View Full Version : What to ask on the hospital tour?

05-17-2010, 02:19 PM
Next weekend DH and I will be touring the hospital where we're planning to have the baby. There is only one hospital on this island, so it's not like we're going comparison shopping -- but I'd still like some tips on what to ask the L&D nurses we'll be meeting. I know they're very supportive of NCB (not that we're certain we're going that route), have private L&D rooms with showers, and encourage laboring mamas to move around a lot. I've also thought I should ask:
- Can we bring our own music? Do we need to bring a CD player/iPod dock?
- What are your policies about eating/drinking in labor?
- How do we get in after hours?

I'm sure there are tons more things that I should ask about/put in my birth plan (if I ever get around to making one). Anyone have a list of questions they have asked or wish they had asked? Thanks!

05-17-2010, 02:28 PM
Here is a really comprehensive list you can edit down to suit your own preferences :). One big priority for me would be that they delay cord clamping/cutting until it has stopped pulsing - the research on that is pretty compelling but most hospitals still cut right away. Research Article: Delayed Cord Clamping Should Be Standard Practice in Obstetrics (http://academicobgyn.com/2009/12/03/delayed-cord-clamping-should-be-standard-practice-in-obstetrics/)


Note: The answers to some of these questions may depend on your specific OB/Midwife's policies

1. I would like the option of laboring in water. Will my room have a private shower? Are there restrictions on using it?
2. What are your routine policies for laboring women? (fetal monitoring, IVs, etc...)
3. Can I get a Heplock instead of an IV?
4. Can I have intermittent monitoring rather than continuous EFM?
5. How often do you listen to baby during labor? During pushing?
6. Do i have to be in bed while being monitored or stay mobile/sit on a birthing ball/sit in a chair?
7. How often are internal checks done during labor? After water breaks?
8. How would you handle lowered infant heart rate during delivery?
9. What happens if my water breaks and it looks like there's meconium in it?
10. How do you handle Group B Strep +? When would you administer antibiotics if i tested +? Can i remain mobile while receiving antibiotics?
12. What are your policies on food and drink during and after labor/delivery?
13. Can I choose my pushing position? (i.e., hands and knees or squatting) Do you offer the use of a squatting bar? Do i have to give birth in the bed?
14. What is your RN-to-patient ratio? How often do nurses come in during labor?
15. What is your policy when labor is long or 'stalls'? Is there a time limit on labor? What about a time limit from when membranes rupture?
16. What are types of pain relief available? What are the risks and benefits to the various options?
17. How many people may be with me in L&D? What about if i have a c-section? (A doula is often not considered one of your 'people' so you actually get an extra).
18. Do you offer the use of birthing balls? If not, can i bring my own?

1. What is your Cesarean rate? What is your VBAC success rate?
2. Are the nurses familiar with someone succeeding at an unmedicated birth? Are they supportive?

1. What assistance is available for breastfeeding mothers? Do you have an IBLC on staff? What are her hours? Is your nursing staff trained in breastfeeding?
2. Can i labor, give birth, recover, and spend my postpartum stay all in the same room? When would i be moved?
3. Are all recovery rooms private or is there the chance I would have to share? If i have to share a room can the baby still room in with me? Does sharing a room affect visiting hours for husband/friends/family/?
4. What is the routine infant care and procedures after birth? Can I opt out of some of those procedures (such as the Hep B shot)? Can we delay others (i.e., eye drops for an hour after birth instead of right away)?
5. When is the baby examined after birth? What does this examination include? Can baby be examined in my room instead of the nursery?
6. Will I be separated from my baby after birth? If so, when, why, and for how long?
7. Can my baby room in with me, and can my husband room in with us?
8. What happens if baby is jaundiced? Can the billi lights be brought into our room instead of baby going to nursery? Do you encourage nursing to help with jaundice?
9. What sorts of 'freebies' are sent home with mom from the hospital?

05-17-2010, 02:33 PM
Make a birth plan. It's the only way you will ever really even have a chance to think about the different "options" available. By making a birth plan I had to stop and think why or why something might be good or not and learn about the alternatives. It was super, amazingly helpful and actually changed my views on birth! The book "Creating your Birth Plan" by Marsden Wagner is a good source (he can be a tad over the top on some things b/c he has opinions but in that book he keeps most of his opinions to himself and the book is pretty neutral). Another one to check out is "Easy Labor"- that one is not pro or against any different drugs or no drugs, it's just a straightforward run down of risks and benefits of options. Helps you make an informed choice.

Even if the hospital has certain policies, it is ultimately up to your care provider what happens. Like my hospital would normally give IVs or heparin locks to all of the laboring moms. My CNM knew I didn't want one and just told the nurse that I didn't need one. Same thing with the monitoring and the eating. Plus, you need to remember that the final decisions rest with you. You want to eat? No one is going to pin down your arms and take food away from you.

