You’re pregnant - Congratulations! Along with the flood of emotions (and hormones), you’re
probably feeling overwhelmed with ALL. THE. THINGS. Things to think about, choices to make, and advice (wanted and unwanted) being thrown at you. It’s so hard to sort through all of it and pick out the parts that are actually going to help you.
It’s also easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of all the things to consider as a new parent, but the first question most people start asking is “where should I have this baby, and with who?” This kid is going to come out at some point - and you know you’re going to need to have some sort of plan in place for when that happens. Like, where is that going to happen? And with who?
If you’re local to Lincoln, Nebraska you probably already know that you have two hospital choices - Bryan Hospital or St. Elizabeth Hospital. Which one should you go with?
Maybe you’ve talked to your friends and/or posted on Facebook mommy groups to get a feel for others’ experiences. Just like perusing the reviews on Amazon, you were hoping that feedback from others will help you narrow it down and make a decision.
Buuuuuuut it turns out that asking the question has just made it harder to pick...
“I had a great experience with Dr. XYZ at St. E’s!” says one. “We had a horrible experience at St. E’s. We almost died” says the next.
“Oh, you will LOVE Bryan! We’ve had all our babies there and have had great experiences each time!” … “Whatever you do, DON’T go to Bryan. The nurses were horrible”...
Aaaaannnnnd now you’re more confused. And a little terrified. So how in the world do you actually make a decision here?
First, real talk - everyone’s experience is different because everyone has different wants, needs, and expectations. So trying to make a decision based on what someone else’s experience was is not a great plan, since their situation is not YOUR situation.
Example: Maybe the person who had an amazing experience at St. E’s was planning to get pain relief as soon as she walked in the door, sleep through labor, and wake up ready to push. If that’s what she got, she will have loved her experience! But maybe the mom who had a crappy experience was planning a med-free VBAC and kept getting hounded by the nurses to get an epidural because there’s “no trophy”...in that case, her experience would not have been great because she didn’t feel supported in her goals. See what I mean?
As someone who has worked with birthing clients in both hospitals, I can tell you that the two hospitals are actually pretty similar. There are great nurses at both. There are some *eh-hem* not-so-great nurses at both. Both have similar policies and “standard procedures” (ie: IV and monitoring during labor, immediate skin to skin after birth, etc.) So picking the right location for you really has less to do with the hospital itself, and more to do with the tips I’ll give you below.
Tip 1: First, decide what you want for your birth.
Before you can choose what is going to work best for you, you first have to know what the heck it is you want. Is your goal a completely unmedicated water birth with candles and meditation music and no medical intervention whatsoever? Do you want that epidural on tap as soon as you walk in the door? Or are you somewhere in between? What do you want for your baby immediately after birth, and during your stay at the hospital?
Before you settle on where you want to give birth, first ask yourself what your birth experience end-goal is. I recommend to all of my clients that they write a birth plan. And before you roll your eyes at me and say “birth can’t be “planned” - that’s silly” - I will say to you - neither can life. But that doesn’t mean we wake up everyday with no goals or hopes or dreams because “life is unpredictable”. Unless you do wake up everyday with no plan or goal and just “go with the flow”… If that’s how you roll, then you do you, girlfriend.
But if you do have certain goals for your birth, then start thinking about a birth plan. Birth planning is more about learning about what can happen during labor and delivery, and making a plan of action before you’re in the trenches of labor. It’s about researching and understanding your options, and deciding where your priorities are. It’s about preparing - not coming up with a rigid plan to be followed exactly. I have a whole resource page dedicated to this topic - you can check it out and get some ideas for your own birth plan here.
Tip 2: Pick your provider first
Okay, so now that you have decided what you want for your birth and have a shiny new birth plan in hand, the next step is to find a provider who will support you in your birth end-goal. PSSSST - your provider will have a much bigger role in your birth experience than the particular hospital you choose to deliver at. Once you find the right provider, they usually have a preferred hospital that they deliver at. If not, you can choose the hospital that works best for you based on location, insurance, or whether or not you want to be guaranteed a jacuzzi tub in your room (St. E’s has tubs in every room. Bryan has them in a few, but not all).
The main providers you can choose from in Nebraska are either an OBGYN or a Certified Nurse Midwife. An OBGYN is a medical doctor trained to deliver babies both vaginally and surgically. An OBGYN specializes in pathological pregnancy and birth - meaning, if there’s something wrong or abnormal or high risk about your pregnancy, they are more equipped to handle those issues.
Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) are nurses who took additional training in midwifery. In Nebraska, CNM’s deliver at the hospital and, contrary to popular belief, can provide pain medication during labor. We have CNMs at Lincoln OBGYN, the CHI Birth Center, and Williamsburg Women’s Health.
I actually have an entire blog post dedicated to explaining the different types of providers and helping you pick the right provider for you - you can check that out here to learn more about your options and what to consider when choosing a provider. My most important advice though is to interview several providers, ask lots of questions, and choose the one that will best support you and your goals. You don’t have to pick a provider because your mom says they’re the best, or because your best friend’s sister’s cousin recommended them. It is also totally okay to switch providers at any time if you no longer feel 100% comfortable or supported by them.
Tip 3: Did you know that Bryan and St. E’s are not your only options?
Did you know we have a freestanding birth center in Lincoln? The CHI Birth Center is located near 70th and O and might be a good option for you if your pregnancy is low-risk.
Did you know that home birth is also a legal option in Nebraska? While it is a little more challenging to find a provider, they do exist and you can choose a home birth if that’s what you have your heart set on.
(PS - if you love the idea of a home birth, but it’s just not in your cards for whatever reason, I wrote a blog post for you about how to make your hospital birth more like home. Check it out!)
Bonus Tip: Get a doula. Or maybe a birth photographer (or both!)
Labor, birth and parenting is a WILD RIDE full of ups and downs and uncharted territory. Do yourself a favor and get a doula to help guide and support you through this journey. A doula is basically like a birth sherpa - someone who is trained in birth and who’s job is to help you learn about your options as well as provide emotional and physical support to you and your partner during birth. You can also hire a postpartum doula to help you in the days, weeks and months while you’re adjusting to your new life with your baby.
You might also consider a birth photographer. I wish I had known birth photographers existed when I had my kids, so I always make sure that new parents know it’s an option for them to consider. If you want to learn more about birth photography and why it’s so important to me, check out my about me page.
I wish you the best of luck as you create your birth plan and assemble your perfect birth team! If we’re not already hanging out on social, be sure to follow along @novitabirthstories on IG and Novita Family Photostories on Facebook. I love sharing inspiring birth stories, tips and tricks, and encouragement for new families on this wild and crazy journey of having babies and raising kiddos. See you there!