- Get to know the lay out.
When it's finally labor time, you may feel a bit discombobulated. Learn how to get there and which way works best. More importantly, learn about where to park and where labor and delivery are located.
- Find out what resources are available.
Does the hospital you are looking at offer a lactation consultant, level III nursery, refrigerator in postpartum, hair dryer, etc.
- Learn about visiting policies.
Who can visit when or where is a very important thing to learn. Can you have guests in labor and delivery? Can they stay for the whole birth? What about if you have a c-section?
- Explore class options.
Many hospitals have class offerings. They may offer childbirth class, breastfeeding, baby care and infant CPR. They are usually at a free or reduced rate for patients choosing to give birth in that hospital.
- Figure out what is available in labor and delivery.
Labor and delivery offers many options, what does your hospital offer? Do they have birth balls, squat bars, showers, telemetry fetal monitoring, water tubs, etc.? Do they have policies about when you could have an epidural or other pain medications in labor? A tour is a good time to find this out.
- Know where to go when it's labor.
Some hospitals want everyone to go to the emergency room (ER), while others want you to only go to the ER if it's after visiting hours. Some will have a triage, or early labor room for you to be checked in, others have you go directly into a labor and delivery room (LDR).
- Meet the staff.
While it might not be the same staff that is there the night you come in to give birth, it still gives your hospital a more human feel. It might also give you peace of mind.
- Ask questions.
Asking questions is a great way to find answers and develop a feeling of ownership.
- See about a sibling policy.
If you have other children, learning about the sibling policy is a must. You will need to know if a sibling can be present at the birth. What about after the baby is born? Do they need to stop at the nurse's station? How old do they have to be? Should they have a special class?
If you're nervous about going to the hospital, a quick trip can be very beneficial. It gives you a chance to look around and become familiar with your surroundings. If a group tour isn't your thing, ask for a private tour.