Get ready for delivery day.
Visit the hospital.
A tour will typically show you where check-in is, as well as the birthing rooms, operating room, recovery room, and nursery. Go between 20 and 32 weeks; if the setup isn’t what you’d expected, it’s easier to change hospitals when you’re only halfway through your pregnancy. Plus, you’ll still be comfortable enough to walk around the hospital!
Inquire about the essentials.
During the tour, see what’s available where you’ll labor and deliver. In most newer hospitals, everything will happen in the same room. If you want a water birth, for example, be sure to ask—some hospitals may have a limited number of tubs. Look into whether any other extras, like a birthing ball or bar, are options or if you should bring your own.
Most delivery rooms are intended to have a homey feel, so medical equipment will be hidden behind panels in the walls or tucked to the side. Ask about what machines you’ll be hooked up to. Knowing what’s normal can reduce your anxiety.
Bring only what you really need.
While comfort items such as heating pads and music are generally allowed, many hospitals have policies for legal reasons that prohibit photography and video when a doctor or a nurse is doing a procedure. Consider the electronic items that you’ll need to plug in and charge. Surge protectors usually aren’t permitted, and the labor room will have minimal outlets for your use, as many are designated only for medical equipment.
Understand who’ll be there.
Nurses, residents, med students, and anesthesiologists may go in and out of the room throughout your labor and delivery. Hospitals have different policies about how many guests are allowed in. Two or three are typically fine, but a larger group may need to rotate. Some hospitals want the same support team the whole time, so ask. If you get an epidural, your crew will probably have to leave while it’s being done.
A nurse may be assigned to check on you, but it might not be the same one the entire time. While your ob-gyn will be there for the delivery, an on-call doc or the hospital’s medical team will likely check on you during your labor. If you’re at a teaching hospital, a resident may assist, or medical students might observe. But you can always ask that they leave. Sources: Tamara Hawkins, R.N., founder of Stork and Cradle, in New York City; Alexander L. Lin, M.D., adjunct assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago; Catherine Ruhl, a certified nurse midwife and the associate director of women’s health programs at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses.