Yay! You have your hospital tour all set up and you’re ready to pick your delivery location. You’re totally prepared, right??
If you panicked a little bit there, I completely understand. I was a little nervous going on my first hospital tour too. I didn’t know what I was looking for, what kind of questions to ask, or even where to begin. All I knew is that I needed a bed and a shower. That’s about it.
So here are a few things to think about when going on your maternity hospital tour.
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When Should I go to the Hospital for a Maternity Tour?
Deciding where you are going to give birth to your baby is a pretty big decision. Though you always have a choice in the matter, sometimes where you give birth depends more on who you chose to be your provider more than where you actually want to go.
Most doctors and midwives only deliver at a certain location. Just know that if you don’t like the location where they will deliver your baby then you will either have to deal with it or switch providers.
It’s just something to think about.
The general rule of thumb is to go tour your birthing facility between 30 and 34 weeks.
Personally, I started that process in my second trimester. I checked out a couple of different places before making my final decision.
When I got closer to my due date, I set up another tour. I’m really glad that I did that. It gave me another opportunity to get a feel for the place where I would have my baby which made me feel more comfortable.
I was also better prepared the second time around. Since I had done more research by then, I had a better understanding of everything that the guide was talking about.
The first time around, I think most of that just went over my head.
Questions to Ask on Your Maternity Hospital Tour
When You First Arrive at the Hospital
- Are the labor rooms different than the recovery rooms?
- Are the rooms private or will you have to share with another mom?
- How many labor/recovery rooms are there?
- How often are all of the rooms full?
- What is the policy if you go into labor and all of the rooms are full?
- Is there are different area to be check out before being admitted to a labor room?
- What is the check-in procedure?
- At what point during labor are you allowed to come in?
- If you come in too early will they send you home?
- What hospital entrance should you use when you arrive in labor?
- What is the policy on eating and drinking during labor? Is it up to the doctor or the hospital?
- Are there any restrictions on items allowed in the labor room?
- What birthing equipment is available? Birthing ball, peanut ball, squat bar, etc?
- Are there enough for each room or should you bring your own if you really want to use it? (I brought my own ball for instance)
- What pain relief measures are available? Epidurals and opioids are typical, but is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) available as well if you wanted it?
- Is there a tub available for you to labor in? Is there one in each room or are there just a couple for the floor?
- Is a water birth available if you wanted one?
- How many people are allowed in the delivery room?
- Are you allowed to walk during labor? Just in the room or out in the hall?
- Are natural births supported?
- How often is fetal monitoring performed? (If it is constant monitoring then find out if the monitors are portable or if you will be stuck to the bed.)
- Can you play music? Is there a speaker or do you need to bring your own?
- What positions are you allowed to give birth in?
- Do you have to get an IV upon entering?
- What’s the average time mothers wait for an epidural?
C-Sections and Emergency Situations
- What is the c-section rate? (Most of the times this depends on the doctor, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.)
- Is there a NICU available? What floor is it on? Is it easy to access from the recovery rooms?
- Are there any reasons why the baby would have to be transferred to another hospital?
- If a c-section happens, can someone be in the room with you? Will you still be awake or will they put you to sleep?
- Can your baby be placed skin-to-skin immediately following a c-section?
- Can you choose to breastfeed immediately after a c-section?
- How long are you allowed to stay after birth? With and without complications?
- Is your partner able to stay overnight with you in the recovery room?
- Is there a place for him/her to sleep? (Not just a chair)
- What is the hospital’s policy on infant care immediately following delivery?
- Will you be able to do skin-to-skin immediately or will they want to do the exam first?
- Will the infant exam happen in your room or will the baby be taken to the nursery?
- Can your partner cut the cord?
- What is the hospital’s policy on cord clamping?
- If you decide to save or donate the cord, are you able to? What is the policy?
- Will the baby stay in your room or in the nursery? If in the nursery and wanted in your room could you? And vice versa.
- Are pacifiers given to babies in the nursery? Can you choose not to have this done?
- What is the circumcision policy if you choose to circumcise?
- Are there lactation consultants available for consult, or do you need to set up an appointment prior?
- What is the policy on feeding the baby following birth?
- Does the hospital support supplementing breastfeeding with formula?
- How long will they allow the baby to go without breastfeeding before they suggest formula?
- Is donor milk available should there be a breastfeeding issue?
- Are you able to borrow a breast pump should you need it?
- Is there a specific pediatrician that operates out of the hospital? What is the procedure if you choose a different one?
- Is there a place to store drinks/snacks while you’re there? A communal refrigerator or something?
- How many visitors are allowed at a time?
- Does the hospital offer any birthing or newborn care classes? (TAKE THEM ALL!!)
- What is the technology procedure? Will you be able to use your phone/camera/wifi?
- What meal services are available to you? Does your partner get meals as well?
- What do you need to bring?
- Can you preregister? What is the process?
- What kind of security measures are in place?
- Is it a teaching hospital?
- Will residents or students attend the birth? Can you request that they not attend if you’re not comfortable?
- Is there a valet? Are the times limited?
- What time of day does discharge generally occur?
- What follow-up support is offered to new parents?
- Can you call at any time if you have questions or if you need emotional support?
- Will you be sent home with any postpartum supplies? If so, what are they?
I know it’s a lot, but try not to get overwhelmed with all of the information. Ask all of your questions and then ask some more.
You need to feel comfortable with where you give birth, so make sure that you get all of the information that you need before the big day comes.
Also don’t feel like you have to go with the hospital closest to you just because it’s there. If they don’t have the amenities that you’re looking for, or if you don’t feel comfortable, then don’t go there.
While you’re preparing for your baby, I would really suggest taking a prenatal course.
If you don’t have time to go to one (who does these days??) then definitely check out Hilary’s Prenatal Course for Couples over at Pulling Curls. It’s awesome! She’s a labor and delivery nurse and has some really great info.
How are you preparing for your maternity tour? Leave me a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.
Until next time!