Anne Brown, MD, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She serves as medical director of the Women’s Health Service Line at Inova Loudoun Hospital

There’s a lot to think about when you’re having a baby – from picking a name to making childcare plans and finding a pediatrician. One item on the to-do list that deserves careful thought: Choosing the hospital where you will deliver.

What should you look for when deciding where your baby will be born? Here are some tips to ensure that you and your baby have the safest and most enjoyable delivery experience:

  1. Antenatal Testing. Everyone dreams of a healthy baby. But sometimes problems develop before a baby is born. Fortunately, many problems can be identified early, allowing your medical team to come up with a personalized plan for delivery and specialized care after birth. Antenatal testing centers provide specialized care for pregnancies at higher risk of complications for mother or baby, including services such as ultrasounds, screening for birth defects and genetic counseling.
  2. On-Site Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Over the last half century, the mortality rate for newborns dropped significantly, from more than 18 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 1960 to about 4 per 1,000 in 2012. That decline is largely thanks to the specialized care that ill and premature infants receive from specialists in (NICUs). When a baby is born with medical problems, it’s important to provide expert care as quickly as possible. When selecting a hospital, be sure to inquire about the available on-site neonatal services. ILH’s Level III NICU is the only advanced NICU in Loudoun County. This speciality unit offers round-the-clock observation and care for sick and premature infants as young as 28 weeks.
  3. Board-Certified Pediatricians. It’s critical to have pediatric experts on site if health issues arise in your baby’s first hours and days. At Inova Loudoun, for instance, the on-site NICU providers serve as your in-house pediatric team if your baby’s community pediatrician doesn’t see patients in the hospital.
  4. Lactation Consultants. Breast milk can offer many benefits for babies, but breastfeeding doesn’t always come easily to mom and baby. On-site board-certified lactation consultants can provide inpatient support for breastfeeding moms. Some hospitals – like ILH’s – even offer continued support after you return home.
  5. Family Education Classes. No matter how much you know about babies, there’s always more to learn! Be sure to inquire about the hospital’s family and childbirth education opportunities. Inova offers a wide variety of classes for new parents, covering topics such as general childbirth preparation, natural birth, baby care and specialty classes for siblings or grandparents. Support groups can also be beneficial after baby arrives.
  6. Birth Navigators. Some families need extra help as they navigate the process of prenatal care and childbirth. This is especially true for expectant parents who have health concerns or medical complications to consider. A birth navigator can act as your guide through this sometimes confusing process.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a hospital, including how far it is from home, cost of care, whether you click with the hospital staff and how you feel when you step inside. Taking a tour is often the best way to find out if a hospital is right for you.

At Inova, our goal is to decrease the number of cesarean sections and boost the odds of a safe vaginal delivery. Ultimately, our mission is to send home healthy moms and healthy babies. If you’re considering Inova Loudoun Hospital for your baby’s delivery, register for a tour. Then you can get back to picking the perfect name for your new arrival!

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