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How to Choose Where You Should Deliver Your Baby

Author: Carmen Williams, RN

Becoming pregnant brings excitement about the future, as well as many choices and new responsibilities. Among the list of things to be decided is where to deliver your baby. For expectant moms in Southern Alameda County, Washington Hospital is an ideal option to deliver their baby. When it comes to birthing centers, Bay Area families have many options, so how can you determine which hospital would be practical for your family, and offer the most comfortable, memorable and safe experience for you and your baby?

Here are some important things to consider when determining the best place to deliver the newest member of your family:

Distance, doctor and insurance: First, consider travel distance from your home. Most people choose a birthing center that’s not too far away, so they don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic when baby is on the way. Also, ensure that your doctor has privileges at the hospital you choose for your delivery. And, you’ll want to make sure your insurance covers your birthing center of choice.

Safety for mother and baby: Pregnancy follows an expected course for most women, but medical complications related to the health of new mothers or babies do arise. We all hope for an uneventful birth. That said, having an operating room available if a cesarean delivery is needed, or a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) on-site for a premature or sick baby brings peace of mind. These precautions are especially important for mothers experiencing high-risk pregnancies, like those with gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or a maternal age under 17 or over 35. At Washington Hospital for example, we have operating rooms on the birthing floor. Also, UCSF Health neonatologists and pediatricians reside on the same floor and are always ready to care for our youngest patients when needed.

Birth plan honored and supported: The birth of your baby is a memorable occasion and a very personal experience. Look for a birthing center that provides a facility tour, birth plan reviews and pre-delivery interviews, which are available for expectant mothers in advance of the due date. Your beliefs and wishes are part of your personal birth plan, so make sure that your birth plan is discussed and recorded in your medical record. Some questions that could be considered include:

  • Do you want an epidural or unmedicated birth? Make sure the staff knows and can accommodate your wishes around pain control
  • Do you want to labor in bed or be free to walk around? If you want to be mobile, ask if your birthing center has wireless monitors. Do they have peanut balls and other resources to help during labor?
  • Are you planning to breastfeed your baby? If yes, opt for a Baby-friendly designated hospital with board-certified lactation consultants on hand to educate and assist you

Comfort and convenience: Once you’ve confirmed that a birthing center meets your practical needs and can implement your personal birthing plan, make sure you and your family will be comfortable there before, during and after the birth. If you don’t want to share a room with another mother, find a center with private birthing suites. Some offer the convenience of one comfortable room where labor, delivery and recovery take place. At Washington Hospital, these rooms are furnished with a pullout bed for the partner to stay around the clock, and it is common for babies to “room in” with the mother 24/7. This helps promote breastfeeding, as well as bonding with both parents through regular skin-to-skin contact.

Convenience is also important. Washington Hospital offers a comprehensive array of onsite services and facilities for expecting families that include:

  • Prenatal diagnostic center where prenatal screenings, ultrasounds and genetic testing are performed during the pregnancy for high-risk mothers
  • Birthing center with delivery rooms for natural births and operating rooms where cesarean sections can be performed
  • NICU to care for premature or sick babies in case unexpected medical needs arise
  • Maternal child education center offering prenatal and postpartum exercise and educational classes, support groups and breastfeeding support and supplies
  • Outpatient Lactation Consultation support

Expectant mothers are invited to visit or contact the Washington Birthing Center for information on the family-focused childbirth experience at Washington Hospital in Fremont. Also, go to Washington Maternal Child Education Center to find out about the many prenatal and postpartum classes and resources available at no or low cost to our community members.

To schedule a tour of the Washington Birthing Center, please call 510.818.5040.

Posted September, 2019