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Maternity Hospital Tour: 20 Critical Questions To Ask

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Why should you take a maternity hospital tour? Simple, you want to know what to expect when you are in active labor.

It is normal to be nervous about what happens during labor and delivery. If you have never stayed in a hospital the experience can be intimidating.

One way to relieve your concerns is to take a pregnancy hospital tour or a tour of the birth center where you plan to deliver.

(Prepared by Doug Penta, MD OB/GYN, and Sue Winters, Registered Nurse)

20 Questions To Ask on your hospital maternity tour

 

This post contains affiliate links. You can read our really boring disclaimer at the bottom of the post.

 

Most Pregnancy hospital tours take about an hour and are very informative. Just knowing where to go when you get to the hospital in labor makes the tour worth the time.

20 Questions To Ask On Your Maternity Hospital Tour:

 

 

1. Is there a newborn intensive care unit (NICU)? What floor is it located on? Is it easy to access from the postpartum rooms?

 

Whether or not a hospital has a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), may determine what facility you choose for your delivery.

One reason may simply be that you want to deliver at a facility that has a NICU within the facility to avoid transport time from another hospital.

Another reason might be because your pregnancy is deemed high-risk for maternal reasons (twins, toxemia, gestational diabetes, premature labor, etc.) or high risk due to neonatal concerns identified during your prenatal care (fetal cardiac malformations, fetal diaphragmatic hernias, intrauterine growth restriction, etc.).

If this is a question on your mind, become familiar with the levels of nursery care prior to your visit:

  • Well Newborn Care – Level 1
  • Special Care Nursery – Level 2 
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – Level 3
  • Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Regional NICU) – Level 4

For more details about NICU nurseries, click HERE

2. What hospital entrance do I use when I arrive in labor?

 

When labor begins, most parents (particularly first-time parents) will want to have the hospital trip well-rehearsed.

You want to assume you will not have the time to think clearly about anything other than getting to the hospital quickly and safely.

Preparing for the onset of labor is crucial and you should focus only on the most fundamental details.

Don’t complicate matters. Knowing where the hospital entrance is, is no exception.

Hospitals are large facilities with multiple entrances and in the midst of active labor, finding the labor and delivery entrance can become a daunting task, especially at 2:00 in the morning.

During your maternity hospital tour, ask where the entrance is to labor and delivery.

Make a dry run to the hospital to determine the best route.

 

3. What are the pain management options available? Is there always an anesthesiologist present at the hospital?

 

The individual in charge of the maternity hospital tour could be a labor and delivery nurse or a non-clinical hospital employee.

Pain management options for labor can best be addressed by your personal healthcare provider.

However, regarding access to pain management (anesthesia coverage) in the hospital, there is one question you will want to ask.

Is there is an anesthesiologist in the hospital 24/7 and if not, what is the labor and delivery coverage arrangement?

 

4. Does the hospital offer wireless fetal monitoring?

 

Fetal monitoring during labor used to confine laboring patients to their bed.

Wireless fetal monitoring has been an option for many years.

However, it may not be available at every hospital so it is best to ask. Wireless fetal monitoring will allow you to be monitored while walking.

 

5. How many people are allowed in the delivery room?

 

I have seen this policy change many times within the same hospital. Ask if the question is not addressed during your maternity hospital tour.

 

6. Who do I give the birth plan to when I arrive at the hospital?

 

It is best to make two copies of your birth plan. Let the triage nurse know you have a birth plan and give one copy to the nurse caring for you in labor and delivery.

Give the other copy to a family member attending your birth.

If you arrive at the hospital right before a shift change, make sure your new labor and delivery nurse has a copy of your birth plan.

Labor and delivery units are busy places as you will see on your maternity hospital tour. It is always a good idea to check with the oncoming nurse to make sure she received your birth plan in the report from the nurse going home.

 

7. If I have a c-section, who is allowed to attend the delivery?

 

Recently, there have been many changes to this policy. Hospitals are trying to be more accommodating.

Keep in mind that a cesarean section is done in an operating room, so some restrictions are mandated by the state to ensure patient safety.

