If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, you will have a lot of decisions to make. Decisions ranging from whether or not to breastfeed, all the way down to what color to paint the nursery will bombard you daily throughout your pregnancy. One of the most important decisions you will have to make is where to actually give birth to your baby. The care you receive within the hospital you choose is extremely important to a successful labor and delivery. Unless you live in a rather remote area, it is likely that you will be driving to a city to deliver your baby. Most cities have multiple hospital options. So how do you choose the right one? This guide will help you make the right decision about which hospital to give birth in.
First of all, you need to gather up all of your options. Find out what hospitals in the area have labor and delivery units or birthing centers. It is possible that not all hospitals are equipped for delivery. Keep in mind what hospitals have preemie units, and how long it will take you to access each hospital from your home. Once you have your list, you are ready to start your research.
More important than any other research is to ask everyone you know who has had a baby in the past five years where they gave birth and what their experience was like. Only ask mothers who have had recent deliveries since hospitals can change dramatically over time. Ask about the nursing staff, the delivery rooms, visitation rules, etc. Get as much information as you can from your most valuable tool: experienced people.
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.