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Crowd Sourcing – Choosing A Hospital

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Tacos and Babies – Childbirth Choices

I was involved in a online conversation earlier this week about childbirth choices and how to choose the best hospital to deliver a baby.  The group having this conversation was not a birth group or even a parents group, it is a local Facebook group where people crowd source all kinds of questions that pertain to community members. Due to the nature of the group, questions about reasonable landscaping services and queries as to the best Mexican restaurant are often thrown together with questions like “what is the best hospital to have a baby?”. These are all important questions, but clearly one has more long term consequences than the other. As it happened, this particular question about childbirth got more replies than most of the threads – except those about the best local Mexican restaurant. In my community, people have strong opinions about where to have babies and where to eat tacos!

I like Mexican food as much as the next gal (maybe even more so!), but opinions on food and opinions on hospitals deserve to be answered differently.  Finding the best taco is definitely worthy of an online conversation but going to the wrong hospital might get one unnecessary major abdominal surgery or a baby in the NICU, whereas a bad taco will probably just give someone heartburn.  In this conversation in my local group, there were a lot of comments about delivering at such and such hospital because the food was good and the rooms large and pretty.  There were far less comments on where one might go to have a healthy and evidenced based birth than the decor of the labor ward. One commentator went so far as to recommend her hospital of choice because the room had a large flat screen TV on the wall.  I know priorities are going to be different for everyone, but when having a baby *most* people’s biggest concern is probably not how the TV is mounted in the room.

Choosing a hospital involves a lot of things, including looking at your childbirth choices and choosing a care provider. However, there are a few simple questions to ask no matter what type of birth you are planning that can  be helpful to learn more about your choices.  If you are planning a natural birth then there are probably even more questions, but here a few that will move anyone having a baby past the good food and pretty rooms stage and toward information that could help mother and child have a happier, healthier birth day.

Ask These Questions

* What is the c-section rate at this hospital? (If they don’t know or won’t tell you check out rates here. In our city, we have hospitals just a few miles from each other with vastly different Cesarean rates but not vastly different clientele.)

* Are babies routinely taken away from their mom at any point after delivery? Does the hospital have a newborn nursery?

* Is the hospital designated Baby Friendly?

* What routine interventions can be expected?

* Does the hospital offer mobile monitoring?

* Do laboring women have access to tubs or showers?

* Do laboring women have access to food and water?

* Does the hospital offer Family Centered Cesareans?

* What percentage of delivers were induced? Does the hospital offer elective inductions at 39 weeks? If so, considered reading info from the March of Dimes.

I love social media and I think crowd sourcing is an excellent resource for expecting families, however, if you see people recommending their care provider or their hospital, I do encourage you do dig a little deeper.  Once you dig a little deeper and find a hospital that meets your expectations and needs – then by all means – ask about the flat screen TV!