First off, I would love if every woman had access to a Baby Friendly Hospital, The concept of Baby Friendly Hospitals was started by the WHO, World Health Organization and UNICEF. Their vision is for America to be a nation that appreciates breastfeeding and the benefits it provides for mother and baby. Unfortunately, in 2009 only 86 hospitals and birthing centers in the US are Certified Baby Friendly. This is sad, and so for this reason I recommend every parent-to-be interview their hospital BEFORE deciding to birth their baby there.
Your Life, Your Body, Your Birth
You do not have to give birth in a hospital just because it is near your home or because you think you must birth at a hospital. Studies repeatedly show that home birth and birthing center births are as safe (and sometimes safer) than hospital birth. For more information and research on this topic, click here and here.
You have the right to “hire” (or fire!) a hospital just like you can your health care provider. These questions can help you decide whether or not the hospital is right for you and your birth.
How To Find The Right Hospital or Birth Center for You
I cannot overestimate the importance of interviewing the hospital. Every hospital will give a tour of its birthing center and laud its facilities, but it’s up to you to investigate whether the hospital is truly “baby friendly” enough for your birth.
Step one: schedule a tour of the hospital’s birthing center, preferably a private one rather than a group one. A hospital should be willing to do a private tour. They take no longer than 15 minutes typically.
Step two: Ask questions, sprinkling them throughout the course of the tour.
Red Flags that you should consider a different hospital:
1. The hospital tour guide, usually a nurse on the L&D; (labor and delivery) floor, cannot or will not answer these questions. Birth outcomes are public knowledge, so you have every right to know about the birth outcomes in this hospital. So ask. Question authority.
2. You get answers that you do not like about one of the questions below. These are basic needs that a progressive, Baby Friendly hospital will honor. You should receive answers that give you confidence, not doubt, about the hospital and your birth.
This is Your Life, Your Body, & Your Birth. Reclaim it!
TOP 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR HOSPITAL or birthing center (before you preregister or arrive in labor!)
*photo of my second son, just moments after his birth.