Q: Assuming my baby is born healthy, how soon can we leave the hospital?
A: If you deliver vaginally at 38 weeks-plus and your baby looks great and is nursing well--assuming you're breastfeeding--both of you can leave the hospital within six to 12 hours of delivery (depending on your hospital's policy and your own health, of course). One caveat: Since you probably won't have the benefit of a visit by the hospital's lactation consultant, I believe an early discharge mandates a follow-up house call by a consultant on the second or third day to make sure you and your baby are doing well. You'll also need to follow up with your OB-GYN and your baby's pediatrician by phone soon after discharge, and the baby should be seen in an office visit 10 to 14 days after birth.Staying in the hospital too long--for more than two to three days--is not ideal for either you or your baby, but discharge before you're ready can be worse. Before you're released, make sure you're comfortable with your own strength and that you have good follow-up for your baby.