Posts Tagged ‘How to select a hospital

Recently, I was talking to one of our Healthy Mother Labor and Childbirth program participants who had gone to her parents’ house in Kerala to spend the rest of her pregnancy. During a routine check up at the local hospital four weeks before her due date, her baby’s heart rate was seen to be fluctuant, accompanied by significant decelerations. Her OB suspected that there may be cord entanglement, and immediately admitted her to the hospital. With severe decelerations of the baby’s heart rate continuing, her doctors  decided to immediately take her for an emergency C-Section. Soon after her delivery, the doctors found that her baby had significant difficulty with breathing, and the pediatrician counseled the parents to admit him to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

However, neither the hospital in which the baby was born, nor any other hospital in the vicinity, had NICU facilities. Thus began a ten day emotional and physical rollercoaster ride for mom and dad. The baby was shifted to the nearest hospital with NICU facilities, which was about 6 hours away. Mom could not be discharged from where she was for the next 3-4 days, and baby was 6 hours away in NICU. Dad shuttled between the 2 places daily, until mom was finally discharged and was able to see her baby. In adition, the hospital practices where the NICU was located were not mother-friendly, so mom was not allowed to touch or hold her baby for several days. She could only see her baby from outside the glass walls of the intensive care unit.

Finally the baby was discharged from the NICU in good health, and as I write this mom and baby have been at their home for several days, and both are doing well. Since the mother had continued to pump breastmilk while her baby was in the NICU, she is now nursing her baby without much difficulty. Way to go, mom!

As I was speaking to this couple, I thought I would re-emphasize the importance of choosing the right hospital for your baby’s birth. Not only is it important to choose a hospital that provides you with the best possible support and care that can promote a natural childbirth, but it is also important to check whether they have good emergency backup and post-delivery care infrastructure such as NICU facilities, should your baby need it. If not, at least you should check to see whether there are hospitals in the vicinity which offer NICU facilities, so that mother-baby separation can be kept to a minimum. Over and above this, there are several questions that you need to ask of your doctor and/or hospital, so that you can ensure the best possible birthing experience for you and your baby.

The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) is doing a remarkable job of advocating mother-baby friendly practices in US hospitals and medical facilities . I have adapted some of their recommendations in a document after making them relevant to the current Indian conditions. You can download the document here (Points to consider about your hospital).

In my next post, I will write about how Lamaze is helping women and their families in rethinking the different aspects of labor and childbirth.

Dr. Vijaya Krishnan

Advertisements