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How Do I Choose the Best Private Maternity Hospital?

By Judith Smith Sullivan
Updated Jan 21, 2024
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Choosing a delivery facility is one of the most important decisions a pregnant woman makes. The best private maternity hospital will allow you to have the birth that works best for you and that maintains an excellent standard of health care with low rate of Cesarean sections, infant and mother mortality, and instances of birth complications and interventions. The staff will be friendly, helpful, and knowledgable, and the rooms will be private and spacious. You will also need to find out whether your physician has privileges at the hospital you are considering.

Private maternity hospitals are often connected to a larger hospital. The term "private" typically means that the hospital does not receive funding from the government. In most cases, the hospital is still subject to governmental health regulations and procedures. Another type of private maternity hospital is commonly known as a birth center. These are smaller facilities which specialize in gynecology and obstetrics.

Before you begin searching for the right private maternity hospital, take time to consider your expectations for birth. Although you may have an idea of what you believe birth is, you must allow yourself a lot of time to decide if that's how you want the birth of your child to proceed. In preparation, it helps to research a variety of types of birthing practices.

You can begin by asking friends and family about their birth experiences, but you should also read materials from a variety of birth experts, from midwives and home birthers to advocates of medicated hospital birth in order to understand the many approaches. Consider whether the source you read is written purely from a medical viewpoint or if the author considers the emotional effects of birth. You should also research the risks and benefits of medical practices during birth and labor.

Next, find a sample birth plan online or in a pregnancy guide. Birth plans list preferences for pain medication, persons allowed in the room, position during labor and birth, and a variety of other criteria. They are not contracts made between patient and physician or hospital but tools to help the woman and her supporters understand her preferences.

A birth does not always go the way you imagined. To mentally prepare yourself for the possibility of a change, research when and why birth plans change. For instance, women who plan to have pain medication are often overwhelmed if their labor progresses too quickly for the medication to take effect. Similarly, women who wanted an unmedicated labor are often distressed if their labor slows and pitocine, an artificial hormone which increases the strength and frequency of contractions, is recommended.

After you understand your preferences, you are ready to interview hospital staff. Be polite and courteous even if you feel strongly about a topic. A good way to start an interview is to ask the hospital staff member what they like their maternity patients to know and understand. Often you will get the answers to your questions without even asking.

You should also ask questions about the newborn. Many hospitals will perform all initial exams on a newborn in the mother's presence, if preferred, instead of taking the baby to the nursery. Hospitals usually have disclosures that you must sign before the birth detailing the types of tests and preventative measures taken during the first two days of a newborn's life. Like you researched your birth options, you should research the effects and risks of each of these procedures before agreeing.

Ask about important topics, including the rate of Cesarean sections, complications during birth, and infant and mother mortality. Ask whether laboring mothers are transferred to a birthing room or transferred after birth. Find out whether rooms are private and who is allowed in the room during the birth.

Cesarean rates should be very low. In 2011, hospitals typically consider a 25% Cesarean rate to be excellent, but often birth centers and midwives or nurse midwives consider anything above 10% to be outside the window of medical necessity. Mother mortality rates should nonexistent, and infant mortality rates should be less than 1%.

Although not a requirement, it is nice if you can remain in the same room from the time you check in until you check out. It is also good if the hospital will allow you to bring whoever you need in the room with you to help you through labor and birth. Although most laboring and birth rooms are private, the best hospitals will also have private recovery rooms.

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