Choosing the Right Hospital for Your Delivery

Questions to ask

So What Should Be Important to You
The most important thing is for you to feel comfortable with the staff and the environment of the hospital that you choose. Are the people friendly? Do you have confidence in their abilities? Some hospitals offer LDRP rooms, which translates to Labor Delivery Recovery Postpartum, meaning that you will be in the same room where you delivered until you go home. Other hospitals have a labor and delivery room, but then move you to a regular room on the maternity floor after you deliver. Do you want a private room (who doesn't want one?) or a semi-private room? Does the hospital even offer semi-private rooms at reduced costs? Previously, maternity rooms looked like any other hospital rooms. Today's maternity rooms often have carpeting and look more like luxury hotel rooms than anything remotely affiliated with a hospital. For example, all the oxygen outlets are hidden behind wooden cabinets. In fact, in some hospitals, the baby warmer in the mother's room folds down from the wall like an old-fashioned ironing board. There is a lot of effort that goes into designing labor and delivery rooms these days. Many hospitals, in an effort to compete, will go to great extent to offer the most positive experience when you have your baby.

The first step is to call the hospital and schedule an appointment or time to visit. Go in armed with a list of questions, like you had for your doctor. Here are some questions that you might pose:

  • What are the hospital's visiting hours for family and friends? Can they visit all the time or are there restrictions?
  • Will I have one nurse assigned to me or will she take care of other patients at the same time?
  • Do you have doctors on-call in case my doctor doesn't make it to the delivery room in time? Are these doctors residents or fully-fledged staff members?
  • What would the normal procedures be if my pregnancy developed complications?
  • What is the extent of your neonatal care? What level of neonatal care do you offer? If something goes wrong with the birth, would you send the baby to another hospital in the area? Which hospital?
  • Are we allowed to take pictures during the birth process?
  • Can my spouse or significant other be present during a c-section if I have to have one?
  • How many people can be present in the delivery room?
  • What kind of delivery rooms do you have?
  • What "extras" does your hospital offer?
  • How would you characterize the difference between your hospital and other hospitals?
  • Are all of your rooms private or are some semi-private?
  • Is there any way to cut costs if I'm paying for it myself – that is, I don't have insurance?
  • Do you have a stocked refrigerator on the unit for patients who are hungry or deliver after hours, or do you offer room service at all times?
  • Can my husband or significant other stay with me the entire time? Is there a bed or a couch for that person?
  • What are the procedures for checking out and in? Are they lengthy or do you handle them in advance?
  • Do you have free parking? If not, what are the charges?
  • What kind of childbirth classes do you offer?
  • Do you have a person on staff to teach new mothers how to nurse?
  • What kind of follow-up care is available after the patient is released? Do you have a support nurse who can answer questions?
These are some of the questions you might ask. If you think of any others, jot them down on a list. In all likelihood, many of these questions will be answered on your tour before you even ask them.

While you're taking your tour, look around at the facilities. Is everything neat and clean? Cleanliness is of paramount concern in a hospital where bacteria and germs are at a premium. You want to minimize yours and your baby's risk for getting an infection.

The Absolute Minimum
Don't be "wowed" by extras in a hospital if the actual facilities aren't up to your standards. The bottom line: The hospital might have to save your life or your baby's life. Make sure first and foremost that it is a good hospital with excellent medical facilities. All the rest is gravy....

  • Make sure the doctor you want to use can practice at the hospital you choose. Not all doctors have privileges at all hospitals. If the doctor doesn't practice at the hospital of your choice, you're faced with a dilemma – either change doctors or hospitals.
  • Visit the hospital ahead of time. Find out where you should go when you're in labor and what you can expect to find when you get there.
  • Make sure you know the hospital's rules and procedures. It will make life simpler when you're a patient.
  • Pick a hospital that will give you the "birthing" experience that you want, but make sure that it is a quality place with a good medical staff. When all is said and done, it's about safety first.

excerpted from:

Reproduced from Absolute Beginner's Guide to Pregnancy, by John Adams and Marta Justak, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing. Please visit Amazon to order your own copy.

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