Most hospitals will be more than happy to give you a tour of their Maternity Floor and show off their latest offerings and developments. The tour also allows you to learn more about your hospital’s procedures and rules and get a picture of how your birthing and recovery room will look. And it’s the perfect opportunity to ask tons of questions. You may want to make sure these questions are somewhere on your list.
How to Set Up a Hospital Tour:
A good time to tour the hospital is between week 30 and week 34 of pregnancy — but if you’re considering several options it’s best to schedule your first tour a few weeks earlier. Hospital tours are free, and setting one up is easy: Call the hospital or birthing center (or check its website to find the dates and times of upcoming tours) and reserve your spot. Some places even offer virtual tours on its website — but it’s best to opt for an in-person visit if you can swing it.
What will you see on the Tour:
Most hospitals have these 3 areas (or they may be clubbed)
1) triage area (that’s the pre-delivery area you’ll visit when you’re admitted, where a nurse will monitor your vitals and assess whether delivery is imminent),
2) the family waiting rooms,
3) a labor and delivery suite, and
4) a postpartum room (if the center has private and semi-private rooms
Questions to Ask:
1) Parking: Where do I park when I come for my labor & delivery? Is there a charge for parking? Do you have Valet service?
2) Pre-Register: Do I have to call before I come to the hospital? How do I pre-register?
3) How many people are allowed in the birthing room with me?
4) What’s your policy on bringing in outside food? You will be told not to eat anything once you reach the hospital – so this is for after delivery and/or for your labor coach during labor and delivery.
5) Do you offer breastfeeding support and, if so, is it private or group support? My hospital gave me a free consultation with a Lactation Consultant multiple times a day who coached me on proper breastfeeding techniques and pumping tips.
6) If breastfeeding doesn’t work out for me, what’s your policy on using Formula and/or Pumping?
7) Of course, insurance plans vary, but what are the fees for private rooms, special birthing facilities, etc. (so you can discuss with insurance)?
8) What should I pack in my hospital bag?
9) What pain management options are available? How much heads up do you need for me to get an epidural? Most of the time, from the time you ask the nurse for an epidural. there are multiple steps, mainly – the nurse needs to put in an order, notify the anesthesiologist, and then Anesthesiologist will come in and administer the epidural. The whole process takes about 30-45 minutes.
10) What special services are available (if you have a high-risk pregnancy)?
11) What special birthing amenities does the hospital offer (such as a birth ball, birthing tub, squat bar, etc.)?
12) Are recording devices (like a video camera and tripod, cell phone, or digital camera) allowed in the delivery room?
13) Do you work with a cord blood bank (if you’re considering banking your baby’s cord blood)? If not how can I arrange to transfer baby’s cord blood?
14) Private Post-Partum Room: If it is covered in your insurance, ask “How do I book a private room?” Sometimes the shared rooms are cramped, so it helps to have a private room after birth. My hospital charges $200 a night to upgrade a room, and instead of doing it on a first come, first served basis, the first woman who delivers gets priority. If a private room is important for you, make sure you get all of the facts about it. Make sure you call your insurance company after to confirm if it is covered or not and for how many hours/days.
15) Will my baby be examined in the birthing room with me or will he/she be removed and taken to another room?
16) When are visiting hours?
17) Can children visit?
18) Is my partner allowed to stay with me overnight?
19) Can the baby be in the room with me during our stay instead of in the nursery?
20) What other security policies are in place?
21) Do you offer breastfeeding support services?
22) What kind of information will I go home with?
What other important questions should a mommy-to-be ask on her hospital tour?