U.S. News & World Report recently published an article on ‘How to Choose a Maternity Hospital.’ The article’s purpose is to help pregnant women find the maternity hospital that is best for them by asking questions that give insight into the hospital’s healthcare team, facility outcomes, and labor and delivery details. Read on to learn what factors to consider and what questions to ask.
Factors to Consider
There are several factors to consider when choosing what hospital you are going to give birth at. Some factors may be more important to you than others depending on your preferences. Factors to consider include:
- The Maternity Care Team
- Quality Metrics
- Birthing Experience
- NICU and Emergency Capabilities
- Breastfeeding Support
The Maternity Care Team
Oftentimes people choose their maternity hospital depending on where their healthcare provider delivers. When choosing an obstetrician, make sure that they consider your concerns, fears, preferences, and that you feel comfortable with them. When deciding on a maternity hospital consider the following questions:
- Does the facility have maternal-fetal medicine specialists or perinatologists (doctors who specialize in high-risk pregnancies)?
- Does the hospital offer some other forms of labor and delivery experiences besides traditional physician-led care?
- Is there the option for laboring with a midwife or doula?
- Do they have group prenatal care?
Knowing the data and statistics of the hospital you plan to deliver at is important. Some of the quality metrics you may want to consider are:
- C-section rate
- NTSV C-section rate (C-section rate for a woman who has never given birth before with low-risk pregnancies)
- Early elective delivery rate
- Episiotomy rate
Do you know what your preferences are when it comes to your birthing experience? Consider and ask the hospital or your doctor the following questions about the birthing experience offered at the hospital:
- Am I able to get a tour of the maternity unit?
- What pain-control options do you offer, including and beyond epidurals?
- What labor positions can I deliver in? Can I walk around?
- Do you have birthing balls or birthing tubs?
- Do you have private birthing rooms?
- How many support people are allowed to be with me?
- What factors are considered with induced labor?
- Are VBACs an option?
- Is delayed cord clamping available?
NICU and Emergency Capabilities
If you have a high-risk pregnancy or you would like to be on the side of caution in case your childbirth has complications it is good to consider what NICU and emergency care is offered at the hospital. You may like to look into the following:
- Is there an anesthesiologist in the hospital at all times?
- Is there a pediatrician in the hospital at all times?
- Does the hospital have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)? If so, what is the level of that NICU?
- If the hospital does not have a NICU and a child needs NICU care, where are they transferred, and how long does that normally take?
Breastfeeding Support and Additional Resources
If you are interested in breastfeeding, inquire if the hospital provides lactation consultants or if they encourage breastfeeding. Many high-quality hospitals also offer additional resources to new or soon-to-be parents such as maternal health navigators or social workers to aid in finding resources for families in need.
The Bottom Line
Although this list contains many questions and considerations, it is important to take the time to learn what your maternity hospital offers and what its standards are. To read the full original article from the U.S. News and World Report, click here.
- Esposito, L., & Rowe, A. (2022, December 1). Checklist for choosing a Maternity Hospital | U.S. news. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved January 19, 2023
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