In the past twenty years, the average post-natal hospital stay for mother and newborn child has fallen from an average five days to three.
A survey of hospitals shows that the length of stays has continued shorten during the past year at least in Oulu, Tampere and Jyväskylä. During just the past week, it was established in Oulu that even first-time mothers can be sent home with their newborns as early as the day after giving delivery.
Some mothers feel that they are dismissed from hospital too quickly. Heidi Hiltunen, a 28 year-old Helsinki resident who had her first child a month ago, would have liked to have stayed in hospital longer.
"I was in poor condition and didn't feel that I was yet able to look after my child. Breast feeding was also difficult," says Hiltunen.
Many hospitals insist that patients are not pressured to go home too soon.
Heidi Hiltunen says that she was let to believe that it was time to go.
"A doctor said that five first-time mothers were waiting to use the room. It would have been embarrassing to stay longer."
Baby boom increases pressures
A baby boom in the capital region has increased pressure on mothers and families to get home faster.
"They may be left with the feelings that they are not able to fully take care of the baby and still need a little help. Wards sometimes are full and sometimes families have to be told that they are doing alright and it would be time to go home," explains Tau Ekholm, a midwife at Helsinki's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
According to Ekholm, shorter stays also increase pressures in staff, as they shift more care to outpatient and maternity counselling services.
The shortest post-natal hospital stays are at the Kätilöopisto Maternity Hospital in Helsinki, and at hospitals in Hyvinkää and in Jyväskylä. Statistics show that at all three, the average stay after giving birth is 2.7 days.
Shorter stays are often a cost-savings measure for hospitals, but also a change in methods of care. Many experts say that in the past healthy mothers of newborns were kept needlessly long in bed.
Many mothers want to get home as soon as possible. However, this has not been reflected in the number of births at outpatient clinics. Mothers giving birth as outpatients do not stay on in a hospital ward at all. Their numbers still remain small.