When I found out that I was expecting our first child I had a long, long list of questions prepared to ask both the midwife and hospital where I learned I would be giving birth. That’s because I really wanted it to be a relaxed experience. I also wanted it to be as natural, uninterrupted, and intervention-free as possible.
I wanted to labor at home, show up, do my thing, then go back home. And I didn’t want anyone telling me to do something that I wasn’t comfortable with.
I had pretty high expectations of a birth facility, to say the least.
So much so that not being comfortable and wondering if my birth plans would be supported really worried me. I don’t want any soon-to-be parents to stress as I did.
You can read my Gentle C-Section Birth Story here.
So, I’ve partnered with Providence California and Mission Hospital to help parents know about their childbirth options and to help them learn which facilities support their birth plan. Mission Hospital provides a low intervention and an encouraging atmosphere that supports faster and more natural healing after childbirth. Their new approach to postpartum support is family-centered care. This means that the golden hour just after birth is honored by delaying exams and encouraging skin-to-skin–providing a calm transition for babies and families
When Should I go to the Hospital for a Maternity Tour?
Deciding where you are going to give birth is a huge decision. Sometimes, where you give birth depends more on who you chose to be your provider since most doctors and midwives only deliver at a certain location.
It’s just something to keep in mind when you weigh your options.
Most expecting parents tour their birthing facility during the third trimester. This maternity tour is generally meant to help them get the lay of the land, understand what is available, and where they will be on the big day. For us, there was a hospital-birth coordinator or liaison who was available to email and ask any questions in advance of the hospital tour. I also learned that some things on my list will be up to the provider so it’s a good idea to ask some of these questions at earlier prenatal appointments as well.
Here’s a list of questions to ask when considering a birth facility:
- If I believe I am in labor, where will I initially be examined? Will I have to wait in a general waiting area, triage, or will I be brought to a private room?
- How many births take place here on average, each day?
- What percentage of women here have c-sections?
- Do you utilize students or residents?
- Are there any situations that may take me away from my birth partner?
- Are there any restrictions on who is allowed in the room during birth? How many people can be with me? Children?
- How comfortable is the hospital with natural births?
- Am I able to avoid having an IV upon entering, and have a Hep Lock instead? (or nothing at all)
- Can I eat and drink during labor?
- How often are you fetal monitoring?
- Can I walk and move around during labor? Am I just allowed to walk around my room? If I can walk around elsewhere, show me where laboring mothers walk.
- Is there a tub or shower available for me during labor?
- Is water an option if I desire?
- What positions do you allow mothers to give birth?
- What birthing tools are available? Birth balls, birth stools, etc?
- How often do they do cervical checks?
- If water breaks naturally what is the time limit to birth?
- What is your policy on photography or videography during labor?
- Are the labor rooms different than the recovery rooms and are they private?
- Will I have a private bathroom with a tub or shower for my postpartum room, or will I have to share?
- Will I have to share a room with another family?
- Am I or a family member able to stay with the baby at all times?
- What is your policy on baby care immediately after birth? If my baby needs to be checked, weighed, or placed in a heater – will he be taken out of my room? Or will the examinations take place in my room?
- Do you feel comfortable there?
- Where will your birth partner sit and sleep during your stay? Have them try out the chairs.
- How does the hospital support breastfeeding? Who will be there to guide you, shortly after your baby is born? Is support offered seven days a week?
- Is there a certified lactation consultant available? What times?
- Does the hospital support supplement breastfeeding with formula? What brand formula do they use? Can you provide your own?
- How do they support breastfeeding and pumping? Can you choose to pump before formula?
- Can I have my child immediately placed skin to skin after a c-section?
- Can I choose to breastfeed immediately after a c-section?
- Is there a newborn intensive care unit (NICU)?
- Are you a certified Baby-friendly hospital or facility?
- Are there any situations where my baby would need to be transferred to another facility?
- What security measures are there? Do people have to be buzzed in, are there security guards, and is a device placed on your tiny baby to make sure he can not leave the floor?
- Are there specific hours for visiting? Do you allow young children to visit?
- Does the hospital encourage the baby rooming in with the parents, or do they encourage the baby to stay in the nursery?
- Is there access to the Internet?
- Is there valet? At what times?
- Will we have a TV? What channels?
- Is there music in the labor room?
- Do you have an option to order food or bring your own during our stay?
- Is there a cafe? What time does the hospital kitchen close?
- What time of day does discharge generally occur? Families are often allowed to stay 48 hours post vaginal delivery, and 4 days post c-section.
- What follow-up support do you offer for new parents? Can I call, at any time, if I have questions or need emotional support?
The #1 thing that is most important is that you are comfortable where you give birth. So ask all of your questions, then ask 100 more, seriously!
If you are a mama and have any tips to add, feel free to comment below.