Taking a tour of the hospital was one of the best things I think we did. It soooo put my mind at ease and I really did learn just what I could expect when the time came. The hospital we were at encouraged moms to have baby room in with them (which was what I wanted), so that took a weight off of my mind in that I didn't have to worry about fighting someone who wanted to just whisk baby away to a nursery. They explained how they did their arm band and wrist band procedures and pointed out where the alarms were so that you always would know that your baby really was your baby and that someone couldn't just walk off with them. They also explained what you could expect if there was complications and your baby ended up in the NICU. They talked about what your options were as far as visiting and sleeping at the hospital (and what things would cost extra...like meals) if your baby was in NICU. They showed us where you'd go for a Caesarean and where the recovery room was for that and went over how things would operate with baby rooming in with you if you did have a Caesarean.
And some things from the tour are just things you wouldn't have thought about, you know? When you first went into the maternity wing, they put you in triage to make sure you really were in active labor. Once they were certain of that, they moved you into another room in labor and delivery and then after baby was born, they took you to the mommy and baby wing. Plus, the nurse that led the tour gave tips too. (Like, pack two bags. One for labor and delivery and another for hubby to bring up after you'd delivered baby and had been taken to your mommy and baby room.) Also, they went over the rules about who could be in the room, how many could be in the rooms and how visiting hours would go for both your comfort and for the comfort of the rest of the mothers and babies on the floor.
Yeah, I'd totally recommend to any first time mom (or even second or third timers who might be using a different hospital) to take a tour of the hospital. It is so worth the time and effort.
I really laugh when women say they have a "birthing plan". I am an anesthesiologist and a mother of two, who works on a labor and delivery floor at a NY hospital. Whenever a woman comes in laboring saying she wants everything natural, no epidural, and only her midwife to help her deliver, we laugh and say that she basically ensured herself a cesaeran section. A C-section, as you can imagine, is the furthest thing from "natural childbirth" but it often means the difference between life and death for mom and baby. I'm not suggesting that you ask for a cesarean section. My point is that the delivery plan should be whatever it takes for mom and baby to remain healthy. That's the plan. Some women take for granted that long ago when we did "natural births" at home, many women and babies died. You may be near a hospital but if something happens to you or your baby, being IN a hospital could make the difference between healthy mom and baby and a major complication, I've seen things change on a dime and women rushed into the OR because of some unforseen issue with the labor.
I'm not trying to scare you but I do want you to realize that there is Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Whatever your plan is, it should be flexible enough to bend for the safety of you and your baby. And please, please, please have the baby in a hospital. And pick one with doctors around in the middle of the night. Some hospitals have no actual doctors in-house in the middle of the night. They get called in only when there is an emergency or you are just about to deliver. How far away do you want your doctor to be if you have an emergency? For me, my answer was down the hall.
Haren Heller Dane you said it! that was what i was all about. i told my dr i totally trust him and to do whatever is best for the baby and secondly myself. i had no problem having a csection because that is what was safest for baby. i think alot of people get hung up on natural birth, wanting it more for a bragging right almost, or atleast that's the way some i know of come off as. that is so not the most important thing when bring baby into the world. safety was my top concern. some people need to realize that not everyone can bring baby into the world that way. i got so tired of hearing a gf go on and on about "you're a woman, women do this and have been doing this for years blah blah blah..." yet nothing to say when i spoke of how women and/or their babies use to just die if they couldn't do it. she was much more upset about the whole theing than i ever was. people who do this to csection moms really should be kicked in the face lol no i'm kidding but seriously some of us feel really crappy about it and down and when some woman who shot out a 10 pound baby goes on and on about how i NEED to look into doing a VBAC and how i got suckered. well that just makes me mad. excuss me?! i got suckered?! i got a baby and everyone is healthy! END of story. if something was broken and someone fixed it instead of being happy it's working lets complain about how they fixed it and what they should have done instead??? and you went to what med school???the only time i've felt bad about my section is when someone says something to that effect. i'm fine with my section and how things went in the hosp, what i'm not fine with is someone trying to guilt me into thinking i'm not a good mother or lesser of a woman for it. my grandma, born in 1930, had her first section when she was 14 and had a total of 5. i doubt they would have done a csection back then if she didn't need one. people DO need them. those weren't pretty back then either. she has 5 scars that run together in some points, but they all go from the top to the very bottom. i've heard her say they are ugly but i've never heard her say she regrets any of them. i've never heard her grip about not being about to have natural birth nor have i heard her say anything about anyone badger her about it. i guess back then you weren't ommitted from the cool crowd if you had a section lol. sorry for the rant but i'm just saying what i know some of us csection moms are thinking. i am alittle scared for a second csection but i know that i will likely need one and if my dr thinks so then that's what we will do. Haren Heller Dane has awesome insight. i def wouldn't ever labor outside of a hospital. never know what could go wrong and sometimes minutes could equal life or death.
Birth plan is a very important step for motherhood, but at the same time it is very difficult to follow. We need to assign and discuss everything with someone who is responsible to take care of those things. Best of luck for motherhood.