Pregnancy in New Zealand – Labor & Delivery

Picking up from the last post

I have to admit, learning about Labor & Delivery in New Zealand and the differences between here and in the States was the most surprising for me, especially the part about how soon you’re discharged after birth – 2 to 4 hours postpartum.

Labor and Delivery

Just like in the States, you have several options.  Depending on your midwife and preference, you can choose to deliver at home, at a midwife facility, or in hospital.  All of these are covered by taxes if you’re a resident or have a 2 year work visa.  If you deliver at a midwife  facility, you won’t be required to pay the extra $305 – $340/night for a private room.  However, you’ll still pay $50/night for your partner.

If you choose to deliver in hospital and everything’s normal, then you’ll be discharged 3 – 4 hours later {if you didn’t have an epidural, then it’s 2 hours later}.  If you’ve been in labor for 30 hours and gave birth at 1am, it makes no difference – you’ll still be out the door at 4am {or sooner}.  As my midwife told us, “you need to leave the hospital.”  You’ll need to get up and shower as well as breastfeed to demonstrate recovery.  Also, they don’t bathe the baby prior to discharge – just a quick rubdown.  In the States, a lot of tests and immunizations are run on a newborn while in hospital.  I’m assuming that they must do these in the days and weeks following birth here in New Zealand, since not much could be done in a 3 hour time-frame.  Or maybe they don’t do the same amount of testing – I’m not sure about that yet. If you deliver a boy and want to have a circumcision, you’ll have to set that up at an outpatient clinic.  Upon discharge you can either drive to a midwife facility or simply go home {if your midwife OKs it}.  If you go home, your midwife usually follows up on you within a few hours.  You will have Plunket nurse visits starting sometime during the first 5 weeks of baby’s birth.

In case you’re wondering why they discharge you so soon after birth, consider this: in the last town we lived in there was a population of just over 100,000.  There was one hospital in that town with 10 birthing suites – not including midwife facilities.  Auckland has around 1.25 million people, and amongst its 4 hospitals has a total of only 40 birthing suites – again, not including midwife facilities.  So… over 10 times the population, but only 4 times the amount of space.  You do the math.  When they say that you need to leave, it’s likely because there’s someone else who needs the room.

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9 comments

  1. Tara says:

    Hi there, enjoying your blog.

    Just to say that not all hospitals in NZ will discharge you so soon after birth. Most will recommend you stay for 2-4 nights, all going well.

    You’re entitled to leave hospital 2 hours after birth; often some of the bigger NZ cities with birthing centres where you can go for postnatal care are the ones who move you on after 2 hours as you’ve mentioned. Good luck with your babies!

  2. Perfectly Imperfect says:

    This is crazy to me! While the 5 days I stayed in the hospital almost made me crazy, 3 hours seems so quick! I do like the idea of recovering at home but the good thing of being at the hospital is you have help! It would terrify me to have to go home that soon. It’s so interesting to find out how different things are in other places.

  3. Jenny @ Practically Perfect... says:

    I think I’ll like being d/c’ed sooner, but I’m not crazy about taking a taxi at 3am or something like that. If you’ve lost a lot of blood or the delivery was complicated, then you would stay in hospital longer. They won’t d/c someone who’s unstable.

  4. varunner7 says:

    Well, that’s interesting. A lot of women would like being discharged that fast though. I imagine it might be hard if you were woozy from meds or losing a lot of blood though. But in that case, maybe they’d let you hang out longer?

  5. Jenny @ Practically Perfect... says:

    I’m actually glad at the prospect of going home, just not so glad at the thought of potentially having to catch a taxi at 3am! I think I’ll probably prefer to recover at my own place instead of in hospital (or a midwife facility). My midwife will follow-up within 2-6 hours post discharge, and then a community midwife comes to check on you/the baby within 24 hours, so that’s nice 🙂

  6. Brittany says:

    Funnily enough, that’s what we’ll be doing here, too. Though it’s not the norm, I know, for the states. We get discharged 4-6 hours after birth from the center, and then we get a home visit from the CNM 24 hours later.

    As someone who hates medical facilities, I’m glad. But I’m curious, too, to see how everything gets done that soon after delivery.

  7. Ally says:

    Holy cow – I can’t imagine getting up and going 2 hours after baby is born. I mean, labor is basically a marathon and I can’t imagine even wanting to get out of bed at that point!

    But – I think there is also something to be said about recovering in your own home – with non-hospital food and a comfortable bed to lay in!

  8. Kate E. says:

    You’ll be glad to leave and go home. When I was in the hospital with Lily the nurses came in at all hours of the night to draw blood and other tests that really could have waited until morning, but the nurse had to do them before her shift ended.
    If NZ is anything like the UK, the baby won’t start getting immunizations until after he/she is 6 weeks old and they are on a different schedule than the US is.
    I’m very excited for you guys!

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