Choosing a hospital

Choosing a hospital

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Can I choose the hospital where I'll give birth?

In most cases, you'll deliver your baby at the hospital where your healthcare provider has admitting privileges. So keep in mind that when you choose a doctor or midwife, you'll likely be choosing the place where you'll give birth. It's worth doing some research to make sure the hospital's policies and approach to birth fit your needs.

Some practitioners have admitting privileges at more than one institution. If this is true for your healthcare provider, ask how where you'll deliver will be determined.

What if I want to try a VBAC?

If you've previously given birth by c-section and are interested in trying to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) this time, make sure the hospital will allow it and has the medical personnel available 24/7 to do an immediate repeat c-section, if necessary.

What if I have a high-risk pregnancy?

If you're at high risk for preterm birth or other complications that might affect your baby and you live in an area where there are a number of hospitals, you'll want to choose one with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

What if I want a hospital birth in a more low-tech environment?

Some hospitals have on-site birth centers in addition to traditional labor and delivery suites. Birth centers offer the option of laboring and giving birth in a more relaxed setting, often with amenities such as a whirlpool bathtub for you and a comfortable sitting room for family members.

If you need to be transferred for any reason – if, for example, you decide you want an epidural – you'll only have to move down the hall or up a floor or two. Of course, you'll have to make sure that the caregiver you choose is willing to deliver in a birth center.

What else should I consider?

Here are a few questions you may want answered in advance:

  • Will I be able to labor and give birth in the same room?
  • What are the hospital's policies about things like continuous electronic fetal monitoring and routine intravenous hydration? Will my practitioner and I be able to decide what's right for me?
  • Is there an anesthesiologist or anesthetist at the hospital around the clock?
  • How many women in labor does each nurse typically care for?
  • How many support people are allowed to be with me in the labor and birth room? (Your partner will certainly be welcome in any institution, but if you want your sister, a best friend, a doula, or anyone else to be there, you should make sure early in your pregnancy that it'll be allowed.)
  • Will my baby's siblings be allowed to attend the birth?
  • Are there private postpartum rooms, if desired? Is one generally available? What's the extra charge? (Unless you need a private room for medical reasons, your insurance won't fully cover the cost, so you may want to find out how much you'll have to pay if you opt for a single room.)
  • Can the baby stay with me in my room 24/7?
  • Can my partner stay with me in the room? What accommodations do you have for partners?
  • Are lactation consultants available? (A specialist can be invaluable in helping you get off to a good start with breastfeeding.)
  • What's the visitation policy? Are there specified visiting hours?
  • Does the hospital accept cord blood donations or arrange for cord blood donations to a public cord blood bank (if this is something you're interested in doing)?

How can I get answers to these questions?

There are a variety of ways to get this information. Ask the doctors or midwives you're considering to be your caregiver. Talk to friends or family members nearby who have recently given birth to get their take on things. Call the hospital directly and ask to speak to a childbirth educator, if they have one. Or speak to other childbirth educators or doulas in your community. Some hospital maternity services also have websites with detailed descriptions of their services and policies.

Of course, you can also take a tour of the hospitals you're considering. If you do, pay particular attention to what's being said and don't be shy about asking questions. (It's nice to see the physical space, too, but don't let the decor sway you too much – it's unlikely that you'll notice it, much less care about it, when you arrive in labor!)

Watch the video: Check list for choosing a hospital (June 2022).