Today I want to talk about one pretty straightforward and FREE thing you can do to make that a reality. A hospital tour!
Seriously. Making the time to go on a tour of the hospital where you plan to deliver erases so many unknowns about birth. From knowing where to park and finding the L&D unit BEFORE you’re actually in labor to visualizing the room where you’ll meet your baby for the first time, the hospital tour is a must.
To help you get the most out of your hospital tour, I put together this list of 10 must-ask questions. Have any other ideas for questions to ask on your hospital tour? Post them in the comments!
What kinds of questions should you ask on your hospital tour?
You’ll notice that these questions are all hospital related. Meaning, I didn’t include questions about birth that are better suited for your provider. You know, like, “Can I eat during labor?” or “How often do you check dilation?”
Why? Well, often the people giving hospital tours are volunteers or childbirth educators who may not know birth-specific policies and recommendations. They also might give you misinformation, which is the last thing I want for you!
So try to keep your questions hospital related, like the ones below. And remember, you can’t ask too many questions! A friend of mine recounted that her husband asked if the TVs had an HDMI jack for their hard drive. So, yeah. They’ve literally heard it all.
10 questions to ask on your hospital tour
- How many visitors are allowed in the labor room? What about if I have a C-section?
- Will I have access to a tub/shower? What is your policy on this?
- Is there a waiting room policy? How far is the waiting room?
- Will I ever have to share a room with anyone or are all the rooms private?
- Is there a cafeteria for visitors? What are the hours?
- How do I, as the patient, order food? Are there restrictions/hours?
- Is there pre-registration paperwork that I need to complete before I come?
- Will I be in the labor room for my entire stay, or will I change rooms?
- Where is the best place to park? Do you have to pay for parking?
- How should I enter the hospital? Is there a different entrance for overnight hours?
What if I can’t go on a tour because of COVID-19?
Your whole pregnancy is likely looking a lot different from what you expected—with limited in-person appointments for low-risk pregnancies, no in-person birth classes, and more.
And I know that this is hard and scary. Birth is already full of unknowns, and the pandemic has really upped the ante.
The good news is that we DO live in an era with amazing technology, and more and more hospitals are offering virtual tours of their labor and delivery units. Some have them pre-recorded, and some are even doing live virtual walk-throughs!
Reach out to your provider to find out what options are available to you. Getting to see where you’re giving birth is SO important. And it’s something you actually can control in these uncertain times.
Specific to birthing during COVID-19, here are some other hospital-related questions to ask, whether it’s on your virtual tour or at your next office or telehealth visit:
- Can I have a support person with me during labor?
- Can I have more than one support person (e.g., a doula and my partner)? (In most cases, this is a no, but it’s worth asking!)
- How long after birth can my support person stay? Is the rule different for C-sections vs. vaginal births?
- What safety protocols will my birth partner need to adhere to (e.g., temperature checks, mask-wearing, not leaving the room once they are there)?
- Are there limitations on certain labor coping strategies and mechanisms? (Many hospitals have suspended the use of nitrous oxide and do not allow birthing mamas to walk the halls.)
- Are there limitations on things related to hospital food, takeout food, or packing my own food due to COVID-19?
- What other hospital safety protocols should I be aware of?
Don’t stop at a hospital tour, Mama. You can take your virtual preparedness a step further! You don’t have to miss out on things like childbirth education, prenatal fitness, and newborn-care classes just because they aren’t in person right now. Many of these classes are available online in an e-learning format.
What’s more, you can use online forums, Facebook groups, and even Instagram to connect with mamas who are due around the same time as you and facing the same unique challenges of birthing during the pandemic.
Check the hospital tour off of your pre-birth to-do list!
The bottom line? Don’t skip the tour! A lot of women don’t realize just how helpful a simple hospital tour can be until they do it. It’s like a weight is lifted. Visualization is powerful, and seeing where this is all going to go down WILL help. Use these questions as your guide and take this important step toward rocking your birth.