What Questions Should You Ask On A Hospital Tour?

When you are pregnant there a big list of things to do and high up on that list is a hospital walk around. A time to go and see the delivery suites and find out where everything will be happening when baby decides to make an appearance.

As usual I forgot to book this in early on and by the time I remembered the only available appointment was three weeks before my due date. Not a problem at all I thought, at least it will be fresh in my mind.

The tours are normally a chance to see where you will be having your baby and ask any questions. It can be useful to see the rooms and understand what will happen on the day. A lot of hospitals also have a choice of birthing centres or specific rooms for water births so this allows you to decide on any preferences you might have.

Turns out I never got to that hospital tour as at 35 weeks I went from healthy and well to being in hospital every day for bloods and all the fun stuff due to complications. On the day I was induced I was just told to arrive at the delivery suite and that was that. I obviously knew the hospital after spending an inordinate amount of time there but didn’t know where the delivery suite was. We simply followed signs and sat and waited. When they took me through to the delivery room I remember being pleasantly surprised. Yes it was obviously a hospital but it was quite spacious and it had an ensuite which was a big plus given that I was going to be hooked up to a drip and all kinds of monitors. Doesn’t make heading to the toilet that easy!

To be completely honest I don’t think it affected things by not having been to see the delivery suite first. I didn’t feel lost or unsure about what was happening. I guess maybe that’s because I was entering the unknown anyway!! I am also quite a relaxed person but I know it can be give great peace of mind and also in a way be a fun part of the pregnancy.

Lisa on the other hand had a tour with both her pregnancies so I thought it would be useful to share another opinion. “The hospital walkarounds were an absolute essential in my prep for the birth of both my bubbas. I wanted to envisage the space and meet the staff and most importantly, find out about the food arrangements. (Was there a kitchen? Was there a vending machine? Did they do chocolate hobnobs?!) During the walkaround prior to Lyra’s arrival I felt quite emotional when the midwife was talking about the birth and she came and gave me a huge hug. And lo and behold, when I went into labour, who was allocated to be my midwife but that same lovely midwife. (Due to shifts she wasn’t there when Lyra was actually born but that’s a whole different story for another day).”

I do definitely see the benefits of the hospital tour, especially if it is a hospital you are unsure of or have never visited. I’d spent a lot of time there before the birth visiting a family member and then with my checkups so I’d had time to figure out important things like the fact that there was a coffee shop and the parking machine took cards. Honestly, these things are good to know.

What I would say is if you choose not to have a hospital tour or run out of time like me then it is still worth doing a bit of a recce. You want to make sure you know the route to the hospital and some alternatives should there be any issues. I’m lucky my hospital was only ten minutes away and I know the area very well so there was no panicking. What we weren’t prepared for though was the rubbish parking. I obviously wasn’t in the midst of a contraction as I was going in to be induced. If I had been then sitting in a queue of traffic trying to find a space would not have been much fun. Know what your options are and if you are happy to be dropped at the door whilst your other half goes off to park.

By not going on the tour I didn’t get the chance to ask those important questions like can you take photos or what are the visiting hours. Nor what essentials I needed to bring with me (if you need to know this then check out our handy hospital bag post here). Just to make it easy for you we’ve included a little list below for you. I’m sure there will be more questions we’ve missed so please do share any useful information below. Maybe don’t ask what the net by the water pool is for though 🙂

{Pin The Hospital Tour Questions}

Questions to ask on your hospital tour when pregnant

Image by Gabrielle Bower.

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7 Comments. Leave new

I’ve given birth in two different NHS trust hospitals and the first categorically said they did not do tours as they did not have staff or time to support it. They’d instead made a YouTube video showing the facilities. Although as it was I was consultant led sk in a different wing that wasn’t covered by the video tour. Didn’t matter in the end, I was happy with the facilities and care.

For my second I wasn’t offered a tour and didn’t ask, my rationale being it hadn’t mattered last time and as the facilities were good at the first hospital I didn’t want to be disappointed if the next hospital was worse! As it turned out I was only in hospital 15mins before giving birth this time so the last thing I had time to notice was the facilities! So my advice is don’t fret if you are not allowed a tour.

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Totally agree with this – our hospital (maybe the same one!!) had a video tour and a fairly decent website answering a lot of the questions above. I think the midwives at my routine appointments would have known too, so I could have asked them (I ended up with high blood pressure and had to go into triage one weekend with my boyfriend but actually that meant we knew where to go when it was all hands on deck when I was arriving very much in labour!).

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I would highlight a lot of the things on the list as things for your birth roadmap- most hospitals should be able to offer birth pool (the question is how many and how likely is it you will nab it!) and delayed cord clamp (as long as baby is ok and needs no immediate medical help) as long as you make it clear you want those things.

Our regional hub has a YouTube video too, which in a way is quite good as you can watch it again and again. I was there last week for a volunteers open morning and it felt very odd being back in the space.

One thing to add to the list- what facilities are there for playing your own music during labour (including in theatre for a planned section) and what’s the deal with radio and tv? We were in for a while with Silvia and the free radio saved my sanity.

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Our hospital doesn’t do tours either and I understand why being a busy city hospital but has a video which was fine for me. A lot of the questions on your list I asked my community mid wife in my later appointments and the web site was was also really helpful.

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Wow, that photo in the top made me stop – I know they’re all pretty similar but it looks exactly like the labour ward doors that I was holding myself up against whilst huffing and puffing my way through contractions waiting to be let in!

We had a tour as part of the antenatal class that the hospital offered. I was glad of it and when we walked into the delivery room we were amazed by how cavernous it was – then, when we arrived at the hospital in labour it was that room we were in! Unfortunately they also showed us the theatre and we ended up in there too! 🙄 I definitely felt more relaxed about the whole thing once I’d seen it, even though I didn’t really ask many questions.

X

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I did a hospital tour with my first and I must say it gave me peace of mind. While I didn’t make it to the birthing suite with all the lovely pools (thanks one day premature baby 😉 ) I felt great comfort in having some sort of familiarity with my surroundings. Obviously I was not in the room that we were showed round, but actually my room was bigger and more welcoming so I can’t complain!! Just having a sense of what you will be met with was hugely comforting – but as others have said if you can’t have a tour or don’t make it, it really isn’t the end of the world!! If you do manage a tour, or can ask a lovely midwife lots of questions, I thoroughly recommend asking about the music playing facilities (ours for example had music stations of some sort but you needed to bring a jack to connect your iPod, which would not have been on my packing list if I hadn’t asked!). Some areas had a fridge, but not all, some had ice available etc. Think what may be important to you to keep you calm and happy, especially if you might be there for some time before delivery, whether in the delivery suite or an antenatal ward. Your own pillow might be nice and comforting (hospital pillows generally have to be a bit plasticky for hygiene reasons, although I didn’t notice much to be honest!), do you need to bring your own ball or do they have them in the rooms to bounce around on (most do I think?)… In the grand scheme of things though, the hormones will kick in and you may zone out rather more than you think you will! I don’t remember much I must say… 🙂

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Fantastic post, its great if the hospitals can make time to show you around beforehand isn’t it. Helps to make the baby experience slightly more calm.

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