How to Choose a Baby Friendly Hospital
From when to start a family, to what stroller to buy, you are continually making decisions related to caring for your family. Of those many decisions, where to deliver your bundle of joy is near the top of the list. When you finally welcome your little one into the world, you want to be at a baby friendly hospital where you feel comfortable, and somewhere that will meet the healthcare needs of you and your new family member.
If you are a first time mom, you might wonder what those needs are. For those of you who have had children before, you might benefit from a few good reminders. Here are questions both the new and seasoned mom considers when selecting a hospital:
- What is important during my hospital stay? Make a list of what you want your hospital experience to include.
- Is your obstetrician affiliated with or does he/she have privileges at the hospital? You want to make sure they will be there for your labor, delivery and postpartum care.
- Is your pediatrician affiliated with or does he/she have privileges at the hospital? Physicians must have privileges at the hospital in order to care for patients in that specific hospital.
- Does the hospital have experienced neonatal care and is it near a children’s hospital? This will ensure that a higher level of care will be available within minutes if needed.
After you consider these important questions, there is another important question to ask. Is the hospital Baby-Friendly accredited or does it follow any of the Baby-Friendly principles? Baby Friendly designation means that the hospital voluntarily met specific requirements of the World Health Organization’s Baby-Friendly governing board and has shown their dedication to provide you and your baby the best start possible in many ways, including:
Skin-to-skin. Your baby is placed directly onto you or your partner almost immediately after birth. This helps regulate the baby’s temperature, blood sugar and heartrate. It also allows your baby the opportunity to breastfeed as soon as the baby is ready.
Breastfeeding. The first feeding will take place within one hour after birth and the baby stays at the breast until it is a successful feeding. Breast milk is proven to be the single most effective means of preventing childhood obesity, diabetes, infectious diseases, such as ear and respiratory infections. It has also been found to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, and even cancer. The staff at Baby friendly hospitals receives extensive training to support mothers who want to breastfeed their babies, ensuring you and your baby get the best possible start.
Rooming-in. Your care providers, as well as your baby’s, will perform tests, assessments and basic care in the room. Research has shown this to be most effective at promoting bonding between you and your baby and decreases distress in the newborn. Rooming-in also allows you and your partner to become more familiar with your baby, their breathing patterns or jerky movements and learning hunger cues while still in the comfort of the hospital.
Support groups. Similar to the hospital, lactation consultants are available to help you in a one-on-one setting. The breastfeeding support groups are also great for you to talk about your own struggles and triumphs and to help others who might be going through something similar.
All hospitals with a birthing center can take care of your clinical needs. With additional research, you can choose a hospital that provides the patient experience you want. Choosing the hospital that is right for you can ease tension when it comes time to deliver your baby. Having a baby is an adventure; be as prepared as you can be, but also be open to adapting to the circumstances.
Guest Article by Annie Evans BSN, RNC-OB, Clinical Services Program Manager, Women’s Health, Spectrum Health