The Hospital Myth Debunked: What You Should Know about Delivering your Baby in a Hospital

When it comes time to decide where you want to give birth, the hospital may be your first inclination. After all, almost 99 percent of pregnant women opt to deliver their child in a hospital instead of at home. There are definite advantages to being in a hospital. For one thing, you’ll have an entire staff of professionals at your disposal twenty-four hours a day, and hospitals are extremely well-equipped to handle emergency interventions. Many hospitals also provide pre- and post-delivery education that you just won’t get at home

But giving birth in a hospital has some disadvantages, too. Though your doctor probably won’t be the first to tell you, hospitals don’t always provide the best environment for childbirth. For one thing, the strain of being in an unfamiliar environment can be very stressful when you’re in labor. Giving birth in a hospital also carries a greater risk of either you or your baby contracting an infection. And though it’s comforting to know that an emergency surgery can be quickly performed in a hospital room, sometimes emergency intervention can cause more damage than good.

Here are some frightening hospital statistics you probably haven’t heard

  • Many doctors will prescribe drugs to “speed things alone” and expedite the birthing process. Sometimes the motivation behind this can be personal—the doctor may be anxious to get to another patient or home for dinner. If your doctor is in a rush, he or she is likely to make hurried decisions that might not be in your best interest. It’s scary, but true doctors are people too, and they can make mistakes.
  • Most hospital-acquired infections are the drug-resistant kind.
  • Most infections in hospitals are passed patient to patient by caregivers. Doctors and nurses should be washing their hands frequently and wiping IV injection ports with alcohol before administering medicine.
  • 50 percent of medical errors occur when someone new takes over your care (called a transition of care or a “sign-out”). Pay careful attention to shift changes.

If you do decide to give birth in a hospital, make sure you do your homework when choosing one. Ask questions. How many deliveries take place at the hospital each year? What are the hospital’s statistics for emergency procedures? Is the hospital fully prepared, with both staff and equipment, for any problem that may arise? Who is allowed to watch the delivery? How much personal freedom will you have during your stay? Will you be an active part of every decision that concerns you? If you like the answers you’re getting to these questions, great. If you don’t, shop around until you find the hospital that’s right for you.

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