Lamaze to Parents: Get the Most From Hospital Tours to Be Ready for Baby’s Arrival

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Couple Enjoys the Early Days of Pregnancy

Special webinar helps parents-to-be ask the right questions during a prenatal hospital tour 

The pop culture image of an expectant couple frantically arriving at the hospital, with a flurry of papers and spilling bags makes for hilarious movie or sitcom moments.  The reality is that careful planning and making the most of a hospital tour can help ensure that those early moments of labor are less stressful.

 

Yet, with the tremendous amount of information that the hospital wants to communicate during a typical tour, it’s easy for expectant parents to walk away from the tour realizing they didn’t ask questions that matter most.

 

“The result can be a missed opportunity to make sure that your expectations for labor and birth match the reality of the typical care that’s being provided at the hospital you’ve chosen,” says Tara Owens Shuler, president of Lamaze International. “By asking good, and sometimes tough questions, expectant mothers with support from their partners can make sure they’re on track for getting the care they want for themselves and their babies.”

 

Lamaze encourages expectant parents to leave the hospital with all aspects of a safe and healthy birth accounted for, so when the big day comes, there are no surprises. Parents should keep some of the following tips in mind during their tour:

 

  • Make sure you’re clear on what to do and where to go when the big moment arrives
  • Understand your support options and know how much nursing support to count on and whether additional professional labor support from a doula is welcome
  • Ask what routine interventions or procedures you’ll be asked to follow, like whether you’ll be restricted to ice chips or confined to bed because of continuous fetal monitoring
  • Explore the support you’ll have for coping with labor pain, like having access to a tub, or birth balls that will help you stay upright during labor
  • Ask probing questions about how much your preferences will be accommodated, and whether the care you want is typical rather than simply available in your hospital.
  • Walk away with a list of things to talk about with your care provider if you see gaps or have concerns

Feeling confident to ask the right questions and get these answers during hospital tours will help parents find a birthing place that meets their needs, and most importantly, supports the safest, healthiest birth practices.  To help parents prepare for their tour, Lamaze International recently hosted an informational webinar to learn about “Getting the Most Out of Hospital Tours” that

explored the topic in deeper detail.  This interactive webinar was geared to help parents learn to push for the care they want and discuss key issues while shopping for a hospital, and ultimately avoid a mad rush on their baby’s birthday.  The webinar can be viewed here.

“Despite the fact that hospital tours are designed to help expectant parents familiarize themselves with the facilities, learn labor and birthing protocols, preview the available features and meet the staff, tour guides may not always dig deeper into the issues that really matter to each individual couple,” says Shuler.  “Understanding the hospital’s policies on issues like childbirth interventions, guidelines on comfort and support during labor will help parents achieve the care they truly desire.”

Expectant parents may find that their hospital choice isn’t in sync with their preferences, and Lamaze educators report that’s not uncommon. The key to a good outcome is being equipped with the information you need to explore other options or work with your care provider to close the gaps that expectant parents often see.

Those interested in learning more about how to push for the best care during hospital tours, visit www.lamaze.org to see Allison Walsh, former Lamaze president and internationally-board certified lactation consultant discuss helpful tips.

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