When people think of labor and delivery, they tend to imagine a traditional hospital birth like we see on TV: the mother clad in a starchy blue gown, straining to push, while her partner or nurse does the coaching and family members pace the hallways of the maternity ward. This may sound like all you could ever ask for in a birth experience – or a total nightmare.
As a pregnant woman, how and where you give birth to your baby is a very personal choice. Many of us came into this world in the hallowed maternity walls of a hospital – and babies today continue to do so. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 1 percent of Americans give birth outside of a hospital. But whatever you’re considering for your birth, it’s worth considering the options – hospital, home, or a birthing center (staffed by midwife-nurses) – and decide which is best for you.
If you decide to give birth in a hospital, take some time to do research on hospitals in your area. Here are some things to keep in mind during your search:
- Most care providers have a particular hospital where they deliver babies. You may want to switch care providers if the birthing facility is not going to work for you.
- Tour the various options in your area.
- Ask questions about the available facilities, birth options and policies for the earliest and latest times you can be discharged after the baby is born.
- Speak with other mothers about their experiences to get first-hand knowledge of a particular hospital.
Hospitals have varying procedures when it comes to labor and birth. Go over these with your care provider. Some hospitals are stricter than others about things like inductions or “rooming in.” Others are deemed “mother-friendly” due to progressive policies regarding things like breastfeeding. Others still offer tubs to ease the pain of labor.
While it may be hard to think about birth so early in your pregnancy, putting a little time into this decision can make a huge difference later.