Choosing Your Hospital for Labor & Delivery

You have many decisions to make during your pregnancy: choosing your doctor, choosing your baby name, and of course choosing your hospital. It is quite common that your physician may deliver at different hospitals. You should find out if they have admitting privileges at other hospitals and assess all of your options.

Quite often, patients want to deliver at a particular hospital because of convenient location, a NICU, or personal preference. Insurance plans often have defined plans with which hospital they are contracted; check with your insurance plan early in your pregnancy to see which hospitals you are restricted to, if any.

If you are set on a particular hospital, then call your insurance company for a list of doctors that are in your plan that deliver at that particular hospital. Although these decisions seem trivial, find out early about these details, as it will affect you later.

Labor and Delivery
Some hospitals have Labor and Delivery Recovery and Postpartum suites, or LDRP. These are the most convenient for the patient and the family. You labor in the same room that you deliver in, then you stay there for the postpartum and recovery period (2-3 days depending on route of delivery).
The other more common option is Labor and Delivery and Recovery suite. With this type of room, you labor and delivery and recover in the same room, then you get transported to a different ward for postpartum period.
Both options are available, but obviously the LDRP are the most convenient.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Pregnancy is a critical time for your babies’ development. During pregnancy, your baby depends on you for nourishment, oxygen, getting rid of waste, and protection from harm. After the baby is born, it no longer has that protection that you gave. Immediately after birth, your child has to learn how to breathe, take its first breath, has to process food and waste, and their immune system has to start working to protect against bacteria and viruses. Most babies can make this transition fairly easily, but occasionally some babies have difficulty making the transition and need special attention. Babies that are born prematurely, often need assistance in some, or all of these areas as well. Other babies that often need the specialized care that a NICU offers include those with congenital birth defects; for instance cardiac, or spinal.
A NICU offers highly specialized nursing and medical care by a staff that is trained for this special group of patients.
Only about 9% of all newborns need NICU care, so most babies do not need their services, but some patients want the assurance if something comes up unexpected for their newborn, that a NICU is available. If your hospital does not have a NICU, as most don’t, they may need to be transferred to a facility with a NICU after birth.

Next, set up tours to visit all of the hospital birthing units. Most hospitals will have tours available a few times a month. Many will not only give you a tour of the unit, but will also answer questions, and even give you a goodie bag at the end. This tour will allow you to view the facilities first hand, visit with some of the nursing staff, and get a first hand look at the security features the hospital offers. Pay attention to details and ask many questions. Take detailed notes about your visit. After touring several hospitals you may start to get them mixed up. Not only will touring the birthing centers help you to make the wisest decision, knowing exactly where to enter the hospital upon arrival when you are actually in labor is a great thing to know.

While visiting the hospitals you should also ask for a list of any prenatal classes that are offered. If a hospital offers a large number of classes, such as labor and delivery, infant CPR, breastfeeding, etc, it is more likely that their birthing unit is of higher importance in the overall scheme of the hospital.

If you have a lot of trust in the doctor who is seeing you for your prenatal visits, you may ask him or her for a recommendation. Your doctor may even only perform deliveries at certain hospitals. If you really want to make sure your doctor is there with you for labor and delivery, make sure you know ahead of time what hospitals he or she will deliver in.

Having a baby is a frightening, wonderful, and completely exhausting experience. Dealing with negative nurses, a cramped delivery room, and less-than-secure facilities only adds to your already overwhelmed state. Doing a little research ahead of time, and choosing the best hospital for you and your baby, will allow you to have the best experience with your labor and delivery as possible.

Copyright 2014 V Sachar MD. All Rights Reserved.