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Hospital Interviews

Choosing a Hospital for Your Birth

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When we think about having a baby very few of us think much past choosing the practitioner who will help us when labor comes. Once you've chosen a doctor or midwife, it often seems that they will tell you where their preference is to give birth. Some women may have an option to choose from one or more places, while others have only one option. Either way, it's important to ask questions, interview, if you will, the place you've chosen or perhaps will choose to give birth.

The questions you ask should be tailored towards your needs, and should always serve the purpose of opening up the lines of communications between you and your birth team. Some of the answers might be dependent upon your practitioner, while other policies will be determined by the hospital or birth center. These policies can have serious impact on how you labor or give birth, including your postpartum stay.

Here are some questions to help get you started in formulating what you need to ask of your place of birth:

Labor & Birth

  • Do you offer any type of classes? Who teaches them? What is the cost? Do you have specialty classes?

  • Where do I go when it's time for labor? Is there a different place at night?

  • What paperwork needs to be completed prior to admission for labor? Is there other paperwork to be done? Can it be done prior to labor?

  • What will I need to bring with me when I'm in labor? Will my chart be sent over or will I need to hand carry it?

  • Do you have a triage system? How long does one usually stay in triage?

  • What types of birthing rooms are available? Can I labor, give birth and recover in one room?

  • What types of comfort measures do you encourage? Is there a tub or shower in the birth room? Do you have access to birth balls, music, squat bar, etc.?

  • What type of food or drink is allowed? Is there a kitchen area for myself or my family? Am I allowed to bring food or drink from home? Do you provide clear liquids like popsicles, broth, Jell-o®, etc.?

  • Are IVs required? What about a saline lock to provide access to my veins instead? Who would make this provision if it's not a standard policy?

  • What type of medications are available should I choose medication? What IV medications are used? Do you offer epidural anesthesia? Is there a special class to take for the epidural? Do you have anesthesiologists who only do obstetrical anesthesia? Do you have 24 hour anesthesia available on site? Can I have a pre-labor consult with the anesthesia group if I have special concerns?

  • Do you have visitor policies in labor? Do you have policies about siblings?

  • Are cameras and film equpiment allowed? Are there any parts for which we should turn it off?

  • What type of fetal monitoring do you offer? External? Internal? Doppler/fetoscope? What are the hospital policies on monitoring in labor?

  • How often do you experience an overflow of patients? What happens if all of your birthing rooms are taken?

  • Do you utilize students or residents in any way?

  • What is your hospitals induction rate? How many patients receive augementation in labor? What is your episiotomy rate? Epidural rate? Forceps/vacuum rates? Cesarean rates? VBAC rate?

  • Do you have doulas on staff? Do you have a listing of doulas?

  • To whom should I send my birth plan? Does it need to be signed by my doctor or midwife? My pediatrician?

Cesarean Birth

  • Can my partner stay with me for a cesarean birth? My doula?

  • Can we have photos of the birth?

  • Will I be able to watch the surgery via mirror? Could the drapes be lowered?

  • What is the policy about pre-operative medications? Post-operative pain relief?

  • Will the baby be available to me during the surgery time? In the recovery room? When can I begin nursing?

  • If the cesarean is planned, what is the admission procedure?

  • Will my partner be able to go with the baby, should s/he need to leave the room?

Postpartum

  • Will I have the same room postpartum that I did for labor and birth?

  • Are all your postpartum rooms private? Will I ever be moved from my room?

  • Do the rooms have showers or tubs? What about sitz baths?

  • Can members of my family stay over night? Is there an extra charge for this?

  • What pain relief options are available postpartum? Does that differ if you've had a cesarean birth? What about nursing moms?

  • What is the average length of stay for a vaginal birth? A cesarean birth?

  • Is there a policy for early discharge?

Baby Care

  • What is your policy on rooming in? Are there times that the baby cannot be in our room?

  • Do pediatricians do their visits at the bed side? When would this not be appropriate?

  • Do you have a lactation consultant? Is she available seven days a week? What are her hours? Does she see every nursing mom? Is she certified?

  • What are the policies about breastfeeding babies and bottles/pacifiers?

  • What are their sibling visitation policies?

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