Between doctors appointments, childbirth classes, choosing a name and decorating the nursery, there's a lot to do before your baby arrives. And while every new parent hopes for a smooth delivery, touring the hospital and asking questions are two of the most important things you can do for peace of mind and to help you make the right choice.
Robert Mutch, DO, OB/GYN at AdventHealth Altamonte Springs, helps narrow down what else is important to consider when choosing a hospital for your baby’s birth.
Does the hospital provide care for high-risk pregnancies or babies, like preemies, who need extra care after birth?
If your pregnancy is high-risk, you want to be sure your hospital has experience with cases like yours. Factors for a high-risk pregnancy include maternal age under 17 or over 35, preexisting medical conditions like high blood pressure or heart problems, and medical conditions that occur during pregnancy such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.
Preemie babies delivered before the 37th week of pregnancy are prone to complications such as respiratory distress syndrome and infections, and require specialized care by trained neonatologist and a high-level Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
No one likes to anticipate problems during labor and delivery, but depth of expertise and advanced technology can make a crucial difference when unforeseen emergencies arise.
AdventHealth for Children’s Level III NICU provides the highest level of care. Additionally, Level II NICUs are available in Altamonte Springs, Celebration and Winter Park.
Is there an OB/GYN, anesthesiologist and neonatologist available at all times?
If you're in labor for a while, what happens if your OB/GYN gets called to another case? What if an emergency arises with you or your baby and you need surgery or the baby needs medical intervention? Dr. Mutch says that it’s important for your hospital to have experts on-site at all times to address any of these situations.
At AdventHealth, Dr. Mutch assures that even if your doctor is called away, you will still have 24/7 access to trained OB/GYNs and midwives available to assist with your labor and delivery.
Is a pediatrician available in the hospital?
Even if you've selected a pediatrician for your baby, it's ideal that one is available at all times during your hospital stay. These doctors, known as pediatric hospitalists, work with your regular pediatrician and other providers involved in your child's care.
If your baby is born full-term and healthy, but develops a health issue, the pediatric hospitalist will update your pediatrician and be part of your child's care team. When your baby leaves the hospital, the pediatric hospitalist will give your pediatrician a detailed overview of your child's hospital stay and thorough instructions for any necessary continuing care.
Does the hospital offer support for moms who want natural births or VBAC?
You want your hospital to be on the same page with you when it comes to your desire for a natural birth or a vaginal birth after Caesarean (VBAC).
At AdventHealth for Women, women work with the birth experience team to complete Birth Wishes so the care team is on the same page with their preferred delivery options. Our labor and delivery units are equipped with a variety of amenities to accommodate natural birthing options including peanut balls, squat bars, and jetted labor tubs or walk in showers.
If your OB/GYN determines you're a good candidate to attempt VBAC, then AdventHealth experts agree you will want a hospital that can accommodate that. Some hospitals may not offer VBAC because they don't have the staff or resources to handle an emergency C-section. An OB/GYN must be on-site during the entire labor in case a C-section is required, and an operating room and anesthesiologist must be available as well. “Discussing all possible options and scenarios with your provider is crucial to ensuring you’re receiving the best experience and care,” says Dr. Mutch.
Is breastfeeding support available?
While natural, convenient and beneficial for baby, breastfeeding can be tricky, so the more support and guidance new mothers have, the more likely it is that breastfeeding will be successful. Breastfeeding support should include lactation consultants, and on-site lactation services, such as private consultations, breast pump sales and rentals.
“Lactation consultants can help turn a stressful situation into a positive,” says Dr. Mutch, adding, “They can provide invaluable expertise to build confidence and comfort for both Mom and baby.”
How involved can family members be?
This is a good question to ask both yourself and your prospective hospital. You need to address your own preferences regarding family members in the delivery room and find out how many of them the room can accommodate. We encourage family members to be there if that's what the parents wish. Some don't want other family members in the room so those wishes will be respected as well.
Dr. Mutch encourages expectant parents to look into the hospital's policy on having someone with you in the operating room if you're having a scheduled C-section. At AdventHealth, one support person is allowed in the operating room — as long as the delivering mother isn’t under general anesthetic.
Does the hospital offer education classes to prepare for our baby's birth?
Dr. Mutch and other AdventHealth experts agree that parent education classes are designed to give you and your family the skills and knowledge you need to embark on this new phase of your life with confidence. Even if this isn't your first baby, you may find that there are new techniques and tips available for parents since your previous birth experience.
The Baby Place Academy® at AdventHealth addresses topics such as childbirth, breastfeeding, Safe Sitter®, bringing baby home, ways to soothe your baby, infant/pediatric CPR and even safe practices for introducing the family pet to a new baby. Click here to learn more about our education class offerings in Central Florida.
While sometimes making plans to bring your child into the world can be stressful, we’re here to help guide you and help you feel comfortable each step of the way. To learn more about AdventHealth for Women, click here. To schedule a consultation to get your questions answered and meet your personal Birth Experience Coordinator, click here for a Mom-to-Be Consultation.