Whether you’re thinking about starting a family or just got a positive pregnancy test, some of the first decisions you’ll make is who will deliver your baby and where. These choices go hand-in-hand because the provider you choose for your prenatal care must be in your insurance network and have admitting privileges at the maternity hospital where you want to deliver.
Here are a few things to consider as you do your research. We’ve also outlined the services Duke Health offers throughout the Triangle. We want you to have the best possible childbirth experience, whether you live in Wake, Durham, Orange, or Alamance counties.
Pick a Provider
Do you want a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist or a certified nurse-midwife, or do you need a perinatologist? If your pregnancy may be high-risk, your perinatal care should include a perinatologist who is specially trained to care for people with complicated pregnancies.
Duke Health offers a variety of highly skilled obstetric providers at our prenatal clinics. When choosing one, know that you’ll be picking a team. You’ll want to meet everyone during your pregnancy so you’re comfortable with the provider on call when you are ready to deliver.
Consider Your Location
Search for the “best maternity hospital near me” to view your local options. That’s important because you don’t want to travel too far for your ongoing prenatal care or when labor starts. Fortunately, Duke ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, and perinatologists are at clinics across the Triangle. There’s probably one near you. They deliver at all the nearby hospitals too. Here’s what you need to know:
- Obstetric providers at our Durham-based ob-gyn clinics deliver babies at Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital.
- If you receive your prenatal care in Raleigh at Blue Ridge Ob-Gyn or Duke Women's Health Heritage, you can have your baby at WakeMed North Family Health and Women’s Hospital.
- You can see a Duke ob-gyn or certified nurse-midwife at Duke Women’s Health Holly Springs and have your baby at WakeMed Cary Hospital.
- Duke OBs and certified nurse-midwives at Kernodle Clinic West – Obstetrics and Gynecology in Burlington deliver at Alamance Medical Center.
- High-risk pregnancies are delivered at Duke University Hospital. As a regional referral center, it offers highly specialized care.
Choose the Best Maternity Hospital
Independent organizations like U.S. News & World Report use different metrics to assess and honor the best local and national maternity hospitals.
U.S. News & World Report recognizes Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital as among the best hospitals in the U.S. for maternity care for 2021, the most recent year available. The recognition acknowledges Duke hospitals’ low rates of C-sections in people at low risk for pregnancy complications and other factors.
Take a Virtual Hospital Tour
If you expect to have a routine delivery, you can choose between a larger hospital like the Birthing Center at Duke University Hospital and a community hospital like the Birth Place at Duke Regional Hospital.
A virtual tour will give you a feel for who will be part of your care team, where you’ll labor, deliver, and recover, and what they offer for postpartum care. (Because of COVID restrictions, many hospitals aren’t doing in-person tours.)
Understand Your Pain Relief Choices
Know what pain relief options are available at the hospital you choose. Your choices include IV medicine and epidurals and other options such as birthing and peanut balls, birthing stools, and birthing bars. These offerings ensure you are as comfortable as possible during your labor.
Plan to Take Classes During and After Pregnancy
Classes help you prepare for labor, delivery, and being a new parent.
Duke offers a wealth of online Preparing for Baby classes, including ones that focus on breastfeeding, infant/child CPR, and more.
Consider Your Baby’s Care After Delivery
After your baby arrives, a Duke in-house pediatric provider will check your baby's heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflex response, and color. Our board-certified lactation consultants can help you start breastfeeding shortly after birth. The nursing staff is available 24/7 to educate and assist you with your breastfeeding goals.
Newborns with complex needs are cared for by Duke neonatologists and other medical professionals in the Duke Health nurseries. The Special Care Nursery at Duke Regional Hospital cares for infants born prematurely as well as babies born with common neonatal conditions such as breathing problems or suspected infections. Infants with complex problems are cared for in Duke University Hospital’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The Level IV designation indicates the highest level of care for critically ill infants.
Your Postpartum Care Is Important Too
Once your baby is born, trained Duke nurses help you start recovering and bonding with your baby. They also offer feeding and bathing to aid your and your baby’s transition in the immediate postpartum period. Patient resource managers assist with coordinating discharge and follow-up appointments.
A case manager or social worker who specializes in postpartum depression is available to help you and your family locate community resources and adapt to the many changes that accompany the arrival of your newborn.