- Amybow suggests asking what the hospital's policy is regarding visitors. Where do they check in? What are the visiting hours? Is your husband a visitor, or can he stay with you the whole time? If you're in a shared room, can he still stay in with you overnight? "Fortunately, my hospital allowed it," she says. "Unfortunately, they required proper PJs, so my hubby spent the night sleeping in my maternity yoga pants."
- Prepare a birth plan, even if you don't think you'll actually use it. There are plenty of examplesonline. Skin-to-skin contact was a priority for heels, who gave birth in a birthing center and wrote it into her birth plan. "A birth plan is not like a set-in-stone map that must be followed," she points out. "It's just a way to remember some of your preferences at a time when you're kind of consumed by other things!" Mandy Nelson agrees, adding, "Give a copy to your doctor during a regular visit so he/she can discuss things with you. And you put a couple of copies in your hospital bag, so that you can start handing them out to the first nurse you're assigned. ... It's a great way to communicate."
- During your visit, watch the nurses and support staff and see how they're acting, suggests Lisa M. Nolan. "The nurses can make or break your hospital stay!" Melissa suggests that you ask yourself if you feel comfortable with the people who will be working with you. "I asked lots of questions to make sure we were the right fit," she says.
- Ask specific questions about breastfeeding, scheduling, and pain management. What procedures are manditory? And find out if you can bring your own things from home. "Bring your own pillow. You'll want if after the delivery," LT says, adding, "And slippers. Those sock thingies stink."
- Find out about staffing issues. Are there plenty of nurses? How long are their shifts? "Make sure they have enough nurses," warns JLauren. "There was a nursing shortage where I was and I didn't get admitted when I was supposed to." Sweet Talk Daniellea lactation consultant available -- you may need one in the middle of the night. And Little Angels Wrappers says you should ask about the doctors as well as the nurses. "If your doctor can't be there, who will delivery your baby?" she wonders. "Who will be your child's pediatrician if yours isn't there?"
- If your hospital is connected to a medical school, ask if you're allowed to choose whether or not to have students working on you, suggests Karen Webb. She didn't want to be a test case -- and didn't have to be.
- "I wish that I had asked about NICU policies, and about policies about seeing the baby after a c-section," says Mamajama. You may be planning to go the traditional birth route, but nature sometimes has other plans.
- Will they let you labor in any position you want? What about the birth itself... do you have to be strapped to a monitor? Can you have a Doula if you want one? Who can be with you during delivery? "It is very important for you in being in control of your own birth," Jenny Brant points out.
- Ask about amenities -- your hospital may offers services that you might not expect, like private rooms, valet parking, or room service. Do you automatically get put in a shared room after delivery, or can you request a private one? Can your baby stay with you the whole time, or does he have to go to the nursery right after birth? "My hospital gave us a choice," says Amy S. "Some hospitals may have very specific policies."
- Ask to see all of the rooms, not just one or two. "They will likely show you the nicest rooms available," eMom cautions. "Ask them to see the rooms they use if those nice rooms get full."
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About to have a baby? Work It, Mom! members have been there... here's a list of 10 tried-and-true questions to ask and things to look for when you visit the hospital or birthing center. Print it out and take it with you!