Hospital Details Make a Difference for the Mom-to-Be

Finding a birthing center that fits your birth plan
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The day you meet your baby is one of those life events you remember forever. Her little face. His tiny hands and feet. Finally, you’re face to face.

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Your birthing center can enhance those first memories, so look for the right fit.

“There are a lot of options and choices for today’s expectant mother about where to deliver her baby,” says OB/GYN Rebecca Starck, MD, Department Chair of Regional Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cleveland Clinic. “You’ll want to make sure the hospital you select can accommodate all of the preferences you outlined in your birth plan.”

For instance, some women want to use only natural methods, such as showering or rolling on a birthing ball, to manage labor pains. Other women opt for epidurals or medications to control pain.

Expertise matters

Choosing a birthing center can be complicated. You might be limited to a particular hospital depending on where your doctor practices. Perhaps your age or health puts you in the high-risk category. That classification also may limit your choice of hospitals.

“Whatever birthing center you choose, the important thing is that it embraces best practices in its birthing services,” Dr. Starck says.

For example, Fairview Hospital where Dr. Starck practices, delivers nearly 4,600 babies annually. It offers in-house anesthesia and 24/7 OB/GYN coverage. Its experienced nurses and lactation consultants serve as coaches and confidants.

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“There’s a great deal of support at Fairview Hospital, which gives women a lot of comfort,” Dr. Starck says. “Our nurses and doctors have seen and done it all.”

That experience, along with the hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), influenced Nicole Herbst’s hospital choice.

“My husband, Rob, and I were finally expecting our first child after four years of trying to conceive,” says Ms. Herbst, 40. “We struggled with infertility, plus medically, I’m considered ‘advanced maternal age.’ I liked the fact that Fairview had a NICU, just in case there were unforeseen complications. It made me feel more comfortable about giving birth there.”

Family-centered trends

Birthing trends today differ significantly from what your parents experienced. One development is family-centered care that begins with your baby’s birth. Family-centered care includes:

  • Kangaroo care: Imagine the warmth and security of a kangaroo’s pouch and you’ll understand how calming skin-to-skin contact is to your minutes-old baby. Your baby is dried off and placed belly down between your breasts. As you snuggle, you’re covered with blankets and you remain skin-to-skin until you move to a postpartum room. Kangaroo care encourages bonding, increases breast milk supply and positively affects the physical and emotional well-being of mom (or dad) and baby.
  • Rooming in: Instead of staying in the infant nursery, your baby spends all or the majority of time with you — either skin-to-skin or in an adjacent bassinette. This helps you learn your infant’s cues and personality, fosters successful breastfeeding and relaxes your newborn. Dads can also “room in” with mom and baby.
  • Breastfeeding and lactation services: The benefits of breastfeeding are well-documented, but getting started can be tough for an uncertain first-time mom faced with a hungry newborn. Your birthing center’s lactation consultant can help you establish a successful breastfeeding routine.

Increasing your confidence

Other factors can help reinforce an expecting mom’s confidence in her choice. For instance, hospitals with the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative designation show that their maternity options meet a global gold standard of care. Fairview Hospital is one of 175 U.S. hospitals with this designation.

Whatever route your pregnancy journey takes, keep an open mind, says Ms. Herbst, whose birth plan included natural childbirth, plus an epidural.

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“I had an unplanned C-section and spent five nights in Fairview Hospital,” says Ms. Herbst about her daughter’s birth in March 2014. “It was challenging, but we’re on track now.”

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