One of the most magnificent moments in a woman’s life occurs in a hospital delivery room, yet most women do not take advantage of viewing the location in advance. Many hospitals offer free tours of their labor and delivery suites, and expectant families should take full advantage of this opportunity. Most labor and delivery suites look like master bedrooms and offer LDRs (labor, delivery and recovery rooms) equipped with a birthing bed, so mothers can remain in one room during their entire hospital experience.
Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway— a board-certified ob-gyn, an advocate for quality healthcare and patient safety and author of The Smart Mother's Guide to a Better Pregnancy: How to Minimize Risks, Avoid Complications, and Have a Healthy Baby offers these SMART tips to help you obtain the most helpful information during a hospital labor and delivery tour.
S = Seek information regarding the nurse-to-patient ratio. The ideal situation is one nurse managing one laboring patient; however, a labor room nurse should never be responsible for more than two patients at one time.
M = Make certain that you visit the LDRs or birthing rooms, the operating room, the hospital registration office and the nursery. Also inquire about fetal monitors (machines that measure babies’ heartbeats and mothers’ contractions). Do they have alarm systems that alert hospital staff when a baby’s heartbeat becomes abnormal?
A = Ask what kinds of perks the hospital offers, such as a special entrance for mothers in labor, special parking areas or valet parking, rocking chairs or birthing balls in the LDR, or access to high-risk specialists in the hospital. Does it have a level 3 nursery or 24-hour anesthesia coverage? What is the visitor policy?
R = Request to see a demonstration of the nursery security policy. Most nurseries have very detailed security measures to ensure the safety of newborns. Does the hospital have a cyber-nursery with infants’ pictures on the hospital Web site? Does it offer a newborn channel with up-to-date movies on caring for newborns?
T = Take time to speak with nurses from both labor and delivery and the nursery to ask questions. In the event of unforeseen emergencies, it is always helpful to have a pediatrician readily available as opposed to having to locate one at the time of delivery.
An advance tour of the labor room not only removes the mystery of the unknown but provides a firsthand view of where your baby will make his or her grand entrance.