Do your research – online & offline
My husband and I had been living in Vienna for a little more than a year when we found out that I was pregnant. As we did not know anybody who had given birth here, we started to search online for a list of hospitals and reviews and we also asked work colleagues for advice.
The idea is to get as much information as possible about doctors, facilities, prices, because later on in the pregnancy you will have other things to think about so it is better to clarify this topic from the beginning.
Finally, our short list included Döbling and Goldenes Kreuz, but people in Döbling seemed nicer and more flexible. Of course, the doctor you choose will also influence the hospital selection, but it is not mandatory – private doctors usually work with more than one hospital, so they can come to the hospital of your choice.
Decide which factors are the most important for you and create a short list with 2-3 hospitals
You might be very impressed about a certain hospital, but the fact that it is 100km away from home could have an impact on the decision. So before going further, a short list of hospitals that correspond with your selection criteria is needed.
Criteria differ from person to person, but you could start by thinking about the following: price, medical insurance coverage, direct debit with the insurance company, location, is your doctor working with that hospital, possibility of the father spending the night in the room, language spoken by staff etc.
Visit the hospitals on your short list
No matter the great reviews and recommendations you hear, you really need to see for yourself how things are in the 2-3 hospitals that appeal to you.
A lot of hospitals have tours of the Maternity Ward for future parents organized regularly which you can attend. This would give you a glimpse on the staff, patients and facilities, and could encourage you to go further or not. Also, you can find out how the whole process is managed, which might differ from hospital to hospital.
This might sound crazy, but we did not even wait for the first doctor’s appointment to get an official confirmation of the pregnancy in order to take a tour of the Maternity Ward in Döbling. On the internet we found that there was a “Parents’ Evening” for an official tour, but in our excitement we decided one evening to go and try our luck. Arriving there, we went to the 4th floor and were greeted by one of the Midwifes (aka Hebamme). She gladly showed us around: the room facilities, the recreational areas and the delivery room, all in very good English. Let’s be honest: even if I can get along quite reasonably in all contexts with my German (and sign language, if needed), while having contractions one might forget words even in the native language, so being able to speak in English with all the staff was a huge plus.
Decide the hospital and communicate with your medical insurance provider
Having visited all the hospitals, decision should be quite straight forward, so not much to say here. However, you should also check with your insurance provider to see if your insurance really covers the delivery, if the hospital has a direct payment with the insurance provider, etc. Unfortunately, some unpleasant situations might occur (e.g. refusals of payment), so you should check from the very beginning and avoid stressful situations around the due date.