Congratulations! You’re pregnant!
While your head is spinning with excitement and anxiety, the months of pregnancy are also filled with to-do lists and decision-making. Most parents choose to grow their family in a hospital setting. If this is your goal, one of your first decisions to make involves picking a health care team that includes your delivery hospital.
The choice of a labor and delivery hospital should start early. Although it may not seem like it, the hospital that provides your medical care is a central member of your health care team. This is the place that you may get lab work and imaging completed throughout your pregnancy, as well as the place to turn for any unexpected or emergency visits. Having your care at one facility during your entire pregnancy ensures mutual familiarity and trust in this important place.
Trusted Credentials: The first place to turn for hospital recommendations is your preferred obstetrician. Most people don’t know that doctors are only able to serve patients at specific hospitals at which they are properly credentialed. If your preferred doctor cannot deliver babies at a certain location, then you can immediately cross that hospital off your list.
Insurance Coverage: Of the hospitals your obstetrician can deliver babies, find out if the hospital takes your insurance. Rarely will families choose to pay cash or out of pocket for delivery expenses. Contact the maternity coordinator or hospital billing office to confirm your insurance is accepted.
Travel Distance: Is the hospital close enough to your home or work? How long does it take to get there? If you go into labor during rush hour, is there an alternative travel route? In case of emergency, is the hospital accessible? Choose a hospital that is in close proximity to you.
With the remaining hospitals on your list, now is the time to get into the personalized extras that will make the birthing experience uniquely yours. This requires some one-on-one time with each hospital’s maternity coordinator and taking hospital tours. During your visits, ask the important questions that will help you gather the information you need, like:
- Does the labor and delivery unit support your desired birth experience? Certain hospitals may be better equipped to handle some types of deliveries over others. This can include your ideal birth method, pain control, and lactation/feeding support.
- If there is an emergency with the baby, are there neonatal specialists available at all times?
- If the baby needs NICU support, is that care available in-house? Or, is it possible the baby could be transferred to another pediatric facility?
- Is there a limit to the number of people I can have in my room at delivery? What are the hospital’s COVID-related policies for birth support partners, doulas, visitors and siblings?
Approach the choice of labor and delivery hospital with a blend of necessity and desire. Ensuring the basics are covered before considering each hospital’s perks will ensure that you make the best choice to support you and your growing family.