Maternity hospitals in the Indianapolis area are continuously innovating. Now more than ever, there are lots of benefits to giving birth in a hospital – some big and obvious, like having immediate access to top-notch emergency care, and some small, like free valet parking and baby gear. Here are just some of the bonuses to experiencing a hospital birth.
Labor, delivery and postpartum are all very private events, and hospitals get it. Most hospitals around Indy offer private rooms — from start to finish. For instance, all maternity rooms at Franciscan Health are private, including triage, antepartum, labor and delivery suites, postpartum rooms and NICU rooms. At The Maternity Tower at Riley at IU Health, modern and private birthing suites are available, and also include overnight accommodations for one support person and free Wi-Fi. “We think it’s important for parents to be supported in their labor/delivery and postpartum experience,” says Dr. Amanda Underwood, lead obstetric hospitalist at Riley Children’s Health. “All rooms have accommodations to allow a support person to stay in the room with a patient. We encourage babies to be with their parents 23 hours of the 24 hour day.”
Access to Classes and Special Programs
Hospitals make the pregnancy and delivery experience a family affair by offering classes and programs for all members of the family. For instance, at Franciscan hospitals, grandparents can attend a virtual Grand Parenting 101 class, which updates grands on all of the changes since they had a baby. Grands can learn about topics like breastfeeding expectations and the safest way to put their grandchild to sleep. “We are slowly returning back to in person classes and have offered classes virtually, which we will continue, throughout the pandemic,” says Erin Neu, OB nurse navigator for Franciscan Health. “One note concerning virtual classes, our educator is teaching live to participants off campus. All of the classes are interactive and not recorded.”
Hospitals also offer sibling classes to help ease the transition of a new baby in the family, as well as classes for dads and partners, which cover topics about birth and the early months of a baby’s life.
Midwife and Doula Services
For women with low-risk pregnancies who are looking for a less invasive birthing experience, many hospitals around Indy offer the option of midwife services, as well as support from doulas. This allows women a more holistic birthing experience, with the added advantage and safety net of the hospital environment and protocol.
Gone are the days when new moms are fumbling, frustrated and alone with their breastfeeding journeys. For moms who choose to breastfeed, many hospitals offer lactation consultants who will visit immediately postpartum to help baby establish a latch and help moms figure out the (often confusing, at first) path to breastfeeding. At Franciscan Health, a lactation consultant is on hand seven days a week and they offer an outpatient lactation clinic one you’ve returned home. Most hospitals also have electric and manual pumps that you can rent and see which you prefer.
A new baby is a celebration, and what goes better with a celebration than food? At Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, each couple can order a “celebration meal” with their spouse from a special menu with fancier food. Parents at Franciscan Health have access to made-to-order meals delivered to their private room. At IU Health North, the food is so good that sometimes, people will visit just for the food. This could be because the head chef at this kitchen is chef Peter Fulgenzi, who was once the personal chef for actor John Travolta!
Water Birth and Hydrotherapy
For women who choose a water birth as their birth plan, hospitals are jumping right into this trend. You’ll find that most hospitals offer specialized, soothing birthing tubs for laboring moms who are seeking a water birth. Some hospitals, like IU Health, also offer hydrotherapy — showers or immersion tubs — to alleviate discomfort during birth. “Hydrotherapy has been shown to be an effective alternative to pharmacologic (medication) methods for helping patients cope with labor,” Underwood says. “In addition, water birth is offered for those patients who are candidates and who have established care in their pregnancy with a provider who performs this procedure.”
Fun Pampering Perks
To make families more comfortable, some hospitals have upped their game. The Maternity Tower at Riley at IU Health has a Ronald McDonald House Family Room inside the hospital — a place for families visiting the NICU to rest, and a place for parents to be pampered. There is a kitchen and designated area for eating, free McDonald’s McCafe coffee, a salon with hairstyling and hydromassage table, nap pods and an electronic gaming table. They also offer valet parking 24-hours a day at no cost!
Cool Baby Swag
We all know that people don’t choose to deliver in a hospital for the swag, but hey, extra perks can be a fun bonus! Many hospitals will send you home with lots of helpful baby items, like diapers, bottles, formula samples, burp cloths and more. At Franciscan Health, St. Vincent Women’s Hospital and Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, babies receive a Halo Sleep Sack to promote safe sleep. The Riley Maternity Tower also provides swaddle sacks to new parents as a gift from the Riley Foundation and the Colts Foundation. Sometimes, it’s the little things!
Above all, for many, a hospital birth offers peace of mind. “Delivering a baby in a birth center with hospital services to support the family with an expected or unexpected complication is priceless,” Neu says.