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What Makes Hospitals Different from One Another

The choices are endless in today's hospitals as they compete for your dollars in the marketplace. Here is what one local hospital in my area (St. Vincent Women's Hospital in Indianapolis) offered on their Web site, touting how they were different from all the others (I've put my comments in parentheses):

  • Free parking (This feature is always a good thing; parking can get expensive for your family and friends who visit.)

  • Easy in and out for services and visiting (I think this means that it's easy for people to visit you—sometimes a good thing, but not always.)

  • Conveniently located near the interstate (It depends on where you're coming from whether or not this matters to you; however, it might be convenient for your visitors. Of course, if you're in labor, you want the hospital that is closest to your location and to heck with everyone else's needs.)

  • 24-hour room service meals at your request (I would have killed for this because after you deliver, you will be very, very hungry, and in the "old" days, you simply had to wait for the regular meals at regular times. This sole concept would move the hospital to the head of the list in my book, but then "hotel service" when you're in a hospital sounds simply decadent and wonderful to me.)

  • Complimentary massages (A "to-die-for" idea, even if they only last 15 minutes—you can schedule them for longer and pay for them.)

  • Free daily newspaper (Who has time to read or wants to waste time on a newspaper after having a baby—a negligible service in my estimation, although one the father might like.)

  • Exclusive new baby portrait photography is available at your option (Most hospitals have some kind of photography service; in the past, the nurses took the pictures. The difference at this hospital is that you have a professional photographer available who will do unusual shots, rather than the standard ones—of course, expect to pay more.)

  • All private rooms for obstetrical patients (I like this idea as well. I shared a room once—and only once—because it was an abysmal experience since my roommate cried the whole time because her baby was jaundiced.)

In addition, in-depth brochures from the same hospital highlighted their level IV neonatal unit, their extensive childbirth classes, and a new mother's support group that women can attend after their baby is born. This hospital offered tours twice a month for parents to attend and get the lay of the land. In fact, most hospitals today have similar programs.

Birthing Options

I remember once upon a time when it was in vogue to deliver a baby in a birthing pool under water. I'm not sure what the latest birthing options are, but if you want something out of the ordinary, make your requests known early and make sure that the hospital and your doctor will accommodate your requests, assuming they aren't too kinky.

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