Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Thoughts on a Hospital Birth, Revisited

After Esther was born, I wrote out some of the positives and negatives that I took away from having from a hospital birth.  Now that we've experienced a second birth at a second hospital, I want to revisit the subject.

Once again, because of insurance purposes, we went with a hospital birth because it was significantly less expensive than a home birth.  A birthing center wasn't an option this time, as there are no birthing centers in our town.  In the past few months, I have been told by many people that our local hospital is very natural birth friendly, and that it is even a certified Baby-Friendly hospital, a distinguished designation that stems from a UNICEF/WHO initiative to encourage/support breastfeeding from the moment a baby is born.  This certification requires a lot of training for hospital staff and often involves big changes in standard hospital procedures, so very few maternity wards in America are certified Baby-Friendly.

Even hearing these good things about the hospital, and having a midwife that I really like, I figured my experience would be pretty similar to our last one.  Boy, was I wrong.  In a good way.

I can easily say that I loved the hospital birth experience this time around.  I actually can't even think of a single negative thing to say about it.

As soon as we walked into the hospital, it felt very different.  I couldn't believe how nice my labor and delivery room was: a huge window looking out over the town, homey feeling wooden cabinets and very well kept.  It barely felt like the sterile hospital environment our previous hospital, it felt like a place I wanted to be. It helps that the birth was relatively easy and that I had better support this time, not only from doulas, but also from the nurses.  At the other hospital I delivered at, I didn't feel like the nurses were 100% supportive of my choice to give birth naturally, but this time I felt completely comfortable with my choice.  While I was in labor they only did electronic fetal monitoring for some of the contractions, and didn't require that I be hooked up the whole time.

After the birth, I didn't have any bleeding-out-over-the-whole-floor-while-attempting-to-go-to-the-bathroom-issues, not only because I learned my lesson but because the nurse actually (nicely) told me this time to call her for help the first two times I needed to go.  They didn't tell me this last time, which makes me realize that they were really neglecting some of their duties in caring for me.

I also appreciated that they did immediate skin to skin contact and waited a long time to do his weight and such (probably an hour or so after he was born, though I don't remember exactly).  At our last hospital they did encourage skin to skin right after birth, but it was probably only for 10 minutes or so before they want to weigh and measure her. 

Once again, I enjoyed the up/down bed and meals being provided and care from the nurses. The food wasn't much better this time around, but I can't imagine that any hospital has great food.  All of my post-partum nurses were incredibly nice, always asking if I needed anything more, but not being overbearing in any way.  I got the sense from each one of them that they really loved their job and were eager to do whatever needed to be done.  Another positive that I mentioned last time that proved true again was the immediate medical care for the baby.  With Esther, we benefited from a quick diagnosis of her congenital hypothyroidism.  This time it was the fact that they detected a dangerously low temp in Hudson a few hours after birth and were able to treat it immediately.  We ended up staying an extra day in the hospital to keep an eye on him, but everything was fine after they treated it.

This hospital had a rooming-in policy (our previous hospital had a nursery), so we were only separated from Hudson for a few hours in the whole 2 1/2 days we spent there.  Almost all of his vital signs check ups and medical procedures were done in the room where we stayed.  When his ped came to check up on him, he also came to the room, so I was able to ask him questions and feel involved with Hudson's care.  I loved the rooming in, and didn't find it overwhelming for him to be with us the whole time like I thought I might feel.

Looking over what I wrote about my last birth, every single thing from the "con" list was better this time around: I wasn't forced to get an IV and we didn't feel pressure to get eye goop (we did refuse Vit K at first time around, but after speaking with our ped and doing more research we changed our minds and decided to get it).  Driving to the hospital and knowing when to leave wasn't really an issue since it is 1 mile away on the same street we live.  Though all hospitals are quite germy, this one at least felt more clean and homey, so I didn't think about MRSA and the other megabugs that hospitals tend to harbor.  In fact, on our second morning there, when our ped asked us to stay another 24 hours for monitoring little man's temp, I was actually happy that he talked me into another day of up/down bed luxury, hot moderately warm meals and a bathroom 3 feet from my bedside.

So will we do a hospital birth again next time?  I don't know.  It depends on a number of factors, part of which is what kind of insurance we have next time around (we are looking into getting Samaritan Ministries, which covers home births at 100%).  But I do know that I really enjoyed our hospital birth experience this time and would definitely be open to it again, especially as long as we are still living here.

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