Parents (USA) - - Contents - By ELLEN STURM NIZ il­lus­tra­tion by ROBIN ROSEN­THAL

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.

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