Given the choice between delivering my baby at Duke or UNC hospitals, I chose….and here’s why.
I’ll save you the suspense and go ahead and spill the beans…UNC wins, NC Womens’ Hospital at UNC, that is!
After researching and touring both hospitals, my husband and I chose to have our baby girl delivered at UNC. It’s not in Durham, but there are some very important reasons for choosing the commute and the non-Durham hospital.
First of all, I wanted a midwife to care for me during my pregnancy and to help deliver my baby. They specialize in pregnancy and labor and delivery for low-risk pregnancies and help women have natural births with fewer unnecessary medical interventions. It has been my experience that they also work on developing relationships with their patience AND all the ones I have met are women. They are trained to recognize when there comes a time that a laboring mom might need additional medical help and consult with or bring in a obstetrician, MD, when necessary.
Duke and UNC both have midwifery practices. Duke midwives participate in a program where they treat women with similar due dates in groups through their pregnancies, building a sense of community and shared experience along the way. The program is called the Centering Healthcare Institute. While the program sounds really cool, the midwives have limited office hours. Their website says they are available to assist with labor and delivery Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GO INTO LABOR ON A WEEKEND OR AT 5:06 P.M.? You know, because babies don’t always decide to come during regular business hours. Not cool with me. UNC always has one of about six midwives on call that will be at your delivery at any time of day or night, any day of the week. I was sold at that, but there’s more.
While both hospitals are capable of handling special medical situations and they both also conduct all kinds of beneficial research and community programs. I just felt better at UNC. They had a “Meet the Midwives” night where most of the midwives in the practice were available to introduce themselves and tell a group of expectant parents about their services and the hospital. They gave us a tour and made us feel very comfortable and welcomed. They really recognized what a special life event pregnancy and birth is and strive to treat each patient with the special attention they deserve. There are about 5 midwives on staff and patients meet them all by rotating through them with each prenatal appointment so that you have met the midwife who will deliver your baby. They also presented the facts and figures about their department, like their c-section rate. UNC Women’s Hospital boasted that they had the lowest c-section delivery rate in the region. I liked that a lot.
The Duke midwives don’t offer a meet and greet like that. You have to make an appointment for an office visit and even then, you don’t get to meet all the midwives and there are 9 of them on staff. During the tour of the labor and delivery unit of the hospital, my husband and I felt like just another number. They emphasized how quickly they wanted to get you from the labor and delivery room to the recovery room. They also did not have statistics available to share at that information session. Duke might be a newer, nicer looking facility, but they did not showcase the loving, caring, personal, natural experience that I prefer.
I did also tour Durham Regional Hospital labor and delivery unit. The Duke midwives and physicians are affiliated with this hospital. The hospital was nice and the staff was very welcoming, but they are not equipped to handle major emergencies. If your birth or a medical condition with you or the baby were to get complicated, they would have to transport you to Duke or UNC.
I have to give kudos where they are due…I’ve been to the Duke emergency room before and had a great experience. I was well-cared for and they used the latest technology available. They also have an amazing computerized record system that connects all of their practices and facilities. It also has an online patient portal for managing appointments and viewing test results. In fact, my primary care physician is affiliated with Duke and my husband’s and baby’s primary care physicians will probably also be a Duke doctor.
Alas, even though UNC is a little further away, it’s not in Durham, and not quite as high-tech as Duke, I still had to go with UNC for personal reasons. I’m glad I don’t pull for Duke during basketball season, or that decision would be quite painful!