Ottawa hospital is encouraging more new mothers to move out of the hospital 24 hours — instead of 48 hours — after child birth, as the city's public health agency asks the province for more funding to support a new postpartum care clinic.

Ottawa Public Health has applied to the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to further fund its new model of providing post-birth care.

In its submission to the province, the city's public health agency says it is needed "to respond to system-wide changes in post-natal care in Ottawa, which is moving to discharge recently delivered mothers 24 hours following delivery rather than 48 hours post delivery."

The quickened discharge is being encouraged only for new mothers who don't need medical attention following childbirth.

Extended stays can be costly

Dr. Douglas Black, the head of Ottawa Hospital's obstetrics and Gynaecology division, said the move to shorten stays at the hospital is in part due to budget constraints.

Dr. Douglas Black

Dr. Douglas Black, the head of Ottawa Hospital's obstetrics and Gyneacology division, said health care providers want new mothers to get the guidance and care after childbirth in a community setting instead of a clinical one. (CBC)

"We would love to have patients stay in hospital for three or four days to learn about peri-care and breastfeeding, but it's really not feasible with the budget cuts we are facing," said Black.

To help new mothers concerned about breastfeeding or other postpartum issues, the hospital has since January been piloting a walk-in clinic in Nepean to provide follow-up care.

Black said the change is part of a broader trend to move post-natal care into a community setting and said so far the feedback has been positive.

"They get the one-on-on help and counselling they need from lactation consultants and there's a doctor available to deal with other issues such as peri-care or breast care," said Black.

WHO studied discharge times

The World Health Organization studied the issue last year and found no negative outcomes for mothers discharged with their babies 24 hours after child birth, as long as there were enough community supports in place. 

But for mothers like Christine LaHaie, the option to stay longer is still appreciated.

LaHaie is now confident with her 10 month old son Adrian, but she said in the first 24 hours, she wasn't so sure.

"It's amazing they could let you go after 24 hours and you have no idea what you're doing," said LaHaie.

She gave birth to her son at the Montfort hospital, which has a 24-hour discharge as standard practice for mothers who are ready.

LaHaie said when staff asked her if she was ready to go, she wasn't, and they allowed her to stay an extra day.

"I needed more support and was not ready to go home," she said.