I never really knew what to expect when going in to hospital to have a baby. When I was admitted for a suspected DVT I got to see the ward and meet the staff which completely reassured me. Now I’m not saying get yourself admitted before hand but if your hospital allow you to go in for a tour I would definitely recommend it. My hospital had a video tour to watch online which was great but I don’t think it is a substitute for visiting in person. For me, the fact I was going to deliver in a hospital didn’t really feel real until then and it gave me a kick up the bum to get my bag packed.
At our labour classes we were helpfully told about what to expect and what pain relief options were available. It wasn’t until this class that I was made aware each hospital has different pain relief policies and what you get at one hospital you won’t get at another. The hospital I was delivering at had diamorphine available but the next nearest hospital never so I was pretty happy I chose the hospital I did to deliver in. I found a very helpful website that details what options are available at each hospital so you can make an informed decision about where you would like to give birth.
The labour rooms in my hospital all had baths available. Also all had birthing poles and radios as well as adjustable lighting. It’s little things like this that you do appreciate when you’re going to be stuck in the same room for however long.
Another difference between my two nearest hospitals was that I was allowed to stay in as long as I needed to after giving birth since it was my first child whereas the other hospital had a 6 hour policy. I cannot tell you how much of a relief this was. We only decided to stay until the next day as I knew if I stayed longer I would have become so dependent on the midwives and lost any confidence about going home but the fact that the option was there to stay longer was extremely comforting. We never felt pressured to leave either. When we notified the midwife that we were leaving that evening she came back several times to check we still wanted to, even giving me an evening meal option form just in case we changed our minds.
The biggest difference I noticed with our hospital though was that my husband was allowed to stay overnight. I’m not sure how women manage on their own overnight because I was so worried about this little bundle after giving birth that we slept in shifts. If my husband wasn’t there to let me sleep I don’t know what I would have done. Also I think it’s only fair that dads get to spend those precious first hours with their babies as well so I am eternally thankful to my hospital for allowing him to stay.
Having a private room made a huge difference too. My hospital is relatively new so the post labour ward is all private rooms. I imagine being in a bay with a bunch of new mums and babies must be hard. You’re absolutely knackered and hearing several babies crying, not just your own must be tough. If you are planning on breastfeeding, be sure to request a private room to help establish feeding in your birth plan. Breastfeeding for the first time is difficult enough, never mind having other mums and their visitors distracting you.
I honestly could not fault the care I received. Every midwife was so supportive and approachable and I felt so comfortable. I could have easily stayed for longer but I knew I needed to get home and try to adjust to life as a family of three. If I had one piece of advice for expectant mums it would be to get informed. Look in to what your hospital has available and if there is anything missing you would like. It doesn’t hurt to request it. Remember you have the option to deliver at any hospital you want so don’t settle if you’re not happy. Having a positive birth experience should be available to everyone as much as things out with our control allow.