Where You Have Your Baby Matters
M. Hellen Rodriguez, MD
Having a baby is one of the most significant milestones in your life, and
the hospital where you decide to deliver your baby will be one of the
most important decisions that you make during your pregnancy. Your birth
experience, likelihood of cesarean section (C-section) and risks of complications
are all affected by the hospital you choose. It is worth doing some research
to make sure the hospital of your choice meets your needs.
Baby-Friendly designated hospitals are designed to improve care of pregnant
women, mothers and newborns and ensure proper mother-baby bonding with
every delivery. They implement practices that protect, support and promote
breastfeeding. This hospital designation can be very important if you
want to maximize your chances of successful bonding and breastfeeding.
If you've previously given birth by C-section and are interested in
trying to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) this time, make sure
the hospital will allow it and has obstetricians and anesthesiologists
available 24/7 to attend to any emergency that may arise. Choosing the
right hospital increases your chances of a successful vaginal delivery.
If you have a high risk pregnancy and are at risk for preterm delivery,
you want to make sure that that the hospital of your choice has Maternal-Fetal
Medicine specialists to address your high risk conditions and a Neonatal
Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with in-house neonatologists to take care of
preterm babies. Your baby is safer if taken care of where delivered rather
than having to be transferred out.
To minimize your chances of a C-section, it is important to know the C-section
rate for the hospital you choose. Rates vary wildly across US hospitals,
with some as low as 7 percent and others as high as 70 percent. C-section
rates are more dependent on the “culture” of the hospital
than on the patient’s medical risks or preference. Choosing a hospital
with a low C-section rate significantly decreases your chances of having
a C-section and related complications. The risk of complications for a
patient undergoing a vaginal delivery is about 1% compared to 3% if you
have a C-section.
When deciding where to deliver your baby, consider that PVHMC is a Baby-Friendly
designated hospital with obstetricians and anesthesiologists available
in the hospital 24 hours a day, Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists and
an NICU. PVHMC has also been recognized as having one of the lowest C-section
rates in the area, and is the second largest delivering hospital in the
state of California, with more than 7,000 births annually.