Early postnatal hospital discharge is typically defined as the discharge of the mother and newborn from the hospital within 48 hours of birth.
The length of stay in a hospital after childbirth decreased gradually over several decades in the U.S., initially because of consumer desire for a less medical interventions related to childbirth, and later in an effort to reduce costs. A similar gradual shortening of postnatal hospital stays occurred in Canada. Early discharge has also occurred in the U.K. and Australia.
There has been controversy over the practice and its relationship with follow-up care, cost, and maternal and newborn health may be complex. A 1995 review found that available studies were insufficient to shed much light on the consequences. A study concluded that early discharge is safe if it is part of a program involving postnatal care outside the hospital.