5 Reasons to Take a Hospital Maternity Tour

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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Woman holding pregnant belly with hands in shape of a heart
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A hospital maternity tour is worth your time. Don’t let your busy schedule tempt you into skipping this step in preparing for your baby’s arrival. Hospital tours typically only take 30 to 60 minutes. These tours are a prime opportunity to get answers to questions or ease some fears regarding labor and birth. Here are five reasons to tour your hospital’s labor and delivery department.

1. You can get the lay of the land.

When you are in a labor, you do not want to waste time figuring out where to park or where to enter the hospital. A hospital maternity tour is a great time to get the details you need to make your day of delivery go as smoothly as possible. You’ll understand logistics, including where to go when you come to the hospital in labor. You’ll also be able to see the rooms where women give birth, as well as the nursery and any available family lounges or waiting rooms. Sharing this information with friends and family in advance of the big day will allow everyone to plan appropriately.

2. You can refine your birth plan.

You probably won’t have time to discuss your individual birth plan with staff during your hospital maternity tour. But you will learn a lot about typical birthing practices at that particular hospital. You can ask questions about available pain relief methods, for instance. Or you could ask staff about their experience supporting natural childbirth. The information you gather during your tour will help you tweak your birth plan, if necessary. You’ll want to make any changes while there’s still plenty of time to discuss your preferences with your obstetrician or nurse midwife.

3. You’ll meet some of the labor and delivery nurses.

Don’t underestimate the power of a familiar face. It’s impossible to predict which labor and delivery nurse will be working when you go into labor and give birth. But meeting some of the staff during a hospital maternity tour increases the chance you will see someone you recognize when you arrive. What’s more, labor and delivery (and recovery afterwards!) can take a while. So there’s a good chance some of the staff you meet during your tour will care for you at some point during your hospital stay.

A hospital tour is also a good time to learn more about the entire staff that is available to help you. In addition to labor and delivery nurses, you may meet lactation consultants, medical students, and support staff.

4. You’ll find out about the resources available to you.

Birthing resources vary from hospital to hospital. For example, some hospitals have whirlpool tubs laboring moms can use to ease the discomfort of contractions. Some have a tub in each room, while other hospitals have a limited number of tubs. Some rooms contain built-in sound systems; at other hospitals, you’ll need to bring your own gear if you want to listen to music during labor. Knowing what resources are available will help you figure out what to bring to the hospital. It can also help you have realistic expectations for your birth experience.

5. Knowing what to expect can ease fear of the unknown.

Birth is unpredictable; there’s no way to know in advance exactly how your labor and birth experience will unfold. Taking a tour of the hospital labor and delivery unit in advance of your due date will introduce you to the sights, sounds and smells of the hospital. That can go a long way toward increasing your sense of comfort and familiarity. After you have toured the maternity unit, you’ll be able to better visualize your birth experience. The picture you create in your head won’t fully align with reality, of course, but simply visualizing yourself in the space can help you prepare for labor and birth.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 10
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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