One of my most important jobs as a doula is to keep up with information about Reston and Dulles area prenatal care options so that I can relay that to my clients, allowing them to make their own choices. Reston Hospital runs a popular Labor & Delivery unit. The nursing staff, food, and rooms tend to get high marks from the typical Loudoun county woman. From the standpoint of anyone who wants to avoid a Cesarean, it’s important to know that according to the data, if you are pregnant with your first baby, are having a healthy pregnancy, and you have a singleton (1 baby) in the head-down position, your risk of having a Cesarean by walking into Reston Hospital is currently greater than 30%. If you’re educated about birth, that number is outrageously high. So, I’ve been looking forward to hearing more from the staff at Reston about their efforts to turn this around by inviting midwifery care and doula care into their unit where it has previously been unwelcome. They hosted an open house for members of the birth community this week. This is my official Reston Hospital Labor & Delivery review.
Seeing as how Reston has flat-out rejected doulas entering their hospital in the past, and attempts to bring midwifery into the mix have not gone very far, I was a little skeptical yet still excited to hear more about this recent development. I live less than 10 miles from the hospital, so if I could start serving clients who give birth there I would be all for it.
A sizeable crowd of doulas and a few midwives were in attendance; the nurse manager and other staff members created a welcoming environment for us. They relayed various changes they are working on implementing, but nothing is quite up and running at the moment. They reiterated that getting the nurses and physicians up-to-speed will be a process, but that they are committed to accommodating patients’ wishes, including doulas, adding more tubs for hydro-therapy, and additional monitoring equipment that allows for more freedom of movement during labor.
The hospital has traditionally been unfriendly to doulas, most likely due to a misunderstanding of what we provide. So hearing the nurse manager say that she supports us and knows how helpful we are, was reassuring. It means she’ll do her part in communicating our value to the staff. If you already have a doula you will want to verify that she is on the official Reston vendor list to avoid any possible interruptions of service.
The hospital is just breaking ground on some major renovations so the rooms will be nice and new, but that project likely won’t be complete for another full year. Four of the L&D rooms will have large jetted tubs for laboring. Water birth is not currently provided. They’ve also ordered one new wireless monitor and have a couple of the older models. The benefit of having these alternatives to the traditional equipment is that you can get out of bed and move around as desired, which is helpful during labor both for comfort and in using gravity to help your baby come down and out. Traditional equipment can also be used for intermittent monitoring (20 minutes on / 40 minutes off), but this would need to be discussed with your provider. The providers who practice at Reston are currently my own personal definition of “old-school:” everyone is expected to adhere to the following: IV fluids, continuous monitoring, epidurals, and pushing while lying on your back. But if you want to do things differently, you absolutely can. (Why would I want to? Learn more here.) You just have to communicate your wishes. There is currently one certified nurse midwife who is going through the process of obtaining privileges at Reston. That practice currently provides care at Fair Oaks Hospital, which is a great place to give birth. Even Cesarean births with this practice often allow doulas to support in the OR! Amazing and awesome. (And their Cesarean rate is only 7.7%!)
Reston also has peanut balls in every room, which are very helpful in reducing Cesarean rates for people using an epidural. Your doula can teach you how these work!
There are certainly always going to be people who rank food and accommodation quality above the specifics of hospital policy. For instance, Reston also keeps their nursery open for people who want overnight care. So although this flies in the face of biological nurturing, which is what the Baby Friendly hospital initiative that many hospitals have moved towards is based on, it’s nevertheless something that patients at Reston have expressed they want. I don’t think many of the parents who fall into this camp are interested in hiring me as their doula anyway, although I hope that can change because doulas are here to give you information and support your choices. I hope this Reston hospital labor & delivery review is helpful to anyone who would like to increase their odds of having a vaginal birth and want to try some alternative options to help that process along. The research shows that having a doula is one of the best ways to decrease your risk, however if a Cesarean birth is needed, we are right there with you, supporting you and your family in making a smooth transition. (The nurses who gave the tour also said they are in favor of inviting doulas in to the operating room during Cesarean births, and that the anesthesiologists are the ones who influence that policy.)