There are a lot of things to think about when heading to the hospital to have your baby. It’s likely that your mind will be moving at a million miles a minute, whether you’re battling contractions or experiencing pre-induction nerves on the drive over. There’s a good chance you’ll completely forget where to park, where to check-in, and what you’re supposed to do.
The good news is that a hospital tour can help to prepare you for the big visit, whether it’s an in-person tour or a virtual one taken from home. If you’re attending a tour, there are some specific things to pay close attention to, plus a bunch of informative questions you may want to ask to feel best prepared in your personal situation.
At my own hospital tour, I learned all the key things, but also some fun facts—like that I as the patient had my meals included but my partner would be required to pay for meal tickets to use at the cafeteria. Our tour guide gave us insider advice that if the patient ordered, say, five turkey sandwiches or three entrees per meal, it would be totally acceptable. So yes, we never got around to buying any of those meal tickets.
If you’re attending a tour, there are some specific things to pay close attention to, plus a bunch of informative questions you may want to ask to feel best prepared in your personal situation.
Before jumping in, it’s a good idea to bring your support person along for the tour. This might be your partner, your mom, your friend, or your doula. Whoever you intend to be there as your main support during birth should join the tour. While you’re in the midst of labor, your support person is the one who really needs to know where to park, check-in, and so on. Make sure they are paying attention during the tour!
It can be helpful for both you and your support person to take notes to have handy for when the day of the birth arrives. The below list is not an exhaustive list, you may have more questions that aren’t included here, but this should help you cover off the basics and may spark some other questions. And don’t stress if you don’t get all your questions answered or you blank on some of the info after the tour, you can always ask when you’re at the hospital for the birth.
Things to Consider and General Questions to Ask:
- What is the protocol for pre-check-in, like can you pre-register at the hospital and should you call before you arrive?
- What are the rules for allowing you to fully check-in (like how far along in your labor will you need to be)?
- Where should your driver/support person drop you off?
- Where should you park?
- Are rooms shared or private?
- Is there a tub available for use?
- What positions can you labor/push in?
- What labor accessories are available (birthing ball, massage items, essential oils, etc.) and what should you pack?
- Is there a nursery for the baby or is it considered a “baby-friendly” hospital?
- What pain management elements are available?
- Is wireless fetal monitoring available?
- Is there a birth plan form to fill out in advance?
- What is the rate of caesarean births at the hospital?
- Does the hospital practice episiotomies and what is the rate at which these are performed?
- What is the typical length of stay for a vaginal birth and a caesarean birth?
- Can you keep your placenta and if so, what do you need to do for this?
- Does the hospital allow for delayed cord cutting?
- Does the hospital allow for skin-to-skin immediately following the birth?
- What lactation support is available after the birth?
- What is the policy on formula?
- What hours you can order food from the cafeteria?
- Can your support person order food from the cafeteria and what the rules/cost?
- If bringing your own food from home, do the rooms have refrigerators or should you bring a cooler?
- Is eating allowed during labor?
COVID-19 Related Questions to Ask:
- Can a support person join for the labor and delivery?
- Are doulas allowed to attend/support in the birth?
- What is the testing protocol for you and your partner/support person?
- What happens if you and/or your support person test positive upon arrival?
- Are you and/or your support person allowed to leave the hospital room or hospital after checking-in? Can you go for walks?
- Can you have food delivered from an outside restaurant?
- Are any visitors aside from your support person allowed?
- Is the hospital shortening hospital stay times for patients due to COVID?