Most expecting parents tour their birthing center or hospital during the third trimester. This maternity tour is generally meant to help them get the lay of the land, understand what is available, and where they will be on the big day!

I decided to shop around different hospitals in Rhode Island, to find out which one was the right fit for me. After touring, I reviewed and blogged about the five most popular places for birth in the Ocean State: (click the link for the review of each hospital)

I highly recommend expecting parents visit a couple of different hospitals or birth centers, at any time during (or before) pregnancy. If you start off early, you have a head start! Just call the hospital, tell them that you would like to set up a private tour, and find a date and time that works for you. I had to set up an official group tour for Women and Infants, but the rest of the hospitals were able to see me the day that I called.

The tours I went on were free, and generally took about twenty minutes. At first, I carried a list of questions that were important to me. After two tours, I knew what to look and ask for. In the end, I felt very educated in the birth options that our state had to offer, and made a decision that was best for me and my family.

Here are 40 Questions To Ask While Touring Birthing Facilities Or Maternity Wings:

  1. 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?
  2. How many births take place here on average, each day?
  3. What percentage of women here have c-sections?
  4. Do you utilize students or residents?
  5. Are there any situations that may take me away from my birth partner?
  6. Are there any restrictions on who is allowed in the room during birth? How many people can be with me?
  7. How comfortable is the hospital with natural births?
  8. Am I able to avoid having an IV upon entering, and have a Hep Lock instead? (or nothing at all)
  9. Can I eat and drink during labor?
  10. How often are you fetal monitoring?
  11. Can I walk and move around during labor? Am I just allowed to walk around my room? If I can walk around elsewhere, show me where laboring mothers walk.
  12. Is there a tub or shower available for me during labor? Is it in my room, or shared by the entire floor? If it is shared, how often are women are turned away from using it because someone beat them to it?
  13. What is the average time a laboring mother needs to wait for an epidural?
  14. What positions do you allow mothers to give birth?
  15. What birthing tools are available? Birth balls, birth stools, etc?
  16. What is your policy on photography or videography during labor?
  17. Will I be in one room during my entire stay, or will I be moved to a separate postpartum room?
  18. Will I have a private tub or shower for my postpartum room, or will I have to share?
  19. Will I have to share a room with another family?
  20. What is your policy on baby care immediately after birth? If my baby needs to be checked, weighed, or placed in a heater – will he be taken out of my room? Or will the examinations take place in my room?
  21. Make sure to assess the rooms. Do you feel comfortable there?
  22. Where will your birth partner sit and sleep during your stay? Have them try out the chairs.
  23. How does the hospital support breastfeeding? Who will be there to guide you, shortly after your baby is born? Is support offered seven days a week?
  24. Does the hospital support supplementing breastfeeding with formula?
  25. Does the hospital support formula feeding?
  26. Can I have my child immediately placed skin to skin after a c-section?
  27. Can I choose to breastfeed immediately after a c-section?
  28. Is there a newborn intensive care unit (NICU)?
  29. Are there any situations where my baby would need to be transferred to another facility?
  30. What security measures are there? Do people have to be buzzed in, are there security guards, and is a device placed on your tiny baby to make sure he can not leave the floor?
  31. Are there specific hours for visiting? Do you allow young children to visit?
  32. Does the hospital encourage the baby rooming in with the parents, or do they encourage the baby to stay in the nursery?
  33. Is there access to the Internet?
  34. Is there valet? At what times?
  35. Will we have a TV? What channels?
  36. Is there a CD or MP3 player in the labor room?
  37. Do you have an option for a special “stork dinner” during our stay?
  38. Is there a cafe? What time does the hospital kitchen close?
  39. What time of day does discharge generally occur? Families are often allowed to stay 48 hours post vaginal delivery, and 4 days post c-section.
  40. What follow-up support do you offer for new parents? Can I call, at any time, if I have questions or need emotional support?

What question or questions would you ask on a tour?