In most cases your doctor will have one or more hospitals where he has admitting privileges. It is probably in one of these hospitals that the delivery will take place. So it is while choosing a doctor that you will be choosing a hospital, and it is worth doing some research to make sure the hospital’s policies and approach to birth fit your needs.
Taking a tour of the hospital and speaking to the maternity ward staff will give a good idea of the comfort level of the delivery and recovery rooms, and the compassion and professionalism of the staff members. Also, find out about the expertise of the support staff by doing the research for people who have been admitted to the hospital. The hospital website will also give a lot of information about the facilities available.
It is a good idea to plan in advance with your doctor how you want to deliver your child. Compile a birth plan that includes your preferences for the birth, such as birthing positions, how to manage labour pain, postpartum care. Check that the hospital is willing to meet the needs of your birth plan.
When choosing a hospital for the birth, it is a good idea to be aware of more than the amenities it offers. Awareness about the hospitals statistics about the percentage of caesarian births, rate of induced labour, and policy regarding epidurals during labour will help to make an informed choice about the place of birth.
As technology advances, so do birthing techniques and procedures. When choosing a hospital for the delivery, research the equipment and technology used at each hospital’s maternity ward. Wireless foetal monitors, if available allow free movement instead of having to stay in bed during labour. Photographing or videotaping the birth may be allowed, but you will need to inform the hospital and take permission in advance. The same is applicable to music and special lights to help remain calm and relaxed during delivery.
If you have a high-risk pregnancy that might affect your baby and you then you will want to choose a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
There is a slow-growing movement towards more natural, midwife-led maternity care. Some hospitals now have birth centres in addition to traditional labour and delivery rooms. Birth centres offer the option of labouring 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.
Some useful questions to ask include:
- How many nurses are on call?
- Will there be a doctor available whenever needed?
- Do you need to get medical supplies from outside chemists or does the hospital supply everything a patient need?
- How often are the rooms and bathrooms cleaned?
- Does the hospital allow birth, partners?
- Is there an anesthesiologist or anaesthetist at the hospital available at all times?
- Will there be a paediatrician in the delivery room to attend to your baby?
- Can your baby stay with you in your room?
- Does the hospital supply food or will you need to bring food from home?
- Can your husband or any other family member stay with you through the night after the birth?
Things may not always go exactly as planned during labour but having done all the research beforehand will ensure that you have peace of mind about the people that help you get through it and that the hospital is equipped to handle any emergency that may occur.