I had the opportunity to tour the hospital in which I’ll be giving birth in just a few months. For anyone who is given the chance to do the same, I highly recommend it. Not only will you be able to visualize exactly how the birthing and recovery rooms look, but you’ll get to ask the registered nurse leading your tour a slew of questions that might make you seem absolutely unhinged, but will at least ease your mind—which is the important thing here.
My tour began with the head nurse explaining that just because we feel we are in labor, it doesn’t mean we will be automatically admitted and provided a bed. Oh no, instead our vaginas will be poked and prodded as many times as it takes until doctors are sure we’ve reach a certain number of centimeters in diameter. I was induced with my firstborn and didn’t experience normal contractions like most women. I wasn’t sent home from the hospital or told to take a two-hour walk until labor began. Because of this, I am totally anxious thinking about the whole ordeal. What if contractions begin in the middle of the night and we have no one to watch our daughter at that moment? What if we don’t get to the hospital in time and I give birth on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway? Please, anywhere but on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway!
I was actually impressed with the birthing room. It was furnished with cherry-wood furniture and looked like a really pretty bedroom one would find in a dollhouse. Who focuses on the decor, you ask? THIS woman because as soon as our guide began explaining the many positions we could assume to give birth on the bed – I could squat, get on all fours, the possibilities are endless! – I nearly passed out from fear. The same happened when we were told moms are encouraged to room-in with their babies throughout their stay at the hospital. With Kiera, I had the nurses bring her in whenever it was time to breastfeed, but as a first-time mom, I was really scared and felt I couldn’t be trusted with her the entire night. Looking back, that seems crazy, but I felt like the nurses could care for my newborn way better than I could.
I want to room-in with my new baby and the beauty of a second birth is that I’m not as anxious about it. But does this mean I MUST breastfeed? What if I try and it doesn’t work out? Will nurses be accommodating and bring formula when I request it? You could say I’m a tiny bit stressed about the whole experience.
I also discovered some amazing things about my hospital. My baby and I will not be separated after birth and his initial exams will take place in the birthing room with mom and dad by his side. Some hospitals whisk baby away to perform the exams, so check if this is important to you. The extra bonding time with my baby will be incredible. We were told only two people are allowed in the delivery room, but that – wink, wink – that is just an “official” policy. In other words, both my mom and mother-in-law will be able to be there alongside my husband and me yet again and this is glorious news.
And best of all: my husband can sneak real food in for me after I give birth. For the love of your new hemorrhoids, pack fibrous foods in your bag or plan to get your partner to go on a brown rice and veggie food run because, if your hospital is anything like mine, you will be given white toast, Sanka, hard boiled eggs, and mystery meat. Take control of the nourishment and recovery of your body and you won’t be sorry.
Other questions you may want to keep in mind:
- How much/what is the procedure for getting a private room: if, of course, this is important to you.
- Are moms and babies separated after a C-section? Because you never know if you’ll need an emergency delivery and it’s good to be prepared.
- What are visiting hours for relatives? Do the same rules apply for my husband?
- What breastfeeding support do you offer? Private lactation counselor? Group classes?
- Do you provide goody bags with formula? Many hospitals no longer send women home with formula. If you plan on bottle feeding, stock up before you get home from the hospital because I guarantee you won’t want to leave your house for a few days after you get home.
My due date is getting closer and closer and things are starting to get very REAL!