I recently toured the hospital where I'll be giving birth to my second child this spring. If yours offers a sneak peek at its maternity digs, I highly recommend jumping at the opportunity. At first, it's a frightening experience because it really drives home the idea that, yes, you are going to have to labor and push out this baby at some point in the near future and, oh yeah, these are the stirrups you'll be using to help you. But the tour also allows you to learn more about your hospital's procedures and rules and get a picture of how your birthing and recovery room will look. And it's the perfect opportunity to ask tons of questions. You may want to make sure these 8 are somewhere on your list.
1. How do I book a private room? After seeing how cramped the shared rooms were at my hospital, I immediately knew I wanted a private room. My hospital charges $200 a night to upgrade a room, and instead of doing it on a first come, first served basis, the first woman who delivers gets priority. If a private room is important for you, make sure you get all of the facts about it.
2. Will my baby be examined in the birthing room with me or will he/she be removed and taken to another room? With my first birth, my daughter was whisked away after 20 minutes to be examined in another room. I'm delighted that this time my baby will receive his exam in the birthing room and we will not be separated the entire time.
3. If I have a C-section, will my baby be separated from me right after the procedure? My hospital keeps baby and mommy together, but I've heard of several that do not.
4. How many people are allowed in the birthing room with me ... no, really ... how many? Our nurse told us no more than two people were allowed in. Apparently, I was oblivious to the fact that, after peppering her with additional questions about this "rule," she was subtly trying to tell me you could get around that policy -- but she wasn't allowed to say that.
5. What's your policy on bringing in outside food? Food may be the last thing on your mind after giving birth. It was one of the first things on my mind, and my hospital's white toast was the last thing on earth I wanted to eat. Ask if they will store food for you in their fridge and allow your husband to use their microwave to heat it up.
6. Are you going to kick my husband out of the room? Understandably, guests will be told to leave after a certain time, but some hospitals turn a blind eye to husbands staying with their wives the entire night.
7. Do you offer breastfeeding support and, if so, is it private or group support? At my hospital, a lactation counselor holds two breastfeeding sessions per day and women are encouraged to attend the first one they can after giving birth. It was good to know I shouldn't expect a private visit from a counselor.
8. If breastfeeding doesn't work out for me, will nurses give me a hard time about formula? I asked this and the nurse didn't look pleased. She told me in not so many words that they would try and encourage me to breastfeed if that's what I originally stated I wanted to do. Women who are either unsure or anxious about breastfeeding should know this because it can be upsetting when you feel like nurses are pushing you to do something you've changed your mind about. They're only trying to honor your request and support you, but when your body is adjusting to insane hormonal shifts after giving birth, you may not see their good intentions with rational eyes.
What other important questions should a woman ask on her hospital tour?
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