Tips on Getting the Most from Your Hospital Tour
A hospital tour is a great opportunity to gather important information to help make sure your baby's arrival is as smooth as possible. Use your hospital tour experience to make sure you know the following:
Where to go, what to prepare in advance, and who to call when the big day arrivesWhen labor arrives, the excitement and stress of the moment can make even simple things hard. Be sure you:
- Have completed your insurance paperwork and know which forms to bring with you
- Know which entrance to use, and whether that varies depending on the time of day
- Know where to park or where you can leave your vehicle if you arrive in a hurry
The type of care that's typically provided to make sure it matches your expectationsIt's not unusual for there to be a gap between the type of care supported by the best medical evidence and the "routine" care that's often provided to women in childbirth. Make sure you ask the right questions so you know what to expect!
- How often are interventions like induction, cesarean or episiotomy performed?
- What's the best way to communicate your labor preferences to your care provider team?
- Will a support person, like a doula, be welcomed?
- Will you be well-supported in using a variety of approaches for comfort, like birthing balls, walking, tubs/showers, and other techniques?
- How does the hospital typically manage the issues that might matter most to you, like intermittent fetal monitoring, upright positions for pushing, delayed cord clamping and other hot topics?
- Will typical post-partum practices ensure you and your baby have good "skin-to-skin" time?
- What kind of breastfeeding support can you expect?
Remember, just because a care practice - like birth tubs or intermittent monitoring - is available, doesn't mean it's typical. Ask probing questions to be sure you can tell the difference, like "When was the last time this was used?" and "Tell me how this impacts the birth."
Using What You Learn
You'll walk away from your hospital tour with new and important information about the type of care you can expect to receive. That information may reassure you that you are likely to get the care that's based on the best medical evidence, or it may raise concerns. If you have concerns:
- Talk to your care provider. Determine if you can address your concerns by simply discussing your preferences in greater detail with your care provider.
- Explore your options. Recognize that not every woman decides to give birth in a hospital setting or sue a physician as their birth attendant. Medical evidence shows that most women can safely choose to give birth with a midwife and in an out-of-hospital setting. In fact, a growing number of women are choosing these options. Shop around and see what's right for you and your baby, and remember that even late in pregnancy, you can switch to a care team that best fits your needs.
For more information on maximizing your hospital tour, watch Lamaze's recorded webcast on the topic and visit our Push for Your Baby page. Not sure what research says about what's best for you and your baby? Register for a Lamaze class so you can push for the safest and healthiest birth possible.