Finding a good hospital for maternity is among the top priorities for pregnant women to ensure optimal care when you are having a baby.

  1. Doctor privileges: One of the most important aspects of choosing the best maternity hospital is the ability of your obstetrician to practice in that hospital. Some doctors have practicing privileges in only some hospitals. It is also important to make sure your insurance covers the stay at the hospital. If your insurance requires you to choose from a certain list of maternity wards, you will need to find the best one from that list to ensure proper medical coverage during the birth and stay at the hospital.
  2. Average length of stay: With insurance coverage, most of the time the length of stay approved will be the time the mother spends in the hospital. Before choosing the best maternity ward, ask how long the average length of stay is for a vaginal birth and a C-section birth. Just because the insurance approves a length of time does not mean the hospital has the available rooms to keep mom and baby that long.
  3. Number of patients on the floor: How many mothers and babies can be housed in the maternity unit at one time? Is the unit usually full or are their open rooms available most of the time. If there are open rooms on most days, the mom may be able to stay longer in the hospital with the support of the nurses when transitioning from pregnant woman to new mother.
  4. Nurse to patient ratio: The number of patients for every nurse on the maternity ward is an indication of the support the pregnant mom and the new mom will receive. If there is a large ratio, the care you want may not be available with the nurses being spread thin over the patients.
  5. Private room availability: Some insurances cover the use of a private room after birth. This does not mean the hospital will have that space available. If you want to have a bit more privacy after the baby is born, check with the maternity ward to see if there are private rooms available.
  6. Night visitor privileges: Dad wants to be as much a part of the birth and after birth care as possible. A growing number of hospitals allow the father to stay in the room with the patient for moral and physical support.
  7. After birth suite: In cases where the baby is in need of specialized care after mom has been released, after-birth suites provide mom a place to stay in the hospital while the baby is still under the care of the doctors.
  8. NICU: After the baby is born, if there are any complications the baby may need NICU care. NICU stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. If the hospital does not have an NICU on sight, choosing another maternity ward may be the best option.
  9. Specialized care: Along with choosing a maternity ward with a NICU, the specialized caregivers need to be available to care for the baby. These caregivers include Neonatal Intensive Care nurses and a pediatrician that specializes in critical infant care.
  10. Obstetrician/pediatrician on-call or in-house: Some hospitals employ an obstetrician and / or a pediatrician to be in-house during the late-night and overnight hours. Others only require a specific doctor to be on call. With the on-call doctor, there will be a wait before specific care can be given.
  11. Lactation support: Some mothers choose to breastfeed from the moment they know they are pregnant and take classes on lactation. Others decide after the baby is born to try their hand at breastfeeding. For these moms, in house lactation support is essential to making the connection between mom and baby a bit less stressful.
  12. Patient reviews: After checking your list and finding what seems like the perfect hospital or maternity ward, the last thing to check is patient reviews. These can be found all over the Internet and are a great indication of how the maternity ward truly treats the patient and the baby.

Read More:
Scheduling the Hospital Tour
Labor and Delivery Guide

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