Tips for Touring a Hospital Birthing Center

You should tour a hospital birthing center as early in your pregnacy as possible. Some tips to keep in mind when conducting a hospital birthing center tour:
  • What type of insurance is accepted?
  • Can the ward handle emergencies? Is it equipped?
  • What level nursery is available? (Nurseries have ratings of I, II, or III. A level III nursery, neonatal intensive care unit, is equipped and able to handle any neonatal emergency. If the hospital only has a level I or level II nursery, and an emergency happens, it may require a transfer to a center who has a level III nursery.)
  • What types of monitors will they be using? (Internal and external)
  • What is the nurse-to-patient ratio?
  • How often will the nurses change shifts?
  • Is there an obstetrician at the hospital 24 hours a day?
  • What support do they offer for those seeking natural childbirth?
  • What types of pain medication is offered?
  • Can you decline medication used to induce or make your labor progress?
  • How many labor and support people may be present for the birth?
  • How long is the typical postpartum stay for vaginal deliveries? For C-sections?
  • How many guests are allowed in the labor room? In the delivery room? Are there any age restrictions? Time restrictions?
  • Can a guest stay in the room overnight with you if needed?
  • How many rooms will you be in during your stay? Are the labor and delivery rooms separate?
  • What type of accommodations do they offer? LDR-Labor, Delivery, Recovery and then moved to a semi-private or do you stay in the same room the entire time.
  • Can the birth be recorded? Can pictures be taken?
  • Can you breast-feed after the birth?
  • Can the baby be roomed with you?
  • What restrictions there are regarding activity during labor? Are you restricted to bed rest?
  • What does the maternity ward offer to make you feel more comfortable? Some hospitals have TVs, music, showers, or whirlpools.
  • Is the center clean?
  • Is the staff friendly and professional?
  • Did the staff clearly answer all of the questions?
  • Do the patients and guests you encountered during your tour seem happy?
  • How was the noise level in the halls?
  • Is the parking lot big enough to accommodate guests?

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Learn more about birthing centers:

Birthing center staff
Home-like amenities provided by birthing centers
How to create a birth plan
How to select the best birthing center
Tips for touring a stand alone birthing center
What is a birthing center?