Why should I go early?
For many moms, it’s easiest to get around in the early months of pregnancy, and using that mobility to tour different hospitals in your area is a great choice. Although you might have some last-minute nesting energy toward the end of your pregnancy, you’ll probably find it easier to walk around and explore new hospitals in month three than month eight.
With fewer baby showers and family visits to account for, you probably have more time on your hands early in your pregnancy, so fitting a few hospital visits into your schedule should be a bit easier.
What do I look for when I’m there?
- Do doctors rotate responsibilities on the labor floor? Some hospitals have this system so providers aren’t splitting their attention between the labor floor and their office. Because of this, you should consider the possibility that the doctor or midwife you see for your prenatal appointments might not be the same doctor who delivers your baby.
- What’s the staff like? Take a moment and talk with a few of the nurses and doctors if they can spare the time. Does the atmosphere match what you want on the big day? Maybe you’d prefer a staff that’s friendlier, or one that’s all business.
- How are the facilities? Depending on how your delivery goes, you might be spending a few days there. Quality of care being equal, it’s alright to look for an environment that you will find the most comfortable.
Can I compare hospitals?
You can! Looking up hospital statistics is a smart first step when you’re researching hospitals. You can use this tool, which was made using data from The LeapFrog group, to compare C-section rates at hospitals near you.
The rate of performed Caesarean sections is one of the most important statistics you can find about a hospital. At first glance, a high C-section rate might seem reassuring because it shows that a hospital has a lot of experience related to the procedure. However, rates that are higher than expected are concerning because of the potential that the hospital is performing C-sections when they aren’t medically necessary.
How to know when it’s right
There are many websites that rate physicians, but it’s unclear whether these can really tell you which doctors provide high-quality care. You’re probably better off checking out websites that rate hospitals – the statistics are more reliable, and unlike rating a doctor, personality isn’t a factor.