One noteworthy point for those who are exploring their birthing options is that there is no NICU. This does not exclude it from consideration, though! Bear in mind that the vast majority of babies do not need a NICU in the first place; and among those who do, the vast majority of those problems are spotted well in advance of the birth, when there is ample time to get to a hospital with the right facilities. And with so many hospitals nearby, that’s an easy task! According to the web site, their partner hospital, with a Level III NICU, is Reston Hospital Center- for those rare occasions when they need to transfer.
It may be worth your time to give this hospital a second look. Newer facilities like this one can sometimes take a more open stance on some issues, in favor of increasing patient satisfaction. I sat in on an “Overview of StoneSprings Hospital Center” discussion led by the Director of Women’s Services. She stressed the focus on patient satisfaction at StoneSprings, including the fact that, sometimes, satisfaction might mean working with an individual family’s wishes that may occasionally go against the grain of the typical. Here are some points of interest that you, as a prospective patient, will be able to ask about and explore at StoneSprings:
-They offer both peanut balls and round birthing balls in their rooms. These are excellent birthing tools, and can be used dozens of ways, so it’s a real help to have them ready. And it’s one less thing that you need to remember to bring!
-StoneSprings encourages rooming in with your baby, because they recognize that can help with bonding and breastfeeding; but they do have a nursery, for those who choose an uninterrupted nap.
-Older siblings are allowed to attend the labor and birth, and can visit in the postpartum wing, if desired.
-A point that caught my attention: It sounds as though StoneSprings could be heading in the direction of supporting “family-friendly” C-section! They allow delayed cord clamping in the OR, which is still not done in every hospital, and we were told that clear drapes could possibly be negotiated. Vaginal seeding is not done here, but we were told that they were open to listening to conversation on this topic. Maybe someday, as the evidence shapes up in that area, we could see it start to be more a part of the process.
-Speaking of C-section birth, the word is that the rate of surgical birth at StoneSprings is roughly on the average, but an active effort is going on to reduce that. Who wouldn’t argue with a lower rate of surgery? Here’s hoping!
-In the case of a surgical birth, it is typically allowed and encouraged for one support person to accompany the mother. In the case of StoneSprings, it is, occasionally, possible for a second person to be allowed in! This is big news! It’s the first time I’ve heard of a second support person even being considered along for the ride. We were informed that this was not standard practice throughout, but would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The most important thing, besides space and emergency considerations, is the satisfaction of the patient, and that is more than I have heard from any hospital in the area, so I feel hopeful! I’ve only heard a great big emphatic NO from everyone else.
-The birth rooms look impressively large, with a big open space next to the bed for active labor activities; and there is even enough room for a little table with three chairs. We are told the hospital offers a postpartum meal to the new mother and her family that can be eaten there! They are working on ways to make the environment more homey and relaxing.
-Fyi: standard practice at StoneSprings is a 48-hour stay in the case of a vaginal birth, and 72 hours for a Cesarean birth.
-There are no tubs in the labor and delivery rooms, but there are showers; and portable delivery tubs may be brought in (by the patient-not available routinely at the hospital).
The number one thing to remember is that, whatever it is you desire for your birth, it really is important to communicate these things with your care provider well in advance. Many of the things I have mentioned here are acceptable, but not necessarily common. Some of them will require a real conversation, and not all of them may be possible for every birth. Also, policies do change, so the things that are acceptable now may not be at the time you will be giving birth. Of course, that also means new things may have been approved by then, too, so don’t hesitate to state what you want, and see where the conversation goes from there!
Here’s a link to the Pregnancy and Birth page of the StoneSprings web site, if you want to learn more: stonesprings.com/service/pregnancy-and-birth