I love hospitals…said no one ever.
Personally, I hate hospitals. That weird smell that makes you[me] think of a paracetamol and Izal mixed together (eww), the sometimes very visible signs of human suffering (I have been vomited on in the hospital) and let’s not forget problem that dragged me there in the first place. But for anyone with a health challenge, you need a good hospital to get better.
For pregnant moms, you have a life growing inside of you and you want to do everything humanly possible to ensure that you and your baby have a better chance at a healthy life and the hospital offers you that. But you don’t just hop into any hospital you see. There are certain criteria that hospitals have to meet and it is your responsibility to diligently go over this list before partnering with them in your journey to motherhood.
No matter how amazing a hospital is, you need to consider the closeness of this hospital to where you live, work or spend your time. Of course, there is the option of moving closer to your preferred hospital as your due date approaches. But like every mother will tell you, sometimes, your pregnancy has a plan of it’s own. Did you think the woman who gave birth on a BRT bus planned to do so? Lol. Life happens and the life happening inside of you could decide to “pop out” anytime, anywhere. Choose a hospital close to you.
2. HOSPITAL FACILITY
Maternity hospitals are designed to cater to the pregnant moms but what happens when you have a high risk pregnancy? Do they have the resources to manage your health care needs? Do they have specialists doctors present? These may seem like morbid and scary questions but the answers could go along way to giving you some peace of mind.
You should also look at your comfort in these hospitals. We all pray that when we go into labor, we will give birth and head back home immediately. This is not always the case. Sometimes, complications arise and we are forced to spend more time pre/post labor in the hospital. To prepare for situations like these, look at the rooms available (do you want a private ward or a general ward?) Are the beds nice? Do they have nice bedding? (jejeli pack your own for comfort. I love these) Are the toilets decent? Are the staff nice? (I have heard of some nightmare nurses)
Ask friends for references and personal experiences. Factor all the answers you get into your decision making.
3. RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Most Nigerian moms I know [please correct me if I am wrong] don’t have personal doctors. It is whichever doctor available in the hospital where you registered in that becomes your doctor. And even if you have a family doctor, it is extremely rare that your doctor would have any privileges anywhere else other than where he actually works or owns.
Whatever the case, you need to have a good relationship with your doctor. If you are comfortable with the doctor, then it is advisable you use the hospital where she or he works. Some women are more comfortable with female doctors. If your doctor is efficient (licensed and has a good track record) and is willing to answer your questions (no matter how ridiculous they are), you are in the right place.
Hospitals don’t advertise their prices so you would have to do some legwork in that regards. Pick the ones you are comfortable with and ask them how much a typical birth would cost. A lot of them are very reluctant to give you a figure (they would say every labor is different or something along those lines). Tell them you want a rough estimate, do a comparison and then, make your choice. You could also ask your peers.
If you have health insurance coverage, the list of hospitals covered by your HMO could also help you decide on what hospital to use. Some HMOs have a wider coverage than others. Your location could also impact this list as larger cities like Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt would feature more hospitals on their list than a city like Yenegoa.
While, this narrows down and limits options, you should be more confident in your choices because these hospitals are thoroughly screened before they are included on the list. You just have to use factors like proximity, comfort and so on to determine which hospital is best suited for you.
The hospital you choose is plays a supportive role in your health decisions. Their expertise in your health care puts them in a better position to advise you on what to do but at the end of the day, you are the one who decides on what you want.
If you are planning to have a natural home birth as opposed to a hospital birth, your hospital should be able to work with you on this as long as your life and that of your baby is not at risk. If you find your hospital consistently trying to force certain options on you without a valid reason, you should rethink your relationship with them.
7. HOSPITAL POLICIES
Are birth partners allowed in the labor room? What are the visiting hours? Are you only allowed to buy drugs from the hospital premises? Make a list of concerns, find out what the hospital policies are and how they affect you. This is your right. Exercise it.
I plan to update this list as I read up more on this topic. If you have experiences concerning picking the right hospital, please share them. You just might be making a difference in someone’s life.