No matter how long you’ve been planning (or trying), that moment when you find out you are pregnant always takes you a bit by surprise. Suddenly, you don’t feel quite as prepared as you thought you were, with the to-do list ranging from “finish the construction on the extra room” to “finding an obstetrician.”
While we can’t help you much with the new room, we are experts in pairing midwives or board-certified doctors with patients in need. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. When You Choose an OB, You’re Also Choosing a Hospital
Most ObGyns only deliver in a few hospitals. So when you choose an obstetrician (or midwife) to monitor your pregnancy and deliver your baby, you are also choosing to deliver at one of the hospitals where they practice. Being limited isn’t a bad thing—it allows your obstetrician to be there quickly should you have a need—but it is something you should think about. If you want to deliver at a particular area hospital or to make sure it’s one with a high-level NICU, you need to find out who delivers at those hospitals before selecting a doctor.
When interviewing your prospective obstetrician, be sure to ask about their vacation and after hours coverage. For example, will you get a chance to get to know their back-up doctor(s) in case they are at your delivery? Do the hospitals they deliver with have OB Hospitalists on staff? (OB Hospitalists are board-certified obstetricians that work for the hospital, serving patients admitted or in the ER and providing continuity of care when a patient’s personal doctor cannot be present.)
The most important thing, of course, is to choose an obstetrician you feel comfortable with. If you don’t, for any reason, keep looking. You don’t have to justify why—to the doctor or even to yourself.
2. Consider NICU Status Even If You’re Not High Risk
In the early days of pregnancy, you may be more worried about when morning sickness will end than whether your child will come early. When babies are premature (or there are other complications during birth), they need a specialty nursery or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). NICUs have different levels that describe the type of care they provide. For instance, the Level III NICU at Overland Park Regional Medical Center provides Johnson County’s most advanced level of care — for “micropreemies” born as early as 22 weeks.
Three other HCA Midwest Health Hospitals also offer NICU services Centerpoint Medical Center and Research Medical Center both offer Level III NICUs for babies born as early as 23 weeks, while Menorah Medical Center has a 7-bed Level II NICU.
If your child needs NICU care, you will be very relieved to know he or she can get this specialized care in the same HCA Midwest Health hospital where you are recovering from birth. If your baby needs a higher level of neonatal care than your hospital offers, your baby may be transported by a specialized team to a hospital with the level NICU they need. Preemies in need of Level III NICU care are transported to Overland Park Regional Medical Center from a 13-county region.
You Need To Find A Pediatrician Now, Too
That’s right, you need to find your pediatrician now in early to mid-pregnancy—long before your child is born—a fact that often surprises first time moms. You’ll want to have one in place before your baby needs care, and you’ll have more time to make an informed decision now than after your baby is born. But aside from all that, it’s actually your pediatrician who decides when your baby is healthy enough to come home after birth. So if you want that call to be made by the same doctor who will be following up on your baby’s care, you should have a pediatrician in place before you go into labor.
Your pediatrician can also help coordinate any specialty pediatric care your newborn needs.
Experience Matters, So Does Compassion
HCA Midwest Health delivers more babies in the Kansas City region than any other hospital system—more than 5,000 moms choose us every year. That’s partly because of our unmatched expertise, focus on quality and patient safety, and support services. But it’s also because we treat every birth as unique and make sure moms and babies get the healthiest, happiest start possible.