There’s so much preparation that gets crammed into those freakishly long nine months (that somehow also go by in the blink of an eye — what is time?) before you give birth. And though picking out a name and painting the nursery are stressful in a fun way, the reality that you’re actually going to be bringing home a small human soon doesn’t really hit you until you get to the hospital. That’s when it starts to get real. And that’s when the real questions — oh, so many questions — start to form.
Besides the fact that you’ll likely be in a lot of pain, being in labor and delivery can be a little chaotic — and all it takes is a tiny bit of confusion for your perfectly tweaked birth plan to get derailed. Which is why it is so important to arm yourself with as much information as possible about your hospital stay before you even get there. When you’re taking that hospital tour, there’s no such thing as too many questions. Believe us when we say that it’s better to know before you go into labor than to find out mid-contraction that the hospital doesn’t have the birthing tub you were planning on and that you’ll be sharing a room. Here are 46 questions you should definitely ask.
1. Will I have to share a room? Is there the option for a private room (and if so, check with your insurance to see what portion of the room fee, if any, is covered)?
2. Will I labor and deliver in the same room, or is there a triage area for labor and a separate area for the actual delivery?
3. How many people are allowed in the room while I’m in labor? During the delivery? What about in the event of a C-section?
4. Is there a waiting area for friends and family? (If so, ask to check it out!)
5. Will I have access to a shower or birthing tub? Are these shared facilities that may be in use when I deliver or private and for me alone?
6. Is there a chair, bed or cot for my partner to spend the night with me while I’m in the hospital?
7. Am I allowed to walk around during labor? If so, am I restricted to the room? If there is an area where laboring moms are allowed to walk, ask to see it.
8. Do I have to get an IV line placed immediately upon arrival? Is a hep-lock an option (so you don’t have to drag an IV bag with you while mid-contraction)?
9. How often do you do fetal monitoring during labor?
10. How often do you perform pelvic exams during labor?
11. What positions can I give birth in?
12. Will I have access to a birthing ball or birthing bar?
13. Is there a television in the room? Can I bring music? If yes, is there an MP3 player or sound system in the room?
14. How long is the average labor time for this hospital?
15. What’s the hospital’s C-section rate?
16. How long will I have to wait for an epidural?
17. Is this a teaching hospital? If so, can I expect interns or students to be present during my delivery?
18. Is there a policy regarding videos or photos during labor and delivery?
19. Can I eat and/or drink while in labor?
20. What is the hospital’s policy regarding episiotomy?
21. Can my doula or midwife be present?
22. Can I wear my own dressing gown or pajamas during labor?
23. What happens in the event that I require a C-section?
24. Will the baby be taken from me for cleaning and examination?
25. When is the cord cut? Who cuts it? Is there the option for a delayed cord cutting?
26. When does the baby receive their vitamin K shot and erythromycin eye ointment?
27. Is skin-to-skin contact immediately following the birth an option?
28. What happens in the event that my baby is in distress and requires NICU attention? Will they be transferred to another facility?
29. Does your hospital offer in-rooming where the baby stays with Mom, or is there a nursery?
30. If my baby is taken to the nursery, will they be brought to me for feedings?
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31. Does the hospital offer post-delivery consultations with a lactation consultant, should I want one?
32. Does the hospital have a breast pump I can use during my stay?
33. Does the hospital supplement with formula?
34. Will I be moved to a different room post-delivery? Is that room shared or private?
35. How long will I stay in the hospital post-delivery?
36. Will I have access to a shower post-delivery? Is the shower shared or private?
37. Does the hospital offer a special meal for new parents?
38. Is there a hospital cafe, and if so what are the hours and menu?
39. What are the visiting hours and policies once the baby is born? Are children allowed to visit?
40. Does the hospital offer parking validation? If not, what is the parking fee? Where should I park when I arrive in labor?
41. What security measures does the hospital have in place to insure the safety of Mom and Baby?
42. Does the hospital offer infant CPR classes for new parents before discharge?
43. Does the hospital offer whooping cough vaccinations for parents and caregivers?
44. How do I complete the paperwork to obtain my baby’s birth certificate?
45. What, if anything, needs to be done before the baby can be released for home? (Some hospitals require proof of a properly installed car seat.)
46. Is there any paperwork I can complete ahead of my delivery?
A version of this article was originally published in July 2016.