Selecting a Hospital
by Dr. David Berck
Planning the birth of your baby
Whether you’re expecting your first child, or you feel like you’ve become a seasoned professional at labor and delivery, one thing remains constant –deciding where to give birth is just as important as carefully planning one’s labor and delivery.
A birth plan is a wonderful tool for expecting parents. It can help facilitate a conversation between the parents-to-be and their healthcare provider around the birth experience; the parents’ wishes during labor, delivery and recovery; and important issues or concerns.
Most importantly, these conversations can take place before you arrive at the hospital. It can also be useful when evaluating hospitals or birth centers – helping you to ask the right questions.
Selecting a Hospital… Asking the right questions
When selecting a hospital, you want to consider two things: If everything is going great, will I enjoy the experience? And if any trouble arises, will the hospital be able to take care of my needs? If the answers are yes, you’ve found the right place. Here are questions to ask
- If I want a birth coach or doula during delivery, how will the hospital accommodate me?
- If I am planning a natural birthing experience, how will the hospital support this plan?
- If pain medication is important to me, what is available?
- Is an anesthesiologist available 24-hours a day?
- What can I expect if a cesarean delivery becomes necessary?
- What kind of infant intensive care facilities does the hospital offers? – a level-three facility, the highest possible rating, is best. Will I have to change hospitals if my baby needs neonatal intensive care?
- What postpartum care is offered?
- Are Lactation Consultants available to providing guidance on caring for me and baby at home?
- Can my spouse/partner spend the night?
- Does the hospital support rooming-in for my baby?
- What are the Nursery security protocols?
Editor’s Note: David Berck, MD, is Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northern Westchester Hospital