The time has finally come for you and your partner to start a family. Having a baby is one of life’s most important events, one you will never, ever forget. It is important to go into labour, birth and the postnatal period empowered and confident!
If you’ve decided to have a baby in a hospital, you’ve probably also thought about whether you want to have a private birth with an obstetrician or a public birth with a midwife. You’ve been daydreaming about how you’re going to decorate the nursery, what your baby will look like and baby names, but have you thought about doing a hospital tour?
Often hospital tours are overlooked by expectant parents but they can be a wealth of knowledge and an opportunity for you to ask questions to assist in preparing for your baby’s birth. During the hospital tour, you will visit the birth unit and postnatal ward, allowing you and your partner to familiarise yourselves with the space so when the big day arrives, it won’t be so daunting for you both.
We have compiled a comprehensive list of questions to ask during your hospital tour and to assist you in welcoming your baby into the world.
Questions About the Labour and Birth
- When should I call the hospital? Who do I call when I think I’m in labour? What should I pack in my bag to bring to hospital?
- Is the hospital entry open 24 hours per day? Do I have to go through emergency when I attend in labour?
- Are all the rooms in the birth unit the same size? Does each birth room have its own bathroom? Can my partner use the bathroom in the birth room?
- Are there bathtubs available in every room for a water birth and/or to assist with pain relief? Can you explain why I may not be able to have a water birth?
- Does the hospital offer childbirth classes? What days of the week are they on? How much do they cost? Can my partner attend the childbirth classes as well?
- What pain relief options are available for labour? When can I ask for pain relief?
- Will I have the same care provider throughout labour? Is this a learning hospital, do I have to have a student present throughout my labour and birth?
- If I need perineal stitches, who will do the repair? Am I given any pain relief for the perineal stitches?
- How many support people can I have in the room while I am in labour? Can I have my other children at the birth of my baby?
- Will any procedures be performed on me without my consent? Will all procedures be explained to my partner and I prior to performing them?
- I would like to have an active birth, what aids do you have available in the birth rooms to assist with this? Do I need to bring a birthing ball, birthing stool, aromatherapy oils, TENS machine, music, etc?
- Can I eat and drink during labour? Can I bring my own food into the hospital while I am in labour? Can we order takeaway while I am in labour?
- How often do you check on the progress of labour? Do you use other methods other than vaginal examinations?
- Do we have to pay for parking when I’m in hospital? How much does it cost? Can we get a concession ticket due to the length of our stay?
- Can I choose to have a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)?
- How long do we stay in the birth room after the baby is born? Will we move to another ward?
- Can we go home straight from the birth unit? How long do we have to stay after the birth? What procedures are involved before going home?
- If I have a baby in a public hospital, will I be out of pocket for any costs?
- If I’m a private patient in a public hospital, will I be assured of a private room?
- Am I allowed to film the birth and take photos during labour and birth?
- Can I use a birth plan to assist me during labour? Who do I give the birth plan to?
Questions for a Caesarean Birth
- Can I choose to have an elective Caesarean section in a public/private hospital?
- Can I choose my doctor if I need a Caesarean section?
- Will I have an opportunity to have skin to skin with my baby if I have a Caesarean section? Can I breastfeed my baby straight after the Caesarean section?
- Can my partner stay with the baby after the Caesarean section? Where will they go once they leave the theatre room? How long will I be separated from my baby?
- What is the caesarean rate in this hospital?
- If I need an emergency Caesarean section, can my partner stay with me throughout the procedure?
- If my baby requires feeding before we are together, can my baby have my expressed breast milk? Where can we store the milk whilst I’m in labour?
- If I don’t want any of my visitors to meet my baby before I do, who do I speak to about this?
- What can I expect from the recovery period after a Caesarean section? Can a Caesarean section affect my milk supply?
Questions for the Postpartum Period in Hospital
- Are there private rooms available? Does each room have its own bathroom? What does it cost to have a private room in a public hospital? What does it cost to have a private room in a private hospital? Is this covered by Medicare or private health insurance?
- As a private patient in a public hospital, are we guaranteed a private room?
- How long is the hospital stay for a vaginal birth and a caesarean birth?
- How long after the birth will I move to the postnatal ward?
- What pain relief is available after birth?
- Does a paediatrician assess my baby before we are discharged from hospital?
- What is the follow up care once we go home from hospital?
- If I choose to formula feed my baby, do I need to bring my own formula, bottles and sterilisation equipment?
- Can my family bring food from home into the postnatal ward? Do you have facilities to enable this? E.g. fridge for storing food and a microwave for heating food.
- Is there free wifi in the hospital? Are there televisions in all the rooms?
- What is your visiting policy on the postnatal ward? Can children visit at any time?
- Can I bring my own medication to hospital with me and take it when I please?
- What are some reasons why I may not be able to go home after a standard visit?
Questions on Baby Care
- Can my partner stay with me overnight in the hospital? Can my children stay with me in hospital? How many support people can I have stay overnight? What sleeping facilities are available for my partner?
- Will the staff show me how to bath my baby?
- Will the midwives teach me how to breastfeed? Do you have a lactation consultant available 24 hours a day?
- Are there any classes we can attend after the baby is born? E.g. to teach mother crafting skills, postnatal physiotherapy classes, breastfeeding classes.
- If my baby needs to go into a Newborn Care facility, what are the rooming in and visiting policies? Where is it located? Will a staff member assist me to the unit if I can’t walk on my own?
- Will any procedures be performed on my baby without my consent?
- If I express breastmilk, is there somewhere safe to store it in the hospital? Do I need to bring my own breastmilk pump and bottles?
- Do I need to bring clothes and blankets for my baby? What size clothes should I buy for a newborn baby?
- Does the baby sleep in my room with me? How do I let the midwives know I need help?
- Will the midwives bath my baby and change my baby’s nappies? Will the midwives feed my baby if I’m feeling too tired to do it?
Preparation is key to a successful birth, asking appropriate questions will allow you and your partner to be ready for your hospital visit when the big day arrives. Reflect on these questions before your hospital tour, they may even prompt you to think of more questions to ask your care provider. Whatever you make time for during your pregnancy, make time for the hospital tour and take on the birth of your baby with certainty and confidence!
About the author:
Marney Atkins-Smith is an Australian Registered Midwife who obtained her Bachelor of Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Marney loves taking care of women throughout the perinatal period and has a passion for educating and empowering mums and dads throughout their postnatal experience, giving them the knowledge and information they need to become confident parents.