the group studied expressed a desire for early discharge.

Conclusions: Women with a high internal locus of control and/or distrust of the medical system expressed a desire for early postpartum discharge. Few women in our study exhibited those qualities; over 75% of those who had a preference wanted a longer period of hospitalization. Although our sample has both negative and positive skews in terms of other available social supports, it is a well-educated and economically well-supported group. We conclude that many women do not believe they would be ready to leave the hospital at less than 24 hours postpartum.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay*
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors