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Seeking Advice on Where to Give Birth

Another good question from one of our readers: I am expecting our first baby next year in February and i am still torn between delivering at Legacy Meridian Park (which is closer to our home, left me with a very good first impression during the hospital tour but doesn't have midwifes) vs. St. Vincent (which would give me the option to use a Midwife but is further away from our home, overall a much more large volume hospital and i just didn't felt very comfortable being at during the hospital tour). I was trying to find recent reviews on both hospitals but wasn't very lucky. I saw there were posts about Legacy Meridian Park on the urban mamas webpage but these were from 4yrs ago. Are you aware of any more recent reviews for either of the two hospital or have any advice for me on what i should be prioritizing when choosing a hospital: getting the right set of providers but being in an environment which at first sight i didn't felt very comfortable in vs. being somewhere where at first sight i felt comfortable but i need to stick to with providers (namely doctors) i might be nervous about as those might be quicker to intervene medically?

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I had a baby in June at St V's and had a great experience, especially with the labor and delivery staff (post-partum was fine, but the people who helped us before and during birth were especially rad). I had a 9 1/2 pound baby with minimal interventions and we got lots of skin to skin contact immediately after birth which was great. While they do deliver a lot of babies I didn't feel like it being a high-volume hospital impacted my stay in any negative way.
What made you uncomfortable there?

I do not have any personal experience at either facility.

If you're nervous about needing to stick with doctors because they might be quicker to intervene, there is a very good chance that the obstetricians work right next to the midwives there. If anything were to go wrong, it's likely your midwife or nurse could immediately grab one in the hall. It's worth checking into.

One very important consideration is that St. Vincent has one of only two Neonatal Intensive Care Units in the metro area (I'm pretty sure.) After a family member's scary experience, I tell every inquiring mom that I personally will only deliver in a facility with a NICU.

I'll also add that I think your comfort level with your provider(s) is more important than your impression on the hospital tour. The hospital tour at OHSU wasn't that great, but I had a most perfect and fantastic experience there. Twice actually.

Best wishes to you. Remember, that it's okay to change facilities later if things don't feel right.

I delivered at St. V in April with the midwives of Women's Healthcare Associates, and it was an AWESOME experience. It was my second baby, and my first was born at a hospital just outside of Los Angeles with an OB. I much prefer the midwife experience over the OB experience. The postpartum rooms are tiny at St. V, but the nurses are so great and I was discharged after 24 hours (my choice, they would have let me stay for another 24+ hours if I wanted it) that I didn't really care about the room.

The Postpartum Care Center is also a really nice bonus to delivering at St. V.

@k: What made me feel uncomfortable at St. V were things like that it felt like a true hospital, it felt older, so many other couples and people working there. The two things what really stood out to me though were that a) you seemed to get shoved around rooms (Triage, then Delivery, then Postpartum) and i wasn't able to see a single one of those type of rooms in advance and b) that they seem to have their set of "rules" on how to handle things which then made me wonder if i will be able and be allowed to do things during labor like I feel comfortable (like walking around, bringing my own birth ball, having a scent diffuser in the room etc.).

at Legacy Meridian park i had questions after the tour (which included a sample delivery room) which the "tour guide" couldn't answer: so she went and got one of the nurses who then took her time to answer each single question of mine and both kept stressing, that their approach is that they let moms do what they need to do usually but are there to support.

@Sarah: i know about the NICU - that was the other big reason why i wanted to like St V and register there. If something comes up its right there...

OHSU isn't very much farther than St. Vincents. Our younger son was born there two years ago. As a gay couple working with a surrogate, I didn't know exactly what to expect from the hospital. I was extremely pleased with how we were treated. The midwife who did all of the prenatal visits as well as the delivery was also really amazing.

Have you considered Emmanuel? I delivered in July and absolutely loved all the staff there. Plus, post-delivery they have you in the new children's hospital, up on the 7th floor with an incredible view. That new building is super swanky like the W hotel.

I had all three of mine at St V.'s. Great experiences there for us.

I'll give you my experience with what you said, although of course everyone's is different, and you need what's right for you
*What made me feel uncomfortable at St. V were things like that it felt like a true hospital, it felt older, so many other couples and people working there.*
-While there are a lot of people I never felt like I was overlooked-they have a low nurse: patient ratio and nurses are on 12 hour shifts, so it wasn't constantly different people. And in fact after the baby was born my nurse took me back past triage to see the nurse who'd checked me in the night before because she was "dying to meet your baby" which was really sweet

*The two things what really stood out to me though were that a) you seemed to get shoved around rooms (Triage, then Delivery, then Postpartum) and i wasn't able to see a single one of those type of rooms in advance *
-I didn't like that you couldn't see the rooms, but I had no complaints. You're hardly in triage (I think I spent maybe 30 minutes in there tops). Moving from delivery to postpartum isn't ideal but it wasn't bad. Both were fairly normal hospital rooms?

*and b) that they seem to have their set of "rules" on how to handle things which then made me wonder if i will be able and be allowed to do things during labor like I feel comfortable (like walking around, bringing my own birth ball, having a scent diffuser in the room etc.).*
-I walked around and was encouraged to do so by the nurse. The midwife who delivered my baby let me have some water while I was pushing (i was so over ice chips) despite it being "against the rules", so I think some people there at least are flexible on things. And stuff that was important to me (skin to skin, breastfeeding support, the baby rooming with me) is all standard procedure which was great. I would guess you could call and ask about the diffuser?

I took a birth class through Providence and I found it helpful because they explained a lot of what birth would be like there - the room transfers and some of the policies etc. If you're going to deliver there I think having a childbrith class through them could be helpful just because it educates you on what they normally do which for me made me less nervous about "what happens next?" and "will i have to fight for this?" type of things.

Thank you k! Your post is super helpful!

I delivered at PPMC so can't speak to either but definitely think the provider is the most important over the location. I had midwifes and recommend going that route. I also had a doula and think every new mother should have one. Student doulas are available if cost is a factor through birthingway college of midwifery. We had a student doula and she was amazing.

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