It can be hard for expecting parents to decide on a birth hospital. Especially for those who live in rural areas where more and more maternity care facilities are closing down.
To hear the full conversation, use the audio player above.
Professor Kozhimannil offered her perspective on a list of helpful questions expecting parents can use to assess their birth facility.
Top 5 topics expectant parents should ask about, especially when they live far away:
1) Who can I talk to if I have questions about whether I'm in labor or if I'm concerned about my pregnancy or my baby?
For women getting prenatal care at one clinic and giving birth at a hospital further away, it's important to know who to call if there are questions or concerns.
2) How do I know when I should come to the hospital? Do you expect me to travel when I am in labor or try to get to the planned birth location before labor begins?
The answers to this question may differ based on distance from a family's home to the place where they plan to give birth.
3) What are your policies about who can be present with me during labor and delivery?
For people who need to travel long distances, there are important logistical questions about whether partners, other family members, support people/doulas, or children are allowed to be present.
4) What percentage of people who give birth at your hospital have their labor induced? Is that more common for women who live far away? Why is that? What percentage of people who give birth at your hospital have a cesarean delivery? Is that more common for women who live far away? Why is that?
Procedures to control the timing of labor and delivery may be more common for women who have to travel greater distances, and this may be clinically appropriate, but patients deserve to know what to expect and to be able to play an active role in decisions that are not medical emergencies.
5) Who can I talk to if I have questions or concerns about my health or my baby after we leave the hospital?
Similar to question 1, this may be complicated for patients receiving prenatal care in one town and labor and delivery care in another location.
It's important to ask about things that you value and care about, and for you to get responses that are helpful and reassuring.
More excellent guidance and resources are available at childbirthconnection.org