Early Postpartum Discharge: How Are Mothers Managing?

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To describe maternal concerns at 2 weeks and mothers' ability to function in various roles at 4 weeks postpartum.


Subjects were mailed questionnaires at 2 and 4 weeks postpartum.


A mid-Atlantic hospital that is a part of an academic health center.


A convenience sample of 100 healthy women who were discharged ≤48 hours postpartum and met the study criteria.

Main Outcome Measures:

Instruments included a demographic questionnaire, the Maternal Concerns Questionnaire, and the Inventory of Functional Status After Childbirth.


Physiologic concerns during the early postpartum period related primarily to perineal sutures, breast care, body image, and fatigue. More than 25% of the women continued to experience depression at 2 weeks, and 40% had days at 1 month when they never got dressed. Much concern was expressed about the mothering role but little about interaction with the mate. Older maternal age was associated with a longer hospital stay, and the trend suggested improved functioning at 1 month with longer hospitalization. More than half of the participants said they would visit a nurse-run clinic during the 1 st postpartum week if given the opportunity.


The results provide descriptive information about effects of early hospital discharge. Mothers discharged in 48 hours or less adjust to motherhood without the education and assessment that was formerly possible with extended hospitalization. The current study reinforces the need for nurses to explore strategies in hospitals or communities to provide early care for postpartum mothers.

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