The idea of going into labor and giving birth to that baby happily resting inside of you can be scary when your pregnant. It is even more overwhelming when it is your first baby. No matter how many books you read, documentaries you watch, and friends you ask it’s hard to really wrap your mind around what’s coming. However, the more prepared you are the easier it will be. That’s why going on a maternity hospital tour is an important part of your third trimester.
During a maternity hospital tour you will be able to see exactly where you will be delivering your baby. You will meet some of the staff, take a look into the delivery and recovery rooms, and be shown some of the amenities that will be offered to you. It is also a wonderful opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have regarding your upcoming delivery.
If you are like me you probably have a million questions running through your head, but you don’t quiet know where to start. That’s why I made a handy list of my top 15 questions to ask during your hospital tour for you! This is just a quick starting point for you. Of course every woman will have different things that are important to them during their delivery. You should add in any other little questions you have to this list as well!
What should I do when I go into labor?
This will be one of the most important questions you ask at your hospital tour. It’s important to find out at what point during labor they want you to come in. This will vary slightly from hospital to hospital. There is no need to waste a drive to the hospital just to be turned away and told to come back when your labor is further along.
You will also want to find out where to park and where to enter the hospital at. Does your birth center have a special entrance or will you just enter through the main hospital entrance? They can also tell you exactly what documents you will need to bring with you when you come. This typically includes your drivers license and your insurance card.
Will I be sharing a room or will I have a private room?
When I was pregnant with Olivia it was super important to me to make sure I had a private room. I couldn’t imagine going through a painful delivery with another family on the other side of a curtain. I also wanted the privacy for my husband and I to bond with our daughter.
Not all hospitals offer private rooms for mothers. Some hospitals do, but it is at an additional cost. The best hospitals offer them for every mother at no extra cost. It’s important to find out what your hospital offers during your hospital tour so you can plan accordingly.
How many support people am I allowed to have during labor and delivery?
Many women only want their husband in the delivery room with them. However, there are plenty of other women who would also like to have their mother, mother in law, best friend, or a doula with them as well. Some hospitals have strict policies on how many support people a mother is allowed to have during their delivery. So, find this out during your hospital tour so that you can plan accordingly.
What kind of pain management options do you offer?
Every expectant mother will have a preference on what type of pain management they would like to receive during labor. It’s important to make sure that your hospital offers the type of pain management you are hoping for. Some different pain management options to discuss include an epidural, a spinal block, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), etc.
On the other hand, some moms prefer to have a drug free birth and opt out of pain management options completely. If you are choosing to go the natural route it is important to make sure that your hospital is supportive of that. It won’t help you at all if they offer you an epidural at the first sign of pain and every hour after that.
What type of comfort measures do you provide during labor?
A lot of moms have a strong opinion on what types of comfort measures they would like to use during their birth. After all, it is an important part of a birth plan. That’s why it is important to find out exactly what types of comfort measures your hospital provides during your hospital tour. You should also ask if you can bring in your own comfort measures if they don’t provide them. Some comfort measures include a tub to labor in, showers, a birthing ball, birthing stools, a place to walk, etc.
Am I allowed to take pictures or record video during delivery?
It is becoming increasingly popular among new moms to have a photographer during labor and delivery. Giving birth is a right of passage for a woman and it only makes sense they would want to remember it forever. If you are wanting to have these memories recorded be sure to check with your hospital beforehand. Due to legal reasons some hospitals do not allow the use of cameras during labor and delivery.
Will my baby be separated from me after birth?
It is so important for mom and baby to be together immediately following the birth. This helps with bonding and breastfeeding. There are a lot of great baby friendly hospitals that promote skin to skin contact immediately following the birth. However, there are hospitals who whisk the baby away for cleaning and medical checks immediately.
If it is important to you to have skin to skin contact immediately following the birth then you’ll want to be familiar with your hospital’s policy. This way you can speak with your OBGYN to see if they can make an exception if needed.
Does this hospital utilize a nursery or will baby be allowed to room in?
It was extremely important to me that my daughter stayed with me during my recovery. Luckily, I was in a baby friendly hospital that actually encouraged rooming in. Every hospital will have different policies on whether or not they allow mothers to use the nursery. In fact, some of the baby friendly hospitals don’t even provide a nursery anymore because they feel rooming in is so important. It’s important for you to find out what your hospital provides during your tour so you can adjust your expectations accordingly.
What forms of breastfeeding support does your hospital offer?
Breastfeeding does not come as naturally to new moms as many people like to make it seem. Even though breast is best for your baby it’s not always the easiest. It’s important for mom to have as much support as possible to help her begin this journey.
Many hospitals offer breastfeeding support in the form of a lactation consultant. This can come in a one-on-one session or a group session. If your hospital does not provide a lactation consultant you can ask to bring in your own.
Is this hospital certified as a baby friendly hospital?
Many hospitals are now working on becoming certified as baby friendly. In fact, the hospital we plan on delivering baby #2 in (when that happens) is certified as baby friendly. Essentially being a baby friendly hospital means that they support skin to skin, breastfeeding, rooming in, etc. They have specific policies in place that support these important tools in mom and baby bonding. Don’t worry if your hospital isn’t certified as baby friendly. They may very well still be unofficially baby friendly and support all of these ideals.
What are your policies on visitors?
Visiting policies vary from hospital to hospital so this is an important question to ask. You will want to find out what the visiting hours are for your hospital, how many visitors you are allowed to have, and if children are allowed to visit.
Also, a lot of baby friendly hospitals now employ what they call the golden hour. The first hour after birth testing on baby is kept to a minimum and no visitors are allowed. The first hour is strictly for mom and baby to bond. You will want to find out if your hospital supports this rule so your visitors can plan accordingly.
What kind of security do you offer on your maternity floor?
I found comfort in knowing exactly what forms of security my hospital provided for the maternity ward. The level of security will vary from hospital to hospital. Some hospitals do not offer any security. Others have the floor on lock down. You have to be buzzed in or receive a special code to access the floor. Some hospitals place a special device on your baby that sets off an alarm if they go through the door. The more you know about your hospitals security policies the more comfortable you will feel.
How long do moms typically stay after birth?
It’s important to have a general idea of how long you will need to stay in recovery after your birth. This way you can make plans for caretakers for your pets and other children. A moms stay will vary depending on whether or not she had a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth. I recommend finding out the average stay for both options just in case. Also, it is important to remember that the length of your stay could be extended if you have any complications. So the length of time they give you is just an estimate.
What happens if I need an emergency C-Section?
It’s important to be educated about your hospital’s policies regarding Cesarean Births even if you plan on delivering vaginally. You never know what kind of complications can arise during a birth so it is best to prepared. You will feel 1000x more comfortable having an emergency c-section if you know exactly what is coming.
What can you tell me about your NICU?
Hopefully you will never have to worry about utilizing the NICU for your baby. However, it is always best to be prepared just in case. If your baby does need a little bit of extra care and support after delivery then you will find comfort in knowing exactly what type of care your hospital can provide. During your hospital tour you should inquire about the level of your hospitals NICU center and at what point would they have to transfer your baby to another hospital.