Baby On Board! Childbirth Safety For Mom & Baby
There’s a good reason those “Baby On Board” signs became a craze in the 80s and are still around today—new moms are (understandably) obsessed with child safety. But safety concerns for you and your baby begin long before that first car ride home from the hospital.
In fact, there are safety factors to consider when choosing a hospital for your delivery (or selecting a doctor who chooses it for you). Here are a few things that even the busiest of expectant moms should put on their to-do lists.
Choosing the Right ObGyn
You may have been seeing a gynecologist regularly for most of your life, for everything from birth control to regular pap smears and breast exams. Or, you went to a primary care physician for these services and you’ve never seen an ObGyn. Either way, getting pregnant can be a game-changer in terms of who provides your care.
You primary care doctor might refer you to an ObGyn early in pregnancy (or even when you are trying to get pregnant). Or you may be surprised to learn that your ObGyn limits her practice to only gynecology. A recent move or changes in your insurance are other things that might push you to hunt for an obstetrician.
For whatever reason you are in the market for a new ObGyn, here are some things to consider:
Where They Deliver
Most obstetricians and midwives only deliver in a few hospitals in an area. Consolidating their births in a few locations makes it much easier to ensure they can be there quickly when their moms have a need – after all, most baby’s don’t come on schedule. And the hospital’s NICU status and amenities will make a difference in the safety and comfort for you and your baby (more on this on later in the article).
Vacation & After Hours Coverage
What happens if you go into labor or have a health concern and your obstetrician isn’t available? Who covers the practice? And will you have a chance to get to know that doctor at all during your pregnancy? Do the hospitals they deliver at have OB Hospitalists on staff for emergencies?
Nine months is a long time to go with a doctor that you aren’t comfortable with, for any reason. You don’t have to justify why—if you and your doctor just don’t seem to be talking the same language, consider a switch.
Choosing the Right Pediatrician
It’s a surprise to many first-time moms that they should find a pediatrician before their baby is born. In fact, it should be your next step after choosing your obstetrician or midwife—and just as important.
You may be spending the next nine months in and out of your ObGyn’s office—but that is nothing compared to the amount of time you and your child will spend at your pediatrician’s office during your baby’s first year (even if your child is never sick a day).
While you are getting recommendations from friends and family, deciding whether a location close to home or close to work is better, and more—don’t forget to ask your pediatrician prospects about their hospital affiliations. After childbirth, your obstetrician will decide when it’s safe for you to leave the hospital – but it’s your pediatrician’s job to make those decisions for your baby. Don’t worry if the pediatrician you love doesn’t practice at the hospital you prefer–another pediatrics group affiliated with that hospital can sign off on your baby’s release and you can follow-up with your pediatrician once home.
Some pediatricians visit newborns in the hospital soon after birth and monitor their care directly. Others may coordinate with the hospital’s pediatric care team. Whether this distinction is important enough to you to guide your choice in a pediatrician or not—you should at least know what to expect when the time comes. Of course, make sure the pediatrician you choose is also covered by your insurance.
Know Your Hospital’s NICU Status
Some expectant mom’s know that they or their baby are at high risk and already have things like NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) on their radar. But for many women, it’s way down on the “not me” or “I can’t even think about that now” list.
Here’s why you need to think about it—even if there is no indication you need to. If your baby is born premature, there are complications with childbirth that stress your baby or other unforeseeable issues come up, your baby will be cared for in an appropriate level NICU—even if that means transporting your newborn to a different hospital. Depending on your own health after birth, you and your baby could end up in different hospitals.
As mentioned earlier, moms-to-be don’t have complete control over where they deliver. Your choice of an obstetrician may limit your choice of delivery hospitals. If you are high-risk and you already know a NICU is important to you, consider which hospitals your ObGyn delivers at when making that decision. If not, find out the NICU services of the hospitals your doctor does deliver in and consider them when choosing your delivery hospital.
The HCA Midwest Health network of NICU services includes different levels of care to meet even the tiniest preemie’s needs. Learn about the level of care closest to you:
- Overland Park Regional Medical Center
- Centerpoint Medical Center
- Research Medical Center
- Menorah Medical Center
Or, you can call (913) 541-8330 to learn more about any of our neonatal services.
Be Prepared With Child Care Classes
When it comes to safety for both mom and baby—a little knowledge goes a long way. Consider taking one or more maternity, childbirth or parenting classes, like the Healthy Arrivals series offered at HCA Midwest Health hospitals. Some classes are online while others are in small group setting with other expectant families. Courses include:
- Infant CPR
- Baby Basics 101
- Preparations for Childbirth
- Marvelous Multiples
- Low Intervention Childbirth
- Breastfeeding Successfully
See the Health Arrivals schedule for more information.
Download the Childcare 101 App
Any veteran mom will tell you that pregnancy is a whirlwind of changes and emotions leading up to one momentous event. For a moment, time seems to stop. But soon enough the whirlwind returns with diaper changes, feedings, body changes to cope with and a tiny little life dependent on you for everything (and not at all shy about letting you know it).
The Childbirth 101 app is designed to help you through every stage, from early pregnancy through the first year. The app includes:
- Appointment tracker
- Kick counter
- Contraction timer
- Packing list
- Labor and delivery tips
- Breastfeeding and newborn tips
- Immunization log
- Parent journal
- Weekly milestones
- Weight tracker (for baby and mom)
- And more
Learn more or download the free app at Childbirth 101.
Don’t Forget The Extras
Take some time in your prep work to find out about the amenities available at your delivery hospital—and plan to make use of them. For example, HCA Midwest Health maternity services include some fun perks to make your delivery as unique as you are, from an amenities checklist to help you plan to our maternity nurse navigators to help you through the process from registration to birth.
And go ahead and buy yourself that Baby On Board car window sign. It’s never a bad idea to remind people of the importance of safety for babies, and their families.