So you’ve got some exciting and life-changing news: you are expecting a baby! In the coming months, you will make dozens of decisions as you plan and prepare for the miraculous birth of your child. Surprisingly, one of the most crucial decisions you will make for your precious infant is quite often the least researched: the hospital where you will give birth.
When an expectant mother is asked how, or why, she came to choose her birthing hospital, the answer is often, “Because that’s where my OB delivers.” Although your obstetrician most certainly has your best interest in mind, often times an OB’s hospital choices are geographically or contractually restricted. This causes a problem: the hospitals where they can deliver are not always the best option for your baby, or your loved ones.
It is important for expecting parents to choose an obstetrician who can deliver their baby at a hospital that offers premier care, while also being practical and convenient for your friends and family. So what makes a hospital premier? When it comes to safely and comfortably delivering a newborn baby, no service is more important than 24/7 in-house #neonatology.
A neonatologist is a pediatrician who specializes in the care of fragile or premature infants. Considered the “gold-standard” for birthing hospitals, 24/7 In-House means that a neonatologist is present within the walls of the hospital every minute, of every hour, of every day, throughout the year. Believe it or not, although statistics show that having a neonatologist present 24/7 at a hospital improves outcomes, some hospitals choose to utilize an on-call model in which the doctor is free to leave the hospital campus.
Here are 5 reasons why choosing a hospital with 24/7 in-house neonatology coverage is the best decision for your baby, your loved ones, and yourself.
1. In the event of an emergency, it could save, or improve, your baby’s life.
If you experience a complication during childbirth, the level of care that your baby receives in the first hour of life can significantly impact the rest of their life. Given that 1 out of 10 babies born in the US are born prematurely, delivering your baby at a hospital where neonatologists are in-house 24/7 ensures that the best possible care is accessible at all times, and on short notice. There are many studies which suggest that babies born at hospitals with in-house neonatologists have better outcomes
2. It offers peace of mind.
Even if you’ve had a relatively smooth pregnancy, if you’re like most parents, you’ll hold off on ‘exhaling’ until your beautiful baby is safely snuggled in your arms. Knowing that an extensively trained neonatal physician is nearby at all times will add an extra layer of comfort so that you can enjoy your birthing experience as much as possible.
3. It could eliminate the need for a frightening and stressful neonatal transport.
If your baby is born fragile or premature at a hospital that is not equipped to safely care for them, they will be quickly taken from you and transported to a more suitable hospital. Not only will you be left to wonder and worry about your baby’s health, it will separate you from your child in those precious early moments of life. Surprisingly, a study has recently found that 3 out of 4 hospitals are ill-equipped to optimally care for sick infants.
4. It will save your family financial and emotional pressures.
When a baby is transported to an unfamiliar and often distant hospital, it can be financially and emotionally costly to their loved ones. Family and friends can expect to travel long distances and incur unexpected expenses such as gas, tolls, parking, and food costs. Additionally, the increased time spent commuting can cause undue stress by impacting work schedules, childcare, and more. Fortunately, many resources and organizations exist to help support families experiencing extended stays in the #NICU with their precious infant.
5. It ensures the entire hospital team is best prepared to care for your child.
When a neonatologist is present around-the-clock at a hospital, they are engaged in constant continuing education and training with the hospital staff. This ensures all team members caring for you and your infant are optimally trained for your specific needs, including nurses, respiratory therapists, lactation consultants, nutritionists, social workers, pharmacists, lab technicians, and more.
If you are planning and preparing for the birth of your child, ask your obstetrician if your birthing hospital is staffed by neonatologists around-the-clock. If the answer is “no,” you may want to reconsider.