Choosing Where to Have Your Baby in Calgary

By: Tracy Hudson CD(DONA)
Originally posted from: http://www.maternalinstincts.ca/blog/choosing-where-to-have-your-baby-in-calgary

Our last blog post talked about the options for maternity caregivers in Calgary and expressed the importance of making an early decision.  Choosing how and where you want to birth goes hand in hand with the type of caregiver you have.  As stated in that post, if you wish to have a water birth, home birth or have your baby at the birth centre, you will require a midwife to achieve this.  If none of those things are an your wish list, your options are to either chose a midwife or a doctor and birth at one of the area hospitals.  If you want to birth at a certain hospital, you will need to look for a clinic that takes self-referrals or make sure your family doctor sends you in the right direction.  Catch up on the details on our last blog here.

 

Foothills Medical Centre
(informally known as Foothills Hospital)

By User:Thivierr (Digital camera photo taken by uploader) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

By User:Thivierr (Digital camera photo taken by uploader) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Located near 16 Ave & 29 St NW, the Foothills is Calgary's oldest hospital (of those with a maternity unit).  They have the busiest labour and delivery department and also handle the city's highest risk patients, possessing the highest level NICU unit.  The maternity ward is on the 5th floor of the main building, overlooking downtown.  There are lots of places to meander on the hospital grounds while trying to get labour into full swing.

Features:

  • Most of the labour rooms are very large
  • Most have comfy recliners for your support people to relax or nap in
  • One room with a tub (although usually reserved for the midwives)
  • 2 operating rooms very close by in case of emergency
  • Doulas or other support people can view cesareans through a window if they choose
  • Doulas are sometimes allowed in recovery after a cesarean
  • 2 cafeterias for refuelling
  • Long term care NICU

Things to consider:

  • Parking is currently a nightmare with the main visitor lot being revamped into a parkade
  • Only 1 support person allowed in triage at a time, which unfortunately means that sometimes you are separated from your doula for awhile
  • Only 2 support people allowed in labour rooms
  • Postpartum unit is mostly shared rooms

View a virtual tour of the Foothills maternity unit here

Peter Lougheed Centre

By User:Thivierr - Digital camera photo taken by uploader, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1612673

By User:Thivierr - Digital camera photo taken by uploader, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1612673

Located near the corner of 36 St & 26 Ave NE, the Peter Lougheed was our "newest" hospital before the opening of South Health.  It also has a very busy maternity department, only slightly behind the Foothills.  Labour and delivery is located on the 5th floor of the hospital which, unfortunately, does not have scenic views, nor great areas to walk around outside since it is surrounded by many retailers. However, that means there is plenty of good shopping close by in case something was forgotten!

Features:

  • Ample parking in an open parkade on the west end of the hospital
  • 2 operating rooms on the same floor 
  • 2 cafes, plus a Second Cup

Things to consider:

  • Only 1 support person in triage meaning you could be separated from your doula for some time
  • Only 2 support people allowed in labour rooms
  • Labour rooms are small
  • Few private postpartum rooms
  • [Added] Recommended you bring your own birth ball 

View a virtual tour of the Peter Lougheed maternity unit here

 

Rockyview General Hospital

CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1774636

CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1774636

Located on 14 St SW between Glenmore and Heritage, the Rockyview has the third most births in the city per year.  The birthplace is located on the 6th floor with most of the rooms having views of the Glenmore Resevoir (and sometimes the Queen Mary - the paddle-wheel boat from Heritage Park).  Walking outside is definitely scenic and relaxing here.

Features:

  • Large parkade that rarely fills up
  • Private triage rooms where doulas or additional support people can join you
  • Support is not limited to 2 people
  • Most rooms are quite large
  • Comfortable recliners for your support people to rest or nap in
  • One room with a tub (often reserved for midwives)
  • 2 operating rooms on floor
  • coffee shop & cafe, plus the main cafeteria remains open most of the time

Things to consider:

  • Some of the rooms are very small
  • The tub room has no windows
  • Few private postpartum room





View a virtual tour of the Rockyview maternity unit here

 

South Health Campus

By JMacPherson - Flickr: South_Calgary_Hospital, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19226597

By JMacPherson - Flickr: South_Calgary_Hospital, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19226597

Calgary's newest hospital is located in the deep SE near Deerfoot and Stoney Trail.  Currently there is only capacity to handle half the amount of births annually as the other 3 hospitals.  There are scenic views from the 7th floor maternity unit. The hospital was built using all the latest technology and with a strong emphasis on wellness.  Being in a new area there is lots of undeveloped land and new construction surrounding the hospital.

Features:

  • Ample parking in underground parkade and even free street parking (in short supply and only available for 2 hours)
  • Private triage rooms with support people allowed
  • Support people are not limited
  • Labour, delivery and postpartum stay are in one room
  • Large bathrooms with open showers
  • Portable birth tubs are allowed
  • TV's in each room
  • Partners can spend the night with each room featuring a window seat type bed
  • Doctors who specialize in vaginal breech birth
  • 2 cafeterias with food around the clock plus a Good Earth
  • Room service menu

Things to consider:

  • With a cap on births, it is very difficult to get accepted for care
  • The hospital utilizes a very time consuming record keeping method
  • Basic chairs for support people instead of recliners
  • Surgical suites are on a separate floor
  • Some of the street design in the area impedes access to the hospital, so make sure to know where to park and how to get there ahead of time



View a virtual tour of the South Health maternity unit here

 

High River Hospital

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalImages.net

Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalImages.net

Located in a quiet residential area in the SW quadrant of High River, maternity care is fairly new to this hospital (within the last 10 or so years).  Averaging about a birth per day, there is definitely a more relaxed feeling here.  The maternity unit on the main floor has a very low intervention approach to birth and offers woman centred care [Added:low risk clinic is a combination of doctors and midwives].  There are lots of quiet streets to wander and the hospital borders along a school field.

Features:

  • Free parking - lot and street
  • Support people not limited
  • Emergency cesareans available
  • Longer postpartum stay
  • Partner can room in
  • [Added: Inflatable tub available]

 

Things to consider:

  • Rooms are small
  • Only low risk patients accepted
  • Care sometimes transferred to Calgary
  • No NICU
  • 25 minute drive from Calgary's south limits


View a virtual tour of High River's  maternity unit here

 

Arbour Birth Centre

Photo by Julie DeWolfe for Maternal Instincts Childbirth Services

Photo by Julie DeWolfe for Maternal Instincts Childbirth Services

Calgary's one and only birth centre is a remodeled house in the community of West Hillhurst (near 16 Ave & 19 St NW).  It has 3 private birth suites with full ensuites and large tubs, a kitchen and a living room area.  It doesn't seem like a particularly quiet area being right on 16th Ave, but you can walk south into an old, quiet residential area.

Features:

  • Parking is easily available
  • As many support people as desired including service practitioners (mobile massage?  chiropractor?)
  • Each suite has a double or queen size bed
  • Tubs are large and can easily give birth in them
  • Comfortable living room space for family, etc. including toys for kids
  • Can store & prepare your own food in kitchen
  • Medical equipment is on-site, but kept out of sigh

Things to consider:

  • Only midwives will attend births there and they are in high demand
  • Cost is out of pocket unless your private insurance will cover
  • Obviously not a full on hospital if problems arise, however midwives are highly trained & transfer before it becomes too serious (Foothills hospital is less than 5 minutes away).
  • Can be a pain to get into coming from the east
  • [Added: No shower in the bathrooms]

View the Arbour Birth Center here