1) Where do I park the car?
2) Where do I come in and does it matter what time of day? Do I go somewhere different in the middle of the night than during the daytime?
3) Where do I register?
4) Can I pre-register?
5) If I pre-register do I still need to register when I arrive in labor? (I know this sounds ridiculous, but apparently we still have to fill out paperwork even if we preregister)
6) Will my dh and I be separated? Why?
7) How often are all of the labor rooms filled? What happens if they are?
8) Are all of the rooms the same? (especially important if they show you a room because chances are they're showing you the nicest room possible)
9) If a c-section is necessary, where is it done? (in the event of an emergency you might find it at least a smidge comforting that you know where you are going)

Ones from this link (good info in the rest of this link too, worth reading):

-Do women labour and deliver in the same room?
-Is waterbirth an option?
-Are other support people allowed for both the labour and birth? Is there a limit? Are women allowed to move about during labour?
-Are women allowed to choose to give birth in whatever position they find most comfortable? Does this include kneeling, being on hands and knees and squatting? (better q for your c.p.)
-If the baby requires special care can both parents visit the intensive care unit and touch and hold their baby? Can the mother breastfeed the baby in the intensive care unit?
-Is there breastfeeding support? Does this hospital have a lactation consultant on staff?
-Are partners welcome to attend cesarean sections?
-Is perineal massage and support practiced by the birth attendants (nurses and caregivers) here?

And these are really good questions to sit down and ask at your next appointment:


05-17-2010, 02:35 PM
Sounds good so far to me!

I'd want to ask about newborn care/rooming in with the baby vs nursery care etc. Keeping my baby with me &/or always having a parent with the baby was one of my top priorities, and one I had to fight for for no good reason.

You may want to ask about visitor policies. How many/how long/what hours? Can DH stay with you if you/he want that? You may be curious about when photos/videos are allowed, whether there's wi-fi, whether you can use cell phones to call people once the baby arrives.

Pediatric care was a big deal for us. . . two years ago, I had to find a ped who was willing to come to the hospital; now, they have a group of peds who work at the hospital, but I still had to make arrangements with them in advance to see my baby.

You may want to ask what they provide for you and baby, and what you should bring from home.

My hospital birth center actually requires a birth plan, so you may want to ask about that.

You may want to ask about classes that are available. I didn't take any, but there were a variety offered.

You may want to ask about access to Lactation Consultants.

Best wishes!

05-17-2010, 03:47 PM
I would find out if your arms are pinned down during a c-section and how soon you can hold/ touch baby after one.

05-17-2010, 08:09 PM
I would also ask about neonatal care and if labor/postpardum complications can cause you and/or baby to be moved elsewhere. We were shocked to learn (AFTER the fact) that our hospital sends neonatal infants to another hospital 45 min away if they require certain things. Another mother in the next room had this issue.. and the sent the BABY, but NOT MOM. With the mother under, having had a emergancy c-section and still in surgery, the DH had to decide to stay with mom, or go in the helicopter with baby. Horrible!

I would also ask about the hospital food. Ours wasn't bad, but it was only about 2/3 of enough food for me. Also, I have food allergies. They were very aware of that, but the kitchen just ended up taking the items I couldn't have off of my tray - but not replacing it with anything, so several meals were only 1/2 of the food. This was the only real problem we had.

05-18-2010, 04:44 PM
I'll be asking about wireless internet at our tour. Also about the rules regarding delivery in a tub - Many hospitals allow you to labor but not deliver in a tub. Some allow midwives to assist or handle the delivery, others don't.

Ask about their rules around rooming in, if you'd like to have your partner and/or baby stay in the room with you.

We pre-registered with DD #1 and had to fill out all the paperwork again when we arrived to deliver. I do not get why this is necessary, but at least we know it's likely to happen again this time.

I would have thought asking whether the nursing staff was familiar with breastfeeding was unnecessary before DD #1 was born, but our experience was that several of the nurses were not very well versed in BFing, while others were experts. Always good to ask!

05-18-2010, 05:49 PM
wipes--do they provide them or do they do dry wipes? meconium dipes can be sticky!

05-18-2010, 06:55 PM
Another- will you be sharing a room at any point? What is the triage situation? What are the odds of getting stuck there a long time?

Re. the meconium diapers- a layer of vaseline or olive oil (thin) can help that stuff come right off.


05-21-2010, 08:27 AM
Ask where the NICU is. With DD1 it was down 2 hallways and an elevator ride away. Not fun to walk to immediately after giving birth, plus the recovery nurses in the regular maternity section didn't really know how to get there because it had recently moved. Double not fun. The only thing worse is if Baby would have to go off-island.

05-24-2010, 03:53 PM
Many of the Labor & Delivery type questions should be directed at your OB/Midwife. They are the ones who write the orders & coordinate your care.

I definitely want to know about the birth ball though. I don't want to have to drag it in with me if they have one.

06-09-2010, 12:45 PM
Couple more..

Do they have breast pumps available? And if so, get one in your room immediately! I can't tell you how much milk I wasted b/c I didn't know and the LPN told me to go into the shower and "work it out". I could have pumped and saved it.

Also -- do they have a snack area or fridge available for new parents. Even if it's just drinks and crackers, it's helpful.

06-13-2010, 04:12 AM
I just had my hospital tour today and I wanted to thank all you ladies for your wonderful questions. I made sure everything was either answered, or I could ask my OB/pediatrician next time I see him.

Thank you for all your help!