Choosing a Health Care Provider for Your Pregnancy and Childbirth
Choosing Where Baby Will Be Born
Like providers, there are many options to consider when choosing where your baby will be born. These include:
Hospitals: If you have already selected a health care provider, consult with him or her to find out where he or she delivers babies. Then consider the following:
- Is the hospital a reasonable driving distance from your home or place of work?
- Are hospital tours available?
- What standard procedures are done when a woman arrives in labor?
- Is there an anesthesiologist on duty in the Birthing/Obstetrics Unit, or is the anesthesiologist on call? This may be important if there is an emergency or if you want pain relief. It will take longer to get relief if the anesthesiologist must drive from home to get you the medicine versus if he or she is on duty at the hospital.
- Is there 24-hour staffing of Labor and Delivery by an OB/GYN?
- What is the nurse to patient ratio? According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), one nurse per two women during early labor, and one nurse per woman in the pushing stage of labor, is ideal.
- Is the hospital a teaching hospital? Will medical students or residents attend my birth? Can I limit this if I want to?
- Does the hospital have perinatologists or neonatologists on staff? Some hospitals do not have doctors who specialize in high-risk pregnancies (perinatologists) or pre-term babies (neonatologists).
- Does the hospital have a NICU? (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a place for babies born with complications and require critical care).
- Does the hospital allow "rooming-in"? Rooming in means the baby can stay with you in your room. Or, does my baby have to stay in the nursery? Can I have my baby stay in my room most of the time, but go to the nursery if I need help?
- Does the hospital have a one-room option in which I can be in labor, deliver my baby, and recover all in the same room? (Called a birthing room or suite).
- What are the features of the birthing or hospital rooms? Are birth balls, squat bars, or birthing chairs available?
- Are water births done at the facility?
- Is there access to a whirlpool/tub for women in labor?
- What is the hospital's cesarean rate? Epidural rate?
- Can my partner be with me at all times, including in the operating room, if I have a cesarean delivery?
- How many other people can I have with me?
- Can my other children attend the birth?
- Is videotaping allowed during delivery?
- What resources are available in the hospital? Is there a "new family" class to teach me how to care for my newborn?
- Will I be given a private room for my stay?
- Can my partner spend the night in my room after delivery? What type of sleeping arrangement is available for my partner?
- Is there a lactation consultant on staff? Will I automatically be scheduled to meet the lactation consultant?
- When can family and friends visit? Can children visit?
- Is parking free?