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What Can I Expect at My Hospital?

by Guest
Posted August 25 2010 12:47pm
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Preparing for the birth experience that you would both like to have requires learning as much as possible about all of the options available to you. Plan a tour of your hospital or birth centre – it’s a great opportunity to gather additional information that will help you prepare for your birth experience.

The list below contains several questions that you can ask at the hospital about care for both you and your baby during labour and delivery.

The Room and Staff

  1. Do moms labour and give birth in the same room?
  2. Do moms have a different room after the baby is born? 
  3. What accommodations does the hospital provide for dads in the labour area – easy chair, reclining chair, cot? 
  4. Are there rules that limit the number of people moms can have with them during labour? 
  5. Do rooms have private toilets, showers, tubs? 
  6. Is there an obstetrician, anesthetist, pediatrician, available in the hospital 24 hours a day? 
  7. Do midwives deliver at this hospital? 
  8. Do doulas provide care at this hospital? 
  9. Do you encourage the use of doulas? 
  10. Is there a birth centre in this hospital? 
  11. How does care in the hospital differ from the birth centre? 
  12. Are there rules about taking pictures or videos during labour or delivery?

Interventions and Pain Management
The questions below are good to ask if you want to know more about how the hospital will manage your pain during labour and delivery.

  • How will you monitor the well-being of our baby during labour?
  • What are your practices regarding Intravenous (IV) drips in labour? 
  • What are your rules about eating and drinking during labour? 
  • What are your practices regarding various positions for labour and delivery? 
  • Do you encourage walking or movement during labour? 
  • Are there rules about using the showers or taking baths? 
  • What drug-free measures are used to cope with labour pain? 
  • What medical pain relief options are used in this hospital? 
  • What is the epidural rate at this hospital? 
  • What is the pain medication rate at this hospital? 
  • What is the episiotomy rate at this hospital? 
  • What strategies are used to help deliver without the need for an episiotomy? 
  • What is the rate of assisted deliveries; for example, use of forceps or vacuum extractors? 
  • What is the caesarean section (C-section) rate at this hospital? 
  • Where are C-sections done in this hospital—labour area or a surgical area? 
  • Are partners or a support person allowed in the room for a caesarean birth? 
  • Are moms permitted to be awake during a caesarean birth?

Newborn and Postpartum Care
Keep these questions in mind when discussing postpartum care for you and your baby.

  • Does this hospital encourage breastfeeding immediately after birth?
  • Does this hospital encourage our baby staying in the room with mom? 
  • What procedures are routinely given to our baby after birth? 
  • Will we be separated from our baby immediately after birth? When and why would this happen? 
  • Is there a Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) on site? 
  • In what circumstances would our baby be moved to the NICU? 
  • What breastfeeding resources are offered here—classes, Lactation Consultant, breastfeeding clinic? 
  • What educational classes are offered regarding postpartum care and adjustment? 
  • What is the average postpartum stay for a vaginal birth? 
  • What is the average postpartum stay for a Cesarean birth? 
  • Does the hospital have an early discharge program? (This allows healthy moms and babies to go home approx. 24 hours after birth. Arrangements are made for a community health nurse to visit the home.)
  • Does this hospital accommodate families that feel the need to stay in hospital longer?
  • What are the rules surrounding visitors? 
  • What types of accommodation are available for fathers during the postpartum stay? 
  • Do you make arrangements for follow-up contact by a Public Health Nurse?

The Room and Staff
The following list of questions will be helpful the first time you visit your birth centre.

  • Are the midwives here licensed?
  • What other staff will care for me during labour—a nurse, for example? 
  • Are there rules about the number of people with the mother during labour and delivery?
  • Do you encourage the use of trained labour support individuals, such as doulas?

Adapted from The Maternity Center Association (2001), Possible Questions when Touring a Birth Center and Possible Questions when Touring a Hospital Maternity Area http://www.childbirthconnection.org/

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