 

8. Are lactation services available? Do you have a lactation consultant on staff at the hospital?

 

Ask if the hospital has a designated lactation consultant.

 

9. Does the hospital allow pacifiers and bottles in the nursery?

 

There are some hospitals that have new policies about pacifiers and bottles.  Ask if you are unclear about the policy.

Over 500 hospitals in the US now have the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative(BFHI) designation. The BFHI program is designed to offer women the support and education they need to successfully breastfeed their newborns (Baby-Friendly USA, 2018).

If you plan to breastfeed, a BFH may be the perfect choice for you. You will receive care from providers who are specially trained to help you be successful in breastfeeding.

If you are not sure about breastfeeding, a BFH may offer you the support and confidence you need to breastfeed your new baby.

Breastfeeding isn’t always easy. So be sure to ask about what policies and assistance the facility has in place to help you be successful.

 

10. What security measures are there? Do people have to be buzzed in, are there security guards, and is a device placed on my baby to make sure he/she cannot leave the floor?  

 

Hospitals have very strict security policies. Be sure to ask about the policy if it is not discussed.

 

11. Are there specific hours for visiting? Do you allow young children to visit?

 

This is a common question. Ask about visiting hours and age restrictions. In addition, you may also want to inquire about the hospital’s overnight policy.

 

12. Does the hospital support supplement breastfeeding with formula?

 

Hospitals have been implementing new policies to specifically address this issue. It is likely, you will have researched this ahead of time, if not, definitely ask.

 

13. Is there wireless internet access?

 

If WiFi is available, you may want to ask about connectivity as this can pose a problem depending on your internet provider and the device you are using.

 

14. Will I be in one room during my entire stay, or will I be moved to a separate postpartum floor?

 

Your hospital will have one of the following arrangements. Ask if you have any questions:
  • Admission to Labor and Delivery after which you will be transferred to the postpartum floor
  • LDR – A room for labor, delivery, and recovery after which you will be transferred to the postpartum floor
  • LDRP – One room for your entire hospital stay: Labor/Delivery/Recovery/Postpartum

 

15. Is this a teaching hospital? Will students or residents attend the birth? Can I request that they not attend if I don’t feel comfortable with them there?

 

With so many policy changes taking place in teaching hospitals, one will want to ask this question for clarity. Generally, the answer is yes, you can request that students or residents not attend your birth.

You will definitely want to address this issue with your prenatal care provider so there is no confusion when you arrive at the hospital.

Some hospitals have a laborist on staff that handles the deliveries on the unit.

Be sure to ask about this on your maternity hospital tour, so you know to tell the Laborist on the unit that you do not wants residents or students attending the birth.

 

 

16. What is the preregistration process?

 

Most often this is done through the mail before you go to the hospital. When you arrive, the admissions office will have your file.

Confirm you are registered in the hospital system.

 

17. What birthing equipment is provided by the hospital? (birth ball, squat bars, showers, jetted tubs, rocking chair, birthing stool)

 

Hospitals vary tremendously on this topic, so it is best to ask. For hygienic purposes, it is best to bring personal items that are portable (birth ball, etc.).

 

18. Where will I be evaluated when I arrive at the hospital?

 

Labor and delivery departments have a designated triage unit. This is where you will initially be evaluated before being admitted to labor and delivery.

It is essential you know where the triage area is located and how to get there from the hospital entrance.

 

19. What is the hospital’s policy about photography? (ie. cameras / video cameras during labor/delivery/c-section)?

 

A definite question you will want to ask at the maternity hospital tour. Hospitals have different policies about photography in the delivery room.

 

20. Can my baby room in with me instead of being in the nursery?

 

This question should be addressed during the tour, if not, ask.

Other pregnancy-related posts you might find helpful:

 

*Finally, If possible, hold your questions until the end of the maternity hospital tour since most questions will be answered during the tour.

Try to avoid asking questions about labor management as those are best answered by your healthcare provider.

The tour is intended to answer questions about hospital policies and help you become familiar with the layout of the facility.

 

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