If you are at all interested in having a say in how your baby is born, it’s a good idea to have your baby born somewhere other than Reston Hospital. There are quite a few reasons, but basically they are very interventionist (meaning they like to do medical things even when your birth is normal and low risk) and they are not very open to parents who want to make decisions. Here’s a mixture of fact and opinion.
1. The Caesarian rate is off the charts
My friends who asked the hospital staff recently were told that the Caesarian section rate is an astounding 47% for 2006. When my wife enquired about the 2005 numbers, it was 42%. There is no excuse for a caesarian rate to be so high. In our area, Fairfax Hospital handles the bulk of the really high risk mothers, neonatal intensive care, and other unusual circumstances that would push statistics higher. Reston has no such formalized role. If you’re having a birth at Reston, you have a seriously good chance of having a Caesarian section. There are a lot of reasons you don’t want that, but those reasons are not the subject of this rant.
2. My Way or the Highway
This boils down to a few specific issues:
2.a. No Doulas
It is my understanding that Reston has banned doulas of all sorts from the labor and delivery process. Want a doula to be part of your birth? Go somewhere else. They’re not welcome here. [update: This seems to have created some confusion. If you don’t know the difference between a midwife and a doula, check out my post “Midwives and Doulas: Not the Same Thing"].
2.b. No Dads in the Nursery
This is a bit more hearsay than some of the other statements here. My friend’s wife recently gave birth at Reston and he was not allowed into the nursery to bathe his newborn daughter, nor was he allowed in the nursery when the PKU test was administered.
Loudoun Hospital, where my second son was born, was more reasonable on this point. I bathed my son in the nursery, and I was present for the PKU test. There are times when non-staff are not allowed in the nursery at Loudoun—namely when the doctors and/or hospital staff are discussing the particulars of a patient. That makes sense. Categorically denying dads in the nursery does not make sense. My friend says he was explicitly told, during their hospital tour, that he would be allowed into the nursery.
2.c. No Midwives
The hospital, as far as I know, has no policy against midwives. In fact, in 2003, my first son was delivered there by a midwife. (Our experience at that time wasn’t so bad) When we looked in 2006 to have another child, we could not find any midwives practicing at Reston. Probably due to the hostile attitude, but that’s just conjecture and opinion on my part.
3. A Bright Spot
Sounds to me like the anaesthesiologists at Reston have a somewhat unusual and good practice with respect to epidurals. Nevermind that epidurals are administered way too often It sounds like my friend’s wife was administered the lowest effective dose, enabling her to feel something, but still eliminating most of the pain. As far as i know, the vast majority of anaesthesiologists fully numb the mother from the waist on down, and don’t consider the option of leaving her some sensation.
My point in all this is that doctors and hospital officials are pushing childbirth towards unnecessary interventions and are really not giving women the benefit of options. Through “policies” that unnecessarily restrict the woman’s options, they artificially create a “norm” of pitocin, epidural, caesarian births.