Are you planning on having your baby in a hospital? If so, it’s important to sign up for a maternity hospital tour to know where you are going, where to park, and what your hospital will be like when you have your baby. The great thing is that hospital tours are free, and many hospitals have their tour times listed on their website.
Most hospitals will allow you to schedule your tour online, or you can give them a call to set it up. Due to COVID, many hospitals are currently only allowing virtual tours. However, any preparation is better than no preparation at all, so virtual tours are still recommended.
Whether in person or virtual, hospitals usually have different times available for you to tour, so you can find a time that works best for you and your partner. And yes, your partner should take the tour with you. If your partner will be driving you to the hospital, helping you with checking in, etc., they need to know what to expect as well.
Thankfully, hospital tours usually last 20-30 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about them taking all day. You can expect either a hospital educator or a labor & delivery nurse to walk you around, virtually or in person. They will show you everything from parking and checking in to your postpartum/recovery room to being discharged. While you’re taking your maternity hospital tour, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your guide will appreciate your questions and will be happy to answer them.
Asking good questions will also help the other guests think of things you might not be thinking of when preparing for your labor and delivery stay. Many families aren’t sure what questions they should ask when on their maternity hospital tour, so we have provided an extensive list of all types of questions you might want to ask. Pick the ones that you’re curious about and ones that apply most to you and your hospital. We hope they help!
Questions to Ask During a Maternity Hospital Tour
Hospital Logistics & Room Information
- Are all labor and delivery rooms private, or do some share rooms?
- Are the bathrooms private or shared?
- How likely is it that I can get a private room? Do I need to call in advance?
- What are the fees for private rooms? (May vary with different insurance plans.)
- Are all the rooms the same as the one(s) we’re being shown? Are some smaller/less renovated, have smaller bathrooms, etc.?
- Will I be in one room during my entire stay, or will I be moved to a separate postpartum room?
- Will I have a private tub or shower for my postpartum room, or will I have to share?
- Is there a TV in all labor and delivery rooms and postpartum rooms? What channels do you have?
- How many births take place at this hospital on average each day?
- What happens if the labor and delivery floor is full? How often does that happen?
- Is this a teaching hospital and do you utilize students or residents? Will they attend my labor and birth? Can I request that they not attend if I don’t feel comfortable with them there?
- Are there any situations that may take me away from my birth partner?
- Is there good cell service in the L&D room and postpartum room?
- Is there Wi-Fi access?
- Can my spouse/significant other (SO) sleep in my room? What accommodations are there for them (cot, couch, recliner, etc.)? Can we bring an inflatable mattress?
- Where’s the cafeteria? When is it open? Is it open 24/7? If not, what time does it open and close, and on what days?
- How do you order food? What times does the kitchen open and close?
- Is there a newborn intensive care unit (NICU)? What floor is it located on? Is it easy to access from the postpartum rooms?
- Where is the best place to park? How much does parking cost?
- Is there valet parking at your hospital? At what times? How much does it cost or is it complimentary?
Labor & Birth
- If I believe I am in labor, where will I initially be examined? Will I have to wait in a general waiting area, triage, or will I be brought to a private room?
- Will I be allowed to eat and/or drink during labor? Can I bring my own food?
- Do you have popsicles or broth that I can eat?
- What labor and birthing equipment do you provide? For example, birthing balls, peanut balls, squat bars, showers, jetted tubs, rocking chairs, birthing stools, etc.
- How comfortable is the hospital with natural births?
- What pain management options are available?
- What is the average time a laboring mother needs to wait for an epidural?
- Is there always an anesthesiologist on-site?
- Am I able to avoid having an IV put in? Could I get a Hep Lock instead? (Or nothing at all.)
- What sort of monitoring do you have? Do you have wireless fetal monitoring available? Can I give birth here without fetal monitors?
- How often are you fetal monitoring?
- Do you have CD players/DVD players in the L&D rooms? Do you have an iPod station or MP3 player in the L&D rooms? Are they complementary? If you don’t have them, can I bring and use my own speaker?
- How many people are allowed in the delivery room at one time? Is there a limit?
- Who should I give my birth plan to?
- Will the nurse be comfortable with a birth plan that may include things they aren’t used to if my midwife/doctor has signed off on it?
- Will I be able to labor at my own pace, or will I be put on a time limit? (Typically, hospitals want you to dilate one centimeter an hour.)
- Will I be allowed to move around freely and get in the tub or shower during labor?
- Can I wear my own clothes during labor and birth?
- What is the induction rate at this hospital?
- What is the episiotomy rate at this hospital?
- At this hospital, what is the cesarean rate?
- What are your maternal and infant mortality rates at this hospital?
- How do you (and this hospital) feel about doulas?
- What are the policies on cameras and video cameras during labor, pushing, and birth? Are recording devices (like a cell phone, video camera, or digital camera) allowed in the delivery room or operating room (if you are getting a C-section)?
- What positions do you allow mothers to give birth in? Can I push in more ways than just on my back in stirrups? Could I push on my side, on hands and knees, squatting, etc.?
- Can I push/deliver my baby in the shower or the tub?
- Will the hospital/on-call doctor go along with my birth plan if my midwife/doctor is not on-call?
- What’s the policy on delayed cord clamping?
- Can I donate or bank my baby’s cord blood when delivering at this hospital?
- Will this hospital allow me to take my placenta home (if you choose to do placenta encapsulation)?
- Can we delay all procedures/exams for the baby for an hour for bonding time/skin-to-skin?
- Is your spouse/SO and doula allowed in the room for a C-section?
- If I have a C-section, will my baby be separated from me right after the procedure? Or can I do skin-to-skin?
After Birth: Postpartum
- What is your policy on baby care immediately after birth? Will my baby be taken out of the room needing to be checked, weighed, or placed in a heater? Or will the examinations take place in my room? Will they allow immediate skin-to-skin contact?
- Can I have my child immediately placed skin-to-skin after a C-section?
- Are there any situations where my baby would need to be transferred to another facility?
- Can my baby room with us instead of being in the nursery?
- Can I breastfeed immediately after a C-section?
- What sort of breastfeeding support is available?
- Do you provide an industrial-strength hospital-grade breast pump?
- Do you have a lactation consultant on staff at the hospital? Is she available at all times, 7 days a week?
- Does the hospital support supplementing breastfeeding with formula?
- Does the hospital support formula-feeding?
- Do you give pacifiers to the babies in the nursery? Will I be asked/notified before doing so?
- Under what circumstances would formula be given to my baby? Will I be asked/notified first? Even in the middle of the night?
- What security measures are there? Do people have to be buzzed in, are there security guards, and is a device placed on my baby to ensure they can not leave the floor?
- Are there specific hours for visitors after birth? Do you allow young children to visit?
- What kind of information will I go home with?
- What time of day does discharge usually occur? (Families are often allowed to stay 48-hours post vaginal delivery and 4-days post-C-section.)
- Do you follow up with your patients? What new parent support do you offer? Can I call at any time if I have questions or need help?
What would you add to ask on a maternity hospital tour?