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How to Choose a Hospital

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As you prepare for your new arrival, you'll decorate the nursery, and buy diapers, clothing and baby accessories. Another key element of planning involves choosing a hospital that will provide a calm and healthy environment for labor and delivery. Finding the right fit can help you to attain peace of mind before your due date arrives.

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Create a Birthing Plan

Before determining the hospital for delivery, create a birthing plan to designate your wants and needs during labor. Birthing plans include your preferences for pain relief, accommodations such as music and lighting, birthing positions and postpartum care. Then as you search for a hospital, inquire about the flexibility in allowing you to meet all of your preferences included in the birthing plan to ensure the facility is a good fit.

Research Physicians

Many times, expectant mothers need to deliver at a hospital where their OB/GYN practices. Check with your physician to determine the hospitals where she can deliver your baby. Make an appointment to visit the maternity ward at each facility. During your visit, check that the hospital is able to accommodate the needs stipulated in your birthing plan. It is also possible that your baby may be delivered by the physician on call if your obstetrician is not available, says Dr. Erica Zelfand, a family physician with Natura Integrative Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Get to know the physicians within the practice so you are comfortable with the delivering doctor in case your OB/GYN is not available when you go into labor.

Check the Options

The technology and equipment used during delivery should be investigated when choosing a hospital for labor and delivery. Ask about the options available for women in the maternity ward, Zelfand suggests. For example, many hospital wards require that a woman be hooked up to a fetal monitor while in labor. Some hospitals have cordless monitors, which makes it easier for you to move around and try different laboring positions. Inquire about the hospital's policies and procedures to ensure you can labor in your preferred way, Zelfand advises.

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Investigate the Stats

Conduct research on the hospital's reviews, its reputation among friends and family and its number of successful deliveries when determining which hospital is a good fit for you. Zelfand recommends looking into the hospital's outcomes, especially with regard to unplanned cesareans. "The national average for c-section is 30 percent, which many doctors agree is much too high," she says. "If a hospital's rate is at or above this number, it may be prudent to start looking into other birthing options."

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