Questions to Ask When Touring a Hospital
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( notes results of best available research)
Classes and Other Support ServicesDoes the hospital offer classes in childbirth education? Newborn care? Breastfeeding? Postpartum adjustment?
Does the hospital refer to community resources for childbirth education, breastfeeding support, and other concerns of mothers?
CostHow much does a typical vaginal birth cost? A cesarean birth?
Does the hospital participate in [my insurance plan]? Note: you should check with your insurer to confirm coverage.
Are there any "extra" costs that I should know about? Is there an anesthesiologist on call? Would I or my insurance be required to pay a fee if I do not use the services?
Care During Labor and Birth — Organization of CareIs there a birth center in the hospital? How does care in the birth center differ from "regular" hospital labor and delivery care?
Would I labor and give birth in one room, or would I be required to move just before the birth? Would I stay in the same room after I give birth?
Care During Labor and Birth — CompanionsDo you have any policies that limit the number of people who may be with me during labor and birth? Can the baby's siblings be present? Is there an age restriction?
Do you have experience with trained labor support (doulas) during labor and birth? Do you encourage use of doula care?
Care During Labor and Birth — InterventionsHow do you monitor the well-being of the baby during labor? Do you use occasional or continuous electronic fetal monitoring? Is a doppler (hand-held ultrasound device used to monitor your baby's heart) or a fetoscope (stethoscope for listening to your baby's heart) an option?
What are your usual policies and practices about:
What percent of the time do women giving birth here get an episiotomy (a cut to enlarge the opening of the vagina just before birth)?
Care During Labor and Birth — Help with PainHow would you recommend that I prepare for managing pain during labor and birth?
What drug-free measures for pain relief are available in this hospital?
What would happen if I decided that I want an epidural?
Are other pain medications an option?
Care During Labor and Birth — ComplicationsWhat percentage of women who give birth here have cesarean sections?
Are there any situations (such as cesareans or other procedures, tests, treatments) that would require me to be separated from my partner and/or doula during labor or birth?
Postpartum and Newborn CareWhat newborn care is routinely provided or offered if a baby is healthy?
Would my baby be separated from me immediately or shortly after birth? For what purpose and how long?
Are there any policies regarding use of hospital nursery care by healthy newborns? Do you have a "rooming in" option, where my baby could stay in the room with me instead of being cared for in the nursery?
Is there a newborn intensive care unit on site? Is there any situation in which my baby would need to be transferred to another facility?
What breastfeeding resources are available? Does the hospital have a lactation consultant on staff? How would I ensure that my breastfed baby would not be given bottles of water or formula? Do you pass out formula samples?
Could my partner stay with me throughout my stay after the baby is born? What accommodations are available?
Leaving the HospitalHow long do women usually stay after a vaginal birth? Are shorter or longer stays acceptable to the staff?
What follow-up care and support would you provide after I go home? Does the hospital have a nurse available for home visits? Do you provide information or give breastfeeding or emotional support over the telephone?
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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 11/16/2012